« AnteriorContinuar »
A school boy, a dog, and a walnut tree,
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
prayers, or when he sat upon her knee to hear funny stories about good boys and bad boys--all 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 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 vixer, 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 Thunderbolt.” 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 say—and such, too, who take the God of truth for their guide—the 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 punished.”
“ 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 clock ?"
“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 pocketmoney, 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 make honey."
“ 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