The Summer Holidays



Next morning, Mr. Harvey told his sons that they might go to see an old man, who lived in a small house, about two miles off, and who was so sickly that he could not work. This old man's name was Hall, and the boys of the school called him Daddy Hall. He had once been rich; but sickness and misfortune had reduced him to poverty, so that he now lived with his little son, in a small hut, near a hill. Every week he sent fruit and vegetables to market, in a cart, drawn by a donkey, which some of the neighbors had given to him. Every week Mr. Harvey sent either a servant, or one of the boys, to see how he was getting along, and to carry him something nice.

The two boys, with their cousin, were soon off, carrying with them a basket full of things for the old man. They went by the road across the meadows, and through a small gate in the hedge. Samuel observed, that the hawthorn of the hedge grew very thick and close, so that a bird could scarcely get through it. The roots and branches were twisted into each other, appearing like strong, thick chains woven together; and on the vines grew sharp thorns, longer than a needle. Mr. Harvey's boys told their cousin, that neither man nor beast could get through such a hedge; and that if a man were placed on the top, he could walk on the vines without sinking down, they were so strong and close. But, that it was not advisable to do so.

They now left the hedge, and went on through two wide fields, until they reached some hills that stood by themselves, and were steep and bare. Three of them had deep pits dug in them, while piles of rock, stones, and sand, were lying around. Samuel asked his cousins what place it was.

"It is an iron mine," said Thomas; but it is not worked anymore, because there is not enough of iron found to pay for the trouble. All these stones lying about here are pieces of ore; but the quantity of iron in them is so small that it will not pay for the expense of taking it out from the ore."

"How is iron taken from the ore?" asked Samuel. Thomas replied:

"The ore is first crushed into coarse dust, and then washed. Afterwards this dust is melted in a hot furnace, and the iron is separated from the melted stone, or dross, in a manner which is very troublesome, and which father can explain to you better than I can. Sometimes the ore is almost all iron; John and I have some pieces in our cabinets, in which you cannot see any stone."

"But did men go down this deep well?" asked Samuel.

"Yes; they were lowered down in buckets. And the water was pumped out by a machine. The water was so cold, even in the middle of summer, that one could scarcely hold his hand in it."

The boys began to throw stones down one of the wells, so that they might guess by hearing them strike the bottom, how deep it was. The first stones were too small to be heard; then they threw larger ones, and listened, but could hear no sound. At last, John took up a piece of rock as big as his head, and rolled it into the well. It fell with a hollow, rumbling noise, and all was then still. The boys thought it had reached the bottom; but all at once they heard it splash into water. Then the boys knew that the well was very deep, for the stone had been falling several seconds. They then hunted among the piles of ore for some handsome pieces to give to Samuel; after which, they picked up their basket, and hurried on toward Daddy Hall's.

On reaching his house, they found the old man sitting at the door, while his son, a good boy, was preparing to take the donkey to market, with a cart load of turnips, radishes, peas, beans, and cabbage. Daddy Hall was pale and thin; but he arose to meet the boys, and seemed very glad to see Samuel. Although he was sick almost every day, and sometimes suffered great pain, yet no one ever heard him complain. He loved children, and was very fond of talking to them; and before he grew so weak and feeble, many of the farmers sent their little ones to him, to learn to read. After they had been seated a little while, John asked him if he did not get tired of staying in the house.

"Sometimes," said the old man, "I wish I could go out, as I once could, and work for myself; but I do not feel tired. Besides, this is the best condition I can be placed in; and if you ask me why, I will tell you. God, my children, has placed me in it; and he knows what is best for each of us. He has given me many comforts, kind friends, plenty to eat and drink, and a son, who is one of the best of boys. There is nothing, John, more cheering to the heart of an old man than the kindness of a dutiful son; and let me ask each of you, to listen to the advice of one who owns such a blessing, and always to show honor and respect to your parents."

Continue the Story

Return to Chapter Books

Return to Chapter 1

Return to Nursery Rhymes Fun Home