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Thus the village continued to improve the removal of the idle began to lessen the rates, which benefited every householder in the parish. The works which the squire had undertaken, being wisely planned and carefully executed, became profitable; and, in the course of three years, the owner of the old manorhouse found his income greater than he had reason to expect when he purchased the property.
Hitherto he had occupied a few rooms in the house, giving his whole attention to the land, but now he felt himself at liberty to repair the hall, which was in a sad state of dilapidation. An architect came down from London, and made several inquiries which were soon known in the village; and the squire's intention formed the subject of conversation between our friend Mr. Wilson and Mr. Newman, who now kept the grocer's shop.
THE THREE SQUIRES.-PART III.
Mr. N. I fear we have been mistaken in our squire after all. He seems only to have been striving to make himself rich, and now he is going to spend his money upon himself.
Mr. W. Stop, my good friend. If this has been his motive, I do not know whether it is a very different one from yours and mine.
Mr. N. Ay, but the owner of an estate has so many that depend upon him. His first duty must be to do the best for them.
Mr. W. The shopkeeper, too, has a duty to perform
to his neighbour; and it is never very safe to talk much of other men's duties, lest we forget our own. But of course, the larger the means, and the higher the station, the greater is the responsibility. But, at any rate, you will allow that up to this time our squire has done an immense deal of good in the parish.
Mr. N. Oh, yes, I was hasty in what I said. I know he is a good man, and he certainly has as much right to repair his house as I have mine. Still, I cannot help wishing he would spend his money in another way he would do more good.
Mr W. I am not quite so sure of that. If he repairs the hall, he means probably to furnish it, and keep more servants, and have visitors, and the like. That will bring money to the place, and I think you will not be the last to profit by it.
Mr. N. Well, it may be so in the end. But what vexes me in the matter, is, that the builder is to come from London, and he will bring his own workmen, and all the money will go away from our village.
Mr. W. Not all, for many workmen must live here for a time, and they will eat and drink, so that they will be sure to spend some of their earnings in the place. But is there any inhabitant of Banton that could do the work?
Mr. N. No, not now. Had our old friend Harris, who left when the hall was uninhabited, been here, he could have done it; and if he had had the job, I am sure everybody in the place would have rejoiced.
Mr. W. You must remember that Banton is not the only place in the world. If good and respectable workmen are employed, good is always done to some
body that deserves it: and in this case there seems no choice.
Mr. N. None: for old Joe Moody, the wheelwright, when he heard that the London builder had been inquiring if there were any carpenter in the place, told me he would never work under that stranger.
Mr. W. That was not a very wise speech. But I think myself Joe had better stick to his own business. But this inquiry of the builder's shows, what I was going to remark, that it will probably be his interest to employ any one in the neighbourhood likely to suit him. And I should not much wonder if Joe's son Thomas, who is a very handy fellow, were to get a good turn out of this business before long. But if not, when the house is put in order, there will be constantly lesser repairs wanted, and the squire will be sure to employ the nearest carpenter he can find. Besides, these London workmen will show the country folks how to do work well, and this will be of great service to the intelligent men in the neighbourhood. It is very useful to country workmen, especially to young men, to have an opportunity of seeing work done by those who are more skilful than themselves. And workmen hereabouts seem to me to require some teaching.
Mr. N. I dare say you are right, Mr. Wilson. I should be very unwilling to think anything but good of our squire, though I did speak hastily.
The squire had, in fact, for he was a thoughtful man, considered all the points which Mr. Newman had mentioned, and had come to the conclusion that it was in every way best to call in a builder who
thoroughly knew his business. He had, however, given a hint, that he should wish if possible some of the villagers to be employed; and the builder at once told him that if he could find any equal to the work it would answer his purpose better than bringing all his own men from London.
After some inquiry, Thomas Moody seemed likely to suit, and his father soon forgot his anger, and was pleased enough that his son should be engaged. A very respectable bricklayer, whom the builder knew, agreed to come and take up his abode at Banton, as there was no bricklayer in the village, and now that things were so much improved, there seemed an opening for one. Employment was also found for several in inferior departments, and with the aid of experienced London workmen, the builder mustered a good staff of labourers. He took care that all the work was thoroughly well done, and Thomas Moody and the new bricklayer both learnt much in the course of the repairs.
At the end of a year all was complete. The London workmen left, much to the regret of Mr. Newman and many more, who by this time had found out the advantage of having men resident among them who were in constant employ, and had good wages. Thomas Moody, who had now become a very good carpenter, and the bricklayer remained, and, as Mr. Wilson predicted, found continual work about the hall and its buildings. The farmers, too, were glad to have resident workmen to employ; and as it was known that the carpenter and bricklayer at Banton had worked under a London builder, they got employment in many neighbouring villages.
Indeed, it was not long before both of them had so much to do that they engaged foremen, besides employing two or three common labourers in unskilled work.
Meantime, the squire, having furnished his house (even Mr. Newman did not object to the furniture coming from London and the county town), married, and kept an establishment of servants, upon an adequate, though not extravagant scale. He continued to improve his land, and gave every encouragement to the honest and industrious.
at this day a thriving and improving village.
THE RAVEN'S NEST-A FABLE.
A RAVEN, while with glossy breast
As ever swept a winter sky,
Shook the young leaves about her ears,
And fill'd her with a thousand fears,
Lest the rude blast should snap the bough,
* Wickerwork.] Nest made of sticks.
† Ralph.] A name commonly given to a raven.