Waste Not, Want Not by E. V. Lucas
or, Two Strings to Your Bow
Mr. Gresham, a Bristol merchant, who had, by honourable industry and
economy, accumulated a considerable fortune, retired from business to a
new house which he had built upon the Downs, near Clifton. Mr. Gresham,
however, did not imagine that a new house alone could make him happy.
He did not propose to live in idleness and extravagance; for such a
life would have been equally incompatible with his habits and his
principles. He was fond of children; and as he had no sons, he
determined to adopt one of his relations. He had two nephews, and he
invited both of them to his house, that he might have an opportunity of
judging of their dispositions, and of the habits which they had
Hal and Benjamin, Mr. Gresham's nephews, were about ten years old.
They had been educated very differently. Hal was the son of the elder
branch of the family. His father was a gentleman, who spent rather more
than he could afford; and Hal, from the example of the servants in his
father's family, with whom he had passed the first years of his
childhood, learned to waste more of everything than he used. He had
been told that 'gentlemen should be above being careful and saving';
and he had unfortunately imbibed a notion that extravagance was the
sign of a generous disposition, and economy of an avaricious one.
Benjamin, on the contrary, had been taught habits of care and
foresight. His father had but a very small fortune, and was anxious
that his son should early learn that economy ensures independence, and
sometimes puts it in the power of those who are not very rich to be
The morning after these two boys arrived at their uncle's they were
eager to see all the rooms in the house. Mr. Gresham accompanied them,
and attended to their remarks and exclamations.
'Oh, what an excellent motto!' exclaimed Ben, when he read the
following words, which were written in large characters over the
chimneypiece in his uncle's spacious kitchen
'WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.'
'Waste not, want not!' repeated his cousin Hal, in rather a
contemptuous tone; 'I think it looks stingy to servants; and no
gentleman's servants, cooks especially, would like to have such a mean
motto always staring them in the face.'
Ben, who was not so conversant as his cousin in the ways of cooks
and gentleman's servants, made no reply to these observations.
Mr. Gresham was called away whilst his nephews were looking at the
other rooms in the house. Some time afterwards he heard their voices in
'Boys,' said he, 'what are you doing there?'
'Nothing, sir,' said Hal. 'You were called away from us, and we did
not know which way to go.'
'And have you nothing to do?' said Mr. Gresham.
'No, sirnothing,' answered Hal in a careless tone, like one who
was well content with the state of habitual idleness.
'No, sirnothing,' replied Ben, in a voice of lamentation.
'Come,' said Mr. Gresham, 'if you have nothing to do, lads, will you
unpack those two parcels for me?'
The two parcels were exactly alike, both of them well tied up with
good whipcord. Ben took his parcel to a table, and, after breaking off
the sealing-wax, began carefully to examine the knot, and then to untie
it. Hal stood still, exactly in the spot where the parcel was put into
his hands, and tried, first at one corner and then at another, to pull
the string off by force.
'I wish these people wouldn't tie up their parcels so tight, as if
they were never to be undone!' cried he, as he tugged at the cord; and
he pulled the knot closer instead of loosening it. 'Ben! why, how did
you get yours undone, man? What's in your parcel? I wonder what is in
mine. I wish I could get this string off. I must cut it.'
'Oh no,' said Ben, who now had undone the last knot of his parcel,
and who drew out the length of string with exultation, 'don't cut it,
Hal. Look what a nice cord this is, and yours is the same. It's a pity
to cut it. Waste not, want not! you know.'
'Pooh!' said Hal, 'what signifies a bit of packthread?'
'It is whipcord,' said Ben.
[Illustration: 'Oh, what an excellent motto!' exclaimed Ben.Page
'Well, whipcord. What signifies a bit of whipcord? You can get a bit
of whipcord twice as long as that for twopence, and who cares for
twopence? Not I, for one! So here it goes,' cried Hal, drawing out his
knife; and he cut the cord precipitately in sundry places.
'Lads, have you undone the parcels for me?' said Mr. Gresham,
opening the parlour door as he spoke.
'Yes, sir,' cried Hal; and he dragged off his half-cut,
half-entangled string. 'Here's the parcel.'
'And here's my parcel, uncle; and here's the string,' said Ben.
'You may keep the string for your pains,' said Mr. Gresham.
'Thank you, sir,' said Ben. 'What an excellent whipcord it is!'
'And you, Hal,' continued Mr. Gresham'you may keep your string,
too, if it will be of any use to you.'
'It will be of no use to me, thank you, sir,' said Hal.
'No, I am afraid not, if this be it,' said his uncle, taking up the
jagged knotted remains of Hal's cord.
A few days after this Mr. Gresham gave to each of his nephews a new
'But how's this?' said Hal. 'These tops have no strings. What shall
we do for strings?'
'I have a string that will do very well for mine,' said Ben; and he
pulled out of his pocket the fine, long, smooth string which had tied
up the parcel.
With this he soon set up his top, which spun admirably well.
'Oh, how I wish I had but a string!' said Hal. 'What shall I do for
a string? I'll tell you what: I can use the string that goes round my
'But, then,' said Ben, 'what will you do for a hatband?'
'I'll manage to do without one,' said Hal, and he took the string
off his hat for his top.
It was soon worn through, and he split his top by driving the peg
too tightly into it. His Cousin Ben let him set up his the next day,
but Hal was not more fortunate or more careful when he meddled with
other people's things than when he managed his own. He had scarcely
played half an hour before he split it by driving the peg too
Ben bore this misfortune with good-humour.
'Come,' said he, 'it can't be helped; but give me the string,
because that may still be of use for something else.'
It happened some time afterwards that a lady, who had been
intimately acquainted with Hal's mother at Baththat is to say, who
had frequently met her at the card-table during the winternow arrived
at Clifton. She was informed by his mother that Hal was at Mr.
Gresham's, and her sons, who were friends of his, came to see
him, and invited him to spend the next day with them.
Hal joyfully accepted the invitation. He was always glad to go out
to dine, because it gave him something to do, something to think of, or
at least something to say. Besides this, he had been educated to think
it was a fine thing to visit fine people; and Lady Diana Sweepstakes
(for that was the name of his mother's acquaintance) was a very fine
lady, and her two sons intended to be very great gentlemen. He
was in a prodigious hurry when these young gentlemen knocked at his
uncle's door the next day; but just as he got to the hall door little
Patty called to him from the top of the stairs, and told him that he
had dropped his pocket-handkerchief.
'Pick it up, then, and bring it to me, quick, can't you, child?'
cried Hal, 'for Lady Di's sons are waiting for me.'
Little Patty did not know anything about Lady Di's sons; but as she
was very good-natured, and saw that her cousin Hal was, for some reason
or other, in a desperate hurry, she ran downstairs as fast as she
possibly could towards the landing-place, where the handkerchief lay;
but, alas! before she reached the handkerchief, she fell, rolling down
a whole flight of stairs, and when her fall was at last stopped by the
landing-place, she did not cry out; she writhed, as if she was in great
'Where are you hurt, my love?' said Mr. Gresham, who came instantly
on hearing the noise of someone falling downstairs. 'Where are you
hurt, my dear?'
'Here, papa,' said the little girl, touching her ankle, which she
had decently covered with her gown. 'I believe I am hurt here, but not
much,' added she, trying to rise; 'only it hurts me when I move.'
'I'll carry you; don't move, then,' said her father, and he took her
up in his arms.
'My shoe! I've lost one of my shoes,' said she.
Ben looked for it upon the stairs, and he found it sticking in a
loop of whipcord, which was entangled round one of the banisters. When
this cord was drawn forth, it appeared that it was the very same
jagged, entangled piece which Hal had pulled off his parcel. He had
diverted himself with running up and down stairs, whipping the
banisters with it, as he thought he could convert it to no better use;
and, with his usual carelessness, he at last left it hanging just where
he happened to throw it when the dinner-bell rang. Poor little Patty's
ankle was terribly strained, and Hal reproached himself for his folly,
and would have reproached himself longer, perhaps, if Lady Di
Sweepstakes' sons had not hurried him away.
In the evening, Patty could not run about as she used to do; but she
sat upon the sofa, and she said that she did not feel the pain of her
ankle so much whilst Ben was so good as to play at Jack
Straws with her.
'That's right, Ben; never be ashamed of being good-natured to those
who are younger and weaker than yourself,' said his uncle, smiling at
seeing him produce his whipcord to indulge his little cousin with a
game at her favourite cat's-cradle. 'I shall not think you one bit less
manly, because I see you playing at cat's-cradle with a little child of
six years old.'
Hal, however, was not precisely of his uncle's opinion; for when he
returned in the evening, and saw Ben playing with his little cousin, he
could not help smiling contemptuously, and asked if he had been playing
at cat's-cradle all night. In a heedless manner he made some inquiries
after Patty's sprained ankle, and then he ran on to tell all the news
he had heard at Lady Diana Sweepstakes'news which he thought would
make him appear a person of vast importance.
'Do you know, uncledo you know, Ben,' said he, 'there's to be the
most famous doings that ever were heard of upon the Downs here,
the first day of next month, which will be in a fortnight, thank my
stars? I wish the fortnight was over. I shall think of nothing else, I
know, till that happy day comes.'
Mr. Gresham inquired why the first of September was to be so much
happier than any other day in the year.
'Why,' replied Hal, 'Lady Diana Sweepstakes, you know, is a
famous rider, and archer, and all that'
'Very likely,' said Mr. Gresham soberly; 'but what then?'
'Dear uncle,' cried Hal, 'but you shall hear! There's to be a race
upon the Downs on the first of September, and after the race there's to
be an archery meeting for the ladies, and Lady Diana Sweepstakes is to
be one of them. And after the ladies have done shootingnow,
Ben, comes the best part of it!we boys are to have our turn, and Lady
Di is to give a prize to the best marksman amongst us of a very
handsome bow and arrow. Do you know, I've been practising already, and
I'll show you to-morrow, as soon as it comes home, the famous
bow and arrow that Lady Diana has given me; but perhaps,' added he,
with a scornful laugh, 'you like a cat's-cradle better than a bow and
Ben made no reply to this taunt at the moment; but the next day,
when Hal's new bow and arrow came home, he convinced him that he knew
how to use it very well.
'Ben,' said his uncle, 'you seem to be a good marksman, though you
have not boasted of yourself. I'll give you a bow and arrow, and
perhaps, if you practise, you may make yourself an archer before the
first of September; and, in the meantime, you will not wish the
fortnight to be over, for you will have something to do.'
'Oh, sir,' interrupted Hal, 'but if you mean that Ben should put in
for the prize, he must have a uniform.'
'Why must he?' said Mr. Gresham.
'Why, sir, because everybody hasI mean everybody that's anybody;
and Lady Diana was talking about the uniform all dinner time, and it's
settled, all about it, except the buttons. The young Sweepstakes are to
get theirs made first for patterns. They are to be white, faced with
green, and they'll look very handsome, I'm sure; and I shall write to
mother to-night, as Lady Diana bid me, about mine, and I shall tell her
to be sure to answer my letter without fail by return of post; and
then, if mother makes no objectionwhich I know she won't, because she
never thinks much about expense, and all thatthen I shall
bespeak my uniform, and get it made by the same tailor that makes for
Lady Diana and the young Sweepstakes.'
'Mercy upon us!' said Mr. Gresham, who was almost stunned by the
rapid vociferation with which this long speech about a uniform was
pronounced. 'I don't pretend to understand these things,' added he,
with an air of simplicity, 'but we will inquire, Ben, into the
necessity of the case; and if it is necessaryor if you think it
necessary that you shall have a uniformwhy, I'll give you one.'
'You, uncle? Will you, indeed?' exclaimed Hal, with
amazement painted in his countenance. 'Well, that's the last thing in
the world I should have expected! You are not at all the sort of person
I should have thought would care about a uniform; and now I should have
supposed you'd have thought it extravagant to have a coat on purpose
only for one day. And I'm sure Lady Diana Sweepstakes thought as I do,
for when I told her of that motto over your kitchen chimneyWASTE
NOT, WANT NOTshe laughed, and said that I had better not talk to you
about uniforms, and that my mother was the proper person to write to
about my uniform; but I'll tell Lady Diana, uncle, how good you are,
and how much she was mistaken.'
'Take care how you do that,' said Mr. Gresham, 'for perhaps the lady
was not mistaken.'
'Nay, did not you say just now you would give poor Ben a uniform?'
'I said I would if he thought it necessary to have one.'
'Oh, I'll answer for it he'll think it necessary,' said Hal,
laughing, 'because it is necessary.'
'Allow him, at least, to judge for himself,' said Mr. Gresham.
'My dear uncle, but I assure you,' said Hal earnestly, 'there's no
judging about the matter, because really, upon my word, Lady Diana said
distinctly that her sons were to have uniformswhite, faced with
greenand a green and white cockade in their hats.'
'May be so,' said Mr. Gresham, still with the same look of calm
simplicity. 'Put on your hats, boys, and come with me. I know a
gentleman whose sons are to be at this archery meeting, and we will
inquire into all the particulars from him. Then, after we have seen
himit is not eleven o'clock yetwe shall have time enough to walk on
to Bristol, and choose the cloth for Ben's uniform if it is necessary.'
'I cannot tell what to make of all he says,' whispered Hal, as he
reached down his hat. 'Do you think, Ben, he means to give you this
uniform or not?'
'I think,' said Ben, 'that he means to give me one if it is
necessary; or, as he said, if I think it is necessary.'
'And that to be sure you will, won't you? or else you'll be a great
fool, I know, after all I've told you. How can anyone in the world know
so much about the matter as I, who have dined with Lady Diana
Sweepstakes but yesterday, and heard all about it from beginning to
end? And as for this gentleman that we are going to, I'm sure, if he
knows anything about the matter, he'll say exactly the same as I do.'
'We shall hear,' said Ben, with a degree of composure which Hal
could by no means comprehend when a uniform was in question.
The gentleman upon whom Mr. Gresham called had three sons who were
all to be at this archery meeting, and they unanimously assured him, in
the presence of Hal and Ben, that they had not thought of buying
uniforms for this grand occasion, and that, amongst the number of their
acquaintance, they knew of but three boys whose friends intended to be
at such an unnecessary expense. Hal stood amazed.
'Such are the varieties of opinion upon all the grand affairs of
life,' said Mr. Gresham, looking at his nephews. 'What amongst one set
of people you hear asserted to be absolutely necessary, you will hear
from another set of people is quite unnecessary. All that can be done,
my dear boys, in these difficult cases, is to judge for yourselves
which opinions and which people are the most reasonable.'
Hal, who had been more accustomed to think of what was fashionable
than of what was reasonable, without at all considering the good sense
of what his uncle said to him, replied with childish petulance:
'Indeed, sir, I don't know what other people think; but I only know
what Lady Diana Sweepstakes said.'
The name of Lady Diana Sweepstakes, Hal thought, must impress all
present with respect. He was highly astonished when, as he looked
round, he saw a smile of contempt upon everyone's countenance; and he
was yet further bewildered when he heard her spoken of as a very silly,
extravagant, ridiculous woman, whose opinion no prudent person would
ask upon any subject, and whose example was to be shunned instead of
'Ay, my dear Hal,' said his uncle, smiling at his look of amazement,
'these are some of the things that young people must learn from
experience. All the world do not agree in opinion about characters. You
will hear the same person admired in one company and blamed in another;
so that we must still come round to the same pointJudge for
Hal's thoughts were, however, at present too full of the uniform to
allow his judgment to act with perfect impartiality. As soon as their
visit was over, and all the time they walked down the hill from
Prince's Buildings towards Bristol, he continued to repeat nearly the
same arguments which he had formerly used respecting necessity, the
uniform, and Lady Diana Sweepstakes. To all this Mr. Gresham made no
reply, and longer had the young gentleman expatiated upon the subject,
which had so strongly seized upon his imagination, had not his senses
been forcibly assailed at this instant by the delicious odours and
tempting sight of certain cakes and jellies in a pastrycook's shop.
'Oh, uncle,' said he, as his uncle was going to turn the corner to
pursue the road to Bristol, 'look at those jellies!' pointing to a
confectioner's shop. 'I must buy some of those good things, for I have
got some halfpence in my pocket.'
'Your having halfpence in your pocket is an excellent reason for
eating,' said Mr. Gresham, smiling.
'But I really am hungry,' said Hal. 'You know, uncle, it is a good
while since breakfast.'
His uncle, who was desirous to see his nephews act without
restraint, that he might judge their characters, bid them do as they
'Come, then, Ben, if you've any halfpence in your pocket.'
'I'm not hungry,' said Ben.
'I suppose that means that you've no halfpence,' said Hal,
laughing, with the look of superiority which he had been taught to
think the rich might assume towards those who were convicted
either of poverty or economy.
'Waste not, want not,' said Ben to himself.
Contrary to his cousin's surmise, he happened to have two pennyworth
of halfpence actually in his pocket.
At the very moment Hal stepped into the pastrycook's shop a poor,
industrious man with a wooden leg, who usually sweeps the dirty corner
of the walk which turns at this spot to the Wells, held his hat to Ben,
who, after glancing his eye at the petitioner's well-worn broom,
instantly produced his twopence.
'I wish I had more halfpence for you, my good man,' said he; 'but
I've only twopence.'
Hal came out of Mr. Millar's, the confectioner's shop, with a hatful
of cakes in his hand. Mr. Millar's dog was sitting on the flags before
the door, and he looked up with a wistful, begging eye at Hal, who was
eating a queen-cake. Hal, who was wasteful even in his good-nature,
threw a whole queen-cake to the dog, who swallowed it at a single
'There goes twopence in the form of a queen-cake,' said Mr. Gresham.
Hal next offered some of his cakes to his uncle and cousin; but they
thanked him, and refused to eat any, because, they said, they were not
hungry; so he ate and ate as he walked along, till at last he stopped
'This bun tastes so bad after the queen-cakes, I can't bear it!' and
he was going to fling it from him into the river.
'Oh, it is a pity to waste that good bun; we may be glad of it yet,'
said Ben. 'Give it me rather than throw it away.'
'Why, I thought you said you were not hungry,' said Hal.
'True, I am not hungry now; but that is no reason why I should never
be hungry again.'
'Well, there is the cake for you. Take it, for it has made me sick,
and I don't care what becomes of it.'
Ben folded the refuse bit of his cousin's bun in a piece of paper,
and put it into his pocket.
'I'm beginning to be exceeding tired or sick or something,' said
Hal; 'and as there is a stand of coaches somewhere hereabouts, had we
not better take a coach, instead of walking all the way to Bristol?'
'For a stout archer,' said Mr. Gresham, 'you are more easily tired
than one might have expected. However, with all my heart, let us take a
coach, for Ben asked me to show him the cathedral yesterday; and I
believe I should find it rather too much for me to walk so far, though
I am not sick with eating good things.'
'The cathedral!' said Hal, after he had been seated in the
coach about a quarter of an hour, and had somewhat recovered from his
sickness'the cathedral! Why, are we only going to Bristol to see the
cathedral? I thought we came out to see about a uniform.'
There was a dulness and melancholy kind of stupidity in Hal's
countenance as he pronounced these words, like one wakening from a
dream, which made both his uncle and his cousin burst out a-laughing.
'Why,' said Hal, who was now piqued, 'I'm sure you did say,
uncle, you would go to Mr. Hall's to choose the cloth for the uniform.'
'Very true, and so I will,' said Mr. Gresham; 'but we need not make
a whole morning's work, need we, of looking at a piece of cloth? Cannot
we see a uniform and a cathedral both in one morning?'
They went first to the cathedral. Hal's head was too full of the
uniform to take any notice of the painted window, which immediately
caught Ben's embarrassed attention. He looked at the large stained
figures on the Gothic window, and he observed their coloured shadows on
the floor and walls.
Mr. Gresham, who perceived that he was eager on all subjects to gain
information, took this opportunity of telling him several things about
the lost art of painting on glass, Gothic arches, etc., which Hal
thought extremely tiresome.
'Come, come, we shall be late indeed!' said Hal. 'Surely you've
looked long enough, Ben, at this blue and red window.'
'I'm only thinking about these coloured shadows,' said Ben.
'I can show you when we go home, Ben,' said his uncle, 'an
entertaining paper upon such shadows.'[A]
'Hark!' cried Ben; 'did you hear that noise?'
They all listened, and they heard a bird singing in the cathedral.
'It's our old robin, sir,' said the lad who had opened the cathedral
door for them.
'Yes,' said Mr. Gresham, 'there he is, boyslookperched upon the
organ; he often sits there, and sings whilst the organ is playing.'
'And,' continued the lad who showed the cathedral, 'he has lived
here these many, many winters. They say he is fifteen years old; and he
is so tame, poor fellow! that if I had a bit of bread he'd come down
and feed in my hand.'
'I've a bit of bun here,' cried Ben joyfully, producing the remains
of the bun which Hal but an hour before would have thrown away. 'Pray,
let us see the poor robin eat out of your hand.'
The lad crumbled the bun and called to the robin, who fluttered and
chirped and seemed rejoiced at the sight of the bread; but yet he did
not come down from his pinnacle on the organ.
'He is afraid of us,' said Ben; 'he is not used to eat before
strangers, I suppose.'
'Ah, no, sir,' said the young man, with a deep sigh, 'that is not
the thing. He is used enough to eat afore company. Time was he'd have
come down for me before ever so many fine folks, and have eat his
crumbs out of my hand at my first call; but, poor fellow! it's not his
fault now. He does not know me now, sir, since my accident,
because of this great black patch.'
The young man put his hand to his right eye, which was covered with
a huge black patch. Ben asked what accident he meant; and the
lad told him that, but a few weeks ago, he had lost the sight of his
eye by the stroke of a stone, which reached him as he was passing under
the rocks at Clifton, unluckily when the workmen were blasting.
'I don't mind so much for myself, sir,' said the lad; 'but I can't
work so well now, as I used to do before my accident, for my old
mother, who has had a stroke of the palsy; and I've a many
little brothers and sisters not well able yet to get their own
livelihood, though they be as willing as willing can be.'
'Where does your mother live?' said Mr. Gresham.
'Hard by, sir, just close to the church here. It was her that
always had the showing of it to strangers, till she lost the use of her
'Shall we, may we, uncle, go that way? This is the house, is it
not?' said Ben, when they went out of the cathedral.
They went into the house. It was rather a hovel than a house; but,
poor as it was, it was as neat as misery could make it. The old woman
was sitting up in her wretched bed, winding worsted; four meagre,
ill-clothed, pale children were all busy, some of them sticking pins in
paper for the pin-maker, and others sorting rags for the paper-maker.
'What a horrid place it is!' said Hal, sighing; 'I did not know
there were such shocking places in the world. I've often seen
terrible-looking, tumble-down places, as we drove through the town in
mother's carriage; but then I did not know who lived in them, and I
never saw the inside of any of them. It is very dreadful, indeed, to
think that people are forced to live in this way. I wish mother would
send me some more pocket-money, that I might do something for them. I
had half a crown; but,' continued he, feeling in his pockets, 'I'm
afraid I spent the last shilling of it this morning upon those cakes
that made me sick. I wish I had my shilling now; I'd give it to
these poor people.'
Ben, though he was all this time silent, was as sorry as his
talkative cousin for all these poor people. But there was some
difference between the sorrow of these two boys.
Hal, after he was again seated in the hackney-coach, and had rattled
through the busy streets of Bristol for a few minutes, quite forgot the
spectacle of misery which he had seen, and the gay shops in Wine Street
and the idea of his green and white uniform wholly occupied his
'Now for our uniforms!' cried he, as he jumped eagerly out of the
coach, when his uncle stopped at the woollen-draper's door.
'Uncle,' said Ben, stopping Mr. Gresham before he got out of the
carriage, 'I don't think a uniform is at all necessary for me. I'm very
much obliged to you, but I would rather not have one. I have a very
good coat, and I think it would be waste.'
'Well, let me get out of the carriage, and we will see about it,'
said Mr. Gresham. 'Perhaps the sight of the beautiful green and white
cloth, and the epaulettehave you ever considered the epaulettes?may
tempt you to change your mind.'
'Oh, no,' said Ben, laughing; 'I shall not change my mind.'
The green cloth and the white cloth and the epaulettes were
produced, to Hal's infinite satisfaction. His uncle took up a pen, and
calculated for a few minutes. Then showing the back of the letter upon
which he was writing to his nephews:
'Cast up these sums, boys,' said he, 'and tell me whether I am
'Ben, do you do it,' said Hal, a little embarrassed; 'I am not quick
Ben was, and he went over his uncle's calculation very
'It is right, is it?' said Mr. Gresham.
'Yes, sir, quite right.'
'Then, by this calculation I find I could, for less than half the
money your uniforms would cost, purchase for each of you boys a warm
greatcoat, which you will want, I have a notion, this winter upon the
'Oh, sir,' said Hal with an alarmed look, 'but it is not winter
yet; it is not cold weather yet. We shan't want greatcoats
'Don't you remember how cold we were, Hal, the day before yesterday,
in that sharp wind, when we were flying our kite upon the downs? and
winter will come, though it is not come yet. I am sure I should like to
have a good warm greatcoat very much.'
Mr. Gresham took six guineas out of his purse; and he placed three
of them before Hal and three before Ben.
'Young gentlemen,' said he, 'I believe your uniforms would come to
about three guineas apiece. Now I will lay out this money for you just
as you please. Hal, what say you?'
'Why, sir,' said Hal, 'a greatcoat is a good thing, to be sure; and
then, after the greatcoat, as you said it would only cost half as much
as the uniform, there would be some money to spare, would not there?'
'Yes, my dear, about five-and-twenty shillings.'
'Five-and-twenty shillings? I could buy and do a great many things,
to be sure, with five-and-twenty shillings; but then, the thing is, I must go without the uniform if I have the greatcoat.'
'Certainly,' said his uncle.
'Ah!' said Hal, sighing, as he looked at the epaulette, 'uncle, if
you would not be displeased if I choose the uniform'
'I shall not be displeased at your choosing whatever you like best,'
said Mr. Gresham.
'Well, then, thank you, sir,' said Hal, 'I think I had better have
the uniform, because, if I have not the uniform now directly, it will
be of no use to me, as the archery meeting is the week after next, you
know; and as to the greatcoat, perhaps between this time and the very
cold weather, which perhaps won't be till Christmas, father will buy a
greatcoat for me; and I'll ask mother to give me some pocket-money to
give away, and she will, perhaps.'
To all this conclusive, conditional reasoning, which depended upon
the word perhaps, three times repeated, Mr. Gresham made no
reply; but he immediately bought the uniform for Hal, and desired that
it should be sent to Lady Diana Sweepstakes' sons' tailor to be made
up. The measure of Hal's happiness was now complete.
'And how am I to lay out the three guineas for you, Ben?' said Mr.
Gresham. 'Speak; what do you wish for first?'
'A greatcoat, uncle, if you please.'
Mr. Gresham bought the coat, and after it was paid for
five-and-twenty shillings of Ben's three guineas remained.
'What next, my boy?' said his uncle.
'Arrows, uncle, if you pleasethree arrows.'
'My dear, I promised you a bow and arrows.'
'No, uncle, you only said a bow.'
'Well, I meant a bow and arrows. I'm glad you are so exact, however.
It is better to claim less than more than what is promised. The three
arrows you shall have. But go on. How shall I dispose of these
five-and-twenty shillings for you?'
'In clothes, if you will be so good, uncle, for that poor boy who
has the great black patch on his eye.'
'I always believed,' said Mr. Gresham, shaking hands with Ben, 'that
economy and generosity were the best friends, instead of being enemies,
as some silly, extravagant people would have us think them. Choose the
poor, blind boy's coat, my dear nephew, and pay for it. There's no
occasion for my praising you about the matter. Your best reward is in
your own mind, child; and you want no other, or I'm mistaken. Now jump
into the coach, boys, and let's be off. We shall be late, I'm afraid,'
continued he, as the coach drove on; 'but I must let you stop, Ben,
with your goods, at the poor boy's door.'
When they came to the house, Mr. Gresham opened the coach door, and
Ben jumped out with his parcel under his arm.
'Stay, stay! you must take me with you,' said his pleased uncle; 'I
like to see people made happy as well as you do.'
'And so do I, too,' said Hal. 'Let me come with you. I almost wish
my uniform was not gone to the tailor's, so I do.' And when he saw the
look of delight and gratitude with which the poor boy received the
clothes which Ben gave him, and when he heard the mother and children
thank him, Hal sighed, and said: 'Well, I hope mother will give me some
more pocket-money soon.'
Upon his return home, however, the sight of the famous bow
and arrow, which Lady Diana Sweepstakes had sent him, recalled to his
imagination all the joys of his green-and-white uniform, and he no
longer wished that it had not been sent to the tailor's.
'But I don't understand, Cousin Hal,' said little Patty, 'why you
call this bow a famous bow. You say famous very often,
and I don't know exactly what it meansa famous uniform,
famous doings. I remember you said there are to be famous
doings, the first of September, upon the Downs. What does famous
'Oh, why famous meansnow, don't you know what famous
means? It meansit is a word that people sayit is the fashion to say
itit meansit means famous.'
Patty laughed, and said:
'This does not explain it to me.'
'No,' said Hal, 'nor can it be explained. If you don't understand
it, that's not my fault. Everybody but little children, I suppose,
understands it; but there's no explaining those sort of words,
if you don't take them at once. There's to be famous
doings upon the Downs, the first of Septemberthat is grand, fine. In
short, what does it signify talking any longer, Patty, about the
matter? Give me my bow, for I must go out upon the Downs and practise.'
Ben accompanied him with the bow and the three arrows which his
uncle had now given to him, and every day these two boys went out upon
the Downs and practised shooting with indefatigable perseverance. Where
equal pains are taken, success is usually found to be pretty nearly
equal. Our two archers, by constant practice, became expert marksmen;
and before the day of trial they were so exactly matched in point of
dexterity that it was scarcely possible to decide which was superior.
The long-expected first of September at length arrived. 'What sort
of a day is it?' was the first question that was asked by Hal and Ben
the moment that they awakened. The sun shone bright, but there was a
sharp and high wind.
'Ha!' said Ben, 'I shall be glad of my good greatcoat to-day, for
I've a notion it will be rather cold upon the Downs, especially when we
are standing still, as we must, whilst all the people are shooting.'
'Oh, never mind. I don't think I shall feel it cold at all,' said
Hal, as he dressed himself in his new green-and-white uniform; and he
viewed himself with much complacency. 'Good-morning to you, uncle. How
do you do?' said he, in a voice of exultation, when he entered the
'How do you do?' seemed rather to mean, 'How do you like me in my
uniform?' and his uncle's cool, 'Very well, I thank you, Hal,'
disappointed him, as it seemed only to say, 'Your uniform makes no
difference in my opinion of you.'
Even little Patty went on eating her breakfast much as usual, and
talked of the pleasure of walking with her father to the Downs, and of
all the little things which interested her, so that Hal's epaulettes
were not the principal object in anyone's imagination but his own.
'Father,' said Patty, 'as we go up the hill where there is so much
red mud I must take care to pick my way nicely, and I must hold up my
frock, as you desired me, and perhaps you will be so good, if I am not
troublesome, to lift me over the very bad place where are no
stepping-stones. My ankle is entirely well, and I'm glad of that, or
else I should not be able to walk so far as the Downs. How good you
were to me, Ben, when I was in pain the day I sprained my ankle! You
played at jack straws and at cat's-cradle with me. Oh, that puts me in
mind! Here are your gloves which I asked you that night to let me mend.
I've been a great while about them, but are not they very neatly
mended, father? Look at the sewing.'
'I am not a very good judge of sewing, my dear little girl,' said
Mr. Gresham, examining the work with a close and scrupulous eye; 'but,
in my opinion, here is one stitch that is rather too long. The white
teeth are not quite even.'
'Oh, father, I'll take out that long tooth in a minute,' said Patty,
laughing. 'I did not think that you would observe it so soon.'
'I would not have you trust to my blindness,' said her father,
stroking her head fondly; 'I observe everything. I observe, for
instance, that you are a grateful little girl, and that you are glad to
be of use to those who have been kind to you, and for this I forgive
you the long stitch.'
'But it's outit's out, father,' said Patty; 'and the next time
your gloves want mending, Ben, I'll mend them better.'
'They are very nice, I think,' said Ben, drawing them on, 'and I am
much obliged to you. I was just wishing I had a pair of gloves to keep
my fingers warm to-day, for I never can shoot well when my hands are
benumbed. Look, Hal; you know how ragged these gloves were. You said
they were good for nothing but to throw away. Now look, there's not a
hole in them,' said he, spreading his fingers.
'Now, is it not very extraordinary,' said Hal to himself, 'that they
should go on so long talking about an old pair of gloves, without
saying scarcely a word about my new uniform? Well, the young
Sweepstakes and Lady Diana will talk enough about it, that's one
comfort. Is not it time to think of setting out, sir?' said Hal to his
uncle. 'The company, you know, are to meet at the Ostrich at twelve,
and the race to begin at one, and Lady Diana's horses, I know, were
ordered to be at the door at ten.'
Mr. Stephen, the butler, here interrupted the hurrying young
gentleman in his calculations.
'There's a poor lad, sir, below, with a great black patch on his
right eye, who is come from Bristol, and wants to speak a word with the
young gentlemen, if you please. I told him they were just going
out with you, but he says he won't detain them more than half a
'Show him upshow him up,' said Mr. Gresham.
'But I suppose,' said Hal, with a sigh, 'that Stephen mistook when
he said the young gentlemen. He only wants to see Ben, I dare
say. I'm sure he has no reason to want to see me. Here he comes. Oh,
Ben, he is dressed in the new coat you gave him,' whispered Hal, who
was really a good-natured boy, though extravagant. 'How much better he
looks than he did in the ragged coat! Ah, he looked at you first, Ben,
and well he may!'
The boy bowed, without any cringing civility, but with an open,
decent freedom in his manner, which expressed that he had been obliged,
but that he knew his young benefactor was not thinking of the
obligation. He made as little distinction as possible between his bows
to the two cousins.
'As I was sent with a message by the clerk of our parish to Redland
Chapel out on the Downs to-day, sir,' said he to Mr. Gresham, 'knowing
your house lay in my way, my mother, sir, bid me call, and make bold to
offer the young gentlemen two little worsted balls that she has worked
for them,' continued the lad, pulling out of his pocket two worsted
balls worked in green and orange-coloured stripes. 'They are but poor
things, sir, she bid me say, to look at; but, considering she has but
one hand to work with, and that her left hand, you'll not
despise 'em, we hopes.' He held the balls to Ben and Hal. 'They are
both alike, gentlemen,' said he. 'If you'll be pleased to take 'em.
They're better than they look, for they bound higher than your head. I
cut the cork round for the inside myself, which was all I could do.'
'They are nice balls, indeed. We are much obliged to you,' said the
boys as they received them, and they proved them immediately.
The balls struck the floor with a delightful sound, and rebounded
higher than Mr. Gresham's head. Little Patty clapped her hands
joyfully. But now a thundering double rap at the door was heard.
'The Master Sweepstakes, sir,' said Stephen, 'are come for Master
Hal. They say that all the young gentlemen who have archery uniforms
are to walk together in a body, I think they say, sir; and they are to
parade along the Well Walk, they desired me to say, sir, with a drum
and fife, and so up the hill by Prince's Place, and all to go upon the
Downs together to the place of meeting. I am not sure I'm right, sir,
for both the young gentlemen spoke at once, and the wind is very high
at the street door, so that I could not well make out all they said,
but I believe this is the sense of it.'
'Yes, yes,' said Hal eagerly, 'it's all right. I know that is just
what was settled the day I dined at Lady Diana's, and Lady Diana and a
great party of gentlemen are to ride'
'Well, that is nothing to the purpose,' interrupted Mr. Gresham.
'Don't keep these Master Sweepstakes waiting. Decide. Do you choose to
go with them or with us?'
'Sirunclesir, you know, since all the uniforms agreed to
'Off with you, then, Mr. Uniform, if you mean to go,' said Mr.
Hal ran downstairs in such a hurry that he forgot his bow and
arrows. Ben discovered this when he went to fetch his own, and the lad
from Bristol, who had been ordered by Mr. Gresham to eat his breakfast
before he proceeded to Redland Chapel, heard Ben talking about his
cousin's bow and arrows.
'I know,' said Ben, 'he will be sorry not to have his bow with him,
because here are the green knots tied to it to match his cockade; and
he said that the boys were all to carry their bows as part of the
'If you'll give me leave, sir,' said the poor Bristol lad, 'I shall
have plenty of time, and I'll run down to the Well Walk after the young
gentleman, and take him his bow and arrows.'
'Will you? I shall be much obliged to you,' said Ben; and away went
the boy with the bow that was ornamented with green ribands.
The public walk leading to the Wells was full of company. The
windows of all the houses in St. Vincent's Parade were crowded with
well-dressed ladies, who were looking out in expectation of the archery
procession. Parties of gentlemen and ladies, and a motley crowd of
spectators, were seen moving backwards and forwards under the rocks on
the opposite side of the water. A barge, with coloured streamers
flying, was waiting to take up a party who were going upon the water.
The bargemen rested upon their oars, and gazed with broad faces of
curiosity upon the busy scene that appeared upon the public walk.
The archers and archeresses were now drawn up on the flags under the
semicircular piazza just before Mrs. Yearsley's library. A little band
of children, who had been mustered by Lady Diana Sweepstakes'
spirited exertions, closed the procession. They were now all in
readiness. The drummer only waited for her ladyship's signal, and the
archers' corps only waited for her ladyship's word of command to march.
'Where are your bow and arrows, my little man?' said her ladyship to
Hal, as she reviewed her Lilliputian regiment. 'You can't march, man,
without your arms.'
Hal had despatched a messenger for his forgotten bow, but the
messenger returned not. He looked from side to side in great distress.
'Oh, there's my bow coming, I declare!' cried he. 'Look, I see the
bow and the ribands. Look now, between the trees, Charles Sweepstakes,
on the Hotwell Walkit is coming!'
'But you've kept us all waiting a confounded time!' said his
'It is that good-natured poor fellow from Bristol, I protest, that
has brought it me. I'm sure I don't deserve it from him,' said Hal to
himself, when he saw the lad with the black patch on his eye running,
quite out of breath, towards him with his bow and arrows.
'Fall back, my good friendfall back,' said the military lady, as
soon as he had delivered the bow to Hal; 'I mean, stand out of the way,
for your great patch cuts no figure amongst us. Don't follow so close,
now, as if you belonged to us, pray.'
The poor boy had no ambition to partake the triumph; he fell back
as soon as he understand the meaning of the lady's words. The drum
beat, the fife played, the archers marched, the spectators admired. Hal
stepped proudly, and felt as if the eyes of the whole universe were
upon his epaulettes, or upon the facings of his uniform; whilst all the
time he was considered only as part of a show.
The walk appeared much shorter than usual, and he was extremely
sorry that Lady Diana, when they were half-way up the hill leading to
Prince's Place, mounted her horse because the road was dirty, and all
the gentlemen and ladies who accompanied her followed her example.
'We can leave the children to walk, you know,' said she to the
gentleman who helped her to mount her horse. 'I must call to some of
them, though, and leave orders where they are to join.'
She beckoned, and Hal, who was foremost, and proud to show his
alacrity, ran on to receive her ladyship's orders. Now, as we have
before observed, it was a sharp and windy day; and though Lady Diana
Sweepstakes was actually speaking to him, and looking at him, he could
not prevent his nose from wanting to be blowed. He pulled out his
handkerchief, and out rolled the new ball which had been given to him
just before he left home, and which, according to his usual careless
habits, he had stuffed into his pocket in his hurry.
'Oh, my new ball!' cried he, as he ran after it.
As he stopped to pick it up, he let go his hat, which he had
hitherto held on with anxious care; for the hat, though it had a fine
green and white cockade, had no band or string round it. The string, as
we may recollect, our wasteful hero had used in spinning his top. The
hat was too large for his head without this band; a sudden gust of wind
blew it off. Lady Diana's horse started and reared. She was a famous
horsewoman, and sat him to the admiration of all beholders; but there
was a puddle of red clay and water in this spot, and her ladyship's
uniform habit was a sufferer by the accident.
'Careless brat!' said she; 'why can't he keep his hat upon his
In the meantime, the wind blew the hat down the hill, and Hal ran
after it amidst the laughter of his kind friends, the young
Sweepstakes, and the rest of the little regiment. The hat was lodged at
length upon a bank. Hal pursued it; he thought this bank was hard, but,
alas! the moment he set his foot upon it the foot sank. He tried to
draw it back; his other foot slipped, and he fell prostrate, in his
green and white uniform, into the treacherous bed of red mud. His
companions, who had halted upon the top of the hill, stood laughing
spectators of his misfortune.
It happened that the poor boy with the black patch upon his eye, who
had been ordered by Lady Diana to 'fall back,' and to 'keep
at a distance,' was now coming up the hill, and the moment he saw
our fallen hero he hastened to his assistance. He dragged poor Hal, who
was a deplorable spectacle, out of the red mud. The obliging mistress
of a lodging-house, as soon as she understood that the young gentleman
was nephew to Mr. Gresham, to whom she had formerly let her house,
received Hal, covered as he was with dirt.
The poor Bristol lad hastened to Mr. Gresham's for clean stockings
and shoes for Hal. He was willing to give up his uniform. It was rubbed
and rubbed, and a spot here and there was washed out; and he kept
continually repeating: 'When it's dry it will all brush off; when it's
dry it will all brush off, won't it?' But soon the fear of being too
late at the archery meeting began to balance the dread of appearing in
his stained habiliments; and now he as anxiously repeated, whilst the
woman held the wet coat to the fire: 'Oh, I shall be too late! indeed,
I shall be too late! Make haste; it will never dry! Hold it
nearernearer to the fire. I shall lose my turn to shoot. Oh, give me
the coat! I don't mind how it is, if I can but get it on.'
Holding it nearer and nearer to the fire dried it quickly, to be
sure; but it shrank it also, so that it was no easy matter to get the
coat on again. However, Hal, who did not see the red splashes which, in
spite of all these operations, were too visible upon his shoulders and
upon the skirts of his white coat behind, was pretty well satisfied to
observe that there was not one spot upon the facings.
'Nobody,' said he, 'will take notice of my coat behind, I dare say.
I think it looks as smart almost as ever!' and under this persuasion
our young archer resumed his bowhis bow with green ribands now no
moreand he pursued his way to the Downs.
All his companions were far out of sight.
'I suppose,' said he to his friend with the black patch'I suppose
my uncle and Ben had left home before you went for the shoes and
stockings for me?'
'Oh, yes, sir; the butler said they had been gone to the Downs the
matter of a good half-hour or more.'
Hal trudged on as fast as he possibly could. When he got upon the
Downs, he saw numbers of carriages and crowds of people all going
towards the place of meeting at the Ostrich. He pressed forwards. He
was at first so much afraid of being late that he did not take notice
of the mirth his motley appearance excited in all beholders. At length
he reached the appointed spot. There was a great crowd of people. In
the midst he heard Lady Diana's loud voice betting upon some one who
was just going to shoot at the mark.
'So then the shooting is begun, is it?' said Hal. 'Oh, let me in!
pray let me in to the circle! I'm one of the archersI am indeed;
don't you see my green and white uniform?'
'Your red and white uniform, you mean,' said the man to whom he
addressed himself; and the people, as they opened a passage for him,
could not refrain laughing at the mixture of dirt and finery which it
exhibited. In vain, when he got into the midst of the formidable
circle, he looked to his friends, the young Sweepstakes, for their
countenance and support. They were amongst the most unmerciful of the
laughers. Lady Diana also seemed more to enjoy than to pity his
'Why could you not keep your hat upon your head, man?' said she in
her masculine tone. 'You have been almost the ruin of my poor uniform
habit; but I've escaped rather better than you have. Don't stand there,
in the middle of the circle, or you'll have an arrow in your eyes just
now, I've a notion.'
Hal looked round in search of better friends.
'Oh, where's my uncle? Where's Ben?' said he.
He was in such confusion that, amongst the number of faces, he could
scarcely distinguish one from another; but he felt somebody at this
moment pull his elbow, and, to his great relief, he heard the friendly
voice and saw the good-natured face of his cousin Ben.
'Come backcome behind these people,' said Ben, 'and put on my
greatcoat; here it is for you.'
Right glad was Hal to cover his disgraced uniform with the rough
greatcoat which he had formerly despised. He pulled the stained,
drooping cockade out of his unfortunate hat; and he was now
sufficiently recovered from his vexation to give an intelligible
account of his accident to his uncle and Patty, who anxiously inquired
what had detained him so long, and what had been the matter. In the
midst of the history of his disaster, he was just proving to Patty that
his taking the hatband to spin his top had nothing to do with his
misfortune, and he was at the same time endeavouring to refute his
uncle's opinion that the waste of the whipcord that tied the parcel was
the original cause of all his evils, when he was summoned to try his
skill with his famous bow.
'My hands are benumbed; I can scarcely feel,' said he, rubbing them
and blowing upon the ends of his fingers.
'Come, come,' cried young Sweepstakes, 'I'm within one inch of the
mark; who'll go nearer? I shall like to see. Shoot away, Hal! But first
understand our laws; we settled them before you came upon the green.
You are to have three shots with your own bow and your own arrows; and
nobody's to borrow or lend under pretence of other's bows being better
or worse, or under under any pretence. Do you hear, Hal?'
This young gentleman had good reasons for being so strict in these
laws, as he had observed that none of his companions had such an
excellent bow as he had provided for himself. Some of the boys had
forgotten to bring more than one arrow with them, and by his cunning
regulation that each person should shoot with his own arrows, many had
lost one or two of their shots.
'You are a lucky fellow; you have your three arrows,' said young
Sweepstakes. 'Come, we can't wait whilst you rub your fingers, man;
Hal was rather surprised at the asperity with which his friend
spoke. He little knew how easily acquaintance who call themselves
friends can change when their interest comes in the slightest degree in
competition with their friendship. Hurried by his impatient rival, and
with his hands so much benumbed that he could scarcely feel how to fix
the arrow in the string, he drew the bow. The arrow was within a
quarter of an inch of Master Sweepstakes' mark, which was the nearest
that had yet been hit. Hal seized his second arrow.
'If I have any luck' said he.
But just as he pronounced the word luck, and as he bent his
bow, the string broke in two, and the bow fell from his hands.
'There, it's all over with you!' cried Master Sweepstakes, with a
'Here's my bow for him, and welcome,' said Ben.
'No, no, sir,' said Master Sweepstakes, 'that is not fair; that's
against the regulations. You may shoot with your own bow, if you choose
it, or you may not, just as you think proper; but you must not lend it,
It was now Ben's turn to make his trial. His first arrow was not
successful. His second was exactly as near as Hal's first.
'You have but one more,' said Master Sweepstakes; 'now for it!'
[Illustration: 'The everlasting whipcord, I declare.'Page 241.]
Ben, before he ventured his last arrow, prudently examined the
string of his bow; and, as he pulled it to try its strength, it
cracked. Master Sweepstakes clapped his hands, with loud exultations
and insulting laughter. But his laughter ceased when our provident hero
calmly drew from his pocket an excellent piece of whipcord.
'The everlasting whipcord, I declare!' exclaimed Hal, when he saw
that it was the very same that had tied up the parcel.
'Yes,' said Ben, as he fastened it to his bow, 'I put it into my
pocket to-day on purpose, because I thought I might happen to want it.'
He drew his bow the third and last time.
'Oh, father,' cried little Patty, as his arrow hit the mark, 'it's
the nearest! Is it not the nearest?'
Master Sweepstakes with anxiety examined the hit. There could be no
doubt. Ben was victorious! The bow, the prize bow, was now delivered to
him; and Hal, as he looked at the whipcord, exclaimed:
'How lucky this whipcord has been to you, Ben!'
'It is lucky, perhaps, you mean, that he took care of it,'
said Mr. Gresham.
'Ay,' said Hal, 'very true; he might well say, Waste not, want
not. It is a good thing to have two strings to one's bow.'
[A] Vide Priestley's 'History of Vision,' chapter on coloured