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time for play. He became an authority on
birds' nests, made whistles of reeds and
straws; and, with Tom Tholoway his chosen
playmate, had especial pleasure in the building
of little clay engines with the soil of
Dewley Bog: hemlock stalks being used to
represent steam-pipes and other apparatus.
Any child, whose father's work was to
attend an engine, would have played at engines;
but, in the case of George Stephenson, it is,
nevertheless, a pleasure to the fancy to
dwell on the fact that, as a child, he made
mud-engines and not mud-pies, when playing
in the dirt. When his legs were long enough
to carry him across the little furrows, little
George was promoted to the business of
leading horses at the plough, and was trusted
also to hoe turnips and to do other farmwork
at the advanced wages of two shillings
a-week. But, his brother Jamestwo years
his seniorwas then earning three shillings
a-week as corf-bitter or picker at the colliery;
that is to say, he helped to pick out of the
coal, stones, bats and dross. Upon that neat
inch of progress, little George fixed his attention.
Having made it good, he tried forward
till he secured another inch, and
received four shillings a week as driver of the
gin-horse. In that capacity he was employed
at the Black Callerton Colliery, two miles
from Dewley Burn, whither he went early of
mornings and whence he returned late of
evenings, "a grit, bare-legged laddie, very
quick-witted and full of fun and tricks." He
bred rabbits. He knew all the nests
between Black Callerton and Dewley;
brought home young birds when they were
old enough; fed them, and tamed them. One
of his tame blackbirds flew all day in and out
of and about the cottage, roosting at night on
the bedhead; but she disappeared during the
summer months, to do her proper duty as a
bird, duly returning in the winter.

As driver of the gin-horse, Geordie Steevie
fixed his eye upon the post of assistant-fire-
man to his father at the Dewley engine. At
the early age of fourteen, he got that promotion,
and his wages became six shillings a-
week. He was then so young that he used
to hide when the owner of the colliery came
round, lest he should think him too small for
his place.

The coal at Dewley Burn was worked
out; and the Stephensons again moved
to Jolly's Close, a little row of cottages
shut in between steep banks. The family
was now helped by the earnings of the
children; and, out of the united incomes of its
members, made thirty-five shillings or two
pounds a-week. But, the boys, as they grew
older, grew hungrier, and the war with
Napoleon was then raising the price of wheat
from fifty-four shillings to one hundred and
thirty shillings a quarter. It was still hard
to live. George, at fifteen years olda big
and bony boywas promoted to the full
office of fireman at a new working, the
Midmill winning, where he had a young friend,
named Bill Coe, for his mate. But the
Midmill engine was a very little one, and the
nominal increase of dignity was not attended
with increase of wages. George's ambition
was to attain rank as soon as possible as a
full workman, and to earn as good wages as
those his father had: twelve shillings a-week.
He was steady, sober, indefatigable in his
work, ready of wit, and physically strong.
It was a great pleasure to him to compete
with his associates in lifting heavy weights,
throwing the hammer, and putting the stone.
He once lifted as much as sixty stone.
Midmill pit being closed, George and his friend
Coe were sent to work another pumping
engine, fixed near Throchley Bridge. While
there, his work was adjudged worthy of a
man's hire. One Saturday evening, the foreman
paid him twelve shillings for a week's
work, and told him that he was, from that
date, advanced. When he came out, he told
his fellow-workmen his good fortune, and
declared in triumph: " Now I am a made
man for life."

He had reached inch by inch the natural
object of a boy's ambition;—to be man enough
to do what he has seen done by his father.
But he was man enough for more than that.
By natural ability joined to unflagging
industry he still won his way slowly up;
and, at the age of seventeen, worked in a
new pit at the same engine with his father;
the son taking the higher place as engineman,
and Old Bob being still a fireman as
he had been from the first.

It was the duty of the engine-man to
watch the engine, to correct a certain class
of hitches in its working, and, when anything
was wrong that he could not put right, to send
word to the chief engineer. George Stephenson
fell in love with his engine, and was
never tired of watching it. In leisure hours,
when his companions went to their sports,
he took his machine to pieces, cleaned every
part of it, and put it together again. Thus,
he not only kept it in admirable working
order, but became intimately acquainted with
all its parts and knew their use. He acquired
credit for devotion to his work, and really
was devoted to it; at the same time he
acquired a kind of knowledge that would
help him to get an inch higher in the world.

But, there was another kind of knowledge
necessary. At the age of eighteen he could
not read; he could not write his name. His
father had been too poor to afford any schooling
to the children. He was then getting
his friend Coe to teach him the mystery of
brakeing, that he might, when opportunity
occurred, advance to the post of brakesman
next above that which he held. He
became curious also to know definitely
something about the famous engines that
were in those days planned by Watt and
Bolton. The desire for knowledge taught him.
the necessity of learning to read books.