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Julia. And I won't play with you either; do you hear?
And so saying, each left the middle of the room and went into a corner, where they stayed for a long time without looking at each other or speaking. They were still sulky when the clock struck ten o'clock. They had only two hours left before dinner.
Charlie sidled up to his sister and said, “Well, I'll do what you want. I'll play at chess with you.”
Julia. You broke one of the men, and lost another; and you promised me to look for it.
Charles. I promised you yesterday, but I need not keep my word to-day.
Julia. And pray, why not?
Charles. You have no right to tell me to do anything.
Julia. I shall tell papa of you.
Charles. And if you do, I'm not obliged to mind him now.
Julia. Then I won't play at all.
Off went the children to different ends of the room. Charles whistled ; Julia hummed a tune. Charles knotted a whip, and cracked it; Julia dressed her doll, and began a conversation with it. Charles yawned ; Julia sighed. The clock struck again; eleven! They had only an hour left before dinner. Charles threw his whip out of the window, as if he were sick of the sight of it. Julia let her doll fall. They looked at each other, and did not know what to say.
Julia at last broke the silence. “Come, Charlie, I'll be your horse.”
Charles. That's right! I have got a capital bit of string for a bridle. Here it is: put it into your mouth.
Julia. I won't have it in my mouth! Tie it round my waist, or round my arm.
Charles. What an idea! Have you ever seen a horse with the bit in any other place than its mouth ?
Julia. But I'm not a real horse.
Charles. I declare, I believe you fancy you know better than I do, who spend a deal of time in the stable. Come, take it in the proper way.
Julia. It isn't a week since you were dragging that string in the mud. I won't have it in my mouth.
Charles. And I won't let you have it; I'd rather not play at all.
Julia. Just as you like.
And now a third fit of sulks ensued, more desperate than the preceding ones. Charles fetched his whip; Julia took up her doll once more. But the whip would not crack, and the doll's clothes came undone as soon as they were fastened. Charles sighed; Julia cried. Twelve o'clock struck, and Mr. Williams came to ask if they were ready for dinner.
“But, what is the matter?” said he, when he noticed their red eyes and disconsolate faces.
“Nothing, papa," cried the children. They dried their eyes, and followed their father into the dining-room.
CHAPTER II. THERE were several different dishes upon the table, and two bottles of wine.
“Now, children,” said Mr. Williams, “if it was my business to order you about, I should forbid you to eat of all the dishes, and, above all, to drink wine, at least, if you did, it must be very little. Both wine and pastry are hurtful to children. But today, you can do as you please, and eat and drink whatever you like."
The children did not wait to be told twice. One swallowed great lumps of meat without any bread; the other took spoonful after spoonful of rich gravy. They poured out full glasses of wine, which they drank off without adding water.
“But, my dear,” whispered Mrs. Williams to her husband, “I'm sure they will be ill.”
"I fear so, too,” answered Mr. Williams; “ but I'd rather they learned once from experience the results of eating and drinking too much.”
At last the children could eat no more. They left the table feeling stupid and heavy, and their heads dizzy.
“Come, come, Julia,” cried Charles, and he dragged his sister with him into the garden. Mr. Williams thought it prudent to follow them.
In the garden there was a little pond, and on the pond a boat. Charles thought he should like a sail. Julia stopped him. “You know," she said, “We are forbidden.”
“Forbidden !” screamed Charles. “Have you forgotten that we can do as we please ?”
"Oh! I forgot,” said Julia. She gave her hand to her brother, and they both jumped in. Mr. Williams came nearer, but they did not see him. He knew that the pond was not deep. “If they do fall in,” he thought, “I shan't have much trouble in getting them out again.”
The children wanted to unfasten the boat, and to sail into the middle of the pond, but they could not manage to undo the knots that held it.
“As we cannot sail,” said headstrong Charlie, “we'll have a see-saw.” And getting astride on the stern of the boat, he began to tip it up and down. Their heads being a little giddy, the game did not go on long. They lost their balance, seized hold of each other in trying to regain it, and finally plump both went into the water.
Mr. Williams sprang forward like lightning, jumped into the water, rescued the rash children, and carried them, half-dead with fright, into the house. Each was put into a warm bed. But they shivered with cold, and their heads ached violently; and the shivering was at last exchanged for fever. They sobbed and cried during the remainder of the day, and fell asleep towards evening, completely exhausted by fatigue.
Early the next morning their father came to see how they were.
“Not very well,” they replied, in weak voices, “our heads still ache very much, and we have pain all over us."
“Poor children,” replied the father, “I am very sorry for you ; what will you do to-day? you know
no one will interfere with you; you can please yourselves."
“Oh! no! no!” they both replied.
“Why not? you said the other day that it was too tiresome to have to be obedient.”
“We have been punished for our folly,” replied Charles.
“Enough to last for a long time," added Julia.
Mr. Williams. You really don't want to be your own masters any more ?
Charlie. No, no, papa; tell us what we had better do.
Julia. Yes, please, do.
Mr. Williams. Think of what you are saying ; for I tell you beforehand, if I am to tell you what to do, my first command will be an unpleasant one.
Charles. Never mind, papa. We will do whatever you tell us.
Mr. Williams. Well, I have got some very useful and very nasty physic here, will you drink it immediately?
Charlie. Yes, yes, papa.
Mr. Williams fetched it. Both children swallowed it without making any faces, and in a few hours both were pretty well again. Whenever either were naughty, no threat was so alarming as that of becoming again their own masters.
The children were as frightened as if they had been told that they should be sent to prison.
From “ THE CHILDREN'S FRIEND.”