Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 143

SERVICE AND THRIFT
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER; OR, THE BLACK BROTHERS by
JOHN RUSKIN

two elder brothers, were very ugly men, with overhanging eyebrows and small, dull eyesrwhich were always half shut, so that you could not see into them, and always fancied they saw very far into you. They lived by farming the Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were. They killed everything that did not pay for its eating. They shot the blackbirds because they pecked the fruit; and killed the hedgehogs lest they should suck the cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs in the kitchen ; and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all summer in the lime trees. They worked their servants without any wages till they would not work any more, and then quarreled with them and turned them out-of-doors without paying them. It would have been very odd if with such a farm and such a system of farming they hadn't got very rich; and very rich they did get. They generally contrived to keep their corn by them till it was very dear, and then sell it for twice its value; they had heaps of gold lying about on their floors; yet it was never known that they had given so much as a penny or a crust in charity; they never went to church; grumbled perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of so cruel and grinding a.temper as to receive from all those with whom they had any dealings the nickname of the "Black Brothers." The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined or desired. He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed, and kind in temper to every living thing. He did not, of course, agree particularly well with his brothers, or rather, they did not agree with him. He was usually appointed to the honorable office of turnspit, when there was anything to roast, which was not often; for, to do the brothers justice,.they were hardly less

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