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But they had not been long at home
· JANE BLACK.
PART I. JANE BLACK was ten years old, her sister Mary was eight, and they had a baby-brother, called Tommy, who was two. They were very fond of the baby, and thought they had never seen such a beauty. They both went to school, and Mary liked it, but Jane stayed at home whenever she could get her mother to let her.
One day Mary said, “ Jenny, why do you tease mother so to let you stop at home?”
“Because,” said Jane, “I cannot bear school. They put me amongst such little bits of children, and they laugh at me when I am reading, because I don't know as many words as they do. Then they make game of me, and say
Here comes the big baby that cannot tell her letters.""
“But,” said Mary, “ that is because you stop at home so much."
While they were talking, an open carriage
drove by, with a lady and some children in it. There was a high wind, and one of the children's hats flew out of the carriage. Jane and Mary both ran after it, and Mary caught it, but she gave it to Jane to take to the carriage. The lady saw who it was that really saved it, and she called Mary up and gave her twopence, but nothing to Jane, for she had observed her snatching it from her sister. But Mary never thought of keeping both the pennies; she gave one to Jane, asking her what she would do with it.
“Oh, there are bull's-eyes four a penny at the corner shop, and I shall get some. Shall not you ?"
"No," said Mary, “I shall take mine home for my money-box. Mother wants me to save up for a pair of boots."
"That is the very last thing I should save for," said Jane, “ for if I have no boots to go in, I am sure to be let to stay at home.”
And both the girls did as they said they should.
Soon after this, one fine day, Jane began to beg her mother to let her off school. “I should so like to take Tommy out, mother. You have such a big wash, and would be so glad to have him out of your way. Do let me."
Mrs. Black was a very kind mother, almost too much so. She wished her girls to grow up good; but she could not bear to refuse them anything they begged hard for; and though she knew that she ought to start Jane off to school, she gave in, saying, “Well, just for once; but don't ask to stop at home again, or you know your father will be angry."
So Jane put on baby's hat and cloak, and carried him off. It had rained early in the morning, but was now getting hot. As she was walking down a lane, she saw some blackberries in a hedge that went round a field of high grass, and she went in, and put down Tommy, to play with the butter-cups and dandelions, while she gathered the black-berries. Then she saw some more further on.
Tommy seemed very happy and quiet on the grass; and then two girls came up, and offered to help her to reach the high branches of the brambles. They went on chat-ter-ing and gathering a long time, and then sat down to eat the fruit, Jane quite forgetting Tommy, till the sun made her feel very tired, and she recollected she had left the baby. He seemed to be asleep, lying quite still on his back, and the sun shining on his head; but there was a strange look in his face.
Just then the church clock struck one, and she knew she had been ex-pect-ed at home an hour ago. Her mother came to look for her; but on taking Tommy into her arms, she found all his clothes quite wet from the damp grass, his legs quite cold, and his head burning hot, while his eyes were so heavy he seemed to take no notice. His mother asked Jane where she had been. Though in some ways a naughty girl, Jane had not learnt to tell stories, and she answered, “Why, mother, I saw some blackberries in the hedge in Mr. Dow's field, and I set down Tommy while I got them. He went to sleep, and I forgot him.”
"Oh, Jenny,” said her mother, “you little know what will come of your carelessness. I am sure he is going to be very ill. Run on, and ask Mrs. Jones to get a tub of warm water all ready; when I get home he must have a bath. The cold to his legs and the sun on his head have brought on a fit."
Jane was very sorry, and very frightened, but that did the baby no good. She was in such a way about seeing her father, that she asked her mother to let her go to bed early, and there she lay crying, and listening to her father coming in, and then going out again, without waiting for his tea, to fetch the doctor.
Next she heard him come back with the doctor, and soon after, her father called her in an awfully severe voice. She ran down in her nightgown. The baby looked worse than ever, with blue lines about his eyes. Her father said, “Jane, the doctor wishes to know how long you forgot this poor child, and left him on the wet grass ?”
The sight of Tommy, and her father's angry tones, so terrified Jane, that she could not speak, only cry and sob.
“Go away,” said her father; "you cannot even answer a question. Go!”
But now her misery became so great, that her kind mother put the dying baby into its
father's arms, and carried up poor Jane to bed, telling her she felt she herself had been to blame in trusting the baby to her, that now nothing was to be done, and he would soon be an angel in Heaven and suffer no more.
Jane could only say, “Forgive me, mother, forgive me. I did not mean it."
Her mother kissed her, and told her to ask God to forgive her, and left her.
They tried to give Tommy some powders the doctor had sent, but he could not swallow; his eyes became fixed, and the weary little cries grew fainter and fainter. So the night went on. Mary was so useful, and so quiet, they let her sit up, and one of the neighbours came in. Just as the sun rose, and it began to get light, he died, and they called down Jane. He looked now very peaceful; but they could hardly believe that they would never hear his merry voice again, or watch his pretty ways.
Three days afterwards he was buried. Their clergyman's wife, who had been to see them, brought some white roses to put in the coffin. Both the girls went to the fu-ne-ral. Jane had expected to have been very unhappy; but her new black frock, and her new hat trimmed with crape, took up her thoughts a good deal, and it was only when she was at home again, and saw Tommy's empty little high chair, and his little pair of shoes on the man-tel-piece, that had been taken off all wet and muddy the day he was left in the field, that she began to cry
of shoes on y little highome again.