"Sir," said Susan, after glancing at her mother, "there is, to be sure, a favor I should like to ask; it is for Rose."
"Well, I don't know who Rose is," said Sir Arthur, smiling; "but go on."
"Ma'am, you have seen her, I believe; she is a very good girl indeed," said Mrs. Price to Miss Somers.
"And works very neatly, ma'am," continued Susan eagerly, "and she and her mother heard you were looking out for some one to wait upon you."
"Say no more," said Miss Somers; "your wish is granted. Tell Rose to come to the Abbey to-morrow morning, or rather come with her yourself, for our housekeeper, I know, wants to talk to you about a certain cake. She wishes, Susan, that you should be the maker of the cake for the dance, and she has good things looked out for it already, I know. It must be large enough for everybody to have a slice, and the housekeeper will ice it for you. I only hope your cake will be as good as your bread. Good-by."
"How I do wish, now," said Farmer Price, "how I do wish, wife, that our good friend the harper was only here at this time. It would do his warm old heart good. Well, the best of it is, we shall be able next year, when he comes his rounds, to pay him his money with thanks, being all the time and for ever as much obliged to him as if we kept it. I long to see him in this house again, drinking, as he did, a glass of Susan's mead, just on this spot."
"Yes," said Susan, "and the next time he comes, I can give him one of my guinea-hen's eggs, and I shall show him Daisy."
"True, love," said her mother, "and he will play that tune and sing that pretty ballad. Where is it? I have not finished it."
"Rose ran away with it, mother, but I'll run after her, and bring it back to you this minute," said Susan.
Susan found her friend Rose at the hawthorn, in the midst of a crowd of children, to whom she was reading "Susan's Lamentation for her Lamb."
"The words are something, but the tune—the tune—I must have the tune," cried Philip. "I'll ask my mother to ask Sir Arthur to try and find out which way that good old man went after the ball; and if he's to be found, we'll have him back by Susan's birthday, and he shall sit here—just exactly here—by our bush, and he shall play—I mean, if he will—that same tune for us, and I shall learn it—I mean, if I can—in a minute."
The good news that Farmer Price was to collect the rents and that Attorney Case was to leave the parish in a month soon spread over the village. Many came out of their houses to have the pleasure of hearing the joyful tidings from Susan herself. The crowd on the play-green grew bigger every minute.
"Yes," cried Philip, "I tell you it's quite true, every word of it. Susan's too modest to say it herself, but I tell you all, that Sir Arthur has given us this play-green just because she is so good."
LIMBY LUMPY was the only son of his mother. His father was called the "Pavior's Assistant," for he was so large and heavy that, when he used to walk through the streets, the men who were ramming the stones down with a large wooden rammer would say, "Please to walk over these stones, sir," and then the men would get a rest.
Limby was born on April 1—I do not know how long ago; but before he came into the world such preparations were made! There was a beautiful cradle, and a bunch of coral with bells on it, and lots of little caps, and a fine satin hat, and tops and bottoms for pap, and two nurses to take care of him. He was, too, to have a little chaise, when he grew big enough; after that, he was to have a donkey, and then a pony. In short, he was to have the moon for a plaything, if it could be got; and, as to the stars, he would have had them, if they had not been too high to reach.
Limby made a rare to-do when he was a little baby. But he never was a little baby—he was always a big baby; nay, he was a big baby till the day of his death.
"Baby Big," his mother used to call him; he was "a noble baby," said his aunt; he was "a sweet baby," said old Mrs. Tomkins, the nurse; he was "a dear baby," said his papa—and so he was, for he cost a good deal. He was "a darling baby," said his aunt, by the mother's side; "there never was such a fine child," said everybody, before the parents; when they were at another place they called him, "a great, ugly fat child."
Limby was almost as broad as he was long. He had what some people called an open countenance—that is, one as broad as a full moon. He had what his mother called beautiful auburn locks, but what other people said were carroty—not before the mother, of course.
Limby had a flattish nose and a widish mouth, and his eyes were a little out of the right line. Poor little dear, he could not help that and therefore it was not right to laugh at him.
Everybody, however, laughed to see him eat his pap, for he would not be fed with the patent silver pap-spoon which his father bought him, but used to lay himself flat on his back, and seize the pap-boat with both hands, and never let go of it till its contents were fairly in his dear little stomach.
So Limby grew bigger and bigger every day, till at last he could scarcely draw his breath, and was very ill; so his mother sent for three apothecaries and two physicians, who looked at him, and told his mother there were no hopes: the poor child was dying of overfeeding. The physicians, however, prescribed for him—a dose of castor-oil.
His mother attempted to give him the castor-oil, but Limby, although he liked tops and bottoms, and cordial, and pap, and sweetbread, and oysters, and other things nicely dished up, had no fancy for castor-oil, and struggled and kicked and fought every time his nurse or mother attempted to give it him.
"Limby, my darling boy," said his mother, "my sweet cherub, my only dearest, do take its oily-poily, there's a ducky-deary, and it shall ride in a coachy-poachy."
"Oh, the dear baby!" said the nurse; "take it for nursey. It will take it for nursey, that it will."
The nurse had got the oil in a silver medicine-spoon, so contrived that, if you could get it into the child's mouth, the medicine must go down. Limby, however, took care that no spoon should go into his mouth, and when the nurse tried the experiment for the nineteenth time, gave a plunge and a kick, and sent the spoon up to the ceiling, knocked off the nurse's spectacles, upset the table on which all the bottles and glasses were, and came down whack on the floor.
His mother picked him up, clasped him to her breast, and almost smothered him with kisses.
"Oh, my dear boy!" said she; "it shan't take the nasty oil! it won't take it, the darling! Naughty nurse to hurt baby! It shall not take nasty physic!"
And then she kissed him again.
Poor Limby, although only two years old, knew what he was at—he was trying to be the master of his mother. He felt he had gained his point, and gave another kick and a squall, at the same time planting a blow on his mother's eye.
"Dear little creature!" said she; "he is in a state of high convulsions and fever. He will never recover!"
But Limby did recover, and in a few days was running about the house, and the master of it. There was nobody to be considered, nobody to be consulted, nobody to be attended to, but Limby Lumpy.
Limby grew up big and strong; he had everything his own way. One day, when he was at dinner with his father and mother, perched upon a double chair, with his silver knife and fork, and silver mug to drink from, he amused himself by playing drums on his plate with the mug.
"Don't make that noise, Limby, my dear," said his father.
"Dear little lamb!" said his mother; "let him amuse himself. Limby, have some pudding?"
"No, Limby no pudding!"
Drum! drum! drum!
A piece of pudding was, however, put on Limby's plate, but he kept on drumming as before. At last he drummed the bottom of the mug into the soft pudding, to which it stuck, and by which means it was scattered all over the carpet.
"Limby, my darling!" said his mother; and the servant was called to wipe Limby's mug and pick the pudding up from the floor.
Limby would not have his mug wiped, and floundered about, and upset the cruet-stand and the mustard on the table-cloth.
"Oh, Limby Lumpy—naughty boy!" said his father.
"Don't speak so cross to the child: he is but a child," said his mother. "I don't like to hear you speak so cross to the child."
"I tell you what it is," said his father, "I think the boy does as he likes. But I don't want to interfere."
Limby now sat still, resolving what to do next. He was not hungry, having been stuffed with a large piece of pound-cake about an hour before dinner; but he wanted something to do, and could not sit still.
Presently a saddle of mutton was brought on the table. When Limby saw this he set up a crow of delight.
"Limby ride," said he—"Limby ride!" and rose up in his chair, as if to reach the dish.
"Yes, my ducky, it shall have some mutton," said his mother, and immediately gave him a slice, cut up into small morsels.
That was not it. Limby pushed that on the floor, and cried out: "Limby on meat! Limby on meat!"
His mother could not think what he meant. At last, however, his father recollected that he had been in the habit of giving him a ride occasionally, first on his foot, sometimes on the scroll end of the sofa, at other times on the top of the easy chair. Once he put him on a dog, and more than once on the saddle; in short, he had been in the habit of perching him on various things, and now Limby, hearing this was a saddle of mutton, wanted to take a ride on it.
"Limby on! Limby ride on bone!" said the child in a whimper.
"Did you ever hear?" said the father.
"What an extraordinary child!" said the mother. "How clever to know it was like a saddle, the little dear! No, no, Limby; grease frock, Limby."
But Limby cared nothing about a greasy frock, not he—he was used enough to that—and therefore roared out more lustily for a ride on the mutton.
"Did you ever know such a child? What a dear, determined spirit!"
"He is a child of an uncommon mind," said his mother. "Limby, dear—Limby, dear, silence! silence!"
The truth was, Limby made such a roaring that neither father nor mother could get their dinners, and scarcely knew whether they were eating beef or mutton.
"It is impossible to let him ride on the mutton," said his father—"quite impossible!"
"Well, but you might just put him astride the dish, just to satisfy him. You can take care his legs or clothes do not go into the gravy."
"Anything for a quiet life," said the father. "What does Limby want? Limby ride?"
"Limby on bone! Limby on meat!"
"Shall I put him across?" said Mr. Lumpy.
"Just for one moment," said his mother; "it won't hurt the mutton."
The father rose, and took Limby from his chair, and, with the greatest caution, held his son's legs astride, so that they might hang on each side of the dish without touching it—"just to satisfy him," as he said, "that they might dine in quiet—" and was about to withdraw him from it immediately.
But Limby was not to be cheated in that way. He wished to feel the saddle under him, and accordingly forced himself down upon it; but feeling it rather warmer than was agreeable, started, and lost his balance, and fell down among the dishes, soused in melted butter, cauliflower, and gravy, floundering, and kicking, and screaming, to the detriment of glasses, jugs, dishes, and everything else on the table.
"My child! my child!" said his mother. "Oh, save my child!"
She snatched him up, and pressed his begreased garments close to the bosom of her best silk gown.
Neither father nor mother wanted any more dinner after this. As to Limby, he was as frisky afterwards as if nothing had happened, and about half an hour from the time of this disaster cried for his dinner.
THE SORE TONGUE
By JANE TAYLOR
There was a little girl called Fanny, who had the misfortune one day to bite her tongue as she was eating her breakfast. It hurt her so much that she could scarcely help crying; and even when the first smart was over, it continued so sore that whenever she spoke it pained her considerably. Finding this to be the case, she said very pitifully to her mother, "Mamma, you can't think how it hurts me when I speak!" "Does it?" replied her mother; "then I'll tell you what I would advise you to do. Resolve all this day to say nothing but what is either necessary or useful; this will give your tongue a fine holiday, and may answer more purposes than one."
Fanny, knowing that she had the character of being somewhat loquacious, could not help laughing at this, and said, "Well, I will try for once; so, mum! I am going to begin now, mamma."
Mother. Do so; and whenever you are beginning to speak, be sure you ask yourself whether what you were going to say was likely to be of any use, or whether it was necessary.
Fanny. Yes, yes, I will! but don't talk to me, mamma, for fear. So saying, she screwed up her lips, and taking her work, sat for about five minutes as still as a mouse. She then looked up, smiled and nodded at her mother, as much as to say, "See how well I can hold my tongue," still screwing her lips very tight for fear she should speak. Soon, however, she began to feel a great inclination to say something; and was glad to recollect that if she could but think of anything either useful or necessary, she might speak. Whereupon she endeavored to find something to say that would come "within the act." To aid her invention, she looked all round the room.
Fanny. Mamma, don't you think the fire wants stirring? (This question, she thought, savored of both qualifications.)
Mother. Not at present, my dear.
Then followed another long silence; for Fanny found it vastly more difficult than she had any previous idea of, to think of anything useful to talk about; and she knew her mamma would laugh at her if she said what was obviously idle or silly, just now. She was beginning to repent having made such an agreement, when her three elder sisters entered the room. She now thought it quite reasonable, if not absolutely necessary, to tell them of her misfortune; which she did at considerable length, and with many needless digressions (the usual custom with great talkers); upon which they all laughed, prophesying that her resolution would not last half an hour, and rallying her for telling such a long story with a sore tongue.
Soon after, some ladies called to pay their mother a morning visit. This gave Fanny's tongue such a long rest that the moment they were gone it seemed irresistibly to resume its wonted functions.
Fanny. What a while old Mrs. W. has had that brown satin pelisse! Really, poor old lady, I am quite tired of seeing her in it!
Mother. How is your tongue, Fanny?
Fanny. Oh, better, mamma, thank you—almost well.
Mother. I am sorry for it: I was in hopes it would have been sore enough at least to prevent your making impertinent remarks upon anybody all this day.
Fanny. No, but really, mamma, is it not an old rubbishing thing?
Mother. I don't know, indeed. It is no business of mine; therefore I took no notice of it.
A silence ensued after this; but conversation revived when Caroline, who had stood for some time with her eyes fixed on their opposite neighbor's window, suddenly exclaimed, "I do believe the Joneses are going to have company again to-day! The servant has just been lighting the fire in the drawing-room; and there is Miss Jones now gone up to dress. I saw her draw down the blinds in her room this instant." "So she is," said Lucy, looking up: "I never knew such people in my life! they are always having company."
"I wonder whom they are expecting to-day," said Eliza; "dinner-company, I suppose."
The proceedings of their neighbors, the Joneses, continued to furnish matter for various sagacious conjectures and remarks for a considerable time. At length Caroline exclaimed with the eagerness of discovery, "Look! look! there's the baker now at the door, with a whole tray full of tarts and things. Make haste, or he'll be gone in."
Lucy. So he is, I declare; it is a dinner-party then. Well, we shall see presently, I hope, who are coming.
Caroline. Oh, no, they never dine till five when they have company.
Eliza. And it will be dark then; how tiresome!
Lucy. If Miss Jones is not dressed already! She is this instant come into the drawing-room.
Caroline. Stand back, stand back! Don't let her see us all staring. Ah, there she is,—got on her pink sarcenet body and sleeves to-day. How pretty that dress is, to be sure!
Eliza. And how nicely she has done her hair! Look, Caroline—braided behind.
Lucy. There, she is putting down the sash. That chimney smokes, I know, with this wind.
Fanny. And there is that little figure, Martha Jones, come down now. Do look—as broad as she is long! What a little fright that child is, to be sure!
Mother. Pray, Fanny, was that remark useful or necessary?
Fanny. Oh, but mamma, I assure you, my tongue is quite well now.
Mother. I am sorry for it, my dear. Do you know, I should think it well worth while to bite my tongue every day if there were no other means of keeping it in order.
At this the girls laughed; but their mother, resuming her gravity, thus continued:
"My dear girls, I should before now have put a stop to this idle gossiping, if I had not hoped to convince you of the folly of it. It is no wonder, I confess, that at your age you should learn to imitate a style of remark which is but too prevalent in society. Nothing, indeed, is more contagious. But let me also tell you, that girls of your age, and of your advantages, are capable of seeing the meanness of it, and ought to despise it. It is the chief end of education to raise the minds of women above such trifling as this. But if a young person who has been taught to think, whose taste has been cultivated, and who might therefore possess internal resources, has as much idle curiosity about the affairs of her neighbors, and is as fond of retailing petty scandal concerning them, as an uneducated woman, it proves that her mind is incurably mean and vulgar, and that cultivation is lost upon her.
"This sort of gossiping, my dear girls, is the disgrace of our sex. The pursuits of women lie necessarily within a narrow sphere, and they naturally sink, unless raised by refinement, or by strong principle, into that littleness of character, for which even their own husbands and fathers (if they are men of sense) are tempted to despise them. The minds of men, from their engagements in business, necessarily take a larger range; and they are, in general, too much occupied with concerns comparatively important to enter into the minute details which amuse women. But women of education have no such plea to urge. When your father and I direct you to this or that pursuit, it is not so much for the sake of your possessing that particular branch of knowledge, but that by knowledge in general you may become intelligent and superior, and that you may be furnished with resources which will save you from the miserable necessity of seeking amusement from intercourse with your neighbors, and an acquaintance with their affairs.
"Let us suppose, now, that this morning you had been all more industriously inclined; and had been engaged in any of your employments with that ardor which some happy young people manifest in the acquisition of knowledge; would you, in that case, have felt any desire to know the date of Mrs. W.'s pelisse, or any curiosity in the proceedings of our neighbors the Joneses? No, you would then have thought it a most impertinent interruption, if any one had attempted to entertain you with such particulars. But when the mind is indolent and empty, then it can receive amusement from the most contemptible sources. Learn, then, to check this mean propensity. Despise such thoughts whenever you are tempted to indulge them. Recollect that this low curiosity is the combined result of idleness, ignorance, emptiness, and ill-nature; and fly to useful occupation, as the most successful antidote against the evil. Nor let it be forgotten that such impertinent remarks as these come directly under the description of those 'idle words,' of which an account must be given in the day of judgment. Yes, this vulgar trifling is as inconsistent with the spirit of Christian benevolence, and with the grand rule of 'doing to others as we would that they should do to us,' as it is with refinement of taste and dignity of character."
"Who would have thought," said little Fanny, "that my happening to bite my tongue this morning would have led to all this?"
"It would be a fortunate bite for you, Fanny," said her mother, "and for your neighbors, if it should make you more careful in the use of it. If we were liable to such a misfortune whenever we use our tongues improperly, some persons would be in a constant agony. Now, if our consciences were but half as sensitive as our nerves, they would answer the purpose much better. Foolish talking pains a good conscience, just as continual speaking hurts a sore tongue; and if we did but regard one smart as much as the other, it would act as a constant check upon the unruly member."
EYES AND NO EYES, OR THE ART OF SEEING
By JOHN AIKIN and MRS. BARBAULD
"Well, Robert, where have you been walking this after noon?" said Mr. Andrews, to one of his pupils at the close of a holiday.
R. I have been, sir, to Broom heath, and so round by the windmill upon Camp-mount, and home through the meadows by the river-side.
Mr. A. Well, that's a pleasant round.
R. I thought it very dull, sir; I scarcely met with a single person. I had rather by half have gone along the turnpike road.
Mr. A. Why, if seeing men and horses is your object, you would, indeed, be better entertained on the highroad. But did you see William?
R. We set out together, but he lagged behind in the lane, so I walked on and left him.
Mr. A. That was a pity. He would have been company for you.
R. Oh, he is so tedious, always stopping to look at this thing and that! I had rather walk alone. I dare say he is not got home yet.
Mr. A. Here he comes. Well, William, where have you been?
W. Oh, sir, the pleasantest walk! I went all over Broom-heath, and so up to the mill at the top of the hill, and then down among the green meadows by the side of the river.
Mr. A. Why, that is just the round Robert has been taking, and he complains of its dullness, and prefers the highroad.
W. I wonder at that. I am sure I hardly took a step that did not delight me, and I have brought home my handkerchief full of curiosities.
Mr. A. Suppose, then, you give us some account of what amused you so much. I fancy it will be as new to Robert as to me.
W. I will, sir. The lane leading to the heath, you know, is close and sandy, so I did not mind it much, but made the best of my way. However, I spied a curious thing enough in the hedge. It was an old crab-tree, out of which grew a great bunch of something green, quite different from the tree itself. Here is a branch of it.
Mr. A. Ah! this is mistletoe, a plant of great fame for the use made of it by the Druids of old in their religious rites and incantations. It bears a very slimy white berry, of which birdlime may be made, whence its Latin name of Viscus. It is one of those plants which do not grow In the ground by a root of their own, but fix themselves upon other plants; whence they have been humorously styled parasitical, as being hangers-on, or dependents. It was the mistletoe of the oak that the Druids particularly honored.
W. A little farther on I saw a green woodpecker fly to a tree, and run up the trunk like a cat.
Mr. A. That was to seek for insects in the bark, on which they live. They bore holes with their strong bills for that purpose, and do much damage to the trees by it.
W. What beautiful birds they are!
Mr. A. Yes; they have been called, from their color and size, the English parrot.
W. When I got upon the open heath, how charming it was! The air seemed so fresh, and the prospect on every side so free and unbounded! Then it was all covered with gay flowers, many of which I had never observed before. There were at least three kinds of heath (I have got them In my handkerchief here), and gorse, and broom, and bellflower, and many others of all colors, that I will beg you presently to tell me the names of.
Mr. A. That I will readily.
W. I saw, too, several birds that were new to me. There was a pretty grayish one, of the size of a lark, that was hopping about some great stones; and when he flew he showed a great deal of white above his tail.
Mr. A. That was a wheatear. They are reckoned very delicious birds to eat, and frequent the open downs in Sussex, and some other countries, in great numbers.
W. There was a flock of lapwings upon a marshy part of the heath, that amused me much. As I came near them, some of them kept flying round and round just over my head, and crying pewet so distinctly one might fancy they almost spoke, I thought I should have caught one of them, for he flew as if one of his wings was broken, and often tumbled close to the ground: but as I came near, he always made a shift to get away.
Mr. A. Ha, ha! you were finely taken in then! This was all an artifice of the bird's to entice you away from its nest; for they build upon the bare ground, and their nests would easily be observed, did they not draw off the attention of intruders by their loud cries and counterfeit lameness.
W. I wish I had known that, for he led me a long chase, often over shoes in water. However, it was the cause of my falling in with an old man and a boy who were cutting and piling up turf for fuel, and I had a good deal of talk with them about the manner of preparing the turf, and the price it sells at. They gave me, too, a creature I never saw before—a young viper, which they had just killed, together with its dam. I have seen several common snakes, but this is thicker in proportion, and of a darker color than they are.
Mr. A. True. Vipers frequent those turfy, boggy grounds pretty much, and I have known several turf-cutters bitten by them.
W. They are very venomous, are they not?
Mr. A. Enough so to make their wounds painful and dangerous, though they seldom prove fatal.
W. Well—I then took my course up to the windmill on the mount. I climbed up the steps of the mill in order to get a better view of the country round. What an extensive prospect! I counted fifteen church steeples; and I saw several gentlemen's houses peeping out from the midst of green woods and plantations; and I could trace the windings of the river all along the low grounds, till it was lost behind a ridge of hills. But I'll tell you what I mean to do, sir, if you will give me leave.
Mr. A. What is that?
W. I will go again, and take with me Carey's county map, by which I shall probably be able to make out most of the places.
Mr. A. You shall have it, and I will go with you, and take my pocket spying-glass.
W. I shall be very glad of that. Well—a thought struck me, that as the hill is called Camp-mount, there might probably be some remains of ditches and mounds with which I have read that camps were surrounded. And I really believe I discovered something of that sort running round one side of the mount.
Mr, A. Very likely you might. I know antiquaries have described such remains as existing there, which some suppose to be Roman, others Danish. We will examine them further, when we go.
W. From the hill I went straight down to the meadows below, and walked on the side of a brook that runs into the river. It was all bordered with reeds and flags and tall flowering plants, quite different from those I had seen on the heath. As I was getting down the bank to reach one of them, I heard something plunge into the water near me. It was a large water-rat, and I saw it swim over to the other side, and go into its hole. There were a great many large dragon-flies all about the stream. I caught one of the finest, and have got him here in a leaf. But how I longed to catch a bird that I saw hovering over the water, and every now and then darting down into it! It was all over a mixture of the most beautiful green and blue, with some orange color. It was somewhat less than a thrush, and had a large head and bill, and a short tail.
Mr. A. I can tell you what that bird was—a kingfisher, the celebrated halcyon of the ancients, about which so many tales are told. It lives on fish, which it catches in the manner you saw. It builds in holes in the banks, and is a shy, retired bird, never to be seen far from the stream where it inhabits.
W. I must try to get another sight at him, for I never saw a bird that pleased me so much. Well—I followed this little brook till it entered the river, and then took the path that runs along the bank. On the opposite side I observed several little birds running along the shore, and making a piping noise. They were brown and white, and about as big as a snipe.
Mr. A. I suppose they were sandpipers, one of the numerous family of birds that get their living by wading among the shallows, and picking up worms and insects.
W. There were a great many swallows, too, sporting upon the surface of the water, that entertained me with their motions. Sometimes they dashed into the stream; sometimes they pursued one another so quick, that the eye could scarcely follow them. In one place where a high steep sand-bank rose directly above the river, I observed many of them go in and out of holes with which the bank was bored full.
Mr. A. Those were sand-martins, the smallest of our species of swallows. They are of a mouse color above, and white beneath. They make their nests and bring up their young in these holes, which run a great depth, and by their situation are secure from all plunderers.
W. A little farther I saw a man in a boat, who was catching eels in an odd way. He had a long pole with broad iron prongs at the end, just like Neptune's trident, only there were five instead of three. This he pulled straight down among the mud in the deepest parts of the river, and fetched up the eels sticking between the prongs.
Mr. A. I have seen this method. It is called spearing of eels.
W. While I was looking at him, a heron came flying over my head, with his large flagging wings. He lit at the next turn of the river, and I crept softly behind the bank to watch his motions. He had waded into the water as far as his long legs would carry him, and was standing with his neck drawn in, looking intently on the stream. Presently he darted his long bill as quick as lightning into the water, and drew out a fish, which he swallowed. I saw him catch another in the same manner. He then took alarm at some noise I made, and flew away slowly to a wood at some distance, where he settled.
Mr. A. Probably his nest was there, for herons build upon the loftiest trees they can find, and sometimes in society together like rooks. Formerly, when these birds were valued for the amusement of hawking, many gentlemen had their heronries, and a few are still remaining.
W. I think they are the largest wild birds we have.
Mr. A. They are of a great length and spread of wing, but their bodies are comparatively small.
W. I then turned homeward across the meadows, where I stopped awhile to look at a large flock of starlings which kept flying about at no great distance. I could not tell at first what to make of them; for they rose all together from the ground as thick as a swarm of bees, and formed themselves into a kind of black cloud, hovering over the field. After taking a short round, they settled again, and presently rose again in the same manner, I dare say there were hundreds of them.
Mr. A. Perhaps so; for in the fenny countries their flocks are so numerous as to break down whole acres of reeds by settling on them. This disposition of starlings to fly in close swarms was remarked even by Homer, who compares the foe flying from one of his heroes to a cloud of starlings retiring dismayed at the approach of the hawk.
W. After I had left the meadows, I crossed the cornfields and got to the high field next our house just as the sun was setting, and I stood looking at it till it was quite lost. What a glorious sight! The clouds were tinged with purple and crimson and yellow of all shades and hues, and the clear sky varied from blue to a fine green at the horizon. But how large the sun appears just as it sets! I think it seems twice as big as when it is overhead.
Mr. A. It does so; and you may probably have observed the same apparent enlargement of the moon at its rising.
W. I have; but pray what is the reason of this?
Mr. A. It is an optical deception, depending upon principles which I cannot well explain to you till you know more of that branch of science. But what a number of new ideas this afternoon's walk has afforded you! I do not wonder that you found it amusing; It has been very instructive, too. Did you see nothing of all these sights, Robert?
R. I saw some of them, but I did not take particular notice of them.
Mr. A. Why not?
R. I don't know. I did not care about them, and I made the best of my way home.
Mr. A. That would have been right if you had been sent of a message; but as you only walked for amusement it would have been wiser to have sought out as many sources of it as possible. But so it is—one man walks through the world with his eyes open, and another with them shut; and upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge the one acquires above the other. I have known sailors, who had been in all quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling-houses they frequented in different ports, and the price and quality of the liquor. On the other hand, a Franklin could not cross the channel without making some observations useful to mankind. While many a vacant, thoughtless youth is whirled throughout Europe without gaining a single idea worth crossing a street for, the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight in every ramble in town or country. Do you then, William, continue to make use of your eyes; and you, Robert, learn that eyes were given you to use.
By G.P.R. JAMES
Once upon a time there was a young Prince who met with a very curious kind of misfortune. Most people want something which they cannot get; and because they cannot get it, they generally desire it more than anything else, which is very foolish, for it would be much better to be contented with what they have.
He was a wise fox, my dear Charlie, who thought the grapes were sour when he could not reach them. Now the Prince's misfortune consisted in this, that he had everything on earth he could want or desire, and a little more. He had a fine palace and a fine country, obedient subjects and servants, and true friends. When he got up in the morning, there was some one ready to put on his clothes for him; when he went to bed at night, some one to take them off again. A fairy called Prosperity gave him everything he desired as soon as he desired it. If he wanted peaches at Christmas, or cool air at mid-summer, the first came instantly from his hothouses, and the second was produced by an enormous fan, which hung from the top of the room, and was moved by two servants.
But strange to say, the Prince got weary of all this; he was tired of wanting nothing. When he sat down to dinner he had but little appetite, because he had had such a good breakfast; he hardly knew which coat to put on, they were all so beautiful; and when he went to bed at night, though the bed was as soft as a white cloud, he could not sleep, for he was not tired.
There was only one ugly thing in the whole palace, which was a little, drowsy, gray dwarf, left there by the fairy Prosperity. He kept yawning all day, and very often set the Prince yawning, too, only to look at him. This dwarf they called Satiety, and he followed the Prince about wherever he went.
One day the Prince asked him what he was yawning for, and Satiety answered:
"Because I have nothing to do, and nothing to wish for, my Prince."
"I suppose that is the reason why I yawn too," replied the Prince.
"Rather is it having me always with you,".answered Satiety.
"Then get away and leave me," said the Prince.
"I cannot do that," answered Satiety. "You can go from me, but I cannot go from you; I can never leave you as long as you remain in the palace of Prosperity."
"Then I will have you turned out," said the Prince.
"No one can do that," said Satiety, "but Misfortune, and he is a very capricious person. Though he is a very disagreeable monster, some people seem to court him, but cannot get him to come near them; while to a great many he comes unawares, and catches them, though they fly from him eagerly. I tell you, Prince, you can go from me, but I cannot go from you as long as you remain in the palace of Prosperity."
That night, when he went to his soft bed, the Prince thought very much as to the conversation he had held with Satiety, and he resolved to go out of the palace for a time, just to get rid of the ugly little gray, yawning dwarf.
The very resolution seemed to do him good, and he slept better that night after he had made it than he had done for many a night before.
The next morning when he rose he felt quite refreshed, and he said to a groom: "Bring me my stout horse, Expedition; I am going out to take a ride all alone."
The groom answered not a word, for in that palace every one obeyed the Prince at once, and nobody troubled him but the ugly little dwarf, Satiety. As he went away, however, the groom said to himself with a sigh: "It is a sad thing to be in the wide world all alone. My Prince does not know what it is. But let him try; it may be better for him."
He accordingly brought the horse to the palace-door. But when the Prince came down he felt quite well, and, looking about among all his attendants, he could only catch a distant glimpse of Satiety standing yawning behind. For a minute he was half inclined not to go, for he did not mind seeing Satiety at a distance if he did not come near. But the groom, whose name was Resolution, seeing him hesitate, said: "You had better go, my Prince, as you determined; it may do you good." And a chamberlain called Effort helped him on his horse.
At first, as the Prince rode along, everything was quite delightful to him. He seemed to breathe more freely now that he was no more troubled with Satiety. The flowers looked bright, and the sky beautiful, for a cloud or two here and there only gave variety. The very air seemed fresher than it had been in the sheltered gardens of the palace, and the Prince said to himself: "What a delightful country this is, just on the verge of the land of Prosperity."
Just then he saw a countryman gathering grapes in a vineyard, and every now and then putting some into his mouth, and the Prince asked him whose fine estate it was that he was passing through.
"It belongs to a gentleman and lady equally, sir," replied the good man; "they are called Activity and Ease. They are the happiest couple ever seen. When Activity is tired, Ease takes his head upon her lap; and soon as she is weary of her burden, Activity jumps up and relieves her from it."
"But to whom does that more barren country just beyond belong?" asked the Prince. "And what is that great thick wood I see farther on still?"
"That is the land of Labor and the Forest of Adversity," said the man. "I would advise you to get through them as soon as possible, for the first you will find very wearisome, and the second exceedingly unpleasant, although people do say that there is a great deal of very good fruit in the forest; only one gets well-nigh torn to pieces with the thorns before one can reach it."
The Prince determined to follow his advice, and rode on. There was not anything very tempting to him as he passed through the land of Labor, and it seemed a long and weary way from the beginning to the end of it. But the forest, even at its entrance, was very dark and gloomy indeed. Thick trees crossed each other overhead, and shut out the bright, cheerful daylight. He could hardly see his way along the narrow, tortuous paths, and the thorns which the peasant had spoken of ran into him continually, for they grew high as well as thick, and crossed the path in every direction. He began heartily to repent that he had quitted the palace of Prosperity, and wished himself back again with all his heart, thinking that he should care little about yawning Satiety if he could but get out of the thorns of Adversity. Indeed, he tried to turn his horse back; but he found it more difficult than he imagined, for, as I have told you, the road was very narrow and those thorns hedged it on every side. There was nothing for it, in short, but to try and force his way on through the wood, in the hope of finding something better beyond.
The Prince did not know which way to take, indeed, and he tried a great number of paths, but in vain. Still there were the same thorns and the same gloomy darkness. He was hungry and thirsty, and he looked round for those fruits he had heard of; but he could see none of them at the time, and the more he sought his way out, the deeper he seemed to get into the forest. The air was very sultry and oppressive, too; he grew weary and faint, quite sick at heart, and even the limbs of his good horse seemed to be failing him, and hardly able to carry him on.
Dark as it all was, it at length began to grow darker, and he perceived that night was coming, so that the poor Prince began to give up all hope, and to think that there would be nothing for him but to lie down and die in despair, when suddenly he caught a sort of twinkling light through the thick bushes, which seemed to lie in the way he was going, and on he went, slowly enough, poor man! But still the light was before him, till suddenly he came to a great rock, overgrown in many places with briers and brambles. In the midst of it, however, was the mouth of a large cave, with great masses of stone hanging over, as if ready to fall on a traveler's head. It was a very stern and gloomy looking place indeed, with clefts and crevices and ragged crags all around. But a few steps in the cave some one seemed to have built himself a house; for it was blocked up with large, unhewn boards of wood, and in this partition there was a door and a window, through which came the light he had seen. The Prince dismounted from his horse, and though he did not know who might be within, he thought it best to knock at the door, and ask for food and shelter.
The moment he knocked a loud, hoarse voice cried: "Come in!" and tying his horse to a tree, he opened the door.
Now, whatever the poor Prince had expected to find, he was certainly disappointed; for that thicket of Adversity is full of disappointments, as every one knows who has traveled through it. He had thought he should see some poor woodman or honest peasant, who would welcome him to his homely hut in the rock with kindness and benevolence; but instead of that he beheld, seated at the table, carving away at a piece of stick by the light of a very small twinkling candle, one of the most tremendous monsters ever man's eyes lighted upon. In shape he was like a man, but he was a great deal stronger than any man. His face looked as if it were cast in iron, so hard and rigid were all the features; and there was an ever-lasting frown planted on his brow. His hands were long and sinewy, with terrible sharp claws upon them; and his feet were so large and heavy that they seemed as if they would crush anything they would set upon to pieces.
The poor Prince, though he was a very brave young man, stopped and hesitated at the sight of this giant; but the monster, without ever turning his head, cried out again: "Come in! Why do you pause? All men must obey me, and I am the only one that all men do obey."
"You must be a mighty monarch, then," said the young Prince, taking courage, "Pray, what is your name?"
"My name is Necessity," answered the other in his thundering voice; "and some people give me bad names, and call me 'Hard Necessity' and 'Dire Necessity;' but, nevertheless, I often lead men to great things and teach them useful arts if they do but struggle with me valiantly."
"Then I wish you would lead me to where I can get some rest," said the Prince, "and teach me how I can procure food for myself and my poor famishing horse."
The monster rose up almost as tall as a steeple and suddenly laid his great clutches upon the Prince's shoulders, saying: "I will do both, if you do but wrestle with me courageously. You must do it, for there is no other way of escaping from my hands."
The Prince had never been handled so roughly before, and as he was brave, strong, and active, he made a great effort to free himself, and tried a thousand ways, but to no purpose. The giant did not hurt him, however, though he pressed him very hard, and at length he cried out: "Ho, ho! you are a brave young man! Leave off struggling, and you shall have some food and drink, such as you would never have tasted had you not come to me."
Thereupon he led him to his own coarse wooden table, and set before him half of a hard brown loaf and a pitcher of water; but so hungry and thirsty was the Prince that the bread seemed to him the best he had ever eaten, and the water sweeter than any in the world.
"Unfasten your horse's bridle," said Necessity, when the Prince had done, "and I will soon teach him where to find something to feed upon."
The Prince did as the giant told him at once, and then his stern-looking companion pointed to a wooden bedstead in a dark corner of the cave, which looked as hard as his own face, saying: "There, lie down and sleep."
"I can never sleep on that thing," said the Prince.
"Ho, ho!" cried the other; "Necessity can make any bed soft," and taking a bundle of straw, he threw it down on the bedstead.
Sleep was sweeter to the Prince that night than it had ever been upon a bed of down, and when he rose the next morning the monster's features did not seem half so stern and forbidding as they had done at first. The inside of the cave, too, looked much more light and blithesome, though it was a dark and frowning place enough still, with hard rock all round, and nothing but one window to let in a little sunshine.
Necessity, however, did not intend to keep the Prince there, and as soon as he was up the giant said to him: "Come, trudge; you must quit my cave, and go on."
"You must open the door for me, then," said the Prince; "for the bolt is so high up I cannot reach it."
"You cannot get out by the door through which you came in," said the giant, "for it is the door of Idleness. There is but one way for you to get out, and that I will show you."
So, taking him by the hand, he led him on into a very dark part of the cave, which went a long way under ground, and then said to him: "You must now go on until you come to a great house, where you will find an old woman, who will give you your meals at least."
"But I want to return to my own palace of Prosperity," replied the Prince.
"She will show you the way," replied the monster, "and without her you will never find it. Go on at once, and don't stand talking."
"But I cannot see the path," said the Prince.
"You must find it," said Necessity, and gave him a great push, which sent him on at a very rapid rate.
For some time he continued to grope his way almost in darkness, but soon a light began to shine before him, which grew bigger and bigger as he advanced, and he perceived that he was coming to another mouth of the cave, leading to an open but very rough country. The Prince was very glad indeed to issue forth and breathe the fresh air, and he looked at the clear sky with great satisfaction. Just before him, however, there was a large house, with a great number of doors and windows; and as he felt very hungry, he determined to knock, and see if he could get any breakfast.
Almost as soon as he had touched the knocker the door was opened by a little old woman, plainly dressed, but neat and tidy: and when the Prince told her who he was, and what he wanted, she answered him with a good-humored smile, very different from the frown of stern Necessity: "Every one can have food in my house who chooses to work for it; nobody without. I can help you on your way, too; and as for your poor horse you talk about, he shall be provided for. My name is Industry, and Industry always takes care of her beasts. Come in, young man; come in."
The Prince went in with a glad step, and found the house quite full of people, all as busy as bees in a field of clover, and all looking as bright and cheerful as if they had washed their faces in sunshine.
It would take me an hour to tell you all the different things they were employed in, every one working by himself on his separate task, although two or three were often seen doing different pieces of the same work. But there were two very nice, pretty girls there whom I must speak of, who seemed to be handmaidens to the mistress of the house. One was a thoughtful-looking, careful girl, who was busy in every part of the room alternately, picking up all the little odds and ends which were left after any piece of work was completed—little bits of string, ends of tape or thread, stray nails, chips of wood, or pieces of paper. These, as soon as she had gathered them up, she put safely by, where she could find them again; and it is wonderful how often she was called upon by the workmen for some little scrap or another, just sufficient to complete what they were about. Her name was Economy.
The other was a brighter, quicker-looking person, with very clear eyes, like two stars, who went continually through the room, putting everything to rights. If a chair was out of its place, or a table turned awry, or a tool put down where it should not be, she could not bear to see it for a minute, but put all things straight again, so that nobody was at a loss where to find anything, She was called Order.
The hungry Prince was somewhat mortified to find a good, large piece of work assigned him to do before he could get his breakfast, and at first he was exceedingly awkward, and did not know how to set about it; but Industry showed him the way, Order helped him a good deal, and Economy supplied him with the materials.
At the end of an hour he had completed his task, and the old lady patted him on the shoulder, saying, "Well done; you are a very good young man. Now Industry will give you your breakfast, and help you on the way to a very nice place, where you will get all you desire."
Thus saying, she led him into a great hall, where there was a vast number of people, all eating rich fruits, with a somewhat hard-favored dame, whom they called Labor, scattering sugar on the different dishes.
When the Prince heard her name, he asked one of the people near if that was really Labor, saying, "I passed through her land not long ago, and it seemed so poor and hard a country that I should have thought it produced nothing good."
"That is a mistake," said the other. "That is the land where grows the sugar-cane, and Labor always sweetens the food of Industry."
As soon as his breakfast was over, the Prince was taken to another door, and shown a road which was very narrow at first, but seemed to grow wider and wider as it went on.
"You have nothing to do but to walk straight forward," said Industry, "neither to turn to the right nor to the left. Keep yourself upright, so that you may have that distant mountain peak before your eyes, and don't suffer yourself to grow faint or get tired. If you should have any doubt or difficulty, you will find some one on the road who will show you the way. But only remember always to keep straight forward, and don't be tempted to turn aside."
"What is the name of this road?" asked the Prince.
"It is called the 'Right Path'" was the reply; and on he set upon his way with a stout heart. Nevertheless, he began to get somewhat tired before an hour was over, although the road was pleasant enough to walk in. There were beautiful green meadows on every side, and richly colored flowers, and what seemed very delicious fruit; and here and there, at a little distance, were pleasant groves, with a number of gay birds, singing very sweetly.
At the end of an hour and a half the Prince became hungry and thirsty again, as well as tired, and he said to himself, "There could be no great harm surely in going across that meadow and gathering some of that fruit, to eat under the shade of the trees, while the birds sing over my head. I do not know how far I have to go. I see no end to this long, straight road. I think I will try and rest for a little under those trees. I can easily find my way back again."
But just at that moment, luckily for himself, the Prince spied a man trudging on before him, and he hurried after, saying to himself, "I will ask him how far I have to go, and whether I have time to stop."
The man did not walk very fast, but he kept steadily on, with a great pikestaff in his hand; and though the Prince called after him as soon as he was within hearing, he did not halt for a moment, or even turn his head, but trudged onward, saying, "Come along, come along; one never gets to the end of one's journey if one stops to chatter by the way."
At length the Prince came up with him, and said in a civil tone, "Pray can you tell me whither this road leads, and if it will be very long before I get to some house where I can find rest and food?"
"It leads to a very fine and beautiful castle," replied the other somewhat doggedly, and still walking on. "I think, if you come along with me, you will get there in time. I am generally well received there, and in some sort may call myself the master of the house, so that those who go with me are generally made welcome by my lady, who, though she is sometimes a little whimsical, is the most charming person in the world when she smiles upon me. But you must keep on steadily with me; for if you stop or turn aside, a thousand to one you will be lost."
When the Prince found him so communicative, he asked him if they could not cross one of the meadows to refresh themselves a little, and told him how he had been tempted to do so just before he saw him.
"Lucky you did not," answered the other; "for those meadows are full of swamps and quagmires, the groves filled with snakes, and many of the fruits poisonous. You might have got yourself into such troubles that not even I could have helped you out of them."
"If it is not improper, may I ask your name?" said the Prince.
"Come along," answered the other, "Names matter little; but if you want to know mine, it is Perseverance."
Not long after the Prince began to think he saw several tall towers glittering before him in the distance, with some misty clouds round about them, which only seemed to make them look the more beautiful.
"What a fine castle!" he exclaimed.
"That is where I am leading you," answered the other; "and the first prospect is always very charming. But we have some way to go yet, I can tell you, and not a little to overcome. You would never get there without me; so come on, and do not be daunted at anything you see."
The Prince soon found that his companion's warning was just. The way did seem very long; and sometimes, as they went over hill and dale, the sight of the beautiful castle, which cheered him so much, was quite shut out from his eyes, and at length, when they were coming very near it, with nothing but one valley between them and the building, he perceived that the road went over a narrow drawbridge, and saw two terrible monsters lying close beside the way. Their bodies were like those of lions, very large and very strong, but they had necks like that of a snake, and from each neck issued a hundred horrible heads, all differing in kind from one another.
The poor Prince was alarmed, and said to his companion: "Do you see those horrible brutes? Is there no other way into the castle but between them?"
"There are a thousand ways into the castle," replied his companion, "but every way is guarded by monsters just like those. But do not be alarmed. Go on with me, and I will help you. Besides, some one will come out of the castle, most likely, to give us assistance."
Upon these words, the Prince went on more cheerfully, especially when he saw a man come running down from the gate of the castle as they approached the drawbridge.
"Ay," said his companion, stepping on without stopping a moment, "there comes my friend Courage to help us. He is a good, serviceable fellow."
Just as he spoke, the two monsters sprang forward, and the one which was nearest to Perseverance growled terribly at him; but he struck him a blow with his pikestaff, which knocked him down and cowed him entirely; and there he lay, with all his hundred heads prostrated in a manner which the Prince could hardly have thought possible. The other brute sprang right at the Prince himself, as if to destroy him, so that he was inclined to draw back; but the man Courage, who had run down from the castle, put his foot upon the creature's snaky neck, and crushed it into the earth.
"Go on, go on, young man!" he cried. "These are terrible monsters truly, but you see our friend Perseverance has vanquished Difficulty, and I have trampled upon Danger."
As he spoke, the Prince passed on rapidly over the drawbridge; and when he stood under the gate of the castle, Perseverance took him by the hand with a smiling air, and led him in, saying: "Now I will conduct you to my lady, Success."
At the very sound the poor Prince seemed quite refreshed, forgot all the weary way he had traveled, the dark forest of Adversity, the grim frown of Necessity, the faintness and the weariness, and hundred-headed Difficulty and Danger. But he was more rejoiced still when, on entering the building, he found himself suddenly, all at once, in the great hall of his own palace of Prosperity, with a beautiful lady, all smiles, standing ready to receive him with a crown in her hand.
"Come hither, Prince," she said, "and receive this crown, which I never bestow on any but my greatest favorites. It is called the crown of Contentment. I reserve it for those who, led on by Perseverance, come to me by the Right Path, in spite of Difficulty and Danger. Those who arrive at my presence by any of the many other roads that are open to mankind I give over to the charge of some of my inferior attendants, such as Pride, Vanity, or Ambition, who amuse themselves by making them play all manner of strange tricks."
Thus saying, she put the crown upon his head, and the Prince found the most delightful tranquil feeling spread through his whole body. Nevertheless, he could not help looking about almost instantly for the figure of the ugly little gray dwarf; and, as he could not see him anywhere, he said to the beautiful lady: "Where is that hideous, yawning Satiety? I hope he has left the palace."
"He may be hanging about in some dark corners of the palace," answered the lady, "or hiding among the roses in your garden of Pleasure; but he will never appear in your presence again, so long as you wear that crown upon your head; for there is a rich jewel called Moderation in the crown of Contentment which is too bright and pure to be looked upon by Satiety."
THE FRUITS OF DISOBEDIENCE
OR THE KIDNAPPED CHILD
In a beautiful villa on the banks of the Medway resided a gentleman whose name was Darnley, who had, during the early part of life, filled a post of some importance about the Court, and even in its decline preserved that elegance of manners which so peculiarly marks a finished gentleman.
The loss of a beloved wife had given a pensive cast to his features, and a seriousness to his deportment, which many people imagined proceeded from haughtiness of disposition, yet nothing could be further from Mr. Darnley's character, for he was affable, gentle, benevolent, and humane.
His family consisted of an only sister, who, like himself, had lost the object of her tenderest affection, but who, in dividing her attention between her brother and his amiable children, endeavored to forget her own misfortunes.
Mr. Darnley's fortune was sufficiently great to enable him to place his daughters in the first school in London, but he preferred having them under his immediate instruction, and as Mrs. Collier offered to assist him in their education he resolved for some years not to engage a governess, as Nurse Chapman was one of those worthy creatures to whose care he could securely trust them.
An old friend of Mr. Darnley's had recently bought a house at Rochester, and that gentleman and his sister were invited to pass a few days there, and as Emily grew rather too big for the nurse's management Mrs. Collier resolved to make her of the party, leaving Sophia, Amanda, and Eliza under that good woman's protection.
It was Mr. Darnley's wish that the young folks should rise early and take a long walk every morning before breakfast, but they were strictly ordered never to go beyond their own grounds unless their aunt or father accompanied them. This order they had frequently endeavored to persuade Nurse Chapman to disregard, but, faithful to the trust reposed in her, she always resisted their urgent entreaties.
The morning after Mr. Darnley went to Rochester the poor woman found herself thoroughly indisposed, and wholly incapable of rising at the accustomed hour. The children, however, were dressed for walking, and the nurse-maid charged not to go beyond the shrubbery, and they all sallied out in high good humor.
"Now, Susan," said Sophia, as soon as they entered the garden, "this is the only opportunity you may ever have of obliging us. Do let us walk to the village, and then you know you can see your father and mother."
"La, missy!" replied the girl, "why, you know 'tis as much as my place is worth if Nurse Chapman should find out."
"Find it out indeed," said Amanda; "how do you think she is to find it out? Come, do let us go, there's a dear, good creature."
"Yes, dear, dear Susan, do let us go," said Eliza, skipping on before them, "and I'll show you the way, for I walked there last summer with father."
Whether it was the wish of obliging the young ladies, or the desire of seeing her parents, I cannot pretend to say, but in a luckless hour Susan yielded, and the party soon reached the village.
Susan's mother was delighted at seeing her, and highly honored by the young ladies' presence.
"Oh, sweet, dear creatures!" said the old woman, "I must get something for them to eat after their long walk, and my oven's quite hot, and I can bake them a little cake in a quarter of an hour, and I'll milk Jenny in ten minutes."
The temptation of her hot cake and new milk was not to be withstood, and Susan began taking down some smart china cups, which were arranged in form upon the mantelpiece, and carefully dusted them for the young ladies' use.
Eliza followed the old woman into the cow-house, and began asking a thousand questions, when her attention was suddenly attracted by the appearance of a tame lamb, who went up bleating to its mistress with a view of asking its accustomed breakfast.
"You must wait a little, Billy," said the woman, "and let your betters be served before you. Don't you see that we have got gentlefolks to breakfast with us this morning?"
Eliza was so delighted with the beauty of the little animal that she wanted to kiss it, and attempted to restrain it for that purpose, while Billy, ungrateful for her intended kindness, gave a sudden spring and frisked away.
Eliza followed in hopes of being able to catch him, but he ran baaing along into the high road.
A woman whose appearance was descriptive of poverty but whose smiling countenance indicated good nature, at that moment happened to pass, and, accosting Eliza in a tone of familiarity, said: "That's not half such a pretty lamb, miss, as I have got at home, and not a quarter so tame, for if you did but say, 'Bob' he'd follow you from one end of the town to the other, and then he'll fetch and carry like a dog, stand up on his hind legs, when my husband says 'Up' for the thing, and play more tricks than a young kitten."
"Oh, the pretty creature," replied Eliza, "how I should like to see it!"
"Well, come along with me, miss," said the woman, "for I only lives just across the next field, but you must run as hard as you can, because my husband is going to work, and he generally takes Bob with him."
"Well, make haste, then," said Eliza.
"Give me your hand, miss," replied the woman; "for we can run faster together. But there goes my husband, I declare; and there's Bob, as usual, skipping on before."
"Where? where?" exclaimed Eliza, stretching her little neck as far as she possibly could, to see if she could discern the lamb.
"You are not tall enough," said the artful creature; "but let me lift you up, miss, and then I dare say you will see them;" and, instantly catching her up, she cried out: "Look directly towards the steeple, miss; but I'll run with you in my arms, and I warrant we'll soon overtake them."
Eliza looked, but looked in vain, and, perceiving the woman had soon carried her out of sight of the cottage, begged she would set her down, as she dare not go any farther.
The vile creature was absolutely incapable of replying, for her breath was nearly exhausted by the rapidity of the motion, and Eliza continued entreating her to stop, and struggled violently to elude her grasp.
At length, after a quarter of an hour's exertion, the woman found herself incapable of proceeding, and stopped suddenly, sat down on a bank, keeping tight hold of Eliza's arms, who cried dreadfully, and besought her to let her go.
"Let you go!" she replied; "what, after all the plague I've had to knap you? No, no, you don't catch me at that, I promise you; but be a good girl, and don't cry, and then you may see Bob by and by, perhaps."
"Oh, my sisters! my sisters! Let me go to my sisters!" cried the child.
"I'll find plenty of sisters for you in a few days," said the vile creature; "but they won't know you in them there fine clothes; so let's pull them off in a minute, and then we'll have another run after Bob."
So saying, she stripped off the white frock, hat, and tippet. The rest of the things shared the same fate, and Eliza was compelled to put on some old rags which the inhuman creature took out of a bag she carried under her petticoat; then, taking a bottle of liquid from the same place, she instantly began washing Eliza's face with it, and, notwithstanding all her remonstrances, cut her beautiful hair close to her head.
Thus metamorphosed, it would have been impossible even for Mr. Darnley to have known his child, and they proceeded onward until her little legs would carry her no farther. At this period they were overtaken by the Canterbury wagon, and for a mere trifle the driver consented to let them ride to London. Eliza's tears continued to flow, but she dared not utter a complaint, as her inhuman companion protested she would break every bone in her skin if she ventured to make the least noise.
When they arrived in town, she was dragged (for to walk she was unable) to a miserable hole down several steps, where they gave her some bread and butter to eat, and then desired her to go to bed.
The bed, if such it might be called, was little else than a bundle of rags thrown into a corner of the room, with a dirty blanket spread across it; and there she was left by her inhuman kidnapper to mourn her misfortunes and lament having disregarded her fathers' injunctions.
The next morning she was forced to rise the moment it was light, and to walk as far as her little legs would carry her before they stopped anywhere to take refreshment. The second night was passed in a barn, and about five o'clock the third afternoon they knocked at the door of a neat-looking cottage, where nine or ten children were sitting in a little room making lace.
"Why, Peggy," said the woman, as she opened the door, "I thought you never would have come again! However, I see you have got me a hand at last, and God knows I'm enough in want of her; for two of my brats have thought proper to fall sick, and I have more to do than ever I had in my life."
On the following day Eliza's filthy rags were all taken off, and she was dressed in a tidy brown-stuff gown, a nice clean round-eared cap, and a little colored bib and apron; and she was ordered, if any person asked her name, to say it was Biddy Bullen, and that she was niece to the woman who employed her.
The severity with which all this wretch's commands were enforced wholly prevented any of the helpless victims who were under her protection from daring to disobey them; and though most of them were placed under her care by the same vile agent who had decoyed Eliza, yet they were all tutored to relate similar untruths.
But I now think it is high time to carry my little readers back to the cottage scene, where Susan was arranging things in order for breakfast, and Sophia and her sister were anxiously watching the moment when the cake was pronounced completely ready.
The old woman soon returned with the milk-pail on her arm, and Susan eagerly demanded: "Where's Miss Eliza?"
"Oh, the pretty creature!" replied her mother, "she'll be here in a minute, I warrant her; but she has gone skipping after our Billy, and the two sweet innocents they are together."
She then went to the oven, produced the cake, and began buttering it with all expedition, while Sophia joyously ran to the door of the cow-house, and began loudly calling her sister Eliza.
No answer being returned, Susan began to feel alarmed, but the young ladies told her not to be frightened, as they knew it was only one of Eliza's pranks. But, alas! too soon were they convinced it was no joke, but some dreadful misfortune must have happened.
"Miss Eliza! Miss Eliza!" was vociferated through the village, not only by Susan and her mother, but by all the neighbors who had heard of the calamity, while her sisters ran about frantic with grief, crying, "Eliza, my love! my darling! Oh, if you are hid, for pity's sake speak!"
Nurse Chapman got up about half-past nine, and, hearing the children were not returned from their walk, sent the housemaid directly after them.
The garden, the shrubbery, and the lawn were all searched without success; and just as Betty was returning to inform the nurse they were not to be found, she perceived Susan and the two children enter a little green gate at the bottom of the shrubbery.
"Where's Miss Eliza?" called Betty, in a voice as loud as she could articulate.
"God knows! God knows!" replied the careless girl, sobbing so loud she could scarcely speak.
"How! where! when!" said the others. "Why, poor nurse will go stark, staring mad!"
By that time the poor woman had quitted her room, and walked into the garden to see what had become of her little charges; and, not directly missing Eliza from the group, which was then fast approaching towards the house, she called out:
"Come, my dear children—come along! I thought you would never have returned again." And, observing Eliza was not with them, she continued: "But, Susan, what's become of my sweet bird? Where's my little darling, Miss Eliza?"
"Oh, nurse! nurse!" said Sophia, "my sister's lost! indeed she's lost!"
"Lost!" exclaimed the poor old woman—"lost! What do you tell me? What do I hear? Oh, my master! my dear master! never shall I bear to see his face again!"
Susan then repeated every circumstance just as has been related, and with sighs and tears bewailed her own folly in suffering herself to be over-persuaded. And the children declared they dare not encounter their father's displeasure.
The men servants were instantly summoned and sent on horseback different ways. That she had been stolen admitted of no doubt, as there was no water near the cottage; and had any accident happened, they must have found her, as they had searched every part of the village before they ventured to return home.
One servant was sent to Rochester, another towards London, and a third and fourth across the country roads; but no intelligence could be obtained, nor the slightest information gathered, by which the unfortunate child could be found, or her wicked decoyer's footsteps traced.
When Mr. Darnley was apprised of the calamitous event, the agitation of his mind may be easily conceived, but can never be described.
Handbills were instantly circulated all over the country, the child's person described, and a reward of five hundred guineas offered for her restoration.
Sophia and Amanda were inconsolable, and Susan was ordered to be discharged before Mr. Darnley returned home, which he did not for more than a month after the melancholy circumstance happened, as he was not satisfied with sending messengers in pursuit of his lost treasure, but went himself to all those wretched parts of London where poverty and vice are known to dwell, in the hope of meeting the object of his solicitude, and at length gave up the interesting pursuit, because he found his health rendered him incapable of continuing it.
Nine tedious months passed away without any intelligence of the lost Eliza; and time, which is a general remedy for all misfortunes, had not softened the severity of their affliction. Mrs. Collier had engaged a lady to be governess to her nieces, as her attention had been wholly devoted to her unfortunate brother, whose agitated state of mind had produced a bodily complaint which demanded her unremitting care and tenderness.
Although Emily loved Eliza with the fondest affection, yet her grief was much less poignant than either of her sisters', as she could not accuse herself with being accessory to her loss.
"Never, never shall I forgive myself," Sophia would often say, "for having deviated from my dear father's command! Oh, so good and indulgent as he is to us, how wicked it was to transgress his will! I was the eldest, and ought to have known better, and my poor Eliza is the sufferer for my crime!"
Thus would she bewail her folly and imprudence, until, agonized by the torture of her own reflections, she would sink down in a chair quite exhausted, and burst into a flood of tears.
While the family at Darnley Hall were thus a prey to unavailing sorrow, the lovely little girl who had occasioned it was beginning to grow more reconciled to the cruelty of her destiny, and to support her different mode of life with resignation and composure. She had acquired such a degree of skill in the art of lacemaking (which was the business her employer followed) as generally to be able to perform the tasks which were allotted her; and if it so happened she was incapable of doing it, Sally Butchell, a child almost two years older than herself, of whom she was very fond, was always kind enough to complete it for her.
The cottage in which the vile Mrs. Bullen resided was situated about a quarter of a mile from High Wycombe; and whenever she was obliged to go to that place, either to purchase or to dispose of her goods, she always went either before her family were up, or after they had retired to rest, locking the door constantly after her, and putting the key in her pocket, so that the poor little souls had no opportunity of telling their misfortunes to any human creature.
One intense hot afternoon, in the month of August, as the children were sitting hard at work with the door open for the sake of air, an elderly lady and gentleman walked up to it, and begged to be accommodated with a seat, informing Mrs. Bullen their carriage had broken down a mile distant, and they had been obliged to walk in the heat of the sun.
The appearance of so many children, all industriously employed, was a sight particularly pleasing to the liberal-minded Mrs. Montague, and she immediately began asking the woman several questions about them; but there was something of confusion in her manner of replying that called forth Mrs. Montague's surprise and astonishment.
"They really are lovely children, my dear," said she, turning to Mr. Montague, who had stood at the door watching the approach of the carriage, which he perceived coming forward; "and as to that little creature with the mole under her left eye, I declare I think it is a perfect beauty."
Mr. Montague turned his head, and regarded Eliza with a look that at once proved that his sentiments corresponded with those of his lady.
"What is your name, my love?" said he, in a tone of kindness which poor Eliza had long been a stranger to.
The child colored like scarlet, and looked immediately at her inhuman employer, who, catching the contagion, replied with evident marks of confusion:
"Her name is Biddy Bullen, sir; she's my niece; but 'tis a poor timid little fool, and is always in a fright when gentlefolks happen to speak to her. Go, Biddy," she continued—"go up into my bedroom, and mind that thread which you'll find upon the reel."
"You should try to conquer that timidity," said Mr. Montague, "by making her answer every stranger who speaks to her; but by taking that office upon yourself, you absolutely encourage the shyness you complain of. Come hither, my little girl," continued he, observing she was retiring upstairs, "and tell the lady what your name is."
Encouraged by the kindness of Mr. Montague's address, the agitated child obeyed the summons, although Mrs. Bullen attempted to force her into resistance.
"Well," continued the old gentleman, patting her on the cheek, "and where did you get that pretty mole?"
"My mother gave it me, sir," replied the blushing child; "but I did not see her do it, because Nurse Chapman told me she went to heaven as soon as I was born."
"Your mother! And what was your mother's name?" said Mr. Montague.
"Darnley, sir," said the child, and suddenly recollecting the lesson that had been taught her—"but my name is Biddy Bullen, and that is my aunt."
"Darnley!" exclaimed Mrs. Montague—"the very child that has been for these twelve months past advertised in all the papers"—then turning to convince herself of the fact—"and the very mole confirms it."
Mr. Montague immediately attempted to secure the woman, but her activity eluded his grasp, and darting out at the back door she was out of sight in a few moments.
"Is she really gone? Is she gone?" all the little voices at once demanded, and upon Mr. Montague's assuring them she was really gone for ever, their joy broke out in a thousand different ways—some cried, some laughed, and others jumped. In short, there never was a scene more completely calculated to interest the feelings of a benevolent heart.
Mr. Montague's carriage at this period arrived, and the footman was desired to fetch a magistrate from Wycombe, while the worthy clergyman resolved to remain there until his arrival, and began questioning all the children. Two had been there from so early a period that they could give no account of their name or origin, but all the rest were so clear in their description that the benevolent Mr. Montague had no doubt of being able to restore them to their afflicted parents.
The magistrate soon arrived, attended by the worthy rector of the place, who, hearing from Mr. Montague's servant that a child had been stolen, came with the intent of offering his services.
All but Eliza were immediately put under his protection, but Mrs. Montague was so anxious she should be their earliest care that she begged her husband to order a post-chaise directly, and set off immediately for town. This request was willingly complied with, and by three o'clock the next afternoon the party arrived at Darnley Hall.
Mrs. Collier was standing at the window when the carriage stopped, and looking earnestly at her niece suddenly exclaimed in a tone of rapture: "My child! My child! My lost Eliza!"
Mr. Darnley, who was reading, sprang from his seat, and flew to the door in a ecstasy of joy. In less than a minute he returned folding his Eliza to his throbbing heart. The joyful intelligence ran through the house, and the other children impatiently flew to this scene of transport.
To describe their feelings or express their felicity would require the aid of the most descriptive pen, and even then would be but faintly told, and therefore had much better be passed over.
From that moment the children all unanimously agreed strictly to attend to their father's orders, and never in the slightest instance act in opposition to his will.
Mr. and Mrs. Montague were laden with caresses, and earnestly entreated to remain Mr. Darnley's guests. The hospitable invitation would have been gladly accepted had not the thoughts of the poor children who were still at Wycombe seemed to claim his immediate attention, and so great was the philanthropy of Mr. Montague's character that he could never rest satisfied if a single duty remained unfulfilled.
OR GOOD NATURE IS NOTHING WITHOUT GOOD CONDUCT
"In festive play this maxim prize— Be always merry—always WISE!"
"Do you know what hour it is when you see a clock?" said Mr. Random to his little son Richard.
"Yes, father," said Richard; "for I can count it all round. When both hands are at the top of the clock, then I know it is time to leave school."
"Then go and see what time it is," said his father.
Away ran Richard, and brought back word in a moment that it was exactly six o'clock.
In a few minutes after came in a friend with a young lady, the former of whom asked Mr. Random why he was not ready to go with them to the concert that evening, as he had promised. Mr. Random replied that it was but six o'clock, which, however, he was soon convinced was a mistake of Richard's, who, on being asked what he saw when he looked on the clock, replied, "I saw the two hands together close to the six, and that made me say it was six, for I always call it twelve when they are right opposite."
"Remember, my dear," said his father, "that the long hand never tells the hour, except on the stroke of twelve. You ought to know that the minute hand overtakes its fellow somewhat later every hour, till at noon and midnight they again start exactly even; and when a bigger boy I shall expect you to tell me how much difference is increased every time they come into conjunction. You now see, Dicky, that through such a mistake I must make my friends wait; pray, therefore, mind better another time."