The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.
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The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|ROLLO AT PLAY.||1|
|ROLLO AT PLAY IN THE WOODS.||1|
|HEARTS RIGHT AGAIN.||8|
|THE STEEPLE TRAP||9|
|THE STEEPLE TRAP||9|
|THE WAY TO LOSE A SQUIRREL||11|
|HOW TO KEEP A SQUIRREL||13|
|FIRES IN THE WOODS.||15|
|WHO KNOWS BEST, A LITTLE BOY OR HIS FATHER?||21|
|MARIA AND THE CARAVAN.||29|
|THE PRINCIPLES OF ORDER.||35|
|THE SECRET OUT.||48|
|TROUBLE ON THE MOUNTAIN||49|
|GETTING IN TROUBLE.||50|
|A TEST OF PENITENCE.||53|
Story 1. Rollo at play in the woods.—The Setting out. Bridge-Building. A Visitor. Difficulty. Hearts wrong. Hearts right again.
Story 2. The steeple-trap.—The Way to catch a Squirrel. The Way to lose a Squirrel. How to keep a Squirrel. Fires in the Woods.
Story 3. The Halo round the moon; or Lucy’s visit.—A Round Rainbow. Who knows best, a Little Boy or his Father! Repentance.
Story 4. The freshet.—Maria and the Caravan Small Craft. The Principles of Order. Clearing up.
Story 5. BLUEBERRYING.—Old Trumpeter. Deviation. Little Mosette. Going up. The Secret out.
Story 6. Trouble on the mountain.—Boasting. Getting in Trouble. A Test of Penitence.
THE SETTING OUT.
One pleasant morning in the autumn, when Rollo was about five years old, he was sitting on the platform, behind his father’s house, playing. He had a hammer and nails, and some small pieces of board. He was trying to make a box. He hammered and hammered, and presently he dropped his work down and said, fretfully,
“O dear me!”
“What is the matter, Rollo?” said Jonas,—for it happened that Jonas was going by just then, with a wheelbarrow.
“I wish these little boards would not split so. I cannot make my box.”
“You drive the nails wrong; you put the wedge sides with the grain.”
“The wedge sides!” said Rollo; “what are the wedge sides,—and the grain? I do not know what you mean.”
But Jonas went on, trundling his wheelbarrow; though he looked round and told Rollo that he could not stop to explain it to him then.
Rollo was discouraged about his box. He thought he would look and see what Jonas was going to do. Jonas trundled the wheelbarrow along, until he came opposite the barn-door, and there he put it down. He went into the barn, and presently came out with an axe. Then he took the sides of the wheelbarrow off, and placed them up against the barn. Then he laid the axe down across the wheelbarrow, and went into the barn again. Pretty soon he brought out an iron crowbar, and laid that down also in the wheelbarrow, with the axe.
Then Rollo called out,
“Jonas, Jonas, where are you going?”
“I am going down into the woods beyond the brook.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to clear up some ground.”
“May I go with you?”
“I should like it—but that is not for me to say.”
Rollo knew by this that he must ask his mother. He went in and asked her, and she, in return, asked him if he had read his lesson that morning. He said he had not; he had forgotten it.
“Then,” said his mother, “you must first go and read a quarter of an hour.”
Rollo was sadly disappointed, and also a little displeased. He turned away, hung down his head, and began to cry. It is not strange that he was disappointed, but it was very wrong for him to feel displeased, and begin to cry.
“Come here, my son,” said his mother.
Rollo came to his mother, and she said to him kindly,
“You have done wrong now twice this morning; you have neglected your duty of reading, and now you are out of humor with me because I require you to attend to it. Now it is my duty not to yield to such feelings as you have now, but to punish them. So I must say that, instead of a quarter of an hour, you must wait half an hour, before you go out with Jonas.”
Rollo stood silent a minute,—he perceived that he had done wrong, and was sorry. He did not know how he could find Jonas in the woods, but he did not say any thing about that then. He only asked his mother what he must do for the half hour. She said he must read a quarter of an hour, and the rest of the time he might do as he pleased.
So Rollo took his book, and went out and sat down upon the platform, and began to read aloud. When he had finished one page, which usually took a quarter of an hour, he went in to ask his mother what time it was. She looked at the clock, and told him he had been reading seventeen minutes.
“Is seventeen minutes more than a quarter of an hour, or not so much?” asked Rollo.
“It is more;—fifteen minutes is a quarter of an hour. Now you may do what you please till the other quarter has elapsed.”
Rollo thought he would go and read more. It is true he was tired; but he was sorry he had done wrong, and he thought that if he read more than he was obliged to, his mother would see that he was penitent, and that he acquiesced in his punishment.
So he went on reading, and the rest of the half hour passed away very quickly. In fact, his mother came out before he got up from his reading, to tell him it was time for him to go. She said she was very glad he had submitted pleasantly to his punishment, and she gave him something wrapped up in a paper.
“Keep this till you get a little tired of play, down there, and then sit down on a log and open it.”
Rollo wondered what it was. He took it gladly, and began to go. But in a minute he turned round and said,
“But how shall I find Jonas?”
“What is he doing?” said his mother.
“He said he was going to clear up some land.”
“Then you will hear his axe. Go down to the edge of the woods and listen, and when you hear him, call him. But you must not go into the woods unless you hear him.”
Rollo went on, down the green lane, till he came to the turn-stile, and then went through into the field. He then followed a winding path until he came to the edge of the trees, and there stopped to listen.
He heard the brook gurgling along over the stones, and that was all at first; but presently he began to hear the strokes of an axe. He called out as loud as he could,
But Jonas did not hear.
Then he walked along the edge of the woods till he came nearer the place where he heard the axe. He found here a little opening among the trees and bushes, so that he could look in. He saw the brook, and over beyond it, on the opposite bank, was Jonas, cutting down a small tree.
So Rollo walked on until he came to the brook, and then asked Jonas how he should get over. The brook was pretty wide and deep.
Jonas said, if he would wait a few minutes, he would build him a bridge.
“You cannot build a bridge,” said Rollo.
“Wait a little and see.”
So Rollo sat down on a mossy bank, and Jonas, having cut down the small tree, began to work on a larger one that stood near the bank.
After he had cut a little while, Rollo asked him why he did not begin the bridge.
“I am beginning it,” said he.
Rollo laughed at this, but in a minute Jonas called to him to stand back, away from the bank; and then, after a few strokes more, the top of the tree began to bend slowly over, and then it fell faster and faster, until it came down with a great crash, directly across the brook.
“There!” said Jonas, “there is your bridge.”
Rollo looked at it with astonishment and pleasure.
“Now,” said Jonas, “I will come and help you over.”
“No,” said Rollo, “I can come over myself. I can take hold of the branches for a railing.”
So Rollo began to climb along the stem of the tree, holding on carefully by the branches. When he reached the middle of the stream, he stopped to look down into the water.
“This is a capital bridge of yours, Jonas,” said he. “How beautiful the water looks down here! O, I see a little fish! He is swimming along by a great rock. Now he is standing perfectly still. O, Jonas, come and see him.”
“No,” said Jonas, “I must mind my work.”
After a little time, Rollo went carefully on over the bridge, and sat down on the bank of the brook. But he did not have with him the parcel his mother gave him. He had left it on the other side.
After he had watched the fishes, and thrown pebble-stones into the brook some time, he began to be tired, and he asked Jonas what he had better do.
“I think you had better build a wigwam.”
“A wigwam? What is a wigwam?” said Rollo.
“It is a little house made of bushes such as the Indians live in.”
“O, I could not make a house,” said Rollo.
“I think you could if I should tell you how, and help you a little.”
“But you say you must mind your work.”
“Yes,—I can mind my work and tell you at the same time.”
Rollo thought he should like to build a wigwam very much. Jonas told him the first thing to be done was to find a good place, where the ground was level. Rollo looked at a good many places, but at last chose a smooth spot under a great oak tree, which Jonas said he was not going to cut down. It was near a beautiful turn in the brook, where the water was very deep.
Jonas told him that the first thing was to make a little stake, and drive it down in the middle of his wigwam-ground. Then Rollo recollected that he had left his hatchet over on the other side of the brook, together with the parcel his mother gave him; and he was going over to get them, when Jonas told him he would trim up the bridge a little, and then he could go over more easily.
So Jonas went upon the bridge, and began to cut away the branches that were in the way, leaving enough on each side to take hold of, and to keep Rollo from falling in. Rollo could then go back and forth easily. He held on with one hand, and carried his hatchet in the other. Then he went over again, and brought his parcel, and laid it down near the great oak tree.
Then he made a little stake, and drove it down in the middle of the wigwam-ground. Then he asked Jonas what he must do next.
“That is the centre of your wigwam; now you must strike a circle around it.”
“What?” said Rollo.
“Don’t you know how to strike a circle?” said Jonas.
Rollo said he did not, and then Jonas told him to do exactly as he should say, and that would show him.
“First,” said Jonas, “have you got a string?”
Rollo felt in his pockets in vain, but he recollected his little parcel, which was tied with a piece of twine, and held it up to ask Jonas if that would do. Jonas said it would, and told him to take it off carefully, and tie one end of it to his centre stake.
And Rollo did so.
“Now,” said Jonas, “make another little sharp stake for the marker, and tie the other end of the twine to that, near the sharp end.”
Rollo worked busily for some time, and then called out,
“Jonas, it is done.”
All this time, Jonas was at work in the bushes, at a little distance. He now came to Rollo’s wigwam-ground, and took hold of the marker, and held it off as far from the middle stake as it would go, and then began to make a mark on the ground all around the middle stake. Now, as the marker was tied to the middle stake by the string, the mark was equally distant from the middle stake in every part, and that made it exactly round. Then Jonas laid down the marker, and pulled out the middle stake; and they looked down and saw that there was a round mark on the ground, about as large as a cart-wheel.
Then Jonas took the crowbar, and made deep holes all around, in this circle, so far apart that Rollo could just step from one to the other. But Rollo could not understand how he could make a house so.
“I will tell you,” said Jonas. “You must now go and get some large branches of trees, and trim off the twigs from the lower end, and stick them down in these, holes. I will show you how.”
So Jonas took a large bough, and trimmed the large end, and sharpened it a little, and then he fixed it down in one of these holes, in such a manner that the top of it bent over towards the middle of the circle; then he went back to his work, leaving Rollo to go on with the wigwam.
Rollo put down two or three branches very well, and was very much delighted at seeing it gradually begin to look like a house, when he thought he heard a voice. He listened a moment, and heard some one at a distance calling, “Rol—lo. Rol—lo.”
Rollo dropped his hatchet, and looked in the direction that the sound came from, and called out as loud as he could, “What!”
“Where—are—you?” was heard in reply.
Rollo answered, “Here,” and then immediately clambered along over the bridge, and ran through the woods until he came out into the open field; and there he saw a small boy, away off at a distance, just coming through the turn-stile.
It was his cousin James. It seems that James had come to play with him that day, and Rollo’s mother had directed him down towards the woods.
James came running along towards Rollo, holding up something round and bright, in each hand. They were half dollars.
“Where did you get them?” said Rollo.
“One is for you, and one is for me,” said James. “Uncle George sent them to us.”
“What a beautiful little eagle!” said Rollo, as he looked at one side of his half dollar; “I wish I could get it off and keep it separate.”
“O no,” said James, “that would spoil your half dollar.”
“Why, they would know it was a half dollar by the letters and the head on the other side. What a pretty thin eagle! How do you suppose they fasten it on so strong?”
James said he thought he could get it off; so they went and sat down on a smooth log, that was lying on the ground, and laid Rollo’s half dollar on the log. Then he took a pin, and tried to drive the point of it under the eagle’s head, with a small stone. But the eagle would not move. They only made some little marks and scratches on the silver.
“Never mind,” said Rollo; “I will keep it as it is.” So he took his half dollar, and they walked along towards the brook.
They showed their money to Jonas, and told him that they had tried to get the eagle off. He smiled at this. The boys went back soon to the wigwam, and James said he would help Rollo finish it. While they were at work they put their money on a large flat stone, on the brink of the brook. They fixed a great many boughs into their wigwam, weaving them in all around, and thus made a very pleasant little house, leaving a place for a door in front. When they were tired, they went and opened Rollo’s little package, and found a fine luncheon in it of bread and butter and pie; which they ate very happily together, sitting on little hemlock branches in the wigwam.
After their luncheon, the boys began to talk about the best place for a window for the wigwam.
“I think we will have it this side, towards the brook,” said James, “and then we can look out to the water.”
“No,” said Rollo, “it will be better to have it here, towards where Jonas is working, and then we can look out and see him.”
“No,” said James, “that is not a good plan; I do not want to see Jonas.”
“And I do not want to see the water,” replied Rollo. “It is my wigwam, and I mean to have the window here.”
So saying, he went to the side towards Jonas, and began to take away a bough. James came there too, and said angrily,
“The wigwam is mine as much as it is yours, for I helped make it, and I will not have a window here.”
So he took hold of the branch that Rollo had hold of. They both felt guilty and condemned, but their angry feelings urged them on, and they looked fiercely at each other, and pulled upon the branch.
“Rollo,” said James, “let go.”
“James,” said Rollo, “I tell you, let my wigwam alone.”
“It is not your wigwam.”
“I tell you it is.”
Just then they heard a noise in the bushes. They looked around, and saw Jonas coming towards them. They felt ashamed, and were silent, though each kept hold of the branch.
“Now, boys,” said Jonas, “you have got into a foolish and wicked quarrel. I have heard it all. Now you may do as you please—you may let me settle it, or I will lead you home to your mother, and tell her about it, and let her settle it.”
The boys looked ashamed, but said nothing.
“If you conclude to let me settle it, you must do just as I say. But I do not pretend that I have any right to decide such a case, unless you consent. So I will take you home, if you prefer.”
The boys both preferred that he should settle it, and promised to do as he should say.
“Well, then,” said he, “the first thing is for you, Rollo, to go over the other side of the brook, and you, James, to stay here, and both to sit down still, until you have had time to cool.”
The boys obeyed, and Jonas went back to his work.
The boys sat still, feeling guilty and ashamed; but they were not penitent. They ought to have been sorry for their fault, and become good-natured and pleasant again. But instead of that, they were silent and displeased, eyeing one another across the brook. Jonas waited some time, and then came and called them both to him.
“Now,” says James, “I will tell you all about it, and you shall decide who was to blame.”
“I heard it all, and I know which was to blame; you, James, came here to see Rollo, and found him building a wigwam. It was his wigwam, not yours. He began it without you, and was going on without you, and when you came, you had no right to assume any authority about it. You ought to have let him do as he wished with his own wigwam. You were unjust.”
Here Rollo began to look pleased and triumphant, that Jonas had decided in his favor.
“But,” continued Jonas, “you, Rollo, were playing here alone. Your little cousin came to see you; and you were very glad to have him come. He helped you build, and when he wanted to have the window in a particular way, you ought to have let him. To quarrel with a visitor for such a cause as that, was very ungentlemanly and unkind. So you see you were both very much to blame.”
The boys looked guilty and ashamed, but they did not feel really penitent. They were not cordially reconciled. Neither was willing to give up.
“But,” said Rollo, “how shall we make the window?”
“I think you ought not to make any window, as you cannot agree about it.”
They wanted to make a window now more than ever, for each wanted to have his own way; but Jonas would not consent, and as they had agreed to abide by his decision, they submitted. Jonas then returned to his work, and the boys stood by the side of the brook, not knowing exactly what to do. Jonas told them, when they went away, that he expected that they would have another quarrel, as he perceived that their hearts were still in a bad state.
The boys sat down on the bank of the brook, and began to pick up little stones and throw them into the water. They began soon to talk of the window again.
Rollo said, “Jonas thought you were most to blame, I know.”
“No, he did not,” replied James. “He blamed you the most; he said you were unjust.”
“I don’t care,” said Rollo. “You do not know how to build a wigwam. You cannot reach high enough to make a window.”
“I can reach high,” said James. “I can reach as high as that,” said he, stretching up his hand.
“And I can reach as high as that” said Rollo, stretching up his hand higher than James did; for he was a little taller.
James was somewhat vexed to find that Rollo could reach higher than he could, though it was very foolish to allow himself to be put out of humor by such a thing. But boys, when they are ill-humored, and dispute, are always unreasonable and foolish. James determined not to be outdone, so he took up a stick, and reached it up in the air as high as he could, and said,
“I can reach up as high as that.”
Then Rollo took up a stone, and tossed it up into the air, saying,
“And I can reach as high as that.”
Now, when boys throw stones into the air, they ought to consider where they will come down; but, unfortunately, Rollo did not in this case, and the stone fell directly upon James’s head. It was, however a small stone, and his cap prevented it from hurting him much; but he was already vexed and out of humor, and so he began to cry out aloud.
Rollo was frightened a little, for he was afraid he had hurt his cousin a good deal, and then he expected too that Jonas would come. But Jonas took no notice of the crying, but went on with his work. Now, Jonas was very kind and careful, and always came quick when there was any one hurt. But this time, he knew by the tone of James’s crying, that it was vexation rather than pain that caused it.
James, finding that his crying did no good, gradually became still; and in a few minutes, as he happened to look round, his eye rested on the stone where they had put their half dollars, and he saw that only one of them was there.
“O, Rollo,” said he, “one of our half dollars is gone.”
They went to the stone, and, true enough, one was gone. They looked around, but it was no where to be found. Boys that are out of humor with one another, are never at a loss for subjects of dispute; and Rollo said he believed James had taken it, and James charged it upon Rollo. Then there was a dispute who should have the one that was left. James knew it was his; he said he remembered exactly how his looked; and Rollo knew it was his, for the head and the stars were very bright on his, and they were very bright on this. James, however, had the half dollar, and would not give it up; and so Rollo went to Jonas, and told him that James had got his half dollar.
Jonas came, and heard the whole story from both of the boys. James said he knew the one that was left was his, for he remembered exactly how it looked, and he also remembered exactly the very spot on the stone where he put it down.
James did not mean to tell a lie, but he was a little angry and excited, and when boys are in that state of mind, they are very apt to say they know not what.
Jonas looked at both sides of the half dollar very attentively.
“Which half dollar was it,” said he, “that you tried to get the eagle off of?”
“Mine,” said Rollo; “let me see.”
Jonas held down the half dollar, and showed to Rollo and James the marks and scratches made by the pin; proving that this was Rollo’s half dollar. James looked ashamed and confounded; Jonas just waited to hear what he would say.
James stood still a minute, thinking presently he said,
“Well, Rollo, I suppose my half dollar is lost, but I am glad yours is safe, at any rate.”
“I am sorry yours is lost,” said Rollo, “but then I can give you half of what I buy with mine.”
“Where did you put the half dollars?” said Jonas.
“On that rock,” said Rollo.
They walked along towards the rock. It was by the edge of the water; Jonas thought that as they had been dragging boughs of trees along near the rock, some little branch might have reached over and brushed off one of the pieces of money into the water. So he walked up to it and looked over.
In a minute or two, he pointed down, and the boys looked and saw something bright and glittering on the bottom.
“Is that it?” said James.
“I believe it is,” said Jonas.
Jonas then took off his jacket, rolled up his shirt sleeve, lay down on the rock, and reached his arm down into the water, but it was a little too deep. He could not reach it.
“I cannot get it so,” said he.
“What shall we do?” said James. “How foolish I was to put it so near the water!”
“I think we shall contrive some way to get it,” said Jonas.
He then sat down on the rock and looked into the water. “We can go home and get a long pair of tongs, and get it with them at any rate,” said he.
“O, yes,” said Rollo, “I will go and get them;” and he ran off towards the bridge.
“No,” said Jonas, “stop; I will try one plan more.”
So he went and cut a long straight stem of a bush, and trimmed it up smooth, and cut the largest end off exactly square. Then he went to a hemlock tree near, and took off some of the gum, which was very “sticky.” He pressed some of this with his knife on the end of the stick. Then he reached it very carefully down, and pressed it hard against the half dollar; it crowded the half dollar down into the sand, out of sight.
“There, you have lost it,” said James.
“I don’t know,” said Jonas; and he began slowly and carefully to draw it up.
When the end of the stick came up out of the sand, the boys saw, to their great delight, that the half dollar was sticking fast on. They clapped their hands, and capered about on the stone, while Jonas gently drew up the half dollar, and put it, all wet and dripping, into James’s hand.
The boys thanked Jonas for getting up the money, and then they asked him to keep both pieces for them until they went home. Then they began to think of the wigwam again.
“We will make the window as you want it, James,” said Rollo; “I am willing.”
“No,” said James, “I was just going to say we would make it your way. I rather think it would be better to make it towards the land.”
“Why can you not have two windows?” said Jonas.
“So we can,” said both of the boys; and they immediately went to work collecting branches and weaving them in, leaving a space for a window both sides. Their quarrelsome feelings were all gone, and they talked very pleasantly at their work until it was time for them to go home to dinner.
[Illustration: “An escape.”]
* * * * *
THE WAY TO CATCH A SQUIRREL
The afternoon of the day when Rollo and his cousin James made their wigwam in the woods by the brook, they were at work there again, employed very harmoniously together, in finishing their edifice, when suddenly Jonas, who was at work in the woods at a little distance, heard them both calling to him, in tones of surprise and pleasure—
“O, Jonas, Jonas, come here quick—quick.”
Jonas dropped his axe and ran.
When he got near them, they pointed to a log.
“See there;—see;—see there.”
“What is it?” said Jonas. “O, I see it,” said he.
It was a little squirrel clambering up a raspberry-bush, eating the raspberries as he went along. He would climb up by the little branches, and pull in the raspberries in succession, until he got to the topmost one, when the bush would bend over with his weight until it almost touched the log.
“Let us catch him,” said Rollo, very eagerly; “do let us catch him; I will go and get our steeple trap.”
Jonas did not seem to be so very much delighted as the boys were. He said he was certainly a cunning little fellow, but “what should we do with him if we should catch him?”
“O,” said Rollo, “we would put him in a little cage. It would be so complete to have him in a cage! Do, Jonas, do.”
“But you have not got any cage.”
“We can get one,” said James. “We can buy one with our half dollars.”
“Well,” said Jonas, “it will do no good to set the trap now, for he will be away before we could get back. But I will come down to-night, and set the trap, and perhaps we shall catch him, though I do not exactly like to do it.”
“Why?” said the boys.
“O,” replied Jonas, “he will not like to be shut up all night, in a dark box, and then be imprisoned in a cage. He had rather run about here, and gather raspberries. Besides, you would soon get tired of him if you had him in a cage.”
“O no,” said Rollo, “I should not get tired of him.”
“Did you ever have any plaything that you were not tired of before long?”
“Why,—no,” said Rollo; “but then a real live squirrel is a different thing. Besides, you know, if I get tired of him, I need not play with him then.”
“No, but a real live thing must be fed every day, and that you would find a great trouble. And then you would sometimes forget it, and the poor fellow would be half starved.”
“O no,” said Rollo; “I am sure I should not forget it.”
“Did you remember your reading-lesson this morning?”
“Why,—no,” said Rollo, looking a little confused. “But I am sure I should not forget to feed a squirrel if I had one.”
“You don’t know as much as I thought you did,” replied Jonas.
“I thought you knew more about yourself than to suppose you could be trusted to do any thing regularly every day. Why, you would not remember to wash your own face every morning, if your mother did not remind you. The squirrel is almost as fit to take care of you in your wigwam, as you are to take care of him in a cage.”
Rollo felt a little ashamed of his boasting, for he knew that what Jonas said was true. Jonas said, finally, “However, we will try to catch him; but I cannot promise that I shall let you keep him in a cage. It will be bad enough for him to be shut up all night in the box trap, but I can pay him for that the next day in corn.”
So Jonas brought down the box trap that night. It was a long box, about as big as a cricket, with a tall, pointed back, which looked like a steeple; so Rollo called it the steeple trap. It was so made that if the squirrel should go in, and begin to nibble some corn, which they were going to put in there, it would make the cover come down and shut him in. They fixed the trap on the end of the log, and Jonas observed, as he sat on the log, that he could see the barn chamber window through a little opening among the trees. Of course he knew that from the barn chamber window he could see the trap, though it would be too far off to see it plain.
Early the next morning, James came over to learn whether they had caught the squirrel; and he and Rollo wanted Jonas to go down with them and see. Jonas said he could not go down then very well, but if he would go and ask his father to lend him his spy-glass, he could tell without going down.
Now Jonas had been a very faithful and obedient boy, ever since he came to live with Rollo’s father. He had some great faults when he first came, but he had cured himself of them, and he was now an excellent and trustworthy boy. It was a part of his business to take care of Rollo, and they always let him have what he asked for from the house, as they knew it was for some good purpose, and that it would be well taken care of. So when Rollo went in and asked for the spy-glass, and said that Jonas wanted it, they handed it down to him at once.
Jonas took the glass, and they all three went up into the barn chamber.
Jonas opened the glass, and held it up to his eye. The boys stood by looking on silently. At length, Jonas said,
“No, we have not caught him.”
“How do you know?” said the boys.
“O, I can see the trap, and it is not sprung.”
“Is not sprung?” said James, “what do you mean by sprung?”
“Shut. It is not shut. I can see it open, and of course the squirrel is not there.”
“O, he may be in,” said Rollo, “just nibbling the corn. Do let us go and see.”
Jonas smiled, and said he could not go then, but he would look through the spy-glass again towards noon. He then gave the glass to Rollo, and it was carried back safely into the house.
James soon after went home, and Rollo sat down in the parlor to his reading. Afterwards he came out, and went to building cities in a sandy corner of the garden. He was making Rome,—for his father had told him that Rome was built on seven hills, and he liked to make the seven hills in the sand. He made a long channel for an aqueduct, and went into the house to get a dipper of water to fill his aqueduct, when he met James coming again. So they went in, and got the spy-glass, and asked Jonas to go up and look again.
Jonas adjusted the glass, held it up to his eye, and looked some time in silence, and then said,—
“Yes, it is sprung, I believe. Yes, it is certainly sprung.”
“O, then we have caught him,” said the boys, capering about. “Let us go and see.”
“Perhaps we have caught him,” said Jonas, “but it is not certain; sometimes the trap gets sprung accidentally. However, you may go and ask your father if he thinks it worth while for me to leave my work long enough to go down and see.”
Rollo came back with the permission granted, and they all set off; Rollo and James running on eagerly before.
When they came to the trap, they found it shut. Jonas took it up, and tipped it one way and the other, and listened. He heard something moving in it, but did not know whether it was anything more than the corn cob. Then he said he would open the trap a very little, and let Rollo peep in.
He did so. Rollo said it looked all dark; he could not see any thing. Then Jonas opened it a little farther, and Rollo saw two little shining eyes, and presently a nose smelling along at the crack.
“Yes, here he is, here he is,” said Rollo; “look at him, James, look at him;—see, see.”
They all peeped at him, and then Jonas took the box under his arm, and they returned home.
Jonas told the boys he was not willing to keep the squirrel a prisoner very long, but he would try to contrive some way by which they might look at him. Now, there was, in the garret, a small fire-fender, which had been laid aside as old and useless. Jonas recollected this, and thought he could fix up a temporary cage with it. So he took a small box about as large as a raisin-box, which he found in the barn, and laid it down on its side, so as to turn the open side towards the trap, and then moved the trap close up to it. He then covered up all the rest of the open part of the box with shingles, and asked James and Rollo to hold them on. Then he carefully lifted up the cover of the trap, and made a rattling in the back part of it with the spindle. This drove the squirrel through out of the trap into the box.
When Jonas was sure that he was in, he took the old fender and slid it down very cautiously between the trap and the box, so as to cover the open part entirely, and make a sort of grated front, like a cage. Then he took the trap away, and there the little nut-cracker was, safely imprisoned, but yet fairly exposed to view.
That is, they thought he was safely imprisoned; but he, little rogue, had no idea of submitting without giving his bolts and bars a try. At first, he crept along, with his tail curled over his back, in a corner, and looked at the strange faces which surrounded him. “Let us give him a little corn,” said Rollo; “perhaps he is hungry;” and he was just slipping some kernels in between the wires of the fender, when Bunny sprang forward, and, with a jump and a squeeze, forced his slender body between two of the wires that were bent a little apart, leaped down upon the barn floor, ran along to the corner, up the post, and then crept leisurely along on a beam. Presently, he stopped, and looked down, as if considering what to do next.
The moment he escaped, the boys exclaimed, “O, catch him, catch him,” and were going to run after him; but Jonas said that it would do no good, for they could not catch him again now, and had better stand still and see what he would do.
He soon began to run along on the beam; thence he ascended to the scaffold, and made his way towards an open window. He jumped up to the window sill, and then disappeared. The boys all ran around, outside, and were just in time to catch a glimpse of him, running along on the top of the fence, down towards the woods again.
“Do let us run after him and catch him,” said Rollo.
“Catch him!” said Jonas, with a laugh, “you might as well catch the wind. No, the only way is to set our trap for him again. I meant to let him go, myself; but he is not going to slip through our fingers in that way, I tell him.” So Jonas went down that night and set the trap again.
For several days after this, the trap remained unsprung, and the boys began to think that they should never see him again. At last, however, one day, when Rollo was playing in the yard, he saw Jonas coming up out of the woods with the trap under his arm. Rollo ran to meet him, and was delighted to find that the squirrel was caught again.
Jonas contrived to tighten the wires of the lender, by weaving in other wires so as to secure the little prisoner this time; and when he was fairly in his temporary cage, the boys were so pleased with his graceful form and beautiful colors, especially the elegant stripes on his back, that they begged hard to keep him; and they made many earnest promises never to forget to feed him. Jonas said, at last,
“On the whole. I believe I will let you keep him, but you must do it in my way.”
“What is your way?”
“Why, after a day or two, we must carry him back to his raspberry-bush, and let him go. But you may give him a name, and call him yours, and you can carry some corn down there now and then, to feed him with,—and then you will see him, occasionally, playing about there.”
James and Rollo did not exactly like this plan at first, but when they considered how much better the little squirrel himself would like it, they adopted it; and Rollo proposed that they should tie a string round his neck for a collar, so that they might know him again.
“I can get mother to let me have a little pink riband,” said he, “and that will be beautiful.”
“It would be a good plan,” said Jonas, “to mark him in some way, but he might gnaw off the riband.”
“O no,” said James, “he could not gnaw any thing on his own neck.” Rollo thought so too, and they both tried to bite their own collar ribands, by way of showing Jonas how impossible it was.
“I don’t know exactly what the limits are of a squirrel’s gnawing,” said Jonas. “Perhaps he might tear it off with his claws.”
“Or he might get another squirrel to gnaw it off for him,” said James.
“Yes,” said Jonas, “and there is another difficulty. He might be jumping from one tree to another, and catch his collar in some little branch, and so get hung, without judge or jury.”
“What can we do then?” said Rollo.
“I think,” said Jonas, “that the best plan would be to dye the end of his tail black. That would not hurt him any; and yet, as he always holds his tail up, we should see it, and know him.”
The boys both thought this would be excellent, and Jonas said he had some black dye, which he had made for dyeing some wood. Jonas was a very ingenious boy, and used to make little boxes, and frames, and windmills, with his penknife, in the long winter evenings, and he had made this dye out of vinegar and old nails, to dye some of his wood with.
“I am not certain,” said Jonas, “that my dye will color hair; I never tried it, except on wood. Do you think that black would be a pretty color?”
“No,” said Rollo, “black would not be a very pretty color, but it would do. Yellow, and red, and green, are pretty colors, but black, and brown, and white, are not pretty at all.”
“I have not got any yellow, or red, or green,” said Jonas. “I don’t know but that I have got a little blue.”
“O, blue would be beautiful,” said James.
Then Jonas walked along into the barn, and Rollo and James followed him. He went up stairs, and walked along to the farthest corner, and there, up on a beam, were several small bottles all in a row. Jonas took down one, and shook it, and said that was the blue.
He brought it down to the cage; Rollo went into the house, and brought out an old bowl, and Jonas prepared to pour out the dye into it. They then concluded that they would carry the whole apparatus down into the edge of the woods, and perform the operation there; and then the squirrel, when he was liberated, would easily find his way back to his home. Jonas carried down a pair of thick, old gloves, to keep the squirrel from biting him.
As they walked along, Rollo proposed that Jonas should dip the squirrel’s ears in as well as his tail; “because,” said he, “we may sometimes see him when he is half hid in the bushes, so that only his head is in sight.”
“Besides,” said James, “it will make him look more beautiful if his ears and tail are both blue.”
Jonas did not object to this, and after a short time, they reached the edge of the woods. They found a little opening, where the ground was smooth and the grass green, which seemed exactly the place for them. So they put down the cage and the bowl of dye, and Jonas began to put on his glove.
“Now, boys,” said he, “you must be still as moonlight while I do it. If you speak to me, you will put me out; and besides, you will frighten little Bunny.”
The boys promised not to speak a single word; and Jonas, after unfastening the fender from the front of the box, moved it along until there was an opening large enough for him to get his hand in. Rollo and James stood by silently, and somewhat anxiously, waiting the result.
When the squirrel saw Jonas’s hand intruding itself into the box, he retreated to the farther corner, and curled himself up there, with his tail close down upon his back. Jonas followed him with his hand, saying, in a soothing tone, “Bunny, Bunny, poor little Bunny.”
He reached him, at length, and put his hand very gently over him, and slowly and cautiously drew him out.
Rollo and James gave a sort of hysteric laugh, and instantly clapped their hands to their mouths, to suppress it; but they looked at one another and at Jonas with great delight.
Jonas gradually brought the squirrel over the bowl, and prepared to dip his ears into the dye. It was a strange situation for a squirrel to be in, and he did not like it at all; and just at the instant when his ears were going into the dye, he twisted his head round, and planted his little fore teeth directly upon Jonas’s thumb. As might have been supposed, teeth which were sharp and powerful enough to go through a walnut shell, would not he likely to be stopped by a leathern glove; and Jonas, startled by the sudden cut, gave a twitch with his hand, and, at the same instant, let go of the squirrel. Bunny grasped the edge of the howl with his paws, and leaped out, bringing the bowl itself at the same instant over upon him, spattering him all over from head to tail with the blue dye.
The boys looked aghast for a minute, but when they saw him racing off as fast as possible, and running up a neighboring tree, Jonas burst into a laugh, which the other boys joined, and they continued it loud and long, till the woods rang again.
“Well, we have spotted him, at any rate,” said Jonas. “We will call him Leopard.”
The boys then looked at Jonas’s bite, and found that it was not a very serious one. In fact, Jonas was a little ashamed at having let go for so small a wound However, it was then too late to regret it and the boys returned slowly home.
As they were walking home, James said that the squirrel’s back looked wet, where the dye went upon him, but he did not think it looked very blue.
“No,” said Jonas, “it does not generally look blue at first, but it grows blue afterwards. It will be a bright color enough before you see him again, I will warrant.”
So they walked along home; the fender was put back in its place in the garret, the bowl in the house, and the box in the barn. Jonas soon forgot that he had been bitten, and the squirrel, as soon as his back was dry, thought no more of the whole affair, but turned his attention entirely to the business of digging a hole to store his nuts in for the ensuing winter.
All the large trees that Jonas had felled beyond the brook, he cut up into lengths, and hauled them up into the yard, and made a great high wood-pile of them, higher than his head; but all the branches, and the small bushes, with all the green leaves upon them, lay about the ground in confusion. Rollo asked him what he was going to do with them. He said, after they were dry, he should burn them up, and that they would make a splendid bonfire.
They lay there drying a good many weeks. The leaves turned yellow and brown, and the little twigs and sticks became gradually dry and brittle. Rollo used to walk down there often, to see how the drying went on, and sometimes he would bring up a few of the bushes, and put them on the kitchen fire, to see whether they were dry enough to burn.
At last, late in the autumn, one cool afternoon, Jonas asked Rollo to go down with him and help him pile up the bushes in heaps, for he was going to burn them that evening. Rollo wanted very much that his cousins James and Lucy should see the fires; and so he asked his mother to let him go and ask them to come and take tea there that night, and go out with them in the evening to the burning. She consented, and Rollo went. Lucy promised to come just before tea-time, and James came then, with Rollo, to help him pile the bushes up.
Jonas said that the boys might make one little pile of their own if they wished; and told them that they must first make a pile of solid sticks, and dry rotten logs as large as they could lift or roll, so as to have a good solid fire underneath, and then cover these up with brush as high as they could pile it, so as to make a great blaze. He told them also that they must make their pile where it would not burn any of the trees which he had left standing, for he had left a great many of the large oaks, and beeches, and pines, to ornament the ground and make a shade.
Rollo and James decided to make their pile near the brook, between the bridge which Jonas made of a tree, and the old wigwam which they had made some time before of boughs. They got together a great heap of solid wood, as large pieces as they could lift, and at one end they put in a great deal of birch bark, which they stripped off, in great sheets, from an old, decayed birch tree, which had been lying on the ground near, for half a century. When this was done, they began to pile on the bushes and brush, taking care to leave the end where the birch bark was, open. After they had piled it up as high as they could reach. Rollo clambered up to the top of it, and James reached the long bushes up to him, and he arranged them regularly, with the tops out. So they worked all the afternoon, and by the time they had got their pile done, they found that Jonas had thrown almost all the rest of the bushes into heaps; and then they went home to tea.
They found Lucy there, and they were all so eager to go to the bonfires, that they did not eat much supper. Their father told them that, as they had so little appetite, they had better carry down some potatoes and apples, and roast them by the fires. They thought this an excellent plan, and ran into the store-room to get them. Their mother gave them a basket to put the potatoes and apples into, and a little salt folded up in a paper. They were then so impatient to go that their parents said they might set off with Jonas, and they themselves would come along very soon.
So Jonas and the three children walked on. Rollo carried the basket, and Jonas a lantern; and Jonas, as he went along, made, with his penknife, some flat, wooden spoons, to eat their potatoes with. They came to the bridge, and all got safely over, though Lucy was a little afraid at first.
They played around there a few minutes, as the twilight was coming on; and, soon after, they saw Rollo’s father and mother coming down through the trees, on the other side of the brook. They stopped on that side, as Rollo’s mother did not like to come across the bridge. Pretty soon they called out to Jonas to light the fires.
Jonas then took a large piece of birch bark, and touched the corner of it to the lamp in the lantern, and when it was well on fire, he laid it carefully on the ground. The bark began to blaze up very bright, sending out volumes of thick smoke and dense flame, writhing, and curling, and snapping, as it lay on the ground. The light shone brightly on the grass and sticks around.
“There,” said Jonas, “that will burn some time; now you may light your torches from that.”
“Torches?” said Rollo, “we have not got any torches.”
“Have not you made any torches? O, well,—I will make you some in a minute.”
So he took out his knife, and selected three long slender stems of bushes, and trimmed them up, and cut off the tops. Then he made a little split in the top end, and slipped in a piece of birch bark. Then he handed them to the children, one to each, and said, “There are your torches; now you can light your fires without burning your fingers.”
So they took their torches, and held the ends over the flame of the piece of birch bark, which, however, had by this time nearly burned out. Lucy’s took fire, but Rollo’s and James’s did not, at first; and as they pressed their torches down more and more to make them light, they only smothered what little flame was left, and put it out.
“O dear me!” said Rollo.
Lucy had gone a little way towards a pile; but when she saw what was the matter, she came back and said, “Here;—light it by mine.” So the boys held their torches over hers until they were all three in a bright blaze. They then carried them along, waving them in the air, and lighting pile after pile, until the whole forest seemed to be in a flame.
The children stood still a few moments, gazing on the fires, and on the extraordinary effect which the light produced upon the objects around. It was a singular scene. Flashing and crackling flames rose high from the heaps which were on fire, and shed a strong but unsteady light on the trees, the ground, and the banks of the brook, and penetrated deep into the forest on every side. Rollo called upon James and Lucy to look at his father and mother, who were across the brook; they stood there under the trees, almost invisible before, but now the bright light shone strongly upon their faces and forms, and cast upon them a clear and brilliant illumination, which was strongly contrasted with the dark depths of the forest behind them.
The children were silent, and stood still for a few minutes, gazing on the scene with feelings of admiration and awe. They expected to have capered about and laughed, but they found that they had no disposition to do so. The enjoyment they felt was not of that kind which leads children to caper and laugh. They stood still, and looked silently and soberly on the flashing flames, the lurid light, the bright red reflections on the woods, the banks, and the water,—and on the volumes of glowing smoke and sparks which ascended to the sky.
Before long, however, the light fuel upon the top of the piles was burned up, and there remained great glowing heaps of embers, and logs of wood still flaming. These the boys began to poke about with long poles that Jonas had cut for them, to make them burn brighter, and to see the sparks go up. Presently they heard their father calling them.
The boys all stopped to listen.
“We are going home,” said he; “we shall take cold if we stand still here. You may stay, however, with Jonas, only you must not sit down.”
So Rollo’s father and mother turned away, and walked along back towards the house, the light shining more and more faintly upon them, until they were lost among the trees.
“Why do you suppose we must not sit down?” said Lucy.
“Because,” said Jonas, “they are afraid you will take cold. As long as you run about and play around the fires, you keep warm.”
“O, then we will run about and play fast enough,” said James. “I know what I am going to do.”
So he took a large flat piece of hemlock bark, which he found upon the ground, and began tearing off strips of birch bark from the old tree, and piling them upon it.
“What are you going to do?” said Lucy.
“O, I am going to play steam-boat on fire,” said he; and he took up the piece of bark with the little pile of combustibles upon it, and carried it down to the edge of the brook. Then he went back and got his torch stick, and put a fresh piece of birch bark in the split end, and lighted it, and then came back to the brook, walking slowly lest his torch should go out.
Lucy held his torch for him while he gently put his steam-boat on the water; and then he lighted it with his torch, and pushed it out. It floated down, all blazing as it was, to the great delight of the three children, and astonishment of all the little fishes in the brook, who could not imagine what the blazing wonder could be.
The children followed it along down the brook, and began to pelt it with stones, and soon got into a high frolic. But as they were very careful not to hit one another with the stones, nor to speak harshly or cross, they enjoyed it very much. When at last the steam-boat was fairly pelted to pieces, and the blackened fragments of the birch bark were scattered over the water, and floating away down the stream, they began to think of roasting their corn and potatoes, which they did very successfully over the remains of the fires. When they had nearly finished eating, Rollo suddenly exclaimed,—
“O, I will tell you what we will do; we will go and set our wigwam on fire!”
Rollo pointed to the wigwam. James and Lucy looked, and observed that it had been dried and browned in the sun, and Rollo thought it was no longer good for any thing as a wigwam, but would make a capital bonfire. He proposed that they should all go into it and sit down, and put a torch near the side so as to set it on fire, as if accidentally. They would go on talking as if they did not see it, and when the flames burst out, they would jump up and run out, crying, Fire! as people do when their houses get on fire.
Lucy said she should not like to do that. She should be afraid, she said. The sparks would fall down upon her and burn her. So the boys gave that plan up. Then James proposed that they should make believe that they were savages, going to set fire to a town. The wigwam was to be the town. They would take their torches, and all go and set it on fire in several places.
“But, then, I could not help,” said Lucy, “for women do not go to war.”
“O yes, they do, if they are savages,” said James. “We play that we are savages, you see.”
So it was all agreed to. They lighted their torches, and marched along, waving them in the air, until they came to the wigwam, and then they danced around it, singing and shouting as they set it on fire in many places on all sides. The flames spread rapidly, and flashed up high into the air, and soon there was nothing left of the poor wigwam but a few smoking and blackened sticks lying on the ground.
The children then crept along over the bridge, and went towards home. There were still great beds of burning embers remaining, and in some places the remains of logs and stumps were blazing brightly. And that night, when Rollo went to bed, he lay looking out the window which was towards the woods, and saw the light still shining among the trees, and the smoke slowly rising from the fires, and floating away through the air.
THE HALO ROUND THE MOON;
[Illustration: “The way to ask a favor.”]
THE HALO ROUND THE MOON,
* * * * *
“A ROUND RAINBOW.”
About six miles from the house where Rollo lived, there was a mountain called Benalgon, which was famous for bears and blueberries. There were no bears on it, but there were plenty of blueberries. The reason why it was so famous for bears, when in fact there were none there, was because the boys and girls that went there for blueberries every year, used to see black logs and stumps among the trees and bushes of the mountain, and they would run away very hastily, and insist upon it, when they got down the mountain, that they had seen a bear.
Now, Rollo’s father and mother, together with his uncle George, formed a plan for going up this mountain after blueberries, and they were going to take Rollo and his cousin Lucy with them. Uncle George and cousin Lucy were to come in a chaise to Rollo’s house immediately after breakfast, and Rollo was to ride with them, and his father and mother were to go in another chaise.
Rollo got his little basket to pick his blueberries in, all ready the night before, and he got a string to tie around his neck, intending to hang his basket upon it, so that he could have both his hands at liberty, and pick faster. He also thought he would take all the heavy things out of his pocket, so that he could run the faster, in case he should see any bears. He put them all on a window in the shed. The things were a knife, a piece of chalk, two white pebble stones, and a plummet. When he got them all out, he asked Jonas, who was splitting wood in the shed, if he would not take care of them for him, till he came back.
“Why, yes,” said Jonas, “I will take care of them if you wish; but what are you going to leave them for?”
“O, so that I can run faster,” said Rollo.
“Run faster? I do not think you will run much, up old Benalgon, unless he holds his back down lower than when I went up.”
Rollo did not mean that he was going to run up the mountain, but he did not explain what he did mean, for he thought that Jonas would laugh at him, if he told him he was afraid of the bears. So he said, “Jonas, don’t you wish you were going with us?”
“I should like it well enough, but I must stay at home and mind my work.”
“I wish you could go. I will go and ask my father if he will not let you.”
Rollo ran into the house with great haste and eagerness, leaving all the doors open, and calling out, “Father, father,” as soon as he had begun to open the parlor door.
“Father, father,” said he, running up to him, “I wish you would let Jonas go with us to-morrow.”
Now, Rollo’s father had come home but a short time before, and was just seated quietly in his arm-chair, reading a newspaper, and Rollo came up to him, pulling down the paper with his hands, and looking up into his father’s face, so as to stop his reading at once. Heedless boys very often come to ask favors in this way.
His father gently moved him back and said,
“No, my son, it is not convenient for Jonas to go to-morrow. Besides, I am busy now, and cannot talk with you;—you must go away.”
Rollo turned away disappointed, and went slowly back through the kitchen. His mother, who was there, and who heard all that passed, as the doors were open, said to him, as he walked by her, “What a foolish way that was to ask him, Rollo! You might have known it would have done no good.”
Rollo did not answer, but he went and sat down on the step of the door, and was just beginning to think what the foolishness was in his way of asking his father, when a little bird came hopping along in the yard. He ran in to ask his mother to give him some milk to feed the bird with. She smiled, and told him milk was good for kittens, but not for birds; and she gave him some crumbs of bread. Rollo threw the crumbs out, but they only frightened the little thing away.
That night, when Rollo went to bed, his father said, that when he was all ready, he would come up and see him. When he came into his chamber, Rollo called out to him,
“O, father, look out the window, and see what a beautiful ring there is round the moon.”
“So there is,” said his father; “I am rather sorry to see that.”
“Sorry, father! why? It is beautiful, I think.”
“It does look pretty, but it is a sign of rain to-morrow.”
“Of rain? O no, father; it is a kind of a rainbow. It is a round rainbow. I am sure it will be pleasant to-morrow.”
“Very well,” said his father, “we shall see in the morning.” Then he sat down on Rollo’s bed-side some time, talking with him on various subjects, and then heard him say his prayers. At length he took the light, and bade Rollo good night.
Rollo’s eye caught another view of the moon as his father was going, and he said,
“O, father, just look at the moon once more; that is a rainbow; I see the colors. I expect it will grow into a large one, such as you told me was a sign of fair weather. I will watch it.”
“Yes,” said his father, “you can watch it as you go to sleep.”
So Rollo laid his face upon his pillow in such a way that he could see the moon through the window; and he began to watch the bright circle around it, but before it grew any bigger, he was fast asleep.
The next morning, Rollo awoke early, and he was very much pleased to see, as soon as he opened his eyes, that the sun was shining in at the windows. He was not only pleased to find that the prospect was so good for a pleasant ride, but his vanity was gratified at the thought that it had turned out that he knew better about the weather than his father. He began to dress himself, as far as he could without help, and was preparing to hasten down to his father, to tell him that it was going to be a pleasant day. When he was nearly dressed, he was surprised lo observe that the bright sunlight on the wall was gradually fading away, and at length it wholly disappeared. He went to look out the window to see what was the cause. He found that there was a broad expanse of dark cloud covering the eastern sky, excepting a narrow strip quite low down, near the horizon. When the sun first rose, it shone brightly through this narrow zone of clear sky; but now it had ascended a little higher, and gone behind the cloud.
“Never mind,” said Rollo to himself. “The cloud is not so very large after all, and the sun will come out again above it when it gets up a little higher.”
Rollo came down to breakfast, and he went out into the yard every two or three minutes, to look at the sky. The cloud seemed to extend, so that the sun did not come out of it, as he expected, but still he thought it was going to be pleasant Children generally think it is going to be pleasant, whenever they want to go away.
His father thought it was probably going to rain, and that at any rate it was very doubtful whether Uncle George would come. However, he said they should soon see, and, true enough, just as they were rising from the breakfast table, a chaise drove up to the door, and out jumped Uncle George and cousin Lucy.
Lucy was a very pleasant little blue-eyed girl, two or three years older than Rollo. She had a small tin pail in her hand, with a cover upon it.
“Good morning, Rollo,” said she. “Have you got your basket ready?”
“Yes,” said Rollo; “but I am afraid it is going to rain.”
While the children were saying this, Uncle George said to Rollo’s father,
“I suppose we shall have to give up our expedition to-day. I am in hopes we are going to have some rain.”
“In hopes,” thought Rollo; “that is very strange when we want to go a blueberrying.”
Rollo’s father and mother and his uncle looked at the clouds all around. They concluded that there was every appearance of rain, and that it would be best to postpone their excursion, and then went into the house. Rollo was very confident it would not rain, and was very eager to have them go. He asked Lucy if she did not think it was going to be pleasant, but Lucy was more modest and reasonable than he was, and said that she did not know; she could not judge of the weather so well as her father.
Rollo began by this time to be considerably out of humor. He said he knew it was not going to rain, and he did not see why they might not go. He did not believe it would rain a drop all day.
Lucy just then pointed down to a little dark spot on the stone step of the door, where a drop had just fallen, and asked Rollo what he called that.
“And that,—and that,—and that,” said she, pointing to several other drops.
Rollo at first insisted that that was not rain, but some little spots on the stone.
Then Lucy reached out her hand and said,
“Hold out your hand so, Rollo, and you will feel the drops coming down out of the sky.”
Rollo held out his hand a moment, but then immediately withdrew it, saying, impatiently, that he did not care; it was not rain; at any rate it was only a little sprinkling.
Lucy observed that Rollo was getting very much out of humor, and she tried to please him by saying,
“Rollo, I would not mind. If it does rain, I will ask my father to let me stay and play with you to-day, and we can have a fine time up in your little room.”
“No, we cannot,” said Rollo; “and besides, they will not let you stay, I know. I went yesterday to ask my father to let Jonas go with us to-day, and he would not.”
It was certainly very unreasonable for Rollo to imagine that his father and uncle would be unwilling to have Lucy stay just because it had not been convenient to let Jonas go with them. But when children are out of humor, they are always very unreasonable.
“Why would not he let Jonas go?” asked Lucy.
“I do not know. Mother said it was because I did not ask him right.”
“How did you ask him?”
“O, I interrupted him. He was reading.”
“O, that is not the way. I never interrupt my father if I want to ask him any thing.”
“Suppose he is busy, and you want to know that very minute; what do you do?”
“I will show you. Come with me and I will ask him to let me stay with you to-day.”
So Lucy and Rollo walked in. When they came to the parlor door, they saw that their parents were sitting on the sofa, talking about other things.
Rollo stopped at the door, but Lucy went in gently. She walked up to her father’s side, and stood there still.
Her father took no notice of her at first, but went on talking with Rollo’s father. Lucy stood very patiently until, after a few minutes, her father stopped talking, and said,
“Lucy, my dear, do you want to speak to me?”
“Yes, sir,” said Lucy, “I wanted to ask you if you were willing to let me stay here to-day and play with Rollo, if you do not go to the mountain.”
“I do not know,” said her father, hesitating, and patting Lucy on the head—“that is a new idea; however, I believe I have no objection.”
Lucy ran back joyfully to Rollo, and after a short time, her father went home. Rollo, however, did not feel in any better humor, and all Lucy’s endeavors to engage him in some amusement, failed. She proposed building with bricks, or going up into his little room, and drawing pictures on their slates, or getting his storybooks out and reading stories, and various other things, but Rollo would not be pleased.
Rollo ought, now, when he found that he must be disappointed about his ride, to have immediately banished it from his mind altogether, and turned his thoughts to other pleasures; but like all ill-humored people, he would keep thinking and talking, all the time, about the thing which caused his ill-humor. So he sat in a large back entry, where he and Lucy were, looking out at the door, and saying a great many ill-natured things about the weather, and his father’s giving up the ride just for a little sprinkling of rain that would not last half an hour. He said it was a shame, too, for it to rain that day, just because he was going to ride.
Just then, his father spoke to him from the window, and called him in.
He and Lucy went in together into the parlor.
“Rollo,” said his father, “did you know you were doing very wrong?”
Rollo felt a little guilty, but he said rather faintly, “No, sir, I was not doing any thing.”
“You are committing a great many sins, all at once.”
Rollo was silent. He knew his father meant sins of the heart.
“Your heart is in a very wicked state. You are under the dominion of some of the worst of feelings; you are self-conceited, ungrateful, undutiful, unjust, selfish, and,” he added in a lower and more solemn tone, “even impious.”
Rollo thought that these were heavy charges to bring upon him; but his father spoke calmly and kindly, and he knew that he could easily show that what he said was true.
“You are self-conceited—vainly imagining that you, a little boy of seven years old, can judge better than your father and mother, and obstinately persisting in your opinion that it is not going to rain, when the rain has actually commenced, and is falling faster and faster. You are ungrateful, to speak reproachfully of me, and give me pain, by your ill-will, when I have been planning this excursion, in a great degree, for your enjoyment, and only give it up because I am absolutely compelled to do it by a storm; undutiful, in showing such a repining, unsubmissive spirit towards your father; unjust in making Lucy and all of us suffer, because you are unwilling to submit to these circumstances that we cannot control; selfish, in being unwilling that it should rain and interfere with your ride, when you know that rain is so much wanted in all the fields, all over the country; and, what is worse than all, impious, in openly rebelling against God, and censuring the arrangements of his providence, and pretending to think that they are made just to trouble you.”
When he had said this, he paused to hear what Rollo would say. He thought that if he was convinced of his sin, and really penitent, he would acknowledge that he was wrong, or at least be silent;—but that if, on the other hand, he were still unsubdued, he would go to making excuses.
After a moment’s pause, Rollo said,—“I did not know that there was need of rain in the fields.”
“Did not you?” said his father. “Did not you know that the ground was very dry, and that, unless we have rain soon, the crops will suffer very much?”
“No, sir,” said Rollo.
“It is so,” said his father; “and this rain, which you are so unwilling to have descend, is going down into the ground all over the country, and into the roots of all the plants growing in the fields, carrying in the nourishment which will swell out all the corn and grain, and apples and pears. In a few days there will be thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of fruit and food more than there would have been without this rain; and yet you are very unwilling to have it come, because you want to go and get a few blueberries!”
Rollo was confounded, and had not a word to say.
“Now, Rollo,” continued his father, “all the rest of us are disposed to be good-humored, and to acquiesce in God’s decision, and try to have a happy day at home; and we cannot have it spoiled by your wicked repinings. So you must go away by yourself, until you feel willing to submit pleasantly and with good humor. Then you may come back, but be sure not to come back before.”
Now there was in Rollo’s house a small back garret, over a part of the kitchen chamber, which had one small window in it, looking out into the garden. This garret was not used, and Rollo’s father had put a little rocking-chair there, and a small table with a Bible on it, and hung some old maps about it, so as to make it as pleasant a little place as he could; and there he used to send Rollo when he had done any thing very wrong, or when he was sullen and ill natured, that he might reflect in solitude, and either return a good boy, or else stay where his bad feelings would not trouble or injure others. His father had put in marks, too, at several places in the Bible, where he thought it would be well for him to read at such times; as he said that reading suitable passages in the Bible would be more likely to bring him to repentance, than any other book.
Rollo knew that when his father told him to go away by himself, he meant for him to go into this back garret. So he turned round and walked out of the room. As he passed up the back stairs, the kitten came frisking around him, but he had no heart to play with her, and walked on. He then turned and went up the narrow, steep stairs that led to the garret; they were rather more like a ladder than like stairs. Rollo ascended them, and then sat down in the little rocking-chair. The rain was beating against the windows, and pattering on the roof which was just over his head.
It is sometimes but a little thing which turns the whole current of the thoughts and feelings. In Rollo’s case, at this time, it was but a drop of water. For after having sat some time in his chair, his heart remaining pretty nearly the same, a drop of water, which, somehow or other, contrived to get through some crevice in the boards and shingles over his head, fell exactly into the back of his neck. The first feeling it occasioned was an additional emotion of impatience and fretfulness. But he next began to think how unreasonable and wicked it was to make all that difficulty, just because his father was preventing his going out to stay all day in the rain, when a single drop falling upon him vexed and irritated him.
He also looked out of the window towards the garden, and the dry ground, and all the trees and garden vegetables seemed to be drinking in the rain with delight. That made him think of the vast amount of good the rain was doing, and he saw his own selfishness in a striking point of view. In a word Rollo was now beginning to be really penitent. The tears came into his eyes; but they were tears of real sorrow for sin, not of vexation and anger.
He took up his little Bible, to read one of the passages, as his father had advised him. He happened to open at a mark which his father had put in at the parable of the prodigal son. The first verse which his eye fell upon, was the verse, “I will arise and go to my father.” Rollo thought that that was exactly the thing for him to do—to go and confess his fault to his father.
So he laid down his little Bible, wiped the tears from his eyes, and went down stairs. He met his father in the entry. He went up to him, and took his hand, and said,
“Father, I am really very sorry I have been so naughty; I will try to be a good boy now.”
His father stooped down and kissed him. “I am very glad to hear it, Rollo,” said he. “Now you may go and find Lucy. I believe she is up in your mother’s chamber.”
Rollo went off quite happy in pursuit of Lucy. He found her sitting on a cricket in his mother’s room, looking over a little picture-book. Rollo ran laughing up to her, and said,
“What have you got, Lucy?”
“One of your little picture-books. Will you lend it to me to carry home?”
Rollo said he would, and then they began to talk about what they should do. It rained very fast, and they could not go out of doors; and, after proposing several things, which, however, neither of them seemed to like, they turned to Rollo’s mother, and asked her what they had better do.
“I always find,” said his mother, “that when I am disappointed of any pleasure, it is best not to try to find any other pleasure in its place, but to turn to duty.”
The children did not understand this very well, and they were silent.
“What I mean,” she continued, “is this: When we have just been disappointed of any pleasure which we had set our hearts upon, it is very difficult to find any thing else that we can have in its place, that will look as pleasant as the one we had lost. You see that you are not satisfied with any thing you propose to one another. Now, I find that the best way, in such cases, is to give up pleasure altogether, and turn to some duty; and after performing the duty a short time, peace and satisfaction return to the mind again, and we get over the effects of the disappointment in the quickest and pleasantest way.”
Rollo and Lucy looked at one another rather soberly. They did not seem to know what to say.
“I presume, however, you will not do this,” continued his mother.
“Why?” said Rollo.
“Because,” said his mother, “it requires a good deal of resolution, at first, to turn to duty when you have just been setting your heart on pleasure.”
“O, we have got resolution enough,” said Rollo.
“What duty do you think we had better do?” asked Lucy.
“If I were you,” replied Rollo’s mother, “I should first of all sit down and have a good reading lesson.”
Rollo and Lucy hesitated a little, but they concluded to take their mother’s advice at last, and went to Rollo’s little library, and chose a book, and then went down to the back entry, and sat down there, on a long cricket, and began to read.
At first, it was rather hard to do it, for it did not look very pleasant to either of them to sit down and read, just at the time when they expected to be gathering blueberries on the mountain. Rollo said, when they were opening the hook and finding the place, that, if they had gone, they should, by that time, have just about arrived at the foot of the mountain.
“Yes,” said Lucy, “but we must not think of that now. Besides, just see how it rains. It would be a fine time now to go up a mountain, wouldn’t it?”
Rollo looked out of the open door, and saw the rain pouring down into the yard, and felt again ashamed to recollect how he had insisted that it was not going to rain.
Lucy said it was beautiful to see it pouring down so fast. “Look,” said she; “how it streams down from the spout at the corner of the barn!”
“Yes,” said Rollo, “and see that little pond out by the garden gate. How it is all full of little bubbles! It will be a beautiful pond for me to sail boats in, when the rain is over. I can make paper-boats and pea boats!”
“Pea boats?” said Lucy; “what are pea-boats?”
“O! they are beautiful little boats,” said he. “Jonas showed me how to make them. We take a pea-pod, a good large full pea-pod, and shave off the top from one end to the other, and then take out the peas, and it makes a beautiful little boat. I wish we had some; I could show you.”
“Let us make some when we have done reading, and sail them. Only that pond will all go away when the rain is over.”
“O no,” said Rollo, “I will put some ground all around it, and then the water cannot run away.”
“Yes, but it will soak down into the ground.”
“Will it?” said Rollo. “Well, we can sail our boats on it a little while before it is gone.”
“But it is so wet,” said Lucy, “we cannot go out to get any pea-pods.”
“I did not think of that,” said Rollo. “Perhaps Jonas could get some for us, with an umbrella.”
“I could go with an umbrella,” said Lucy, “just as well as not.”
The children saw an umbrella behind the door, and they thought they would go both together, and they actually laid down their book, spread the umbrella, and went to the door. It then occurred to them that it would not be quite right to go out, without leave; so Rollo went to ask his mother.
His mother said it was not suitable for young ladies to go out in the rain, as their shoes, and their dress generally, were thin, and could not bear to be exposed to wet; but she said that Rollo himself might take off his shoes and stockings, and go out alone, when the rain held up.
“But, mother,” said he, “why cannot I go out now, with the umbrella?”
“Because,” she replied, “when it rains fast, some of the water spatters through the umbrella, and some will be driven against you by the wind.”
“Well, I will wait, and as soon as it rains but little, I will go out. But must I take off my shoes and stockings?”
“Yes,” said his mother, “or else you will get them wet and muddy. And before you go you must get a dipper of water ready in the shed, to pour on your feet, and wash them, when you get back; and then wait till they are entirely dry, before you put on your shoes and stockings again. If you want the pea-pods enough to take all that trouble, you may go for them.”
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.
The rest of the adventures of Rollo and Lucy, during this day must be reserved for another story.
[Illustration: “Going to see the freshet.”]
* * * * *
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 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.
“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.”
“O! well,” said Maria, brightening up, “then I am sure I will not go: so run, George, for father is almost ready to start.”
Thus the matter was amicably settled. George went with his father, and Maria remained at home to help take care of little Willy.
Maria loved her little brother very much, and she never seemed tired of taking care of him, even when he was ever so fretful or restless. She would leave her play, at any moment, to run and rock the baby, or to hold him in her lap; for, even if she felt inclined, at any time, to be a little out of patience for a moment, she would recollect how many hours she had herself been nursed, by night and by day, and she was glad of an opportunity to relieve her mother of some of her care and fatigue. Her cousin, Ellen Weston, called, one afternoon, to ask her to accompany a party of little girls, who were going to gather berries in the wood near Maria’s house. It happened that Maria had been left with the care of Willy, just as her cousin called; and it happened, too, that Willy was that afternoon unusually fretful and difficult to please. If Maria left him for a moment, or if she did not hold him exactly in the posture which suited him, or if she had not precisely the thing ready which he wanted at the moment, he would act just as all babies of nine or ten months sometimes take it into their heads to act. With all her patience and good-humor, she hardly knew how to manage him; and especially after having been obliged to reject so agreeable an invitation as the one her cousin brought, she found her task a little irksome.
She could hardly repress an occasional expression of impatience, as she tried in vain to please the wayward little fellow. But her patience and good-humor were very soon restored; and as she reflected that she was doing her mother a great deal of good, by staying at home with Willy, she felt quite willing to dismiss all thoughts of the berrying expedition. The girls, however, did not forget her. It was proposed by one of the party, when Ellen had stated the reason why Maria could not join them, that each should contribute some portion of her berries to be carried to her on their way home. All agreed very readily to the plan, and each took pains to select the largest and the ripest of her berries for Maria’s basket. The gratification afforded Maria by this little token of kind remembrance, more than compensated for the self-denial which she had practised. It is almost always the case when persons cheerfully submit to any privation, for the sake of other persons, or because it is duty, that they are amply rewarded for it. They enjoy, at least, the consciousness of doing right, which is one of the very highest sources of pleasure. Maria would, at any time, have been satisfied with only this reward; but it very often happened, very unexpectedly, that something more was in store for her. This was the case upon the time when she gave up her ride, and her visit to the caravan, for the sake of her brother. I have not said that it was absolutely Maria’s duty to yield to her brother, in this case: perhaps it would have been perfectly right for her to have maintained her own claims; and yet there is no doubt that she felt a great deal happier for the sacrifice she had made.
But we were going to speak of some further reward that her amiable behavior, in this instance, procured her. As her father opened a package which he had brought on his return, he silently placed in her hands a beautiful copy of a newly-published work, upon the fly-leaf of which she found written—“Maria Wilton—a reward for her kind and obliging manners towards her brothers and sisters.”
When they had finished the story, Lucy shut the book, saying, “Maria was a good girl, was not she, Rollo?”
“Yes,” said Rollo, “she was an excellent girl. I would have done just so; would not you, Lucy?”
“I ought to, I know,” said Lucy, “but perhaps I should not.”
“I should, I am sure,” said Rollo.
Lucy was a polite girl, and she did not contradict Rollo, though she recollected how much selfishness he had shown that morning, and it did not seem to her very likely that he would have been willing to make any very great sacrifice to oblige others.
“My father says we cannot tell what we should do until we are tried,” said Lucy.
“Well, I know I should have been willing to stay at home, if I had been Maria,” replied Rollo.
“But, only think, that would be preferring another person’s pleasure rather than your own.”
“Well, I should prefer another person’s pleasure rather than my own.”
Rollo was beginning to get a little excited and vexed. People who boast of excellences which they do not possess, are very apt to be unreasonable and angry when any body seems to doubt whether their boastings are true. He was thus going on, insisting upon it that he should have acted as Maria had done, and was just saying that he should prefer another person’s pleasure rather than his own, when Jonas came into the entry from the kitchen, with an armful of wood, which he was carrying into the parlor.
“When is it, Rollo,” said Jonas, “that you prefer another person’s pleasure to your own?”
“Always,” said Rollo, with an air of self-conceit and consequence.
Jonas smiled, and went on with his wood.
It is always better for boys to be modest and humble-minded. They appear ridiculous to others when they are boasting what great things they can do; and when they boast what good things they do they are very likely to be just on the eve of doing exactly the opposite.
In a moment Jonas came back out of the parlor, and said, as he passed through,
Goes but little ways;”
a short piece of versification which all boys and girls would do well to remember.
Now it happened that, all this time, Rollo’s mother was sitting in a little bedroom, which had a door opening into the entry where Lucy and Rollo had been reading, and she heard all the conversation. She knew that though Rollo was generally a good boy, and was willing to know his faults, and often endeavored to correct them, still that he was, like all other boys, prone to selfishness and to vanity, and she thought that she must take some way to show him clearly what the truth really was, about his disinterestedness.
In a few minutes, therefore, she went out of the room, and took from the store closet an apple and a pear. They were both good, but the pear was particularly fine. It was large, mellow, and juicy. She then went back to her seat, and called, “Rollo.”
Rollo came running to her.
“Here,” said she, “is an apple and a pear for you.”
“Is one for me and one for Lucy?” said he.
“That is just as you please. I give them both to you. You may do what you choose with them.”
Rollo took the fruit, much pleased, and walked slowly back, hesitating what to do. He thought he must certainly give one to Lucy, and as he had just been boasting that he preferred another’s pleasure to his own, he was ashamed to offer her the apple; and yet he wanted the pear very much himself.
If he had had a little more time, he would have hit upon a plan which would have removed all the difficulty at once, by dividing both the apple and the pear, and giving to Lucy half of each. But he did not think of this. In fact his mother knew that, as he was going directly bark to Lucy, he would not have much time to think but must act according to the spontaneous impulse of his heart.
But though he did not think of dividing the apple and the pear, he happened to hit upon a plan, which occurred to him just as he was going back into the entry, that he thought would do.
He held the fruit behind him; the apple in one hand, and the pear in the other. Lucy saw him coming, and said,
“What have you got, Rollo?”
“Which will you have, right hand or left?” said he in reply.
Rollo held forward his right hand, and, lo! it was the pear. But he could not bear to part with it, and he brought forward the other, and said,
“No, you may have the apple.”
“No,” said Lucy; “the pear is fairly mine; you asked me which I would have, and I said the right.”
“But I want the pear,” said Rollo; “you may have the apple. Mother gave them both to me.”
“I want the pear too,” said Lucy; “it is mine, and you must give it to me.”
Just then a voice called from the bedroom,
“What, mother?” said Rollo.
“I want you both to come here.”
Rollo and Lucy would both have been ashamed of their contention, were it not that the pear looked so very rich and tempting, that they were both very eager to have it.
“What is the difficulty?” said Rollo’s mother, as soon as they stood before her.
“Why, Lucy wants the pear,” said Rollo, “and you gave them both to me, and said I might do as I pleased with them. I am willing to give her the apple.”
“Yes, but he offered me my choice,” said Lucy, “right hand or left, and I chose the right, and now he ought to give it to me.”
“And are you willing that I should decide it?” said the lady.
“Yes, mother,” and “Yes, aunt,” said Rollo and Lucy together.
“You have both done wrong; not very wrong, but a little wrong; and I think neither ought to have the whole of the pear. So I shall divide the pear and the apple both between you; and I will tell you how you have done wrong.
“You, Rollo, by asking her which she would have, implied that you would leave it to chance to decide, and that you would let her have her fair chance. Then you ought to have submitted to the result. If she had chosen the left hand, she ought to have been content. If she had got the apple, you would have had the credit of giving her an equal chance with you, and she ought therefore to have had the full benefit of the chance.
“And then you, Lucy, did wrong, for, although Rollo asked you to choose, he did not actually promise you your choice, and as he was under no obligation to give you either, you ought not to have insisted upon his fulfilling his implied promise. Is it not so?”
The children both saw and admitted that it was.
“The best way, I think,” she continued, “would have been for you, Rollo, to have given the pear to Lucy, as she was your visitor, and a young lady too. Then she would have given you half in eating it. However, you were not very much in the wrong, either of you. It was a sort of a doubtful case. But I hope you see from it, Rollo, what I wanted to teach you, that you are no more inclined to prefer other persons’ pleasure to your own, than other children are. Remember Jonas’s couplet hereafter. I think it is a very good one. Now go and get a knife, and cut the fruit; and see, it does not rain but little; you can go and get your pea-pods now.”
Away went the children out into the kitchen after a knife. Rollo wanted to cut the apple and the pear himself, and Lucy made no objection; and we must do him the justice to say that he gave rather the largest half of each to Lucy. They then went out into the shed, Rollo taking with him a dipper of water to wash his feet when he came back from the garden. Rollo then took off his shoes, and gave Lucy his share of the fruit, to keep for him, and then sallied forth into the yard, holding the umbrella over his head, as a few drops of rain were still falling.
He waded into the little pond at the garden gate, and then turned round to look at Lucy and laugh. He began, too, to caper about in the water, but Lucy told him to take care, or he would fall down, and they could not wash his clothes, as they could his feet, with their dipper of water.
So he went carefully forward till he came to the peas, and gathered as many as he wanted, and then returned.
As he was coming back, he saw Jonas in the barn. Jonas called out to him to ask what he had got.
“I have been to get some pea-pods,” said he, “to make boats with.”
“Where are you going to sail them?” said Jonas.
“O, in this little pond, when it is done raining.”
“But you had better have a little pond now, in the shed.”
“How can we?” said Rollo.
“You might have it in a milk-pan.”
“So we can. Could you come and get it for us?”
“Yes, in a few minutes—by the time you get your boats made.”
Rollo and Lucy were much pleased with this, and they sat down, one on each side of the milk-pan pond, and sailed their boats a long time. He cut small pieces of the apple and of the pear for cargo, and Rollo put in the stem of the pear for the captain of his boat. Each one was good-humored and obliging, and the time passed away very pleasantly, until it was near dinner-time. When they came in to dinner, they observed that it was raining again very fast.
“Father,” said Rollo, at the dinner-table, “do you think it will rain all the afternoon?”
“It looks like it,” replied his father, “but why? Do you not enjoy yourselves in the house?”
“O yes, sir,” said Rollo, “we have had a fine time this morning; but Lucy and I thought that, if it did not rain this afternoon, we might go out in the garden a little.”
“It may clear up towards night; but, if it does, I think it would be better to go down to the brook and see the freshet, than to go into the garden.”
“The freshet? Will there be a freshet, do you think?”
“Yes, if it rains this afternoon as fast as it does now, I think the brook will be quite, high towards night.”
Rollo was much pleased to hear this. He told Lucy, after dinner, that the brook looked magnificently in a freshet; that the banks were brimming full, and the water poured along in a great torrent, foaming and dashing against the logs and rocks.
“Then, besides, Lucy,” said he, “we can carry down our little boats and set them a sailing. How they will whirl and plunge along down the stream!”
Lucy liked the idea of seeing the freshet, too, very much; though she said she was afraid it would be too wet for her to go. Rollo told her never to fear, for his father would contrive some way to get her down there safely, and they both went to the back entry door again, looking out, and wishing now that it would rain faster and faster, as they did before dinner that it would cease to rain.
“But,” said Lucy, “what if it should not stop raining at all, to-night?”
“O, it will,” said Rollo, “I know it will. Besides, if it should not, we can go down to-morrow morning, you know, and then there will be a bigger freshet. O how full the brook will be by to-morrow morning!”
And Rollo clapped his hands, and capered with delight.
“Yes,” said Lucy, soberly, “but I must go home to-night.”
“Must you?” said Rollo. “So you must. I did not think of that.”
“But I think,” continued he, “that it will certainly clear up to-night. I will go and ask father if he does not think so too.”
They both went together back into the parlor to ask the question.
“I cannot tell, my children, whether it will or not. I see no indications, one way or the other. I think you had better forget all about it, and go to doing something else; for if you spend all the afternoon in watching the sky, and trying to guess whether it will clear up or not, you cannot enjoy yourselves, and may be sadly disappointed at last.”
“Why, we cannot help thinking of it, father.”
“You cannot, if you stand there at the back door, doing nothing else; but, if you engage in some other employment, you will soon forget all about it.”
“What do you think we had better do?” said Lucy.
“I think you had better go up and put your room and your desk all in order, Rollo; Lucy can help you.”
“But, father, I have put it in order a great many times, and it always gets out of order again very soon, and I cannot keep it neat.”
“That is partly because you do not put it in order right. You do not understand the principles of order.”
“What are the principles of order?” said Lucy.
“There are a good many. I will tell you some of them, and then you may go and apply them in arranging Rollo’s things.
“One principle is to have the things that are most frequently used in the most accessible place, so that they can be taken out and returned to their proper places easily.
“Another good principle for you is to distinguish between the things which you wish to use, and those you only wish to preserve. The former ought to be in sight, and near at hand. The latter may be packed away more out of view.
“Another principle is to avoid having your desk and room encumbered with things of little or no value, as stones you have picked up, and papers, and sticks. The place to keep such things is in the barn or shed, not in your private room.
“Then you must arrange your things systematically, putting things of the same nature together. Once I looked into your desk after you had put it in order, and I found that, in the back side of it, you had piled up hooks, and white paper, and pictures, and a slate, and a pocket-book or two, all together. You thought they were in order, because they were in a pile. Now, they ought to have been separated and arranged; all the white paper by itself in front, where you can easily get it to use; the pictures all by themselves in a portfolio; and the books should be arranged, not in a pile, but in a row, on their edges, so that you can get out any one without disturbing the others. Those are some of the principles of order.”
“Well, come, Rollo,” said Lucy, “let us go and see your things, and try to put them in order, right.”
Rollo went, but, as he left the room, he turned round to ask his father if he would not come with them, and just show them a little about it. His father said he could not come very well then, but if they would try and do as well as they could, he would come and look over their work after it was done, and tell them whether it was right or not.
Rollo and Lucy went up into Rollo’s room, and, true enough, they found not a little confusion there. But they went to work, and soon became very much interested in their employment. A great many of the things were new to Lucy, and as they went on arranging them, they often stopped to talk and play. In this way several hours passed along very pleasantly; and when, at last, they had got them nearly arranged, Rollo went to the window to throw out some old stones that he concluded not to keep any longer, when he exclaimed aloud,
“O, Lucy, Lucy, come here quick.”
Lucy ran. Rollo pointed out to the western horizon, and said, “See there!”
There was a broad band of bright golden sky all along the western horizon—clear and beautiful, and extending each way as far as they could see. The dark clouds overhead reached down to the edge of this clear sky, where they hung in a fringe of gold, and the dazzling rays of the sun were just peeping under it. The rain had ceased.
Rollo and Lucy gazed at it a moment, and then ran down stairs as fast as they could go, calling out,
“It is clearing away! It is clearing away! Father, it is clearing away. We can go and see the freshet.”
They went out upon the steps to look at the sky. A few drops of rain were still falling, but the clouds appeared to be breaking in several places, and the tract of golden sky in the west was rising and extending. The air was calm, and the golden rays of the sun shone upon the fields and trees, and upon the glittering drops that hung from the leaves and branches. Rollo and Lucy both said it was beautiful.
They went in and urged their father to go with them down to the brook to see the freshet, but he said they must wait till after tea. “It is too wet to go now,” said he.
“But, father,” said Rollo, “I do not think it will be any better after tea. The ground cannot dry in half an hour.”
“No,” said his father; “but the water will run off of the paths a great deal, so that we can get along much better.”
“Well, but then it will run off from the brook a great deal too, and the freshet will not be so high.”
“It is a little different with the brook,” his father replied, “for that is very long, and the water comes a great way, from among the hills. Now, while we are taking tea, the water will be running into the brook back among the hills, faster than it will run away here, so that it will grow higher and higher for some hours.”
Rollo had no more to say, but he was impatient to go. He and Lucy went out and stood on the steps again. The clouds were breaking up and flying away in all directions, and large patches of clear blue sky appeared everywhere, giving promise of a beautiful evening.
“Hark!” said Rollo; “what is that?”
Lucy listened. It was a sort of roaring sound down in the woods. Rollo at first thought it was a bear growling.
“Do you think it is a bear?” said he to Lucy, with a look of some concern.
“A bear!—no,” said Lucy, laughing. “That is not the way a bear growls. It is the freshet.”
“The freshet!” said Rollo.
“Yes; it is the water roaring along the brook.”
Rollo listened, and he immediately perceived that it was the sound of water, and he jumped and capered with delight, at thinking how fine a sight it must be.
At the tea-table Rollo’s father explained the plan he had formed for their going. He said it was rather a difficult thing to go and see a freshet without getting wet—especially for a girl. He and Rollo, he said, could put on their good thick boots, but Lucy had none suitable for such a walk, as it would probably be very wet and muddy in some places.
“What shall we do then?” said Rollo.
“I believe I shall let Jonas go down and draw Lucy in his wagon,” said his father. “How should you like that, Lucy?”
Lucy said she should like it very well, and after tea they went out to the garden-yard door, where they found Jonas with his wagon all ready. This wagon was one which Jonas had made to draw Rollo upon. It was plain and simple, but strong and convenient, and perfectly safe. They helped Lucy into it, and she sat down on the little seat. Rollo, with his hoots on, took hold behind to push, and Jonas drew. Rollo’s father walked behind, and thus they set off to view the freshet.
They moved along carefully through the yard, and then turned by the gate and went into the field. The path led them by the garden fence for some distance, and they went along very pleasantly for a time, until at length they came to a large pool of water covering the whole path. There were high banks on each side, so that the wagon could not turn out.
“What shall we do now?” said Rollo.
“I can go right through it,” said Jonas; “it is not deep.”
“And we can go along on the bank, by the side,” said Rollo.
“Very well.” said his father, “if you are not afraid, Lucy.”
Lucy did feel a little afraid at first, but she knew that if her uncle was willing that she should go, there could not be any danger; so she made no objection. Besides, she knew that, as Jonas was to walk along before her, she could see how deep it was, and there could not be any deep places without his finding it out before the wagon went into them.
Jonas was barefoot, and did not mind wetting his feet; so he waded in, drawing the wagon after him. It was about up to his ankles all the way. Lucy looked over the side of the wagon, and felt a little fear as she saw the wheels half under water; but they went safely through.
Presently they began to descend a path which led them into the woods. They heard the roaring of the water, which grew louder and louder as they drew nigh, and then Rollo suddenly stopped and said,
“Why, father, it is raining here in the woods now.”
Lucy listened, and they heard the drops of rain falling upon the ground all around them; and yet, looking up, they saw that the sky was almost perfectly clear. Presently they thought that this was only the drops falling off from the leaves of the trees.
Rollo said he meant to see if it was so, and he ran out of the path, and took hold of a slender tree with a large top of branches and leaves, and, looking up to see if any drops would come down, he gave it a good shake; and, true enough, down came a perfect shower of drops all into his face and eyes. At first he was astonished at such an unexpected shower-bath, but he concluded, on the whole, to laugh, and not cry about it; and he came back wiping his face, and looking comically enough. All the party laughed a little at his mishap, and then went on.
In a few minutes more, they came in sight of the foaming brook. The water was very high; in some places, the banks were overflowed, and the current swept along furiously, dashing against the rocks, and whirling round the projecting points.
The children stopped, and gazed upon the scene a little while, and then Rollo said he was going to sail his boats, which he had brought in his pocket.
Just then Jonas saw a plank which was lying partly on the bank and partly in the water, a little up the stream. It had been placed across the brook some distance above, for a bridge; but the freshet had brought it away, and it had drifted down to where it then was.
Jonas said he would find a place for Lucy to stand upon with it. So he went and pushed off this plank, and let it float down to where the children were standing; and then he drew it up upon the shore, and laid it along, so that Lucy could stand upon it safely, and launch the pea-pod boats.
These boats were soon all borne away rapidly down the stream, out of sight; and then they threw in sticks and chips, and watched them as they sailed away, and whirled around in the eddies, or swept down the rapids. Thus they amused themselves a long time, and then slowly returned home.
[Illustration: “The bower on the mountain.”]
* * * * *
Rollo’s mother advised him, when he went to bed the evening before the day fixed upon for the blueberrying, to rise early the next morning, and take a good reading lesson before breakfast. She said he would enjoy himself much more, during the day, if he performed all his usual duties before he went. Rollo accordingly arose quite early, and, when he came in to breakfast, had the satisfaction of telling his father that he had read his morning lesson, and prepared his basket, and was all ready to go.
He wanted Jonas to go too, and as, the last time when he asked his father’s permission that he should go, he lost his request by asking it in an improper manner, he determined to be careful this time.
So he was silent at breakfast time while his father and mother were talking, and then, watching an opportunity when they seemed disengaged, he asked his father if Jonas might not go with them.
“I do not think he can very well, for there is no room for him. Both the chaises will be full.”
“But could not he ride on Old Trumpeter?” said Rollo.
Old Trumpeter was a white horse, that had served the family some time, but was now rather old, and not a very good traveller.
Rollo’s father hesitated a moment, and then said, perhaps he might. “You may go and tell him that we are going, and that if he thinks Old Trumpeter will do to carry him, he may go. He will be of great help to us, if we should get into any difficulty.”
Rollo thought of the bears that he expected to see on the mountain, and ran to tell Jonas. Jonas was glad to go. So he went and gave Old Trumpeter some oats, and got the saddle and bridle ready. He also got out a pair of saddle-bags that he always used on such occasions, and put into them a hatchet, a dipper, a box of matches, and some rope. On second thoughts, he concluded it would be best to put these things into the chaise-box, and to put the saddle-bags on his horse empty, as he might want them to bring something home in.
After breakfast, Lucy and her father, Rollo’s uncle George, drove up to the door, for they were going too; and in a short time you might have seen all the party driving away from the door—Rollo’s father and mother in the first chaise, uncle George, and Rollo, and Lucy, in the second, and Jonas on Old Trumpeter behind.
They rode on for a mile or two, and then turned off of the main road into the woods, and went on by a winding and beautiful road until they came in sight of a range of mountains, one of which seemed very high and near.
“Is that Benalgon?” said Rollo.
“I do not know,” said his uncle; “I have never been to it before; but I suppose Jonas can tell.”
“I will call him,” said Rollo. So he turned round, and kneeled up upon the seat, so that he could look out behind the chaise, for the back curtain was up. Lucy did the same, but Jonas was not to be seen. They looked a little longer, and presently saw him coming along round a curve in the road. They beckoned to him, and as he rode up, they saw he had a bush in his hand. He came up to the side of the chaise, and handed it to Rollo. It was a large blueberry-bush, covered with beautiful ripe blue berries. Rollo took them, and admired them very much; and at first he was going to divide them between Lucy and himself; but they concluded, on the whole, to send them forward to his mother. Jonas told them the mountain before them was Benalgon, and rode on to carry the blueberry-bush to the other chaise. Presently he came back, bringing it with him, except a small sprig which Rollo’s mother had taken off. The rest she had sent back to the children.
“Well, Jonas,” said uncle George, when he got back, “I do not see but that Old Trumpeter is strong enough to carry you yet.”
“O yes, sir,” said Jonas, “he is strong enough to carry half a dozen like me.”
“O, uncle George,” said Rollo, “let him carry me too with Jonas. I can ride behind.”
“Very well; if you want to ride with him a little while, you may, if Jonas is willing.”
Jonas was, and Rollo got out, and climbed up upon a stump, by the side of the road. Jonas drove up to the stump, and Rollo clambered up behind him, with a switch in his hand.
“Now, Jonas,” said he, “whenever you want him to go any faster, you just speak to me, and I will touch him up with my switch.”
Jonas said he would, and they jogged along behind the chaise. Lucy kneeled upon the cushion, and looked out behind, talking with Rollo.
They went on so very quietly for some time, until Jonas said there was a turn in the road on before them, where there was a foot-path that led across a ravine, by a nearer way than the chaise-road, and proposed that Rollo should ask leave for Jonas and himself to go across on horseback, and wait for the chaises, when they should come out on the main road.
So they rode up to the chaise, and Rollo put the question to his uncle George.
His reply was that he could not say any thing about it; Rollo must go and ask his father.
“Would you go?” said Jonas.
“Yes,” said Rollo.
“Well, touch up Old Trumpeter then.”
So Rollo applied his switch, and the horse trotted on fast. Rollo had hard work to hold on, but he clasped his arm tight around Jonas’s waist, and succeeded in keeping his seat.
Rollo’s father and mother were riding some distance before them, but they saw Jonas coming up, and rode slowly, that he might overtake them.
“Well, Rollo,” said his father, “how do you like riding double?”
“Very much,” said Rollo; “and we want you to let Jonas and I cut across by the horse-path through the valley, and wait for you at the mill.”
“Is there a horse-path across here, Jonas?”
“Yes, sir,” said Jonas.
“Is it a good path?”
“It is rather rough, sir, through the woods and bushes; but it is a pretty good road.”
Rollo’s father sat hesitating a moment, and then said—
“You may go, if you choose, but I advise you not to.”
“Why do you advise us not to?” said Rollo.
“Why, you may get into some difficulty, and so we get separated.”
“Yes, but,” said Rollo, “it is not near so far across, and we shall have time to get through to the mill long before you come along.”
“Very well, you may do as you please.”
“Jonas, what would you do? Would you go, or not?”
“I think I would not go, if your father thinks we had better not.”
“I want to go very much,” said Rollo.
“Very well,” said his father; “you are willing to go with him, I suppose, Jonas, are you not?”
“O yes, sir,” said Jonas.
“Well,” said Rollo, “let us go. We will he very careful, father, not to get into any difficulty.”
So the two chaises rode on, and Jonas and Rollo, in a few minutes, turned off by a narrow path that struck into the woods. Just as they were bending down their heads to pass under a great branch of a tree, Rollo looked along, and saw Lucy waving her handkerchief to him, as the chaise which she was in disappeared by a turn of the road.
Rollo at first felt a little uneasy to think that he had deserted his cousin, as it were. He thought that he should not have liked it exactly, if she had gone off, and left him alone so in the chaise. However, it was now too late to repent, and his attention was attracted by the wild and romantic scene around him. The path descended obliquely, by a rough, wet, and stony way, through a dark forest. He heard the sighing of the wind, in the tops of the tall trees, and the mellow notes of forest birds, far off, and high, which came rich and sweet to his ear with a peculiar expression of solitude and loneliness.
The boys rode on, and the path became more and more slippery, stony, and steep Rollo clung tight to Jonas, and begun to be somewhat afraid. He would have proposed to go back, but he was ashamed to do it. After a little time, he asked Jonas whether the path was as bad as that all the way.
“As bad as this!” said Jonas; “we call this very good. I will show you the bad road pretty soon.”
Rollo looked frightened, but said nothing.
“The road seems more wet than common to-day,” said Jonas, “I suppose on account of the rain yesterday; and I declare,” said he, “I am afraid we shall find the brook up.”
“The brook up!” said Rollo.
“Yes—why did not I think of that before? However, we must go on now.”
“Why?” said Rollo. “Why cannot we go back?”
“O, because we should be too late; besides, there is no danger, only we may have to wade a little.”
As they went on, the mud in the road grew deeper and deeper, and presently Old Trumpeter’s legs sunk far down among roots and mire. Rollo began to feel more and more alarmed, and heartily wished that he had taken his father’s advice.
Soon alter they came to a place where the path, for some distance before them, was full of water, deep and miry. Jonas said he thought that they had better go out upon one side; so he made the horse step over a log and go in among the trees and bushes. The branches brushed and scratched Rollo unmercifully, though he bent down, and leaned over to this side and that, continually, to escape them. He asked Jonas why this path had not dried, as well as the main road, where the chaises had gone; and Jonas told him that the sun and the wind were the great means of drying the open road, but that this narrow and secluded path was shaded from the sun, and sheltered from the wind, and that the water consequently remained a long time among the moss, and roots, and mire.
After a time, they got back into the path again, and, going on a little farther, they came down to the margin of the brook. They found that it was “up,” as Jonas had feared. At the place where the path went down and crossed the brook, a deep cut had been worn in the two opposite banks, and this was filled with water, and above and below the stream rushed on in a torrent. Jonas hesitated a moment, and then asked Rollo if he thought he could hold on, while they we’re riding through. Rollo said he was afraid it was so deep as to drown them. Jonas then said that he might get off and stand upon a rock by the side of the path, while he rode through, first, to see how it was, and that then he would come back for him.
So Rollo got off, in fear and trembling, and stood on the rock, while Jonas urged his horse into the water. Old Trumpeter did not much like this kind of travelling, but Jonas half persuaded and half compelled him to go through. When he was in the middle, the water came up so high, that Jonas was obliged to lift up his feet to keep them from being wet. Presently, however, it became more shoal, as the horse walked slowly along; and at last he fairly reached the dry ground, and stood dripping on the bank.
Rollo was glad to see that the water was no deeper, but was still afraid to go over. He told Jonas he could not go over I here, and that he must go back with him.
“No,” said Jonas, “that would not be right.”
“Why,” said Rollo, “we can ride fast, and overtake them.”
“Not very soon,” said Jonas. “If we go back now, they will get to the mill before us, and then will be very anxious and unhappy, thinking that something has happened to us; and perhaps your father will come through here after us. Now it was your own plan, coming across here, and you ought not to make other people suffer by it. Your father advised you not to come.”
“I know it,” said Rollo; “what a foolish boy I was! I shall certainly be drowned.”
“O no,” said Jonas, “there is no real danger, or I should not make you go;” and so saying, he came back slowly through the water. “See,” said he, “it is not very deep.”
After some further persuasion Rollo got on behind him, and they began to in make their way slowly through the water again. Old Trumpeter staggered along, but not very unsteadily on the whole, until he got a little past the middle, when he blundered upon a stone on the bottom, which he could not see, and fell down on his knees. Jonas caught up his feet, in an instant, and Rollo had his already drawn up behind him, and they both grasped the saddle convulsively. The horse happened to regain his feet again in a moment, so that they contrived to hold on; and in a few minutes they were drawn out safely upon the shore, without even getting their feet wet.
“Well, Old Trumpeter,” said Jonas, “you have done pretty well for you, and you have got the mire washed off your legs, at any rate. But, Rollo, what is that?”
He pointed back, as he said this, to a little tuft floating round and round in a small eddy, made by a turn of the brook, just above where they had crossed. He turned his horse towards it. “It is a bird’s nest,” said he.
“So it is,” said Rollo; “and I verily believe there is a little bird in it.”
Jonas jumped off of the horse, handed the bridle to Rollo, and took up a long stick lying on the ground, and very gently and cautiously drew the nest, in to the shore. He took it up with great care, and brought it to Rollo.
There was a little bird in it, scarcely fledged. Jonas said he believed it was a robin, and that it must have been washed off from its place on some bush, by the freshet in the brook. The bottom of the nest was soaked through by the water, as if it had been floating some time; and the little bird kept opening its mouth wide. The poor little thing was hungry, and heard Jonas and Rollo, and thought they were its mother, come to give it something to eat.
“What shall we do with him?” said Rollo.
“He will die if we leave him here,” said Jonas, “for he has lost his mother now. I think we had better carry him home, if we can, and feed him, till he is old enough to fly.”
“He is hungry,” said Rollo; “let us feed him now.”
“We have not any thing to feed him with. Perhaps I can catch a fly, or a grasshopper.”
“O, that will not do,” said Rollo; “you might as well kill him as kill a grasshopper.”
Jonas could not reply to this, and they concluded to carry nest and all carefully to the mill, and show it to Rollo’s father there. But how to carry it was the difficulty. If either of them undertook to hold it in one hand, he was afraid the bird might be jolted out; and neither of them had but one hand to spare, for Rollo must have one hand to hold on with, and Jonas one to drive. At last Jonas took off his cap, and placed it bottom upwards on the saddle before him, and put the nest, with the bird in it, in that, and then drove carefully along. The road grew much smoother and better after they passed the brook; and, after going on a short distance farther, they came in sight of the mill.
They had been detained so long that the chaises had reached the mill before, them; and the party in the chaises were looking out down the path where they expected the boys were to come out, watching for them with considerable interest:
“There they come at last,” said Lucy, as she perceived a movement among the bushes, and saw Old Trumpeter’s white head coming forward.
“Yes,” said Rollo’s mother, “but they have met with some accident. Jonas has lost his cap.”
By this time the boys had emerged from the bushes, and were coming along the path slowly, Jonas bareheaded, and Rollo holding on carefully. Lucy saw that Jonas was holding something before him, on the saddle, and wondered what it was. Rollo’s mother said she was afraid they had got hurt.
As soon as they came within hearing Rollo heard his father’s voice calling out to him,
“Rollo, what is the matter? Have you got into any difficulty?”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo; “we had some difficulty; and I should be sorry I did not take your advice, only then we should not have found this little bird.”
“What bird?” said they all.
By this time, they had come up near the chaises, and Jonas carefully lifted the birdsnest out of his cap, and held it so that they could all see it, while Rollo told them the story. They all looked much pleased but Lucy seemed in delight. She wanted to have it go in their chaise, and asked Rollo to let her hold the nest in her lap.
Rollo did not answer very directly, for he was busy looking at the bird,—seeing him open his mouth, and wishing he had something to give him to eat.
“Father,” said he, “what shall we feed him with? Jonas was going to catch a grasshopper, but I thought that would not be right.”
“Why not?” said uncle George.
“Because,” said Rollo, “he has as good a right to his life as the bird, has not he, father?”
“Not exactly,” said his father: “a bird is an animal of much higher grade than a grasshopper, and is probably much more sensible of pain and pleasure, and his life is of more value; just as a man is a much higher animal than a bird. It would be right to kill a bird to save a man’s life, even if he were only an animal; and so it would be right to destroy a grasshopper, or a worm, to save a robin.”
“But I read in a book once,” said Lucy, “that, when we tread on a worm, he feels as much pain in being killed as a giant would.”
“I do not think it is true,” said he. “I think that there is a vast diversity among the different animals, in respect to their sensibility to pain, according to their structure, and the delicacy of their organization. I think a crew of a fishing-vessel might catch a whole cargo of mackerel, and not cause as much pain as one of their men would suffer in having his leg bitten off by a shark.”
“Well, father,” said Rollo, “do you think we had better give him a grasshopper?”
“O no,” said Lucy; “a grasshopper would not be good to eat, he has got so many elbows sticking out. Let us give him some blueberries.”
“O yes,” said Rollo, “that would be beautiful.”
So he slid down off of Old Trumpeter’s back, and ran to the side of the road to see if he could not find some blueberries.
He brought a few in his hand, and his father took them, saying that he would feed the bird for him. He squeezed out pulp of the berries, and then made a chirping sound, when the bird opened his mouth, and he fed him with the soft pulp, and threw away the skins. After giving the bird two or three berries in this way, they put him back into the nest, and gave the nest to Lucy to hold in her lap, and all the party prepared to go on.
They rode along about a mile farther, and then came to the place where they must leave the horses, and prepare to ascend the mountain on foot. They unharnessed them, so that they might stand more quietly, and then fastened them to trees by the side of the road.
While they were thus taking care of their horses, Rollo and Lucy were standing by, with Rollo’s mother looking at the bird.
“What are you going to do with him, Rollo?” said his mother.
“Why, I should like to carry him home, and keep him, if you are willing.”
“I am, on one condition.”
“What is that?”
“You must keep him in a cage with the door always open, so that, as soon as he is old enough to fly away, he may go if he chooses.”
“Then he will certainly fly away, and we shall lose him forever,” said Lucy.
“That is the only condition,” replied Rollo’s mother.
“But why, mother,” said he, “why may we not keep him shut up safe?”
“If I were to tell you the reasons now, they would not satisfy you, you are so eager to keep him. I think you had better determine to comply with the condition, good-humoredly, and say no more about it, but try to think of a name for him.”
“Well, mother, what do you think would be a good name?”
“I do not know: you and Lucy must think of one.”
Just then uncle George finished tying his horse, and came along to where the children were standing, and, hearing their conversation, and finding that Lucy and Rollo were perplexed about a name, he told them he thought they might, not improperly, call him Noah, as, like Noah, by floating in a sort of ark, he was saved from a flood.
“I think he was more like Moses than Noah,” said Lucy.
“Why?” said her father.
“Because Moses was a little thing when they found him, and then the ark of bulrushes was something like a birdsnest. I think you had better name him Moses, Rollo,” said she.
Rollo seemed a little at a loss: he said he thought he was a good deal like Moses, but then he did not think that Moses was a very pretty name for a bird.
“Do you think it is, mother?” said he.
“I do not know but that it would do very well. You might alter it a little; call him Mosette, if you think that would be any better for a bird’s name.”
Rollo and Lucy repeated the name Mosette to themselves several times, and concluded that they should like it very much. By this time, the horses were all ready, and Jonas recommended that they should hide Mosette away somewhere, until they returned from the mountain, for it would be troublesome to them, and somewhat dangerous to the bird, to carry him up and down.
The children approved of this plan, though they were rather unwilling to part with the bird, at all. They went just into the bushes, and found a very secret place, by the corner of a large rock, where the shrubs and wild flowers grew thick, so that it would be entirely out of sight.
They then set forward, the children in advance of the rest. Jonas walked with Rollo and Lucy, and he had round his waist a broad leather belt, which he always wore on such occasions, and which had, on one side, his hatchet and knife, and on the other a sort of bag or pocket, containing several things, such as matches, a little dipper, &c.
Rollo’s father and mother, and his uncle George, walked along behind them. The way was, for some distance, a sort of cart-path, too steep and rough for a chaise, but hard and dry, and pretty comfortable walking. Rollo and Lucy asked Jonas if he would not tell them a story, as they went along, to beguile the way.
Jonas began a story, about a boy that lived a long time on a mountain alone, but he had not proceeded far, before they heard a voice behind, calling them. They looked buck, and saw that Rollo’s father was beckoning them to stop.
They waited till he came up, and he told them he wanted to give them their orders for the day; and they were rules, he said, which ought to be observed on all berrying expeditions, by children.
“First” said he, “always keep in sight of me. For this purpose, watch me all the time, when we are stepping, and keep before, rather than behind, when we are walking.
“Second. Take no unnecessary steps, but keep in the right path, and walk slowly and steadily there, so as to save your strength. Otherwise you will get tired out very soon.
“Third. Do not touch any flower or berry that you see, except blueberries, without first showing them to one of us.”
The children listened to these rules, and promised to obey them, and then walked on. They tried to walk slowly and steadily, listening to Jonas’s story. They turned off, after a time, into a narrower and steeper path, and ascended, stepping from stone to stone The trees and bushes hung over their heads, making the walk shady and cool.
After slowly ascending in this way, for some time, they came out of the woods into an opening of rocky ground, and patches of blue berry-bushes. They saw, also, at some distance before them, three or four boys, sitting upon a rock, with pails and baskets in their hands, talking and laughing loud. They did not take much notice of them, but walked on quietly. They were going on directly towards them, but Rollo’s father called them, and pointed for them to turn off to the right, round a rocky precipice which was in that direction.
The children were turning accordingly, when they heard a shout from the boys before them,—“Hallo,—come this way, and we will show you where the blueberries are.”
“Father,” said Rollo, as he stopped and turned round to his father, “the boys say they will show us the blueberries, out that way: shall we go and see?”
“No,” said his father in a low voice, so that the boys did not hear. “No: go the way I told you.”
They went along, and presently got round the precipice out of sight of I he boys again. They walked slowly until their parents overtook them.
“Father,” said Rollo, “why could you not let us go out with those boys? They said they were thickest out there.”
“Because,” said he, “I presume they are not good boys, and I do not want you to have any thing to do with them.”
“But, father, they must be good boys, or they would not want to show us the blueberries. If they were bad, selfish boys, they would want to keep all the good places to themselves.”
If Rollo had only asked his father, in a modest manner, how it could be that the boys were bad, when they wanted to show him the best place for blueberries, it would have been very proper; but his manner of speaking showed a silly confidence in his own opinion, which was very wrong. His father, however, did not attempt to reason with him, but only said,
“I think they are bad boys, for I overheard them using bad language; and I wish you to have nothing to do with them.”
He then found a good place for them to begin to gather their berries. It was a beautiful spot of open ground, between the thick woods on one side, and a broken, rocky precipice on the other.
Uncle George took Jonas forward alone, until they were out of sight, and presently returned without him. Rollo asked where Jonas was gone, and his uncle told him that that was a secret at present. They heard, soon after, the strokes of his hatchet in the woods, on before them, but could not imagine what he could be doing.
Thus things went on very pleasantly, and they gathered a large quantity of berries. There was, indeed, in the course of the day, a serious difficulty between Rollo and the bad boys; and there is an account of it given in the next story of “TROUBLE ON THE MOUNTAIN.” With Ibis exception, every thing went on well until about, noon, when Rollo observed that Jonas had been missing a long time.
“Where is Jonas, all this time?” said Rollo to Lucy.
Lucy said that he had been busy, a long time, doing something over beyond some rocks, but she did not know what, for her father told her she must not go to see. Rollo wondered what the secret was, and he was just going to ask his father to let him go and see what Jonas was doing, when they saw him coming out from the bushes. He came up to Rollo’s father, and told him that it was all ready. Then Rollo’s father called to all the company, and told them it was time to stop gathering berries, and they might take up their baskets and follow him.
The baskets and pails were heavy and full, and the whole party walked along, carrying them carefully towards the place where Jonas had come from. Rollo’s Hither led the way. They entered into a little thicket, and passed through it by a narrow path. They came out presently into a sort of opening, on a brow of the mountain. On one side they could look down upon a vast extent of country, exhibiting a beautiful variety of forests, rivers, villages, and farms. On the other side was a rocky precipice, rising abruptly to a considerable height, and then sloping off towards the summit of the mountain. They walked along a few steps on a smooth surface of the rock, between patches of grass and blueberry-bushes, until Lucy and Rollo ran forward to a brook which came foaming down the precipice, and then, after tumbling along over rocks a little way, took another foaming leap down the mountain, and was lost among the trees below.
The party all stepped carefully over this brook, and then walked along up the bank on the opposite side until they came to the precipice. Here they were surprised and pleased to see a large bower built, in front of a little sort of cavern or recess in the rock. Jonas had built it of large limbs of trees and bushes, which he had leaned up against the rock, in such a manner as to enclose a large space within. There was an opening left round on the farther side, next the rock, and they all went round mid went in—Rollo first, then Lucy, then the others. They found that smooth and clean logs and stones were arranged around the sides of the bower; and in the middle, on a carpet of leaves, was very abundant provision for a rustic dinner.
There was bread, and butter, and ham, and gingerbread, and pie, and glasses for water from the brook. Rollo and Lucy wondered how all those things could have got up the mountain. Presently, however, they recollected that, when they were coming up, Jonas had two covered baskets to bring, and they thought, at the time, that they seemed to be heavy.
Thus the day passed away, and towards evening they came down the mountain. Some remarkable things happened when they were coming down, which will be related in the story called “TROUBLE ON THE MOUNTAIN.”
[Illustration: “Coming down the Mountain”]
* * * * *
“How pleasant it is here!” said Rollo to his cousin Lucy, as they were gathering blueberries high up on old Mount Benalgon, the day they went up with Rollo’s father and mother, and uncle; “and how thick the blueberries are, Lucy!”
“Yes,” said Lucy, “they are very thick, I think; and how far we can see now, we are up here so high! I wish we were up on that great high rock.”
Rollo looked where Lucy pointed, and he saw, away above them, a rocky summit projecting out from the mountain. The front of the rock was ragged and precipitous, but it was flat and mossy upon the top, and firs and other evergreen trees grew there, some of them hanging over the edge.
“I wish I could get up there,” said Lucy.
“I wish I could too,” said Rollo. “I should like to climb up one of those trees which hangs over, and then I could look down.”
“O, Rollo,” said Lucy, “you would not dare to climb up one of those trees.”
“Yes, I should dare to,” said Rollo.
Rollo was sometimes a proud, boasting boy, pretending that he could do great things, and talking very largely. This was one of his greatest faults; and whenever he seemed to be in this boasting mood, he almost always got into some difficulty after it. There is a text in the Bible that was proved true, very often, in Rollo’s case. It is this—“Pride cometh before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Rollo had a sad Tall this day, though it was not from that high rock. It was a different sort of a fall from that, as we shall presently see.
“Lucy,” said he again, “I do not believe but that I could get up upon that rock myself. I can climb rocks.”
“O no, you could not,” said Lucy.
“Why, yes, I see a way.”
“O, round by that great black log There is a path there through the bushes.”
“O no,” said Lucy, “you could not get up there. But there are some boys by that log; what boys are they?”
Rollo looked. They were some boys which they had seen coming up the mountain, and Rollo’s father had warned him not to go near them. They had wanted Rollo to go with them before, but his father had forbidden it. Rollo wanted to go, and now he was glad to see them again; but Lucy was sorry.
The blueberries were very thick and large, and the bottoms of the baskets were soon covered with them. Each one picked where he found them most plenty.
Rollo and Lucy kept pretty near together, talking, and gradually strayed away to some distance from the rest of the party. After a little while, Rollo looked up, and saw the three boys pretty near them. As soon as Lucy saw them so near, she moved along towards their parents; and Rollo ought to have done so too, but he remained where he was, and presently one of the boys came up to him.
“Why did you not come up where we were?” said he. “They were thicker out there.”
“My father would not let me,” said Rollo.
“O, come along,” said the boy; “he will not care. Besides, he will not know it. He is busy picking by himself. He does not mind where you are.”
Rollo thought this was not exactly the way that a good boy would speak of obeying a father, but he wanted very much to see the place where the berries were so much thicker.
“How far is it?” said he to the boy.
“O, it is only a little way-just around that rock.”
By this time the other two boys came up, and they talked with Rollo a little while, and endeavored to persuade him to go. He said finally that he would go and ask his father. So he left his basket, and went and asked his father if he might just go with those boys round the rock. He said the blueberries were much thicker around there, and also that he had been talking with the boys, and he was sure they were good boys.
“No, Rollo,” said his father, decidedly, “I cannot think that any boys that use bad language can be good boys, or safe companions for you. I had rather you would keep with us. If they speak to you, answer them civilly; but the less you have to say to them or do with them, the better. In fact, I had rather you would not go back to them at all.”
“I must,” said Rollo, “to get my basket.”
He accordingly returned to his basket, and told the boys that his father preferred that he should stay where he was.
The biggest boy of the three was a ragged and dirty-looking boy; the others called him Jim, and he talked with Rollo a good deal. Rollo’s conscience reproved him for not leaving them, and going back to his father; but he wanted to stay and hear their talk, and he quieted his conscience by saying to himself that his father told him to treat them civilly. At first the boys were careful what they said to Rollo; but at length Jim grew more and more hold. He used language which Rollo knew was wrong, and he told Rollo that he was a fool to stick so close to his father; that he was big enough to find his way alone all over the mountain, if he was of a mind to.
All this Rollo was silly enough to believe, and, as his father only required him to keep in sight, he thought he would show the boys that he was not so much afraid as they thought he was; and so hi gradually moved off farther and farther from his parents, as he went on gradually filling up his basket. Lucy, in the mean time, went nearer and nearer to them, and in a short time was safely gathering her blueberries by her aunt’s side.
Things went on so for an hour. Rollo’s mother asked his father whether he had not better call Rollo to them.
“No,” said he; “I have told him his duty once, plainly, and now, if he does not do it, he must take the consequences. I believe I shall leave him to himself.”
The boys went on talking to one another and to Rollo, telling various stories about their running away from school, stealing apples, and such things. Rollo was much interested in listening to them, though he knew, all the time, that he was doing wrong. But he had not the courage to leave them abruptly, as he ought to have done, and go back to his father.
Rollo took a great deal of pains with the berries he picked; he chose the largest and ripest, and was very careful not to get in any sticks and leaves. His basket was small, and he intended, as soon as he got it full, to carry it carefully to his mother, and pour his berries into her large tin pail. He was succeeding finely in this, but then he had insensibly strayed away so far from his father, that now he was entirely out of his sight.
At length, as Jim was sitting on a log to rest himself, as he said, he saw a little bird alight on the branch of a black stump near.
“Hash,” said he; “there is a Bob-a-link. See how I will fix him.”
So saying, he picked up a stone, and was going to throw it.
Rollo begged him not to kill that pretty little bird but he paid no attention to what Rollo said. He threw the stone with all his force; but fortunately it did not hit the bird. It struck the limb that the bird was perched upon, and shivered it to fragments, and the bird flew away, terrified.
“Now, what did you do that for?” said Rollo; “you might have hit him.”
“Hit him!” said he; “I meant to hit him, to be sure.”
“But what good does it do to kill little birds? I found one this morning, and I would not kill him for any thing.”
“Where did you find him?” said Jim.
Rollo then told the boys all about his finding a little bird, in its nest floating in the brook, and about their naming him Mosette; as is described in the story called “BLUEBERRYING;” and Jim said, if he had found him, he would have put him on a fence, for a mark to fire stones at. “I would have made him peep, I tell you,” said he.
Rollo said he would not have him killed on any account. He was going to carry him home, and feed him, and tame him.
“But where is he now?” said Jim.
“O, we hid him behind a stone, down at the foot of the mountain, where our horses are tied.”
“But how can you find him again?” said Jim.
“O,” said Rollo, “we know; it was behind the corner of a stone, just in the bushes, where we tied the horse.”
Jim winked at the other boys when Rollo said this, though Rollo did not see it. He was vexed with Rollo, because he reproved him for stoning the bird.
“I would set him up for a mark, if I had him,” said Jim. “I wish I had been there when you found him; I would have taken him away from you.”
“No, you would not have taken him away. Jonas would not let you.”
“Jonas! who is Jonas? and what do you think I care for Jonas?” said he.
He then came up to Rollo, and looked into his basket, and saw it nearly full of large ripe blueberries.
“And I believe,” said he, “that you have stolen some of my berries out of my basket, while I have been sitting here.”
“No, I have not,” said Rollo. “I have not touched your basket.”
“You have,” said Jim, fiercely, “and I will have them back again. Besides, I put some into yours, while you went to your father. So half the berries in your basket are mine.”
This was a lie; but bad boys, like Jim, will always lie, when they have any thing to gain by it. He came up to Rollo, and began to pull his basket away from him. Rollo struggled against him, and began to cry. But Jim was too strong for him: he tipped his basket over, poured a great many of the berries into his own basket, and the rest were spilled over on to the ground. Then, angry at Rollo’s screams and cries, he trampled on all the berries that were on the ground, and was beginning to run away. Rollo caught hold of the skirt of his coat, screaming all the time for his father. Jim turned round, and struck Rollo with his fist, knocked him down, and then he and the other boys set off, as fast as they could run, through the bushes; and they disappeared just as Rollo’s father and Jonas came hastening to his aid.
They raised Rollo up, and his father took him in his arms to carry him away. He saw that there had been some serious difficulty with the bad boys, but he did not ask Rollo any thing about it, then; for he knew that he could not talk intelligibly till he had done crying. Rollo laid his head down on his father’s shoulder, as he walked along, and sobbed bitterly.
His father carried him back to where his mother and uncle were, who were coming towards him looking anxiously.
They presently got pretty near them, Rollo still continuing to cry. His father then said to him,
“Rollo, be still a moment. I want to speak to you.”
When he first took Rollo up, he did not command him to be still, for he knew that it would do no good. He was then so overwhelmed with pain and terror, that he could not help crying; and his father never commanded impossibilities. By this time, however, the pain, and the immediate terror, had so far subsided, that his father knew he could now control himself, and Rollo knew that he must obey. He accordingly stopped crying aloud, and tried to listen to his father.
“Rollo,” said his father, “I pity you very much. I warned you against this bad company, and now I perceive you have got into some difficulty with them; but I cannot hear your story about it till we get home. It is your own fault that has brought you into trouble; and now you must not extend your trouble over all our party, and spoil our happiness, as you have your own. I must go and put you by yourself, until you get entirely composed and pleasant, and then you may join us again.”
“But, father,” said Rollo, beginning to cry afresh at the thoughts of the boys’ treatment of him, “they came up to me, and—and—”
“Stop, Rollo,” said his father. “Be still. You cannot tell the story intelligibly now, and if you could, I should not be willing to listen to it. You must not say any thing about it, unless you are questioned, until we get home.”
By this time they came up pretty near the place where the rest of the party were; but his father did not take him there. He turned aside, and, putting Rollo down, he led him along to a smooth log, which lay among some old trees, close by, and told him to sit there, until he was entirely composed and pleasant again, and then to come to him, or to go to picking berries again, just as he pleased.
Rollo sat on the log, for some time, with his empty basket by his side, mourning over his sorrows. Lucy came to him, and endeavored to console him. She begged him not to cry; and she poured out half of her own berries into his basket, and told him that they could soon fill it full again, if he would come with her to a good thick place she had found. Rollo became gradually quiet and composed, and walked along with Lucy.
Lucy had indeed found a place where the berries were very thick and large, and Rollo determined to be as industrious as possible. They worked away very busily for half an hour, and Rollo gradually recovered his spirits.
His mother watched him from time to time, and when she saw that he was good-humored again, she said to his father,
“Rollo seems to be picking his berries very pleasantly. I rather think he is sorry for his conduct.”
“Yes, I see he is getting good-humored again, but I am afraid he is not truly penitent. It is easier forget a sin, than to be sorry for it. It is very easy, however, for us to ascertain.”
“How can we ascertain?” asked his mother.
“Why, if you should go and ask him about it, if he is really penitent, he will be troubled most to think of his disobedience in going; into the bad company; but if he is not penitent, he will not think of that, but only go to scolding about the bad boys.”
“That is true,” said she. “I have a great mind to go and try him.”
Rollo’s father thought it would be a good plan, and she, accordingly, walked along towards Rollo slowly, gathering berries as she went.
Rollo saw her coming, and said, “Here is mother, Lucy; let us go and give her our berries.”
So saying, he carried his basket up to her very pleasantly, and said, “Here, mother; see, here are all these berries I have been picking for you.”
“Ah,” said she, “did you pick all these for me?”
“E—h—no,” said he; “not all; Lucy gave me some.”
“Well, Lucy, I am very much obliged to you, and I am glad to see that you, Rollo, are pleasant again; I am sorry you went and got into difficulty with those boys.”
“They came and took away my berries,” said he, “and struck me—that great ugly Jim.”
The feelings of vexation and anger against the bad boys began to rise again in Rollo’s mind, the moment he began to talk about them, and he was just going to cry. His mother stopped him, saying,
“You need not tell me about him any more. I see how it is.”
“How what is?” said Rollo.
“How it is about your being sorry. Your father told me that, if you were truly penitent for what happened about those boys, I should find you, when I came to talk with you about it, grieved for your own fault, and if you were not penitent, you would only be angry at theirs. I see which it is.”
Rollo was silent a moment. He felt the truth and justice of the distinction; but, like all boys who are not sorry for the wrong they have done, he could not resist the temptation to try to justify himself by throwing the blame on others. So he began to tell her something more about “that cross old Jim,” but she interrupted him, and told him she did not wish to hear any thing about that “cross old Jim.” He was not her boy, she said, and she had nothing to do with him or his faults.
She then went to talking about other things, and helped Rollo begin to fill his basket again. He showed her where the berries were thickest, and led her round behind a rock to show her a beautiful wild flower that he had found; he said he did not bring it to her, for his father had told him not to touch any flowers or berries that they did not know, for fear they might be poisonous.
After a little while, Rollo’s mother left him and Lucy together, and went back lo where his father and uncle were.
“Well,” said they, “how did you find Rollo?”
“Pleasant, but not penitent,” said she Lucy and Rollo went on gathering berries some time after Rollo’s mother left him, in silence. Rollo felt rather unhappy, but he was not subdued. His heart was still proud and unhumbled, and after a time, he said to Lucy,
“It seems to me very strange that my mother does not think those boys were to blame any for doing so.”
“She does think they were to blame, Rollo, I know.”
“No, she does not; she will not hear me say any thing about them.”
Lucy did not answer, because she knew it would do no good to dispute with Rollo, while he was so unreasonable. Rollo ought to have been willing to have seen his fault, and to have felt truly sorry for it; but he was not, and so Lucy thought it was better not to talk with him about it at all. If he had been truly sorry, and had gone and told his father so, and asked his forgiveness, he would have been happy again.
But as it was, he was not happy. The recollection of his disobedience and sin would remain in his mind, and though he tried to talk, and laugh, and play, as usual, his mind was not much at ease. In fact, he was secretly glad when the time arrived for going home.
The party all gathered together on a smooth piece of ground, about the middle of the afternoon, to make their arrangements for going down the mountain. They put their baskets, filled beautifully with blueberries, together on the grass, while they sat on the stones and logs around, to rest a little before walking down.
Then Rollo’s father arranged the order of march. Jonas was to go first, with two of the heaviest baskets of berries. Next came Lucy, with her little basket about two thirds full, and with leaves and some beautiful pieces of moss she had found, put in upon the top. Then came Rollo’s mother leaning on his uncle’s arm. His uncle had a basket of berries in his other hand. Finally, Rollo and his father walked together behind, with each a basket in his hand.
Thus they walked along down the steep path, until they began to enter the bushes. Rollo’s father had made this arrangement so that he might have an opportunity to talk with him about the difficulty with the boys, for he thought, on the whole, it would be better to talk with him now than to wait till they got home.
After they had walked along a little way, Rollo’s father asked him whether he had a good time blueberrying?
“Why, yes, sir,” said Rollo, “pretty good.”
“Have you seen any thing more of those boys?”
“Your mother went to talk with you, and said you did not seem very sorry for your fault.”
“Why, father,” said Rollo, “I did not do any thing to the boys at all: it was all their fault, entirely.”
“I don’t suppose you did do any thing wrong towards them, but you committed a great fault in respect to me.”
“What fault?” said Rollo.
“Why, father, how? You did not tell me to stay close by you.”
“And is a boy guilty of disobedience only when he does what his father forbids in words?”
“I suppose so,” said Rollo.
“What is disobedience?” asked his father.
“Why, it is doing what you tell me not to do; is it not?”
“That is not a sufficient definition of it; for suppose you were out there in the bushes, and I was to beckon you to come here, and you should not come, would not that be disobedience?”
“Why, yes, sir.”
“And yet I should not tell you to come.”
“And so, if I were to shake my head at you when you were doing any thing wrong, and you wore to continue doing it, that would be disobedience.”
Rollo admitted that it would. “So that it is not necessary that I should tell you in words what my wishes are: if I express them in any way so that you plainly understand it, that is enough. The most important orders that are given by men, are often given without any words.”
“Why, at sea, sometimes, where there is a great fleet of ships, and the admiral, who commands them all, is in one of them. Now, if he wants all the fleet to sail in any way; or if he wishes to have some one, vessel come near to his, or go back home, or go away to any other part of the world; or if he wants any particular person in the fleet to come on board his vessel,—he does not send an order in words; he only hoists flags of a particular kind upon the masts of his vessel, and they all obey them.
“Now, suppose,” continued he, “one of the ships did not sail as he wished, and when he called the captain to account for it, he should say that he was not guilty of disobedience, because he did not tell him to sail so.”
Rollo laughed, and said he thought that would not be a very good excuse.
“Well, it is just such an excuse as yours. I did not positively command you not to go near the boys, or not to have any conversation with them at all, though I expressed my wish that you would not, so that you could not help understanding it.”
Rollo could not deny that this was so.
“But that is not the only case of disobedience. For you did one thing which was contrary to my express command in words.”
Rollo looked concerned, and said he was sure he did not know it.
“I told you not to go out of my sight.”
“Well, but, father,” said Rollo eagerly, in reply, “I am sure I did not mean to. I was picking berries so busy, I did not observe where I was.”
“I know you were, and that was the disobedience; for when I command you to keep in sight of me, that means that you must take good care that you do mind where you are. Suppose I were to tell Jonas that he might go and take a walk, but that he must be sure to come back in half an hour, and he should go, and pay no attention to the time, and so not come back until three quarters of an hour; would that be obedience?”
“No, sir; but it would not be so bad as it would be if he should stay away when he knew that the time was out.”
“No, it would not be so wilful an act of disobedience, but it would be disobedience, notwithstanding. You see, Rollo,” he continued, “when I tell you or any boy to come back in half an hour, there are two things implied in the command—first, that you should notice the time, and, secondly, that you should come back when the time is out. Now, you may disobey the command by neglecting either of these.”
“Yes, sir,” said Rollo, “I see we may, but I did not think of it before.”
“No, I presume you did not,” said his father; “but I want you to understand it, and remember it after this forever. You have disobeyed, to-day, in two ways, in which boys are very apt to disobey, when they do not mean to do it wilfully. I will tell you what the principles are, again, so that you can remember and tell me when I ask you.
“1. Boys must take care to comply with their parents’ directions, if they are expressed in any way whatsoever; and,
“2. When directed to do any thing in a particular time or way, they must see to it themselves, that they notice and keep in mind the circumstances which they are required to attend to.”
Rollo said he would try to remember it, and as he seemed attentive and docile, his father did not talk with him any more about his fault at that time. Besides, they came now to some very rough places in the path, and Rollo’s father had to lift Lucy over them.
Lucy spilled some of her berries in one place, and Rollo was going to help her pick them up, but Jonas said they had better leave them for the birds, and walk on.
“So we will, Lucy,” said Rollo, “and I rather think that Mosette is hungry by this time.”
“Yes,” said Jonas, “and what are you going to do with Mosette?”
“O, put him in a cage, and bring him up tame,” said Rollo. “I mean to teach him to eat out of my hand. I shall treat him very kindly, though he is my little prisoner.”
“I would give: him the liberty of the yard, if I were you,” said some one behind, laughing.
Rollo looked round. It was his uncle George, walking close behind him.
“What is the liberty of the yard?” said Rollo.
“Why, when men intend to treat a prisoner kindly, they leave the prison door open, and let him walk about the yard; and this is called letting him have the liberty of the yard; and sometimes they let them go over half the town.”
“Do you think I had better do so with Mosette?” said Rollo.
“Yes,” said his uncle George; “leave his cage open, and let him go where he pleases.”
“O, he would fly entirely away,” said Rollo.
“Perhaps not, if you should feed him well, and treat him very kindly. He might like his cage better than any nest.”
“I shall treat him as kindly as I can,” said Rollo; “only think, Jonas, that Jim said, if he had found him, he should have set him up upon the fence for a mark to fire stones at!”
“Jim said so?” said Jonas; “how did Jim know any thing about it?”
“Why—e—h—why—I told him,” said Rollo.
“What did you tell him for?”
“O, because,” said Rollo, “we were talking, and I told him.”
“I hope you did not tell him where we hid Mosette, behind the rock.”
“Why—yes,” said Rollo, “I believe I did.”
“Then I am afraid you will never see poor Mosette again,” said Jonas.
“Why,” said Rollo, “you don’t think that he would go and get him.”
“I don’t know,” said Jonas, “what he would do; but I should not have wanted to tell such a boy any thing about him.”
Rollo began to be alarmed. He went back to his father, and asked him to let him and Jonas go on before the rest, to see if their bird was safe. His father told him he might go. “But,” said he, “I am afraid you have lost your bird; when a boy allows himself to get into bad company, he does not know how many troubles he plunges himself into.”
Rollo and Jonas ran on, and soon disappeared among the trees. Rollo found it hard to keep up, as the road was not very smooth, though they had got down the steepest part of the mountain. Jonas kept hold of Rollo’s hand, and went on running and walking alternately, until they got down to the end of the trees and bushes, and then they came out in sight of the place where the horses were tied.
It was fortunate for poor Mosette, and for Rollo too, that they did thus run on before, for it happened that Jim, and the boys with him, had come down the mountain by another road, and were just going up to the place as Jonas and Rollo came out of the woods.
“There they are,” said Jonas. “You stay here; I must run on.” And he let go of Rollo’s hand, sprang forward, and ran with all his might. Rollo tried to follow, but soon stopped and looked on.
Jim and his boys did not see Jonas coming, and they went to work looking around the bushes and stones after Mosette. In a few minutes, one smaller boy came out from the bushes, close by the place where Rollo recollected the nest was hid, with something in his hand, and Rollo could distinctly hear him calling out,
“Here he is, Jim—I have got him, Jim.”
Just that moment, Jonas came running up among the boys, calling out,
“Let that bird alone!—Let that bird alone!” The boys, terrified at this unexpected onset, started and ran in every direction. The boy who had the nest, dropped it upon the ground, and dodged back into the bushes. Jonas took it up carefully, put little Mosette, who had fallen out, back in the nest, and walked out into the road to meet Rollo, who was coming down as fast as he could come, on the other side.
They saw Jim and his comrades no more, and Rollo said he believed he should never again want to have any thing to do with bad boys.