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BEN BARLOW'S BUDGET.
Letter No. 48.
Worcester, Sept. 13th, 187—, MY DEAR JOE,
Many thanks for your letter, and for the long account of the cricket-match. I am surprised the newspaper folks did not print it. It is a precious lot more interesting than all the news they did print.
I am very glad to see the school keeps up its credit in ihe cricketfield. Tom Blunt will make a first-rate captain if he only keeps cool, and I see from the score that he is already a more careful player than he used to be.
With kind regards to yourself, and all other old schoolfellows, I am, yours truly,
Letter No. 49.
London, Sept. 16, 187
i am so Sory to tel you my Beutifle Rabit is ded. it Hapend this way. i had Fasned it up all rite and gon to Bed. but a Cusen off mine calld and they let him see my kabit. i supose he didn't fasn the Hutch propperly, for the Rabit got out onto the lorn, and the Suryant found it this morning ded in a Corner. Pa says ther was a Frost in the Nite, and that killed it. i am so Surry. i am afrade you will Think i didn't take Care enuff off it. but i would soonr have lost all my Toys than the Rabit. i remane, yours truly,
Letter No. 50.
Worcester, Sept. 19th, 187 MY DEAR ERNIE,
I am very sorry to bear of the misfortune to your rabbit, because you seemed so very fond of the little pet. But don't put yourself about. You shall have a couple in place of it when your brother Ted comes home at Christmas. I will get them sent here from Woodbourne the day before, and then he can take them on with him. I
would have a couple sent from home at once, but I'm afraid they would die on the road.
Don't fret about the rabbit. I have had more than a dozen diesome killed by cats, some by fighting among themselves, and some by overfeeding.
With kind remembrances to all at home, believe me, your affectionate friend,
Letter No. 51.
Worcester, Sept. 21st, 1874 DEAR THORNTON,
I daresay you will be a bit surprised to get a letter from me, but I have heard from Ben of your having got a situation, and I také this opportunity of congratulating you upon it, and also on your having ne so well at cricket.
By the bye, Thornton, did you see the report that Bland sent to the T'inbury Mercury? He sent us a copy—I think he said you asked him to do so—and it is, indeed, a most remarkable document. Do you think he really expected the folks to publish it? He speaks in his letter to Ben as if he was disgusted with them for preferring such dry things as War News, Parliamentary Intelligence, and Market Returns before his highly interesting and enthusiastic report
Get Bland to show it you if you can. It is enough to make one grin, though our friend Ben read it seriously enough. That was because it praises up all his old chums. Why, from beginning to end it is full of compliments to you and your club, and sneers or censures on your opponents. However, from your point of view the report is very interesting, and we both read of your exploits with much pleasure.
You can tell Bland if he will only persevere and practise, he will in a few years be able to take his place among what Pa calls the “penny-a-liners ” of the London press.
I hope you like your situation, and that you have nice fellows in the office with you. Do not trouble to reply to this in a hurry. I know you have not much leisure. Yours truly, TED INSTONE.
Letter No. 52.
Worcester, Sept. 28th, 187– MY DEAR MOTHER, —
My basket of linen came all safe, and the cake too. Ted says it gets better in quality every time.
I am getting on well with my lessons. Dr. Tasker says so. Now
that I make up my mind to learn them and set about them straight away, they seem to be as easy again as they were when I used to put them off till the last minute. But even now Ted Instone does his a great deal sooner than me. He is very quick at Latin and figures.
I am very well, dear mother, and am getting on wonderfully in cricketing. Our captain never plays now without me. I have had lots of rowing, too, since the holidays. I have learned to "feather" my oar, and can pull half a mile wiihout feeling hurt at all. Some of us wanted to pull in a race at a Regatta which was he'd here about a fortnight ago, but Mr. Macpherson advised us not. We watched the races from Dr. Tasker's garden. The l’octor would not let us go up to the starting place, because he thought there would be a lot of low betting men about. He said a rowing match was as innocent a sport as could be, but unfortunately it was becoming as common to bet on such races as it is on horse-racing
You will be sorry to bear that the rabbit I sent to Ernie Instone got out the other night and died of cold. The little fellow is much put about over it. I have promised that Ted shall take him a couple at Christmas. I am afraid they would not live, or I would ask Bob to pack up a couple and send them at once by rail as a parcel.
With love to yourself, to father, Clara, and Helen, and with kind regards from Ted, I remain, my dear mother, your affectionate son,
Letter No. 53.
High Street, Woodbourne,
October, 4th, 187.-. MY DEAR BEN,
I am almost ashamed to think how long your letter has been unaoswered, but Saturday half-holidays are almost the only leisure I have, and a bright afternoon is such a temptation to ramble in the fields and woods, that I have not bad the heart to deny myself.
The first Saturday after the match a few of us walked to llammerthorpe and had a delightful hour's rowing on the reservoir there. They have some capital boats there now, both outriggers and canoes, and I enjoyed myself immensely. So did the others, unless it was John Williams, who happened io "catch a crab” in rouing a very light outrigger and so fell overboard. As you know, he can swim like a frog, so all he got was a thorough wetting. He borrowed some dry clothes from a relation of his at Hammerthorpe, and walked home with us, as jolly as ever, in a suit about two sizes too big for him.
On the next Saturday, Tom Blunt, George Wasdell, Edgar Foster, and I set off to gather black berries and nuts in Upleigh Wood. We gathered as many nuts as we could eat, besides carrying a decent
bagful home, and you may be sure our mouths were as black as any negro's with eating ripe blackberries. I enjoyed myself very much. You would hardly believe what a treat it is to get an hour or two in the woods now that I so seldom have the opportunity.
The next half-holiday we had a grand turn out at “Hare and Hounds,” and though we managed to keep out of scrapes for trespassing, we bad plenty of fun. George Wasdell and Fred Higgins were the hares. You know what long legs they have. Well, they crossed and re-crossed the brook that runs through Upleigh about a dozen times in the widest places. And so we fellows with legs of about the usual dimensions had to jump it as best we could, sometimes landing in soft mud and sometimes splashing into the water.
Last Saturday we played cricket among ourselves, choosing sides out of the school club.
To-day it is too wet to go out, so I have writtten to you. You must thank the weather for the letter, if you feel thankful for it at all.
I like my situation pretty well. It is very close for me, of course, and one or two of the fellows are very disagreeable and overbearing towards me as the last comer, but I am getting into my work now, and I feel more comfortable than I did at first.
I must now wind up. Hoping to hear from you soon, I remain, yours truly,
CHARLIE THORNTON. P.S. - Please give enclosed short note to your friend Instone.
Letter No. 54.
High Street, Woodbourne,
October 4th, 187 DEAR INSTONE,
Though, as you say, I have not much leisure to write, I cannot but thank you for your kind letter. I am glad you were so much interested in the report of our cricket-mateh. I have seen the account Joe Bland wrote for the newspaper, and it certainly did amuse me to see how his feelings had carried him away, for he is the besi and most hunest fellow I know, and would not wilfully misrepresent anything for the world. Of course you were juking when you spoke about "penny-a-liners,” but seriously I believe Joe will make his mark some day as an author of some sort. He could always beat the whole school at composition, and Mr. Jones has said many a time that his paraphrases were nearly perfect.
I am doing fairly well at the office, and some of the clerks are very agreeable fellows, others not so nice. It is hard to be shut up 80 many hours, of course, but I try not to think about it, and most of my work is pleasant enough.
With kind regards, yours truly, CHARLIE THORNTON.
Letter No. 55.
The Laurels, Woodbourne,
October 15th, 187—. DEAR BEN,—
I am glad to hear you are well. Hope you are keeping out of scrapes too. I don't mind how much cricketing and rowing you do after lessons are done. Don't neglect work for play.
Give Dr. Tasker my warm thanks for keeping you away from the boat-race. Never stay in company where betting is going on. That and drink are the curse of this country. Betting leads to lying, stealing, and the gaol. If you want to race, race among yourselves.
Now about the rabbit you gave to young Instone. happens that I am going to London next week. One of my Tidbury patients has gone up to consult an eminent surgeon there. He has proposed an operation. I am asked to be present when it is performed. So I think I will get Bob pack up two of
rabbits and take them with me.
As Ernie is a cripple he can't have very much to amuse him, and the rabbits may cheer him up. With love from us all, I am, your affectionate father,
Letter No. 56.
Worcester, October 10th, 187—. MY DEAR FATHER,
I am so glad you are going to London. Ernie will be pleased to have the rabbits. I told Ted of it, but we agreed not to let Ernie know. It will be such a pleasant surprise for him. Please ask Bob to choose a pair of the strongest grey rabbits. I would have sent blue ones, but they are not so strong and hardy as the greys. Ted thanks you very much. I wish I was going with you.
With love to all at home, I am, in great haste, your affectionate son,
Letter No. 57.
London, October 24th, 187—, MY DEAR MASTER BARLOW,
what do you Think? last Nite someboddy came to the Dore and left a Big Box. it was a man from the Raleway. he said he was to Bring it for Master Ernest. well, when we unfasned the Box, there were too large beautifle Rabits-oh! such lovely Pets. i kneu drekly you had sent them. but we can't think how they got