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The Twins by Unknown

 

"Well, Susan," said her Father one day, as she came home from school, "I am glad to see you; I wish to inform you that two young gentlemen arrived here to-day."

"What are their names, Father?" asked Susan.

"I do not know," answered her Father; "I do not believe they have got any names. They are very small—so small that at this moment they are both asleep in the great chair."

"Both asleep in the great chair?" cried Susan, astonished at what her Father had said, "I do believe you have been buying two little monkeys."

 "No, I have not," said her Father, laughing. "Now come with me, and I will show you these strangers, and then see if you will say they are monkeys."

Susan went with her Father. He took her hand, and led her into her Mother's room. The room was dark, and her Mother was lying in the bed. Susan was afraid that she was sick. She went to her and said,—

"Dear Mother, are you sick? You look very pale."

Her Mother kissed her, and said, "I am very weak, my dear child; but do you not want to see your little brothers?"

"Brothers?—where?" cried Susan. "Have I a brother?"

"Two of them," said her Father. "Come here, Susan, here they both are, fast asleep."

Susan went up to the great easy chair, and on the cushion she saw, all tucked up warm, two little round fat faces lying close together. Their  noses nearly touched each other, and they looked funny enough.

"Well, Susan," said her Father, "do you like the monkeys?"

"Oh, Father!" answered the little girl, clasping her hands, "I am so glad—I am so happy! They are exactly alike,—how I shall love them, the dear little toads!"

"Toads!" said her Father, laughing; "they don't look a bit like toads."

"Well, I said that because I loved them so," replied Susan, "just as you sometimes call me your little mouse."

For two weeks the little twins slept together in the great chair, and there was no end to Susan's wonder and delight. Her Mother had to tie a bit of red silk around the wrist of one of them, to tell them apart. They grew very fast, and were the dearest little fellows in the world, they had such bright, merry, black eyes, and were always ready to have a frolic with Susan.  As they grew up, they were so good and so pretty, that everybody loved them, and a great many people came to see them. I forgot to tell you that one was named George, and the other James.

One day, when the twins were three years old, they were left alone in the breakfast-room. The things on the breakfast-table had been cleared away, except a bowl nearly full of sugar, which was standing on the table.

Presently the little fellows spied the bowl of sugar. "George," said James, "if you will help me with this chair, I will give you some sugar."

So both the boys took hold of the heavy chair, and dragged it to the table. Then James helped George to climb upon it, and from that he scrambled up on the table. He walked across, to where the sugar was, and sat down on the table, and took the sugar-bowl in his lap.

"Now, you get the stool," said George.

 So James got the stool, and put it close to the side of the table where George was, and stood upon it.

You should have seen how their merry black eyes sparkled, at the fine feast they were going to have. They did not think that they were doing wrong, for their Mother had often given them a little sugar.

So George took the spoon that was in the sugar, and helped James to a spoonful, and then took one himself. He was very particular to give James exactly as many spoonfuls as he took himself.

They were having such a delightful time, that for some moments they did not speak a single word. George began first,—

"This is nice," said George.

"I like sugar," said James.

"It is so sweet," said George.

"And so good," said James.

"We will eat it all up," said George.

 "We won't leave a bit," said James.

"It is almost all gone," said George.

"There is hardly any left," said James.

All the time they were talking George had been stuffing his brother and himself with the sugar.

Just then their Mother opened the door. She had opened it softly, and the little boys had not heard her. When she saw them so busy—with their round faces stuck all over with crumbs of sugar, and George sitting on the table, dealing it out so fairly—she could not keep from laughing.

The twins heard her laugh, so they laughed too; and George cried out, "Mother, this sugar is nice—I like it."

"And so do I," said James.

Their Mother lifted George from the table, and told them they must not do so again, for so much sugar would make them sick. She washed their faces, and sent them to play in the garden. There was a fine large garden at the back of  the house, where they could play without danger.

Three years after this, the twins were sent to school, where they soon became great favourites, because they were amiable and good, and always willing to do as they were told. They looked so exactly alike, and were dressed so exactly alike, that often very funny mistakes were made. I will tell you something that happened, that was not funny, but it will show you how hard it was to tell which was George, and which was James.

One day, the teacher gave the twins a spelling lesson, and told them that they must know it perfectly that morning.

Now George, for the first time, was naughty, and instead of learning the lesson, he was making elephants and giraffes on his slate; but James studied his lesson, and soon knew it. Presently the teacher said, "James, do you know your lesson?"

 "Yes, sir," said James. He went up to the desk and said it very well.

"You know it perfectly," said his teacher; "you are a good boy. Now go to your seat."

In a few moments he said, "George, come and say your lesson."

But George did not know a word of it; and James whispered to him, "I don't want you to be punished, brother; I will go for you and say it again."

So James went and repeated his lesson. The teacher thought of course it was George; he said, "Very well, indeed, George; you know it just as well as James: you are both good boys."

When George heard this praise, which he did not deserve, he was troubled. He had been taught never to deceive. He did not think at first how wrong he had been; now, he saw plainly, that it was very wrong; that he and his brother had been acting a lie.

 He whispered to James, "Brother, I can't bear to cheat, so I will go and tell the teacher."

So he went directly up to the desk, and said, "Sir, I have not yet said my lesson."

"Why, yes you have," replied the teacher; "I have just heard you say it."

"No, sir, if you please," said George; "I do not know it at all. James said it twice, to save me from being punished."

"Well, George," replied his teacher, "I am very glad you have told me this. I never should have found it out. But your conscience told you that you were doing wrong; and I am thankful you have listened to its warnings, and made up your mind at once to be an honest boy. I will not punish you or James, for I am sure neither of you will do so again."

The little boys promised him they never would—and they never did; and they grew up to be honest and good men.