« ПредишнаНапред »
SELF-WILL-THEODORE OF ABYSSINIA
LOVE—THE INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOOM.
EARLY two hundred years ago, when Queen Elizabeth was & seated on the throne of England, there lived in the quiet
little village of Woodborough, in Nottinghamshire, a modest, earnest, thoughtful boy called William Lee. So great was his love for study and for reading of almost any kind, that after
spending the usual time devoted by boys to school life, his parents decided to give him the opportunity of completing his education at Cambridge. Pleased at the idea of not having to give his thoughts to business, the details of which were distasteful to him, he joyfully entered St. John's College, where in the course of time he became one of its most honoured members. Loving, unselfish, and sympathising, always ready to forget his own interests and enter into the difficulties and troubles of others, it may easily be imagined that Lee found many friends. Not only was he a favourite with the students, but the townspeople were always ready to greet him with a smile; the children especially welcomed him, for he was seldom so deeply engrossed in thought as to forget to give the little ones a cheering look and word. One friendship, however, was formed during his college life, which was of greater importance than any other, and which influenced not the future of himself alone, but the future of succeeding generations.
After sitting for hours solving difficult problems or studying languages, until both eyes and head ached, William enjoyed nothing better than to throw aside all books and papers, and wander far away into the quiet of country lanes, listening to the murmur of the water and the song of the birds. One day, passing through the village on the way to his favourite resort, he saw a pretty country girl sitting at her mother's cottage door, knitting a stocking.
So struck was William by the beauty of the young girl, that in his walks he found himself irresistibly attracted to the neighbourhood of her dwelling, and for a long time desired no greater bliss than to gaze, from a distance, unobserved, upon her quiet, unaffected beauty. Gradually, however, he gained admittance into the cottage—for it must be remembered that William was no stranger in those parts, and the girl's father, knowing the upright, pure character of the young man, was only too proud to entertain him as a visitor—and very soon became an intimate friend of the family. Though poor, the girl he admired was not only beautiful, but wonderfully refined, considering the position in life she occupied; and the love for her which the young student could not hide, was very soon returned. They became engaged, and, loverlike, happy, though at times William feared what his friends might think of his choice.
During the visits he paid her he devoted much of the time to the cultivation of her mind, choosing such books as he thought she would best understand and appreciate; and while she plied her knittingneedles, he read aloud. When tired of reading William frequently suggested a ramble in the fields or by the water-side, but Nellie nearly always refused, giving as her reason that her work must be attended to, and that she dare not lay it aside for pleasure. Of course her lover admired her industry, but could not help regretting that her labour was so incessant, and wondered if some expedient could not be discovered by which stockings might be made more quickly.
Shortly after the happy pair were parted; the lovers had to say farewell, for William's college life was over. But no sooner did he become the curate of a little church near his native place, than he married his pretty friend the stocking-knitter, hoping that, by so doing, THE INVENTION OF THE STOCKING-LOON.
he could make her life, as he wished it to be, an easy one. Her knittingneedles were left behind, William trusting he should never again see them plied by his wife's fingers, at any rate for anything but amusement.
For some time all went on well; their brightest hopes were realised, their days were spent in visiting the sick, instructing the village children, and doing good in too many ways to mention. Their evenings were devoted to reading and study. So quickly and readily did Nellie drink in knowledge, and such happiness was it to her to study with her husband, that at times he could scarcely realise that her early education had been deficient. Before very long these calm, restful, quiet days were interrupted by the arrival of a tiny baby boy. Great was the joy of the parents when they found themselves possessed of a darling child, and they determined he should be taught by them to be a good, if not a clever man. By the time the little boy was able to run about, and had begun to prattle in his pretty, childish way, a little sister appeared on the scene, and though the welcome given to her was no less hearty than that given to her brother, it was mingled with a little care and anxiety. The stipend received by the young curate was by no means large, and there remained no alternative but to economise and save in every possible way.
Nellie saw with pain the anxious careworn look on the young father's brow; she knew too well why it had settled there. At length a happy thought flashed across her mind-she would send for her knitting-needles, and begin her stocking-knitting again. She would soon accustom herself to her old quick way of working, and she knew there would be no difficulty in selling any number of stockings she might make. Cheerfully and happily she sat knitting, generally with the baby on her knee; her needles moved so quickly that before long the amount of work completed was sufficient to offer for sale ; and though the money realised was comparatively trifling, it was a very welcome addition to the small income.
As William sat watching his wife's needles, he carefully observed how the loops were made, and how the same thread travelled round and round the stocking, forming a new loop every time it passed through an old one. As he watched Nellie's fingers the idea gradually dawned upon him how a machine might be invented to do the work instead; and after much planning and contriving, he succeeded in making the small model of a knitting