« AnteriorContinua »
Mrs. Fairchild, " whilst we sit at work: I should like to hear them very much.”
“ To-morrow," said Mr. Fairchild, looking at his wife, “ we begin to make hay in the Primrose Meadow. What do you say? Shall we go after breakfast, and take a cold dinner with us, and spend the day under the trees at the corner of the meadow? Then we can watch the haymakers ; and Henry can read his books, whilst you and his sisters are sewing."
“O do let us go, Mamma! do let us go !” said the children: “ do Mamma, say Yes.”
“ With all my heart, my dears,” said Mrs. Fairchild.
So Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild and the children went home; and, after they had ate their supper and prayed, they went to bed.
The next morning early, the children got every thing ready to go into the Primrose Meadow. They had each of them a little basket, with a lid to it, in which they packed up their work and their new books; and as soon as the family had breakfasted, they all set out for the Primrose Meadow; -Mr. Fairchild with a book in his pocket for his own reading ; Mrs. Fairchild with her work-bag hanging on her arm; Betty with a basket of bread and cheese, and a cold fruit-pie; and the children with their work-baskets and Emily's doll, for the little girls seldom went out without their doll. The Primrose Meadow was not a quarter of a wile from Mr. Fairchild's house: you had only the corner of a little
copse to pass through before you were in it. It was called the Primrose Meadow because every spring the first primroses in the neighbourhood appeared on a sunny bank in that meadow. A little brook of
very clear water ran through the meadow, rippling over the pebbles ; and there were many alders growing by the water-side.
a green bank.
The people were very busy making hay in the meadow when Mr. Fairchild and his family arrived. Mrs. Fairchild sat down under the shade of a large oak tree, which grew in the corner of the coppice ; and Lucy and Henry, with Emily, placed themselves by her. The little girls pulled out their work, and Henry his new books. Mr. Fairchild took his book to a little distance, that he might not be disturbed by Henry's reading; and he stretched himself upon
« Now, Mamma," said Henry, "are you ready to hear my story? And have you done fidgetting, sisters?"_for Lucy and Emily had been bustling to make a bed for their doll in the grass with their pocket-handkerchiefs.
“ Brother," answered Lucy, we are quite ready to hear you; read away: there is nothing now to disturb you, unless you find fault with the little birds who are chirping with all their might in these trees; and those bees, which are buzzing amongst the flowers in the grass.”
“ First, Mamma," said Henry, “ look at the picture in the beginning of the book : there are two cottages in the picture, with trees growing up behind them higher than the chimneys, and two little neat gardens before them; and there is a woman spinning at the door of one of the cottages ; and another woman, with a baby in her arms, at the other.” “ Let me see, brother,” said Emily.
Why, you have seen it several times," said Henry; « and now I want to read." Still, my dear," said Mrs. Fairchild,“
you might oblige your sister. Good manners and civility make every body lovely, and are pleasing in the eyes of God. Have you forgotten Mrs. Good. riche's story of Master Bennet?”
Henry immediately got up, and shewed his sister the picture; after which he sat down again, and began to read as follows.
THE STORY OF THE COVETOUS WOMAN,
IN HENRY FAIRCHILD'S BOOK. “ On the high-road which goes from Bridgenorth to Wellington, not half a mile out of the town of Bridgenorth, there formerly stood two very neat cottages : at the back of them was a small orchard, and in the front two little gardens, with wickets opening towards the road. In these cottages lived two poor men, who supported themselves by working in the fields :. the name of one of these was Dobson; and the name of the other, Wray. These men were both married : Dobson's wife's name was Jane, and the name of Wray's wife was Kate. They were both clean, industrious women : they kept their houses very neat, and their clothes well patched; and what spare time they had they spent in spinning and knitting. I cannot tell you how much woollen-yarn they spun in a twelvemonth, nor how many knit stockings they sold in Bridgenorth market in one year.
“ When Jane had been married two years, she had a little son born; after which she could not do so much as before: but Kate went on spinning and knitting, till sbe had laid up as much as forty shillings, besides a stock of nice warm winter clothing in a chest. She had as many as a dozen pair of woollen stockings for herself and her husband; three or four good quilted petticoats, of her own spinning and quilting: as many stuff gowns, and a handsome scarlet cloak, of her own earning. These were all stored up in her chest ; and she often used to take them out, and hang them to air, lest the moth should get into them.
About this time a poor widow in that neigh
bourhood died, leaving two little friendless girls behind her: the eldest of these, whose name was Nancy, was placed by the parish under the care of Kate, who received two shillings a week to find the poor child food and clothes; and the youngest, whose name was Sally, was placed under the charge of Jane. Nancy was a stout girl, and Kate made her work very hard, and gave her very little food, and scarcely any clothing to cover her; but Jane was kind to Sally, and, though she made her work, yet she fed and clothed her to the best of her power.
“One day in the winter, these two little orphans, Nancy and Sally, were playing in the road before the gates of the cottages, when they saw a very fine coach coming along the road. In the coach there was a lady, and a little child in the arms of a maid. The child was looking out of the window, holding in its hand a silver coral and bells, fastened to a long ribbon, which ought to have been tied round the child's waist, but by some accident the ribbon was become untied. The child was shaking the coral through the window; and as the carriage passed by the cottages the child dropped the coral on the road. No one belonging to the carriage saw the coral fall; but Nancy and Sally saw it. They ran and picked it up, and called to the people in the carriage, but nobody heard them. They then ran after the carriage; but it went so quickly that it reached the town, and the lady was sitting in the window of the inn, when the poor little children came up with the coral and presented it at the window to the lady: When the lady saw the coral, and heard how far the poor little girls had brought it, she sent her maid to the nearest shop, to buy as much flannel as would make two children's petticoats, and as much queen's stuff as would make two slips. The lady did not understand that the children were not living in the same house; otherwise she would have divided the flannel and stuff, and have given half to each child ; but as it was, she gave all the flannel into the hands of Nancy, and all the stuff into the hands of little Sally; and, commending them for their honesty, she bade them go home.
“ The poor little girls were delighted with the lady's presents, and ran back as quick as they came. When they came to the cottages, they found both their mammies (as they called them) together in Wray's cottage.
See what we have got! see what we have got !' cried the poor children, as they ran in at the door. • I have got some flannel to make me some petticoats,' said Nancy; ' And I have got some stuff to make me some new gowns,' said Sally. Jane and Kate were very much surprised when they saw what the children had brought; and pleased when they heard how they came by these things. They took them out of the children's hạnds, and began to turn them about and examine them.
Why, here,' said Jane, 'is enough to make Sally two slips. Well, I shall make one now, I think, and put t'other half by till next year. And now I shall be able to do what I have been long casting about in my mind, but could not compass before, on account of her being so ill clothed, poor thing : that is, to send her to the church in Bridgenorth to be catechised by the parson; for it is a pity she should be brought up in total ignorance of her Maker. I have an old bonnet I can take to pieces and make up for her, and a little handkerchief; so that now she will do very well.'
Why, you won't be such a fool surely, will you,' said Kate, as to cut that good queen's stuff for that child? There is quite enough to make you a handsome gown.'