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make their first appearance for the day, was unrippled by the slightest breeze, but received into it the shadows of the trees, just as if they fell upon so much glass; and, rising behind an October mist, the great globe of the sun showed its red fire but a little above the level of the gate of Farmer Mowbray's straw-yard. Entering the cart-lodge, and hiding and securing me and my cage, for the moment, beneath a sack, in the corner of the inside of a waggon, Mr. Gubbins then left me, to go in search, as he did not fail to say to himself (but talking, as it were to me), of his friend Mowbray, and to make him the confident of my presence, and of the designs he had upon me; in a word, of the whole subject of my miseries and fears! A few seconds answered his purpose. He returned, bringing with him Mowbray; and now I was carried and locked into the granary, Mr. Gubbins saying to me, during this process, “ I told thee, my pretty Robin, that I would not hurt thee for the world, and that thee need'st but wait till the morrow; and now thee and I will have a walk through the fields as soon as I have dined, and thee shalt see what thee shalt see. For, neighbour Mowbray,” he continued, addressing all the rest to the friend beside him; “ thee know'st that, like my scholars, I have a half-holiday to-day, because it is Wednesday; and thee know'st, too, that I love to turn my half-holidays to profit, by getting a breathing in the fields, and by studying the works they show me!”
“ Aye, Mr. Gubbins," said Farmer Mowbray, “you are right; you are right. You do well to get a mouthful of fresh air when you can, and to look at the green fields, and the blue skies; and to smell the furrows, and to hear the sparrows and the crows; and, by the way, yon's a piece of turnips for you to look at, that's all over as green as an emerald! I often pity you, Mr. Gubbins, though my boys get their learning from you, and we can never be too thankful; I often pity you, and think, when I am enjoying myself at dungcart, or at plough, or at threshing in the barn there, along with my men; what a hard life you have of it,
stived up in your school-room, or fastened to your · desk, or poring over your books! But, as to that poor bird, it makes me groan (and so it does the mother and the children), that where we are going, we shall never, as they say, see the like of it, nor of any of the pretty warblers that I have listened too, man and boy, along our valley, ever since that I was born! It is a trying thing, friend Gubbins, to leave one's native place, without a hope of returning; and to carry away mother and child to a far country, and over a wide ocean, and to sit down where every thing must be strange and unkid-like*, and nothing that we have seen before!”
“ Indeed it is, neighbour Mowbray,” replied Mr. Gubbins; “and we often talk of thee and thine, at the old house, accordingly; and my wife and daughter cry when they think of parting with thee and thy wife, and thy promising boys and girls, and especially with little Fanny; and 'Squire Paulett, and his lady, and the parson, and the doctor, and all thy neighbours are sorry for thee. But is there no hope, friend Mowbray? Is the die cast? Must thee certainly go ?”
“ There is but one chance left,” said Mowbray; “ 'Squire Paulett (God reward him for it!) is doing all
* A country pronunciation of uncouth, but used in the sense of dreary; melancholy. The literal signification of uncouth, is strange, unknown, unusual; but, though from that single root, the relative ideas which the word also represents are various.
he can to see me righted ; and, if he succeeds, why, then, we may stay by the old barns, and the old barns may stay by us; but I am afraid of the worst and the worst. Might, they say, overcomes right; and, though I know I sha'n't lose the day, if 'Squire Paulett can help it, I fear it's all in vain, all that he is doing for me !"
“ It makes me gay as a lark in spring,” cried Mr. Gubbins, “to hear that thee hast still a chance; and that 'Squire Paulett, who is always doing good for the whole parish, is still at work for thee: and, with thy cause in such hands, I counsel thee, not so much to fear the worst, as to hope the best; and to look about thee, whether thee, and thy wife, and thy children, cannot yet stay at home, and live upon English ground, and listen to English song-birds! So, fare thee well, neighbour, for this morning; and, as soon as I have sent away my boys, and snapped up a hasty dinner, I shall come to thee for my Robin, and set out upon my journey. Good bye, Robin; be patient, my little fellow, till noon; and then thee shalt soon see what thee shalt see!" Thus saying, he stepped out of the granary, followed by Farmer Mowbray, who locked the door upon me.
In what manner I passed the dreary hours of my continued confinement, from sun-rise till the afternoon, the reader, who is aware of what I have described already, will easily imagine! But my tyrant came at last. Entering the granary with Farmer Mowbray, and setting about to cheer me with his unintelligible words of promise, and of pledge to occasion me no hurt, he opened the cage door; and taking me once more into his terrific hand, placed me (will it be believed?) within the meshes of some cabbage-net, or else of such a net as certain persons hang in the
breeding-cages of canary-birds! “ There, my pretty Robin !” said he, “thee wilt have plenty of air; and nothing will crush thee, nor bruise thee; for, though I must cover thee and thy net with a handkerchief, till we are clear of the village, lest the sight of thee in my hand should breed scandal against old Gubbins; yet, as soon as we are fairly beyond the village, I will let thee breathe thy fill, and see the skies and the fields and hedges; and, more than this, thy troubles will soon be over, and thee shalt see what thee shalt see!” Barbarous man, how can my troubles soon be over, shuddered I to myself, unless my life is to be over too; for when or where is the life that is without its troubles? Doth not the Scotch Robin sing
“There's nocht but care on every han',”
and wilt thou imbrue thy hypocritical hands in my blood, under pretext that my troubles will soon be over; and wilt thou hide me under thy handkerchief in the village, to hide thy guilt also, and prevent scandal against old Gubbins; and then carry me into the lone fields, and kill me where there are none but the dumb sheep to be the witnesses ? So, for a minute or two, I struggled as hard as I was able, and bit, and pecked, and scratched, and kicked at the meshes, but to no purpose; and then I sunk again into despair, and lay motionless at the bottom of the net! “ Well,” said Farmer Mowbray, as Mr. Gubbins led him, by the back way of the farm, and by the side of the turnips; “ well, I shall be curious to know the end of it; so, I wish thee success, and I pity the poor bird the wbile; but remember me to Cobbler Dykes : he will soon make him a halter, and I dare say that you will do it all as it should be, between you both. Good afternoon !"
“Good afternoon,' repeated I, with horror, to myself! “Good afternoon!'_ Farewell for ever' would have been the least that Farmer Mowbray should have said, if he had been speaking to me! Cobbler Dykes is to make me a halter! so, that the monster Gubbins will not spill my blood, for fear of detection; and I am to die, not in the light of the sun, and amid the flowers of the fields, and while the linnets are singing on the spray, and by the single wickedness of the horrid Mr. Gubbins; but there are two grim conspirators against my life, and Farmer Mowbray is an accessary before the fact! He said he was 'curious to see the end of it;' that is, “the end of me! I like his curiosity ! And this is what Mr. Gubbins meant in the morning, by talking of the pursuit of knowledge!' A Robin is to be strangled, in order that a cobbler, a schoolmaster, and a farmer, may grow knowing! And I am to be hanged in a cobbler's stall, as well as stifled with the smell of wax and leather, and my knell is to be rung upon a lapstone! A pretty story for the world, if secrecy were not sure to wrap it in darkness ;-if history could ever really tell the tale of
Mr. Gubbins was as good as his word in one respect, and I feared that he would be equally steady in all his purposes ! We were no sooner in the turnip. field, than he took his handkerchief from off the net, and let me see and breathe the scenes and air around me; and now, being out of sight and hearing of the village, he returned to what I believed to be his hollow, canting, treacherous, and double-meaning speeches, about doing me no harm; bringing my troubles to a finish; and letting me see what I should see! Unable to let him know much of my mind, I displayed at least