chapter  1
Will Harper: A Poor-Law Tale (1838)
Pages 7

Will Harper was, at one time of his life, the pride and boast of the village in which he lived. He was an honest, hard-working man, kept his situation as a farm servant under one master, for many years, with credit to himself, and, though frugal and care-taking, had at all times a hand ready to relieve the necessities of those upon whom Fortune frowned. Then at the country sports, too, Will was almost sure to come off victorious; at cricket he was a first-rate player, and at quoits none could venture to compete with him – at least with any chance of winning. Nor was Will Harper deficient in the more refined accomplishment of dancing, for the girls, who are the best judges after all in these matters, declared that he was the very best hand at a reel or a country dance in the whole parish. In fact, as a proof that they really thought so, the rustic maidens were ready to pull caps for him whenever at country fair or wake an opportunity occurred for enjoying their favourite pastime.