« НазадПродовжити »
and informed him of this circumstance, which proved that the man whom he bad been beating was a We lee. Every apology was made to the injured man: but he was so disgusted with his new office, that he petitioned his release from it; and in answer to his solicitations, his supernatural powers were withdrawn, and he returned to his shop more contented than before.
" TO-MORROW." FRED,” said old Mark Jones to Fred Dewar, who was standing near the porch in which he was sitting, in eager talk with one of Mark's grandsons—“Fred, how many hours are there in a day ?”
Twelve,” said the boy, looking up with a good deal of surprise.
“How many hours will there be to-morrow from morning till evening ?” continued Mark.
“Why, twelve, to be sure; why do you ask ?"
“ Because, Fred, I'm thinking that to-morrow won't be long enough for half of what you've settled to do in it. Since I have been sitting here, I have heard you say half a dozen times, 'Oh, I'll do that to-morrow. Better do it to-day, lad, and not put it off till to-morrow."
Oh, there's no hurry, Mark: to-morrow will be soon enough for all that Ben has been advising me to do." Nay,”
" said the old man, “ don't give such a thoughtless answer. You have a sad trick of putting things off till to-morrow, Fred; and if you don't cure yourself of it, you'll never come to good; but you'll be useless to your parents, and to every one else. I speak for your good, Fred; now do, pray, hearken to me.”
" I know you wish me well, Mark,” answered Fred, more gravely than he had spoken before; “ and I'll try to do better: I'll begin to-morrow, that I will."
* Ay, you'll begin to-morrow! why not begin to-day? why not at once? Do you remember what Mr. Carnegie said last Sunday— The present moment only is our own; let us therefore make use of that, and not wait for one which may never come'?"
“Well, but, Mark, I really do mean to try to be more steady and industrious.”
“ Then take heed, my lad, that you are not contented with meaning to improve. But I must not stay here talking to you: it begins to get cold, and I shall bring on the rheumatie in my lame
And the old man rose from his seat, and went into his cottage.
Fred Dewar was said by his parents, and the village in general, to be “a good boy in the main;" but he had the sad fault of putting off duties to another day, instead of doing them when they ought to have been done. “Well, but that is only a little fault,” you say;
66 and if that was all he did wrong, he might fairly be said to deserve the village character.”
Stop till you have heard all I have to say about Fred, before you call it " a little fault.” 'It is a great mistake to call any fault that is committed again and again a little fault:"' every time it is repeated, it
grows greater and greater, and becomes more and more difficult to conquer. But I must go back to Fred, and shew you into how much trouble this one bad habit brought him. “ Fred,” said his father one fine evening in
your mother and I are going to walk to Birch Meadows to see your uncle. Run out and mind the pigs, and see that they do not get into Farmer Hobson's garden."
“ Very well, father," said Fred, who was very busy at the moment cutting some elder into a whistle. He really meant to obey his father; but he went on cutting, and thinking that it would do just as well by and by; and then he ran to fetch his new ball, to try how high it would bound. As
he crossed the green in front of the house, be heard a great squeaking and squalling. “Oh,” thought he, “ there are those tiresome pigs; I must go and look after them presently:" but he went from one amusement to another, till all remembrance of the pigs went out of his mind. By and by in came his father.
“ Fred my boy, why arn't you minding those pigs? and what's all that squealing about ? Go and see.”
This time Fred went at once, He was absent some time, and came back looking very sad.
“ Well, what's the matter ?" said his father quickly; out with it: bad news won't get better by keeping."
So Fred told the news; and very bad they were. The pigs had strayed into Farmer Hobson's garden; and after doing a great deal of mischief there,
- trampling on roses and pinks, treading down plants, and rooting up seeds,--the farmer had let loose his fierce mastiff, who had worried one of John Dewar's best pigs, and the others were driven off to the village pound. He was very angry with his son, and sent him to bed without his supper; but it was a greater punishment still to Fred to know what expense and trouble his negligence would bring upon his father. Still it did not cure him; nor did another punishment which this bad habit brought upon him.
The uncle whom his father had been to visit was not long returned from abroad ; and he brought home two beautiful doves for his nephew Fred. These he was very fond of; and his joy was great when he found that the hen was building a nest. In due time two eggs were laid and hatched. Fred was very proud of his young doves, and very anxious to rear them, in order to give them to the squire's lady at the great house near, who was fond of birds, and who had been very kind to Fred, and had taught him to read and write. He therefore
tended them very carefully, and longed for the time when they might be separated from the old birds, and old enough to be given away. In the course of a few weeks they were able to feed themselves; and Fred moved them into a separate cage one night, intending to carry them up to the great house as soon as the squire and his family, who were expected in a few days, should come from London. There was a stick broken out in the wicker cage; and his father advised him to mend it, lest the birds should get out. Yes, father," said Fred, “I mean to mend it the first thing to
To-morrow came and went: there was a grand cricket-match to be seen in the next village, and it cannot matter much for a day,” said Fred to himself; “ the doves did not get out last night, and why should they to-night?” So off he went to the cricket-field, and thought no more of the cage or the doves.
Alas! the next morning, when Fred went to feed the birds, the cage was empty. The outhouse in which it hung was searched. Fred hunted all through the garden and the wood near the house, but in vain. A few days after, some of the birds' feathers, and their beaks and claws, were found, shewing too well what had been their fate. I need hardly tell you how unhappy Fred was. You may fancy how often he wished that he had mended his cage at once, and how sorry and ashamed he felt when the squire's lady came down from town, and inquired after his doves. His father hoped that this lesson would lead him to cure himself of his fault; but it only had an effect for a time, and he soon returned to his careless ways.
He needed a more severe lesson still; and, before long, it was given him.
A few months after the loss of his birds, two of his cousins, sons of a linen-draper in London, came to spend a week with him. Having never been in the country before, they were delighted with every
thing that Fred shewed them; and he took great pains to amuse them. He took them to visit his doves, and the poultry-yard and neighbouring rookery, the garden, the pig-styes; and they went out gleaning and nutting together, and seemed determined to be pleased with every thing that there was to be seen or done in the country. At last it was settled that they should have a day's apple-gathering in John Dewar's orchard. Baskets and sacks were provided ; and the three boys and Ben Jones (old Mark's grandson) began their work with great eagerness. Presently it was discovered that they had only brought one ladder with them, so that only two could work at once. “I will run back and fetch another,” said James Ormond, the youngest of Fred's cousins. He soon returned with it; and he and his brother fixed upon an apple-tree to begin with. Stephen mounted into the tree, and James stood on the highest round of the ladder, with his basket ready to receive the apples which Stephen showered down upon him. It was nearly filled, when, all at once, there was a crash. The ladder broke; and James, with his heavy load, came to the ground. There he lay without more
while his brother descended from the tree as quickly as possible, and called loudly to Fred and Ben Jones to come to his assistance. They tried to raise him from the ground, but found that one leg was completely doubled under him. His head had fallen, too, against the stump of a tree; and he was stunned, if not severely injured.
“ Stay here with James, Fred," cried Stephen, “ while I fetch uncle and his men. Oh, Fred, his leg is broken, I'm sure! Run, Ben, for the doctor!" And, almost wild with grief and terror, he ran off to the house.
His uncle came; and they raised the poor boy from the ground, and carried him into the house: but during the few minutes that Fred was left alone with his cousin, his eye glanced on the broken lad