The Riverdale Stories
PROUD AND LAZY
A STORY FOR LITTLE FOLKS
AUTHOR OF "THE BOAT CLUB," "ALL ABOARD," "NOW OR NEVER," "TRY AGAIN," "POOR AND PROUD," "THE WOODVILLE STORIES," ETC., ETC.
NEW YORK HURST & COMPANY PUBLISHERS
PROUD AND LAZY.
Tommy Woggs was a funny little boy. He was very proud and very lazy. He seemed to think he was a great man, and that other people lived only to serve and obey him.
None of the boys and girls liked him, because he used to order them round, and because he thought himself so much better than they were.
Tommy's father was a doctor, and a rich man. He could afford to have servants to wait upon his son, but he was not quite rich enough to spoil the child by letting him do as he pleased.
There are some things that wealth cannot purchase. It will not buy wisdom, for all the money in the world would not teach a person even to perform a simple question in arithmetic.
It will not buy the love and respect of others. Many rich men are hated and despised by nearly all who know them.
So Tommy's father could not buy an education for his son, nor would wealth win for him the esteem of his companions. He must study like the children of poor people if he wanted to be wise; and he must treat them well, in order to obtain their good will.
Tommy did not like to study, and he did like to command others. He wished every body to think that he was better than they, because he had been to New York, and because his father was rich.
Children are just like men and women. They always find out the really good boys and girls, and love and respect them. And they never think much of those who think too much of themselves.
When Tommy was eight years old, his father sent him to the village school. It was a public school, and it was the best in the town. He had learned his letters at home, and was able to read a very little.
At first he was pleased with the idea of going to school, and did not even tell his mother he would not go. He was very apt to say he would not do anything, when he was told to do it.
I am sorry to add that his parents were very much to blame, for he was an only child, and they did not like to cross him. They did not make him "mind," as all good parents ought to do, and as all good children are willing to do. He used to have his own way; and when he went to school, he hardly knew what it was to obey.
Miss Dale, the teacher, gave him a good seat, when he first went to school, and spoke very kindly to him. For two or three days he got along quite well. It was a new thing to him, and he was pleased with the school and the teacher.
But in a little while he was tired of the place, and of the teacher, and he had yet to learn that he could not always have his own way.
On the fourth day of his school-life, when Miss Dale called him up to read, he made up his mind that he would not read.
"I don't want to read," said he.
"Perhaps you don't, Thomas. Do you know what your father sends you to school for?" replied Miss Dale.
"No, I don't."
"You must not speak so to me. Come here."
"Don't be naughty, Thomas. I asked you to come to me."
"If you won't come, I shall bring you."
Tommy didn't exactly know what to make of this; but the teacher did not give him much time to think about it, for she took him by the collar of his coat, and, in spite of his kicking and screaming, dragged him up to the desk.
"Now, stand there, Thomas; and if you are a good boy, and obey me, I will not hurt you at all."
"I won't be a good boy," growled Tommy; and when Miss Dale let go of him, he threw himself on the floor and began to kick and scream as though he had been mad.
The teacher opened her desk, and took out a little stick. Tommy did not like the looks of the stick, but he kept on kicking and screaming.
"Get up, Thomas," said Miss Dale.
"I won't," screamed Tommy, very loud.
"No, I won't."
"Then I shall whip you."
"No, you won't," yelled Tommy.
But he was mistaken. Miss Dale would and did whip him, till he was glad to get up. He found the little stick was a thing not to be trifled with, for it made him smart so he could not bear the pain.
"I'm going home," said Tommy.
"Not yet, Thomas."
"Yes, I will."
"I think not. Now, pick up your book, and be a good boy."
Then a smart cut of the stick upon one of his legs made him scream with pain again.
"Pick up your book, now, Thomas."
"I'll tell my mother of you," snarled Tommy, as he picked up the book.
"You may, if you choose. Now open your book."
He did not mind, and again he felt the terrible stick, which caused him to obey.
"Now, Thomas," said Miss Dale, as she put the stick in the desk, "when I tell you to do anything, you must obey me."
"I won't, either."
"You must not say you won't to me."
"Yes, I will."
The teacher opened the desk and took out the stick again.
"Yes, I will."
Tommy felt the stick once more; and this time blow followed blow till Tommy, of his own accord, promised not to use the naughty words again.
"Now, Thomas, if you will be a good boy you will not have any more trouble. You must do what I tell you to do, and not be saucy to me."
"I'll tell my mother of you. She don't whip me," muttered Tommy.
"You may tell your mother, and if she does not wish you to mind, she must not send you here. But I think she wants you to be a good boy, obey your teacher, and get your lessons."
"No, she don't," said Tommy, who was not quite willing to be good yet.
"Well, it does not make any difference whether she does or not; you must mind all I say if you come to school here."
Miss Dale then heard him read; but he did not do very well. He was thinking all the time what he could do that was naughty; but as he kept one eye on the little stick, he did not venture again to disobey or to be saucy.
When he went home that day he told his mother he was not going to school any more; and perhaps she would have let him have his own way. But his father, when he heard what Miss Dale had done, said he was glad she had made him mind, and that he should go to school in the afternoon.
To make the matter sure, Dr. Woggs went to school with him himself, and told the teacher to make a good boy of him, if she could, and above all things to make him obey her. So Tommy got the worst of it, after all.
Tommy Woggs learned to obey while he was in school. That little stick produced a great change in him; but after the first week, Miss Dale did not have occasion to use it again.
He found that he must mind, and he had sense sufficient to see that it was just as easy to obey before he was whipped, or even scolded, as it was afterwards.
It was the next year after Tommy began to go to school that he went to New York. It was a great thing for a little boy like him to go away so far, and see so many wonderful things; and his companions, for a time, thought he was a real hero.
When he came back he told ever so many stories of what he had seen—of the fine buildings in New York, of the great crowds of people in Broadway, and the sights he saw at the Museum.
But the children soon grew tired of it, and did not want to hear any more of Tommy's stories. I think it quite likely that, if Tommy had not been so smart about it, they would have been glad to hear a great deal more about New York.
But I have another story to tell about Tommy; and I hope it will convince all my young readers that it is better to obey their parents, even if they are not punished, than it is to disregard what they tell them.
I have said that Tommy was proud and lazy. He was so proud he did not like to mind; and so lazy that he did not like to go to school, because he had to study there, and learn his lessons.
One fine morning in June, when the birds were singing on all the trees, and the grass looked bright and green on the hills, Tommy left his father's house to go to school.
He did not want to go to school that day. He told his mother it was too pleasant to be shut up in a school room all day, and he begged that he might be permitted to stay at home.
"No, Tommy, you must go to school. Your father says that you must not stay at home a single day, unless you are sick."
This was about an hour before school time, and the lazy boy sat on the door stone, for a while, and then came back and told his mother he did not feel very well.
"What ails you, Tommy?" asked his mother.
"Not very sick, I think."
"Yes, I am; real sick."
Just then his father came in, and heard his complaint.
"How long have you felt sick, Tommy?" asked his father.
"Ever since I got up," replied Tommy, placing his hand upon his stomach.
"You ate your breakfast very well for a sick boy."
"I feel worse since I ate my breakfast," said the little boy, trying very hard to look sick.
"What ails you?"
"I feel sick at the stomach."
"Well, I think you will feel better by and by," added Dr. Woggs.
"But I can't go to school, father."
"O, you can't?" said his father, with a smile.
"I don't feel able to go."
"Then you needn't go."
Tommy was much pleased to find he had gained his point; and he did not think of the wicked lies he had told. His father said he might stay away from school that day, and this was all he wanted.
He had a pair of rabbits in the wood shed, and without thinking that he was sick, he was going out to play with them.
"Where are you going, Tommy?" asked his father.
"Out in the wood shed to see my rabbits."
"I thought you were sick."
"So I am, father."
"Then sit down on the sofa, and I will attend to you in a moment. Do you feel very sick?"
"I'm real bad, father," replied Tommy, quickly, for he was afraid his father would send him to school, after all.
Dr. Woggs opened a drawer in his bookcase, and took out a little jar, filled with a kind of yellow powder. He then asked Mrs. Woggs to get him a little molasses in a cup, and a teaspoon.
Tommy turned pale then, for he knew all about that powder in the little jar.
"Now, my son, we will make you well by to-morrow, so that you will be able to go to school again," said Dr. Woggs, as he took the cover off the jar.
Tommy began to cry, for he would rather have taken a whipping than a dose of that nasty, yellow powder.
"What's the matter, Tommy? Do you feel worse?" asked his father.
"I don't want to take any of that stuff," whined the poor little invalid.
"I know, Tommy, it isn't pleasant to take; but when we are sick, we must take something to keep us from getting any worse."
"I don't want to take it, father. It always makes me a good deal sicker than I was before—it does indeed, father."
"That's very true, my boy; but, for all that, you must take it. We very often have to make folks worse before they can be any better. It always hurts to set a broken arm or leg; but no one would think of letting it remain unset because the operation is painful."
His mother soon came with the cup of molasses, and Dr. Woggs put some of the yellow powder into it, and stirred up the mixture.
"I don't want to take it, father," cried Tommy, who was trembling with dread at the very thought of the nasty stuff.
"I can't help it, my boy. You must take it," said the doctor, in such a tone that the poor boy felt he must obey, or confess that he had told a falsehood.
"I can't take it, father," he groaned.
"Poor boy! I know it is not good; but only think how sick you are! Why, you are so bad that you cannot go to school."
"I will go to school," whined Tommy.
"What! when you are sick?" asked his father. "O, no; you must not go to school when you are sick; it is a bad place for sick boys. Take the medicine, stay at home and get well."
"I will go to school," repeated Tommy, earnestly.
"Not when you are sick, my son."
"I'm not sick, father."
"Didn't you say only a few moments since that you were sick—real bad?"
"But I am much better now; and I think I am able to go to school."
"You may be sick again, my son."
"I shall not, father; I know I shall not."
"I think you had better take the medicine to prevent another attack."
"No, father; I wasn't sick at all," said the little boy, very sheepishly.
Dr. Woggs scolded him in a most severe manner for the falsehood he had uttered, and then sent him to school. He ought to have remembered this lesson. It was the last time that Tommy ever pretended he was sick, as that disgusting yellow powder frequently showed itself to his imagination.
I don't think it would answer for many parents to do as Tommy's father did; but he was a doctor, and understood the case.
It was a beautiful morning in June when Tommy Woggs left his home to go to school, after the events which I have related in the last chapter.
He did not want to go to school—of course he did not, or he would not have pretended to be sick, that he might stay at home. The grass looked so green, and the birds sang so sweetly, that he wished to have a good time with them in the fields.
If he had been a good boy, and had always done his duty in school, he would not have felt so; and he was just as much to blame for feeling wrong as he was for doing wrong.
I have always noticed that children who behave well, and get their lessons, like to be in school. It is a pleasant place to them. And doing right always makes us happy, wherever we are.
But those who are naughty, and neglect their duties, are always in trouble; and for this reason they hate school. It is their own fault, however, that they dislike it, for if they did right, they would be happy not only there, but everywhere else.
Tommy dragged along the street like a snail, or like a sheep led to the slaughter. When he got about half way to the school house, he met Joe Birch and Ben Tinker.
My readers already know Joe Birch, and know that he was a bad boy; and I suppose, after being told that Ben Tinker was his constant companion, they can easily guess what kind of a boy he was. They were very much alike, and were the leaders in all the mischief done in Riverdale.
"Where are you going, Tommy?" asked Ben.
"I am going to school," he replied, stopping to talk with the two boys, who were seated on a rock at the side of the road.
"Have you got any money, Tom?" said Joe.
"No, I haven't."
"'Cause, if you've got three cents about you, I will tell you something."
"What?" inquired Tommy, without thinking of the price which the bad boy asked for his important information.
"That's telling," replied Joe, winking at his companion.
"Won't you tell me?"
"Give me three cents, and I will."
"I haven't got three cents; but I will give them to you some time."
"I won't trust you. Give me the money now, and I will tell you all about it," added Joe.
"How can I give it to you when I haven't got it?"
The two bad boys saw that he was willing enough to pay them for what they had to tell him, and they had only to devise a plan by which he could raise the funds.
"Are you going to school, Tom?" asked Joe Birch.
"Because my father makes me go. I tried to get off this morning. I made believe sick; but father was going to make me take some of his nasty physic, and I thought I'd rather go to school than do that."
"I can tell you how you can stay away from school without taking any physic."
"Give me the three cents, and I will tell you."
"I haven't them; if I had I would."
"Well, I will tell you how to get them, if you like."
"Go home to your mother, and tell her the schoolma'am sent you home for three cents to buy a new book."
"I'll do that," replied Tommy, not stopping to think how wicked was the act which the bad boy proposed to him.
"Mind you, Tom, go to your mother—don't go to your father."
Tommy promised to do just as he was told by these bad boys, and ran home with all his might, to get the money for them. His mother did not stop to ask him any questions, though she wondered what book he could buy for three cents.
"Here's the three cents," said Tommy, as he joined the boys in the road. "Now tell me how I can stay away from school without having to take any physic."
"Just come with us; we are not going to school this fine morning. When the factory bell rings for twelve o'clock, just go home; and your folks won't know but that you have been to school."
"That's the way," added Ben Tinker. "That's what the fellers call 'hookin' jack.'"
Tommy did not exactly like the idea at first, for he could not help thinking what might happen in case he got found out. He did not ask himself whether it was right or wrong to do what the boys called "hooking jack;" but only whether he should get found out or not.
We ought always to do right, whatever may happen to us; and we should never do wrong, even if we feel certain of not being found out.
"Where are you going?" asked Tommy.
"Over the other side of the river. We must not let any one see us after school time, for they will know we ought to be in school."
"And, just you mind, Tom Woggs," added Ben, "if you get found out yourself, you mustn't tell of us. If you do, you will be apt to get a broken head—mind that."
Joe Birch jumped over the wall into the lot, and was followed by his companions in evil. Tommy did not feel just right; not that he felt bad because he was doing wrong, but because he was afraid of the two boys.
When they had crossed the lot, they came to a by-road; and here it was agreed that Ben should run up to the village and buy something with the money which Tommy had furnished.
He was gone but a little while; and when he joined them again, they all hastened across the bridge, and were soon in the woods, where no one could see them.
"What did you buy with the money?" asked Joe.
"Some cigars. I got six for three cents."
"Cigars!" exclaimed Tommy. "What do you want of cigars?"
"To smoke, of course. What do you think?"
"It will make you sick."
"I guess not. You shall have one, if you like. A feller ain't nobody if he don't smoke," replied Joe.
But the boys decided not to smoke at first; and seeing there was plenty of sticks and brush in the woods, Tommy proposed that they should build a house—just for the fun of it.
"So we will; and when we get it done, we will smoke our cigars in it, and have a good time," replied Ben.
"That will be first rate," added Joe. "But how are you going to build it?"
"O, I know how. I have been to New York, and I know all about these things," said Tommy, beginning now to show his usual vanity.
"I say, Tom, do they make houses out of brush in New York?" asked Ben.
"No; but then I have been about more than you have, and I ought to know more, of course. I will be the builder, and you two shall be my servants."
"Look here, Tom—none of that talk, my boy. We ain't your servants, any how," said Joe.
"Never mind him, Joe," added Ben. "Let him build the house, if he can. I wonder what it will look like!"
"Well, you bring me the sticks and brush, and see if I don't build a good one," replied Tommy.
The two boys agreed to this plan; and in a little while they had a great pile of sticks and brush, and Tommy began to build the house. He stuck up two sticks, like the letter V, and then carried a long pole from the top of them down to the ground. Against the pole, he set up long sticks; and then told his companions to cover them over with brush and leaves.
It did not take a very long time to build such a house as this, and it was soon finished. The boys were much pleased with it, and seated themselves on the ground, inside of it, for the purpose of having a good time.
It was now after eleven o'clock, and it would soon be time for the truants to return home.
The hut which they had built was not very tight, but it kept the sun out; and the boys were so well pleased with it that they agreed to come there again in the afternoon. They wished the forenoon had been much longer, for their fun came to an end too soon.
"Now, boys, we will have a smoke," said Joe, as they seated themselves in the house.
"Yes; and we haven't any too much time," replied Ben Tinker, as he took the cigars from his pocket.
"Have you any matches?"
"To be sure I have. What's the use of cigars without any matches? Take a cigar, Tom."
Tommy took the cigar, and though he had some doubts about smoking it, he did not like to be behind his companions in anything. He thought it would make him sick, as he had known it to do to others. He did not want to smoke it, but he had not the courage to refuse.
He was proud, and did not want to have the other boys any smarter than he was. They thought it was manly and big to smoke, for I don't believe either of them could have liked the fumes of a cigar. They had not smoked enough for this.
Ben lighted a match, and then his cigar. Joe, as dignified as any old smoker, took a light from him; and both of them puffed away, and felt as big as though they were doing some great thing.
"Have a light, Tommy?" asked Ben. "If you are going with us, you must learn to smoke."
"All the fellers that are anything smoke," added Joe.
"Then I'll smoke," replied Tommy. "I used to see lots of gentlemen smoking cigars in Broadway, in New York, when I was there."
"Of course you did."
Tommy put the cigar into his mouth; he did not like the taste of the thing, but he felt that it was a good cause, and he was willing to be a martyr. Ben lent him his cigar to light it by; and with a little instruction from his friends, he was soon able to puff away as smart as any of them.
It was not half so bad as he had feared it would be. It did not make him sick, at first, and he thought he was one of that kind who can smoke without learning.
He felt as big as his companions then, for the wrong idea that smoking was smart had taken full possession of him.
There are some savages who paint their faces—they think it is smart; we don't think so. Some Indians wear bits of tin fastened to the ends of their noses—they think it looks pretty; we don't think so.
It does not follow, therefore, that every thing that looks smart is so. A little boy, or any boy, with a cigar in his mouth, is a disgusting sight to sensible people. We never heard of any man who thought it was smart for boys to smoke, or to make use of tobacco in any way.
"Now, Tom, tell us something about New York while we are smoking," said Ben.
"Well, I will, if you wish me to do so; but I have got almost tired of talking about New York. Everybody wants to know what I saw there."
"Do they?" laughed Joe.
"Yes; I don't like to say no to them, for I am willing to help along those who don't know as much as I do."
"Do you mean to say we don't know as much as you do?" demanded Ben, angrily.
"Well, you haven't been to New York—have you?"
"What if we haven't?"
"Then, of course, you can't know so much as I do. I was there a week."
"If you say that again, I'll pound you," said Ben, rising.
"There's a stump for you, Tom," added Joe.
Tommy had not a great deal of courage; but, in a little while, Joe Birch managed to get up a fight between his little companions. He showed Tommy how to strike; and the two boys went into the matter like real bruisers.
Of course, Tommy Woggs got whipped—and it served him just right. His face was scratched, and one of his eyes was very red. Just then he thought he should not tell another boy that he did not know as much as he did.
The quarrel was soon made up; for after Ben Tinker had thrashed the little boaster he was satisfied, and Tommy did not dare to be cross. By this time they had to start for home.
Tommy had not got half way to his father's house before he began to feel dizzy, and to realize a very unpleasant feeling at the stomach. But he hurried home as fast as he could, which was not very fast, for he was sick in earnest now.
He staggered into the parlor, where his mother was sewing. He felt very bad then, and wished, with all his heart, that he had gone to school, and kept away from the bad boys.
"I feel sick, mother," said Tommy, as he threw himself into a chair.
"Why, Tommy! You are as pale as a ghost," exclaimed his mother, looking up from her work. "What ails you?"
"I feel sick at the stomach. I want to go to bed."
Whatever were the doubts Mrs. Woggs had in the morning about her son's sickness, she had none now. His pale face and blue lips were evidences of his condition.
Taking him by the hand, she led him upstairs, and put him into bed. Then she called Dr. Woggs, who was in his library, to come upstairs and see him.
"Poor boy; he is real sick," said his mother, as the doctor entered the room. "He is just as pale as death, and could hardly walk upstairs."
"What ails him?"
"He is sick at the stomach, just as he was this morning. It was too bad to send him to school when he felt so sick. I knew he was ill then."
"He wasn't very bad this morning," said the doctor, who did not know what to make of it.
"He was real sick then, and I knew he was. It was too bad to make him go to school," added the fond mother.
"But I didn't make him go to school," replied Dr. Woggs. "I was only going to give him some medicine to make him better."
The cigar had done its work; and it operated upon him just as that nasty yellow powder would if he had taken it.
"What's this?" said the doctor, after the contents of Tommy's stomach had been thrown up. "What have you been doing, Tommy?"
"Nothing, father," replied Tommy, faintly.
"You have been smoking. You smell as strong of tobacco smoke as a bar-room loafer."
"Smoking!" exclaimed Mrs. Woggs, with horror.
"Have you been smoking, Tommy?" asked his father sternly.
The poor sufferer felt so bad, he had no courage to tell a lie, and he was obliged to own that he had been smoking.
When he felt a little better, his father questioned him so closely, that in spite of his promise, Tommy had to say he had "hooked jack" that forenoon, and that he had been in the woods with Joe and Ben, where each of them had smoked a cigar.
Dr. Woggs went to the school that afternoon, and told Miss Dale all about it; and then to the parents of Joe and Ben, and told them all about it. The truants were all punished; and as the schoolmistress promised to send word to their homes when either of them was absent again, they had no chance to "hook jack" afterwards.
Tommy was as well as ever the next day; but that red eye became a black eye, and the children laughed at him for a week.
He thought how much trouble he had caused himself by being proud and lazy, and he resolved to be a better boy. He did very well for some time; he went to school without complaining, and didn't talk big; but he was not entirely cured.
It often takes a great while to get rid of bad habits; but we should banish them, even if it takes a whole lifetime to do so.
"Kate!" said Mrs. Lamb to her daughter, who was playing in the garden, in front of the house.
"What do you want, mother?" replied the little girl, without even lifting her eyes from the ground, in which she was planting a marigold.
I don't think any of my young readers regard this as a proper answer for a little girl to make to her mother; and I hope none of them ever speak to their parents in this manner.
"Come into the house. I want you," added her mother.
But Kate did not go till she got ready. She was not in the habit of minding her mother at once, and without asking any improper questions, as all good children do, or ought to do, at least.
When she stepped out of the bed of flowers, in which she had been at work, instead of looking to see where she put her feet, she kept her eyes fixed on the place where she had just planted the marigold.
"Look before you leap" is a good motto for everybody—for children, as well as for men and women. If Kate had thought of it, perhaps she would have saved herself and her mother a great deal of trouble.
She did not mind where she stepped, and put her foot upon a beautiful, sweet-scented peony, which had just come out of the ground. She broke the stem short off, and crushed the root all in pieces.
Now, this flower was very highly prized by Mrs. Lamb, for she had brought it from a great distance, and it was the only one of the kind in Riverdale at that time.
Kate was very fond of flowers herself, and when she saw the mischief she had done, she cried with anger and vexation. She would not have spoiled this peony for a great deal, for she had looked forward with much pleasure to the time when it should bud and blossom, and fill the garden with its fragrance.
"What is the matter with you, Kate?" called her mother, from the house, when she heard Kate crying.
"I did not mean to do it, mother," sobbed the poor girl.
"Didn't mean to do what, Kate?" said her mother, rushing into the garden to find out what mischief had been done.
Mrs. Lamb was very angry when she saw that the peony was spoiled; and she took Kate by the arm, and shook her. I don't think this shaking did any good; but it was a great trial to her to see her favorite flower destroyed.
"You careless girl!" said Mrs. Lamb.
"I didn't mean to, mother," replied Kate.
"But you were careless, as you always are. Will you never learn to be careful? You walk about the flower beds as though they were solid rocks."
"I did not mean to tread upon it," was all that poor Kate could say.
It was very true that she did not mean to spoil the peony; but it was almost as bad to ruin it by being careless. Children ought to understand that not meaning to do wrong is not a good excuse, when the wrong might have been prevented by being careful.
Suppose the captain of a ship should run his vessel on the rocks, and lose a dozen lives, by being careless; do you think people would be willing to trust him with another vessel afterwards?
Suppose the engineer should neglect to keep watch of the boiler, and it should burst; would not people blame him? Would they think it a good excuse if he said he did not mean to let it burst?
If the man who has the keeping of a powder house should smoke a pipe in it, and twenty persons should be killed by his carelessness, do you think it would be enough for him to say he did not intend to kill them?
When we go on the water in a sailing vessel or a steamer; when we ride on a railroad, in a stage, or wagon, our lives depend on the carefulness with which the vessel, railroad, or carriage is managed. People don't excuse them, when lives are lost, because they did not mean to kill anybody.
You are liable to lose your life every day by the carelessness of some one. The house in which you are to sleep on a cold winter's night may be burned down by the neglect of those who take care of the fires.
The careless use of a lamp might destroy many lives and much property. If you play with fire, though you do not mean any harm, you may burn the house in which you live, and perhaps destroy the lives of your friends.
A little carelessness may produce dreadful results. The want of thought for a few moments may do more mischief than you can repair in a whole lifetime.
Kate Lamb was not a bad girl at heart. She loved her parents and her friends as much as any little girl; but she often gave them a great deal of trouble and sadness by her carelessness.
She was so thoughtless that she had come to be called "Careless Kate." It was a bad fault; and it sometimes led her to commit worse ones, as my story will show.
"Now, Kate, come into the house; and next time, when I call, come at once," said her mother. "If you had minded me, perhaps my flower would not have been spoiled."
"I will be more careful next time, mother," replied Kate.
"I hope you will. I think you have done sufficient mischief by being careless, and I hope you will soon begin to do better."
"I will try, mother."
Very likely she meant to try, just then, while she was smarting under her mother's rebuke, and while she was still sad at the loss of the flower; but she had promised to do better so many times, that her mother could hardly believe her again.
"I want you to carry this quart of milk down in the meadow to poor Mrs. O'Brien," said Mrs. Lamb, as she handed her a tin kettle. "And you must go quick, for it is almost dark now."
"It won't take me long, mother."
"But you must be very careful, and not spill any of the milk."
"I will be very careful."
"Mrs. O'Brien is sick, and has two small children. This milk is for their supper."
"That is the woman whose husband was killed on the railroad last summer—isn't it, mother?"
"Yes; and she is very poor. She is sick now, and not able to work. The neighbors have all sent milk to her for her children, and a great many other things. Now go just as fast as you can, but be very careful and not spill the milk."
Kate put on her bonnet, and taking the pail of milk, hastened towards the house of the poor sick woman. But she had gone but a little way when she met Fanny Flynn, who was an idle girl, and very fond of mischief.
"Where are you going, Kate?" asked Fanny.
"I am going down to Mrs. O'Brien's with some milk."
"Give me a drink—will you?"
"I can't; it is for the poor widow's children. I suppose they won't have any supper till they get this milk."
"Yes, they will. I won't drink but a little of it."
"No, I can't give you any. It would not be right for me to do so."
"Pooh! You needn't pretend to be so good all at once. You are no better than I am."
"I didn't say I was. Only I shall not give you any of this milk, when it is for the poor woman's children; so you needn't ask me," replied Kate, with a great deal of spirit.
Some people think, when they do anything that is right, they ought to make a great parade over it; but this only shows that they are not much in the habit of doing right, and they wish to get all the credit they can for it.
It was so with Kate. She ought to have been content with merely doing her duty, without "talking large" about it. Fanny felt that she was just as good as Kate, and she was angry when the latter made a needless show of her intention to do what she believed to be right.
"I don't want it," said Fanny.
"What did you ask me for it for, then? You wanted to make me do something that was wrong."
"You are not always so nice," sneered Fanny.
"I don't mean to do wrong, anyhow, as some folks do."
"Do you mean me?"
"No matter whom I mean."
Fanny was so angry that she walked up to Kate and pulled her "shaker" down over her face. She also used some naughty words when she did so, which I will not repeat.
Kate, in her turn, was very angry with the saucy girl, and wanted to "pay" her for what she had done. But Fanny did not wait for any reply, and ran away just as fast as she could.
It would have been much better for Kate if she had let her go; but she was so angry she could not do this; she wanted to strike back again. Without thinking of the milk in the pail, she started to run after the naughty girl.
For a few moments she ran with all her might, and had nearly caught Fanny, when a stone tripped her up, and she fell upon the ground.
Then she thought of the milk, and tried to save it; but the cover of the kettle came off, and it was all spilled on the ground.
The fall did not hurt her, but the laugh with which her misfortune was greeted by Fanny roused a very wicked spirit in her heart, and dropping the pail, which she had picked up, she pursued her.
But the naughty girl had the start of her, and though she followed her a good way she could not overtake her. Then she stopped in the path, and cried with anger and vexation. The thought of the milk which had been spilled, was, after all, the worst part of the affair.
Walking back to the place where the accident had happened, she picked up the pail again, and began to think what she should do. It was of no use now for her to go to Mrs. O'Brien's. She had no milk for the children's supper.
What would her mother say to her if she should return home and tell her she had spilled all the milk? She had told her to be careful, and she felt that she had been very careless.
It was not necessary that she should chase the naughty girl, whatever she said; and she could not help seeing that she had been very careless. While she was thinking about it, Ben Tinker came along. He lived in the next house to Mr. Lamb, and the children were well acquainted with each other.
"What is the matter with you, Kate?" asked Ben, when he saw that her eyes were red, and her face was wet with tears.
"I have just spilled a pailful of milk on the ground," sobbed Kate.
"O, well, it's no use to cry for spilled milk," laughed Ben.
"I was carrying it to Mrs. O'Brien."
"No matter; she will get along very well without it."
"That ugly Fanny Flynn struck me on the head, and that's what made me spill the milk."
"Didn't you hit her back?"
"I couldn't catch her; she ran away. I was chasing her when I fell down and spilled the milk."
"You can catch her some time; when you do, give it to her."
But Kate had got over her anger, and heartily wished she had not attempted to catch Fanny. Besides, she very well knew that Ben was giving her bad advice.
That passage from the New Testament, "If any man smite thee on the one cheek, turn to him the other also," came to her mind, and she felt how wicked it was to harbor a desire for revenge.
The loss of the milk, and what would follow when she went home, gave her more trouble than the injury she had received from the naughty girl.
"I don't know what I shall do," said she, beginning to cry again, as she thought of her mother.
"Do? you can't do anything—can you? The milk is gone, and all you have to do is to go home," replied Ben.
"What will my mother say?"
"No matter what she says, if she don't whip you or send you to bed without your supper."
"She won't whip me, and I have been to supper."
"Then what are you crying about?"
"Mother says I am very careless; and I know I am," whined Kate.
"Don't be a baby, Kate."
"I spoiled a flower this afternoon, and mother scolded me and shook me for it. She told me to be very careful with this milk, and now I have spilled the whole of it."
"Well, if you feel so bad, why need you tell her anything about it?"
"About what?" asked Kate, looking up into his face, for she did not quite understand him.
"You needn't tell her you spilled the milk. She will never find it out."
"But she will ask me."
"What if she does? Can't you tell her you gave the milk to the old woman, and that she was very much obliged to her for sending it?"
"I can do that," said Kate.
She did not like the plan, but it seemed to her just then that anything would be better than telling her mother that she had spilled the milk; and, wicked as it was, she resolved to do it.
Kate did not think of the poor woman and her hungry children when she made up her mind to tell her mother such a monstrous lie.
She did not think how very wicked it was to deceive her mother, just to escape, perhaps, a severe rebuke for her carelessness.
She felt all the time that she was doing wrong, but she tried so hard to cover it up, that her conscience was not permitted to do its whole duty.
When we are tempted to do wrong, something within us tells us not to do it; but we often struggle to get rid of this feeling, and if we succeed the first time, it is easier the next time. And the more we do wrong, the easier it becomes to put down the little voice within us.
It was so with Kate. She had told falsehoods before, or it would not have been so easy for her to do it this time. If we do not take care of our consciences, as we do of our caps and bonnets, they are soon spoiled.
Did you ever notice that one of the wheels on your little wagon, when it becomes loose, soon wears out? The more it sags over on one side, the weaker it grows. While the wheel stands up straight, it does not seem to wear out at all.
It is just so with your conscience—your power to tell right from wrong. While you keep it up straight, it works well, and never wears out. But when it gets a little out of order, it grows worse very fast, and is not of much more value than a lighthouse without any light in it.
Kate's conscience had begun to sag over on one side. It was growing weak, and did not remind her of her wrong deeds with force enough to make itself heeded. If she could only escape the reproof of her mother, she did not care.
Thus moved by the wicked counsel of Ben Tinker, she hastened home. She tried to look as if nothing had happened, but her eyes were still very red from crying; and her mother wanted to know what had made her cry.
"Fanny Flynn struck me, and pulled my 'shaker' over my face," replied Kate.
"What did she do that for?"
"She asked me to give her a drink of the milk, and because I wouldn't, she struck me," answered Kate, placing her pail upon the kitchen table.
"She is a naughty girl, and I will go and see her mother about it. What did she say to you?"
"She asked me for a drink of the milk."
"What did you answer?"
"I told her it was for Mrs. O'Brien's children, and that it wouldn't be right for me to give it to her, and I would not."
"Well, I will see to that. I think it is a pity if I can't send one of my children out on an errand of charity without her being treated in this manner. She shall suffer for it."
"She is a naughty girl, mother; and I never mean to speak to her again as long as I live," said Kate, with much apparent earnestness.
"You did right not to give her any of the milk, and I am glad you did not. I am happy that my daughter has been brave enough to do right, and even to suffer for doing it. You are a good girl, Kate."
"I meant to be, mother."
"What did Mrs. O'Brien say when you gave her the milk?" continued Mrs. Lamb.
"She said she was much obliged to you," replied Kate, not daring to look her mother in the face.
"Did you see the children?"
Mrs. Lamb was going to ask more questions about the family, but something called her attention away, and Kate was saved from telling more falsehoods.
She took a book and tried to read, but she could not, for she did not feel like a good girl. The little voice within told her how wicked she had been, and she began to wish that she had not deceived her mother.
While she sat with the book in her hand, her father came home; and her mother told him what Fanny Flynn had done. He was very angry when he had heard the story, and asked Kate a great many questions about the affair.
"You did well, Kate, and I am glad you were so brave and so smart," said Mr. Lamb.
"Of course I could not give her any of the milk when it was for the poor widow's hungry children."
"You did right, Kate," repeated her father. "The poor children might have had to go to bed hungry if you had given up the milk to that bad girl."
"I know it, father."
"Only think what a sad thing it would have been if the poor little ones had been sent hungry and crying to bed. That Fanny Flynn must be taken care of. When little girls get to be so bold as that, it is high time something was done."
"I think so, too, father."
"It is time for you to go to bed now, Kate," said her mother.
"I am ready, mother, for I am tired as I can be."
Kate was glad to get away from her father and mother, for while they were praising her for her good conduct, she knew very well that she did not deserve it.
What would her parents think if they knew that she had spilled all the milk on the ground? What would they say to her if they found out that she had told them so many lies?
The more she thought of her conduct, the more she felt that she had done wrong. She now saw that, if she had returned home and told her mother the truth, she would have excused the fault, and sent another pail of milk to the poor sick woman's hungry children.
She wished she had done so, for it would have been a great deal better to be scolded for her carelessness than to feel as guilty as she now felt. She was sure that it was far better to suffer a great deal than to do even a little wrong.
She was not satisfied either that her mother would have scolded her, if she had stated the whole truth to her—that Fanny Flynn had made her spill the milk.
She went to bed; but when her mother bade her good night, and took the lamp in her hand, she begged her to leave it, for she did not like to be alone in the dark.
It seemed just as though a wicked spirit was tormenting her; and though she was in the habit of going to sleep without a light, the darkness was terrible to her at this time. She did not even wish to be left alone, but she dared not ask her mother to stay with her.
When Mrs. Lamb had gone out, Kate covered her face wholly under the bedclothes, and shut her eyes as close as she could, trying in this manner to go to sleep. But her guilty conscience gave her no rest.
Then she opened her eyes, and looked around the room; but everything in the chamber seemed to mock and reproach her. Again and again she shut her eyes, and tried to sleep.
The little voice within would speak now, in the silence of her chamber. She had never felt so bad before; perhaps because she had never been so wicked before. Do you want to know why she suffered so much? It was because she could not keep from her mind those hungry, crying children.
Poor Kate! She had certainly never been so wicked in her life before. The words of her father still lingered in her ears, and she could almost hear the moans of those hungry, crying children.
She had never been sent to bed in her life without her supper, and it looked like a dreadful thing to her—perhaps even more dreadful than it really was.
If there had been nothing but the falsehoods she had told, she might have gone to sleep; but it was sad to think that she had deprived the poor children of their supper, and sent them hungry to bed. This seemed to be the most wicked part of her conduct.
I do not know how many times she turned over in the bed, nor how many times she pulled the clothes over her eyes to shut out the sad picture of those hungry and crying children that would come up before her, in spite of all she could do to prevent it.
She tried to think of other things—of the scene with Fanny; of her school; of a picnic party she had attended on the first of May; of almost everything, indeed; but it did no good. The poor children could not be banished from her mind.
Kate had been sick with the measles, with the scarlet fever, and the mumps; and she remembered how bad she felt at these times; but it seemed to her now that she would rather have all these diseases at once than suffer from a guilty conscience.
When she was sick, her mother bent over her and pitied her, and did all she could to ease her pain; and even when she was burning with fever, and racked with pain, she felt happier than she did now.
She could not inform her mother how bad she felt, for that would expose her guilt. She heard the clock strike nine, and every moment appeared to her like an hour. Those poor little children constantly haunted her; whether her eyes were open or shut, still she saw them crying, and heard them moaning, and begging their sick mother to give them some supper.
O, Kate! how severely was she punished for the sin she had committed! Her mother and her father had praised her, but still she was unhappy.
Slowly, very slowly, the time passed away and she heard the clock strike ten. She could endure her sufferings no longer; and she burst into tears, sobbing and moaning as if her heart would break.
For some time she cried; but as her distress increased, she sobbed and moaned so loud that her father and mother, who were in the adjoining room, heard her, and hastened into the room to find out what ailed her.
"What is the matter, my child?" anxiously asked her mother. "Haven't you been asleep since you went to bed?"
"No mother," sobbed Kate.
"What ails you? Are you sick?"
"What are you crying for, then?"
"Why, what ails you, child? Have you been frightened?"
"Tell us what ails you, Kate," added her father.
Both of her parents were greatly alarmed about her, for they loved their little girl very much; and they knew that something must ail her, or she would not have lain awake so long, or have cried so bitterly.
"Can't you tell us what ails you, Kate?" inquired her mother, very tenderly.
"I have been very naughty, mother," replied Kate, almost choking with emotion.
"I thought you had been very good," added Mr. Lamb.
"No, I have not; I have been very wicked, and you will never forgive me."
"Why, what have you done, Kate? How strange you act, my child!"
"I can't help it, mother. If you will forgive me this time, I will never be so wicked again while I live."
"Tell us all about it, Kate, and we will forgive you," said her father, very kindly.
The poor girl sobbed so that she could not speak for some time, for the tenderness of her parents made her feel a great deal worse than if they had scolded her severely.
"What have you done, Kate?" repeated Mrs. Lamb.
"I didn't carry the milk to Mrs. O'Brien, mother," gasped the poor penitent, as she uncovered her eyes, and looked up in the face of her parents to notice the effect of her confession upon them.
"Didn't carry it to her?" was the exclamation of her father and mother at the same time.
"No; I spilled it on the ground."
"Why, Kate! what did you do that for?"
"I couldn't help it—I mean I was careless. When Fanny Flynn struck me, I ran after her. My foot tripped, and I fell, and spilled all the milk."
"Why didn't you tell me so, Kate?"
"I didn't dare to tell you; I was afraid you would scold at me, as you did for spoiling the peony."
Kate felt a little better now that she had confessed her fault, and she was able to look her parents in the face.
"Why, Kate, if you had only told me, I should not have scolded you. You may have been careless, but it was all the fault of Fanny Flynn."
"No, mother; I was careless. I forgot all about the milk, I was so angry."
"And so the poor children had no supper, after all," added Mr. Lamb.
"O father! It was what you said about them that made me feel so bad. I am sure I shall never be so very wicked again. Let me carry them some milk now."
"What are you talking about? It is after ten o'clock, my child."
"No matter, father; I am not afraid to go in the dark, if I can only carry them their supper."
"No, no, Kate. I will carry them the milk, though it is rather late, and probably they are all asleep by this time."
"But will you forgive me, father and mother?"
"Freely, my child; you have suffered severely already for your fault, and I hope it will be a lesson to you which will last as long as you live," said her father.
"It will," said Kate, earnestly.
Both her parents kissed her, in token of their forgiveness; and Mr. Lamb put on his coat, while Mrs. Lamb went to the cellar for a pail of milk, with which he soon left the house on his errand of kindness and charity.
Kate felt a great deal better then, and before her father returned, she was fast asleep. Mr. Lamb found the poor woman still up. The children had had bread and water, but no milk, for their supper, and she was very glad to have some for them when they waked up in the night. And she was very grateful to Mr. Lamb for thinking of her at that hour, and thanked God for giving her such kind and thoughtful friends.
From that time, Kate was a better girl, and tried hard to reform her life and character. She tried so hard, and succeeded so well, that she very soon lost the name of "Careless Kate."
Mr. Lamb went to see Fanny Flynn's parents the next day, and they promised to punish her for her conduct. After that Kate did not provoke her, and they never had any more trouble.
Now my readers have seen that Kate's fault led her into falsehood and deception, which are worse than carelessness; and I hope they will all learn to be careful and truthful.
NOTHING TO DO.
NOTHING TO DO.
"My kitty is purring Upon the hearth rug Rolled up in a bundle Just like a great bug. I wonder what kitty Is thinking about; What makes her so happy I cannot find out.
"She has no hard lessons To bother her brain, No spelling and reading To study in vain; She ought to be happy With nothing to do But play all the morning— And I should be, too."
Thus Nellie kept thinking, And spoke out her thought. The words which she uttered Her mother's ear caught. "You wish to be idle Like kitty, dear, there, And play all the morning, Or sleep in your chair?"
"I don't like my lessons; I think 'tis a pity I can't be as happy As dear little kitty. That ugly old spelling I never can learn! O, into a kitty I wish I could turn!"
"I am not a fairy," Her mother replied; "To me all the power Of magic's denied; But you may be idle From morning till night, And see if 'do nothing' Will set your case right."
"O, shall I do nothing But play all day long, And sing with my kitty A holiday song? How happy, and merry, And joyous 'twill be To have no hard lessons— From study be free!"
"Do what will best please you; Be idle all day; Recite no more lessons; Do nothing but play." Then Nellie, rejoicing, Flew out of the room; Played hide, horse, and dolly, And rode on the broom.
But long before dinner Poor Nell had "played out," And studied, and studied, And wandered about, To find some new pleasure, Some game, or some play, To use up the hours, And end that long day;—
And long before evening Was cross as a bear— Just like the McFlimsey With "nothing to wear." And tired of nothing, And tired of play, No day was so tedious As that idle day.
"O mother! my lessons I think I will get, And then I can play As I never played yet. I do not feel happy With nothing to do; I cannot endure it Another day through."
"I thought so, my Nellie; To make your play sweet You must work, and be useful To those whom you meet. The idle are never So happy as they Who work for themselves Or for others each day."
DOLLY AND I.
DOLLY AND I.
Do you know what envy means? I hope you have never felt it, for it is a very wicked feeling. It is being sorry when another has any good thing. Perhaps you will know better what the word means when you have read my story; and I hope it will help you to keep the feeling away from your own heart.
Not far from Mr. Lee's house, in Riverdale, lived a man by the name of Green. He was the agent of one of the factories in the village. Mr. Green had two little girls and three sons. The boys have nothing to do with my story, and for that reason I shall not say a great deal about them.
Katy, Mr. Green's older daughter, was ten years old. She was a pretty good girl, but she did not like to have others get good things, when she did not have any herself. If any person gave one of her brothers an apple, or an orange, she seemed to think she ought to have it.
When she was a baby, she used to cry for everything she saw, and would give her parents no peace till they gave it to her. I am sorry to say they were sometimes very weak on this point, and gave her things which she ought not to have had, just to quiet her.
Her father and mother hoped, when she grew older, she would not want everything that belonged to her brothers. If Charles had a plaything, Katy wanted it, and would cry till she got it. Very often, just to make her stop crying, her mother made poor Charley give up the thing.
But as Katy grew older, she seemed to want everything that others had just as much as ever. She was now ten years old, and still she did not like to see others have anything which she could not have. It is true she did not always say so, but she felt it just as much, and was very apt to be cross and sullen towards those whom she envied.
Nellie Green was not at all like her sister. She was only eight years old, but there was not a bit of envy in her. She would give a part, and often the whole, of her apples, oranges, candy, and playthings to her sister, and to her brothers. She liked to see them happy, and when Charley ate an apple, it tasted just as good to her as though she were eating it herself.
She was not selfish. She would always divide her good things with her friends. Did you ever see a little boy or a little girl eating an apple or some candy, and another little boy or girl standing by, and looking just as if he wanted some?
Nellie always gave her friends a part, and then she not only enjoyed what she ate herself, but she enjoyed what they ate. This is the way to make apples, oranges, and candy taste good.
One New Year's Day, Katy's aunt, after whom she was named, sent her a beautiful wax doll. It was a very pretty doll, and the little girl was the happiest child in Riverdale when the welcome present reached her.
There was another little girl in Riverdale who was almost if not quite as happy; and that was Nellie, her sister. It is true, the doll was not for her; she did not own any of it, and Katy would hardly let her touch it; but for all this, Nellie was pleased to see her sister so happy.
The dolly's name was Lady Jane; for Katy thought, as she was a very fine doll, she ought to have a very fine name. So, when she spoke to the doll,—and she talked a great deal with her,—she always called her Lady Jane. The two little girls had five or six other dolls, but none of them were anything near such fine ladies as Lady Jane. Their heads were made of porcelain, or rubber, or composition, and they had grown so old that they were really ugly.
Miss Lucy, who had a rubber head, looked as though she "had been through the wars." Her nose was worn out, so that she had a great hole in the end of it. I suppose, if she had wanted to sneeze, this hole would have been very handy; but Miss Lucy was a very proper young lady, and never sneezed in company. If she ever sneezed when alone, of course there was no one present to know anything about it.
There was another hole right in the top of her head, so that if she had had any brains, they would certainly have leaked out; but as Miss Lucy was not a strong-minded woman, I suppose she had no use for brains.
One of the family of dolls was a little black girl, whose name was Dinah. She had seen hard service in her day, and did not look as though she would last much longer.
Miss Fanny had once been a fine lady, but times had gone hard with her, and her fine clothes were both ragged and dirty. But hard times were not so very bad, for she wore the same smile as when her clothes had been new and nice.
Miss Mary was a poor cripple. By a sad accident she had broken one of her legs. Katy placed her on a table one day, and either because the height from the floor made her dizzy, or because she was laid too near the edge, she had tumbled off, and one leg was so badly broken that neither a wooden nor a cork one could be fastened in its place.
Therefore Miss Mary could not walk about the room, and never went anywhere, except when she was carried. But she was not half so badly off as Miss Susie, who had broken her neck, and lost off her head. The head was tied on with a string, but it kept falling off while the family were at play; but Miss Susie did not seem to mind it at all.
She got along a great deal better without her head than you or I could without ours. Indeed, she wore the same smile upon her face whether the head was on or off—which teaches us that we ought always to be cheerful in misfortune.
Besides these fine young ladies there were two or three rag babies; but as you could not tell by the looks of them what they were thinking about, I will not say anything about them. They had no virtues worth telling; they never ate soup with a fork, or gave money to the poor.
Some of my readers may not think much of this family of dollies, but I am sure Katy and Nellie had fine times with them. They used to spend hours together with them, and the dollies used to do everything that anybody could do.
Miss Fanny used to visit a great deal, in spite of her dirty, ragged clothes; so did Miss Lucy, with two holes in her head, and Miss Mary, with her broken leg, and Miss Susie, with her broken neck. All of them used to go a-visiting, except Miss Dinah, and she, being a black girl, had to do the sweeping and tend the door.
These ladies were all of them so bashful that they would not speak in company, and Katy and Nellie had to do all the talking for them.
But they used to "make believe" the dollies talked, and this did just as well. They used to say just such things as the ladies did who called on Mrs. Green, and never left without being urged to stay longer, and also to call again; which they always promised to do.
On the whole, they were very wonderful dollies; at least they were until Lady Jane came, and she was such a fine lady, with her white silk dress and her real hair, that none of them could shine after that.
One day Flora Lee came to see Nellie Green, and to spend the afternoon with her.
It was in the month of November, and the weather was too cold to permit them to play in the garden; so they said they would have a good time in the house.
Katy Green had to go away, and could not play with them. Nellie was very sorry for this, for she not only liked to have her sister with her, but she also wanted the company of Lady Jane.
She told Flora how sorry she was, and they agreed that it was too bad Katy had to go away, for she was older than they, and could help them a great deal in their plays. Besides, they wanted one fine lady among the dollies, for they had a certain play which required just such a person.
"I wish I had brought Miss Dolly with me. I guess she is fine enough," said Flora.
"I wish you had," replied Nellie; "but as you have not, we can't help it now. I dare say Miss Fanny will do."
"I'll tell you what you can do, Nellie."
"You can just ask Katy," said Nellie, at last.
"Why not? She will let you have her. Of course she will let you have her," added Flora, warmly.
"I don't think she will. You know we might break her neck, or lose off her legs or arms; or we might dirty her white silk dress."
"But we will be very careful. Let us go and ask her. It won't do any harm to ask her, you know. She can't do any more than refuse."
Nellie did not like to be refused, and she tried to prevent Flora from going any farther in the matter. She was sorry to have it appear that her sister was selfish, and she thought more of this than she did of being refused.
Flora said so much that at last she thought Katy might let her have the doll, and they ran downstairs to the sitting room, to have the matter settled.
"Will you lend us your dolly, Katy?" asked Nellie, and the tones of her voice showed how doubtful she was of the result of the question.
"What dolly do you mean?" asked Katy.
"Your wax dolly—Lady Jane."
"I am very sure I shall not," replied Katy.
"We will be very careful of her," added Flora. "We won't let her be hurt a bit—you may depend on that."
"I'm not going to let you have my dolly to break and spoil—I'm sure I shall not," said Katy, who even seemed to be angry because she was asked.
"But don't I say we won't hurt it a bit?" continued Flora. "And when you come over to my house, you shall have my dolly just as long as you want her; and her house too, and all the chairs and tables and things."
"I don't want them."
"Do please to let us have Lady Jane," teased Nellie. "We want her ever so much; and I know she won't get broken or dirty. Please to lend her to us, Katy."
"I shan't do any such thing; so it's no use to tease me. Why don't you play with your own dollies? I won't lend Lady Jane—that's flat."
Nellie felt so bad she could not help crying,—not because she could not have the doll, but because her sister was so harsh and unkind. She would not have cared so much if Flora had not been there, for she did not like to have her see her sister behave in this manner.
Poor Flora wanted to cry, too, when she saw how badly Nellie felt; but she tried to be brave, and placed her arm round her friend's neck, as if to let her know that she would be kind to her.
"Come, Nellie, let's go upstairs again. We won't say anything more about it," said Flora; and she led her out of the room.
"Now you won't like Katy, after this," replied Nellie.
"O, yes, I will."
"Katy would have lent us the dolly, only Aunt Jane gave it to her, and she is afraid it will be broken. If it hadn't been for this, she would have lent us Lady Jane—I know she would," added Nellie, wiping away her tears.
"I dare say she would; but we won't think anything more about it. And when I come over again, sometime, I will bring her something, just to show her that I don't feel hard towards her."
"What a dear, good girl you are, Flora! I was afraid you would hate her after what she said."
"O, dear, no, I should hope not. My mother tells me I must love those who don't do what I want them to; and I try to do so; but it is very hard sometimes. I wish you had a wax doll, Nellie. You ought to have one, you are such a good girl, and love your sister so much, even when she is not kind to you."
"I wish I had one; it would be so nice to have one like Lady Jane. I should be so happy; but then if only one of us can have one, I would rather Katy had it than have it myself."
"You are not a bit selfish, Nellie. Do you know what selfish means? I do."
"I guess I do. It means when you have an apple or any candy to refuse to give a part to your sister."
"Yes, or to anybody that happens to be with you. Candy is good, but don't you like to see others eat it almost as well as you do to eat it yourself?"
"Well, yes, I think I do."
"Then you know just what I mean, and I guess we'll play 'visiting' now."
"So we will; and Miss Fanny shall be the great lady, and Dinah shall be her servant."
"Yes, and this shall be her house," said Nellie, as she placed Miss Fanny in a large arm chair which they were to "make believe" was her elegant mansion.
"You shall stay here, and I will bring Miss Mary to visit Miss Fanny."
Flora bounded over to the other side of the room, which was supposed to be the home of the other dolls, and Miss Mary, in spite of her broken leg, was soon on her way to visit the fine lady.
"Ting, a ling, a ling!" said Flora, which meant that the caller had rung the bell, and Dinah appeared at the door.
"Is Miss Fanny at home?" asked Flora, speaking for the lady with the broken leg.
"No, marm, she is not," replied Nellie, who had to speak for Dinah, because, though her mouth was very large, she could not speak for herself.
"What an awful fib!" cried Flora. "There she is; don't I see her through the door?"
"But that's just the way some of the fine folks do," replied Nellie, laughing at Flora's earnestness.
"It is an awful story, and I wouldn't say it even in fun."
Nellie said she would not say it again, only she wanted to have Miss Fanny do just as the big folks did. And so they played all the afternoon, though Lady Jane did not honor them with her company. All the dollies paid lots of visits; and Flora went home.
When Flora reached home she told her mother what a nice time she had, and what splendid visits Miss Lucy and Miss Mary and Miss Susie had made to Miss Fanny.
She could not help telling her mother what a good girl Nellie was, and how she loved her sister, even when she was unkind and spoke pettishly to her.
Then she told her how much she wished Nellie had a wax doll, with real hair, and a white silk dress. Mrs. Lee thought such a good girl ought to have one, and the very next time she went to the city, she bought the prettiest wax doll she could find for her.
Flora was full of joy when she saw the doll, and learned whom it was for. She was a great deal happier than if the doll had been bought for herself; and she wanted to run right over to Mr. Green's with the beautiful present. She longed to see the eyes of Nellie sparkle as she saw the doll, and to hear what she would say when told it was for her. But Mrs. Lee thought they had better keep the doll till Christmas, and let her find it with her stocking in the morning.
"But then I shan't see her when she first gets the dolly," said Flora.
"That is true; but you must write a little note, which shall be pinned on the doll's dress."
"That will be splendid, mother! And I will go right away and write the note now."
Flora got a pencil and a piece of paper, and seated herself in the corner. She worked away for half an hour as busy as a bee, and then she carried the note to her mother. She was not much of a writer, having been to school only a year. She could only print the note.
Flora was very fond of writing notes, and long before she could make a single letter, she would fill up a piece of paper with pothooks and spiders' legs, and send them to her mother and Frank.
She did not spell all the words right, but her mother told her how to correct them, and then she printed the note over again, on a nice sheet of gilt-edged paper. Thinking my little friends might want to see this note, I place a copy of it in the book, just exactly as she wrote it.
When Christmas morning came, Nellie found the doll in a chair, close by her stocking. I can't tell you how pleased she was, but you can all guess. Then she took the note from the dress, and read it. She was more pleased than ever to find it was from Flora.
She almost cried with joy as she puzzled out the note, and thought how kind Flora and her mother were to remember her.
"What a dear you are, Miss Dolly!" said she, as she took up the doll and kissed her, just as though she had been a real live baby. "You and I shall be first-rate friends, just as long as we live. I will take such good care of you! Dear me! Why, mother! Only think!"
"What is the matter, Nellie?" asked Mrs. Green, who was almost as much pleased as her daughter.
"Did you see that?"
"What, child? What do you mean?"
"Did you see those eyes?"
"Yes, I see them."
"Why, just as true as I am alive, she moved them!"
"I think not, my child. She is a very handsome doll, but I don't think she could move her eyes, if she tried ever so hard."
"But she did; I know she did;" and Nellie took hold of her head to examine it more closely. As she did so, she bent the body a little. "There! as true as I live, she moved them again!"
Mrs. Green took the doll, and found that the eyes did really move. It was funny, but it was true. Mrs. Lee and Flora knew all about it.
The eyes were made of glass, and there was something inside of the doll which moved them when the body was bent.
"Let me see," said Katy, who had been looking on in silence all this time. Nellie gave her the doll at once; and she bent the body and saw the eyes move twenty times. The happy owner of Miss Dolly waited with patience till her sister had done with her.
"Why didn't aunt Jane get me one like that, I wonder," said Katy, when she gave the doll to Nellie.
"I suppose she could not afford to buy one like this, for she is not so rich as Mrs. Lee."
"But you shall have her to play with just when you want her," said Nellie.
"Pooh! I don't want your old dolly," snarled Katy. "She isn't half so good as mine. I would rather have Lady Jane than have her, any day."
"Why, then, did you wish your aunt Jane had given you one like this?" asked her mother.
"I don't care for her old dolly! She may keep it for all me," replied Katy.
"But it shall be yours just as much as mine, Katy," said Nellie, in tones so gentle and sweet that her sister ought to have kissed her for them, and loved her more than she ever loved her before.
But she did not. She was envious. She was sorry the doll had been given to Nellie—sorry because it was a prettier one than her own. It was a very wicked feeling. She had some presents of her own, but her envy spoiled all the pleasure she might have taken in them.
Nellie was almost sorry the doll had been given to her, when she saw how Katy felt about it. Mrs. Green talked to the envious girl till she cried, about her conduct. She tried to make her feel how odious and wicked envy made her.
Whenever Katy saw the new doll, she seemed to be angry with her sister. Poor Nellie's pleasure was nearly spoiled, and she even offered to exchange her doll for Katy's, but her mother would not let her do so.
In a few days, however, she seemed to feel better, and the two sisters had some good times with their dolls. I say she seemed to feel better, but she really did not. She did not like it that Nellie's doll was a finer one than her own.
Yet Nellie was happier, for she thought Katy was cured of her ill feeling. Then she loved her doll more than ever. She was a cunning little girl, and she thought so much of her new friend that she always used to say "Dolly and I."
When her mother asked her where she had been, she would reply, "Dolly and I have been having a nice time upstairs." "Dolly and I" used to do ever so many things, and no two little ladies could ever enjoy themselves more than did Dolly and Nellie.
I am sorry to say that Katy did not like Dolly at all. She could never forgive her for moving her eyes, because Lady Jane could not move hers. It is true that, after she saw how silly and wicked her envy made her appear to others, she tried very hard not to show it.
We may be just as wicked without showing our sin to others, as we can be when we let the world see just what we are. When we are wicked, the sin is more in the heart than in the actions.
Men may seem to be very good when they are really very bad, though people almost always find out such persons. Katy was just as wicked, just as envious, when her sister thought she was kind and loving, as she was on that Christmas morning, when the doll was found in the chamber.
You will be surprised and sorry when you see just how wicked her envy made her. I shall tell you about it in the next chapter, and I hope it will lead you to drive any such feeling from your own hearts.
Lady Jane and Miss Dolly were kept in the lower drawer of the bureau, for they were very fine young ladies, and Mrs. Green wished to have them kept clean and nice.
One day, about two weeks after Miss Dolly was given to Nellie, both she and Katy had been playing with the dolls. When the bell rang for tea, they ran downstairs; but before they went they put the dolls in the drawer. As they were in a hurry, they were not very careful, and the dresses of both the dolls were sadly tumbled.
Mrs. Green, who was in the room, saw in what manner Miss Dolly and Lady Jane had been thrown into the drawer; and before she went down to tea, she took them both out, smoothed down their dresses, and put them back in a more proper manner.
Katy and Nellie had had some talk about their dolls; and the envious girl had said hers was better than her sister's. Nellie did not dispute with her about it, but she saw that Katy had not got over that bad feeling yet.
The children ate their suppers, and not a word more was said about the dolls; but Katy looked very sour. She was thinking about Miss Dolly's eyes, and wishing Lady Jane's eyes would move like the other's.
She finished her supper, and ran upstairs again. By this time it was quite dark in the room where the dolls were kept, and Nellie and her mother wondered why she went upstairs at that late hour.
Katy was still thinking of those eyes. She thought her aunt Jane was real mean not to buy her such a doll; and then she was very sorry that Flora's mother had bought it for her sister.
While she was thinking these wicked thoughts she went to the bureau, and opened the lower drawer. It was so dark she could hardly see the dolls, but she took out one of them.
"Your dolly shall not be better than mine any longer," said she to herself.
As she said this, she took the scissors from the work basket on the bureau, and finding one of the eyes with her fingers, she struck one of the points right into it. Then she turned the scissors, so as entirely to destroy the eye. Not content with this, she spoiled the other eye in the same manner.
"Now your doll isn't so good as mine, anyhow," said she to herself, as she put the poor spoiled lady back into the drawer.
I would not have a little girl feel as she felt then for all the world. Her heart was full of envy and wickedness. To gratify her ill feeling she had thrust the scissors into the eyes of the doll. She knew how badly her sister would feel, but she did not care for this. Now Lady Jane was the best doll, and she did not care for anything else.
She staid in the room but a few moments. Closing the drawer, she hastened downstairs, and took a seat by the fire. She tried to look as though nothing had happened; but she was sour and sullen, for she felt that she had done a very naughty act.
"Come, Katy, let us go upstairs and play with the dollies again," said Nellie, when she had got through with her supper.
"I don't want to," replied she, without even looking at her sister.
"Do come, Katy."
"I tell you I don't want to," snarled she.
"You can bring your dolly downstairs, and play with her here, Nellie," said her mother.
"May I, mother?"
"You may—take a light with you."
"I don't want any light, mother; I can find her just as well in the dark;" and away she ran to get the doll.
Don't you think Katy trembled then? She did tremble, like a leaf, and wished she had not done the naughty deed. In a moment Nellie would return with poor Miss Dolly, whose eyes had been spoiled with the scissors. She did not think it would be found out so soon, and she could not think what to say before the doll came down.
She felt just as though she should sink through the floor, when Nellie came into the room with the doll in her arms. There would be an awful time in a moment, and her father and mother would want to know who had spoiled Miss Dolly's eyes.
They knew she had been upstairs since tea, and they would charge her with the naughty act. She meant to deny it, for those who are wicked enough to do such things are almost always wicked enough to lie about them.
"Now won't you and I have a nice time, Dolly?" said Nellie, as she rushed into the sitting room, with the doll in her arms, "Come, Katy, let's play Dolly is the Queen of England."
"I don't want to play."
"Well—won't you make me a crown for her?"
Katy was waiting for her sister to find out the mischief that had been done, and she dreaded the moment when she should do so. She did not dare to look at her, for fear her looks might betray her.
"You shall be queen without any crown," said Nellie, as she placed the doll on the table. "This pincushion shall be your throne. There, you look just like a queen—don't she, mother?"
"I think she does," replied Mrs. Green, with a smile. "I hope she will be as good as Queen Victoria."
"She will, mother—only she ought to have a crown."
"I have got a piece of gilt paper upstairs, and I will make her one. I'm going up in a minute."
Katy, not daring to look yet, did not know what to think of this talk. How could the doll look like a queen when her eyes had been punched out with the scissors? It was very strange to her, and she stole a glance at the queenly Miss Dolly on the table.
There she was, seated on her pincushion throne, just as if nothing had happened. Her eyes were just as bright as ever, and as Nellie bent her body, she moved them as well as ever she could.
Katy did not know what to make of it. She had certainly driven the scissors into the eyes of the doll as hard as she could; but there was Miss Dolly as good as new. She could not explain it, and it was of no use to try.
Mrs. Green brought down the scissors, and cut out the crown. Then Miss Dolly certainly looked like a queen, and Nellie spent a very pleasant hour with her majesty, till it was time for her to go to bed.
Katy was very unhappy. She had not done what she meant to do, and she was filled with doubt. But she did not have to wait long to find out what she had done. When Mrs. Green went upstairs with the children, Miss Dolly had to be put to bed first, for she was a queen.
When the bureau drawer was opened, what do you think they saw? There lay Lady Jane, with both of her eyes punched out!
Katy burst into tears when she saw that her doll was entirely spoiled. Then she found that she had made a mistake. In the darkness she had punched out the eyes of Lady Jane instead of Miss Dolly. This is the way that wicked people often punish themselves instead of others.
Her mother had changed the places of the dolls in the drawer, and this was the reason why Katy had made the mistake. Don't you think it served her right?
Katy felt so badly that she could not tell any of the lies she had made up, and the truth was found out by her mother. Mrs. Green scolded her for what she had done, and for what she meant to do. The naughty girl cried herself to sleep that night, but poor Lady Jane was utterly ruined.
Nellie felt almost as bad as her sister, and said all she could to console her. The next day Katy was so ashamed of herself that she did not wish to see anybody. But in a few days she got over it; and her mother hoped the affair would do her a great deal of good. Whenever she showed a spirit of envy, Mrs. Green reminded her of her doll, and she tried to conquer the feeling; but it took many years to cure her.
When you envy others, although you may not punch out the eyes of your own doll, you hurt yourself more than any one else.
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY.
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY.
Flora Lee's birthday came in July. Her mother wished very much to celebrate the occasion in a proper manner. Flora was a good girl, and her parents were always glad to do anything they could to please her, and to increase her happiness.
They were very indulgent parents, and as they had plenty of money, they could afford to pay well for a "good time." Yet they were not weak and silly in their indulgence. As much as they loved their little daughter, they did not give her pies and cakes to eat when they thought such articles would hurt her.
They did not let her lie in bed till noon because they loved her, or permit her to do anything that would injure her, either in body or mind. Flora always went to church, and to the Sunday school, and never cried to stay at home. If she had cried, it would have made no difference, for her father and mother meant to have her do right, whether she liked it or not.
But Flora gave them very little trouble about such matters. Her parents knew best what was good for her, and she was willing in all things to obey them. It was for this reason that they were so anxious to please her, even at the expense of a great deal of time and money.
The birthday of Flora came on Wednesday, and school did not keep in the afternoon. All the children, therefore, could attend the party which they intended to give in honor of the day.
About a week before the time, Mrs. Lee told Flora she might have the party, and wanted her to make out a list of all the children whom she wished to invite.
"I want to ask all the children in Riverdale," said Flora, promptly.
"Not all, I think," replied Mrs. Lee.
"Yes, mother, all of them."
"But you know there are a great many bad boys in town. Do you wish to invite them?"
"Perhaps, if we treat them well, they will be made better by it."
"Would you like to have Joe Birch come to the party?"
"I don't know, mother," said Flora, musing.
"I think you had better invite only those who will enjoy the party, and who will not be likely to spoil the pleasure of others. We will not invite such boys as Joe Birch."
"Just as you think best, dear mother," replied Flora. "Shall I ask such boys as Tommy Woggs?"
"Tommy isn't a bad boy," said Mrs. Lee, with a smile.
"I don't know that he is; but he is a very queer fellow. You said I had better not ask those who would be likely to spoil the pleasure of others."
"Do you think, my child, Tommy Woggs will do so?"
"I am afraid he would; he is such a queer boy."
"But Tommy is a great traveler, you know," added Mrs. Lee, laughing.
"The boys and girls don't like him, he pretends to be such a big man. He knows more than all the rest of the world put together—at least, he thinks he does."
"I think you had better ask him, for he will probably feel slighted if you don't."
"Very well, mother."
"Now, Flora, I will take a pencil and paper, and write down the names of all the boys and girls with whom you are acquainted; and you must be careful not to forget any. Here comes Frank; he will help you."
Frank was told about the party, and he was quite as much pleased with the idea as his sister had been; and both of them began to repeat the name of all the boys and girls they could remember.
For half an hour they were employed in this manner, and then the list was read over to them, so as to be sure that no names had been omitted.
Flora and Frank now went through all the streets of Riverdale, in imagination, thinking who lived in each house; and when they had completed their journey in fancy, they felt sure they had omitted none.
"But we must invite cousins Sarah and Henry," said Flora. "O, I hope they will come! Henry is so funny; we can't do without them."
"Perhaps they will come; at any rate we will send them invitations," replied Mrs. Lee.
The next day, when the children had gone to school, Mrs. Lee went to the office of the Riverdale Gazette, which was the village newspaper, and had the invitations printed on nice gilt-edged paper.
By the following day Mrs. Lee had written in the names of the children invited, enclosed the notes in envelopes, and directed them. I will give you a copy of one of them, that you may know how to write them when you have a birthday party, though I dare say it would do just as well if you go to your friends and ask them to attend. If you change the names and dates, this note will answer for any party.
Miss Flora Lee presents her compliments to Miss Nellie Green, and requests the pleasure of her company on Wednesday afternoon, July 20.
Riverdale, July 15.
"Those are very fine indeed," said Flora: "shall I put on my bonnet, and carry out some of them to-day?"
"No, my child; it is not quite the thing for you to carry your own invitations. I will tell you what you may do. You may hire David White to deliver them for you. You must pay him for it; give him half a dollar, which will be a good thing for him."
This plan was adopted, and Frank was sent with the notes and the money over to the poor widow's cottage.
"Don't you think it is very wicked, mother, for rich folks to have parties, when the money they cost will do so much good to the poor?" asked Flora.
"I do not think so, my dear child."
"Well, I think so, mother," added Flora, warmly.
"Perhaps you do not fully understand it."
"I think I do."
"Why should it be wicked for you to enjoy yourself?"
"I don't think it is wicked to enjoy myself, but only to spend money for such things. You said you were going to have the Riverdale Band, and that the music would cost more than twenty dollars."
"I did, and the supper will cost at least twenty more; for I have spoken to the confectioner to supply us with ice cream, cake, jellies, and other luxuries. We shall have a supply of strawberries and cream, and all the nice things of the season. We must also erect a tent in the garden, in which we shall have the supper; but after tea I will tell you all about it."
Flora could not help thinking how much good the forty dollars, which her father would have to pay for the birthday party, would do if given to the poor.
It seemed to her just like spending the money for a few hours' pleasure; and even if they had a fine time, which she was quite sure they would have, it would be soon over, and not do any real good.
Forty dollars was a great deal of money. It would pay Mrs. White's rent for a whole year; it would clothe her family, and feed them nearly all the next winter. It appeared to her like a shameful waste; and these thoughts promised to take away a great deal from the pleasure of the occasion.
"I think, mother, I had just as lief not have the band, and only have a supper of bread and butter and seed cakes."
"Why, Flora, what has got into you?" said her father.
Mrs. Lee laughed at the troubled looks of Flora, and explained to her father the nature of her scruples in regard to the party.
"Where did the child get this foolish idea?" asked her father, who thought her notions were too old and too severe for a little girl.
"Didn't I see last winter how much good only a little money would do?" replied Flora.
"Don't you think it is wicked for me to live in this great house, keep five or six horses, and nine or ten servants, when I could live in a little house, like Mrs. White?" laughed Mr. Lee.
"All the money you spend would take care of a dozen families of poor folks," said Flora.
"That is very true. Suppose I should turn away all the men and women that work for me,—those, I mean, who work about the house and garden,—and give the money I spend in luxuries to the poor."
"But what would John and Peter, Hannah and Bridget do then? They would lose their places, and not be able to earn anything. Why, no, father; Peter has a family; he has got three children, and he must take care of them."