Mr George Attwood was, at the time of our story, an extensive landed proprietor, a little past the middle period of life. His hair was slightly frosted with silver, his eyebrows firm, and his countenance one of mingled resolution and kindness. Yet, despite a certain sternness of deportment and marked decision of manner, backed up by strong conservative leanings, and more particularly by a great love of field sports, and an accompanying detestation of poachers, he was, as all his tenants and all the poor of the parish well knew, a most philanthropic and honourable man. He made it his study to do everything for the interests of his tenantry, and was a praise to all that did well, and also by his scorn and detestation of wrong, a terror to evil doers. It must be told, however, that our landlord had a superlative hatred of the crime of poaching, not that he cared for the loss of his game, but he decidedly objected to the practice. Mr Attwood kept no gamekeeper, and was of course duly taken advantage of. Ultimately, he became determined to put a stop to this illegal traffic on his grounds, and was not long in discovering three fellows, loaded with rabbits and hares, returning from a poaching expedition. He had them immediately apprehended, and two of them—Dick Holden and Ralph Ripon—suffered three months’ imprisonment. These two gentlemen took it into their heads that they were cruelly ill-used, and vowed, as soon as released, that the hard landlord should share the fate of his game.
But we must leave the two worthies for a little, and introduce our readers to the hero and heroine of our tale.
Henry Lee rented a cottage and an acre or two of Mr Attwood’s land, which he laid out to the best advantage as market garden. Henry went three times a week to the next village, about three miles distant, and disposed of his wares, which were always first-class, returning in the evening, sitting upon his vehicle, sometimes whistling some favourite air, and sometimes smoking. None more happy and contented in Attwoodland than the industrious gardener. Next to his wife and children, he declared he loved his pipe, and occasionally one or other of his neighbours would playfully chide with him on his ardent love of tobacco. “Smoking again, Harry?” “Oh, yes,” good-naturedly answered he; “just helping the Queen.” Henry was well liked in his neighbourhood, but the poor gardener had an enemy he was not aware of. Continue reading “‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ by R.M.K. (11 February, 1860)”