Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

and strong in its self-will, but very true and deep. “I know it, Aunt Alicia : I know I have been And now, convinced of her fault, she is full of sorrow very naughty, and I want you to forgive me," said for it, and thoroughly ashamed too."

Mabel, with such genuine contrition, that any “I am very glad to hear it.”

lingering displeasure on Miss Howard's part was But I want you to make more allowance for completely dispelled. her individual temperament. I don't think you “. You have my forgiveness," she returned, giving have any conception of how great a trial it will be the child a kiss of her own accord ; a kiss that to the poor child to be separated from Janet for a Mabel, who was longing to be taken into favour whole month ; and I cannot see myself that any again, warmly returned, and at that moment aunt harm would come of their intimacy. Janet is a and niece felt themselves more closely drawn to very sweet child, and Mrs. Hope is a very sweet one another than they had ever been before. woman, and from them both I am sure she would As Mabel, hat in hand, was running out of doors, learn nothing but good. If there were any other she stumbled against her uncle, who was coming in. playfellows for Mabel at hand it might be different; “What! is this my little Queen Mab?” he but it is only natural a child should long for some exclaimed. “Why, I thought I had lost her, it is companion of her own age. Forgive my plain so long since I have seen her. What had become speaking, Alicia ; you know I always had a habit of of her? saying out what was in my mind.”

Mabel coloured and hung her head, as she “I am very glad to hear what you think on the explained, “I have been very naughty, Uncle subject. Perhaps I have been too hasty; I own I Gwynne ; so Aunt Alicia said I was to stop in my had not looked at it from Mabel's point of view. I room until I was good again.” did not mean to be harsh," returned Miss Howard. “And has it taken you all this time to get good

When Mabel, a little later on, having received again? I am sorry to hear that. For I have permission from her aunt to come to her, stole in missed my little Queen Mab," he said, laying his with drooping head and downcast look to make hand kindly on the little drooping head, as he her apology, which she did frankly and humbly, glanced compassionately at the tear-stained face. Miss Alicia's heart smote her as she noted the pale “ Have you really missed me?” said the child, cheeks and heavy eyes of the child, and her kiss looking up with a quick grateful glance.

But, of reconciliation had a warmth in it that almost perhaps if you knew how naughty I have been, you surprised Mabel.

mightn't love me so much," she added wistfully. “Now you had better take a run out of doors “ I don't think it would alter my love," he said, before tea," she said, kindly. “ That will do you quietly. “But come," he added; “I have somemore good than anything, after your long confine- thing to show you which I am sure you will like to ment."

I discovered it in the woods just now, and I The little breast was still heaving with the sobs thought of you." which could not quite be suppressed ; and the " And will you take me to see it?” contrast between the child's usually bright, buoyant “Yes, this very minute, if you like." aspect and her present subdued, sorrowful air Mabel slipped her hand confidingly into that of seemed to excite a touch of compunction in Miss her uncle, and walked along happily by his side. Alicia's heart.

She found it was a beautiful wasps' nest, which he “You know you have punished yourself more had discovered hanging from one of the trees, than I intended to punish you,” she remarked, in looking as if made of the most delicate grey paper, softer tones than were usual with Mabel's aunt. and very delighted indeed she was with it.

(To he continued.)

[ocr errors]

see.

[ocr errors]

FOOLISH CHUCK.
ERTAINLY the ducks did look very | Look at a bird taking its flight from the top of a

comfortable when they swam about in tree into the very sky over our heads ; or see it even
their little lake. There is no denying , alighting on the earth and hopping about with

that. A duck swimming has a plump, quaint, and airy grace, and then watch the contented appearance, an air of easy satisfac- ridiculous waddling of a duck on dry ground or tion, as if it desires nothing beyond what it has its lumbering, blundering attempts at using its and is. But are ducks the only happy creatures? wings, and then tell me whether there is any reason

[ocr errors]

229

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

why a bird should envy a duck, and become dis- They looked affectionately at their excited brood, contented with its lot.

but when the three young ones began to chirp Yet such was the case, and not only one bird but all together, Mrs. Finch shook her head, and gave a whole family of birds was rendered miserable, them clearly to understand that they must keep because they saw a number of ducks every day quiet till their father had finished his song. This swimming about in the water, and they knew over, they all burst out telling about Chuck's grand that they could not do it themselves. And yet project, to which their parents listened with both they were charming little finches, that could fly, attention and approbation. and hop, and sing, while the ducks they envied “It really never struck me in that light before,” could only swim, and waddle, and quack.

Mr. Finch remarked, putting his head on one side I believe myself that envy is almost always with an air of wisdom. “Of course we can swim." extremely foolish as well as wrong, and that He said this with so much decision that his wife generally we are most discontented when we have quite believed it. “Of course we can,” said she least reason to be so.

proudly. “And why shouldn't we,” cried the little I am sure that was the case with these finches, finches as fast as possible one after the other. named Mr. and Mrs. Finch, and three little ones, “ It's all the ducks' fault, you see,” Mr. Finch Chirp, and Chirrup, and Chuck; and to make the

:

said ; “they sail about as if nobody could swim but story short, all these birds actually found themselves themselves, till one quite believes it.” made so uncommonly uncomfortable by the sight, “Just fancy their feelings when they find us that they used to watch the ducks swimming about doing it !” cried Chuck; on which all the finches in the pond, till they flapped their wings in laughed till their feathers shook. impotent wrath, and solemnly declared they could Then Mrs. Finch said, “Let us go and fly bear it no longer.

about near the pond and perch among the leaves of So Chirp and Chirrup and Chuck put their the willows there so as not to show ourselves too pretty little feathery heads together, saying sadly plainly, lest the ducks should guess our intentions, to each

other, “What shall we do? what is the and do something to thwart them.” use of anything if we can't swim?”

Without further loss of time the birds flew off, “ It is all nonsense,” cried Chuck suddenly, full of great expectations, to the pond, and fluttered who had a strong will of his own, and was very about among the branches of the trees that overconceited. “I don't believe a word of it. Of hung it. course we could swim if we tried. It's sheer The oldest of the ducks was quite a patriarch timidity and nothing else prevents us-it is just among the others, and with some of his sons and the want of habit-look at those absurd little daughters and grandchildren swam about in that straggling ducklings. Do you believe they can do easy manner that was so irritating to the finches. anything we can't? Can they fly? Can they hop? “Why, anybody can see that anybody could do it," and if they can neither fly nor hop, why should whispered nuck, almost crying with mixed feelthey be able to swim ? At least, what I mean ings; "and as for us, who can hop and flyis, why should not we be able to swim who can There was no occasion for him to finish his Ay and hop, if they are who can't. And now you speech, the very manner in which he stopped abdo know," Chuck continued, “what I propose is ruptly expressed everything. that we speak to father and mother, and as soon “ Look at those pretty little finches," said the as we have watched those selfish ducks, who patriarchal duck to his family, as he swam about go sailing about over the pond as if it belonged among them. “ It is very pleasant to see how every to them-as soon,

I

say, as we have watched creature fulfils the purpose for which it is made, and them waddle up in that ridiculous way of theirs to while doing so is at once lovely and happy. What their nest among the reeds and grasses-I pro- sight can be prettier for us than to behold those pose that we go as a family, take possession of the sweet birds fluttering and flying about? while to place, and swim.

them,” he added, with a modest pride, which his Chirp and Chirrup hopped up and down in the years and experience rendered very becoming, "we, greatest excitement, and were quite carried away by as we glide along on the surface of the water, present this. They jumped about in the utmost glee, and a most pleasing spectacle. Now if we attempted sang out “Swim, swim,” with their clear shrill to fly or they to swim, each party would at once young voices, and then they all three flew up to the become ridiculous in the eyes of the other, besides tree where their parents were sitting very happily, putting itself into great danger.” Mr. Finch singing loudly, and Mrs. Finch attending “Yes, dear grandfather,” replied the dutiful duckto his song with much admiration and pleasure. lings ; "and now do you think you will like to re

66

pose a little among the reeds and grasses and pick and the idea of setting his word against that of this up worms and slugs?”

big, old, experienced, knobby, patriarch of a drake, The ducks one by one touched the shore with a they every one of them felt would be absurd, so the great deal of splashing and fluttering, and then whole family rather crowded before Chuck, and waddled up a little way above the pond, and turn- tried to conceal him from the ducks. ing round so as to have a good view of it, amused Chuck, however, had no notion of being conthemselves by catching insects, the patriarchal cealed. He was not a bit ashamed of himself. duck lying with his chest flat on the grass, as he He turned his back on everybody, stuck up his was fond of doing, and sticking his claws up be- ridiculous little tail in the air, and stooped towards tween his wings and his back, while his plumage, the water, prepared to plunge into it, when he was owing to his great age and respectability, as- suddenly arrested by perceiving beneath him in sumed the appearance more of hard round knobs the pond a small pert impudent bird, who was than of tufts of feathers. Now was the moment looking up at him, and in another moment, he saw for the finches; a thrill went through the whole was mimicking his every motion. Conceited family, as if they had been one bird ; they all creatures are generally very sensitive to ridicule felt that now was the moment—now or never. and quick of temper, and Chuck was no exception

Accordingly they fluttered down with great ra- to the rule. Not to mince matters, I must confess pidity, intending to alight in the water ; but at the that he flew into a passion. He pecked violently last moment some instinct, I suppose it must have at the small bird, who in return pecked violently at been, prevented this, and instead of it they perched him, and then losing his head, as the phrase is, on some loose twigs and bits of sedge that lay on completely, he plunged down into the water, eager the water so close to the grasses on the bank, that to revenge himself on the impertinent mimic. they had got entangled among them and were Poor little Chuck, he had not the least idea that almost part of that bank, although the weight of the other bird was himself, that it was merely the the birds nearly disengaged them, and caused them reflection of his own little pert self in the water. to float out on the water.

What a commotion there was when Chuck disThen the patriarchal duck stretched out his long appeared, and when all the finches turned eagerly neck, opened his big beak, and quacked loudly- round, and could hardly believe in their terror and

“ Beware, my dear friends, quack! quack! Be- confusion what the splash meant ; and then when ware-you will be drowned in another minute if at some distance from the shore the poor, pretty, you don't take care." He got more and more excited, little, half-drowned, draggled creature arose to the as he saw how the danger increased.

surface, and floated helplessly about, Mr. Finch "Excuse me,” replied Mr. Finch politely, but Aung himself forward and made desperate attempts trembling a little, “ we are going to swim."

to swim, which of course were utter failures ; and “ You can't swim,” shouted the patriarchal duck, no doubt he would have been drowned, if an active almost beside himself ; " you are sweet little birds, young duck had not waddled to the rescue and and the landscape would be nothing, nothing at brought him safely to shore. Ducks are kindall, without your plump little forms Auttering hearted creatures, and directed by their patriarch about, and your melodious voices sounding over two or three were by this time swimming to our heads; but swim-no, that is what you can't Chuck's assistance. It was not an easy matter to do. Pray don't let me see a lovely and precious land him, as he could do nothing himself, and when family commit suicide before my very eyes!”

at last he lay wet and still among the grasses, Mrs. Finch and Chirrup plumed themselves with

ducks and finches alike believed that he was dead. evident pleasure at his compliments; Mr. Finch Gradually he came back to life, restored by the looked doubtful and rather unhappy ; but Chirp wise and skilful treatment pursued by the orders of cried out pertly, “ Chuck says we can.”.

the patriarchal duck; but he was never the same “And who is Chuck," cried the patriarchal Chuck again. For months he was a poor, nervous, duck with profound contempt, “that his word shall shaky little creature, and I have heard that his be put above mine? Who is Chuck ?” he repeated, constitution cannot be said to have ever quite shouting more than speaking, "quack! quack!" recovered the shock. But I doubt if he regretted

Now, they none of them, least of all Chirp, this himself, or that even those who loved him best though she had spoken up so saucily, liked to say regretted it, for what does a little nervousness or who Chuck was, for Chuck had never looked delicacy of health matter, if they bring with them smaller, or more insignificant, or more like a newly- sweet temper and humility. fledged bird than he did at that moment, with his Chuck had received a lesson he never forgot. tail so extremely short, after the manner of birdlings; He was contented, amiable, and meek ever after.

[graphic]

2

1

WHAT HAPPENED TO AN UMBRELLA.
LOME, Rosie, let us go and gather primroses,” May Lee said one

bright, sunny, spring morning. “I'm sure there will be lots in

the woods down by the brook to-day; and mother said she wanted some flowers to put in the vases to-night.”

Rosie laid down her book, and went to the window to look out.
It was very bright and clear, with a beautiful blue sky overhead all
dotted with soft, fleecy white clouds, but the trees were tossing their

branches about, and pieces of straw were whirling down the quiet
country road as if they enjoyed the fun, for there was a fresh breeze
blowing. But May and Rosie did not mind that in the least, and

tying on their hats they prepared for a good scamper down
the lane to the woody valley by the brook, where the finest
primroses grew, and great yellow daffodils, and purple and
white pansies, delicate wood-sorrel, and fragrant blue-bells.

"I think it will rain, May,” Rosie said, lingering a
moment in the hall as she passed out. "Let's take an
umbrella.”

May lingered too; she thought an umbrella would be very nice, but there was only one in the stand, and that was mother's, which they were both forbidden to touch.

“Run and ask mother if we can have it,” May said, after hunting in vain for another one; and Rosie ran upstairs and downstairs, and returned breathless.

“I can't find her anywhere, May. Perhaps she's gone out and has taken ours ?” and then she took up the one in the stand and ran off with it.

Rosie and May were not disobedient children, but there was nothing they liked so much as an umbrella when they went out. Wet or fine it did not matter, Rosie loved to walk up and down, holding it over her head, and many an hour she and May sat in the nursery with a big brown gingham umbrella open over their heads, learning their lessons or

nursing their dolls, which they fancied enjoyed it I. "THEY SAW IT SAILING

just as much as they did. But mother's umbrella GRACEFULLY DOWN THE STREAM " (p. 234); 2. "ROSIE was a very different matter. It was of silk instead PRESSED CLOSER TO HER SISTER '(p. 233).

of gingham, and had a beautifully-carved ivory handle,
and both the children knew they ought not to touch it.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »