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Title: The Blue Jar Story Book
Author: Lamb, Charles, 1775-1834, Lamb, Mary, 1764-1847, Edgeworth, Maria, 1767-1849, Mant, Alicia C.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: The BLUE JAR Story Book]



[Illustration: "The guinea,--the guinea, sir, that you got from this
child!"--Page 35]



  THE _Blue Jar_ STORY BOOK

  [Illustration]

  By MARIA EDGEWORTH, CHARLES LAMB, MARY LAMB, ALICIA C. MANT,
    and OTHERS.

  ILLUSTRATED

  NEW YORK
  McLOUGHLIN BROTHERS



  Copyright, 1906, by
  McLoughlin Bros., New York.



[Illustration: The BLUE JAR STORY BOOK CONTENTS]

                                         PAGE

  The Blue Jar                              5

  The Basket Woman                         15

  The Sea Voyage                           39

  The Changeling                           49

  The Inquisitive Girl                     69

  The Little Blue Bag                      81



[Illustration: The moment it was on the table Rosamond ran up to it
with an exclamation of joy.]



[Illustration: _The Blue Jar_ Story Book.]



_THE BLUE JAR._

MARIA EDGEWORTH


Rosamond, a little girl about seven years of age, was walking with her
mother in the streets of London. As she passed along she looked in at
the windows of several shops, and saw a great variety of different sorts
of things, of which she did not know the use or even the names. She
wished to stop to look at them, but there was a great number of people
in the streets, and a great many carts, carriages, and wheelbarrows, and
she was afraid to let go her mother's hand.

'Oh, mother, how happy I should be,' she said, as she passed a toy-shop,
'if I had all these pretty things!'

'What, all! Do you wish for them all, Rosamond?'

'Yes, mother, all.'

As she spoke they came to a milliner's shop, the windows of which were
decorated with ribands and lace and festoons of artificial flowers.

'Oh mother, what beautiful roses! Won't you buy some of them?'

'No, my dear.'

'Why?'

'Because I don't want them, my dear.'

They went a little farther, and came to another shop, which caught
Rosamond's eye. It was a jeweller's shop, and in it were a great many
pretty baubles, ranged in drawers behind glass.

'Mother, will you buy some of these?'

'Which of them, Rosamond?'

'Which? I don't know which; any of them will do, for they are all
pretty.'

'Yes, they are all pretty; but of what use would they be to me?'

'Use! Oh, I'm sure you could find some use or other for them if you
would only buy them first.'

'But I would rather find out the use first.'

'Well, then, mother, there are buckles; you know that buckles are useful
things, very useful things.'

'I have a pair of buckles; I don't want another pair,' said her mother,
and walked on. Rosamond was very sorry that her mother wanted nothing.
Presently, however, they came to a shop which appeared to her far more
beautiful than the rest. It was a chemist's shop, but she did not know
that.

'Oh, mother, oh!' cried she, pulling her mother's hand, 'look,
look!--blue, green, red, yellow, and purple! Oh, mother, what beautiful
things! Won't you buy some of these?'

Still her mother answered as before: 'Of what use would they be to me,
Rosamond?'

'You might put flowers in them, mother, and they would look so pretty on
the chimney-piece. I wish I had one of them.'

'You have a flower-pot,' said her mother, 'and that is not a
flower-pot.'

'But I could use it for a flower-pot, mother, you know.'

'Perhaps, if you were to see it nearer, if you were to examine it, you
might be disappointed.'

'No, indeed, I'm sure I should not; I should like it exceedingly.'

Rosamond kept her head turned to look at the blue vase till she could
see it no longer.

'Then, mother,' said she, after a pause, 'perhaps you have no money.'

'Yes, I have.'

'Dear me! if I had money I would buy roses, and boxes, and buckles, and
blue flower-pots, and everything.' Rosamond was obliged to pause in the
midst of her speech. 'Oh, mother, would you stop a minute for me? I have
got a stone in my shoe; it hurts me very much.'

'How comes there to be a stone in your shoe?'

'Because of this great hole, mother; it comes in there. My shoes are
quite worn out. I wish you would be so very good as to give me another
pair.'

'Nay, Rosamond, but I have not money enough to buy shoes, and
flower-pots, and buckles, and boxes, and everything.'

Rosamond thought that was a great pity. But now her foot, which had been
hurt by the stone, began to give her so much pain that she was obliged
to hop every other step, and she could think of nothing else. They came
to a shoemaker's shop soon afterwards.

'There, there, mother, there are shoes; there are little shoes that
would just fit me, and you know shoes would be really of use to me.'

'Yes, so they would, Rosamond. Come in.' She followed her mother into
the shop.

Mr. Sole, the shoemaker, had a great many customers, and his shop was
full, so they were obliged to wait.

'Well, Rosamond,' said her mother, 'you don't think this shop so pretty
as the rest?'

'No, not nearly; it is black and dark, and there are nothing but shoes
all round, and, besides, there's a very disagreeable smell.'

'That smell is the smell of new leather.'

'Is, it? Oh,' said Rosamond looking round 'there is a pair of little
shoes; they'll just fit me, I'm sure.'

'Perhaps they might, but you cannot be sure till you have tried them on,
any more than you can be quite sure that you should like the blue vase
_exceedingly_ till you have examined it more attentively.'

'Why, I don't know about the shoes, certainly, till I have tried; but,
mother, I am quite sure that I should like the flower-pot.'

'Well, which would you rather have--that jar or a pair of shoes? I will
buy either for you.'

'Dear mother, thank you! but if you could buy both?'

'No, not both.'

'Then the jar, if you please.'

'But I should tell you, that in that case I shall not give you another
pair of shoes this month.'

'This month! that's a very long time indeed! You can't think how these
hurt me. I believe I'd better have the new shoes. Yet, that blue
flower-pot. Oh, indeed, mother, these shoes are not so very very bad! I
think I might wear them a little longer, and the month will soon be
over. I can make them last till the end of the month, can't I? Don't you
think so, mother?'

'Nay, my dear, I want you to think for yourself; you will have time
enough to consider the matter whilst I speak to Mr. Sole about my
clogs.'

Mr. Sole was by this time at leisure, and whilst her mother was speaking
to him Rosamond stood in profound meditation, with one shoe on and the
other in her hand.

'Well, my dear, have you decided?'

'Mother! yes, I believe I have. If you please, I should like to have the
flower-pot; that is, if you won't think me very silly, mother.'

'Why, as to that, I can't promise you, Rosamond; but, when you have to
judge for yourself, you should choose what will make you happy, and then
it would not signify who thought you silly.'

'Then, mother, if that's all, I'm sure the flower-pot would make me
happy,' said she, putting on her old shoe again; 'so I choose the
flower-pot.'

'Very well, you shall have it. Clasp your shoe, and come home.'

Rosamond clasped her shoe and ran after her mother. It was not long
before the shoe came down at the heel, and many times she was obliged to
stop to take the stones out of it, and she often limped with pain; but
still the thoughts of the blue flower-pot prevailed, and she persisted
in her choice.

When they came to the shop with the large window Rosamond felt much
pleasure upon hearing her mother desire the servant who was with them to
buy the blue jar, and bring it home. He had other commissions, so he did
not return with them. Rosamond as soon as she got in ran to gather all
her own flowers, which she kept in a corner of her mother's garden.

'I am afraid they'll be dead before the flower-pot comes, Rosamond,'
said her mother to her, as she came in with the flowers in her lap.

'No, indeed, mother; it will come home very soon, I dare say. I shall be
very happy putting them into the blue flower-pot.'

'I hope so, my dear.'

The servant was much longer returning home than Rosamond had expected;
but at length he came, and brought with him the long-wished-for jar. The
moment it was set down upon the table, Rosamond ran up to it with an
exclamation of joy. 'I may have it now, mother?'

'Yes, my dear! it is yours.'

Rosamond poured the flowers from her lap upon the carpet, and seized the
blue flower-pot.

'Oh, dear mother,' cried she, as soon as she had taken off the top, 'but
there's something dark in it which smells very disagreeably. What is it?
I didn't want this black stuff.'

'Nor I, my dear.'

'But what shall I do with it, mother?'

'That I cannot tell.'

'It will be of no use to me, mother.'

'That I cannot help.'

'But I must pour it out, and fill the flower-pot with water.'

'As you please, my dear.'

'Will you lend me a bowl to pour it into, mother?'

'That was more than I promised you, my dear, but I will lend you a
bowl.'

The bowl was produced, and Rosamond proceeded to empty the blue vase.
But she experienced much surprise and disappointment on finding, when it
was entirely empty, that it was no longer a _blue_ vase. It was a plain
white glass jar, which had appeared to have that beautiful colour
merely from the liquor with which it had been filled.

Little Rosamond burst into tears.

'Why should you cry, my dear?' said her mother; 'it will be of as much
use to you now as ever for a flower-pot.'

'But it won't look so pretty on the chimney-piece. I am sure, if I had
known that it was not really blue, I should not have wished to have it
so much.'

'But didn't I tell you that you had not examined it, and that perhaps
you would be disappointed?'

'And so I am disappointed, indeed. I wish I had believed you at once.
Now I had much rather have the shoes, for I shall not be able to walk
all this month; even walking home that little way hurt me exceedingly.
Mother, I will give you the flower-pot back again, and that blue stuff
and all, if you'll only give me the shoes.'

'No, Rosamond; you must abide by your own choice, and now the best thing
you can possibly do is to bear your disappointment with good humour.'

'I will bear it as well as I can,' said Rosamond, wiping her eyes; and
she began slowly and sorrowfully to fill the vase with flowers.

But Rosamond's disappointment did not end here. Many were the
difficulties and distresses into which her imprudent choice brought her
before the end of the month. Every day her shoes grew worse and worse,
till at last she could neither run, dance, jump, nor walk in them.
Whenever Rosamond was called to see anything, she was detained pulling
her shoes up at the heels, and was sure to be too late. Whenever her
mother was going out to walk, she could not take Rosamond with her, for
Rosamond had no soles to her shoes; and at length, on the very last day
of the month, it happened that her father proposed to take her, with her
brother, to a glasshouse which she had long wished to see. She was very
happy; but when she was quite ready, had her hat and gloves on, and was
making haste downstairs to her brother and father, who were waiting for
her at the hall-door, the shoe dropped off. She put it on again in a
great hurry, but as she was going across the hall her father turned
round. 'Why are you walking slipshod? no one must walk slipshod with me.
Why, Rosamond,' said he, looking at her shoes with disgust, 'I thought
that you were always neat. Go; I cannot take you with me.'

Rosamond coloured and retired. 'Oh, mother,' said she, as she took off
her hat, 'how I wish that I had chosen the shoes! They would have been
of so much more use to me than that jar. However, I am sure--no, not
quite sure, but I hope I shall be wiser another time.'



  _THE BASKET-WOMAN_

  MARIA EDGEWORTH.


At the foot of a steep, slippery, white hill, near Dunstable, in
Bedfordshire, called Chalk Hill, there is a hut, or rather a hovel,
which travellers would scarcely suppose could be inhabited, if they did
not see the smoke rising from its peaked roof. An old woman lived in
this hovel, many years ago, and with her a little boy and girl, the
children of a beggar who died and left these orphans perishing with
hunger. They thought themselves very happy when the good old woman first
took them into her hut, and bid them warm themselves at her small fire,
and gave them a crust of mouldy bread to eat. She had not much to give,
but what she had she gave with goodwill. She was very kind to these poor
children, and worked hard at her spinning-wheel and at her knitting to
support herself and them. She earned money also in another way. She used
to follow all the carriages as they went up Chalk Hill, and when the
horses stopped to take breath or to rest themselves, she put stones
behind the carriage-wheels to prevent them from rolling backwards down
the steep, slippery hill.

The little boy and girl loved to stand beside the good-natured old
woman's spinning wheel when she was spinning, and to talk to her. At
these times she taught them something, which she said she hoped they
would remember all their lives. She explained to them what is meant by
telling the truth, and what it is to be honest. She taught them to
dislike idleness, and to wish that they could be useful.

One evening, as they were standing beside her, the little boy said to
her: 'Grandmother'--for that was the name by which she liked that these
children should call her--'grandmother, how often you are forced to get
up from your spinning-wheel, and to follow the chaises and coaches up
that steep hill, to put stones underneath the wheels to hinder them from
rolling back! The people who are in the carriages give you a halfpenny
or a penny for doing so, don't they?'

'Yes, child.'

'But it is very hard work for you to go up and down that hill. You often
say that you are tired. And then you know that you cannot spin all that
time. Now, if we might go up the hill, and put the stones behind the
wheels, you could sit still at your work; and would not the people give
us the halfpence? and could not we bring them all to you? Do, pray, dear
grandmother, try us for one day--to-morrow will you?'

'Yes,' said the old woman, 'I will try what you can do; but I must go up
the hill along with you for the first two or three times, for fear you
should get yourselves hurt.'

So the next day the little boy and girl went with their grandmother, as
they used to call her, up the steep hill, and she showed the boy how to
prevent the wheels from rolling back by putting stones behind them, and
she said: 'This is called scotching the wheels,' and she took off the
boy's hat and gave it to the little girl to hold up to the
carriage-windows ready for the halfpence.

When she thought that the children knew how to manage by themselves she
left them and returned to her spinning-wheel. A great many carriages
happened to go by this day, and the little girl received a great many
halfpence. She carried them all in her brother's hat to her grandmother
in the evening, and the old woman smiled and thanked the children. She
said that they had been useful to her, and that her spinning had gone on
finely, because she had been able to sit still at her wheel all day.

'But, Paul, my boy,' said she, 'what is the matter with your hand?'

'Only a pinch--only one pinch that I got as I was putting a stone behind
a wheel of a chaise. It does not hurt me much, grandmother, and I've
thought of a good thing for to-morrow. I shall never be hurt again if
you will only be so good as to give me the old handle of the broken
crutch, grandmother, and the block of wood that lies in the
chimney-corner, and that is of no use. I'll make it of some use, if I
may have it.'

'Take it, then, dear,' said the old woman, 'and you'll find the handle
of the broken crutch under my bed.'

Paul went to work immediately, and fastened one end of the pole into the
block of wood, so as to make something like a dry-rubbing brush.

'Look, grandmother--look at my _scotcher_! I call this thing my
_scotcher_,' said Paul, 'because I shall always scotch the wheels with
it. I shall never pinch my fingers again; my hands, you see, will be
safe at the end of this long stick. And, Sister Anne, you need not be at
the trouble of carrying any more stones after me up the hill; we shall
never want stones any more. My scotcher will do without anything else, I
hope. I wish it was morning, and that a carriage would come, that I
might run up the hill and try my scotcher.'

[Illustration: "Look, grandmother--look at my scotcher!"]

'And I wish that as many chaises may go by to-morrow as there did
to-day, and that we may bring you as many halfpence, too, grandmother,'
said the little girl.

'So do I, my dear Anne,' said the old woman, 'for I mean that you and
your brother shall have all the money that you get to-morrow. You may
buy some ginger bread for yourselves, or some of those ripe plums that
you saw at the fruit-stall the other day, which is just going into
Dunstable. I told you then that I could not afford to buy such things
for you, but now that you can earn halfpence for yourselves, children,
it is fair you should taste a ripe plum and bit of gingerbread for once
and a way in your lives.'

'We'll bring some of the gingerbread home to her, shan't we, brother?'
whispered little Anne.

The morning came, but no carriages were heard though Paul and his sister
had risen at five o'clock that they might be sure to be ready for early
travellers. Paul kept his scotcher poised upon his shoulder, and watched
eagerly at his station at the bottom of the hill. He did not wait long
before a carriage came. He followed it up the hill, and the instant the
postillion called to him and bade him stop the wheels, he put his
scotcher behind them, and found that it answered the purpose perfectly
well.

Many carriages went by this day, and Paul and Anne received a great many
halfpence from the travellers.

When it grew dusk in the evening Anne said to her brother: 'I don't
think any more carriages will come by to-day. Let us count the
halfpence, and carry them home now to grandmother.'

'No, not yet,' answered Paul; 'let them alone--let them lie still in the
hole where I have put them. I dare say more carriages will come by
before it is quite dark, and then we shall have more halfpence.'

Paul had taken the halfpence out of his hat, and he had put them into a
hole in the high bank by the roadside, and Anne said she would not
meddle with them, and that she would wait till her brother liked to
count them; and Paul said: 'If you will stay and watch here, I will go
and gather some blackberries for you in the hedge in yonder field. Stand
you hereabouts, half-way up the hill, and the moment you see any
carriage coming along the road run as fast as you can and call me.'

Anne waited a long time, or what she thought a long time, and she saw no
carriage and she trailed her brother's scotcher up and down till she was
tired. Then she stood still and looked again, and she saw no carriage,
so she went sorrowfully into the field and to the hedge where her
brother was gathering blackberries, and she said:

'Paul, I'm sadly tired--_sadly tired!_' said she, 'and my eyes are quite
strained with looking for chaises. No more chaises will come to-night,
and your scotcher is lying there, of no use, upon the ground. Have not I
waited long enough for to-day, Paul?'

'Oh no,' said Paul. 'Here are some blackberries for you; you had better
wait a little bit longer. Perhaps a carriage might go by whilst you are
standing here talking to me.'

Anne, who was of a very obliging temper, and who liked to do what she
was asked to do, went back to the place where the scotcher lay, and
scarcely had she reached the spot when she heard the noise of a
carriage. She ran to call her brother, and, to their great joy, they now
saw four chaises coming towards them. Paul, as soon as they went up the
hill, followed with his scotcher. First he scotched the wheels of one
carriage, then of another; and Anne was so much delighted with observing
how well the scotcher stopped the wheels, and how much better it was
than stones, that she forgot to go and hold her brother's hat to the
travellers for halfpence, till she was roused by the voice of a little
rosy girl who was looking out of the window of one of the chaises. 'Come
close to the chaise-door,' said the little girl; 'here are some
halfpence for you.'

Anne held the hat, and she afterwards went on to the other carriages.
Money was thrown to her from each of them, and when they had all gotten
safely to the top of the hill, she and her brother sat down upon a large
stone by the roadside to count their treasure. First they began by
counting what was in the hat--'One, two, three, four halfpence.'

'But, oh, brother, look at this!' exclaimed Anne; 'this is not the same
as the other halfpence.'

'No, indeed, it is not,' cried Paul; 'it is no halfpenny. It is a
guinea--a bright golden guinea!'

'Is it?' said Anne, who had never seen a guinea in her life before, and
who did not know its value, 'and will it do as well as a halfpenny to
buy gingerbread? I'll run to the fruit-stall and ask the woman, shall
I?'

'No, no,' said Paul, 'you need not ask any woman, or anybody but me. I
can tell you all about it as well as anybody in the whole world.'

'The whole world! Oh, Paul, you forgot. Not so well as my grandmother.'

'Why, not so well as my grandmother, perhaps; but, Anne, I can tell you
that you must not talk yourself, Anne, but you must listen to me
quietly, or else you won't understand what I am going to tell you; for I
can assure you that I don't think I quite understood it myself, Anne,
the first time my grandmother told it to me, though I stood stock-still
listening my best.'

Prepared by this speech to hear something very difficult to be
understood, Anne looked very grave, and her brother explained to her
that with a guinea she might buy two hundred and fifty-two times as many
plums as she could get for a penny.

'Why, Paul, you know the fruit-woman said she would give us a dozen
plums for a penny. Now, for this little guinea would she give us two
hundred and fifty-two dozen?'

'If she has so many, and if we like to have so many, to be sure she
will,' said Paul; 'but I think we should not like to have two hundred
and fifty-two dozen of plums; we could not eat such a number.'

'But we could give some of them to my grandmother,' said Anne.

'But still there would be too many for her, and for us, too,' said Paul,
'and when we had eaten the plums there would be an end to all the
pleasure. But now I'll tell you what I am thinking of, Anne, that we
might buy something for my grandmother that would be very useful to her
indeed with the guinea--something that would last a great while.'

[Illustration: "We might buy something very useful with the guinea."]

'What, brother? What sort of thing?'

'Something that she said she wanted very much last winter, when she was
so ill with the rheumatism--something that she said yesterday, when you
were making her bed, she wished she might be able to buy before next
winter.'

'I know, I know what you mean!' said Anne--'a blanket. Oh, yes, Paul,
that will be much better than plums; do let us buy a blanket for her.
How glad she will be to see it! I will make her bed with the new
blanket, and then bring her to look at it. But, Paul, how shall we buy a
blanket? Where are blankets to be got?'

'Leave that to me; I'll manage that. I know where blankets can be got; I
saw one hanging out of a shop the day I went last to Dunstable.'

'You have seen a great many things at Dunstable, brother.'

'Yes, a great many; but I never saw anything there or anywhere else that
I wished for half so much as I did for the blanket for my grandmother.
Do you remember how she used to shiver with the cold last winter? I'll
buy the blanket to-morrow. I'm going to Dunstable with her spinning.'

'And you'll bring the blanket to me, and I shall make the bed very
neatly. That will be all right--all happy!' said Anne, clapping her
hands.

'But stay! Hush! don't clap your hands so, Anne. It will not be all
happy, I'm afraid,' said Paul, and his countenance changed, and he
looked very grave. 'It will not be all right, I'm afraid, for there's
one thing we have neither of us thought of, but that we ought to think
about. We cannot buy the blanket, I'm afraid.'

'Why--Paul, why?'

'Because I don't think this guinea is honestly ours.'

'Nay, brother, but I'm sure it is honestly ours. It was given to us, and
grandmother said all that was given to us to-day was to be our own.'

'But who gave it to you, Anne?'

'Some of the people in those chaises, Paul. I don't know which of them,
but I dare say it was the little rosy girl.'

'No,' said Paul, 'for when she called you to the chaise door she said,
"Here's some halfpence for you." Now, if she gave you the guinea, she
must have given it to you by mistake.'

'Well, but perhaps some of the people in the other chaises gave it to
me, and did not give it to me by mistake, Paul. There was a gentleman
reading in one of the chaises, and a lady, who looked very
good-naturedly at me, and then the gentleman put down his book, and put
his head out of the window and looked at your scotcher, brother, and he
asked me if that was your own making; and when I said yes, and that I
was your sister, he smiled at me, and put his hand into his waistcoat
pocket, and threw a handful of halfpence into the hat, and I dare say he
gave us the guinea along with them because he liked your scotcher so
much.'

'Why,' said Paul, 'that might be, to be sure, but I wish I was quite
certain of it.'

'Then, as we are not quite certain, had not we best go and ask my
grandmother what she thinks about it?'

Paul thought this was excellent advice, and he was not a silly boy who
did not like to follow good advice. He went with his sister directly to
his grandmother, showed her the guinea and told her how they came by it.

'My dear honest children,' said she, 'I am very glad you told me all
this. I am very glad that you did not buy either the plums or the
blanket with this guinea. I'm sure it is not honestly ours. Those who
threw it you gave it you by mistake, I warrant, and what I would have
you do is to go to Dunstable, and try if you can at either of the inns
find out the person who gave it to you. It is now so late in the evening
that perhaps the travellers will sleep at Dunstable instead of going on
the next stage; and it is likely that whosoever gave you a guinea
instead of a halfpenny has found out their mistake by this time. All you
can do is to go and inquire for the gentleman who was reading in the
chaise.'

'Oh!' interrupted Paul, 'I know a good way of finding him out. I
remember it was a dark-green chaise with red wheels, and I remember I
read the innkeeper's name upon the chaise, "John Nelson." (I am much
obliged to you for teaching me to read, grandmother.) You told me
yesterday, grandmother, that the names written upon chaises are the
innkeepers to whom they belong. I read the name of the innkeeper upon
that chaise. It was John Nelson. So Anne and I will go to both the inns
in Dunstable, and try to find out this chaise--John Nelson's. Come,
Anne, let us set out before it gets quite dark.'

Anne and her brother passed with great courage the tempting stall that
was covered with gingerbread and ripe plums, and pursued their way
steadily through the streets of Dunstable; but Paul, when he came to the
shop where he had seen the blanket, stopped for a moment, and said: 'It
is a great pity, Anne, that the guinea is not ours. However, we are
doing what is honest, and that is a comfort. Here, we must go through
this gateway into the inn-yard; we are come to the Dun Cow.'

'Cow!' said Anne, 'I see no cow.'

'Look up, and you'll see the cow over your head,' said Paul--'the sign,
the picture. Come, never mind looking at it now; I want to find out the
green chaise that has John Nelson's name upon it.'

Paul pushed forward through a crowded passage till he got into the
inn-yard. There was a great noise and bustle. The ostlers were carrying
in luggage; the postillions were rubbing down the horses, or rolling the
chaises into the coach-house.

'What now? What business have you here, pray?' said a waiter, who almost
ran over Paul as he was crossing the yard in a great hurry to get some
empty bottles from the bottle-rack. 'You've no business here, crowding
up the yard. Walk off, young gentleman, if you please.'

'Pray give me leave, sir,' said Paul, 'to stay a few minutes to look
amongst these chaises for one dark-green chaise with red wheels that has
Mr. John Nelson's name written upon it.'

'What's that he says about a dark-green chaise?' said one of the
postillions.

'What should such a one as he is know about chaises?' interrupted the
hasty waiter, and he was going to turn Paul out of the yard; but the
ostler caught hold of his arm, and said: 'Maybe the child _has_ some
business here; let's know what he has to say for himself.'

The waiter was at this instant luckily obliged to leave them to attend
the bell, and Paul told his business to the ostler, who as soon as he
saw the guinea and heard the story shook Paul by the hand, and said:
'Stand steady, my honest lad. I'll find the chaise for you, if it is to
be found here; but John Nelson's chaises almost always drive to the
Black Bull.'

After some difficulty the green chaise with John Nelson's name upon it,
and the postillion who drove that chaise, were found, and the postillion
told Paul that he was just going into the parlour to the gentleman he
had driven to be paid, and that he would carry the guinea with him.

'No,' said Paul; 'we should like to give it back ourselves.'

'Yes,' said the ostler, 'that they have a right to do.'

The postillion made no reply, but looked vexed, and went on towards the
house, desiring the children would wait in the passage till his return.
In the passage there was standing a decent, clean, good-natured looking
woman with two huge straw baskets on each side of her. One of the
baskets stood a little in the way of the entrance. A man who was pushing
his way in, and carried in his hand a string of dead larks hung to a
pole, impatient at being stopped, kicked down the straw basket, and all
its contents were thrown out. Bright straw hats, and boxes, and
slippers, were all thrown in disorder upon the dirty ground.

'Oh, they will be trampled upon! They will all be spoiled!' exclaimed
the woman to whom they belonged.

'We'll help you to pick them up, if you will let us,' cried Paul and
Anne, and they immediately ran to her assistance.

When the things were all safe in the basket again the children expressed
a desire to know how such beautiful things could be made of straw, but
the woman had not time to answer before the postillion came out of the
parlour, and with him a gentleman's servant, who came to Paul, and
clapping him upon the back, said:

'So, my little chap, I gave you a guinea for a halfpenny, I hear, and I
understand you've brought it back again; that's right, give me hold of
it.'

'No, brother,' said Anne, 'this is not the gentleman that was reading.'

'Pooh, child! I came in Mr. Nelson's green chaise. Here's the postillion
can tell you so. I and my master came in that chaise. I and my master
that was reading, as you say, and it was he that threw the money out to
you. He is going to bed; he is tired, and can't see you himself. He
desires that you'll give me the guinea.'

Paul was too honest himself to suspect that this man was telling him a
falsehood, and he now readily produced his bright guinea, and delivered
it into the servant's hands.

'Here's a sixpence apiece for you, children,' said he, 'and good-night
to you.' He pushed them towards the door, but the basket-woman whispered
to them as they went out: 'Wait in the street till I come to you.'

'Pray, Mrs. Landlady,' cried this gentleman's servant, addressing
himself to the landlady, who just then came out of a room where some
company at supper--'pray, Mrs. Landlady, please to let me have roasted
larks for my supper. You are famous for larks at Dunstable, and I make
it a rule to taste the best of everything wherever I go; and, waiter,
let me have a bottle of claret. Do you hear?'

'Larks and claret for his supper,' said the basket-woman to herself as
she looked at him from head to foot. The postillion was still waiting,
as if to speak to him, and she observed them afterwards whispering and
laughing together. '_No bad hit_,' was a sentence which the servant
pronounced several times.

Now, it occurred to the basket-woman that this man had cheated the
children out of the guinea to pay for the larks and claret, and she
thought that perhaps she could discover the truth. She waited quietly in
the passage.

'Waiter! Joe! Joe!' cried the landlady, 'why don't you carry in the
sweetmeat-puffs and the tarts here to the company in the best parlour?'

'Coming, ma'am,' answered the waiter, and with a large dish of tarts and
puffs he came from the bar. The landlady threw open the door of the best
parlour to let him in, and the basket-woman had now a full view of a
large cheerful company, and amongst them several children, sitting round
a supper-table.

'Ay,' whispered the landlady, as the door closed after the waiter and
the tarts, 'there are customers enough, I warrant, for you in that room,
if you had but the luck to be called in. Pray, what would you have the
conscience, I wonder now, to charge me for these here half-dozen little
mats to put under my dishes?'

'A trifle, ma'am,' said the basket-woman. She let the landlady have the
mats cheap, and the landlady then declared she would step in and see if
the company in the best parlour had done supper. 'When they come to
their wine,' added she, 'I'll speak a good word for you, and get you
called in afore the children are sent to bed.'

The landlady, after the usual speech of '_I hope the supper and
everything is to your liking, ladies and gentlemen_,' began with: 'If
any of the young gentlemen or ladies would have a _cur'osity_ to see any
of our famous Dunstable straw-work there's a decent body without would,
I dare say, be proud to show them her pincushion-boxes, and her baskets
and slippers, and her other _cur'osities_.'

The eyes of the children all turned towards their mother; their mother
smiled, and immediately their father called in the basket-woman, and
desired her to produce her _curiosities_. The children gathered round
her large pannier as it opened, but they did not touch any of her
things.

'Ah, papa,' cried a little rosy girl, 'here are a pair of straw slippers
that would just fit you, I think; but would not straw shoes wear out
very soon, and would not they let in the wet?'

'Yes, my dear,' said her father, 'but these slippers are meant--'

'For powdering-slippers, miss,' interrupted the basket-woman.

'To wear when people are powdering their hair,' continued the gentleman,
'that they may not spoil their other shoes.'

'And will you buy them, papa?'

'No, I cannot indulge myself,' said her father, 'in buying them now. I
must make amends,' said he, laughing, 'for my carelessness, and as I
threw away a guinea to-day I must endeavour to save sixpence at least.'

'Ah, the guinea that you threw by mistake into the little girl's hat as
we were coming up Chalk Hill. Mamma, I wonder that the little girl did
not take notice of its being a guinea, and that she did not run after
the chaise to give it back again. I should think, if she had been an
honest girl, she would have returned it.'

'Miss!--ma'am!--sir!' said the basket-woman, 'if it would not be
impertinent, may I speak a word? A little boy and girl have just been
here inquiring for a gentleman who gave them a guinea instead of a
halfpenny by mistake and not five minutes ago I saw the boy give the
guinea to a gentleman's servant, who is there without, and who said his
master desired it should be returned to him.'

'There must be some mistake or some trick in this,' said the gentleman.
'Are the children gone? I must see them; send after them.'

'I'll go for them myself,' said the good-natured basket-woman. 'I bid
them wait in the street yonder, for my mind misgave me that the man who
spoke so short to them was a cheat, with his larks and his claret.'

Paul and Anne were speedily summoned, and brought back by their friend
the basket-woman; and Anne, the moment she saw the gentleman, knew that
he was the very person who smiled upon her, who admired her brother's
scotcher, and who threw a handful of halfpence into the hat; but she
could not be certain, she said, that she received the guinea from him:
she only thought it most likely that she did.

'But I can be certain whether the guinea you returned be mine or no,'
said the gentleman. 'I marked the guinea; it was a light one, the only
guinea I had, which I put into my waistcoat pocket this morning.' He
rang the bell, and desired the waiter to let the gentleman who was in
the room opposite to him know that he wished to see him.

'The gentleman in the white parlour, sir, do you mean?'

'I mean the master of the servant who received a guinea from this
child.'

'He is a Mr. Pembroke, sir,' said the waiter.

Mr. Pembroke came, and as soon as he heard what had happened he desired
the waiter to show him to the room where his servant was at supper. The
dishonest servant who was supping upon larks and claret, knew nothing of
what was going on; but his knife and fork dropped from his hand, and he
overturned a bumper of claret as he started up from the table in great
surprise and terror, when his master came in with a face of indignation,
and demanded, '_The guinea--the guinea, sir_, that you got from this
child! that guinea which you said I ordered you to ask for from this
child!'

The servant, confounded and half intoxicated, could only stammer out
that he had more guineas than one about him, and that he really did not
know which it was. He pulled his money out, and spread it upon the table
with trembling hands. The marked guinea appeared. His master instantly
turned him out of his service, with strong expressions of contempt.

'And now, my little honest girl,' said the gentleman who had admired her
brother's scotcher, turning to Anne--'and now tell me who you are, and
what you and your brother want or wish for most in the world.'

In the same moment Anne and Paul exclaimed: 'The thing we wish for the
most in the world is a blanket for our grandmother.'

'She is not our grandmother in reality, I believe sir,' said Paul; 'but
she is just as good to us, and taught me to read, and taught Anne to
knit, and taught us both that we should be honest--so she has, and I
wish she had a new blanket before next winter to keep her from the cold
and the rheumatism. She had the rheumatism sadly last winter, sir, and
there is a blanket in this street that would be just the thing for her.'

'She shall have it, then; and,' continued the gentleman, 'I will do
something more for you. Do you like to be employed or to be idle best?'

'We like to have something to do always, if we could, sir,' said Paul;
'but we are forced to be idle sometimes, because grandmother has not
always things for us to do that we _can_ do well.'

'Should you like to learn how to make such baskets as these?' said the
gentleman, pointing to one of the Dunstable straw baskets.

'Oh, very much!' said Paul.

'Very much!' said Anne.

'Then I should like to teach you how to make them,' said the
basket-woman, 'for I'm sure of one thing, that you'd behave honestly to
me.'

The gentleman put a guinea into the good natured basket-woman's hand,
and told her that he knew she could not afford to teach them her trade
for nothing. 'I shall come through Dunstable again in a few months,'
added he, 'and I hope to see that you and your scholars are going on
well. If I find that they are I will do something more for you.'

'But,' said Anne, 'we must tell all this to grandmother, and ask her
about it; and I'm afraid--though I'm very happy--that it is getting very
late, and that we should not stay here any longer.'

'It is a fine moonlight night,' said the basket-woman, 'and is not far.
I'll walk with you, and see you safe home myself.'

The gentleman detained them a few minutes longer, till a messenger whom
he had despatched to purchase the much-wished-for blanket returned.

'Your grandmother will sleep well upon this good blanket, I hope,' said
the gentleman, as he gave it into Paul's opened arms. 'It has been
obtained for her by the honesty of her adopted children.'

[Illustration]



  _THE SEA VOYAGE._

  CHARLES LAMB.


I was born in the East Indies. I lost my father and mother young. At the
age of five my relations thought it proper that I should be sent to
England for my education. I was to be entrusted to the care of a young
woman who had a character for great humanity and discretion; but just as
I had taken leave of my friends, and we were about to take our passage,
the young woman suddenly fell sick, and could not go on board. In this
unpleasant emergency, no one knew how to act. The ship was at the very
point of sailing, and it was the last which was to sail for the season.
At length the captain, who was known to my friends, prevailed upon my
relation who had come with us to see us embark to leave the young woman
on shore, and to let me embark separately. There was no possibility of
getting any other female attendant for me in the short time allotted for
our preparation, and the opportunity of going by that ship was thought
too valuable to be lost. No other ladies happened to be going, and so I
was consigned to the care of the captain and his crew--rough and
unaccustomed attendants for a young creature, delicately brought up as
I had been; but, indeed, they did their best to make me not feel the
difference. The unpolished sailors were my nursery-maids and my
waiting-women. Everything was done by the captain and the men to
accommodate me and make me easy. I had a little room made out of the
cabin, which was to be considered as my room, and nobody might enter
into it. The first mate made a great character for bravery, and all
sailor-like accomplishments; but with all this he had a gentleness of
manners, and a pale, feminine cast of face, from ill-health and a weakly
constitution, which subjected him to some ridicule from the officers,
and caused him to be named Betsy. He did not much like the appellation,
but he submitted to it the better, saying that those who gave him a
woman's name well knew that he had a man's heart, and that in the face
of danger he would go as far as any man. To this young man, whose real
name was Charles Atkinson, by a lucky thought of the captain the care of
me was especially entrusted. Betsy was proud of his charge, and, to do
him justice, acquitted himself with great diligence and adroitness
through the whole of the voyage. From the beginning I had somehow looked
upon Betsy as a woman, hearing him so spoken of, and this reconciled me
in some measure to the want of a maid, which I had been used to. But I
was a manageable girl at all times, and gave nobody much trouble.

I have not knowledge enough to give an account of my voyage, or to
remember the names of the seas we passed through or the lands which we
touched upon in our course. The chief thing I can remember (for I do not
recollect the events of the voyage in any order) was Atkinson taking me
upon deck to see the great whales playing about the sea. There was one
great whale came bounding up out of the sea, and then he would dive into
it again, and then he would come up at a distance where nobody expected
him, and another whale was following after him. Atkinson said they were
at play, and that the lesser whale loved that bigger whale, and kept it
company all through the wide seas; but I thought it strange play and a
frightful kind of love, for I every minute expected they would come up
to our ship and toss it. But Atkinson said a whale was a gentle
creature, and it was a sort of sea-elephant, and that the most powerful
creatures in Nature are always the least hurtful. And he told me how men
went out to take these whales, and stuck long pointed darts into them;
and how the sea was discoloured with the blood of these poor whales for
many miles' distance; and I admired the courage of the men, but I was
sorry for the inoffensive whale. Many other pretty sights he used to
show me, when he was not on watch or doing some duty for the ship. No
one was more attentive to his duty than he, but at such times as he had
leisure he would show me all pretty sea-sights: the dolphins and
porpoises that came before a storm, and all the colours which the sea
changed to--how sometimes it was a deep blue, and then a deep green, and
sometimes it would seem all on fire. All these various appearances he
would show me, and attempt to explain the reason of them to me, as well
as my young capacity would admit of. There were a lion and a tiger on
board going to England as a present to the King, and it was a great
diversion to Atkinson and me, after I had got rid of my first terrors,
to see the ways of these beasts in their dens, and how venturous the
sailors were in putting their hands through the grates, and patting
their rough coats. Some of the men had monkeys, which ran loose about,
and the sport was for the men to lose them, and find them again. The
monkeys would run up the shrouds and pass from rope to rope, with ten
times greater alacrity than the most experienced sailor could follow
them, and sometimes they would hide themselves in the most unthought-of
places, and when they were found, they would grin and make mouths, as if
they had sense. Atkinson described to me the ways of these little
animals in their native woods, for he had seen them. Oh, how many ways
he thought of to amuse me in that long voyage!

[Illustration: "He would show me all pretty sea-sights."]

Sometimes he would describe to me the odd shapes and varieties of fishes
that were in the sea, and tell me tales of the sea-monsters that lay hid
at the bottom, and were seldom seen by men, and what a glorious sight it
would be if our eyes could be sharpened to behold all the inhabitants
of the sea at once, swimming in the great deeps, as plain as we see the
gold and silver fish in a bowl of glass. With such notions he enlarged
my infant capacity to take in many things.

When in foul weather I have been terrified at the motion of the vessel,
as it rocked backwards and forwards, he would still my fears, and tell
me that I used to be rocked so once in a cradle, and that the sea was
God's bed and the ship our cradle, and we were as safe in that great
motion as when we felt that lesser one in our little wooden
sleeping-places. When the wind was up, and sang through the sails, and
disturbed me with its violent clamours, he would call it music, and bid
me hark to the sea-organ, and with that name he quieted my tender
apprehensions. When I have looked around with a mournful face at seeing
all _men_ about me, he would enter into my thoughts, and tell me pretty
stories of his mother and his sisters, and a female cousin that he loved
better than his sisters, whom he called Jenny, and say that when we got
to England I should go and see them, and how fond Jenny would be of his
little daughter, as he called me; and with these images of women and
females which he raised in my fancy he quieted me for a while. One time,
and never but once he told me that Jenny had promised to be his wife if
ever he came to England, but that he had his doubts whether he should
live to get home, for he was very sickly. This made me cry bitterly.

That I dwell so long upon the attention of this Atkinson is only because
his death, which happened just before we got to England, affected me so
much, that he alone of all the ship's crew has engrossed my mind ever
since, though, indeed, the captain and all were singularly kind to me,
and strove to make up for my uneasy and unnatural situation. The
boatswain would pipe for my diversion, and the sailor-boy would climb
the dangerous mast for my sport. The rough foremast-man would never
willingly appear before me till he had combed his long black hair smooth
and sleek, not to terrify me. The officers got up a sort of play for my
amusement, and Atkinson, or, as they called him, Betsy, acted the
heroine of the piece. All ways that could be contrived were thought upon
to reconcile me to my lot. I was the universal favourite. I do not know
how deservedly, but I suppose it was because I was alone, and there was
no female in the ship besides me. Had I come over with female relations
or attendants, I should have excited no particular curiosity, I should
have required no uncommon attentions. I was one little woman among a
crew of men, and I believe the homage which I have read that men
universally pay to women was in this case directed to me, in the absence
of all other womankind. I do not know how that might be, but I was a
little princess among them, and I was not six years old.

I remember the first drawback which happened to my comfort was
Atkinson's not appearing the whole of one day. The captain tried to
reconcile me to it by saying that Mr. Atkinson was confined to his
cabin, that he was not quite well, but a day or two would restore him. I
begged to be taken in to see him, but this was not granted. A day, and
then another came, and another, and no Atkinson was visible, and I saw
apparent solicitude in the faces of all the officers, who nevertheless
strove to put on their best countenances before me, and to be more than
usually kind to me. At length, by the desire of Atkinson himself, as I
have since learned, I was permitted to go into his cabin and see him. He
was sitting up, apparently in a state of great exhaustion; but his face
lighted up when he saw me, and he kissed me, and told me that he was
going a great voyage, far longer than that which we had passed together,
and he should never come back; and though I was so young, I understood
well enough that he meant this of his death, and I cried sadly; but he
comforted me, and told me that I must be his little executrix, and
perform his last will, and bear his last words to his mother and his
sisters, and to his cousin Jenny, whom I should see in a short time, and
he gave me his blessing, as a father would bless his child, and he sent
a last kiss by me to all his female relations, and he made me promise
that I would go and see them when I got to England, and soon after this
he died. But I was in another part of the ship when he died, and I was
not told it till we got to shore, which was a few days after. But they
kept telling me that he was better and better, and that I should soon
see him, but that it disturbed him to talk with anyone. Oh, what a grief
it was when I learned that I had lost an old shipmate, that had made an
irksome situation so bearable by his kind assiduities, and to think that
he was gone, and I could never repay him for his kindness!

When I had been a year and a half in England, the captain, who had made
another voyage to India and back, thinking that time alleviated a little
the sorrow of Atkinson's relations, prevailed upon my friends who had
the care of me in England to let him introduce me to Atkinson's mother
and sisters. Jenny was no more; she had died in the interval, and I
never saw her. Grief for his death had brought on a consumption, of
which she lingered about a twelvemonth, and then expired. But in the
mother and the sisters of this excellent young man I have found the most
valuable friends I possess on this side the great ocean. They received
me from the captain as the little protége of Atkinson, and from them I
have learned passages of his former life, and this in particular--that
the illness of which he died was brought on by a wound of which he never
quite recovered which he got in the desperate attempt, when he was
quite a boy, to defend his captain against a superior force of the enemy
which had boarded him, and which, by his premature valour, inspiriting
the men, they finally succeeded in repulsing. This was that Atkinson
who, from his pale and feminine appearance, was called Betsy. This was
he whose womanly care of me got him the name of a woman, who, with more
than female attention, condescended to play the handmaid to a little
unaccompanied orphan that fortune had cast upon the care of a rough
sea-captain and his rougher crew.

[Illustration]



  _THE CHANGELING._

  MARY LAMB.


My name, you know, is Withers; but as I once thought I was the daughter
of Sir Edward and Lady Harriet Lesley, I shall speak of myself as Miss
Lesley, and call Sir Edward and Lady Harriet my father and mother during
the period I supposed them entitled to those beloved names. When I was a
little girl, it was the perpetual subject of my contemplation that I was
an heiress, and the daughter of a baronet; that my mother was the
Honourable Lady Harriet; that we had a nobler mansion, infinitely finer
pleasure-grounds, and equipages more splendid than any of the
neighbouring families. I am ashamed to confess what a proud child I once
was. How it happened I cannot tell, for my father was esteemed the
best-bred man in the country, and the condescension and affability of my
mother were universally spoken of.

Alas! I am a changeling, substituted by my mother for the heiress of the
Lesley family. It was for my sake she did this naughty deed; yet, since
the truth has been known, it seems to me as if I had been the only
sufferer by it; remembering no time when I was not Harriet Lesley, it
seems as if the change had taken from me my birthright.

Lady Harriet had intended to nurse her child herself, but being seized
with a violent fever soon after its birth, she was not only unable to
nurse it but even to see it, for several weeks. I was not quite a month
old at this time when my mother was hired to be Miss Lesley's nurse. She
had once been a servant in the family; her husband was then at sea.

She had been nursing Miss Lesley a few days, when a girl who had the
care of me brought me into the nursery to see my mother. It happened
that she wanted something from her own home, which she despatched the
girl to fetch, and desired her to leave me till her return. In her
absence she changed our clothes; then, keeping me to personate the child
she was nursing, she sent away the daughter of Sir Edward to be brought
up in her own poor cottage.

When my mother sent away the girl, she affirmed she had not the least
intention of committing this bad action; but after she was left alone
with us, she looked on me, and then on the little lady baby, and she
wept over me, to think she was obliged to leave me to the charge of a
careless girl, debarred from my own natural food, while she was nursing
another person's child.

The laced cap and the fine cambric robe of the little Harriet were lying
on the table ready to be put on. In these she dressed me, only just to
see how pretty her own dear baby would look in missy's fine clothes.
When she saw me thus adorned, she said to me:

'Oh, my dear Ann, you look as like missy as anything can be! I am sure
my lady herself, if she were well enough to see you, would not know the
difference!'

She said these words aloud, and while she was speaking a wicked thought
came into her head--how easy it would be to change these children! On
which she hastily dressed Harriet in my coarse raiment. She had no
sooner finished the transformation of Miss Lesley into the poor Ann
Withers than the girl returned, and carried her away, without the least
suspicion that it was not the same infant that she had brought thither.

[Illustration: "The girl carried her away without the least suspicion
that it was not the same infant."]

It was wonderful that no one discovered that I was not the same child.
Every fresh face that came into the room filled the nurse with terror.
The servants still continued to pay their compliments to the baby in the
same form as usual, crying:

'How like it is to its father!'

Nor did Sir Edward himself perceive the difference, his lady's illness
probably engrossing all his attention at the time, though, indeed,
gentlemen seldom take much notice of very young children.

When Lady Harriet began to recover, and the nurse saw me in her arms
caressed as her own child, all fears of detection were over; but the
pangs of remorse then seized her. As the dear sick lady hung with tears
of fondness over me, she thought she should have died with sorrow for
having so cruelly deceived her.

When I was a year old, Mrs. Withers was discharged, and because she had
been observed to nurse me with uncommon care and affection, and was seen
to shed many tears at parting from me, to reward her fidelity Sir Edward
settled a small pension on her, and she was allowed to come every Sunday
to dine in the housekeeper's room, and see her little lady.

When she went home, it might have been expected she would have neglected
the child she had so wickedly stolen, instead of which she nursed it
with the greatest tenderness, being very sorry for what she had done.
All the ease she could ever find for her troubled conscience was in her
extreme care of this injured child, and in the weekly visits to its
father's house she constantly brought it with her. At the time I have
the earliest recollection of her she was become a widow, and with the
pension Sir Edward allowed her, and some plain work she did for our
family, she maintained herself and her supposed daughter. The doting
fondness she showed for her child was much talked of. It was said she
waited upon it more like a servant than a mother, and it was observed
its clothes were always made, as far as her slender means would permit,
in the same fashion, and her hair cut and curled in the same form, as
mine. To this person, as having been my faithful nurse, and to her
child, I was always taught to show particular civility, and the little
girl was always brought into the nursery to play with me. Ann was a
little delicate thing, and remarkably well behaved, for, though so much
indulged in every other respect, my mother was very attentive to her
manners.

As the child grew older my mother became very uneasy about her
education. She was so very desirous of having her well behaved that she
feared to send her to school, lest she should learn ill manners among
the village children, with whom she never suffered her to play, and she
was such a poor scholar herself that she could teach her little or
nothing. I heard her relate this her distress to my own maid, with tears
in her eyes, and I formed a resolution to beg of my parents that I might
have Ann for a companion, and that she might be allowed to take lessons
with me of my governess.

My birthday was then approaching, and on that day I was always indulged
in the privilege of asking some peculiar favour.

'And what boon has my annual petitioner to beg to-day?' said my father,
as he entered the breakfast-room on the morning of my birthday.

Then I told him of the great anxiety expressed by Nurse Withers
concerning her daughter; how much she wished it was in her power to give
her an education that would enable her to get her living without hard
labour. I set the good qualities of Ann Withers in the best light I
could, and in conclusion I begged she might be permitted to partake with
me in education, and become my companion.

'This is a very serious request indeed, Harriet,' said Sir Edward. 'Your
mother and I must consult together on the subject.'

The result of this conversation was favourable to my wishes. In a few
weeks my foster-sister was taken into the house, and placed under the
tuition of my governess.

To me, who had hitherto lived without any companions of my own age,
except occasional visitors, the idea of a play-fellow constantly to
associate with was very pleasant, and, after the first shyness of
feeling her altered situation was over, Ann seemed as much at her ease
as if she had always been brought up in our house. I became very fond of
her, and took pleasure in showing her all manner of attentions, which so
far won on her affections that she told me she had a secret entrusted to
her by her mother, which she had promised never to reveal as long as her
mother lived, but that she almost wished to confide it to me, because I
was such a kind friend to her; yet, having promised never to tell it
till the death of her mother, she was afraid to tell it to me. At first
I assured her that I would never press her to the disclosure, for that
promises of secrecy were to be held sacred; but whenever we fell into
any confidential kind of conversation, this secret seemed always ready
to come out. Whether she or I were most to blame, I know not, though I
own I could not help giving frequently hints how well I could keep a
secret. At length she told me what I have before related--namely, that
she was in truth the daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Lesley, and I the
child of her supposed mother.

When I was first in possession of this wonderful secret, my heart burned
to reveal it. I thought how praiseworthy it would be in me to restore to
my friend the rights of her birth; yet I thought only of becoming her
patroness, and raising her to her proper rank. It never occurred to me
that my own degradation must necessarily follow. I endeavoured to
persuade her to let me tell this important affair to my parents. This
she positively refused. I expressed wonder that she should so faithfully
keep this secret for an unworthy woman, who in her infancy had done her
such an injury.

'Oh,' said she, 'you do not know how much she loves me, or you would not
wonder that I never resent that. I have seen her grieve and be so very
sorry on my account that I would not bring her into more trouble for any
good that could happen to myself. She has often told me that, since the
day she changed us, she has never known what it is to have a happy
moment, and when she returned home from nursing you, finding me very
thin and sickly, how her heart smote her for what she had done; and then
she nursed and fed me with such anxious care that she grew much fonder
of me than if I had been her own, and that on the Sundays when she used
to bring me here it was more pleasure to her to see me in my father's
own house than it was to her to see you, her real child. The shyness you
showed towards her while you were very young, and the forced civility
you seemed to affect as you grew older, always appeared like ingratitude
towards her who had done so much for you. My mother has desired me to
disclose this after her death, but I do not believe I shall ever mention
it then, for I should be sorry to bring any reproach even on her
memory.'

In a short time after this important discovery, Ann was sent home to
pass a few weeks with her mother, on the occasion of the unexpected
arrival of some visitors to our house. They were to bring children with
them, and these I was to consider as my own guests.

In the expected arrival of my young visitants, and in making
preparations to entertain them, I had little leisure to deliberate on
what conduct I should pursue with regard to my friend's secret.
Something must be done, I thought, to make her amends for the injury she
had sustained, and I resolved to consider the matter attentively on her
return. Still my mind ran on conferring favours. I never considered
myself as transformed into the dependent person. Indeed, Sir Edward at
this time set me about a task which occupied the whole of my attention.
He proposed that I should write a little interlude, after the manner of
the French 'Petites Pièces,' and to try my ingenuity, no one was to see
it before the representation, except the performers, myself, and my
little friends, who, as they were all younger than I, could not be
expected to lend me much assistance. I have already told you what a
proud girl I was. During the writing of this piece, the receiving of my
young friends, and the instructing them in their several parts, I never
felt myself of so much importance. With Ann my pride had somewhat
slumbered. The difference of our rank left no room for competition; all
was complacency and good-humour on my part, and affectionate gratitude,
tempered with respect, on hers. But here I had full room to show
courtesy, to affect those graces, to imitate that elegance of manners,
practised by Lady Harriet to their mothers. I was to be their
instructress in action and in attitudes, and to receive their praises
and their admiration of my theatrical genius. It was a new scene of
triumph for me, and I might then be said to be in the very height of my
glory.

If the plot of my piece, for the invention of which they so highly
praised me, had been indeed my own, all would have been well; but
unhappily I borrowed from a source which made my drama end far
differently from what I intended it should. In the catastrophe I lost
not only the name I personated in the piece, but with it my own name
also, and all my rank and consequence in the world fled from me for
ever. My father presented me with a beautiful writing-desk for the use
of my new authorship. My silver standish was placed upon it; a quire of
gilt paper was before me. I took out a parcel of my best crow quills,
and down I sate in the greatest form imaginable.

I conjecture I have no talent for invention. Certain it is that, when I
sat down to compose my piece, no story would come into my head but the
story which Ann had so lately related to me. Many sheets were scrawled
over in vain; I could think of nothing else. Still the babies and the
nurse were before me in all the minutiæ of description Ann had given
them. The costly attire of the lady baby, the homely garb of the cottage
infant, the affecting address of the fond mother to her own offspring,
then the charming _équivoque_ in the change of the children--it all
looked so dramatic. It was a play ready-made to my hands. The invalid
mother would form the pathetic, the silly exclamations of the servants
the ludicrous, and the nurse was nature itself. It is true I had a few
scruples that it might, should it come to the knowledge of Ann, be
construed into something very like a breach of confidence. But she was
at home, and might never happen to hear of the subject of my piece, and
if she did, why, it was only making some handsome apology. To a
dependent companion to whom I had been so very great a friend, it was
not necessary to be so very particular about such a trifle.

[Illustration: "Many sheets were scrawled over in vain. I could think of
nothing else."]

Thus I reasoned as I wrote my drama, beginning with the title, which I
called 'The Changeling,' and ending with these words: 'The curtain
drops, while the lady clasps the baby in her arms, and the nurse sighs
audibly.' I invented no new incident; I simply wrote the story as Ann
had told it to me, in the best blank verse I was able to compose.

By the time it was finished the company had arrived. The casting the
different parts was my next care. The Honourable Augustus M----, a young
gentleman of five years of age, undertook to play the father. He was
only to come in and say: 'How does my little darling do to-day?' The
three Miss ----s were to be the servants; they, too, had only single
lines to speak.

As these four were all very young performers, we made them rehearse many
times over, that they might walk in and out with proper decorum; but the
performance was stopped before their entrances and their exits arrived.
I complimented Lady Elizabeth, the sister of Augustus, who was the
eldest of the young ladies, with the choice of the lady mother, or the
nurse. She fixed on the former. She was to recline on a sofa, and,
affecting ill-health, speak some eight or ten lines, which began with,
'Oh, that I could my precious baby see!' To their cousin, Miss Emily
----, was given the girl who had the care of the nurse's child. Two
dolls were to personate the two children, and the principal character of
the nurse I had the pleasure to perform myself. It consisted of several
speeches, and a very long soliloquy during the changing of the
children's clothes.

The elder brother of Augustus, a gentleman of fifteen years of age,
refused to mix in our childish drama, yet condescended to paint the
scenes, and our dresses were got up by my own maid.

When we thought ourselves quite perfect in our several parts, we
announced it for representation. Sir Edward and Lady Harriet, with their
visitors, the parents of my young troop of comedians, honoured us with
their presence. The servants were also permitted to go into a
music-gallery, which was at the end of a ball-room we had chosen for our
theatre.

As author and principal performer, standing before a noble audience, my
mind was too much engaged with the arduous task I had undertaken to
glance my eyes towards the music-gallery, or I might have seen two more
spectators there than I expected. Nurse Withers and her daughter Ann
were there; they had been invited by the housekeeper to be present at
the representation of Miss Lesley's play.

In the midst of the performance, as I, in character of the nurse, was
delivering the wrong child to the girl, there was an exclamation from
the music-gallery of:

'Oh, it's all true! it's all true!'

This was followed by a bustle among the servants, and screams as of a
person in an hysteric fit. Sir Edward came forward to inquire what was
the matter. He saw it was Mrs. Withers who had fallen into a fit. Ann
was weeping over her, and crying out:

'Oh, Miss Lesley, you have told all in the play!'

Mrs. Withers was brought out into the ball-room. There, with tears and
in broken accents, with every sign of terror and remorse, she soon made
a full confession of her so long-concealed guilt.

The strangers assembled to see our childish mimicry of passion were
witnesses to a highly-wrought dramatic scene in real life. I intended
that they should see the curtain drop without any discovery of the
deceit. Unable to invent any new incident, I left the conclusion
imperfect as I found it. But they saw a more strict poetical justice
done; they saw the rightful child restored to its parents, and the nurse
overwhelmed with shame, and threatened with the severest punishment.

'Take this woman,' said Sir Edward, 'and lock her up till she be
delivered into the hands of justice.'

Ann, on her knees, implored mercy for her mother. Addressing the
children, who were gathered round her, 'Dear ladies,' said she, 'help
me--on your knees help me--to beg forgiveness for my mother!' Down the
young ones all dropped; even Lady Elizabeth bent on her knee. 'Sir
Edward, pity her distress! Sir Edward pardon her!'

All joined in the petition except one, whose voice ought to have been
loudest in the appeal. No word, no accent came from me. I hung over Lady
Harriet's chair, weeping as if my heart would break. But I wept for my
own fallen fortunes, not for my mother's sorrow.

I thought within myself: 'If in the integrity of my heart, refusing to
participate in this unjust secret, I had boldly ventured to publish the
truth, I might have had some consolation in the praises which so
generous an action would have merited; but it is through the vanity of
being supposed to have written a pretty story that I have meanly broken
my faith with my friend, and unintentionally proclaimed the disgrace of
my mother and myself.'

While thoughts like these were passing through my mind, Ann had obtained
my mother's pardon. Instead of being sent away to confinement and the
horrors of a prison, she was given by Sir Edward into the care of the
housekeeper, who had orders from Lady Harriet to see her put to bed and
properly attended to, for again this wretched woman had fallen into a
fit.

Ann would have followed my mother, but Sir Edward brought her back,
telling her that she should see her when she was better. He then led
her towards Lady Harriet, desiring her to embrace her child. She did so,
and I saw her, as I had phrased it in the play, 'clasped in her mother's
arms.'

This scene had greatly affected the spirits of Lady Harriet. Through the
whole of it, it was with difficulty she had been kept from fainting, and
she was now led into the drawing-room by the ladies. The gentlemen
followed, talking with Sir Edward of the astonishing instance of filial
affection they had just seen in the earnest pleadings of the child for
her supposed mother.

Ann, too, went with them, and was conducted by her whom I had always
considered as my own particular friend. Lady Elizabeth took hold of her
hand, and said:

'Miss Lesley, will you permit me to conduct you to the drawing-room?'

I was left weeping behind the chair where Lady Harriet had sate, and, as
I thought, quite alone. A something had before twitched my frock two or
three times, so slightly I had scarcely noticed it. A little head now
peeped round, and looking up in my face, said:

'She is not Miss Lesley!'

It was the young Augustus. He had been sitting at my feet, but I had not
observed him. He then started up, and taking hold of my hand with one of
his, with the other holding fast by my clothes, he led, or rather
dragged, me into the midst of the company assembled in the
drawing-room. The vehemence of his manner, his little face as red as
fire, caught every eye. The ladies smiled, and one gentleman laughed in
a most unfeeling manner. His elder brother patted him on the head, and
said:

'You are a humane little fellow. Elizabeth, we might have thought of
this.'

Very kind words were now spoken to me by Sir Edward, and he called me
Harriet, precious name now grown to me. Lady Harriet kissed me, and said
she would never forget how long she had loved me as her child. These
were comfortable words, but I heard echoed round the room:

'Poor thing! _she_ cannot help it! I am sure _she_ is to be pitied! Dear
Lady Harriet, how kind, how considerate you are!'

Ah! what a deep sense of my altered condition did I then feel!

'Let the young ladies divert themselves in another room,' said Sir
Edward; 'and Harriet, take your new sister with you, and help her to
entertain your friends.'

Yes, he called me Harriet again, and afterwards invented new names for
his daughter and me, and always called us by them, apparently in jest;
yet I knew it was only because he would not hurt me with hearing our
names reversed. When Sir Edward desired us to show the children into
another room, Ann and I walked towards the door. A new sense of
humiliation arose. How could I go out at the door before Miss Lesley? I
stood irresolute. She drew back. The elder brother of my friend Augustus
assisted me in this perplexity. Pushing us all forward, as if in a
playful mood, he drove us indiscriminately before him, saying:

'I will make one among you to-day.'

He had never joined in our sports before.

My luckless play, that sad instance of my duplicity, was never once
mentioned to me afterwards, not even by any one of the children who had
acted in it, and I must also tell you how considerate an old lady was at
the time about our dresses. As soon as she perceived things growing very
serious, she hastily stripped off the upper garments we wore to
represent our different characters. I think I should have died with
shame if the child had led me into the drawing-room in the mummery I had
worn to represent a nurse. This good lady was of another essential
service to me, for, perceiving an irresolution in everyone how they
should behave to us, which distressed me very much, she contrived to
place Miss Lesley above me at table, and called her Miss Lesley, and me
Miss Withers, saying at the same time in a low voice, but as if she
meant I should hear her,

'It is better these things should be done at once, then they are over.'

My heart thanked her, for I felt the truth of what she said.

My poor mother continued very ill for many weeks. No medicine could
remove the extreme dejection of spirits she laboured under. Sir Edward
sent for Dr. Wheelding, the clergyman of the parish, to give her
religious consolation. Every day he came to visit her, and he would
always take Miss Lesley and me into the room with him.

My heart was softened by my own misfortunes, and the sight of my
penitent, suffering mother. I felt that she was now my only parent. I
strove, earnestly strove, to love her; yet ever when I looked in her
face, she would seem to me to be the very identical person whom I should
have once thought sufficiently honoured by a slight inclination of the
head, and a civil, 'How do you do, Mrs Withers?' One day, as Miss Lesley
was hanging over her with her accustomed fondness, Dr. Wheelding reading
in a Prayer-Book, and, as I thought, not at that moment regarding us, I
threw myself on my knees, and silently prayed that I, too, might be able
to love my mother.

Dr. Wheelding had been observing me. He took me into the garden, and
drew from me the subject of my petition.

'Your prayers, my good young lady,' said he, 'I hope, are heard. Sure I
am they have caused me to adopt a resolution which, as it will enable
you to see your mother frequently, will, I hope, greatly assist your
pious wishes. I will take your mother home with me to superintend my
family. Under my roof doubtless Sir Edward will often permit you to see
her. Perform your duty towards her as well as you possibly can.
Affection is the growth of time. With such good wishes in your young
heart, do not despair that in due time it will assuredly spring up.'

With the approbation of Sir Edward and Lady Harriet, my mother was
removed in a few days to Dr. Wheelding's house. There she soon
recovered! there she at present resides. She tells me she loves me
almost as well as she did when I was a baby, and we both wept at parting
when I went to school.

[Illustration]



  _THE INQUISITIVE GIRL._

  ANON.


Dr. Hammond was a physician in great practice in the West of England. He
resided in a small market-town, and his family consisted of one son
named Charles, and two daughters, Louisa and Sophy.

Sophy possessed many amiable qualities, and did not want for sense, but
every better feeling was lost in her extreme inquisitiveness. Her
faculties were all occupied in peeping and prying about, and, provided
she could gratify her own curiosity, she never cared how much vexation
she caused to others.

This propensity began when she was so very young that it had become a
habit before her parents perceived it. She was a very little creature
when she was once nearly squeezed to death between two double doors as
she was peeping through the keyhole of one of them to see who was in the
drawing-room; and another time she was locked up for several hours in a
closet in which she had hid herself for the purpose of overhearing what
her mother was saying to one of the servants.

When Sophy was eleven and her sister about sixteen years old their
mother died. Louisa was placed at the head of her father's house, and
the superintendence of Sophy's education necessarily devolved on her.
The care of such a family was a great charge for a young person of Miss
Hammond's age, and more especially as her father was obliged to be so
much from home that she could not always have his counsel and advice
even when she most needed it. By this means she fell into an injudicious
mode of treating her sister.

If Louisa received a note she carefully locked it up, and never spoke of
its contents before Sophy. If a message was brought to her she always
went out of the room to receive it, and never suffered the servant to
speak in her sister's hearing. When any visitors came Louisa commonly
sent Sophy out of the room, or if they were intimate friends she would
converse with them in whispers; in short, it was her chief study that
everything which passed in the family should be a secret from Sophy.
Alas! this procedure, instead of repressing Sophy's curiosity, only made
it the more keen; her eyes and ears were always on the alert, and what
she could not see, hear, or thoroughly comprehend she made out by
guesses.

[Illustration: If Louisa received a note she carefully locked it up.]

The worst consequence of Louisa's conduct was that as Sophy had no
friend and companion in her sister, who treated her with such constant
suspicion and reserve, she necessarily was induced to find a friend and
companion amongst the servants, and she selected the housemaid Sally, a
good-natured, well-intentioned girl, but silly and ignorant and
inquisitive like herself, and it may be easily supposed how much
mischief these two foolish creatures occasioned, not only in the family,
but also amongst their neighbours.

It happened soon after that, for an offence which was the cause of very
great vexation to her brother, and was the occasion of his being for a
time deprived of the friendship of Sir Henry and Lady Askham, two of Dr.
Hammond's nearest and most intimate neighbours, her father ordered
Sophy, as a still further punishment, to be locked up in her own room
till the Sunday following. This was on Friday, and Sophy had two days of
solitude and imprisonment before her. The first day she passed very
dismally, but yet not unprofitably, for she felt truly ashamed and sorry
for her fault, and made many good resolutions of endeavouring to cure
herself of her mischievous propensity. The second day she began to be
somewhat more composed, and by degrees she was able to amuse herself
with watching the people in the street, which was overlooked by the
windows of her apartment, and she began, almost unconsciously to
herself, to indulge in her old habit of trying to find out what
everybody was doing, and in guessing where they were going.

She had not long been engaged in watching her neighbours before her
curiosity was excited by the appearance of a servant on horseback, who
rode up to the door, and, after giving a little three-cornered note to
Dr. Hammond's footman, rode off. The servant she knew to be Mrs.
Arden's, an intimate friend of her father, and the note she conjectured
was an invitation to dinner, and the guessing what day the invitation
was for, and who were to be the company, and whether she was included in
the invitation, was occupying her busy fancy, when she saw her sister
going out of the house with the three-cornered note in her hand, and
cross the street to Mr. McNeal's stocking shop, which was opposite.
Almost immediately afterwards Mr. McNeal's shopman came out of the shop,
and, running down the street, was presently out of sight, but soon
returned with Mr. McNeal himself. She saw Louisa reading the note to Mr.
McNeal, and in a few minutes afterwards returned home. Here was matter
of wonder and conjecture. Sophy forgot all her good resolutions, and
absolutely wearied herself with her useless curiosity.

At length the term of her imprisonment was over, and Sophy was restored
to the society of her family. At first she kept a tolerable guard over
herself. Once she saw her father and sister whispering, and did not,
though she longed much to do it, hold her breath that she might hear
what they were saying. Another time she passed Charles's door when it
was ajar and the little study open, and she had so much self-command
that she passed by without peeping in, and she began to think she was
cured of her faults. But in reality this was far from being the case,
and whenever she recollected Mrs. Arden's mysterious note she felt her
inquisitive propensities as strong as ever. Her eyes and ears were
always on the alert, in hopes of obtaining some clue to the knowledge
she coveted, and if Mrs. Arden's or Mr. McNeal's names were mentioned
she listened with trembling anxiety in the hope of hearing some allusion
to the note.

At last, when she had almost given up the matter in despair, an
unlooked-for chance put her in possession of a fragment of this very
note to which she attached so much importance.

One day Louisa wanted to wind a skein of silk, and in looking for a
piece of paper to wind it upon she opened her writing-box, and took out
Mrs. Arden's note. Sophy knew it again in an instant from its
three-cornered shape. She saw her sister tear the note in two, throw
one-half under the grate, and fold the other part up to wind her silk
upon. Sophy kept her eye on the paper that lay under the grate in the
greatest anxiety, lest a coal should drop upon it and destroy it, when
it seemed almost within her grasp. Louisa was called out of the room,
and Sophy, overpowered by the greatness of the temptation, forgot all
the good resolutions she had so lately made, and at the risk of setting
fire to her sleeve, snatched the paper from amongst the ashes, and
concealed it in her pocket. She then flew to her own room to examine it
at her case. The note had been torn lengthway of the paper, and that
part of it of which Sophy had possessed herself contained the first half
of each line of the note. Bolting her door for fear of interruption, she
read, with trembling impatience, as follows:

          'Will you
  be kind enough to go to
  Mr. McNeal, and tell him
  he has made a great mistake
  the last stockings he sent;
  (charging them as silk) he has cheated
  of several pounds.--I am sorry to say
  that he has behaved very ill
  And Mr. Arden tells me that
  it must end in his being hanged
  I am exceedingly grieved
  but fear this will be the end.'

[Illustration: She read it with trembling impatience.]

When Sophy had read these broken sentences she fancied that she fully
comprehended the purport of the whole note, and she now saw the reason
of her sister's hastening to Mr. McNeal's immediately on the receipt of
the note, and of the hurry in which he had been summoned back to his
shop. It appeared very clear to her that he had defrauded Mrs. Arden of
a considerable sum of money, and that he was no longer that honest
tradesman he had been supposed. The weight of this important discovery
quite overburdened her, and, forgetful of her past punishment, and
regardless of future consequences, she imparted the surprising secret
to Sally. Sally was not one who could keep such a piece of news to
herself; it was therefore soon circulated through half the town that Mr.
McNeal had defrauded Mrs. Arden, and that Mr. Arden declared he would
have him hanged for it. Several persons in consequence avoided Mr.
McNeal's shop, who saw his customers forsaking him without being able to
know why they did so. Thus the conduct of this inconsiderate girl took
away the good name of an honest tradesman, on no better foundation than
her own idle conjectures drawn from the torn fragments of a letter.

Mr. McNeal at length became informed of the injurious report that was
circulated about him. He immediately went to Mrs. Arden to tell her of
the report, and to ask her if any inadvertency of his own in regard to
her dealings at his shop had occasioned her speaking so
disadvantageously of him. Mrs. Arden was much astonished at what he told
her, as she might well be, and assured him that she had never either
spoken of him nor thought of him but as thoroughly an honourable and
honest tradesman. Mrs. Arden was exceedingly hurt that her name should
be attached to such a cruel calumny, and, on consulting with Sir Henry
Askham, it was agreed that he and Mrs. Arden should make it their
business to trace it back to its authors. They found no great difficulty
in tracing it back to Sally, Dr. Hammond's servant. She was accordingly
sent for to Mr. McNeal's, where Sir Henry Askham and Mr. Arden, with
some other gentlemen, were assembled on this charitable investigation.
Sally, on being questioned who had told her of the report replied,
without hesitation, that she had been told by Miss Sophy, who had seen
all the particulars in Mrs. Arden's handwriting.

Mr. Arden was greatly astonished at hearing this assertion, and felt
confident that the whole must have originated from some strange blunder.
He and the other gentlemen immediately proceeded to Dr. Hammond's, and
having explained their business to him, desired to see Sophy. She, on
being asked, confirmed what Sally had said, adding that to satisfy them
she could show them Mrs. Arden's own words, and she accordingly produced
the fragment of the note. Miss Hammond, the instant she saw the paper
recollected it again, and winding off the silk from the other half of
Mrs. Arden's note, presented it to Mr. Arden, who, laying the two pieces
of paper together, read as follows:

    'My Dear Miss Hammond,--Will you as soon as you receive this be
    kind enough to go to your opposite neighbour, Mr. McNeal, and
    tell him I find by looking at his bill he has made a great
    mistake as to the price of the last stockings he sent; and it
    seems to me (by not charging them as silk) he has cheated
    himself, as he'll see, of several pounds.--I am sorry to say of
    our new dog, that he has behaved very ill and worried two sheep,
    and Mr. Arden tells me that he very much fears it must end in
    his being hanged or he'll kill all the flock. I am exceedingly
    grieved, for he is a noble animal, but fear this will be the end
    of my poor dog.    'I am, dear Louisa, yours truly,

      'Mary Arden.'

Thus by the fortunate preservation of the last half of the note the
whole affair was cleared up, Mrs. Arden's character vindicated from the
charge of being a defamer, and Mr. McNeal from all suspicion of
dishonesty. And all their friends were pleased and satisfied. But how
did Sophy feel? She did feel at last both remorse and humiliation. She
had no one to blame but herself; she had no one to take her part, for
even her father and her brother considered it due to public justice that
she should make a public acknowledgment of her fault to Mr. McNeal, and
to ask his pardon.

[Illustration]



  _THE LITTLE BLUE BAG._

  ALICIA CATHERINE MANT.


'I think,' said Agnes Clavering, a child of about eight years of age--'I
think I should like to give that pretty blue bag I admired so much the
other day at the Bazaar to my cousin Laura. She likes blue, and I know
she wishes for a new bag.'

'You will do very well, Agnes, in thus spending a part of your allowance
of pocket-money,' replied Mrs. Clavering. 'Laura is one of the kindest
little girls I know, and, being one of a large family, cannot have so
many indulgences as yourself; and I am always glad when I see you bear
this in mind.'

'I shall give it her on New Year's Day,' continued Agnes, after a few
minutes of thoughtfulness, 'for it was on that day of this year that she
gave me that pretty purse of her own making; and I shall buy a gold
thimble to put in it, and a pretty little pair of scissors with a gold
sheath, and a tortoiseshell box for needles, and some ivory winders for
cotton.'

'All these together,' replied Mrs. Clavering, 'will make a very handsome
present, and I am sure that Laura will be much pleased with it. But do
you know how long it is to New Year's Day?'

'No, mother; I do not,' replied Agnes.

'Nearly six weeks,' said Mrs. Clavering; 'but you may make your
purchases the first time we walk through the Bazaar, and then you will
have them ready against the time you require them.'

Nothing more passed at that time on the subject of the blue bag, and
that and several following days being wet, there was no opportunity of
visiting the Bazaar. During this time Mrs. Clavering and Agnes went to
dine with Mr. and Mrs. Parker, and when Agnes, on going to play with her
cousins after dinner, saw Laura's shabby workbasket, and heard her
complain of having broken her needle and hurt her finger by a hole in
her thimble, Agnes felt very glad that she had happened to recollect
what Laura wanted. She could hardly help telling her what was in
preparation for her. More than once it was on the very tip of her
tongue, and the secret certainly would have been revealed had not little
Augusta Parker suddenly fallen against a table, which stood in the
corner of the play-room and thrown its contents on the floor.

'Oh, Augusta!' said Laura, in a tone of vexation; but she checked
herself, and helping the little girl to rise, kindly asked her if she
had hurt herself.

The child, however, was unhurt, and knowing that Laura would be vexed at
the upset she had occasioned, she crept to the other end of the room,
and began playing with her little brothers.

'Oh, what beautiful shells!' said Agnes. 'Where did you get them, and
why did you not show them to me, Laura? I am so fond of shells!' For it
was a box of shells which the little Augusta had thrown off the table.

'I did not mean you to see them yet,' replied Laura--'not till the box
was full; but it does not signify now,' added the placid little girl;
and the two children sat down together to examine this little mine of
treasures.

Agnes was not at all envious of Laura's box of shells, but Agnes would
very much have liked to have had a box with shells placed in them
exactly as Laura's were. It was one of her failings to wish to have the
same toy or the same trinket which she saw in the possession of other
little girls. It was not her desire to deprive them of theirs, but she
wished to possess something exactly similar, and it had been her
misfortune from the moment of her being able to form any wishes to have
them immediately gratified. The consequence was that she was whimsical
and capricious. The favourite wax doll of to-day would be discarded on
the morrow for one of wood if she saw one of that sort in the hands of
another. Her playthings never pleased her more than two or three days,
and at the end of this time a string of new desires arose, which she
knew would be immediately met, and which consequently led the way to
others. She had only to ask and have, and this facility gradually
produced a sort of selfishness which her mother was vexed at perceiving.
Agnes was kind-hearted, and always willing that others should be
gratified, but not at her expense; and Mrs. Clavering saw that, while
any little present the child made to her friends, or charity bestowed on
some poor object, occasioned no deprivation to herself, the motives for
both could not be pure.

When she had reached her eighth year, therefore, early as it might seem,
Mrs. Clavering had set aside a purse for the use of her little girl,
which she told her was all that would be expended for her amusements
during the year, and she was anxious to see how far this arrangement
might be a check on the boundless wishes of the little Agnes. Hitherto
Agnes had gone on very well. Her father's presents, in spite of her
mother's remonstrances, had kept the purse nearly full, and at the
latter end of January it would be again replenished. But her father was
now from home. It might so happen that he would be absent till that
time, and Agnes knew that she must now use her means with caution.

As she was returning with her mother home in the carriage from her
uncle's, Agnes said:

'I should so very much like a box of shells.'

'And have you not as much pleasure in looking at Laura's?' replied Mrs.
Clavering. 'And do you not think she has some pleasure in showing you
what you have not of your own? It is very seldom indeed that she can
have this pleasure, for you have everything, and a great deal more than
she has. It so happens in this case that her father's brother has given
her what I think it would be hardly in the power of your father to buy,
for he brought them from abroad. And I hope you will be satisfied to see
them when you are with your cousin, and be very careful of expressing
any wish for them before her. For you know that she has more than once
offered you such little trifles as you have wished for when you have
seen them in her possession.'

'Oh, mother,' said Agnes, with eagerness, 'I do not want Laura's shells,
indeed! I only wanted some like them. But I will try and not think of
the shells.'

'You should not do this, Agnes,' said Mrs. Clavering; 'you should try
and think of them without wishing for them. But here we are at home.'

A few days after this a lady called on Mrs. Clavering to invite her to
go with her to look at some old china, and Agnes received permission to
be of the party. While the two ladies were occupied with the master of
the shop in looking through his assortment of china, the master's wife
very good-naturedly busied herself with Agnes, and endeavoured to amuse
her by showing her many curiosities contained on her numerous shelves.
Amongst the rest she exhibited some drawers of shells, some of which
were so like those which Agnes had seen in Laura's box that she began to
long for them, and as the prices were marked, and they did not appear
very expensive, she whispered to her mother and asked if she might
purchase them.

'Can you afford it?' whispered Mrs. Clavering in reply, and stroking at
the same time the blooming cheek that rested against hers.

'I think I can, mother,' again whispered Agnes, in a very coaxing
manner.

'If you are _sure_ you can,' once more whispered Mrs. Clavering, 'you
may; but remember the blue bag.'

Agnes returned to the tempting shell-drawer. Mrs. Clavering advanced the
money to pay for the new purchases, and on their return home Agnes
begged her mother would directly pay herself from her own purse.

'And, mother,' continued Agnes, 'I think the thimble shall be of silver
instead of gold, for a gold one will cost a great deal of money. And I
never use a gold one, and why should I give Laura one?'

'I see no reason why, certainly,' answered Mrs. Clavering, 'excepting
that it was your own proposal. I should have thought that a silver one
was quite as well, if not better; but I did not like to check your wish
of making a handsome present to your cousin. Let it be silver, if you
please; but take care that you keep money enough to pay for that, and
the other articles which you design putting into the New Year's
present.'

'Oh, I shall have plenty now, mother,' returned Agnes; 'but I think I
could not have afforded the gold thimble.'

And she went to her play-room to look at her shells, put them in order,
and see how many were wanting to complete the number which her cousin
possessed.

It now occurred to her that a box to contain them was indispensable, and
the footman's brother being a carpenter, she desired him to get one made
for her. It was soon completed, and when it came home, and was paid for,
Agnes found that it had cost just the difference between a silver and a
gold thimble. She proceeded to place her shells in order, but the box
was not half full, and while thus occupied a visitor called, who was
accompanied by her young son and a beautiful little white dog, and this
little white dog and his master called off her attention for a while
from her shells.

The little animal was very amusing and very playful. He could perform a
number of little odd tricks, and, amongst others, would patiently wait
while his young master counted ten, and then would spring forwards and
receive the piece of bread or biscuit held out to him. Agnes thought she
never could be tired of playing with such a 'dear little dog,' to use
her own expression, and she expressed her wishes so strongly and so
earnestly that the little dog's master, after whispering to his mother,
told Agnes that if she liked she was very welcome to keep the dog, for
that he was going to school, and nobody at home cared for her but
himself. Mrs. Clavering felt vexed that Agnes had so warmly expressed
her admiration of the dog, but she did not see how she could decline her
acceptance, and by this arrangement Agnes for the remainder of the day
had nothing to wish for, excepting, indeed, it might be that the chapter
of the History of England she read to her mother in the evening had not
been quite so long, and that bedtime had not come before she had had
another game of play with little Chloe.

In the morning the first thing to be thought of was Chloe, and Chloe
occasioned in her mistress so many wandering thoughts when she ought to
have been occupied with her book that Mrs. Clavering was obliged to
threaten the loss of the new favourite before the morning task could be
accomplished. At length Chloe was turned out of the room, but then Chloe
would run downstairs, and into the hall, and back again upstairs, and
scratch at the drawing-room door for admittance, and when once more
admitted, on Agnes's promise to let her lie still quietly under the
sofa, Chloe wished to go out of the room again; and out of the room once
more, but only once, she was allowed to go. Then, on the hall-door being
left open for a minute, Chloe was out in the street, and it was with
considerable difficulty that James, the man-servant, could again catch
her. This suggested the necessity of a collar for Chloe, and a collar,
indeed, seemed indispensable if the dog was to be kept.

'But I am not sure that I shall have money enough to buy one,' said
Agnes, as she begged her mother to examine her purse, and assist her in
calculating how much the blue bag and its furniture were likely to cost.

Agnes thought, if father was at home she would have had the collar
purchased for her directly, and as Mrs. Clavering had allowed the dog to
be accepted, it seemed to her that it would not be an unreasonable
indulgence to make Chloe's mistress a present of a collar. She told
Agnes, therefore, that she would provide the little animal with a
collar, and thinking that the sooner the blue bag was bought the less
would be Agnes's temptation to encroach on the money set aside for its
purchase, she directed her little girl to get her hat and pelisse put
on, and they would proceed immediately to the Bazaar.

As Mrs. Clavering and Agnes were crossing the hall, a carriage drove to
the door. It was Mrs. Montague, a particular friend of Mrs. Clavering,
and she had called to invite her and Agnes to take a drive to a
bird-fancier's, who had a large collection of canary-birds; for Harriet
and Eliza Montague had been promised by their uncle that they should
each have one, and their mother thought that Agnes would like to go and
help choose them. The little girls had a very pleasant ride together,
and they all thought the birds very beautiful, and that they sung
delightfully. But it was rather an unfortunate excursion for Agnes, for
on her return home Chloe pleased her no longer, and she told her mother
she thought 'a canary-bird would be a much prettier pet than a rude,
troublesome little dog.'

'And yet you were very much pleased with your little dog yesterday,'
remarked Mrs. Clavering, 'and to-day she looks much prettier with her
smart collar on, and she frisks and gambols about, and is as anxious as
ever to be taken notice of.'

At this moment Chloe ran up to her little mistress, and Agnes could not
help acknowledging that her collar was very pretty. She kissed her
mother for having so soon obliged her by buying one, and for an hour or
two the canary-birds were forgotten. The next day, however, Agnes had
been invited to spend with Harriet and Eliza Montague. The birds had
been brought home. They looked even more beautiful in the play-room than
at the bird-fancier's, and they and their cages together were so very
ornamental that Agnes thought of them some minutes after she had laid
her head on her pillow. In the morning she asked her mother if she might
not buy a canary-bird. They were not very expensive, and she should like
one so very much.'

'I wish my dear little girl, you could learn to see what others have,
and be amused and pleased, without always wishing to possess what has
given you amusement and pleasure.'

'If I can but have a canary-bird,' replied Agnes, 'I shall not wish for
anything else, and shall be quite satisfied. Do, mother, let me buy one.
Father would, I know, if he were at home.'

'Your father is very indulgent, Agnes,' replied Mrs. Clavering. 'He sees
you but seldom, and never likes to refuse you anything you wish for when
he does see you; but I should not think you a good girl to impose upon
his kindness by asking anything of him which I had thought it better to
refuse you.'

'I cannot see why I should not have a canary-bird, mother,' said Agnes,
not, I am sorry to say, very good-humouredly, 'and I do not wish you to
buy it for me. I could buy it myself, for, you know, I have money of my
own.'

'I do not mean to argue with you,' replied Mrs. Clavering, 'for little
girls of your age are not always capable of understanding the reason why
indulgences are refused them, though they are quite equal to knowing
that it is their duty not to repine when they are withheld. However, do
as you please about the canary-bird. If you have money sufficient to pay
for one, let the bird be bought. The money was given you to spend
exactly as you please.'

Agnes looked at her mother. No, mother did not look pleased--she looked
grave; and when Agnes's countenance once more brightened at the
prospect of possessing the canary-bird, Mrs. Clavering neither smiled
nor even looked at Agnes. She continued looking at her work, and her
needle went in and out very, very fast. Agnes walked up to her mother,
and taking her purse from the box where it was always kept, took from it
the money, and began to count it.

Presently Mrs. Clavering said:

'Well, Agnes, what is this beautiful bird to cost?'

'Only five shillings,' replied Agnes.

'And have you five shillings to spare?' said Mrs. Clavering.

'Oh yes, mother; I think I have,' replied Agnes. 'Oh yes, I can do it
very well. You know I talked of buying a gold scissor-sheath for Laura,
but I think a leather one will do just as well. And then I shall have
more than money enough for the canary-bird.'

'Poor Laura!' said Mrs. Clavering. 'I am afraid she does not stand a
very good chance of having any New Year's gift. However, the money is
your own, and you are to do what you please with it. But if you did
think of others a little more, and less of yourself, Agnes, you would be
a much more amiable little girl.'

Agnes for a minute looked grave, for she saw a tear in her mother's eye.
But her mother did not look angry, and she went on with her calculations
and schemes about canary-birds and cages. James was commissioned to
purchase the bird so much desired, and as it was positively necessary
that the bird, when bought, should have a habitation to live in, the
tortoiseshell box designed for Laura was to be changed into a card
needle-case, and the next morning Agnes's play-room was adorned with a
very pretty canary-bird in a smart wire cage.

The next day Laura and Augusta Parker came to visit their cousin, but
they did not seem to take so much pleasure in the new purchase as it was
supposed they would. They were very willing to assist Agnes in feeding
her bird, and admired its plumage, which they thought very pretty and
very soft, and they expressed no desire to be playing with anything
else, for they saw Agnes was better pleased to be taking down and
putting up her cage than in following any other amusement. But they
would much rather have been playing with Agnes's new doll, or looking at
some of her story-books, or puzzles, or play-things, of which she had
such useless stores; and when she did lead them to some of these,
neither Laura nor Augusta thought more of the canary-bird, except when
it sang so loudly as to prevent the little girls from hearing each other
speak. Indeed, it did sing so loudly that nothing else could be heard,
and Agnes herself was at length so tired of it that she was sorry it had
been purchased. Her dear cousin Laura, too, who was so gentle and
good-natured, had lost part of her pretty present by the purchase of
this useless bird, and she should be ashamed to tell her mother she was
tired of it.

But she did not allow these thoughts to make her miserable, and the
three little girls spent a very happy as well as a very busy day, for
Laura set all Agnes's cupboards and drawers to rights for her, and
looked over her maps and puzzles, and placed the right pieces in the
right boxes; and she sewed in some leaves that were torn out of some of
the prettiest story-books, for Agnes was very careless with her books,
and she placed them all in nice even rows upon the shelves. Then she
mended the doll's frock, and made a very pretty new doll's bonnet; and
Augusta made a tippet, all herself, even the cutting out and fitting,
though she was only six years old; and she set the doll's house in
order, and wiped the dust from off the little chairs and tables; and, in
short, nothing could be so happy and comfortable as were the three
little girls together. Then at last they came to the box with the
shells, but this Agnes preferred not looking at, for she had very few
shells, compared to her cousin's collection, and the box was not half so
pretty, for Laura's box was inlaid with ivory; and as Augusta was
seizing upon the shells with her little dusting-cloth in her hand, Agnes
said:

'Oh, leave those, Augusta; they are not worth thinking about.'

'But I thought you were very fond of shells,' said Laura.

'Yes, so I am,' replied Agnes; 'but not such a set as these. They are
nothing to yours.' And she turned from them with contempt, and drew
Augusta to the other end of the room. 'Come, Augusta, we will play at
mother and children. I will be your mother, and Laura and you shall be
my children.'

Laura and Augusta instantly agreed to what their cousin proposed, and
for some time the play went on smoothly enough. But well inclined as was
Augusta to do everything to make herself pleasant and agreeable, she did
not like to 'pretend to be naughty' so often as her little mother
required of her; and Agnes, as little mothers, I believe, frequently
are, was very fond of having her play-child to punish, and set in the
corner, and to lecture and scold. Laura thought there was a little too
much disgrace, and that she had much rather have been allowed to be
good; but Laura never consulted her own wishes in opposition to her
playfellows. Besides, Laura was a great girl and could not be supposed
to care about these things. But poor Augusta was a very little child and
had been accustomed to a great deal of indulgence from Laura, and she
began to feel very serious at being so frequently reproved and
disgraced. She really thought she must be naughty, or, at least, that
Agnes thought her so; and after her little heart had been some time
swelling with emotion, she at length burst out into tears, saying at the
same time, with great vehemence:

'Indeed, Cousin Agnes, I am not naughty!'

'No, you only pretend to be naughty,' said Agnes. 'There, be a good
child, and go in the corner, and pretend to be naughty once more, and
presently, when you have done crying, I shall come and ask you if you
are good.'

'But, indeed, I am good now!' exclaimed Augusta, resisting Agnes as she
tried to lead her back to the corner. And I don't like to be naughty! I
like to be good!'

'Let me be naughty; it is my turn to be naughty now, Agnes,' said Laura,
stepping forwards and taking Augusta's other hand.

'Oh, but it is not half so much fun for you to be naughty,' said Agnes;
'you are such a great girl. Besides, Augusta pretends to cry so well.'

'I don't pretend to cry, and I will not be naughty any more!' said
Augusta, who was now irritated into a violent pet; and as she struggled
against her cousin, who attempted to draw her to the corner, the poor
child was thrown down, and her head hit against the sharp corner of the
shell-box.

She gave a loud scream, and Mrs. Clavering and Mrs. Parker hastened to
the room. Laura picked up her little sister, on whose forehead there was
a severe bruise. Agnes looked pale and ashamed, but no one explained how
the accident had happened.

Mrs. Clavering caught up the sobbing Augusta and rang the bell for cold
water. The child ran to her mother, who drew aside the curls which
almost hid the bruise, and kissing her cheek and forehead, good
humouredly assured Mrs. Clavering that it was only a trifling hurt, and
in a few minutes tranquillity was restored. But Augusta, whose temper
had been more hurt than her forehead, begged that she might accompany
her mother to the drawing-room; and as the tea was now nearly ready,
Mrs. Clavering told Agnes she might as well bring both of her cousins
with her. This arrangement was not very pleasing to Agnes, for she had
gained a half-promise from her mother in the morning that she should
herself make tea for her cousins in a set of beautiful china which she
had lately received from Nottinghamshire; but Mrs. Clavering saw from
Augusta's manner of clinging to her mother that something of
disagreement had taken place amongst the children, and as she was aware
of Agnes's inclination to be the mistress of the party, she judged that
it would be better for this evening that the elder and younger parts of
the family should make but one party. Agnes was disappointed--very much
disappointed; but she fortunately recollected that the disappointment
was owing to her own exertion of authority over the poor little Augusta,
and she was wise enough to submit in silence. Mrs. Parker, who was
always lively and agreeable, brought forward a great many laughable
stories for the amusement of the young party; and the mortification of
the young tea-maker, and the pain of Augusta's forehead, and, more than
this, her anger against her cousin, had all subsided before the urn had
done hissing and a pile of plum cakes had been consumed.

This and a great many more days had passed before Agnes paid another
visit to her purse, which lay snugly in her mothers' drawer. Neither had
her mother's drawer been opened, for Mrs. Clavering had caught a severe
cold, and for several days she kept her bed. During this time Agnes was
very dull, for although she spent one whole day with her cousins, and
another with the little Montagues, there was a great deal of time she
was by herself, and being a very sociable little girl, she never
preferred being without a companion. Her aunt Parker invited her to come
and stay with her entirely during her mother's illness, but Mrs.
Clavering preferred her remaining at home. It was fortunate that she did
so, for Laura and Augusta Parker a few days after fell severely ill with
an infectious fever, and, of course, it was no longer right that they
should be visited by their cousin. They were for some days dangerously
ill, and when they did begin to get better, it was very slowly, and some
weeks passed before it was thought fit that the cousins should meet. It
was also some time before Mrs. Clavering was sufficiently recovered to
leave the house again, either on foot or in the carriage; but Mrs.
Montague frequently called for Agnes, and gave her a ride in her
carriage, and after her own way was very kind to her. But her way was
that of indulging her, as she did her own children, in every wish they
expressed. Whatever toys or trinkets they wished for were purchased for
them, and so unreasonable had they been in their wishes that Mrs.
Montague had at length been driven to refuse their going to the Bazaar
altogether; for when there she had not the resolution, as she ought to
have had, to deny them any particular thing they had set their minds on.
For this reason, they had not been for some time to this tempting
repository of pretty things; but, finding that their young friend Agnes
was wishing to go thither to purchase a blue bag, they engaged their
mother to take them once more, and a day was fixed on for the proposed
treat.

Mrs. Clavering was sufficiently recovered to be sitting on the sofa in
the drawing-room when Agnes came to petition for her purse.

'And you have settled everything that you are to buy, have you not, my
little girl?' said Mrs. Clavering, as she took from the drawer the
silken purse and placed it in the hand of the eager Agnes.

'Oh yes, mother,' replied Agnes, scarcely allowing herself time to draw
on her gloves, so anxious was she to be going, and she ran towards the
door.

'But Mrs. Montague is not come yet, Agnes,' said Mrs. Clavering.

'Oh, I forgot,' replied Agnes, returning towards her mother. Then,
telling upon her fingers she went on: 'Blue bag, thimble, needle-book,
scissors, winders.'

'And pincushion,' said Mrs. Clavering.

'Oh yes, pincushion; I had forgotten pincushion. Yes, there must be a
pincushion.'

'Now, could not you make the pincushion yourself, Agnes?' asked Mrs.
Clavering. 'And the needle-case, I should think, too; and Laura would
like them better for your making them.'

'I do not think I should be able to make them well enough, mother,'
replied Agnes; 'and I should not like to give anything clumsy to Laura.
No, I think I shall buy them.'

'Well, do as you please about this,' replied Mrs. Clavering; and Mrs.
Montague's carriage being now heard to rattle down to the door, she gave
her little girl a hasty kiss, and Agnes ran downstairs and was very soon
on her road to the Bazaar.

As they drove through the streets the little Montagues were very eager
in describing a beautiful new stall which had been opened since they had
been to the Bazaar. It was one of French toys and trinkets, and there
were a great many very pretty and very ingenious things exhibiting
there. There were dolls, and workboxes, and wire-dancers, and puzzles of
every description. And so very anxious were all three of the little
girls to see and admire what all the little and great girls, too, of
their acquaintance thought so very well worth seeing and admiring that,
when they had left the carriage and entered the room, Mrs. Montague
could scarcely keep pace with the nimble-footed little party. They paced
round and round the lower room, and were just ascending into the upper,
when the first thought of the blue bag crossed the recollection of
Agnes.

'Oh, my little blue bag!' she said to her young companions; and slipping
behind them, stopped at the stall where she had before seen it
displayed.

It was sold. This was not the fault of Agnes.

Should they make another for the young lady? It would be ready by
to-morrow, and it should be sent home to any place she should appoint.

'Yes--no.'

Agnes was in a great hurry to go upstairs to the French stall, and
Harriet and Eliza were both urging her to make haste.

'There will be prettier bags at the French stall, love, most likely,'
whispered Mrs. Montague; 'and, if not, you could give this order as you
returned downstairs.'

Agnes wanted very little persuasion to despatch her business below, and
the three little girls again quickened their pace towards the upstair
room.

'How pretty!' 'How beautiful!' 'How curious!' 'Agnes look here,' and
'Harriet see this'; and 'Eliza, pray look at that'; and 'Mother, may I
buy this?' and 'Mother, may I buy that?' were the hasty and rapid
exclamations of the first few minutes after the young party had arrived
at the famed French stall; and so very much inclined were all of them to
touch as well as look at everything that the chattering lady behind the
counter was at length obliged in the most civil and polite manner to beg
that they would be careful, and not touch what they did not want to buy.

But they wanted to buy everything, and found it very difficult to
determine what they wanted to buy most; and whatever Harriet and Eliza
fixed upon for themselves, Agnes thought that she should like the same
for herself. There was no blue bag at this stall, or, if there was,
Agnes saw none, nor any other bag. Her attention was first drawn to a
droll little fellow upon wires who tumbled over and over again as fast
as the eye could follow him. Harriet bought one of these, and Agnes
longed for one. By the side of the famous little tumbler there was a
glittering row of bright shining scissors, and a thought of Laura
glanced across our little Agnes. But the bag was not yet bought.
Besides, the bag might be given without the scissors, and the woman said
there were but two of these little tumblers ever made. Harriet had
purchased the other, and while Laura and the scissors made Agnes for a
moment hesitate, a gentleman put his hand upon the remaining tumbler.
Agnes looked up eagerly in his face, and then at the woman; and the
woman said she believed the young lady was going to buy that. The
chance of losing it determined the young lady's wavering resolution, and
the tumbler was paid for, and the scissors forgotten. Then came other
things equally charming and equally attractive. Laura was again thought
of in conjunction with a box of splendid thimbles, a tray of ivory
winders, and pincushions, and needle-cases without number. But she could
make the pincushion and needle-case, as her mother had advised her, and
her mother, no doubt, would give her silk for the purpose; and she could
make a thread-case on to the pincushion; and then she should not want
any winders. And the thimble, and the scissors? Agnes found it rather
difficult to reason away these, but the sudden recollection that her
father would be home before New Year's Day, and that he would assist her
in purchasing what she herself could not afford to buy, turned the scale
against poor Laura; and at length all the whole list of useful articles
designed for the New Year's gift were by degrees abandoned for a
collection of showy but childish toys, which were to amuse their
possessor a day, but not longer, and perhaps not so long.

On returning downstairs the party again passed the stall where the blue
bag had first attracted Agnes's admiration on a former visit. The woman
who was keeping the stall curtseyed civilly, and asked if she might be
allowed to make another bag. Agnes felt ashamed, and hastened on, for
her purse was empty. But the feeling did not continue painful very
long, for the little party were all in high spirits, and when they were
reseated in the carriage, their tongues went fast, and their merriment
continued till they arrived at Mrs. Clavering's. The carriage stopped,
the step was let down, and Agnes, scarcely allowing herself time to say
good-bye to her companions or thank Mrs. Montague for her morning's
pleasure, ran upstairs and into the drawing-room to show her treasures
to her mother.

[Illustration: Agnes felt ashamed, and hastened on, for her purse was
empty.]

'Oh, mother!' said the eager child, as she flew across the room, and
began to exhibit the contents of all her little packets, 'did you ever
see anything so droll as this pretty fellow?' And the tumbler was placed
upon the table. 'And I am sure I never saw anything half so curious as
this!' And another paper packet was unrolled.

'And how hot you are, my poor child!' said Mrs. Clavering, thinking of
nothing for the first few moments but the heated countenance of her
child, and her tippet, which was hanging half off, and her bonnet, which
was crushed into any shape but its own. 'Why, what have you been doing
with yourself?'

'Only playing with Harriet and Eliza in the carriage,' replied the
breathless child, at the same time shrugging her shoulders, for now that
the game of romps was over she was beginning to feel rather
uncomfortable. 'And look at this very small wee-wee humming-top!' And
another paper was unrolled. 'And did you ever see such beautiful
sweetmeats?' as the fourth and last packet was displayed.

'Well, and where did you get all these things?' said Mrs. Clavering, as
she turned from the heated child to the treasures displayed before her.

'Oh, at the Bazaar! There is such a beautiful new stall there, and it is
covered with such pretty things!'

'And do you think that Laura will like these things so well as the blue
bag, and the rest of the things you talked of buying for her? And do you
think they will be as useful to her?'

'Oh, mother,' began stammering Agnes, 'these things--mother--are
not--these are not for Laura, mother. These are--these are for myself.'

'Oh, Agnes,' said Mrs. Clavering very gravely, 'you have not been
spending all your money upon yourself and these foolish trifles, and
forgetting your kind, good-natured cousin Laura?'

Agnes's fingers were now engaged in twisting round and round them the
cotton from the reel lying on her mother's lap, and she felt and looked
very foolish. For a few moments nothing more was said, but presently
Agnes approached closer to her mother and leaned against her.

Mrs. Clavering took no notice of her little girl, and did not, as usual,
encourage her endearing advances. Presently Agnes ventured to say:

'It was my own money, mother, and you said I might do as I pleased with
it.'

However, Agnes knew a great deal better than to think for a moment that
this was any excuse for her selfishness.

'Yes it _was_ your own money,' replied Mrs. Clavering, 'and it certainly
was given you to spend as you liked. But I am sorry, very sorry, that I
have a little girl who never considers anybody's pleasure and amusement
but her own.'

'The blue bag was sold,' said Agnes, after a pause of a few minutes,
during which she had been picking the pins out of her mother's
pincushion and dropping them one by one on the floor.

Mrs. Clavering took the pincushion gently from the hand of her little
girl, and desired her to pick up the pins which she had been so
carelessly scattering.

'And were all the scissors and pincushions and thimbles sold, too?'
continued Mrs. Clavering. 'And would it not have been possible to have
had another bag made, like the one you saw the other day?'

'Yes, mother,' replied Agnes, as she replaced the last pin in the
pincushion; 'the woman _did_ offer to make another, but I had no money
left then.'

'This will never do, Agnes, indeed,' said Mrs. Clavering. 'If you are
allowed to indulge all your wishes in this way while you continue a
child, you will grow up to be a disagreeable and overbearing woman. Did
you never read, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye
even so to them"? Come, tell me; try and recollect.' And as Mrs.
Clavering spoke her voice softened, and she laid her cheek on the head
of her little girl, who had seated herself on a stool at her feet. 'Did
you ever read of this?'

'Yes, mother, I have read it in the Bible,' replied Agnes, as she turned
round towards her mother, and laid her head coaxingly on her lap.

'It was one of the directions of our blessed Saviour,' continued Mrs.
Clavering, 'and His directions we ought always to obey. Now, supposing
that your Cousin Laura had determined to give you anything she knew you
were very desirous of having, should you like her to change her mind,
because she fancied something for herself which she could not purchase
without doing so? Should you not think she was unkind in doing so?'

'Yes, mother,' replied Agnes; 'but Laura did not know I was going to
give it her, and therefore she will not think me unkind.'

'No, but you will know that you have been so,' replied Mrs. Clavering;
'and I know that you have been so, and I am very much hurt that you are
so, for, as I have frequently told you, I do not like such little
selfish ways as you too frequently indulge.'

Agnes did not feel comfortable, and she had not half the enjoyment of
her new purchases which she expected to have; and she had very little
pleasure in showing them to her cousins, who were allowed on the next
day, for the first time since their illness, to come and play with her.
The tumbler was not half so droll as he seemed to be before she bought
him. Augusta, however, was delighted with him. She laughed aloud at all
his whimsical changes, and Agnes told her that she might have it if she
liked for she was tired of it--not a very disinterested reason, but
Augusta was pleased with her present, and also with the sweetmeats of
which she partook, and some of which she carried home to her brothers
who were never forgotten.

New Year's Day was now approaching very fast, and as it did approach
Agnes thought a great deal of the little blue bag, and she longed for
her father's return, for she thought that he would give her money if she
asked for it, and still the present might be made. But New Year's Day
arrived, and no father. Mr. Clavering had been detained by business, and
might not be at home yet for some weeks. Poor Agnes! her last hope gone.
An invitation to dinner arrived from Uncle and Aunt Parker. It was
Laura's birthday, and the two families generally on that day had dined
together.

On the day before Agnes felt very serious for some minutes together, and
when the thoughts of the blue bag crossed her, none of her play-things
amused her, and she was grave, and very near shedding tears several
times. Mrs. Clavering watched these emotions in her little girl, but
took no notice of them till the following morning, when, calling her to
her side, she said:

'Agnes, I think you feel very sorry that you have been so selfish, and I
am sure that you have not enjoyed yourself half so much with the variety
of different things you have bought for your own gratification as you
would have done if you had persevered in spending your money, according
to your first intentions, on your cousin Laura. Now, I do not like that
Laura should lose her present, nor do I wish that you should suffer any
more mortification than you have done for the fault you have committed,
so that I have been endeavouring to make an arrangement for you that
shall enable you still to oblige your cousin. You remember asking me a
day or two since why I did not purchase new chimney ornaments, for that
mine looked very shabby? It was my intention to have done so yesterday,
for you know that I have pleasure in seeing the mantelpiece prettily
ornamented, particularly as your father is always kind enough to admire
it when it is so. But I have given up this intention at present that I
might use the money which would have been required for the purpose in a
different way; and if, my dearest child,' continued the affectionate
mother, as a tear started into her eye, 'I can teach you by this, or by
any other means, to learn to sacrifice your own desires to those of
others, I shall never regret that the money has been employed in the
purchase of a little blue bag.'

Thus saying, Mrs. Clavering opened the drawer of her work-table, and
exhibited a bag, the exact copy of the one which Agnes had first fixed
on as a New Year's gift for her cousin. It was as completely furnished
within as it was elegant on the outside. There was the gold thimble, the
gold sheath to the scissors, the tortoiseshell needle-case, the ivory
winders, and the pincushion edged with blue, and stuck in minikin pins,
with the words, 'Affection--from Agnes to Laura,' Agnes's little heart
swelled with emotion. She threw her arms round the neck of her mother,
and sobbed aloud, as she promised never again to be a selfish little
girl.

'Your feelings now, my sweet girl, are strongly excited,' said Mrs.
Clavering, as she pressed the lovely child in her arms, 'and at this
moment I know you mean to perform all that you promise. You will find it
difficult, perhaps, to keep your promise; but you must strive hard to do
so, and in time no doubt you will succeed. Now go and get your pelisse
and bonnet put on, for the carriage will soon be at the door.'

Agnes tripped away with light steps and a merrier heart than she
expected would be her companion to her uncle's. The carriage was shortly
after ready, and the cousins in half an hour were together. Oh, how
grateful did Agnes feel to her mother when Laura met her! In Laura's
arms was the box of shells which she had received from her uncle abroad,
and which was now quite full; for Laura had denied herself everything
that she might complete the collection, and she now presented it, with a
feeling of calm and quiet pleasure, to her beloved cousin. Agnes felt
ashamed and pleased, humbled and gratified, as she threw her arms round
the neck of her dear Laura to thank her, and as she presented to the
delighted girl, in return for her beautiful box of shells, the thimble,
the scissors, the needle-case, the winders, the pincushion, and the
little blue bag.

[Illustration: Agnes threw her arms round the neck of her dear Laura.]

[Illustration]



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  =Transcriber's Notes:=
  original hyphenation, spelling and grammar have been preserved as in
    the original
  Page 7, "give me another pair." changed to "give me another pair.'"
  Page 9, "But I should tell" changed to "'But I should tell"
  Page 12, "did'nt I tell you" changed to "didn't I tell you"
  Page 29, "ran to her assistance," changed to "ran to her assistance."
  Page 30, "good-night to you." changed to "good-night to you.'"
  Page 30, "pray., Mrs. Landlady" changed to "pray, Mrs. Landlady"
  Page 31, "Coming, ma'am,' anwered" changed to "'Coming, ma'am,'
    answered"
  Page 34, "Mr. Pembroke, sir," changed to "Mr. Pembroke, sir,'"
  Page 39, "to be lost" changed to "to be lost."
  Page 40, "the men to acommodate" changed to "the men to accommodate"
  Page 44, "no uncommon attentions" changed to "no uncommon attentions."
  Page 49, "My name. you know" changed to "My name, you know"
  Page 54, "wished to canfide" changed to "wished to confide"
  Page 66, "I should hear her." changed to "I should hear her,"
  Page 67, "very indentical person" changed to "very identical person"
  Page 76, "be kind enought" changed to "be kind enough"
  Page 76, "charging them as silk)" changed to "(charging them as silk)"
  Page 87, "them was inidspensable" changed to "them was indispensable"
  Page 88, "considerable dfficulty" changed to "considerable difficulty"
  Page 90, "Agsen" changed to "Agnes"
  Page 107, "And would it not have" changed to "'And would it not have"
  Page 108, "and His directtions" changed to "and His directions"
  Page 109, "it did aproach Agnes" changed to "it did approach Agnes"
  Page 110, "looked verry shabby" changed to "looked very shabby"





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