The rest of the adventures of Rollo and Lucy, during this day must be reserved for another story.
[Illustration: “Going to see the freshet.”]
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The story that Rollo and his cousin Lucy began to read together, in the back entry, looking out towards the garden, that rainy day when they were disappointed of the excursion up the mountain, commenced as follows:—
MARIA AND THE CARAVAN.
Maria Wilton lives in the pretty white house which stands just at the entrance of the wood, where the children find the blackberries so thick in the berrying season. It is not as large or elegant a house as many that we pass on a walk through the village; but yet, with its neatly-painted front and blooming little garden, its appearance is quite as inviting as that of many a more splendid mansion. Certain it is, at least, that there is not a more pleasant or happy dwelling in the town. Neatness and good order regulate all the arrangements of the family, and where such is the case, it is almost needless to add that peace and harmony characterize the intercourse of the inmates. It is seldom that confusion or uproar, or disputes or contentions, are known among the Wiltons.
But it was of Maria that I was intending to speak more particularly,—her kind, and yielding, and conciliating manners towards her brothers and sisters. Maria was not the oldest of the children; she was not quite nine, and her sister Harriet was as much as eleven, and her brother George still older. And yet her influence did more to maintain peace and good feeling in the family group, than would have been believed by a person who had not observed her. In every case where only her own wishes or inclinations were concerned, Maria was ready to give up to George or Harriet; because, as she said, they were older than herself; and again, she was quite as ready to yield to little Susan and Willy, because they were younger. Her brothers and sisters, in their turn, were far less apt to contend for any privilege or advantage, than they would have been, if she had shown herself more tenacious of her own rights.
Mr. Wilton used occasionally to go into the city, a few miles distant, upon business. He usually went in a chaise, taking one of the children with him. The excursion was to them a very pleasant one, and all anticipated, with a great deal of pleasure, their respective turns to ride with their father. It happened that the day when it fell to Maria’s turn, was to be the close of an exhibition of animals, which had been for a short time in the city. Maria’s eye brightened with pleasure as her father mentioned this circumstance at the dinner table, and inquired if she would like to visit the caravan.