Imatges de pÓgina
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“Poor Lady Noble !” said Mr. Fairchild; “I wish we could give her any comfort! but, God being willing, we will certainly go."

The next day when Sir Charles's carriage came for Mr. and Mrs Fairchild, they kissed the children, and told them, “when they had dined, they might, if they pleased, go with Betty to see old Mary Bush.” Mary Bush was one of the old women who lived at the end of the coppice; and, being a pious woman, Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were not afraid of trusting their children with her. The children were very much pleased, and made haste to get their dinner : after which Lucy packed up a little tea and sugar, which her mamma had given her, in a basket : and the little girls, having put on their bonnets and tippets, went into the kitchen to see if Betty was ready. Betty was tying up a small loaf and a pot of butter in a clean napkin ; and she had put some nice cream into a small bottle, for which John was cutting a cork.

“Betty are you ready?” said Henry : “Lucy has got the tea and sugar, and Emily has got miss dolly, and I have got my hat and stick. So come, Betty, come!”

“But who is to milk the cow ?” said John, pretending to look grave : “Betty must stay to milk the cow at five o'clock."

“No, John !” said the children, all gathering round him : “gcod John, will you be so kind as to milk the cow and let Betty go ?

Well, I will see about it,” said John, putting the cork into the cream-bottle.

“ There's a good John!” said Emily.

“I love you, John !” said Henry. Betty, come make haste away.'

So the children set out; and the went out the garden to a little wicket-gate which Mr. Fairchild had opened towards the coppice, and came into Henry's favourite Sunday walk. The green trees

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arched over their heads; and on each side the pathway was a mossy bank, out of which sprang such kind of flowers as love shady places--such as the wood anemone and wild vetch : thrushes and blackbirds were singing sweetly amongst the branches of the trees.

“This is my walk,” said Henry ; " and I say it is the prettiest in the country.”

“No, Henry," said Emily, “it is not so pretty as the walk to the hut at the top of the hill : for there you can look all over the coppice, and see the birds flying over the tops of the trees.” “ Sister," said Lucy,

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carry my basket, and I will have the doll a little.” “With all my heart,” said Emily,

Why don't you give miss to me?'' said Henry. “Oh, yes !” said Emily : “ did not I give her to you one day ; and did not you hang her upon a tree in the garden, with a bit of string round her neck and say she was a thief?”'

Lucy,” said Henry, “let us have a race to that tree whieh is fallen down over the path.”

So away they ran ; and when they got to the tree, they sat down upon the trunk till Betty came up with Emily. On one side of the fallen tree was a place where the wood had been cut away, and the woodmen had made themselves a little hut, which they had now left empty. Round this hut were scattered many dry sticks and chips.

“Master Henry,” said Betty, "here are some nice sticks, let us gather a few together; they will do to make a fire to boil Mary Bush's kettle.

“Oh, yes, Betty," answered the children: and they set to work, and soon gathered a great many sticks ; and Betty tied them together with a piece of packthread which Henry pulled out of his pocket: then Betty took off her bonnet, and placed the bundle upon her head. They went on to Mary Bush's.

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The children wanted to help to carry the sticks; but Betty would not let them, saying, they were too heavy for them.

“ But we can carry the bread and butter,” said Lucy : so Betty allowed them to do it.

When they had walked a little farther, they came in sight of Mary Bush's house, down in a kind of little valley or dingle, deeply shaded by trees. In the very deepest part of the dingle was a stream of water falling from a rock. The light from above fell upon the water as it flowed, and made it glitter and shine very beautifully among the shady trees. This was the same stream which took its course through the Primrose Meadow, and on towards the village, and so to Brookside Cottage, where nurse lived-a clear and beautiful stream as could be.

Mary Bush's cottage was so large, that, after the death of her husband, she had let half of it to one Goodman Grey; who lived in it, with his old wife Margery, and cultivated the garden, which was a very good one. John Trueman's wife was Mary Bush's eldest daughter; and Joan, nurse's son's wife, her youngest ; and it was said of them, that there were not two better wives and mothers in the parish : so Mary Bush was very happy in her children.

When the children and Betty came up to the cottage, they found Mary Bush spinning at the door.

“We are come to drink tea with you, Mary,” said Lucy.

“And we have brought bread and butter, and tea, and cream, with us,” said Emily.

“ And a bundle of sticks,” added Henry, "to boil the kettle.”

“Welcome, welcome, my little loves!” said old Mary, as she got up and set her spinning-wheel on one side : “ Come in, little dears !"

Mary had but one room, and a little pantry, but it

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was a very neat room; there was a bed in one corner, covered with a clean linen quilt ; there were also a nice oaken dresser, a clock, two arm-chairs, two three-legged stools, a small round table, a corner cupboard, and some shelves for plates and dishes. The fireplace and all about it were 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, screaming 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 arm-chairs, for Lucy would have them do so. She did not despise them

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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 will 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 sin also shall melt away, as the ice in the fair warm weather.' (Eccles. iii. 12–15.) I have often looked for the verse, and so has my good man; but we never could find it.”

“If you do 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 show you the

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