“By great good luck, a boy at length came forward in the secret; and his information was that Henry’s mother had sent him a great cake the day before, which he had swallowed in an instant, as it were, and that his present sickness was occasioned only by his gluttony. On this, the master sent for an apothecary, who ordered him a quantity of physic, phial after phial. Henry, as one would fancy, found it very nauseous, but was forced to take the whole for fear of dying, which, had he omitted it, would certainly have been the case. When some few days of physic and strict regimen had passed, his health was re-established as before; but his mother protested that she would never let him have another cake.”
Percival. He did not merit so much as the smell of such a thing. But this is but one cake, father; and you informed me that there were three, if you remember, in your story.
Mr. G. Patience! patience! Here is another cake in what I am now going to tell.
“Henry’s master had another scholar, whose name was Francis. He had written his mother a very pretty letter, and it had not so much as a blotted stroke; in recompense for which she sent him likewise a great cake, and Francis thus addressed himself: ’I will not, like that glutton Henry, eat up my cake at once, and so be sick as he was; no, I will make my pleasure last a great deal longer.’ So he took the cake, which he could hardly lift by reason of its weight, and watched the opportunity of slipping up into his chamber with it, where his box was, and in which he put it under lock and key. At playtime every day he slipped away from his companions, went upstairs a-tiptoe, cut a tolerable slice off, swallowed it, put by the rest, and then came down and mixed again with his companions. He continued this clandestine business all the week, and even then the cake was hardly half consumed. But what ensued? At last the cake grew dry, and quickly after moldy; nay, the very maggots got into it, and by that means had their share; on which account it was not then worth eating, and our young curmudgeon was compelled to fling the rest away with great reluctance. However, no one grieved for him.”
Percival. No, indeed; nor I, father. What, keep a cake locked up seven days together, and not give one’s friends a bit! That is monstrous! But let us have the other now.
“There was another little gentleman who went to school with Henry and Francis likewise, and his name was Gratian. His mother sent him a cake one day, because she loved him, and, indeed, he loved her also very much. It was no sooner come than Gratian thus addressed his young companions: ’Come and look at what mother has sent me; you must every one eat with me.’ They scarcely needed such a welcome piece of information twice, but all got round the cake, as you have doubtless seen the bees resorting to a flower just blown. As Gratian was provided with a knife, he cut a great piece off, and then divided it into as many shares as he had brought boys together by such a courteous invitation. Gratian then took up the rest, and told them that he would eat his piece next day; on which he put it up, and went to play with his companions, who were all solicitous to have him choose whatever game he thought might entertain him most.