On a certain fine evening of early autumn--I will not say how many years ago--I alighted from a green gig, before the door of a farmhouse at West Poley, a village in Somersetshire. I had reached the age of thirteen, and though rather small for my age, I was robust and active. My father was a schoolmaster, living about twenty miles off. I had arrived on a visit to my Aunt Draycot, a farmer's widow, who, with her son Stephen, or Steve, as he was invariably called by his friends, still managed the farm, which had been left on her hands by her deceased husband.
Steve promptly came out to welcome me. He was two or three years my senior, tall, lithe, ruddy, and somewhat masterful withal. There was that force about him which was less suggestive of intellectual power than (as Carlyle said of Cromwell) "Doughtiness--the courage and faculty to do."
When the first greetings were over, he informed me that his mother was not indoors just then, but that she would soon be home. "And, do you know, Leonard," he continued, rather mournfully, "she wants me to be a farmer all my life, like my father."
"And why not be a farmer all your life, like your father?" said a voice behind us.
We turned our heads, and a thoughtful man in a threadbare, yet well-fitting suit of clothes, stood near, as he paused for a moment on his way down to the village.
"The straight course is generally the best for boys," the speaker continued, with a smile. "Be sure that professions you know little of have as many drudgeries attaching to them as those you know well--it is only their remoteness that lends them their charm." Saying this he nodded and went on.
"Who is he?" I asked.