As the giant kept very fashionable hours, and always waited dinner for himself till nine o'clock, there was still plenty of time; so, with a loud grumble about the trouble, he seized a large basket in his hand, and set off at a rapid pace towards the fairy Teach-all's garden. It was very seldom that Snap-'em-up ventured to think of foraging in this direction, as he never once succeeded in carrying off a single captive from the enclosure, it was so well fortified and so bravely defended; but on this occasion, being desperately hungry, he felt as bold as a lion, and walked, with outstretched hands, straight towards the fairy Teach-all's dinner-table, taking such prodigious strides that he seemed almost as if he would trample on himself.
A cry of consternation arose the instant this tremendous giant appeared, and, as usual on such occasions, when he had made the same attempt before, a dreadful battle took place. Fifty active little boys bravely flew upon the enemy, armed with their dinner-knives, and looked like a nest of hornets, stinging him in every direction, till he roared with pain, and would have run away; but the fairy Teach-all, seeing his intention, rushed forward with the carving-knife, and brandishing it high over her head, she most courageously stabbed him to the heart.
If a great mountain had fallen to the earth it would have seemed like nothing in comparison with the giant Snap-em-up, who crushed two or three houses to powder beneath him, and upset several fine monuments that were to have made people remembered for ever. But all this would have seemed scarcely worth mentioning had it not been for a still greater event which occurred on the occasion, no less than the death of the fairy Do-nothing, who had been indolently looking on at this great battle without taking the trouble to interfere, or even to care who was victorious; but being also lazy about running away, when the giant fell, his sword came with so violent a stroke on her head that she instantly expired.
Thus, luckily for the whole world, the fairy Teach-all got possession of immense property, which she proceeded without delay to make the best use of in her power.
In the first place, however, she lost no time in liberating Master No-book from his hook in the larder, and gave him a lecture on activity, moderation, and good conduct, which he never afterwards forgot; and it was astonishing to see the change that took place immediately in his whole thoughts and actions. From this very hour Master No-book became the most diligent, active, happy boy in the fairy Teach-all's garden; and on returning home a month afterwards, he astonished all the masters at school by his extraordinary reformation. The most difficult lessons were a pleasure to him, he scarcely ever stirred without a book in his hand, never lay on a sofa again, would scarcely even sit on a chair with a back to it, but preferred a three-legged stool, detested holidays, never thought any exertion a trouble, preferred climbing over the top of a hill to creeping round the bottom, always ate the plainest food in very small quantities, joined a temperance society, and never tasted a morsel till he had worked very hard and got an appetite.
Not long after this an old uncle, who had formerly been ashamed of Master No-book's indolence and gluttony, became so pleased at the wonderful change that on his death he left him a magnificent estate, desiring that he should take his name; therefore, instead of being any longer one of the No-book family, he is now called Sir Timothy Blue-stocking, a pattern to the whole country around for the good he does to everyone, and especially for his extraordinary activity, appearing as if he could do twenty things at once. Though generally very good-natured and agreeable, Sir Timothy is occasionally observed in a violent passion, laying about him with his walking-stick in the most terrific manner, and beating little boys within an inch of their lives; but on inquiry it invariably appears that he has found them out to be lazy, idle, or greedy; for all the industrious boys in the parish are sent to get employment from him, while he assures them that they are far happier breaking stones on the road than if they were sitting idly in a drawing-room with nothing to do.
THE INQUISITIVE GIRL
Dr. Hammond was a physician in great practice in the West of England. He resided in a small market-town and his family consisted of one son, named Charles, and two daughters, Louisa and Sophy.
Sophy possessed many amiable qualities, and did not want for sense, but every better feeling was lost in her extreme inquisitiveness. Her faculties were all occupied in peeping and prying about, and, provided she could gratify her own curiosity, she never cared how much vexation she caused to others.
This propensity began when she was so very young that it had become a habit before her parents perceived it. She was a very little creature when she was once nearly squeezed to death between two double doors as she was peeping through the keyhole of one of them to see who was in the drawing-room; and another time she was locked up for several hours in a closet in which she had hid herself for the purpose of overhearing what her mother was saying to one of the servants.
When Sophy was eleven and her sister about sixteen years old their mother died. Louisa was placed at the head of her father's house, and the superintendence of Sophy's education necessarily devolved on her. The care of such a family was a great charge for a young person of Miss Hammond's age, and more especially as her father was obliged to be so much from home that she could not always have his counsel and advice even when she most needed it. By this means she fell into an injudicious mode of treating her sister.
If Louisa received a note she carefully locked it up, and never spoke of its contents before Sophy. If a message was brought to her she always went out of the room to receive it, and never suffered the servant to speak in her sister's hearing. When any visitors came Louisa commonly sent Sophy out of the room, or if they were intimate friends she would converse with them in whispers; in short, it was her chief study that everything which passed in the family should be a secret from Sophy. Alas! this procedure, instead of repressing Sophy's curiosity, only made it the more keen; her eyes and ears were always on the alert, and what she could not see, hear, or thoroughly comprehend she made out by guesses.
The worst consequence of Louisa's conduct was that as Sophy had no friend and companion in her sister, who treated her with such constant suspicion and reserve, she necessarily was induced to find a friend and companion among the servants, and she selected the housemaid Sally, a good-natured, well-intentioned girl, but silly and ignorant and inquisitive like herself, and it may be easily supposed how much mischief these two foolish creatures occasioned, not only in the family, but also among their neighbors.
It happened soon after, that for an offence which was the cause of very great vexation to her brother, and was the occasion of his being for a time deprived of the friendship of Sir Henry and Lady Askham, two of Dr. Hammond's nearest and most intimate neighbors, her father ordered Sophy, as a still further punishment, to be locked up in her own room till the Sunday following. This was on Friday, and Sophy had two days of solitude and imprisonment before her. The first day she passed very dismally, but yet not unprofitably, for she felt truly ashamed and sorry for her fault, and made many good resolutions of endeavoring to cure herself of her mischievous propensity. The second day she began to be somewhat more composed, and by degrees she was able to amuse herself with watching the people in the street, which was overlooked by the windows of her apartment, and she began, almost unconsciously to herself, to indulge in her old habit of trying to find out what everybody was doing, and in guessing where they were going.
She had not long been engaged in watching her neighbors before her curiosity was excited by the appearance of a servant on horseback, who rode up to the door, and, after giving a little three-cornered note to Dr. Hammond's footman, rode off. The servant she knew to be Mrs. Arden's, an intimate friend of her father, and the note she conjectured was an invitation to dinner, and the guessing what day the invitation was for, and who were to be the company, and whether she was included in the invitation, was occupying her busy fancy, when she saw her sister going out of the house with the three-cornered note in her hand, and cross the street to Mr. McNeal's stocking shop, which was opposite. Almost immediately afterwards Mr. McNeal's shopman came out of the shop, and, running down the street, was presently out of sight, but soon returned with Mr. McNeal himself. She saw Louisa reading the note to Mr. McNeal, and in a few minutes afterwards return home. Here was a matter of wonder and conjecture. Sophy forgot all her good resolutions, and absolutely wearied herself with her useless curiosity.
At length the term of her imprisonment was over, and Sophy was restored to the society of her family. At first she kept a tolerable guard over herself. Once she saw her father and sister whispering, and did not, though she longed much to do it, hold her breath that she might hear what they were saying. Another time she passed Charles's door when it was ajar and the little study open, and she had so much self-command that she passed by without peeping in, and she began to think she was cured of her faults. But in reality this was far from being the case, and whenever she recollected Mrs. Arden's mysterious note she felt her inquisitive propensities as strong as ever. Her eyes and ears were always on the alert, in hopes of obtaining some clue to the knowledge she coveted, and if Mrs, Arden's or Mr. McNeal's names were mentioned she listened with trembling anxiety in the hope of hearing some allusion to the note.
At last, when she had almost given up the matter in despair, an unlooked-for chance put her in possession of a fragment of this very note to which she attached so much importance.
One day Louisa wanted to wind a skein of silk, and in looking for a piece of paper to wind it upon she opened her writing-box, and took out Mrs. Arden's note. Sophy knew it again in an instant from its three-cornered shape. She saw her sister tear the note in two, throw one-half under the grate, and fold the other part up to wind her silk upon. Sophy kept her eye upon the paper that lay under the grate in the greatest anxiety, lest a coal should drop upon it and destroy it, when it seemed almost within her grasp. Louisa was called out of the room, and Sophy, overpowered by the greatness of the temptation, forgot all the good resolutions she had so lately made, and at the risk of setting fire to her sleeve, snatched the paper from among the ashes, and concealed it in her pocket. She then flew to her own room to examine it at her ease. The note had been torn the lengthway of the paper, and that part of it of which Sophy had possessed herself contained the first half of each line of the note. Bolting her door for fear of interruption, she read, with trembling impatience, as follows:
Will you be kind enough to go to Mr. McNeal, and tell him he has made a great mistake the last stockings he sent; charging them as silk) he has cheated of several pounds.—I am sorry to say that he has behaved very ill And Mr. Arden tells me that it must end in his being hanged I am exceedingly grieved but fear this will be the end
When Sophy had read these broken sentences she fancied that she fully comprehended the purport of the whole note, and she now saw the reason of her sister's hastening to Mr. McNeal's immediately on the receipt of the note, and of the hurry in which he had been summoned back to his shop. It appeared very clear to her that he had defrauded Mrs. Arden of a considerable sum of money, and that he was no longer that honest tradesman he had been supposed. The weight of this important discovery quite overburdened her, and, forgetful of her past punishment, and regardless of future consequences, she imparted the surprising secret to Sally. Sally was not one who could keep such a piece of news to herself; it was therefore soon circulated through half the town that Mr. McNeal had defrauded Mrs. Arden, and that Mr. Arden declared he would have him hanged for it. Several persons in consequence avoided Mr. McNeal's shop, who saw his customers forsaking him without being able to know why they did so. Thus the conduct of this inconsiderate girl took away the good name of an honest tradesman, on no better foundation than her own idle conjectures, drawn from the torn fragments of a letter.
Mr. McNeal at length became informed of the injurious report that was circulated about him. He immediately went to Mrs. Arden to tell her of the report, and to ask her if any inadvertency of his own in regard to her dealings at his shop occasioned her speaking so disadvantageously of him. Mrs. Arden was much astonished at what he told her, as she might well be, and assured him that she had never either spoken of him or thought of him but as thoroughly an honorable and honest tradesman. Mrs. Arden was exceedingly hurt that her name should be attached to such a cruel calumny, and, on consulting with Sir Henry Askham, it was agreed that he and Mrs. Arden should make it their business to trace it back to its authors. They found no real difficulty in tracing it back to Sally, Dr. Hammond's servant. She was accordingly sent for to Mr. McNeal's, where Sir Henry Askham and Mr. Arden, with some other gentlemen, were assembled on this charitable investigation. Sally, on being questioned who had told her of the report, replied, without hesitation, that she had been told by Miss Sophy, who had seen all the particulars in Mrs. Arden's handwriting.
Mr. Arden was greatly astonished at hearing this assertion, and felt confident that the whole must have originated from some strange blunder. He and the other gentlemen immediately proceeded to Dr. Hammond's, and having explained their business to him, desired to see Sophy. She, on being asked, confirmed what Sally had said, adding that to satisfy them she could show them Mrs. Arden's own words, and she accordingly produced the fragment of the note. Miss Hammond, the instant she saw the paper recollected it again, and winding off the silk from the other half of Mrs. Arden's note, presented it to Mr. Arden, who, laying the two pieces of paper together read as follows:
"MY DEAR MISS HAMMOND,—Will you as soon as you receive this be kind enough to go to your opposite neighbor, Mr. McNeal, and tell him I find by looking at his bill he has made a great mistake as to the price of the last stockings he sent; and it seems to me (by not charging them as silk) he has cheated himself, as he'll see, of several pounds.—I am sorry to say of our new dog, that he has behaved very ill and worried two sheep, and Mr. Arden tells me he very much fears it must end in his being hanged or he'll kill all the flock. I am exceedingly grieved, for he is a noble animal, but fear this will be the end of my poor dog.
"I am, dear Louisa, yours truly
Thus by the fortunate preservation of the last half of the note the whole affair was cleared up, Mrs. Arden's character vindicated from the charge of being a defamer, and Mr. McNeal from all suspicion of dishonesty. And all their friends were pleased and satisfied. But how did Sophy feel? She did feel at last both remorse and humiliation. She had no one to blame but herself; she had no one to take her part, for even her father and her brother considered it due to public justice that she should make a public acknowledgment of her fault to Mr. McNeal, and to ask his pardon.
By JANE TAYLOR
Mrs. Dawson being obliged to leave home for six weeks, her daughters, Charlotte and Caroline, received permission to employ the time of her absence as they pleased; that is, she did not require of them the usual strict attention to particular hours and particular studies, but allowed them to choose their own employments—only recommending them to make a good use of the license, and apprising them, that, on her return, she should require an exact account of the manner in which the interval had been employed.
The carriage that conveyed their mother away was scarcely out of hearing, when Charlotte, delighted with her freedom, hastened upstairs to the schoolroom, where she looked around on books, globes, maps, drawings, to select some new employment for the morning. Long before she had decided upon any, her sister had quietly seated herself at her accustomed station, thinking that she could do nothing better than finish the French exercise she had begun the day before. Charlotte, however, declined attending to French that day, and after much indecision, and saying "I have a great mind to" three several times without finishing the sentence, she at last took down a volume of Cowper, and read in different parts for about half an hour. Then throwing it aside, she said she had a great mind to put the bookshelves in order—a business which she commenced with great spirit. But in the course of her laudable undertaking, she met with a manuscript in shorthand; whereupon she exclaimed to her sister, "Caroline, don't you remember that old Mr. Henderson once promised he would teach us shorthand? How much I should like to learn! Only, mamma thought we had not time. But now, this would be such a good opportunity. I am sure I could learn it well in six weeks; and how convenient it would be! One could take down sermons, or anything; and I could make Rachel learn, and then how very pleasant it would be to write to each other in shorthand! Indeed, it would be convenient in a hundred ways." So saying, she ran upstairs, without any further delay, and putting on her hat and spencer, set off to old Mr. Henderson's.
Mr. Henderson happened to be at dinner. Nevertheless, Charlotte obtained admittance on the plea of urgent business; but she entered his apartment so much out of breath, and in such apparent agitation, that the old gentleman, rising hastily from table, and looking anxiously at her over his spectacles, inquired in a tremulous tone what was the matter. When, therefore, Charlotte explained her business, he appeared a little disconcerted; but having gently reproved her for her undue eagerness, he composedly resumed his knife and fork, though his hand shook much more than usual during the remainder of his meal. However, being very good-natured, as soon as he had dined he cheerfully gave Charlotte her first lesson in shorthand, promising to repeat it regularly every morning.
Charlotte returned home in high glee. She at this juncture considered shorthand as one of the most useful, and decidedly the most interesting of acquirements; and she continued to exercise herself in it all the rest of the day. She was exceedingly pleased at being able already to write two or three words which neither her sister nor even her father could decipher. For three successive mornings Charlotte punctually kept her appointment with Mr. Henderson; but on the fourth she sent a shabby excuse to her kind master; and, if the truth must be told, he from that time saw no more of his scholar. Now the cause of this desertion was twofold: first, and principally, her zeal for shorthand, which for the last eight-and-forty hours had been sensibly declining in its temperature, was, on the above morning, within half a degree of freezing point; and, second, a new and far more arduous and important undertaking had by this time suggested itself to her mind. Like many young persons of desultory inclinations, Charlotte often amused herself with writing verses; and it now occurred to her that an abridged history of England in verse was still a desideratum in literature. She commenced this task with her usual diligence; but was somewhat discouraged in the outset by the difficulty of finding a rhyme to Saxon, whom she indulged the unpatriotic wish that the Danes had laid a tax on. But, though she got over this obstacle by a new construction of the line, she found these difficulties occur so continually that she soon felt a more thorough disgust at this employment than at the preceding one. So the epic stopped short, some hundred years before the Norman conquest. Difficulty, which quickens the ardor of industry, always damps, and generally extinguishes, the false zeal of caprice and versatility.
Charlotte's next undertaking was, to be sure, a rapid descent from the last in the scale of dignity. She now thought, that, by working very hard during the remainder of the time, she should be able to accomplish a patch-work counterpane, large enough for her own little tent bed; and the ease of this employment formed a most agreeable contrast in her mind with the extreme difficulty of the last. Accordingly, as if commissioned with a search warrant, she ransacked all her mother's drawers, bags, and bundles in quest of new pieces; and these spoils proving very insufficient, she set off to tax all her friends, and to tease all the linen drapers in the town for their odds and ends, urging that she wanted some particularly. As she was posting along the street on this business, she espied at a distance a person whom she had no wish to encounter, namely, old Mr. Henderson. To avoid the meeting she crossed over. But this maneuver did not succeed; for no sooner had they come opposite to each other, than, to her great confusion, he called out across the street, in his loud and tremulous voice, and shaking his stick at her, "How d'ye do, Miss Shorthand? I thought how it would be! Oh, fie! Oh, fie!"
Charlotte hurried on; and her thoughts soon returned to the idea of the splendid radiating star which she designed for the centerpiece of her counterpane. While she was arranging the different patterns, and forming the alternations of light and shade, her interest continued nearly unabated; but when she came to the practical part of sewing piece to piece with unvarying sameness, it began, as usual, to flag. She sighed several times, and cast many disconsolate looks at the endless hexagons and octagons, before she indulged any distinct idea of relinquishing her task. At length, however, it did forcibly occur to her that, after all, she was not obliged to go on with it; and that, really, patchwork was a thing that was better done by degrees, when one happens to want a job, than to be finished all at once. So, with this thought (which would have been a very good one if it had occurred in proper time), she suddenly drew out her needle, thrust all her pieces, arranged and unarranged, into a drawer, and began to meditate a new project.
Fortunately, just at this juncture some young ladies of their acquaintance called upon Charlotte and Caroline. They were attempting to establish a society among their young friends for working for the poor, and came to request their assistance. Caroline very cheerfully entered into the design; but as for Charlotte, nothing could exceed the forwardness of her zeal. She took it up so warmly that Caroline's appeared, in comparison, only lukewarm. It was proposed that each member of the society should have an equal proportion of the work to do at her own house; but when the articles came to be distributed, Charlotte, in the heat of her benevolence, desired that a double portion might be allotted to her. Some of the younger ones admired her industrious intentions, but the better judging advised her not to undertake too much at once. However, she would not be satisfied till her request was complied with. When the parcels of work arrived, Charlotte with exultation seized the larger one, and without a minute's delay commenced her charitable labors. The following morning she rose at four o'clock, to resume the employment; and not a little self-complacency did she feel, when, after nearly two hours' hard work, she still heard Caroline breathing in a sound sleep. But, alas! Charlotte soon found that work is work, of whatever nature, or for whatever purpose. She now inwardly regretted that she had asked for more than her share; and the cowardly thought that after all she was not obliged to do it next occurred to her. For the present, therefore, she squeezed all the things, done and undone, into what she called her "Dorcas bag;" and to banish unpleasant thoughts, she opened the first book that happened to lie within reach. It proved to be "An Introduction to Botany." Of this she had not read more than a page and a half before she determined to collect some specimens herself; and having found a blank copy-book she hastened into the garden, where, gathering a few common flowers, she proceeded to dissect them, not, it is to be feared, with much scientific nicety. Perhaps as many as three pages of this copy-book were bespread with her specimens before she discovered that botany was a dry study.
It would be too tedious to enumerate all the subsequent ephemeral undertakings which filled up the remainder of the six weeks. At the expiration of that time Mrs. Dawson returned. On the next morning after her arrival she reminded her daughters of the account she expected of their employments during her absence, and desired them to set out on two tables in the schoolroom everything they had done that could be exhibited, together with the books they had been reading. Charlotte would gladly have been excused her part of the exhibition; but this was not permitted; and she reluctantly followed her sister to make the preparation.
When the two tables were spread, their mother was summoned to attend. Caroline's, which was first examined, contained, first, her various exercises in the different branches of study, regularly executed the same as usual. And there were papers placed in the books she was reading in school hours, to show how far she had proceeded in them. Besides these, she had read in her leisure time, in French, Florian's "Numa Pompilius," and in English, Mrs. More's "Practical Piety," and some part of Johnson's "Lives of the Poets." All the needlework which had been left to do or not, at her option, was neatly finished; and her parcel of linen for the poor was also completely and well done. The only instance in which Caroline had availed herself of her mother's license, was that she had prolonged her drawing lessons a little every day, in order to present her mother with a pretty pair of screens, with flowers copied from nature. These were, last of all, placed on the table with an affectionate note, requesting her acceptance of them.
Mrs. Dawson, having carefully examined this table, proceeded to the other, which was quite piled up with different articles. Here, amid the heap, were Charlotte's three pages of shorthand; several scraps of paper containing fragments of her poetical history; the piece (not large enough for a doll's cradle) of her patchwork counterpane; her botanical specimens; together with the large unfinished pile out of the Dorcas bag, many of the articles of which were begun, but not one quite finished. There was a baby's cap with no border, a frock body without sleeves, and the skirt only half hemmed at the bottom; and slides, tapes, and buttonholes were all, without exception, omitted. After these, followed a great variety of thirds, halves, and quarters of undertakings, each perhaps good in itself, but quite useless in its unfinished state.
The examination being at length ended, Mrs. Dawson retired, without a single comment, to her dressing-room; where, in about an hour afterwards, she summoned the girls to attend her. Here also were two tables laid out, with several articles on each. Their mother then leading Caroline to the first, told her that, as the reward of her industry and perseverance, the contents of the table were her own. Here, with joyful surprise, she beheld, first, a little gold watch, which Mrs. Dawson said she thought a suitable present for one who had made a good use of her time; a small telescope next appeared; and lastly, Paley's "Natural Theology," neatly bound. Charlotte was then desired to take possession of the contents of the other table, which were considerably more numerous. The first prize she drew out was a very beautiful French fan; but upon opening it, it stretched out in an oblong shape, for want of the pin to confine the sticks at bottom. Then followed a new parasol; but when unfurled there was no catch to confine it, so that it would not remain spread. A penknife handle without a blade, and the blade without the handle, next presented themselves to her astonished gaze. In great confusion she then unrolled a paper which discovered a telescope apparently like her sister's; but on applying it to her eye, she found it did not contain a single lens—so that it was no better than a roll of pasteboard. She was, however, greatly encouraged to discover that the last remaining article was a watch; for, as she heard it tick, she felt no doubt that this at least was complete; but upon examination she discovered that there was no hour hand, the minute hand alone pursuing its lonely and useless track.
Charlotte, whose conscience had very soon explained to her the moral of all this, now turned from the tantalizing table in confusion, and burst into an agony of tears. Caroline wept also; and Mrs. Dawson, after an interval of silence, thus addressed her daughters:
"It is quite needless for me to explain my reasons for making you such presents, Charlotte. I assure you your papa and I have had a very painful employment the past hour in spoiling them all for you. If I had found on your table in the schoolroom any one thing that had been properly finished, you would have received one complete present to answer it; but this you know was not the case. I should be very glad if this disappointment should teach you what I have hitherto vainly endeavored to impress upon you—that as all those things, pretty or useful as they are in themselves, are rendered totally useless for want of completeness, so exertion without perseverance is no better than busy idleness. That employment does not deserve the name of industry which requires the stimulus of novelty to keep it going. Those who will only work so long as they are amused will do no more good in the world, either to themselves or others, than those who refuse to work at all. If I had required you to pass the six weeks of my absence in bed or in counting your fingers, you would, I suppose, have thought it a sad waste of time; and yet I appeal to you whether (with the exception of an hour or two of needlework) the whole mass of articles on your table could produce anything more useful. And thus, my dears, may life be squandered away, in a succession of busy nothings.
"I have now a proposal to make to you. These presents, which you are to take possession of as they are, I advise you to lay by carefully. Whenever you can show me anything that you have begun, and voluntarily finished, you may at the same time bring with you one of these things, beginning with those of least value, to which I will immediately add the part that is deficient. Thus, by degrees, you may have them all completed; and if by this means you should acquire the wise and virtuous habit of perseverance, it will be far more valuable to you than the richest present you could possibly receive."
THE RENOWNED HISTORY OF LITTLE GOODY TWO-SHOES
Ascribed to OLIVER GOLDSMITH
All the world must allow that Two-Shoes was not her real name. No; her father's name was Meanwell; and he was for many years a considerable farmer in the parish where Margery was born; but by the misfortunes which he met with in business, and the wicked persecutions of Sir Timothy Gripe, and an overgrown farmer called Graspall, he was effectually ruined.
The case was thus: The parish of Mould well, where they lived, had for many ages been let by the lord of the manor in twelve different farms, in which the tenants lived comfortably, brought up large families, and carefully supported the poor people who labored for them, until the estate by marriage and by death came into the hands of Sir Timothy.
This, gentleman, who loved himself better than all his neighbors, thought it was less trouble to write one receipt for his rent than twelve; and Farmer Graspall offering to take all the farms as the leases expired, Sir Timothy agreed with him, and in process of time he was possessed of every farm but that occupied by little Margery's father, which he also wanted; for as Mr. Meanwell was a charitable, good man, he stood up for the poor at the parish meetings, and was unwilling to have them oppressed by Sir Timothy and this avaricious farmer. Judge, O kind, humane, and courteous reader, what a terrible situation the poor must be in, when this covetous man was perpetual overseer, and everything for their maintenance was drawn from his hard heart and cruel hand. But he was not only perpetual overseer, but perpetual churchwarden; and judge, O ye Christians, what state the church must be in, when supported by a man without religion or virtue. He was also perpetual surveyor of the highways, and what sort of roads he kept up for the convenience of travelers, those best knew who have had the misfortune to pass through that parish. Complaints indeed were made, but to what purpose are complaints, when brought against a man who can hunt, drink, and smoke, without the lord of the manor, who is also the justice of peace?
The opposition which Little Margery's father made to this man's tyranny gave offense to Sir Timothy, who endeavored to force him out of his farm; and, to oblige him to throw up the lease, ordered both a brick-kiln and a dog kennel to be erected in the farmer's orchard. This was contrary to law, and a suit was commenced, in which Margery's father got the better. The same offense was again committed three different times, and as many actions brought, in all of which the farmer had a verdict, and costs paid him; but notwithstanding these advantages, the law was so expensive, that he was ruined in the contest, and obliged to give up all he had to his creditors; which effectually answered the purpose of Sir Timothy, who erected those nuisances in the farmer's orchard with that intention. Ah, my dear reader, we brag of liberty, and boast of our laws; but the blessings of the one, and the protection of the other, seldom fall to the lot of the poor; and especially when a rich man is their adversary. How, in the name-of goodness, can a poor wretch obtain redress, when thirty pounds are insufficient to try his cause? Where is he to find money to fee counsel, or how can he plead his cause himself (even if he was permitted) when our laws are so obscure and so multiplied that an abridgment of them cannot be contained in fifty volumes folio?
As soon as Mr. Meanwell had called together his creditors, Sir Timothy seized for a year's rent, and turned the farmer, his wife, Little Margery, and her brother out of doors, without any of the necessaries of life to support them.
This elated the heart of Mr. Graspall, this crowned his hopes, and filled the measure of his iniquity; for, besides gratifying his revenge, this man's overthrow gave him the sole dominion over the poor, whom he depressed and abused in a manner too horrible to mention.
Margery's father flew into another parish for succor, and all those who were able to move left their dwellings and sought employment elsewhere, as they found it would be impossible to live under the tyranny of two such people. The very old, the very lame, and the blind were obliged to stay behind, and whether they were starved, or what became of them, history does not say; but the characters of the great Sir Timothy, and the avaricious tenant, were so infamous, that nobody would work for them by the day, and servants were afraid to engage themselves by the year, lest any unforseen accident should leave them parishioners in a place where they knew they must perish miserably; so that great part of the land lay untilled for some years, which was deemed a just reward for such diabolical proceedings.
But what, says the reader, can occasion all this? do you intend this for children? Permit me to inform you, that this is not the book, sir, mentioned in the title, but an introduction to that book; and it is intended, sir, not for that sort of children, but for children of six feet high, of which, as my friend has justly observed, there are many millions in the kingdom; and these reflections, sir, have been rendered necessary by the unaccountable and diabolical scheme which many gentlemen now give in to, of laying a number of farms into one, and very often a whole parish into one farm; which in the end must reduce the common people to a stage of vassalage, worse than that under the barons of old, or of the clans in Scotland, and will in time depopulate the kingdom. But as you are tired of the subject, I shall take myself away, and you may visit Little Margery.
HOW AND ABOUT LITTLE MARGERY AND HER BROTHER
Care and discontent shortened the days of Little Margery's father. He was forced from his family, and seized with a violent fever in a place where Dr. James's powder was not to be had, and where he died miserably. Margery's poor mother survived the loss of her husband but a few days, and died of a broken heart, leaving Margery and her little brother to the wide world; but, poor woman, it would have melted your heart to have seen how frequently she heaved her head, while she lay speechless, to survey with languishing looks her little orphans, as much as to say, "Do, Tommy, do, Margery, come with me." They cried, poor things, and she sighed away her soul; and I hope is happy.
It would both have excited your pity, and have done your heart good, to have seen how these two little ones were so fond of each other, and how hand in hand they trotted about.
They were both very ragged, and Tommy had no shoes, and Margery had but one. They had nothing, poor things, to support them (not being in their own parish) but what they picked from the hedges, or got from the poor people, and they lay every night in a barn. Their relations took no notice of them; no, they were rich, and ashamed to own such a poor little ragged girl as Margery, and such a dirty little curly-pated boy as Tommy. Our relations and friends seldom take notice of us when we are poor; but as we grow rich they grow fond. And this will always be the case, while people love money better than they do God Almighty. But such wicked folks who love nothing but money, and are proud and despise the poor, never come to any good in the end, as we shall see by and by.
HOW AND ABOUT MR. SMITH
Mr. Smith was a very worthy clergyman, who lived in the parish where Little Margery and Tommy were born; and having a relation come to see him, who was a charitable, good man, he sent for these children to come to him. The gentleman ordered Little Margery a new pair of shoes, gave Mr. Smith some money to buy her clothes, and said he would take Tommy and make him a little sailor.
After some days the gentleman intended to go to London, and take little Tommy with him, of whom you will know more by and by, for we shall at a proper time present you with his history, his travels, and adventures.
The parting between these little children was very affecting. Tommy cried, and they kissed each other an hundred times: at last Tommy thus wiped off her tears with the end of his jacket, and bid her cry no more, for that he would come to her again when he returned from sea.
HOW LITTLE MARGERY OBTAINED THE NAME OF GOODY TWO-SHOES, AND WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PARISH
As soon as Little Margery got up in the morning, which was very early, she ran all round the village, crying for her brother; and after some time returned greatly distressed.
However, at this instant, the shoemaker very opportunely came in with the new shoes, for which she had been measured by the gentleman's order.
Nothing could have supported Little Margery under the affliction she was in for the loss of her brother, but the pleasure she took in her two shoes. She ran out to Mrs. Smith as soon as they were put on, and stroking down her ragged apron thus cried out, "Two shoes, ma'am, see two shoes." And so she behaved to all the people she met, and by that means obtained the name of Goody Two-Shoes.
Little Margery was very happy in being with Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who were very charitable and good to her, and had agreed to bring her up with their family: but as soon as that tyrant of the parish, that Graspall, heard of her being there, he applied first to Mr. Smith, and threatened to reduce his tithes if he kept her; and after that he spoke to Sir Timothy, who sent Mr. Smith a peremptory message by his servant, that he should send back Meanwell's girl to be kept by her relations, and not harbor her in the parish. This so distressed Mr. Smith, that he shed tears, and cried, "Lord, have mercy on the poor!"
The prayers of the righteous fly upwards, and reach unto the throne of heaven, as will be seen by the sequel.
Mrs. Smith was also greatly concerned at being thus obliged to discard poor Little Margery. She kissed her, and cried, as did also Mr. Smith; but they were obliged to send her away, for the people who had ruined her father could at any time have ruined them.
HOW LITTLE MARGERY LEARNED TO READ, AND BY DEGREES TAUGHT OTHERS
Little Margery saw how good and how wise Mr. Smith was, and concluded that this was owing to his great learning, therefore she wanted of all things to learn to read. For this purpose she used to meet the little boys as they came from school, borrow their books, and sit down and read till they returned. By this means she got more learning than any of her playmates, and laid the following scheme for instructing those who were more ignorant than herself. She found that only the following letters were required to spell all the words; but as some of these letters are large, and some small, she with her knife cut out of several pieces of wood ten sets of each of these:
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
And having got an old spelling book, she made her companions set up all the words they wanted to spell, and after that she taught them to compose sentences. "You know what a sentence is, my dear. 'I will be good' is a sentence; and is made up, as you see, of several words."
I once went her rounds with her, and was highly diverted, as you may see, if you please to look into the next chapter.
HOW LITTLE TWO-SHOES BECAME A TROTTING TUTORESS, AND HOW SHE TAUGHT HER YOUNG PUPILS
It was about seven o'clock in the morning when we set out on this important business, and the first house we came to was Farmer Wilson's. Here Margery stopped, and ran up to the door, tap, tap, tap. "Who's there?" "Only Little Goody Two-Shoes," answered Margery, "come to teach Billy." "Oh! Little Goody," says Mrs. Wilson, with pleasure in her face, "I am glad to see you Billy wants you sadly for he has learned his lesson." Then out came the little boy. "How do, Doody Two-Shoes," says he, not able to speak plain. Yet this little boy had learned all his letters; for she threw down this alphabet mixed together thus:
b d f h k m o q s u w y x f a c e g i l n p r t v z j,
and he picked them up, called them by their right names, and put them all in order thus:
a b c d e f g h i j k i m n o p q r s t u v w x y z.
The next place we came to was Farmer Simpson's.
"Bow, wow, wow," says the dog at the door. "Sirrah," says his mistress, "what do you bark at Little Two-Shoes? come in, Madge; here, Sally wants you sadly, she has learned all her lesson." "Yes, that's what I have," replied the little one, in the country manner: and immediately taking the letters she set up these syllables:
ba be bi bo bu, ca ce ci co cu,
da de di do du, fa fe fi fo fu,
and gave them their exact sounds as she composed them.
After this, Little Two-Shoes taught her to spell words of one syllable, and she soon set up pear, plumb, top, ball, pin, puss, dog, hog, fawn, buck, doe, lamb, sheep, ram, cow, bull, cock, hen, and many more.
The next place we came to was Gaffer Cook's cottage. Here a number of poor children were met to learn, who all came round Little Margery at once, who having pulled out her letters, asked the little boy next her what he had for dinner? Who answered, "Bread" (the poor children in many places live very hard). "Well then," says she, "set up the first letter." He put up the B, to which the next added r, and the next e, the next a, the next d, and it stood thus, Bread.
And what had you, Polly Comb, for your dinner? "Apple Pie," answered the little girl; upon which the next in turn set up a great A, the two next a p each, and so on, till the two words Apple and Pie were united and stood thus, Apple Pie.
The next had potatoes, the next beef and turnips; which were spelled, with many others, till the game of spelling was finished. She then set them another task, and we proceeded.
The next place we came to was Farmer Thomson's, where there was a great many little ones waiting for her.
"So, Little Mrs. Goody Two-Shoes," says one of them, "where have you been so long?" "I have been teaching," says she, "longer than I intended, and am, I am afraid, come too soon for you now." "No, but indeed you are not," replied the other; "for I have got my lesson, and so has Sally Dawson, and so has Harry Wilson, and so have we all;" and they capered about as if they were overjoyed to see her. "Why, then," says she, "you are all very good, and God Almighty will love you; so let us begin our lessons." They all huddled round her, and though at the other place they were employed about words and syllables, here we had people of much greater understanding who dealt only in sentences.
The letters being brought upon the table, one of the little ones set up the following sentence:
"The Lord have mercy upon me, and grant that I may be always good, and say my prayers, and love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength; and honor the King and all good men in authority under him."
Then the next took the letters, and composed this sentence:
"Lord, have mercy upon me, and grant that I may love my neighbor as myself, and do unto all men as I would have them do unto me, and tell no lies; but be honest and just in all my dealings."
LESSON FOR THE CONDUCT OF LIFE
He that would thrive, Must rise by five. He that hath thriven, May lay till seven. Truth may be blamed But can't be shamed. Tell me with whom you go, And I'll tell what you do. A friend in your need, Is a friend indeed. They never can be wise, Who good counsel despise.
As we were returning home, we saw a gentleman, who was very ill, sitting under a shady tree at the corner of the rookery. Though ill, he began to joke with Little Margery, and said, laughing, "So, Goody Two-Shoes, they tell me you are a cunning little baggage; pray can you tell me what I shall do to get well?" "Yes, sir," says she, "go to bed when your rooks do and get up with them in the morning; earn, as they do, every day what you eat, and eat and drink no more than you earn: and you'll get health and keep it. What should induce the rooks to frequent gentlemen's houses, only but to tell them how to lead a prudent life? they never build under cottages or farmhouses, because they see that these people know how to live without their admonition.
"Thus wealth and wit you may improve. Taught by tenants of the grove."
The gentleman, laughing, gave Margery sixpence, and told her she was a sensible hussy.
HOW THE WHOLE PARISH WAS FRIGHTENED
Who does not know Lady Ducklington, or who does not know that she was buried at this parish church? Well, I never saw a grander funeral in all my life; but the money they squandered away would have been better laid out in little books for children, or in meat, drink, and clothes for the poor.
All the country round came to see the burying, and it was late before the corpse was interred. After which, in the night, or rather about two o'clock in the morning, the bells were heard to jingle in the steeple, which frightened the people prodigiously, who all thought it was Lady Ducklington's ghost dancing among the bell ropes. The people flocked to Will Dobbins, the clerk, and wanted him to go to see what it was; but William said he was sure it was a ghost, and that he would not offer to open the door. At length Mr. Long, the rector, hearing such an uproar in the village, went to the clerk, to know why he did not go into the church, and see who was there. "I go, sir?" says William; "why, the ghost would frighten me out of my wits!" Mrs. Dobbins, too, cried, and laying hold of her husband, said he should not be eat up by the ghost. "A ghost, you blockhead," says Mr. Long, in a pet; "did either of you ever see a ghost in a church, or know anybody that did?" "Yes," says the clerk, "my father did once in the shape of a windmill, and it walked all around the church in a trice, with jack boots on, and had a gun by its side, instead of a sword." "A fine picture of a ghost, truly," says Mr. Long; "give me the key of the church, you monkey, for I tell you there is no such thing now, whatever may have been formerly." Then taking the key, he went to the church, all the people following him. As soon as he had opened the door, what sort of a ghost do you think appeared? Why, Little Two-Shoes, who being weary had fallen asleep in one of the pews during the funeral service, and was shut in all night. She immediately asked Mr. Long's pardon for the trouble she had given him, told him she had been locked into the church, and said she should not have rung the bells, but that she was very cold, and hearing Farmer Boult's man go whistling by with his horses, she was in hopes he would have gone to the clerk for the key to let her out.
CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF ALL THE SPIRITS OR THINGS SHE SAW IN THE CHURCH
The people were ashamed to ask Little Madge any questions before Mr. Long, but as soon as he was gone, they all got round her to satisfy their curiosity, and desired she would give them a particular account of all that she had heard or seen.
"I went to the church," said she, "as most of you did last night, to see the burying, and, being very weary, I sat me down in Mr. Johns's pew, and fell fast asleep. At eleven of the clock I awoke; which I believe was in some measure occasioned by the clock's striking, for I heard it. I started up, and could not at first tell where I was; but after some time I recollected the funeral, and soon found that I was shut in the church. It was dismal dark, and I could see nothing; but while I was standing in the pew, something jumped up upon me behind, and laid, as I thought, its hands over my shoulders. I own I was a little afraid at first; however, I considered that I had always been constant at prayers, and at church, and that I had done nobody any harm, but had endeavored to do what good I could; and then thought I, what have I to fear? Yet I kneeled down to say my prayers. As soon as I was on my knees, something very cold, as cold as marble, ay, as cold as ice, touched my neck, which made me start, however, I continued my prayers, and having begged protection from Almighty God, I found my spirits come, and I was sensible I had nothing to fear; for God Almighty protects not only all those that are good, but also all those who endeavor to be good—nothing can withstand the power, and exceed the goodness of God Almighty. Armed with the confidence of his protection; I walked down the church aisle, when I heard something pit, pat, pit, pat, pit, pat, come after me, and something touched my hand, which seemed as cold as a marble monument. I could not think what this was, yet I knew that it could not hurt me, and therefore I made myself easy; but being very cold, and the church being paved with stones, which were very damp, I felt my way, as well as I could, to the pulpit; in doing which something rushed by me and almost threw me down, However, I was not frightened, for I knew that God Almighty would suffer nothing to hurt me.
"At last I found out the pulpit, and having shut the door, I laid me down on the mat and cushion to sleep; when something thrust and pulled the door, as I thought, for admittance, which prevented my going to sleep. At last it cries, 'Bow, wow, wow;' and I concluded it must be Mr. Saunderson's dog, which had followed me from their house to church; so I opened the door, and called Snip, Snip, and the dog jumped upon me immediately. After this, Snip and I lay down together, and had a comfortable nap; for when I awoke again it was almost light. I then walked up and down all the aisles of the church to keep myself warm; and though I went into the vaults, and trod on Lady Ducklington's coffin, I saw nothing, and I believe it was owing to the reason Mr. Long has given you, namely, that there is no such thing to be seen. As to my part, I would as soon lie all night in a church as in any other place; and I am sure that any little boy or girl, who is good and loves God Almighty, and keeps his commandments, may as safely lie in the church, or the churchyard, as anywhere else, if they take care not to get cold, for I am sure there are no things either to hurt or to frighten them; though any one possessed of fear might have taken Neighbor Saunderson's dog with his cold nose for a ghost; and if they had not been undeceived, as I was, would never have thought otherwise." All the company acknowledged the justness of the observation, and thanked Little Two-Shoes for her advice.
After this, my dear children, I hope you will not believe any foolish stories that ignorant, weak, or designing people may tell you about ghosts; for the tales of ghosts, witches, and fairies are the frolics of a distempered brain. No wise man ever saw either of them. Little Margery was not afraid; no, she had good sense, and a good conscience, which is a cure for all these imaginary evils.
OF SOMETHING WHICH HAPPENED TO LITTLE MARGERY TWO-SHOES IN A BARN, MORE DREADFUL THAN THE GHOST IN THE CHURCH; AND HOW SHE RETURNED GOOD FOR EVIL TO HER ENEMY, SIR TIMOTHY.
Some days after this, a more dreadful accident befell Little Madge. She happened to be coming late from teaching, when it rained, thundered, and lightened and therefore she took shelter in a farmer's barn at a distance from the village. Soon after, the tempest drove in four thieves, who not seeing such a little creep-mouse girl as Two-Shoes, lay down on the hay next to her, and began to talk over their exploits, and to settle plans for future robberies. Little Margery, on hearing them, covered herself with straw. To be sure she was frightened, but her good sense taught her that the only security she had was in keeping herself concealed; therefore she lay very still and breathed very softly. About four o'clock these wicked people came to a resolution to break both Sir William Dove's house and Sir Timothy Gripe's, and by force of arms to carry off all their money, plate, and jewels; but as it was thought then too late, they all agreed to defer it till the next night. After laying his scheme, they all set out upon their pranks, which greatly rejoiced Margery, as it would any other little girl in her situation. Early in the morning she went to Sir William, and told him the whole of their conversation. Upon which he asked her name, then gave her something, and bid her call at his house the day following. She also went to Sir Timothy, notwithstanding he had used her so ill, for she knew it was her duty to do good for evil. As soon as he was informed who she was, he took no notice of her; upon which she desired to speak to Lady Gripe, and having informed her ladyship of the affair she went away. This lady had more sense than her husband which indeed is not a singular case; for instead of despising Little Margery and her information, she privately set people to guard the house. The robbers divided themselves, and went about the time mentioned to both houses, and were surprised by the guards and taken. Upon examining these wretches (one of which turned evidence), both Sir William and Sir Timothy found that they owed their lives to the discovery made by Little Margery; and the first took great notice of her and would no longer let her lie in a barn; but Sir Timothy only said that he was ashamed to owe his life to the daughter of one who was his enemy; so true it is, "That a proud man seldom forgives those he has injured."
HOW LITTLE MARGERY WAS MADE PRINCIPAL OF A COUNTRY COLLEGE
Mrs. Williams, who kept a college for instructing little gentlemen and ladies in the science of A, B, C, was at this time very old and infirm, and wanted to decline this important trust. This being told to Sir William Dove, who lived in the parish, he sent for Mrs. Williams, and desired she would examine Little Two-Shoes, and see whether she was qualified for the office. This was done, and Mrs. Williams made the following report in her favor, namely, that Little Margery was the best scholar, and had the best head and the best heart of any one she had examined. All the country had a great opinion of Mrs. Williams, and this character gave them also a great opinion of Mrs. Margery, for so we must now call her.
This Mrs. Margery thought the happiest period of her life; but more happiness was in store for her. God Almighty heaps up blessings for all those who love him, and though for a time he may suffer them to be poor, and distressed, and hide his good purposes from human sight, yet in the end they are generally crowned with happiness here, and no one can doubt their being so hereafter.
THE RENOWNED HISTORY OF MRS. MARGERY TWO-SHOES
In the first part of this work the young student has read, and I hope with pleasure and improvement, the history of this lady, while she was known and distinguished by the name of LITTLE TWO-SHOES. We are now come to a period of her life when that name was discarded, and a more eminent one bestowed upon her; I mean that of MRS. MARGERY TWO-SHOES; for as she was now president of the A, B, C college, it became necessary to exalt her in title as in place.
No sooner was she settled in this office, but she laid every possible scheme to promote the welfare and happiness of all her neighbors, and especially of her little ones, in whom she took great delight; and all those whose parents could not afford to pay for their education, she taught for nothing but the pleasure she had in their company; for you are to observe that they were very good, or were soon made so by her good management.
OF HER SCHOOL, HER USHERS, OR ASSISTANTS, AND HER MANNER OF TEACHING
We have already informed the reader, that the school where she taught was that which was before kept by Mrs. Williams. The room was very large and spacious, and as she knew that nature intended children should be always in action, she placed her different letters, or alphabets, all round the school, so that every one was obliged to get up and fetch a letter, or to spell a word when it came to their turn; which not only kept them in health, but fixed the letters and points firmly in their minds.
A SCENE OF DISTRESS IN A SCHOOL
It happened one day, when Mrs. Two-Shoes was diverting the children after dinner, as she usually did, with some innocent games, or entertaining and instructive stories, that a man arrived with the melancholy news of Sally Jones's father being thrown from his horse, and thought past all recovery; nay, the messenger said, that he was seemingly dying when he came away. Poor Sally was greatly distressed, as indeed were all in the school, for she dearly loved her father, and Mrs. Two-Shoes and all her children dearly loved her.
At this instant something was heard to flap at the window, at which the children were surprised; but Mrs. Margery, knowing what it was, opened the casement, and drew in a pigeon with a letter.
As soon as he was placed upon the table, he walked up to little Sally, and dropping the letter, cried "Co, co, coo;" as much as to say, "There, read it."
"My dear Sally—God Almighty has been very merciful and restored your papa to us again, who is now so well as to be able to sit up. I hear you are a good girl, my dear, and I hope you will never forget to praise the Lord for that his great goodness and mercy to us. What a sad thing it would have been if your father had died, and left both you and me, and little Tommy in distress, and without a friend. Your father sends his blessing with mine. Be good, my dear child, and God Almighty will also bless you, whose blessing is above all things.
"I am, my dear Sally,
"Your affectionate mother,
OF THE AMAZING SAGACITY AND INSTINCT OF A LITTLE DOG
Soon after this, a very dreadful accident happened in the school. It was on a Thursday morning, I very well remember, when the children having learned their lessons soon, she had given them leave to play, and they were all running about the school, and diverting themselves with the birds and the lamb; at this time the dog, all of a sudden, laid hold of his mistress's apron, and endeavored to pull her out of the school. She was at first surprised; however, she followed him, to see what he intended. No sooner had he led her back into the garden, but he ran back, and pulled out one of the children in the same manner; upon which she ordered them all to leave the school immediately, and they had not been out five minutes before the top of the house fell in. What a miraculous deliverance was here! How gracious! How good was God Almighty to save all these children from destruction, and to make use of such an instrument as a little sagacious animal to accomplish his divine will! I should have observed that, as soon as they were all in the garden, the dog came leaping round them to express his joy, and when the house was fallen, laid himself down quietly by his mistress.
Some of the neighbors who saw the school fall, and who were in great pain for Margery and her little ones, soon spread the news through the village, and all the parents, terrified for their children, came crowding in abundance; they had, however, the satisfaction to find them all safe, and upon their knees with their mistress, giving God thanks for their happy deliverance.
You are not to wonder, my dear reader, that this little dog should have more sense than you, or your father, or your grandfather.
Though God Almighty has made man the lord of the creation and endowed him with reason; yet in many respects he has been altogether as bountiful to other creatures of his forming. Some of the senses of other animals are more acute than ours, as we find by daily experience.
The downfall of the school was a great misfortune to Mrs. Margery; for she not only lost all her books, but was destitute of a place to teach in; but Sir William Dove, being informed of this, ordered it to be built at his own expense, and till that could be done, Farmer Grove was so kind as to let her have his large hall to teach in.
WHAT HAPPENED AT FARMER GROVE'S, AND HOW SHE GRATIFIED HIM FOR THE USE OF HIS ROOM
While at Mr. Grove's, which was in the heart of the village, she not only taught the children in the daytime, but the farmer's servants and all the neighbors to read and write in the evening; and it was a constant practice, before they went away, to make them all go to prayers and sing psalms. By this means the people grew extremely regular, his servants were always at home instead of being at the alehouse, and he had more work done than ever. This gave not only Mr. Grove, but all the neighbors, a high opinion of her good sense and prudent behavior; and she was so much esteemed that the most of the differences in the parish were left to her decision; and if a man and wife quarreled (which sometimes happened in that part of the kingdom), both parties certainly came to her for advice. Everybody knows that Martha Wilson was a passionate, scolding jade, and that John her husband was a surly, ill-tempered fellow. These were one day brought by the neighbors for Margery to talk to them, when they talked before her, and were going to blows; but she, stepping between them, thus addressed the husband: "John," says she, "you are a man, and ought to have more sense than to fly in a passion at every word that is said amiss by your wife: and Martha," says she, "you ought to know your duty better than to say anything to aggravate your husband's resentment. These frequent quarrels arise from the indulgence of your violent passions; for I know you both love each other, notwithstanding what has passed between you. Now, pray tell me, John, and tell me, Martha, when you have had a quarrel over night, are you not both sorry for it the next day?" They both declared that they were. "Why, then," says she, "I'll tell you how to prevent this for the future, if you promise to take my advice." They both promised her. "You know," says she, "that a small spark will set fire to tinder, and that tinder properly placed will set fire to a house: an angry word is with you as that spark, for you are both as touchy as tinder, and very often make your own house too hot to hold you. To prevent this, therefore, and to live happily for the future, you must solemnly agree, that if one speaks an angry word, the other will not answer, till he or she has distinctly called over the alphabet, and the other not reply till he has told twenty; by this means your passions will be stifled, and reason will have time to take the rule."
This is the best recipe that was ever given for a married couple to live in peace. Though John and his wife frequently attempted to quarrel afterwards, they never could get their passions to a considerable height; for there was something so droll in thus carrying on the dispute, that, before they got to the end of the argument, they saw the absurdity of it, laughed, kissed, and were friends.
THE CASE OF MRS. MARGERY
Mrs. Margery was always doing good, and thought she could never sufficiently gratify those who had done anything to serve her. These generous sentiments naturally led her to consult the interest of Mr. Grove, and the rest of her neighbors; and as most of their lands were meadow, and they depended much on their hay, which had been for many years greatly damaged by the wet weather, she contrived an instrument to direct them when to mow their grass with safety, and prevent their hay being spoiled. They all came to her for advice, and by that means got in their hay without damage, while most of that in the neighboring village was spoiled.
This occasioned a very great noise in the country, and so greatly provoked were the people who resided in the other parishes, that they absolutely sent old Gaffer Goosecap (a busy fellow in other people's concerns) to find out evidence against her. The wiseacre happened to come to her to school, when she was walking about with a raven on one shoulder, a pigeon on the other, a lark on her hand, and a lamb and a dog by her side; which indeed made a droll figure, and so surprised the man that he cried out, "A witch! a witch! a witch!"
Upon this she, laughing, answered, "a conjurer! a conjurer! a conjurer!" and so they parted; but it did not end thus, for a warrant was issued out against Mrs. Margery, and she was carried to a meeting of the justices.
At the meeting, one of the justices who knew little of life, and less of the law, behaved very idly; and, though nobody was able to prove anything against her, asked who she could bring to her character. "Who can you bring against my character, sir?" says she. "There are people enough who would appear in my defense, were it necessary: but I never supposed that any one here could be so weak as to believe there was any such thing as a witch. If I am a witch, this is my charm; and" (laying a barometer or weather-glass on the table) "it is with this," says she, "that I have taught my neighbor to know the state of the weather." All the company laughed; and Sir William Dove, who was on the bench, asked her accusers how they could be such fools as to think there was any such thing as a witch?
After this, Sir William inveighed against the absurd and foolish notions which the country people had imbibed concerning witches and witchcraft, and having proved that there was no such thing, but that all were the effects of folly and ignorance, he gave the court such an account of Mrs. Margery, and her virtue, good sense, and prudent behavior, that the gentlemen present were enamored with her, and returned her public thanks for the great service she had done the country. One gentleman in particular, I mean Sir Charles Jones, had conceived such a high opinion of her that he offered her a considerable sum to take care of his family, and the education of his daughter, which, however, she refused; but this gentleman sending for her afterwards, when he had a dangerous fit of illness, she went, and behaved so prudently in the family, and so tenderly to him and his daughter, that he would not permit her to leave his house, but soon after made her proposals of marriage. She was truly sensible of the honor he intended her, but, though poor, she would not consent to be made a lady till he had effectually provided for his daughter; for she told him that power was a dangerous thing to be trusted with, and that a good man or woman would never throw themselves into the road of temptation.
All things being settled, and the day fixed, the neighbors came in crowds to see the wedding; for they were all glad that one who had been such a good little girl, and was become such a virtuous and good woman, was going to be made a lady; but just as the clergyman had opened his book, a gentleman richly dressed ran into the church and cried, "Stop! stop!" This greatly alarmed the congregation, particularly the intended bride and bridegroom, whom he first accosted and desired to speak with them apart. After they had been talking some little time, the people were greatly surprised to see Sir Charles stand motionless, and his bride cry and faint away in the stranger's arms. This seeming grief, however, was only a prelude to a flood of joy which immediately succeeded; for you must know, gentle reader, that this gentleman, so richly dressed, was that identical little boy, whom you before saw in the sailor's habit; in short, it was Mrs. Margery's brother, who was just come from sea, where he had, after a desperate engagement, taken a rich prize; and hearing, as soon as he landed, of his sister's intended wedding, had rode post to see that a proper settlement was made on her, which she was now entitled to, as he himself was both able and willing to give her an ample fortune. They soon returned to the communion table, and were married in tears, but they were tears of joy.
THE TRUE USE OF RICHES
About this time she heard that Mr. Smith was oppressed by Sir Timothy Gripe and his friend Graspall; upon which she, in conjunction with her brother, defended him in Westminster Hall, where Mr. Smith gained a verdict. As a justice of the peace he was struck off the list, and no longer permitted to act in that capacity. A relation of his who had a right to the Mouldwell estate, finding that it was possible to get the better at law of a rich man, laid claim to it, brought his action, and recovered the whole manor of Mouldwell; and being afterwards inclined to sell it, he in consideration of the aid Lady Margery had lent him during his distress, made her the first offer, and she purchased the whole. This mortified Sir Timothy and his friend Graspall, who experienced nothing but misfortunes, and was in a few years so dispossessed of his ill-gotten wealth, that his family were reduced to seek subsistance from the parish, at which those who had felt the weight of his iron hand rejoiced; but Lady Margery desired that his children might be treated with care and tenderness; "for they" (says she) "are noways accountable for the actions of their father." At her first coming into power, she took care to gratify her old friends, especially Mr. and Mrs. Smith, whose family she made happy.
LIST OF BEST BOOKS OF CLASSIC TALES AND OLD-FASHIONED STORIES
ABBOTT, JACOB Franconia Stories ABBOTT, JACOB Jonas Stories ABBOTT, JACOB Rollo Books ADDISON, STEELE, BUDGELL Papers of Roger de Coverley AIKIN, JOHN, AND BARBAULD, ANNA LETITIA Evenings at Home AGUILAR, GRACE Home Influence AGUILAR, GRACE The Mother's Recompense ARABIAN NIGHTS BARBAULD, MRS. Juvenile Forget-me-not BARNARD, MRS. CAROLINE The Parent's Offering BROOKE, HENRY The Fool of Quality BUNYAN, JOHN Pilgrim's Progress CERVANTES, MIGUEL Don Quixote CHAUCER, GEOFFREY Canterbury Tales DAY, THOMAS Sandford and Merton DAY, THOMAS The History of Little Jack DEFOE, DANIEL Robinson Crusoe EDGEWORTH, MARIA Parent's Assistant EDGEWORTH, MARIA Harry and Lucy EDGEWORTH, MARIA Moral Tales ELIOT, GEORGE Silas Marner FIELDING, SARAH The Adventures of David Simple GODWIN, MRS. WILLIAM The Stories of Old Daniel GOLDSMITH, OLIVER The Vicar of Wakefield GOODRICH, S.G. Fagots for the Fireside HOMER The Iliad HOMER The Odyssey HOWITT, MARY Treasury of Tales HUGO, VICTOR Les Miserables JAMES, G.P.R. Prince Life LAMB, CHARLES Mrs. Leicester's School LAMB, CHARLES AND MARY Tales from Shakespeare LUCAS, E.V. (Ed.) Old-Fashioned Tales LUCAS, E.V. (Ed.) Forgotten Tales of Long Ago MARTIN, WILLIAM Peter Parley's Annual MANT, ALICIA CATHERINE Tales for Ellen MORE, HANNAH Coelebs in Search of a Wife PEARSON, MISS A Few Weeks at Clairmont Castle RASPE, RODOLPH ERIC The Travels of Baron Munchausen SHERWOOD, MRS. The Fairchild Family SINCLAIR, KATHERINE Holiday House SWIFT, JONATHAN Gulliver's Travels WAKEFIELD, PRISCILLA Juvenile Anecdotes WYSS, JOHANN RUDOLPH Swiss Family Robinson