« AnteriorContinua »
morning after her death, he climbed as usual into her bed, and kissed her: she was not yet cold. He spoke to her, calling her several times, Mother! dear mother!' but she did not answer. It was a long time before Susan could make him understand that she was dead. Whilst the women were laying out the body, he sat at the outside of the door, and came in again as soon as they would permit him : neither would he allow himself to be taken out of the room, till the corpse was put into the coffin and carried to the grave. He followed the corpse to the grave; and, after the coffin was covered with earth, he still stood by it, though he did not speak a word, till Susan came and carried him back to the house which had been his mother's. Squire Broom would have had him go home with him, but he would not leave Susan.
" Marten's mother was buried on Saturday evening : on Sunday, little Marten went again and stood by his mother's grave, and no one but Susan could persuade him to come away. Monday morning 'Squire Broom came in a onehorse chaise, to take him to school at Ashford. The master of the school at that time was a conscientious man; but 'Squire Broom did not know that he was so severe in the management of children as he proved to be. “ Little Marten cried very much when he was
into the one-horse chaise with 'Squire Broom : i Oh ! let me stay with Susan ; let me live with Susan !' he said. “What!' said 'Squire Broom,
and never learn to read? You must go to school, to learn to read, or how are you ever to know God's word ?'-. Susan shall teach me to read,' said little Marten.—'Squire Broom promised him that he should come back in the summer, and see Susan ; and little Marten tried to stop crying.
“ When little Marten got to Ashford School,
he was turned into a large stone hall, where about fifty boys were playing: he had never seen so many boys before, and he was frightened, and crept into a corner. They all got round him, and asked him a great many questions, which frightened him the more; and he began to, cry, and call for Susan. This set the boys a laughing; and they began to pull him about, and teaze him.
“ Little Marten was a pretty child : he was very fair, and had beautiful blue eyes and red lips, and his dark brown hair curled all over his head : but he had always been very tender in his health ; and the kickings, and thumpings, and beatings he got amongst the boys, instead of making him hardy, made him the more sickly and complaining.
“ The boys used to rise very early; and, after they had been an hour in school, they played in the church-yard (for the school-room stands in the church-yard) till the bell rang to call them to breakfast. In the school-room there was only one fire-place, and the little boys never could get near it: so that little Marten used to be so numbed with cold in the mornings (for winter was coming), that he could scarcely hold his book ; and his feet and hands became so swelled with chilblains, that, when the other boys went out to play, he could only creep after them. He was so stupified with cold that he could not learn: he even forgot his letters, though he had known them all when his mother was alive; and, in consequence, he got several foggings. When his mother was living, he was a cheerful little fellow, full of play, and quick in learning; but now he became dull and cast down, and he refused to eat; and he would cry and fret if any one did but touch him. His poor little feet and hands were sore and bleeding with cold: so that he was afraid any one should come near to touch him.
" As the winter advanced, it became colder and colder; and little Marten got a very bad cough, and grew very thin. Several people remarked to the schoolmaster, Little Marten is not well : he gets very thin.'— Oh! he will be better, the master would answer, when he is more used to us. Many children, when they first come to school, pine after home: but what can I do for him? I must not make any difference between him and the other boys.
“One morning, in the beginning of December, when the boys were playing in the church-yard before breakfast, little Marten, not being able to run, or scarcely to walk, by reason of his chilblains, came creeping after them: his lips were blue with cold, and his cheeks white. He looked about for some place where he might he sheltered a little from the cold wind; and at length he ventured to creep into the porch of an old house, which stood on one side of the church-yard. The door of the house was open a little way, and Marten peeped in : he saw within a small neat kitchen, where was a bright fire; an elderly maid-servant was preparing breakfast before the fire; the tea-kettle was boiling ; and the toast-and-butter and muffins stood ready to be carried into the parlour. A large old cat slept before the fire, and in one corner of the kitchen was a parrot upon a stand.
“ Whilst Marten was peeping in, and longing for a bit of toast-and-butter, a little old lady, dressed in a grey silk gown, wearing a mob-eap and long ruffles, came into the kitchen by the inner door: she first spoke to the parrot, then stroked the cat ; and then, turning towards the porch door, she said, (speaking to the maid), Hannah, why do you leave the door open ? The wind comes in very cold.'. So saying, she was going to push the door to, when she saw poor little Marten: she observed his black
coat, his little bleeding hands, and his pale face, and she felt very sorry for him. • What little fellow are you ?' she said, as she held the door in her hand : where do you come from? and what do you want at my door ?'
My name is Marten,' he answered; and I am very cold.'
"• Do you belong to the school, my dear?' said she.
" • Yes, Ma'am,' he answered: my mother is dead, and I am very cold.'
“• Poor little creature!' said the old lady, whose name was Lovel. • Do you hear what he says, Hannah? His mother is dead, and he is very
cold! Do, Hannah, run over to the school-house, and ask the master if he will give this little boy leave to stay and breakfast with me.'
* Hannah set down a tea-cup which she was wiping; and looking at Marten, Poor young creature!' she said. It is a pity that such a babe as this should be in a public school. Come in, little one, whilst I run over to your master, and ask leave for you to stay a little with
mistress.' “ Hannah soon returned with the master's leave; and poor little Marten went gladly up stairs into Mrs. Lovel's parlour. There Mrs. Lovel took off his wet shoes, and damp stockings, and hung them to the fire, whilst she rubbed his little numbed feet, till they were warm. In the mean time Hannah brought up the tea-things, and toast-and-butter, and set all things in order upon the round table.
"You are very good,' said little Marten to Mrs. Lovel : ' I will come and see you every day.'
“ • You shall come as often as you please,' said Mrs. Lovel, . if you are a little boy who fears God.'
«• Then I will come at breakfast-time, and at dinner-time, and at supper-time,' said Marten.
“ Mrs. Lovel smiled, and looked at Hannah, who was bringing up the cream-pot, followed by the cat. Puss took her place very gravely at one corner of the table, without touching any thing.
"Is that your cat, Ma'am ?' said Marten.
“Yes,' said Mrs. Lovel; “and see how well she behaves; she never asks for any thing, but waits till she is served. Do you think you can bebave as well ?'
“I will try, Ma'am,' said Marten.
“ Mrs. Lovel then bade Marten fetch himself a chair, and they both sat down to breakfast. Marten behaved so well at breakfast, that Mrs. Lovel invited him to come to her at dinner-time, and said she would send Hannah to his master, for his leave. She then put on his dry shoes and stockings; and, as the bell rang, she sent him over to school. When school broke up at twelve o'clock, she sent Hannah again for him ; and he came running up stairs, full of joy.
svThis is a half-holiday, Ma'am,' he said ; and I may stay with you till bed-time; and I will come again to breakfast in the morning.'
“Very well,' said Mrs. Lovel; but if you come here so often, you must do every thing I bid you, and every thing which Hannah bids you.'
". The same as I did to my poor mother, and to Susan ?' said Marten.
“Yes, my dear,' said Mrs. Lovel.
“ So Marten sat down to dinner with Mrs. Lovel; and at dinner he told her all he knew of himself and his mother; and after dinner, when she gave him leave, he went down to the kitchen to visit Hannah, and to talk to the parrot, and to look about him till tea-time. At tea-time he came up again; and after tea Mrs. Lovel brought out a large Bible, full of pictures, and told him one or two stories out of the Bible, shewing him the pictures. At night