Rollo said he did want them enough for that, and he then went back and told Lucy what his mother had said, and they concluded to read until the rain should cease, and that then Rollo should go out into the garden.
They began to read; but their minds were so much upon the pea-pod boats, that the story did not interest them very much. Besides, children cannot read very well aloud, to one another; for if they succeed in calling all the words right, they do not generally give the stops and the emphasis, and the proper tones of voice, so as to make the story interesting to those that hear. Some boys and girls are vain enough to think that they can read very well, just because they can call all the words without stopping to spell them; but this is very far from being enough to make a good reader.
Rollo read a little way, and then Lucy read a little way; but they were not much interested, and thinking that the difficulty might be in the book, they got another, but with no better success. At last Rollo said they would go and get their mother to read to them. So they went together to her room, and Rollo said that they could not get along very well in rending themselves, and asked her if she would not be good enough to read to them.
“Why, what is the difficulty?” said she.
“O, I do not know, exactly: the story is not very interesting, and then we cannot read very well.”
“In what respect will it be better for me to read to you?” she asked.
“Why, mother, you can choose us a prettier story; and then we should understand it better if you read it.”
“I suppose you would; but I see you have made a great mistake.”
“What mistake?” said both the children at once.
“Why is it that you are going to read at all?”
“Why, you advised us to, mother.”
“Did I advise you to do it as a duty, or as a pleasure?”
“As a duty, mother; I recollect now.” said Rollo.
“Yes: well, now the mistake you have made is, that you are looking upon it only as a pleasure, and instead of doing it faithfully, in such a way as will make it most useful to you, you are forgetting that altogether, and only intent upon having it interesting and pleasant. Is it not so?”
“Why—yes,” said Rollo, hesitating, and looking down; and then turning round to Lucy, he said, “I suppose we had better go and read the story ourselves.”
“Do just as you please,” said his mother. “I have not commanded you to read, but only recommended it; and that not as a way of interesting you, but as a way of spending an hour usefully, as a preparation for an hour of enjoyment afterwards. You can do as you please, however; but if you attempt to read at all, I advise you to do it not as play, but as a lesson.”
“Well, come, Rollo,” said Lucy, “let us go.”
So the children ran back to the entry, and sat down to their story, taking pains to read carefully, as if their object was to learn to read; and though they did not expect it, they did, in fact, have a very pleasant time.