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STORY ON THE SECRET SINS OF THE
SOME days after these things had happened, of which I told you in my last chapter, Mrs. Fairchild called Lucy to her, and said:
“My dear child, it is now a week since your papa and I went out, on that day when you were so naughty. Do you think that you have been good since that time?”
Lucy considered a moment-"Why, Mamma," she said, “ I am almost afraid to say that I have been good at any time. To be sure I have not done any very bad things this week-such as I did the day that you went out; but, then, you have been with me always, Mamma, and have watched me, and have kept me in order. Perhaps, if you had not been with me, I might have been as naughty as I was that day; for I think that my heart is the same: I don't think that it is any better.”
Mrs. Fairchild. “What you say, my child, is very true : your heart is the same; and it is only because I am with you, watching you and taking care of you, that you seem to be better than you were that day. Those poor children who have not good fathers and mothers to take care of them, do many very wicked things, because they have no one to restrain them. You do not do so many openly bad things as they do : but it is not because you are by nature better than they are, but because you are restrained by your friends. People who have had good friends all their lives, and have al. ways been kept in good order, are apt to fancy that they have better hearts than other persons, and they become self-conceited and proud ; whilst, if they would but look close into their hearts, they would find nothing to be proud of in them-nothing but sin and evil passions.”
Then Mrs. Fairchild went to a drawer, and took out a book neatly bound in red leather: there was nothing written in the book ; the leaves were all blank. This book she gave to Lucy; and she said, “ Here, my dear; take this book, and write in it every day the naughty things which pass in your heart. You will then find, my dear, that many days, when you may appear to be very good in the eyes of your papa and mamma, and of other people, you are in reality in the sight of God very naughty. This custom, my dear child, will teach you to know your own heart, and will keep' you from being proud, and thinking better of yourself than of other people.”
Lucy took the book, and said, “ Mamma, must I shew what I write to any body? I shall be ashamed to shew it."
Mrs. Fairchild. “ No, my dear; I would not have you shew what you write in this book to any one, unless it might be to me; and I shall never ask to see it: if you choose to shew me what you write of your own accord, that will be quite a different thing."
" When must I begin to write in this book, Mamma?” said Lucy.
Mrs. Fairchild. .". To-morrow morning, my dear: and I will give you a pen and a little inkstand to keep in your own room; that you may always have every thing ready when you wish to write."
“ Mamma,” said Lucy, “am I only to write the naughty things that are in my heart? Then I will try and have nothing naughty in my heart tomorrow."
" Very well, my dear," said Mrs. Fairchild.
When Lucy went to bed that night, she thought how good she would be next day, and that she would not think one naughty thought. However, she determined not to deceive herself, but to put down every thing as it passed in her heart as nearly as she could. And now I will tell you how Lucy spent the next day, and will put down what she wrote in her book. .
When Lucy awoke in the morning, the first thing she thought of was, what she should have to write in her book; and she began to think how very good she would be all day. Whilst she was lying in bed, thinking of those things, her mamma called to her, and bade her make haste and get up, and make her bed, and rub the chairs and tables. Now Lucy happened to be lying very comfortably, and had no mind to get up: sbe, however, obeyed her mamma without speaking ; but she felt vexed, and began to think how disagreeable it was to. hare these things to do; and she said to herself, “ I wish I was like Miss Augusta Noble, who has two or three servants to wait upon her? She never makes her own bed, or cleans the chairs or tables, or even puts on her own shoes and stockings. Then what beautiful frocks; and blue, and pink, and green, and allcoloured sashes ; and shoes, and necklaces, and bonnets, she has; and a coach to ride in! But how coarse my frocks are ! and I have not one sash or necklace, or a coloured shoe! And my mamma is so strict! Miss Augusta Noble's governess lets her do what she chooses, and never scolds her, or tells her that she is naughty !".
Whilst Lucy was thinking of these things, Emily went into her mamma's room; and Mrs. Fairchild, .. who was looking over some drawers, gave Emily a little bit of muslin, and about a quarter of a yard
of narrow pink ribbon, to make her doll a cap of. Emily ran to shew Lucy wbat she had got: Lucy said nothing; but sbe felt vexed that her mamma had not given them to her, instead of Emily. By this time the breakfast was ready, and Lucy went down, not in the best of tempers: but still she did not say any thing by which any one could find out that she was out of humour; for people who are brought up well are taught to keep many of their ill tempers to themselves.
When the rest of the family were all seated at the breakfast table, Mr. Fairchild came in from the garden with a very large strawberry on a leaf.
“ Look here, my dear!” said he to Mrs. Fairchild; “ what a very large strawberry !"
“ It is, indeed," said Mrs. Fairchild. · As Mr. Fairchild passed by to his chair, he popped the strawberry into Henry's bowl of milk, saying, “ There, my boy; see if you can manage to eat that great strawberry."
This vexed Lucy again; and she said to herself, “ Emily gets muslin and ribbon, and Henry a strawberry; but what do I get?” Then she began to think of a lady who lived not a great way off, who had two little girls, of which she loved one very much, and hated the other; and it came into her mind that her papa and mamma loved Henry and Emily more than they did herself.
After breakfast, John and Betty were called into the parlour, and the family sang a hymn, and prayed together. Mr. Fairchild also read a chap-. ter in the Bible. Whilst her papa was reading, Lucy looked out of the window, and saw a bird picking seeds and worms on the gravel walk, just under the window. “Oh!" thought Lucy, " how I should like to be playing with that bird, instead of listening to this readiog: I have heard that
chapter so often!” Then she peeped over her papa several times to see if he had nearly done.
Soon after Mr. Fairchild had done reading, Mrs. Fairchild called Lucy and Emily to work. Whilst they were working, a lady came in, of the name of Barker, who was a very good-natured and kind person; but it had pleased Providence that she should have a very ordinary set of features, such as you seldom see : she had a wide mouth, and flat
nose, and one eye was less than the other. Whilst , Mrs. Barker was talking with Mrs. Fairchild, Lucy
looked at her, and in her heart despised her for her want of beauty, and thought how much prettier her own face was than Mrs. Barker's.”
The lady sat with Mrs. Fairchild till twelve o'clock, at which time permission was given to the children to play. Emily and Henry went into the garden, and Lucy went up to her room, to write in her new book some of the things she had been thinking of that morning. When Lucy took out her book, and began to consider what to write, she was surprised to find, that although she had appeared to conduct herself well in the eyes of her parents all day, having read well, and worked well, and been quiet and civil, yet all this time her heart had been full of evil thoughts and wicked passions: and now she began to feel that which she had often heard without attending to it, that “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked : who can know it?” (Jer. xvii. 9). “Oh, I am a . wicked child !” she said to herself: "I am a wicked girl! Who can save me from my own wicked heart? But I will write down all I have thought this morning, and shew it to my mamma.”
You will, perhaps, like to know what Lucy wrote: I therefore will copy it here: and perhaps, when you are able to write, you will get your