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"He said he couldn't." "He refused to pay
the cricket subscription, on the ground that he couldn't play." "It oughtn't to be allowed." "It ought to be put to the vote."
"Just be quiet a minute," said hearing with considerable difficulty.
Norton, gaining a "Do you mean to deny, Brett, that you refused to pay the cricket-money, on the ground that you didn't play cricket?"
"I said, that I didn't mean to play cricket, not that I couldn't play," returned Brett.
"Then you only propose to play now, because you want to win this money? I don't think Hammond intended his prize to go to a fellow who had never taken any part, and never means to take any, in the cricket,” pursued Norton.
"I should like to say a word," said Hope, who had hitherto stood silent. "I don't know whether, according to the strict letter of the law, Brett is entitled to challenge me or not; but I think it rests with me to say, whether I will accept his challenge."
"Well, certainly," said Blenkensopp, "no one can dispute that."
"Then I say at once that I cannot take this money, unless Brett withdraws his demand, or I beat him in the match which he requires to be played. I proposed the condition in question myself, and must not be the first to break it. In fact I am ready to play him this minute; and the wickets had better be pitched without loss of time."
No one could say anything in opposition to this. Indeed, notwithstanding the reluctance of the Barfordites to allow Brett to gain his end, it was so much in accordance with the spirit of fairness wherein boys delight, that it was impossible for them not to approve it. They fell in with it so thoroughly in fact, that Brett was not only suffered to play the match, but was provided with one of the best bats, as well as with
cricket-shoes, gloves, and all other requisites, as though every one were resolved, that he should not have to complain of having been subjected to the slightest disadvantage. He took his stand at the wicket, having won the toss, and claimed the first innings, amid a dead silence, all looking on with intense interest to see how he would acquit himself. There was a general idea that, after all, he could not really play cricket, or, at all events, not well enough to justify the challenge he had given. Many of the boys held him to be half-crazy, and his present resolve a mere idle freak.
But these theories were speedily dissipated. He had not received half a dozen of Hope's balls before it was seen, that he was neither a novice nor a pretender. Availing himself of his height, which was greater than that of Brook or Norton, and gave him a longer reach, he contrived to hit dexterously several balls, which the others must in prudence have blocked, and without making any one distant hit, he ran up a score which amounted to a dozen runs, before one of Hope's best balls at length overthrew his wicket.
The boys, who had been both astonished and provoked at the result of the match thus far, now began to take heart again. He was a first-rate bat, that was evident; but it did not follow that he could also bowl. If he should be wanting in this requisite, Hope would gain an easy victory, notwithstanding the formidable number of runs which were registered on his side. But this hope once more was dispersed to the winds as soon as Hope's innings commenced. Walking deliberately up to the bowling stump, so that every one expected to see the ball bowled unusually slowly, Brett delivered it with a rapidity and precision which Mr. Blenkinsopp-who had played with some of the first professionals of the daydeclared he had rarely seen equalled. Hope made the
best fight in his power, blocking the balls, one after another, as well as he could, and once even succeeded in
getting a run; but it was all in vain: a rapid shooter made its way under his bat, scattering his stumps on all sides; and when he again took his station at the wicket, more as a matter of form than anything else—for he was fully sensible he was overmatched-his career was cut short in the same manner, only more speedily than before.
Brett was the winner. Of course his right to the five sovereigns could not be disputed after Hope's consent to play the match with him; and they were accordingly delivered to him, without a word of comment. The boys then slowly straggled in to supper, in knots of four and five, discussing eagerly the strange events of the afternoon.-Barford Bridge:-Rev. H. C. Adams.
It was anciently the custom for all ranks of people to go out a Maying early on the first of May. Bourne tells us that in his time, in the villages in the north of England, the juvenile part of both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight on the morning of that day,
and walk to some neighbouring wood, accompanied with music and the blowing of horns, where they broke down branches from the trees and adorned them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. This done, they returned homewards with their booty about the time. of sunrise, and made their doors and windows triumph in the flowery spoil. The after-part of the day is chiefly spent in dancing round a tall pole, which is called a May-pole; which being placed in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were, consecrated to the goddess of flowers, without the least violation offered to it in the whole circle of the year. Stubbs, a puritan
ical writer, in his Anatomy of Abuses, says: "But their chiefest jewel they bring from thence (the woods) is their May-pole, which they bring home with great veneration, as thus:-They have twenty or forty yoke of oxen, every ox having a sweet nosegay of flowers tied on the tips of his horns, and these oxen draw home this May-pole, which is covered all over with flowers and herbs, bound round about with strings from the top to the bottom, and sometimes painted with variable colours, with two or three hundred men, women, and children following it with great devotion. And thus being reared up, with handkerchiefs and flags streaming on the top, they strew the ground about, bind green boughs about it, set up summer halls, bowers, and arbours hard by it. And then they fall to banquet and feast, to leap and dance about it, as the heathen people did at the dedication of their idols, whereof this is a perfect pattern, or rather the thing itself."
"I shall never forget," says Washington Irving, "the delight I felt on first seeing a May-pole. It was on the banks of the Dee, close by the picturesque old bridge that stretches across the river from the quaint little city of Chester. I had already been carried back into former days by the antiquities of that venerable place. The May-pole on the margin of that poetic stream
completed the illusion. My fancy adorned it with wreaths of flowers, and peopled the green bank with all the dancing revelry of May-day. The mere sight of this May-pole gave a glow to my feelings, and spread a charm over the country for the rest of the day; and as I traversed. a part of the fair plain of Cheshire, and the beautiful borders of Wales, and looked from among swelling hills down a long green valley, through which the Deva wound its wizard stream,' my imagination turned all into a perfect paradise."-Brandt's "Antiquities."
THE EVER-GREEN GRASS.
THE grass, the
the beautiful grass,
That brightens this land of ours,
Oh! why do we rudely let it pass,
And only praise the flowers?
The blossoms of spring no joy would bring,
Were the earth not green, and the distant scene
In its emerald robe not clad.
Then sing, the
the beautiful grass;
That brightens this land of ours,
For there is not a blade by nature made
The grass, the grass, the feathery grass,
That stays, when the flowers all fade and pass,
That clothes the hills, and the valley fills,
When the trees are stripped and bare;
Oh! the land would be like a wintry sea
Did the grass not linger there.
Then sing, the grass, the bonny green grass,
For it's staunch and true the whole year through,