All types of all characters march through all fables: tremblers and boasters; victims and bullies; dupes and knaves; long-eared Neddies, giving themselves leonine airs; Tartuffes wearing virtuous clothing; lovers and their trials, their blindness, their folly and constancy. With the very first page of the human story do not love and lies too begin?
In time he recovered from his loss and replaced his dead neddies with others, and continued for many years longer on his rounds. To return to Isaac Bawcombe. He was born, we have seen, in 1800, and began following a flock as a boy and continued as shepherd on the same farm for a period of fifty-five years.
Afterwards when I became acquainted with a good many old men, aged from 75 to 90 and upwards, I found that Old Joe's memory is still green in a good many villages of the district, from the upper waters of the Avon to the borders of Dorset. But it is only these ancients who knew him that keep it green; by and by when they are gone Old Joe and his neddies will be remembered no more.
Coal at that time was only used by the blacksmiths in the villages, and was conveyed in sacks on ponies or donkeys, and of those who were engaged in this business the best known was Old Joe. He appeared periodically in the villages with his eight donkeys, or neddies as he called them, with jingling bells on their headstalls and their burdens of two sacks of small coal on each.
"They'm laughing at us, keper, they neddies; sure enough, we'm lost our labor here." But the bloodhound, after working about the door a while, turned down the glen, and never stopped till he reached the margin of the sea. "They'm taken water. Let's go back, and rout out the old witch's house." "'Tis just like that old Lucy, to lock a poor maid into shame."
He had no nerves and no imagination; and was tired, and slept very soundly until it was light and time to put his neddies out before any person came by and discovered that he had been making free with the rector's grass.
There are some stories still told of his great strength, one of which is worth giving. He was a man of iron constitution and gave himself a hard life, and he was hard on his neddies, but he had to feed them well, and this he often contrived to do at some one else's expense.