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uncertainty she did not return to London as usual in the winter, but passed her time in grief and solitude in the country. At length one of her sisters married, and after many refusals, Lady Montagu consented to give a ball and supper on the occasion at her town house; but while the supper was being cooked, the whole house was alarmed by a cry of fire!
It appears that one of the cooks had overturned a saucepan, and set fire to the chimney. The chimneysweepers were sent for, and a little boy was sent up; but the smoke nearly choked him, and he fell into the fireplace. Lady Montagu came herself with some vinegar and a smelling bottle. She began to bathe his temples and his neck, when suddenly she screamed out, Oh, Edward!" and fell senseless on the floor. She soon recovered and taking the little sweep in her arms, pressed him to her bosom crying, "It is my dear Edward! It is my lost boy."
It appears she had recognised him by a mark on his neck. The master chimney-sweeper, on being asked where he had obtained the child, said he had bought him about a year before of a gipsy woman who said he was her son. All that the boy could remember was, that some people had given him fruit, and told him they would take him home to his mamma. But they took him a long way upon a donkey, and after keeping him a long long while, told him he must go and live with the chimney sweep who was his father. They had beaten him so much whenever he spoke of his mamma and of his fine house, that he was almost afraid to think of it. But he said, his master, the chimney-sweeper, had treated him very well.
Lady Montagu rewarded the man handsomely, and from that time she gave a feast to all the chimney-sweepers of the metropolis on the first of May, the birthday of little Edward. He always presided at the table which was
covered with the good old English fare, roast beef, plum pudding, and strong beer.
This circumstance happened many, many years ago, and Lady Montagu and Edward are both dead; but the 1st of May is still celebrated as the chimney sweepers' holiday, and you may see them on that day in all parts of London, dressed in ribbons and all sorts of finery, dancing to music at almost every door, and beating time with the implements of their trade.* Anon.
IN the pleasant valley of Ashton there lived an elderly woman of the name of Preston. She had a small neat cottage, and there was not a weed to be seen in her garden. It was upon her garden that she chiefly depended for support: it consisted of strawberry-beds, and one small border for flowers. The pinks and roses she tied up in nice nosegays, and sent either to Clifton or Bristol to be sold. As to her strawberries, she did not send them to market, because it was the custom for numbers of people to come from Clifton, in the summer time, to eat strawberries and cream at the gardens in Ashton.
Now the widow Preston was so obliging, active, and good tempered, that every one who came to see her was pleased. She lived happily in this manner for several years; but, alas! one autumn she fell sick, and, during her illness, everything went wrong her garden was neglected, her cow died, and all the money which she
*The feast alluded to was given until a comparatively recent period, although the original Montagu blood had become extinct. The master-sweeps of London continue the custom; but the popular sweep demonstrations of the metropolis on the 1st of May are spurious, catch-penny imitations.
had saved was spent in paying for medicines. Winter passed away, while she continued so weak that she could earn but little by her work; and when Summer came, her rent was called for, and this was not ready in her little purse as usual. She begged a few months' delay, and they were granted; but at the end of that time there was no resource but to sell her horse Lightfoot.
Now, Lightfoot, though perhaps he had seen his best days, was a very great pet; in his youth he had always carried the dame to market behind her husband; and it was now her little son Jem's turn to ride him. It was Jem's business to feed Lightfoot, and to take care of him; a charge which he never neglected, for, besides being very good natured, he was a very industrious boy.
"It will go near to break my Jem's heart," said dame Preston to herself, as she sat one evening beside the fire, stirring the embers, and considering how she had best open the matter to her son, who stood opposite to her, eating a dry crust of bread very heartily for supper. "Jem," said the old woman, "what, art hungry? "That I am, brave and hungry!"
"Aye! no wonder, you've been brave hard at work
"Brave hard! I wish it was not so dark, mother, that you might just step out and see the great bed I've dug; I know you'd say it was no bad day's work—and, oh mother! I've good news; farmer Truck will give us the giantstrawberries, and I'm to go for them to-morrow morning, and I'll be back before breakfast."
"Bless the boy! how he talks! four back again, before breakfast."
Four miles there, and
"Aye, upon Lightfoot, you know, mother, very easily,-mayn't I?"
"Why do you sigh, mother?"
"Finish thy supper, child."
"I've done!" cried Jem, swallowing the last mouthful hastily, as if he thought he had been too long at supper. "And now for the great needle, I must see and mend Lightfoot's bridle before I go to bed." To work he set, by the light of the fire; and the dame having once more stirred it, began again with “ Jem, dear, does he go lame at all now?" "What Lightfoot! Oh no, not he!—never was so well of his lameness in all his life, he's grown quite young again, I think; and then he's so fat he can hardly wag." "Bless him—that's right-we must see, Jem, and keep him fat."
“For what, mother?"
"For Monday fortnight at the fair.
He's to be sold!'
"Lightfoot!" cried Jem, as the bridle dropped from his hand; "and will mother sell Lightfoot?"
"Will! no: but must, Jem."
"Must; who says you must? why must you, mother?" “I must, I say, child. Why, must I not pay my debts honestly and must I not pay my rent; and was it not called for long and long ago; and have not I had time: and did I not promise to pay it for certain Monday fortnight, and am I not two guineas short-and where am I to get two guineas? So what signifies talking, child?" said the widow, leaning her head upon her arm, "Lightfoot must go."
Jem was silent for a few minutes. "Two guineas; that's a great, great deal. If I worked, and worked, and worked ever so hard, I could no ways earn two guineas before Monday fortnight. Could I, mother ? ” ́
"Oh, no! child, no; not if you worked yourself to death."
"But I could earn something, though, I say," cried Jem
proudly; "and I will earn something- if it be ever so little it will be something—and I shall do my best; that I will."
BRAVE JEM LAYS HIS PLANS FORTHWITH.
Jem was up betimes in the morning, and soon he was on his way to the town in search of something to do. After trying hard, but in vain, he was becoming downcast and disheartened for poor Lightfoot's sake. But he gathered up courage to make another effort, and offered his services to a lady who was overlooking a gardener at work on her grounds. She was pleased with the manner of the lad, and luckily enough engaged him on trial at sixpence a day. Jem worked on bravely, and secured the approval of the gardener as well as the good graces of his mistress.
After some days the gardener asked him to stay a little while over time to help him to carry some geranium pots into the hall. Jem, always active and obliging, readily stayed from play, and was carrying in a heavy flower-pot, when his mistress crossed the hall. "What a terrible litter," said she, "you are making here; why don't you wipe your shoes upon the mat?" Jem turned round to look for the mat, but he saw none. "Oh!" said the lady, recollecting herself, "I can't blame you, for there is no mat." No, ma'am,' said the gardener, "and I don't know when, if ever, the man will bring home those mats you bespoke." "I am very sorry to hear that," said the lady; "I wish we could find somebody who would do them, if he can't. I should not care what sort of mats they were, so that one could wipe one's feet." Jem, as he was sweeping away the litter, when he heard this, said to himself, 'Perhaps I could make a mat.”
HOW JEM BRAVELY MAKES A MAT.
All the way home, as he trudged along whistling, he was thinking over a scheme for making mats, which, how