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"Hold thy noise, wilt 'a?" said Michael
roughly, as he passed near him, and threatening
him with his fist. Susan's back was
turned to the pair. The expression of Willie's
face changed from vacancy to fear, and he
came shambling up to Susan, and put her
arm round him, and, as if protected by that
shelter, he began pulling faces at Michael.
Susan saw what was going on, and, as if now
first struck by the strangeness of her brother's
manner, she looked anxiously at Michael for
an explanation. Michael was irritated at
Willie's defiance of him, and did not mince
the matter.

"It's just that the fever has left him silly
he never was as wise as other folk, and now
I doubt if he will ever get right."

Susan did not speak, but she went very
pale, and her lip quivered. She looked long
and wistfully at Willie's face, as he watched
the motion of the ducks in the great
stablepool. He laughed softly to himself from time
to time.

"Willie likes to see the ducks go
overhead," said Susan, instinctively adopting the
form of speech she would have used to a
young child.

"Willie, boo! Willie, boo! " he replied,
clapping his hands, and avoiding her eye.

"Speak properly, Willie," said Susan,
making a strong effort at self-control, and
trying to arrest his attention.

"You know who I amtell me my name!"
She grasped his arm almost painfully tight
to make him attend. Now he looked at her,
and, for an instant, a gleam of recognition
quivered over his face; but the exertion was
evidently painful, and he began to cry at the
vainness of the effort to recall her name. He
hid his face upon her shoulder with the old
affectionate trick of manner. She put him
gently away, and went into the house into
her own little bedroom. She locked the door,
and did not reply at all to Michael's calls for
her, hardly spoke to old Peggy, who tried to
tempt her out to receive some homely
sympathy, and through the open casement there
still came the idiotic sound of " Willie, boo!
Willie, boo!"


ONCE upon a time, and not by any means
a thousand years ago, there was a great and
noble baronet, who lived upon a very fine
estate, famously stocked with game. And
in the midst of this very fine estate, there
lived a mean little country postman. In the
midst of the estate, and hotly besieged and
invested by the game of plump Sir Pitiless
Stone, Bart., Mantrap Court, the little farmhouse
stood, at the end of the small village of
Hareskin, tenanted of another landlord by the
gaunt, weary-faced Matthew, of her Majesty's
Post Office Department. Now, Matthew was
an indefatigable and by no means too
profusely salaried servant of the queen, who, like
many a postman in a rural district, travelled
forty miles a-day, through winter and summer,
fair weather and foultwenty miles on foot
and twenty on a pony.

The few acres of ground which this mean
little fellow of a postman has about his
house wherewith to eke out a subsistence,
are, for the most part, orchard-land; and
when Matthew's apples had been gathered,
they used to be left exposed upon the grass
for a month or two, according to the custom
of the county, before being converted into
cider. The rabbits of Sir Pitiless Stone love
the little postman's apples; and accordingly
they organise excursion parties every night
during the season to eat apples and enjoy
themselves at the expense of Matthew upon
Matthew's orchard-ground. From all parts of
the estate, trains of rabbits come into the bit
of ground, forming, as they think, parties of
pleasure; though it is a sign of the great
obduracy and hardness of that rascally
Matthew's heart that he can find no pleasure
in them. He did once, even, conceive the
diabolical design, of upsetting one of these
excursion trains, and the story of that
outrage is the subject of the present notice.

Perhaps it is too dreadful a story for the
pages of this journalnot, indeed, on
account of the strength of incident, but of the
deep awe with which everything that
concerns beings so high in the scale of law or
nature as pheasants or rabbits have to be
thought about, and of the irreverence of
naming them together with such vermin, as
postmen. We will tell our tale as best we
may, however:—

It pleased the sacred rabbits so to honour
the poor postman as to eat his apples; and
the postman's wife, out of her unsoftened aud
unsanctified heart, was bold enough to
denounce these superior creatures, as if they
had been her equals, by the name of vermin.,
and to order her son Toma private in Sir
Pitiless's own militia regimentto lay a
snare for them. In this way she proposed to
check those visits which were certainly an
honour, and (though it might not seem so to
her limited view) could only have been a
blessing to her household. The bad woman
and her son Tom partly misled by a wicked
law which authorises farmers and other
creatures to kill hares and rabbits when they
come upon their premises supposed that a
snare in their fence on the track of the blessed
visitants would best answer their wicked
purpose, and be also in accordance with the
corrupt spirit of the law just mentioned.

We almost shrink from saying that the
atrocious boy Tom did accordingly, for the
mean selfish object of protection to his
paltry mother's paltry apples, lay a snare in
the principal run of the rabbits, as the path
of those bright ornaments of earth is
called. If anything is required to assure
you of the fact that he was utterly lost in the
confined blackness and obstinacy of sin