Wherefore idle?—Oh I my faint soul,
Shake first from thine own powers dull sloth’s control;
Then lift thy voice with an exulting “Therefore
Thou, too, shalt conquer, oh, thou striving soul!”
FARMER GRAY had a neighbour who was not the best-tempered man in the world though mainly kind and obliging. He was shoemaker. His name was Barton. One day, in harvest-time, when every man on the farm was as busy as a bee, this man came over to Farmer Gray’s, and said, in rather a petulant tone of voice,
“Mr. Gray, I wish you would send over, and drive your geese home.”
“Why so, Mr. Barton; what have my geese been doing?” said the farmer, in a mild, quiet-tone.
“They pick my pigs’ ears when they are eating, and go into my garden, and I will not have it!” the neighbour replied, in a still more petulant voice.
“I am really sorry it, Neighbour Barton, but what can I do?”
“Why, yoke them, and thus keep them on your own premises. It’s no kind of a way to let your geese run all over every farm and garden in the neighborhood.”
“But I cannot see to it, now. It is harvest-time, Friend Barton, and every man, woman, and child on the farm has as much as he or she can do. Try and bear it for a week or so, and then I will see if I can possibly remedy the evil.”
“I can’t bear it, and I won’t bear it any longer!” said the shoemaker. “So if you do not take care of them, Friend Gray, I shall have to take care of them for you.”
“Well, Neighbour Barton, you can do as you please,” Farmer Gray replied, in his usual quiet tone. “I am sorry that they trouble you, but I cannot attend to them now.”
“I’ll attend to them for you, see if I don’t,” said the shoemaker, still more angrily than when he first called upon Farmer Gray; and then turned upon his heel, and strode off hastily towards his own house, which was quite near to the old farmer’s.
“What upon earth can be the matter with them geese?” said Mrs. Gray, about fifteen minutes afterwards.
“I really cannot tell, unless Neighbour Barton is taking care of them. He threatened to do so, if I didn’t yoke them right off.”
“Taking care of them! How taking care of them?”
“As to that, I am quite in the dark. Killing them, perhaps. He said they picked at his pigs’ ears, and drove them away when they were eating, and that he wouldn’t have it. He wanted me to yoke them right off, but that I could not do, now, as all the hands are busy. So, I suppose, he is engaged in the neighbourly business of taking care of our geese.”
“John! William! run over and see what Mr. Barton is doing with my geese,” said Mrs. Gray, in a quick and anxious tone, to two little boys who were playing near.
The urchins scampered off, well pleased to perform any errand.