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was the wood for nuts and blackberries ! On the other side the ground gradually descended until it met with a broad level, known by the name of “The Salts," which extended to the sea shore, at more than two miles distance. In general these Salts were dry, and covered with herbage, except that a creek of the sea intersected them ; but at high water, and especially in spring tides, the whole surface was covered with water, swelling and roaring as though the ocean had broken from its bounds, and threatened a second deluge. A grand sight was the Salts at these times—so, at least, the schoolboys thought it; and it was at just such a time that Frank, Harry, and William started for the Crossway Willow. With this fine prospect, then, on one side, and the inviting nut wood on the other, we need not be surprised that the two miles of road occupied two hours of
good time, and that the distant church clock struck four just as they reached the Crossway Willow. But what care boys for time? There were yet two hours good for reaching school again, (home they would not call it,) and the distance might be got over in half an hour. climbed the tree; they ran races round it; they cut switches off it; and just as they had nicely peeled their switches they heard a trotting on the road, and then a loud bray, and looking, they espied poor blind Dick's two donkeys, at full speed, making towards the Crossway Willow. They too seemed to have obtained a holiday, and to be making the most of it.
"Let us have a ride," shouted Frank; and in a few minutes the donkeys were caught and mounted. Merrily did the boys gallop their unwilling steeds round and round the Crossway Willow, and to
6 Let us
and fro on the road, flourishing their wands, and kicking with their heels, laughing and joking the while, until they grew tired of the sport.
“ And now for a good bit of fun,” said William, as he dismounted. drive the donkeys into the wood, and leave old Dick to find them.”
It was a sinful thing to take pleasure in the thought of giving labour and perplexity to a poor half-blind old man; but neither Harry nor Frank gave themselves time to consider whether William's proposal was a good and honourable one. It would be rare fun, they thought and said ; and as they thought, so they did. They
the road which led through the wood; and, glad at all events to obtain their freedom, the donkeys were soon out of sight and sound. “ Capital fun!" shouted the boys again,
chased the poor
as they returned to the Crossway Willow, and proceeded to dame Watson's cake shop, to crown their holiday with her good things.
They had not gone far before they met poor blind Dick himself. He was trudging on at a rapid pace-rapid, at least, for him; and a shade of care might have been seen on his good humoured countenance, if the boys had looked closely into it. But they were so full of the “good fun,” that they could think of nothing else. “Here comes Dick after his donkeys,” whispered Frank; “Oh! what fun!” It was, indeed, as they supposed : for he no sooner heard their voices than he put the question to them, “You have not seen my donkeys, have you ?”
Alas, that we should have to record it: but it is too true that, instead of honestly telling the truth, or even so much of it as
that the animals had taken the road into the wood, the boys plunged themselves deeper into sin by telling a most wicked lie--and all for fun. Oh how many lies are told for fun ! and how true, and yet how fearful is that Scripture, “Fools make a mock at sin !” Had either Harry, William, or Frank been branded by their schoolfellows with the odious name of liar, how would they have resented it, and denied the charge! but now, to carry out a senseless joke, they could even glory in their shame.
“ Oh yes,” said they, we saw your donkeys, Dick. They were running away like mad things down the road to the Salts."
Loud and long was the laugh which burst from them when Dick was out of hearing; and that was not long first; for at mention of the Salts he wrung his