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WHEN I was a boy, I lived with my father
and mother, in a little cottage, in a village
in Warwickshire. He was a farm labourer,
my mother had enough to do with her
family: but at harvest and hay-time she
worked in the fields, and what she earned
was a great help. She had a good many
children; but one way or other, they all
died except me and my brother. I think
I should have gone like the rest; if it had
not been for a neighbour's son, named
George, who was most uncommon kind to
me, he helped my mother nurse me when
I was ill of a fever, and he was good to me
ever after. He was some years older than
me, and what made him take to me, I am
sure I cannot tell; but that I should love
him in return is no wonder at all.  I
worshipped him, and that is the only word to
use for it.  He used to tell me no end of
stories about robbers and wild beasts; but
above all about battles.  He used to make
me windmills, and boats, and kites, and
gave me endless balls of string and knives;
but what I cared for most of all, was, that he
let me follow him about wherever he went,
and take his dinner to him out in the fields,
and sent me on all his errands.  I felt very
proud to go; for I would have laid myself
down under his feet if he had wanted me.
Though I was quite a little chap, he used to
talk to me as if I were his equal.  He told me
how he hated a dull country life, and how he
longed to go away, and to seek his fortune in
distant parts.  He would have enlisted for a
soldier, if it had not been for his mother,
who would have broken her heart.  She was
a meek good woman, who had been tyrannised
over by a brutal husband, who had been
groom to a gentleman.  He broke his neck,
trying to break in a vicious horse.  Although,
being drunk at the time, it was his own
fault, the gentleman pensioned the widow;
so that George had all the money he earned
for himself.  He did not take after his
father; but held himself aloof from the
other fellows in the village, and never set
foot in an ale-housenot from pride, but
because he took pleasure in other things.
He was always studying at one thing or
another every leisure moment, especially he
tried to pick up all he could about battles,
and he used to draw plans of battles upon an
old slate.

At last a change came over hima sort of
feverand he grew desponding and unhappy.
He used to talk to me a great deal, but I could
only feel very sorry for him, I could say
nothing to comfort him. His mother, poor
body, saw that all was not right, and feared
he would take after his father, she used to
preach to him out of the catechism, and tell
him, it was his duty to be content in the state
of life to which he was born; it was all very
good, but not suitable to his case.  He hated
his occupation, and yet, oddly enough, it was
only in his work he seemed to find any relief.
He did as much as three men, and then asked
for more.

Well, the truth must come out at last
George turned poacher. Poaching is a
breach of the law of the land. I say no more
about that; but I believe myself, that gentlemen
who have a regular licence to shoot, and
who preserve their own game, have not half
the enjoyment in a whole season's shooting,
that there is in one night's good poaching.
However, you see poaching has this drawback;—the
fellows who take to poaching, leave off honest
hard work; they slink out of daylight, and
haunt public-houses, and take to low idle
habits of every kind. The love of adventure
kills the habit of steady-going industry.
They would do capitally out in the
Australian bush, or at the diggings; but they
plague the life out of churchwardens,
overseers, constables, and squires. So they make
a mess of it, and get into trouble: which
is a pity, for you would not believe what
fine, likely young fellows many of them are
to begin with.

George, for his part, was too proud, and
respected himself too much, to fall into disreputable
ways. He never would take me with him ;
though, when I saw him preparing his tackle,
and cleaning his gun, I used to beg very hard
that he would let me go; but he was always
quite stern and resolved.  However, he used
to let me help him take care of his things, and
I was very proud to do that. We made a hiding-
place under some furze bushes, where no
keepers would think of looking, and where
everything could be kept quite dry. I had
the charge of his dog, tooa knowing