The Project Gutenberg EBook of Taking Tales, by W.H.G. Kingston This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Taking Tales Instructive and Entertaining Reading Author: W.H.G. Kingston Release Date: November 21, 2007 [EBook #23577] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TAKING TALES ***
Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England
W.H.G. Kingston "Taking Tales"
Story 1—Chapter 1.
The Miller of Hillbrook.
There are all sorts of mills: some go by water, undershot or overshot; but if the millpond is dry, or the stream runs low, they come to a standstill. They want help, they must have water, to go on. Next there are steam-mills, which make a great noise and do a great deal of work; but they want coals and water too: if both are not brought to them, they stop and can do nothing. And then there are wind-mills; but everybody knows that wind-mills, though they do stand on the tops of hills, in spite of their great long arms stuck out, are of no use if the wind does not blow. So a man may try to do a great deal of work; but if he tries to get on without the help of his neighbours, and without being willing to help them in return, he will soon find that he too has to come to a standstill. Yes, young or old, rich or poor, must all help each other. Once there came on earth a great Person, great though poor, a carpenter’s son. He only stayed a short time, but all that time He went about doing good to men, helping His fellows; and He died that He might help all men still more, and in a way no other person could have helped them. He came to die, because all men have sinned. He came also to show men how to live—how to act one towards another. Mark Page, the Miller of Hillbrook, owned a wind-mill on the top of a knoll just above the village. His house and sheds for his carts and horses stood below it, and round it were some fields which were his; so it will be seen that he was well to do in the world. He had a wife and a son and a daughter, and he ought to have been a happy man; but he was not. Things seemed never to go quite right with Mark. Either there was too much wind, or too little wind. If there was little wind he was sure to cry out for more, but once; and then he would have given his mill and his house and fields to have got the wind not to blow. About that I will tell by-and-by. Sometimes the miller sang— “When the wind blows, Then the mill goes: When the wind drops, Then the mill stops.” But he was wont to growl out, “The wind is sure to drop when I have most grist to grind—just to spite me.” Hillbrook was a nice spot. There was the brook which ran out of the hill, fresh and pure, right through the village. There was not water enough to turn a mill, but enough to give the people right good water to drink and to cook with. It is a sad thing not to have good water. Bad water, from ponds, or ditches, or wells near drains, makes many people ill, and kills not a few. The people of Hillbrook prized their good water. They said, “we have good water and pure air, and now what we have to do is to keep our cottages clean and we shall be well.” They did keep the floors and the walls of their cottages clean, but somehow fevers still came. At times, when the sun was hot, many people were ill: no one could tell how it was.
There was a farm to let, called Hillside farm. No one would take it, for it was said that the land was cold and wet, and too open. At last one Farmer Grey came to see it. The rent was low, the terms fair; “I’ll take it on a long lease,” he said; “and if God wills it, ere many years go by, it will yield good crops.” Farmer Grey soon gave work to many hands, he paid good wages too, and was always among his men to see that each man did his proper work. He put deep down in the ground miles and miles of drain pipes, it was said. Hillside was next to the Mill farm. When Mark Page saw the tons and tons of dung of all sorts, chalk, and guano, which comes from over the sea, put on the land, he said that Farmer Grey had put more gold on it than he would ever get out of it. Farmer Grey said, “Bide a bit, neighbour, and we shall see.” Farmer Grey heard some people one day talk about their good water and fine air and clean cottages, and yet that fevers came to the place. So he went into the village, and walked from cottage to cottage: “Look here, what is this hole for?” he asked one; “I must hold my nose while I stand near it. Why it’s just under the room where some of you sleep!” “Oh, that’s just a hole where we empty slops, and throw in cabbage stalks and dirt of all sorts,” said the good woman; “we take it out sometimes to spread on the garden.” “Now hear me, dame,” said Farmer Grey, “that hole is just a nest sure to hatch a fever some day; drain it off, fill it up, and dig a new one at the end of the garden, and take care that none of the drainings run into your brook.” “Why is this green ditch close under your window, dame?” he asked of another. “Why you see, farmer, it is there, it has always been there, and it’s so handy just to empty the slops and such-like dirt,” said the dame; “to be sure it does smell bad sometimes, but that can’t be helped.” “Hear me, dame,” said Farmer Grey, “I have a notion that God lets bad smells come out of such muck just to show us that if we breathe them they will do us harm; the bad air which comes out of the muck mixes