« AnteriorContinuar »
quillity, just at the very moment they began to taste its charms, which served to convince them how necessary it was to be guided by their prudent mother.
4. This good woman was obliged to leave her children for a time, to attend to some unsettled affairs at a distance. She left them with much reluctance, and even sacrificed her interest, in some measure, to the desire of speedily adjusting her affairs, and in the course of a month, returned in safety to her little flock, who received her with the warmest expressions of joy : but the alteration she perceived in her children very much sur prised and alarmed her.
5. She saw it frequently happen, that if one asked the slightest favour of another, she was ill-naturedly refused, and thence arose tumults and quarrels. That gayety and cheer fulness which had used to accompany all their sports and pastimes were now changed to a gloomy perverseness; and, instead of those tender expressions of love and friendship which had constantly dwelt in all their conversations, nothing was now heard but perpetual jarrings and wranglings. If one proposed a walk in the garden, another would give some reason why she wished to remain in the house ; and, in short, their only study seemed to be to thwart each other.
6. It happened one day, that not contented with showing each other how much they delighted in perverseness, they mutually distressed themselves with reciprocal reproaches.
7. Their tender mother beheld this scene with the greatest uneasiness, and could not help shedding tears on the occasion. She did not then think it prudent to say any thing to them, but retired to her room, in order there to think of the most proper means of restoring peace and harmony among her unhappy children.
8. While she was turning these afflicting thoughts in her mind, all her four young daughters entered her apartment with a peevish and uneasy look, each complaining of the ill-temper of the rest. There was not one, but what charged the other three with being the cause of it, and all together begged their mother would, if possible, restore to them that happiness they once possessed.
9. Their mother put on a very serious countenance, and said, “I have observed, my children, that you endeavour to thwart each other, and thereby destroy your pleasures. In order, therefore, that no such thing may happen again, let each take
her corner in this room, if she choose it, and divert herself in what manner she pleases, provided she does not in
terfere with either of her sisters. You may immediately have recourse to this mode of recreation, as you have leave to play till night: but remember, that none of you stir from the corner in which I shall place you.'
10. The little girls, who were no way displeased with this proposal, hastened to their different quarters, and began to amuse themselves each in her own way. Sophia commenced a conversation with her doll, or rather told her many pretty little stories ; but her doll had not the gift of speech, and consequently was no companion. She could not expect any entertainment from her sisters, as they were playing in their respective corners.
11. Lucy took her pin-cushion and needle-work; but there were none to admire them; besides, she was not allowed to speak to any one in the room.
12. Harriet was very fond of her old game of hunt the slipper ; but what was she to do with the slipper by herself ; she could only sheve it from hand to hand. It was in vain to hope for such service from her sisters, as each was amusing herself in her assigned corner.
13. Emily, who was a very skilful, pretty house-wife, was thinking how she might give her friends an entertainment, and, of course, sent out for many things to market ; but there was, at present, nobody near, with whom she might consult on the occasion, for her sisters were amusing themselves, in the other corners of the room.
14. Every attempt they made to find some new amusement failed, and all supposed that a compromise would be most agreeable ; but, as matters were carried so far, who was first to propose it? This, each would håve considered as a humiliating circumstance; they therefore kept their distance, and disdainfully continued in their solitude. The day at last closing, they returned to their mother, and begged her to think of some other amusement for them, than the ineffectual one they had tried.
15. “I am sorry, my children,' said she, " to see you discontented. I know but of one way to make you happy, with which you yourselves were formerly acquainted, but which, it seems, you have forgotten. Yet, if you wish once more to put it into practice, I can easily bring it to your recollections.' They all answered together, as though with one voice, that they heartily wished to recollect it, and stood attentive, while their mother was looking at them, in eager expectation to hear what she had to say.
16. "What you have lost, or at least forgotten,' replied their mother, is that mutual love and friendship which you once had for each other, and which every sister ought cheerfully to cherish. 0! my dearest children, how have you contrived to forget this, and thereby make me and yourselves miserable !
17. Having uttered these words, which were interrupted by sighs, she stopped short, while tears of tenderness stole down her cheeks. The little girls appeared much disconcerted, and struck with sorrow and confusion. Their mother held out her arms, and they all at once instantly rushed towards her. They sincerely promised that they would tenderly love each other for the future, and perfectly agree, as they formerly had done.
18. From this time no idle peevishness troubled their harmonious intercourse ; and, instead of disputes and discontents among them, nothing was seen but mutual condescension, which delighted all who had the opportunity of being in their company. May this serve as a useful lesson to my youthful readers. How easy it is for us to promote or disturb our own happiness.
Old Age made Happy. 1. OPPOSITE to the house in which Charlotte's parents lived, was a little opening, ornamented with a grass-plot, and overshaded by a venerable tree, commanding an extensive view before it. On this delightful spot Charlotte used frequently to sit in her little chair, while employed in knitting stockings for her mother.
2. As she was one day thus employed, she saw a poor old man advancing very slowly towards her. His hair was as white as silver, and his back bent with age ; he supported himself by a stick, and seemed to walk with great difficulty. "Poor man,' said Charlotte, looking at him most tenderly, he seems to be very much in pain, and perhaps is poor, which are two dreadful evils!'
3. She also saw a number of boys, who were following close behind this poor old man.
They laughed at his thread-bare coat, which had very long skirts, and short sleeves, contrary to the fashion of those days. His hat, which was quite rusty, did not escape their notice ; his cheeks were hollow, and his body thin. These wicked boys no sooner saw him, than they all mocked him. A stone lay in his way, which he did not per ceire, and over it he stuinbled, and had like to have fallen,
This afforded them sport, and they laughed loudly ; but this gave great pain to the poor old man, who uttered a deep sigh.
4. I once was young as you are,' said he, “but I did not laugh at the infirmities of age as you do. The day will come, in which you will be old yourselves, and every day is bringing you forward to that period. You will then be sensible of the impropriety of your present conduct.' Having thus spoken, he endeavoured to hobble on again, and made a second stumble, when, in struggling to save himself from falling, he dropped his cane, and down he fell. On this the wicked boys renewed their laugh, and highly enjoyed his misfortune.
5. Charlotte, who had seen every thing which had passed, could not help pitying the old man's situation, and therefore putting down her knitting on the chair, ran towards him, picked up the cane and gave it him, and then taking hold of his other arm, assisted him to rise.
6. The poor old man looked at her very earnestly, and said, • How good you are ! This kindness makes me in a moment forget all the ill behaviour of those bad boys. May you ever be happy. They then walked on together, but the boys being probably made ashamed of their conduct by the behaviour of Charlotte, followed the old man no further.
7. While the boys were turning about, one of them fell down also, and all the rest began laughing, as they had before done at the old man.
He was very much displeased with them on that account, and as soon as he got up, ran after his companions, pelting them with stones. He instantly became convinced how unjust it was to laugh at the distresses of another, and formed a resolution, for the future, never to lau at any person's pain. He followed the old man he had been laughing at, though at some distance, wishing for an opportunity to do him some favour, by way of atonement, for what he had done.
8. The good old man, in the meantime, by the kind assistance of Charlotte, proceeded with slow but sure steps.' She asked him to stay and rest himself a little, and told him that her house was that before him. “Pray stay,' said she, and rest yourself under that large tree. My parents, indeed, are not at home, and therefore you will not be so well treated; yet it will le a little relief to you.'
9. The old man accepted Charlotte's offer. She brought him out a chair, and then fetched some bread and cheese and some beer, which were all she could procure. He thanked her very kindly, and then entered into conversation with her.
in, I find, my little girl,' said he, you have parents, I doubt not but you love them, and they love you. They must be very happy, and may they always continue to be so !
11. And pray, good old man,' said Charlotte, 'I suppose you have children of your own.'—' I had a son, replied he, 'who lived in London; he loved me tenderly, and frequently came to see me ; but alas ! he is now dead, and I am left disconsolate. His widow, indeed, is rich ; but too proud to inquire whether 'I am dead or alive, and does not wish to have it known that her husband's father is a peasant.'
12. Charlotte was much affected, and could hardly believe that such cruel people existed. • Ah! certain I am,' said she,
that my dear mother would not behave so cruelly.' He then rose, and thanked Charlotte with a blessing ; but she was determined not to leave him, till she had accompanied him a little way
further. 13. As they walked on, they saw the little boy who had been following them; for he had run on some way before, and was sitting on the grass. When they looked upon him, he cast his eyes downwards, got up after they had passed, and followed them again. Charlotte observed him, but said nothing.
14. She asked the old man if he lived alone. No,' answered he, I have a cottage on the other side of that meadow, seated in the middle of a little garden, with an orchard and a small field. An old neighbour, whose cottage fell down through age, lives with me, and cultivates my ground. He is an honest man, and I am perfectly easy'in his society; but the loss of my son still bears hard upon me, nor have I the happiness to see any of his children, who must by this time have forgotten me.'
15. These complaints touched the heart of Charlotte, who told him, that she and her mother would come and see him. The sensibility and kindness of this little girl served only to aggravate his grief, by bringing to his mind the loss he had sustained in his son.
Tears came in his eyes, when he pulled out his handkerchief to wipe them ; and instead of puting it again into his pocket, in the agitation of his mind, it slipped aside, and fell unnoticed by him or Charlotte.
16. The little boy who followed them, saw the handkerchief fall, ran to pick it up, and gave it to the old man, saying, 'Here, good old inan, you dropped your handkerchief, and here it is.' • Thank you kindly, my little friend,' said the old man. · Here is a good little boy, who does not ridicule old age, nor laugh at the afflictions which attend it. You will certainly become an honest man.
Come both of you to my habitation, and I will vive you some milk.