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" ' But the s'ciety's pulled up stakes and
gone off.'

'"It belongs to individooals of the society
to individooals.'

" 'Wai, I'm an individooal,' says Jedwort.

"'You! you never went to meetin' here a
dozen times in your life! '

'"I never did have my share of the old
meetin'-house, that's a fact,' says Jedwort;
'but I'll make it up now.'

" 'But what are ye fencin' up the common
for?' says the Deacon.

" 'It'll make a good calf-pastur'. I've never
had my share o' the vally o' that either. I've
let my neighbours' pigs and critters run on't
long enough; and now I'm jest goin' to take
possession o' my own. '

" 'Your own!' says the Deacon, in perfect
consternation. 'You've no deed on't.'

" 'Wai, have you?'

" 'No but the society '

" 'The s'ciety, I tell ye,' says Jedwort, hold-
ing his head up longer than I ever knew him
to hold it up at a time, and grinning all the
while in Talcott's face "the s'ciety is split to
pieces. There a'n't no s'ciety now, any more
'n a pig's a pig arter you've butchered and e't
it. You've e't the pig amongst ye, and left
me the pen. The s'ciety never had a deed o'
this 'ere prop'ty, and no man never had a deed o'
this 'ere prop'ty. My wife's gran'daddy, when
he took up the land here, was a good-natered
sort of man, and he allowed a corner on't for
his neighbours to put up a temp'rary meetin'-
house. That was finally used up the kind
o' preach in' they had them days was enough
to use up in a little time any house that wa'n't
fire proof; and when that was preached to pieces
they put up another shelter in its place. This
is it. And now't the land a'n't used no more
for the puppose 'twas lent for, it goes back
nat'rally to the estate 'twas took from, and the
buildin's along with it.'

" 'That's all a sheer fabrication,' says the
Deacon. ' This land was never a part of what's
now your farm, any more than it was a part
of mine.'

" 'Wai,' says Jedwort, 'I look at it in my



way, and you've a perfect right to look at it
in your way. But I'm goin' to make sure o'
my way, by puttin' a fence round the hull
concern. '

" 'And you're usin' some of my rails for to
do it with!' says the Deacon.

" 'Can you swear 't they're your rails?'

'"Yes, I can; they're rails the freshet car-
ried off from my farm last spring, and landed
onto yourn.'

" 'So I've heard ye say. But can you swear
to the partic'Iar rails? Can you swear, for in-
stance, 't this 'ere is your rail? or this 'ere one?'

" 'No; I can't swear to precisely them two
but'

"'Can you swear to these two? or to any
one or two?' says Jedwort. 'No, ye can't.
Ye can swear to the lot in general, but you
can't swear to any partic'Iar rail, and that kind
o' swearin' won't stand law, Deacon Talcott.
I don't boast of bein' an edicated man, but I
know suthin' o' what law is, and when I know
it, I dror a line there, and I toe that line,
and I make my neighbours toe that line,
Deacon Talcott. Nine p'ints of the law is pos-
session, and I'll have possession o' this 'ere
house and land by fencin' on't in; and though
every man 't comes along should say these 'ere
rails belong to them, I'll fence it in with these
'ere very rails.'

"Jedwort said this, wagging his obstinate
old head, and grinning with his face turned
up pugnaciously at the Deacon: then went to
work again as if he had settled the question,
and didn't wish to discuss it any further.

"As for Talcott, he was too full of wrath
and boil ing indignation to answer such a speech.
He knew that Jedwort had managed to get the
start of him with regard to the rails, by mixing
a few of his own with those he had stolen, so
that nobody could tell 'em apart; and he saw
at once that the meeting-house was in danger
of going the same way, just for want of an
owner to swear out a clear title to the property.
He did just the wisest thing when he swallowed
his vexation, and hurried off to alarm the
leading men of the two societies, and to con-
sult a lawyer. . . . The common was fenced
in by sundown; and the next day Jedwort had
over a house-mover from the North Village to
look and see what could be done with the
building. ' Can ye snake it over, and drop it
back of my house?' says he.

" 'It'll be a hard job,' says old Bob, 'with-
out you tear down the steeple fust. '

" But Jedwort said, ' What's a meetin'-house
'thout a steeple? I've got my heart kind o'
set on that steeple, and I'm bound to go the



228



THE MAN WHO STOLE A MEETING-HOUSE.



hull hog on this 'ere concern, now I've
began. '

" ' I vow,' says Bob, examining the timbers,
' I won't warrant but what the old thing'll all
tumble dowri.'

'"I'll resk it.'

" 'Yes; but who'll resk the lives of me and
my men?"

" '0, you'll see if it's re'ly goin' to tumble,
and look out. I'll engage 't me and my boys
'11 do the most dangerous part of the work.
Dumbed if I wouldn't agree to ride in the
steeple and ring the bell, if there was one.'

" It wasn't many days before Bob came over
again, bringing with him this time his screws
and ropes and rollers, his men and timbers,
horse and capstan; and at last the old house
might have been seen on its travels.

" It was an exciting time all around. The
societies found that Jedwort's fence gave him
the first claim to house and land, unless a
regular siege of the law was gone through to
beat him off and then it might turn out that
he would beat them. Some said fight him;
some said let him be the thing a'n't worth
going to law for; and so, as the leading men
couldn't agree as to what should be done,
nothing was done. That was just what Jed-
wort had expected, and he laughed in his sleeve
while Bob and his boys screwed up the old
meeting-house, and got their beams under it,
and set it on rollers, and slued it around, and
slid it on the timbers laid for it across into
Jedwort's field, steeple foremost, like a loco-
motive on a track.

"It was a trying time for the women-folks
at home. Maria had declared that if her father
did persist in stealing the meeting-house, she
would not stay a single day after it, but would
follow Dave, who had already gone away.

"That touched me pretty close, for, to tell
the truth, it was rather more Maria than her
mother that kept me at work for the old man.
' If you go,' says I, 'then there is no object for
me to stay; I shall go too.'

"'That's what I supposed,' says she; 'for
there's no reason in the world why you should
stay. But then Dan will go: and who'll be
left to take sides with mother? That's what
troubles me. O, if she could only go too!
But she won't, and she couldn't if she would,
with the other children depending on her.
Dear, dear! what shall we do?'

" The poor girl put her head on my shoulder,
and cried; and if I should own up to the truth,
I suppose I cried a little too. For where's the
man that can hold a sweet woman's head on
his shoulder, while she sobs out her trouble,



and he hasn't any power to help her who, I
say, can do any less, under such circumstances,
than drop a tear or two for company ?

" 'Never mind; don't hurry,' says Mrs. Jed-
wort. 'Be patient, and wait awhile, and it'll
all turn out right, I'm sure.'

"'Yes, you always say, "Be patient, and
wait!"' says Maria, brushing back her hair.
' But, for my part, I'm tired of waiting, and
my patience has given out long ago. We can't
always live in this way, and we may as well
make a change now as ever. But I can't bear
the thought of going and leaving you.'

" Here the two younger girls came in, and
seeing that crying was the order of the day,
they began to cry; and when they heard Maria
talk of going, they declared they would go;
and even little Willie, the four-year-old, began
to howl.

"'There, there! Maria! Lottie! Susie! 'said
Mrs. Jedwort, in her calm way; 'Willie, hush
up! I don't know what we are to do; but I
feel that something is going to happen that
will show us the right way, and we are to wait.
Now go and wash the dishes, and set the
cheese.'

"That was just after breakfast, the second
day of the moving; and sure enough, some-
thing like what she prophesied did happen
before another sun.

"The old frame held together pretty well
till along toward night, when the steeple showed
signs of seceding. ' There she goes ! She's
falling now!' sung out the boys, who had been
hanging around all day in hopes of seeing the
thing tumble.

"The house was then within a few rods of
where Jedwort wanted it; but Bob stopped
right there, and said it wasn't safe to haul it
another inch. ' That steeple's bound to come
down, if we do,' says he.

"'Not by a dumbed sight, it a'n't,' says
Jedwort. 'Them cracks a'n't nothin'; the
j'ints is all firm yit.' He wanted Bob to go
up and examine; but Bob shook his head
the concern looked too shaky. Then he told
me to go up, but I said I hadn't lived quite
long enough, and had a little rather be smoking
my pipe on terra firma. Then the boys began
to hoot. ' Dumbed if ye a'n't all a set of cow-
ards,' says he. Til go up myself.'

"We waited outside while he climbed up
inside. The boys jumped on the ground to
jar the steeple, and make it fall. One of them
blew a horn as he said, to bring down the old
Jericho and another thought he'd help things
along by starting up the horse, and giving the
building a little wrench. But Bob put a stop



THE MAN WHO STOLE A MEETING-HOUSE.



229



to that; and finally out came a head from the
belfry window. It was Jed wort, who shouted
down to us: 'There a'n't a j'int or brace gin
out. Start the hoss, and I'll ride. Pass me
vp that 'ere horn, and '

"Just then there came a cracking and loosen-
ing of timbers, and we that stood nearest had
only time to jump out of the way, when down
came the steeple crashing to the ground, with
Jed wort in it."

"I hope it killed the cuss," said one of
the village story-tellers.

"Worse than that," replied my friend; ''it
just cracked his skull not enough to put an
end to his miserable life, but only to take
away what little sense he had. We got the
doctors to him, and they patched up his broken
head; and by George it made me mad to see
the fuss the wo men -folks made over him. It
would have been my way to let him die; but
they were as anxious and attentive to him as
if he had been the kindest husband and most
indulgent father that ever lived; for that's
women's style: they're unreasoning creatures.

"Along towards morning we persuaded Mrs.
Jedwort, who had been up all night, to lie
down a spell and catch a little rest, while Maria
and I sat up and watched with the old man.
All was still except our whispers and his heavy
breathing; there was a lamp burning in the
next room; when all of a sudden a light shone
into the windows, and about the same time
we heard a roaring and crackling sound. We
looked out, and saw the night all lighted up
as if by some great fire. As it appeared to be
on the other side of the house, we ran to the
door, and there what did we see but the old
meeting-house all in flames. Some fellows had
set fire to it to spite Jedwort. It must have
been burning some time inside; for when we
looked out the flames had burst through the
roof.

"As the night was perfectly still, except a
light wind blowing away from the other build-
ings on the place, we raised no alarm, but just
stood in the door and saw it burn. And a glad
sight it was to us, you may be sure. I just
held Maria close to my side, and told her that
all was well it was the best thing that could
happen. '0 yes,' says she, 'it seems to rne as
though a kind Providence was burning up his
sin and shame out of our sight.'

" I had never yet said anything to her about
marriage for the time to come at that had
never seemed to arrive; but there's nothing
like a little excitement to bring things to a
focus. You've seen water in a tumbler just at
the freezing-point, but not exactly able to



make up its mind to freeze, when a little jar
will set the crystals forming, and in a minute
what was liquid is ice. It was the shock of
events that night that touched my life into
crystals not of ice, gentlemen, by any manner
of means.

"After the fire had got along so far that the
meeting-house was a gone case, an alarm was
given, probably by the very fellows that set it,
and a hundred people were on the spot before
the thing had done burning.

"Of course these circumstances put an end
to the breaking up of the family. Dave was
sent for, and came home. Then, as soon as
we saw that the old man's brain was injured
so that he wasn't likely to recover his mind,
the boys and I went to work and put that farm
through a course of improvement it would have
done your eyes good to see. The children were
sent to school, and Mrs. Jedwort had all the
money she wanted now to clothe them, and to
provide the house with comforts, without steal-
ing her own butter. Jedwort was a burden;
but, in spite of him, that was just about the
happiest family, for the next four years, that
ever lived on this planet.

"Jedwort soon got his bodily health, but I
don't think he knew one of us again after his
hurt. As near as I could get at his state of
mind, he thought he had been changed into
some sort of animal. He seemed inclined to
take me for a master, and for four years he
followed me around like a dog. During that
time he never spoke, but only whined and
growled. When I said, 'Lie down,' he'd lie
down; and when I whistled he'd come.

"I used sometimes to make him work; and
certain simple things he would do very well
as long as I was by. One day I had a jag of
hay to get in; and, as the boys were away, I
thought I'd have him load it. I pitched it on
to the waggon about where it ought to lie, and
looked to him only to pack it down. There
turned out to be a bigger load than I had ex-
pected, and the higher it got the worse the
shape of it, till finally, as I was starting it
towards the barn, off it rolled, and the old man
with it, head foremost.

" He struck a stone heap, and for a moment
I thought he was killed. But he jumped up
and spoke for the first time. Til blow it,'
says he, finishing the sentence he had begun
four years before, when he called for the horn
to be passed up to him.

" I couldn't have been much more astonished
if one of the horses had spoken. But I saw at
once that there was an expression in Jedwort's
face that hadn't been there since his tumble



200



THE MAN WHO STOLE A MEETING-HOUSE.



in the belfry; and I knew that, as his wits had
been knocked out of him by one blow on the
head, so another blow had knocked 'em in
again.

" 'Where's Bob?' says he, looking all around.

" 'Bob?' says I, not thinking at first who
he meant. 'Oh, Bob is dead he has been
dead these three years.'

"Without noticing my reply, he exclaimed,
'Where did all that hay come from? Where's
the old meetin'-house?'

" ' Don't you know ]' says I. 'Some rogues
set fire to it the night after you got hurt, and
burned it up.'

"He seemed then just beginning to realize
that something extraordinary had happened.

" 'Stark,' says he, 'what's the matter with
ye? You're changed.'

" 'Yes,' says I, 'I wear my beard now, and
I've grown older!'

" ' Dumbed if 't a'n't odd! ' says he. ' Stark,
what in thunder's the matter with me?'

" ' You've had meeting-house on the brain
for the past four years,' says I; 'that's what's
the matter. '

" It was some time before I could make him
understand that he had been out of his head,
and that so long a time had been a blank to
him.

"Then he said, 'Is this my farm?'

" 'Don't you know it?' says I.

" ' It looks more slicked up than ever it used
to,' says he.

" 'Yes,' says I; 'and you'll find everything
else on the place slicked up in about the same
way.'

" 'Where's Dave?' says he.

" ' Dave has gone to town to see about selling
the wool.'

'"Where's Dan?'

' ' ' Dan's in college. He takes a great notion
to medicine, and we're going to make a doctor
of him.'

" 'Whose house is that?' says he, as I was
taking him home.

"'No wonder you don't know it,' says I.
'It has been painted, and shingled, and had
new blinds put on; the gates and fences are
all in prime condition; and that's a new barn
we put up a couple of years ago.'

" ' Where does the money come from to
make all these improvements?'

"'It comes off the place,' says I. 'We
haven't run in debt the first cent for anything,
but we've made the farm more profitable than
it ever was before. '

" 'That my house?' he repeated wouderingly
as we approached it. ' What sound is that?'



" 'That's Lottie practising her lesson on the
piano.'

" 'A pianer in my house?' he muttered.
' I can't stand that!' He listened. 'It sounds
pooty though! '

"'Yes, it does sound pretty, and I guess
you'll like it. How does the place suit you?'

"'It looks pooty.' He started. 'What
young lady is that?"

" It was Lottie, who had left her music and
stood by the window.

" 'My dahter! ye don't say! Dumbed if she
a'n't a mighty nice gal.'

" 'Yes,' says I; 'she takes after her mother.'

" 'Just then Susie, who heard talking, ran
to the door.

" 'Who's that agin?' says Jedwort.

" I told him.

'"Wai, she's a mighty nice-lookin' gal!'

" 'Yes,' says I; 'she takes after her mother.'

"Little Willie, now eight years old, came
out of the wood-shed with a bow and arrow in
his hand, and stared like an owl, hearing his
father talk.

'"What boy is that?' says Jedwort. And
when I told him, he muttered, ' He's an ugly-
looking brat!'

" 'He's more like his fathei, says I.

"The truth is, Willie was such a fine boy
the old man was afraid to praise him, for fear
I'd say of him, as I'd said of the girls, that he
favoured his mother.

" Susie ran back and gave the alarm, and
then out came mother, and Maria with her
baby in her arms for I forgot to tell you that
we had been married now nigh on to two years.

"Well, the women folks were as much as-
tonished as I had been when Jedwort first
spoke, and a good deal more delighted. They
drew him into the house, and I am bound to
say he behaved remarkably well. He kept
looking at his wife, and his children, and LIs
grandchild, and the new paper on the walls,
and the new furniture, and now and then ask-
ing a question or making a remark.

" ' It all comes back to me now,' says he at
last. 'I thought I was living in the moon,
with a superior race of human bein's, and luis
is the place and you are the people.'

" It wasn't more than a couple of days before
he began to pry around, and find fault, and
grumble at the expense; and I saw there was
danger of things relapsing into something 1'ke
their former condition. So I took him one
side, and talked to him.

" ' Jed wort,' says 1, 'you're like a man raised
from the grave. You was the same as buried
to your neighbours, and now they come and



THE CANARY IN HIS CAGE.



231



look at you as they would at a dead man come
to life. To you, it's like coming into a new-
world; and I'll leave it to you now if you don't
rather like the change from the old state of
things to what you see around you to-day.
You've seen how the family affairs go on
how pleasant everything is, and how we all
enjoy ourselves. You hear the piano, and like
it; you see your children sought after and re-
spected your wife in finer health and spirits
than you've ever known her since the day
she was married; you see industry and neat-
ness everywhere on the premises; and you're
a beast if you don't like all that. In short,
you see that our management is a great
deal better than yours; and that we beat you
even in the matter of economy. Now, what I
want to know is this : whether you think you'd
like to fall into our way of living, or return
like a hog to your wallow?'

" 'I don't say but what I like your way of
livin' very well,' he grumbled.

"'Then,' says I, 'you must just let us go
ahead as we have been going ahead. Now's
the time for you to turn about and be a re-
spectable man, like your neighbours. Just
own up, and say you've not only been out of
your head the past four years, but that you've
been more or less out of your head the last
four-and-twenty years. But say you're in your
right mind now, and prove it by acting like a
man in his right mind. Do that, and I'm
with you we're all with you. But go back
to your old dirty ways, and you go alone. Now
I sha'n't let you off till you tell me what you
mean to do.'

" He hesitated some time, then said, ' Maybe
you're about right, Stark; you and Dave and
the old woman seem to be doin' pooty well, and
I guess I'll let you go on.'"

Here my friend paused, as if his story was
done; when one of the villagers asked, "About
the land where the old meetin'-house stood
what ever was done with that?"

"That was appropriated for a new school-
house, and there my little shavers go to school. "

"And old Jedwort, is he alive yet?"

"Both Jedwort and his wife have gone to
that country where meanness and dishonesty
have a mighty poor chance where the only
investments worth much are those recorded in
the Book of Life. Mrs. Jedwort was rich in
that kind of stock; and Jedwort's account, I
guess, will compare favourably with that of
some respectable people, such as we all know.
I tell ye, my friends," continued my fellow-
traveller, "there's many a man, both in the
higher and lower ranks of life, that 'twould do



a deal of good, say nothing of the mercy
'twould be to their families, just to knock 'era
on the head, and make Nebuchadnezzars of
'em then, after they'd been turned out to
grass a few years, let 'em come back again, and
see how happy folks have been, and how well
they have got along without 'em.

"I carry on the old place now," he added.
" The younger girls are married off; Dan's a
doctor in the North Village; and as for Dave,
he and I have struck ile. I'm going out to
look at our property now."



THE CANARY IN HIS CAGE.

BY THE AUTHOR OF "JOHN HALIFAX,
GENTLEMAN." 1

Sing away, ay, sing away,

Merry little bird,
Always gayest of the gay,
Though a woodland roundelay

You ne'er sung nor heard;
Though your life from youth to age
Passes in a narrow cage.

Near the window wild birds fly,

Trees are waving round :
Fair things everywhere you spy
Through the glass pane's mystery,

Your small life's small bound :
Nothing hinders your desire
But a little gilded wire.

Lik a human soul you seem

Shut in golden bars :
Placed amidst earth's sunshine-stream,
Singing to the morning beam,

Dreaming 'neath the stars ;
Seeing all life's pleasures clear,
But they never can come near.

Never! Sing, bird-poet mine,

As most poets do;
Guessing by an instinct fine
At some happiness divine

Which they never knew.
Lonely in a prison brieht
Hymning for the world's delight.

Yet, my birdie, you're content

In your tiny cage :
Not a carol thence is sent
But for happiness is meant

Wisdom pure as sage :
Teaching, the true poet's part
Is to sing with merry heart.



1 Poem*. London: Sampson, Low, Maraton, &, Co. 1372.



232



A LAND SHIPWEECK.



So, lie down thou peevish pen,

Eyes, shake off all tears;
And my wee bird, sing again:
I'll translate your song to men

In these future years.
"Howsoe'er thy lot's assigned,
Meet it with a cheerful mind."



RESTRAINT.

As the plough is the typical instrument of
industry, so the fetter is the typical instrument
of the restraint or subjection necessary in a
nation either literally, for its evil-doers, or
figuratively, in accepted laws, for its wise and
good men. You have to choose between this
figurative and literal use; for depend upon it,
the more laws you accept, the fewer penalties
you will have to endure, and the fewer punish-
ments to enforce. For wise laws and just
restraints are to a noble nation not chains,
but chain-mail strength and defence, though
something also of an incumbrance. And this
necessity of restraint, remember, is just as
honourable to man as the necessity of labour.
You hear every day greater numbers of foolish
people speaking about liberty, as if it were
such an honourable thing: so far from being
that, it is, on the whole, and in the broadest
sense, dishonourable, and an attribute of the
lower creatures. No human being, however
great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish.
There is always something that he must, or
must not do ; while the fish may do whatever
he likes. All the kingdoms of the world put
together are not half so large as the sea, and
all the railroads and wheels that ever were,
or will be invented, are not so easy as fins.
You will find, on fairly thinking of it, that it
is his Restraint which is honourable to man,



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