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
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
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
"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.