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share and share alike. If we can do that,
and if we can only keep the rest of the public
out, we are sure of making our reputations,
and sure of keeping our hold of society
as long as we please.


THE little country-town in which I was
born has a legend of its own which is well
known to many persons there, although I
believe it has never yet found printed record.
This being the season of story-telling, I do
not know why I should not tell this, after my
own fashion.

Full a hundred and fifteen years ago, when
George the Second was king, there lived
in this town a saddlemaker. This saddlemaker,
whose name was Ranson, had a
daughter, and he had an apprentice. Ever
since there were stories or story-tellers,
apprentices have loved their masters' daughters,
which, however common, is at all events a
possible thing. So, old Ranson's apprentice,
Richard Hayes, took more delight in seeing
this daughter, in hearing her speak, or in
exchanging a few words with her than ever
old Ranson dreamed of, or than ever anyone
else dreamed of, not excepting the daughter
or the apprentice himself. What old Ranson
would have done if he had suspected it, I do
not know. He would probably have thrashed
his apprentice, and been by him knocked
down for his pains, besides converting him
into a fanatical lover from that hour. As it
was, the life of his apprentice was not a
merry one, for old Ranson's notions of the
treatment proper for apprentices were
derived from the glorious times of Queen
Elizabeth; having been transmitted through
a long line of ancestors, till they came to a
dead stop in his obstinate head. He believed,
like the ancient form of apprenticeship indenture
that bound Richard Hayes to him, that
all apprentices, when they were free from
control, took to gambling, or profuse swearing,
or drunkenness, with a hearty relish. He
believed, that if their masters' eye was not
constantly upon them, they would skulk from
their work, or rob the till, or go out and
stop the mail. You might argue as you

Richard Hayes was a steady, honest
industrious fellow; but, about this time his
mind was apt to wander from his work so
that some damage was occasionally done to
the old saddler's materials.

"You are an idle villain," said the master
one morning early. "You eat and drink
here, and render no return."

Hayes made no answer, though deeply
wounded. He was no great hero, and was
still but a lad. He did exactly what many
other lads have done when offended. He
refused to eat that day. When meal-times
came, he said he would rather work on. Old
Ranson bore this punishment with great
cheerfulness. He quoted old proverbs about
a proud stomach. He set the room-door
open at dinner-time, that the savoury steam
might wander up the long shop, and tease
his refractory apprentice. Richard Hayes
worked on; but sometimes, when the old
man made a joke at his expense, he paused a
while, and listened. Did she laugh at him,
or join in the persecution? If she did, he
would starve himself to death. But she did
not; nor did he hear her speak a word.

That afternoon, when it was getting dusk
and Richard Hayes was still at his work;
while the master saddler was smoking in his
little back-room, Margaret stole through into
the shop, so gently that the apprentice did
not hear her step until she stood beside him.
She laid her hand upon his arm.

"Come, Dick," she said; "come in for my
sake. I know, you have not broken fast today."

"I have been called a villain, and an
eater of bread that I have not earned," said

"Never mind," said the girl. "You are
vexing me, and vexing my father, too. Do,
pray, come in."

"No, Margaret," replied the apprentice.
"I'm not without a guinea of my own. I'll
buy my own bread. I'll work after hours.
I'll eat at no man's table."

"Have you a bad heart?" said the girl.

"I have a right feeling," replied Dick.

"Well; and if you have, Dick," replied the
girl, "you've fasted long enough. Why do
you grieve me, too? Well, well, I cannot
make you come; so good night."

Dick took her little trembling hand, and
held it for a while, and felt a strong desire
to blubber, and give in. He could have held
out against anything but her compassion.

He stood there, still holding her hand for
some minutes, saying not a word; till, just
at the moment that she turned away, he
whispered to her hurriedly: "I'll go. I care
for nothing. You shan't grieve about me.
I'll give in. They shall say or think what
they like."  With that, he set his work aside
and went into the room where the saddler
was, and sat down in silence, and ate his meal.
He bore all the old man's jokes, and let him
tell of how often he had known such stubborn
folks brought round by hunger, and made
no answer: while the old saddler, wise in his
own conceit, sat there and little thought
what power had wrought the change. That
night, Margaret met her father's apprentice
on the stairs, and bade him good night, and
told him he was a kind-hearted fellow, and
that she would remember that day.

From that time, old Ranson had no more
power to make his apprentice miserable,
Dick worked hard and did his best, and if
the old man complained, he gave him no
answer. The time was drawing near, when

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