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The Brothers by Unknown

 

One day Henry came bounding home from school, his face beaming with joy. He was head of his class, and he held fast in his hand a fine silver medal, which had been awarded to him for good behaviour.

"Oh!" said he to himself, as he ran along, "how happy this will make my dear Mother. I know she will kiss me; perhaps she will kiss me five or six times, and call me her dear, dear boy. Oh! how I love my Mother!"

He ran up the steps of the house where he lived as he said this, and pulled the bell very hard, for he was in a great hurry. His Father opened the door. "Hush! Henry," said he,  "come in very softly, your Mother is very ill."

"My Mother! Dear Father, what is the matter with her? May I go in to her if I will step very softly?"

"No," said his Father, "you must not see her now; you must be very still indeed. I see, my dear boy, that you have been rewarded for good conduct in school; I am glad that I have so good a son. And now, Henry, I know you love your Mother so much, that you will promise me to be very still, and wait patiently until she is able to see you." As he said this, he drew Henry close to him, and smoothed down his long curling hair, and kissed his cheek.

Henry threw his arms around his Father's neck, and promised him; and then, putting away his medal, he went softly, on tiptoe, up to his play-room, and shutting the door, began to work at a ship that he was rigging. He did not get on very fast, for he could not help thinking of  his dear Mother, and wishing he could see her. She had hemmed all the sails of the ship for him, and he was going to name it the "Eliza," after her.

The next morning Susan, the old nurse, knocked very early at the door of the room where Henry slept. "Master Henry," said she, "what do you think happened last night?"

"What did?" said Henry, sitting up in the bed; "is my Mother better?"

"Yes, she is better," replied Susan, "but do guess what has come. Something that you have wished for very often. Something you can play with, and take care of, and love more than you love your dog Hector."

"Is it alive?" said Henry.

"Yes," replied Susan, "it is alive, and in your Mother's room."

"Can it be a brother—a real live brother?" cried Henry, jumping out of bed, and running up to Susan.

 "Yes, it is a brother—a real live brother!" said Susan, laughing.

"I've got a brother! I've got a brother—a real brother!" shouted Henry, running up and down the room, clapping his hands, jumping over the chairs, and making a terrible noise, for in his joy he hardly knew what he was about.

"Oh, hush, Master Henry!" said Susan. "What a crazy little fellow! your Mother is still very ill. Now dress yourself quickly and quietly, and you shall see your little brother."

Henry trembled with joy, and in his haste he put his feet into the arms of his jacket, and his arms into the legs of his trousers; but after a while he managed to get them on right, and though he washed his face and hands in a minute, and brushed his hair with the back of the brush, yet he did not look so bad as you might suppose.

He went very softly into his Mother's room. It was darkened, and he could not see very well. He went up to the side of the bed. His Mother  smiled, and said, "Come here, my son." Her face was pale, but it had a very happy look, for in her arms, sweetly sleeping, was the little brother that Henry had longed for. He had a sister, who was nearly his own age, but he had always wished for a brother, and the brother had come at last.

"Dear Mother, may I help you take care of my little brother?" said Henry; "you know I am strong enough to hold him. I would not let him fall for the world."

"Yes, dear boy," replied his Mother; "when he is a little older, I shall have a great deal of comfort in trusting this dear little brother with you. It is more necessary now than ever, my son, that you should try always to be good, and to set a good example before your brother. He will be sure to do just as you do. If you are a good boy, you will be a good man; and how happy you will be, when you are grown up, to think that your good example will have made  your brother a good boy, and a good man too. Now kiss me, and go and get your breakfast."

Henry kissed his Mother, and told her of his good conduct in school, at which she was very glad, and then stooping down, he kissed the soft cheek of the little sleeping baby, and went gently out of the room.

In a few weeks his Mother got quite well, and Charles (that was the baby's name) began to laugh and play with his brother. Henry was never so happy as when he was with little Charley. He always put him to sleep at night. The dear little fellow would clasp his little hand tight round one of Henry's fingers, and fall to sleep in his bed, while his brother sang to him.

One day when Charles was about four years old, he said, "Dear brother, will you ride me on your back?" Henry was very busy just then; he was making a bow and arrow. He looked down, and saw a sweet little face, and two bright blue eyes, looking at him, and saying as plainly as  eyes could say, "Do, dear brother." So he said, "Yes, Charley, I will, if you will help me to put away my things." Charles ran about, and helped Henry put his play-room in nice order, and then climbing on his back, and holding fast to a ribbon for a bridle, which Henry held between his teeth, he gave him a little tap on the shoulder, and crying, "Get up, old fellow," away they went around the room, Henry galloping so hard, that Charles bounced about almost as much as if he was on a real pony.

"Let us go in the parlours, they are a great deal larger," said Charles; "do, dear brother."

"I am afraid it would not be right," replied Henry; "we may break something. Mother has said that we had better never play there."

"But we will be so careful," said the little boy; "we can play circus so nice. I want to go in the parlour."

Henry's Father and Mother had gone out riding, so he could not ask leave to play in the  parlours. He was almost sure it was wrong to go there, but he wanted to gratify his brother; so, promising himself to be very careful, he trotted down stairs into the parlour, with Charles on his back. At first he went slowly round the two rooms, but Charles began to whip his horse and cry, "Get up, old boy, you are getting lazy. You shall be a race-horse. Now go faster, faster; go round the room like lightning."

So round he went, fast and faster, shaking his head, and taking great jumps, and kicking his legs up behind, with Charley holding on, laughing and screaming with delight, till, alas! sad to tell, his elbow brushed against a beautiful and costly vase, which stood upon a little table, knocked it off, and broke it into a hundred pieces.

Henry stopped short, and let Charles slide down from his back. He looked at the broken vase, and then at his brother, and Charles looked at Henry, and then at the pieces on the floor.

 "It is all broken," said he. "It can't be mended at all; can it, brother?"

"No, it is past mending," said Henry; "and the first thing we must do will be to tell Mother."

"Oh, no!" said the little boy; "I am afraid to tell her."

"We must never be afraid to tell the truth, dear Charley. I will set you a good example. You shall never learn to tell a lie from me." Henry had always remembered what his Mother had said to him, the very first time he ever saw his little brother; and very often, when he was tempted to be naughty, or get in a passion, the words, "Your brother will do just as you do," would seem to come from his heart, and he would conquer his passion.

In a few moments the boys heard the wheels of the carriage. Henry went to the hall door, and opened it. He held Charles by the hand. He had to hold him very tight, for Charles  tried to get away. His face was pale. He waited until his Mother got out of the carriage and came up the steps, and, taking hold of her hand and looking up in her face, he said, in a firm voice, "Mother, I have broken your vase."

"And I, too," said the little boy; "and it is broken all to pieces."

Henry was glad to hear his little brother say this; and oh! how happy it made him feel, to think that the child had learned to speak the truth from him.

Their Mother kissed them both and said, "My darling boys, I am rejoiced that you are not afraid to speak the truth. I would rather lose twenty vases than have you tell a lie. But you knew it was wrong to play in the parlours; did you not?"

"Yes, dear Mother, it was wrong, and I knew it was," replied Henry. "I will submit to any punishment you think right. I ought  to have remembered that you advised us not to go there."

"If you think you ought to be punished," said his Mother, "Charley shall go to bed to-night without your singing to him. This will make you both remember. Is that right?"

"Yes, dear Mother," said Henry; but he looked very sorry; and little Charles made up a long face, for he loved his brother so much, that he could not bear to think that he must go to sleep without holding his finger and hearing him sing.

When bed-time came, Charley wanted to beg his Mother to think of some other punishment for him. He wanted his dear brother so much. He looked at Henry, but Henry said, "Good-night, little fellow; we deserve this. Come! one night will soon be over. Now, let us see how well you can behave;" and he gave him a smile, and a kiss so full of love, that the little fellow put his lips tight together, and marched off to bed  without a tear. It was hard to do it, but he had this kind brother to set him a good example, and he was determined to be as good a boy as Henry.

Not many weeks after this, poor little Charles was taken sick. He was very sick indeed, and every day he grew worse. The doctor did all he could for him, and Henry stayed with him night and day, and would hardly take any rest. He gave him all his medicine, and sang to him very often when he was in pain. But Charles did not get any better, and at last the doctor said that he could not make him well—the little boy must die.

When Henry heard this, the tears burst from his eyes, and he sobbed out, "Oh, my brother! oh, my brother! I cannot part with you, my little precious brother."

The poor little fellow had become so weak and thin that he could scarcely lift his hands from the bed where he lay.

 The last night came. He knew that he would not live many hours, for his dear Mother had said so; and now she told him, that as he had always tried to be a good boy, he would go to Heaven, and Jesus would take him into His bosom, and love him, and keep him, until they came to him.

His little pale face grew bright. "Dear Mother," said he, "will Jesus let my brother come to me? I want my brother in Heaven. Come here close to me," said he to Henry. His brother leaned his face down close to the little boy's face, and helped him clasp his arms around his neck, and then he whispered, in a soft, weak voice, "Do not cry, dear brother—do not cry any more. I will pray to Jesus to let you come very soon and sing me to sleep in Heaven."

These were the last words he spoke, for his breath grew shorter and shorter, and soon after his little hand dropped away from his brother's, and he was dead.

 And his Father had him buried in Highgate Cemetery.

It was in the summer time that he died, and his brother Henry planted a white rose-bush at the foot of the little grave, and a red rose-bush at the head, and often in the pleasant summer afternoons he would go alone to Highgate, and sit upon little Charley's grave, and think how he might at that moment be praying for him in Heaven.

Henry is now a man. He was always a good boy. He is now a good man; and although many years have passed since he lost his little brother, he goes every summer to Highgate to visit his grave; and the tears always come into his eyes when he speaks of him, and tells that little Charley's last words were, that he would pray to Jesus to let his darling brother come soon, and sing him to sleep in Heaven.