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The Little Boy That Was Afraid of the Water by Unknown

 

Once on a time there were two little boys. William was five years old, and Johnny was not quite three. The weather was very warm, and these little boys got so weak, and looked so pale and sick, that the doctor said their parents had better take them to Hastings, and let them bathe in the sea. So their Mother packed up their clothes, and some books, for she did not wish them to be idle; and one pleasant afternoon they all went by the railway to Hastings.

The little boys were very much amused at all they saw. There were several other boys in the  carriage, and William and Johnny looked very hard at them, and wished they knew what their names were, and whether they had a Noah's Ark and Rocking-Horse like theirs.

After three hours' ride by the puffing, screaming railway, they arrived safely at Hastings, and they found a carriage waiting for them, which soon took them to the house which their papa had hired. Tea was immediately brought up, and then, as they were all very tired, they went early to bed.

After breakfast the next morning, William and Johnny walked down to the smooth and beautiful beach with their parents, where a great many people, some of them children, were bathing. They seemed to like it very much; and it really did look very inviting, for the sun made the water sparkle like diamonds, and the waves seemed dancing and leaping, and looked as if they longed to give everybody a good splashing.

 William was delighted. He could hardly wait to be undressed, he was in such a great hurry to be ducked; and when the bathing-woman took him and plunged him under the water, although he gasped for breath, he laughed, and kicked, and splashed the water, and cried, "Duck me again! duck me again!" and he looked so pleased, that some other children came to where he was, and they all had a grand frolic together.

Little Johnny laughed too, as he stood in the machine; but, when his Mother said, "Come, Johnny, now it is your turn," he made a terrible face, and cried, "Dear Mamma, please let me go home. I shall never see you again if you put me in that great big water." But his Mamma said he must go in, because it would do him a great deal of good, and she undressed him, and put him into the woman's arms.

Johnny now began to scream as loud as he could, and cried out, "Mamma, Mamma, I want  to go back to you." But the old woman did not mind him a bit, and holding him by his arms, she plunged him under the water.

The poor little fellow came up gasping and panting, and sobbed out, "Oh, my dear Mamma, come and kiss me 'fore I die."

Everybody laughed—for there was no danger—except his kind Mother. A tear started to her eye, for she knew her dear little son really thought he was dying, and would never see her again. But in a little while he felt better, and, after his Mother had taken him, and had rubbed him all over and dressed him, and he had run up and down the beach with William and the other children, he felt such a nice warm glow all over him, that he forgot all about his fright.

Very soon he said, "Mamma, I am so hungry—I am as hungry as a little bear."

"That is because you have been in the water," replied his Mother.

 "Are the fishes always hungry?—does the water make them hungry too?" said Johnny.

"I believe they are always ready to eat," replied his Mother; "you know that they are caught by bait. This bait is often a little worm, put upon a sharp hook. The fish snap at the bait, and the hook catches them in the mouth. Come, little hungry fish," added his Mother, "and I will give you something to eat; but I will not put it on a hook to hurt you."

The next day the little boys went into the water again, and, although Johnny made up a doleful face, he did not think he should die this time; and, when he saw the other children laughing and splashing each other, and crying, "Duck me again! what fun we are having!" he tried to like it too, and after a little while did begin to like it; for when children try to overcome their foolish fears, they will almost always succeed, and be rewarded, as Johnny was, by the  pleasure they enjoy, and the happiness they give to their parents.

After a few days Johnny got to be so brave, that he was the first to run down to the beach and jump into the bathing-woman's arms, and he cried louder than any, "Duck me again!" and splashed everybody that came near him; and both William and Johnny got so strong, and ate so heartily, and had such great red cheeks, that when they went home to London, a few weeks after, their friends hardly knew them, and Johnny never again had any foolish fears about going into the water.