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a bunch of lighted brimstone matches at the
end of a long pole. In one way or another, it
is certain that as fast as they were wanted
they were caught.

On his way home Ben took up all the
snares that he had laid in going out, Snap
calling his attention to them. Arrived at his
own cottage he found always his wife in waiting
to receive him. They carried the game
down into a little pantry partly sunk into
the ground, so that the eaves of the roof that
covered it outside were touched by the wall-
flowers in the garden. In this pantry a secret
recess had been made, like the hatch of deer-
stealers in olden time, a hiding-place not easily
to be discovered. Into that the game was put.
Honest Ben went to bed, and was ready next
morning for punctual attendance on his labour.

The sale of the game was managed easily.
Ben and his wife kept a cow, and had the
right of stray upon the parish common. They
kept also a great deal of poultry, and were
noted for a superior breed of fowls of the
pheasant sort. These were under the care of
Mrs. Close, and gave her occasion to come
into Beechester every Saturday with butter,
eggs, and poultry. Her square butter basket,
with a white cloth drawn over the top, often had
quite a wrong sort of poultry at the bottom.
She had regular customers for game at private
houses, and especially at inns and hotels; and,
because buyers of poached game were liable
to penalty as well as sellers, nobody who got
a profit out of it betrayed her secret.

The wants of his wife's customers, weather,
movements of gamekeepers, and other
considerations, influenced Ben's visits to the
preserves of the baronet and squire. He did
not, therefore, poach upon them nightly.
Sometimes the gentry held a battue, at a time
when those vile slaughterings came into
fashion. Ben always visited the scene of
murder with his lurcher on the following
night, when keepers, beaters, and watchers
were all making merry in the hall; and, by
the help of Snap's nose which neglected
nothing, carried off all the wounded pheasants
or hares that had been left to languish.

It was also the custom of Mrs. Close, in a
most innocent way, to borrow the local newspaper
of a neighbouring farmer. Her object
was to hunt it through for notices of the next
meetings of turnpike trusts, the assembling of
drainage commissioners, anniversaries of clubs,
and all occasions that give rise to an extensive
dinner. There was always a demand on
such occasions for cheap game.

One night as Honest Ben was on his way
home with a heavy pocket, he was seen. A
new tenant who had taken possession of a
certain homestead, brought some of his old
labourers with himrough fellows who had a
perverted taste for game watching. Ben
suddenly crossed their path in the dim light:
and they, suspecting something wrong, followed
to ask him who he was, and what he
had with him. Ben's character was at stake.
The model villager must not be recognised.
He made off, therefore, closely followed,
doubling and twisting vainly to elude pursuit.
At last there was no chance of escape left
except to cross "the sleepy pool above the
dam," the upper mill stream. He attempted
instantly to wade across, followed by faithful
Snap; but, before reaching the opposite bank,
he sank into a deep hole under some willows.
He sank up to his neck: but, by grasping at
the willow branches, kept his head out of
water. The pursuers crossed the stream
higher up by some stepping-stones, and came
round. They passed close by the spot where
Ben was hanging in the water; but the honest
man kept quiet, and was nowhere to be heard
or seen. After some time, when the coast was
clear, Mr. Close crawled out of the mill-pool
and went home; but, as he had been dripping
with heat when he ran into the pool, and was
dripping with cold when he crawled out of it,
he went home ill, suffered severely in his chest,
gave up work, was worn down to a skeleton,
and died before the game season was over.

But his secret was kept. He was buried at
his own wish under the shade of an old yew
in the churchyard, and the squire blew his
nose at church over the vicar's funeral sermon
on the pattern labourer. His industry had
received its worldly reward; for Ben, it was
found, had saved three hundred pounds,
which were invested in a distant water
company. His widow received the dividends, and
continued in occupation of the cottage and
museum. It was only at her death that
the facts above narrated became known in


      WITHIN a budding grove,
In April's ear sang every bird his best,
But not a song to pleasure my unrest,
      Or touch the tears unwept of bitter love
Some spake, methought, with pity, some as if in jest.
                       To every word
                       Of every bird
      I listened, and replied as it behove.

      Screamed Chaffinch, "Sweet, sweet, sweet!
O, bring my pretty love to meet me here!"
"Chaffinch," quoth I, "be dumb awhile in fear
      Thy darling prove no better than a cheat,
And never come; or fly when wintry days appear."
                       Yet, from a twig,
                       With voice so big,
      The little fowl his utterance did repeat.

        Then I, "The man forlorn
Hears earth send up a foolish noise aloft!"
"And what'll he do? what'll he do?" scoff'd
      The Blackbird, standing in an ancient thorn:
Then spread his sooty wings and flitted to the croft
                        With cackling laugh;
                        Whom I, being half
      Enraged, called after, giving back his scorn.

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