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My Grandfather

Søren Peter Larsen June 29, 1875 – December 31, 1968

My Grandmother

Jensine Petrine Larsen July 10, 1879 – August 10, 1954




I don’t suppose I’m any different than millions of other people when I say that I have a special place in my heart where the memories of my grandparents live.  It is a sad misfortune for a child not to have known his or her grandparents, for more often than not; they have a deep fountain of love, from which they shower their grandchildren in unending measures.  It is a special kind of undemanding, unselfish love that creates precious memories and a happy childhood.

Few people have ever had a greater influence on my life than my paternal and maternal grandparents.  They installed in me a sense of what was needed to survive in life and become a respected member of the society I was to spend my life in.  Good manners and morals were part of everyday life for them and they made sure I understood the value of these qualities.  I can’t say that I succeeded in upholding all the virtues they taught me, but certainly enough to maintain the respect of the majority of people I came in contact with during my life.

The picture of my paternal grandparents I’m about to paint, is meant to show two people who came from humble origins, but who fought and struggled to rid themselves of the yoke of serfdom their ancestors had lived through. With hard work and diligence and in spite of two world wars and the great depression they succeeded in lifting themselves above poverty.

It is with great pleasure and a deep sense of gratitude that I dedicate these pages to them, but it is also with a sense of obligation, that I write these pages, for I’m the last person still alive who can give an account of a part of their lives.

Kenny B. Larsen, January 2004






Both my paternal grandparents were born in the little village of Horne, shown in the photo above, located on the Island of Fyn, Denmark.  Grandfather was the fourth and youngest child of Knud Larsen and his wife Maren Jensen Fløjborg.  Knud was born in Bjerne, near Horne on June 15, 1845.  Peter had a brother and two sisters plus a half bother and half-sister, born by Maren Jensen Fløjborg, before she married Knud.

                              Peter Larsen’s brothers and sisters

                                          Jens Peder Knudsen, born 1856

                                         Anne Jensen Fløjborg, born 1859  (1)

                                         Marie Kirstine Larsen, born 1867

                                         Niels Carl Larsen, born 1869

                                         Hanne Henrietta Larsen, born 1873

Jens immigrated to America within a year or two of Peter’s birth in 1875. He died in Texas, childless.  Anne Jensen began working on Hvedholm Manor in 1874, married Lars Christian Nielsen in 1879 and immigrated to USA in 1880.  Marie Kirstine Larsen followed in her half brother and sister’s footsteps and left for America sometime before 1890, so Peter only got to know his brother Niels and sister Hanne real well for they stayed in Denmark all their lives.

The earliest years of his life are hidden in the mist of time, but a couple of photos of the house he was born in have survived and it is typical of the type of timber frame cottages that existed in the area in the 1800s.  His father was a farm labourer and worked all his life (both him and his wife) on Steensgaarden, one of the several large, main farms that belonged to Hvedholm Manorial. The best photo of Peter Larsen’s birthplace can be seen in the next photo that shows his parents outside the house.    It was taken sometime between 1895 and 1900 in the late fall.



Peter Larsen’s birthplace.  The house was located in Horne Lillemark, a short distance outside the village of Horne. Standing outside are his parents, Knud and Maren Larsen.  Photo from about 1900

granfather-birthplace-late-photoAbove is a later picture of the house

In those days, it was normal for all children living in the rural areas to begin working at the age of fourteen.  Just where he worked is unknown, up until he was a young man. In 1898, he was drafted into the Danish army and because of his height and powerful built; he was chosen to serve in The Royal Danish Guards.  He was immensely proud of this and remained a member and flag bearer of the Association of old Royal Guards for the rest of his life.  In Copenhagen he became exposed to a very different way of life, much more sophisticated than what he was accustomed to.  It was no doubt this experience that encouraged him to break with the past and leave the rural, poorly paid hard work and misery he was born into.



I remember grandfather telling me that he for a number of years had worked as a wagon driver for a gristmill called Horne West Mill.  This was most likely after he returned from his military service in 1898.  In 1903, a photo of the mill was taken and it can readily be assumed it was while working for this mill that he met my grandmother, who was caring for the miller’s children.  Peter and his beloved Sine (nickname for Jensine) were married July 9, 1904 in Horne Church.  They were both as poor as poor can be, but that was not untypical of that generation.  People got by with little and lived happy lives despite what to us today must seem to be grinding poverty.  My father told me quite a bit about life back in those days and said he had a very happy childhood, but money was scarce and people were poorly paid for their labour.




It’s quite certain that Peter continued working at the mill for some years after he married, up until 1909, when he became a delivery driver for Sydfyns Brewery.  Their only son, my father Knud Christian Larsen, was born in 1907 and he never went to school in Horne, but rather in the town of Fåborg, where they moved to before he reached school age.  After my grandparents were married, they rented a place in a triplex timber frame house in a place called Horne Lillegyden, a couple of kilometres from Horne village.  Here they lived till about 1912, at which time they moved to the town of Fåborg



My grandmother was also born in Horne, July 10, 1979. She was one of six children born to Christen Larsen (born 1837-Horne) and Karen Madsen (born 1837 in Gummerup Christen was a butcher, but the family was very poor.  A single photo of them has survived. The photo was taken in 1906, in Horne, when they both were 69 years old.  The last name of both my paternal and maternal grandparents were thus ”Larsen”



Children of Christen and Karen

                              Lauritz Andreas Larsen, born 1866,( immigrated to Australia

  Maren Caroline Larsen, born 1868

 Martine Larsen, born 1874

Mads Marius Larsen, born 1877

Jensine (Sine) Petrine Larsen, born 1879 (my grandmother)

Christine Larsen, born 1882

Of her 2 brothers and three sisters, only Lauritz Andreas Larsen immigrated.  He went to Australia in 1890, married an English girl, but died childless in 1949 in Cooksville, NSW.  Maren Caroline married and settled in Copenhagen; Martine married a man (Nielsen) from Jutland and went to live in Odense, north of Fåborg.  She had 13 children, of which 10 survived.   Mads Marius Larsen and Christine Larsen both married and stayed in Horne all their lives. Mads became a butcher, following in his father’s footsteps and became a well know and respected resident in the area.  Christine married Jacob Andreas Madsen, a fisherman and had two daughters. They are, of course, all dead now, but I was fortunate to get to know most of these, my great aunts and uncles. I may write what I know about them later.

Grandmother Sine was a pretty girl in her youth and quite popular amongst the bachelors, according to grandfather.  I know for a fact that he was quite the”ladies man”, and knew a nice filly when he saw one

Other than the fact that Sine worked for the miller on Horne West Mill in 1903, I know nothing of her   childhood years.  A few photos of her from her young years have survived, one from 1897, when she was 18 years old and one from 1901.  Both were taken in a photo studio in Fåborg.




The earliest time I remember my grandparents begins around 1943, when I was five years old and continues right through my childhood years and part of my youth.  What happened in their lives during the years before that is what I can remember them telling me and certainly also what my father told me about his childhood home in Fåborg.

It may be worthwhile to illustrate what the town looked like around the turn of the 19th century, just before they moved from Horne to Fåborg.  I found several photos (old postcards) posted on an Internet site, which shows a glimpse of this long bygone era.  In 1916, a three-story building was constructed at East Street 43, replacing a very old and quite beautiful timber frame building (photo below)

dk-pp-2         dk-pp-13


Other views of Faaborg from that time are worth including here, since many of the old buildings still existed when I was a boy and spending my summer holidays there.

The following two are taken from the belfry, the old bell tower dating back to the 14th century, and gives a good view over the city, as it looked around 1900.




The photo above shows a joyful grandmother holding me, her one-year old grandson in her arms . Sadly, the railroad was sold and eliminated later in my life, but the station house is still there, serving as a bus station for the regional buses, which took over from the railroad.

Other views of Faaborg from that time are worth including here, since many of the old buildings still existed when I was a boy and spent my summer holidays there.

Changes took place over the years in the city and some of them were done in a way so as to preserve some of the atmosphere of the old city.  The two photos on the following page illustrate this quite well.



  • In the black and white photo is a view of the ancient city gate area as it looked when my grandparents were young and the colour photo shows the same view a hundred years later.  The buildings have been renovated, so as to be useful in modern times, yet they have preserved much of the style and looks of a century earlier.  On the left side, a paint and wallpaper business have located and on the right, a baker.


In the photo DK-PP-6 the city gate is shown from outside the city, the way it appeared when I was a boy.  The renovations seen in photo DK-PP-7, inside the gate, to the right, had not yet been carried out.  The` arrow points to the building before it was renovated and made into a paint store.  But now that the little photographic tour of the old Fåborg is over, it’s time to get on with the real story.

The first years in Fåborg

I never knew just when my grandparents moved to Fåborg and where they lived until they had moved to East Street 43, which today is called Green Street 74.  In February of 2004, I contacted Fåborg city archives via email and asked if they could help me with some photos and possibly trace the whereabouts of grandfather in his early days in Fåborg, that is, before 1916.  A couple of days later, I received a nice reply from them with several old photos, some of which can be seen above and an account of where my grandparents had lived.  In the electoral registration rolls, he appears for the first time in 1909-1910, added to the list with a pencil and indicating he was a beer delivery person, but no address was given.  In 1910-1911, his address is given as Klostergade (Cloister Street).  From 1912 to 1915, he is not in the electoral registration rolls for Fåborg.  This may be the time that coincides with what my father, Knud Larsen told me about his childhood. Before he began school, he said that they had lived well out on Assens Road, outside the city.

In 1915, he again appears in the electoral list in Fåborg, but no address is given.  From 1915 to 1920, they lived in Sandegyde (a street in Fåborg) and he is listed as a brewery worker.  In other words, it was sometime in 1915 that he ceased being a delivery driver for the brewery and became a malt maker, a position he held until 1945.


From 1921 on forward, he is listed as living in East Street 43, which, because the entry to the building actually is in Green Street, has been renamed Green Street 74.  Incidentally, this street was first mentioned in the year 1470 in the city’s history.  I have a couple of photos of the building they moved into.  The first one was sent to me by Fåborg city archives and perhaps best illustrate exactly what the building looked like when I was a child in Denmark.  The entry to the apartment building is the door seen in Green Street, above which was the number 43.  Inside the door were a small entry area and three flights of stairs lead up to the third floor, where my grandparents lived.  It would be hard to recount the number of times I have climbed those stairs and strangely enough, during moments of quiet contemplation, I can still hear the “thump-thump” of the weave that two sisters, who lived on the first floor, were working.  The apartment Peter and Sine lived in wasn’t big and cozy, but large enough for three people.  There were two bedrooms, a large and a small, the latter being my father’s room when he was a child.  A combination living and dining room, an entry, a kitchen and a two-piece bathroom composed the rest of the apartment. On the wall in the entry hung a mirror with a gilded frame, which today (Feb. 2004) is hanging in one of our bedrooms in our house here in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  It is over 100 years old now.


The two photos show the building and the third-floor apartment.  I took the second photo in 1969, after grandfather had passed away (December 31, 1968).  My father is standing in front of the building together with my first wife, Dorothy.  We had made a delayed second honeymoon trip to Denmark and Norway that year.

There can be no doubt as to grandfather having been a delivery driver for Sydfyns Brewery, for a wonderful photo of him in that capacity has survived.  The photo dates from somewhere between 1910 and 1915, because by 1920 he had became a malt maker in the brewery. The move from Horne to Fåborg was no doubt his way of escaping rural poverty and his experience as a wagon driver for Horne West Mill made it possible for him to get the job as beer delivery driver with the brewery.  Grandfather belonged to the generation of rural people that saw the light and escaped the poverty, grueling hard, poorly paid work and miserable living conditions that life offered on the farms.   It is doubtful that the Horne Mill worked all year round, so his job there may have been seasonal.  Having a child (my father) meant an additional mouth to feed and seeking better paid and steadier employment in the city would be a natural move for him.


The photo tells a story from a long bygone era but grandfather told me quite a bit about those years as a driver, delivering beer for Sydfyns Brewery.

Each case of bottled beer held 50 bottles and was very heavy, but he would always carry two at a time.  He would deliver to country stores and Inns, the latter receiving mostly beer in barrels and also to the many manor house in the district around Faaborg.  He often related stories about the Barons and Counts he came to know on his delivery trips.  When I was a boy, on summer holidays at my grandparents, grandfather would take me on tours out in the country and we visited many of the manor houses, where visitors were welcome, and some, where grandfather was welcome, because he knew the owners.

He told me that sometimes he had to break in a new draft horse and would always put this horse in the middle, between the other two experienced horses that were hitched the beer wagon.  By the time he came back to the brewery, after a 12-hour trip delivering beer, the new horse would be so tired it would lean against one of the older horses.  It wouldn’t take more than a few trips and the new horse would pull its share of the load.

He would get up at daylight, load the wagon and on some days, when he had long tours, he wouldn’t return until it was dark.  He used a coiled whip on the horses and was quite the expert at handling this formidable looking piece of horse obedience equipment.  He kept his whip long after he retired from the brewery, and one day he took me down in the yard behind the apartment building and showed me what he could do with it.  I would set up some small sticks in the ground within range of the length of the whip and he would expertly hit each piece with the tip of the whip and flick it into the air.  Years afterwards, I often wondered weather his demonstration of horsewhip skills perhaps also carried a message to the effect that I had best be a good boy, or he might use it on me.

Well, seriously, my dear grandfather would never have done that.  He had firm ideas as to what constituted good behavior, and even if I transgressed onto forbidden turf, he would never punish me with anything more than a stern, verbal reminder that good manners and obedience to your elders was an essential part of being a well-behaved boy.

A few other photos from his time as a driver for the brewery survived through all these years and also a nice photo of the brewery, although this I must credit to Fåborg City Archives, since they were kind enough to give me an electronic copy of the only one they have.


Fåborg city gate (see photo DK-pp-6)  is just around the corner from the tree in the background, past the chimney.  The cobblestone pavement as seen in the photo above was typical everywhere in the city.  There were no asphalt-paved streets until after I became a teenager in 1951 and then they paved the street directly on top of the cobblestone surface.  I remember the farmers coming to town with their horse-drawn wagons to deliver farm products to both small stores and large merchants.  The steel-rimmed wheels would make quite a lot of noise passing over the cobble stones and  one could from time to time see a spark fly from the horse’s shoes, when they hit one of the granite stones a certain way.

I have no real recollection of Fåborg and my grandparents until 1943 on forward.  This was during the Second World War, when the Germans occupied the country, each morning they would raise the hated Swastika flag on a building that could be seen from their apartment and how well I recall grandfather cursing that flag.  He hated the Germans with unbridled passions and never hesitated expressing his feelings to friends and family.  His years working on the brewery I know little about, other than what I have been told, but a few more photos from that time may perhaps be worth including here.



In photo DK-146, Peter is holding a bottle of liquor in his right hand and this may indeed have been a birthday present from the Manager, thus the photo was taken on the occasion of his 53rd birthday.

In 1945, by the end of the war, Peter had reached his 70th birthday and that was standard retirement age in those days.  He would receive his old age pension and given all normal circumstances, he would have settled into the more sedate life of a pensioner, but no, not grandfather.  That same year, he took a job as a helper with John Immerkjær, who owned a Tuborg beer wholesale depot and it must have been a case of life turning nearly 180 degrees on him, for once again he was back in the business of delivering beer, albeit this time, progress made it via a truck, rather than a horse drawn wagon.  I have many recollections of the years he worked with John, for I was often with them, when they toured around in the upland, delivering beer and soft drinks, pretty much to the same places he did between 1909 and 1920.  A case of beer still held 50 bottles, and grandfather still carried two at a time, when he brought them in to the country store or Inn.  He was strong as an ox, even at the age of seventy.  Only one photo has survived from those days, but it pretty much tells the story.  Peter has a beer in his hand, but given the fact that he had worked on a brewery for 36 years or so, it’s hardly a surprise.  Summers could be hot in Denmark and delivering beer was hard, thirsty work.


I was a twelve-year-old boy when that photo was taken and life was full of exiting things to do, not the least of which was going on trips with Grandfather and John Immerkjær during my summer holidays in Fåborg.  I got to know just about every country store, Inn and manor house within a 20 km radius and to boot, all the soda pop I could drink for free.

My grandmother passed away in 1954, just after their golden wedding anniversary. I saw my dear grandfather for the last time during Christmas in 1967.  He passed peacefully away on December 31, 1968, but the love my grandparents bestowed on me and the memories they gave me lives on forever in my heart.










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Another Time

My childhood is now but a distant dream and the places where I lived the dream belong to history. From time to time, when the hour is late and darkness has thrown a blanket over the hustle and bustle of the city, I let my spirit drift back to those times. I see the meadows, fields and forests, I see all those places where once I roamed and played. There are times though, when I wonder if I really see those places with the same feelings as I did when first my eyes touched their shapes and colors and printed an image of them in my memory. Have these regenerative images of places, things and events from my youth become painted with brighter and more lucid colors as the years went by?

I still remember events or something that took place a very long time ago and I do so with an intensity I find quite remarkable, especially considering that some of them did not seem to be of any relevance or significance. Why is it then that some events that were important in my youth and of which I should have very clear recollections now at best are faded, out of focus pictures? My confirmation in the Lutheran faith at the age of 14 is a good example. It was a very significant event in a boys or girls life in Denmark, since it was the stepping-stone into adulthood. A big party was given for the celebrant after the church service. No matter how hard I try, I can’t remember more than a few small details from it. I remember getting a wristwatch from my parents, and of special noteworthiness, a fishing rod equipped with a light casting real, which were just then coming on the market. I went fishing on the Sunday morning, a week after my confirmation, when I was supposed to go to alter in the church in the early afternoon. Circumstances would have it that I came home a bit late, and boy, was my father mad. He confiscated my beautiful fishing rod for a month, even though we made it to church just in time. That, by the way, was the last time I ever went to altar in a Lutheran Church in Denmark or anywhere else, for that matter.

At times, something triggers my memory banks into releasing recollections of an event or place or perhaps a person, I hadn’t thought about for a long time, maybe even since the event occurred. It can be a sound, a smell or seeing something, that triggers it and like an image projected on a screen; there it is, laid out in front of me as clear as the day it happened. A hologram of the past, projecting both happy and unhappy events. I had experienced many bad things during the Second World War in my early childhood and sometimes repressed images of them resurfaced.

I guess I’m guilty of using the same old phrase as thousands of generations have. “The good old days” they said, “That’s when life was worth living.” But is this really quite true? I often heard my grandparents talk about it or refer to those times. When I asked them for a realistic assessment, they admitted that life today, in some ways, were better than it had been when they were young. Both my two sets of grandparents said that there weren’t as many poor people today, as then and life was not quite as hard as it had been in their youth. Technology had removed much of the dreary, backbreaking labor they had experienced during a good part of their lives. The quality of life, however, was a different story. The way people lived and interacted with each other were incomparably better when they were young. There was more respect, more politeness and less crime and violence. People depended more upon each other and this dependence lead to a closer-knit society.

Do I agree with all that? Well, yes and no. Looking at life, I find that we are still eating the forbidden fruit. The creative genius of the arts and sciences constantly reach higher into the tree, searching for new fruits with which to tempt the masses. They turn yesterday’s forbidden fruit into today’s daily bread that everyone consumes with a convincing certainty that no harm will come of it. Nothing in life is stagnant. Change is the norm, but change is creation and destruction wrought in the same forge. Evolution in social behavior has made yesteryears acceptable standards or yesterdays forbidden fruits, into old-fashioned concepts, no longer worthy of consideration. To corrupt the basic standards of good behavior and acceptable social ethics with new ideas, new frontiers, and expansionist views on moral limits can only result in severe debasing of human dignity. In this aspect, I agree with my grandparents and I have adhered to those concepts of behavior that they, as well as my parents, taught me. The violence, the sexual immorality, the demand for instant gratification and the complete lack of respect found so prevalent amongst teenagers today, begs an explanation. It’s tempting to begin a discourse on the reasons why, but I won’t. It would take a few hundred pages and I neither have the time, nor feel kindly disposed to the problem. When children start shooting each other or their teachers in the school or kill for the sake of some misconstrued perception that it’s OK to do so, then I get angry at the society that created an environment where such events have become all but trivial.

I lay no claim to the moral high ground. We all have some crosses to bear and I certainly have mine. I will emphatically state though, that the kind of rage and unruly behavior so prevalent amongst today’s youth was unknown when I was a teenager. That’s not to say that I and my contemporaries were considered angels by society when we were young and full of piss and vinegar, and that’s the whole crux of the matter, you see. Good or bad behavior is relative to what is socially acceptable at a particular time and what we did was often considered unacceptable. Compared to what kids do today however, rest quite assured, we were the purists of angels. Will today’s youth be able to say the same when they reach my age? I hope not. Such a society would be utter chaos and calamity.



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I feel surrounded by a world that I don’t really know or recognize, for it has only faint shadows of what once was a world I understood and loved, a world that spoke to me in a recognizable language.

It was the world of my father’s time, with some preserved images of his father world. It was a realm in which I felt secure, wanted and loved and where I learned what life was all about as I grew from a boy to a young man.  It was in that world my character was molded and my intellect honed by my teachers, my family and the society that I lived in, and in which I lost my childhood innocence.

Now that I’m old and widowed, I reflect upon those times and that world with feelings of pleasure, mixed with a degree of sadness in the realization that it no longer exists.


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Cat and mouse

“What a wonderful place I found here, said the mouse to himself, all while making a cosy home for the winter in the huge pile of leaves the Gartner had raked together by the fence, next to the compost pile.  I’ll be nice and warm here when the snow covers the ground and it gets real cold.”

The mouse went outside to get some dried grass straws to line his little home in the leaves with, nipping on some of the grass seeds that still clung to the dry stalks.

I won’t want for food this winter, thought the mouse.  There is so much food in the compost pile, much more than I can eat alone.  It would be nice to get a wife and have some little ones to share it all with.

On his way back with a mouthful of grass straws, he was startled by a large shadow.  Turning around, he froze in his track.

“Why are you starring at me like that?” said the mouse.

The cat caught the mouse with his claws, and began to eat it.

Kenny Beechmount

Flash fiction

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Heroes are not ordinary humans; they are persons of great courage, endowed with mythical abilities as if God-like beings, but worshipped without rational judgement of their actual humanity.

Kenny Beechmount, Nov-16, 2012

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Fall 2011

Fall 2011 

It is November 13, a bad-luck day for the superstitious or a good-luck day for those who have 13 as their lucky number.  The weather here in Nova Scotia has been quite nice during the month, although we had a stormy and very rainy day (96 mm) on Remembrance Day, the 11th, which put quite a damper on the ceremonies, many of which had to be moved indoors. 

Winter will be coming soon and thus my writing season will once again arrive.  I have some translations to English of Latin American short stories planned and will continue working on some of my own stories. 

My blog has now been visited more than 10,000 times.  The English translations of Latin American short stories are the most popular.  The majority of those who use the translations in their studies fail to comment or make suggestions, which is important for me.  I’m always open to requests for specific translations and help for those who need it, so   don’t be shy. 

During the summer, I have followed several blogs, including “The best place is by the fire”http://placebythefire.wordpress.com by Kari Fay, a young writer from England, who published a piece of flash fiction every day for more than a year.  Her imagination and style of writing is most remarkable and inspirational to all who like to write fiction. 

Contoveros and his spiritual blog http://contoveros.wordpress.com are back in action again, after some absence.  His wise, although at times controversial, words are poignant and to the point and certainly gives rise to some introspective thoughts, even by someone whose views on religion are irreconcilable with his. His views on Buddhism and Christianity will challenge anyone who is spiritually inclined.  

Happy fall- if you have fall where you live.  To my Australian friends, it must be “Happy summer”, since that season has just started there. 

Wherever you live, have a happy time and stay in touch.

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Old men are like dogs

Aesop‘s fables are well known to many.  I thought the following has some thruth to it.

The Man, the Horse, the Ox, and the Dog

by Aesop

One winter’s day, during a severe storm, a horse, an ox, and a dog came and begged for shelter in the house of a man. He readily admitted them, and, as they were cold and wet, he lit a fire for their comfort; and he put oats before the horse, and hay before the ox, while he fed the dog with the remains of his own dinner.

When the storm abated, and they were about to depart, they determined to show their gratitude in the following way. They divided the life of man among them, and each endowed one part of it with the qualities which were peculiarly his own. The horse took youth, and hence young men are high mettled and impatient of restraint; the ox took middle age, and accordingly men in middle life are steady and hard working; while the dog took old age, which is the reason why old men are so often peevish and ill tempered, and, like dogs, attached chiefly to those who look to their comfort, while they are disposed to snap at those who are unfamiliar or distasteful to them.

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