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BEN BARLOW'S BUDGET.
By Tom BROWN, Author of " A Year at School," &c., &c.
Letter No. 4
Waterside House, Worcester,
Jan. 22nd, 187DEAR CHARLIE,—
I could not write to you yesterday, for we were out sliding until it was too late. I promised to tell you about Dr. Tasker. When I got here, Stilts-that's Mr. Henley, you know, left me in the library—a room full of books from the floor to the ceiling. Ted Instone-one of the fellows who sleep in the same room with metold me that one of Mr. Henley's duties was to reach down the books from the top shelves when the doctor wanted them. Perhaps he does reach them for him if he happens to be there, but he needn't, for I saw a little ladder hanging against one of the shelves.
Dr. Tasker came into the library to see me. I was a bit disappointed. Father always said what a fine man he was ; but he is really very short, and goes a bit lame with one foot. Of course he is getting very old now, but I should think he was never much good at footbail or cricket. He seems a very pleasant man.
I haven't heard him talk in Latin or Greek yet. I suppose it is because he knows I could not understand it.
And now about the boys. There are about forty of us, and quite half are bigger than I am. I am in the fourth class, and in that there are three or four fellows a lot bigger than me, but I don't fear them much. They look rather loose-jointed, like George Wasdell, I think I could hold my own against either of them. There are four boys sleep in the same room with me, but we have a bed each. One of the rooms has six beds, and some of the little chaps sleep two together.
Ted Instone is a jolly sort of fellow. I like him better than anyone else. But he's so full of jokes that you never know when he is in earnest.
Of course I have been played all sorts of tricks. The first night the other three lads in our room undressed in a great hurry and put out the light before I was ready for bed, and when I tried to get in I found the bed was almost full of things-fire.irons, books, boots, and hairbrushes, and when I had got them out I found the sheet was doubled up and fastened, so that I could only get down halfway into bed. Ted came and made a great fuss in helping me, but I believe he kept putting the things in again at one side as fast as I fetched them out at the other, for I should think I fetched one hairbrush out a dozen times.
Last night Ted advised me to go up stairs like him on tiptoe and without a light, for fear the other fellows might know we were coming and play me some pranks. I did as he said, and there, directly I entered the room, my foot caught against a piece of string stretched across a doorway, and I was pitched head first into a tin bath full of cold water they had put ready for me. It wasn't nice, I can tell you, but father said I must 'not lose my temper, or they would be ten times worse, so I kept my tongue still.
Don't tell anybody about the tricks I've been played—except Joe Bland, I don't mind him. Wait until I've had a chance of paying them back, and then you can tell anybody.-Yours truly,
Letter No. 5.
The Laurels, Woodbourne,
Jan. 23rd, 187—. MY DEAR BEN,–
You will get your skates to-morrow morning. Your mother knows they are coming. I persuaded her to let you have them by promising for you that you would keep out of danger. Now, mind, I have pledged my word for you. I know the place well, and if you keep on the meadow side of the pollard willows you cannot get anything worse than a wetting even if the ice breaks.
Charlie Thornton called here this morning to see Bob about something. He told me you were a little surprised to find Dr. Tasker a little, lame man. When I said he was a grand, fine fellow, I referred to his moral and intellectual qualities. When you know him better you will understand my meaning. But though he was never tall, I can remember him a strong, active man. He was one of the first oars at his University. Some time I may
you wish to know, how the doctor became lame.
And now, Ben, I hope you will do your best at school. Your mother asks me to warn you against taking cold, or getting hurt in your games. If you get wet, mind and keep on the move till you get back to the school, and then instantly change your wet garments for dry.
You won't forget the three rules I told you to go by at school :Learn all you can--fear nothing but lying-do unto others as you would have them do to you. You will find them bard work, especially the last, but pray earnestly night and morning for help, and they will become easier.—With love from mother, sisters, and self, believe me, your affectionate father, OLIVER BARLOW. P.S.-You
your friend Instone that I am quite satisfied when you sign yourself affectionate son,” for true affection will be sure to make you dutiful.
Letter No. 6.
From “ BOB” to BEN BARLOW.
Jenury 25, 187DEER MASTER BEN,
I rite these feu lines 'oping to find you in good health, as it leeves me at present with a soar throte.
You will like to know that the gray rabit ’as got 6 little wons. They are a very strung sort, and I can sell all of 'em if you like. Or Master Blunt will take 3 of 'em for two of those bleu wons wich you wonted so much. Let me know wich I am to do.
I hope you like your neu school. So no more at present from your obedent servant,
The writer of the above letter was named “Bob,” and that only. He had never borne any other name. Who his father was, was never known. He was born in Upleigh workhouse, whither his mother had taken refuge a few days before. Whence she came, or who she was, she never told, but it was feared the unfortunate woman was the victim of misplaced affection. A few days after the birth of her baby it became evident the poor woman was fast sinking. In her last moments Dr. Barlow, then a young man, and newly appointed parish doctor, inquired if she wished to give any information as to his parentage. She sadly shook her head, asked him to have the baby named Robert, and shortly afterwards died.
Bob stayed in the workhouse till he was ten years of age, and then Dr. Barlow getting married, took him into his house as errand boy. Since then he had faithfully served his master and mistress, from both of whom he received the kindest and most considerate treatment. He had received some tuition, and though from want of practice he was a poor writer and an eccentric speller, he was able to read very fairly indeed. When the good doctor set up a horse and gig, Bob was installed as groom, and he soon became quite expert in his new duties. His love for animals made him almost as fond of pets as his young master, and formed a bond of friendship between them, though he was nearly ten years older than Master Ben.
His obscure origin rarely troubled Bob, nor the want of a surname. Dr. Barlow had advised him to call himself after the place of his birth, Robert Woodbourne-quite a stylish name, by the way—but workhouse orphans are rarely called upon to sign very important documents, and Bob had hitherto been content with that very short
Letter No. 7.
From Tom BLUNT to BEN BARLOW.
25th Jan, 187—. Dear BEN,
Bob told me yesterday that your grey doe had got young ones, so I went to see them. Are you for a deal ?
If you are, I will “swop” two of my missionary rabbits—the blue ones, you knowa month old for three of them. You know mine are “stunners."
Bob promised to write, but I was afraid he might forget, so I popped down to Thornton's and got your address from Charlie. Has he told you what a game we had on the pond on Saturday afternoon ?
I have got my home lesson to do yet, so I must wind up.—Yours truly,
Tom Blunt, the miller's son, was an eager impulsive lad of fourteen, good-hearted, good-tempered, and brimful of energy. however, neither thoughtless nor careless. No boy in Woodbourne was a better hand at dealing, and few made so many or such good bargains as he. He was nearly always buying, selling, or changing something or other, and he rarely lost in the transactions.
His father's mill-yard contained a number of outhouses which were but rarely used, and in several of these he allowed Tom to keep and rear his many varieties of live stock; and of course he got their food-damaged grain, meal, and such like-for nothing. He kept several kinds of doves and pigeons, a great variety of bantam and guinea-fowls, white mice, and guinea-pigs; and he occasionally bought a hedgehog, weasel, or leveret when one was captured near the village.
But of all his live stock, Tom was most proud of his rabbits. We cannot say how many he had, for the fact is he never knew exactly bimself. Like the Irish pig-drover, Tvm would have wanted somebody to hold them still while he counted them. Part of them he kept in an old stable, along one side of which was ranged a row of large hutches of his own construction. On the opposite side of the yarıwas a disused granary which contained another set of rabbit pens.
Between the two, Tom had made an underground passage with some very wide drain pipes his father had taken up from another part of the premises. And so on a wet Saturday, or at any other time when he wished it, Tom opened the hutch doors in both stable and granary, and the white-tailed tenants frisked about, and passed and repassed one another in the subterranean passage on friendly visits to their neighbours.
Of all Tom's lop-eared treasures, the most prizeable were his missionary rabbits—a breed of great rarity. Their colour was that slaty-gray hue which fanciers persist in designating as blue. They
came to be called missionary rabbits in this way. Mr. Blunt was one of the principal Methodists of the village, and at one of their missionary meetings much was said about what boys and girls could do to help the cause, and one speaker told the story of the missionary apple-tree. This set Tom Blunt thinking, and he at once decided to have some missionary rabbits, and so full was he of zeal that he resolved to start with a fine blue doe which he had bought that very week at a great outlay of pocket-money. When this rabbit had young ones, Tom sold some of them and put the money in a box ; and as they were much sought after, he found he had by the next yearly meeting nearly two pounds for the missions. He carefully kept all the produce of these blue rabbits for the same fund, and if he changed any of them for others, he always deposited their market price in the missionary box just as if he had sold them.
Wbat made Tom so anxious to deal with Ben Barlow was the fact that the mother of Ben's rabbits had taken first prize at a competition. His uncle had bought it for Ben for a birthday present, and it was indeed a beautiful specimen of the grey, double-lopped species.
FOOTPRINTS OF GOD IN NATURE.
By GEORGE PACKER,
XII.-THE LION. DETAILED sketch of the more remarkable and important animals will show numerous traces of beneficent design. Striking adaptations of means to ends will appear; and as we realise the goodness and wisdom and power that designed and created them, these
adaptations will serve far better than mere word-strife or argumentative displays for giving us correct thoughts of the Creator. In the structure and habits and instincts of the various animals we shall see such skill and contrivance as will expand our mental vision, and give us that most valuable of all knowledge-the knowledge that deepens our reverence, and increases our love to God.
6. Whate'er we see,
Of love divine, our intellectual souls.' The first animal we must speak of is manifestly the lion. He is commonly called the king of beasts, and is treated with universal respect. Though not the largest, he is probably the most powerful