by Catherine Sinclair
A SERIES OF TALES.
Dedicated to Lady Diana Boyle.
BY CATHERINE SINCLAIR,
AUTHORESS OF MODERN ACCOMPLISHMENTS, MODERN SOCIETY, HILL AND
VALLEY, CHARLIE SEYMOUR, &c. &c.
Young heads are giddy, and young hearts are warm,
And make mistakes for manhood to reform.
NEW-YORK: PUBLISHED BY ROBERT CARTER, NO. 58 CANAL STREET.
New-York: Printed by Scatcherd and Adams, No. 38 Gold Street.
CHAPTER I. CHIT
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER VII. THE
THE BROKEN KEY.
CHAPTER X. THE
CHAPTER XI. THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XV. AN
CHAPTER XVI. THE
Of all the paper I have blotted, I have written nothing without
intention of some good. Whether I have succeeded or not, is for
others to judge.
Sir William Temple.
The minds of young people are now manufactured like webs of linen,
all alike, and nothing left to nature. From the hour when children can
speak, till they come to years of discretion or of indiscretion, they
are carefully prompted what to say, and what to think, and what to
look, and how to feel; while in most school-rooms nature has been
turned out of doors with obloquy, and art has entirely supplanted her.
When a quarrel takes place, both parties are generally in some
degree to blame; therefore if Art and Nature could yet be made to go
hand in hand towards the formation of character and principles, a
graceful and beautiful superstructure might be reared, on the solid
foundation of Christian faith and sound morality; so that while many
natural weeds and wild flowers would be pruned and carefully trained,
some lovely blossoms that spring spontaneously in the uncultivated
soil, might still be cherished into strength and beauty, far excelling
what can be planted or reared by art.
Every infant is probably born with a character as peculiar to
himself as the features in his countenance, if his faults and good
qualities were permitted to expand according to their original
tendency; but education, which formerly did too little in teaching the
young idea how to shoot, seems now in danger of over-shooting the mark
altogether, by not allowing the young ideas to exist at all. In this
age of wonderful mechanical inventions, the very mind of youth seems in
danger of becoming a machine; and while every effort is used to stuff
the memory, like a cricket-ball, with well-known facts and ready-made
opinions, no room is left for the vigour of natural feeling, the glow
of natural genius, and the ardour of natural enthusiasm. It was a
remark of Sir Walter Scott's many years ago, to the author herself,
that in the rising generation there would be no poets, wits, or
orators, because all play of imagination is now carefully discouraged,
and books written for young persons are generally a mere dry record of
facts, unenlivened by any appeal to the heart, or any excitement to the
fancy. The catalogue of a child's library would contain Conversations
on Natural Philosophy,on Chemistry,on Botany,on Arts and
Sciences,Chronological Records of History,and travels as dry as a
road-book; but nothing on the habits or ways of thinking, natural and
suitable to the taste of children; therefore, while such works are
delightful to the parents and teachers who select them, the younger
community are fed with strong meat instead of milk, and the reading
which might be a relaxation from study, becomes a study in itself.
In these pages the author has endeavoured to paint that species of
noisy, frolicsome, mischievous children which is now almost extinct,
wishing to preserve a sort of fabulous remembrance of days long past,
when young people were like wild horses on the prairies, rather than
like well-broken hacks on the road; and when, amidst many faults and
many eccentricities, there was still some individuality of character
and feeling allowed to remain. In short, as Lord Byron described the
last man, the object of this volume is, to describe the last boy. It
may be useful, she thinks, to show, that amidst much requiring to be
judiciously curbed and corrected, there may be the germs of high and
generous feeling, and of steady, right principle, which should be the
chief objects of culture and encouragement. Plodding industry is in the
present day at a very high premium in education; but it requires the
leaven of mental energy and genius to make it work well, while it has
been remarked by one whose experience in education is deep and
practical, that those boys whose names appear most frequently in the
black book of transgression, would sometimes deserve to be also most
commonly recorded, if a book were kept for warm affections and generous
The most formidable person to meet in society at present, is the
mother of a promising boy, about nine or ten years old; because there
is no possible escape from a volume of anecdotes, and a complete system
of education on the newest principles. The young gentleman has probably
asked leave to bring his books to the breakfast-room,can scarcely be
torn away from his studies at the dinner-hour,discards all
toys,abhors a holiday,propounds questions of marvellous depth in
politics or mineralogy,and seems, in short, more fitted to enjoy the
learned meeting at Newcastle, than the exhilarating exercises of the
cricket-ground; but, if the axiom be true, that a little learning is a
dangerous thing, it has also been proved by frequent, and sometimes by
very melancholy experience, that, for minds not yet expanded to
maturity, a great deal of learning is more dangerous still, and that in
those school-rooms where there has been a society for the suppression
of amusement, the mental energies have suffered, as well as the health.
A prejudice has naturally arisen against giving works of fiction to
children, because their chief interest too often rests on the detection
and punishment of such mean vices as lying and stealing, which are so
frequently and elaborately described, that the way to commit those
crimes is made obvious, while a clever boy thinks he could easily avoid
the oversights by which another has been discovered, and that if he
does not yield to similar temptations, he is a model of virtue and
In writing for any class of readers, and especially in occupying the
leisure moments of such peculiarly fortunate young persons as have
leisure moments at all, the author feels conscious of a deep
responsibility, for it is at their early age that the seed can best be
sown which shall bear fruit unto eternal life, therefore it is hoped
this volume may be found to inculcate a pleasing and permanent
consciousness, that religion is the best resource in happier hours, and
the only refuge in hours of affliction.
Those who wish to be remembered for ever in the world,and it is a
very common object of ambition,will find no monument more permanent,
than the affectionate remembrance of any children they have treated
with kindness; for we may often observe, in the reminiscences of old
age, a tender recollection surviving all others, of friends in early
days who enlivened the hours of childhood by presents of playthings and
comfits. But above all, we never forget those who good-humouredly
complied with the constantly recurring petition of all young people in
every generation, and in every houseWill you tell me a story?
In answer to such a request, often and importunately repeated, the
author has from year to year delighted in seeing herself surrounded by
a circle of joyous, eager faces, listening with awe to the terrors of
Mrs. Crabtree, or smiling at the frolics of Harry and Laura. The
stories, originally, were so short, that some friends, aware of their
popularity, and conscious of their harmless tendency, took the trouble
of copying them in manuscript for their own young friends; but the
tales have since grown and expanded during frequent verbal repetitions,
till, with various fanciful additions and new characters, they have
enlarged into their present form, or rather so far beyond it, that
several chapters are omitted, to keep the volume within moderate
Paley remarks, that any amusement which is innocent, is better than
none; as the writing of a book, the building of a house, the laying out
of a garden, the digging of a fish-pond, even the raising of a
cucumber; and it is hoped that, while the author herself has found
much interesting occupation in recording these often repeated stories,
the time of herself and her young readers may be employed with some
degree of profit, or she will certainly regret that it was not better
occupied in the rearing of cucumbers.
CHAPTER I. CHIT CHAT.
A school-boy, a dog, and a walnut tree,
The more you strike 'em, the better they be.
Laura and Harry Graham could scarcely feel sure that they ever had a
mama, because she died while they were yet very young indeed; but
Frank, who was some years older, recollected perfectly well what pretty
playthings she used to give him, and missed his kind, good mama so
extremely, that he one day asked if he might go to a shop and buy a
new mama? Frank often afterwards thought of the time also, when he
kneeled beside her bed to say his prayers, or when he sat upon her knee
to hear funny stories about good boys and bad boysall very
interesting, and all told on purpose to show how much happier obedient
children are, than those who waste their time in idleness and folly.
Boys and girls all think they know the road to happiness without any
mistake, and choose that which looks gayest and pleasantest at first,
though older people, who have travelled that road already, can tell
them that a very difficult path is the only one which ends agreeably;
and those who begin to walk in it when they are young, will really find
that wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are
peace. It was truly remarked by Solomon, that even a child is known
by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
Therefore, though Frank was yet but a little boy, his friends, who
observed how carefully he attended to his mama's instructions, how
frequently he studied his Bible, and how diligently he learned his
lessons, all prophesied that this merry, lively child, with laughing
eyes, and dimpled cheeks, would yet grow up to be a good and useful
man; especially when it became evident that, by the blessing of God, he
had been early turned away from the broad road that leadeth to
destruction, in which every living person would naturally walk, and led
into the narrow path that leadeth to eternal life.
When his mama, Lady Graham, after a long and painful illness, was at
last taken away to the better world, for which she had been many years
preparing, her only sorrow and anxiety seemed to be that she left
behind her three such very dear children, who were now to be entirely
under the care of their papa, Sir Edward Graham; and it was with many
prayers and tears that she tried to make her mind more easy about their
future education, and future happiness.
Sir Edward felt such extreme grief on the death of Lady Graham, that
instead of being able to remain at home with his young family, and to
interest his mind as he would wish to have done, by attending to them,
he was ordered by Dr. Bell, to set off immediately for Paris, Rome, and
Naples, where it was hoped he might leave his distresses behind him
while he travelled, or at all events, forget them.
Luckily the children had a very good, kind uncle, Major David
Graham, and their grandmama, Lady Harriet Graham, who were both
exceedingly happy to take charge of them, observing that no house could
be cheerful without a few little people being there, and that now they
would have constant amusement in trying to make Frank, Harry, and
Laura, as happy as possible, and even still happier.
That is the thing I am almost afraid of! said Sir Edward, smiling.
Uncles and grandmamas are only too kind, and my small family will be
quite spoiled by indulgence.
Not if you leave that old vixen, Mrs. Crabtree, as governor of the
nursery, answered Major Graham, laughing. She ought to have been the
drummer of a regiment, she is so fond of the rod! I believe there never
was such a tyrant since the time when nursery-maids were invented. Poor
Harry would pass his life in a dark closet, like Baron Trenck, if Mrs.
Crabtree had her own way!
She means it all well. I am certain that Mrs. Crabtree is devotedly
fond of my children, and would go through fire and water to serve them;
but she is a little severe perhaps. Her idea is, that if you never
forgive a first fault, you will never hear of a second, which is
probably true enough. At all events, her harshness will be the best
remedy for your extreme indulgence; therefore let me beg that you and
my mother will seldom interfere with her 'method,' especially in
respect to Harry and Laura. As for Frank, if all boys were like him, we
might make a bonfire of birch rods and canes. He is too old for nursery
discipline now, and must be flogged at school, if deserving of it at
all, till he goes to sea next year with my friend Gordon, who has
promised to rate him as a volunteer of the first class, on board the
In spite of Mrs. Crabtree's admirable system with children, Harry
and Laura became, from this time, two of the most heedless, frolicsome
beings in the world, and had to be whipped almost every morning; for in
those days it had not been discovered that whipping is all a mistake,
and that children can be made good without it; though some
old-fashioned people still sayand such, too, who take the God of
truth for their guidethe old plan succeeded best, and those who
spare the rod will spoil the child. When Lady Harriet and Major
Graham spoke kindly to Harry and Laura, about anything wrong that had
been done, they both felt more sad and sorry, than after the severest
punishments of Mrs. Crabtree, who frequently observed, that if those
children were shut up in a dark room alone, with nothing to do, they
would still find some way of being mischievous, and of deserving to be
Harry! said Major Graham one day, you remind me of a monkey which
belonged to the colonel of our regiment formerly. He was famous for
contriving to play all sorts of pranks when no one supposed them to be
possible, and I recollect once having a valuable French clock, which
the malicious creature seemed particularly determined to break. Many a
time I caught him in the fact, and saved my beautiful clock; but one
day, being suddenly summoned out of the room, I hastily fastened his
chain to a table, so that he could not possibly, even at the full
extent of his paw, so much as touch the glass case. I observed him
impatiently watching my departure, and felt a misgiving that he
expected to get the better of me; so after shutting the door, I took a
peep through the key-hole, and what do you think Jack had done, Harry?
for, next to Mr. Monkey himself, you are certainly the cleverest
contriver of mischief I know.
What did he do? asked Harry eagerly; did he throw a stone at the
No! but his leg was several inches longer than his arm, so having
turned his tail towards his object, he stretched out his hind-paw, and
before I could rush back, my splendid alabaster clock had been upset
and broken to shivers.
Laura soon became quite as mischievous as Harry, which is very
surprising, as she was a whole year older, and had been twice as often
scolded by Mrs. Crabtree. Neither of these children intended any harm,
for they were only heedless lively romps, who would not for twenty
worlds have told a lie, or done a shabby thing, or taken what did not
belong to them. They were not greedy either, and would not on any
account have resembled Peter Grey, who was at the same school with
Frank, and who spent all his own pocket-money, and borrowed a great
deal of other people's, to squander at the pastry-cook's, saying, he
wished it were possible to eat three dinners, and two breakfasts, and
five suppers every day.
Harry was not a cruel boy either; he never lashed his pony, beat his
dog, pinched his sister, or killed any butterflies, though he often
chased them for fun, and one day he even defended a wasp, at the risk
of being stung, when Mrs. Crabtree intended to kill it.
Nasty, useless vermin! said she angrily, What business have they
in the world! coming into other people's houses, with nothing to do!
They sting and torment every body! Bees are very different, for they
And wasps make jelly! said Harry resolutely, while he opened the
window, and shook the happy wasp out of his pocket handkerchief.
Mrs. Crabtree allowed no pets of any description in her territories,
and ordered the children to be happy without any such nonsense. When
Laura's canary-bird escaped one unlucky day out of its cage, Mrs.
Crabtree was strongly suspected by Major Graham, of having secretly
opened the door, as she had long declared war upon bulfinches, white
mice, parrots, kittens, dogs, bantams, and gold fish, observing that
animals only made a noise and soiled the house, therefore every
creature should remain in its own home, birds in the air, fish in the
sea, and beasts in the desert. She seemed always watching in hopes
Harry and Laura might do something that they ought to be punished for;
and Mrs. Crabtree certainly had more ears than other people, or slept
with one eye open, as, whatever might be done, night or day, she
overheard the lowest whisper of mischief, and appeared able to see what
was going on in the dark.
When Harry was a very little boy, he sometimes put himself in the
corner, after doing wrong, apparently quite sensible that he deserved
to be punished, and once, after being terribly scolded by Mrs.
Crabtree, he drew in his stool beside her chair, with a funny penitent
face, twirling his thumbs over and over each other, and saying, Now,
Mrs. Crabtree! look what a good boy I am going to be!
You a good boy! replied she contemptuously: No! no! the world
will be turned into a cream-cheese first!
Lady Harriet gave Harry and Laura a closet of their own, in which
she allowed them to keep their toys, and nobody could help laughing to
see that, amidst the whole collection, there was seldom one unbroken.
Frank wrote out a list once of what he found in this crowded little
store-room, and amused himself often with reading it over afterwards.
There were three dolls without faces, a horse with no legs, a drum with
a hole in the top, a cart without wheels, a churn with no bottom, a
kite without a tale, a skipping-rope with no handles, and a cup and
ball that had lost the string. Lady Harriet called this closet the
hospital for decayed toys, and she often employed herself as their
doctor, mending legs and arms for soldiers, horses, and dolls, though
her skill seldom succeeded long, because play-things must have been
made of cast-iron to last a week with Harry. One cold winter morning
when Laura entered the nursery, she found a large fire blazing, and all
her wax dolls sitting in a row within the fender staring at the flames.
Harry intended no mischief on this occasion, but great was his vexation
when Laura burst into tears, and showed him that their faces were
running in a hot stream down upon their beautiful silk frocks, which
were completely ruined, and not a doll had its nose remaining. Another
time, Harry pricked a hole in his own beautiful large gas ball, wishing
to see how the gas could possibly escape, after which, in a moment, it
shrivelled up into a useless empty bladder,and when his kite was
flying up to the clouds, Harry often wished that he could be tied to
the tail himself, so as to fly also through the air like a bird, and
see every thing.
Mrs. Crabtree always wore a prodigious bunch of jingling keys in her
pocket, that rung whenever she moved, as if she carried a dinner bell
in her pocket, and Frank said it was like a rattlesnake giving warning
of her approach, which was of great use, as everybody had time to put
on a look of good behaviour before she arrived. Even Betty, the under
nursery-maid, felt in terror of Mrs. Crabtree's entrance, and was
obliged to work harder than any six house-maids united. Frank told her
one day that he thought brooms might soon be invented, which would go
by steam and brush carpets of themselves, but, in the meantime, not a
grain of dust could lurk in any corner of the nursery without being
dislodged. Betty would have required ten hands, and twenty pair of
feet, to do all the work that was expected; but the grate looked like
jet, the windows would not have soiled a cambric handkerchief, and the
carpet was switched with so many tea-leaves, that Frank thought Mrs.
Crabtree often took several additional cups of tea in order to leave a
plentiful supply of leaves for sweeping the floor next morning.
If Laura and Harry left any breakfast, Mrs. Crabtree kept it
carefully till dinner time, when they were obliged to finish the whole
before tasting meat; and if they refused it at dinner, the remains were
kept for supper. Mrs. Crabtree always informed them that she did it
for their good, though Harry never could see any good that it did to
either of them; and when she mentioned how many poor children would be
glad to eat what they despised, he often wished the hungry beggars had
some of his own hot dinner, which he would gladly have spared to them;
for Harry was really so generous, that he would have lived upon air, if
he might be of use to anybody. Time passed on, and Lady Harriet engaged
a master for some hours a-day to teach the children lessons, while even
Mrs. Crabtree found no other fault to Harry and Laura, except that in
respect to good behaviour their memories were like a sieve, which let
out every thing they were desired to keep in mind. They seemed always
to hope, somehow or other, when Mrs. Crabtree once turned her back, she
would never shew her face again; so their promises of better conduct
were all wind without rain,very loud and plenty of them, but no
good effect to be seen afterwards.
Among her many other torments, Mrs. Crabtree rolled up Laura's hair
every night on all sides of her head, in large stiff curl-papers, till
they were as round and hard as walnuts, after which, she tied on a
night-cap, as tightly as possible above all, saying this would curl the
hair still better. Laura could not lay any part of her head on the
pillow, without suffering so much pain that, night after night, she sat
up in bed, after Mrs. Crabtree had bustled out of the room, and quietly
took the cruel papers out, though she was punished so severely for
doing so, that she obeyed orders at last and lay wide awake half the
night with torture; and it was but small comfort to Laura afterwards,
that Lady Harriet's visitors frequently admired the forest of long
glossy ringlets that adorned her head, and complimented Mrs. Crabtree
on the trouble it must cost her to keep that charming hair in order.
Often did Laura wish that it were ornamenting any wig-block, rather
than her own head; and one day Lady Harriet laughed heartily, when some
strangers admired her little grand-daughter's ringlets, and Laura
asked, very anxiously, if they would like to cut off a few of the
longest, and keep them for her sake.
Your hair does curl like a cork-screw, said Frank, laughing. If I
want to draw a cork out of a beer bottle any day, I shall borrow one of
those ringlets, Laura!
You may laugh, Frank, for it is fun to you and death to me,
answered poor Laura, gravely shaking her curls at him. I wish we were
all bald, like uncle David! During the night, I cannot lie still on
account of those tiresome curls, and all day I dare not stir for fear
of spoiling them, so they are never out of my head.
Nor off your head! How pleasant it must be to have Mrs. Crabtree
combing and scolding, and scolding and combing, for hours every day!
Poor Laura! we must get Dr. Bell to say that they shall be taken off on
pain of death, and then, perhaps, grandmama would order some Irish
reapers to cut them down with a sickle.
Frank! what a lucky boy you are to be at school, and not in the
nursery! I wish next year would come immediately, for then I shall have
a governess, after which good-bye to Mrs. Crabtree, and the wearisome
I don't like school! said Harry. It is perfect nonsense to plague
me with lessons now. All big people can read and write, so, of course,
I shall be able to do like others. There is no hurry about it!
Never was there a more amiable, pious, excellent boy than Frank, who
read his Bible so attentively, and said his prayers so regularly every
morning and evening, that he soon learned both to know his duty and to
do it. Though he laughed heartily at the scrapes which Harry and Laura
so constantly fell into, he often also helped them out of their
difficulties; being very different from most elderly boys, who find an
odd kind of pleasure in teazing younger childrenpulling their
hairpinching their armstwitching away their dinnersand twenty
more plans for tormenting, which Frank never attempted to enjoy, but he
often gave Harry and Laura a great deal of kind, sober, good advice,
which they listened to very attentively while they were in any new
distress, but generally forgot again as soon as their spirits rose.
Frank came home only upon Saturdays and Sundays, because he attended
during most of the week at Mr. Lexicon's academy, where he gradually
became so clever, that the masters all praised his extraordinary
attention, and covered him with medals, while Major Graham often filled
his pockets with a reward of money, after which he ran towards the
nearest shop to spend his little fortune in buying a present for
somebody. Frank scarcely ever wanted anything for himself, but he
always wished to contrive some kind generous plan for other people; and
Major Graham used to say, if that boy had only sixpence in the world,
he would lay it all out on penny tarts to distribute among half-a-dozen
of his friends. He even saved his pocket-money once, during three
whole months, to purchase a gown for Mrs. Crabtree, who looked almost
good-humoured during the space of five minutes, when Frank presented it
to her, saying, in his joyous merry voice, Mrs. Crabtree! I wish you
health to wear it, strength to tear it, and money to buy another!
Certainly there never was such a gown before! It had been chosen by
Frank and Harry together, who thought nothing could be more perfect.
The colour was so bright an apple-green, that it would have put any
body's teeth on edge to look at it, and the whole was dotted over with
large round spots of every colour, as if a box of wafers had been
showered upon the surface. Laura wished Mrs. Crabtree might receive a
present every day, as it put her in such good-humour, and nearly three
weeks after passed this, without a single scold being heard in the
nursery; so Frank observed that he thought Mrs. Crabtree would soon be
quite out of practice.
Laura! said Major Graham, looking very sly one morning, have you
heard all the new rules that Mrs. Crabtree has made?
No! replied she in great alarm; what are they?
In the first place, you are positively not to tear and destroy
above three frocks a-day; secondly, you and Harry must never get into a
passion, unless you are angry; thirdly, when either of you take
medicine, you are not to make wry faces, except when the taste is bad;
fourthly, you must never speak ill of Mrs. Crabtree herself, until she
is out of the room; fifthly, you are not to jump out of the windows, as
long as you can get out at the door
Yes! interrupted Laura, laughing, and sixthly, when uncle David
is joking, we are not to be frightened by anything he says!
Seventhly, when next you spill grandmama's bottle of ink, Harry
must drink up every drop.
Very well! he may swallow a sheet of blotting paper afterwards, to
put away the taste.
I wish every body who writes a book, was obliged to swallow it,
said Harry. It is such a waste of time reading, when we might be
amusing ourselves. Frank sat mooning over a book for two hours
yesterday when we wanted him to play. I am sure, some day his head will
burst with knowledge.
That can never happen to you, Master Harry, answered Major Graham;
you have a head, and so has a pin, but there is not much furniture in
either of them.
CHAPTER II. THE GRAND FEAST.
She gave them some tea without any bread,
She whipp'd them all soundly, and sent them to bed.
Lady Harriet Graham was an extremely thin, delicate, old lady, with
a very pale face, and a sweet gentle voice, which the children
delighted to hear, for it always spoke kindly to them, and sounded like
music, after the loud, rough tones of Mrs. Crabtree. She wore her own
grey hair, which had become almost as white as the widow's cap which
covered her head. The rest of her dress was generally black velvet, and
she usually sat in a comfortable arm-chair by the fire-side, watching
her grandchildren at play, with a large work-bag by her side, and a
prodigious Bible open on the table before her. Lady Harriet often said
that it made her young again to see the joyous gambols of Harry and
Laura; and when unable any longer to bear their noise, she sometimes
kept them quiet, by telling the most delightful stories about what had
happened to herself when she was young.
Once upon a time, however, Lady Harriet suddenly became so very ill,
that Dr. Bell said she must spend a few days in the country, for change
of air, and accordingly she determined on passing a quiet week at
Holiday House with her relations, Lord and Lady Rockville. Meanwhile,
Harry and Laura were to be left under the sole care of Mrs. Crabtree,
so it might have been expected that they would both feel more
frightened for her, now that she was reigning monarch of the house,
than ever. Harry would obey those he loved, if they only held up a
little finger; but all the terrors of Mrs. Crabtree, and her
cat-o'-nine-tails, were generally forgotten soon after she left the
room; therefore he thought little at first about the many threats she
held out, if he behaved ill, but he listened most seriously when his
dear sick grandmama told him, in a faint weak voice, on the day of her
departure from home, how very well he ought to behave in her absence,
as no one remained but the maids to keep him in order, and that she
hoped Mrs. Crabtree would write her a letter full of good news about
his excellent conduct.
Harry felt as if he would gladly sit still without stirring, till
his grandmama came back, if that could only please her; and there never
was any one more determined to be a good boy than he, at the moment
when Lady Harriet's carriage came round to the door. Laura, Frank, and
Harry helped to carry all the pillows, boxes, books, and baskets which
were necessary for the journey, of which there seemed to be about
fifty; then they arranged the cushions as comfortably as possible, and
watched very sorrowfully when their grandmama, after kindly embracing
them both, was carefully supported by Major Graham and her maid
Harrison, into the chariot. Uncle David gave each of the children a
pretty picture-book before taking leave, and said, as he was stepping
into the carriage, Now, children! I have only one piece of serious,
important advice to give you all, so attend to me!never crack nuts
with your teeth!
When the carriage had driven off, Mrs. Crabtree became so busy
scolding Betty, and storming at Jack the foot-boy, for not cleaning her
shoes well enough, that she left Harry and Laura standing in the
passage, not knowing exactly what they ought to do first, and Frank,
seeing them looking rather melancholy and bewildered at the loss of
their grandmama, stopped a moment as he passed on the way to school,
and said in a very kind, affectionate voice,
Now, Harry and Laura, listen both of you!here is a grand
opportunity to show everybody, that we can be trusted to ourselves,
without getting into any scrapes, so that if grandmama is ever ill
again, and obliged to go away, she need not feel so sad and anxious as
she did to-day. I mean to become nine times more attentive to my
lessons than usual this morning, to show how trust-worthy we are, and
if you are wise, pray march straight up to the nursery yourselves. I
have arranged a gown and cap of Mrs. Crabtree's on the large arm-chair,
to look as like herself as possible, that you may be reminded how soon
she will come back, and you must not behave like the mice when the cat
is out. Good bye! Say the alphabet backward, and count your fingers for
half-an-hour, but when Mrs. Crabtree appears again, pray do not jump
out of the window for joy.
Harry and Laura were proceeding directly towards the nursery, as
Frank had recommended, when unluckily they observed in passing the
drawing-room door, that it was wide open; so Harry peeped in, and they
began idly wandering round the tables and cabinets. Not ten minutes
elapsed before they both commenced racing about as if they were mad,
perfectly screaming with joy, and laughing so loudly at their own funny
tricks, that an old gentleman who lived next door, very nearly sent in
a message to ask what the joke was.
Presently Harry and Laura ran up and down stairs till the housemaid
was quite fatigued with running after them. They jumped upon the fine
damask sofas in the drawing-room, stirred the fire till it was in a
blaze, and rushed out on the balcony, upsetting one or two geraniums
and a myrtle. They spilt Lady Harriet's perfumes over their
handkerchiefs,they looked into all the beautiful books of
pictures,they tumbled many of the pretty Dresden china figures on the
floor,they wound up the little French clock till it was broken,they
made the musical work-box play its tunes, and set the Chinese mandarins
nodding, till they very nearly nodded their heads off. In short, so
much mischief has seldom been done in so short a time, till at last
Harry, perfectly worn out with laughing and running, threw himself into
a large arm-chair, and Laura, with her ringlets tumbling in frightful
confusion over her face, and the beads of her coral necklace rolling on
the floor, tossed herself into a sofa beside him.
Oh! what fun! cried Harry, in an ecstacy of delight; I wish Frank
had been here, and crowds of little boys and girls, to play with us all
day! It would be a good joke, Laura, to write and ask all our little
cousins and companions to drink tea here to-morrow evening! Their mamas
could never guess we had not leave from grandmama to invite everybody,
so I dare say we might gather quite a large party! oh! how enchanting!
Laura laughed heartily when she heard this proposal of Harry's, and
without hesitating a moment about it, she joyously placed herself
before Lady Harriet's writing-table, and scribbled a multitude of
little notes, in large text, to more than twenty young friends, all of
whom had at other times been asked by Lady Harriet to spend the evening
Laura felt very much puzzled to know what was usually said in a card
of invitation, but after many consultations, she and Harry thought at
last, that it was very nicely expressed, for they wrote these words
upon a large sheet of paper to each of their friends:
Master Harry Graham and Miss Laura wish you to have the honour of
drinking tea with us to-morrow, at six o'clock.
(Signed) Harry and Laura.
Laura afterwards singed a hole in her muslin frock, while lighting
one of the Vesta matches to seal these numerous notes; and Harry
dropped some burning sealing-wax on his hand, in the hurry of assisting
her; but he thought that little accident no matter, and ran away to see
if the cards could be sent off immediately.
Now, there lived in the house a very old footman, called Andrew, who
remembered Harry and Laura since they were quite little babies; and he
often looked exceedingly sad and sorry when they suffered punishment
from Mrs. Crabtree. He was ready to do anything in the world when it
pleased the children, and would have carried a message to the moon, if
they had only shown him the way. Many odd jobs and private messages he
had already been employed in by Harry, who now called Andrew up stairs,
entreating him to carry out all those absurd notes as fast as possible,
and to deliver them immediately, as they were of the greatest
consequence. Upon hearing this, old Andrew lost not a moment, but threw
on his hat, and instantly started off, looking like the twopenny
postman, he carried such a prodigious parcel of invitations, while
Harry and Laura stood at the drawing-room window, almost screaming with
joy when they saw him set out, and when they observed that, to oblige
them, he actually ran along the street at a sort of trot, which was as
fast as he could possibly go. Presently, however, he certainly did stop
for a single minute, and Laura saw that it was in order to take a peep
into one of the notes, that he might ascertain what they were all
about; but as he never carried any letters without doing so, she
thought that quite natural, and was only very glad when he had
finished, and rapidly pursued his way again.
Next morning, Mrs. Crabtree and Betty became very much surprised to
observe what a number of smart livery servants knocked at the street
door, and gave in cards, but their astonishment became still greater,
when old Andrew brought up a whole parcel of them to Harry and Laura,
who immediately broke the seals, and read the contents in a corner
What are you about there, Master Graham? cried Mrs. Crabtree,
angrily, how dare any body venture to touch your grandmama's letters?
They are not for grandmama!they are all for us!every one of
them! answered Harry, dancing about the room with joy, and waving the
notes over his head. Look at this direction! For Master and Miss
Graham! put on your spectacles, and read it yourself, Mrs. Crabtree!
What delightful fun! the house will be as full as an egg!
Mrs. Crabtree seemed completely puzzled what to think of all this,
and looked so much as if she did not know exactly what to be angry at,
and so ready to be in a passion if possible, that Harry burst out a
laughing, while he said, Only think Mrs. Crabtree! here is every body
coming to tea with us!all my cousins, besides Peter Grey, Robert
Stewart, Charles Forrester, Adelaide Cunninghame, Diana Wentworth, John
Fordyce, Edmund Ashford, Frank Abercromby, Ned Russel, and Tom
The boy is distracted! exclaimed Betty, staring with astonishment.
What does all this mean, Master Harry?
And who gave you leave to invite company into your grandmama's
house? cried Mrs. Crabtree, snatching up all the notes, and angrily
thrusting them into the fire. I never heard of such things in all my
life before, Master Harry! but as sure as eggs is eggs, you shall
repent of this, for not one morsel of cake, or anything else shall you
have to give any of the party; no! not so much as a crust of bread, or
a thimbleful of tea!
Harry and Laura had never thought of such a catastrophe as this
before; they always saw a great table covered with every thing that
could be named for tea, whenever their little friends came to visit
them, and whether it rose out of the floor, or was brought by Aladdin's
lamp, they never considered it possible that the table would not be
provided as usual on such occasions, so this terrible speech of Mrs.
Crabtree's frightened them out of their wits. What was to be done! They
both knew by experience that she always did whatever she threatened, or
something a great deal worse, so they began by bursting into tears, and
begging Mrs. Crabtree for this once to excuse them, and to give some
cakes and tea to their little visitors, but they might as well have
spoken to one of the Chinese mandarins, for she only shook her head,
with a positive look, declaring over and over again that nothing should
appear upon the table except what was always brought up for their own
suppertwo biscuits and two cups of milk.
Therefore say no more about it! added she, sternly. I am your
best friend, Master Harry, trying to teach you and Miss Laura your
duty, so save your breath to cool your porridge.
Poor Harry and Laura looked perfectly ill with fright and vexation
when they thought of what was to happen next, while Mrs. Crabtree sat
down to her knitting, grumbling to herself, and dropping her stitches
every minute with rage and irritation. Old Andrew felt exceedingly
sorry after he heard what distress and difficulty Harry was in, and
when the hour for the party approached, he very good-naturedly spread
out a large table in the dining-room, where he put down as many cups,
saucers, plates, and spoons as Laura chose to direct; but in spite of
all his trouble, though it looked very grand, there was nothing
whatever to eat or drink, except the two dry biscuits, and the two
miserable cups of milk, which seemed to become smaller every time that
Harry looked at them.
Presently the clock struck six, and Harry listened to the hour very
much as a prisoner would do in the condemned cell in Newgate, feeling
that the dreaded time was at last arrived. Soon afterwards, several
handsome carriages drove up to the door filled with little Masters and
Misses, who hurried joyfully into the house, talking and laughing all
the way up stairs, being evidently quite happy at coming out to tea,
while poor Harry and Laura almost wished the floor would open and
swallow them up, so they shrunk into a distant corner of the room,
quite ashamed to show their faces.
The young ladies were all dressed in their best frocks, with pink
sashes, and pink shoes; while the little boys appeared in their holiday
clothes, with their hair newly brushed, and their faces washed. The
whole party had dined at two o'clock, so they were as hungry as hawks,
looking eagerly round, whenever they entered, to see what was on the
tea-table, and evidently surprised that nothing had yet been put down.
Laura and Harry soon afterwards heard their visitors whispering to each
other about Norwich buns, rice cakes, spunge biscuits, and maccaroons;
while Peter Grey was loud in praise of a party at George Lorraine's the
night before, where an immense plum-cake had been sugared over like a
snow storm, and covered with crowds of beautiful amusing mottoes; not
to mention a quantity of noisy crackers, that exploded like pistols;
besides which, a glass of hot jelly had been handed to each little
guest before he was sent home.
Every time the door opened, all eyes were anxiously turned round,
expecting a grand feast to be brought in; but quite the contraryit
was only Andrew showing up more hungry visitors; while Harry felt so
unspeakably wretched, that, if some kind fairy could only have turned
him into a Norwich bun at the moment, he would gladly have consented to
be cut in pieces, that his ravenous guests might be satisfied.
Charles Forrester was a particularly good-natured boy, so Harry at
last took courage and beckoned him into a remote corner of the room,
where he confessed, in whispers, the real state of affairs about tea,
and how sadly distressed he and Laura felt, because they had nothing
whatever to give among so many visitors, seeing that Mrs. Crabtree kept
her determination of affording them no provisions.
What is to be done! said Charles, very anxiously, as he felt
extremely sorry for his little friends. If Mama had been at home, she
would gladly have sent whatever you liked for tea, but unluckily she is
dining out! I saw a loaf of bread lying on a table at home this
evening, which she would make you quite welcome to! Shall I run home,
as fast as possible, to fetch it? That would, at any rate, be better
Poor Charles Forrester was very lame, therefore, while he talked of
running he could hardly walk, but Lady Forrester's house stood so near,
that he soon reached home, when, snatching up the loaf, he hurried back
towards the street with his prize, quite delighted to see how large and
substantial it looked. Scarcely had he reached the door, however,
before the housekeeper ran hastily out, saying,
Stop, Mr. Charles! stop! sure you are not running away with the
loaf for my tea, and the parrot must have her supper too. What do you
want with that there bread?
Never mind, Mrs. Comfit! answered Charles, hastening on faster
than ever, while he grasped the precious loaf more firmly in his hand,
and limped along at a prodigious rate, Polly is getting too fat, so
she will be the better of fasting for this one day.
Mrs. Comfit, being enormously fat herself, became very angry at this
remark, so she seemed quite desperate to recover the loaf, and hurried
forward to overtake Charles, but the old housekeeper was so heavy and
breathless, while the young gentleman was so lame, that it seemed an
even chance which won the race. Harry stood at his own door,
impatiently hoping to receive the prize, and eagerly stretched out his
arms to encourage his friend, while it was impossible to say which of
the runners might arrive first. Harry had sometimes heard of a race
between two old women tied up in sacks, and he thought they could
scarcely move with more difficulty; but at the very moment when Charles
had reached the door, he stumbled over a stone, and fell on the ground.
Mrs. Comfit then instantly rushed up, and seizing the loaf, she carried
it off in triumph, leaving the two little friends ready to cry with
vexation, and quite at a loss what plan to attempt next.
Mean time, a sad riot had arisen in the dining-room, where the boys
called loudly for their tea; and the young ladies drew their chairs all
round the table, to wait till it was ready. Still nothing appeared; so
every body wondered more and more how long they were to wait for all
the nice cakes and sweetmeats which must, of course, be coming; for the
longer they were delayed, the more was expected.
The last at a feast, and the first at a fray, was generally Peter
Grey, who now lost patience, and seized one of the two biscuits, which
he was in the middle of greedily devouring, when Laura returned with
Harry to the dining-room, and observed what he had done.
Peter Grey! said she, holding up her head, and trying to look very
dignified, you are an exceedingly naughty boy, to help yourself! As a
punishment for being so rude, you shall have nothing more to eat all
If I do not help myself, nobody else seems likely to give me any
supper! I appear to be the only person who is to taste anything
to-night, answered Peter, laughing, while the impudent boy took a cup
of milk, and drank it off, saying, Here's to your very good health,
Miss Laura, and an excellent appetite to everybody!
Upon hearing this absurd speech, all the other boys began laughing,
and made signs, as if they were eating their fingers off with hunger.
Then Peter called Lady Harriet's house Famine Castle, and pretended
he would swallow the knives like an Indian juggler.
We must learn to live upon air, and here are some spoons to eat it
with, said John Fordyce. Harry! shall I help you to a mouthful of
Peter! would you like a roasted fly? asked Frank Abercromby,
catching one on the window. I dare say it is excellent for hungry
people,or a slice of buttered wall?
Or a stewed spider? asked Peter. Shall we all be cannibals, and
eat one another?
What is the use of all those forks, when there is nothing to stick
upon them? asked George Maxwell, throwing them about on the floor. No
buns!no fruit!no cakes!no nothing!
What are we to do with those tea-cups, when there is no tea? cried
Frank Abercromby, pulling the table-cloth till the whole affair fell
prostrate on the floor. After this, these riotous boys tossed the
plates up in the air, and caught them, becoming, at last, so
outrageous, that poor old Andrew called them a meal mob. Never was
there so much broken china seen in a dining-room before! It all lay
scattered on the floor, in countless fragments, looking as if there had
been a bull in a china shop, when suddenly Mrs. Crabtree herself opened
the door and walked in, with an aspect of rage enough to petrify a
milestone. Now old Andrew had long been trying all in his power to
render the boys quiet and contented. He had made them a speech,he had
chased the ring-leaders all round the room,and he had thrown his
stick at Peter, who seemed the most riotous,but all in vain; they
became worse and worse, laughing into fits, and calling Andrew the
police-officer, and the bailiff. It was a very different story,
however, when Mrs. Crabtree appeared, so flaming with fury, she might
have blown up a powder-mill.
Nobody could help being afraid of her. Even Peter himself stood
stock-still, and seemed withering away to nothing, when she looked at
him; and when she began to scold in her most furious manner, not a boy
ventured to look off the ground. A large pair of tawse then became
visible in her hand, so every heart sunk with fright, and the riotous
visitors began to get behind each other, and to huddle out of sight as
much as possible, whispering and pushing, and fighting, in a desperate
scuffle to escape.
What is all this! cried she, at the full pitch of her voice, has
bedlam broke loose! who smashed these cups? I'll break his head for
him, let me tell you that! Master Peter! you should be hissed out of
the world for your misconduct; but I shall certainly whip you round the
room like a whipping-top.
At this moment, Peter observed that the dining-room window, which
was only about six feet from the ground, had been left wide open, so
instantly seizing the opportunity, he threw himself out with a single
bound, and ran laughing away. All the other boys immediately followed
his example, and disappeared by the same road; after which, Mrs.
Crabtree leaned far out of the window, and scolded loudly, as long as
they remained in sight, till her face became red, and her voice
Meantime, the little misses sat soberly down before the empty table,
and talked in whispers to each other, waiting till their maids came to
take them home, after which they all hurried away as fast as possible,
hardly waiting to say good bye, and intending to ask for some supper
During that night, long after Harry and Laura had been scolded,
whipped, and put to bed, they were each heard in different rooms,
sobbing and crying, as if their very hearts would break, while Mrs.
Crabtree grumbled and scolded to herself, saying she must do her duty,
and make them good children, though she were to flay them alive first.
When Lady Harriet returned home some days afterwards, she heard an
account of Harry and Laura's misconduct from Mrs. Crabtree, and the
whole story was such a terrible case against them, that their poor
grandmama became perfectly astonished and shocked, while even uncle
David was preparing to be very angry; but before the culprits appeared,
Frank most kindly stepped forward, and begged that they might be
pardoned for this once, adding all in his power to excuse Harry and
Laura, by describing how very penitent they had become, and how very
severely they had already been punished.
Frank then mentioned all that Harry had told him about the starving
party, which he related with so much humour and drollery, that Lady
Harriet could not help laughing; so then he saw that a victory had been
gained, and ran to the nursery for the two little prisoners.
Uncle David shook his walking-stick at them, and made a terrible
face, when they entered; but Harry jumped upon his knee with joy at
seeing him again, while Laura forgot all her distress, and rushed up to
Lady Harriet, who folded her in her arms, and kissed her most
Not a word was said that day about the tea-party, but next morning,
Major Graham asked Harry, very gravely, if he had read in the
newspapers the melancholy accounts about several of his little
companions, who were ill and confined to bed from having ate too much
at a certain tea-party on Saturday last. Poor Peter Grey has been given
over, and Charles Forrester, it is feared, may not be able to eat
another loaf of bread for a fortnight!
Oh! uncle David! it makes me ill whenever I think of that party!
said Harry, colouring perfectly scarlet; that was the most miserable
evening of my life!
I must say it was not quite fair in Mrs. Crabtree to starve all the
strange little boys and girls, who came as visitors to my house,
without knowing who had invited them, observed Lady Harriet. Probably
those unlucky children will never forget, as long as they live, that
scanty supper in our dining-room.
And it turned out exactly as Lady Harriet had predicted; for though
they were all asked to tea, in proper time, the very next Saturday,
when Major Graham showered torrents of sugar-plums on the table, while
the children scrambled to pick them up, and the side-board almost broke
down afterwards under the weight of buns, cakes, cheesecakes, biscuits,
fruit, and preserves, which were heaped upon each otheryet, for years
afterwards, Peter Grey, whenever he ate a particularly enormous dinner,
always observed, that he must make up for having once been starved at
Harry Graham's; and whenever any one of those little boys or girls
again happened to meet Harry or Laura, they were sure to laugh and say,
When are you going to give us another
CHAPTER III. THE TERRIBLE FIRE.
Fire rages with fury wherever it comes,
If only one spark should be dropped;
Whole houses, or cities, sometimes it consumes,
Where its violence cannot be stopped.
One night, about eight o'clock, Harry and Laura were playing in the
nursery, building houses with bricks, and trying who could raise the
highest tower without letting it fall, when suddenly they were startled
to hear every bell in the house ringing violently, while the servants
seemed running up and down stairs, as if they were distracted.
What can be the matter! cried Laura, turning round and listening,
while Harry quietly took this opportunity to shake the walls of her
castle till it fell.
The very house is coming down about your ears, Laura! said Harry,
enjoying his little bit of mischief. I should like to be Andrew, now,
for five minutes, that I might answer those fifty bells, and see what
has happened. Uncle David must be wanting coals, candles, tea, toast,
and soda water, all at once! What a bustle everybody is in! There! the
bells are ringing again, worse than ever! Something wonderful is going
on! what can it be!
Presently Betty ran breathlessly into the room, saying that Mrs.
Crabtree ought to come down stairs immediately, as Lady Harriet had
been suddenly taken very ill, and, till the Doctor arrived, nobody knew
what to do, so she must give her advice and assistance.
Harry and Laura felt excessively shocked to hear this alarming news,
and listened with grave attention, while Mrs. Crabtree told them how
amazingly well they ought to behave in her absence, when they were
trusted alone in the nursery, with nobody to keep them in order, or to
see what they were doing, especially now, as their grandmama had been
taken ill, and would require to be kept quiet.
Harry sat in his chair, and might have been painted as the very
picture of a good boy during nearly twenty minutes after Mrs. Crabtree
departed; and Laura placed herself opposite to him, trying to follow so
excellent an example, while they scarcely spoke above a whisper,
wondering what could be the matter with their grandmama, and wishing
for once, to see Mrs. Crabtree again, that they might hear how she was.
Any one who had observed Harry and Laura at that time, would have
wondered to see two such quiet, excellent, respectable children, and
wished that all little boys and girls were made upon the same pattern;
but presently they began to think that probably Lady Harriet was not so
very ill, as no more bells had rung during several minutes, and Harry
ventured to look about for some better amusement than sitting still.
At this moment Laura unluckily perceived on the table near where
they sat, a pair of Mrs. Crabtree's best scissors, which she had been
positively forbid to touch. The long troublesome ringlets were as usual
hanging over her eyes in a most teazing manner, so she thought what a
good opportunity this might be to shorten them a very little, not above
an inch or two; and without considering a moment longer, she slipped
upon tiptoe, with a frightened look, round the table, and picked up the
scissors in her hand, then hastening towards a looking-glass, she began
snipping off the ends of her hair. Laura was much diverted to see it
showering down upon the floor, so she cut and cut on, while the curls
fell thicker and faster, till at last the whole floor was covered with
them, and scarcely a hair left upon her head. Harry went into fits of
laughing when he perceived what a ridiculous figure Laura had made of
herself, and he turned her round and round to see the havoc she had
You should give all this hair to Mr. Mills the upholsterer, to
stuff grandmama's arm-chair with! At any rate, Laura, if Mrs. Crabtree
is ever so angry, she can hardly pull you by the hair of the head
again! What a sound sleep you will have to-night, with no hard
curl-papers to torment you!
Harry had been told five hundred times, never to touch the candles,
and threatened with twenty different punishments, if he ever ventured
to do so; but now, he amused himself with trying to snuff one till he
snuffed it out. Then he lighted it again, and tried the experiment once
more, but again the teazing candle went out, as if on purpose to plague
him, so he felt quite provoked. Having lighted it once more, Harry
prepared to carry the candlestick with him towards the inner nursery,
though afraid to make the smallest noise, in case it might be taken
from him. Before he had gone five steps, down dropped the extinguisher,
then followed the snuffers with a great crash, but Laura seemed too
busy cropping her ringlets, to notice what was going on. All the way
along upon the floor, Harry let fall a perfect shower of hot wax, which
spotted the nursery carpet from the table where he had found the candle
into the next room, where he disappeared, and shut the door, that no
one might interfere with what he liked to do.
After he had been absent some time, the door was hastily opened
again, and Laura felt surprised to see Harry come back with his face as
red as a stick of sealing-wax, and his large eyes staring wider than
they had ever stared before, with a look of rueful consternation.
What is the matter! exclaimed Laura in a terrified voice. Has
anything dreadful happened? Why do you look so frightened and so
Oh dear! oh dear! what shall I do? cried Harry, who seemed
scarcely to know how he spoke, or where he was. I don't know what to
What can be the matter! do tell me at once, Harry, said Laura,
shaking with apprehension. Speak as fast as you can!
Will you not tell Mrs. Crabtree, nor grandmama, nor anybody else?
cried Harry, bursting into tears. I am so very, very sorry, and so
frightened! Laura! do you know, I took a candle into the next room,
merely to play with it.
Well! go on, Harry! go on! what did you do with the candle?
I only put it on the bed for a single minute, to see how the flame
would look there,well! do you know it blazed away famously, and then
all the bed clothes began burning too! Oh! there is such a terrible
fire in the next room! you never saw anything like it! what shall we
do? If old Andrew were to come up, do you think he could put it out? I
have shut the door that Mrs. Crabtree may not see the flames. Be sure,
Laura, to tell nobody but Andrew.
Laura became terrified at the way she saw poor Harry in, but when
she opened the door to find out the real state of affairs, oh! what a
dreadful sight was there! all the beds were on fire, while bright red
flames were blazing up to the roof of the room, with a fierce roaring
noise, which it was perfectly frightful to hear. She screamed aloud
with terror at this alarming scene, while Harry did all he could to
quiet her, and even put his hand over her mouth, that her cries might
not be heard. Laura now struggled to get loose, and called louder and
louder, till at last every maid in the house came racing up stairs,
three steps at a time, to know what was the matter. Immediately upon
seeing the flames, they all began screaming too, in such a loud
discordant way, that it sounded as if a whole flight of crows had come
into the passages. Never was there such an uproar heard in the house
before, for the walls echoed with a general cry of Fire! fire! fire!
Up flew Mrs. Crabtree towards the nursery like a sky-rocket,
scolding furiously, talking louder than all the others put together,
and asking who had set the house on fire, while Harry and Laura
scarcely knew whether to be most frightened for the raging flames, or
the raging Mrs. Crabtree; but, in the meantime, they both shrunk into
the smallest possible size, and hid themselves behind a door.
During all this confusion, Old Andrew luckily remembered, that, in
the morning, there had been a great washing in the laundry, where large
tubs full of water were standing, so he called to the few maids who had
any of their senses remaining, desiring them to assist in carrying up
some buckets, that they might be emptied on the burning beds, to
extinguish the flames if possible. Every body was now in a hurry, and
all elbowing each other out of the way, while it was most extraordinary
to see how old Andrew exerted himself, as if he had been a fireman all
his life, while Mrs. Marmalade, the fat cook, who could hardly carry
herself up stairs in general, actively assisted to bring up the great
heavy tubs, and to pour them out like a cascade upon the burning
curtains, till the nursery-floor looked like a duck pond.
Meantime Harry and Laura added to the confusion as much as they
could, and were busier than anybody, stealing down the back-stairs
whenever Mrs. Crabtree was not in sight, and filling their little jugs
with water, which they brought up, as fast as possible, and dashed upon
the flames, till at last, it is to be feared, they began to feel quite
amused with the bustle, and to be almost sorry when the conflagration
diminished. At one time, Laura very nearly set her own frock on fire,
as she ventured too near, but Harry pulled her back, and then
courageously advanced to discharge a shower from his own little jug,
remaining stationary to watch the effect, till his face was almost
At last the fire became less and less, till it went totally out, but
not before the nursery furniture had been reduced to perfect ruins,
besides which, Betty had her arm sadly burned in the confusion. Mrs.
Marmalade's cap was completely destroyed, and Mrs. Crabtree's best gown
had so large a hole burned in the skirt, that she never could wear it
After all was quiet, and the fire completely extinguished, Major
Graham took Laura down stairs to Lady Harriet's dressing-room, that she
might tell the whole particulars of how this alarming accident happened
in the nursery, for nobody could guess what had caused so sudden and
dreadful a fire, which seemed to have been as unexpected as a flash of
Lady Harriet had felt so terrified by the noise and confusion, that
she was out of bed, sitting up in an arm-chair, supported by pillows,
when Laura entered, at the sight of whom, with her well-cropped head,
she made an exclamation of perfect amazement.
Why! who on earth is that! Laura! my dear child! what has become of
all your hair? Were your curls burned off in the fire? or did the
fright make you grow bald? What is the meaning of all this?
Laura turned perfectly crimson with shame and distress, for she now
felt convinced of her own great misconduct about the scissors and
curls, but she had been taught on all occasions to speak the truth, and
would rather have died than told a lie, or even allowed any person to
believe what was not true, therefore she answered in a low, frightened
voice, while the tears came into her eyes, My hair has not been burned
off, grandmama! butbut
Well, child! speak out! said Lady Harriet, impatiently, did some
hair-dresser come to the house and rob you?
Or are you like the ladies of Carthage who gave their long hair for
bows and arrows? asked Major Graham. I never saw such a little fright
in my life as you look now; but tell us all about it?
I have been quite as naughty as Harry! answered Laura, bursting
into tears and sobbing with grief; I was cutting off my hair with Mrs.
Crabtree's scissors all the time that he was setting the nursery on
Did any mortal ever hear of two such little torments! exclaimed
Major Graham, hardly able to help laughing. I wonder if anybody else
in the world has such mischievous children!
It is certainly very strange, that you and Harry never can contrive
to be three hours out of a scrape! said Lady Harriet gravely; now
Frank, on the contrary, never forgets what I bid him do. You might
suppose he carried Mrs. Crabtree in his pocket, to remind him
constantly of his duty; but there are not two such boys in the world as
No, added Major Graham; Harry set the house on fire, and Frank
will set the Thames on fire!
When Laura saw uncle David put on one of his funny looks, while he
spoke in this way to Lady Harriet, she almost forgot her former fright,
and became surprised to observe her grandmama busy preparing what she
called a coach-wheel, which had been often given as a treat to Harry
and herself when they were particularly good. This delightful wheel was
manufactured by taking a whole round slice of the loaf, in the centre
of which was placed a large tea-spoonful of jelly, after which long
spokes of marmalade, jam, and honey, were made to diverge most
tastefully in every direction towards the crust, and Laura watched the
progress of this business with great interest and anxiety, wondering if
it could be hoped that her grandmama really meant to forgive all her
misconduct during the day.
That coach-wheel is, of course, meant for me! said Major Graham,
pretending to be very hungry, and looking slyly at Laura; It cannot
possibly be intended for our little hair-dresser here!
Yes, it is! answered Lady Harriet, smiling. I have some thoughts
of excusing Laura this time, because she always tells me the truth,
without attempting to conceal any foolish thing she does. It will be
very long before she has any hair to cut off again, so I hope she may
be older and wiser by that time, especially considering that every
looking-glass she sees for six months will make her feel ashamed of
herself. She certainly deserves some reward for having prevented the
house to-night from being burned to the ground.
I am glad you think so, because here is a shilling that has been
burning in my pocket for the last few minutes, as I wished to bestow it
on Laura for having saved all our lives, and if she had behaved still
better, I might perhaps have given her a gold watch!
Laura was busily employed in eating her coach-wheel, and trying to
fancy what the gold watch would have looked like which she might
probably have got from uncle David, when suddenly the door burst open,
and Mrs. Crabtree hurried into the room, with a look of surprise and
alarm, her face as red as a poppy, and her eye fixed on the hole in her
best gown, while she spoke so loud and angrily, that Laura almost
If you please, my lady! where can Master Harry be? I cannot find
him in any corner!we have been searching all over the house, up
stairs and down stairs, in vain. Not a garret or a closet but has been
ransacked, and nobody can guess what has become of him!
Did you look up the chimney, Mrs. Crabtree? asked Major Graham,
laughing to see how excited she looked.
Indeed, Sir! it is no joke, answered Mrs. Crabtree, sulkily; I am
almost afraid Master Harry has been burned in the fire! The last time
Betty saw him, he was throwing a jug of water into the flames, and no
one has ever seen or heard of him since! There is a great many ashes
and cinders lying about the room, and
Do you think, in sober seriousness, Mrs. Crabtree, that Harry would
melt away like a wax doll, without asking any body to extinguish him?
said Major Graham, smiling. No! no! little boys are not quite so
easily disposed of. I shall find Harry in less than five minutes, if he
is above ground.
But uncle David was quite mistaken in expecting to discover Harry so
easily, for he searched and searched in vain. He looked into every
possible or impossible placethe library, the kitchen, the garrets,
the laundry, the drawing-room, all without success,he peeped under
the tables, behind the curtains, over the beds, beneath the pillows,
and into Mrs. Crabtree's bonnet-box,he even opened the tea-chest, and
looked out at the window, in case Harry had tumbled over, but nowhere
could he be found.
Not a mouse is stirring! exclaimed Major Graham, beginning now to
look exceedingly grave and anxious. This is very strange! The
house-door is locked, therefore, unless Harry made his escape through
the key-hole, he must be here! It is most unaccountable what the little
pickle can have done with himself!
When Major Graham chose to exert his voice, it was as loud as a
trumpet, and could be heard half a mile off; so he now called out, like
thunder, from the top of the stairs to the bottom, saying, Hollo,
Harry! hollo! Come here, my boy! Nobody shall hurt you! Harry! where
Uncle David waited to listen, but all was still,no answer could be
heard, and there was not a sound in the house, except poor Laura at the
bottom of the stairs, sobbing with grief and terror about Harry having
been lost, and Mrs. Crabtree grumbling angrily to herself, on account
of the large hole in her best gown.
By this time Lady Harriet nearly fainted with fatigue, for she was
so very old, and had been ill all day; so she grew worse and worse,
till everybody said she must go to bed, and try if it would be possible
to fall asleep, assuring her that Harry must soon be found, as nothing
particular could have happened to him, or some person would have seen
Indeed, my lady! Master Harry is just like a bad shilling that is
sure to come back, said Mrs. Crabtree, helping her to undress, while
she continued to talk the whole time about the fire, showing her own
unfortunate gown, describing the trouble she had taken to save the
house from being burned, and always ending every sentence with a wish
that she could lay her hands on Harry to punish him as he deserved.
The truth is, I just spoil and indulge the children too much, my
lady! added Mrs. Crabtree, in a self-satisfied tone of voice. I
really blame myself often for being over easy and kind.
You have nothing to accuse yourself of in that respect, answered
Lady Harriet, unable to help smiling.
Your ladyship is very good to say so. Major Graham is so fond of
our young people, that it is lucky they have some one to keep them in
order. I shall make a duty, my lady, of being more strict than ever.
Master Harry must be made an example of this time! added Mrs.
Crabtree, angrily glancing at the hole in her gown. I shall teach him
to remember this day the longest hour he has to live!
Harry will not forget it any how, answered Lady Harriet languidly.
Perhaps, Mrs. Crabtree, we might as well not be severe with the poor
boy on this occasion. As the old proverb says, 'there is no use in
pouring water on a drowned mouse.' Harry has got a sad fright for his
pains, and at all events you must find him first, before he can be
punished. Where can the poor child be hid?
I would give sixpence to find out that, my lady! answered Mrs.
Crabtree, helping Lady Harriet into bed, after which she closed the
shutters, put out the candles, and left the room, angrily muttering,
Master Harry cares no more for me than the poker cares for the tongs,
but I shall teach him another story soon.
Lady Harriet now feebly closed her eyes, being quite exhausted, and
was beginning to feel the pleasant, confused sensation that people have
before going to sleep, when some noise made her suddenly start quite
awake. She sat up in bed to listen, but could not be sure whether it
had been a great noise at a distance, or a little noise in the room; so
after waiting two or three minutes, she sunk back upon the pillows, and
tried to forget it. Again, however, she distinctly heard something
rustling in the bed curtains, and opened her eyes to see what could be
the matter, but all was dark. Something seemed to be breathing very
near her, however, and the curtains shook worse than before, till Lady
Harriet became really alarmed.
It must surely be a cat in the room! thought she, hastily pulling
the bell rope, till it nearly came down. That tiresome little animal
will make such a noise, I shall not be able to sleep all night!
The next minute Lady Harriet was startled to hear a loud sob close
beside her; and when everybody rushed up stairs to ask what was the
matter, they brought candles to search the room, and there was Harry!
He lay doubled up in a corner, and crying as if his heart would break,
yet still endeavouring not to be seen; for Harry always thought it a
terrible disgrace to cry, and would have concealed himself anywhere,
rather than be observed weeping. Laura burst into tears also, when she
saw what red eyes and pale cheeks Harry had; but Mrs. Crabtree lost no
time in pulling him out of his place, being quite impatient to begin
her scold, and to produce her tawse, though she received a sad
disappointment on this occasion, as uncle David unexpectedly interfered
to get him off.
Come now, Mrs. Crabtree, said he good-naturedly; put up the tawse
for this time; you are rather too fond of the leather. Harry seems
really sorry and frightened, so we must be merciful. That cataract of
tears he is shedding now, would have extinguished the fire if it had
come in time! Harry is like a culprit with the rope about his neck; but
he shall not be executed. Let me be judge and jury in this case; and my
sentence is a very dreadful one. Harry must sleep all to-night in the
burned nursery, having no other covering than the burned blankets, with
large holes in them, that he may never forget
THE TERRIBLE FIRE!
CHAPTER IV. THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
Yet theirs the joy
That lifts their steps, that sparkles in their eyes;
That talks or laughs, or runs, or shouts, or plays,
And speaks in all their looks, and all their ways.
Next day after the fire, Laura could think of nothing but what she
was to do with the shilling that uncle David had given her; and a
thousand plans came into her head, while many wants entered her
thoughts, which never occurred before; so that, if twenty shillings had
been in her hand instead of one, they would all have gone twenty
Lady Harriet advised that it should be laid bye till Laura had fully
considered what she would like best; reminding her very truly, that
money is lame in coming, but flies in going away. Many people can get
a shilling, Laura, said her grandmama; but the difficulty is to keep
it; for you know the old proverb tells that 'a fool and his money are
Yes, Miss! so give it to me, and I shall take care of your
shilling! added Mrs. Crabtree, holding out her hand to Laura, who fell
that if her money once disappeared into that capacious pocket, she
would never see it again. Children have no use for money! that
shilling will only burn a hole in your purse, till it is spent on some
foolish thing or other. You will be losing your thimble soon, or
mislaying your gloves; for all these things seem to fly in every
direction, as if they got legs and wings as soon as they belong to you;
so then that shilling may replace what is lost.
Mrs. Crabtree looked as if she would eat it up; but Laura grasped
her treasure still tighter in her hand, exclaiming,
No! no! this is mine! Uncle David never thought of my shilling
being taken care of! He meant me to do whatever I liked with it! Uncle
David says he cannot endure saving children, and that he wishes all
money were turned into slates, when little girls keep it longer than a
I like that! said Harry, eagerly; it is so pleasant to spend
money, when the shopkeeper bows to me over the counter so politely, and
asks what I please to want.
Older people than you like spending money, Master Harry, and spend
whether they have it or no; but the greatest pleasure is to keep it.
For instance, Miss Laura, whatever she sees worth a shilling in any
shop, might be hers if she pleases; so then it is quite as good as her
own. We shall look in at the bazaar every morning, to fix upon
something that she would like to have, and then consider of it for two
or three days.
Laura thought this plan so very unsatisfactory, that she lost no
time in getting her shilling changed into two sixpences, one of which
she immediately presented to Harry, who positively refused for a long
time to accept of it, insisting that Laura should rather buy some
pretty plaything for herself; but she answered that it was much
pleasanter to divide her fortune with Harry, than to be selfish, and
spend it all alone. I am sure, Harry, added she, if this money had
been yours, you would have said the same thing, and given the half of
what you got to me; so now let us say no more about that, but tell me
what would be the best use to make of my sixpence?
You might buy that fine red morocco purse we saw in the shop window
yesterday, observed Harry, looking very serious and anxious, on being
consulted. Do you remember how much we both wished to have it?
But what is the use of a purse, with no money to keep in it!
answered Laura, looking earnestly at Harry for more advice. Think
again of something else.
Would you like a new doll?
Yes; but I have nothing to dress her with!
Suppose you buy that pretty geranium in a red flower-pot at the
If it would only live for a week, I might be tempted to try; but
flowers will always die with me. They seem to wither when I so much as
look at them. Do you remember that pretty fuchsia that I almost drowned
the first day grandmama gave it me; and we forgot for a week afterwards
to water it at all. I am not a good flower doctor.
Then buy a gold watch at once, said Harry, laughing; or a fine
pony, with a saddle, to ride on.
Now, Harry, pray be quite in earnest. You know I might as well
attempt to buy the moon as a gold watch; so think of something else.
It is very difficult to make a good use of money, said Harry,
pretending to look exceedingly wise. Do you know, Laura, I once found
out that you could have twelve of those large ship biscuits we saw at
the baker's shop for sixpence. Only think! you could feed the whole
town, and make a present to everybody in the house besides! I dare say
Mrs. Crabtree might like one with her tea. All the maids would think
them a treat. You could present one to Frank, another to old Andrew,
and there would still be some left for these poor children at the
Oh! that is the very thing! cried Laura, running out of the room
to send Andrew off with a basket, and looking as happy as possible. Not
long afterwards, Frank, who had returned from school, was standing at
the nursery window, when he suddenly called out in a voice of surprise
Come here, Harry! look at old Andrew! he is carrying something tied
up in a towel, as large as his own head! what can it be?
That is all for me! these are my biscuits! said Laura, running off
to receive the parcel, and though she heard Frank laughing, while Harry
told all about them, she did not care, but brought her whole collection
triumphantly into the nursery.
Oh fancy! how perfect! cried Harry, opening the bundle; this is
very good fun!
Here are provisions for a siege! added Frank. You have at least
got enough for your money, Laura!
Take one yourself, Frank! said she, reaching him the largest, and
then, with the rest all tied in her apron, Laura proceeded up and down
stairs, making presents to every person she met, till her whole store
was finished; and she felt quite satisfied and happy because everybody
seemed pleased and returned many thanks, except Mrs. Crabtree, who said
she had no teeth to eat such hard things, which were only fit for
sailors going to America or the West Indies.
You should have bought me a pound of sugar, Miss Laura, and that
might have been a present worth giving.
You are too sweet already, Mrs. Crabtree! said Frank, laughing. I
shall send you a sugar-cane from the West Indies, to beat Harry and
Laura with, and a whole barrel of sugar for yourself, from my own
None of your nonsense, Master Frank! Get out of the nursery this
moment! You with an estate indeed! You will not have a place to put
your foot upon soon except the topmast in a man-of-war, where all the
bad boys in a ship are sent.
Perhaps, as you are not to be the captain, I may escape, and be
dining with the officers sometimes! I mean to send you home a fine new
India shawl, Mrs. Crabtree, the very moment I arrive at Madras, and
some china tea-cups from Canton.
Fiddlesticks and nonsense! said Mrs. Crabtree, who sometimes
enjoyed a little jesting with Frank. Keep all them rattle-traps till
you are a rich nabob, and come home to look for Mrs. Frank,a fine
wife she will be! Ladies that get fortunes from India are covered all
over with gold chains, and gold muslins, and scarlet shawls. She will
eat nothing but curry and rice, and never put her foot to the ground
except to step into her carriage.
I hope you are not a gipsey, to tell fortunes! cried Harry,
laughing; Frank would die rather than take such a wife.
Or, at least, I would rather have a tooth drawn than do it, added
Frank, smiling. Perhaps I may prefer to marry one of those old wives
on the chimney-tops; but it is too serious to say I would rather die,
because nobody knows how awful it is to die, till the appointed day
Very true and proper, Master Frank, replied Mrs. Crabtree; you
speak like a printed book sometimes, and you deserve a good wife.
Then I shall return home some day with chests of gold, and let you
choose one for me, as quiet and good-natured as yourself, Mrs.
Crabtree, said Frank, taking up his books and hastening off to school,
running all the way, as he was rather late, and Mr. Lexicon, the
master, had promised a grand prize for the boy who came most punctually
to his lessons, which everybody declared that Frank was sure to gain,
as he had never once been absent at the right moment.
Major Graham often tried to teaze Frank, by calling him the
Professor,asking him questions which it was impossible to answer,
and then pretending to be quite shocked at his ignorance; but no one
ever saw the young scholar put out of temper by those tricks and
trials, for he always laughed more heartily than any one else, at the
Now show me, Frank, said uncle David, one morning, how do you
advance three steps backwards?
That is quite impossible, unless you turn me into a crab.
Tell me, then, which is the principal town in Caffraria?
Is there any town there? I do not recollect it.
Then so much the worse!how are you ever to get through life
without knowing the chief town in Caffraria! I am quite ashamed of your
ignorance. Now let us try a little arithmetic! Open the door of your
understanding and tell me, when wheat is six shillings a bushel, what
is the price of a penny loaf. Take your slate and calculate that.
Yes, uncle David, if you will find out, when gooseberries are two
shillings the pint, what is the price of a threepenny tart. You remind
me of my old nursery song
'The man in the wilderness asked me,
How many strawberries grew in the sea;
I answered him, as I thought it good,
As many red herrings as grew in the wood.'
Some days after Laura had distributed the biscuits, she became very
sorry for having squandered her shilling, without attending to Lady
Harriet's good advice, about keeping it carefully in her pocket for at
least a week, to see what would happen. A very pleasant way of using
money now fell in her way, but she had been a foolish spendthrift, so
her pockets were empty, when she most wished them to be full. Harry
came that morning after breakfast into the nursery, looking in a great
bustle, and whispering to Laura, What a pity your sixpence is gone!
but as Mrs. Crabtree says, 'we cannot both eat our cake and have it!'
No! answered Laura, as seriously as if she had never thought of
this before, but why do you so particularly wish my money back
Because such a very nice, funny thing is to be done this morning.
You and I are asked to join the party, but I am afraid we cannot afford
it! All our little cousins and companions intend going with Mr.
Harwood, the tutor, at twelve o'clock, to climb up to the very top of
Arthur's Seat, where they are to dine and have a dance. There will be
about twenty boys and girls of the party, but every body is to carry a
basket filled with provisions for dinner, either cakes, or fruit, or
biscuits, which are to be eat on the great rock at the top of the hill.
Now grandmama says we ought to have had money enough to supply what is
necessary, and then we might have gone, but no one can be admitted who
has not at least sixpence to buy something.
Oh! how provoking! said Laura, sadly, I wonder when we shall
learn always to follow grandmama's advice, for that is sure to turn out
best in the end. I never take my own way without being sorry for it
afterwards, so I deserve now to be disappointed and remain at home;
but, Harry, your sixpence is still safe, so pray join this delightful
party, and tell me all about it afterwards.
If it could take us both, I should be very happy, but I will not go
without you, Laura, after you were so good to me, and gave me this in a
present. No, no! I only wish we could do like the poor madman grandmama
mentioned, who planted sixpences in the ground that they might grow
Pray! what are you two looking so solemn about? asked Frank,
hurrying into the room, at that moment, on his way to school. Are you
talking of some mischief that has been done already, or only about some
mischief you are intending to do soon?
Neither the one nor the other, answered Laura. But, oh! Frank, I
am sure you will be sorry for us, when we tell you of our sad
She then related the whole story of the party to Arthur's Seat,
mentioning that Mr. Harwood had kindly offered to take charge of Harry
and herself, but as her little fortune had been so foolishly
squandered, she could not go, and Harry said it would be impossible to
enjoy the fun without her, though Lady Harriet had given them both
leave to be of the party.
All the time that Laura spoke, Frank stood, with his hands in his
pockets, where he seemed evidently searching for something, and when
the whole history was told, he said to Harry, Let me see this poor
little sixpence of yours! I am a very clever conjuror, and could
perhaps turn it into a shilling!
Nonsense, Frank! said Laura, laughing; you might as well turn
Harry into uncle David!
Well! we shall see! answered Frank, taking up the sixpence. I
have put the money into this box!rattle it well!once! twice!
thrice!there, peep in!now it is a shilling! I told you so!
Frank ran joyously out of the room, being much amused with the joke,
for he had put one of his own shillings into the box for Harry and
Laura, who were excessively surprised at first, and felt really ashamed
to take this very kind present from Frank, when he so seldom had money
of his own; but they knew how generous he was, for he often repeated
that excellent maxim, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
After a few minutes, they remembered that nothing could prevent them
now from going with Mr. Harwood to Arthur's Seat, which put Laura into
such a state of ecstacy, that she danced round the room for joy, while
Harry jumped upon the tables and chairs, tumbled head over heels, and
called Betty to come immediately that they might get ready.
When Mrs. Crabtree heard such an uproar, she hastened also into the
room, asking what had happened to cause this riot, and she became very
angry indeed, to hear that Harry and Laura had both got leave to join
in this grand expedition.
You will be spoiling all your clothes, and getting yourselves into
a heat! I wonder her ladyship allows this! How much better you would be
taking a quiet walk with me in the gardens! I shall really speak to
Lady Harriet about it! The air must be very cold on the top of them
great mountains! I am sure you will both have colds for a month after
Oh no, Mrs. Crabtree! I promise not to catch cold! cried Harry,
eagerly; and, besides, you can scarcely prevent our going now, for
grandmama has set out on her long airing in the carriage, so there is
nobody for you to ask about keeping us at home, except uncle David!
Mrs. Crabtree knew from experience, that Major Graham was a hopeless
case, as he always took part with the children, and liked nothing so
much for old and young as a ploy; so she grumbled on to herself,
while her eyes looked as sharp as a pair of scissors with rage. You
will come back, turned into scare-crows, with all your nice clean
clothes in tatters, said she, angrily; but if there is so much as a
speck upon this best new jacket and trowsers, I shall know the reason
What a comfort it would be, if there were no such things in the
world as 'new clothes,' for I am always so much happier in the old
ones, said Harry. People at the shops should sell clothes that will
never either dirty or tear!
You ought to be dressed in fur, like Robinson Crusoe, or sent out
naked, like the little savages, said Mrs. Crabtree, or painted black
and blue like them wild old Britons that lived here long ago!
I am black and blue sometimes, without being painted, said Harry,
escaping to the door. Good-bye, Mrs. Crabtree! I hope you will not die
of weariness without us! On our return we shall tell you all our
About half an hour afterwards, Harry and Laura were seen hurrying
out of the pastry-cook, Mrs. Weddell's shop, bearing little covered
baskets in their hands, but nobody could guess what was in them. They
whispered and laughed together with very merry faces, looking the very
pictures of happiness, and running along as fast as they could to join
the noisy party of their cousins and companions, almost fearing that
Mr. Harwood might have set off without them. Frank often called him
Mr. Punctuality, as he was so very particular about his scholars
being in good time on all occasions; and certainly Mr. Harwood carried
his watch more in his hand than in his pocket, being in the habit of
constantly looking to see that nobody arrived too late. Mail-coaches or
steamboats could hardly keep the time better, when an hour had once
been named, and the last words that Harry heard when he was invited
were, Remember! sharp twelve.
The great clock of St. Andrew's Church was busy striking that hour,
and every little clock in the town was saying the same thing, when Mr.
Harwood himself, with his watch in his hand, opened the door, and
walked out, followed by a dozen of merry-faced boys and girls, all
speaking at once, and vociferating louder than the clocks, as if they
thought everybody had grown deaf.
I shall reach the top of Arthur's Seat first, said Peter Grey.
All of you follow me, for I know the shortest way. It is only a hop,
step, and a jump!
Rather a long step! cried Robert Fordyce. But I could lead you a
much better way, though I shall show it to nobody but myself.
We must certainly drink water at St. Anthony's Well, observed
Laura; because whatever any one wishes for when he tastes it, is sure
to happen immediately.
Then I shall wish that some person may give me a new doll, said
Mary Forrester. My old one is only fit for being lady's maid to a fine
I am in ninety-nine minds what to wish for, exclaimed Harry; we
must take care not to be like the foolish old woman in the fairy tale,
who got only a yard of black pudding.
I shall ask for a piebald pony, with a whip, a saddle, and a
bridle! cried Peter Grey; and for a week's holidays,and a new
watch,and a spade,and a box of French plums,and to be first at
the top of Arthur's Seat,andand
Stop, Peter!stop! you can only have one wish at St. Anthony's
Well, interrupted Mr. Harwood. If you ask more, you lose all.
That is very hard, for I want everything, replied Peter. What are
you wishing for, Sir?
What shall I ask for? said Mr. Harwood, reflecting to himself. I
have not a want in the world?
O yes, Sir! you must wish for something! cried the whole party,
eagerly. Do invent something to ask, Mr. Harwood!
Then I wish you may all behave well till we reach the top of
Arthur's Seat, and all come safely down again.
You may be sure of that already! said Peter, laughing. I set such
a very good example to all my companions, that they never behave ill
when I am present,no! not even by accident! When Dr. Algebra examined
our class to-day, he asked Mr. Lexicon, 'What has become of the best
boy in your school this morning?' and the answer was, 'Of course your
mean Peter Grey! He is gone to the top of Arthur's Seat with that
excellent man, Mr. Harwood!'
Indeed!and pray, Master Peter, what bird whispered this story
into your ear, seeing it has all happened since we left home!but
people who are praised by nobody else, often take to praising
Who knows better!and here is Harry Graham, the very ditto of
myself,so steady he might be fit to drill a whole regiment. We shall
lead the party quite safely up the hill, and down again, without any
And without wings, added Harry, laughing; but what are we to draw
water out of the well with?here are neither buckets, nor tumblers,
I could lend you my thimble! said Laura, searching her pocket.
That will hold enough of water for one wish, and every person may have
the loan of it in turn.
This is the very first time your thimble has been of use to
anybody! said Harry, slyly; but I dare say it is not worn into holes
with too much sewing, therefore it will make a famous little magical
cup for St. Anthony's Well. You know the fairies who dance here by
moonlight, lay their table-cloth upon a mushroom, and sit round it, to
be merry, but I never heard what they use for a drinking cup.
Harry now proceeded briskly along to the well, singing as he went, a
song which had been taught him by uncle David, beginning,
I wish I were a brewer's horse,
Five quarters of a year,
I'd place my head where was my tail,
And drink up all the beer.
Before long the whole party seated themselves in a circle on the
grass round St. Anthony's Well, while any stranger who had chanced to
pass might have supposed, from the noise and merriment, that the Saint
had filled his well with champagne and punch for the occasion, as
everybody seemed perfectly tipsy with happiness. Mr. Harwood laughed
prodigiously at some of the jokes, and made a few of his own, which
were none of the best, though they caused the most laughter, for the
boys thought it very surprising that so grave and great a man should
make a joke at all.
When Mary Forrester drank her thimbleful of water, and wished for a
new doll, Peter and Harry privately cut out a face upon a red-cheeked
apple, making the eyes, nose, and mouth, after which, they hastily
dressed it up in pocket handkerchiefs, and gave her this present from
the fairies, which looked so very like what she had asked for, that the
laugh which followed was loud and long. Afterwards Peter swallowed his
draught, calling loudly for a piebald pony, when Harry in his white
trowsers, and dark jacket, went upon all-fours, and let Peter mount on
his back. It was very difficult, however, to get Peter off again, for
he enjoyed the fun excessively, and stuck to his seat like Sinbad's old
man of the sea, till at last Harry rolled round on his back, tumbling
Peter head over heels into St. Anthony's Well, upon seeing which, Mr.
Harwood rose, saying, he had certainly lost his own wish, as they had
behaved ill, and met with an accident already. Harry laughingly
proposed that Peter should be carefully hung upon a tree to dry, till
they all came down again; but the mischievous boy ran off so fast, he
was almost out of sight in a moment, saying, Now for the top of
Arthur's Seat, and I shall grow dry with the fatigue of climbing.
The boys and girls immediately scattered themselves all over the
hill, getting on the best way they could, and trying who could scramble
up fastest, but the grass was quite short, and as slippery as ice,
therefore it became every moment more difficult to stand, and still
more difficult to climb. The whole party began sliding whether they
liked it or not, and staggered and tried to grasp the turf, but there
was nothing to hold, while occasionally a shower of stones and gravel
came down from Peter, who pretended they fell by accident.
Oh, Harry! cried Laura, panting for breath, while she looked both
frightened and fatigued, If this were not a party of pleasure, I think
we are sometimes quite as happy in our own gardens! People must be very
miserable at home, before they come here to be amused! I wish we were
cats, or goats, or any thing that can stand upon a hill without feeling
I think this is very good fun! answered Harry, gasping and trying
not to tumble for the twentieth time; you would like perhaps to be
back in the nursery with Mrs. Crabtree.
No! no! I am not quite so bad as that! But Harry! do you ever
really expect to reach the top? for I never shall; so I mean to sit
down quietly here, and wait till you all return.
I have a better plan than that, Laura! you shall sit upon the
highest point of Arthur's Seat as well as anybody, before either of us
is an hour older! Let me go first, because I get on famously, and you
must never look behind, but keep tight hold of my jacket, so then every
step I advance will pull you up also.
Laura was delighted with this plan, which succeeded perfectly well,
but they ascended rather slowly, as it was exceedingly fatiguing to
Harry, who looked quite happy all the time to be of use, for he always
felt glad when he could do any thing for anybody, more particularly for
either Laura or Frank. Now, the whole party was at last safely
assembled on the very highest point of Arthur's Seat, so the boys threw
their caps up in the air, and gave three tremendous cheers, which
frightened the very crows over their heads, and sent a flock of sheep
scampering down the mountain side. After that, they planted Mr.
Harwood's walking-stick in the ground, for a staff, while Harry tore
off the blue silk handkerchief which Mrs. Crabtree had tied about his
neck, and without caring whether he caught cold or not, he fastened it
on the pole for a flag, being quite delighted to see how it waved in
the wind most triumphantly, looking very like what sailors put up when
they take possession of a desert island.
Now, for business! said Mr. Harwood, sitting down on the rock, and
uncovering a prodigious cake, nearly as large as a cheese, which he had
taken the trouble to carry, with great difficulty, up the hill. I
suppose nobody is hungry after our long walk! Let us see what all the
Not a moment was lost in seating themselves on the grass, while the
stores were displayed, amidst shouts of laughter and applause which
generally followed whatever came forth. Sandwiches, or, as Peter Grey
called them, savages; gingerbread, cakes, and fruit, all appeared in
turn. Robert Fordyce brought a dozen of hard-boiled eggs, all dyed
different colours, blue, green, pink, and yellow, but not one was
white. Edmund Ashford produced a collection of very sour-looking
apples, and Charles Forrester showed a number of little gooseberry
tarts, but when it became time for Peter's basket to be opened, it
contained nothing except a knife and fork to cut up whatever his
companions would give him!
Peter! Peter! you shabby fellow! said Charles Forrester, reaching
him one of his tarts, you should be put in the tread-mill as a sturdy
Or thrown down from the top of this precipice, added Harry, giving
him a cake. I wonder you can look any of us in the face, Peter!
I have heard, said Mr. Harwood, that a stone is shown in Ireland,
called 'the stone of Blarney,' and whoever kisses it, is never
afterwards ashamed of any thing he does. Our friend Peter has probably
passed that way lately!
At any rate, I am not likely to be starved to death amongst you
all! answered the impudent boy, demolishing every thing he could get;
and it is believed that Peter ate, on this memorable occasion, three
times more than any other person, as each of the party offered him
something, and he never was heard to say, No!
I could swallow Arthur's Seat if it were turned into a
plum-pudding, said he, pocketing buns, apples, eggs, walnuts,
biscuits, and almonds, till his coat stuck out all round like a
balloon. Has any one any thing more to spare?
Did you ever hear, said Mr. Harwood, that a pigeon eats its own
weight of food every day? Now, I am sure, you and I know one boy in the
world, Peter, who could do as much.
What is to be done with that prodigious cake you carried up here,
Mr. Harwood? answered Peter, casting a devouring eye upon it; the
crust seems as hard as a rhinoceros' skin, but I dare say it is very
good. One could not be sure though, without tasting it! I hope you are
not going to take the trouble of carrying that heavy load back again?
How very polite you are become all on a sudden, Peter! said Laura,
laughing. I should be very sorry to attempt carrying that cake to the
bottom of the hill, for we would both roll down, the shortest way,
I am not over-anxious to try it either, observed Charles
Forrester, shaking his head. Even Peter, though his mouth is
constantly ajar, would find that cake rather heavy to carry, either as
an inside or an outside passenger.
I can scarcely lift it at all! continued Laura, when Mr. Harwood
had again tied it up in the towel; what can be done?
Here is the very best plan! cried Harry, suddenly seizing the
prodigious cake; and before any body could hinder him, he gave it a
tremendous push off the steepest part of Arthur's Seat, so that it
rolled down like a wheel, over stones and precipices, jumping and
hopping along with wonderful rapidity, amidst the cheers and laughter
of all the children, till at last it reached the bottom of the hill,
when a general clapping of hands ensued.
Now for a race! cried Harry, becoming more and more eager. The
first boy or girl who reaches that cake shall have it all to himself!
Mr. Harwood tried with all his might to stop the commotion, and
called out that they must go quietly down the bank, for Harry had no
right to give away the cake, or to make them break their legs and arms
with racing down such a hill: but he might as well have spoken to an
east wind, and asked it not to blow. The whole party dispersed, like a
hive of bees that has been upset; and in a moment they were in full
career after the cake.
Some of the boys tried to roll down, hoping to get on more quickly.
Others endeavoured to slide, and several attempted to run, but they all
fell; and many of them might have been tumblers at Sadler's Wells, they
tumbled over and over so cleverly. Peter Grey's hat was blown away, but
he did not stop to catch it. Charlie Hume lost his shoe, Robert Fordyce
sprained his ancle, and every one of the girls tore her frock. It was a
frightful scene; such devastation of bonnets and jackets as had never
been known before; while Mr. Harwood looked like the General of a
defeated army, calling till he became hoarse, and running till he was
out of breath, vainly trying thus to stop the confusion, and to bring
the stragglers back in better order.
Meantime, Harry and Peter were far before the rest, though Edward
Ashford was following hard after them in desperate haste, as if he
still hoped to overtake their steps. Suddenly, however, a loud cry of
distress was heard over-head; and when Harry looked up, he saw so very
alarming a sight, that he could scarcely believe his eyes, and almost
screamed out himself with the fright it gave him, while he seemed to
forget in a moment, the race, Peter Grey, and the prodigious cake.
Laura had been very anxious not to trouble Harry with taking care of
her in coming down the bank again; for she saw that during all this fun
about the cake, he perfectly forgot that she was not accustomed every
day to such a scramble on the hills, and would have required some help.
After looking down every side of the descent, and thinking that each
appeared steeper than another, while they all made her equally giddy,
Laura determined to venture on a part of the hill which seemed rather
less precipitous than the rest; but it completely cheated her, being
the most difficult and dangerous part of Arthur's Seat. The slope
became steeper and steeper at every step; but Laura always tried to
hope her path might grow better, till at last she reached a place where
it was impossible to stop herself. Down she went, down! down! whether
she would or not, screaming and sliding on a long slippery bank, till
she reached the very edge of a dangerous precipice, which appeared
higher than the side of a room. Laura then grappled hold of some stones
and grass, calling loudly for help, while scarcely able to keep from
falling into the deep ravine, which would probably have killed her. Her
screams were echoed all over the hill, when Harry seeing her frightful
situation, clambered up the bank faster than any lamplighter, and
immediately flew to Laura's assistance, who was now really hanging over
the chasm, quite unable to help herself. At last he reached the place
where poor Laura lay, and seized hold of her by the frock; but for some
time it seemed an equal chance whether she dragged him into the hole,
or he pulled her away from it. Luckily, however, by a great effort,
Harry succeeded in delivering Laura, whom he placed upon a secure
situation, and then, having waited patiently till she recovered from
the fright, he led her carefully and kindly down to the bottom of
Now, all the boys had already got there, and a violent dispute was
going on about which of them first reached the cake. Peter Grey had
pushed down Edward Ashford, who caught hold of Robert Fordyce, and they
all three rolled to the bottom together, so that nobody could tell
which had won the race; while Mr. Harwood laboured in vain to convince
them that the cake belonged neither to the one nor the other, being his
They all laughed at Harry for being distanced, and arriving last;
while Mr. Harwood watched him coming down, and was pleased to observe
how carefully he attended to Laura, though still, being annoyed at the
riot and confusion which Harry had occasioned, he determined to appear
exceedingly angry, and put on a very terrible voice, saying,
Hollo! young gentleman! what shall I do to you for beginning this
uproar? As the old proverb says, 'one fool makes many.' How dare you
roll my fine cake down the hill in this way, and send everybody rolling
after it? Look me in the face, and say you are ashamed of yourself!
Harry looked at Mr. Harwoodand Mr. Harwood looked at Harry. They
both tried to seem very grave and serious, but somehow Harry's eyes
glittered very brightly, and two little dimples might be seen in his
cheeks. Mr. Harwood also had his eye-brows gathered into a terrible
frown, but still his eyes were likewise sparkling, and his mouth seemed
to be pursed up in a most comical manner. After staring at each other
for several minutes, both Mr. Harwood and Harry burst into a prodigious
fit of laughing, and nobody could tell which began first or laughed
Master Graham! you must send a new frock to every little girl of
the party, and a suit of clothes to each of the boys, for having caused
theirs to be all destroyed. I really meant to punish you severely for
beginning such a riot, but something has made me change my mind. In
almost every moment of our lives, we either act amiably of unamiably,
and I observed you treat Miss Laura so kindly and properly all this
morning, that I shall say not another word about
THE PRODIGIOUS CAKE.
CHAPTER V. THE LAST CLEAN FROCK.
For, said she, in spite of what grandmama taught her,
I'm really remarkably fond of the water.
* * * * *
She splashed, and she dashed, and she turned herself round,
And heartily wished herself safe on the ground.
Once upon a time Harry and Laura had got into so many scrapes, that
there seemed really no end to their misconduct. They generally forgot
to learn any lessonsoften tore their booksdrew pictures on their
slates, instead of calculating sumsand made the pages of their
copy-books into boats; besides which, Mrs. Crabtree caught them one
day, when a party of officers dined at Lady Harriet's, with two of the
captain's sword-belts buckled round their waists, and cocked hats upon
their heads, while they beat the crown of a gentleman's hat with a
walking-stick, to sound like a drum.
Still it seemed impossible to make uncle David feel sufficiently
angry at them, though Mrs. Crabtree did all she could to put him in a
passion, by telling the very worst; but he made fifty excuses a-minute,
as if he had been the naughty person himself, instead of Harry or
Laura, and above all he said that they both seemed so exceedingly
penitent when he explained their delinquencies, and they were both so
ready to tell upon themselves, and to take all the blame of whatever
mischief might be done, that he was determined to shut his eyes and say
nothing, unless they did something purposely wrong.
One night, when Mrs. Crabtree had gone out, Major Graham felt quite
surprised on his return home from a late dinner party, to find Laura
and Harry still out of bed. They were sitting in his library when he
entered, both looking so tired and miserable that he could not imagine
what had happened; but Harry lost no time in confessing that he and
Laura feared they had done some dreadful mischief, so they could not
sleep without asking pardon, and mentioning whose fault it was, that
the maids might not be unjustly blamed.
Well, you little imps of mischief! what have I to scold you for
now? asked uncle David, not looking particularly angry. Is it
something that I shall be obliged to take the trouble of punishing you
for? We ought to live in the Highlands, where there are whole forests
of birch ready for use? Why are your ears like a bell-rope, Harry?
because they seem made to be pulled. Now, go on with your story. What
is the matter?
We were playing about the room, uncle David, and Laura lost her
ball, so she crept under that big table which has only one large leg.
There is a brass button below, so we were trying if it would come off,
when all on a sudden, the table fell quite to one side, as you see it
now, tumbling down those prodigious books and tin boxes on the floor! I
cannot think how this fine new table could be so easily broken; but
whenever we even look at anything, it seems to break!
Yes, Harry! You remind me of Meddlesome Matty in the nursery
Sometimes she'd lift the teapot lid
To peep at what was in it,
Or tilt the kettle, if you did
But turn your back a minute.
In vain you told her not to touch,
Her trick of meddling grew so much.
You have scarcely left my poor table a leg to stand upon! How am I
ever to get it mended?
Perhaps the carpenter could do it to-morrow!
Or, perhaps uncle David could do it this moment, said Major
Graham, raising the fallen side with a sudden jerk, when Harry and
Laura heard a sound under the table like the locking of a door, after
which the whole affair was rectified.
Did I ever! exclaimed Harry, staring with astonishment, so we
have suffered all our fright for nothing, and the table was not really
broken! I shall always run to you, uncle David, when we are in a
scrape, for you are sure to get us off.
Do not reckon too certainly on that, Master Harry; it is easier to
get into one than to get out of it, any day; but I am not so seriously
angry at the sort of scrapes Laura and you get into, because you would
not willingly and deliberately do wrong. If any children commit a mean
action, or get into a passion, or quarrel with each other, or omit
saying their prayers and reading their Bibles, or tell a lie, or take
what does not belong to them, then it might be seen how extremely angry
I could be; but while you continue merely thoughtless and forgetful, I
mean to have patience a little longer before turning into a cross old
uncle with a pair of tawse.
Harry sprung upon uncle David's knee, quite delighted to hear him
speak so very kindly, and Laura was soon installed in her usual place
there also, listening to all that was said, and laughing at his jokes.
As Mrs. Crabtree says, continued Major Graham, 'we cannot put an
old head on young shoulders;' and it would certainly look very odd if
So uncle David took out his pencil, and drew a funny picture of a
cross old wrinkled face upon young shoulders, like Laura's, and after
they had all laughed at it together for about five minutes, he sent the
children both to bed, quite merry and cheerful.
A long time elapsed afterwards without anything going wrong; and it
was quite pleasant to see such learning of lessons, such attention to
rules, and such obedience to Mrs. Crabtree, as went on in the nursery
during several weeks. At last, one day, when Lady Harriet and Major
Graham were preparing to set off on a journey, and to pay a short visit
at Holiday House, Laura and Harry observed a great deal of whispering
and talking in a corner of the room, but they could not exactly
discover what it was all about, till Major Graham said very earnestly,
I think we might surely take Laura with us.
Yes, answered Lady Harriet, both the children have been invited,
and are behaving wonderfully well of late, but Lord Rockville has such
a dislike to noise, that I dare not venture to take more than one at a
time. Poor Laura has a very severe cough, so she may be recovered by
change of air. As for Harry, he is quite well, and therefore he can
stay at home.
Now, Harry thought it very hard that he was to be left at home,
merely because he felt quite well, so he immediately wished to be very
ill indeed, that he might have some chance of going to Holiday House;
but then he did not exactly know how to set about it. At all events,
Harry determined to catch a cold like Laura's, without delay. He would
not, for the whole world have pretended to suffer from a cough if he
really had none, because uncle David had often explained that making
any one believe an un-truth was the same as telling a lie; but he
thought there might be no harm in really getting such a terrible cold,
that nothing could possibly cure it except change of air, and a trip to
Holiday House with Laura. Accordingly Harry tried to remember every
thing that Mrs. Crabtree had forbid him to do for fear of catching
cold. He sprinkled water over his shirt collar in the morning before
dressing, that it might be damp; he ran violently up and down stairs to
put himself in a heat, after which he sat between the open window and
door till he felt perfectly chilled; and when going to bed at night, he
washed his hair in cold water without drying it. Still, all was in
vain! Harry had formerly caught cold a hundred times when he did not
want one; but now, such a thing was not to be had for love or money.
Nothing seemed to give him the very slightest attempt at a cough; and
when the day at last arrived for Lady Harriet to begin her journey,
Harry still felt himself most provokingly well. Not so much as a finger
ached, his cheeks were as blooming as roses, his voice as clear as a
bell, and when uncle David accidentally said to him in the morning,
How do you do? Harry was obliged, very much against his will, to
answer, Quite well, I thank you!
In the meantime, Laura would have felt too happy if Harry could only
have gone with her; and even as it was, being impatient for the happy
day to arrive, she hurried to bed an hour earlier than usual the night
before, to make the time of setting out appear nearer; and she could
scarcely sleep or eat for thinking of Holiday House, and planning all
that was to be done there.
It is pleasant to see so joyous a face, said Major Graham. I
almost envy you, Laura, for being so happy.
Oh! I quite envy myself! but I shall write a long letter every day
to poor Harry, telling him all the news, and all my adventures.
Nonsense! Miss Laura! wait till you come home, said Mrs. Crabtree.
Who do you think is going to pay postage for so many foolish letters?
I shall! answered Harry. I have got sixpence, and two pence, and
a half penny, so I shall buy every one of Laura's letters from the
postman, and write her an answer immediately afterwards. She will like
to hear, Mrs. Crabtree, how very kind you are going to be, when I am
left by myself here. Perhaps you will play at nine pins with me, and
Laura can lend you her skipping rope.
You might as well offer uncle David a hobby-horse, said Frank,
laughingly, throwing his satchel over his shoulders. No, Harry! you
shall belong to me now. Grandmama says you may go every day to my
play-ground, where all the school-boys assemble, and you can have
plenty of fun till Laura comes back. We shall jump over the moon every
morning, for joy.
Harry brightened up amazingly, thinking he had never heard such good
news before, as it was a grand piece of promotion to play with real big
school-boys; so he became quite reconciled to Laura's going away for a
short time without him; and when the hour came for taking leave,
instead of tears being shed on either side, it would have been
difficult to say, as they kissed each other and said a joyous good-bye,
which face looked the most delighted.
All Laura's clothes had been packed the night before, in a large
chaise seat, which was now put into the carriage along with herself,
and every thing seemed ready for departure, when Lady Harriet's maid
was suddenly taken so very ill, as to be quite unfit for travelling;
therefore she was left behind, and a doctor sent for to attend her;
while Lady Harriet said she would trust to the maids at Holiday House,
for waiting upon herself and Laura.
It is seldom that so happy a face is seen in this world, as Laura
wore during the whole journey. It perfectly sparkled and glittered with
delight, while she was so constantly on a broad grin laughing, that
Major Graham said he feared her mouth would grow an inch wider on the
You will tire of sitting so long idle! It is a pity we did not
think of bringing a few lesson-books in the carriage to amuse you,
Laura, said the Major, slyly. A piece of needle-work might have
beguiled the way. I once knew an industrious lady who made a ball dress
for herself in the carriage during a journey.
How very stupid of her to miss seeing all the pretty trees, and
cottages, and farm-houses! I do like to watch the little curly-headed,
dirty children, playing on the road, with brown faces, and hair
bleached white in the sun; and the women hanging out their clothes on
the hedges to dry; and the blacksmith shoeing horses, and the ducks
swimming in the gutters, and the pigs thrusting their noses out of the
sty, and the old women knitting stockings, and the workmen sitting on a
wall to eat their dinners! It looks all so pretty, and so pleasant!
What a picture of rural felicity! You ought to be a poet or a
But I believe poets always call this a miserable world: and I think
it the happiest place I have ever been in, uncle David! Such fun during
the holidays! I should go wild altogether, if Mrs. Crabtree were not
rather cross sometimes.
Or very cross always, thought Major Graham. But here we are,
Laura, near our journey's end. Allow me to introduce you to Holiday
House! Why, you are staring at it like a dog looking at a piece of cold
beef! My dear girl, if you open your eyes so wide, you will never be
able to shut them again!
Holiday House was not one of those prodigious places, too grand to
be pleasant, with the garden a mile off in one direction, and the farm
a mile off in another, and the drawing-room a mile off from the
dining-room; but it was a very cheerful modern mansion, with rooms
enough to hold as many people as any one could desire to see at once,
all very comfortably furnished. A lively, dashing river, streamed past
the windows; a small park, sprinkled with sheep, and shaded by fine
trees, surrounded the house; and beyond were beautiful gardens filled
with a superabundance of the gayest and sweetest common flowers. Roses,
carnations, wall flowers, holly-hocks, dahlias, lilies, and violets,
were assembled there in such crowds, that Laura might have plucked
nosegays all day, without making any visible difference; and she was
also made free of the gooseberry bushes and cherry-trees, with leave to
gather, if she pleased, more than she could eat.
Every morning, Laura entered the breakfast-room with cheeks like the
roses she carried, bringing little bouquets for all the ladies, which
she had started out of bed early, in order to gather; and her great
delight was to see them worn and admired all the forenoon, while she
was complimented on the taste with which they had been selected and
arranged. She filled every ornamental jar, basin, and tea-cup in the
drawing-room, with groups of roses, and would have been the terror of
any gardener but the one at Holiday House, who liked to see his flowers
so much admired, and was not keeping up any for a horticultural show.
Laura's chief delight, however, was in the dairy, which seemed the
most beautiful thing she had ever beheld, being built of rough
transparent spar, which looked exactly like crystal, and reminded her
of the ice palace built by the Empress of Russia. The windows were of
painted glass; the walls and shelves were of Dutch tiles, and in the
centre rose a beautiful jet d'eau of clear bright water.
Laura thought it looked like something built for the fairies; but
within she saw a most substantial room, the floor and tables in which
were so completely covered with cheeses, that they looked like some old
Mosaic pavement. Here the good-natured dairy-maid showed Laura how to
make cheese, and afterwards manufactured a very small one about the
size of a soup plate, entirely for the young lady herself, which she
promised to take home after her visit was over; and a little churn was
also filled full of cream, which Laura one morning churned into butter,
and breakfasted upon, after having first practised printing it into a
variety of shapes. It was altered about twenty times from a swan into a
cow, and from a cow into a rose, and from a rose back to a swan again,
before she could be persuaded to leave off her amusement.
Laura continued to become more and more delighted with Holiday
House; and she one day skipped about Lady Harriet's room, saying, Oh!
I am too happy! I scarcely know what to do with so much happiness. How
delightful it would be to stay here all my life, and never to go to
bed, nor say any more lessons as long as I live!
What a useless, stupid girl you would soon become, observed Lady
Harriet. Do you think, Laura, that lessons were invented for no other
purpose but to torment little children?
No, grandmama; not exactly! They are of use also to keep us quiet.
Come here, little madam, and listen to me. I shall soon be very
old, Laura, and not able to read my Bible, even with spectacles; for,
as the Scriptures told us, in that affecting description of old age,
which I read to you yesterday, 'the keepers of the house shall tremble,
and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of
the windows be darkened:' what then do you think I can do, because the
Bible now is my best comfort, which I shall need more and more every
day, to tell me all about the eternal world where I am going, and to
shew me the way.
Grandmama! you promised long ago to let me attend on you when you
grow old and blind! I shall be very careful, and veryveryvery kind.
I almost wish you were old and blind now, to let you feel how much I
love you, and how anxious I am to be as good to you as you have always
been to me. We shall read the Bible together every morning, and as
often afterwards as you please.
Thank you, my dear child! but you must take the trouble of learning
to read well, or we shall be sadly puzzled with the difficult words. A
friend of mine once had nobody that could read to her when she was ill,
but the maid, who bargained that she might leave out every word above
one syllable long, because they were too hard for her; and you could
hardly help laughing at the nonsense it sometimes made; but I hope you
will manage better.
O certainly, grandmama! I can spell chrononhotonthologos, and all
the other five-cornered words in my 'Reading Made Easy,' already.
Besides that, my dear Laura! unless you learn to look over my
bills, I may be sadly cheated by servants and shop-keepers. You must
positively study to find out how many cherries make five.
Ah! grandmama! nobody knows better than I do, that two and two make
four. I shall soon be quite able to keep your accounts.
Very well! but you have not yet heard half the trouble I mean to
give you. I am remarkably fond of music, and shall probably at last be
obliged to hire every old fiddler as he passes in the street, by giving
him sixpence in order to enjoy some of my favourite tunes.
No, grandmama! you shall hear them all from me. I can play
Malbrook, and Auld Robin Grey, already; and Frank says if I practise
two hours every day for ten years, I shall become a very tolerable
player, fit for you and uncle David to hear, without being
Then that will be more than seven thousand hours of musical lessons
which you have yet to endure, Laura! There are many more things of
still greater importance to learn also, if you wish to be any better
than a musical snuff-box. For instance, when visitors come to see me,
they are often from France or Italy; but perhaps you will not mind
sitting in the room as if you were deaf and dumb, gazing at those
foreigners, while they gaze at you, without understanding a syllable
they say, and causing them to feel strange and uncomfortable as long as
they remain in the house.
No! I would not for the world seem so unkind and uncivil. Pray, let
me learn plenty of languages.
Very well! but if you study no geography, what ridiculous blunders
you will be falling into! asking the Italians about their native town
Madrid, and the Americans if they were born at Petersburgh. You will be
fancying that travellers go by steam-boats to Moscow, and travel in a
day from Paris, through Stockholm to Naples. How ashamed I should be of
And so should I, grandmama, still more than you; for it would be
quite a disgrace.
Do you remember, Laura, your uncle David laughing, when he last
went to live at Leamington, about poor Mrs. Marmalade coming up stairs
to say, she did not wish to be troublesome, but should feel greatly
obliged if he would call at Portsmouth occasionally to see her son
Thomas. And when Captain Armylist's regiment was ordered last winter to
the village of Bathgate near this, he told me they were to march in the
course of that morning, all the way to Bagdad.
Yes, grandmama! and Mrs. Crabtree said some weeks ago, that if her
brother went to Van Dieman's Land, she thought he would of course in
passing, take a look at Jerusalem; and Frank was amused lately to hear
Peter Grey maintain, that Gulliver was as great a man as Columbus,
because he discovered Liliput!
Quite like him! for I heard Peter ask one day lately, what side
Bonaparte was on at the battle of Leipsic? We must include a little
history I think, Laura, in our list of studies, or you will fancy that
Lord Nelson fought at the battle of Blenheim, and that Henry VIII. cut
off Queen Mary's head.
Not quite so bad as that, grandmama! I seem to have known all about
Lord Nelson and Queen Mary, ever since I was a baby in long frocks! You
have shewn me, however, that it would be very foolish not to feel
anxious for lessons, especially when they are to make me a fit
companion for you at last.
Yes, Laura! and not only for me, but for many whose conversation
will entertain and improve you more than any books. The most delightful
accomplishment that a young person can cultivate, is that of conversing
agreeably; and it is less attended to in education than any other. You
cannot take a harp or piano about with you, but our minds and tongues
are always portable, and accompany us wherever we go. If you wish to be
loved by others, and to do good to your associates, as well as to
entertain them, take every opportunity of conversing with those who are
either amiable or agreeable; not only attending to their opinions, but
also endeavouring to gain the habit of expressing your own thoughts
with ease and fluency; and then rest assured, that if the gift of
conversation be rightly exercised, it is the most desirable of all, as
no teaching can have greater influence in leading people to think and
act aright, than the incidental remarks of an enlightened Christian,
freely and unaffectedly talking to his intimate friends.
Well, grandmama! the moral of all this is, that I shall become
busier than any body ever was before, when we get home; but in the
meantime, I may take a good dose of idleness now at Holiday House, to
prepare me for settling to very hard labour afterwards, said Laura,
hastily tying on her bonnet. I wonder if I shall ever be as merry and
Most unfortunately, all the time of Laura's visit at Holiday House,
she had been, as usual, extremely heedless, in taking no care whatever
of her clothes; consequently her blue merino frock had been cruelly
torn; her green silk dress became frightfully soiled; four white frocks
were utterly ruined; her Swiss muslin seemed a perfect object, and her
pink gingham was both torn and discoloured. Regularly every evening
Lady Harriet told her to take better care, or she would be a bankrupt
in frocks altogether; but whatever her grandmama said on that subject,
the moment she was out of sight, it went out of mind, till another
dress had shared the same deplorable fate.
At last, one morning, as soon as Laura got up, Lady Harriet gravely
led her towards a large table on which all the ill-used frocks had been
laid out in a row; and a most dismal sight they were! Such a collection
of stains and fractures was probably never seen before! A beggar would
scarcely have thanked her for her blue merino; and the green silk frock
looked like the tattered cover of a worn-out umbrella.
Laura, said Lady Harriet, in Switzerland a lady's wardrobe
descends to many generations; but nobody will envy your successor! One
might fancy that a wild beast had torn you to pieces every day! I
wonder what an old clothesman would give for your whole baggage! It is
only fit for being used as rags in a paper manufactory!
Poor Laura's face became perfectly pink when she saw the destruction
that a very short time had occasioned: and she looked from one tattered
garment to another, in melancholy silence, thinking how lately they had
all been fresh and beautiful; but now not a vestige of their former
splendour remained. At last her grandmama broke the awful silence, by
My dear girl! I have warned you very often lately that we are not
at home, where your frocks could be washed and mended as soon as they
were spoiled; but without considering this you have, every day,
destroyed several, so now the maid finds, on examining your drawers,
that there is only one clean frock remaining!
Laura looked gravely at the last clean frock, and wondered much what
her grandmama would say next.
I do not wish to make a prisoner of you at home during this very
fine weather, yet in five minutes after leaving the house, you will, of
course, become unfit to be seen, which I should very much regret, as a
number of fine people are coming to dinner, whom you would like to see.
The great General Courteney, and all his Aide-de-Camps, intend to be
here on their way from a review, besides many officers and ladies who
know your papa very well, and wish to see my little grand-daughter; but
I would not on any account allow you to appear before them, looking
like a perfect tatterdemalion, as you too often do. They would suppose
you had been drawn backwards through a hedge! Now my plan is, that you
shall wear this old pink gingham for romping all morning in the garden,
and dress in your last clean frock for dinner; but remember to keep out
of sight till then. Remain within the garden walls, as none of the
company will be walking there, but be sure to avoid the terrace and
shrubberies till you are made tidy, for I shall be both angry and
mortified if your papa's friends see you for the first time looking
Laura promised to remember her grandmama's injunctions, and to
remain invisible all morning; so off she set to the garden, singing and
skipping with joy, as she ran towards her pleasant hiding-place,
planning twenty ways in which the day might be delightfully spent
alone. Before long she had strung a long necklace of daisiesshe had
put many bright leaves in a book to dryshe had made a large ball of
cowslips to toss in the airshe had watered the hyacinths, with a
watering-pot, till they were nearly washed awayshe had plucked more
roses than could possibly be carried, and eat as many gooseberries and
cherries as it was convenient to swallow,but still there were several
hours remaining to be enjoyed, and nothing very particular, that Laura
could think of, to do.
Meantime, the miserable pink frock was torn worse than ever, and
seemed to be made of nothing but holes, for every gooseberry-bush in
the garden had got a share of it. Laura wished pink gingham frocks had
never been invented, and wondered why nothing stronger could be made!
Having become perfectly tired of the garden, she now wished herself
anywhere else in the world, and thought she was no better off, confined
in this way within four walls, than a canary bird in a cage.
I should like so much to go, if it were only for five minutes, on
the terrace! said she to herself. How much pleasanter it is than
this. Grandmama did not care where I went, provided nobody saw me! I
may at least take a peep to see if any one is there!
Laura now cautiously opened the garden-door, and put her head out,
intending only to look for a moment, but the moment grew longer and
longer, till it stretched into ten minutes.
What crowds of fine people are walking about on the terrace!
thought she. It looks as gay as a fair! Who can that officer be in a
red coat, and cocked hat with white feathers. Probably General
Courteney paying attention to Lady Rockville. There is a lady in a blue
cloak and blue flowers! how very pretty! Everybody is so exceedingly
smart! and I see some little boys too! Grandmama never told me any
children were coming! I wonder how old they are, and if they will play
with me in the evening! It would be very amusing to venture a little
nearer, and get a better glimpse of them all!
If Laura's wishes pointed one way and her duty pointed the other, it
was a very sad thing how often she forgot to pause and consider which
she ought to follow; and on this occasion, as usual, she took the
naughty side of the question, and prepared to indulge her curiosity,
though very anxious that nothing might happen to displease her
grandmama. She observed at some distance on the terrace, a remarkably
large thick holly-bush, near which the great procession of company
would probably pass before long, therefore, hoping nobody could
possibly see her there, she stole hastily out of the garden, and
concealed herself behind it; but when children do wrong, in hopes of
not being found out, they generally find themselves mistaken, as Laura
soon discovered to her cost. It is very lucky, however, for the
culprits, when they are detected, that they may learn never to behave
so foolishly again, because the greatest misfortune that can happen to
a child is, not to be found out and punished when he does wrong.
A few minutes after Laura had taken her station behind the
holly-bush, crowds of ladies and officers came strolling along, so very
near her hiding-place, that she saw them all distinctly, and felt
excessively amused and delighted at first, to be perched like a bird in
a tree watching this grand party, while nobody saw her, nor guessed
that she was there. Presently, however, Laura became sadly frightened
when an officer in a scarlet coat happened to look towards the
holly-bush, and exclaimed, with some surprise,
There is surely something very odd about that plant! I see large
pink spots between the leaves!
Oh no, Captain Digby, you are quite mistaken, answered one of the
ladies, dressed in a bright yellow bonnet and green pelisse. I see
nothing particular there! only a common ugly bush of holly! I wonder
you ever thought of noticing it!
But, Miss Perceval! there certainly is something very curious
behind! I would bet five to one there is! replied Captain Digby,
stepping up, close to the holly-bush, and peeping over: What have we
here! a ragged little girl, I do believe! in a pink frock!
Poor Laura was now in a terrible scrape; she started up immediately
to run away. Probably she never ran so fast in her life before, but
Captain Digby was a person who enjoyed a joke, so he called out
Tally-ho! a race for a thousand pounds!
Off set the Captain, and away flew Laura. At any other time she
would have thought it capital fun, but now she was frightened out of
her wits, and tore away at the very top of her speed. The whole party
of ladies and gentlemen stood laughing, and applauding, to see how fast
they both cleared the ground, while Laura, seeing the garden gate still
wide open, hoped she might be able to dart in, and close it, but alas!
when she arrived within four steps of the threshold, feeling almost
certain of escape, Captain Digby seized hold of her pink frock behind.
It instantly began tearing, so she had great hopes of leaving the piece
in his hand and getting off; but he was too clever for that, as he
grasped hold of her long sash, which was floating far out behind, and
led Laura a prisoner before the whole company.
When Lady Harriet discovered that this was really Laura advancing,
her head hanging down, her hair streaming about her ears, and her face
like a full moon, she could scarcely credit her own eyes, and held her
hands up with astonishment, while uncle David shrugged his shoulders,
till they almost met over his head, but not a word was said on either
side until they got home, when Lady Harriet at last broke the awful
silence by saying,
My dear girl! you must, of course, be severely punished for this
act of disobedience, and it is not so much on account of feeling angry
at your misconduct that I mean to correct you, but because I love you,
and wish to make you behave better in future. Parents are appointed by
God to govern their children as he governs us, not carelessly indulging
their faults, but wisely correcting them, for we are told that our
Great Father in heaven chastens those whom he loves, and only afflicts
us for great and wise purposes. I have suffered many sorrows in the
world, but they always made me better in the end, and whatever
discipline you meet with from me, or from that Great Being who loves
you still more than I do, let it teach you to consider your ways, to
repent of your wilfulness, and to pray that you may be enabled to act
more properly in future.
Yes, grandmama, replied Laura, with tears in her eyes, I am quite
willing to be punished, for it was very wrong indeed to make you so
vexed and ashamed, by disobeying your orders.
Then here is a long task which you must study before dinner, as a
penalty for trespassing bounds. It is a beautiful poem on the death of
Sir John Moore, which every school-girl can repeat, but being rather
long, you will scarcely have time to learn it perfectly, before coming
down to dessert, therefore, that you may be quite ready, I shall ring
now for Lady Rockville's maid, and have you washed and dressed
immediately. Remember this is your last clean frock, and be sure not to
When Laura chose to pay attention, she could learn her lessons
wonderfully fast, and her eyes seemed nailed to the book for some time
after Lady Harriet went away, till at last she could repeat the whole
poem perfectly well. It was neither slowly nor sadly that Laura laid
down her book, after practising it all, in a sort of jig time, till
she could rattle over the poem like a rail-road, and she walked to the
window, still murmuring the verses to herself with prodigious glee, and
giving little thought to their melancholy subject.
A variety of plans suggested themselves to her mind for amusing
herself within doors, as she had been forbidden to venture out, and she
lost no time in executing them. First, she tried on all her grandmama's
caps at a looking-glass, none of which were improved by being crushed
and tumbled in such a way. Then she quarrelled with Lady Rockville's
beautiful cockatoo, till it bit her finger violently, and after that,
she teazed the old cat till it scratched her; but all these diversions
were not sufficiently entertaining, so Laura began to grow rather
tired, till at last she went to gaze out at the portico of Holiday
House, being perfectly determined, on no account whatever, to go one
single step farther.
Here Laura saw many things which entertained her extremely, for she
had scarcely ever seen more of the country than was to be enjoyed with
Mrs. Crabtree in Charlotte Square. The punctual crows were all
returning home at their usual hour for the evening, and looked like a
black shower over her head, while hundreds of them seemed trying to
make a concert at once; the robins hopped close to her feet, evidently
accustomed to be fed; a tame pheasant, as fat as a London alderman,
came up the steps to keep her company; and the peacock, spreading his
tail, and strutting about, looked the very picture of silly pride and
Laura admired and enjoyed all this extremely, and crumbled down
nearly a loaf of bread, which she scattered on the ground, in order to
be popular among her visitors, who took all they could get from her,
and quarrelled among themselves about it, very much as boys and girls
would perhaps have done in the same circumstances.
It happened at this moment, that a large flock of geese crossed the
park, on their way towards the river, stalking along in a slow majestic
manner, with their heads high in the air. Laura observed them at a
distance, and thought they were the prettiest creatures in the world,
with their pure white feathers and yellow stockings, so she wondered
what kind of birds these were, having never seen a goose before, except
when roasted for dinner, though, indeed, she was a sad goose herself,
as will very soon be told.
How I should like to examine those large, white, beautiful birds, a
little nearer, thought Laura to herself. I wonder if they could swim
or fly!oh! how perfect they would look, floating like water-lilies on
the river, and then I might take a bit of bread to throw in, and they
would all rush after it!
Laura, as usual, did not wait to reflect what her grandmama might be
likely to think; indeed it is to be feared Laura forgot at the moment
that she had a grandmama at all, for her mind was never large enough to
hold more than one thing at a time, and now it was entirely filled with
the flock of geese. She instantly set off in pursuit of them, and began
chasing the whole party across the park, making all sorts of dreadful
noises, in hopes they might fly; but, on the contrary, they held up
their heads, as if she had been a dancing-master, and marched slowly
on, cackling loudly to each other, and evidently getting extremely
Laura was now quite close to her new acquaintances, and even threw a
pebble to hurry them forward, when suddenly an old gander stopped, and
turned round in a terrible rage. The whole flock of geese then did the
same, after which they flew towards Laura, with their bills wide open,
hissing furiously, and stretching out their long necks in an angry
menacing way, as if they wished to tear her in pieces.
Poor Laura became frightened out of any wits she ever had, and ran
off, with all the geese after her! Anybody must have laughed into fits,
could they have heard what a triumphant cackle the geese set up, and
had they seen how fast she flew away. If Laura had borrowed a pair of
wings from her pursuers, she could scarcely have got more quickly on.
In the hurry of escaping, she always looked back to see if the enemy
followed, and scarcely observed which way she ran herself, till
suddenly her foot stumbled over a large stone, and she fell headlong
into the river!oh, what a scream Laura gave! it terrified even the
old gander himself, and sent the whole flock of geese marching off,
nearly as fast as they had come; but Laura's cries also reached, at a
great distance, the ears of somebody, who she would have been very
sorry to think had heard them.
Lady Harriet, and all her friends at Holiday House, were taking a
delightful walk under some fine old fir trees, on the banks of the
river, admiring the beautiful scenery, while Miss Perceval was admiring
nothing but her own fine pocket handkerchief, which had cost ten
guineas, being worked with her name, trimmed with lace, and perfumed
with eau de Cologne; and Captain Digby was admiring his own scarlet
uniform, reflected in the bright clear water, and varying his
employment occasionally by throwing pebbles into the stream, to see how
far they would go. Suddenly, however, he stopped, with a look of
surprise and alarm, saying, What noise can that be!a loud scream in
Oh dear, no! it was only one of those horrid peacocks, answered
Miss Perceval, waving her fine pocket handkerchief. They are the most
disagreeable, noisy creatures in the world! If mama ever keeps one, I
shall get him a singing-master, or put a muzzle on his mouth!
But surely there is something splashing in the river at a great
distance. Do you not see that!what can it be?
Nothing at all, depend upon it! I could bet the value of my pocket
handkerchief, ten guineas, that it is nothing. Officers who live
constantly in barracks are so unaccustomed to the country, that they
seem to expect something wonderful shall happen every minute! That is
probably a salmon or a minnow.
I am determined, however, to see. If you are quite sure this is a
salmon, will you promise to eat for your dinner whatever we find,
provided I can catch it?
Certainly! unless you catch a whale! Oh! I have dropped my pocket
handkerchief,pray pick it up!
Captain Digby did so; but without waiting to examine the pattern, he
instantly ran forward, and to his own very great astonishment, saw
Laura up to her knees in the river, trying to scramble out, while her
face was white with terror, and her limbs trembled with cold, like a
poodle dog newly washed.
Why, here you are again!the very same little girl that I caught
in the morning, cried he, laughing heartily, while he carefully pulled
Laura towards the bank, though, by doing so, he splashed his beautiful
uniform most distressingly. We have had a complete game at bo-peep
to-day, my friend! but here comes a lady who has promised to eat you
up, therefore I shall have no more trouble.
Laura would have consented to be eaten up with pleasure, rather than
encounter Lady Harriet's eye, who really did not recognize her for the
first minute, as no one can suppose what a figure she appeared. The
last clean frock had been covered entirely over with mudher hair was
dripping with waterand her new yellow sash might be any colour in the
world. Laura felt so completely ashamed she could not look up from the
ground, and so sorry she could not speak, while hot tears mingled
themselves with the cold water which trickled down her face.
What is the matter! Who is this? cried Lady Harriet, hurrying up
to the place where they stood. Laura!! Impossible!!!
Let me put on a pair of spectacles, for I cannot believe my eyes
without them! said Major Graham. Ah! sure enough it is Laura, and
such a looking Laura as I never saw before. You must have had a nice
I have heard, continued Lady Harriet, that naughty people are
often ducked in the water as a punishment, and in that respect I am
sure Laura deserves what she has got, and a great deal more.
She reminds me, observed Captain Digby, of the Chinese bird which
has no legs, so it constantly flies about from place to place, never a
moment at rest.
Follow me, Laura, said Lady Harriet, that I may hear whether you
have anything to say for yourself on this occasion. It is scarcely
possible that there can be any excuse, but nobody should be condemned
When Laura had been put into dry clothes, she told her whole
history, and entreated Lady Harriet to hear how very perfectly she had
first learned her task, before venturing to stir out of the room; upon
which her grandmama consented, and amidst tears and sobs, the monody on
Sir John Moore was repeated without a single mistake. Lady Rockville
then came in, to entreat that, as this was the last day of the visit to
Holiday House, Laura might be forgiven and permitted to appear at
dessert, as all the company were anxious to see her, and particularly
Captain Digby, who regretted that he had been the means at first of
getting her into a scrape.
Indeed, my dear Lady Rockville! I might perhaps have agreed to your
wishes, answered Lady Harriet, particularly as Laura seems sincerely
sorry, and did not premeditate her disobedience; but she actually has
not a tolerable frock to appear in now!
I must lend her one of my velvet dresses to destroy next, said
Lady Rockville, smiling.
Uncle David's Mackintosh cloak would be the fittest thing for her
to wear, replied Lady Harriet, rising to leave the room. Laura, you
must learn a double task now! Here it is! and at Lady Rockville's
request I excuse you this once; though I am sorry that, for very
sufficient reasons, we cannot see you at dessert, which otherwise I
should have been most happy to do.
Laura sat down and cried during a quarter of an hour after Lady
Harriet had gone to dinner. She felt sorry for having behaved ill, and
sorry to have vexed her good grandmama; and sorry not to see all the
fine party at dessert; and sorry to think that next day she must leave
Holiday House; and sorry, last of all, to consider what Mrs. Crabtree
would say when all her ruined frocks were brought home. In short, poor
Laura felt perfectly overwhelmed with the greatness and variety of her
griefs, and scarcely believed that any one in the world was ever more
miserable than herself.
Her eyes were fixed on her task, while her thoughts were wandering
fifty miles away from it, when a housemaid, who had frequently attended
upon Laura during her visit, accidentally entered the room, and seemed
much surprised, as well as concerned, to find the young lady in such a
way, for her sobbing could be heard in the next room. It was quite a
relief to see any one; so Laura told over again all the sad adventures
of the day, without attempting to conceal how naughty she had been; and
most attentively was her narrative listened to, till the very end.
You see, Miss! observed Nelly, when people doesn't behave well,
they must expect to be punished.
So they should! sobbed Laura; and I dare say it will make me
better! I would not pass such a miserable day as this again, for the
world; but I deserve to be more punished than I am.
That's right, Miss! replied Nelly, pleased to see the good effect
of her admonitions. Punishment is as sure to do us good when we are
naughty, as physic when we are ill. But now you'll go down to dessert,
and forget it all.
No! grandmama would have allowed me, and Lady Rockville and every
body was so very kind about inviting me down; but my last clean frock
is quite unfit to be seen, so I have none to put on. Oh, dear! what a
thousand million of pities!
Is that all, Miss! Then dry your eyes, and I can wash the frock in
ten minutes. Give it to me, and learn your lesson, so as to be ready
when I come back.
Laura sprung off her seat with joy at this proposal, and ranor
rather flewto fetch her miserable object of a frock, which Nelly
crumpled under her arm, and walked away with, in such haste that she
was evidently determined to return very soon; while Laura took her good
advice, and sat down to learn her task, though she could hardly look at
the book during two minutes at a timeshe watched so impatiently for
her benefactress from the laundry.
At length the door flew open, and in walked Nelly, whose face looked
as red and hot as a beefsteak; but in her hand she carried a basket, on
which was laid out, in great state, the very cleanest frock that ever
was seen! It perfectly smelled of soap and water, starch and hot irons,
and seemed still almost smoking from the laundry; while Laura looked at
it with such delight and admiration, it might have been supposed she
never saw a clean frock before.
When Lady Harriet was sitting after dinner that day, sipping her
wine, and thinking about no thing very particular, she became surprised
to feel somebody gently twitching her sleeve to attract notice. Turning
instantly round to ascertain what was the matter, and who it could be,
what was her astonishment to see Laura at her elbow, looking rather shy
How did you get here, child! exclaimed Lady Harriet, in accents of
amazement, though almost laughing. Am I never to see the last of you
to-day! Where did you get that frock! It must have dropped from the
clouds! Or did some good fairy give you a new one?
That good fairy was Nelly the housemaid, whispered Laura. She
first tossed my frock into a washing-tub; and then at the great kitchen
fire she toasted it, and
And buttered it, I hope, added Major Graham. Come here,
Laura! I can read what is written in your grandmama's face at this
moment; and it says, 'you are a tiresome little puss, that nobody can
keep in any order except uncle David;' therefore sit down beside him,
and eat as many almonds and raisins as he bids you.
You are a nice, funny uncle David! whispered Laura, crushing her
way in between his chair and Miss Perceval's, nobody will need a
tongue now, if you can read so exactly what we are all thinking.
But here is Miss Perceval, still more wonderful; for she knows by
the bumps on your head, all that is contained inside. Let me see if I
could do so! There is a large bump of reading, and a small one of
writing and arithmetic. Here is a terrible organ of breaking dolls and
destroying frocks. There is a very small bump of liking uncle David,
and a prodigious one of liking almonds and raisins!
No! you are quite mistaken! It is the largest bump for loving uncle
David, and the small one for every thing else, interrupted Laura,
eagerly. I shall draw a map of my head some day, to show you how it is
And leave no room for any thing naughty or foolish! Your head
should be swept out, and put in order every morning, that not a single
cobweb may remain in your brains. What busy brains they must be for the
next ten years! But in the meantime let us hope that you will never
again be reduced to your
LAST CLEAN FROCK.
CHAPTER VI. THE LONG LADDER.
There was a young pickle, and what do you think?
He liv'd upon nothing but victuals and drink;
Victuals and drink were the chief of his diet,
And yet this young pickle could never be quiet.
One fine sultry day in the month of August, Harry and Laura stood at
the breakfast-room window, wondering to see the large broken white
clouds, looking like curds and whey, while the sun was in such a blaze
of heat, that every thing seemed almost red hot. The street door had
become blistered by the sun-beams. Jowler the dog lay basking on the
pavement; the green blinds were closed at every opposite house; the few
gentlemen who ventured out, were fanning themselves with their pocket
handkerchiefs; the ladies were strolling lazily along, under the
umbrageous shade of their green parasols; and the poor people who were
accustomed in winter to sell matches for lighting a fire, now carried
about gaudy paper hangings for the empty grates. Lady Harriet found the
butter so melted at breakfast, that she could scarcely lift it on her
knife; and uncle David complained that the sight of hot smoking tea put
him in a fever, and said he wished it could be iced.
I wonder how iced porridge would taste! said Harry. I put mine at
the open window to cool, but that only made it seem hotter. We were
talking of the gentleman you mentioned yesterday, who toasted his
muffins at a volcano; and certainly yours might almost be done at the
drawing-room window this morning.
Wait till you arrive at the countries I have visited, where, as
somebody remarked, the very salamanders die of heat. At Agra, which is
the hottest part of India, we could scarcely write a letter, because
the ink dries in the pen before you can get it to the paper. I was
obliged, when our regiment was there, to lie down in the middle of the
day, during several hours, actually gasping for breath; and to make up
for that, we all rose at midnight. An officer of ours, who lived long
in India, got up always at three in the morning, after we returned
home, and walked about the streets of Portsmouth, wondering what had
become of everybody.
I shall try not to grumble about weather any more, said Laura. We
seem no worse off than other people.
Or rather we are a great deal better off! At Bermuda, where my
regiment stopped on the way to America, the inhabitants are so
tormented with high winds, that they build 'hurricane houses'low,
flat rooms, where the families must retire when a storm comes on, as
trees, houses, people, and cattle, are all whirled about with such
violence, that not a life is safe on the island while it lasts.
That reminds me, said Lady Harriet, of a droll mistake made
yesterday by the African camel, when he landed at Leith. His keepers
were leading him along the high road to be made a show of in Edinburgh,
at a time when the wind was particularly high; and the poor animal
encountering such clouds of dust, thought this must be a simoon of the
desert, and threw himself flat down, burying his nose in the ground,
according to custom on those occasions. It was with great difficulty
that he could at last be induced to face the danger, and proceed.
Quite a compliment to our dust, observed Laura. But really in
such a hot day, the kangaroos and tigers might feel perfectly at home
here. Oh! how I should like to visit the GEOlogical Gardens in London!
Then suppose we set off immediately! said Major Graham, pretending
to rise from his chair. Your grandmama's donkey-carriage holds two.
Ah! but you could carry the donkey-carriage more easily than it
could carry you!
Shall I try? Well, if we go, who is to pay the turnpikes, for I
remember the time, not a hundred years ago, when Harry and you both
thought that paying the gates was the only expense of travelling. You
asked me then how poor grandmama could afford so many shillings and
We know all about every thing now though! said Harry, nodding in a
very sagacious manner. I can tell exactly how much time it takes going
by the public coach to London, and it sleeps only one night on the
Sleeps! cried uncle David. What! it puts on a night-cap, and goes
Yes! and it dines and breakfasts too, Mr. uncle David, for I heard
Mrs. Crabtree say so.
Never name anybody, unless you wish to see her immediately, said
Major Graham, hearing a well-known tap at the door. As sure as you
mention an absent person, if he is supposed to be fifty miles off at
the time, it is rather odd, but he instantly appears!
Then there is somebody that I shall speak about very often.
Who can this Mr. Somebody be? asked uncle David, smiling. A
foolish person that spoils you both I dare say, and gives you large
slices of bread and jelly like this. Hold them carefully! Now, good
bye, and joy be with you.
But it was with rather rueful faces that Harry and Laura left the
room, wishing they might have remained another hour to talk nonsense
with uncle David, and dreading to think what new scrapes and
difficulties they would get into in the nursery, which always seemed to
them a place of torture and imprisonment.
Major Graham used to say that Mrs. Crabtree should always have a
thermometer in her own room when she dressed, to tell her whether the
weather was hot or cold, for she seemed to feel no difference, and
scarcely ever made any change in her own attire, wearing always the
same pink gown and scarlet shawl, which made her look like a large red
flower-pot, while she was no more annoyed with the heat than a
flower-pot would have been. On this very oppressive morning she took as
much pains in suffocating Harry with a silk handkerchief round his
neck, as if it had been Christmas, and though Laura begged hard for
leave to go without one of her half-a-dozen wrappings, she might as
well have asked permission to go without her head, as Mrs. Crabtree
seemed perfectly deaf upon the subject.
This day is so very cold and so very shivering, said Harry, slyly,
that I suppose you will make Laura wear at least fifty shawls.
Not above twenty, answered Mrs. Crabtree, dryly. Give me no more
of your nonsense, Master Harry! This is no business of yours! I was in
the world long before you were born, and must know best; so hold your
tongue. None but fools and beggars need ever be cold.
At last Mrs. Crabtree had heaped as many clothes upon her two little
victims, as she was pleased to think necessary; so she sallied forth
with them, followed by Betty, and proceeded towards the country, taking
the sunny side of the road, and raising clouds of dust at every step,
till Harry and Laura felt as if they had been made of wax, and were
Mrs. Crabtree! said Harry, did you hear uncle David's funny story
yesterday? One hot morning a gentleman was watching an ant's nest, when
he observed, that every little insect, as it came out, plucked a small
leaf, to hold over its head, as a parasol! I wish we could find leaves
large enough for us.
You must go to the Botanical Gardens, where one leaf of a palm-tree
was shown to grandmama, which measured fourteen feet long, observed
Laura. How horrid these very warm countries must be, where the heat is
all the year round like this!
You may well say that, answered Mrs. Crabtree. I would not go to
them East Indiesno! not if I were Governess-General,to be running
away with a tiger at your back, and sleeping with real live serpents
twisted round the bed-post, and scorpions under your pillow! Catch me
there! I'm often quite sorry for Master Frank, to think that his ship
is maybe going that way! I'm told the very rats have such a smell in
that outlandish place, that if they touch the outside of a bottle with
their tails, it tastes of musk ever after; and when people are sitting
comfortably down, expecting to enjoy their dinner, a swarm of great
ants will come, and fall, an inch thick, on all the side-dishes. I've
no desire whatever to see foreign parts!
But I wish to see every country in the universe, said Harry; and
I hope there will be a rail-road all round the world before I am grown
up. Only think, Mrs. Crabtree, what fun lion-hunting must be, and
catching dolphins, and riding on elephants.
The pedestrians had now arrived at the pretty village of
Corstorphine, when they were unexpectedly met by Peter Grey, who joined
them without waiting to ask leave. Here the hills are so beautifully
wooded, and the villas so charming, that Harry, Peter, and Laura
stopped a moment, to consider what house they would like best to live
in. Near one side of the road stood a large cart of hay, on the top of
which were several men, forking it in at the window of a high loft,
which could only be entered by a long ladder that leaned against the
wall. It was a busy joyous scene, and soon attracted the children's
whole attention, who were transfixed with delight, seeing how rapidly
the people ran up and down, with their pitchforks in their hands, and
tilted the hay from the cart into the loft, while they had many jokes
and much laughter among themselves. At last their whole business was
finished, and the workmen drove away for another supply, to the
neighbouring fields, where they had been raking and tossing it all
morning, as merry as crickets.
What happy people! exclaimed Harry, looking wistfully after the
party, and wishing he might have scrambled into the cart beside them.
I would be a haymaker for nothing, if anybody would employ me; would
not you, Peter?
It is very strange, said Master Grey, why little ladies and
gentlemen seem always obliged to endure a perfectly useless walk every
day, as you and Laura are doing now. You never saw animals set out to
take a stroll for the good of their healths! How odd it would be to see
a couple of dogs set off for a country walk!
Miss Laura! said Mrs. Crabtree, Master Harry may rest here for a
minute or two with Master Peter, and let them count their fingers,
while you come with Betty and me to visit a sick old aunt of mine who
lives round the corner; but be sure, boys, you do not presume to wander
about, or I shall punish you most severely. We are coming back in two
Mrs. Crabtree had scarcely disappeared into a small shabby-looking
cottage, before Peter turned eagerly to Harry, with a face of great joy
and importance, exclaiming, Only see how very lucky this is! The
haymakers have left their long ladder, standing on purpose for us! The
window of that loft is wide open, and I must climb up immediately to
peep in, because never, in all my life, did I see the inside of a
Nor I! added Harry. Uncle David says, that all round the floor
there are deep holes, called mangers, down which food is thrown for the
horses, so that they can thrust their heads in, to take a bite,
whenever they choose.
How I should hate to have my dinner hung up always before my nose
in that way! Suppose the kitchen were placed above your nursery, and
that Mrs. Marmalade showered down tarts and puddings, which were to
remain there till you ate them, you would hate the sight of such things
at last. But now, Harry, for the hay-loft.
Peter scrambled so rapidly up the ladder, that he soon reached the
top, and instantly vanished in at the window, calling eagerly for Harry
to follow. You never saw such a nice, clean, funny place as this, in
all your life!make haste!come faster!never mind crushing your hat
or tearing your jacket,I'll put it all to rights. Ah! there!that's
the thing!walk up, gentlemen! walk up!the grand show!sixpence
each, and children half-price!
All this time, Harry was slowly, and with great difficulty, picking
his steps up the ladder, but a most troublesome business it was! First,
his foot became entangled in a rope,then his hat got squeezed so out
of shape, it looked perfectly tipsy,next, one of his shoes nearly
came off,and afterwards he dropped his gloves; but at last he
stumbled up in safety, and stood beside Peter in the loft, both
laughing with delight at their own enterprize.
The quantity of hay piled up on all sides, astonished them greatly,
while the nice, wide floor between, seemed larger than any
drawing-room, and was certainly made on purpose for a romp. Harry
rolled up a large ball of hay to throw at Peter, while he, in return,
aimed at him, so they ran after each other, round and round the loft,
raising such a riot, that the very rafters dirled.
The hay now flew about in clouds, while they jumped over it, or
crept under it, throwing handfuls about in every direction, and
observing that this was the best play-room they had ever been in.
How lucky that we came here! cried Peter. I should like to stay
an hour at least!
Oh! two hours,or three,or all day, added Harry. But what
shall we do about Mrs. Crabtree? She has not gone to settle for life
with that old sick aunt, so I am afraid we must really be hurrying
back, in case she may find out our expedition, and that, you know,
Peter, would be dreadful!
Only fancy, Harry, if she sees you and me clinging to the ladder,
about half way down! what a way she would be in!
We had better make haste, said Harry, looking around. What would
grandmama say!I wish we had never come up!
At this moment, Harry was still more brought to his senses, by
hearing Mrs. Crabtree's voice, exclaiming, in loud angry accents,
Where in all the world can those troublesome boys be gone! I must
tether them to a tree the next time they are left together! Why! sure!
they would not venture up that long ladder in the hay-loft! If they
have, they had better never come down again, for I shall shew who is
Peter Grey would run up a ladder to the stars, if he could find
one, replied Betty. Here are Master Harry's gloves lying at the
bottom of it. They can be gone nowhere else, for I have searched every
other place. We must send the town-crier with his bell after them, if
they are not found up there!
Mrs. Crabtree now seemed fearfully angry, while Laura began to
tremble with fright for Harry, who was listening overhead, and did not
know very well what to do, but foolishly thought it best to put off the
evil hour of being punished as long as possible; so he and Peter
silently crept in below a great quantity of hay, and hid themselves so
cunningly, that even a thief-catcher could scarcely have discovered
their den. In this dark corner, Harry had time to reflect and to feel
more and more alarmed and sorry for his misconduct, so he said, in a
very distressed voice, Oh, Peter! what a pity it is ever to be
naughty, for we are always found out, and always so much happier when
we are good!
I wonder how Mrs. Crabtree will get up the long ladder? whispered
Peter, laughing. I would give my little finger, and one of my ears, to
see her and Betty scrambling along!
Harry had to pinch Peter's arm almost black and blue before he would
be quiet; and by the time he stopped talking, Mrs. Crabtree and Betty
were both standing in the hay-loft, exceedingly out of breath with
climbing so unusually high, while Mrs. Crabtree very nearly fell,
having stumbled over a step at the entrance.
Why, sure! there's nobody here! exclaimed she, in a disappointed
tone. And what a disorderly place this is! I thought a hay-loft was
always kept in such nice order, with the floor all swept! but here is a
fine mess! Those two great lumps of hay in the corner look as if they
were meant for people to sleep upon!
Harry gave himself up for lost when Mrs. Crabtree noticed the place
where he and Peter had buried themselves alive; but to his great
relief, no suspicion seemed to have been excited, and neither of the
two searchers were anxious to venture beyond the door, after having so
nearly tripped upon the threshold.
They must have been stolen by a gipsey, or perhaps fallen into a
well, said Betty, who rather liked the bustle of an accident. I
always thought Master Peter would break his neck, or something of that
kind. Poor thing! how distressed his papa will be!
Hold your tongue, interrupted Mrs. Crabtree, angrily. I wish
people would either speak sense, or not speak at all! Did you hear a
noise among the hay?
Rats, I dare say! or perhaps a dog! answered Betty, turning
hastily round, and hurrying down the ladder faster than she had come
up. I certainly thought something moved in yon far corner.
Where can that little shrimp of a boy be hid? added Mrs. Crabtree,
following. He must have obedience knocked like a nail into his head,
with a few good severe blows. I shall beat him to powder when once we
You may depend upon it, persisted Betty, that some gipsey has got
the boys for the sake of their clothes. It will be a great pity,
because Master Harry had on his best blue jacket and trowsers.
No sooner was the loft cleared of these unwelcome visitors, than
Harry and Peter began to recover from their panic, and jumped out of
the hay, shaking themselves free from it, and skipping about in greater
glee than ever.
While they played about, as they had done before, and tumbled as if
they had been tumblers at Ducrow's, poor Harry got into such spirits,
that he completely forgot about the deep holes called mangers, for
containing the horse's food, till all at once, when Peter was running
after him, he fell, with a loud crash, headlong into one of them! Oh!
what a scream he gave!it echoed through the stable, terrifying a
whole team of horses that were feeding there, more particularly the one
into whose manger he had fallen. The horse gave a tremendous start when
Harry plunged down close to his nose, and not being able to run away,
he put back his ears, opened his mouth, and kicked and struggled in the
most frightful manner, while Harry, who could not make his escape any
more than the horse, shouted louder and louder for help.
Peter did all he could to assist Harry in this extraordinary
predicament, but finding it impossible to be of any use, he forgot
their terror of Mrs. Crabtree in his fears about Harry, and rushed to
the window, calling back their two pursuers, who were walking away at a
great distance. He screamed and hollooed, and waved his handkerchief,
without ceasing, till at last Mrs. Crabtree heard him, and turned
round, but never was anybody more astonished then she was, on seeing
him there, so she scolded, stormed, and raged, up to the very foot of
Now, you are the besiegers, and I am the garrison! cried Peter,
when he saw Mrs. Crabtree panting and toiling in her ascent. We must
make a treaty of peace together, for I could tumble you over in a
minute, by merely pushing this end a very little more to one side!
Do not touch it, Master Peter! cried Mrs. Crabtree, almost afraid
he was in earnest. There is a good boy,be quiet!
A good boy!! whispered Peter to himself. What a fright Mrs.
Crabtree must be in, before she said that!
The next moment Mrs. Crabtree snatched Harry out of the manger, and
shook him with rage. She then scolded and beat him, till he was
perfectly stupified with fright and misery, after which the whole party
were allowed to proceed towards home, while Harry stumbled along the
road, and hung down his head, wishing, fifty times over, that he and
Peter Grey had never gone up
THE LONG LADDER.
CHAPTER VII. THE MAD BULL.
There's something in a noble boy,
A brave, free-hearted, careless one;
With his uncheck'd, unbidden joy,
His dread of books and love of fun.
And in his clear and ready smile,
Unshaded by a thought of guile
And unrepress'd by sadness,
Which brings me to my childhood back,
As if I trod its very track,
And felt its very gladness.
One evening, when Harry and Laura came down to dessert, they were
surprised to observe the two little plates usually intended for them,
turned upside down, while uncle David pretended not to notice anything,
though he stole a glance to see what would happen next. On lifting up
these mysterious plates, what did they see lying underneath, but two
letters with large red seals, one directed to Master Harry Graham,
and the other to Miss Laura Graham.
A letter for me!! cried Harry, in a tone of delighted
astonishment, while he tore open the seal, and his hand shook with
impatience, so that he could hardly unfold the paper. What can it be
about! I like getting a letter very much! Is it from papa? Did the
postman bring it?
Yes, he did, said uncle David: and he left a message that you
must pay a hundred pounds for it to-morrow.
Very likely, indeed, said Laura; you should pay that for telling
me such a fine story; but my letter is worth more than a hundred
pounds, for it is inviting me to spend another delightful week at
I am asked too! and not Mrs. Crabtree! cried Harry, looking at his
letter, and almost screaming out for joy, whilst he skipped about the
room, rubbing his hands together, and ended by twirling Laura round and
round, till they both fell prostrate on the floor.
If that be meant as a specimen of how you intend to behave at
Holiday House, we had better send your apology at once, observed Lady
Harriet, smiling. Lord Rockville is very particular about never
hearing any noise, and the slamming of a door, or even the creaking of
a pair of unruly shoes, would put him distracted.
Yes! added uncle David, Holiday House is as quiet as Harry's drum
with a hole in it. If a pin drops in any part of the mansion, Lord
Rockville becomes annoyed, and the very wasps scarcely dare to buz at
his window so loud as at any other person's. You will feel quite
fish-out-of-water-ish, trying to be quiet and hum-drum for a whole
week, so let me advise you not to go.
The meaning of advice always is something that one would rather
wish not to do, observed Laura, gravely. I never in my life was
advised to enjoy anything pleasant! Taking physicor learning
lessonsor staying at home, are very often advised, but never
playingor having a holidayor amusing ourselves!
You know, Laura! that Harry's little Shetland pony, Tom Thumb, in
my field, is of no use at present, but kicks, and capers, and runs
about all day; yet presently he will be led out fastened to a rope, and
made to trot round and round in a circle, day after day, till he has no
longer a will of his own,that is education. Afterwards he shall have
a bridle put in his mouth, which some little girls would be much the
better of also, when he shall be carefully guided ever afterwards in
the best ways; and you likewise will go much more steadily for all the
reining-in and whipping you have got from Mrs. Crabtree and me, which
may, perhaps, make you keep in the road of duty more easily hereafter.
Uncle David! said Harry, laughing, we have read in the Arabian
Nights, about people being turned into animals, but I never thought you
would turn Laura into a horse! What shall we do with my little Shetland
pony if I go away next week?
I have thought of a capital plan for making Tom Thumb useful during
the whole winter! Your grandmama wants a watch-dog in the country, so
we shall build him a kennelput a chain round his neck, and get some
one to teach him to bark.
Uncle David should be Professor of Nonsense at the University,
said Lady Harriet, smiling. But, my dear children, if you are allowed
to pay this visit at Holiday House, I hope you will endeavour to behave
Yes, added Major Graham, I understand that Lord Rockville wished
to have some particularly quiet children there, for a short time, so he
fixed upon Harry and Laura! Poor, mistaken Lord Rockville! But, my good
friends, try not to break all his china ornaments the first dayspare
a few jars and tea-cupsleave a pane of glass or two in the windows,
and throw none of your marbles at the mirrors.
I remember hearing, said Lady Harriet, that when Miss Pelham was
married last year, her old aunt, Mrs. Bouverie, sent for her and said,
that as she could not afford to give baubles or trinkets, she would
give her a very valuable piece of advice; and what do you think it was,
I have no idea! Do tell me.
Then I shall bestow it on you, as the old lady did on her
niece'Be careful of china, paper and string, for they are all very
transitory possessions in this world!'
Very true! and most judicious! observed Major Graham, laughing. I
certainly know several persons who must have served an apprenticeship
under that good lady. Many gentlemen now, who despatch all their
epistles from the club, because there the paper costs them nothing, and
a number of ladies, who, for the same good reason, never write letters
till they are visiting in a country house.
Having received so many warnings and injunctions about behaving
well, Harry and Laura became so quiet during the first few days at
Holiday House, that they were like shadows flitting through the rooms,
going almost on tiptoe, scarcely speaking above a whisper, and
observing that valuable rule for children, to let themselves be seen,
but not heard. Lord Rockville was quite charmed with such extreme good
conduct, for they were both in especial awe of him, and thought it a
great condescension if he even looked at them, he was so tall, so
grand, and so grave, wearing a large powdered wig and silver
spectacles, which gave him a particularly venerable appearance, though
Harry was one day very near getting into disgrace upon that subject.
His Lordship had a habit of always carrying two pairs of spectacles in
his pocket, and often, after thrusting one pair high on his forehead,
he forgot where they were, and put the others on his nose, which had
such a droll appearance, that the first time Harry saw it, he felt
quite taken by surprise, and burst into a fit of laughter, upon which
Lord Rockville gave him such a comical look of surprise and perplexity,
that Harry's fit of laughing got worse and worse. The more people know
they are wrong, and try to stop, the more convulsive it becomes, and
the more difficult to look grave again, so at last, after repeated
efforts to appear serious and composed, Harry started up, and in his
hurry to escape, very nearly slammed the door behind him, which would
have given the last finish to his offences.
Both the little visitors found Lady Rockville so extremely indulgent
and kind, that she seemed like another grandmama, therefore they
gradually ventured to talk some of their own nonsense before her, and
even to try some of their old ways, and frolicsome tricks, which she
seldom found any fault with, except when Harry one day eloped with Lord
Rockville's favourite walking-stick, to be used as a fishing-rod among
the minnows, with a long thread at the end for a line, and a crooked
pin to represent the hook, while, on the same day, Laura privately
mounted the ass that gave Lord Rockville's ass's milk, and rode it all
round the park, while he sat at home expecting his usual refreshing
tumbler. Still they both passed muster for being very tolerable
children, and his Lordship was heard once to say, in a voice of great
approbation, that Master and Miss Graham were so punctual at dinner,
and so perfectly quiet, he really often forgot they were in the house.
Indeed, Harry's complaisance on the day after he had laughed so
injudiciously about the spectacles, was quite unheard of, as he felt
anxious to make up for his misconduct; and when Lord Rockville asked if
he would like a fire in the play-room, as the evening was chilly, he
answered very politely, Thank you, my Lord! We are ready to think it
hot or cold, just as you please!
All this was too good to last! One morning, when Harry and Laura
looked out of the window, it was a most deplorably wet day. The whole
sky looked like a large grey cotton umbrella, and the clouds were so
low that Harry thought he could almost have touched them. In short, as
Lord Rockville remarked, it rained cats and dogs, so his Lordship
knitted his brows, and thrust his hands into his waistcoat pockets,
walking up and down the room in a perfect fume of vexation, for he was
so accustomed to be obeyed, that it seemed rather a hardship when even
the weather contradicted his wishes. To complete his vexation, as
single misfortunes never come alone, his valet, when carelessly
drying the Morning Post at a large kitchen fire, had set it in flames,
so that all the wonderful news it contained became reduced to ashes,
therefore Lord Rockville might well have given notice, that, for this
day at least, he had a right to be in extremely bad humour.
Lady Rockville privately recommended Harry and Laura to sit quietly
down and play at cat's cradle, which accordingly they did, and when
that became no longer endurable, some dominos were produced. Thus the
morning wore tediously away till about two o'clock, when suddenly the
rain stopped, the sun burst forth with prodigious splendour, every leaf
in the park glittered, as if it had been sprinkled with diamonds, and a
hundred birds seemed singing a chorus of joy, while bees and
butterflies fluttered at the windows and flew away rejoicing.
Harry was the first to observe this delightful change, and with an
exclamation of delight, he sprang from his seat, pulled Laura from
hers, upset the domino-table, and rushed out of the room, slamming the
door with a report like twenty cannons. Away they both flew to the
forest, Laura swinging her bonnet in her hand, and Harry tossing his
cap in the air, while Lord Rockville watched them angrily from the
drawing-room window, saying, in a tone of extreme displeasure, That
boy has a voice that might do for the town-crier! He laughs so loud, it
is enough to crack every glass in the room! I wish he were condemned to
pass a week in those American prisons where no one is allowed to speak.
In short, he would be better anywhere than here, for I might as well
live with a hammer and tongs, as with the two children together. They
are more restless than the quicksilver figures from China, and I wish
they were as quiet, but my only comfort is, that at any rate they come
home punctually to dinner at five. Nothing is so intolerable as people
dropping in too late and disordering the table.
Meantime, the woods at Holiday House rung with sounds of mirth and
gaiety, while Harry scrambled up the trees like a squirrel, and swung
upon the branches, gathering walnuts and crab-apples for Laura, after
which they both cut their names upon the bark of Lord Rockville's
favourite beech, so that every person who passed that way must observe
the large distinct letters. They were laughing and chatting over this
exploit, both talking at once, as noisy and happy as possible, and
expecting nothing particular to happen, when, all on a sudden, Laura
turned pale, and grasped hold of Harry's arm, saying, in a low
Hush, Harry!hush!I hear a very strange noise. It sounds like
some wild beast! What can that be?
Harry listened as if he had ten pair of ears, and nearly cracked his
eye-balls staring round him, to see what could be the matter. A curious
deep growling sound might be heard at some distance, while there was
the noise of something trampling heavily on the ground, and of branches
breaking off the trees, as if some large creature was forcing his way
through. Harry and Laura now stood like a couple of little statues, not
daring to breathe, they felt so terrified! The noise grew louder and
louder, while it gradually came nearer and nearer, till at length a
large black bull burst into view, with his tail standing high in the
air, while he tore up the ground with his horns, bellowing as loudly as
he could roar, and galloping straight towards the place where they
Laura's knees tottered under her, and she instantly dropped on the
ground with terror, feeling as if she would die the next minute of
fright, while, as for attempting to escape, it never entered her head
to think that possible. Harry felt quite differently, for he was a bold
boy, not easily scared out of his senses, and instantly saw that
something must be done, or they would both be lost. Many selfish people
would have run away alone, without caring for the safety of any one but
themselves, which was not at all the case with Harry, who thought first
of his poor frightened companion. Hollo, Laura! are you hiding in a
cart rut? he exclaimed, pulling her hastily off the ground. The bull
will soon find you there! Come! come! as fast as possible! we must have
a race for it yet! That terrible beast can scarcely make his way
through the trees and branches, they grow so closely! Perhaps we may
get on as fast as he!
All this time, Harry was dragging Laura along, and running himself
into the thickest part of the plantation; but it was very difficult to
make any progress, as she had become quite faint and bewildered with
Oh, Harry! cried she, trembling all over, you must get on alone!
I am so weak with terror, it is impossible to run a step farther.
Do not waste your breath with talking, answered Harry, still
pushing on at full speed. How can you suppose I would be so shabby as
to make my escape without you! No! no! we must either both be caught,
or both get off!
Laura felt so grateful to Harry when he said this, that she seemed
for a moment almost to forget the bull, which was still coming
furiously on behind, while she now made a desperate exertion to run
faster than she had been able to do before, clearing the ground almost
as rapidly as Harry could have done, though he still held her firmly by
the hand, to encourage her.
The trampling noise continued, the breaking of branches, and the
frightful bellowing of this dreadful animal, when at last Harry caught
sight of a wooden paling, which he silently pointed out to Laura, being
quite unable now to speak. Having rushed forward to it, with almost
frantic haste, Harry threw himself over the top, after which he helped
Laura to squeeze herself through underneath, when they proceeded rather
more leisurely onwards.
That fence will puzzle Mr. Bull, said Harry triumphantly, yet
gasping for breath. We can push through places where his great hoof
could scarcely be thrust! I saw him coming along, with his heels high
in the air, and his head down, like an enormous wheel-barrow.
Scarcely had Harry spoken, before the infuriated animal advanced at
full gallop towards the fence, and after running along the side a
little way, he suddenly tore up the paling with his horns, as if it had
been made of paper, and rushed forward more rapidly than ever.
Harry now began to fear that indeed all was over, for his strength
had become nearly exhausted, when, to his great joy, he espied a large,
rough stone wall, not very far off, which was as welcome a sight as
land to a shipwrecked sailor.
Run for your life, Laura! he cried, pointing it out, to encourage
her. There is safety, if we reach it.
On they both flew, faster than the wind, and Harry having scrambled
up the wall, like a grasshopper, pulled Laura up beside him, and there
they both stood at last, encamped quite beyond the reach of danger,
though the enemy arrived a few minutes afterwards, pawing the air, and
foaming and bellowing with disappointment.
Laura! said Harry, after she had a little recovered from her
fright, and was walking slowly homewards, while she cast an alarmed
glance frequently behind, thinking she still heard the bull in pursuit,
you see, as uncle David says, whatever danger people are in, it is
foolish to be quite in despair, but we should rather think what it is
best to do, and do it directly.
Yes, Harry! and I shall never forget that you would not forsake me,
but risked your own life, like a brave brother, in my defence. I should
like to do as much for you another time!
Thank you, Laura, as much as if you had, but I hope we shall never
be in such a scrape again! If Frank were here, he would put us both in
mind to thank a merciful God for taking so much care of us, and
bringing us safely home!
Yes, Harry! It is perhaps a good thing being in danger sometimes,
to remind us that we cannot be safe or happy an hour without God's
care, so in our prayers to-night we must remember what has happened,
and return thanks very particularly.
It was long past five before Harry and Laura reached Holiday House,
where Lord Rockville met them at the drawing-room door, looking taller,
and grander, and graver than ever, while Lady Rockville rose from her
sofa, and came up to them, saying, in a tone of gentle reproach,
My dear children! you ought to return home before the dinner hour,
and not keep his Lordship waiting!
The very idea of Lord Rockville waiting dinner was too dreadful ever
to have entered their heads till this minute; but Harry and Laura
immediately explained how exceedingly sorry they were for what had
occurred, and to show that it was their misfortune rather than their
fault, they told the whole frightful story of the mad bull, to which
Lady Rockville listened, as if her very hair were standing upon end, to
hear of such doings. She even turned up her eyes with astonishment to
think what a wonderful escape they had made; but his Lordship frowned
through his spectacles, and leaned his chin upon his stick, looking, as
Harry thought, very like a bear upon a pole.
Pshaw!nonsense! exclaimed Lord Rockville impatiently. The bull
would have done you no harm! He is a most respectable, quiet,
well-disposed animal, and brought an excellent character from his last
place! I never heard a complaint of him before!
It is curious, observed Laura, that all bulls are reckoned
peaceable and tame, till they have tossed two or three people, and
I thought, added Lord Rockville, looking very grand and
contemptuous, that Harry was grown more a man than to be so easily put
to flight. When a bull, another time, threatens to toss you, seize hold
of his tail,or toss him!or, in short, do anything rather than run
away the first time an animal looks at you. This is a mere
cock-and-a-bull story, to excuse your keeping me waiting almost a
quarter of an hour for my dinner!you should be made guard of a
mail-coach for a month, to teach you punctuality, Master Graham.
Lord Rockville gravely looked at his watch, while Harry luckily
considered how often his grandmama had recommended him to make no
answer when he was scolded, so he nearly bit off the tip of his tongue
to keep it quiet, while he could not but wish, in his own mind, that my
Lord himself saw how very fierce the bull had looked.
Laura felt more vexed on Harry's account than her own, and the
dinner went on as uncomfortably as possible; for even when a French
cook has dressed it, if ill-humour be the sauce, any dish becomes
unpalatable. Nothing was to be seen reflected on the surface of many
fine silver covers, but very cross, or very melancholy faces; while
Lady Rockville tried to make her own countenance look both cheerful and
good-natured. She told Harry and Laura, to divert them, that old Mrs.
Bouverie had once been pursued by a furious milch cow, along a lane,
flanked on both sides by such very high walls, that escape seemed
impossible, so the good lady, who was fat and breathless, became so
desperate, that without a hope of getting off, she seized the enraged
animal by the horns, and screamed in its face, till the cow herself
became frightened. The creature stared, stepping backwards and
backwards, with increasing alarm, till at last, to the old lady's great
relief and surprise, she fairly turned her tail and ran off.
In the evening, Lord Rockville had not yet recovered his equanimity,
and went out, rather in bad humour, to take his usual walk before
supper. Without once remembering about Harry and the bull, he strolled
a great way into the woods, marking several trees to be cut down, and
admiring a fine forest which he had planted himself long ago, but
without particularly considering what way he turned. It was beginning,
at last, to grow very dark and gloomy, so Lord Rockville had some
thoughts of returning home, when he became suddenly startled by hearing
a loud roar not far off, and a moment afterwards the furious bull
dashed out of a neighbouring thicket, raging and foaming, and tearing
the ground with his horns, exactly as Harry had described in the
morning, while poor Lord Rockville, who seldom moved faster than a very
dignified walk, instantly quickened his pace, in an opposite direction,
striding away faster and faster, till at last,it must be
confessed,his Lordship ended by running!!!
In spite of all Lord Rockville's exertions, the bull continued
rapidly to gain upon him, for his Lordship, being rather corpulent and
easily fatigued, stopped every now and then to gasp for breath; till at
last, feeling it impossible to get on faster, though the stables were
now within sight, he seized the branch of a large oak tree, which swept
nearly to the ground, and contrived, with great difficulty, to scramble
out of reach.
The enraged bull gazed up into the tree and bellowed with fury, when
he saw Lord Rockville so judiciously perched overhead, and he remained
for half-an-hour, watching to see if his Lordship would venture down
again. At last the tormenting animal began leisurely eating grass under
the tree, but gradually he moved away, turning his back while he fed,
till Lord Rockville vainly deluded himself with the hope of stealing
off unobserved. Being somewhat rested and refreshed, while the enemy
was looking in another direction, he descended cautiously, as if he had
been going to tread upon needles and pins; but, unaccustomed to such
movements, he jumped so heavily upon the ground, that the bull hearing
a noise, turned round, and set up a loud furious roar, when he saw his
intended victim again within reach.
Now the race began once more with redoubled agility! The odds seemed
greatly in favour of the bull, and Lord Rockville thought he already
felt the animal's horns in his side, when a groom, who saw the party
approaching, instantly seized a pitchfork and flew to the rescue of his
master. Lord Rockville never stopped his career till he reached the
stable, and ran up into a loft, from the window of which he gave the
alarm and called for more assistance, when several ploughmen and
stable-boys assembled, who drove the animal with great difficulty, into
a stall, where he continued so ungovernable, that iron chains were put
round his neck, and some days afterwards, seeing no one could manage
him, Lord Rockville ordered the bull to be shot, and his carcase turned
into beef for the poor of the parish, who all, consequently, rejoiced
at his demise; though the meat turned out so tough, that it required
their best teeth to eat it with.
Meantime, on that memorable evening of so many adventures, Harry,
Laura, and Lady Rockville, wondered often what had become of his
Lordship, and, at last, when supper appeared at the usual hour, his
absence became still more unaccountable!
What can be the matter? exclaimed Lady Rockville, anxiously. This
is very odd! His Lordship is as punctual as the postman in general!
especially for supper; and here is Lord Rockville's favourite dish of
sago and wine, which will become uneatably cold in ten minutes, if he
does not return home to enjoy it!
Scarcely had she finished speaking, when the door opened and Lord
Rockville walked majestically into the room. There was something so
different from usual in his manner and appearance, however, that Harry
and Laura exchanged looks of astonishment; his neckcloth was loosehis
face excessively redand his hand shook, while he breathed so hard,
that he might have been heard at the porter's lodge. Lady Rockville
gazed with amazement at all she saw, and then asked what he chose for
supper; but when Lord Rockville tried to speak, the words died on his
lips, so he could only point in silence to the sago and wine.
What in all the world has happened to you this evening, my Lord?
exclaimed Lady Rockville, unable to restrain her curiosity a moment
longer. I never saw you in such a way before! Your eyes are perfectly
blood-shotyour dress strangely disorderedand you seem so hot and so
fatigued! Tell me!what is the matter?
Nothing! answered Lord Rockville, drawing himself up, while he
tried to look grander and graver than ever, though his Lordship could
not help panting for breathputting his hands to his sidesand wiping
his forehead with his pocket-handkerchief in an agony of fatigue. Harry
observed all this for some time, as eagerly and intently as a cat
watches a bird on a tree. He saw that something extraordinary had
occurred, and he began to have hopes that it really was the very thing
he wished; because, seeing Lord Rockville now perfectly safe, he would
not have grudged him a pretty considerable fright from his friend the
bull. At last, unable any longer to control his impatience, Harry
started off his chair, gazing so earnestly at Lord Rockville, that his
eyes almost sprung out of their sockets, while he rubbed his hands with
I guess you've seen the bull? Oh! I am sure you did! Pray tell us
if you have? Did he run after you,and did you run away?
Lord Rockville tried more than he had ever done in his life to look
grave, but it would not do. Gradually his face relaxed into a smile,
till at last he burst into loud peals of laughter, joined most heartily
by Harry, Laura, and Lady Rockville. Nobody recovered any gravity
during the rest of that evening, for whenever they tried to think or
talk quietly about anything else, Harry and Laura were sure to burst
forth again upon the subject, and even after being safely stowed in
their beds for the night, they both laughed themselves to sleep at the
idea of Lord Rockville himself having been obliged, after all, to run
away from that most respectable, quiet, well-disposed animal,
THE MAD BULL!
CHAPTER VIII. THE BROKEN KEY.
First he moved his right leg,
Then he moved his left leg,
Then he said, I pardon beg,
And sat upon his seat.
Oh! uncle David! uncle David! cried Laura, when they arrived from
Holiday House, I would jump out of the carriage window with joy to see
you again; only the persons passing in the street might be surprised!
Not at all! They are quite accustomed to see people jumping out of
the windows with joy, whenever I appear.
We have so much to tell you, exclaimed Harry and Laura, each
seizing hold of a hand, we hardly know where to begin!
Ladies and gentlemen! If you both talk at once, I must get a new
pair of ears! So you have not been particularly miserable at Holiday
No! no! uncle David! we did not think there had been so much
happiness in the world, answered Laura, eagerly. The last two days we
could do nothing but play and laugh, and
And grow fat! Why! you both look so well fed, you are just fit for
killing! I shall be obliged to shut you up two or three days, without
anything to eat, as is done to pet lap-dogs, when they are getting
corpulent and gouty.
Then we shall be like bears living on our paws, replied Harry,
and uncle David! I would rather do that, than be a glutton like Peter
Grey. He went to a cheap shop lately, where old cheese-cakes were sold
at half-price, and greedily devoured nearly a dozen, thinking that the
dead flies scattered on the top were currants, till Frank shewed him
Frank should have let him eat in peace! There is no accounting for
tastes. I once knew a lady who liked to swallow spiders! She used to
crack and eat them with the greatest delight, whenever she could catch
Oh! what a horrid woman! That is even worse than grandmama's story
about Dr. Manvers having dined on a dish of mice, fried in crumbs of
You know the old proverb, Harry, 'one man's meat is another man's
poison.' The Persians are disgusted at our eating lobsters; and the
Hindoos think us scarcely fit to exist, because we live on beef; while
we are equally amazed at the Chinese for devouring dog pies, and
birds'-nest soup. You turn up your nose at the French for liking frogs;
and they think us ten times worse with our singed sheep's head, oat
cakes, and haggis.
That reminds me, said Lady Harriet, that when Charles X. lived in
what he called the 'dear Canongate,' His Majesty was heard to say, that
he tried every sort of Scotch goose, 'the solan goose, the wild goose,
and the tame goose; but the best goose of all, was the hag-goose.'
Very polite, indeed, to adopt our national taste so completely,
observed uncle David, smiling. When my regiment was quartered in
Spain, an officer of ours, a great epicure, and not quite so
complaisant, used to say that the country was scarcely fit to live in,
because there it is customary to dress almost every dish with sugar. At
last, one day, in a rage, he ordered eggs to be brought up in their
shells for dinner, saying, 'that is the only thing the cook cannot
possibly spoil.' We played him a trick, however, which was very like
what you would have done, Harry, on a similar occasion. I secretly put
pounded sugar into the salt-cellar, and when he tasted his first
mouthful, you should have seen the look of fury with which he sprung
off his seat, exclaiming, 'the barbarians eat sugar even with their
That would be the country for me to travel in, said Harry. I
could live in a barrel of sugar; and my little pony, Tom Thumb, would
be happy to accompany me there, as he likes anything sweet.
All animals are of the same opinion. I remember the famous rider,
Ducrow, telling a brother-officer of mine, that the way in which he
gains so much influence over his horses, is merely by bribing them with
sugar. They may be managed in that way like children, and are quite
aware, if it be taken from them as a punishment for being restive.
Oh! those beautiful horses at Ducrow's! How often I think of them
since we were there! exclaimed Harry. They were quite like fairies,
with fine arched necks, and long tails!
I never heard before of a fairy with a long tail, Master Harry; but
perhaps in the course of your travels you may have seen such a thing.
How I should like to ride upon Tom Thumb, in Ducrow's way, with my
toe on the saddle!
Fine doings indeed! exclaimed Mrs. Crabtree, who had entered the
room at this moment. Have you forgotten already, Master Harry, how
many of the nursery plates you broke one day when I was out, in trying
to copy that there foolish Indian juggler, who tossed his plates in the
air, and twirled them on his thumb! There must be no more such
nonsense; for if once your neck is broke by a fall off Tom Thumb, no
doctor that I know of can mend it again. Remember what a terrible
tumble you had off Jessy last year!
You are always speaking about that little overturn, Mrs. Crabtree;
and it was not worth recollecting above a week! Did you never see a man
thrown off his horse before?
A man and horse indeed! said uncle David, laughing, when he looked
at Harry. You and your charger were hardly large enough then for a
toy-shop; and you must grow a little more, Captain Gulliver, before you
will be fit for a dragoon regiment.
Harry and Laura stayed very quietly at home for several weeks after
their return from Holiday House, attending so busily to lessons, that
uncle David said he felt much afraid they were going to be a pair of
little wonders, who would die of too much learning.
You will be taken ill of the multiplication table some day, and
confined to bed with a violent fit of geography! Pray take care of
yourselves, and do not devour above three books at once, said Major
Graham one day, entering the room with a note in his hand. Here is an
invitation that I suppose you are both too busy to accept, so perhaps I
might as well send an apology; eh, Harry?
Down dropped the lesson-books upon the floor, and up sprung Harry in
an ecstacy of delight. An invitation! Oh! I like an invitation so very
much! Pray tell us all about it!
Perhaps it is an invitation to spend a month with Dr. Lexicon. What
would you say to that? They breakfast upon Latin grammars at school,
and have a dish of real French verbs, smothered in onions, for dinner
But in downright earnest, uncle David! where are we going?
Must I tell you? Well! that good-natured old lady, Mrs. Darwin,
intends taking a large party of children next week, in her own
carriage, to pass ten days at Ivy Lodge, a charming country house about
twenty miles off, where you are all to enjoy perfect happiness. I wish
I could be ground down into a little boy myself, for the occasion! Poor
good woman! what a life she will lead! There is only one little
drawback to your delight, that I am almost afraid to announce.
What is that, uncle David? asked Harry, looking as if nothing in
nature could ever make him grave again. Are we to bite off our own
noses before we return?
Not exactly; but somebody is to be of the party who will do it for
you. Mrs. Darwin has heard that there are certain children who become
occasionally rather unmanageable! I cannot think who they can be, for
it is certainly nobody we ever saw; so she has requested that Mrs.
Crabtree will follow in the mail-coach.
Harry and Laura looked as if a glass of cold water had been thrown
in their faces, after this was mentioned; but they soon forgot every
little vexation, in a burst of joy, when, some days afterwards, Mrs.
Darwin stopped at the door to pick them up, in the most curious-looking
carriage they had ever seen. It was a very large open car, as round as
a bird's nest, and so perfectly crowded with children, that nobody
could have supposed any room left even for a doll; but Mrs. Darwin said
that whatever number of people came in, there was always accommodation
for one more; and this really proved to be the case, for Harry and
Laura soon elbowed their way into seats and set off, waving their
handkerchiefs to Major Graham, who had helped to pack them in, and who
now stood smiling at the door.
As this very large vehicle was drawn by only one horse, it proceeded
very slowly; but Mrs. Darwin amused the children with several very
diverting stories, and gave them a grand luncheon in the carriage;
after which, they threw what was left, wrapped up in an old newspaper,
to some people breaking stones on the road, feeling quite delighted to
see the surprise and joy of the poor labourers when they opened the
parcel. In short, everybody became sorry when this diverting journey
was finished, and they drove up, at last, to the gate of a tall old
house, that looked as if it had been built in the year one. The walls
were very thick, and quite mouldy with age. Indeed, the only wonder
was, that Ivy Lodge had still a roof upon its head, for every thing
about it looked so tottering and decayed. The very servants were all
old; and a white-headed butler opened the door, who looked as frail and
gloomy as the house; but before long, the old walls of Ivy Lodge rung
and echoed again with sounds of mirth and joy. It seemed to have been
built on purpose for hide and seek; there were rooms with invisible
doors, and closets cut in the walls, and great old chests where people
might have been buried alive for a year, without being found out. The
gardens, too, were perfectly enchanting. Such arbours to take
strawberries and cream in! and such summer-houses, where they drank tea
out of doors every evening! Here they saw a prodigious eagle, fastened
to the ground by a chain, and looking the most dull, melancholy
creature in the world; while Harry wished the poor bird might be
liberated, and thought how delightful it would be to stand by and see
him soaring away to his native skies.
Yes! with a large slice of raw meat in his beak! said Peter Grey,
who was always thinking of eating. I dare say he lives much better
here, than he would do killing his own mutton up in the clouds there,
or taking his chance of a dead horse on the sea-shore occasionally.
Harry and Peter were particularly amused with Mrs. Darwin's curious
collection of pets. There were black swans with red bills, swimming
gracefully in a pond close to the window, and ready to rush forward on
the shortest notice, for a morsel of bread. The lop-eared rabbits also
surprised them, with their ears hanging down to the ground, and they
were interested to see a pair of carrier-pigeons which could carry
letters as well as the postman. Mrs. Darwin showed them tumbler pigeons
too, that performed a summerset in the air when they flew, and horsemen
and dragoon pigeons, trumpeters and pouters, till Peter Grey at last
begged to see the pigeons that made the pigeon-pies, and the cow that
gave the butter-milk; he was likewise very anxious for leave to bring
his fishing-rod into the drawing-room, to try whether he could catch
one of the beautiful gold-fish that swam about in a large glass globe,
saying he thought it might perhaps be very good to eat at breakfast.
Mrs. Darwin had a pet lamb that she was exceedingly fond of, because it
followed her everywhere, and Harry, who was very fond of the little
creature, said he wished some plan could be invented to hinder its ever
growing into a great fat vulgar sheep; and he thought the white mice
were old animals that had grown grey with years.
There were donkies for the children to ride upon, and Mrs. Darwin
had a boat that held the whole party, to sail in, round the pond, and
she hung up a swing that seemed to fly about as high as the house,
which they swung upon, after which they were allowed to shake the
fruit-trees, and to eat whatever came down about their ears; so it very
often rained apples and pears in the gardens at Ivy Lodge, for Peter
seemed never to tire of that joke; indeed the apple-trees had a sad
life of it as long as he remained.
Peter told Mrs. Darwin that he had a patent appetite, which was
always ready on every occasion; but the good lady became so fond of
stuffing the children at all hours, that even he felt a little puzzled
sometimes how to dispose of all she heaped upon his plate, while both
Harry and Laura, who were far from greedy, became perfectly wearied of
hearing the gong. The whole party assembled at eight every morning, to
partake of porridge and butter-milk, after which, at ten, they
breakfasted with Mrs. Darwin on tea, muffins, and sweetmeats. They then
drove in the round open car, to bathe in the sea, on their return from
which, luncheon was always ready, and after concluding that, they might
pass the interval till dinner among the fruit-trees. They never could
eat enough to please Mrs. Darwin at dinner; tea followed, on a most
substantial plan; their supper consisted of poached eggs, and the maid
was desired to put a biscuit under every visitor's pillow, in case the
young people should be hungry in the night, for Mrs. Darwin said she
had been starved at school herself, when she was a little girl, and
wished nobody ever to suffer, as she had done, from hunger.
The good lady was so anxious for everything to be exactly as the
children liked it, that sometimes Laura felt quite at a loss what to
say or do. One day, having cracked her egg-shell at breakfast, Mrs.
Darwin peeped anxiously over her shoulder, saying,
I hope, my dear! your egg is all right?
Most excellent indeed!
Is it quite fresh?
Perfectly! I dare say it was laid only a minute before it was
I have seen the eggs much larger than that.
Yes! but then I believe they are rather coarse,at least we think
so, when Mrs. Crabtree gives us a turkey egg at dinner.
If you prefer them small, perhaps you would like a guinea-fowl's
Thank you! but this one is just as I like them.
It looks rather over-done! If you think so, we could get another in
No! they are better well boiled!
Then probably it is not enough done. Some people like them quite
hard, and I could easily pop it into the slop-basin for another
I am really obliged to you, but it could not be improved.
Do you not take any more salt with your egg?
No, I thank you!
A few more grains would improve it!
If you say so, I dare say they will.
Ah! now I am afraid you have put in too much! pray do get another!
This long-continued attack upon her egg was too much for Laura's
gravity, who appeared for some minutes to have a violent fit of
coughing, and ending in a burst of laughter, after which she hastily
finished all that remained of it, and thus ended the discussion.
In the midst of all their happiness, while the children thought that
every succeeding day had no fault but being too short, and Harry even
planned with Peter to stop the clock altogether, and see whether time
itself would not stand still, nobody ever thought for a moment of
anything but joy; and yet a very sad and sudden distress awaited Mrs.
Darwin. One forenoon she received a letter that seemed very hastily and
awkwardly folded,the seal was all to one side, and surrounded with
stray drops of red wax,the direction appeared sadly blotted, and at
the top was written in large letters, the words, To be delivered
When Mrs. Darwin hurriedly tore open this very strange-looking
letter, she found that it came from her own housekeeper in town, to
announce the dreadful event that her sister, Lady Barnet, had been that
day seized with an apoplectic fit, and was thought to be at the point
of death, therefore it was hoped that Mrs. Darwin would not lose an
hour in returning to town, that she might be present on the melancholy
occasion. The shock of hearing this news was so very great, that poor
Mrs. Darwin could not speak about it, but after trying to compose
herself for a few minutes, she went into the play-room, and told the
children that, for reasons she could not explain, they must get ready
to return home in an hour, when the car would be at the door for their
Nothing could exceed their surprise on hearing Mrs. Darwin make such
an unexpected proposal. At first Peter Grey thought she was speaking in
jest, and said he would prefer if she ordered out a balloon to travel
in, this morning; but when it appeared that Mrs. Darwin was really in
earnest about their pleasant visit being over so soon, Harry's face
grew perfectly red with passion, while he said in a loud angry voice,
Grandmama allowed me to stay here till Friday!and I was invited
to stay,and I will not go anywhere else!
Oh fie, Master Harry! said Mrs. Crabtree. Do not talk so! You
ought to know better! I shall soon teach you, however, to do as you are
Saying these words, she stretched out her hand to seize violent hold
of him, but Harry dipped down and escaped. Quickly opening the door, he
ran, half in joke and half in earnest, at full speed up two pairs of
stairs, followed closely by Mrs. Crabtree, who was now in a terrible
rage, especially when she saw what a piece of fun Harry thought this
fatiguing race. A door happened to be standing wide open on the second
landing-place, which, having been observed by Harry, he darted in, and
slammed it in Mrs. Crabtree's face, locking and double-locking it, to
secure his own safety, after which he sat down in this empty apartment
to enjoy his victory in peace. When people once begin to grow
self-willed and rebellious, it is impossible to guess where it will all
end! Harry might have been easily led to do right at first, if any one
had reasoned with him and spoken kindly, but now he really was in a
sort of don't-care-a-button humour, and scarcely minded what he did
As long as Mrs. Crabtree continued to scold and rave behind the
door, Harry grew harder and harder; but at length the good old lady,
Mrs. Darwin herself, arrived up stairs, and represented how ungrateful
he was, not doing all in his power to please her, when she had taken so
much pains to make him happy. This brought the little rebel round in a
moment, as he became quite sensible of his own misconduct, and resolved
immediately to submit. Accordingly, Harry tried to open the door, but,
what is very easily done cannot sometimes be undone, which turned out
the case on this occasion, as, with all his exertions, the key would
not turn in the lock! Harry tried it first one way, then another. He
twisted with his whole strength, till his face became perfectly scarlet
with the effort, but in vain! At last he put the poker through the
handle of the key, thinking this a very clever plan, and quite sure to
succeed, but after a desperate struggle, the unfortunate key broke in
two, so then nobody could possibly open the door!
After this provoking accident happened, Harry felt what a very bad
boy he had been, so he burst into tears, and called through the
key-hole to beg Mrs. Darwin's pardon, while Mrs. Crabtree scolded him
through the key-hole in return, till Harry shrunk away as if a
cannonading had begun at his ear.
Meantime, Mrs. Darwin hurried off, racking her brains to think what
had best be done to deliver the prisoner, since no time could be lost,
or she might perhaps not get to town at all that night, and the car was
expected every minute, to come round for the travellers. The gardener
said he thought it might be possible to find a few ladders, which,
being tied one above another, would perhaps reach as high as the
window, where Harry had now appeared, and by which he could easily
scramble down; so the servants made haste to fetch all they could find,
and to borrow all they could see, till a great many were collected.
These they joined together very strongly with ropes, but when it was at
last reared against the wall, to the great disappointment of Mrs.
Darwin, the ladder appeared a yard and a-half too short!
What was to be done?
The obliging gardener mounted to the very top of his ladder, and
Harry leaned so far over the window, he seemed in danger of falling
out, but still they did not reach one another, so not a single person
could guess what plan was to be tried next. At length Harry called out
very loudly to the gardener,
Hollo! Mr. King of Spades! If I were to let myself drop very gently
down from the window, could you catch me in your arms?
Mr. Harry! Mr. Harry! if you dare! cried Mrs. Crabtree, shaking
her fist at him. You'll be broken in pieces like a tea-pot, you'll be
made as flat as a pancake! Stay where you are! Do ye hear!
But Harry seemed suddenly grown deaf, and was now more than half
outfixing his fingers very firmly on the ledge of the window, and
slowly dropping his legs downwards.
Oh Harry! you will be killed! screamed Laura. Stop! stop! Harry,
are you mad? can nobody stop him?
But nobody could stop him, for, being so high above everybody's
head, Harry had it all his own way, and was now nearly hanging
altogether out of the window, but he stopped a single minute, and
called out, Do not be frightened, Laura! I have behaved very ill, and
deserve the worst that can happen. If I do break my head, it will save
Mrs. Crabtree the trouble of breaking it for me, after I come down.
The gardener now balanced himself steadily on the upper step of the
ladder, and spread his arms out, while Harry slowly let himself drop.
Laura tried to look on without screaming out, as that might have
startled him, but the scene became too frightful, so she closed her
eyes, put her hands over her face and turned away, while her heart beat
so violently, that it might almost have been heard. Even Mrs. Crabtree
clasped her hands in an agony of alarm, while Mrs. Darwin put up her
pocket handkerchief, and could not look on another moment. An awful
pause took place, during which, a feather falling on the ground would
have startled them, when suddenly a loud shout from Peter Grey and the
other children, which was gaily echoed from the top of the ladder, made
Laura venture to look up, and there was Harry safe in the gardener's
arms, who soon helped him down to the ground, where he immediately
asked pardon of everybody for the fright he had given them.
There was no time for more than half a scold from Mrs. Crabtree, as
Mrs. Darwin's car had been waiting some time; so Harry said she might
be owing him the rest, on some future occasion.
Yes! and a hundred lashes besides! added Peter Grey, laughing.
Pray touch him up well, Mrs. Crabtree, when you are about it. There is
no law against cruelty to boys!
This put Mrs. Crabtree into such a rage, that she followed Peter
with a perfect hail-storm of angry words, till at last, for a joke, he
put up Mrs. Darwin's umbrella to screen himself, and immediately
afterwards the car drove slowly off.
When uncle David heard all the adventures at Ivy Lodge, he listened
most attentively to the confessions of Master Harry Graham, and shook
his head in a most serious manner after they were concluded, saying, I
have always thought that boys are like cats, with nine lives at least!
You should be hung up in a basket, Harry, as they do with unruly boys
in the South Sea Islands, where such young gentlemen as you are left
dangling in the air for days together without a possibility of escape!
I would not care for that compared with being teazed and worried by
Mrs. Crabtree. I really wish, uncle David, that Dr. Bell would order me
never to be scolded any more! It is very bad for me! I generally feel
an odd sort of over-all-ish-ness as soon as she begins; and I am
getting too big now, for any thing but a birch-rod like Frank. How
pleasant it is to be a grown-up man, uncle David, as you are, sitting
all day at the club with your hat on your head, and nothing to do but
look out of the window. That is what I call happiness!
But once upon a time, Harry, said Lady Harriet, when I stopped in
the carriage for your uncle David at the club, he was in the middle of
such a yawn at the window, that he very nearly dislocated his jaw! it
was quite alarming to see him, and he told me in a great secret, that
the longest and most tiresome hours of his life are, when he has
nothing particular to do.
Now, at this moment, I have nothing particular to do, said Major
Graham, therefore I shall tell you a wonderful story, children, about
liking to be idle or busy, and you must find out the moral for
A story! a story! cried Harry and Laura, in an ecstacy of delight,
and as they each had a knee of uncle David's, which belonged to
themselves, they scrambled into their places, exclaiming, Now let it
be all about very bad boys, and giants, and fairies!
CHAPTER IX. UNCLE DAVID'S
NONSENSICAL STORY ABOUT GIANTS AND FAIRIES.
Pie-crust and pastry-crust, that was the wall;
The windows were made of black-puddings and white,
And slated with pancakesyou ne'er saw the like!
In the days of yore, children were not all such clever, good
sensible people as they are now! Lessons were then considered rather a
plague, sugar-plums were still in demandholidays continued yet in
fashionand toys were not then made to teach mathematics, nor
story-books to give instruction in chemistry and navigation. These were
very strange times, and there existed at that period, a very idle,
greedy, naughty boy, such as we never hear of in the present day. His
papa and mama wereno matter who,and he lived, no matter where.
His name was Master No-book, and he seemed to think his eyes were made
for nothing but to stare out of the windows, and his mouth for no other
purpose but to eat. This young gentleman hated lessons like mustard,
both of which brought tears into his eyes, and during school-hours, he
sat gazing at his books, pretending to be busy, while his mind wandered
away to wish impatiently for his dinner, and to consider where he could
get the nicest pies, pastry, ices, and jellies, while he smacked his
lips at the very thoughts of them. I think he must have been first
cousin to Peter Grey, but that is not perfectly certain.
Whenever Master No-book spoke, it was always to ask for something,
and you might continually hear him say, in a whining tone of voice,
Papa! may I take this piece of cake? Aunt Sarah! will you give me an
apple? Mama! do send me the whole of that plum-pudding! Indeed, very
frequently when he did not get permission to gormandize, this naughty
glutton helped himself without leave. Even his dreams were like his
waking hours, for he had often a horrible night-mare about lessons,
thinking that he was smothered with Greek Lexicons, or pelted out of
the school with a shower of English Grammars, while one night, he
fancied himself sitting down to devour an enormous plum-cake, and that
all on a sudden it became transformed into a Latin Dictionary!
One afternoon, Master No-book, having played truant all day from
school, was lolling on his mama's best sofa in the drawing-room, with
his leather boots tucked up on the satin cushions, and nothing to do
but to suck a few oranges, and nothing to think of but how much sugar
to put upon them, when suddenly an event took place which filled him
A sound of soft music stole into the room, becoming louder and
louder the longer he listened, till at length, in a few moments
afterwards, a large hole burst open in the wall of his room, and there
stepped into his presence, two magnificent fairies, just arrived from
their castle in the air, to pay him a visit. They had travelled all the
way on purpose to have some conversation with Master No-book, and
immediately introduced themselves in a very ceremonious manner.
The fairy Do-nothing was gorgeously dressed with a wreath of flaming
gas round her head, a robe of gold tissue, a necklace of rubies, and a
bouquet in her hand, of glittering diamonds. Her cheeks were rouged to
the very eyes,her teeth were set in gold, and her hair was of a most
brilliant purple; in short, so fine and fashionable looking a fairy
never was seen in a drawing-room before.
The fairy Teach-all, who followed next, was simply dressed in white
muslin, with bunches of natural flowers in her light brown hair, and
she carried in her hand a few neat small books, which Master No-book
looked at with a shudder of aversion.
The two fairies now informed him, that they very often invited large
parties of children, to spend some time at their palaces, but as they
lived in quite an opposite direction, it was necessary for their young
guests to choose which it would be best to visit first; therefore now
they had come to inquire of Master No-book, whom he thought it would be
most agreeable to accompany on the present occasion.
In my house, said the fairy Teach-all, speaking with a very sweet
smile, and a soft, pleasing voice, you shall be taught to find
pleasure in every sort of exertion, for I delight in activity and
diligence. My young friends rise at seven every morning, and amuse
themselves with working in a beautiful garden of flowers,rearing
whatever fruit they wish to eat,visiting among the poor,associating
pleasantly together,studying the arts and sciences,and learning to
know the world in which they live, and to fulfil the purposes for which
they have been brought into it. In short, all our amusements tend to
some useful object, either for our own improvement or the good of
others, and you will grow wiser, better, and happier every day you
remain in the Palace of Knowledge.
But in Castle Needless where I live, interrupted the fairy
Do-nothing, rudely pushing her companion aside, with an angry
contemptuous look, we never think of exerting ourselves for anything.
You may put your head in your pocket, and your hands in your sides as
long as you choose to stay. No one is ever even asked a question, that
he may be spared the trouble of answering. We lead the most fashionable
life that can be imagined, for nobody speaks to anybody! Each of my
visitors is quite an exclusive, and sits with his back to as many of
the company as possible, in the most comfortable arm-chair that can be
imagined. There, if you are only so good as to take the trouble of
wishing for anything, it is yours, without even turning an eye round to
look where it comes from. Dresses are provided of the most magnificent
kind, which go on of themselves, without your having the smallest
annoyance with either buttons or strings,games which you can play
without an effort of thought,and dishes dressed by a French cook,
smoking hot and hot under your nose, from morning till night,while
any rain we have, is either made of cherry brandy, lemonade, or
lavender water,and in winter it generally snows iced-punch for an
hour during the forenoon.
Nobody need be told which fairy Master No-book preferred; and quite
charmed at his own good fortune in receiving so agreeable an
invitation, he eagerly gave his hand to the splendid new acquaintance,
who promised him so much pleasure and ease, and gladly proceeded, in a
carriage lined with velvet, stuffed with downy pillows, and drawn by
milk-white swans, to that magnificent residence Castle Needless, which
was lighted by a thousand windows during the day, and by a million of
lamps every night.
Here Master No-book enjoyed a constant holiday and a constant feast,
while a beautiful lady, covered with jewels, was ready to tell him
stories from morning till night, and servants waited to pick up his
playthings if they fell, or to draw out his purse or his
pocket-handkerchief when he wished to use them.
Thus Master No-book lay dozing for hours and days on rich
embroidered cushions, never stirring from his place, but admiring the
view of trees covered with the richest burned almonds, grottoes of
sugar-candy, a jet d'eau of champagne, a wide sea which tasted of sugar
instead of salt, and a bright clear pond, filled with gold-fish, that
let themselves be caught whenever he pleased. Nothing could be more
complete, and yet, very strange to say, Master No-book did not seem
particularly happy! This appears exceedingly unreasonable, when so much
trouble was taken to please him; but the truth is, that every day he
became more fretful and peevish. No sweetmeats were worth the trouble
of eating, nothing was pleasant to play at, and in the end he wished it
were possible to sleep all day, as well as all night.
Not a hundred miles from the fairy Do-nothing's palace, there lived
a most cruel monster called the giant Snap-'em-up, who looked, when he
stood up, like the tall steeple of a great church, raising his head so
high, that he could peep over the loftiest mountains, and was obliged
to climb up a ladder to comb his own hair.
Every morning regularly, this prodigiously great giant walked round
the world before breakfast for an appetite, after which, he made tea in
a large lake, used the sea as a slop-basin, and boiled his kettle on
Mount Vesuvius. He lived in great style, and his dinners were most
magnificent, consisting very often of an elephant roasted whole,
ostrich patties, a tiger smothered in onions, stewed lions, and whale
soup; but for a side-dish his greatest favourite consisted of little
boys, as fat as possible, fried in crumbs of bread, with plenty of
pepper and salt.
No children were so well fed, or in such good condition for eating,
as those in the fairy Do-nothing's garden, who was a very particular
friend of the great Snap-'em-up's, and who sometimes laughingly said
she would give him a license, and call her own garden his preserve,
because she allowed him to help himself, whenever he pleased, to as
many of her visitors as he chose, without taking the trouble even to
count them, and in return for such extreme civility, the giant very
frequently invited her to dinner.
Snap-'em-up's favourite sport was, to see how many brace of little
boys he could bag in a morning; so in passing along the streets, he
peeped into all the drawing-rooms without having occasion to get upon
tiptoe, and picked up every young gentleman who was idly looking out of
the windows, and even a few occasionally who were playing truant from
school, but busy children seemed always somehow quite out of his reach.
One day, when Master No-book felt even more lazy, more idle, and
more miserable than ever, he lay beside a perfect mountain of toys and
cakes, wondering what to wish for next, and hating the very sight of
everything and everybody. At last he gave so loud a yawn of weariness
and disgust, that his jaw very nearly fell out of joint, and then he
sighed so deeply, that the giant Snap-'em-up heard the sound as he
passed along the road after breakfast, and instantly stepped into the
garden, with his glass at his eye, to see what was the matter.
Immediately on observing a large, fat, over-grown boy, as round as a
dumpling, lying on a bed of roses, he gave a cry of delight, followed
by a gigantic peal of laughter, which was heard three miles off, and
picking up Master No-book between his finger and his thumb, with a
pinch that very nearly broke his ribs, he carried him rapidly towards
his own castle, while the fairy Do-nothing laughingly shook her head as
he passed, saying, That little man does me great credit!he has only
been fed for a week, and is as fat already as a prize ox! What a dainty
morsel he will be! When do you dine to-day, in case I should have time
to look in upon you?
On reaching home, the giant immediately hung up Master No-book by
the hair of his head, on a prodigious hook in the larder, having first
taken some large lumps of nasty suet, forcing them down his throat to
make him become still fatter, and then stirring the fire, that he might
be almost melted with heat, to make his liver grow larger. On a shelf
quite near, Master No-book perceived the dead bodies of six other boys,
whom he remembered to have seen fattening in the fairy Do-nothing's
garden, while he recollected how some of them had rejoiced at the
thoughts of leading a long, useless, idle life, with no one to please
The enormous cook now seized hold of Master No-book, brandishing her
knife, with an aspect of horrible determination, intending to kill him,
while he took the trouble of screaming and kicking in the most
desperate manner, when the giant turned gravely round and said, that as
pigs were considered a much greater dainty when whipped to death than
killed in any other way, he meant to see whether children might not be
improved by it also; therefore she might leave that great hog of a boy
till he had time to try the experiment, especially as his own appetite
would be improved by the exercise. This was a dreadful prospect for the
unhappy prisoner; but meantime it prolonged his life a few hours, as he
was immediately hung up again in the larder, and left to himself.
There, in torture of mind and body,like a fish upon a hook,the
wretched boy began at last to reflect seriously upon his former ways,
and to consider what a happy home he might have had, if he could only
have been satisfied with business and pleasure succeeding each other,
like day and night, while lessons might have come in, as a pleasant
sauce to his play-hours, and his play-hours as a sauce to his lessons.
In the midst of many reflections, which were all very sensible,
though rather too late. Master No-book's attention became attracted by
the sound of many voices laughing, talking, and singing, which caused
him to turn his eyes in a new direction, when, for the first time, he
observed that the fairy Teach-all's garden lay upon a beautiful sloping
bank not far off. There a crowd of merry, noisy, rosy-cheeked boys,
were busily employed, and seemed happier than the day was long; while
poor Master No-book watched them during his own miserable hours,
envying the enjoyment with which they raked the flower-borders,
gathered the fruit, carried baskets of vegetables to the poor, worked
with carpenters' tools, drew pictures, shot with bows and arrows,
played at cricket, and then sat in the sunny arbours learning their
tasks, or talking agreeably together, till at length, a dinner-bell
having been rung, the whole party sat merrily down with hearty
appetites, and cheerful good-humour, to an entertainment of plain roast
meat and pudding, where the fairy Teach-all presided herself, and
helped her guests moderately, to as much as was good for each.
Large tears rolled down the cheeks of Master No-book while watching
this scene; and remembering that if he had known what was best for him,
he might have been as happy as the happiest of these excellent boys,
instead of suffering ennui and weariness, as he had done at the fairy
Do-nothing's, ending in a miserable death; but his attention was soon
after most alarmingly roused by hearing the giant Snap-'em-up again in
conversation with his cook, who said, that if he wished for a good
large dish of scolloped children at dinner, it would be necessary to
catch a few more, as those he had already provided would scarcely be a
As the giant kept very fashionable hours, and always waited dinner
for himself till nine o'clock, there was still plenty of time; so, with
a loud grumble about the trouble, he seized a large basket in his hand,
and set off at a rapid pace towards the fairy Teach-all's garden. It
was very seldom that Snap-'em-up ventured to think of foraging in this
direction, as he had never once succeeded in carrying off a single
captive from the enclosure, it was so well fortified and so bravely
defended; but on this occasion, being desperately hungry, he felt as
bold as a lion, and walked, with outstretched hands, straight towards
the fairy Teach-all's dinner-table, taking such prodigious strides,
that he seemed almost as if he would trample on himself.
A cry of consternation arose the instant this tremendous giant
appeared; and as usual on such occasions, when he had made the same
attempt before, a dreadful battle took place. Fifty active little boys
bravely flew upon the enemy, armed with their dinner knives, and looked
like a nest of hornets, stinging him in every direction, till he roared
with pain, and would have run away, but the fairy Teach-all, seeing his
intention, rushed forward with the carving knife, and brandishing it
high over her head, she most courageously stabbed him to the heart!
If a great mountain had fallen in the earth, it would have seemed
like nothing in comparison of the giant Snap-'em-up, who crushed two or
three houses to powder beneath him, and upset several fine monuments
that were to have made people remembered for ever; but all this would
have seemed scarcely worth mentioning, had it not been for a still
greater event which occurred on the occasion, no less than the death of
the fairy Do-nothing, who had been indolently looking on at this great
battle, without taking the trouble to interfere, or even to care who
was victorious, but, being also lazy about running away, when the giant
fell, his sword came with so violent a stroke on her head, that she
Thus, luckily for the whole world, the fairy Teach-all got
possession of immense property, which she proceeded without delay to
make the best use of in her power.
In the first place, however, she lost no time in liberating Master
No-book from his hook in the larder, and gave him a lecture on
activity, moderation, and good conduct, which he never afterwards
forgot; and it was astonishing to see the change that took place
immediately in his whole thoughts and actions. From this very hour,
Master No-book became the most diligent, active, happy boy in the fairy
Teach-all's garden; and on returning home a month afterwards, he
astonished all the masters at school by his extraordinary reformation.
The most difficult lessons were a pleasure to him,he scarcely ever
stirred without a book in his hand,never lay on a sofa again,would
scarcely even sit on a chair with a back to it, but preferred a
three-legged stool,detested holidays,never thought any exertion a
trouble,preferred climbing over the top of a hill to creeping round
the bottom,always ate the plainest food in very small
quantities,joined a Temperance Society!-and never tasted a morsel
till he had worked very hard and got an appetite.
Not long after this, an old uncle, who had formerly been ashamed of
Master No-book's indolence and gluttony, became so pleased at the
wonderful change, that, on his death, he left him a magnificent estate,
desiring that he should take his name; therefore, instead of being any
longer one of the No-book family, he is now called Sir Timothy
Bluestocking,a pattern to the whole country round, for the good he
does to every one, and especially for his extraordinary activity,
appearing as if he could do twenty things at once. Though generally
very good-natured and agreeable, Sir Timothy is occasionally observed
in a violent passion, laying about him with his walking-stick in the
most terrific manner, and beating little boys within an inch of their
lives; but on inquiry, it invariably appears that he has found them out
to be lazy, idle, or greedy, for all the industrious boys in the parish
are sent to get employment from him, while he assures them that they
are far happier breaking stones on the road, than if they were sitting
idly in a drawing-room with nothing to do. Sir Timothy cares very
little for poetry in general; but the following are his favourite
verses, which he has placed over the chimney-piece at a school that he
built for the poor, and every scholar is obliged, the very day he
begins his education, to learn them:
Some people complain they have nothing to do,
And time passes slowly away;
They saunter about with no object in view,
And long for the end of the day.
In vain are the trifles and toys they desire,
For nothing they truly enjoy;
Of trifles, and toys, and amusements they tire,
For want of some useful employ.
Although for transgression the ground was accursed,
Yet gratefully man must allow,
'Twas really a blessing which doom'd him at first,
To live by the sweat of his brow.
Thank you, a hundred times over, uncle David! said Harry, when the
story was finished. I shall take care not to be found hanging any day
on a hook in the larder! Certainly, Frank, you must have spent a month
with the good fairy; and I hope she will some day invite me to be made
a scholar of too, for Laura and I still belong to the No-book family.
It is very important. Harry, to choose the best course from the
beginning, observed Lady Harriet. Good or bad habits grow stronger
and stronger every minute, as if an additional string were tied on
daily, to keep us in the road where we walked the day before; so those
who mistake the path of duty at first, find hourly increasing
difficulty in turning round.
But grandmama! said Frank, you have put up some finger-posts to
direct us right; and whenever I see 'no passage this way,' we shall
wheel about directly.
As Mrs. Crabtree has not tapped at the door yet, I shall describe
the progress of a wise and a foolish man, to see which Harry and you
would prefer copying, replied Lady Harriet, smiling. The fool begins,
when he is young, with hating lessons, lying long in bed, and spending
all his money on trash. Any books he will consent to read, are never
about what is true or important; but he wastes all his time and
thoughts on silly stories that never could have happened. Thus he
neglects to learn what was done, and thought, by all the great and good
men who really lived in former times, while even his Bible, if he has
one, grows dusty on the shelf. After so bad a beginning, he grows up
with no useful or interesting knowledge; therefore his whole talk is to
describe his own horses, his own dogs, his own guns, and his own
exploits; boasting of what a high wall his horse can leap over, the
number of little birds he can shoot in a day, and how many bottles of
wine he can swallow without tumbling under the table. Thus, 'glorying
in his shame,' he thinks himself a most wonderful person, not knowing
that men are born to do much better things than merely to find selfish
pleasure and amusement for themselves. Presently he grows old, gouty,
and infirmno longer able to do such prodigious achievements;
therefore now his great delight is, to sit with his feet upon the
fender, at a club all day, telling what a famous rider, shooter, and
drinker, he was long ago; but nobody cares to hear such old stories;
therefore he is called a 'proser,' and every person avoids him. It is
no wonder a man talks about himself, if he has never read or thought
about any one else. But at length his precious time has all been
wasted, and his last hour comes, during which he can have nothing to
look back upon but a life of folly and guilt. He sees no one around who
loves him, or will weep over his grave; and when he looks forward, it
is towards an eternal world which he has never prepared to enter, and
of which he knows nothing.
What a terrible picture, grandmama! said Frank, rather gravely. I
hope there are not many people like that, or it would be very sad to
meet with them. Now pray let us have a pleasanter description of the
sort of persons you would like Harry and me to become.
The first foundation of all is, as you already know, Frank, to pray
that you may be put in the right course and kept in it, for of
ourselves we are so sinful and weak that we can do no good thing. Then
feeling a full trust in the Divine assistance, you must begin and end
every day with studying your Bible, not merely reading it, but
carefully endeavouring to understand and obey what it contains. Our
leisure should be bestowed on reading of wiser and better people than
ourselves, which will keep us humble while it instructs our
understandings, and thus we shall be fitted to associate with persons
whose society is even better than books. Christians who are enlightened
and sanctified in the knowledge of all good things, will show us an
example of carefully using our time, which is the most valuable of all
earthly possessions. If we waste our money, we may perhaps get moreif
we lose our health, it may be restoredbut time squandered on folly,
must hereafter be answered for, and can never be regained. Whatever be
your station in life, waste none of your thoughts upon fancying how
much better you might have acted in some other person's place, but see
what duties belong to that station in which you live, and do what that
requires with activity and diligence. When we are called to give an
account of our stewardship, let us not have to confess at the last that
we wasted our one talent, because we wished to have been trusted with
ten; but let us prepare to render up what was given to us, with joy and
thankfulness, perfectly satisfied that the best place in life is where
God appoints, and where He will guide us to a safe and peaceful end.
Yes! added Major Graham. You have two eyes in your minds as well
as in your bodies. With one of these we see all that is good or
agreeable in our lotwith the other we see all that is unpleasant or
disappointing, and you may generally choose which eye to keep open.
Some of my friends always peevishly look at the troubles and vexations
they endure, but they might turn them into good, by considering that
every circumstance is sent from the same hand, with the same merciful
purposeto make us better now and happier hereafter.
Well! my dear children, said Lady Harriet, it is time now for
retiring to Bedfordshire; so good night.
If you please, grandmama! not yet, asked Harry, anxiously. Give
us five minutes longer!
And then in the morning you will want to remain five minutes more
in bed. That is the way people learn to keep such dreadfully late hours
at last, Harry! I knew one very rich old gentleman formerly, who always
wished to sit up a little later every night, and to get up a little
later in the morning, till at length, he ended by hiring a set of
servants to rise at nine in the evening, as he did himself, and to
remain in bed all day.
People should regulate their sleep very conscientiously, added
Major Graham, so as to waste as little time as possible; and our good
king George III. set us the example, for he remarked, that six hours in
the night were quite enough for a manseven hours for a woman, and
eight for a fool. Or perhaps, Harry, you might like to live by Sir
William Jones' rule:
'Six hours to read, to soothing slumber seven,
Ten to the world allotand all to Heaven.'
CHAPTER X. THE ILLUMINATION.
A neighbour's house he'd slyly pass,
And throw a stone to break the glass.
One fine morning in Charlotte Square, Peter Grey persuaded a party
of his companions to spend all the money they had on cakes and
sugar-plums, to make a splendid entertainment under the trees, where
they were to sit like a horde of gypsies, and amuse themselves with
telling fortunes to each other. Harry and Laura had no one with them
but Betty, who gladly joined a group of nursery-maids at a distance,
leaving them to their own devices; upon which they rushed up to Peter
and offered their assistance, subscribing all their pocket-money, and
begging him to set forth and obtain provisions for them as well as for
himself. Neither Harry nor Laura cared for eating the trash that was
collected on this occasion, and would have been quite as well pleased
to distribute it among their companions; but they both enjoyed
extremely the bustle of arranging this elegant déjeuné or disjune, as Peter called it. Harry gathered leaves off the trees to represent
plates, on each of which Peter arranged some of the fruit or sweetmeats
he had purchased, while they placed benches together as a table, and
borrowed Laura's white India shawl for a table-cloth.
It looks like that grand public dinner we saw at the Assembly Rooms
one day! exclaimed Harry, in an ecstacy of admiration. We must have
speeches and toasts like real gentlemen and officers. Peter! if you
will make a fine oration, full of compliments to me, I shall say
something wonderful about you, and then Laura must beat upon the table
with a stick, to show that she agrees to all that we observe in praise
of each other.
Or suppose we all take the names of some great personages, added
Peter, I shall be the Duke of Wellington, and Laura, you must be
Joseph Hume, and Harry, you are Sir Francis Burdett, that we may seem
as different as possible; but here comes the usher of the black rod to
disperse us all! Mrs. Crabtree hurrying into the square, her very gown
flaming with rage! what can be the matter! she must have smelled the
sugar-plums a mile off! one comfort is, if Harry and Laura are taken
away, we shall have the fewer people to divide these cakes among, and I
could devour every one of them, for my own share.
Before Peter finished speaking, Mrs. Crabtree had come close up to
the table, and without waiting to utter a word, or even to scold, she
twitched up Laura's shawl in her hand, and thus scattered the whole
feast in every direction on the ground, after which she trampled the
sugar-plums and cakes into the earth, saying,
I knew how it would be, as soon as I saw whose company you were in,
Master Harry! Peter Grey is the father of mischief! he ought to be put
into the monkey's cage at the GEOlogical gardens! I would not be your
maid, Master Grey, for a hundred a-year.
You would need to buy a thrashing machine immediately, said Peter,
laughing; what a fine time I should have of it! you would scarcely
allow me, I suppose, to blow my porridge! how long would it take you,
Mrs. Crabtree, to make quite a perfectly good boy of me? Perhaps a
month, do you think? or to make me as good as Frank, it might possibly
require six weeks.
Six weeks! answered Mrs. Crabtree; six years, or sixty, would be
too short. You are no more like Mr. Frank than a shilling is to a
guinea, or a wax light to a dip. If the news were told that you had
been a good boy for a single day, the very statutes in the
streets would come running along to see the wonder. No! no! I have
observed many surprising things in my day, but them great pyramuses in
Egypt will turn upside down before you turn like Mr. Frank.
Some days after this adventure of Harry and Laura's, there arrived
newspapers from London containing accounts of a great battle which had
been fought abroad. On that occasion the British troops of course
performed prodigies of valour, and completely conquered the enemy, in
consequence of which, it was ordered by government, that, in every
town, and every village, and every house throughout the whole kingdom,
there should be a grand illumination.
Neither Harry nor Laura had ever heard of such a thing as an
illumination before, and they were full of curiosity to know what it
was like; but their very faces became lighted up with joy, when Major
Graham described that they would see crowds of candles flaming in every
window, tar-barrels blazing on every hill, flambeaux glaring at the
doors, and transparencies, fire-works, and coloured lamps shining in
all the streets.
How delightful! and walking out in the dark to see it, cried
Harry; that will be best of all! oh! and a whole holiday! I hardly
know whether I am in my right wits, or my wrong wits, for joy! I wish
we gained a victory every day!
What a warrior you would be, Harry! Cæsar was nothing to you, said
Frank. We might be satisfied with one good battle in a year,
considering how many are killed and wounded.
Yes, but I hope all the wounded soldiers will recover.
Or get pensions, added uncle David. It is a grand sight, Frank,
to see a whole nation rejoicing at once! In general, when you walk out
and meet fifty persons in the street, they are all thinking of fifty
different things, and each intent on some business of his own, but on
this occasion all are of one mind and one heart.
Frank and Harry were allowed to nail a dozen of little candlesticks
upon each window in the house, which delighted them exceedingly, and
then, before every pane of glass, they placed a tall candle,
impatiently longing for the time when these were to be illuminated.
Laura was allowed to carry a match, and assist in lighting them, but in
the excess of her joy, she very nearly made a bonfire of herself, as
her frock took fire, and would soon have been in a blaze, if Frank had
not hastily seized a large rug and rolled it round her.
In every house within sight, servants and children were to be seen
hurrying about with burning matches, while hundreds of lights blazed up
in a moment, looking as if all the houses in town had taken fire.
Such a waste of candles! said Mrs. Crabtree, angrily; can't
people be happy in the dark!
No, Mrs. Crabtree! answered Frank, laughing. They cannot be happy
in the dark! People's spirits are always in exact proportion to the
number of lights. If you ever feel dull with one candle, light another;
and if that does not do, try a third, or a fourth, till you feel merry
and cheerful. We must not let you be candle-snuffer to-night, or you
will be putting them all out. You would snuff out the sun itself, to
save a shilling.
The windows might perhaps be broken, added Laura; for whatever
pane of glass does not exhibit a candle, is to have a stone sent
through it. Harry says the mob are all glaziers, who break them on
purpose to mend the damage next day, which they will be paid handsomely
There were many happy, joyous faces, to be seen that evening in the
streets, admiring the splendid illumination; but the merriest party of
all, was composed of Frank, Harry, and Laura, under the command of
uncle David, who had lately suffered from a severe fit of the gout; but
it seemed to have left him this night, in honour of the great victory,
when he appeared quite as much a boy as either of his two companions.
For many hours they walked about in the streets, gazing up at the
glittering windows, some of which looked as if a constellation of stars
had come down for a night to adorn them; and others were filled with
the most beautiful pictures of Britannia carrying the world on her
shoulders; or Mars showering down wreaths of laurel on the Duke of
Wellington, while victory was sitting at his feet, and fame blowing a
trumpet at his ear. Harry thought these paintings finer than any he had
ever seen before, and stood for some moments entranced with admiration,
on beholding a representation in red, blue, yellow, and black, of
Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, all doing homage to St. George
mounted on a dragon, which breathed out fire and smoke like a
steam-boat. Nothing, however, occasioned the party such a burst of
delightful surprise, as when they first beheld the line of blazing
windows more than a mile long, from the bottom of the Canongate to the
highest pinnacle of the Castle, where they seemed almost to meet the
stars shining above, in their perpetual glory. You see, remarked
Major Graham, when he pointed them out to his young companions, there
is a fit emblem of the difference between earth and heaven. These
lights nearer and brighter to us at present; but when they have blazed
and glittered for one little hour, they come to an end; while those
above, which we see so dimly now, will continue to shine for ages and
generations hereafter, till time itself is no more.
Occasionally, during their progress, Harry felt very indignant to
observe a few houses perfectly dark; and whether the family were sick,
or out of town, or whatever the reason might be, he scarcely became
sorry when a frequent crash might be heard, as the mob, determined to
have their own way this night, aimed showers of stones at the offending
windows, till the very frames seemed in danger of being broken. At last
uncle David led his joyous little party into Castle Street, in which
not a light was to be seen, and every blind seemed carefully closed. A
crowd had assembled, with an evident intention to attack these
melancholy houses, when Major Graham suddenly caught hold of Harry's
arm, on observing that he had privately picked up a large stone, which
he was in the very act of throwing with his whole force at one of the
defenceless windows. And now the whole party stood stock still, while
uncle David said in a very angry and serious voice,
Harry! you heedless, mischievous boy! will you never learn to
consider a moment before you do what is wrong? I am exceedingly
displeased with you for this! What business is it of yours whether that
house be lighted up or not?
But, uncle David! surely it is very wrong not to obey the
government, and to be happy like everybody else! Besides, you see the
mob will break those windows at any rate, so it is no matter if I help
Then, for the same reason, if they were setting the house on fire,
I suppose you would assist the conflagration, Harry. Your excuse is a
very bad one; and when you hear what I have to say about this house,
let it be a lesson for the rest of your life, never to judge hastily,
nor to act rashly. The officer to whom it belonged, has been killed in
the great battle abroad; and while we are rejoicing in the victory that
his bravery helped to gain, his widow and children are weeping within
those walls, for the husband and father who lies buried on a foreign
shore. Think what a contrast these shouts of joy must be to their
Oh, uncle David! how sorry I am! said Harry. I deserve to go home
this moment, and not to see a candle again for a week. It was very
wrong of me indeed. I shall walk all the way home, with my eyes shut,
if you will only excuse me.
No, no, Harry! that is not necessary! If the eyes of your mind are
open, to see that you have acted amiss, then try to behave better in
future. When people are happy themselves, they are too apt to forget
that others may be in distress, and often feel quite surprised and
provoked at those who appear melancholy; but our turn must come like
theirs. Life is made up of sunshine and shadow, both of which are sent
for our good, and neither of them last, in this world, for ever; but we
should borrow part of our joys, and part of our sorrows, from sympathy
with all those we see or know, which will moderate the excess of
whatever is our own portion in life.
At this moment, the mob, which had been gradually increasing, gave a
tremendous shout, and were on the point of throwing a torrent of stones
at the dark, mournful house, which had made so narrow an escape from
Harry's vengeance, when Major Graham, forgetting his gout, hastily
sprung upon a lamp-post, and calling for attention, he made a speech to
the crowd, telling of the brave Captain Dwho had died for his
country, covered with wounds, and that his mourning family was
assembled in that house. Instantly the mob became as silent and
motionless as if they had themselves been turned into stones; after
which they gradually stole away, with downcast eyes, and mournful
countenances; while it is believed that some riotous people, who had
been loudest and fiercest at first, afterwards stood at the top of the
little street like sentinels, for more than an hour, to warn every one
who passed, that he should go silently along, in respect for the memory
of a brave and good officer. Not another shout was heard in the
neighbourhood that night; and many a merry laugh was suddenly checked
from reverence for the memory of the dead, and the sorrow of the
living; while some spectators remarked, with a sigh of melancholy
reflection, that men must ever join trembling with their mirth, because
even in the midst of life they are in death.
If we feel so much sorrow for this one officer and his family, it
shows, said Frank, what a dreadful thing war is, which costs the
lives of thousands and tens of thousands in every campaign, by sickness
and fatigue, and the other sources of misery that accompany every
Yes, Frank! and yet there has scarcely been a year on earth, while
the world has existed, without fighting in some country or another,
for, since the time when Cain killed Abel, men have been continually
destroying each other. Animals only fight in temporary irritation when
they are hungry, but pride, ambition, and folly of every kind, have
caused men to hate and massacre each other. Even religion itself has
caused the fiercest and most bloody conflicts, though, if that were
only understood and obeyed as it ought to be, the great truths of
Scripture would produce peace on earth, and good-will among all the
children of men.
The whole party had been standing for some minutes opposite to the
post-office, which looked like a rainbow of coloured lamps, and Harry
was beginning, for the twentieth time, to try if he could count how
many there were, when Major Graham felt something twitching hold of his
coat pocket behind, and on wheeling suddenly round, he perceived a
little boy, not much older than Harry, darting rapidly off in another
direction, carrying his own purse and pocket-handkerchief in his hand.
Being still rather lame, and unable to move very fast, Major Graham
could only vociferate at the very top of his voice, Stop thief! stop
thief! but not a constable appeared in sight, so the case seemed
desperate, and the money lost for ever, when Frank observed also what
had occurred, and being of an active spirit, he flew after the young
thief, followed closely by Harry. An eager race ensued, up one street,
and down another, with marvellous rapidity, while Frank was so
evidently gaining ground, that the thief at last became terrified, and
threw away the purse, hoping thus to end the chase; but neither of his
pursuers paused a moment to pick it up, they were so intent upon
capturing the little culprit himself. At length Frank sprung forward
and caught him by the collar, when a fierce conflict ensued, during
which the young thief was so ingenious, that he nearly slipped his arms
out of his coat, and would have made his escape, leaving a very
tattered garment in their hands, if Harry had not observed this trick,
and held him by the hair, which, as it was not a wig, he could not so
easily throw off.
At this moment, a large coarse ruffianly-looking man hurried up to
the party, evidently intending to rescue the little pick-pocket from
their custody; so Frank called loudly for help, while several
police-officers who had been sent by Major Graham, came racing along
the street, springing their rattles, and vociferating, Stop thief!
Now, the boy struggled more violently than ever to disentangle
himself, but Frank and Harry grasped hold of their prisoner, as if they
had been a couple of Bow Street officers, till at length the tall
fierce man thought it time to be off, though not before he had given
Harry a blow on the face, that caused him to reel back, and fall
prostrate on the pavement.
There's a brave little gentleman! said one of the constables,
helping him up, while another secured the thief. You ought to be
knighted for fighting so well! This boy you have taken is a sad fellow!
He broke his poor mother's heart a year since by his wicked ways, and I
have long wished to catch him. A few weeks on the tread-mill now, may
save him from the gallows in future.
He seems well practised in his business, observed Major Graham. I
almost deserved; however, to lose my pocket-book for bringing it out in
a night of so much crowding and confusion. Some lucky person will be
all the richer, though I fear it is totally lost to me.
But here is your pocket-handkerchief, uncle David, if you mean to
shed any tears for your misfortune, whispered Laura; how very lucky
that you felt it going!
Yes, and very surprising too, for the trick was so cleverly
executed! That little rascal might steal the teeth out of one's head,
without being noticed! When I was in India, the thieves there were so
expert that they really could draw the sheets from under a person
sleeping in bed, without disturbing his slumbers.
With me, any person could do that, because I sleep so very
soundly, observed Frank. You might beat a military drum at my ear, as
they do in the boy's sleeping rooms at Sandhurst, and it would not have
the smallest effect. I scarcely think that even a gong would do!
How very different from me, replied Laura. Last night I was
awakened by the scratching of a mouse nibbling in the wainscoat, and
soon after it ran across my face.
Then pray sleep to-night with your mouth open, and a piece of
toasted cheese in it, to catch the mouse, said Major Graham. That is
the best trap I know!
Uncle David, asked Frank, as they proceeded along the street, if
there is any hope of that wicked boy being reformed, will you try to
have him taught better? Being so very young, he must have learned from
older people to steal.
Certainly he must! It is melancholy to know how carefully mere
children are trained to commit the very worst crimes, and how little
the mind of any young boy can be a match for the cunning of old,
experienced villains like those who lead them astray. When once a child
falls into the snare of such practised offenders, escape becomes as
impossible as that of a bird from a limed twig.
So I believe, replied Frank. Grandmama told me that the very
youngest children of poor people, when first sent to school in London,
are often waylaid by those old women who sell apples in the street, and
who pretend to be so good-natured that they make them presents of
fruit. Of course these are very acceptable, but after some time, those
wicked wretches propose that the child in return shall bring them a
book, or anything he can pick up at home, which shall be paid for in
apples and pears. Few little boys have sufficient firmness not to
comply, whether they like it or not, and after that the case is almost
hopeless, because, whenever the poor victim hesitates to steal more,
those cruel women threaten to inform the parents of his misconduct,
which terrifies the boy into doing anything rather than be found out.
Oh, how dreadful! exclaimed Laura. It all begins so smoothly! No
poor little boy could suspect any danger, and then he becomes a
hardened thief at once.
Grandmama says, too, that pick-pockets, in London used to have the
stuffed figure of a man hung from the roof of their rooms, and covered
all over with bells, for the boys to practise upon, and no one was
allowed to attempt stealing on the streets, till he could pick the
pocket of this dangling effigy, without ringing one of the many bells
with which it was ornamented.
I think, said Harry, when the young thieves saw that figure
hanging in the air, it might have reminded them how soon they would
share the same fate. Even crows take warning when they see a brother
crow hanging dead in a field.
It is a curious thing of crows, Harry, that they certainly punish
thieves among themselves, observed Major Graham. In a large rookery,
some outcasts are frequently to be observed living apart from the rest,
and not allowed to associate with their more respectable brethren. I
remember hearing formerly, that in the great rookery at , when
all the other birds were absent, one solitary crow was observed to
linger behind, stealing materials for his nest from those around, but
next morning a prodigious uproar was heard among the trees,the cawing
became so vociferous, that evidently several great orators were
agitating the crowd, till suddenly the enraged crows flew in a body
upon the nest of their dishonest associate, and tore it in pieces.
Bravo! cried Frank. I do like to hear about all the odd ways of
birds and animals! Grandmama mentioned lately, that, if you catch a
crow, and fasten him down with his back to the ground, he makes such an
outcry, that all his black brothers come wheeling about the place, till
one of them at last alights to help him. Immediately the treacherous
prisoner grapples hold of his obliging friend, and never afterwards
lets him escape; so, by fastening down one after another, we might
entrap the whole rookery.
I shall try it some day! exclaimed Harry, eagerly. What fun to
hear them all croaking and cawing!
We shall be croaking ourselves soon with colds, if we do not hurry
home, added uncle David. There is not a thimbleful of light
remaining, and your grandmama will be impatient to hear all the news.
This has really been a most adventurous night, and I am sure none of us
will soon forget it.
When the whole party entered the drawing-room, in a blaze of
spirits, all speaking at once, to tell Lady Harriet what had occurred,
Mrs. Crabtree, who was waiting to take a couple of little prisoners off
to bed, suddenly gave an exclamation of astonishment and dismay when
she looked at Harry, who now, for the first time since the robber had
knocked him down, approached the light, when he did, to be sure, appear
a most terrible spectacle! His jacket was bespattered with mud, his
shirt-frill torn and bloody, one eye almost swelled out of his head,
and the side of his face quite black and blue.
What mischief have you been in now, Mr. Harry? cried Mrs.
Crabtree, angrily; you will not leave a whole bone in your body, nor a
whole shirt in your drawer!
These are honourable scars, Mrs. Crabtree, interrupted Major
Graham. Harry has been fighting my battles, and gained a great
victory! we must illuminate the nursery!
Uncle David then told the whole story, with many droll remarks,
about his purse having been stolen, and said that, as Harry never
complained of being hurt, he never supposed that anything of the kind
could have occurred; but he felt very much pleased to observe how well
a certain young gentleman was able to bear pain, as boys must expect
hard blows in the world, when they had to fight their way through life,
therefore it was well for them to give as few as they could, and to
bear with fortitude what fell to their own share. Uncle David slyly
added, that perhaps Harry put up with these things all the better for
having so much practice in the nursery.
Mrs. Crabtree seemed rather proud of Harry's manly spirit, and
treated him with a little more respect than usual, saying, she would
fetch him some hot water to foment his face, if he would go straight up
stairs with Laura. Now, it very seldom happened, that Harry went
straight anywhere, for he generally swung down the bannisters again, or
took a leap over any thing he saw on the way, or got upon some of the
tables and jumped off, but this night he had resolutely intended
marching steadily up to bed, and advanced a considerable way, when a
loud shout in the street attracted his attention. Harry stopped, and it
was repeated again, so seizing Laura by the hand, they flew eagerly
into Lady Harriet's dressing-room, and throwing open a window, they
picked up a couple of cloaks that were lying on a chair, and both
stepped out on a balcony to find out what was going on; and in case any
one should see them in this unusual place, Harry quietly shut the
window down, intending to remain only one single minute. Minutes run
very fast away when people are amused, and nothing could be more
diverting than the sight they now beheld, for at this moment a grand
crash exploded of squibs and rockets from the Castle-hill, which looked
so beautiful in the dark, that it seemed impossible to think of
anything else. Some flew high in the air, and then burst into the
appearance of twenty fiery serpents falling from the sky, others
assumed a variety of colours, and dropped like flying meteors, looking
as if the stars were all learning to dance, while many rushed into the
air and disappeared, leaving not a trace behind. Harry and Laura stood
perfectly entranced with admiration and delight, till the fire-works
neither burst, cracked, nor exploded any more.
A ballad-singer next attracted their notice, singing the tune of
Meet me by moonlight, and afterwards Laura shewed Harry the
constellation of Orion mentioned in the Bible, which, besides the Great
Bear, was the only one she had the slightest acquaintance with. Neither
of them had ever observed the Northern Lights so brilliant before, and
now they felt almost alarmed to see them shooting like lances of fire
across the sky, and glittering with many bright colours, like a
rainbow, while Laura remembered her grandmama mentioning some days ago,
that the poor natives of Greenland believe these are the spirits of
their fathers going forth to battle.
Meantime, Lady Harriet called Frank, as usual, to his evening
prayers and reading in her dressing-room, where it was well known that
they were on no account to be disturbed. After having read a chapter,
and talked very seriously about all it was intended to teach, they had
begun to discuss the prospect of Frank going abroad very soon to become
a midshipman, and he was wondering much where his first great shipwreck
would take place, and telling Lady Harriet about the loss of the
Cabalvala, where the crew lived for eight days on a barren rock, with
nothing to eat but a cask of raspberry jam, which accidentally floated
within their reach. Before Frank had finished his story, however, he
suddenly paused, and sprung upon his feet with an exclamation of
astonishment, while Lady Harriet, looking hastily round in the same
direction, became terrified to observe a couple of faces looking in at
the window. It was so dark, she could not see what they were like, but
a moment afterwards the sash began slowly and heavily opening, after
which two figures leaped into the room, while Frank flew to ring a peal
at the bell, and Lady Harriet sunk into her own arm-chair, covering her
face with her hands, and nearly fainting with fright.
Never mind, grandmama! do not be afraid! it is only us! cried
Harry; surely you know me?
You!!! exclaimed Lady Harriet, looking up with amazement. Harry
and Laura!! impossible! how in all the world did you get here? I
thought you were both in bed half an hour ago! Tiresome boy! you will
be the death of me some time or other! I wonder when you will ever pass
a day without deserving the bastinado!
Do you not remember the good day last month, grandmama, when I had
a severe toothache, and sat all morning beside the fire? Nobody found
fault with me then, and I got safe to bed, without a single Oh fie!
from noon till night.
Wonderful, indeed! what a pity I ever allowed that tooth to be
drawn, but you behaved very bravely on the occasion of its being
extracted. Now take yourselves off! I feel perfectly certain you will
tell Mrs. Crabtree the exact truth about where you have been, and if
she punishes you, remember that it is no more than you both deserve.
People who behave ill are their own punishers, and should be glad that
some one will kindly take the trouble to teach them better.
CHAPTER XI. THE POOR BOY.
Not all the fine things that fine people possess,
Should teach them the poor to despise;
For 'tis in good manners, and not in good dress,
That the truest gentility lies.
The following Saturday morning, Frank, Harry, and Laura were
assembled before Lady Harriet's breakfast hour, talking over all their
adventures on the night of the illumination; and many a merry laugh was
heard while uncle David cracked his jokes and told his stories, for he
seemed as full of fun and spirits as the youngest boy in a play-ground.
Well, old fellow! said he, lifting up Harry, and suddenly seating
him on the high marble chimney-piece. That is the situation where the
poor little dwarf, Baron Borowloski was always put by his tall wife,
when she wished to keep him out of mischief, and I wonder Mrs. Crabtree
never thought of the same plan for you.
Luckily there is no fire, or Harry would soon be roasted for the
Giant Snap-'em-up's dinner, said Frank, laughing; he looks up there
like a China Mandarin. Shake your head, Harry, and you will do quite as
Uncle David! cried Harry, eagerly, pray let me see you stand for
one moment as you do at the club on a cold day, with your feet upon the
rug, your back to the fire, and your coat-tails under your arms! Pray
do, for one minute!
Uncle David did as he was asked, evidently expecting the result,
which took place, for Harry sprung upon his back with the agility of a
monkey, and they went round and round the room at a full gallop, during
the next five minutes, while Lady Harriet said she never saw two such
noisy people, but it was quite the fashion now, since the king of
France carried his grandchildren, in the same way, every morning, a
picture of which had lately been shown to her.
Then I hope his majesty gets as good an appetite with his romp as I
have done, replied Major Graham, sitting down. None of your tea and
toast for me! that is only fit for ladies. Frank, reach me these
beef-steaks, and a cup of chocolate.
Harry and Laura now planted themselves at the window, gazing at
crowds of people who passed, while, by way of a joke, they guessed what
everybody had come out for, and who they all were.
There is a fat cook with a basket under her arm, going to market,
said Harry. Did you ever observe when Mrs. Marmalade comes home, she
says to grandmama, 'I have desired a leg of mutton to come here, my
lady! and I told a goose to be over also,' as if the leg of mutton and
the goose walked here, arm-in-arm, of themselves.
Look at those children, going to see the wild beasts, added Laura,
and this little girl is on her way to buy a new frock. I am sure she
needs one! that old man is hurrying along because he is too late for
the mail-coach; and this lady with a gown like a yellow daffodil, is
going to take root in the Botanical Gardens!
Uncle David! there is the very poorest boy I ever saw! cried
Harry, turning eagerly round; he has been standing in the cold here,
for ten minutes, looking the picture of misery! he wears no hat, and
has pulled his long lank hair to make a bow, about twenty times. Do
come and look at him! he is very pale, and his clothes seem to have
been made before he began to grow, for they are so much too small, and
he is making us many signs to open the window. May I do it?
No! no! I never give to chance beggars of that kind, especially
young able-bodied fellows like that, because there are so many needy,
deserving people whom I visit, who worked as long as they could, and
whom I know to be sober and honest. Most of the money we scatter to
street beggars goes straight to the gin-shop, and even the very
youngest children will buy or steal, to get the means of becoming
intoxicated. Only last week, Harry, the landlord of an ale-house at
Portobello was seen at the head of a long table, surrounded with ragged
beggar boys about twelve or fourteen years of age, who were all
perfectly drunk, and probably your friend there might be of the party.
Oh no! uncle David! this boy seems quite sober and exceedingly
clean, though he is so very poor! replied Laura; his black trowsers
are patched and repatched, his jacket has faded into fifty colours, and
his shoes are mended in every direction, but still he looks almost
respectable. His face is so thin you might use it for a hatchet. I wish
you would take one little peep, for he seems so anxious to speak to
I daresay that! we all know what the youngster has to tell!
Probably a wife and six small children at home, or, if you like it
better, he will be a shipwrecked sailor at your service. I know the
whole affair already; but if you have sixpence to spare, Laura, come
with me after breakfast, and we shall bestow it on poor blind Mrs.
Wilkie, who has been bed-ridden for the last ten years; or old
paralytic Jemmy Dixon the porter, who worked hard as long as he was
able. If you had twenty more sixpences, I could tell you of twenty more
people who deserve them as much.
Very true, added Lady Harriet. Street beggars, who are young and
able to work, like that boy, it is cruelty to encourage. Parents bring
up their children in profligate idleness, hoping to gain more money by
lying and cheating, than by honest industry, and they too often
succeed, especially when the wicked mothers also starve and disfigure
these poor creatures, to excite more compassion. We must relieve real
distress, Harry, and search for it as we would for hidden treasures,
because thus we show our love to God and man; but a large purse with
easy strings will do more harm than good.
Do you remember, Frank, how long I suspected that old John Davidson
was imposing upon me? said Major Graham. He told such a dismal story
always, that I never liked to refuse him some assistance; but
yesterday, when he was here, the thought struck me by chance to say,
'What a fine supper you had last night, John!' You should have seen the
start he gave, and his look of consternation, when he answered, 'Eh,
Sir! how did ye hear of that! We got the turkey very cheap, and none of
us took more than two glasses of toddy.'
That boy is pointing to his pockets, and making more signs for us
to open the window! exclaimed Laura. What can it all mean! he seems
so very anxious!
Major Graham threw down his knife and forkrose hastily from
breakfastand flung open the window, calling out in rather a loud,
angry voice, What do you want, you idle fellow? It is a perfect shame
to see you standing there all morning! Surely you don't mean to say
that an active youngster like you would disgrace yourself by begging?
No, Sir! I want nothing! answered the boy respectfully, but
colouring to the deepest scarlet. I never asked for money in my life,
and I never will.
That's right, my good boy! answered the Major, instantly changing
his tone. What brings you here then?
Please, Sir, your servants shut the door in my face, and every body
is so hasty like, that I don't know what to do. I can't be listened to
for a minute, though I have got something very particular to say, that
some one would be glad to hear.
Major Graham now looked exceedingly vexed with himself, for having
spoken so roughly to the poor boy, who had a thoughtful, mild, but
care-worn countenance, which was extremely interesting, while his
manner seemed better than his dress.
Frank was despatched, as a most willing messenger, to bring the
young stranger up stairs, while uncle David told Harry that he would
take this as a lesson to himself ever afterwards, not to judge hastily
from appearances, because it was impossible for any one to guess what
might be in the mind of another; and he began to hope this boy, who was
so civil and well-spoken, might yet turn out to be a proper,
industrious little fellow.
Well, my lad! Is there anything I can do for you? asked Major
Graham, when Frank led him kindly into the room. What is your name?
Evan Mackay, at your service. Please, Sir, did you lose a
pocket-book last Thursday, with your name on the back, and nine gold
Yes! that I did, to my cost! Have you heard anything of it?
The boy silently drew a parcel from his pocket, and without looking
up or speaking, he modestly placed it on the table, then colouring very
deeply, he turned away, and hurried towards the door. In another minute
he would have been off, but Frank sprung forward and took hold of his
arm, saying, in the kindest possible manner, Stop, Evan! Stop a
moment! That parcel seems to contain all my uncle's money. Where did
you get it? Who sent it here?
I brought it, Sir! The direction is on the pocket-book, so there
could be no mistake.
Did you find it yourself then?
Yes! it was lying in the street that night when I ran for a Doctor
to see my mother, who is dying. She told me now to come back directly,
Sir, so I must be going.
But let us give you something for being so honest, said Frank.
You are a fine fellow, and you deserve to be well rewarded.
I only did my duty, Sir. Mother always says we should do right for
conscience' sake, and not for a reward.
Yes! but you are justly entitled to this, said Major Graham,
taking a sovereign out of the purse. I shall do more for you yet, but
in the meantime here is what you have honestly earned to-day.
If I thought so, Sir,said the poor boy, looking wistfully at
the glittering coin. If I was quite sure there could be no harm,
but I must speak first to mother about it, Sir! She has seen better
days once, and she is sadly afraid of my ever taking charity. Mother
mends my clothes, and teaches me herself, and works very hard in other
ways, but she is quite bed-ridden, and we have scarcely anything but
the trifle I make by working in the fields. It is very difficult to get
a job at all sometimes, and if you could put me in the way of earning
that money, Sir, it would make mother very happy. She is a little
particular, and would not taste a morsel that I could get by asking for
That is being very proud! said Harry.
No, Sir! it is not from pride, replied Evan; but mother says a
merciful God has provided for her many years, and she will not begin to
distrust Him now. Her hands are always busy, and her heart is always
cheerful. She rears many little plants by her bedside, which we sell,
and she teaches a neighbour's children, besides sewing for any one who
will employ her, for mother's maxim always was, that there can be no
such thing as an idle Christian.
Very true! said Lady Harriet. Even the apostles were mending
their nets and labouring hard, whenever they were not teaching. Either
the body or the mind should always be active.
If you saw mother, that is exactly her way, for she does not eat
the bread of idleness. Were a stranger to offer us a blanket or a
dinner in charity, she would rather go without any than take it. A very
kind lady brought her a gown one day, but mother would only have it if
she were allowed to knit as many stockings as would pay for the stuff.
I dare not take a penny more for my work than is due, for she says, if
once I begin receiving alms, I might get accustomed to it.
That is the good old Scotch feeling of former days, observed Major
Graham. It was sometimes carried too far then, but there is not enough
of it now. Your mother should have lived fifty years ago.
You may say so, indeed, Sir! We never had a drop of broth from the
soup-kitchen all winter, and many a day we shivered without a fire,
though the society offered her sixpence a-week for coals, but she says
'the given morsel is soon done;' and now, many of our neighbours who
wasted what they got, feel worse off than we, who are accustomed to
suffer want, and to live upon our honest labour. Long ago, if mother
went out to tea with any of our neighbours, she always took her own tea
along with us.
But that is being prouder than anybody else, observed Frank,
smiling. If my grandmama goes out to a tea-party, she allows her
friends to provide the fare.
Very likely, Sir! but that is different when people can give as
good as they get. Last week a kind neighbour sent us some nice loaf
bread, but mother made me take it back, with her best thanks, and she
preferred our own oat cake. She is more ready to give than to take,
Sir, and divides her last bannock, sometimes, with anybody who is worse
off than ourselves.
Poor fellow! said Frank, compassionately; how much you must often
Suffered! said the boy, with sudden emotion. Yes! I have
suffered! It matters nothing to be clothed in rags,to be cold and
hungry now! There are worse trials than that! My father died last year,
crushed to death in a moment by his own cart-wheels,my brothers and
sisters have all gone to the grave, scarcely able to afford the
medicines that might have cured them,and I am left alone with my poor
dying mother. It is a comfort that life is not very long, and we may
trust all to God while it lasts.
Could you take us to see Mrs. Mackay? said Major Graham, kindly.
Laura, get your bonnet.
Oh, Sir! that young lady could not stay half a minute in the place
where my poor mother lives now. It is not a pretty cottage such as we
read of in tracts, but a dark cold room, up a high stair, in the
narrowest lane you ever saw, with nothing to sit on but an old chest.
Never mind that, Evan, replied Major Graham. You and your mother
have a spirit of honour and honesty that might shame many who are lying
on sofas of silk and damask. I respect her, and shall assist you if it
be possible. Show us the way.
Many dirty closes and narrow alleys were threaded by the whole
party, before they reached a dark ruinous staircase, where Evan paused
and looked round, to see whether Major Graham still approached. He then
slowly mounted one flight of ancient crumbling steps after another,
lighted by patched and broken windows, till at last they arrived at a
narrow wooden flight, perfectly dark. After groping to the summit, they
perceived a time-worn door, the latch of which was gently lifted by
Evan, who stole noiselessly into the room, followed by uncle David and
the wondering children.
There, a large cold room, nearly empty, but exceedingly clean,
presented itself to their notice. In one corner stood a massive old
chest of carved oak, surrounded with a perfect glow of geraniums and
myrtles in full blossom; beside which were arranged a large antique
Bible, a jug of cold water, and a pile of coarsely-knitted worsted
stockings. Beyond these, on a bed of clean straw, lay a tall, emaciated
old woman, apparently in the last stage of life, with a face haggard by
suffering; and yet her thin, withered hands were busily occupied with
needle-work, while, in low, faltering tones, she chanted these words,
When from the dust of death I rise,
To claim my mansion in the skies,
This, this shall be my only plea,
Jesus has liv'd and died for me.
Mother! said Evan, wishing to arouse her attention. Look,
Good day, Mrs. Mackay, added Major Graham, in a voice of great
consideration, while she languidly turned her head towards the door. I
have come to thank you for restoring my purse this morning.
You are kindly welcome, Sir! What else could we do! replied she,
in a feeble, tremulous voice. The money was yours, and the sooner it
went out of our hands the better.
It was perfectly safe while it stayed there, added Major Graham,
not affecting to speak in a homely accent, nor putting on any airs of
condescension at all, but sitting down on the old chest as if he had
never sat on any thing but a chest in his life before, and looking at
the clean bare floor with as much respect as if it had been a Turkey
carpet. Your little boy's pocket seems to be as safe as the Bank of
That is very true, Sir! My boy is honest; and it is well to keep a
good conscience, as that is all he has in this world to live for. Many
have a heavy conscience to carry with a heavy purse; but these he need
not envy. If we are poor in this world, we are rich in faith; and I
trust the money was not even a temptation to Evan, because he has
learned from the best of all teachers, that it would 'profit him
nothing to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.'
True, Mrs. Mackay! most true! We have come here this morning to
request that you and he will do me the favour to accept of a small
We are already rewarded, Sir! This has been an opportunity of
testifying to our own hearts that we desire to do right in the eye of
God. At the same time, it was Providence who kindly directed my son's
steps to the place where that money was lying; and if anything seems
justly due to poor Evan, let him have it. My wants are few, and must
soon be ended. But oh! when I look at that boy, and think of the long
years he may be struggling with poverty and temptation, my heart melts
within me, and my whole spirit is broken. Faith itself seems to fail,
and I could be a beggar for him now! It is not money I would ask, Sir,
because that might soon be spent; but get him some honest employment,
and I will thank you on my very knees.
Evan seemed startled at the sudden energy of his mother's manner,
and tears sprung into his eyes while she spoke with a degree of
agitation so different from what he had ever heard before; but he
struggled to conceal his feelings, and she continued with increasing
Bodily suffering, and many a year of care and sorrow, are fast
closing their work on me. The moments are passing away like a weaver's
shuttle; and if I had less anxiety about Evan, how blessed a prospect
it would appear; but that is the bitterness of death to me now. My
poor, poor boy! I would rather hear he was in the way of earning his
livelihood, than that he got a hundred a-year. Tell me, Sir!and oh!
consider you are speaking to a dying creaturecan you possibly give
him any creditable employment, where he might gain a crust of bread,
and be independent?
I honour your very proper feeling on the subject, Mrs. Mackay, and
shall help Evan to the best of my ability, replied Major Graham, in a
tone of seriousness and sincerity. To judge by these fine geraniums,
he must be fond of cultivating plants; and we want an under-gardener in
the country; therefore he shall have that situation without loss of
Oh, mother! mother! speak no more of dying! You will surely get
better now! said Evan, looking up, while his thin pale face assumed a
momentary glow of pleasure. Try now to get better! I never could work
as well, if you were not waiting to see me come home! We shall be so
Yes! I am happy! said Mrs. Mackay, solemnly looking towards
heaven, with an expression that could not be mistaken. The last cord
is cut that bound me to the earth; and may you, Sir, find hereafter the
blessings that are promised to those who visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction.
CHAPTER XII. THE YOUNG MIDSHIPMAN.
When hands are link'd that dread to part,
And heart is met by throbbing heart;
Oh! bitter, bitter is the smart
Of them that bid farewell.
Next Monday morning, at an early hour, Frank had again found his way
with great difficulty to the house of Widow Mackay, where he spent all
his pocket money on two fine scarlet geraniums. If they had been
nettles or cabbages, he would have felt the same pleasure in buying
them; and his eyes sparkled with animation when he entered uncle
David's room, carrying them in his hand, and saying, I was so glad to
have some money! I could spare it quite well. There is no greater
pleasure in being rich than to help such poor people as Evan Mackay and
his poor sick mother!
Yes, Frank, I often wonder that any enjoyment of wealth can be
considered equal to the exercise of kind feelings, for surely the most
delightful sensation in this world is, to deserve and receive the
grateful affection of those around us, replied Major Graham. What a
wretched being Robinson Crusoe was on the desert island alone, though
he found chests of gold, and yet many people are as unblessed in the
midst of society, who selfishly hoard fortunes for themselves,
unmindful of the many around who ought to be gratefully receiving their
I was laughing to read lately of the West India slaves, who
collected money all their lives in an old stocking, said Frank, and
who watched with delight as it filled from year to year; but the bank
is only a great stocking, where misers in this country lay up treasures
for themselves which they are never to enjoy, though too often they lay
up no treasures for themselves in a better world.
I frequently think, Frank, if all men were as liberal, kind, and
forbearing to each other as the Holy Scriptures enjoin, and if we lived
as soberly, temperately, and godly together, what a paradise this world
would become, for many of our worst sufferings are brought on by our
own folly, or the unkindness of others. And certainly, if we wished to
fancy the wretchedness of hell itself, it would only be necessary to
imagine what the earth would become if all fear of God and man were
removed, and every person lived as his own angry, selfish passions
would dictate. Great are the blessings we owe to Christianity, for
making the world even what it is now, and yet greater would those
blessings be, if we obeyed it better.
That is exactly what grandmama says, and that we must attend to the
Gospel from love and gratitude to God, rather than from fear of
punishment or hope of reward, which is precisely what we saw in poor
widow Mackay and Evan, who seemed scarcely to expect a recompense for
behaving so honestly.
That was the more remarkable in them, as few Christians now are
above receiving a public recompense for doing their duty to God. Men of
the world have long rewarded each other with public dinners and pieces
of plate, to express the utmost praise and admiration, but of late I
never open a newspaper without reading accounts of one clergyman or
another, who has been 'honoured with a public breakfast!' when he is
presented by an admiring circle with 'a gold watch and appendages!' or
a Bible with a complimentary inscription, or a gown, or a pair of
bands, worked by the ladies of his congregation! and all this, for
labouring among his own people, in his own sphere of duty! What would
Archbishop Leighton and the old divines have said to any one who
attempted to rouse their vanity in this way, with the praise of men?
What you say reminds me, uncle David, said Frank, that we have
been asked to present our Universal-Knowledge-Master with a silver
snuff-box, as a testimonial from the scholars in my class, because he
is going soon to Van Dieman's Land, therefore I hope you will give me
half-a-crown to subscribe, or I shall be quite in disgrace with him.
Not one shilling shall you receive from me, my good friend, for any
such purpose! a snuff-box, indeed! your master ought to show his
scholars an example of using none! a filthy waste of health, money, and
time. Such testimonials should only be given, as Archbishop Magee says,
to persons who have got into some scrape, which makes their
respectability doubtful. If my grocer is ever publicly presented with a
pair of silver sugar tongs, I shall think he has been accused of
adulterating the sugar, and give over employing him directly.
Laura, said Frank, you will be having a silver thimble voted to
you for hemming six pocket-handkerchiefs in six years!
I know one clergyman, Dr. Seton, who conscientiously refused a
piece of plate, which was about to be presented in this way, continued
Major Graham; he accidentally heard that such a subscription was begun
among the rich members of his congregation, and instantly stopped it,
saying, 'Let your testimonial consist in a regular attendance at
church, and let my sole reward be enjoyed hereafter, when you appear as
my crown of joy and rejoicing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ
at his coming.'
Sir Edward Graham's particular friend, Captain Gordon, at last wrote
to say, that the Thunderbolt, 74, having been put in commission for
three years, was about to sail for the African station, therefore he
wished Frank to join without delay; and as a farther mark of his
regard, he promised that he would endeavour to keep his young protege
employed until he had served out his time, because a midshipman once
paid off, was like a stranded whale, not very easily set afloat again.
Lady Harriet sighed when she read the letter, and looked paler all
that day, but she knew that it was right and necessary for Frank to go,
therefore she said nothing to distress him on the occasion, only in her
prayers and explanations of the Bible that evening, there was a deeper
tone of feeling than ever, and a cast of melancholy, which had rarely
been the case before, while he spoke much of that meeting in a better
world, which is the surest hope and consolation of those Christians who
separate on earth, and who know not what a day, and still less what
many years, may bring forth.
Major Graham tried to put a cheerful face on the matter also, though
he evidently felt very sorry indeed about parting with Frank, and took
him out a long walk to discuss his future prospects, saying, Now you
are an officer and a gentleman, entitled therefore to be treated with
new respect and attention, by all your brother officers, naval or
military, in his Majesty's service.
Frank himself, being a boy of great spirit and enterprize, felt glad
that the time had really come for his being afloat, and examining all
the world over with his own eyes; but he said that his heart seemed as
if it had been put in a swing, it fell so low when he thought of
leaving his dear happy home, and then it rose again higher than ever at
the very idea of being launched on the wide ocean, and going to the
countries he had so often read of, where battles had been fought and
Frank! said Peter Grey, who was going to join the Thunderbolt, in
about a fortnight afterwards, you have no idea how beautiful I looked
in uniform to-day! I tried mine on, and felt so impatient to use my
dirk, I could have eat my dinner with it, instead of employing a common
You never forget to be hungry, Peter, said Frank, laughing. But
now you are like the old Lord Buchan, who used to say he could cook his
porridge in his helmet, and stir it with his broad-sword.
I hope, said Major Graham, you both intend to become very
distinguished officers, and to leave a name at which the world grows
Certainly, answered Peter. All the old heroes we read of shall be
mere nobodies compared to me! I mean to lose a leg or an arm in every
Till nothing is left of you but your shirt-collar and
shoe-strings, interrupted Frank, laughing.
No! No! What remains of me at last shall die a Peer of the realm,
continued Peter. We must climb to the top of the tree, Frank! What
title do you think I should take?
Lord Cockpit would suit you best for some time, Peter! It will not
be so easy a business to rise as you think. Every one can run a race,
but very few can win, observed Major Graham. The rarest thing on
earth is to succeed in being both conspicuous and respectable. Any
dunce may easily be either the one or the other, but the chief puzzle
with most men is, how to be both. In your profession there are great
opportunities, but at the same time let me warn you, that the sea is
not a bed of roses.
No, uncle David! but I hope it will become a field of laurels to
us, replied Frank, laughing. Now tell me in real earnest who you
think was the greatest of our naval heroes till now, when Peter is to
cut them all out.
He must wait a few years. It is a long ladder to run up before
reaching the top. In France, the king's sons are all born Field
Marshals, but nobody in this country is born an Admiral. The great Lord
Duncan served during half-a-century before gaining his most important
victory, but previous to that, he paved the way to success, not by mere
animal courage alone, but by being so truly good and religious a man,
that his extraordinary firmness and benevolence of character gained the
confidence and respect of all those who served with him, and therefore
half his success in battle was owing to his admirable conduct during
So I have heard! replied Frank; and when there was mutiny in
every other ship, the Admiral's own crew remained faithful to him. How
much better it is to be obeyed from respect and attachment than from
fear, which is a mean feeling that I hope neither to feel myself, nor
to excite in others. I wish to be like Nelson, who asked, 'What is
fear? I never saw it.'
Yes, Frank! Nelson was said to be 'brave as a lion, and gentle as a
lamb.' Certainly both he and Lord Duncan were pre-eminently great; but
neither Lord Duncan, nor any other enlightened Christian, would have
said what Lord Nelson did, with his latent breath'I have not been a
great sinner!' No mortal could lift up his eyes at the day of judgment,
and repeat those words again; for every man that breathes the breath of
life is a great sinner. We are living in God's own world without
remembering him, continually; and amidst thousands of blessings we
disobey him. The chief purpose for which men are created, is to glorify
God, and to prepare for entering his presence in a better world; but
instead of doing so, we live as if there were no other object to live
for, than our own pleasures and amusements on earth. How, then, can we
be otherwise than great sinners? I hope, Frank, that you will endeavour
to be, like Lord Duncan, not merely a good officer, but also a good
Christian; for, besides fighting the battles of your country, you must
gain a great victory over yourself, as all men must either conquer
their own evil dispositions, or perish for ever.
Lady Harriet was particularly earnest in entreating Frank to write
frequently home; observing, that she considered it a religious duty in
all children, to shew their parents this attention, as the Bible says
that a wise son maketh a glad father, and that the father of the
righteous shall greatly rejoice; but on the contrary, too many young
persons leave their parents to mourn in suspense and anxiety, as to the
health and happiness of those whom they love more than they can ever
love any one else.
Tell us of every thing that interests you, and even all about the
spouting whales, flying fish, and dying dolphins, which you will of
course see, said Laura. Be sure to write us also, how many
albatrosses you shoot, and whether you are duly introduced to Neptune
at the Cape.
Yes, Laura! but Bishop Heber's Journal, or any other book
describing a voyage to the Cape, mentions exactly the same thing. It
will quite bring me home again when I speak to you all on paper; and I
shall be able to fancy what everybody will say when my letter is read.
Mrs. Darwin sent for me this morning on particular business; and it was
to say that she wished me, in all the strange countries where the
Thunderbolt touched, to employ my spare moments in chasing butterflies,
that as many as possible might be added to her museum.
Capital! How like Mrs. Darwin! exclaimed Major Graham, laughing.
You will of course be running all over Africa, hat in hand, pursuing
painted butterflies, till you get a coup de soleil, like my
friend Watson, who was killed by one. Poor fellow! I was with him then,
and it was a frightful scene. He wheeled round several times, in a sort
of convulsion, till he dropped down dead in my arms.
I shall gild the legs and bills of some ducks before leaving home,
and send them to her as a present from Sierra Leone, said Peter. The
wings might be died scarlet, which would look quite foreign; and if an
elephant falls in my way, it shall be stuffed and forwarded by
Uncle David! Do you remember what fun we had, when you sent Mrs.
Darwin that stuffed bear in a present! I was desired to announce that a
foreigner of distinction had arrived to stay at her house. What a
bustle she was in on hearing that he brought letters of introduction
from you, and intended to remain some time. Then we told her that he
could not speak a word of English, and brought 'a Pole' with him;
besides which he had once been a great dancer. Oh! how amusing it was,
when she at last ventured into the passage to be introduced, and saw
her fine stuffed bear.
Whatever people collect, said Peter, every good-natured person
assists. I mean to begin a collection of crooked sixpences immediately;
therefore, pray never spend another, but give me as many as you can
spare; and the more crooked the better.
Sing a song a sixpence! said Frank, laughing. Laura should begin
to collect diamonds for a necklace, and perhaps it might be all ready
before she comes out. I shall return home on purpose to see you then,
Pray do, Master Frank, said Mrs. Crabtree, with more than usual
kindness; we shall have great rejoicings on the occasion of seeing you
backan ox roasted alive, as they do in England, and all them sort of
Tom-fooleries. I'll dance a jig then myself for joyyou certainly are
a wonderful good boy, considering that I had not the managing of you.
Frank's departure was delayed till after the examination of his
school, because Mr. Lexicon had requested that, being the best scholar
there, he might remain to receive a whole library of prize-books, and a
whole pocketful of medals; for, as Peter remarked, Frank Graham
deserved any reward, because he learned his lessons so perfectly, that
he could not say them wrong even if he wished!
Harry and Laura were allowed to attend on the great occasion, that
they might witness Frank's success; and never, certainly, had they seen
any thing so grand in their lives before! A hundred and forty boys, all
dressed in white trowsers and yellow gloves, were seated in rows,
opposite to six grave learned-looking gentlemen, in wigs and
spectacles, who seemed as if they would condemn all the scholars to
The colour mounted into Harry's cheeks with delight, and the tears
rushed into his eyes, when he saw Frank, whose face was radiant with
good-humour and happiness, take his place as head boy in the school.
All his companions had crowded round Frank as he entered, knowing that
this was his last appearance in the class; while he spoke a merry or a
kind word to each, leaning on the shoulder of one, and grasping the
hand of another with cordial kindness, for he liked everybody, and
everybody liked him. No one envied Frank being dux, because they knew
how hard he worked for that place, and how anxious he had been to help
every other boy in learning as cleverly as himself; for all the boobies
would have become duxes if Frank could have assisted them to rise,
while many an idler had been made busy by his attention and advice. No
boy ever received, in one day, more presents than Frank did on this
occasion from his young friends, who spent all their pocket-money in
pen-knives and pencil-cases, which were to be kept by Frank, in
remembrance of them, as long as he lived; and some of his companions
had a tear in their eye on bidding him farewell, which pleased him more
than all their gifts.
Major Graham took his place, with more gravity than usual, among the
judges appointed to distribute the prizes; and now, during more than
two hours, the most puzzling questions that could be invented were put
to every scholar in succession, while Frank seemed always ready with an
answer, and not only spoke for himself, but often good-naturedly
prompted his neighbours, in so low a tone that no one else heard him.
His eyes brightened, and his face grew red with anxiety, while even his
voice shook at first; but before long Frank collected all his wits
about him, and could construe Latin or repeat Greek with perfect ease,
till at length the whole examination concluded, and the great Dr.
Clifford, who had lately come all the way from Oxford, was requested to
present the prizes. Upon this he rose majestically from his arm-chair,
and made a long speech, filled as full as it could hold with Latin and
Greek. He praised Homer and Horace for nearly twenty minutes, and
brought in several lines from Virgil, after which he turned to Frank,
saying, in a tone of great kindness and condescension, though at the
same time exceedingly pompous,
It seems almost a pity that this young gentlemanalready so very
accomplished a scholarwho is, I may say, a perfect multum in parvo, should prematurely pause in his classical career to enter the navy;
but in every situation of life his extraordinary activity of mind, good
temper, courage and ability, must render him an honour to his country
and his profession.
Dr. Clifford now glanced over the list of prizes, and read
aloudFirst prize for GreekMaster Graham!
Frank walked gracefully forward, coloured and bowed, while a few
words of approbation were said to him, and a splendidly-bound copy of
Euripides was put into his hands by Dr. Clifford, who then hastily read
over the catalogue of prizes to himself, in an audible voice, and in a
tone of great surprise.
First prize for Latin!Master Graham! First for algebra,first
for geography,first for mathematics,all Master Graham!!!and last,
not least, a medal for general good conduct, which the boys are allowed
to bestow upon the scholar they think most deserving,and here stands
the name of Master Graham again!!
Dr. Clifford paused, while the boys all stood up for a moment and
clapped their hands with enthusiasm, as a token of rejoicing at the
destination of their own medal.
For the first time Frank was now completely overcome,he coloured
more deeply than before, and looked gratefully round, first at his
companions, then at his master, and last at Major Graham, who had a
tear standing in his eye when he smiled upon Frank, and held out his
Frank's lip quivered for a moment, as if he would burst into tears,
but with a strong effort he recovered himself, and affectionately
grasping his uncle's hand, hastily resumed his place on the bench, to
remain there while his companions received the smaller prizes awarded
Meanwhile, Harry had been watching Frank with a feeling of joy and
pride, such as he never experienced before, and could scarcely refrain
from saying to every person near him, That is my brother! He looked
at Frank long and earnestly, wishing to be like him, and resolving to
follow his good example at school. He gazed again and again, with new
feelings of pleasure and admiration, till gradually his thoughts became
melancholy, while remembering how soon they must be separated; and
suddenly the terrible idea darted into his mind, Perhaps we never may
meet again! Harry tried not to think of this; he turned his thoughts
to other subjects; he forced himself to look at anything that was going
on, but still these words returned with mournful apprehension to his
heart, Perhaps we never may meet again!
Frank's first action, after the examination had been concluded, was
hastily to gather up all his books, and bring a sight of them to Harry
and Laura; but what was his astonishment when, instead of looking at
the prizes, Harry suddenly threw his arms round his neck, and burst
My deardear boy! what has happened! exclaimed Frank,
affectionately embracing him, and looking much surprised. Tell me,
dear Harry, has any thing distressed you?
I don't know very well, Frank! but you are going away,andandI
wish I had been a better boy! I would do any thing you bid me now!but
I shall never be so happy againno! never, without you!
But, dear Harry! you will have Laura and grandmama, and uncle
David, all left, and I am coming back some day! Oh! what a happy
meeting we shall have then! said Frank, while the tears stood in his
eyes; and drawing Harry's arm within his own, they walked slowly away
I am veryvery anxious for you and Laura to be happy, continued
Frank, in the kindest manner; but, dear Harry, will you not take more
care to do as you are bid, and not always to prefer doing what you
like! Mrs. Crabtree would not be half so terrible if you did not
provoke her by some new tricks every day. I almost like her myself; for
as the old proverb says, 'her bark is worse than her bite;' and she
often reminds me of that funny old fable, where the mice were more
afraid of the loud, fierce-looking cock, than of the sleek,
smooth-looking cat, for there are people carrying gentler tongues yet
quite as difficult to deal with. At the same time, seeing how
uncomfortable you and Laura both feel with Mrs. Crabtree, I have
written a letter to papa, asking, as my last and only request on
leaving home, that he will make a change of ministry, and he is always
so very kind, that I feel sure he will grant it.
How good of you, Frank! said Harry. I am sure it is our own
faults very often when we are in disgrace, for we are seldom punished
till we deserve it; but I am so sorry you are going away, that I can
think of nothing else.
So am I, very sorry indeed; but my best comfort, when far from
home, would be, to think that you and Laura are happy, which will be
the case when you become more watchful to please grandmama.
That is very true, Frank! and I would rather offend twenty Mrs.
Crabtrees than one grandmama; but perhaps uncle David may send me to
school now, when I shall try to be like you, sitting at the top of the
class, and getting prizes for good behaviour.
Well, Harry! my pleasantest days at school have been those when I
was busiest, and you will find the same thing. How delightful it was,
going over and over my tasks till they were quite perfect, and then
rushing out to the play-ground, where my mind got a rest, while my body
was active; you know it is seldom that both mind and body work at once,
and the best way of resting the one is, to make the other labour. That
is probably the reason, Harry, why games are never half so pleasant as
after hard study.
Perhaps, replied Harry, doubtfully; but I always hate any thing
that I am obliged to do.
Then never be a sailor, as I shall be obliged to do fifty things
a-day that I would rather not; for instance, to get up in the middle of
the night, when very likely dreaming about being at home again; but, as
grandmama says, it is pleasant to have some duties, for life would not
get on well without them.
YesperhapsI don't know!we could find plenty to do ourselves,
without anybody telling us. I should like to-morrow, to watch the boys
playing at cricket, and to see the races, and the Diorama, and in the
evening to shoot our bows and arrows.
My good Sir! what the better would you, or anybody else, be of such
a life as that! Not a thing in this world is made to be useless, Harry;
the very weeds that grow in the ground are for some serviceable
purpose, and you would not wish to be the only creature on earth living
entirely for yourself. It would be better if neither of us had ever
been born, than that the time and opportunities which God gives us for
improving ourselves and doing good to others, should all be wasted. Let
me hope, Harry, when I am away, that you will often consider how dull
grandmama may then feel, and how happy you might make her by being very
attentive and obedient.
Yes, Frank! but I could never fill your place!that is quite
impossible! Nobody can do that!
Try!only try, Harry! grandmama is very easily pleased when people
do their best. She would not have felt so well satisfied with me, if
that had not been the case.
Frank! said Harry, sorrowfully, I feel as if ten brothers were
going away instead of one, for you are so good to me! I shall be sure
to mention you in my prayers, because that is all I can do for you
Not all, Harry! though that is a great deal; you must write to me
often, and tell me what makes you happy or unhappy, for I shall be more
interested than ever, now that we are separated. Tell me everything
about my school-fellows, too, and about Laura. There is no corner of
the wide world where I shall not think of you both every day, and feel
anxious about the very least thing that concerns you.
My dear boys! said Major Graham, who had joined them some moments
before, it is fortunate that you have both lived always in the same
home, for that will make you love each other affectionately as long as
you live. In England, children of one family are all scattered to
different schools, without any one to care whether they are attached or
not, therefore their earliest and warmest friendships are formed with
strangers of the same age, whom they perhaps never see again, after
leaving school. In that case, brothers have no happy days of childhood
to talk over in future life, as you both have,no little scrapes to
remember, that they got into togetherno pleasures enjoyed at the same
moment to smile at the recollection of, and no friction of their
tempers in youth, such as makes every thing go on smoothly between
brothers when they grow older; therefore, when at last grown up and
thrown together, they scarcely feel more mutual friendship and intimacy
than any other gentlemen testify towards each other.
I dare say that is very true, said Frank. Tom Brownlow tells me
when his three brothers come home from Eton, Harrow, and Durham, they
quarrel so excessively, that sometimes no two of them are on speaking
Not at all improbable, observed Major Graham. In every thing we
see how much better God's arrangements are than our own. Families were
intended to be like a little world in themselvesold people to govern
the young onesyoung people to make their elders cheerfulgrown-up
brothers and sisters to show their juniors a good exampleand children
to be playthings and companions to their seniors, but that is all at an
end in the present system.
Old Andrew says that large families 'squander' themselves all over
the earth now, said Frank, laughing.
Yes! very young children are thrust into preparatory schoolsolder
boys go to distant academiesyouths to Collegeand young men are
shipped off abroad, while who among them all can say his heart is in
his own home? Parents in the meantime, finding no occupation or
amusement in educating their children, begin writing books, perhaps
theories of education, or novels; and try to fill up the rest of their
useless hours with plays, operas, concerts, balls, or clubs. If people
could only know what is the best happiness of this life, it certainly
depends on being loved by those we belong to; for nothing can be called
peace on earth, which does not consist in family affection, built upon
a strong foundation of religion and morality.
Sir Edward Graham felt very proud of Frank, as all gentlemen are of
their eldest sons, and wrote a most affectionate letter on the occasion
of his going to sea, promising to meet him at Portsmouth, and lamenting
that he still felt so ill and melancholy he could not return home, but
meant to try whether the baths in Germany would do him any good. In
this letter was enclosed what he called Frank's first prize-money,
the largest sum the young midshipman had ever seen in his life, and
before it had been a day in his possession, more than the half was
spent on presents to his friends. Not a single person seemed to be
forgotten except himself; for Frank was so completely unselfish, that
Peter Grey once laughingly said, Frank scarcely remembers there is
such a person as himself in the world, therefore it is astonishing how
he contrives to exist at all.
If that be his worst fault, you shew him a very opposite example,
Peter, said Major Graham, smiling; number one is a great favourite
Frank is also very obliging! added Lady Harriet; he would do
anything for any body.
Ah, poor fellow! he can't help that, said Peter, in a tone of
pity. Some people are born with that sort of desperate
activityflying to assist every onerunning up stairs for whatever is
wantedsearching for whatever is lostand picking up whatever has
been dropped. I have seen several others like Frank, who were troubled
with that sort of turn. He is indulging his own inclination in flying
about everywhere for everybody, as much as I do in sitting still!it
is all nature!you know tastes differ, for some people like apples and
some like onions.
Frank had a black shade of himself, drawn in uniform and put into a
gilt frame, all for one shilling, which he presented to his grandmama,
who looked sadly at the likeness when he came smiling into her
dressing-room, and calling Harry to assist in knocking a nail into the
wall, that it might be hung above the chimney-piece. I need nothing to
remind me of you, dear Frank, observed Lady Harriet, and this is a
sad exchange, the shadow for the substance. Frank gave a handsome new
red morocco spectacle-case to uncle David, and asked leave to carry
away the old one with him as a remembrance. He bought gowns for all the
maids, and books for all the men-servants. He presented Mrs. Crabtree
with an elegant set of tea-cups and saucers, promising to send her a
box of tea the first time he went to China; and for Laura and Harry he
produced a magnificent magic lanthorn, representing all the stars and
planets, which cost him several guineas. It was exhibited the evening
before Frank went away, and caused great entertainment to a large party
of his companions, who assembled at tea to take leave of him, on which
occasion Peter Grey made a funny speech, proposing Frank's health in a
bumper of bohea, when the whole party became very merry, and did not
disperse till ten.
Major Graham intended accompanying Frank to Portsmouth, and they
were to set off by the mail next evening. That day was a sad one to
Harry and Laura, who were allowed a whole holiday; but not a sound of
merriment was heard in the house, except when Frank tried to make them
cheerful, by planning what was to be done after he came back, or when
Major Graham invented droll stories about the adventures Frank would
probably meet with at sea. Even Mrs. Crabtree looked more grave and
cross than usual; and she brought Frank a present of a needle-case made
with her own hands, and filled with thread of every kind, saying, that
she heard all midshipmites learned to mend their things, and keep
them decent, which was an excellent custom, and ought to be encouraged;
but she hoped he would remember, that a stitch in time saves nine.
Lady Harriet stayed most of that day in her dressing-room, and tried
to conceal the traces of many tears when she did appear; but it was
only too evident how sadly her time had been passed alone.
Grandmama! said Frank, taking her hand affectionately, and trying
to look cheerful; we shall meet again; perhaps very soon!
Lady Harriet silently laid her hand upon the Bible, to show that
there she found the certain assurance of another meeting in a better
world; but she looked at Frank with melancholy affection, and added,
very solemnly and emphatically,
'There is no union here of hearts,
That finds not here an end.'
But, grandmama! you are not so very old! exclaimed Laura,
earnestly. Lord Rockville was born ten years sooner, and besides,
young people sometimes die before older people.
Yes, Laura! young people may die, but old people must. It is not
possible that this feeble aged frame of mine can long remain in the
visible world. 'The eye of him that hath seen me shall me no more.' I
have many more friends under the earth now, than on it. The streets of
this city would be crowded, if all those I once knew and still
remember, could be revived; but my turn is fast coming, like theirs,
and Frank knows, as all of you do, where it is my hope and prayer that
we may certainly meet again.
Grandmama! said Frank, in a low and broken voice, it wants but an
hour to the time of my departure; I should like much if the servants
were to come up now for family prayers and if uncle David would read us
the 14th chapter of St. John.
Lady Harriet rung the bell, and before long the whole household had
assembled, as not one would have been absent on the night of Master
Frank's departure from home, which all were deeply grieved at, and even
Mrs. Crabtree dashed a tear from her cheek as she entered the room.
Frank sat with his hand in Lady Harriet's, while Major Graham read
the beautiful and comforting chapter which had been selected, and when
the whole family kneeled in solemn prayer together, many a deep sob,
which could not be conquered, was heard from Frank himself. After all
was over, he approached the servants, and silently shook hands with
each, but could not attempt to speak; after which Lady Harriet led him
to her dressing-room, where they remained some time, till, the carriage
having arrived, Frank hastened into the drawing-room, clasped Harry and
Laura in his arms, and having, in a voice choked with grief, bid them
both a long farewell, he hurried out of their presence.
When the door closed, something seemed to fall heavily on the
ground, but this scarcely attracted any one's attention, till Major
Graham followed Frank, and was shocked to find him lying on the
staircase perfectly insensible. Instead of calling for assistance,
however, uncle David carefully lifted Frank in his own arms, and
carried him to the carriage, where, after a few moments, the fresh air,
and the rapid motion revived his recollection, and he burst into tears.
Poor grandmama! and Harry and Laura! cried he, weeping
convulsively. Oh! when shall I see them all again!
My dear boy! said Major Graham, trying to be cheerful; do you
think nobody ever left home before? One would suppose you never
expected to come back! Three years seem an age when we look forward,
but are nothing after they have fled. The longer we live, the shorter
every year appears, and it will seem only the day after to-morrow when
you are rushing into the house again, and all of us standing at the
door to welcome you back. Think what a joyous moment that will be!
There is a wide and wonderful world for you to see first, and then a
happy home afterwards to revisit.
Yes, dear, good, kind uncle David! no one ever had a happier home;
and till the east comes to the west, I shall never cease to think of it
with gratitude to you and grandmama. We shall surely all meet again. I
must live upon that prospect. Hope is the jewel that remains wherever
we go, and the hope to which grandmama has directed me, is truly
compared to a rainbow, which not only brightens the earth, but
stretches to heaven.
CHAPTER XIII. THE AMUSING DRIVE.
I would not enter on my list of friends
(Though grac'd with polish'd manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
Lady Harriet was confined to bed for several days after Frank's
departure from home, and during all that week Harry and Laura felt so
melancholy, that even Mrs. Crabtree became sorry for them, saying it
was quite distressing to see how quiet and good they had become, for
Master Harry was as mild as milk now, and she almost wished he would be
at some of his old tricks again.
On the following Monday, a message arrived from Lady Rockville, to
say that she was going a long drive in her phaeton, to visit some boys
at Musselburgh school, and would be happy to take Harry and Laura of
the party, if their grandmama had no objection. None being made by
anybody, they flew up stairs to get ready, while Harry did not take
above three steps at a time, and Laura, when she followed, felt quite
astonished to find Mrs. Crabtree looking almost as pleased as herself,
and saying she hoped the expedition would do them both good.
Before five minutes had elapsed, Harry was mounted on the dickey,
where Lady Rockville desired him to sit, instead of the footman, who
was now dismissed, as no room could be made for both; so after that
Harry touched his hat whenever any of the party spoke to him, as if he
had really been the servant.
Laura, meanwhile, was placed between Lady Rockville and Miss
Perceval, where she could hardly keep quiet a minute for joy, though
afraid to turn her head or to stir her little finger, in case of being
I am told that the races take place at Musselburgh to-day, said
Lady Rockville. It is a cruel amusement, derived from the sufferings
of noble animals; they have as good a right to be happy in the world as
ourselves, Laura; but we shall pass that way, so Harry and you will
probably see the crowds of carriages.
Oh, how enchanting!I never saw a race-course in my life!
exclaimed Laura, springing off her seat with delight. Harry! Harry! we
are going to the races!
Hurra! exclaimed Harry, clapping his hands; what a delightful
surprise! Oh! I am so dreadfully happy!
After all, my dear Lady Rockville, said Miss Perceval, yawning,
what have horses got legs for, except to run?
Yes, but not at such a pace! It always shocked meformerly at
Doncaster, where the jockeys were sometimes paid £1000 for winningto
see how the poor animals were lashed and spurred along the course,
foaming with fatigue, gasping till they nearly expired. Horses, poor
creatures, from the hour of their birth till their death, have a sad
time of it!
Grandmama once read me a beautiful description of a wild horse in
his natural state of liberty, said Laura. Among the South American
forests he was to be seen carrying his head erect, with sparkling eyes,
flowing mane, and splendid tail, trotting about among the noble trees,
or cropping the grass at his feet, looking quite princely, and doing
precisely what he pleased.
Then look at the contrast, said Lady Rockville, pointing to a long
row of cart-horses with galled sides, shrivelled skins, broken knees,
and emaciated bodies, which were all dragging their weary load along.
Animals are all meant for the use of man, but not to be abused, like
these poor creatures!
As for racing, said Miss Perceval, a thorough-bred horse enters
into the spirit of it quite as much as his rider. Did you never hear of
Quin's celebrated steed, which became so eager to win, that when his
antagonist passed he seized him violently by the leg, and both jockeys
had to dismount that the furious animal might be torn away. The famous
horse Forester, too, caught hold of his opponent by the jaw, and could
scarcely be disengaged.
Think of all the cruel training these poor creatures went through
before they came to that, added Lady Rockville; of the way in which
horses are beaten, spurred, and severely cut with the whip; then, after
their strength fails, like the well-known 'high-mettled racer,' the
poor animal is probably sold at last to perpetual hard labour and
Uncle David shewed me yesterday, said Laura, that horrid picture
which you have probably seen, by Cruickshanks, of the Knackers' Yards
in London, where old horses are sent to end their miserable days, after
it is impossible to torture them any longer into working. Oh! it was
dreadful! and yet grandmama said the whole sketch had been taken from
I know that, answered Lady Rockville. In these places the
wretched animals are literally put to death by starvation, and may be
seen gnawing each other's manes in the last agonies of hunger.
My dear Lady Rockville, exclaimed Miss Perceval, affectedly, how
can you talk of such unpleasant things!there is an Act of Parliament
against cruelty to animals, so of course no such thing exists now. Many
gentlemen are vastly kind to old horses, turning them out to grass for
years, that they may enjoy a life of elegant leisure and rural
retirement, to which, no doubt, some are well entitled; for instance,
the famous horse Eclipse, which gained his owner £25,000! I wish he had
But think how many are ruined when one is enriched, and indeed both
are ruined in morals and good feeling; therefore I am glad that our sex
have never yet taken to the turf. It is bad enough, my dear Miss
Perceval, to see that they have taken to the moors; for were I to say
all I think of those amazons who lately killed their six brace of
grouse on the 12th of August, they would probably challenge me to
single combat. Lord Rockville says, 'What with gentlemen doing worsted
work, and ladies shouldering double-barrelled guns, he scarcely thinks
this can be the same world he was born in long ago.'
The carriage, at this moment, began to proceed along the road with
such extraordinary rapidity, that there seemed no danger of their
following in the dust of any other equipage, and Miss Perceval became
exceedingly alarmed, especially when Lady Rockville mentioned that this
was one of the first times she had been driven by her new coachman, who
seemed so very unsteady on his seat, she had felt apprehensive, for
some time, that he might be drunk.
A tipsy coachman! Dear Lady Rockville, do let me out! We shall
certainly be killed in this crowd of carriages! I can walk home! Pray
stop him, Miss Laura! I came to look on at a race, but not to run one
myself! This fast driving is like a railroad, only not quite so
straight! I do verily believe we are run off with! Stop,
In spite of all Miss Perceval's exclamations and vociferations, the
carriage flew on with frightful rapidity, though it reeled from side to
side of the road, as if it had become intoxicated like the driver
himself, who lashed his horses and galloped along, within an inch of
hedges and ditches all the way, till at last, having reached the
race-course, he pulled up so suddenly and violently, that the horses
nearly fell back on their haunches, while he swore at them in the most
furious and shocking manner.
Lady Rockville now stood up, and spoke to the coachman very severely
on his misconduct, in first driving her so dangerously fast, and then
being disrespectful enough to use profane language in her presence,
adding, that if he did not conduct himself more properly, she must
complain to Lord Rockville as soon as the carriage returned home. Upon
hearing this, the man looked exceedingly sulky, and muttered angrily to
himself in a tipsy voice, till at last he suddenly threw away the
reins, and, rising from the box, he began to scramble his way down,
nearly falling to the ground in his haste, and saying, if your
ladyship is not pleased with my driving, you may drive yourself!
After this the intoxicated man staggered towards a drinking-booth
not far off, and disappeared, leaving Miss Perceval perfectly
planet-struck with astonishment, and actually dumb during several
minutes with wonder, at all she heard and saw. There sat Harry, alone
on the dicky, behind two spirited blood-horses, foaming at the mouth
with the speed at which they had come, and ready to start off again at
the slightest hint, while noises on every side were to be heard enough
to frighten a pair of hobby-horses. Piemen ringing their bellsblind
fiddlers playing out of tuneboys calling lists of the horsesdrums
beating at the starting-postballad singers squalling at the full
pitch of their voiceshorses gallopinggrooms quarrellingdogs
barkingand children crying.
In the midst of all this uproar, Harry unexpectedly observed Captain
Digby on horseback not far off. Without losing a moment, he stood up,
waving his handkerchief, and calling to beg he would come to the
carriage immediately, as they were in want of assistance; and Lady
Rockville told, as soon as he arrived, though hardly able to help
laughing while she explained it, the extraordinary predicament they had
been placed in. Captain Digby, upon hearing the story, looked ready to
go off like a squib with rage at the offending coachman, and instantly
seizing the driving-whip, he desired his servant to hold the horses'
heads, while he proceeded towards the drinking-booth, flourishing the
long lash in his hand as he went in a most ominous manner. Several
minutes elapsed, during which Harry overheard a prodigious outcry in
the tent, and then the drunken coachman was seen reeling away along the
road, while Captain Digby, still brandishing the whip, returned, and
mounting the dicky himself, he gathered up the reins, and insisted on
driving Lady Rockville's phaeton for her. Before long it was ranged
close beside a chariot so full of ladies, it seemed ready to burst,
when Harry was amused to perceive that Peter Grey and another boy, who
were seated on the rumble behind, had spread a table-cloth on the roof
of the carriage, using it for a dining-table, while they all seemed
determined to astonish their appetites by the quantity of oysters and
sandwiches they ate, and by drinking at the same time large tumblers of
porter. Lady Rockville wished she could have the loan of Harry and
Laura's spirits for an hour or two, when she saw how perfectly
bewildered with delight they were on beholding the thousands of eager
persons assembled on the race-ground,jockeys riding about in liveries
as gay as tulipsofficers in scarlet uniformred flags fluttering in
the breezecaravans exhibiting pictures of the wildest-looking beasts
in the worldbands of musicrecruiting partiesfire-eaters, who
dined on red-hot pokersportraits representing pigs fatter than the
fattest in the worldgiants a head and three pair of shoulders taller
than any one else, and little dwarfs, scarcely visible with the naked
eyeall of which were shown to children for half price!
Lady Rockville very good naturedly gave Harry half-a-crown,
promising that, before leaving the race-ground, he should either buy
some oranges to lay the dust in his throat after so long a drive, or
visit as many shows as he pleased for his half-crown; and they were
anxiously discussing what five sights would be worth sixpence each,
when a loud hurra was heard, the drums beat, and five horses started
off for the first heat. Harry stood up in an ecstacy of delight, and
spoke loudly in admiration of the jockey on a grey horse, with a pink
jacket, who took the lead, and seemed perfectly to fly, as if he need
never touch the ground; but Harry exclaimed angrily against the next
rider, in a yellow dress and green cap, who pulled back his own bay
horse, as if he really wished to lose. To Laura's astonishment,
however, Captain Digby preferred him, and Miss Perceval declared in
favour of a light-blue jacket and chesnut horse. Harry now thought
everybody stupid not to agree with him, and called out in the height of
his eagerness, I would bet this half-crown upon the pink jacket!
Done! cried Peter, laughing. The yellow dress and green cap for
Then I shall soon have five shillings! exclaimed Harry in great
glee; but scarcely had he spoken, before a loud murmuring sound arose
among the surrounding crowd, upon hearing which he looked anxiously
about, and was astonished to see the green cap and yellow dress already
at the winning-post, while his own favourite grey horse cantered slowly
along, far behind all the others, carrying the jockey in the pink
jacket, who hung his head, and was bent nearly double, with shame and
Peter Grey gave a loud laugh of triumph when he glanced at Harry's
disappointed angry countenance, and held out his hand for the
half-crown, saying, Pay your debt of honour, Master Harry! It is
rather fortunate I won, seeing that not one sixpence had I to have paid
you with! not a penny to jingle on a mile-stone. You had more money
than wit, and I had more wit than money, so we are well met. Did you
not see that the grey horse had fallen lame? Good-bye, youngster! I
shall tell all the giants and wild beasts to expect you another day!
Harry! said Lady Rockville, looking gravely at his enraged
countenance, it is a foolish fish that is caught with every bait! I am
quite relieved that you lost that money. This is an early lesson
against gambling, and no one can ever be rich or happy who becomes fond
of it. We were wrong to bring you here at all; and I now see you could
easily be led into that dreadful vice, which has caused misery and ruin
to thousands of young men. If you had possessed an estate, it would
have been thrown away quite as foolishly as the poor half-crown, making
you perhaps miserable afterwards for life.
I thought myself quite sure to win! exclaimed Harry, still looking
with angry astonishment after Peter, who was making odd grimaces, and
holding up the half-crown in a most teazing manner. I would rather
have thrown my money into the sea than given it to Peter.
Think, too, how many pleasanter and better ways there are, in which
you might have spent it! added Lady Rockville. Look at that poor
blind man whom you could have relieved, or consider what a nice present
you should have given to Laura! But there seem to be no more brains in
your head, Harry, than in her thimble!
Peter is quite a little black-leg already, observed Miss Perceval.
I never saw such a boy! So fond of attracting notice, that he would
put on a cap and bells if that would make him stared at. Last Saturday
he undertook for a bet to make a ceremonious bow to every lamp-post
along Prince's Street, and I wish you could have seen the wondering
crowd that gradually collected as he went along, performing his task
with the most perfect composure and impudence.
For cool assurance, I hope there are not many boys equal to him,
said Lady Rockville. He scattered out of the window lately several
red-hot half-pence, among some beggars, and I am told they perfectly
stuck to the poor creatures' fingers when trying to pick them up; and
he was sent a message, on his pony, one very cold day lately, to Lady
De Vere's, who offered, when he was taking leave, to cut him one of her
finest camellias, to which he replied, 'I would much rather you offered
me a hot potatoe!'
Peter feels no sympathy in your disappointment, Harry, added Miss
Perceval; but we might as well expect wool on a dog, as friendship
from a gambler, who would ruin his own father, and always laughs at
those who lose.
Go and cut your wisdom teeth, Harry! said Captain Digby, smiling.
Any one must have been born blind not to observe that the grey horse
was falling behind; but you have bought half-a-crown's worth of wisdom
by experience, and I hope it will last for life. Never venture to bet
even that your own head is on your shoulders, or it may turn out a
Harry is now the monkey that has seen the world, and I think it
will be a whole year of Saturdays before he ever commits such a blunder
again, continued Lady Rockville. We must for this once, not complain
of what has occurred to Lady Harriet, because she would be exceedingly
displeased, but certainly you are a most ingenious little gentleman for
getting into scrapes!
Harry told upon himself, however, on his return home, because he had
always been accustomed to do so, knowing Major Graham and his grandmama
were never very angry at any fault that was confessed and repented of,
therefore he went straight up stairs, and related his whole history to
uncle David, who gave him a very serious exhortation against the
foolish and sinful vice of gambling. To keep him in mind of his silly
adventure that day, Harry was also desired, during the whole evening,
to wear his coat turned inside out, a very frequent punishment
administered by Major Graham for small offences, and which was
generally felt to be a terrible disgrace.
CHAPTER XIV. THE UNEXPECTED EVENT.
His shout may ring upon the hill,
His voice be echoed in the hall,
His merry laugh like music trill,
I scarcely notice such things now.
Some weeks after Frank had left home, while lady Harriet and Major
Graham were absent at Holiday House, Harry and Laura felt surprised to
observe, that Mrs. Crabtree suddenly became very grave and silent,her
voice seemed to have lost half its loudness,her countenance looked
rather pale,and they both escaped being scolded on several occasions,
when Harry himself could not but think he deserved it. Once or twice he
ventured to do things that at other times he dared not have attempted,
merely as an experiment, he said, like that man in the menagerie,
who put his head into the lion's mouth, without feeling quite sure
whether it would be bit off the next moment or not; but though Mrs.
Crabtree evidently saw all that passed, she turned away with a look of
sadness, and said not a word.
What could be the matter? Harry almost wished she would fly into a
good passion and scold him, it became so extraordinary and unnatural to
see Mrs. Crabtree sitting all day in a corner of the room, sewing in
silence, and scarcely looking up from her work; but still the wonder
grew, for she seemed to become worse and worse every day. Harry dressed
up the cat in an old cap and frock of Laura's,he terrified old Jowler
by putting him into the shower-bath,and let off a few crackers at the
nursery window,but it seemed as if he might have fired a cannon
without being scolded by Mrs. Crabtree, who merely turned her head
round for a minute, and then silently resumed her work. Laura even
fancied that Mrs. Crabtree was once in tears, but that seemed quite
impossible, so she thought no more about it, till one morning, when
they had begun to despair of ever hearing more about the business, and
were whispering together in a corner of the room, observing that she
looked duller than ever, they were surprised to hear Mrs. Crabtree
calling them both to come near her. She looked very pale, and was
beginning to say something, when her voice suddenly became so husky and
indistinct, that she seemed unable to proceed; therefore, motioning
with her hand for them to go away, she began sewing very rapidly, as
she had done before, breaking her threads, and pricking her fingers, at
Laura and Harry silently looked at each other with some
apprehension, and the nursery now became so perfectly still, that a
feather falling on the ground would have been heard. This had continued
for some time, when at last Laura upon tiptoe stole quietly up to where
Mrs. Crabtree was sitting, and said to her, in a very kind and anxious
voice, I am afraid you are not well, Mrs. Crabtree! Grandmama will
send for a doctor when she comes home. Shall I ask her?
You are very kind, Miss Laura!never mind me! Your grandmama knows
what is the matter. It will be all one a hundred years hence, answered
Mrs. Crabtree, in a low husky voice. This is a thing you will be very
glad to hear!you must prepare to be told some good news! added she,
forcing a laugh, but such a laugh as Harry and Laura never heard
before, for it sounded so much more like sorrow than joy. They waited
in great suspense to hear what would follow, but Mrs. Crabtree, after
struggling to speak again with composure, suddenly started off her
seat, and hurried rapidly out of the room. She appeared no more in the
nursery that day, but next morning when they were at breakfast, she
entered the room with her face very much covered up in her bonnet, and
evidently tried to speak in her usual loud bustling voice, though
somehow it still sounded perfectly different from common. Well,
children! Lady Harriet was so kind as to promise that my secret should
be kept till I pleased, and that no one should mention it to you but
myself. I am going away!
You! exclaimed Harry, looking earnestly in Mrs. Crabtree's face.
Are you going away?
Yes, Master Harry,I leave this house to-day! Now, don't pretend
to look sorry! I know you are not! I can't bear children to tell
stories. Who would ever be sorry for a cross old woman like me?
But perhaps I am sorry! Are you in real earnest going away? asked
Harry again, with renewed astonishment. Oh no! it is only a joke!
Do I look as if this were a joke? asked Mrs. Crabtree, turning
round her face, which was bathed with tears. No, no! I am come to bid
you both a long farewell. A fine mess you will get into now! All your
things going to rack and ruin, with nobody fit to look after them!
But, Mrs. Crabtree! we do not like you to go away, said Laura,
kindly. Why are you leaving us all on a sudden? it is very odd! I
never was so surprised in my life!
Your papa's orders are come. He wrote me a line some weeks ago, to
say that I have been too severe. Perhaps that is all true. I meant it
well, and we are poor creatures, who can only act for the best.
However, it can't be helped now! There's no use in lamenting over spilt
cream. You'll be the better behaved afterwards. If ever you think of me
again, children, let it be as kindly as possible. Many and many a time
I shall remember you both. I never cared for any young people but
yourselves, and I shall never take charge of any others. Master Frank
was the best boy in the world, and you would both have been as good
under my care,but it is no matter now!
But it does matter a very great deal, cried Harry, eagerly. You
must stay here, Mrs. Crabtree, as long as you live, and a great deal
longer! I shall write a letter to papa all about it. We were very
troublesome, and it was our own faults if we were punished. Never mind,
Mrs. Crabtree, but take off your bonnet and sit down! I am going to do
some dreadful mischief to-night, so you will be wanted to keep me in
Mrs. Crabtree laid her hand upon Harry's head in silence, and there
was something so solemn and serious in her manner, that he saw it would
be useless to remonstrate any more. She then held out her hand to
Laura, endeavouring to smile as she did so, but it was a vain attempt,
for her lip quivered, and she turned away, saying, Who would ever
believe I should make such a fool of myself! Farewell to you both! and
let nobody speak ill of me after I am gone, if you can help it!
Without looking round, Mrs. Crabtree hurried out of the nursery and
closed the door, leaving Harry and Laura perfectly bewildered with
astonishment at this sudden event, which seemed more like a dream than
a reality. They both felt exceedingly melancholy, hardly able to
believe that she had formerly been at all cross, while they stood at
the window with tears in their eyes, watching the departure of her
well-known blue chest, on a wheel-barrow, and taking a last look of her
red gown and scarlet shawl as she hastily followed it.
For several weeks to come, whenever the door opened, Harry and Laura
almost expected her to enter, but month after month elapsed, and Mrs.
Crabtree appeared no more, till one day, at their earnest entreaty,
Lady Harriet took them a drive of some miles into the country, to see
the neat little lodging by the sea-side where she lived, and maintained
herself by sewing, and by going out occasionally as a sick-nurse. A
more delightful surprise certainly never could have been given than
when Harry and Laura tapped at the cottage door, which was opened by
Mrs. Crabtree herself, who started back with an exclamation of joyful
amazement, and looked as if she could scarcely believe her eyes on
beholding them, while they laughed at the joke till tears were running
down their cheeks. Is Mrs. Crabtree at home? said Harry, trying to
look very grave.
Grandmama says we may stay here for an hour, while she drives along
the shore, added Laura, stepping into the house with a very merry
face. And how do you do, Mrs. Crabtree?
Very well, Miss Laura, and very happy to see you. What a tall girl
you are become! and Master Harry too! looking quite over his own
After sitting some time, Mrs. Crabtree insisted on their having some
dinner in her cottage; so making Harry and Laura sit down on each side
of a large blazing fire, she cooked some most delicious pancakes for
them in rapid succession, as fast as they could eat, tossing them high
in the air first, and then rolling up each as it was fried, with a
large spoonful of jam in the centre, till Harry and Laura at last said,
that unless Mrs. Crabtree supplied fresh appetites, she need make no
more pancakes, for they thought even Peter Grey himself could scarcely
have finished all she provided.
Harry had now been several months constantly attending school, where
he became a great favourite with the boys, and a great torment to the
masters, while, for his own part, he liked it twenty times better than
he had expected, because the lessons were tolerably easy to a clever
boy, as he really was, and the games at cricket and foot-ball in the
play-ground put him perfectly wild with joy. Every boy at school seemed
to be his particular friend, and many called him the holiday-maker,
because, if ever a holiday was wished for, Harry always became leader
in the scheme. The last morning of Peter Grey's appearing at school, he
got the name of the copper captain, because Mr. Lexicon having fined
him half-a-crown, for not knowing one of his lessons, he brought the
whole sum in half-pence, carrying them in his hat, and gravely counting
them all out, with such a pains-taking, good-boy look, that any one, to
see him, would have supposed he was quite penitent and sorry for his
misconduct; but no sooner had he finished the task and ranged all the
half-pence neatly in rows along Mr. Lexicon's desk, than he was
desired, in a voice of thunder, to leave the room instantly, and never
to return, which accordingly he never did, having started next day on
the top of the coach for Portsmouth, and the last peep Harry got of
him, he was buying a perfect mountain of gingerbread out of an old
man's basket, to eat by the way.
Meantime Laura had lessons from a regular day-governess, who came
every morning at seven, and never disappeared till four in the
afternoon, so, as Mrs. Crabtree remarked, the puir thing was perfectly
deaved wi' edication, but she made such rapid progress, that uncle
David said it would be difficult to decide whether she was growing
fastest in body or in mind. Laura seemed born to be under the tuition
of none but ill-tempered people, and Madame Pirouette appeared in a
constant state of irritability. During the music-lessons, she sat close
to the piano, with a pair of sharp-pointed scissors in her hand, and
whenever Laura played a wrong note, she stuck their points into the
offending finger, saying sometimes in an angry foreign accent, put
your toe upon 'dis note! I tell you, put your toe upon 'dis note!
My finger, I suppose you mean? asked Laura, trying not to laugh.
Ah! fingare and toe! dat is all one! Speak not a word! take hold of
Laura! said Major Graham, one day, I would as soon hear a gong
sounded at my ear for half an hour, as most of the fine pieces you
perform now. Taste and expression are quite out of date, but the chief
object of ambition is, to seem as if you had four hands instead of two,
from the torrent of notes produced at once. If ever you wish to please
my old-fashioned ears, give me melody,something that touches the
heart and dwells in the memory,then years afterwards, when we hear it
again, the language seems familiar to our feelings, and we listen with
deep delight to sounds recalling a thousand recollections of former
days, which are brought back by music (real music) with distinctness
and interest which nothing else can equal.
During more than two years, while Harry and Laura were rapidly
advancing in education, they received many interesting letters from
Frank, expressing the most affectionate anxiety to hear of their being
well and happy, while his paper was filled with amusing accounts of the
various wonderful countries he visited; and at the bottom of the paper,
he always very kindly remembered to send them an order on his banker,
as he called uncle David, drawn up in proper form, saying, Please to
pay Master Harry and Miss Laura Graham the sum of five shillings on my
account. Francis Arthur Graham.
In Frank's gay, merry epistles, he kept all his little annoyances or
vexations to himself, and invariably took up the pen with such a desire
to send cheerfulness into his own beloved home, that his letters might
have been written with a sun-beam, they were so full of warmth and
vivacity. It seemed always a fair wind to Frank, for he looked upon the
best side of every thing, and never teazed his absent friends with
complaints of distresses they could not remedy, except when he
frequently mentioned his sorrow at being separated from them, adding,
that he often wished it were possible to meet them during one day in
every year, to tell all his thoughts, and to hear theirs in return, for
sometimes now, during the night watches, when all other resources
failed, he entertained himself, by imagining the circle of home all
gathered around him, and by inventing what each individual would say
upon any subjects he liked, while all his adventures acquired a double
interest, from considering that the recital would one day amuse his
dear friends when their happy meeting at last took place. Frank was not
so over-anxious about his own comfort, as to feel very much irritated
and discomposed at any privations that fell in his way, and once
sitting up in the middle of a dark night, with the rain pouring in
torrents, and the wind blowing a perfect hurricane, he drew his
watch-coat round him, saying good humouredly to his grumbling
companions, This is by no means so bad! and whatever change takes
place now, will probably be for the better. Sunshine is as sure to come
as Christmas, if you only wait for it, and in the meantime we are all
more comfortably off than St. Patrick, when he had to swim across a
stormy sea, with his head under his arm.
Frank often amused his messmates with stories which he had heard
from uncle David, and soon became the greatest favourite imaginable
with them all, while he frequently endeavoured to lead their minds to
the same sure foundation of happiness which he always found the best
security of his own. He had long been taught to know that a vessel
might as well be steered without rudder or compass, as any individual
be brought into a haven of peace, unless directed by the Holy
Scriptures; and his delight was frequently to study such passages as
these: When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest
through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame
kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel,
CHAPTER XV. AN UNEXPECTED VOYAGE.
Full little know'st thou, that hast not tried,
How strange it is in steam-boat long to bide,
To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares,
To eat thy heart through comfortless despairs,
To speed to-dayto be put back to-morrow
To feed on hopeto pine with fear and sorrow.
As Harry and Laura grew older, they were gradually treated like
friends and companions by Lady Harriet and Major Graham, who improved
their minds by frequent interesting conversations, in which knowledge
and principle were insensibly instilled into their minds, not by formal
instruction, but merely by mentioning facts, or expressing opinions and
sentiments such as naturally arose out of the subjects under
discussion, and accustoming the young people themselves to feel certain
that their own remarks and thoughts were to be heard with the same
interest as those of any other person. No surprise was expressed, if
they appeared more acute or more amusing than might have been
expected,no angry contempt betrayed itself if they spoke foolishly,
unless it were something positively wrong; and thus Major Graham and
Lady Harriet succeeded in making that very difficult transition from
treating children as toys, to becoming their confidential friends, and
most trusted, as well as most respected and beloved associates.
Frank had been upwards of five years cruizing on various stations
abroad, and many officers who had seen him, gave such agreeable reports
to Major Graham of his admirable conduct on several occasions, and of
his having turned out so extremely handsome and pleasing, that Lady
Harriet often wished, with tears in her eyes, it were possible she
might live to see him once again, though her own daily increasing
infirmities rendered that hope every hour more improbable. She was told
that he spoke of her very frequently, and said once when he met an aged
person at the Cape, I would give all I possess on earth, and ten times
more, if I had it, to see my dear grandmother as well, and to meet her
once more. This deeply affected Lady Harriet, who was speaking one day
with unusual earnestness of the comfort it gave, whatever might be the
will of Providence in respect to herself, that Frank seemed so happy,
and liked his profession so well, when the door flew open, and Andrew
hastened into the room, his old face perfectly wrinkled with delight,
while he displayed a letter in his hand, saying in a tone of breathless
agitation, as he delivered it to Major Graham, The post-mark is
Lady Harriet nearly rose from her seat with an exclamation of joy,
but unable for the exertion, she sunk back, covering her face with her
hands, and listening in speechless suspense to hear whether Frank had
indeed returned. Harry and Laura eagerly looked over Major Graham's
shoulder, and Andrew lingered anxiously at the door, till this welcome
letter was hurriedly torn open and read. The direction was certainly
Frank's writing, though it seemed very different from usual, but the
contents filled Major Graham with a degree of consternation and alarm,
which he vainly endeavoured to conceal, for it informed him that,
during a desperate engagement with some slave-ships off the coast of
Africa, Frank had been most severely wounded, from which he scarcely
recovered before a violent attack of fever reduced him so extremely,
that the doctors declared his only chance of restoration was to be
invalided home immediately; therefore, added he, you must all unite
a prayer for my recovery, with a thanksgiving for my return, and I can
scarcely regret an illness that restores me to home. My heart is
already with you all, but my frail shattered body must rest some days
in London, as the voyage from Sierra Leone has been extremely fatiguing
Lady Harriet made not a single remark when this letter was closed,
but tears coursed each other rapidly down her aged cheeks, while she
slowly removed her hands from her face, and gazed at Major Graham, who
seated himself by her side, in evident agitation, and calling back
Andrew when he was leaving the room, he said, in accents of unusual
emotion, Desire John to inquire immediately whether any steam-boat
sails for London to-day.
You are right! said Lady Harriet, feebly. Oh! that I could
accompany you! But bring him to me if possible. I dare not hope to go.
Surely we shall meet at last. Now indeed I feel my own weakness, when I
cannot fly to see him. But he will be quite able for the journey. Frank
had an excellent constitution,hehe was
Lady Harriet's voice failed, and she burst into a convulsive agony
A few hours, and uncle David had embarked for London, where, after a
short passage, he arrived at his usual lodgings in St. James' Place;
but some days elapsed, during which he laboured in vain to discover the
smallest trace of Frank, who had omitted, in his hurried letter from
Portsmouth, to mention where he intended living in town. One evening,
fatigued with his long and unavailing search, Major Graham sat down, at
the British Coffee-house, to take some refreshment before resuming his
inquiries, and was afterwards about to leave the room, when he observed
a very tall interesting young man, exceedingly emaciated, who strolled
languidly into the room, with so feeble a step, that he scarcely seemed
able to support himself. The stranger took off his hat, sunk into a
seat, and passed his fingers through the dark masses of curls that hung
over his pale white forehead, his large eyes closed heavily with
fatigue, his cheek assumed a hectic glow, and his head sunk upon his
hand. In a low subdued voice he gave some directions to the waiter, and
Major Graham, after gazing for a moment with melancholy interest at
this apparently consumptive youth, was about to depart, when a turn of
the young man's countenance caused him to start; he looked again more
earnestlyevery fibre of his frame seemed suddenly to thrill with
apprehension, and at last, in a voice of doubt and astonishment, he
The stranger sprung from his seat, gazed eagerly round the room,
rushed into the arms of Major Graham, and fainted.
Long and anxiously did uncle David watch for the restoration of
Frank, while every means were used to revive him, and when at length he
did regain his consciousness, no time was lost in conveying him to St.
James' Place, where, after being confined to bed, and attended by Sir
Astley Cooper and Sir Henry Halford, during some days, they united in
recommending that he should be carried some miles out of town, to the
neighbourhood of Hammersmith, for change of air, till the effect of
medicine and diet could be fully tried. Frank earnestly entreated that
he might be taken immediately to his own home, but this the doctors
pronounced quite impossible, privately hinting to Major Graham that it
seemed very doubtful indeed whether he could ever be moved there at
all, or whether he might survive above a few months.
Home is anywhere that my own family live with me, said Frank in a
tone of resignation, when he heard a journey to Scotland pronounced
impossible. It is not where I am, but who I see, that signifies; and
this meeting with you, uncle David, did me more good than an ocean of
physic. Oh! if I could only converse with grandmama for half-an-hour,
and speak to dear Harry and Laura, it would be too much happiness. I
want to see how much they are both grown, and to hear their merry laugh
again. Perhaps I never may! But if I get worse, they must come here. I
have many things to say! Why should they not set off now?immediately!
If I recover, we might be such a happy party to Scotland again. For
grandmama, I know it is impossible; but will you write and ask her
about Harry and Laura? The sooner the better, uncle David, because I
often think it probable
Frank coloured and hesitated; he looked earnestly at his uncle for
some moments, who saw what was meant, and then added,
There is one person more, far distant, and little thinking of what
is to come, who must be told. You have always been a father to me,
uncle David, but he also would wish to be here now. Little as we have
been together, I know how much he loves me.
Frank's request became no sooner known than it was complied with by
Lady Harriet, who thought it better not to distress Harry and Laura, by
mentioning the full extent of his danger, but merely said, that he felt
impatient for the meeting, and that they might prepare on the following
day, to embark under charge of old Andrew and her own maid Harrison,
for a voyage to London, where she hoped they would find the dear
invalid already better; Laura was astonished at the agitation with
which she spoke, and felt bewildered and amazed by this sudden
announcement. She and Harry had once or twice in their lives caught
cold, and spent a day in bed, confined to a diet of gruel and syrup,
which always proved an infallible remedy for the very worst attacks,
and they had frequently witnessed the severe sufferings of their
grandmama, from which, however, she always recovered, and which seemed
to them the natural effects of her extreme old age; but to imagine the
possibility of Frank's life being in actual danger, never crossed their
thoughts for an instant, and, therefore, it was with a feeling of
unutterable joy that they stood on the deck of the Royal Pandemonium,
knowing that they were now actually going to meet Frank.
Nothing could be a greater novelty to both the young travellers than
the scene by which they were now surrounded; trumpets were
soundingbells ringingchildren cryingsailors, passengers,
carriages, dogs, and baggage all hurrying on board pell-mell, while a
jet of steam came bellowing forth from the waste-pipe, as if it were
struggling to get rid of the huge column of black smoke vomited forth
by the chimney. Below stairs they were still more astonished to find a
large cabin, covered with gilding, red damask, and mirrors, where
crowds of strange-looking people, more than half sick, and very cross,
were scolding and bustling about, bawling for their carpet bags, and
trying to be of as much consequence as possible, while they ate and
drank trash, to keep off sea-sickness, that might have made any one
sick on shoresipping brandy and water, or eating peppermint drops,
according as the case required. Among those in the ladies' cabin, Laura
and Harry were amused to discover Miss Perceval, who had hastened into
bed already, in case of being ill, and was talking unceasingly to any
one who would listen, besides ordering and scolding a poor sick maid,
scarcely able to stand. Her head was enveloped in a most singular
night-cap, ornamented with old ribbons and artificial flowersshe wore
a bright yellow shawl, and had taken into the berth beside her, a
little Blenheim spaniela parrotand a cage of canary birds, the
noisy inhabitants of which sung at the full pitch of their voices till
the very latest hour of the night, being kept awake by the lamp which
swung from side to side, while nothing could be compared to their
volubility except the perpetual clamour occasioned by Miss Perceval
I declare these little narrow beds are no better than coffins! I
never saw such places! and the smell is like singed blankets and
cabbages boiled in melted oil! It is enough to make anybody ill! Mary!
go and fetch me a cup of tea, and, do you hear! tell those people on
deck not to make such a noiseit gives me a headache! Be sure you say
that I shall complain to the Captain. Reach me some bread and milk for
the parrot,fetch my smelling bottle,go to the saloon for that book
I was reading,and search again for the pocket-handkerchief I mislaid.
It cost ten guineas, and must be found. I hope no one has stolen it!
Now do make haste with the tea! What are you dawdling there for? If you
do not stop that noise on deck, Mary, I shall be exceedingly
displeased! Some of those horrid people in the steerage were smoking
too, but tell the Captain that if I come up he must forbid them. It is
a trick to make us all sick and save provisions. I observed a gun-case
in the saloon too, which is a most dangerous thing, for guns always go
off when you least expect. If any one fires, I shall fall into
hysterics. I shall, indeed! What a creaking noise the vessel makes! I
hope there is no danger of its splitting! We ought not to go on sailing
after dusk. The Captain must positively cast anchor during the night,
that we may have no more of this noise or motion, but sleep in peace
and quietness till morning.
Soon after the Royal Pandemonium had set sail, or rather set fire,
the wind freshened, and the pitching of the vessel became so rough,
that Harry and Laura, with great difficulty, staggered to seats on the
deck, leaving both Lady Harriet's servants so very sick below, that
instead of being able to attend on them, they gave nine times the
trouble that any other passenger did on board, and were not visible
again during the whole voyage. The two young travellers now sat down
together, and watched, with great curiosity, several groups of
strangers on deck: ladies, half sick, trying to entertain gentlemen in
seal-skin travelling caps and pale cadaverous countenances, smoking
cigars; others opening baskets of provisions, and eating with good
sea-faring appetite; while one party had a carriage on the deck so
filled with luxuries of every kind, that there seemed no end to the
multitude of Perigord pies, German sausages, cold fowls, pastry, and
fruit that were produced during the evening. The owners had a table
spread on the deck, and ate voraciously, before a circle of hungry
spectators, which had such an appearance of selfishness and gluttony,
that both his young friends thought immediately of Peter Grey.
As evening closed in, Harry and Laura began to feel very desolate
thus for the first time in their lives alone, while the wide waste of
waters around made the scene yet more forlorn. They had enjoyed
unmingled delight in talking over and over about their happy meeting
with Frank, and planned a hundred times how joyfully they would rush
into the house, and with what pleasure they would relate all that
happened to themselves, after hearing from his own mouth the
extraordinary adventures which his letters had described. Laura
produced from her reticule several of the last she had received, and
laughed again over the funny jokes and stories they contained,
inventing many new questions to ask him on the subject, and fancying
she already heard his voice, and saw his bright and joyous countenance.
But now the night had grown so dark and chilly, that both Harry and
Laura felt themselves gradually becoming cold, melancholy, and
dejected. They made an effort to walk arm-in-arm up and down the deck,
in imitation of the few other passengers who had been able to remain
out of bed, and they tried still to talk cheerfully, but in spite of
every effort, their thoughts became mournful. After clinging together
for some time, and staggering up and down, without feeling in spirits
to speak, they were still shiveringly cold, yet unwilling to separate
for the night, when Harry suddenly stood still, grasping Laura's arm
with a look of startled astonishment, which caused her hastily to
glance round in the direction where he was eagerly gazing, but nothing
became visible except the dim outline of a woman's figure, rolled up in
several enormous shawls, and with her bonnet slouched far over her
I am certain it was her! whispered Harry, in a tone of breathless
amazement; almost certain!
Who? asked Laura, eagerly.
Without answering, Harry sprung forward, and seized the unknown
person by the arm, who instantly looked round.IT WAS MRS. CRABTREE!
I am sorry you observed me, Master Harry! I did not intend to
trouble you and Miss Laura during the voyage, said she, turning her
face slowly towards him, when, to his surprise, he saw that the traces
of tears were on her cheek, and her manner appeared so subdued, and
altogether so different from former times, that Laura could scarcely
yet credit her senses. I shall not be at all in your way, children,
but I I must see Master Frank again. He was always too good for
this world, and he'll not be here longAndrew told me all about it,
and I could not stay behind. I wish we were all as well prepared, and
then the sooner we die the better.
Harry and Laura listened in speechless consternation to these words.
The very idea of losing Frank had never before crossed their
imaginations for a moment, and they could have wished to believe that
what Mrs. Crabtree said was like the ravings of delirium, yet an
irresistible feeling of awe and alarm rushed into their minds.
Miss Laura! if you want any help in undressing, call to me at any
time. I was sure that doited body Harrison could be of no service. She
never was fit to take care of herself, and far less of such as you. It
put me wild to think of your coming all this way with nobody fit to
look after you, and then the distress that must follow.
But surely, Mrs. Crabtree, you do not think Frank so very ill,
asked Laura, making an effort to recover her voice, and speaking in a
tone of deep anxiety; he had recovered from the fever, but is only
rather too weak for travelling.
Well, Miss Laura! grief always comes too soon, and I would have
held my tongue had I thought you did not know the worst already. If I
might order as in former days, it would be to send you both down
directly, out of this heavy fog and cold wind.
But you may order us, Mrs. Crabtree, said Harry, taking her kindly
by the hand; we are very glad to see you again! and I shall do
whatever you bid me! So you came all this way on purpose for us! How
Master Harry, I would go round the wide world to serve any one of
you! who else have I to care for? But it was chiefly to see Master
Frank. Let us hope the best, and pray to be prepared for any event that
may come. All things are ordained for good, and we can only make the
best of what happens. The world must go round,it must go round, and
we can't prevent it.
Harry and Laura hung their heads in dismay, for there was something
agitated and solemn in Mrs. Crabtree's manner, which astonished and
shocked them, so they hurried silently to bed; and Laura's pillow was
drenched with tears of anxiety and distress that night, though
gradually, as she thought of Frank's bright colour and sparkling eyes,
his joyous spirits and unbroken health, it seemed impossible that all
were so soon to fade away, that the wind should have already passed
over them, and they were gone, till by degrees her mind became more
calm; her hopes grew into certainties; she told herself twenty times
over, that Mrs. Crabtree must be entirely mistaken, and at last sunk
into a restless agitated slumber.
Next day the sun shone, the sky was clear, and every thing appeared
so full of life and joy, that Harry and Laura would have fancied the
whole scene with Mrs. Crabtree a distressing dream, had they not been
awakened to recollection before six in the morning, by the sound of her
voice, angrily rebuking Miss Perceval and other ladies, who with too
good reason, were grumbling at the hardship of sleeping, or rather
vainly attempting to sleep, in such narrow uncomfortable dog-holes.
Laura heard Mrs. Crabtree conclude an eloquent oration on the subject
of contentment, by saying, Indeed, ladies! many a brave man, and
noblemen's sons too, have laid their heads on the green grass, fighting
for you, so we should put up with a hard bed patiently for one night.
Miss Perceval turned angrily away, and summoned her maid to receive
a multitude of new directions. Mary, tell the Captain that when I
looked out last, there was scarcely any smoke coming out of the funnel,
so I am sure he is saving fuel, and not keeping good enough fires to
carry us on! I never knew such shabbiness! Tell the engineer, that I
insist on his throwing on more coals immediately. Bring me some hot
water, as fast as possible! These towels are so coarse, I cannot, on
any account, use them. After being accustomed to such
pocket-handkerchiefs as mine, at ten guineas each, one does become
particular. Can you not find a larger basin? This looks like a
soup-plate, and it seems impossible here to get enough of hot water to
She should be put into the boiler of the steam-boat, muttered Mrs.
Crabtree. I wish them animal-magnifying doctors would put the young
lady to sleep till we arrive in London.
Now! continued Miss Perceval, get me another cup of tea. The last
was too sweet, the one before not strong enough, and the first half
cold, but this is worse than any. Do remember to mention, that
yesterday night the steward sent up a tin tea-pot, a thing I cannot
possibly suffer again. We must have the urn, too, instead of that black
tea-kettle; and desire him to prepare some butter-toastI am not
hungry, so three rounds will be enough. Let me have some green tea this
time; and see that the cream is better than last night, when I am
certain it was thickened with chalk or snails. The jelly, too, was
execrable, for it tasted like sticking-plasterI shall starve if
better can't be had; and the table-cloth looked like a pair of old
sheets. Tell the steward all this, and say, he must get my breakfast
ready on deck in half an hour; but meantime, I shall sit here with a
book while you brush my hair.
The sick persecuted maid seemed anxious to do all she was bid; so,
after delivering as many of the messages as possible, she tried to
stand up and do Miss Perceval's hair, but the motion of the vessel had
greatly increased, and she turned as pale as death, apparently on the
point of sinking to the ground, when Laura, now quite dressed, quietly
slipped the brush out of her hand, and carefully brushed Miss
Perceval's thin locks, while poor Mary silently dropped upon a seat,
being perfectly faint with sickness.
Miss Perceval read on, without observing the change of abigails,
till Harry, who had watched this whole scene from the cabin-door, made
a hissing noise, such as grooms do when they currycomb a horse, which
caused the young lady to look hastily round, when great was Miss
Perceval's astonishment to discover her new abigail, with a very
pains-taking look, brushing her hair, while poor Mary lay more dead
than alive on the benches. Well! I declare! was there ever anything so
odd! she exclaimed in a voice of amazement. How very strange! What
can be the matter with Mary! There is no end to the plague of
Or rather to the plague of mistresses! thought Laura, while she
glanced from Miss Perceval's round, red bustling face, to the poor
suffering maid, who became worse and worse during the day, for there
came on what sailors call a capful of wind, which gradually rose to a
stiff breeze, or, what the passengers considered a hurricane; and,
towards night, it attained the dignity of a real undeniable storm. A
scene of indescribable tumult then ensued. The Captain attempted to
make his voice heard above the roaring tempest, using a torrent of
unintelligible nautical phrases, and an incessant volley of very
intelligible oaths. The sailors flew about, and every plank in the
vessel seemed creaking and straining, but high above all, the shrill
tones of Miss Perceval were audibly heard, exclaiming,
Are there enough of 'hands' on board? Is there any danger? Are you
sure the boiler will not burst? I wish steam-boats had never been
invented! People are sure to be blown up to the clouds, or sunk to the
bottom of the ocean, or scalded to death like so many lobsters. I
cannot stand this any longer! Stop the ship, and set me on shore
Laura clung closer to Harry, and felt that they were like two mere
pigmies, amid the wide waste of waters, rolling and tossing around
them, while his spirits, on the contrary, rose to the highest pitch of
excitement with all he heard and saw, till at length, wishing to enjoy
more of the fun, he determined to venture above board. By the time
Harry's nose was on a level with the deck, he gazed around, and saw
that not a person appeared visible except two sailors, both lashed to
the helm, while all was silent now, except the deafening noise made by
the wild waves and the stormy blast, which seemed as if it would blow
his teeth down his throat. Harry thought the two men looked no larger
than mice in such a scene, and stood, clinging to the bannisters,
perfectly entranced with astonishment and admiration at the novelty of
all he saw, and thinking how often Frank must have been in such scenes,
when suddenly a wave washed quite over the deck, and he felt his arm
grasped by Mrs. Crabtree, who desired him to come down immediately, in
a tone of authority which he did not even yet feel bold enough to
disobey; therefore, slowly and reluctantly he descended to the cabin,
where the only living thing that seemed well enough to move, was Miss
Steward! she cried, in sharp angry accents. Steward! here is
water pouring down the sky-lights like a shower-bath! Look at my
band-box swimming on the floor! Mary! Tiresome creature! don't you see
that? My best bonnet will be destroyed! Send the Captain here! He must
positively stop that noise on deck; it is quite intolerable. My head
aches, as if it would burst like the boiler of a steam-boat! Stupid
man! Can't he put into some port, or cast anchor? How can he keep us
all uncomfortable in this way! Mary! Mary, I say! are you deaf?
Steward! send one of the sailors here to take care of this dog! I
declare poor Frisk is going to be sick! Mary! Mary! This is
insufferable! I wish the Captain would come and help me to scold my
maid! I shall certainly give you warning, Mary.
This awful threat had but little effect on one who thought herself
on the brink of being buried beneath the waves, besides being too sick
to care whether she died the next minute or not; and even Miss
Perceval's voice became drowned at last in the tremendous storm which
raged throughout the night, during which the Captain rather increased
Laura's panic, if that were possible, by considerately putting his head
into the cabin now and then to say, Don't be afraid, ladies! There is
But I must come up and see what you are about, Captain! exclaimed
You had better be still, ma'am, replied Mrs. Crabtree. It is as
well to be drowned in bed as on deck.
Nothing gives a more awful idea of the helplessness of man, and the
wrath of God, than a tempestuous sea during the gloom of midnight; and
every mind on board became awed into silence and solemnity during this
war of elements, till at length, towards morning, while the hurricane
seemed yet raging with undiminished fury, Laura suddenly gave an
exclamation of rapture, on hearing a sailor at the helm begin to sing
Tom Bowling. Now I feel sure the danger is over, said she, otherwise
that man could not have the heart to sing! If I live a century, I shall
always like a sailor's song for the future.
It is seldom that any person's thankfulness after danger bears a
fair proportion to the fear they felt while it lasted; but Harry and
Laura had been taught to remember where their gratitude was due, and
felt it the more deeply next day, when they entered the Yarmouth Roads,
and were shewn the masts of several vessels, appearing partly above the
water, which had on various occasions, been lost in that wilderness of
shoals, where so many melancholy catastrophes have occurred.
After sailing up the Thames, and duly staring at Greenwich hospital,
the hulks, and the Tower of London, they landed at last; and having
offered Mrs. Crabtree a place in the hackney coach, they hurried
impatiently into it, eager for the happy moment of meeting with Frank.
Harry, in his ardour, thought that no carriage had ever driven so
slowly before. He wished there had been a rail-road through the town;
and far from wasting a thought upon the novelties of Holborn or
Piccadilly, he and Laura gained no idea of the metropolis, more
distinct than that of the Irishman who complained he could not see
London for the quantity of houses. One only idea filled their hearts,
and brightened their countenances, while they looked at each other with
a smile of delight, saying, now, at last, we are going to see Frank!
CHAPTER XVI. THE ARRIVAL.
What is life?a varied tale,
Deeply moving, quickly told.
Oh! what a lovely cottage! exclaimed Laura, in an ecstacy of joy,
when they stopped before a beautiful house, with large airy windows
down to the ground; walls that seemed one brilliant mass of roses; rich
flowery meadows in front, and a bright smooth lawn behind, stretching
down to the broad bosom of the Thames, which reflected on its glassy
surface innumerable boats, filled with gay groups of merry people.
That is such a place as I have often dreamed of, but never saw before!
It seems made for perfect happiness!
Yes! how delightful to live here with Frank and uncle David! added
Harry. We shall be sailing on the water all day!
The cottage gate was now opened, and Major Graham himself appeared
under the porch; but instead of hurrying forward, as he always formerly
did, to welcome them after the very shortest separation, he stood
gravely and silently at the door, without so much as raising his eyes
from the ground; and the paleness of his countenance filled both Harry
and Laura with astonishment. They flew to meet him, making an
exclamation of joy; but after embracing them affectionately, he did not
utter a word, and led the way with hurried and agitated steps into a
Where is Frank? exclaimed Harry, looking eagerly round. Why is he
not here? Call him down! Tell him we are come!
A long pause ensued; and Laura trembled when she looked at her
uncle, who was some moments before he could speak, and sat down taking
each of them by the hand, with such a look of sorrow and commiseration,
that they were filled with alarm.
My dear Harry and Laura! said he solemnly, you have never known
grief till now, but if you love me, listen with composure. I have sad
news to tell, yet it is of the very greatest consequence that you
should bear up with fortitude. Frank is extremely ill; and the joy he
felt about your coming, has agitated him so much, that he is worse than
you can possibly conceive. It probably depends upon your conduct now,
whether he survives this night or not. Frank knows you are here; he is
impatient for you to embrace him; he becomes more and more agitated
every moment the meeting is delayed; yet if you give way to childish
grief, or even to childish joy, upon seeing him again, the Doctors
think it may cause his immediate death. You might hear his breathing in
any part of this house. He is in the lowest extreme of weakness! It
will be a dreadful scene for you both. Tell me, Harry and Laura, can
you trust yourselves? Can you, for Frank's own sake, enter his room
this moment, as quietly as if you had seen him yesterday, and speak to
him with composure?
Laura felt, on hearing these words, as if the very earth had opened
under her feet,a choking sensation arose in her throat,her colour
fled,her limbs shook,her whole countenance became convulsed with
anguish,but making a resolute effort, she looked anxiously at Harry,
and then said, in a low, almost inaudible voice,
Uncle David! we are able,God will strengthen us. I dare not think
a moment. The sooner it is done the better. Let us go now.
Major Graham slowly led the way without speaking, till they reach
the bed-room door, where he paused for a moment, while Harry and Laura
listened to the gasping sound of Frank struggling for breath.
Remember you will scarcely know him, whispered he, looking
doubtfully at Laura's pallid countenance; but a single expression of
emotion may be fatal. Show your love for Frank now, my dear children.
Spare him all agitation,forget your own feelings for his sake.
When Harry and Laura entered the room, Frank buried his face in his
hands, and leaned them on the table, saying, in convulsive accents, Go
away, Laura!oh go away just now! I cannot bear it yet!leave
If Laura had been turned into marble at the moment, she could not
have seemed more perfectly calm, for her mind was wound up to an almost
supernatural effort, and advancing to the place where he sat, without
attempting to speak, she took Frank by the handHarry did the same;
and not a sound was heard for some moments, but the convulsive
struggles of Frank himself, while he gasped for breath, and vainly
tried to speak, till at length he raised his head and fixed his eyes on
Laura, who felt then, for the first time, struck with the dreadful
conviction, that this meeting was but a prelude to their immediate and
final separation. The pale ashy cheek, the hollow eye, the sharp and
altered features, all told a tale of anguish such as she had never
before conceived, and a cold tremor passed through her frame, as she
stood amazed and bewildered with grief, while the past, the present,
and the future seemed all one mighty heap of agony. Still she gazed
steadily on Frank, and said nothing, conscious that the smallest
indulgence of emotion would bring forth a torrent which nothing could
control, and determined, unless her heart ceased to beat, that he
should see nothing to increase his agitation.
At length, in a low, faint, broken voice, Frank was able to speak,
and looking with affectionate sympathy at Laura, he said, Do not
think, dear sister, that I always suffer as you see me now. This joy
has been too much for me. I shall soon feel easier.
Major Graham observed a livid paleness come over Laura's countenance
when she attempted to answer, and seeing it was impossible to sustain
the trial a moment longer, he made a pretext to hurry her away. Harry
instantly followed, and rushing into a vacant room, he threw himself
down in an agony of grief, and wept convulsively, till the very bed
shook beneath him. Hours passed on, and Major Graham left them to
exhaust their grief in weeping together, but every moment seemed only
to increase their agitation, as the conviction became more fearfully
certain that Frank was indeed lost to them for ever. This then was the
meeting they had so often, and so joyously anticipated! Laura sunk upon
her knees beside Harry, and prayers were mingled with their tears,
while they asked for consolation, and tried to feel resigned. Alas!
thought she solemnly, how truly did grandmama say, 'If the sorrows of
this world are called 'light afflictions,' what must be those from
which Christ died to save us!' It is merciful that we are not forbid to
weep, for, oh! who ever lost such a brother?the kindestthe best of
brothers!dear, dear Frank!can nothing be done! Uncle David! added
Laura, clinging to Major Graham, when he entered the room, oh! say
something to us about Frank getting better,do you think he will? May
we have a hope?one single hope to live upon, that Frank may possibly
be spared; do not turn awaydo not look so very sadthink how young
Frank is,and the Doctors are so skilfulandand oh, uncle David! he
is dying! I see it! I must believe it! continued she, wringing her
hands with grief. You cannot give us one word of hope, though the
whole world would be nothing without him.
My dear,my very dear Laura! remember that consoling text in holy
Scripture, 'Be still, and know that I am God;'we have no idea what He
can do in saving us from sorrow, or in comforting us when it comes,
therefore let us seek peace from Him, and believe that all shall indeed
be ordered well, even though our own hearts were to be broken with
affliction. Frank has seen old nurse Crabtree, and is now in a
refreshing sleep, therefore I wish you to take the opportunity of
sitting in his room, and accustoming yourselves, if possible, to the
sight of his altered appearance. He is sometimes very cheerful, and
always patient, therefore we must keep up our own spirits, and try to
assist him in bearing his sufferings, rather than increase them, by
showing what we feel ourselves. I was pleased with you both this
morningthat meeting was no common effort, and now we must show our
submission to the Divine will, difficult as that may be, by a deep,
heartfelt resignation to whatever He ordains.
Harry and Laura still felt stupified with grief, but they
mechanically followed Major Graham into Frank's room, and sat down in a
distant corner behind his chair, observing with awe and astonishment
his pallid countenance, his emaciated hands, and his drooping figure,
while scarcely yet able to believe that this was indeed their own
beloved Frank. After they had remained immoveably still for some time,
though shedding many bitter tears, as they gazed on the wreck of one so
very dear, he suddenly started awake, and glanced anxiously round the
room, then with a look of deep disappointment, he said to uncle David,
in low, feeble accents,
It was only a dream! I have often dreamed the same thing, when far
away at sea,that would have been too much happiness! I fancied Harry
and Laura were here!
It was no dream, dear Frank! we are here, said Laura, trying to
speak in a quiet, subdued voice.
My dear sister! then all is well! but pray sit always where I can
see you. After wishing so long for our meeting, it appears nearly
impossible that we are together at last.
Frank became exhausted with speaking so much, but pointed to a seat
near himself, where Harry and Laura sat down, after which he gazed at
them long and earnestly, with a look of affectionate pleasure, while
his smile, which had lost all its former cheerfulness, was now full of
tenderness and sensibility. At length his countenance gradually
changed, while large tears gathered in his eyes, and coursed each other
silently down his cheeks. Thoughts of the deepest sadness seemed
passing through his mind during some moments, but checking the heavy
sigh that rose in his breast, he riveted his hands together, and looked
towards heaven with an expression of placid submission, saying these
words in a scarcely audible tone, though evidently addressed to those
Weeping endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. We
know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have
a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens. Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him; but
weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see
his native country.
 Jeremiah xxii. 10.
These words fell upon the ear of Harry and Laura like a knell of
death, for they now saw that Frank himself believed he was dying, and
it appeared as if their last spark of hope expired when they heard this
terrible dispensation announced from his own lips. He seemed anxious
now that they should understand his full meaning, and receive all the
consolation which his mind could afford, for he closed his eyes, and
added in solemn accents,
I must have died at some time, and why not now? If I leave friends
who are very dear on earth, I go to my chief best friend in heaven. The
whole peace and comfort of my mind rest on thinking of our Saviour's
merits. Let us all be ready to say, 'the will of the Lord be done.'
Think often, Harry and Laura, of those words we so frequently repeated
to grandmama formerly:
'Take comfort, Christians, when your friends
In Jesus fall asleep,
Their better being never ends,
Why then dejected weep?
Why inconsolable as those
To whom no hope is given?
Death is the messenger of peace,
And calls 'my' soul to Heaven.'
Frank's voice failed, his head fell back upon the pillows, and he
remained for a length of time, with his eyes closed in solemn
meditation and prayer, while Laura and Harry, unable so much as to look
at each other, leaned upon the table, and wept in silence.
Laura felt as if she had grown old in a moment,as if life could
give no more joyand as if she herself stood already on the verge of
the grave. It appeared like a dream that she had ever been happy, and a
dreadful reality to which she was now awakened. Behold, God taketh
away! who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils. These were texts
which forced themselves on her mind, with mournful emphasis, while she
felt how helpless is earthly affection when the dispensations of God
are upon us. All her love for Frank could not avert the stroke of
death,all his attachment to her must now be buried in the grave,and
the very tenderness they felt for each other, only embittered the
sorrows of this dreadful moment.
From that day, Harry and Laura, according to the advice of uncle
David, testified their affection for Frank, not by tears and useless
lamentations, though these were not always to be controlled in private,
but by the incessant, devoted attention with which they watched his
looks, anticipated his wishes, and thought every exertion a pleasure
which could in the slightest degree contribute to his comfort. Frank,
on his part, spared their feelings, by often concealing what he
suffered, and by speaking of his own death, as if it had been a journey
on which he must prepare with readiness to enter, reminding them, that
never to die, was never to be happy, as all they saw him endure from
sickness, became nothing to what he endured from struggling against sin
and temptation, which were the great evils of existence,and that from
all these he would be for ever freed by death. Those who are prepared
for the change, added he, solemnly, can neither live too long, nor
die too soon; for when God gives us His blessing, He then sends heaven,
as it were, into the soul before the soul ascends to heaven; and I
trust to being gifted with faith and submission for all that may be
ordained during my few remaining hours upon earth.
Yet, with every desire to feel resigned, Frank himself was sometimes
surprised out of his usual fortitude, especially when thinking that he
must never more hope to see Lady Harriet, towards whom he cast many a
longing and affecting thought, saying once, with deep emotion, If I
could only see grandmama again, I should feel quite well! One evening,
as he sat near an open window, gazing on the rich tints of twilight,
and breathing with more than usual ease, a wandering musician paused
with her guitar, and sung several airs with great pathos and
expression. At length she played the tune of Home! sweet home, to
which Frank listened for some moments with intense agitation, till,
clasping his hands and bursting into tears, he exclaimed, in accents of
Home! That happy home! Oh! nevernever more,my home is in
Laura wept convulsively while he added in broken accents, I shall
still be rememberedstill lamentedyou must not love me too well,
Laura,not as I love you, or your sorrow would be too great; but long
hence, when Harry and you are happy together, surrounded with friends,
think sometimes of one who must for ever be absent,who loved you
better than them all,whose last prayer will be for you both. Oh! who
can tell what my feelings are! I can do nothing now but cause distress
and anguish to those who love me best!
Frank, I would not exchange your affection for the wealth of
worlds. As long as I live, it will be my greatest earthly happiness to
have had such a brother; and if we are to suffer a sorrow that I cannot
name, and dare not think of, you are teaching me how to bear it, and
leaving us the only comfort we can have, in knowing that you are
Many plans and many hopes I had for the future, Laura, added
Frank; but there is no future to me now in this world. Perhaps I may
escape a multitude of sorrows, but how gladly would I have shared all
yours, and ensured my best happiness by uniting with Harry and you in
living to God. If you both learn more by my death than by my life,
then, indeed, I do rejoice. With respect to myself, it matters but
little a few years or hours sooner, for I may say, in the words of Job,
'though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.'
Frank's sufferings increased every day, and became so very great at
last, that the Doctor proposed giving him strong doses of laudanum, to
bring on a stupor and allay the pain; but when this was mentioned to
him, he said, I know it is my duty to take whatever you prescribe, and
I certainly shall, but if we can do without opiates, let me entreat you
to refrain from them. Often formerly at sea I used to think it very sad
how few of those I attended in sickness were allowed by the physician
to die in possession of their senses, on account of being made to take
laudanum, which gave them false spirits and temporary ease. Let me
retain my faculties as long as they are mercifully granted to me. I can
bear pain,at least, God grant me strength to do so,but I cannot
willingly enter the presence of my Creator in a state little short of
Many days of agony followed this resolution on the part of Frank,
but though the medicine, which would have brought some hours of
oblivion, lay within reach, he persevered in wishing to preserve his
consciousness, whatever suffering it might cost; and though now and
then a prayer for bodily relief was wrung from him in his acute agony,
the most frequent and fervent supplications that he uttered night and
day were, in an accent of intense emotion, God have mercy upon my
Harry and Laura were surprised to find the fields and walks near
London so very rural and beautiful as they appeared at Hammersmith, and
to meet with much more simplicity and kindness among the common people
than they had anticipated. The poorer neighbours, who became aware of
their affliction, testified a degree of sympathy which frequently
astonished them, and was often afterwards remembered with pleasure, one
instance of which seemed peculiarly touching to Laura. Frank always
suffered most acutely during the night, and seldom closed his eyes in
sleep till morning, therefore she invariably remained with him, to
beguile those weary hours, while any remonstrance on his part against
so fatiguing a duty, became a mere waste of words, as she only grew
sadder and paler, saying, there would be time enough to take care of
herself when she could no longer be of use to him. The earliest thing
that gave any relief to Frank's cough every day, generally was, a
tumbler of milk, warm from the cow, which had been ordered for him, and
was brought almost as soon as the dawn of light. Once, when Frank had
been unusually ill, and sighed in restless agony till morning, Laura
watched impatiently for day, and when the milkman was seen, at six
o'clock, slowly trudging through the fields, and advancing leisurely
towards the house, Laura hurried eagerly down to meet him, exclaiming
in accents of joy, while she held out the tumbler, Oh! I am so glad
you are come at last!
At last, Miss!! I am as early as usual! replied he, gruffly. It's
not many poor folks that gets up so soon to their work, and if you had
to labour as hard as me all day, you would maybe think the morning came
I am seldom in bed all night, answered Laura, sadly. My poor sick
brother cannot rest till this milk is brought, and I wait with him,
hour after hour till daylight, wearying for you to come.
The old dairyman looked with sorrowful surprise at Laura, while she,
thinking no more of what had passed, hurried away; but next morning,
when sitting up again with Frank, she became surprised to observe the
milkman a whole hour earlier than usual, plodding along towards his
cattle at a peculiarly rapid pace. He stayed not more than five
minutes, only milking one cow, though all the others gathered round
him, and as soon as he had filled his little pail, he came straight
toward Major Graham's cottage, and knocked at the door. Laura instantly
ran down to thank him with her whole heart for his kind attention,
after which, as long as Frank continued ill, the old dairyman rose long
before his usual time, to bring this welcome refreshment.
Frank desired Laura to beg that he would not take so much trouble,
or else to insist on his accepting some remuneration, but the old man
would neither discontinue the custom, nor receive any recompense.
Let me see this kind good dairyman, to thank him myself, said
Frank, one night, when he felt rather easier; and next morning, Laura
invited poor Teddy Collins to walk up stairs, who looked exceedingly
astonished, though very much pleased at the proposal, saying, May be,
Ma'am, the poor young gentleman would not like to see a stranger like
No one is a stranger who feels for him as you have done, replied
Laura, leading the way, and Frank's countenance lighted up with a smile
of pleasure when they entered his room. He held out his thin emaciated
hand to Teddy, who looked earnestly and sorrowfully in his face as he
grasped hold of it, saying, You look very poorly, Sir! I'm afraid,
indeed, you are sadly ill.
That I am! as ill as any one can be on this side of eternity! My
tale is told, my days are numbered; but I would not go out of this
world without saying how grateful we both feel for your attention. As a
cup of cold water given in Christian kindness shall hereafter be
rewarded, I trust also that your attention to me may not be forgotten.
You are heartily welcome, Sir! It is a great honour for a poor old
man like me to oblige anybody. I shall not long be able for work now,
seeing that I am upwards of threescore and ten, and my days are already
full of labour and sorrow.
To both of us, then, the night is far spent, and the day is at
hand, replied FrankHow strange it seems, that, old as you are. I am
still older; my feeble frame will be sooner worn out, and my body laid
at rest in the grave! Let me hope that you have already applied your
heart to wisdom, for every child of earth must, sooner or later, find
how short is every thing but eternity. While I appear before you here
as a spectacle of mortality, think how soon and how certainly you must
follow. May you then find, as I do, that even in the last extreme of
sickness and sorrow, there is comfort in looking forward to such
blessings as 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard.' Farewell, my kind
friend! In this world we shall meet no more, but there is another and a
The old man, apparently unwilling to withdraw, paused for some
moments after Frank had ceased to speak. He muttered a few inaudible
words in reply, and then slowly and sorrowfully left the room, while
Frank's head sunk languidly on the pillows, and Laura retired to her
room, where, as usual, she wept herself to sleep.
When Harry and Laura first arrived at Hammersmith, Frank felt
anxious that they should walk out every day for the benefit of their
health; but finding that each made frequent excuses for remaining
constantly with him at home, he invented a plan which induced them to
take exercise regularly.
Being early in June, strawberries were yet so exceedingly rare, that
they could scarcely be had for any money; but the Doctor had allowed
his patient to eat fruit. Frank asked his two young attendants to
wander about in quest of gardens where a few strawberries could be got,
and to bring him some. Accordingly, they set out one morning; and after
a long, unsuccessful search, at last observed a small green-house near
the road, with one little basket in the window, scarcely larger than a
thimble, containing two or three delicious King seedlings, perfectly
ripe. These were to be sold for five shillings; but hardly waiting to
ascertain the price, Laura seized this welcome prize with delight, and
paid for it on the spot. Every morning afterwards, her regular walk was
to hasten with Harry towards this pretty little shop, where they talked
to the gardener about poor Frank being so very ill, and told him that
this fine fruit was wanted for their sick brother at home.
One day the invalid seemed so much worse than usual, that neither
Harry nor Laura could bear to leave him a moment; so they requested
Mrs. Crabtree to fetch the strawberries, which she readily agreed to
do; but on drawing out her purse in the shop, and saying that she came
to buy that little basket of fruit at the window, what was her
astonishment when the gardener looked civil and sorry, answering that
he would not sell those strawberries if she offered him a guinea
No! exclaimed Mrs. Crabtree, getting into a rage; then what do
you put them up at the window for? There is no use pretending to keep a
shop, if you will not sell what is in it! Give me these strawberries
this minute, and here's your five shillings!
It's quite impossible, replied the gardener, holding back the
basket. You see, ma'am, every day last week a little Master and Miss
came to this here shop, buying my strawberries for a young gentleman
who is very ill; and they look both so sweet and so mournful-like, that
I would not disappoint them for all the world. They seem later to-day
than usual, and are, may be, not coming at all; but if I lose my day's
profits, it can't be helped. They shall not walk here for nothing, if
they please to come!
When Mrs. Crabtree explained that she belonged to the same family as
Harry and Laura, the gardener looked hard at her to see if she were
attempting to deceive him; but feeling convinced that she spoke the
truth, he begged her to carry off the basket to his young friends,
positively refusing to take the price.
CHAPTER XVII. THE LAST BIRTH-DAY.
Mere human power shall fast decay,
And youthful vigour cease;
But they who wait upon the Lord,
In strength shall still increase.
Frank felt no unnatural apathy or indifference about dying, for he
looked upon it with awe, though not with fear; nor did he express any
rapturous excitement on the solemn occasion, knowing that death is an
appointed penalty for transgression, which, though deprived of its
sharpest sting by the triumphs of the cross, yet awfully testifies to
all succeeding generations, that each living man has individually
merited the utmost wrath of God, and that the last moment on earth, of
even the most devoted Christian, must be darkened by the gloom of our
original sin and natural corruption. Yet, as in Adam all die, so in
Christ are all made alive; and amidst the throng of consolatory and
affecting meditations that crowded into his mind on the great subject
of our salvation, he kept a little book in which were carefully
recorded such texts and reflections as he considered likely to
strengthen his own faith, and to comfort those he left behindsaying
one day to Major Graham,
Tell grandmama, that though my days have been few upon the earth,
they were happy! When you think of me, uncle David, after my sufferings
are over, it may well be a pleasing remembrance, that you were always
the best, the kindest of friends. Oh! how kind! but I must notcannot
speak of that. This is my birth-day!my last birth-day! Many a
joyous one we kept together, but those merry days are over, and these
sadder ones too shall cease; yet the time is fast approaching, so
welcome to us both,
'When death-divided friends at last
Shall meet to part no more.'
In the evening, Major Graham observed that Frank made Mrs. Crabtree
bring everything belonging to him, and lay it on the table, when he
employed himself busily in tying up a number of little parcels,
remarking, with a languid smile,
My possessions are not valuable, but these are for some old friends
and messmates, who will be pleased to receive a trifling memorial of
one who loved them. Send my dirk to Peter Grey, who is much reformed
now. Here are all the letters any of you ever sent me; how very often
they have been read! but now, even that intercourse must end; keep
them, for they were the dearest treasures I possessed. At Madras,
formerly, I remember hearing of a nabob who was bringing his whole
fortune home in a chest of gold, but the ropes for hoisting his
treasure on board were so insufficient, that the whole gave way, and it
fell into the ocean, never to be recovered. That seemed a very sudden
termination of his hopes and plans, but scarcely more unexpected than
my own. 'We are a wind that passeth away and cometh not again.' Many
restless nights are ordained for me now, probably that I may find no
resource but prayer and meditation. Others can afford time to slumber,
but I so soon shall sleep the sleep of death, that it becomes a
blessing to have such hours of solitary thought, for preparing my heart
and establishing my faith, during this moment of need.
Yes, Frank! but your prayers are not solitary, for ours are joined
to yours, added Laura. I read in an old author lately, that Christian
friends in this world might be compared to travellers going along the
same road in separate carriagessometimes they are togetheroften
they are apartsometimes they can exchange assistance, as we do
nowand often they jostle against each other, till at last, having
reached the journey's end, they are removed out of these earthly
vehicles into a better state, where they shall look back upon former
circumstances, and know even as they are known.
Laura was often astonished to observe the change which had taken
place in her own character and feelings within the very short period of
their distress. Her extreme terror of a thunder-storm formerly, had
occasioned many a jest to her brothers, when Harry used, occasionally,
to roll heavy weights in the room above her own, to imitate the loudest
peals, while Frank sometimes endeavoured to argue her out of that
excessive apprehension with which she listened to the most distant
surmise of a storm. Now, however, at Hammersmith, long after midnight,
the moon, on one occasion, became completely obscured by dense heavy
clouds, and the air felt so oppressively hot, that Frank, who seemed
unusually breathless, drew closer to the window. Laura supported his
head, and was deeply occupied in talking to him, when suddenly a broad
flash of lightning glared into the room, followed by a crash of
thunder, that seemed to crack the very heavens. Again and again the
lightning gleamed in her face with such vividness, that Laura fancied
she could distinguish the heat of it, and yet she stirred not, nor did
a single exclamation, as in former days, arise on her lips.
Pray shut the window, Laura, said Frank languidly, raising his
eyes; and be so kind as to close the shutters!
Why, Frank?you never used to be alarmed by thunder!
No! nor am I now, dear Laura. What danger need a dying person fear?
Some few hours sooner or later would be of little consequence
Come he slow, or come he fast,
It is but death that comes at last.
Yet, Laura, do you think I have forgotten old times! Oh, no!not
while I live. You attend to my feelings, and surely it is my duty to
Never mind me, Frank! whispered Laura. I have got over all that
folly. When real fears and sorrows come, we care no more about those
that were imaginary.
True, my dear sister; and there is no courage or fortitude like
that derived from faith in a superintending providence. Though all
creation reel, we may sleep in peace, for to Christians 'danger is
safe, and tumult calm.'
When Frank grew worse, he became often delirious. Yet as in health
he had been habitually cheerful, his mind generally wandered to
agreeable subjects. He fancied himself walking on the bright meadows,
and picking flowers by the river side,meeting Lady Harriet,and even
speaking to his father, as if Sir Edward had been present; while Harry
and Laura listened, weeping and trembling, to behold the wreck of such
a mind and heart as his. One evening, he seemed unusually well, and
requested that his arm-chair might be wheeled to the open window, where
he gazed with delight at the hills and meadows,the clouds and
glittering water,the cattle standing in the stream,the boats
reflected on its surface,and the roses fluttering at every casement.
Those joyous little birds!their song makes me cheerful, said he,
in a tone of placid enjoyment. I have been in countries where the
birds never sing, and the leaves never fade; but they excited no
sympathy or interest. Here we have notes of gladness both in sunshine
and storm, teaching us a lesson of grateful contentment,while those
drooping roses preach a sermon to me, for as easily might they recover
freshness and bloom as myself. We shall both lie low before long in the
dust, yet a spring shall come hereafter to revive even 'the ashes of
the urn.' Then, uncle David, we meet again,not as now, amidst sorrow
and suffering, with death and separation before us,but blessed by the
consciousness that our sins are forgiven,our trials all ended,and
that our afflictions which were but for a moment, have worked out for
us a far more exceeding, even an eternal weight of glory.
Some hours afterwards the Doctor entered. After receiving a cordial
welcome from Frank, and feeling his pulse, he instantly examined his
arms and neck, which were covered entirely over with small red spots,
upon observing which, the friendly physician suddenly changed
countenance, and stole an alarmed glance at Major Graham.
I feel easier and better to-day, Doctor, than at any time since my
illness, said Frank, looking earnestly in his face. Do you think this
eruption will do me good? Life has much that would be dear to me, while
I have friends like these to live for. Can it be possible that I may
The Doctor turned away, unable to reply, while Frank intensely
watched his countenance, and then gazed at the pale agitated face of
Major Graham. Gradually the hope which had brightened in his cheek
began to fade,the lustre of his eye became dim,his countenance
settled into an expression of mournful resignation,and covering his
face with his hands, he said, in a voice of deep emotion,
I see how it is!God's will be done!
The silence of death succeeded, while Frank laid his head on the
pillow and closed his eyes. A few natural tears coursed each other
slowly down his cheek; but at length, an hour or two afterwards, being
completely exhausted, he fell into a gentle sleep, from which the
Doctor considered it very doubtful if he would ever awaken, as the red
spots indicated mortification, which must inevitably terminate his life
before next day.
Laura retired to the window, making a strenuous effort to restrain
her feelings, that she might be enabled to witness the last awful
scene; and fervently did she pray for such strength to sustain it with
fortitude, as might still render her of some use to her dying brother.
Her pale countenance might almost have been mistaken for that of a
corpse, but for the expression of living agony in her eye; and she was
sunk in deep, solemn thought, when her attention became suddenly roused
by observing a chariot and four drive furiously up to the gate, while
the horses were foaming and panting as they stopped. A tall gentleman,
of exceedingly striking appearance, sprung hurriedly out, walked
rapidly towards the cottage door, and in another minute entered Frank's
room, with the animated look of one who expected to be gladly welcomed,
and to occasion an agreeable surprise.
Harry and Laura shrunk close to their uncle, when the stranger, now
in evident agitation, gazed round the room with an air of painful
astonishment, till Major Graham looked round, and instantly started up
with an exclamation of amazement, Edward! is it possible! This is
indeed a consolation! you are still in time!
In time!! exclaimed Sir Edward, grasping his brother's hand with
vehement agitation. Do you mean to say that Frank is yet in danger!
Major Graham mournfully shook his head, and undrawing the bed
curtains, he silently pointed to the sleeping countenance of Frank,
which was as still as death, and already overspread by a ghastly
paleness. Sir Edward then sunk into a chair, and clenched his hands
over his forehead with a look of unspeakable anguish, saying, in an
under-tone, Worn out, as I am, in mind and body, I needed not this to
destroy me! Say at once, brother, is there any hope?
None, my dear Edward! None! Even now he is insensible, and I fear
with little prospect of ever becoming conscious again.
At this moment Frank opened his eyes, which were dim and glassy,
while it became evident that he had relapsed into a state of temporary
Get more candles! how very dark it is! he said. Who are all those
people? Send away everybody but grandmama! I must speak to her alone.
Never tell papa of all this, it would only distress himsay nothing
about me. Why do Harry and Laura never come? They have been absent more
than a week! Who took away uncle David too?
Laura listened for some time in an agony of grief, till at last,
unable any longer to restrain her feelings, she clasped Frank in her
arms and burst into tears, exclaiming, in accents of piercing distress,
Oh Frank! dear Frank! have you forgotten poor Laura?
Not till I am dead! whispered he, while a momentary gleam of
recollection lighted up his face. Laura! we meet again.
Sir Edward now wished to speak, but Frank had relapsed into a state
of feeble unconsciousness, from which nothing could arouse him; once or
twice he repeated the name of Laura in a low melancholy voice, till it
became totally inaudiblehis breath became shorterhis lips became
lividhis whole frame seemed convulsedand some hours afterwards, all
that was mortal of Frank Graham ceased to exist. About four in the
morning his body was at rest, and his spirit returned to God who gave
The candles had burned low in their sockets, and still the mourners
remained, unwilling to move from the awful scene of their bereavement.
Mrs. Crabtree at length, who laid out the body herself, extinguished
the lights, and flung open the window curtains. Then suddenly a bright
blaze of sunshine streamed into the room, and rested on the cold pale
face of the dead. To the stunned and bewildered senses of Harry and
Laura, the brilliant dawn of morning seemed like a mockery of their
distress. Many persons were already passing bythe busy stir of life
had begun, and a boy strolling along the road whistled his merry tune
as he went gaily on.
We are indeed mere atoms in the world! thought Laura bitterly,
while these sights and sounds fell heavily on her heart. If Harry and
I had both been dead also, the sun would have shone as brightly, the
birds sung as joyfully, and those people been all as gay and happy as
ever! Nobody is thinking of Franknobody knows our miserythe world
is going on as if nothing had happened, and we are breaking our hearts
Laura's heart became stilled as she gazed on the peaceful and almost
happy expression of those beautiful features, which had now lost all
appearance of suffering. The eyes, from which nothing but kindness and
love had beamed upon her, were now closed for ever; the lips which had
spoken only words of generous affection and pious hope, were silent;
and the heart which had beat with every warm and brotherly feeling, was
for the first time insensible to her sorrows; yet Laura did not give
way to the strong excess of her grief, for it sunk upon her spirit with
a leaden weight of anguish, which tears and lamentations could not
express, and could not even relieve. She rose and kissed, for the last
time, that beloved countenance, which she was never to look upon again
till they met in heaven, and stole away to the silence and solitude of
her own room, where Laura tried in vain to collect her thoughts. All
seemed a dreary blank. She did not sighshe could not weep; but she
sat in dark and vacant abstraction, with one only consciousness filling
her mindthe bitter remembrance that Frank was deadthat she could be
of no farther use to himthat she could have no future intercourse
with himthat even in her prayers she could no longer have the comfort
of naming him; and when at last she turned to his own Bible which he
had given her, to seek for consolation, her eyes refused their office,
and the pages became blistered with tears.
After Frank's funeral, Sir Edward became too ill to leave his bed;
and Major Graham remained with him in constant conversation; while
Harry and Laura did every thing to testify their affection, and to fill
the place now so sadly vacant.
On the following Sunday, several of the congregation at Hammersmith
observed two young strangers in the rector's pew, dressed in the
deepest mourning, with pale and downcast countenances, who glided early
into church, and sat immoveably still, side by side, while Mr. Palmer
gave out for his text the affecting and appropriate words which Frank
himself had often repeated during his last illness, In an hour that ye
think not, the Son of man cometh.
Not a tear was shed by either Harry or Laura,their grief was too
great for utterance; yet they listened with breathless interest to the
sermon, intended not only to console them, but also to instruct other
young persons, from the afflicting event of Frank's death.
Mr. Palmer took this opportunity to describe all the amiable
dispositions of youth, and to show how much of what is pleasing may
appear before religion has yet taken entire possession of the mind; but
he painted in glowing colours the beautiful consistency and harmony of
character which must ensue after that happy change, when the Holy
Spirit renews the heart and influences the life. It almost seemed to
Harry and Laura as if Frank were visibly before their eyes, when Mr.
Palmer spoke in eloquent terms of that humility which no praise could
diminishthat benevolence which attended to the feelings, as well as
the wants of others,that affection which was ever ready to make any
sacrifice for those he loved,that docility which obeyed the call of
duty on every occasion,that meekness in the midst of provocation
which could not be irritated,that gentle firmness in maintaining the
truths of the gospel, which no opposition could intimidate,that
cheerful submission to suffering which saw a hand of mercy in the
darkest hour,and that faith which was ever forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are
before,pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of
God in Christ Jesus.
It seemed as if years had passed over the heads of Harry and Laura
during the short period of their absence from homethat home where
Frank had so anxiously desired to go! All was changed within and around
them,sorrow had filled their hearts, and no longer merry, thoughtless
creatures, believing the world one scene of frolicsome enjoyment and
careless ease; they had now witnessed its realities,they had felt its
trials,they had experienced the importance of religion,they had
learned the frailty of all earthly joy,and they had received, amidst
tears and sorrows, the last injunction of a dying brother, to call
upon the Lord while He is near, and to seek Him while he may yet be
Uncle David, said Laura one day, several months after their return
home, Mrs. Crabtree first endeavoured to lead us aright by
severity,you and grandmama then tried what kindness could do, but
nothing was effectual till now, when God Himself has laid His hand upon
us. Oh! what a heavy stroke was necessary to bring me to my right mind,
but now, while we weep many bitter tears, Harry and I often pray
together that good may come out of evil, and that 'we who mourn so
deeply, may find our best, our only comfort from above'.
Unthinking, idle, wild, and young,
I laugh'd, and talk'd, and danc'd, and sung;
And proud of health, of frolic vain,
Dream'd not of sorrow, care, or pain,
Concluding in those hours of glee,
That all the world was made for me.
But when the days of trial came,
When sorrow shook this trembling frame,
When folly's gay pursuits were o'er,
And I could dance or sing no more;
It then occurr'd how sad 'twould be
Were this world only made for me.