Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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Jack attended him so closely, and made so good a use of
his time, that he learned to imitate almost everything he
saw, and used to divert the servants and his young master
with acting the tailor's riding to Brentford.

The young gentleman had a master who used to come
three times a week to teach him accounts, and writing, and
geography. Jack used to be sometimes in the room while
the lessons were given, and listened, according to custom,
with so much attention to all that passed, that he received
very considerable advantage fur his own improvement. He


had now a little money, and he laid some of it out to pur-
chase pens and paper and a slate, with which at night he
used to imitate everything he had heard and seen in the
day; and his little master, who began to love him very sin-
cerely, when he saw him so desirous of improvement, con-
trived, under one pretence or another, to have him generally
in the room while he was receiving instruction himself.

In this manner Jack went on for some years, leading a
life very agreeable to himself, and discharging his duty very
much to the satisfaction of his mistress. An unlucky acci-
dent at length happened to interrupt his tranquillity. A
young gentleman came down to visit Master Willets, who,
having been educated in France, and among genteel people
in London, had a very great taste for finery, and a supreme
contempt for all the vulgar. His dress, too, was a little par-
ticular, as well as his manners ; for he spent half his time in
adjusting his head, wore a large black bag tied to his hair
behind, and would sometimes strut about for half an hour
together with his hat under his arm, and a little sword by
his side. This young man had a supreme contempt for all
the vulgar, which he did not attempt to conceal ; and when
he had heard the story of Jack's birth and education, he
could scarcely bear to be in the same room with him. Jack
soon perceived the aversion which the stranger entertained
for him, and at first endeavoured to remove it by every
civility in his power; but when he found that he gained
nothing by all his humility, his temper, naturally haughty,
took fire, and, as far as he dared, he plainly showed all the
resentment he felt.

It happened one day, after Jack had received some very
mortifying usage from this young gentleman, that, as he was
walking along the road, he met with a showman, who was
returning from a neighbouring fiiir with some wild beasts in
a cart. Among the rest was a middle-sized monkey, who
was not under cover like the rest, and played so many antic
tricks, and made so many grimaces, as engaged all Jack's
attention, and delighted him very much, for he always had
a propensity for every species of drollery. After a variety
of questions and conversation, the showman, who probably
wanted to be rid of his monkey, proposed to Jack to pur-


chase him for halt-a-cro\vn. Jack could not resist the
temptation of being master of such a droll diverting animal,
and therefore agreed to the bargain. But when he was left
alone with his purchase, whom he led along by a chain, he
soon began to repent his haste, and knew not how to dispose
of him. As there was, however, no remedy, Jack brought
him carefully home, and confined him safe in an outhouse,
which was not appHed to any use. In this situation he kept
him several days without accident, and frequently visited
him at his leisure hours, with apples, nuts, and such other
presents as he could procure. Among the other tricks which
the monkey had been taught to perform, he would rise upon
his hind legs at the word of command, and bow with tb.e
greatest politeness to the company. Jack, who had fouinl
out these accomplishments in his friend, could not resist the
impulse of making them subservient to his resentment. He,
therefore, one day, procured some flour, with which he pow-
dered his monkey's head, fixed a large paper bag to his
neck, put an old hat under his arm, and tied a large iron
skewer to his side, instead of a sword, and thus accoutred
led him about with infinite satisfaction, calling him Mon-
sieur, and jabbering such broken French as he had picked
up from the conversation of the visitor. It happened very
unluckily at this very instant, that the young gentleman
himself passed by, and instantly saw at one glance the in-
tended copy of himself, and all the malice of Little Jack,
who \\'as leading him along, and calling to him to hold up
his head and look like a i)erson of fashion. Rage instantly
took possession of his mind, and drawing his sword, which
he happened to have on, he ran the poor monkey through
with a sudden thrust, and laid him dead upon the ground.
What more he might have done is uncertain, for Jack, who
was not of a temper to see calmly such an outrage com-
mitted upon an animal whom he considered as his friend,
flew upon him like a fury, and wresting the sword out of his
hand, broke it into twenty pieces. The young gentleman
himself received a fall in the scuffle, which, though it did
him no material damage, daubed all his clothes, and totally
spoiled the whole arrangement of his dress. At this instant,
the lady herself, who had heard the noise, came down, and


the violence of poor Jack was too apparent to be excused.
Jack, indeed, was submissive to his mistress, whom he was
very sorry to have otfended; but when he was ordered to
"make concessions to the young gentleman, as the only con-
ditions upon which he could be kept in the family, he abso-
lutely refused. He owned, indeed, that he was much to
blame for resenting the provocations he had received, and
endeavouring to make his mistress's company ridiculous;
but as to what he had done in defence of his friend the
monkey, there were no possible arguments which could con-
vince him he was in the least to blame; nor would he have
made submissions to the king himself This unfortunate
obstinacy of Jack's was the occasion of his being dis-
charged, very much to the regret of the lady herself, and
still more to that of Master Willets. Jack, therefore, packed
up his clothes in a litde bundle, shook all his fellow-servants
by the hand, took an affectionate leave of his kind master,
and once more sallied out upon his travels.

He had not walked far before he came to a town where
a party of soldiers were beating up for volunteers Jack
mingled with the crowd that surrounded the recruiting Ser-
jeant, and listened with great pleasure to the sound of the
fifes and drums; nor could he help mechanically holding up
his head, and stepping forward with an air that showed the
trade was not entirely new to him. The serjeant soon took
notice of these gestures, and seeing him a strong likely lad,
came up to him, clapped him upon the back, and asked him
if he would enlist 'You are a brave boy,' said he; ' I can
see it in your looks; come along with us, and I dont doubt
in a few weeks you'll be as complete a soldier as those who
have been in the army for years.' Jack made no answer to
this but by instantly poising his stick, cocking his hat fiercely,
and going though the whole manual exercise. ' Prodigious,
indeed! ' cried the serjeant; 'I see you have been in the
army already, and can eat fire as well as any of us. But
come with us, my brave lad; you shall live well, have little
to do, but now and then fight for your king and country, as
every gentleman ought; and, in a short time, I dont doubt
but I shall see you a captain, or some great man, rolling in


wealth, which you have got out of the spoils of ycur
enemies.' ' No,' said Jack, ' captain, that will never do —
no tricks upon travellers — I know better what I have to ex-
pect if I enlist — I must lie hard, live hard, expose my life
and limbs every hour of the day, and be soundly cudgelled
ever)' now and then into the bargain.' ' O'ons,' cried the
Serjeant, ' where did the young dog pick up all this"? He is
enough to make a whole company desert.' ' No,' said Jack,
' they shall never desert through me ; for though I know
this, as I am at present out of employment, and have a great
respect for the character of a gentleman soldier, I will enlist
directly in your regiment.' 'A bra\e fellow, indeed!' said
tlie Serjeant; ' here, my bo)-, here is your money and your
cockade,' both which he directl)' presented, fc r fear his re-
cruit should change his mind; and thus in a moment Little
Jack became a soldier.

He had scarcely time to feel himself easy in his new
iccoutrements, before lie was embarked for India in the
character of a marine. This kind of life was entirely new to
Jack; hov.-ever, his usual activity and spirit of obser\-ation did
not desert him here ; and he had not been embarked many
weeks before he was perfectly acquainted with all the duty
of a sailor, and in that respect equal to most on board. It
happened that the ship in which he sailed touched at the
Cormo Lslands, in order to take in wood and water. These
are some little islands near the coast of Africa, inhabited by
blacks. Jack often went on shore with the officers, attend-
ing them on their shooting parties, to carr)- their powder and
shot, and the game they killed. All this country consists of
very lofty hills, covered with trees and shrubs of various
kinds, which never lose their leaves, from the perpetual
v.'armth of the climate. Through these it is frequendy
(iitticult to force a way, and the hills themselves abound in
precipices. It happened that one of the oflicers whom Jack
was attending upon a shooting party, took aim at some
great bird jnd brought it down; but as it fell into some deep
valley, over some rocks which it was impossible to descend,
they fles])aired of gaining their prey. Jack immediately,
with officious haste, set oft' and ran down the more level


side of the hill, thinking to make a circuit and reach the
valley into which the bird had fallen. He setoff, therefore;
but as he was totally ignorant of the country, he in a short
lime buried himself so deep in the wood, which grew con-
tinually thicker, that he knew not which way to proceed.
He then thought it most prudent to return; but this he
found as difficult to effect as the other. He therefore wan-
dered about the woods with inconceivable difficulty all day,
but could never find his company, nor even reach the shore,
or obtain the prospect of the sea. At length the night ap-
proached, and Jack, who perceived it to be impossible to do
that in the dark, which he had not been able to effect in the
light, lay down under a rock and composed himself to rest,
as well as he was able. The next day he rose with the light,
and once more attempted to regain the shore; but unfor-
tunately he had totally lost all idea of the direction he ought
to pursue, and saw nothing around him but the dismal
prospect of woods, and hills, and precipices, without a guide
or path. Jack now began to be very hungry ; but as he
had a fowling-piece with him, and powder and shot, he soon
jH'ocured himself a dinner, and kindling a fire with some
dry leaves and sticks, he roasted his game upon the embers,
and dined as comfortably as he could be expected to do in
so forlorn a situation. Finding himself much refreshed, he
pursued his journey, but with as little success as ever. On
the third day he indeed came in sight of the sea, but found
that he was quite on a different side of the island from that
where he left the ship, and that neither ship nor boat was to
be seen. Jack now lost all hopes of rejoining his comrades,
for he knew the ship was to sail at farthest upon the third day,
and would not wait for him. He, therefore, sat down verj- pen-
sively upon a rock, and cast his eyes upon the vast extent of
ocean which was stretched out before him. He found himself
now abandoned upon a strangecountry, without a single friend,
acquaintance, or even anyone who spoke the same language.
He at first thought of seeking out the natives, and making
known to them his deplorable state; but he began to fear
the reception he might meet with among them. They might
not be pleased, he thought, with his company, and might
take the liberty of treating him as the white men generally


treat the blacks when they get them into their possession;
that is, make him work hard with very httle victuals, and
knock him on the head if he attempted to run away. 'And
therefore,' says Jack, as he was meditating all alone, 'it may,
perhaps, be better for me to stay quiet where I am. It is
true, indeed, I shall not have much company to talk to, but
then I shall have nobody to quarrel with me, or baa, or
laugh at my poor daddy and mammy. Neither do I at
present see how I shall get a livelihood, when my powder
and shot are all expended; but, however, I shall hardly be
starved, for I saw several kinds of fruit in the woods, and
some roots which look very much like carrots. As to clothes,
when mine wear out I shall not much want new ones, for
the weather is charmingly warm; and therefore, all things
considered, I dont see why I should not be as happy here
as in any other place.' When Jack had finished his speech,
he set himself to find a lodging for the night. He had not
examined far before he found a dry cavern in a rock, which
he thought would prove a very comfortable residence; he
therefore went to work with a hatchet he had with him,
and cut some boughs of trees, which he spread upon the
floor, and over those a long silky kind of grass, which he
found in plenty near the place, to make himself a bed.
His next care was, how to secure himself in case of any
attack ; for he did not know whether the island contained
any wild beasts or not. He therefore cut down several
branches of trees, and wove them into a kind of wicker-
work, as he had seen the men do hurdles when he lived
with the farmer; with this contrivance he found he could
very securely barricade the entrance of his cave. And now,
as the evening was again approaching, he began to feel him-
self hungry, and, seeking along the sea-shore, he found some
shell-fish, which supplied him with a plentiful meal. The
next day Jack arose, a little melancholy indeed, but with a
resolution to struggle manfully with the difficulties of his
situation. He walked into the woods and saw several kinds
of fruit and berries, some of which he ventured to eat, as
the birds had pecked them, and found the taste agreeable.
He also dug up several species of roots, but feared to taste
them lest they should be poisonous. At length, he selected


one that very much resembled a potato, and determined to
roast it in the embers, and taste a very small bit. It can
hardly, thought Jack, do me much hurt, in so very small a
quantity ; and if that agrees with me I will increase the
dose. The root was fortunately extremely wholesome and
nutritive, so that Jack was in a very short time tolerably
secure against the danger of wanting food. In this manner
did Jack lead a kind of savage, but tolerably contented, life
for several monthsj during which time he enjoyed perfect
health, and was never discovered by any of the natives.
He used several times a day to visit the shore, in hopes
that some ship might pass that way and deliver him from
his solitary imprisonment. This, at length, happened, by
the boat of an English ship, that was sailing to India, hap-
penmg to touch upon the coast; Jack instantly hailed the
crew, and the officer, upon hearing the story, agreed to
receive him: the captain too, when he found that Jack was
by no means a contemptible sailor, ver}' willingly gave him
his passage, and promised him a gratuity besides, if he be-
haved well.

Jack arrived in India without any accident; and relating
his story, was permitted to serve in another regiment, as his
own was no longer there. He soon distinguished himself
by his courage and good behaviour on several occasions,
and before long was advanced to the rank of a serjeant.
In this capacity he was ordered out upon an expedition
into the remote parts of the country. The little army in
which he served now marched on for several weeks, through
a burning climate, and in want of all the necessaries of life.
At length they entered upon some extensive plains, which
bordered upon the celebrated countr)' of the Tartars. Jack
was perfectly well accjuainted with the histor)- of this people,
and their method of fighting. He knew them to be some
of the best horsemen in the world; indefatigable in their
attacks, though often repulsed returning to the charge, and
not to be invaded with impunity; he therefore took the
liberty of observing to some of the officers, that nothing
could be more dangerous than their rashly engaging them-
selves in those extensive plains, where they were every


moment exposed to the attacks of cavalry, without any-
successful method of defence, or place of retreat, in case of
any misfortune. These remonstrances were not much at-
tended to; and after a itw hours' farther march, they were
alarmed by the approach of a considerable body of Tartar
horsemen. They, however, drew up with all the order they were
able, and firing several successive volleys, endeavoured to keep
the enemy at a distance. But the Tartars had no design of
doing that with a considerable loss, which they were sure of
doing with ease and safety. Instead, therefore, of charging
the Europeans, they contented themselves with giving con-
tinual alarms, and menacing them on every side, without
exposing themselves to any considerable danger. The army
now attempted to retreat, hoping that they should be able
to arrive at the neighbouring mountains, where they would
be safe from the incursions of the horse. But in this attempt
they were equally disappointed; for another considerable
body of enemies appeared on that side, and blocked their
passage. The Europeans now found they were surrounded
on all sides, and that resistance was vain. The command-
ing officer, therefore, judged it expedient to try what could
be effected by negotiation, and sent one of his officers, who
understood something of the Tartar language, to treat with
the general of the enemies. The Tartar chief received the
Europeans with great civility, and after having gently re-
proached them with their ambition, in coming so far to
invade a people who had never injured them, he consented
upon very moderate conditions to their enlargement; but he
insisted upon having their arms delivered up, except a very
few which he permitted them to keep for defence in their
return, and upon retaining a certain number of Europeans
as hostages for the performance of the stipulated articles.
Among those who were thus left with the Tartars Jack hap-
pened to be included ; and while all the rest seemed incon-
solable at being thus made prisoners by a barbarous nation,
he alone, accustomed to all the vicissitudes of life, retained
his cheerfulness, and prepared to meet every reverse of
fortune with his usual firmness.

The Tartars, among whom Jack was now to reside, con-


stitute several different tribes or nations which inhabit an
immense extent of country both in Europe and Asia. Their
country is in general open and uncultivated, without cities
or towns, such as we see in England. The inhabitants
themselves are a bold and hardy race of men, that live in
small tents, and change their place of abode with the dif-
ferent seasons of the year. All their property consists in
herds of cattle, which they drive along with them from place
to place, and upon whose milk and flesh they subsist.
They are particularly fond of horses, of which they have a
small but excellent breed, hardy and indefatigable for the
purposes of war, and they excel in the management of them
beyond what is easy to conceive. Immense herds of these
animals wander loose about the deserts, but marked with the
particular mark of the person or tribe to which they belong.
When they want any of these animals for use, a certain
number of their young men jump upon their horses with
nothing but a halter to guide them, each carrying in his
hand a pole with a noose or cord at the end. When they
come in sight of the herd, they pursue the horse they wish
to take at full speed, come up with him in spite of his swiftness,
and never fail to throw the noose about his neck as he runs.
They are frequently known to jump upon young horses that
have passed their whole life in the desert, and with only a
girth around the animal's body to hold by, maintain their seat,
in spite of all his violent exertions, until they have wearied
him out and reduced him into perfect obedience. Such was
the nation with whom the lot of Jack was now to reside;
nor was he long before he had an opportunity of showing
his talents.

It happened that a favourite horse of the chief was taken
with a violent fever, and seemed to be in immediate danger
of death. The khan, for so he is called among the Tartars,
seeing his horse grow hourly worse, at length applied to the
Europeans to know if they could suggest anything for his
recovery. All the officers were profoundly ignorant of far-
riery; but when the application was made to Jack, he desired
to see the horse, and with great gravity began to feel his
pulse, by passing his hand within the animal's foreleg;


which gave the Tartars a very high idea of his ingenuity.
Finding that the animal was in a high fever, he proposed to
the khan to let him blood, which he had learned to do very
dexterously in P^ngland. He obtained permission to do as
he pleased, and having by great good luck a lancet with
him, he let him blood verj' dexterously in the neck. After
this operation he covered him up, and gave him a warm
potion made out of such ingredients as he could procure
upon the spot, and left him quiet. In a few hours the horse
began to mend, and, to the great joy of the khan, perfectly
recovered in a few days. This cure, so opportunely per-
formed, raised the reputation of Jack so high, that every-
body came to consult him about their horses, and in a short
time he was the universal farrier of the tribe. The khan
himself conceived so great an affection for him, that he
gave him an excellent horse to ride upon and attend him in
his hunting parties; and Jack, who excelled in the art of
horsemanship, managed him so well as to gain the esteem
of the whole nation.

The Tartars, though they are excellent horsemen, have no
idea of managing their horses unless by violence; but Jack
in a short time, by continual care and attention, made his
horse so docile and obedient to every motion of his hand
and leg, that the Tartars themselves would gaze upon him
with admiration, and allow themselves to be outdone. Not
contented with this, he procured some iron, and made his
horseshoes in the European taste: this also was a matter of
astonishment to all the Tartars, who are accustomed to ride
their horses unshod. He next observed that the Tartar
saddles are all prodigiously large and cumbersome, raising
the horseman up to a great distance from the back of his
horse. Jack set himself to work, and was not long before
he had completed something like an English hunting saddle,
on which he paraded before the khan. All mankind seem to
have a passion for novelty, and the khan was so delighted
with this effort of Jack's ingenuity', that, after paying him the
highest compliments, he intimated a desire of having such a
saddle for himself Jack was the most obliging creature in
the world, and spared no labour to serve his friends; he went


to work again, and in a short time completed a saddle still
more elegant for the khan. These exertions gained him the
favour and esteem both of the khan and all the tribe; so that
Jack was a universal favourite and loaded with presents,
while all the rest of the officers, who had never learned to
make a saddle or a horse-shoe, were treated wth contempt
and indifference. Jack, indeed, behaved mth the greatest
generosity to his countrymen, and divided with them all the
mutton and venison which were given him ; but he could
not help sometimes observing, that it was great pity they
had not learned to make a horseshoe instead of dancing and
dressing hair.

And now an ambassador arrived from the English settle-
ments, with an account that all the conditions of the treaty
had been performed, and demanding the restitution of the
prisoners. The Tartar chief was too much a man of honour

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 39 of 43)