"Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for
women, and become servants for their sakes. Many also
have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women.... O
ye men, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing
they do thus?"--ESDRAS.
The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
The miller at Cresscombe lent him the small white tilted cart and
horse to carry his goods to the city of his destination, about twenty
miles off, such a vehicle proving of quite sufficient size for the
departing teacher's effects. For the schoolhouse had been partly
furnished by the managers, and the only cumbersome article possessed
by the master, in addition to the packing-case of books, was a
cottage piano that he had bought at an auction during the year in
which he thought of learning instrumental music. But the enthusiasm
having waned he had never acquired any skill in playing, and the
purchased article had been a perpetual trouble to him ever since in
The rector had gone away for the day, being a man who disliked the
sight of changes. He did not mean to return till the evening, when
the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and
everything would be smooth again.
The blacksmith, the farm bailiff, and the schoolmaster himself were
standing in perplexed attitudes in the parlour before the instrument.
The master had remarked that even if he got it into the cart he
should not know what to do with it on his arrival at Christminster,
the city he was bound for, since he was only going into temporary
lodgings just at first.
A little boy of eleven, who had been thoughtfully assisting in the
packing, joined the group of men, and as they rubbed their chins he
spoke up, blushing at the sound of his own voice: "Aunt have got a
great fuel-house, and it could be put there, perhaps, till you've
found a place to settle in, sir."