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your twelve guineas, and you have been, in every respect, so good a servant, that, if you are agreeable, I intend giving you what is worth the twelve guineas ten times over in place of your wages, but you shall have your choice; will you take what I offer, on my word!"
John saw no reason to think that his master was jesting with him or was insincere in making the offer; and therefore, after slight consideration, told him that he agreed to take, as his wages, whatever he would advise, whether it was the twelve guineas or not.
"Then listen attentively to my words," said the gentleman.
"First, I would teach you this: 'Never to take a bye-road when you have the highway.'
Secondly-Take heed not to lodge in the house where an old man is married to a young woman.'
"And thirdly-'Remember that honesty is the best policy.'
"These are the Three Advices I would pay you with, and they are, in value, far beyond any gold; however, here is a guinea for your travelling charges, and two cakes, one of which you must give to your wife, and the other you must not eat yourself, until you have done so, and I charge you to be careful of them."
It was not without some reluctance on the part of John Carson that he was brought to accept mere words for wages, or could be persuaded that they were more precious than golden guineas. His faith in his master was however so strong that he at length became satisfied.
John set out for Ireland the next morning early; but he had not proceeded far before he overtook two pedlars who were travelling the same way. He entered into conversation with them and found them a pair of merry fellows, who proved excellent company on the road. Now, it happened towards the end of their day's journey, when they were all tired with walking, that they came to a wood, through which there was a path that shortened the distance to the town they were going
towards by two miles. The pedlars advised John to go with them through the wood, but he refused to leave the highway, telling them at the same time he would meet them again at a certain house in the town, where travellers put up. John was willing to try the worth of the advice which his master had given him, and he arrived in safety, and took up his quarters at the appointed place. While he was eating his supper, an old man came hobbling into the kitchen, and gave orders about different matters there, and then went out again. John would have taken no particular notice of this, but, immediately after, a young woman, young enough to be the old man's daughter, came in and gave orders exactly the contrary of what the old man had given, calling him at the same time a great many hard names, such as old fool, and old dotard, and so on.
When she was gone, John inquired who the old man was. "He is the landlord," said the servant, “and Heaven help him! a dog's life he has had since he married his last wife."
"What," says John, with surprise, "is that young woman the landlord's wife? I see, I must not remain in this house to-night." And tired as he was he got up to leave it, but went no farther than the door before he met the two pedlars, all cut and bleeding, coming in, for they had been robbed and almost murdered in the wood. John was very sorry to see them in that condition, and advised them not to lodge in the house, telling them, with a significant nod, that all was not right there; but the poor pedlars were so weary and so bruised that they would stop where they were, and disregarded the advice.
Rather than remain in the house, John retired to the stable and laid himself down upon a bundle of straw, where he slept soundly for some time. About the middle of the night he heard two persons come into the stable, and on listening to their conversation, discovered that it was the landlady and a man, laying a plan how to murder her husband. In the morning, John re
newed his journey; but at the next town he came to was told that the landlord in the town he had left had been murdered, and that two pedlars, whose clothes were found all covered with blood, had been taken up for the crime, and were going to be hanged. John, without mentioning what he had overheard to any person, determined to save the pedlars if possible, and so returned to attend their trial.
On going into the court he saw the two men at the bar, and the young woman and the man swearing their innocent lives away. But the Judge allowed him to give his evidence, and he told every particular of what had occurred. The man and the young woman instantly confessed their guilt; the poor pedlars were at once acquitted; and the Judge ordered a large reward to be paid to John Carson, as through his means the real murderers were brought to justice.
John now proceeded towards home fully convinced of the value of two of the advices which his master had given him. On arriving at his cabin he found his wife and children rejoicing over a purse full of gold which the eldest boy had picked up on the road that morning. Whilst he was away they had endured all the miseries which the wretched families of those who go over to seek work in England are exposed to. With precarious food, without a bed to lie down on, or a roof to shelter them, they had wandered through the country seeking food from door to door of a starving population, and when a single potatoe was bestowed, showering down blessings and thanks on the giver, not in the set phrases of the mendicant, but in a burst of eloquence too fervid not to gush direct from the heart. Those only who have seen a family of such beggars as I describe, can fancy the joy with which the poor woman welcomed her husband back, and told him of the purse full of gold. "And where did Mick, ma bohil (my boy), find it ?" inquired John Carson.
"It was the young squire, for certain, who dropped it," said his wife; "for he rode down the road this
morning, and was leaping his horse in the very gap where Micky picked it up; but sure, John, he has money enough besides, and never the hal-penny have I to buy my poor childer a bit to eat this blessed night." "Never mind that," said John, "do as I bid you, and take up the purse at once to the big house, and ask for the young squire. I have two cakes which I brought every step of the way with me from England, and they will do for the children's supper. I ought surely to remember, as good right I have, what my master told me for my twelve months' wages, seeing I never as yet found what he said to be wrong."
"And what did he say ?" inquired his wife.
"That honesty is the best policy," answered John. ""Tis very well, and 'tis mighty easy for them to say so that have never been sore tempted, by distress and famine, to say otherwise; but your bidding is enough for me, John."
Straightways she went to the big house, and inquired for the young squire; but she was denied the liberty to speak to him.
"You must tell me your business, honest woman," said a servant with a head all powdered and frizzled like a cauliflower, and who had on a coat covered with gold and silver lace and buttons, and everything in the world.
"If you knew but all," said she, "I am an honest woman, for I've brought a purse full of gold to the young master, that my little boy picked up by the road side; for surely it is his, as nobody else could have so much money."
"Let me see it," said the servant. 66 Aye, its all right, I'll take care of it-you need not trouble yourself any more about the matter;" and so saying, he slapped the door in her face. When she returned her husband produced the two cakes which his master gave him on parting, and breaking one to divide between his children, how was he astonished at finding six golden guineas in it, and when he took the other cake and
He then remembered
broke it he found as many more. the words of his generous master, who desired him to give one of the cakes to his wife, and not to eat the other himself until that time; and this was the way his master took to conceal his wages, lest he should have been robbed, or have lost the money on the road. The following day as John was standing near his cabin door, and turning over in his own mind what he should do with his money, the young squire came riding down the road. John pulled off his hat, for he had not forgot his manners through the means of his travelling to foreign parts, and then made so bold as to inquire if his honour had got the purse he lost.
Why, it is true enough, my good fellow," said the squire, "I did lose my purse yesterday, and I hope you were lucky enough to find it, for, if that is your cabin, you seem to be very poor, and shall keep it as a reward for your honesty."
"Then the servant up at the big house never gave it to your honour last night after taking it from Nancyshe's my wife, your honour-and telling her it was all right?"
"Oh, I must look into this business," said the squire. "Did you say your wife, my poor man, gave my purse to a servant-to what servant ?"
"I can't tell his name rightly," said John, "because I don't know it; but never trust Nancy's eyes again if she can't point him out to your honour, if so your honour is desirous of knowing."
"Then do you and Nancy, as you call her, come up to the hall this evening, and I'll inquire into the matter, I promise you." So saying, the squire rode off.
John and his wife went up accordingly in the evening, and he gave a small rap with the big knocker at the great door. The door was opened by a grand servant, who, without hearing what the poor people had to say, exclaimed, "Oh, go!-go-what business ean you have here?" and shut the door.
John's wife burst out crying. "There," said she,