Conjugating A Verb by Anonymous

Dick Orrod and his brother Giles were fine specimens of the bumpkin boys of the West of England: their father, who was a flourishing farmer, sent them to pick up a little learning at an expensive academy, in a large town about twenty miles from the village where he lived. The master had but recently purchased the school from his predecessor; and, stranger as he was to the dialect of that part of the country, he could scarcely understand above one half of what Dick and Giles Orrod and a few more of his pupils meant when they spoke. "I knowed, I rinned, and I hut". were barbarisms, to which his ear had never been accustomed; and it was only by degrees he discovered that they were translations, into the rural tongue, of "I knew, I ran, and I hit." But there were few so rude of speech as Dick and Giles Orrod.

Fraternal affection was a virtue that did not flourish in the bosoms of either of these young gentlemen. Dick's greatest enemy on earth was Giles; and if honest Giles hated any human being except the master, it was Dick. They were excellent spies on each other's conduct; Giles never missed an opportunity of procuring Dick a castigation; and Dick was equally active in making the master acquainted with every punishable peccadillo that his brother committed.

One day an accusation was preferred against Master Richard, by one of the monitors, of having cut down a small tree in the shrubbery; but there was not sufficient evidence to bring the offence home to the supposed culprit.

"Does no young gentleman happen to know any thing more of this matter?" inquired the master.

Giles immediately walked from his seat, and, taking a place by the side of his brother, looked as though he had something relevant to communicate.

"Well, sir;" said the master, "what do you know about the tree?"

"If you plaze, sir," growled Giles, "if you plaze, sir, I sawed un."

"Oh! you 'sawed un,' did you?"

"Iss, I did:—Dick seed I saw un."

"Is this true, master Richard?"

"Iss," said Dick; and Giles, much to his astonishment, was immediately flogged.

At the termination of the ceremony, it occurred to the master to ask Giles, how he had obtained the saw. "About your saw, young gentleman;" said he, "where do you get a saw when you want one?"

Giles had some faint notions of grammar floating in his brain, and thinking that the master meant the verb, and not the substantive, blubbered out—"From see."

"Sea!—so you go on board the vessels in the dock, do you, out of school hours, and expend your pocket money, in purchasing implements to cut down my shrubbery?"

"Noa, sir," said Giles; "I doant goa aboard no ships, nor cut down noa shrubberies."

"What, sirrah! did you not confess it?"

"Noa, sir; I said I sawed brother Dick cut down the tree, and he seed I sawed un, and a couldn't deny it."

"I didn't deny it," said Dick.

"Then possibly you are the real delinquent, after all, Master Richard," exclaimed the master.

Dick confessed that he was, but he hoped the master would not beat him, after having flogged his brother for the same offence: in his way, he humbly submitted that one punishment, no matter who received it,—but especially as it had been bestowed on one of the same family as the delinquent,—was, to all intents and purposes, enough for one crime.

The master, however, did not coincide with Dick on this grave point, and the young gentleman was duly horsed.

"As for Master Giles," said the master, as he laid down the birch, "he well merited a flogging for his astonishing—his wilful stupidity. If boys positively will not profit by my instructions, I am bound, in duty to their parents, to try the effect of castigation. No man grieves more sincerely than I do, at the necessity which exists for using the birch and cane as instruments of liberal education; and yet, unfortunately, no man, I verily believe, is compelled to use them more frequently than myself. I was occupied for full half an hour, in drumming this identical verb into Giles Orrod, only yesterday morning: and you, sir," added he, turning to Dick, "you, I suppose, are quite as great a blockhead as your brother. Now attend to me, both of you:—what's the past of see?"

Neither of the young gentlemen replied.

"I thought as much!" quoth the master. "The perfect of see is the present of saw,—See, Saw."

"See, Saw," shouted the boys; but that unfortunate verb was the stumbling-block to their advancement. They never could comprehend how the perfect of see could be the present of saw; and days, weeks, months,—nay, years after,—they were still at their endless, and, to them, incomprehensible game of see-saw.