“O, father!” exclaimed George, eagerly, as he laid down his knife and fork; “a caravan!—Mayn’t I go?”
“You cannot both go,” replied his father; “and I believe it is Maria’s turn to go into town with me.”
“Well,” said George, “but I don’t believe Maria would care any thing about seeing it;” and his eye glanced eagerly from his father to Maria, and then from Maria to his father again.
“How is it, Maria?” said Mr. Wilton; “have you no wish to visit the caravan?”
Maria did not answer directly, while yet her countenance showed very plainly what her wishes really were. “Is there an elephant there, father?” she, at length, rather hesitatingly inquired.
“There probably is,” replied her father.
“An elephant!” repeated George with something of a sneer; “who has not seen an elephant? I would not give a farthing to go, if there was nothing better than an elephant to be seen.”
“What should you care so much to see?” inquired Mr. Wilton.
“Why, I would give any thing to see a leopard or a camel.”
“A leopard or a camel!” repeated his father in the same tone in which George had made his rude speech; “I am sure I wouldn’t give a farthing to see either a camel or a leopard.”
“No,” said George, “because you have seen them both; but I never did.”
“Neither has Maria seen an elephant,” returned Mr. Wilton; “so what is the difference?”
George looked a little mortified at the overthrow of his argument. But still his eagerness for the gratification was not to be repressed.—“I shouldn’t think a girl need to care about going to see a parcel of wild beasts,” he remarked, rather petulantly, as he gave his chair a push, upon rising from the table.
“O, George, George.” expostulated his father, “I did not think you were either a selfish or a sullen boy.”
“No, father, and he is not,” said Maria, approaching her father, and taking his hand; “but he wants to go very much, and I do not care so much about it; so he may go, and I will stay at home.”
“You are a good girl,” said her father; “but I shall not consent to any such injustice; so go and get ready as quick as possible.”
“But, father, I had really a great deal rather that George should go,” insisted Maria.
“But I cannot think that George would really, on the whole, prefer to take your place,” said Mr. Wilton, turning to George.
“No, sir.” replied George, who—restored by this time to a sense of propriety and justice—was standing ready to speak for himself. “No, sir; Maria is very kind; but I do not wish to take her place; I am very sorry indeed that I said any thing about it. I certainly shall not consent to hike your place, Maria,” he said, perceiving that she was ready to entreat still further.
“O! but I do wish you would,” said Maria. But just here her mother interposed. “If Maria would really prefer to give up her place to her brother,” said Mrs. Wilton, “I certainly shall like the arrangement very much, for I am to be particularly engaged this afternoon, and, as Harriet is to be absent, I shall be very glad of some of Maria’s assistance in taking care of the baby.”