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Grandfather Bridgeman
by [?]


‘Heigh, boys!’ cried Grandfather Bridgeman, ‘it’s time before dinner
He lifted the crumpled letter, and thumped a surprising ‘Hurrah!’
Up jumped all the echoing young ones, but John, with the starch in
his throat,
Said, ‘Father, before we make noises, let’s see the contents of the
The old man glared at him harshly, and twinkling made answer: ‘Too
John Bridgeman, I’m always the whisky, and you are the water, my


But soon it was known thro’ the house, and the house ran over for
That news, good news, great marvels, had come from the soldier boy;
Young Tom, the luckless scapegrace, offshoot of Methodist John;
His grandfather’s evening tale, whom the old man hailed as his son.
And the old man’s shout of pride was a shout of his victory, too;
For he called his affection a method: the neighbours’ opinions he


Meantime, from the morning table removing the stout breakfast cheer,
The drink of the three generations, the milk, the tea, and the beer
(Alone in its generous reading of pints stood the Grandfather’s
The women for sight of the missive came pressing to coax and to hug.
He scattered them quick, with a buss and a smack; thereupon he began
Diversions with John’s little Sarah: on Sunday, the naughty old


Then messengers sped to the maltster, the auctioneer, miller, and
The seven sons of the farmer who housed in the range of his call.
Likewise the married daughters, three plentiful ladies, prime cooks,
Who bowed to him while they condemned, in meek hope to stand high in
his books.
‘John’s wife is a fool at a pudding,’ they said, and the light carts
up hill
Went merrily, flouting the Sabbath: for puddings well made mend a


The day was a van-bird of summer: the robin still piped, but the
As a warm and dreamy palace with voices of larks ringing thro’,
Looked down as if wistfully eyeing the blossoms that fell from its
A day to sweeten the juices: a day to quicken the sap.
All round the shadowy orchard sloped meadows in gold, and the dear
Shy violets breathed their hearts out: the maiden breath of the


Full time there was before dinner to bring fifteen of his blood,
To sit at the old man’s table: they found that the dinner was good.
But who was she by the lilacs and pouring laburnums concealed,
When under the blossoming apple the chair of the Grandfather
She heard one little child crying, ‘Dear brave Cousin Tom!’ as it
Then murmured she: ‘Let me spare them!’ and passed round the
walnuts, and wept.


Yet not from sight had she slipped ere feminine eyes could detect
The figure of Mary Charlworth. ‘It’s just what we all might
Was uttered: and: ‘Didn’t I tell you?’ Of Mary the rumour
That she is now her own mistress, and mistress of five thousand
‘Twas she, they say, who cruelly sent young Tom to the war.
Miss Mary, we thank you now! If you knew what we’re thanking you


But, ‘Have her in: let her hear it,’ called Grandfather Bridgeman,
While Mary’s black-gloved fingers hung trembling with flight on the
Despite the women’s remonstrance, two little ones, lighter than
Were loosed, and Mary, imprisoned, her whole face white as a tear,
Came forward with culprit footsteps. Her punishment was to
The pity in her pale visage they read in a different sense.