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The History Of Jonathan, The Gardener Post by :aascott4 Category :Short Stories Author :M. (arnaud) Berquin Date :October 2011 Read :1432

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The History Of Jonathan, The Gardener

In the city of Lincoln lived an honest and industrious gardener, whose name was Jonathan, and who was in general considered as the most skilful in his profession of any in that county. His fruits were much larger than any of his neighbours, and were generally supposed to have a more exquisite flavour.

It was the pride of all the neighbouring gentlemen to have Jonathan's fruits to form their desserts, so that he was under no necessity of sending the produce of his garden to market, as he was always sure of meeting with a sale for them at home. His prudence and assiduity increased as his good fortune enlarged, and, instead of riches making him idle, he attended more closely to cultivation.

Such a character and situation could not fail of procuring him a suitable matrimonial mate, and he accordingly married a young woman in the neighbourhood, whose name was Bella, and who was both prudent and handsome. The first year of their marriage was as comfortable as they could wish for; for Bella assisted her husband in his business, and every thing prospered with them.

This happiness, however, was not to last long; for near his house lived another gardener, whose name was Guzzle, and who spent his time, from morning to night, in an alehouse. The merry and thoughtless humour of Guzzle, by degrees, began to be pleasing to Jonathan, who soon fell into the same ruinous error. At first, he only went now and then to drink with him, and talk to him about gardening; but he very soon began to drop the subject of plants, and delight only in the praises of malt.

Bella saw this change in her husband with the utmost grief and consternation. As yet, not having sufficient experience to attend the wall-fruit herself, she was frequently obliged to fetch him home to his work, when she generally found him in a state of intoxication. It would often have been better had he kept out of the garden than gone into it; for his head was generally so muddled with beer, when he went to work on his trees, that his pruning-knife committed the greatest depredations, cutting away those branches which ought to have been left, and leaving those that were useless.

Hence it was not to be wondered at, that the garden fell off in the quality and quantity of its fruit, and the more Jonathan perceived the decay, the more he gave himself up to drinking. As his garden gradually failed in procuring him the means of getting strong liquor, he first parted with his furniture, and then with his linen and clothes.

Bella, in the mean time, did what little she could to keep things together; but all to no purpose. One day, when she was gone to market with some roots she had reared herself, he went and sold his working utensils, and immediately went and spent all with Guzzle. Judge what must be the situation of poor Bella on her return! It was indeed a heart-breaking consideration, to be thus reduced to poverty by the folly of her husband; but yet she loved him, and equally felt for him as for herself, but still more for an infant, as yet but six months old, and which received its nourishment from her breast.

In the evening Jonathan came home drunk, and, swearing at his wife, asked her for something to eat. Bella handed him a knife, and put before him a large basket covered with her apron; Jonathan, in a pet, pulled away the apron; but his astonishment was inexpressible, when he beheld nothing in the basket but his own child fast asleep. "Eat that," said Bella, "for I have nothing else to give you. It is your own child, and if you do not devour it, famine and misery will in a short time."

Jonathan seemed almost petrified into a stone at these words, and for some time remained speechless, with his eyes fixed on his little sleeping son. At last recovering himself, quite sobered, his heart eased itself in tears and lamentations. He rose and embraced his wife, asked her pardon, and promised to amend; and what was still better, he was faithful to his promise.

Though his wife's father had for some time refused to see him, yet, on being made acquainted with his promises of reformation, he advanced money sufficient to enable him to restore his garden to its former state, Jonathan did not deceive him; for his garden put on another appearance, and cut a more splendid figure than ever. After this, neither his prudence nor activity forsook him, but he became at once, and continued so even to old age, the honest man, the indulgent husband, and the tender father. He would sometimes tell this tale of his follies to his son, as a lesson to him, how dangerous it is to get connected with bad company, and how easily human nature is led astray by the poison of example. The son, who thus acquired knowledge at the father's former expense, became a wise and prudent man, and conceived such an aversion to idleness and drinking, that he continued all his life as sober as he was laborious. Thus was an innocent infant the cause of reformation in a deluded father.

(The end)
M. (Arnaud) Berquin's short story: History Of Jonathan, The Gardener

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