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Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze on Malvern's
lonely height, Till streamed in crimson on the wind the Wrekin's
crest of light, Till broad and fierce the star came forth on Ely's
stately fane, And tower and hamlet rose in arms o'er all the bound
less plain ; Till Belvoir's lordly terraces the sign to Lincoln sent, And Lincoln sped the message on o'er the wide vale of
Trent; Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's
embattled pile, And the red glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.
THE MAN WHO KILLED HIS NEIGHBOUR.
REUBEN BLACK was a torment in the neighbourhood where he lived. His wife had a sharp uncomfortable look. His boys seemed to be in perpetual fear. His dog dropped his tail between his legs, and eyed him askance, as if to see what humour he was in. The cat looked wild, and rushed straight up the chimney when he moved towards her. Every day he cursed the town and the neighbourhood, because the people poisoned
his dogs, and stoned his hens. Continual law-suits involved him in so much trouble and expense, that he had neither time nor money to spend in the improvement of his farm.
Such was the state of things when John Brown bought the farm next to Reuben Black's. It had been much neglected, and had caught thistles and other weeds from the neighbouring fields. But John was a diligent man, and one who commanded well his own temper, for he had learned of Him who is “meek and lowly in heart.” His steady perseverance and industry soon changed the aspect of things on the farm. River mud, autumn leaves, and old bones, were all put into use to assist in producing fertility and beauty. His sleek horse tossed his mane, and neighed when his master came near, as much as to say, " The world is all the pleasanter and better for having you in it, John Brown.” When John turned his steps homewards, his children threw up their caps, and ran shouting, “Father's coming!” His wife sometimes said, “Everyone who knows my husband, loves him; they cannot help it.”
Now John Brown's acquaintance knew that he was never engaged in a law-suit in his life, but they predicted that he would find it impossible to avoid it now. They told him that his next neighbour was determined to quarrel with people, whether they would or not; that he was like John Lilburne, of whom it was said, “ If the world were emptied of every person but himself, Lilburne would still quarrel with John, and John with Lilburne.”
“Is that his character ? ” said John: “if he exercises it upon me I will soon kill him.”
People were not slow in repeating John Brown's remark to his wrangling neighbour. “Kill me, will he?” exclaimed Reuben. He said no more; but his tightly-compressed mouth had such a significant expression, that his dog slunk from him in alarm, and the cat bolted up the chimney.
Then commenced a series of teasing, worries, and bi persecutions ; for Reuben was determined to make his new neighbour quarrel with him. But all his attempts failed. John would not be quarrelled with. Nay more, he and his wife made many little advances to a friendly state of things, and never seemed affronter Re when they were rejected. This imperturbable good- tal nature vexed Reuben more than all the taunts he met bo from others. Evil deeds he could understand, and in repay them too, with compound interest, but he did not loc know what to make of his perpetual forbearance. He de disliked John more than all rest of the people pu be together, because he made him feel so uncomfortably in the wrong, and did not afford him the slightest " pretext to quarrel.
At last, however, one night, after sitting thoughtfully, smoking, for a long time, he knocked the ashes from his pipe, and said, with a sigh, “Peg, John Brown has an killed me!” “What do yoụ mean?” said his wife, dropping her knitting with a look of surprise. “ Why, you know when he first came into this neighbourhood he said he would kill me, and he has done it. Th
other day he asked me to help his team out of the bog, and I told him I had enough to do to mind my own business. To-day my team stuck fast in the same bog,
and he came with two yoke of oxen to draw it out. I I felt ashamed to have him lend me a hand, so I told him
I wanted none of his help; but he answered just as ar pleasant as if nothing contrary had happened: he said
that night was coming on, and he could not leave me 10. in the mud.” his “Well, he is a pleasant spoken man,” said Mrs. p Black, “and always has a kind word to every one. His af wife seems to be a nice neighbourly body too.” 50 6. The next morning, much to his wife's astonishment, atei Reuben cut a fine ripe melon, and said he was going to pod take it “over there.” Over, accordingly, to Mr. Brown's me house he went, feeling very awkward, and after brushani ing his hat the wrong way, and rubbing his head, and no looking out of the window, he said suddenly, as if by a Hi desperate effort—" The fact is, Mr. Brown, I didn't pu behave right about the oxen.” able “Never mind, never mind,” replied Mr. Brown, ates “perhaps I shall get into the bog again one of these
rainy days; if I do, I shall know whom to call to help ulli me out.” ne “Why you see,” said Reuben, still much confused,
hi and avoiding John's mild, clear eye, "you see the mit neighbours here are very ugly; if I had always lived Wbs with such neighbours as you are, I should not be just hooi what I am.” II “Ah, well, we must try to be to others what we want
them to be to us,” rejoined John, “ you know the good Book says so. I have learned by experience that if we speak kind words, we hear kind echoes in life. If we try to make others happy, it fills them with a wish to make us happy. Perhaps you and I can bring these « ugly' neighbours round in time to this way of thinking and acting, who knows?—Let us try, let us try," he added. “ Come,” said John, “and look at my orchard, I want to show you a tree which I have grafted with very choice apples ; if you like I will procure you some cuttings from the same stock.”
So they went into the orchard together, and friendly i chat soon put Reuben at his ease.
When he returned home, he made no remarks about his visit, for he could not, as yet, summon sufficient greatness of soul to tell his wife that he had confessed himself in the wrong. A gun stood behind the kitchen door in readiness to shoot Mr. Browu's dog for having barked at his horse. He now fired the contents into the air, and put the gun away. From that day forward he never sought for any pretext to quarrel with the dog or his master.
That evening, John Brown smiled as he said to his wife, “ Well, my love, I thought we should kill him at last.”