Chapter III

Juliana Horatia Ewing

 . . .  If studious, copie fair what time hath blurred,
Redeem truth from his jawes; if souldier,
Chase brave employments with a naked sword
Throughout the world. Fool not; for all may have,
If they dare try, a glorious life, or grave.

.     .     .     .     .
In brief, acquit thee bravely: play the man.
Look not on pleasures as they come, but go.
Defer not the least vertue: life’s poore span
Make not an ell, by trifling in thy woe.
If thou do ill, the joy fades, not the pains.
If well, the pain doth fade, the joy remains.


YOUNG Mrs. Johnson, who was a mother of many, hardly knew which to pity more; Miss Jessamine for having her little ways and her antimacassars rumpled by a young Jackanapes; or the boy himself, for being brought up by an old maid.

Oddly enough, she would probably have pitied neither, had Jackanapes been a girl. (One is so apt to think that what works smoothest works to the highest ends, having no patience for the results of friction.) That Father in GOD, who bade the young men to be pure, and the maidens brave, greatly disturbed a member of his congregation, who thought that the great preacher had made a slip of the tongue.

“That the girls should have purity, and the boys courage, is what you would say, good Father?”

“Nature has done that,” was the reply; “I meant what I said.”

In good sooth, a young maid is all the better for learning some robuster virtues than maidenliness and not to move the antimacassars. And the robuster virtues require some fresh air and freedom. As, on the other hand, Jackanapes (who had a boy’s full share of the little beast and the young monkey in his natural composition) was none the worse, at his tender years, for learning some maidenliness—so far as maidenliness means decency, pity, unselfishness and pretty behavior.

And it is due to him to say that he was an obedient boy, and a boy whose word could be depended on, long before his grandfather the General came to live at the Green.

He was obedient; that is he did what his great aunt told him. But—oh dear! oh dear!—the pranks he played, which it had never entered into her head to forbid!

It was when he had just been put into skeletons (frocks never suited him) that he became very friendly with Master Tony Johnson, a younger brother of the young gentleman who sat in the puddle on purpose. Tony was not enterprising, and Jackanapes led him by the nose. One summer’s evening they were out late, and Miss Jessamine was becoming anxious, when Jackanapes presented himself with a ghastly face all besmirched with tears. He was unusually subdued.

“I’m afraid,” he sobbed; “if you please, I’m very much afraid that Tony Johnson’s dying in the churchyard.”

Miss Jessamine was just beginning to be distracted, when she smelt Jackanapes.

“You naughty, naughty boys! Do you mean to tell me that you’ve been smoking?”

“Not pipes,” urged Jackanapes; “upon my honor, Aunty, not pipes. Only segars like Mr. Johnson’s! and only made of brown paper with a very, very little tobacco from the shop inside them.”

Whereupon, Miss Jessamine sent a servant to the churchyard, who found Tony Johnson lying on a tomb-stone, very sick, and having ceased to entertain any hopes of his own recovery.

If it could be possible that any “unpleasantness” could arise between two such amiable neighbors as Miss Jessamine and Mrs. Johnson—and if the still more incredible paradox can be that ladies may differ over a point on which they are agreed—that point was the admitted fact that Tony Johnson was “delicate,” and the difference lay chiefly in this: Mrs. Johnson said that Tony was delicate—meaning that he was more finely strung, more sensitive, a properer subject for pampering and petting than Jackanapes, and that, consequently, Jackanapes was to blame for leading Tony into scrapes which resulted in his being chilled, frightened, or (most frequently) sick. But when Miss Jessamine said that Tony Johnson was delicate, she meant that he was more puling, less manly, and less healthily brought up than Jackanapes, who, when they got into mischief together, was certainly not to blame because his friend could not get wet, sit a kicking donkey, ride in the giddy-go-round, bear the noise of a cracker, or smoke brown paper with impunity, as he could.

Not that there was ever the slightest quarrel between the ladies. It never even came near it, except the day after Tony had been so very sick with riding Bucephalus in the giddy-go-round. Mrs. Johnson had explained to Miss Jessamine that the reason Tony was so easily upset, was the unusual sensitiveness (as a doctor had explained it to her) of the nervous centres in her family—“Fiddlestick!” So Mrs. Johnson understood Miss Jessamine to say, but it appeared that she only said “Treaclestick!” which is quite another thing, and of which Tony was undoubtedly fond. It was at the fair that Tony was made ill by riding on Bucephalus. Once a year the Goose Green became the scene of a carnival. First of all, carts and caravans were rumbling up all along, day and night. Jackanapes could hear them as he lay in bed, and could hardly sleep for speculating what booths and whirligigs he should find fairly established; when he and his dog Spitfire went out after breakfast. As a matter of fact, he seldom had to wait long for news of the Fair. The Postman knew the window out of which Jackanapes’ yellow head would come, and was ready with his report.

“Royal Theayter, Master Jackanapes, in the old place, but be careful o’ them seats, sir; they’re rickettier than ever. Two sweets and a ginger-beer under the oak tree, and the Flying Boats is just a-coming along the road.”

No doubt it was partly because he had already suffered severely in the Flying Boats, that Tony collapsed so quickly in the giddy-go-round. He only mounted Bucephalus (who was spotted, and had no tail) because Jackanapes urged him, and held out the ingenious hope that the round-and-round feeling would very likely cure the up-and-down sensation. It did not, however, and Tony tumbled off during the first revolution.

Jackanapes was not absolutely free from qualms, but having once mounted the Black Prince he stuck to him as a horseman should. During the first round he waved his hat, and observed with some concern that the Black Prince had lost an ear since last Fair; at the second, he looked a little pale but sat upright, though somewhat unnecessarily rigid; at the third round he shut his eyes. During the fourth his hat fell off, and he clasped his horse’s neck. By the fifth he had laid his yellow head against the Black Prince’s mane, and so clung anyhow till the hobby-horses stopped, when the proprietor assisted him to alight, and he sat down rather suddenly and said he had enjoyed it very much.

The Grey Goose always ran away at the first approach of the caravans, and never came back to the Green till there was nothing left of the Fair but footmarks and oyster-shells. Running away was her pet principle; the only system, she maintained, by which you can live long and easily, and lose nothing. If you run away when you see danger, you can come back when all is safe. Run quickly, return slowly, hold your head high, and gabble as loud as you can, and you’ll preserve the respect of the Goose Green to a peaceful old age. Why should you struggle and get hurt, if you can lower your head and swerve, and not lose a feather? Why in the world should any one spoil the pleasure of life, or risk his skin, if he can help it?

“’What’s the use’ Said the Goose.”

Before answering which one might have to consider what world—which life—whether his skin were a goose-skin; but the Grey Goose’s head would never have held all that.

Grass soon grows over footprints, and the village children took the oyster-shells to trim their gardens with; but the year after Tony rode Bucephalus there lingered another relic of Fairtime, in which Jackanapes was deeply interested. “The Green” proper was originally only part of a straggling common, which in its turn merged into some wilder waste land where gipsies sometimes squatted if the authorities would allow them, especially after the annual Fair. And it was after the Fair that Jackanapes, out rambling by himself, was knocked over by the Gipsy’s son riding the Gipsy’s red-haired pony at break-neck pace across the common.

Jackanapes got up and shook himself, none the worse, except for being heels over head in love with the red-haired pony. What a rate he went at! How he spurned the ground with his nimble feet! How his red coat shone in the sunshine! And what bright eyes peeped out of his dark forelock as it was blown by the wind!

The Gipsy boy had had a fright, and he was willing enough to reward Jackanapes for not having been hurt, by consenting to let him have a ride.

“Do you mean to kill the little fine gentleman, and swing us all on the gibbet, you rascal?” screamed the Gipsy-mother, who came up just as Jackanapes and the pony set off.

“He would get on,” replied her son. “It’ll not kill him. He’ll fall on his yellow head, and it’s as tough as a cocoanut.”

But Jackanapes did not fall. He stuck to the red-haired pony as he had stuck to the hobbyhorse; but oh, how different the delight of this wild gallop with flesh and blood! Just as his legs were beginning to feel as if he did not feel them, the Gipsy boy cried “Lollo!” Round went the pony so unceremoniously, that, with as little ceremony, Jackanapes clung to his neck, and he did not properly recover himself before Lollo stopped with a jerk at the place where they had started.

“Is his name Lollo?” asked Jackanapes, his hand lingering in the wiry mane.


“What does Lollo mean?”


“Is Lollo your pony?”

“No. My father’s.” And the Gipsy boy led Lollo away.

At the first opportunity Jackanapes stole away again to the common. This time he saw the Gipsy-father, smoking a dirty pipe.

“Lollo is your pony, isn’t he?” said Jackanapes.


“He’s a very nice one.”

“He’s a racer.”

“You don’t want to sell him, do you?”

“Fifteen pounds,” said the Gipsy-father; and Jackanapes sighed and went home again. That very afternoon he and Tony rode the two donkeys, and Tony managed to get thrown, and even Jackanapes’ donkey kicked. But it was jolting, clumsy work after the elastic swiftness and the dainty mischief of the red-haired pony.

A few days later Miss Jessamine spoke very seriously to Jackanapes. She was a good deal agitated as she told him that his grandfather, the General, was coming to the Green, and that he must be on his very best behavior during the visit. If it had been feasible to leave off calling him Jackanapes and to get used to his baptismal name of Theodore before the day after to-morrow (when the General was due), it would have been satisfactory. But Miss Jessamine feared it would be impossible in practice, and she had scruples about it on principle. It would not seem quite truthful, although she had always most fully intended that he should be called Theodore when he had outgrown the ridiculous appropriateness of his nickname. The fact was that he had not outgrown it, but he must take care to remember who was meant when his grandfather said Theodore.

Indeed for that matter he must take care all along.

“You are apt to be giddy, Jackanapes,” said Miss Jessamine.

“Yes aunt,” said Jackanapes, thinking of the hobby-horses.

“You are a good boy, Jackanapes. Thank GOD, I can tell your grandfather that. An obedient boy, an honorable boy, and a kind-hearted boy. But you are—in short, you are a Boy, Jackanapes. And I hope,”—added Miss Jessamine, desperate with the results of experience—“that the General knows that Boys will be Boys.”

What mischief could be foreseen, Jackanapes promised to guard against. He was to keep his clothes and his hands clean, to look over his catechism, not to put sticky things in his pockets, to keep that hair of his smooth—(“It’s the wind that blows it, Aunty,” said Jackanapes—“I’ll send by the coach for some bear’s-grease,” said Miss Jessamine, tying a knot in her pocket-handkerchief)—not to burst in at the parlor door, not to talk at the top of his voice, not to crumple his Sunday frill, and to sit quite quiet during the sermon, to be sure to say “sir” to the General, to be careful about rubbing his shoes on the doormat, and to bring his lesson-books to his aunt at once that she might iron down the dogs’ ears. The General arrived, and for the first day all went well, except that Jackanapes’ hair was as wild as usual, for the hair-dresser had no bear’s-grease left. He began to feel more at ease with his grandfather, and disposed to talk confidentially with him, as he did with the Postman. All that the General felt it would take too long to tell, but the result was the same. He was disposed to talk confidentially with Jackanapes.

“Mons’ous pretty place this,” he said, looking out of the lattice on to the Green, where the grass was vivid with sunset, and the shadows were long and peaceful.

“You should see it in Fair-week, sir,” said Jackanapes, shaking his yellow mop, and leaning back in his one of the two Chippendale armchairs in which they sat.

“A fine time that, eh?” said the General, with a twinkle in his left eye. (The other was glass.)

Jackanapes shook his hair once more. “I enjoyed this last one the best of all,” he said. “I’d so much money.”

“By George, it’s not a common complaint in these bad times. How much had ye?”

“I’d two shillings. A new shilling Aunty gave me, and elevenpence I had saved up, and a penny from the Postman—sir!” added Jackanapes with a jerk, having forgotten it.

“And how did ye spend it—sir?” inquired the, General. Jackanapes spread his ten fingers on the arms of his chair, and shut his eyes that he might count the more conscientiously.

“Watch-stand for Aunty, threepence. Trumpet for myself, twopence, that’s fivepence. Ginger-nuts for Tony, twopence, and a mug with a Grenadier on for the Postman, fourpence, that’s elevenpence. Shooting-gallery a penny, that’s a shilling. Giddy-go-round, a penny, that’s one and a penny. Treating Tony, one and twopence. Flying Boats (Tony paid for himself), a penny, one and threepence. Shooting-gallery again, one and four-pence; Fat Woman a penny, one and fivepence. Giddy-go-round again, one and sixpence. Shooting-gallery, one and sevenpence. Treating Tony, and then he wouldn’t shoot, so I did, one and eightpence. Living Skeleton, a penny—no, Tony treated me, the Living Skeleton doesn’t count. Skittles, a penny, one and ninepence Mermaid (but when we got inside she was dead), a penny, one and tenpence. Theatre, a penny (Priscilla Partington, or the Green Lane Murder. A beautiful young lady, sir, with pink cheeks and a real pistol), that’s one and elevenpence. Ginger beer, a penny (I was so thirsty!) two shillings. And then the Shooting-gallery man gave me a turn for nothing, because, he said, I was a real gentleman, and spent my money like a man.”

“So you do, sir, so you do!” cried the General. “Why, sir, you spend it like a prince—And now I suppose you’ve not got a penny in your pocket?”

“Yes I have,” said Jackanapes. “Two pennies. They are saving up.” And Jackanapes jingled them with his hand.

“You don’t want money except at fair-times, I suppose?” said the General.

Jackanapes shook his mop.

“If I could have as much as I want, I should know what to buy,” said he.

“And how much do you want, if you could get it?”

“Wait a minute, sir, till I think what twopence from fifteen pounds leaves. Two from nothing you can’t, but borrow twelve. Two from twelve, ten, and carry one. Please remember ten, sir, when I ask you. One from nothing you can’t, borrow twenty. One from twenty, nineteen, and carry one. One from fifteen, fourteen. Fourteen pounds nineteen and—what did I tell you to remember?”

“Ten,” said the General.

“Fourteen pounds nineteen shillings and ten-pence then, is what I want,” said Jackanapes.

“Bless my soul, what for?”

“To buy Lollo with. Lollo means red, sir. The Gipsy’s red-haired pony, sir. Oh, he is beautiful! You should see his coat in the sunshine! You should see his mane! You should see his tail! Such little feet, sir, and they go like lightning! Such a dear face, too, and eyes like a mouse! But he’s a racer, and the Gipsy wants fifteen pounds for him.”

“If he’s a racer, you couldn’t ride him. Could you?”

“No—o, sir, but I can stick to him. I did the other day.”

“You did, did you? Well, I’m fond of riding myself, and if the beast is as good as you say, he might suit me.”

“You’re too tall for Lollo, I think,” said Jackanapes, measuring his grandfather with his eye.

“I can double up my legs, I suppose. We’ll have a look at him to-morrow.”

“Don’t you weigh a good deal?” asked Jackanapes.

“Chiefly waistcoats,” said the General, slapping the breast of his military frock-coat. “We’ll have the little racer on the Green the first thing in the morning. Glad you mentioned it, grandson. Glad you mentioned it.”

The General was as good as his word. Next morning the Gipsy and Lollo, Miss Jessamine, Jackanapes and his grandfather and his dog Spitfire, were all gathered at one end of the Green in a group, which so aroused the innocent curiosity of Mrs. Johnson, as she saw it from one of her upper windows, that she and the children took their early promenade rather earlier than usual. The General talked to the Gipsy, and Jackanapes fondled Lollo’s mane, and did not know whether he should be more glad or miserable if his grandfather bought him.


“Yes, sir!”

“I’ve bought Lollo, but I believe you were right. He hardly stands high enough for me. If you can ride him to the other end of the Green, I’ll give him to you.”

How Jackanapes tumbled on to Lollo’s back he never knew. He had just gathered up the reins when the Gipsy-father took him by the arm.

“If you want to make Lollo go fast, my little gentleman—”

I can make him go!” said Jackanapes, and drawing from his pocket the trumpet he had bought in the fair, he blew a blast both loud and shrill.

Away went Lollo, and away went Jackanapes’ hat. His golden hair flew out, an aureole from which his cheeks shone red and distended with trumpeting. Away went Spitfire, mad with the rapture of the race, and the wind in his silky ears. Away went the geese, the cocks, the hens, and the whole family of Johnson. Lucy clung to her mamma, Jane saved Emily by the gathers of her gown, and Tony saved himself by a somersault.

The Grey Goose was just returning when Jackanapes and Lollo rode back, Spitfire panting behind.

“Good, my little gentleman, good!” said the Gipsy. “You were born to the saddle You’ve the flat thigh, the strong knee, the wiry back, and the light caressing hand, all you want is to learn the whisper. Come here!”

“What was that dirty fellow talking about, grandson?” asked the General.

“I can’t tell you, sir. It’s a secret.”

They were sitting in the window again, in the two Chippendale arm-chairs, the General devouring every line of his grandson’s face, with strange spasms crossing his own.

“You must love your aunt very much, Jackanapes?”

“I do, sir,” said Jackanapes warmly.

“And whom do you love next best to your aunt?”

The ties of blood were pressing very strongly on the General himself, and perhaps he thought of Lollo. But Love is not bought in a day, even with fourteen pounds nineteen shillings and ten-pence. Jackanapes answered quite readily, “The Postman.”

“Why the Postman?”

“He knew my father,” said Jackanapes, “and he tells me about him, and about his black mare. My father was a soldier, a brave soldier. He died at Waterloo. When I grow up I want to be a soldier too.”

“So you shall, my boy. So you shall.”

“Thank you, grandfather. Aunty doesn’t want me to be a soldier for fear of being killed.”

“Bless my life! Would she have you get into a feather-bed and stay there? Why, you might be killed by a thunderbolt, if you were a butter-merchant!”

“So I might. I shall tell her so. What a funny fellow you are, sir! I say, do you think my father knew the Gipsy’s secret? The Postman says he used to whisper to his black mare.”

“Your father was taught to ride as a child, by one of those horsemen of the East who swoop and dart and wheel about a plain like swallows in autumn. Grandson! Love me a little too. I can tell you more about your father than the Postman can.”

“I do love you,” said Jackanapes. “Before you came I was frightened. I’d no notion you were so nice.”

“Love me always, boy, whatever I do or leave undone. And—God help me—whatever you do or leave undone, I’ll love you! There shall never be a cloud between us for a day; no, sir, not for an hour. We’re imperfect enough, all of us, we needn’t be so bitter; and life is uncertain enough at its safest, we needn’t waste its opportunities. Look at me! Here sit I, after a dozen battles and some of the worst climates in the world, and by yonder lych gate lies your mother, who didn’t move five miles, I suppose, from your aunt’s apron-strings,—dead in her teens; my golden-haired daughter, whom I never saw.”

Jackanapes was terribly troubled.

“Don’t cry, grandfather,” he pleaded, his own blue eyes round with tears. “I will love you very much, and I will try to be very good. But I should like to be a soldier.”

“You shall, my boy, you shall. You’ve more claims for a commission than you know of. Cavalry, I suppose; eh, ye young Jackanapes? Well, well; if you live to be an honor to your country, this old heart shall grow young again with pride for you; and if you die in the service of your country—GOD bless me, it can but break for ye!”

And beating the region which he said was all waistcoats, as if they stifled him, the old man got up and strode out on to the Green.

Jackanapes - Contents    |     Chapter IV

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