Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter III.: LESSONS ON THE HILLS. - Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside)
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Chapter III.: LESSONS ON THE HILLS. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) 
Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) (London: Charles Fox, 1834).
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LESSONS ON THE HILLS.
“Fetch down a plate from the cupboard, Ambrose, and cover up the beer, while I cut the cheese. I suppose we may have a quarter of the cheese, as mother said,” observed Mildred to Ambrose, as the early sun was peeping in through the upper panes of the cottage lattice the next morning.
“Yes; we may have the quarter. I was at the shop before the first shutter was down. Here—here’s a plate for Mr. Ryan’s cheese. We will carry ours in the paper I brought it in. How shall I keep puss from getting at the things? Is not that Mr. Ryan stirring?—Mr. Ryan! Mr. Ryan!” (calling through the door.) “Please to look to your breakfast here, that the cat does not get it. We are going now; and Owen is gone to the mill; and mother is not home yet.”
“Off with you, lad!” answered Ryan from within. “Leave the cat to me. And if you can pick up any rags for me among the briers, you know I always give honest coppers for them; and yet more for tarred ropes, if such an article comes in your way.”
“Tarred ropes! How should we get them? If tar by itself would do, I could help you to some of that. The shepherds always keep tar against the shearing. Would tar by itself do?”
The loud laugh from within showed Ambrose that he had said something foolish; and he hastily departed, supposing that Mr. Ryan had been making a joke of him.
Cool and moist as all had been in the valley as they passed, the children found that the dew was gone from the furze-bushes on the hills, and that the sun was very warm.
“What had we better do?” asked Mildred, contemplating the yellow cheese, which began to shine almost as soon as she opened the paper. “Shall we eat it directly? I think I am beginning to be very hungry; are not you? And it will be half melted, and the bread dry, if we carry it about in the sun.”
“Mother said we were to keep the sheep for a couple of hours first,” was Ambrose’s reply. “And besides, I have some leaves to get for her; and they won’t be fit if I let them stay till the dew is off; and it is off already, except under the shady side of the bushes. Put the breakfast under the shady side of this bush; I’ll look to it.—Do you go about and get some rags, if you can find any. The briers and hedges are the most likely places.”
“There won’t be any Turks under the hedges, will there?” asked Mildred, lowering her voice.
“I don’t know. I don’t rightly know what Turks are; but if anything happens amiss, call out loud to me, and I’ll come. Go; make haste. The sheep are quiet enough.”
“And how are we to know when two hours are over?”
“We must each guess, I suppose; and if we don’t agree, we’ll draw lots with a long spike of grass and a short one. The long one for me, you know, because I’m the eldest.”
In forty minutes, both were agreed that two hours were over; and each complimented the other on the fruits of the morning’s work. Ambrose exhibited a handful of leaves, which he placed under a big stone, that they might not be blown away; and Mildred brought the foot of a worsted stocking, which she had found in a ditch; a corner of a blue cotton handkerchief with white spots, which had been impaled on a furze bush; and a bit of white linen as large as the palm of her little hand, with twenty holes in it. How many coppers would Ryan be likely to give her for this treasure?
Ambrose rejected the worsted article, to which his sister gave a sigh as she saw it thrown backwards among a group of sheep, who scampered away in their first terror, but soon gathered together to look at the fragment. The other two might be worth the third part of a farthing, if Mr. Ryan should be in a liberal mood, Ambrose thought.
“I wonder how much paper they will make,” Mildred observed. “Mr. Ryan says they are to go into his sack with the rest of his rags, for paper. Mother did not tell you what she wanted the leaves for, I suppose?”
“No; and I sha’n’t ask her. Do you ever hear people talk about what mother makes?”
“Why, yes; I do. Molly at Mrs. Arruther’s was telling the gipsy woman one day about mother; and she said she had some strange secrets. And then they asked me what one thing meant, and another. But they did not mean me to hear all they said, any more than Mrs. Dowley when she winked at her husband, and glanced down at mother’s apron where some green was peeping out: but it was only cabbage that time. They all think her a very wise doctor.”
“How they do send after her when they are ill! Mr. Yapp said one day that she would be wise to bring up one of us to be a doctor after her: but Mrs. Dowley was there then, and she said it could not be, because mother’s was of the nature of a gift that could not be taught.—Here is your other bit of cheese. Will you have it now, or keep it till dinner?”
Mildred had intended to reserve part of her cheese for dinner; but having now nothing particular to do, and the sheep offering nothing which required her attention, the whole of the delicacy at length disappeared, crumb by crumb. Then she lay back, looking at a flight of birds that now met, now parted, now crossed each other in all directions, high in the air. Ambrose meanwhile stretched himself at length, with his face to the ground, watching a hairy brown caterpillar, which he took the liberty of bringing back with a gentle pinch by the tail, as often as it flattered itself that it was getting beyond his reach. He presently wished that they had a pair of scissors with them.
“Won’t the knife do as well?” Mildred languidly inquired.
“No. I want to cut off the creature’s hair.”
“What creature?” asked Mildred, starting up, but seeing no creature with hair, but a remote donkey and herself.
“Here: this young gentleman,” replied her brother, exhibiting the writhing caterpillar on the palm of his brown hand. Well might the creature feel uncomfortable; for this hand which had carried cheese must have been far from fragrant, in comparison with the thyme-bed on which the poor caterpillar had been disporting himself. What Ambrose wanted was to see whether it would come out a common green caterpillar, when stripped of its long sleek hairs. The process of plucking was tried in the absence of scissors: but the material was too fine. The knife was next applied, but the creature was destined never to be shaven and shorn. A slip of the knife cut it in two, and fetched blood on Mildred’s finger at the same time. The perturbation thus caused completely awakened her, and she was ready for the sport of shepherd and shepherd’s dog. For a very long time, Ambrose supported his dignity of shepherd. He strapped himself round with his sister’s pinafore and his own for a plaid; took long steps; wielded a thick stick, and made grand noises to the flock; while Mildred went on all fours till her back was almost broken, and barked all the while, like any dog. The sheep were silly enough to scud before her to the very last, as much alarmed as at first, till she was obliged to stop to laugh at them. All play must come to an end; and by-and-by the children were stretched, panting, on the very spot where they had breakfasted. To panting succeeded yawning; and it began to occur to both that they had yet a long day to pass before the sheep would be penned. It was against the rules of their employment that both should sleep at the same time; and, as Mildred could not keep awake, it was necessary for her brother to watch. She was not, as usual, wakened by his calling out so loud to some of his charge as to rouse her before her dream was done. She finished it, opened her eyes, sat up and stretched herself; and Ambrose was too busy to take notice.
“I had such a queer dream!” observed Mildred.—Her brother did not hear.
“I say, Ambrose, I dreamt that I was sorting rags at the mill, and there was a caterpillar upon every one of them; and—What have you got there, Ambrose? Did you hear what I said?”
“Come here,” replied her brother. “Here is a story! Help me to make it out.”
“A story! what, upon the very piece of paper that held the cheese! What is the story like? Tell me. You know I can’t read so well as you.”
“But you can help me with this part, perhaps. I will tell you what I have read when I know this word. The man would not go in somewhere; and this word tells where.”
Mildred pored over the soiled piece of print, and pronounced presently that the word in question signified something about a comb. In her spelling-book, c-o-m-b spelled comb. But of the rest of the word,—“inat,”—“in,”—What could it be?
“It ends with ‘nation.’ ‘Comb’—‘nation.’ Well: I must let that alone. There was a man that would not go into this place,—whatever it is,—and the people that were in it were angry because he went to his work.”
“Because he did not go to his work, I suppose you mean.”
“No; because he would go when they bade him not. And they watched for him one day when he was going to work, and his little boy with him. They call him a little boy, though he was eleven years old. They flew upon the man, and thumped him and kicked him as hard as ever they could. And when the boy cried, and begged they would not use his father so cruelly, one of them caught up a thick rope, and beat the boy till it was a shocking sight to see him.”
“They were cruel wretches. I wonder whether there was anybody near to go for the constable? Did they get a constable?”
“I suppose so, for the people were asked how they dared to beat people so.”
“And what did they say?”
“This that I can’t make out, about going in and not going in: but they got a good scolding,—and that is as far as I have got.”
“See what is to be done to them, and whether there is anything more about the boy.”
Another half-hour’s spelling and consultation revealed that the child had pulled one of the assailants down by the leg, and thus turned the fury of the man upon himself; that it was doubtful whether the boy would recover; and that, this being the case, the decision of the magistrates was that—
Here came the jagged edges of the torn newspaper, instead of the magistrates’ decision. This was very disagreeable indeed. Not to know what became of the aggressors, and whether the brave boy lived or died, was cruel. Ambrose threw away the paper, and grew cross. Mildred’s consolations,—that very likely the boy was well by this time, and she had no doubt the cruel people were put in prison,—were of no use. A better device than to imagine the issue suggested itself to Ambrose. He would go and ask Mr. Yapp. The paper having come from Mr. Yapp’s shop, he no doubt knew the end of the story. Could not Mildred look after the flock while he ran down now? No harm could come to the sheep during the little time that he should be gone.
Mildred did not like this plan,—was sure her mother would not like it. Ambrose had better read the story over again, to try and understand it better; and she would go with him to Mr. Yapp’s when the flock was penned, in the evening. Never did the oriental scholar pore more diligently over a new tablet of hieroglyphics than these two children over the fragment of a police report which had fallen in their way. To no scholar can it be so important to ascertain a doubtful point of history, or to develope facts of the costume and manners of a remote people, as it was to these young creatures to learn the issue of a case in which rights like their own were invaded, and filial sympathies like their own were aggrieved.
Again, during the day, Ambrose called to his sister that he had something to say to her, and Mildred knew that it must relate to the story he had read, so complete was the possession it had taken of his mind. He thought the people round were great fools for not punishing the aggressors on the spot. If he had been there, he would not have waited to hear what the magistrates said; not he. He would have knocked down every one of them that he could get at, if it were by pulling by the leg as the poor boy had done.
“And then,” said Mildred, “they would have served you the same as the boy; and if anybody had taken your part, they would have served him the same. I don’t think that would do any good.”
“Nothing like a battle,” exclaimed Ambrose, waving his cap over his head. “I like a good battle better than all the justices and gentlemen in the world.”
“I don’t like battles,” Mildred observed. “I do not much mind seeing you and Sam Dobbs fight here on the heath, where you only throw one another down, and the grass is too soft to hurt you. But I saw the men fight before the Rose; and one of them lifted the other up high into the air, and dashed him down slap upon the pavement; and you might have heard the knock of his head as far as the pump, I’m sure. There was such a quantity of blood that I could not eat my supper! I should not like to see such a battle often!”
“O, only tell me when anybody does you any harm, and see how I will fight for you.”
“I am sure I shall not tell anything about it, if you go and fight in that manner. I would ask mother or Owen to go with me to Justice Gibson. If you consider, there would be fighting all day long in our place, and much more in L—, if all people chose to battle it out instead of going to the Justice. And besides, I think the Justice can take much better care of this poor little boy than anybody that just fought a battle for him, and then went away.”
Ambrose saw this; and before dinner was over, both the children had learned, after their own fashion, how far superior law is to vengeance, and security to retaliation. Confined as their ideas were (the picture of their own little village and few associates alone being before their eyes), this was a most important notion to have acquired. There needed only the experience of life to enable them to extend their conceptions,—Justice Gibson standing for the magistracy at large, and the little village of Arneside for social life in general.
Evening came. The sheep were penned, and the children were standing before Mr. Yapp’s shop-door, pushing each other on to the feat of asking the grocer for the rest of the story. They saw Mr. Yapp’s eyes turned on them once or twice; but they could not get courage to make use of the opportunity. It was Mr. Yapp himself who at last brought on the crisis.
“Come, younkers,” said he, “make your way in or make your way off. Don’t stand in my door, preventing people coming in.”
Mildred moved off; Ambrose bolted in; and then his sister came up to reinforce him. As the grocer had nothing very particular to attend to at the moment, he did not crush the aspiration for knowledge. He directed the children to the package of paper from which their fragment had been taken, and looked over the story himself. It would have been too long a task for such poor scholars to seek for what they wanted by reading. To compare the jagged edges of the paper was a much readier method; and Mildred did this, while Mr. Yapp gave her brother some imperfect idea (for he was not learned on the subject) what a Combination was, and why a man was ill-treated for not entering into one. This was worth coming for; but it was all. Mildred’s search was unsuccessful. The rest of the story was irrecoverable. Many customers, some from distant farms and cottages, had been at the shop to-day; and it was impossible to say who had carried it off.
Ambrose begged for his paper back again. There was something on the other side that he wanted to show to Owen.
“Let’s see,” said Mr. Yapp. “Why, this looks like magic,—all these waves, and dashes, and dots, and signs. O, ho! it is short-hand, I see. Somebody advertises to teach short-hand. There, take it to Owen, and see what he makes of it.”
Ambrose turned the paper about, but could see nothing like a hand. What could be meant by short-hand?
A way of writing short, he was told; and he remained as wise as he was before. But now Miss Selina Yapp, who stood smiling behind the counter, was desired to give the children half-a-dozen raisins apiece; and it was quite time to be going home.
Their mother was looking out for them from the door.
“Why, mother, are you going to be out again to-night? Sure the lady must be very bad!”
“I am not going to the lady till morning, dears. ’Tis poor neighbour Johns I am now going to. Sadly sunk he is; and his old woman is nigh worn out. So I’ve made my bit of a bed fit for her here; and it is full time she was in it. So, troop to bed, dears. Get your suppers while ye undress; and be as still as mice, sleeping or waking, when she comes in. Put your learning away till to-morrow, Owen, my boy. Pussy won’t eat your paper before morning, I dare say, if you put it where it will be safe. You’ve had your supper; so now to bed, my boy. You’ll be fresh all the earlier in the morning. But be sure you put on your shoes the last thing, lest you should wake the old woman with your clatter.”
Owen’s eye had been completely caught by the mysterious figures of the short-hand specimen. He held it between his teeth while he undressed, and went on looking at it by the twilight, after he was in bed, till his brother and sister had done talking; and then he put it under his bolster. Ambrose, meantime, stuffed his mouth with his supper very indefatigably, and yet managed to get out his story of the little boy who had been beaten for defending his father. Following his mother about wherever she moved, he made her mistress of the whole before he had done.
Mrs. Ede was not disappointed at their saying nothing about her sitting up again to-night. To them, it was so much a matter of course that she should sit up professionally, and to her that she should do what she could for a needy and suffering neighbour, that the circumstance did not seem worthy of remark. All were more occupied with Mildred’s disappointment. It was feared that Mr. Ryan was gone from the village this evening, and that he would not come on his rounds again for half-a-year. He had himself bid Mildred look for rags; and now he was gone before she came home! Her bits of blue and white must stand over till he appeared again; for Owen did not think any money would be given for them at the mill. Nurse stayed yet five minutes longer, to comfort her little daughter under this mischance; and within that five minutes, all three were sound asleep.
“Bless their little faces, how pretty they all do look!” thought the mother. “’Tis almost a pity to leave such a pretty sight. I wonder which of them will stand so by me, when I am old and failing like neighbour Johns; if it should please God I should live till then. But, dear me, what a puckered old face mine will be then!—little like their smooth rosy cheeks. ’Tis a cheerless thing for two old folks to be left without children, unfit to take care of one another, like poor neighbour Johns and his dame; and yet worse it would be for me that have laid my husband in his grave so long ago. But if God spares me my little ones, and my girl stays near me, I need not care what else betides. Bless them! how sweetly they do breathe in their sleep! And now, I must go and send the dame to her bed. I trust she will be thoughtful not to wake the children; and I’m sure they will be thoughtful towards her in the morning.”