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Ellen and George by E. V. Lucas

or, The Game at Cricket

'Sit down, Ellen,' said Mrs. Danvers to a lovely little girl of seven years of age, who was constantly jumping up to the window, instead of continuing to look at the book she was holding in her hand, but Ellen continued to look anywhere rather than at her book, and her mother began to feel angry.

The sun shone very brightly; it was a fine day in the month of June, and little Ellen thought it very hard that she was obliged to sit in the house instead of running about the fields with her brother George.

George was at home for the holidays; he was a fine boy of about nine years of age, and very fond of his sister Ellen; he would very often leave his companions to play with Ellen at quieter games than such as he engaged in with them, and Ellen was delighted when he would thus indulge her; but on this morning George was with a party of young lads, somewhat older than himself, who were engaged in a game of cricket, and poor Ellen was obliged to go through her morning's task without him.

'Should you not like to go and see George play by-and-by?' said Mrs. Danvers.

'I should like it very much, mother,' replied Ellen in a tone of delight.

'Then mind your book now,' said her mother, 'and we will afterwards walk down to the cricket-field together. Father will be at home then, perhaps, and we shall have a nice walk together.'

For a few minutes Ellen looked in her book; she was very fond of her father and of walking out with him, but not even this promised scheme of pleasure could prevent her eyes from wandering every five minutes to the window, and at length a shout from the boys, who were in the field adjoining the house, entirely overcame her resolution, and again she made a sudden spring to the window.

The book was a sad drawback to Ellen's happiness, for she never looked in it unless obliged, and her mother had always great difficulty in fixing her attention on it when she wished to do so.

Mrs. Danvers rose from her seat, and quietly lowered the venetian blind, and Ellen again stole back to her seat. She looked out of the corner of one of her little blue eyes to see if her mother was angry, and again for a few minutes was very assiduous. Presently the room door opened, and a servant entered to say that a poor woman wished to speak to his mistress. Mrs. Danvers desired that the woman should be shown into the room, and she entered, leading in her hand a little girl about the age of Ellen. Ellen's eyes were immediately diverted from her book, but her mother on this occasion said nothing.

The poor woman came to entreat assistance for her sick husband, who was unable to go to his work, and for her little girl, who had cut her finger very badly. The child's finger was covered with a piece of rag, which was soaked with blood, and tears streaming from her eyes showed that she was in pain.

'How was the finger cut?' said Mrs. Danvers.

'In helping father cut a piece of wood to mend Charley's hayfork,' replied the child. 'Father fell down in a fit, and let the knife fall upon my finger.'

'It is a bad cut,' said Mrs. Danvers. 'Run, Ellen, and ask Sarah for some rag, and we will tie it up for her.'

Ellen was out of the room in a minute, for she liked running about and waiting upon anyone in distress. Indeed, Ellen was on the whole a good little girl, though she could not be made to like either her book or her work. She soon returned with the rag, and Mrs. Danvers tied up the little girl's finger, and gave her a nice slice of cake to divert her attention from the pain she was suffering.

'Is it painful now?' said Mrs. Danvers.

'No, madam,' replied the child, but she still continued to cry.

'Then do not cry any more, and it will be soon well.'

'Mary does not cry so much about the pain, madam,' said the poor woman, 'as because you see it is her thimble finger;' and she held the little girl's hand up.

Ellen thought this could be no very great misfortune, but Ellen was a silly little girl to think so, and so she was convinced when the poor woman said that Mary did needlework enough to keep her in shoes, and with the pennies she got by reading her book well at school she had bought two nice pinafores out of her own money.

Ellen looked a little foolish and hung her head. The poor woman and the industrious little girl left the room after Mrs. Danvers had promised to call on the sick man in the evening, and Ellen again took up her book.

'I am afraid you will never get any pennies for reading well,' said Mrs. Danvers in a few minutes, for again Ellen's eyes were off her book. The kitten had frisked into the room; it was playing with a cork under the sofa, and Ellen laughed aloud as she saw it turn round, and over and over.

'If you like the kitten better than George,' said Mrs. Danvers, 'you may continue looking at it, and stay at home and read when your father and I go out into the fields by-and-by.'

'Then pray, mother, put the kitten out of the room,' said Ellen. Mrs. Danvers did so, and again Ellen seated herself on her little stool with her book.

Ellen now really applied to her book, for she was very much afraid of being left at home when her father and mother went out for their walk. It was very little trouble to her to learn when she gave her attention to her lessons, and at length she got over them very creditably and without another word of reproof from mother.

'Now, Ellen,' said Mrs. Danvers, when the book was closed, 'if you had attended to your lessons at once it would have been over long since, and by this time you might have finished your work, and have been running in the field or garden. It is twelve o'clock, but I must have this handkerchief hemmed before you move.'

'Oh dear,' said Ellen, with a most sorrowful look, 'I thought I should have gone out now. What a happy boy George is. Oh dear, I wish I was a boy, and then I should be running about all day, and should not be obliged to work.'

'You would not be obliged to work with your needle, Ellen,' said Mrs. Danvers, as she turned down the hem of the handkerchief, 'but you would have a great many things to learn much harder than you have now, and which would take you a great deal of time to get by heart unless you were more attentive than you frequently are.'

'Oh, I am sure I could learn them, mother,' answered Ellen; 'besides, George has nothing to do—nothing but to play and amuse himself all day long.'

'This is not the case when George is at school, I can tell you, Ellen,' replied Mrs. Danvers, 'nor is it always the case, you know, at home, and I much question whether the days that George sits down with his father for a few hours after breakfast are not happier days generally than those which he spends exactly in the manner he himself chooses.'

'Oh, I think he is generally laughing and merry,' said Ellen, 'when he sets off after breakfast into the hayfield, or the cricket meadow; much more so than when he walks with his grave face and his book under his arm into father's study.'

'And I very well remember, Ellen,' replied Mrs. Danvers, 'that this merry mood of his, which you think so delightful, has more than once ended in a flood of tears before night, while, on the contrary, I think the grave study countenance is generally turned into lasting smiles by dinner-time. But if you continue chatting the work will never be done. Sit quietly, and be industrious for half an hour, and then we will go into the garden together, and see if the gardener has any strawberries for us; I dare say George's companions will like some strawberries and milk after their game.'

While Ellen is attending to her mother's directions, and industriously performing the task required of her; we will take a view of George and his young companions, and see whether or not he is likely to be tired of his day of idleness.

George had got up very early in the morning to prepare the wickets for the game of cricket, which had been proposed to him by several lads living in the neighbourhood. If the young reader is a little girl and not a cricket player herself, she must ask her brothers or cousins to describe to her what are wickets, and if neither of these are near her she must ask her father, who will no doubt be very happy to give her the desired information. George had been awake very early indeed, but as he had had a strict injunction never to be out of doors before the gardener and groom were at their work, he had lain in bed till he heard the stable-door opened, and then, hastily jumping up and dressing himself, had said his prayers, and was downstairs before the clock struck five. He then went to what he called his toolhouse, which was a little shed by the side of the greenhouse, where the gardeners kept their watering-pots, and where he had a box containing a hammer, a saw, and a plane adapted to the use of young hands, and a small box containing nails. He had also here a repository of pieces of wood thrown aside by the carpenter, and old sides and covers of boxes, which were no longer of any service for the uses for which they were designed, and here it was that George's day of pleasure commenced. He hammered and chopped and sawed like any workman toiling for his bread till eight o'clock, which was the hour for breakfast, when, being somewhat hot and tired, he was not very sorry to hear the summons to a good plateful of bread and butter, and a fine sweet draught of new milk. Young spirits are soon refreshed, and George did not sit long at his breakfast; the meal was soon despatched, and George again was out of doors and in his toolhouse. Hither Ellen had accompanied him for a few minutes to see the wickets completed, and, when finished, she had left him, longing to make one of the party who were now assembling to their play, and with whom she left him to return into the house, and join her mother in the drawing-room.

[Illustration: Hither Ellen accompanied him to see the wickets completed.—Page 186.]

The boys soon began to play, and for some time the game went on very well—all was high good humour; but George was the least of the party, and not having played so frequently, and not being so strong, did not get as many notches as many of his companions. At school he had been more accustomed to play with less boys, and perhaps with boys even less than himself, where he was the best player of the set, and he could not help feeling mortified now that he found himself the worst player, and not being able to keep in at all against boys who played with so much more skill than he did. Sometimes he would not have minded this, but the day was very hot, George had risen early, began to be tired, and, as the truth must be told on these occasions, rather cross and pettish. Several games had been played, all of which had been won by the set of boys of the side opposite to that of George, for as four of the lads with whom he played were good players, and the fifth, Tom Fletcher, a much better player than George, the consequence was that Tom and his two companions were always on the successful side. One of the best players, Charles Wilson, then proposed to make an alteration in the sides; he asked George to come over to him and his companions, and let Tom Fletcher take his place; 'And then we shall see,' he added, 'which plays the best, you or Tom.'

'Oh, you think you know already,' said George, not in the best of humours, and throwing down his bat. 'I don't want to play at all, and I know I go for nothing.'

'The young man is up,' said Wilson's companion, Stevens. 'Never mind, let him go; we shall do very well without him,' and he was taking up the discarded bat; but Wilson, who was a very good-natured boy, said:

'We do not think you go for nothing, George; but it is not likely you should play so well as we do, who are so much bigger than you, or than Tom Fletcher, who lives with a bat in his hand, and always plays amongst the great boys. I only wanted to make the game more even, for it is very tiresome for one party always to win, and the others to lose. Come, let us play on again as we were, and perhaps you may be more lucky. Come, Tom, take up the bat.'

Stevens looked very angry, and was about to make some provoking reply; but the other boys reminded him that they were playing in Mr. Danvers' ground, and there was no ground like his in the neighbourhood, so the ball was again bowled, and the bat once more sent it whirling back through the long field.

'Well done, little fellow!' said Wilson, as George again took the bat, and gave a pretty good hit. 'Well done; you'll soon play very well. Tom, take care of yourself, and mind your play, or we shall lose a game against them now.'

'Not if you mind your play,' replied the sharp Tom Fletcher, who saw that Wilson in bowling favoured George, and gave him balls that he could hardly help hitting. George exerted himself to the uttermost, and really did play better than he had done before; but his party would not have got the game but for the good-nature of Wilson, who did not put out his best play, and whose party for the first time were losers. Wilson was not right in doing this, because, even in a game of cricket, he ought to have been true to his side, and played his best. It was practising deceit, and deceit is never to be practised harmlessly. Neither was George much gratified by his success, for he felt he had gained it in a childish manner, and it would have been more honest to have lost the game. Tom Fletcher and Stevens were both extremely angry, and both declared they would not be beat in that way to please the humours of any young pet. Tom said he would be matched singly against George, and the other two boys agreed it would be the fairest way, and also for them to be matched against Stevens and Wilson, and then they should see where all the strength lay. Everybody agreed to this, and the two younger boys were to have the first game. Tom was to give George two notches to begin with, to which George had no objection, as Tom was allowed to be a very capital player for his age, and the two young antagonists commenced their game. For some time they went on pretty evenly. Tom was very cool and cautious, and George, who put out all his strength, got several notches, and continued ahead of his rival. It almost seemed doubtful whether George was not a better player than he had been taken for, and as the lads who were looking on cried out, 'Now, George,' 'Now, Tom,' George seemed to have as good a chance of the game as Tom. But Tom was not fagged as George was, nor was he so hasty in his temper. He was not at all moved at the show of adverse fortune against him, while George was in a complete agitation, and on the very first reverse so put out that he bit his lip with anger, and flung at the bowler with great violence the ball which he had missed. It took the direction of Tom Fletcher's eyebrow, narrowly escaping his eye, and the boy put up his hand in agony to his enlarged forehead.

'Oh, I am very sorry, Tom,' said George, who had most unintentionally done the mischief.

'Oh, I don't mind a bit,' replied Tom, who was a very hardy boy. 'Stand to your bat, man.' And with one hand held to his aching head, he bowled sharply with the other, and dashed away the wickets.

'It is hardly fair play, for he was off his guard,' said one of the other boys.

'If Tom could bowl with that black eye,' said Stevens, 'I think George has no right to complain.'

'I don't complain,' said George, throwing down his bat. 'It's my own fault; I was in a passion. The game is yours, Tom.'

'No, the game is not mine yet, George,' said Tom, 'even if you go out now, for though you sent the ball in a passion, I had no right to take you in as I did. I was in a passion, too, or I should not have bowled upon you so sharp. Come, give me your hand, and then take up the bat, man, and we will see what we can do.'

'Then take back your two notches to set against the black eye,' said George, giving his hand. Tom, however, would not agree to this, and it was at length settled that they should go on as if nothing had happened. George took up the bat, and Tom returned to the bowling place. George's notches increased rapidly, but it was evident the cause of this was in Tom's eye, which by this time was almost closed, though the spirited boy did not once complain of pain. George requested him not to go on, but he persisted in bowling till his opponent threw down the bat, declaring it was not fair play, and he did not want to beat in that mean way.

All the boys agreed that George was right, and it was determined that the two young ones should defer their trial of skill till Tom had recovered the use of his eye, and the bigger boys then commenced their game.

It was at this period of the day that Mrs. Danvers and Ellen, after having taken a walk round the garden, and collected plenty of strawberries and cherries from the gardener, arrived in the cricket-field to inquire if the lads wished for any refreshment. George felt ashamed, as he remembered Tom Fletcher's eye, and the good-natured boy stepped forwards to speak to Mrs. Danvers, and draw attention from Tom to himself. The accident, however, could not be concealed; and though Tom declared that it was nothing, Mrs. Danvers was sure that he must be suffering great pain, and begged of him to go into the house and have his eye bathed. Fletcher replied that he had better go home, for his mother had a lotion that cured all sorts of bruises; and saying that he would be up in the cricket-field again before the other game was over, he bounded over the stile that separated one field from the next, and was out of sight in a minute. The other lads, who were just beginning their game, took some fruit of Mrs. Danvers, but declined at present going into the house; and after standing a few minutes with Ellen to look at the players, Mrs. Danvers persuaded George to accompany her into the house, for she saw that he was not very comfortable, and the day was intensely hot.

As they walked along, Mrs. Danvers said nothing about the black eye, for she thought that it had happened through some hastiness of George. She found by his manner he was ashamed of himself for something, and she knew, as he was an honest boy, that when he was in a little better humour than he appeared at present he would relate to her everything that had passed. On arriving in the house, Mr. Danvers met them, and requested Mrs. Danvers to walk down into the village to see the poor man who had fallen down in a fit, and inquire if he wanted any assistance. Mrs. Danvers immediately complied, and recommending George to amuse himself with his sister during the rest of the morning, she left the house, and took the road to the village.

'John has not taken that donkey home,' said Mrs. Danvers, as they passed through a small field where there was one picking in the hedges.

'No,' replied Mr. Danvers, 'but I wish he would do so, for the animal only destroys the beauty of the hedges, and endeavours to make ugly gaps in them. It is not at all fit for the children to ride.' And they proceeded in their walk.

As soon as his father and mother were gone, George threw himself upon the carpet on his back, for he was very tired, very cross, and very stiff.

'Oh dear, what a tiresome day this is!' said he, as he rolled over on the carpet. 'I wish it was over and bedtime was come.'

'Why, you have done nothing but play all day,' said Ellen. Now Ellen felt as brisk and as merry as she had done the very earliest part of the morning, and could not help wondering what could be the matter with George that he was not equally so.

'It is so hot—so very hot,' said George. The kind little Ellen took her stool, and, standing on tiptoe, and reaching up to the top of the blinds, at the risk of her neck, at length succeeded in pulling them down, and prevented the sun from shining into George's eyes.

'Oh, how dark you have made the room, child,' said George.

'I thought you would like to have the sun shut out, George,' said the affectionate little Ellen, with a tear starting into her eyes, because George would not be pleased with her.

George saw the tear, and was vexed with himself that he had caused it; but at present he was not sufficiently subdued to say he was sorry, and he continued to roll upon the carpet backwards and forwards, till he rolled over against a small rose-wood cabinet which stood in one corner of the apartment. The slender fabric shook, and down rolled a beautiful little vase, which had been sent for Mrs. Danvers by a particular friend, and on which both the children knew she set a great value. George started up, and he and Ellen looked at each other. The vase was broken into twenty pieces. Ellen burst into tears, and George looked very sorrowful; but the vase was broken, and could not be restored. At this moment the door was opened, and a little favourite terrier dog bounded into the room, and began to play amongst the scattered fragments. He was followed by a servant, from whom he had made his escape, for she had been ordered to wash the dog, and the dog had resisted, and ran away from the bath designed for him.

'Why, what a piece of work is here,' said the servant. 'Pompey, you little tiresome thing; now to come bouncing in here, and making all this mischief. What will mistress say when she sees her china broken, and all through you, you little tiresome puppy?'

George and Ellen looked at each other for a moment. Had they not been well instructed to abhor a lie, and speak the truth, the temptation was a strong one, and they might have yielded to it; but they knew that although they might deceive the servant, there was One who could not be deceived, and by an instantaneous movement of honesty they both at once exclaimed:

'It was not poor Pompey, Ann; it was——' Here Ellen stopped, unwilling to accuse her brother; but George with great firmness added: 'It was I, Ann.'

'Well, it's a sad business,' said Ann, 'but I dare say my mistress will not be very angry. I am sure I should not have known but what it was Pompey;' and in saying this Ann, who was herself a good well-principled girl, silently resolved that her mistress should certainly know how the young gentleman and lady 'scorned,' as she said, 'to tell a lie.'

Pompey was now removed, and George and Ellen were again left together. Ellen picked up the broken pieces, and then asked George if he had not better go and dress himself. 'His nice clean trousers,' she said, 'were quite green and dirty from rubbing about upon the grass, and the flue of the carpet was come off upon his jacket.' George, however, was not yet quite himself, though he was very much softened by the last misfortune. Ellen then asked him if she should get some quiet play for him—maps, puzzles, or bricks? But nothing would go right with George this day; all Ellen's efforts to amuse him were in vain, and at length he resolved upon going out of doors again. Ellen reminded him that mother had recommended him to stay indoors.

'Yes, but she did not order me,' said George; 'besides, I think I ought to go down and ask how Tom Fletcher is, for I gave him that horrible blow in his face.'

'But you could not help it, I am sure,' said Ellen.

'I did not do it on purpose,' said George, 'but I did it in a passion, and that is as bad.'

'Oh, this unlucky day,' said Ellen, 'and this morning I thought you so happy, but I think you had better stay till evening before you go down to Mr. Fletcher's. I am sure mother thought you had better stay quiet this morning, and mother is always so kind.'

George felt all this, and went out of the room, and returned into it several times, from irresolution and dissatisfaction with himself. He kissed Ellen, and told her not to mind his being cross, upon which she threw her arm across his shoulder, and entreated him to sit quietly at home, and not to go out and heat himself and make himself uncomfortable just as he was beginning to get cool.

George seemed to long to stay with Ellen, and even when he got to steps which led from the hall into the pleasure-grounds, he went very slowly down, dragging one leg after the other, half inclined to return, but at this moment that frisking little Pompey came by looking very bright and clean after his washing, and he jumped upon George, and invited him to play. George then gave him a call, and they bounded together over the fields and hedges, and were very soon lost to the sight of Ellen, who returned into the house, and could scarcely refrain from shedding tears.

George passed with his frolicsome companion through the same field where Mr. and Mrs. Danvers had noticed the donkey browsing in the hedges, and the animal was still browsing, and picking up nettles and flowers, and enjoying his freedom. George might just as well have walked quietly through the field, and have left the poor donkey to his repast, but he was in a very odd sort of a humour still, and thought it would be very good fun to have a little scamper round the field upon the donkey's back. He had heard his father and mother say that the donkey had never been properly broken in, and that he was not fit to be ridden, but George thought that if he could ride a pony, which he sometimes did, he certainly could ride a donkey, and at any rate he was determined to try. He went back to the stable therefore to ask the groom for a halter, but the groom was not in the stable, unfortunately, or he would have known better, it is to be hoped, than to have encouraged the young gentleman in what he knew to be wrong. So George helped himself to an old piece of rope which he found under the cartshed, and, taking a small hunting-whip of his own, returned to the field with the intention of having a good ride. He had some difficulty in catching the animal, which was better pleased to graze at liberty than to be confined, and have a burthen put upon his back. It must be owned, nevertheless, that it was not a very heavy burthen preparing for him, nothing compared to the great weights many, many poor donkeys are compelled to toil under, and never stopping to rest, perhaps, from morning till night. Still, the donkey had rather been left in the hedges, and many a race round and round the field did he give George, and many a time did he kick up his hinder legs in defiance before George at length succeeded in throwing the halter over his head. The mighty feat, however, was, after repeated failures, accomplished, and George felt not a little satisfied when he found himself safely seated on the animal. He certainly was seated, but as to riding, it was what the donkey seemed resolved he should not do, and there he continued to sit, perfectly still and quiet, for some minutes, for although the animal had shown great fleetness and alacrity when George was attempting to stop him, it was very different now George was endeavouring to make him go on. George kicked as hard as he could kick with both his heels, and flogged with all his might, but the stubborn beast would not stir an inch. He then got off his back, and led him into the road, which he had some difficulty in accomplishing, and when there he would not go a bit better than in the field. He had no preference to the turnpike road, and George, after fatiguing himself, and getting into a violent heat by beating and thumping the animal's impenetrable skin, considered that he had better get him back again into the field, and there leave him. But here again the stubborn beast perplexed him; he would not budge an inch, no, not even when George pulled and dragged him by the halter till his arms ached so much he was obliged to desist. Now what was to be done? The donkey was not his father's; it was borrowed. If he left it on the road it would be lost or stolen, and as to riding it or leading it away it seemed entirely impossible. He was standing in not a very happy mood, and leaning against the donkey's neck, when a butcher's boy came jogging along upon his shaggy and bareboned pony.

'Do you want to get him on, sir?' said the boy.

'Yes, but he won't stir,' said George.

'Oh, trust me to making him stir,' replied the hatless, greasy-haired lad. 'Get upon his back, sir, and I'll send him on for you.'

George was upon his back in a minute, but with all the famed prowess of the butcher's boy as a donkey driver, and with all George's renewed thumps and kicks, the animal would not move from the spot where he had fixed himself. The butcher's boy was quite in a rage, and he was venting his spleen upon the stubbornness of all donkeys, and of this donkey in particular, when the sudden sound of a horn made both the donkey and the pony prick up their ears. In a few moments a stage coach was in sight, and in a few more the horn and the rattling wheels approached with great velocity towards the two equestrians. George would have jumped off to save himself from being run over, but the donkey saved him for the present the trouble. All his energies were suddenly roused, and he darted forward in a pelting gallop; the butcher's pony did the same. Away they both flew before the leaders of the stage, scarcely distancing them by a horse's length, and all the passengers thought that mischief was inevitable. A gentleman on the box begged the coachman to pull in, but the coachman seemed to enjoy the fun, and only whipped on his horses. The pony and the donkey were still galloping furiously, both their riders keeping their seats. Butchers' boys always seem glued to their saddles, so that there appeared nothing astonishing in Jem Rattle's not getting a fall; but how George, without his saddle, and not much accustomed to riding, sat so long was something more remarkable. Whether he might have got to the end of his race without accident if his father and mother had not now appeared by the side of the road it is impossible to say; but certain it is that the sight of them diverted the attention which had before been entirely given to keeping his eye steadily before him. At the same instant the donkey gave a little curve out of the line in which he had been going, and most providential was it that he did so, for by this inclination George was thrown sufficiently to the right of the road to clear the wheels of the coach. The pony had given in some few minutes before, and the donkey, having once checked himself, stopped suddenly, and stood quietly by the roadside as if nothing had happened. The gentleman on the box now insisted upon the coachman's drawing up, to see if the young gentleman had sustained any injury; and Mr. and Mrs. Danvers, in a state of harassing alarm, also hastened to approach the spot.

Mr. and Mrs. Danvers were more alarmed than George was hurt; he certainly got a few bruises, but he received no serious injury. He immediately jumped on his legs, and relieved the anxiety of his parents, when, after Mr. Danvers had thanked the gentleman for his kind interference, and joined with him in condemning the coachman for not having before checked his horses, the coach drove on, and George joined his father and mother. The butcher boy was commissioned, with the promise of a shilling, to bring back the donkey to Mr. Danvers' field, and George looked not a little foolish as he began his walk home by the side of his father.

'I thought you had been remaining quietly at home, George,' said Mrs. Danvers.

'And certainly, if you had been out,' added Mr. Danvers, 'you had no business to have been riding that donkey. You must have heard me say that it was not fit to be ridden, for it is always playing tricks of some sort. And you may be very thankful that you did not get either a broken limb or a severe blow on your head.'

George made no reply, but he burst into tears, for his ill-humour had now entirely given way to sorrow; and he continued crying as he walked by the side of his father.

'I am afraid you have too much indulgence,' said Mr. Danvers, 'and too much liberty in disposing of your time; you are not the happier for it, you see. When left to yourself to amuse yourself as you please the whole day, you almost constantly get into some trouble or other before the day is over. In future I shall take care that your time is better employed than in riding races with butchers' boys, and trying to tame incorrigible donkeys.'

Here George tried to put his father right as to his riding with the butcher's boy being entirely accidental; but his sobs prevented his speaking articulately, and they had nearly arrived at home before Mr. and Mrs. Danvers could exactly understand how the accident had happened.

'And how came Fletcher by his black eye?' said Mr. Danvers.

'Oh, that was done in a passion,' replied George. 'I was tired before I began to play, and I did not like to be beat by a boy so near my own size.'

'And how would you have felt,' said Mr. Danvers, 'had you deprived your companion of the sight of his eye, which was very near being the case? Accidents of this sort have sometimes happened from cricket-balls; but this, instead of accidental, would have been the consequence of pettish ill-humour. I shall allow no more cricket for some days; indeed, I fear it will be some days before Fletcher will be well enough to play; and certainly I shall allow no more whole days of play.'

'I wish you would not, father,' said George, 'for they always end unhappily; and you have not heard all the unhappiness of this.'

George was endeavouring to commence his relation of the broken vase, when the lads from the cricket-field, who had just finished their game, approached to bid Mr. and Mrs. Danvers a good-morning, and inquire of their young companion why he and Tom Fletcher had not again joined them. In pity to the confusion visibly stamped on George's countenance, Mr. Danvers undertook to explain the cause of their absence, and begged that they themselves would come, whenever it was pleasant to them, to play in his field. As to Tom, he thought he would not be able to play again within a week; but on that day se'nnight, if his eye was well enough to allow of his playing, Mr. Danvers would himself take a part in the game, and he invited all the party to take tea and refreshments after its conclusion. The boys seemed delighted with this proposition, and took their leave, when George accompanied his father and mother into the house, where they were joined by little Ellen. The accident of the broken vase was related, at which Mrs. Danvers expressed great regret; but her vexation was accompanied with the pleasing reflection that the word of her children might be taken without scruple, for the good-natured Ann was not easy till she had informed her mistress of all that she knew respecting the accident.

From this day, Ellen never wished that she was a boy to do nothing but play from morning till night. She saw, in the example of her brother George, that idleness generally leads to mischief, and consequently to unhappiness; and she felt how necessary it was to have performed her duty well before she could enjoy her play.

 
 
 

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