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I had packed all my paper at the bottom of my trunk when Ted Instone suggested that I should have about time to send a letter by We packed his things half-an-hour ago.
He is now sitting on the top of my box to keep the lid down while I write this. If the lid once gets up, it will take a long while to get it down again, for we had to empty the trunk three times before we could arrange the things sufficiently close to allow of the lid closing at all.
I write just to say that I shall be at Hammerthorpe Station at about half-past ten to-morrow morning. If you can spare the horse, please let Bob meet me there with the gig for my luggage.
Mother will be pleased to know that I have done well in the examination. I am third in my class and Ted Instone is second. We shall be moved into the third class next half, and I shall then have a chance of being captain of the cricketing eleven if I play well enough. Ted
says he feels as if he were getting lighter, and the box lid is beginning to rise, so I must go and help him to hold it down. -Your affectionate son,
Letter No. 31.
The Laurels, Woodbourne,
June 23rd, 187—. MY DEAR TED,
I got to Hammerthorpe at half-past ten to the minute, and found Bob waiting for me with the horse and gig. Bob got my things in, and I drove home. Didn't I just make the cob go ! The folks ran out of the houses to see what was the matter, and there was such a barking of dogs and quacking of ducks as you never heard. One old gander on the common narrowly escaped being the victim of his own fury, the wheel only just missed him as he angrily hissed at us for disturbing his flock of geese. I reached home in about half-an-hour and found them all anxious
Our dog Carlo was as if he had gone mad. He flew at my throat, and pawed my hands, tore off down the garden and drove Topsy the cat up into an apple-tree, came back again into the house, and barked at me as if I had been a burglar, and, finally, ran off to the paddock below the house and chased imaginary rabbits in the hedgerow till he was tired.
Mother is very pleased I have done so well at school. It seems the doctor's reports were sent out on the 21st. Father says he is very well satisfied with mine. I was afraid Dr. Tasker would be down on me very hard about that fight.
I went to my old school for an hour this morning. They were busy getting ready for their examination, but for all that Mr. Jones gave them an extra half-hour's play in my honour. The old fellows were so glad to see me. I told them you were coming, and they want
to see me.
to know all about you. I tell them to wait and see for themselves. One or two are under the impression that you must be a bit priggish and stuck up because you are a Londoner, but I am sure they will alter their opinion before you go back.
I find my rabbits have been increasing so fast that I shall have to sell off, or there will not be room enough for them. Bob never sent me word how many there were ; he wanted to keep it as a surprise. You would hardly believe what a good fellow he is to animals. If need be I feel sure he would go without a meal now and then to give them one.
I hope you found all your people well. I will let you know what train I shall come by as soon as I can get father to look it out. Father and mother join me in kind regards.—1 am, yours truly,
Letter No. 32.
London, June 24th, 187-
Thanks for your long letter. I was much amused to hear of your noisy progress from Hammerthorpe to Woodbourne. It brought to my mind the adventures of two very celebrated horsemen. First, I thought of you as Dick Turpin, with a Bow-street runner in the shape of an infuriated gander making a dash at Black Bess's bridle. And then it occurred to me you were more like John Gilpin. You might describe the sensation you caused by slightly altering Cowper's lines :
“ The dogs did bark, the children screamed,
Up flew the windows all :
As loud as he could bawl." I hope your dog Carlo will be tamed down a bit by the time I pay you a visit. If he shows his affection to his young master by flying at his throat, what may a stranger expect? If he has not got rid of his pranks, I shall have to get your father to give him a dose of strychnine for fear of our getting
hydrophobia. I am glad your rabbits have been so profitable. Shall you
take your surplus stock to market to sell ? I should like the fun of selling them in Hammerthorpe market-hall.
I got to Euston Station about five o'clock, thoroughly tired out. As my father does not keep a horse I had to engage a cab—the most stuffy and miserable of conveyances. There you are in the back of the vehicle with nothing to see but the horse's hind-quarters, and cabhorses are not the most symmetrical quadrupeds to gaze on-a little more muscle and a little less bone would improve their appearance. I had far sooner ride on the knife-board of an omnibus than in a cab, but, you see, omuibuses won't take luggage.
I found father and mother very well, and also brother John. My eldest brother-the married one-İ have not seen yet; he is coming up to-night. Poor little Ernie is not much better, though he was able to go out in a Bath-chair in the park last week. I don't think Dr. Tasker's report is very greatly to my
credit. Father says he fears I am not getting on as well as might. I suppose I am not. You see I was in the fourth class twelvemonths
you came. But I am not going to spoil the glorious holidays by crying over spilled milk. When I get back to school again I must try and do better.
Remember me kindly to your father and mother, and to your old schoolfellows, although they entertain such uncomplimentary opinions of me. — Believe me, my dear Ben, yours expectantly,
Letter No. 33.
June 26th, 187
MY DEAR TED,
A line to say I shall leave Hammerthorpe to-morrow by the mid-day express, which is timed to reach Willesden at a quarter past four. Í rely on your meeting me there. Don't fail, or you will incur the deep displeasure of, yours in great haste, BEN BARLOW.
Letter No. 34.
London, June 28th, 187—. MY DEAR FATHER,
I got here all right by five o'clock last night. Ted met me as promised at Willesden. It was well he did. I never saw such a station in my life. I should think there are a dozen platforms, and forty or fifty staircases to the top level, and everyone looks precisely like the other.
I should have written last night as I intended, but I left it until after tea, and, to my surprise, Ted told me I was too late for
the post. It seems you have to post before six o'clock if the letters are to be delivered next morning. It is queer that we can post at Woodbourne up to eight, and at Hammerthorpe up to ten o'clock, while they cannot post after six in London. I always thought London had the greatest advantages in post-office work, and indeed in everything else.
I have been made very welcome here. Mr. Instone is a solicitor, and has offices somewhere near Lincoln's Inn. He is a very agreeable gentleman and a clever musician. That accounts for Ted's fondness for music, I expect. Mrs. Instone is a very nice lady, and looks younger than her husband. She is very fond and proud of her sons. The eldest son is married. The second son, John, is about twenty; he holds a situation at Somerset House. He is a jolly fellow, lively like Ted, taller, and quite like a man. Then there is Ērnie, a boy of about twelve. His spine was hurt when he was a baby, and he has never been able to walk all his life. He has light wavy hair, big pale blue eyes, and such a winning look. Though so afflicted he never gets fretful, but is grateful for the smallest service.
He has all sorts of toys and lots of books, and lies on a sort of perambulator, which can be wheeled when he likes through the French windows on to a narrow strip of lawn, which lies at the back of the house. When he goes to bed they take the wheels off the perambulator and carry him upstairs so. When he is well enough to go out, they engage a Bath-chair for him. I feel so sorry for poor little Ernie. 'It seems such a sad thing not to be able to run and jump and skip about.
Mr. Instone's house is one of four standing together. It is built of white stone, and looks very big and grand in the front. There are many rooms and some large ones, but instead of a big garden at the back, they have only a strip of turf about as big as our parsnip bed, and that is enclosed with high whitewashed walls.
The view from the house is very nice. Right across the way is Regent's Park, and from the bedroom Ted and I sleep in we can see the roofs of the animals' houses in the Zoological Gardens. I should not like to be so close if ever the animals should happen to break loose. Ted says there was a narrow escape of that some years ago. A boat with a cargo of gunpowder exploded on the canal just below the gardens, and blew up some of the cages. Happily the keepers in time to secure the animals.
We went for a walk in the park early this morning, and after breakfast Ted and John and I had an omnibus ride through the main streets. We saw scores of famous buildings. Among others, Temple Bar, which was propped up with timber, London Bridge, the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, the Mansion House, and St. Paul's Cathedral swelling above them all.
As soon as I have finished this letter Ted and I are going to the gardens to see the animals. We shall spend the whole afternoon there, and try and see all that is to be seen.
Mr. and Mrs. Instone and Ted send their regards to you all. Give mother
and sisters my best love, and accept the same yourself from your affectionate son,
Letter No. 35.
The Laurels, Woodbourne,
June 30th, 1874 MY DEAR Son,
We are very much pleased to hear you are so much enjoying your trip to London. I hope Master Instone may be equally delighted with his promised stay here. Mind and not do too much. You can only enjoy a certain amount of sight-seeing in a given time. If you do more, it becomes a vexation and a weariness.
Your sisters are wishing they could have been with you at the Zoological Gardens to see the monkeys' antics and all the rest of it. Your mother hopes you get into no mischief there. She is a little afraid of your venturesomeness, and hopes you did not get too near the lions and tigers.
Your mother and sisters join me in love to you and in regards to your kind entertainers.—I am, your affectionate father,
FOOTPRINTS OF GOD IN NATURE.
By GEORGE PACKER,
sagacity, and their constructive and architectural skill,
to be commonly reported of this remarkable creature. But enough of the marvellous remains, and remains with the advan· tage of being now attested as indisputable fact, to make it worthy our attention, and to form another striking illustration of that infinite goodness and wisdom that shine with such splendour in almost every object and law in Nature.
The beaver flourishes in northern countries alone, and is most common in North America. Its skin, which contains a soft and highly prized fur, used to be a very important article of commerce. But the trappers of North America destroyed beavers in such enormous numbers that the animal is now much less common than it was. During the latter part of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century as many as 200,000 skins were exported to Europe annually. In the year 1808, 126,000 were exported from Quebec alone. The fur was very extensively used for the manufacture of hats ; but the