“Some children keep their good behavior for company,” sneered Enna, “and I’ve no doubt these little paragons have their naughty fits as well as ours.”
“It is quite true that they are not always good,” Elsie said with patient sweetness. “And now I beg you will all excuse me for a few moments, as they never feel quite comfortable going to bed without a last word or two with mamma.”
“Before I’d make myself such a slave to my children!” muttered Enna, looking after her as she glided from the room. “If they couldn’t be content to be put to bed by their mammies, they might stay up all night.”
“I think Mrs. Travilla is right,” observed the pastor; “the responsibilities of parents are very great. God says to each one, ’Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages.’”
“Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh instruction o’er the mind,
To breathe the enlivening spirit and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast!”
The Ion little folks were allowed an extra nap the next morning, their parents wisely considering plenty of sleep necessary to the healthful development of their mental and physical powers. They themselves, however, felt no necessity for a like indulgence, their guests having departed in season to admit of their retiring at the usual hour, and were early in the saddle, keenly enjoying a brisk canter of several miles before breakfast.
On their return Elsie went to the nursery, Mr. Travilla to the field where his men were at work. Half an hour later they and their children met at the breakfast table.
Solon came in for orders.
“You may leave Beppo saddled, Solon,” said Mr. Travilla, “and have Prince and Princess at the door also, immediately after prayers.”
The last named were a pair of pretty little grey ponies belonging respectively to Eddie and his sister Elsie. They were gentle and well trained for both saddle and harness.
Nearly every day the children rode them, one on each side of their father, mounted on Beppo, his beautiful bay; and occasionally they drove behind them in the phaeton with their mother or some older person; and one or the other of the children would often be allowed to hold the reins when on a straight and level road; for their father wished them to learn to both ride and drive with ease and skill.
Little Elsie’s great ambition was “to be like mamma” in the ease and grace with which she sat her horse, as well as in every thing else; while Eddie was equally anxious to copy his father.
Violet and Harold ran out to the veranda to watch them mount and ride away.
“Papa,” said Vi, “shall we, too, have ponies and ride with you, when we’re as big as Elsie and Eddie?”