When the carriage that was to take Mrs. Grant to London drove to the door, she kissed her children a great many times, and begged that they would be very good while she was away from them.
"You, my dear Clara, I know, will mind what nurse says to you, and will try to be good while I am gone; for you know that God will see everything you do amiss, if I do not; and I hope you will never forget to say your prayers to Him night and morning."
Clara kissed her dear mother, and promised that she would attend to all she said; and her mother was satisfied, for she knew that Clara never told stories, though she was but a little girl.
Then Mrs. Grant turned to Charles, and said: "As for you, Charles, I cannot help feeling great pain at leaving you; for you are such a bad, wilful boy that I shall not have a happy moment while I am away from you, lest you should do anything amiss. But if you love me, you will try to be good; and whenever you are about to do anything wrong, say to yourself, 'How much this would grieve my poor mother if she knew it! and how much it will offend God, who does see, and knows, not only everything I do, but even my most secret thoughts! And He will one day bring me to an account for all I do or say against His holy will and my kind parents' commands.'"
Charles, who knew he was a bad boy, hung down his head, for he did not like to be told of his faults.
Then his mother said: "My dear Charles, do try and be good, and I will love you dearly."
"But what will you bring me from London," said Charles, "if I am a good boy? for I never will behave well for nothing."
"Do you call the love of God and of dear mother nothing?" said Clara; "I will behave well, even if mother forgets to bring me the great wax doll, and the chest of drawers to keep her clothes in, which she told me about yesterday."
Mrs. Grant smiled fondly on her little girl, but made no reply to Charles; and soon the coach drove away from the door.
Charles was very glad when his mother was gone, and he said: "Now mother is gone to London, I will do just as I please: I will learn no ugly lessons, but play all day long. How happy I shall be! I hope mother may not come for a whole month."
But Charles soon found he was not so happy as he thought he should have been; he did not know the reason, but I will tell you why he was not happy. No one can be happy who is not good, and Charles was so naughty as to resolve not to obey his kind mother, who loved him so much.
Charles brought out all his toys to play with, but he soon grew weary of them, and he kicked them under the table, saying, "Nasty dull toys, I hate you, for you do not amuse me or make me happy. I will go to father, and ask him to give me something to please me that I am not used to."
But father was busy with some friends in the study, and could not attend to his wants. Charles was a rude, tiresome boy; so he stood by his father, and shook his chair, and pulled his sleeve, and teased him so much that his father at last grew angry, and turned him out of the room.
Then Charles stood and kicked at the door, and screamed with all his might, when one of the gentlemen said to him: "If you were my little boy, I would give you something to cry for." So Charles's father told him if he did not go away, he would come out of the study and whip him.
When Charles heard this, he ran away, for he was afraid of being beaten; but, instead of playing quietly with his toys, he went and laid under the great table in the hall and sulked and fretted till dinner-time.
When nurse came to call him to dinner, he said: "I won't come; Go away, ugly nurse!"
Then said nurse: "Master Charles, if you like to punish yourself by going without your dinner, no one will prevent you, I am sure."
Then Charles began to cry aloud, and tried to tear nurse's apron; but nurse told him he was a bad boy, and left him.
Now, when Clara sat down to dinner, she said to nurse: "Where is brother Charles? Why is he not here?"
"Miss Clara, he is a naughty child," said nurse, "and chooses to go without his dinner, thinking to vex us; but he hurts no one but himself with his perverse temper."
"Then," said Clara, "I do not like to dine while Charles goes without; so I will try and persuade him to come and eat some pie."
"Well, Miss Clara," said nurse, "you may go, if you please; but I would leave the bad boy to himself."
When Clara came to Charles, and asked him if he would come and eat his dinner, he poked out his head, and made such an ugly face that she was quite frightened at him, and ran away.
Nurse did not take the trouble of calling him to tea; and, though he was very hungry, he was too sulky to come without being asked; so he lay under the table, and cried aloud till bedtime. But when it grew dark, he was afraid to stay by himself, for bad children are always fearful; so he came upstairs and said in a cross, rude tone of voice: "Nurse, give me something to eat."
Nurse said: "Master Charles, if you had been good, you would have had some chicken and some apple-pie for your dinner, and bread and butter and cake for your tea; but as you were such a bad boy, and would not come to your meals, I shall only give you a piece of dry bread and a cup of milk, and you do not deserve even that."
Then Charles made one of his very worst faces, and threw the bread on the ground, and spilt the milk.
Nurse told him that there were many poor children in the world who would be glad of the smallest morsel of what he so much despised, and that the time would come when he might want the very worst bit of it; and she bade him kneel down and say his prayers, and ask God to forgive him for having been such a wicked boy all day.
But Charles did not mind what she said, and went crying to bed. Thus ended the first day of Charles Grant's happiness.
He awoke very early the next morning, and told nurse to get him his breakfast, for he was very hungry. But nurse said he must wait till eight o'clock, which was the breakfast hour.
He now found it was of no use sulking, as no one seemed to care for his tempers; so he looked about for something to eat, but found nothing but the piece of bread he had thrown on the ground the night before; and he was glad to eat that, and only wished there had been more of it.
As soon as breakfast was over, Clara brought her books, and began to learn her lessons, and nurse asked Charles if he would do the same. But Charles said, "No, indeed! I do not mean to learn any lessons while mother is away, for I mean to please myself and be happy."
"You did as you pleased yesterday, Master Charles," said nurse; "yet I do not think you were so very happy, unless happiness consists in lying under a table and crying all day, and going without dinner and tea, merely to indulge a sullen, froward temper."
Now, Charles hated to be told of his faults, so he left nurse, and went into the garden to try and amuse himself. When there, instead of keeping in the walks, as he ought to have done, he ran on the beds, trampled down the flowers, and pulled the blossoms from the fruit-trees.
The gardener's boy earnestly requested Charles not to do so much mischief; but Charles told him he was a gentleman's son, and would do as he pleased. So he again ran over the new-raked borders, and pulled up the flowers; and the poor boy was sadly vexed to see his nice work all spoiled.
Charles did not care for that, and would have behaved still worse, had not the gardener, who then came up, taken him in his arms, and carried him into the house, in spite of his kicking and screaming. He cried for a long time, and made a sad noise; but, finding that no one paid any regard to him, he became quiet, and went into the nursery, and asked Clara to come and play with him.
"I cannot come just now, brother Charles," said she; "for I want to finish this frock that I am making for Giles Bloomfield's little sister."
"I am sure," said Charles, "if I were you, I would much rather play than sit still and sew."
"Not if you knew what pleasure there is in doing good," said Clara; "but if you will wait till I have finished it, you shall go with me and give it to the poor woman, and then you will see how pleased she will be, and how nicely the baby will look when she is dressed in this pretty frock, instead of her old faded, ragged one."
Charles did not know how to amuse himself, so he sat down on his little stool, and watched his sister while she worked.
When Clara had finished making the frock, she said: "Thank you, dear nurse, for cutting out and fixing the frock for me." So she threw her arms round nurse's neck, and kissed her cheek; and nurse put on Clara's tippet and her new bonnet, and walked with Charles and her to Dame Bloomfield's cottage.
The good woman took the baby out of the cradle, and laid it on Clara's lap, and Clara had the pleasure of dressing it herself in the nice new frock; and the baby looked so neat and pretty, and the poor mother was so pleased, that Clara was much happier than if she had spent her time in playing or working for her doll.
While Clara was nursing and caressing the baby, Charles went into the little garden, where he found Giles Bloomfield, who had just returned from working in the fields, with a beautiful milk-white rabbit in his arms, which he had taken out of the hutch, and was nursing with much affection.
"Oh, what a pretty rabbit!" said Charles. "Giles, will you sell it to me?"
"No, Master Charles," said Giles, "I cannot sell my pretty Snowball."
"And why not?" asked Charles in a fretful tone.
"Because, Master Charles, the old doe, its mother, died when Snowball was only a week old, and I reared it by feeding it with warm milk and bran; and it is now so fond of me that I would not part with it for a great deal."
So saying, he stroked his pretty favorite, who licked his hand all over, and rubbed her soft white head against his fingers.
Then Giles said: "My dear Snowball, I would not sell you for the world."
"But you shall sell Snowball to me," said Charles, making one of his ugly faces. "I will give you a shilling for her; and if you do not let me carry her home this very day, I will tell father of you, and he will turn you out of the cottage."
When Giles's mother heard Charles say so, she came out of the house, and said: "Pray, Giles, let Master Charles have the rabbit."
"Dear mother," said Giles, "Master Charles has a pony and a dog, and a great many fine toys to play with, and I have only my pretty Snowball; and it will break my heart to part with her."
"Then," said his mother, "would you rather see your mother and sisters turned out of doors than part with your rabbit? You know, Giles, that I had so many expenses with your poor father's illness and death that I have not paid the rent due last quarter-day; and you know it is in our landlord's power to turn us into the streets to-morrow."
"Well, mother," cried Giles, bursting into tears, "Master Charles must have the rabbit. But oh!" continued he, "he does not love you as I do, my pretty Snowball; he will not feed and take care of you as I have done, and you will soon die, and I shall never see you again." And his tears fell fast on the white head of his little pet as he spoke.
Clara was quite grieved, and begged her naughty brother not to deprive poor Giles of his rabbit; but Charles was a wicked and covetous boy; he therefore took Snowball from Giles, and carried her home in his arms, and put her in a box. He went into the fields and gathered some green herbs for her to eat, and said: "I am glad I have got Snowball; now I shall be quite happy."
But how could Charles be happy when he had broken God's holy commandment, which says, "Thou shalt not covet?" Nurse and Clara told him so, and begged him to give Snowball back again to Giles. But Charles said he would not, for he meant to keep her all his life; but the next morning, when he went into the stable to look at her, he found her stretched at the bottom of the box. He called her, but Snowball did not stir; he then took her out of the box to see what ailed her; but she was quite cold and dead.
Oh dear! how Charles did cry! But it was of no use. He had better not have taken her away from Giles, for he did not know what to feed her with, and had given her among the greens he had gathered a herb called hemlock, which is poisonous and will kill whatever eats of it; and it had killed poor Snowball.
The coachman told Charles so when he saw how swollen she was, and Charles cried the more. Giles cried too when he heard what a sad death poor Snowball had died; but he had been a good dutiful boy in parting with her when his mother wished it, though it had cost him much pain and many tears.
Well, Charles's mother was gone a long time, more than a month, and it would quite shock you to be told how naughty Charles was all that time; at last a letter came to say she was very ill, and then another to tell them she was dead.
What would Charles then have given if he had not grieved her so often with his perverse temper and wicked conduct? He now said when he saw her again, he would beg her to forgive him; but when Charles did see his poor mother again she was in her coffin and could not hear him; and he cried exceedingly, and wished he had been good. Clara, though she cried as much as Charles for her dear mother, was glad she had obeyed her, and been so good while she was away.
"And I will always be as good as if dear mother could see me, and love me for it too," said she to nurse the day after her mother was buried.
"My dear young lady," said nurse, "your mother will see it, and love you for doing your duty."
"How can dear mother see me? Her eyes are closed, and she is in the dark grave," said Clara.
"But she will see you from heaven, Miss Clara, where she is gone to receive the reward of her good conduct in this world; for though her body is in the earth, her spirit is in heaven."
"And shall I never see my own dear mother again?" said Clara.
"Yes, Miss Clara; if you are good, you will go to heaven when you die, and become an angel like her."
"Then," said Clara, "I will pray to God to make me good, and when I am going to do anything wrong I will say to myself, 'If I do this, I shall never go to heaven, and see my dear mother when I die.'"
"I wish," said nurse, "that Master Charles was like you, and would try to be good."
But though Charles was sometimes sorry for his bad behavior, he did not try to mend, because he thought it was too much trouble to be good, and said he did not care, because he was the son of a gentleman.
Charles did not know that at this very time his father had spent all his money, and owed a great many debts to different people; and at last he ran away that he might not be put in prison; and the people to whom he owed so much money came and seized his fine house and gardens, and the coach, and all the furniture, and sold them by auction, to raise money to pay the debts; so Charles found that, instead of being rich, he was now very, very poor.
When the auction was over and all the things were sold, and it was getting quite dark (for it was in the month of November), Clara and Charles stood in one of the empty parlors, and wondered what they should do for supper, and where they should sleep that night; for all the beds were sold, and they saw the servants go away one after another.
At last nurse came in with her bonnet and cloak, and said: "Miss Clara, I am going away to my own cottage, and as you have always been a kind, good child, you shall go with me, and I will take care of you."
Then Clara said, "Thank you; but will you not take Charles also?"
"No," said nurse; "he has always been such a proud bad boy that I will not take him. I have very little to spare, for I am a poor woman, and what I have is not more than will keep my own children and you, Miss Clara."
Saying this, she got into the cart, and took Clara on her lap, and one of the footmen got in after her, and drove away from the door.
Charles stood on the step of the door, and looked after them till they were out of sight; and then he began to cry as if his heart would break. The servant of the gentleman who had purchased the house came and locked the door, so Charles could not get in any more, and he sat down on the stone steps, and covered his face with his hands, and cried bitterly.
"Unhappy child that I am," sobbed he; "what will become of me? Oh, if I had but been good like Clara, I should have found a friend, as she has; but no one cares what becomes of me, because I have been so wicked. I used to despise the poor, and God, to punish me, has made me poor indeed."
It was very cold, and the snow began to fall fast, and it grew quite dark. Charles rested his head on his knees, and was afraid to look round; his clothes were almost wet through, and his limbs were benumbed with cold; he had no place where he could ask shelter, for no one loved him; and he thought he should be obliged to stay there all night, and perhaps be frozen to death.
Just then some one softly touched his hand, and said: "Master Charles, I have been looking for you for more than an hour."
Charles looked up; but when he saw it was Giles Bloomfield who had come to seek him in his distress, he remembered how ill he had behaved to him, so he hid his face, and began to weep afresh.
Then Giles sat down by him on the steps, and said: "Dear Master Charles, you must not stay here. See how fast it snows. You will catch your death of cold."
"Yes, I am very cold and hungry," sobbed Charles, "but I have no home now; I have nowhere else to go, and must stay here all night."
"No, Master Charles," said Giles, "you shall come home with me, and shall share my supper and my bed, though it is not such as you have been used to; notwithstanding we are very poor, we will do our best to make you comfortable."
"Oh, Giles!" said Charles, throwing his arms round Giles's neck, "I do not deserve this kindness; I have been such a proud, wicked boy, and have treated you so ill. I am sure you can never forgive me for having taken your pretty Snowball; and if you forgive me, I can never forgive myself."
"Dear Master Charles, do not think of that now," said Giles, taking both Charles's cold hands in his. "Indeed, Master Charles, I should never dare say my prayers if I was so wicked as to bear malice; and, now you are in distress, I would do anything in my power to serve you. So pray come home with me, and warm yourself, and get some supper."
But Charles hid his face on Giles's bosom, and cried the more; at last he said:
"Giles, I am so ashamed of having behaved so cruelly to you, that I can never go to your home, and eat the food that you are obliged to labor so hard for."
"Master Charles," said Giles, "that is because you are so proud."
"Oh no, no!" sobbed Charles, "I am not proud now, and I think I shall never be proud again." So he kissed Giles, and they both went home to Dame Bloomfield's cottage together.
When Giles's mother saw Charles, she said: "Why did you bring this proud, cross, young gentleman here, Giles?"
Charles, when he heard her say so, thought he should be turned out again into the cold, and began to cry afresh; but Giles said:
"Dear mother, Master Charles has no home to go to now; he is cold and hungry; I am sure you will let him stay here, and share my bed and my supper."
"He can stay here if he likes," said Dame Bloomfield; "but you know, Giles, we are forced to work hard for what food we have, and I am sure we cannot afford to maintain Master Charles."
"Then," said Giles, "he shall have my supper to-night: he wants it more than I do, for he has had no food all day."
"You may please yourself about that, Giles: but remember, if you give your food to Master Charles, you must go without yourself."
"Well," said Giles, "I shall feel more pleasure in giving my supper to Master Charles than in eating it myself."
So he brought a stool, and, placing it in the warmest corner by the fire, made Charles sit down, and chafed his cold frozen hands, and tried to comfort him; for Charles was greatly afflicted when he saw that everyone hated him; but he knew that it was his own fault, and a just punishment for his pride and bad conduct.
When Giles brought his basin of hot milk and bread for his supper, he could not thank him for crying; and he was ashamed to eat it while Giles went without; but he was so hungry, and the milk looked so nice, that he did not know how to refuse it; and Giles begged him so earnestly to eat that at last he did so, and once more felt warm and comfortable.
Then Giles said to him: "Now, Master Charles, will you go to bed? Mine is but a coarse, hard bed, but it is very clean." So he took the lamp to show Charles the way to the chamber in which he was to sleep.
Charles was surprised at seeing no staircase, but only a ladder. Giles laughed when he saw how Charles stared, and he said:
"You have been used to live in a grand house, Master Charles, and know nothing of the shifts the poor are forced to make."
Then Charles climbed up the ladder, and Giles showed him a little room, not much larger than a closet, with no furniture in it, but a stump bed without any hangings, and covered with a coarse, woolen rug. Charles Grant had never even seen such a bed before, but he was thankful that he could get any place to sleep in, out of the cold and snow.
Giles helped Charles to undress, for Charles was so helpless he did not know how to undress himself. When he was going to step into bed, Giles exclaimed:
"Will you not say your prayers before you go to bed, Master Charles?"
Charles blushed and hung down his head, for he had been so naughty that he had not said his prayers for a long time past, and had almost forgotten what his dear mother had taught him; and he told Giles so at last.
"Dear, dear!" said Giles, "I never dare go to bed without saying mine."
Then Charles said: "I am sorry I have been so naughty as to forget my prayers; will you teach me yours, and I will never forget them again?"
Then they both knelt down by the side of the little bed, and Giles taught Charles such prayers as he knew, and Charles went to bed much happier than he had been for a long time.
Though the bed was hard, and the sheets brown and coarse, Charles was so weary that he soon fell asleep, and slept so soundly that he did not awake till it was broad day, and Giles was up and gone to work in the fields.
When Charles looked round he thought he had never seen such a shabby room in his life. There was not so much as a chair or table or carpet in it; he could see all the thatch and the rafters in the roof, for the chamber was not even ceiled, but showed the thatch and rafters, and, as I said before, there was not a single article of furniture in the room, except the bed. How different from the pretty little chamber in which Charles used to sleep, with the nice white dimity window-curtains and hangings and mahogany tent-bed, with such comfortable bedding and handsome white counterpane! However, he now thought himself very fortunate that he had any roof to shelter him, or any bed, however homely it might be, on which he could sleep.
He thought he should like to get up and go downstairs, but he had always been used to have a servant to dress him, and he did not know how to dress himself, so while he was considering what he should do Giles came into the chamber. He had returned to get his breakfast, and not seeing Charles downstairs he concluded the cause of his absence, and came to assist him to dress. Charles observed how this matter was arranged, and resolved to do it for himself the next morning.
When he was dressed they both knelt down by the bedside and said their prayers, for though Giles had said his at the dawn of day, yet he never omitted an opportunity of repeating his thanksgivings and praises to his heavenly Father for the mercies and blessings which he enjoyed through His grace, for Giles possessed a grateful and contented heart, which made him look upon that state of life unto which it had pleased God to call him, as that which was meet and fit for him, so he worked hard, and ate the bread of labor with cheerfulness and satisfaction.
When Charles and Giles joined the family below Dame Bloomfield set a porringer of milk and a piece of brown bread for every one but Charles, who looked ready to cry, but Giles put his porringer before him, and gave him another spoon, and said: "Master Charles, we will eat together, for there will be enough for both of us." The tears came into Charles's eyes, and he whispered: "Dear Giles, you are very good." So these boys ate out of the same porringer, and broke of the same bread.
After breakfast Giles went out to work, and Charles thought it very dull till he returned to dinner. When Dame Bloomfield gave her children their dinners there was a dumpling for everyone but Charles; then Giles cut his dumpling in half, and gave one part to Charles, and ate the other half himself. Now this was very good of Giles, for he was very hungry himself, but he could not bear to see Charles sad and hungry while he was eating, and Giles liked to do good because he knew it was pleasing to God.
As soon as dinner was over, Giles went out to work again, and Charles was as dull as he had been in the morning, for all the family were at work in some way or other, and could not spare time to amuse or talk to him, and he did nothing but sigh and fret to himself till evening, when Giles came home from work.
Giles's eldest sister made a bright fire, and they all sat round it and talked and told stories, and Giles nursed the baby, and played with the other little ones, and seemed quite happy, and so he was, for he had done his duty, and every one loved him for being so good.
After supper Giles taught those of his sisters who were old enough to read and write, and when they had finished learning their tasks Charles took up the book, and said: "Giles, will you teach me to read?" and Giles said: "Certainly, Master Charles, but I am sure you must know how to read a great deal better than such a poor boy as I am."
"I might have done so," said Charles, "but Giles, I was a sad, naughty, perverse boy, and hated to learn any thing that was good; but I hope I know better now, and if you will only take the trouble of teaching me I will try and make up for my lost time."
So Giles gave Charles a lesson that very night, and every evening after supper he heard him read and spell what he had learned during the day, and Charles took such pains that he soon began to read so well that he used to amuse himself by reading pretty stories, and by teaching little Betty, one of Giles's youngest sisters, to read.
Still Charles used to be exceedingly hungry, for he had not more than half the quantity of food he was used to eat, and Giles was hungry too, and grew pale and thin.
Then Charles said to himself: "It is not right for me to eat the bread which poor Giles works so hard to earn; I will try and get my own living, for why should I not do so, as well as Giles?" So one morning, when Giles rose, as usual, at five o'clock, Charles got up too. Then Giles said:
"Why do you rise so early this cold morning, Master Charles?"
"Because I am going out to work with you, Giles, if you will permit me," answered Charles.
"Oh, Master Charles, such work as I do is not fit for a young gentleman like you," said Giles.
"You must not call me a young gentleman now, for I am only a poor boy, and poorer than other poor boys, for they can earn their own living, while I should have been starved to death had not you given me half of the bread you work so hard for. But I will not be a burthen to you any longer, but learn to work and get my own living as you do."
Charles now meant to keep his word, and they both went out into the fields, and worked together at picking stones off the young crops of wheat and clover, and before breakfast. Giles had picked up two bushels of stones and Charles one, and the farmer gave them a penny per bushel for gathering them up.
Then they made haste back to the cottage, and Giles gave his mother the money he had earned, and Charles did the same, and when the dame poured out the milk for the family Charles saw that she filled a porringer for him also, and they had all a good breakfast that morning, and Charles felt quite happy because he had not eaten the bread of idleness. So he went out to work with Giles again, and earned twopence before dinner.
When Dame Bloomfield took up the dumplings Charles saw there was one for him, and he felt happy that poor Giles had not to deprive himself of half his food that he might eat.
Charles went out to work every day with Giles, and in the evening he learned to read and write. He became quite good and gentle, and enjoyed more happiness than he had experienced in his life before, And why was Charles happy? I will tell you, my dear children. Because he was no longer a proud, froward boy as he had been, but was kind and sweet-tempered to every one, and did his duty both to God and himself.
The winter passed swiftly away, and the spring came, and the birds began to sing, and the trees looked green and gay, and the pretty flowers bloomed in the gardens and covered the meadows all over, and scented the air with their fragrance, and Charles thought it very pleasant to work in the fields, and hear the birds sing as they tended their young, or built their nests among the green boughs or in the hedges.
One day Giles said to Charles: "Master Charles, we cannot work together in the fields any more; I have got a new employment"
"But why cannot I work with you?" asked Charles.
"Because, sir, you will not like to work where I am going," answered Giles. Charles asked where that was. "In the garden of the great house, Master Charles, where you used to live," said Giles.
Charles looked very sorrowful, and remained silent for some minutes; at last he said: "Well, Giles, I will go with you; my clothes are grown shabby now, and nobody will know me, and if they did I hope I am too wise to be ashamed of doing my duty, so let us go directly."
Then Giles took Charles into the garden, and the gardener gave them each a hoe and a rake, and told them to hoe up the weeds on the flower borders, and then rake them neatly over, and promised if they worked well he would give them eight-pence per day.
Now this was much pleasanter than picking stones in the field, but Charles was very sad, and could not refrain from shedding tears when he thought of the time when he used to play in that very garden, and he thought, too, of his dear mamma who was dead, and of his sister Clara, whom he had not seen for so many months, but he worked as hard as he could, and the gardener praised them both, and he gave them a basket to put the weeds in, and showed them how to rake the borders smooth.
Just as they had finished the job, and Charles was saying to Giles, "How neat our work looks!" a little boy, dressed very fine, came into the garden, and, as he passed them, said: "I am glad I am a gentleman's son, and not obliged to work like these dirty boys."
When Charles thought the little boy was out of hearing, he said to Giles: "That little boy is as wicked as I used to be, and I doubt not but that God will punish him in the same way if he does not mend his manners."
The little boy, who had overheard what Charles said, was very angry, and made ugly faces, and ran into the newly-raked beds, and covered them with footmarks. Then Charles said: "I am sorry for you, young gentleman, for I see you are not good."
"How dare you say I am not good?" said this naughty child. "I am a great deal better than you, for I am a gentleman, and you are only a poor boy."
"Yes," said Charles, his eyes filling with tears as he spoke, "I am, indeed, only a poor boy now, but I was once rich like you, and lived in this very house, and wore fine clothes, and had plenty of toys and money, and was just as proud and naughty as you are, but God, to punish me, took away my parents and all those things that I had been so proud of, and that I had made such a bad use of, and reduced me to a poor boy, as you see."
When the little boy heard this he looked very serious, and said: "I have been very naughty, but I will do so no more," and he went into the house, and never teased Charles or Giles again.
A few months after this, when Charles and Giles were working as usual in the garden, they saw a gentleman come down one of the walks, leading by the hand a little girl dressed in a black silk frock and bonnet trimmed with crape.
"Ah, Giles," said Charles, "how like that young lady is to my sister Clara. I wonder whether I shall ever see my dear sister Clara again."
"Brother Charles, dear brother Charles, you have not then quite forgotten your sister Clara," said the little girl, throwing her arms round his neck as she spoke.
When Charles saw that it was, indeed, his own dear sister Clara, he kissed her and cried with joy.
Then he told Clara all that had happened to him since the day they had parted, and how sorry he had been for all his past conduct, and he asked her who the gentleman was that had brought her into the garden.
"It is our uncle, dear Charles. You know our dear mother had a brother who lived in India that she used frequently to talk about. Well, when he came home, and heard that mother was dead, and we were in distress, he came to nurse's cottage, and took me home to his house, and has now come to find you, for he is very good and kind, and loves us both for our dear mother's sake."
"And will he take me home too?" said Charles.
"Yes, my boy," said Charles's uncle, taking him by the hand, "because you are good and kind, and are no longer cross and proud, as I heard you used to be. You shall come home with me this very day, if you please, and I will teach you everything that a young gentleman should know, and you and Clara shall be my children so long as you continue to be deserving of my love, and are not unkind, nor despise those who are beneath you in situation."
"Indeed, uncle," said Charles, "I can now feel for the poor, and I would rather remain as I am than be rich if I thought I should ever behave as I used to do."
"My dear child," said his uncle, kissing him with great affection, "continue to think so, and you will never act amiss. The first and greatest step toward amendment is acknowledging our faults. What is passed shall be remembered no more, and I doubt not but that we shall all be happy for the time to come."
"But uncle," said Charles, laying his hand on his uncle's arm, "I have something to ask of you."
"Well, Charles, and what would you have of me?" said his uncle.
Then Charles led Giles to his uncle, and related all he had done for him; how he had taken him to his own home, and given him half of his food and his bed, and taught him to read and to work; he, likewise, told his uncle how ill he had behaved to Giles in depriving him of his pretty Snowball, and he said: "Dear uncle, will you allow Giles to share my good fortune, for I cannot be happy while he is in want, and he is better than me, for he returned good for evil."
Then his uncle said: "Charles, I should not have loved you had you forgotten your kind friend." And he asked Giles if he would like to go to his house and live with him, and spend his time in learning to read and write, and in improving his mind, instead of hard labor.
"I should like it very much indeed, sir," said Giles, "but I cannot accept your kind offer."
"And why not, my good little friend?"
"Because, sir," said Giles, bursting into tears, "my poor mother and sisters must go to the workhouse or starve if I did not stay and work for them, and I could not be happy if I lived in a fine house, and knew they were in want of a bit of bread to eat."
"Then," said the gentleman smiling, "for your sake they shall never want anything, for I will put them into a cottage of my own, and will take care of them, and you shall live with me, and I will love you as if you were my own child, and remember, Giles, I do this as a reward for your kindness to Charles when he was unhappy and in great distress."
Charles's uncle was as good as his word, and Giles received the blessings of a good education, while his mother and sisters were maintained by the benevolence of his benefactor.
Charles was so careful not to relapse into his former errors that he became as remarkable for his gentleness and the goodness of his heart as he had formerly been for his pride and unkindness, and in the diligent performance of his duty, both to God and man, he proved to his uncle the sincerity of his amendment.
Of a Complaint made against Sundry Persons for Breaking in the Windows of Dorothy Careful, Widow and Dealer in Gingerbread
By JOHN AIKIN AND MRS. BARBAULD
The court being sat, there appeared in person the widow Dorothy Careful to make a complaint against Henry Luckless, and other person or persons unknown, for breaking three panes of glass, value ninepence, in the house of the said widow. Being directed to tell her case to the court, she made a curtsey and began as follows:
"Please, your lordship, I was sitting at work by my fireside between the hours of six and seven in the evening, just as it was growing dusk, and little Jack was spinning beside me, when all at once crack went the window, and down fell a little basket of cakes that was set up against it. I started up and cried to Jack: 'Bless me, what's the matter?' 'So,' says Jack, 'sombody has thrown a stone and broke the window, and I dare say it is some of the schoolboys.' With that I ran out of the house, and saw some boys making off as fast as they could go. So I ran after them as quick as my old legs would carry me, but I should never have come near them if one had not happened to fall down. Him I caught and brought back to my house, when Jack knew him at once to be Master Henry Luckless. So I told him I would complain of him the next day, and I hope your worship will make him pay the damage, and I think he deserves a good whipping into the bargain for injuring a poor widow woman."
The Judge, having heard Mrs. Careful's story, desired her to sit down, and then calling up Master Luckless, asked him what he had to say for himself. Luckless appeared with his face a good deal scratched, and looking very ruefully. After making his bow and sobbing two or three times, he said:
"My lord, I am as innocent of this matter as any boy in the school, and I am sure I have suffered enough about it already. My lord, Billy Thompson and I were playing in the lane near Mrs. Careful's house when we heard the window crash, and directly after she came running out towards us. Upon this Billy ran away, and I ran too, thinking I might bear the blame. But after running a little way I stumbled over something that lay in the road, and before I could get up again she overtook me, and caught me by the hair, and began lugging and cuffing me. I told her it was not I that broke her window, but it did not signify; so she dragged me to the light, lugging and scratching me all the while, and then said she would inform against me. And that is all I know of the matter."
"I find, good woman," said the Judge, "you were willing to revenge yourself without waiting for the justice of this court."
"My lord, I must confess I was put into a passion, and did not properly consider what I was doing."
"Well, where is Billy Thompson?"
"Here, my lord."
"You have heard what Henry Luckless says. Declare upon your honor whether he has spoken the truth."
"My lord," said Billy, "I am sure neither he nor I had any concern in breaking the window. We were standing together at the time, and I ran on hearing the door open, for fear of being charged with it, and he followed; but what became of him I did not stay to see."
"So you let your friend," the Judge remarked, "shift for himself, and thought only of saving yourself. But did you see any other person about the house or in the lane?"
"My lord, I thought I heard some one creeping along the other side of the hedge a little before the window was broken, but I saw nobody."
"You hear, good woman, what is alleged in behalf of the person you have accused. Have you any other evidence against him?"
"One might be sure," the widow replied, "they would deny it, and tell lies for one another; but I hope I am not to be put off in that manner."
"I must tell you, mistress, that you give too much liberty to your tongue, and are as guilty of as much injustice as that of which you complain. I should be sorry indeed if the young gentlemen of this school deserved the general character of liars. You will find among us, I hope, as just a sense of what is right and honorable as among those who are older, and our worthy master would certainly not permit us to try offences in this manner if he thought us capable of bearing false witness in each other's favor."
"I ask your lordship's pardon; I did not mean to offend; but it is a heavy loss for a poor woman, and though I did not catch the boy in the act, he was the nearest when it was done."
"As that is no more than a suspicion, and he has the positive evidence of his schoolfellow in his favor, it will be impossible to convict him consistently with the rules of justice. Have you discovered any other circumstance that may point out the offender?"
"My lord, next morning Jack found on the floor this top, which I suppose the window was broke with."
"Hand it up. Here, gentlemen of the jury, please to examine it, and see if you can discover anything of its owner."
"Here is 'P.R.' cut upon it."
"Yes," said another boy, "I am sure I remember Peter Riot having just such a one."
"So do I," still another remarked.
"Master Riot, is this your top?"
"I don't know, my lord," said Riot; "perhaps it may be mine. I have had a great many tops, and when I have done with them I throw them away, and any body may pick them up that pleases. You see, it has lost its peg."
"Very well, sir. Mrs. Careful, you may retire."
"And must I have no amends, my lord?"
"Have patience; leave everything to the court. We shall do you all the justice in our power."
As soon as the widow was gone the Judge rose from his seat, and with much solemnity thus addressed the assembly:
"Gentlemen, this business, I confess, gives me much dissatisfaction. A poor woman has been insulted and injured in her property, apparently without provocation, and although she has not been able to convict the offender, it cannot be doubted that she, as well as the world in general, will impute the crime to some of our society. Though I am in my own mind convinced that in her passion she charged an innocent person, yet the circumstance of the top is a strong suspicion—indeed, almost a proof—that the perpetrator of this unmanly mischief was one of our body.
"The owner of the top has justly observed that its having been his property is no certain proof against him.
"Since, therefore, in the present defect of evidence the whole school must remain burdened with both the discredit of this action and share in the guilt of it, I think fit, in the first place, to decree that restitution shall be made to the sufferer out of the public chest, and, next, that a Court of Inquiry be instituted for the express purpose of searching thoroughly into the affair, with the power to examine all persons upon honor who are thought likely to be able to throw light upon it. I hope, gentlemen, these measures meet with your concurrence."
The whole court bowed to the Judge, and expressed their entire satisfaction with his determination.
It was then ordered that the Public Treasurer should go to the Widow Careful's house, and pay her a sum of one shilling, making at the same time a handsome apology in the name of the school; and six persons were taken by lot of the jury to compose the Court of Inquiry, which was to sit in the evening.
The Court then adjourned.
On the meeting of the Court of Inquiry the first thing proposed by the President was that the persons who usually played with Master Riot should be sent for. Accordingly Tom Frisk and Bob Loiter were summoned, when the President asked them upon their honor if they knew the top to have been Riot's.
They said they did. They were then asked if they remembered when Riot had it in his possession.
"He had it," said Frisk, "the day before yesterday, and split a top of mine with it."
"Yes," said Loiter, "and then as he was making a stroke at mine the peg flew out."
"What did he do with it?"
"He put it into his pocket, and said as it was a strong top he would have it mended."
"Then he did not throw it away, or give it to any one?"
"Yes; a day or two before he went to the Widow Careful's shop for some gingerbread; but as he already owed her sixpence, she would not let him have any till he had paid his debts."
"How did he take the disappointment?"
"He said he would be revenged on her."
"Are you sure he used such words?"
"Yes. Loiter heard him as well as myself."
"I did, sir," said Loiter.
"Do either of you know any more of this affair?"
"No, sir," replied both boys together.
"You may go," said the President, adding "that these witnesses had done a good deal in establishing proof against Riot; for it was pretty certain that no one but himself could have been in possession of the top at the time the crime was committed, and it also appeared that he had declared a malicious intention against the woman, which it was highly probable he would put into execution. As the court were debating about the next step to be taken they were acquainted that Jack, the widow's son, was waiting at the school-door for admission; and a person being sent out for him, Riot was found threatening the boy, and bidding him go home about his business. The boy, however, was conveyed safely into the room, when he thus addressed himself to the President:
"Sir, and please your worship," said Jack, "as I was looking about this morning for sticks in the hedge over against our house, I found this buckle. So I thought to myself, 'Sure this must belong to the rascal that broke our window.' So I have brought it to see if any one in the school would own it."
"On which side of the hedge did you find it?"
"On the other side from our house, in the close."
"Let us see it Gentlemen," said the President, "this is so smart a buckle that I am sure I remember it at once, and I dare say you all do."
"It is Riot's!" exclaimed all together.
"Has anybody observed Riot's shoes to-day?" the President asked.
"Yes; he has got them tied with strings," a boy replied.
"Very well, then, gentlemen, we have nothing more to do than to draw up the evidence we have heard, and lay it before his lordship. Jack, you may go home."
"Pray, sir, let somebody go with me, for I am afraid of Riot, who has just been threatening me at the door."
"Master Bold will please to go along with the boy."
The minutes of the court were then drawn up, and the President took them to the Judge's chamber. After the Judge had perused them, he ordered an indictment to be drawn up against Peter Riot: "For that he meanly and clandestinely and with malice aforethought had broken three panes in the window of Widow Careful with a certain instrument called a top, whereby he had committed an atrocious injury upon an innocent person, and had brought a disgrace upon the society to which he belonged."
At the same time he sent an officer to inform Master Riot that his trial would come on the next morning.
Riot, who was with some of his gay companions, affected to treat the matter with great indifference, and even to make a jest of it. However, in the morning he thought it best to endeavor to make it up, and accordingly, when the court was assembled, he sent one of his friends with a shilling, saying that he would not trouble them with further inquiries, but would pay the sum that had been issued out of the public stock. On the receipt of this message the Judge rose with much severity in his countenance, and observing that by such contemptuous behavior towards the court the criminal had greatly added to his offence, he ordered two officers with their staves immediately to go and bring in Riot, and to use force if he should resist them.
The culprit, thinking it best to submit, was presently led in between the two officers, when, being placed at the bar, the Judge then addressed him: "I am sorry, sir, that any member of this society can be so little sensible of the nature of a crime and so little acquainted with the principles of a court of justice as you have shown yourself to be by the proposal you took the improper liberty of sending us. If you mean it as a confession of your guilt, you certainly ought to have waited to receive from us the penalty we thought proper to inflict, and not to have imagined that an offer of the mere payment of damages would satisfy the claims of justice against you. If you had only broken the window by accident, and on your own accord offered restitution, nothing less than the full damages could have been accepted; but you now stand charged with having done this mischief meanly, secretly, and maliciously, and thereby have added a great deal of criminal intention to the act. Can you, then, think that a court like this, designed to watch over the morals, as well as protect the property of our community, can so slightly pass over such aggravated offences? You can claim no merit from confessing the crime now that you know so much evidence will appear against you. And if you choose still to plead not guilty, you are at liberty to do it, and we will proceed immediately to the trial without taking any advantage of the confession implied by your offer of payment."
Riot stood silent for some time, and then begged to be allowed to consult with his friends what was the best for him to do. This was agreed to, and he was permitted to retire, though under guard of an officer. After a short absence he returned with more humility in his looks, and said that he pleaded guilty, and threw himself on the mercy of the court. The Judge then made a speech of some length, for the purpose of convincing the prisoner, as well as the bystanders, of the enormity of his crime. He then pronounced the following sentence:
"You, Peter Riot, are hereby sentenced to pay to the public treasury the sum of half a crown as a satisfaction for this mischief you have done, and your attempt to conceal it.
"You are to repair to the house of Widow Careful, accompanied by such witnesses as we shall appoint, and then, having first paid her the sum you owe her, you shall ask her pardon for the insult you offered her. You shall likewise to-morrow after school stand up in your place and before all the scholars ask pardon for the disgrace you have been the means of bringing upon the society, and in particular you shall apologize to Master Luckless for the disagreeable circumstances you were the means of bringing him into. Till after this is complied with you shall not presume to come into the playground or join in any of the diversions of the school, and all persons are hereby admonished not to keep you company till this is done."
Riot was then dismissed to his room, and in the afternoon he was taken to the widow, who was pleased to receive his submission graciously, and at the same time to apologize for her own improper treatment of Master Luckless, to whom she sent a present of a nice ball by way of amends.
Thus ended this important business.
A PLOT OF GUNPOWDER: AN OLD LADY SEIZED FOR A GUY
Ascribed to WILLIAM MARTIN ("PETER PARLEY")
Gunpowder! Yes, it is a dreadful thing, and many a little boy has lost his eyesight by it. Next to playing with fire, I do not know anything so bad as playing with gunpowder.
Every one knows of the fifth of November, the day set apart for commemorating the deliverance of King James and his Parliament from the horrible plot to blow them up with gunpowder, and how on that day Guido Fawkes, who was to have put the plan in execution, has his effigy paraded about.
Well, it was on the fifth of November, in the year 1789, when Peter Parley was a boy, that the circumstances took place of which I am going to give a relation. The boys of those days, I think, were more fond of Guy Fawkes, and bonfires, and squibs, and crackers than they are now.
I remember it was the first of November, early in the morning, that a lad, who was on a visit to my father, and who was my second cousin, got out of bed and said to me (for we both slept in one room):
"Peter," said he, "do you have a guy in this town? I had a famous one last year, and such a bonfire as you never saw, for we burnt down a haystack. I should like to have a guy this year; do let us make one."
I was only about twelve years old, and very fond of a bit of fun, and so I said:
"That is a good idea. I was thinking of the same thing last night, because the clerk gave out in the church that there would be prayers on the fifth of November, on account of the Gunpowder Plot; and, as I came out of the church porch I saw a very old woman sitting there. She looked just like an old witch, and I said to myself, 'I should like to seize her for a guy.'"
"Seize an old woman for a guy! Well, that would be the drollest thing that ever happened," said he; "and I should like to go you halves. Shall we go partners in it? We can easily get a chair and tie her down in it, and get a dark lantern and some matches and all that."
"But she must be dressed like a man," said I; "there never was a female Guy Fawkes. The people would laugh at us."
"So much the better," said he; "that is just what we want. I like something original, out of the common way. Now, a female Guy Fawkes is a thing that few persons ever saw, or even heard of."
"But shall we not be taken up," said I, "perhaps put in prison, and get ourselves into a hobble?"
"Well, what if we do? But we shall not do that. I am sure it is all right enough. But, however, to be quite certain, if you like we will ask Ephraim Quidd. You know, his father is a lawyer, and he will tell us in a minute. So when we go to school we will ask him, shall we?"
"With all my heart," said I. And so with that we began to dress ourselves, and went downstairs to breakfast. I was so full of the matter that I sat and thought of it all the time I was eating my food; and at last my imagination painted the old woman sitting in a chair, calling out, "I am no guy! I am no guy!" the mob laughing, and the boys hurrahing so vividly that I burst into a fit of laughter myself.
"Why, Peter," said my father, "'what is the matter now?"
Instead of telling him I continued to laugh, till at last he grew very angry with me, and ordered me from the breakfast-table. I then took my hat and bag, and went off to school. Simon Sapskull—for that was my cousin's name—soon followed me.
When he came up with me he said:
"I thought what you were laughing at. It will be good fun. Let us make haste and see Quidd before he goes in. It will be good fun, won't it?"
And here Master Simon jumped and capered about with delight.
When we came to the schoolyard there were several boys assembled and Quidd among them. Simon immediately ran up to him.
"Quidd," said he, "I want to ask you a question. You know the law, do you not? Your father is the town clerk, and you ought."
"I do know the law," said Quidd. "Have I not been bred to it? And is not my father to be made Recorder next year?"
"Well, then, answer me this," said Simon. "Is there any law against seizing an old woman for a guy?"
The next morning Sapskull and myself, with Thomas Hardy and half a dozen other boys, met with a view to talk about the intended exploit. We withdrew to the backyard of the schoolroom, and there, in a corner where we thought we could not be overheard, we began to plot against the liberty of Dame Clackett.
Hardy was one of the rarest boys for making fireworks I ever knew in my life. He had bought a book called "Every Boy his own Squib-Maker," in which were directions for making squibs, crackers, rockets, Roman candles, serpents, slow fire, blue lights, and other descriptions of fireworks. This he nearly knew by heart. Sapskull said:
"Look in your book and see if there is not in it how to make a guy."
So Hardy looked all over the book, but to no purpose; there was no description of a guy manufactory. It was of no consequence; we had a guy in our head, and we only now wished to know how we should get hold of the old lady, and what we should do on this joyful occasion.
Hardy said he had several pounds of gunpowder, and would sell us all squibs and crackers. But these we did not so much want. What we wanted was an old chair, an old jacket, hat, and other matters to dress up the old lady when we could catch her. But how to get her into the chair was the difficulty, and some proposed one thing and some another. Sapskull said, "We must make her merry with some beer." Hardy said, "We must tie her down." But I proposed to ask her to sit for her picture as a guy, and then to carry her off. Master Quidd was, however, more cunning than any of us, and said, "I know how to nab her; I have a plan, and a capital one it is, too."
"What is it? what is it?" said all of us.
The fact was old Dame Clackett was a very staunch churchwoman, and used always to go both on Wednesdays and Fridays, Rain or sunshine, hot or cold, nothing could keep her away from her church, and we silly boys laughed at her for it. Poor old creature! she felt more real pleasure in this than we could imagine.
"I will tell you what we will do," said Quidd. "There is in our outhouse an old wheeled chair which my mother used to ride about in when she was so long ill, a year or two ago. Now, I know old Dame Clackett is very lame just now, from having let fall her fender on her foot. I will take this chair down, and offer to draw her to church in it, and then, when we have once got her in the chair, we can do as we like with her. Hurrah!"
"Won't that be fun?" continued Quidd. "Let us do it—let us do it. There is no law against it; the thing was never thought of. It is just like the law that was never made among the Romans that I read about in my lessons yesterday: there was no law against a child killing his own father. I tell you," said he, "if there were twenty old women to be seized and burnt, nobody could be hurt for it. But you do not mean to burn her, I suppose, do you?"
"Oh no," said we; "we only want to have some fun. We should like to make a guy of her, that is all, and rare fun it will be."
"Let me join you," said one; "Let me join," said another, till at last the whole school entered into the plot.
We all forgot what we should have remembered—namely, that, instead of despising or ridiculing people who are old and helpless and poor, we ought to treat them with kindness, respect, and consideration. We forgot that we, if suffered to live long enough, should also become old, and that it would be hard for us to bear the coldness and neglect of the world, but much harder to endure the ridicule and ill-behavior of wicked children. Ay, we were thoughtless lads, and so we suffered for it, as you will afterwards hear.
* * * * *
The old lady whom I had seen sitting in the church porch, who was so ugly, as I thought, and so withered and old, was a very poor widow. Her husband had died in battle long ago, and she had from year to year supported herself by her spinning wheel and the little relief she had from the parish. She lived in a little hut on a piece of waste ground, and kept a little poultry, and now and then a pig or two.
Among other animals, the old lady kept an enormous goat, or, rather, he kept himself. It was one her husband had brought her from abroad, of the Syrian breed. It was quite young when it came over, but at last grew and grew so, as to become a very formidable animal, so strong and fierce, that every dog was afraid of it, being, no doubt, terrified by the sight of its large horns and undaunted aspect. The name of this dread animal was Hannibal.
Poor old Goody Clackett—for that was her name—had little thoughts of ever being "smugged," as it was termed, by our schoolfellows to make a guy on the fifth of November, and sat quietly enough spinning her wheel and drawing out her yarn. Sometimes the thrum of the old wheel would send her soundly to sleep, and then she never dreamed of such a thing as was to happen to her.
Every boy was delighted with this proposition, and it was arranged that on the following evening I and my cousin Simon should assist in the endeavor to get the chair from the outhouse to a convenient place, while Hardy was to provide lantern, matches, cap, and feathers, with red and black paint to disfigure the features of the poor old creature.
"We will make her amends," said Quidd, "all the money we get shall be hers."
"Oh yes; that is quite fair," said I.
When the evening came and it was quite dark, Simon and I went to the back part of Quidd's father's house. After waiting some little time we heard a knock. Presently Quidd opened the gates and came out.
"There, get it," said he. "Look about to see if anybody is coming, and you can take it away."
We did so. The coast was clear, and out rolled the chair.
Simon and I took hold of it, one behind and one before at the handle-stick. Away we went, as had been preconcerted between us in the stable-yard of another schoolfellow of ours in the plot, who placed it near the gate and covered it over with loose straw, so that no one could see it.
The next evening, which was the fourth of November, we met again by appointment at the dark hollow of the churchyard. This meeting was for the purpose of determining about the way in which Dame Clackett should be dressed in her triumphal entry to the Town Hall, the place where the bonfires were usually made. Hardy had brought what was of essential service—namely, an old coat which had formerly belonged to his father when in the yeomanry cavalry, an old helmet, a cartridge-box, and a pair of boots.
"We shall never get the boots on," said I.
Another boy brought an old lantern with the horn burnt out, a third a bunch of matches; then there was a mask and a lath-sword and a drum, with sticks and straw in abundance. They were all deposited in the same place with the chair. The conspirators (for conspirators we were) then made a promise to each other not to split, as they call it—that is, not to betray each other, and to go through with our work like Britons; so we all shook hands and parted.
The next morning was a holiday, and we were up betimes. After a consultation it was determined that I and Quidd should go to the old dame and see how she was, and if she was determined to go to church, and if there would be any difficulty to get her to accept of the convenience of our vehicle; so off we set. In less than half-an-hour we reached the old dame's cottage, and found her at that very moment dressing her foot.
Quidd was the first who spoke.
"Good morning, Goody," said he. "What, is not your foot well yet? Why, I hear you have not been to church lately. The curate was at father's last night, and said if you were so lame that you could not walk, you might have our easy four-wheeled chair. But I suppose you won't go to church to-day—it is only the fifth of November?"
"Not go to church!" said the old woman—"not go to church! I have always gone on the fifth of November for forty years. My poor husband was in a French prison, and he knew well enough what the Jacobites are. Was he not blown up, poor fellow, in the 'Glorious?' and were not King James and all his people to have been blown up so high by the horrid Papist plot that I suppose they would not have been down by this time? No Popery, I say! I would sooner crawl to church on my hands and knees than not go to-day, young gentlemen. And then Mr. Hassock, the kind, good curate, to ask for me!"
"Yes, and then there is the 'coal money' given on the fifth, that all the widows in the parish may have a good fire through the winter, you know, Goody."
"Yes, I must go to church," said Mrs. Clackett.
"That you must," said Quidd, "and I will tell you what these young gentlemen and I will do. We will bring down the chair, and take you there ourselves. I am sure it would please Mr. Hassock. Would it not, Parley?"
"Yes, and the rector also," said I. "And I have no doubt but the churchwardens would like to see Goody at church, for the tickets for flannel petticoats are to be given away to-day."
"What is that?" said Mrs. Clackett. "Oh, yes, I could not keep away from my church! Good young gentlemen, I shall never forget your kindness."
We stopped to hear no more. We were overjoyed with the success of our plot. Away we ran to our companions, and, without stopping to explain, cried out:
"The chair! the chair! We shall have a guy, the best in the whole country!"
So away we ran with the chair, and all our other preparations for dressing and tying and securing.
The whole party surrounded the chair, some pushing, some pulling. When, however, we got within a convenient distance of the old lady's hut, Hardy and the others stepped on one side, and placed the helmet, coat, lantern, matches, etc., under a hedge, to be ready when required, while Quidd, Sapskull, and myself went with the chair to the old lady's cottage.
When we got there we found her spruce and prim with her best black silk bonnet, something in shape like a coal-scuttle, her stick in her hand, and her shoes on her feet. We drove up the chair in fine style. There were several cottages close by, and the neighbors came out to see the old lady ride. At last some one who knew Quidd said:
"Why, that is the lawyer's son. Sure enough old Goody has got some money left her."
So then there was a talking and surmising, and before Goody got to church it was reported all over the town that she was made the possessor of several thousand pounds prize-money; that she was to be a lady, and ride in her carriage. Being sent for, as it was supposed, by the lawyer must be for something—a large legacy, no doubt.
The chair wheeled on with Goody in it. The boys looked as if they were up to something, and sure enough they were. When they came to that part of the lane at which the various habiliments had been left, the chair stopped, and out rushed the other conspirators.
"Do not be alarmed, Goody," said Hardy. "We are only going to make a guy of you for an hour or two. No one shall harm you, and you shall have all the money we get."
"I want to go to church—I want to go to church!" said the old lady, and tried to get out of the chair.
Hardy, however, very dexterously threw some cord round the arms, and tied the poor old creature down.
"We won't hurt you, Goody," said he. "We only want you for a guy. You shall have all the money."
"I won't be a guy! I won't be a guy!" said Goody. "I do not want any money. Let me out! let me out!"
She then made a blow with her broomstick, and struck Master Hardy on the nose, from which the blood flowed freely. This, however, only made him the more determined, and in a few minutes the poor old woman's arms were secured as well as her legs.
"Oh, help, neighbors! They are going to burn me!" said the old lady, and then she fell coughing, for she had long suffered from asthma.
While convulsed with this fit, the boys took the opportunity to besmear her face with red and black paint, and to place the helmet on her head, and the coat round her, so that the arms hung on each side with nothing on them. The chair was then crammed with straw, and the lantern and the matches suspended from it. In this state the chair was wheeled rapidly along in the direction of the town.
Other boys soon joined, and surrounded the vehicle, shouting and laughing. The old lady, made several ineffectual attempts to get out of the chair. She called out, "A plot! a plot! a Popery plot! No Popery! Oh! I shall be killed!" and many such exclamations. The populace took this as a part of the character, and laughed most heartily. The greatest number of persons thought the guy to be a boy dressed up, and cried out that he acted his part well. No one suspected it was old Dame Clackett.
Away they went in the midst of the hubbub, up one street and down another, over the market-place and by the church. Just as the clock struck twelve the boys of the Free School came from the latter place, and joined the procession. It was now a national affair, and, as it proceeded from the church doors, it was thought to be the church Guy Fawkes—and so it was.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted a hundred voices; and while Hardy and his companions held on the chair, Quidd and I went about with our hats to collect as much money as we could.
The old lady was vociferous, and struggled to get out. She flung her arms about, and cried out, "Deliver me from the flames! Save me from being burnt!" and everybody thought that the part of guy was acted to perfection.
Quidd and I got a great deal of money—silver, and copper, and even gold. Seven-shilling pieces were in circulation at that time, and the squire and Mr. Hassock passing us, one threw sixpence and the other a seven-shilling piece to us, for which we gave a louder cheer than usual. In short, our hats were very nearly half full of money.
The old woman began to be more pacified as she saw the money coming in, particularly as we put it all into her lap, and told her it should be hers. But the sight of the squire and the curate, and the seven-shilling piece, which latter we put into her mouth, seemed quite to reconcile her to her fate. She became then as gentle as a lamb. She said:
"Do as you like—do as you like, only don't burn me for a guy; and give me a drop of something to drink."
"Oh yes," said Quidd, "here is something for you. Hold up your head."
And half a pint of good strong ale soon found its way down the throat of the dame. After this the chair again moved on, till at last it came to the market-place, opposite the Town Hall, where an enormous bonfire was in preparation, over which stood a gallows.
The old lady, when she saw the gallows, screamed "Murder! fire! brimstone!" and all sorts of horrid cries; but nobody took any heed of it, except to laugh. They thought it was in keeping with her character.
"We will not hurt you, we will not hurt you," said I.
But it was of no use; the old lady refused to be pacified.
Just at this moment Quidd felt a severe blow from behind, which sent him sprawling. I also received a push or a drive, and a loud laugh burst from those around.
When I turned to see what was the cause of the laughter, what should I observe but Hannibal, the goat, who had, it appeared, followed his mistress, and, being excited by her cries, dashed at my schoolfellow in the way described. Several of the spectators now tried to seize the goat, but he being of extraordinary strength, butted and pushed so vigorously that several measured their length upon the earth, to the no small merriment of the clownish persons who had collected together to the burning of the guy.
During all this time Dame Clackett cried out loudly, and in the confusion her chair was upset, and she became liberated from her duress. As soon as she was free, she laid about on all sides of her with her stick, pulled off the helmet and jacket in which she had been nearly smothered, and cried out at the top of her voice:
"I am no guy! I am Dame Clackett! For goodness' sake do not burn me for a witch!"
She, however, kept her apron close in which the money was, and took care not to let the seven-shilling piece fall out of her mouth.
The mob cheered. It would have been well if this had been all, but no: as soon as ever the old lady told her story that she had been seized for a guy, an effort was immediately made to secure the offenders. The constable, who happened to be present, laid hold of me and cousin Simon; several others were seized by the bystanders; and the whole, with the exception of Quidd, were dragged off to what in the country is called the goose-house—that is, the cage. Quidd, lawyer-like, contrived to get out of the scrape, leaving others in it. So we were all put into the cage, and bolted and barred. It was very dark, and as we were terribly frightened, we all began to howl most hideously.
As to Quidd, he went homewards, as if nothing had happened, and soon made his reappearance, prepared for the usual squibbing and cracking, with his pockets full of squibs and crackers. He was so pleased with the success of the scheme in which he had been so forward an actor that he determined to have more fun before he went to bed; so he looked about, and it was not long before he saw a fit object, as he thought.
At the corner of the street leading to the market-place sat poor old Hannah Grimly, as she was called. She had sold roasted chestnuts on the fifth of November for a score of years, and many a pinch of gunpowder had been put under the lid of the saucepan upon which the chestnuts were laid. Quidd determined to have a good explosion, and took the opportunity, while the chestnuts were being put into his hand, to introduce a packet of gunpowder into the kettle. He thought to run away before it should ignite, but there being a small hole in the paper, the moment it touched the fire the whole went off with a loud explosion. Quidd's hand was shattered to pieces, and he fell stunned with the effects of the powder. He was taken home senseless, and put to bed.
The rest of the conspirators, including myself, were kept in the cage all night in bitter tears. The next morning we were taken before the magistrates. The chairman, who happened to be the very squire who had given us the seven-shilling piece, looked very severely at us, and said:
"This is the most horrible plot I ever heard of—seizing an old woman for a guy! Gentlemen," said he to those around him, "if this be permitted none of us are safe."
Some people used to call the magistrates old women, and so this raised a laugh.
He then called to the clerk to look over the Act of Parliament to see what could be the punishment for such an offence, but found none. Quidd was right—there was no law against seizing an old woman for a guy. The bench were puzzled what to do. At last Quidd's father said we should be indicted for stealing his chair, and be put on our trial for robbery and sacrilege—the first for the abduction of the chair, the second for keeping the old lady from church.
Our fathers and mothers, however, pleaded so eloquently that, after a severe admonition, we got off upon payment of the costs and a handsome compensation to Dame Clackett. When I reached home my father took me into the stable and gave me a sound whipping, and at the conclusion of the flagellation said:
"Now, Peter Parley, I think you will not again seize an old woman for a guy!"
And I never did.
UNCLE DAVID'S NONSENSICAL STORY ABOUT GIANTS AND FAIRIES
By KATHERINE SINCLAIR
In the days of yore children were not all such clever, good, sensible people as they are now. Lessons were then considered rather a plague, sugar-plums were still in demand, holidays continued yet in fashion, and toys were not then made to teach mathematics, nor storybooks to give instruction in chemistry and navigation. These were very strange times, and there existed at that period a very idle, greedy, naughty boy, such as we never hear of in the present day. His father and mother were—no matter who, and he lived—no matter where. His name was Master No-book, and he seemed to think his eyes were made for nothing but to stare out of the windows, and his mouth for no other purpose but to eat. This young gentleman hated lessons like mustard, both of which brought tears into his eyes, and during school hours he sat gazing at his books, pretending to be busy, while his mind wandered away to wish impatiently for dinner, and to consider where he could get the nicest pies, pastry, ices, and jellies, while he smacked his lips at the very thoughts of them.
Whenever Master No-book spoke it was always to ask for something, and you might continually hear him say in a whining tone of voice: "Father, may I take this piece of cake?" "Aunt Sarah, will you give me an apple?" "Mother, do send me the whole of that plum-pudding." Indeed, very frequently, when he did not get permission to gormandize, this naughty glutton helped himself without leave. Even his dreams were like his waking hours, for he had often a horrible nightmare about lessons, thinking he was smothered with Greek lexicons or pelted out of the school with a shower of English grammars, while one night he fancied himself sitting down to devour an enormous plum-cake, and all on a sudden it became transformed into a Latin dictionary.
One afternoon Master No-book, having played truant all day from school, was lolling on his mother's best sofa in the drawing-room, with his leather boots tucked up on the satin cushions, and nothing to do but to suck a few oranges, and nothing to think of but how much sugar to put upon them, when suddenly an event took place which filled him with astonishment.
A sound of soft music stole into the room, becoming louder and louder the longer he listened, till at length, in a few moments afterwards, a large hole burst open in the wall of his room, and there stepped into his presence two magnificent fairies, just arrived from their castles in the air, to pay him a visit. They had traveled all the way on purpose to have some conversation with Master No-book, and immediately introduced themselves in a very ceremonious manner.
The fairy Do-nothing was gorgeously dressed with a wreath of flaming gas round her head, a robe of gold tissue, a necklace of rubies, and a bouquet in her hand of glittering diamonds. Her cheeks were rouged to the very eyes, her teeth were set in gold, and her hair was of a most brilliant purple; in short, so fine and fashionable-looking a fairy never was seen in a drawing-room before. The fairy Teach-all, who followed next, was simply dressed in white muslin, with bunches of natural flowers in her light-brown hair, and she carried in her hand a few neat small volumes, which Master No-book looked at with a shudder of aversion.
The two fairies now informed him that they very often invited large parties of children to spend some time at their palaces, but as they lived in quite an opposite direction, it was necessary for their young guests to choose which it would be best to visit first; therefore they had now come to inquire of Master No-book whom he thought it would be most agreeable to accompany on the present occasion.
"In my house," said the fairy Teach-all, speaking with a very sweet smile and a soft, pleasing voice, "you shall be taught to find pleasure in every sort of exertion, for I delight in activity and diligence. My young friends rise at seven every morning, and amuse themselves with working in a beautiful garden of flowers, rearing whatever fruit they wish to eat, visiting among the poor, associating pleasantly together, studying the arts and sciences, and learning to know the world in which they live, and to fulfil the purposes for which they have been brought into it. In short, all our amusements tend to some useful object, either for our own improvement or the good of others, and you will grow wiser, better, and happier every day you remain in the palace of Knowledge."
"But in Castle Needless, where I live," interrupted the fairy Do-nothing, rudely pushing her companion aside with an angry, contemptuous look, "we never think of exerting ourselves for anything. You may put your head in your pocket and your hands in your sides as long as you choose to stay. No one is ever asked a question, that he may be spared the trouble of answering. We lead the most fashionable life imaginable, for nobody speaks to anybody. Each of my visitors is quite an exclusive, and sits with his back to as many of the company as possible, in the most comfortable arm-chair that can be contrived. There, if you are only so good as to take the trouble of wishing for anything, it is yours without even turning an eye round to look where it comes from. Dresses are provided of the most magnificent kind, which go on themselves, without your having the smallest annoyance with either buttons or strings; games which you can play without an effort of thought; and dishes dressed by a French cook, smoking hot under your nose, from morning till night; while any rain we have is either made of lemonade or lavender-water, and in winter it generally snows iced punch for an hour during the forenoon."
Nobody need be told which fairy Master No-book preferred, and quite charmed at his own good fortune in receiving so agreeable an invitation, he eagerly gave his hand to the splendid new acquaintance who promised him so much pleasure and ease, and gladly proceeded in a carriage lined with velvet, stuffed with downy pillows, and drawn by milk-white swans, to that magnificent residence, Castle Needless, which was lighted by a thousand windows during the day, and by a million of lamps every night.
Here Master No-book enjoyed a constant holiday and a constant feast, while a beautiful lady covered with jewels was ready to tell him stories from morning till night, and servants waited to pick up his playthings if they fell, or to draw out his purse or his pocket-handkerchief when he wished to use them.
Thus Master No-book lay dozing for hours and days on rich embroidered cushions, never stirring from his place, but admiring the view of trees covered with the richest burnt almonds, grottoes of sugar-candy, a jet d'eau of champagne, a wide sea which tasted of sugar instead of salt, and a bright, clear pond, filled with gold fish that let themselves be caught whenever he pleased. Nothing could be more complete, and yet, very strange to say, Master No-book did not seem particularly happy. This appears exceedingly unreasonable, when so much trouble was taken to please him; but the truth is that every day he became more fretful and peevish. No sweetmeats were worth the trouble of eating, nothing was pleasant to play at, and in the end he wished it were possible to sleep all day, as well as all night.
Not a hundred miles from the fairy Do-nothing's palace there lived a most cruel monster called the giant Snap-'em-up, who looked, when he stood up, like the tall steeple of a great church, raising his head so high that he could peep over the loftiest mountains, and was obliged to climb up a ladder to comb his own hair.
Every morning regularly this prodigiously great giant walked round the world before breakfast for an appetite, after which he made tea in a large lake, used the sea as a slop-basin, and boiled his kettle on Mount Vesuvius. He lived in great style, and his dinners were most magnificent, consisting very often of an elephant roasted whole, ostrich patties, a tiger smothered in onions, stewed lions, and whale soup; but for a side-dish his greatest favorite consisted of little boys, as fat as possible, fried in crumbs of bread, with plenty of pepper and salt.
No children were so well fed or in such good condition for eating as those in the fairy Do-nothing's garden, who was a very particular friend of the giant Snap-'em-up's, and who sometimes laughingly said she would give him a license, and call her own garden his "preserve," because she always allowed him to help himself, whenever he pleased, to as many of her visitors as he chose, without taking the trouble to even count them; and in return for such extreme civility, the giant very frequently invited her to dinner.
Snap-'em-up's favorite sport was to see how many brace of little boys he could bag in a morning; so, in passing along the streets, he peeped into all the drawing-rooms, without having occasion to get upon tiptoe, and picked up every young gentleman who was idly looking out of the windows, and even a few occasionally who were playing truant from school; but busy children seemed always somehow quite out of his reach.
One day, when Master No-book felt even more lazy, more idle, and more miserable than ever, he lay beside a perfect mountain of toys and cakes, wondering what to wish for next, and hating the very sight of everything and everybody. At last he gave so loud a yawn of weariness and disgust that his jaw very nearly fell out of joint, and then he sighed so deeply that the giant Snap-'em-up heard the sound as he passed along the road after breakfast, and instantly stepped into the garden, with his glass at his eye, to see what was the matter. Immediately, on observing a large, fat, overgrown boy, as round as a dumpling, lying on a bed of roses, he gave a cry of delight, followed by a gigantic peal of laughter, which was heard three miles off, and picking up Master No-book between his finger and thumb, with a pinch that very nearly broke his ribs, he carried him rapidly towards his own castle, while the fairy Do-nothing laughingly shook her head as he passed, saying:
"That little man does me great credit. He has only been fed for a week, and is as fat already as a prize ox. What a dainty morsel he will be! When do you dine to-day, in case I should have time to look in upon you?"
On reaching home the giant immediately hung up Master No-book by the hair of his head, on a prodigious hook in the larder, having first taken some large lumps of nasty suet, forcing them down his throat to make him become still fatter, and then stirring the fire, that he might be almost melted with heat, to make his liver grow larger. On a shelf quite near Master No-book perceived the bodies of six other boys, whom he remembered to have seen fattening in the fairy Do-nothing's garden, while he recollected how some of them had rejoiced at the thoughts of leading a long, useless, idle life, with no one to please but themselves.
The enormous cook now seized hold of Master No-book, brandishing her knife with an aspect of horrible determination, intending to kill him, while he took the trouble of screaming and kicking in the most desperate manner, when the giant turned gravely round, and said that, as pigs were considered a much greater dainty when whipped to death than killed in any other way, he meant to see whether children might not be improved by it also; therefore she might leave that great hog of a boy till he had time to try the experiment, especially as his own appetite would be improved by the exercise. This was a dreadful prospect for the unhappy prisoner, but meantime it prolonged his life a few hours, as he was immediately hung up in the larder and left to himself. There, in torture of mind and body, like a fish upon a hook, the wretched boy began at last to reflect seriously upon his former ways, and to consider what a happy home he might have had, if he could only have been satisfied with business and pleasure succeeding each other, like day and night, while lessons might have come in as a pleasant sauce to his play-hours, and his play-hours as a sauce to his lessons.
In the midst of many reflections, which were all very sensible, though rather too late, Master No-book's attention became attracted by the sound of many voices laughing, talking, and singing, which caused him to turn his eyes in a new direction, when, for the first time, he observed that the fairy Teach-all's garden lay upon a beautiful sloping bank not far off. There a crowd of merry, noisy, rosy-cheeked boys were busily employed, and seemed happier than the day was long, while poor Master No-book watched them during his own miserable hours, envying the enjoyment with which they raked the flower-borders, gathered the fruit, carried baskets of vegetables to the poor, worked with carpenter's tools, drew pictures, shot with bows-and-arrows, played at cricket, and then sat in the sunny arbors learning their tasks, or talking agreeably together, till at length, a dinner-bell having been rung, the whole party sat merrily down with hearty appetites and cheerful good humor, to an entertainment of plain roast meat and pudding, where the fairy Teach-all presided herself, and helped her guests moderately to as much as was good for each.
Large tears rolled down the cheeks of Master No-book while watching this scene, and remembering that if he had known what was best for him, he might have been as happy as the happiest of these excellent boys, instead of suffering ennui and weariness, as he had done at the fairy Do-nothing's, ending in a miserable death. But his attention was soon after most alarmingly roused by hearing the giant Snap-'em-up again in conversation with his cook, who said that, if he wished for a good large dish of scolloped children at dinner, it would be necessary to catch a few more, as those he had already provided would scarcely be a mouthful.