Years past on, and we were a happy band of brothers and sisters. After Kate, came the twins, Margaret and Herbert, and last of all came the youngest darling, blue eyed Dora. We had a happy childhood. Our station in the world was high enough to enable us to have all the harmless pleasures and studies that were useful and actually necessary to boys and girls of our station. Father always thought that it was better in early youth not to force the boys to too hard study, and mother loved best to see Kate and Margaret using the fingers in fabricating garments, than in playing the harp. We were free, happy, roving children on father’s farm, unchained by the forms of fashionable life. We had no costly dresses to spoil, and were permitted to play in the green fields without a servant’s eye, and to bathe in the clear shallow stream without fear of drowning. As I have said before, these were happy days; and when I think of them gone, I often express my regret that we did not improve them more for the cultivation of the mind and the affections. In the next story you will see that there were some passing clouds in our early summer days.
In a large family there are often diversity of character and varieties of mood and temper, which bring some clouds of sorrow. In our little Eden of innocence there were storms now and then. Miles was a little wild and headstrong from his babyhood, and Margaret, though very beautiful, was often wilful and vain. For five years the twins had grown up together the same in beauty and health. One day an accident befell Herbert, and the dear child rose from his bed of sickness a pale and crippled boy. His twin sister grew up tall and blooming. The twins loved each other very much, and it was a pleasant sight to see how the deformed boy was cherished and protected by his sister Margaret. She would often leave us in the midst of our plays to go and sit by Herbert, who could not share with us in them.
We had our yearly festivals, our cowslip gatherings, our blackberry huntings, our hay makings, and all the delights so pleasant to country children. Our five birthdays were each signalized by simple presents and evening parties, in the garden or the house, as the season permitted. Herbert and Margaret’s birthdays came in the sunny time of May, when there were double rejoicings to be made. They were always set up in their chairs in the bower, decorated with flowers and crowned with wreaths. I now think of Margaret smiling under her brilliant garland, while poor Herbert looked up to her with his pale sweet face. I heard him once say to her when we had all gone away to pluck flowers: