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dolls, toy-carts without wheels; one or two boy
younglings who swung about by the tail, small
rats that served as playthings, not being much
larger than the horses in a Noah's Ark; the
larger rats being, I observed, in the sudden
quarrels that occur among children, sometimes
used as missiles.

Every now and then, there was a warlike
episode, produced by Joe's dog leaping savagely
at an intrusive terrier from a neighbouring
village, who had seized a rat not properly in
his special province. Tremendous, then, was
the rush of the men; tremendous the tearing
and rending of the snapping and growling dogs;
lithe and wonderful the twists and turns. The
pitchforks worked deftly, tossing off layer after
layer and ledge after ledge of straw; and always,
as the straw was lifted and shook loose and
light, down showered and tumbled rats, like
so much rolling black fruit. The satiated dogs
cared only to gripe and kill the rats at a bite;
they had no spirit for protracted worrying now;
and all this time the mountain of rats widened
and grew higher.

It may be true that rats leave a leaky vessel
as soon as they can, for the oozing in of the
water may drive them out of their holes; but
rats in a stack will not leave it till they are
obliged; they creep, and sink, and get to the
bottom, and there remain huddled together in
a spiteful snapping frightened mass, till the
men almost reach to them, and then the rats
run for it, like so many detected conspirators.

Some tons of rats lie dead in the sun, and
already the bright buzzing blue blowflies are
busy at their eyes. Barrow-loads of rats are
ready to manure the wheat-fields they once

The casualties on our side have not been
numerous. Joe has hit Tom a tremendous blow
on the shin with a hedge-stake in trying to fell
a rat; Bill has been bitten by a rat; and old
Farmer Debenham by an impatient dog he tried
to drag home. Every one has stories to tell of
his own special prowess; how he took a boar-rat
of enormous size by the tail, and beat his
brains out against a wall; how he sprang on
four rats, and struck them dead with four
successive well-aimed blows; how he caught a rat
on his pitchfork as he fell from the stack; and
so on, after the manner of old soldiers at the

Now, Farmer Debenham talks blithely of
bread and meat, beer and perry, to be met with
at home by all who have killed more than ten
rats. Everybody immediately puts in a claim
to have killed more; the bolder spirits claim to
have killed scores; the milder, rest content with
one scorefifteentwelveelevenanything
over ten. The stalwart work is over; the great
steam-engine stops its tremendous attempt to
puff itself into public notice; the sacks of hard
yellow grain are lolling in the waggon; the
engine has put on his great black tarpaulin
dreadnought; the waggons roll and jingle homeward;
the red bludgeons are tossed into the
waggons; some corrosive lime is strewn over the
rat-mountain, so that it now looks like an enormous
country pie waiting only for the upper
rust; the cowboy blows his horn to call m
loiterers; and home we go to a merry-making


WAITING for clients is not the most agreeable
employment in life. If you have a good digestion
you can take your quantum suff. of Chitty
and Smith's leading cases, with an occasional
quid of Coke upon Littleton; and, having read
yourself into a state of torpor, you can take a
walk or a gallop on horseback; or, if disposed
to waste your time, you can do so by devoting
an hour to some pretty maid or charming
widow, taking care not to commit yourself
unnecessarily. In this way I worried through my
first year in Barrington, a large town in
Kentucky, where I chanced to settle. For the first
week, I turned my head sharply when the door
of my office opened, expecting to see a client.
My nerves had ample time to become tranquil,
however, and after a few months I was so
accustomed to solitude, that I should have
regarded an actual litigant, fee in hand, as a being
for whom the sexton would presently come with
habeas corpus. The only person who
commiserated me was the faithful Jake, who
attended to my rooms. Being naturally social, he
thought a man shut up at work all day, the most
wretched of creatures.

"Massa Bill" (African for William Tompkins,
attorney and counsellor), " seems to me you
powerful lonesome here in Barrington. Little
white, too, 'bout de chops." (I had not then
the handsomely grizzled beard which now adorns
the lower part of my face.) "Lor, don't I
wish you knew my old massa Barr'l [Barwell].
Jest to be dar 'bout hog-killin' time, scare up a
fox or two at night, drive a deer down from the
knobs in demornin', den cavort roun' de country
on horseback, see turkey-shootin', an' de scrub
races, an', maybe, do a little courtm' when it
come handy."

It was a tempting picture which Jake
presented. I did know his master, though not
intimately. I meditated.

"I should like to have a crack at a deer,

"Gor-a-mighty, massa, I'se nigger, and some
folks tink dey don't know noffin. But let Jake
alone. I go Sunday to Massa Barr'l's, caze ole
Sally she looks for me. Hi! Chasin' arter the
dogs at sun-up through the black-jacks* is
better 'n loafin in dis dead-an'-live town."
* The black-jack is a species of stunted oak,
abounding in Southern Kentucky.

It was Saturday; that night, armed with a
pass against molestation by the patrol, Jake
went home. I thought no more of the hunting,
but amused myself next day as well as I could,
making a synopsis of Brother Banger's sermon.
I had many times wandered after him through
the tangled shrubbery of his periods, but I