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Christmas Stories   By: (1777?-1859)

Book cover

First Page:

CHRISTMAS STORIES.

CONTAINING

JOHN WILDGOOSE THE POACHER,

THE SMUGGLER,

AND

GOOD NATURE, OR PARISH MATTERS.

OXFORD,

PRINTED BY W. BAXTER , FOR J. PARKER; AND F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND WATERLOO PLACE, LONDON.

1823.

THE

HISTORY

OF

JOHN WILDGOOSE.

ADVERTISEMENT.

The Author of the following Tale has, for some time, wished to put together a little Tract on the evil and danger of poaching ; an offence which so often leads on to the most immoral habits, and the most heinous crimes. It seemed that his object might be answered by the aid of narrative and dialogue, more effectually than by a regular and continued discourse. If it should be thought, in any degree, worthy of standing on the same shelf with "Trimmer's Instructive Tales," and the "Cheap Repository Tracts," the ambition of the Author will be gratified.

Jan. 27, 1821.

[Illustration]

THE

HISTORY

OF

JOHN WILDGOOSE.

Thomas Wildgoose was an honest and hard working man, in one of the midland counties. He had long been attached to Susan Jenkins, a well behaved young woman of the same village; but from prudence and a proper independence of mind, he determined not to take a wife until he had a house to bring her to, as well as some prospect of providing for a family without being a burthen to the farmers, who were already complaining of the pressure of the poor rates.

In consequence of his good character he was never out of work; and though his wages were not high, yet he almost every week contrived to put by something, which he deposited in a bank for savings, lately established in the neighbouring market town. His weekly deposits were not very large sums, yet "many a little makes a mickle." This was helped out by a legacy of thirty pounds from an uncle; so that in a few years he was enabled to purchase a cottage with a small garden, and had still something over for a few articles of furniture. Susan, meanwhile, had gone on steadily in service, always making a point of putting by some part of her wages; so that when they married, they were comparatively rich. For some time after his marriage Wildgoose continued to work for his old master; and Susan, by field work in the hay making and harvest, and by taking in sewing at other times of the year, was able to earn a good deal towards maintaining their children. The wants of an increasing family, however, led him to consider how he might enlarge his means of subsistence; and the success of an old acquaintance in the adjoining village, determined him to endeavour to purchase a horse and cart, and commence business as a higler.

A higler's business is liable to so many chances, and takes a man so much from home, that perhaps he would have acted more wisely if he had stuck to work. We cannot however blame him for endeavouring to better his circumstances in an honest way. Though he occasionally met with some losses from bad debts, yet upon the whole he did pretty well.

One day in November, as he was returning home from market rather late in the evening, and was walking quietly by the side of the cart, he was suddenly startled by a rattling noise behind him; and turning round, saw the True Blue stage driving furiously along the road, and the Opposition coach a short distance behind. Wildgoose immediately went to his horse's head, and drew his cart as close as he could to the hedge; but just at that moment the Opposition coach had got up with the other, and in endeavouring to pass it, one of the leaders knocked poor Wildgoose down, and the wheels went over him. The unfeeling coachmen were too eager in the race to attend to the mischief which they had occasioned; and the poor man was left lying in the road, until two neighbouring farmers, returning from market, found him, and brought him home, more dead than alive, in his own cart... Continue reading book >>




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