Gateway to the Classics: The Golden Ladder Book by E. Hershey Sneath
 
The Golden Ladder Book by  E. Hershey Sneath

Wellington and the Plowboy

Men who hunt foxes often do great damage to the farmers' crops, by riding over the fields on horseback. One day, a farmer who was at work in his field saw a party of red-coated huntsmen, with their dogs, coming across one of his meadows toward a wheat field. As the wheat was just springing up, the farmer was anxious that it should not be trampled down.

Calling one of his plowboys, who was working close by, he told him to run quickly and shut the gate, and to make sure that none of the hunters went into the field. The boy hurried away, and reached the field just in time to shut the gate as the first huntsman rode up.

"Open the gate at once, my boy," said the man, "we want to go through this field."


[Illustration]

"I can't do it, sir," answered the boy; "master has ordered me to let no one pass through, so I cannot open the gate myself, nor allow you to do so."

By this time others of the hunting party had come up, and one was so angry with the boy that he threatened to thrash him with his whip if he did not open the gate. The lad replied that he was only obeying his master, and that it was his duty to do so.

Another gentleman offered to give the boy a sovereign, if he would allow them to pass through. This was very tempting to the boy, who had never had so much money; but he remembered his duty, and refused to disobey his master's orders.

This delay annoyed the hunting party very much, and at last, a stately gentleman came up, and said: "My boy, you do not know me, I am the Duke of Wellington,—one not in the habit of being disobeyed; I command you to open the gate this moment, so that my friends and I may pass."

The boy looked in wonder at the great soldier. He had heard of his many victories, and was proud to be talking to so brave a man. He took off his hat, bowed to the great Duke, and replied:—

"I am sure the Duke of Wellington would not wish me to disobey my master's orders; I must keep this gate shut, and cannot let any one pass without the farmer's permission."

The Duke was pleased with the boy's answer, and, raising his hat, he said: "I can honor the boy who can neither be bribed nor frightened into disobeying orders. With an army of such soldiers I could conquer the world."

The hunting party now no longer tried to pass through the forbidden gate, but, turning their horses, rode in another direction. The boy ran toward his master, shouting "Hurrah! hurrah! for the Duke of Wellington." The farmer, who had watched the scene, was much concerned when he learned who it was that had been turned away, but he felt that he had found a boy whom he could trust.


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