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Mary had but one room, and a little pantry, but it was a very neat room : there was a bed in one corner, covered with a clean linen quilt ; there was also a nice oaken dresser, a clook, two arm-chairs, two three-legged stools, a small round table, a corner cupboard, and some shelves for plates and dishes. The fire-place and all about it was always very neat and clean, and in winter you would probably see a small bright fire on the hearth.
“ How does the cat do?" said Henry, looking about for Mary Bush's cat.
“Oh! here she is, Henry!” said Emily, scream: ing with joy, “ in this basket, under the dresser, with two such beautiful tortoiseshell kittens! Do look, Lucy! do look; Henry !.”.
" Miss Lucy,” said old Mary," would you like to have one of the kittens. when it is big enough to leave its mother ?”
"Oh, yes ! yes! and thank you, Mary," answered Lucy, “ if mamma pleases."
When the children had looked at the kittens and kissed them, they went to visit Margery Grey, and to talk to old Goodman Grey, who was working in the garden, whilst Betty, in the mean time, and old Mary Bush, set out the tea-cups, and set the kettle to boil for tea. When the tea was ready, Betty called the children, and they would make Margery Grey come and drink tea with them, Henry would have the old man come too.
“ No, master," said the old man: “I know my place better."
• Well, then," said Lucy, “I will send you a nice dish of tea and some bread-and-butter into the garden."
I wish you could have seen them all drinking tea at the door of the cottage, round the little table; the two old women sitting in the armchairs, for Lucy would have them do so. She did not despise them because they were poor. Betty making tea, and the three children sitting on stools! —and
how pleased and happy they were ! When they had almost satisfied their hunger, they fell into the following discourse :
“My dear young ones," said Mary Bush, “ you are blessed above many children in your parents ! May God give you a heart to be dutiful to them, whilst they are spared to you; for the time win come, when these dear parents will be taken from you, and then you will remember, with bitter sorrow, every little act of undutifulness and want of respect which you may have been guilty of towards them.”
“ True, true,” said Betty; we do not know the value of our parents till we are parted from them. I am sure I have often thought so since my poor mother died; and since I have been at service and have left my father!—To be sure he wants for nothing I could do for him, having two of my sisters with him ; but then I often think I might have behaved better to him whilst I was with him."
“ Your words," said Margery Grey, bring to my mind a verse from the Bible, which I worked on my sampler at school : My son, help thy father in his age, and grieve him not as long as he liveth : and if his understanding fail, have patience with him and despise him not when thou art in thy full strength; for the relieving of thy father shall not be forgotten : and instead of sins, it shall be added to build thee up. In the day of thy affliction it shall be remembered. Thy sins also shall melt away as the ice, in the fair warm weather.' (Ecclus. iii. 12–15.)— I have often looked for the verse, and so has my good man; but we never could find it.”
“ If you did not happen to remember that that verse is in the Apocrypha, Margery," said Mary Bush, " you might look for it in vain. The Apocrypha is in my old Bible, and I will shew you the verse, God being willing, to-morrow.
It is a pretty verse, and the words of it have often cut me to the heart, bringing to my mind my behaviour to my own poor mother!”
“ Did not you behave well to your mother, Mary?" said Lucy.
“ There was nothing in my behaviour particularly bad, Miss," answered Mary: “ many and many children behave as bad, and many worse : but still my behaviour, such as it was, has often cut me to the heart to think of; aye, and still continues to do so to this day. Disobedience to parents, my dear Miss, is one of those sins to which man's vile heart is naturally inclined ; just as it is inclined to murder, adultery, covetousness, and hatred to God.”
“Do, Mary," said Lucy, " tell us about your mother, and how you behaved to her.”
“ I have nothing worth telling, Miss, in my life," said Mary ; “ but such as I have to state you shall hear."
MARY BUSH'S STORY. “ I was born,” said Mary Bush, “ in this very cottage, and have lived here all my life, saving only six years, when I lived servant at one Farmer Harris's, of Hill-top Farm, about ten miles from here. My father was a woodman, and lived by cutting wood in this coppice. This house and garden were his, and bad been in the family time out of mind. My father and mother were pretty far in years when they were married, and I was their only child. I remember very little of my father: he died when I was only six years old, being killed in felling a large tree at the back of the coppice. After his death, my mother let that part of the house in which Margery and her hus
band now live, and the garden, to one John Stinton, who paid her fifty shillings a-year for the same. Stinto) was a hard working man, and civil enough; but he had a large ill-managed family, and his wife, though industrious and clean, was an ungodly
John Stinton had two girls, Fanny and Dolly, about my age; but these girls were living with their grandmother when John first took the cottage, and did noti come bome till after their grandınother's death, which happened when I was about eleven years old. : is
My mother kept for herself the little room in which I now live, and a little corner of the garden for pot herbs. She was allowed by the lord of the manor to pick sticks out of the coppice for her fire, and she made a little money by spinning lambs' wool and making it into stockings ; so that with the fifty shillings she received yearly from John Stinton, she niade a very comfortable livelihood. She was as good and quiet a woman as ever lived ; a little thin body. I think I see her now, with her brown every-day gown and her blue apron and white mob-cap, and her spectacles at the top of her nose. She was one who always had lived in the fear of God and gloried in the Cross of Christ, and was withal of a very sweet and even temper; so that, perhaps, a better wife and mother had never lived. For a poor woman, she was an excellent reader ; such a Bible-scholar there was not then in the parish, excepting Mr. Best our old rector, and he was a wonderful man at the Scriptures.
God bless his memory! “So, my poor mother and I lived together in this little room: she taught me to read, to spin, to knit, and to sew; she made me help to weed her little garden of pot herbs, and to clean our room : and it was also my work to gather wood for the fire, and, as I got older, to fetch lambs' wool from the farmers and four from the mill; so that my time was fully employed, and passed very happily, till Jobu Stinton's two girls came home. As soon as my mother saw them, she feared that they were not fit company for nie, and she forbade me ever to play with them ; giving me as a reason, that she much doubted, that they had not been brought up in a God-fearing manner; and so, Polly darling, she said, 'mind you don't go pear them when I am not with you.' Polly darling was what my poor dear mother always called me," added Mary Bush,
“ Į dare say she loved you very much," said Emily.
" Ah, poor body! better than I loved her then; for I was a sinful child !” answered Mary Bush, And now to go on with my story:
“ I promised her very fair that I would make no acquaintance with the two girls, and I meant at that time to keep my word ; but the next day when I was going to pick sticks in the coppice, they followed me and asked me to play with them. I might have said No; but I did not. I played with them a long time; and when I thought my mother would be expecting me, and I had gathered no sticks to take to her, I began to think what excuse I should make; and I said to Dolly Stinton, What must I do? My mother sent me to pick sticks, and the time is come when I must go home, and I have no sticks!?Oh !' said Dolly, if you
will go down to the back of the coppice-its not a hundred yards from this place you will find plenty of sticks, which the woodmen have cut, and put together ready to carry away; and the woodmen are not there to day.''Oh! but my mother,' said I, 'has forbidden me to take the sticks from the wood. men's heaps : she says it is stealing. I am only to, pick up the sticks that are scattered here and there about the coppice.'-'Ob!' said Fanny Stinton,