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THERE are a few things, at least, which some of the boys wbo were educated at “our” school, have not yet forgotten, even after the lapse of thirty years. The first of these memorable things is the Crossway Willow, which grew, as its name implied, at a place where four roads met. Strange stories were told of that old tree. Some said that it marked the spot where a wretched suicide had been buried; and others asserted that it had been planted over the grave of a holy missionary, in times long gone by. Whichever of these,
and other traditions which were handed down of the Crossway Willow, were true; or whether they were all alike fabulous, one thing is certain—the tree was a very old one. Another thing is also equally certain--the favourite half-holiday school boy ramble was to the Crossway Willow : but whether the greater attraction was in the old tree itself, in the two miles of pleasant road that led to it, or in the cake shop half a mile beyond, we shall not pretend to decide.
Then, who of all those schoolboys can have forgotten poor old blind Dick, and his two donkeys ? Not that Dick Watson was altogether blind; he could, as he used to say, tell black from white, and could find his way, without much difficulty, for miles round the country-he and his donkeys. But the light of day rather glimmered than shone upon him; the
greater shame for those who so cruelly mocked and deceived him.
Poor Dick was the husband of Mrs. Watson at the cake shop; both man and wife were old, and not less lame was the one than the other was blind. It was as much as the poor cripple could do to hobble from her arm-chair to her window, and serve her young customers with what they wanted. The more shame, we say again, to those who had the heart to bring trouble upon her.
Blind Dick, as every body in the neighbourhood called him, was not often to be found at home. While lame Mary was making her delicacies and minding hershop, he was generally travelling the country with his two donkeys and his cart, carrying on a more extensive trade in fruit, when fruit was in season, and in sand, when he had no fruit to sell. Once every week, almost
all the year round, was poor Dick looked for at the play-ground, for he was a goodnatured, liberal dealer; the boys knew well that a penny would go further with him, for apples and pears and plums, than three halfpence elsewhere.
He was a kind-hearted man, there could not be a doubt; for he loved even his donkeys, and his donkeys seemed to love him too, so far, at least, as donkeys can love. The poor old man--for with all his industry and his wife's contrivance he was poorhad a long story to tell about his donkeys, and he was never tired of telling it; how many years he had had them, what trouble they had given him in their education, how he had overcome their naughty tricks by kindness, and how useful they were to him now they knew his ways; so that though he should some day quite lose his precious sight, as he feared, yet that they
would even then save him from idleness and want by their experience and superior sagacity. Poor blind Dick! he little thought that some who listened with such apparent interest to his simple story, and who, moreover, so often experienced the good effects of his liberal dealing, could wickedly almost bring about his ruin : but so it was ;- and thus it was.
In high spirits were Frank, Harry, and William, as they made towards the Crossway Willow. They had fairly earned an extra half-day's holiday. The afternoon was fine, and the autumn tints on the trees looked so beautiful, and reminded the boys so vividly that Christmas was coming, that it would have been wonderful if they had felt dull. On one side of them the road was fringed with a thick wood, which covered the rising ground for some miles in that direction. Oh! that