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dens for the sightliest cage; and the vicissitudes of want and plenty, of warmth and cold, and food and hunger, for the shelter of any roof, or for a perpetual trough of seed, or pan of paste? If such, too, were his barbarous design, by what means was he to pursue it? If the lessons of his life were to be forgotten or reversed; if he would not be ashamed, before his scholars, to be the gaoler of a Robin; yet how was he to get the consent of his family? Would his wife endure it? Would the tears of Mary suffer it? I could find no explanation for all my wonderment, as, still holding me, though in the gentlest manner, he walked hastily through the garden toward the house!
Arrived at the door of the latter, I reckoned confi. dently, if not upon a speedy release, through the remonstrances of Mrs. Gubbins and the supplications of her daughter, at least upon a solution of the mystery of my capture and detention. But no! Mr. Gubbins, in his own bouse, conducted himself with evident secrecy and, fear, and wholly concealed me from the sight of his wife and daughter! Slowly, and silently, and cautiously, he turned aside from the kitchen-door, and ascended the old staircase, even to the cockloft! There, to my fresh agony, he placed me in a cage which had plainly been prepared for my, reception; which was largely, supplied with food; and round and above which he drew baize and flannels, to keep me warm, leaving an open space, at the same time, for the admission of fresh air; and accompanying all his actions by the repetition of words and tones intended to be soothing and encouraging: “Wait only till to-morrow, my pretty little Robin, and thee shalt see, I warrant thee! I would not hurt thee for the world, my pretty little Robin !"
A few seconds more, and Mr. Gubbins had left me for the night, and descended the old staircase. My amazement equalled my affliction. That it was Mr. Gubbins himself who laid the trap for me, and who had designed, beforehand, to place me in my present thraldrom, was now certain. That Mary and her mother were ignorant of all; that Mr. Gubbins was afraid of their becoming acquainted with it; and that I had nothing, therefore, to hope, either from their reproaches or intercession (unless, indeed, in the extreme case of their accidental discovery of my sufferings); all this, in like manner, was unquestionable. What, then, was to become of me? What was in reserve for me? In the midst of all this disquietude of grief and terror, I was still incapable of eating or drinking, though, as I have said, Mr. Gubbins had omitted nothing to supply my wants in both of these respects. I was supperless and hungry, yet I could not eat; thirsty, and yet I could not drink. But the cockloft was growing dark, and the night-air becoming cold, and heavy with dew; and weariness and drowsiness crept over my limbs, and placed their lead upon my eyes. I folded my head under my wing, and fell asleep; but still endeavouring, so long as recollection remained, to hope the best that I was able, from all that I had previously known of Mr. Gubbins; from all that had been kind and gentle in him, even upon this strange occasion; and from the hopeful meaning which his tone and manner had seemed so strongly intended to convey, in uttering the words, “I would not hurt thee for the world;" and, “ Wait only till to-morrow, and thee shalt see, I warrant thee !"
Dear is my little native vale,
BEFORE the rising of the sun, on the next day, I awoke; but, then, could only by degrees come to the recollection of where I was, and how I had arrived there! I remembered all, only to return to grief, or rather to a dull despondency; and hardly allowed myself the smallest ray of hope from the words of Mr. Gubbins on the preceding night! The gray dawn advanced; and though, in my sad situation, I had little relish for any note of my accustomed morning song, yet partly to salute the light, and partly in the faint hope that Mrs. or Mary Gubbins might hear me; and hearing, restore me to the skies; I sung, two or three times, and even, without affecting to do so, in my most plaintive manner, all the parts of my little lay. But there was no echo, no return; all was silence in and near my solitary loft; and I sunk into a correspondent, though a waking gloom. I neither ate nor drank, now, any more than in the evening, of the meat and drink of slavery which stood beside me. The cock was crowing in the hen-house; the wren had sung while it was yet dark; I, for my part, was cheerless; a prisoner and alone; and waiting for my fate!
Two hours afterward, however, I heard a step up the ladder; and instantly I flattered myself with the belief that Mary Gubbins had indeed heard me, and would find me, and procure my release! To encourage and to guide her search, and to make myself sure of her compassion, I prolonged every note, and gave to each my tenderest and most supplicating air. But, alas! the voice which answered, and the step which followed it, were not Mary's, but her father's; the man who had become so cruel to me, and whom, now (and in spite of his smooth words), I so much dreaded. Uplifting the trap-door, and with a hideous cap upon his head (its worsted tassel bolt upright upon the crown), the ugly vision was too soon before my eyes, but accompanied with speeches that were at least intended for my comfort and satisfaction : “That's my pretty Robin,” said Mr. Gubbins; “ what, chanting thy morning song, just as if thee wer't among the springs and bushes, and (like any other early bird) hadst found the worm! And so thou hast, my Robin ; for, see,” continued he, “ I have been into the garden for thee, and dug thee worms and grubs, and here they are;" at saying which he passed into the cage a wooden spoonful of garden-mould, with worms and insects, of nothing of all of which, in the meantime, had I the smallest will or disposition to take notice!
“ I'll tell thee what,” presently subjoined Mr. Gubbins, after waiting, in vain, to see me eat, and pushing the dainties toward me, in all directions, to allure me; “ I'll tell thee what, my pretty Robin,” he subjoined, “I will take thee, cage and all, for the present, to neighbour Mowbray's; now, before any body is stirring in the street, and before my wife or daughter is in the kitchen, and especially before my boys are coming to school; for it would never do for the young rogues to see their old master caging a Robin; me, that have so long taught them every thing to the contrary; and, as to my Mary and her mother, they would break
their poor hearts, and be scared out of their seven senses, if they thought that I could do such a thing ; and dear souls, they would never be reconciled to my experiment, and they don't know the pains that must sometimes be taken in the search for knowledge! I would not have even Mowbray's wife or children see me with thee, my Robin; for they, too, would be in arms at my seeming cruelty; but Mow. bray is a kind neighbour, and a sensible man, and will let me deposit thee for a season, my Robin, and then thee shalt see what thee shalt see! Poor Mowbray, his wife and children will be milking the cows, and looking after the new-laid eggs, to serve the quality in the village; and he will be sure to be moving about somewhere; for, early and late, the honest creatures are striving, and preparing to part with their little all, for their sad voyage to Van Diemen's Land. Ah! my pretty Robin,” added he, “ the poor Mowbrays are going further than thee, and yet they love home as well as thee dost, I warrant thee; and I do not know what we shall do without them, for they are kind neighbours, and there is nobody besides them that sells such good milk, and such nice newlaid eggs. Come along, my little Robin, and let us see where neighbour Mowbray will put thee!”
Saying this, Mr. Gubbins lifted the cage which contained me, and spread over it, for concealment, the coverings which he had by night wrapped about it to keep me warm; and descending the ladder and the stairs, walked bastily down the street with me, to Mowbray's farmhouse. It was even yet the still of the morning. None of the villagers were abroad; the water of a little stream, which flowed gently by the road side, upon which some ducks were just about to