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SThe Baldwmin Library
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BY MARIA EDGEWORTH.
WILLIAM P. NIMMO & CO.
MIiRRISON AND GIBli, EDINIBC lGlH,
PRINT 'ERS TO HER MAJLEc V'S STATIONEI'V t I' fCa
THE FALSE KEY, .
CEARLOTTE WILMOT, 54
THE KNIGHT AND TIIHE GREYHOUDT, 62
THE HALF-EMPTY BOTTLE, 5
PRYING AND PEEPING, 7
THE HEN, 3
THE FALSE KEY.
R. SPENCER, a very benevolent
and sensible man, undertook the
education of several poor children.
Among the rest was a boy of the name of
Franklin, whom lie had bred up from the
time he was five years old. Franklin had
the misfortune to be the son of a man of
infamous character; and for many years
this was a disgrace and reproach to his
child. When any of the neighbours' children
quarrelled with him, they used to tell him
he would turn out like his father. But Mr.
Spencer always assured him that he might
make himself whatever he pleased; that
by behaving well he would certainly, sooner
or later, secure the esteem and love of all
THE FALSE KvEY
who knew him, even of those who had the
strongest prejudice against him on his
This hope was very delightful to Franklin,
and he showed the strongest desire to learn
and to do everything that was right; so
that Mr. Spencer soon grew fond of him,
and took great pains to instruct him, and
to give him all the good habits and prin-
ciples which might make him a useful,
respectable, and happy man.
When he was about thirteen years of
age, Mr. Spencer one day sent for him into
his closet; and as he was folding up a
letter which he had been writing, said to
him, with a very kind look, but in a graver
tone than usual, 'Franklin, you are going
to leave me.' Sir!' said Franklin. 'You
are now going to leave me and to begin
the world for yourself. You will carry
this letter to my sister, Mrs. Churchill,
in Queen's Square.- You know Queen's
Square ?' Franklin bowed. 'You must
expect,' continued Mr. Spencer, 'to meet
with several disagreeable things and a
great deal of rough work, at your first
THE FALSE KEY.
setting out; but be faithful and obedient
to your mistress, and obliging to your
fellow-servants, and all will go well. Mrs.
Churchill will make you a very good
mistress, if you behave properly; and I
have no doubt but you will.' 'Thank you,
sir.' 'And you will always-I mean as
long as you deserve it-find a friend in me.'
'Thank you, sir-I am sure you are'--
There Franklin stopped short, for the re-
collection of all Mr. Spencer's goodness
rushed upon him at once, and he could not
say another word. 'Bring me a candle to
seal this letter,' said his master; and he
was very glad to get out of the room. He
came back with the candle, and, with a
stout beart, stood by whilst the letter was
sealing; and when his master put it into
his hand, said, in a cheerful voice, 'I hope
you will let me see you again, sir, some-
times.' 'Certainly; whenever your mis-
tress can spare you, I shall be very glad
to see you; and, remember, if ever you get
into any difficulty, don't be afraid to come
to me. I have sometimes spoken harshly
to you; but you will not meet with a more
8 THE FALSE KEE.
indulgent friend.' Franklin at this turned
away with a full heart; and, after making
two or three attempts to express his grati-
tude, left the room without being able to
He got to Queen's Square about three
o'clock. The door was opened by a large
red-faced man in a blue coat and scarlet
waistcoat, to whom he felt afraid to give
his message lest he should not be a servant.
' Well, what's your business, sir ?' said the
butler. I have a letter for Mrs. Churchill,
sir,' said Franklin, endeavouring to pro-
nounce his sir in a tone as respectful as the
butler's was insolent.
The man having examined the direction,
seal, and edges of the letter, carried it up-
stairs, and in a few minutes returned, and
ordered Franklin to rub his shoes well and
follow him. He was then shown into a
handsome room, where he found his mis-
tress, an elderly lady. She asked him a
few questions, examining him attentively as
she spoke; and her severe eye at first, and
her gracious smile afterwards, made him feel
that she was a person to be both lvved and
THE FALSE KEY
feared. 'I shall give you in charge,' said
she, ringing a bell, 'to my housekeeper, and
I hope she will have no reason to be dis-
pleased with you.'
The housekeeper, when she first came in,
appeared with a smiling countenance; but
the moment she cast her eyes on Franklin,
it changed to a look of surprise and suspi-
cion. Her mistress recommended him to
her protection, saying, 'Pomfret, I hope
you will keep this boy under your own
eye.' And she received him with a cold
'Very well, ma'am;' which plainly showed
she was not disposed to like him. In fact,
Mrs. Pomfret was a woman so fond of power,
and so jealous of favour, that she would have
quarrelled with an angel who had got so
near her mistress without her introduction.
She smothered her displeasure, however, till
night; when, as she attended her mistress's
toilette, she could not refrain from express-
ing her sentiments. She began cautiously:
'Ma'am, is not this the boy Mr. Spencer
was talking of one day-that has been
brought up by the Villaintropic Society,
I think they call it ?'-' Philanthropic
THE FALSE KEY
Society; yes,' said her mistress; 'and my
brother gives him a high character. I hope
he will do very well.' 'I'm sure I hope so
too,' observed Mrs. Pomfret; 'but I can't
say; for my part, I've no great notion of
those low people. They say all those
children are taken from the very lowest
drugs and refugees of the town, and surely
they are like enough, ma'am, to take after
their* own fathers and mothers.' 'But they
are not suffered to be with their parents,'
rejoined the lady; 'and therefore cannot be
hurt by their example. This little boy
to be sure, was unfortunate in his father,
but he has had an excellent education.'
'Oh, education to be sure, ma'am, I know.
I don't say but what education is a great
thing. But then, ma'am, education can't
change the nature that's in one, they say;
and one that's born naturally bad and low,
they say, all the education in the world won't
do no good; and, for my part, ma'am, I know
you knows best; but I should be afraid to
to let any of those Villiantropic folks get
into my house, for nobody can tell the nature
of them aforehand. I declare it frights me.'
THE FALSE KE Y.
'Pomfret, I thought you had better sense.
How would this poor boy earn his bread ?
He would be forced to starve or steal if
everybody had such prejudices.'
Pomfret, who really was a good woman,
was softened at this idea, and said, 'God
forbid he should starve or steal, and God
forbid I should say anything "...' '7 /
of the boy; for there may be no harm in
'Well,' said Mrs. Churchill, changing her
tone,' but, Pomfret, if we don't like the boy
at the end of a month, we have done with
him; for I have only promised Mr. Spencer
to keep him a month upon trial. There is
to harm done.' 'Dear, no, ma'am, to be
sure; and cook must put up with her dis-
appointment, that's all.' What disappoint-
ment ?' 'About her nephew, ma'am; the
boy she and I was speaking to you for.'
'When ?' 'The day you called her up
about the almond pudding, ma'am. If you
remember, you said you should have no
objections to try the boy; and upon that,
cook bought him new shirts; but they are
to the good, as I tell her.' But I did
THE FALSE KIEY.
not promise to take her nephew.' 'Oh, no,
ma'am, not at all; she does not think to
say that, else I should be very angry; but
the poor woman never let fall a word, any
more than frets that the boy should miss
such a good place.' 'Well, but since I did
say that I should have no objection to try
him, I shall keep my word; let him come
to-morrow. Let them both have a fair
trial, and at the end of the month I can
decide which I like best, and which we had
Dismissed with these orders, Mrs. Pom-
fret hastened to report all that had passed
to the cook, like a favourite minister, proud
to display the extent of her secret influence.
In the morning, Felix, the cook's nephew,
arrived, and the moment he came into the
kitchen, every eye, even the scullion's, was
fixed upon him with approbation, and
afterwards glanced upon Franklin with
contempt-contempt which Franklin could
not endure without some confusion, though
quite unconscious of having deserved it;
nor, upon the most impartial and ccol
self-examination, could he comprehend the
ItE FALSE KE, Y.
justice of his judges. He perceived indeed
-for the comparisons were minutely made
in audible and scornful whispers-that
Felix was a much handsomer, or, as the
kitchen-maid expressed it, a much more
genteeler, gentlemanly-looking like sort of
person than he was; and he was made to
understand, that he wanted a frill to his
shirt, a cravat, a pair of thin shoes, and
above all, shoe-strings, besides other name-
less advantages, which justly made his rival
the admiration of the kitchen. However,
upon calling to mind all that his friend Mr.
Spencer had ever said to him, he could not
recollect his having warned him that shoe-
strings were indispensable requisites to the
character of a good servant; so that he
could only comfort himself with resolving,
if possible, to make amends for these
deficiencies, and to dissipate the prejudices
which he saw were formed against him by
the strictest adherence to all that his tutor
had taught him to be his duty. He hoped
to secure the approbation of his mistress by
scrupulous obedience to all her commands,
alid faithful care of all that belonged to her.
THIE FALSE KLEY
At the same time, he flattered himself he
should win the goodwill of his fellow-ser-
vants, by showing a constant desire to oblige
them. He pursued this plan of conduct
steadily for nearly three weeks, and found
that he succeeded beyond his expectations
in pleasing his mistress; but unfortunately
he found it more difficult to please his
fellow-servants, and he sometimes offended
when he least expected it. He had made
great progress in the affections of Corkscrew
the butler, by working indeed very hard for
him, and doing every day at least half his
business. But one unfortunate night the
butler was gone out; the bell rang, he went
up-stairs; and his mistress asking where
Corkscrew was, he answered that he was
gone out. V i. -.: to ?' said his mistress.
' I don't know,' answered Franklin. And,
as he had told exactly the truth, and meant
to do no harm, he was surprised, at the
butler's return, when he repeated to him
what had passed, at receiving a sudden box
on the ear, and the appellation of a mis-
chievous, impertinent, mean-spirited brat.
Mischievous, impertinent, mean re-
THE FALSE KEY.
peated Franklin to himself; but, looking
in the butler's face, which was of a deeper
scarlet than usual, he judged that he was
far from sober, and did not doubt but that
the next morning, when he came to the use
of his reason, he would be sensible of his
injustice, and apologize for this box on the
ear. But no apology coming all day,
Franklin at last ventured to request an
explanation, or rather to ask what he had
best do on the next occasion. 'Why,' said
Corkscrew, 'when mistress asked for me,
how came you to say 1 was gone out ?'
' Because you know I saw you go out.'
'And when she asked you where I was
gone, how came you to say that you did not
know ? 'Because indeed I did not.' 'You
are a stupid blockhead; could not you say
I was gone to the washerwoman's 'But
were you ?' said Franklin. 'Was I!' cried
Corkscrew, and looked as if he would have
struck him again; 'how dare you give me
the lie, Mr. Hypocrite ? You would be
ready enough, I'll be bound, to make
excuses for yourself. Why are not mis-
tress's clogs cleaned ? Go along and
THE FALSE KEY
blacken 'em this minute, and send Felix to
From this time forward Felix alone was
privileged to enter the butler's pantry.
Felix became the favourite of Corkscrew;
and, though Franklin by no means sought
to pry into the mysteries of their private
conferences, nor ever entered without
knocking at the door, yet it was his fate
once to be sent off a message at an unlucky
time; and as the door was half-open, he
could not avoid seeing Felix drinking a
bumper of red liquor, which he could not
help suspecting to be wine; and as the
decanter, which usually went up-stairs after
dinner, was at this time in the butler's
grasp, without any stopper in it, he was
involuntarily forced to suspect they were
drinking his mistress's wine.
Nor were the bumpers of port the only
unlawful rewards which Felix received. His
aunt, the cook, had occasion for his assist-
ance, and she had many delicious douceurs
in her gift. Many a handful of currants,
many a half-custard, many a triangular
remnant of pie, besides the choice of hi:
THE FALSE KEY.
own meal at breakfast, dinner, and supper,
fell to the share of the favourite Felix;
whilst Franklin was neglected, though he
took the utmost pains to please the cook
in all honourable service, and, when she
was hot, angry, or hurried, he was always
at hand to help her; and in the hour of
adversity, when the clock struck five, and
no dinner was dished, and no kitchen-maid
with twenty pair of hands was to be had,
Franklin would answer to her call, with
flowers to garnish her dishes, and presence
of mind to know, in the midst of the com-
motion, where everything that was wanting
was to be found; so that, quick as light-
ning, all difficulties vanished before him.
Yet when the danger was over, and the
hour of adversity past, the ungrateful cook
would forget her benefactor, and, when it
came to be his supper-time, would throw
him, with a carelessness which touched him
sensibly, anything which the other servants
were too nice to eat. All this Franklin
bore with fortitude; nor did he envy Felix
the dainties which he ate, sometimes close
beside him. 'For,' said he to himself, 'I
THE FALSE KEY.
have a clear conscience, and that is more
than Felix can have. I know how he wins
cook's favour too well, and I fancy I know
how I have offended her; for, since the day
I saw the basket, she has done nothing but
The history of the basket was this. Mrs.
Pomfret, the housekeeper, had several times,
directly and indirectly, given the world
below to understand that she and her
mistress thought there was a prodigious
quantity of meat eaten of late. Now when
she spoke, it was usually at dinner-time;
she always looked, or Franklin imagined
that she looked, suspiciously at him. Other
people looked still more maliciously; but,
as he felt himself perfectly innocent, he
went on eating his dinner in silence.
But at length it was time to explain.
One Sunday there appeared a handsome
sirloin of beef, which before noon on Mon-
day had shrunk almost to the bare bone,
and presented such a deplorable spectacle
to the opening eyes of Mrs. Pomfret, that
her long-smothered indignation burst forth,
and she boldly declared she was now certain
THE FA LSE KEY '
there had been foul play, and she would
have the beef found, or she would know
why. She spoke, but no beef appeared, till
Franklin, with a look of sudden recollection,
cried, 'Did not I see something like a
piece of beef in a basket in the dairy-I
The cook, as if somebody had smote hei
a deadly blow, grew pale; but, suddenly
recovering the use of her speech, turned
upon" Franklin, and, with a voice of
thunder, gave him the lie direct; and
forthwith, taking Mrs. Pomfret by the
ruffle, led the way to the dairy, declaring
she could defy the world-' that so she
could, and would.' 'There, ma'am,' said
she, kicking an empty basket which lay on
the floor-' there's malice for you. Ask
him why he don't show you the beef in the
basket.' I thought I saw'-poor Franklin
began. 'You thought you saw!' cried the
cook, coming close up to him with kimboed
arms, and looking like a dragon; 'and pray,
sir, what business has such a one as you to
think you see?' 'And pray, ma'am, will
you be pleased to speak-perhaps, ma'ana.
TIE FALSE KEY.
he'll condescend to obey you-ma'am, will
you be pleased to forbid him my dairy ? for:
here he comes prying and spying about;
and how, ma'am, am I to answer for myl
butter and cream, or anything at all ? I'm'
sure it's what I can't pretend to, unless you,
do me the justice to forbid him my places.'
Mrs. Pomfret, whose eyes were blinded
by her prejudices against the folks of the
Villaintropic Society, and also by her secret
jealousy of a boy whom she deemed to be
a growing favourite of her mistress, took
part with the cook, and ended, as she began,
with a firm persuasion that Franklin was
the guilty person. 'Let him alone, let him
alone!' said she; 'he has as many turns
and winding as a hare; but we shall catch
him yet, I'll be bound, in some of his
doublings. I knew the nature of him well
enough from the first time I ever set my
eyes upon him; but mistress shall have her
own way, and see the end of it.'
These words, and the bitter sense of
injustice, drew tears at length fast down the
proud cheek of Franklin, which might
possibly have touched Mrs. Pomfret, if
TIE FALSE KEY.
[Felix, with a sneer, had not called them
*rocodile tears. 'Felix, too!' thought he;
this is too much.' In fact, Felix had till
now professed himself his firm ally, and had
on his part received from Franklin un-
equivocal proofs of friendship; for it must
be told that every other morning, when it
was Felix's turn to get breakfast, Felix
never was up in decent time, and must
inevitably have come to public disgrace if
Franklin had not got all the breakfast-things
ready for him, the bread-and-butter spread,
and the toast toasted; and had he not, more-
over, regularly, when the clock struck eight,
and Mrs. Pomfret's foot was heard overhead,
run to call the sleeping Felix, and helped
him constantly through the hurry of getting
dressed one instant before the housekeeper
came down-stairs. All this could not but
be present to his memory; but, scorning to
reproach him, Franklin wiped away his
crocodile tears, and preserved a magnani-
The hour of retribution was, however, not
so far off as Felix imagined. Cunning
people may go on cleverly in their devices for
some time; but though they may escape
once, twice, perhaps ninety-nine times, what
does that signify ?-for the hundredth they
come to shame, and lose all their character.
Grown bold by frequent success, Felix
became more careless in his operations; and
it happened that one day he met his
mistress full in the passage, as he was
going on one of the cook's secret errands.
' Where are you going, Felix ?' said his mis-
tress. 'To the washerwoman's, ma'am,'
answered he, with his usual effrontery.
'Very well,' said she. 'Call at the book-
seller's in- Stay, I must write down the
direction. Pomfret,' said she, opening the
housekeeper's room-door, 'have you a bit of
paper?' Pomfret came with the writing-
paper, and looked very angry to see that
Felix was going out without her knowledge;
so, while Mrs. Churchill was writing the
direction, she stood talking to him about it;
whilst he, in the greatest terror imaginable,
looked up in her face as she spoke, but
was all the time interested in parrying on
the other side the attacks of a little French
dog of his mistress's which, unluckily for
THE FALSE KEY
THlE PALSE KEY.
him, had followed her into the passage.
Manchon was extremely fond of Felix, who,
by way of pleasing his mistress, had paid
most assiduous court to her dog; yet now
his caresses were rather troublesome.
Manchon leaped up, and was not to be re-
buffed. 'Poor fellow, poor fellow-down !
down! poor fellow!' cried Felix, and put him
away. But Manchon leaped up again, and
began smelling near the fatal pocket in a
most alarming manner. 'You will see by
this direction where you are to go,' said his
mistress. Manchon, come here-and you
will be so good as to bring me-down!
down! Manchon, be quiet!' But Manchon
knew better-he had now got his head into
Felix's pocket, and would not be quiet till
he had drawn from thence, rustling out of
its brown paper, half a cold turkey, which
had been missing since morning. 'My cold
turkey, as I'm alive!' exclaimed the house-
keeper, darting upon it with horror and
amazement. 'What is all this ?' said Mrs.
Churchill, in a composed voice. I don't
know, ma'am,' answered Felix, so confused
that he knew not what to say; 'but'-
THE FALSE KEY.
' But what ?' cried Mrs. Pomfret, indigna-
tion flashing from her eyes. 'But what?'
repeated his mistress, waiting for his reply
with a calm air of attention, which still
more disconcerted Felix; for, though with
an angry person he might have some chance
of escape, he knew that he could not invent
any excuse in such circumstances which
could stand the examination of a person in
her sober senses. He was struck dumb.
'Speak,' said Mrs. Churchill, in a still lower
tone; 'I am ready to hear all you have to
say. In my house everybody shall have
justice; speak-but what ?' Bt,' stam-
mered Felix; and, after in vain attempting
to equivocate, confessed that he was going
to take the turkey to his cousin's; but he
threw all the blame upon his aunt, the cook,
who, he said, had ordered him upon this
The cook was now summoned; but she
totally denied all knowledge of the affair,
with the same violence with which she had
lately confounded Franklin about the beef
in the basket; not entirely, however, with
the same success; for Felix, perceiving by
TIE FALSE KEY.
his mistress's eye that she was upon the point
of desiring him to leave the house imme-
diately, and not being very willing to leave
a place in which he had lived so well with
the butler, did not hesitate to confront
his aunt with assurance equal to her own.
He knew how to bring his charge home to
her. He produced a note in her own hand-
writing, the purport of which was to request
her cousin's acceptafice of 'some delicate cold
1/,". *,' and to beg she would send her, by
the return of the bearer, a little of her
Mrs. Churchill coolly wrote upon the
back of the note her cook's discharge, and
informed Felix she had no further occasion
for his services; but, upon his pleading
with many tears, which Franklin did not
call crocodile tears, that he was so young,
and that he was under the dominion of his
aunt, he touched Mrs. Pomfret's compassion,
and she obtained for him permission to stay
till the end of the month, to give him yet a
chance of redeeming his character.
Mrs. Pomfret, now seeing how far she
had been imposed upon, resolved for the
THE FA LSE KEY.
future to be more upon her guard witj
Felix, and felt that she had treated Franklin
with great injustice when she accused him
of malpractices about the sirloin of beef.
Good people, when they are made sensible
that they have treated any one with in-
justice, are impatient to have an opportunity
to rectify their mistake; and Mrs. Pomfret
was now prepared to see everything which
Franklin did in the most favourable point
of view; especially as the next day she
discovered that it was he who every morn-
ing boiled the water for her tea, and buttered
her toast-services for which she had
always thought she was indebted to Felix.
Besides, she had rated Felix's abilities very
highly, because he made up her weekly
accounts for her; but unluckily once, when
Franklin was out of the way, and she
brought a bill in a hurry to her favourite
to cast up, she discovered that he did not
know how to cast up pounds, shillings, and
pence, and he was obliged to confess that he
must wait till Franklin came home.
But, passing over a number of small
incidents which gradually unfolded the
TIHE FALSE KEY.
character of the two boys, we must proceed
to a more serious affair.
Corkscrew frequently, after he had
finished taking away supper, and after the
housekeeper was gone to bed, sallied forth
to a neighboring alehouse to drink with
his friends. The alehouse was kept by that
cousin of Felix's who was so fond of delicate
cold turkey,' and who had such choice
cherry-brandy. Corkscrew kept the key of
the house-door, so that he could return home
at what hour he thought proper; and, if he
should by accident be called for by his mis-
tress after supper, Felix knew where to find
him, and did not scruple to make any of
those excuses which poor Franklin had too
much integrity to use.
All these precautions taken, the butler
was at liberty to indulge his favourite
passion, which so increased with indulgence,
that his wages were by no means sufficient
to support him in this way of life. Every
day he felt less resolution to break through
his bad habits; for every day drinking
became more necessary to him. His health
was ruined. With a red, pimpled, bloated
28 TIHE FALSE KEY.
face, emaciated legs, and a swelled, diseased
body, he appeared the victim of intoxication.
In the morning when he got up, his hands
trembled, his spirits flagged, he could do
nothing till he had taken something-an
operation which he was obliged to repeat
several times in the course of the day, as
all those wretched people must who once
acquire this habit.
He had run up a long bill at the alehouse
which he frequented; and the landlord, who
grew urgent for his money, refused to give
him further credit.
One night, when Corkscrew had drunk
enough only to make him fretful, he leaned
with his elbow surlily upon the table, began
to quarrel with the landlord, and swore that
he had not of late treated him like a gentle-
man. To which the landlord coolly replied,
'That as long as he had paid like a gentle-
man, he had been treated like one, and that
was as much as any one could expect, or, at
any rate, as much as any one would meet
with, in this world.' For the truth of this
assertion he appealed, laughing, to a party of
men who were drinking in the room. The
TIlE FALSE KEY.
men, however, took part with Corkscrew,
and, drawing him over to their table, made
him sit down with them. They were in high
good-humour, and the butler soon grew so
intimate with them, that, in the openness of
his heart, he soon communicated to them,
not only all his own affairs, but all that he
knew, and more than all that he knew, of
His new friends were by no means un
interested in his conversation, and encou
raged him as much as possible to talk; foi
they had secret views, which the butler was
by no means sufficiently sober to discover.
Mrs. Churchill had some fine old family
plate; and these men belonged to a gang of
housebreakers. Before they parted with
Corkscrew, they engaged him to meet them
again the next night; their intimacy was
still more closely cemented. One of the
men actually offered to lend Corkscrew
three guineas towards the payment of his
debt, and hinted that, if he thought proper,
he could easily get the whole cleared off.
Upon this hint, Corkscrew became all atten-
tion, till, after some hesitation on their part,
TIIE .FALSE KEY.
and repeated promises of secrecy on his,
they at length disclosed their plans to him.
They gave him to understand, that if he
would assist in letting them into his mis-
tress's house, they would let him have an
ample share in the booty. The butler, who
had the reputation of being an honest man,
and indeed whose integrity had hitherto
been proof against everything but his mis-
tress's port, turned pale, and trembled at
this proposal, drank two or three bumpers
to drown thought, and promised to give an
answer the next day.
He went home more than half-intoxicated.
His mind was so full of what had passed,
that he could not help bragging to Felix,
whom he found awake at his return, that he
could have his bill paid off at the alehouse
whenever he pleased; dropping, besides,
some hints, which were not lost upon Felix.
In the morning Felix reminded him of
the things which he had said; and Cork-
screw, alarmed, endeavoured to evade his
questions by saying that he was not in his
senses when he talked in that manner.
Nothing, however, that he could urge rnadu
TIHE P4LSE IKEY:
any impression upon Felix, whose recollec-
tion on the subject was perfectly distinct,
and who had too much cunning himself,
and too little confidence in his companion,
to be the dupe of his dissimulation. The
butler knew not what to do when he saw
that Felix was absolutely determined either
to betray their scheme, or to become a sharer
in the booty.
The next night came, and he was now to
make a final decision; either to determine
on breaking off entirely with his new ac-
quaintance, or taking Felix with him to
join in the plot.
His debt, his love of drinking, the im-
possibility ot indulging it without a fresh
supply of money, all came into his mind at
once, and conquered his remaining scruples.
It is said by those whose fatal experience
gives them a right to be believed, that a
drunkard will sacrifice anything, everything,
sooner than the pleasure of habitual intoxi-
How much easier is it never to begin a
bad custom, than to break through it when
Once formed !
TIHE FALSE KEY.
The hour of rendezvous came, and Cork-
screw went to the alehouse, where he found
the housebreakers waiting for him, and a
glass of brandy ready poured out. He
sighed-drank, hesitated, drank again, heard
the landlord talk of his bill, saw the money
produced which would pay it in a moment,
drank again, cursed himself, and, giving his
hand to the villain who was whispering in
his ear, swore that he could not help it,
and must do as they would have him.
They required of him to give up the key of
the house-door, that they might get another
made by it. He had left it with Felix, and
was now obliged to explain the new diffi-
culty which had arisen. Felix knew enough
to ruin them, and must therefore be woP
over. This was no very difficult task; he
had a strong desire to have some worked
cravats, and the butler knew enough of him
to believe that this would be a sufficient
bribe. The cravats were bought and shown
to Felix. He thought them the only things
wanting to make him a complete fine gentle-
man; and to go without them, especially
when he had once seen himself in the glass
THE FALSE IKEY.
with one tied on in a splendid bow, appeared
impossible. Even this paltry temptation,
working upon his vanity, at length pre-
vailed with a boy whose integrity had long
been corrupted by the habits of petty pilfer-
ing and daily falsehood. It was agreed
that, the first time his mistress sent him
out on a message, he should carry the key
of the house-door to his cousin's, and deliver
it into the hands of one of the gang who
was there in waiting for it. Such was the
Felix, the night after all this had been
planned, went to bed and fell fast asleep;
but the butler, who had not yet stifled the
voice of conscience, felt, in the silence of
the night, so insupportably miserable, that
instead of going to rest he stole softly into
the pantry for a bottle of his mistress's
wine, and there drinking glass after glass,
he stayed till he became so far intoxicated
that, though he contrived to find his way
back to bed, he could by no means undress
himself. Without any power of recollec-
tion, he flung himself upon the bed, leaving
his candle half hanging out of the candle-
THE FALSE KEY.
stick beside him. Franklin slept in the
next room to him, and presently awaking.
thought he perceived a strong smell of
something burning. He jumped up, and
seeing a light under the butler's door, gently
opened it, and to his astonishment beheld
one of the bed-curtains in flames. He im-
mediately ran to the butler, and pulled him
with all his force, to rouse him from his
lethargy. He came to his senses at length,
but was so terrified and so helpless that,
if it had not been for Franklin, the whole
house would soon inevitably have been on
fire. Felix, trembling and cowardly, knew
not what to do; and it was curious to see
him obeying Franklin, whose turn it was
now to command. Franklin ran up-stairs
to awaken Mrs. Pomfret, whose terror of
fire was so great that she came fr6m her
room almost out of her senses, whilst he,
with the greatest presence of mind, recol-
lected where he had seen two large tubs of
water, which the maids had prepared the
night before for their washing, and seiz-
ing the wet linen which had been left to
soak, he threw them upon the flames. He
THE FALSE KEY.
exerted himself with so much good sense that
the fire was presently extinguished.
Everything was now once more safe and
quiet. Mrs. Pomfret, recovering from her
fright, postponed all inquiries till the morn-
ing, and rejoiced that her mistress had not
been awakened, whilst Corkscrew flattered
himself that he should be able to conceal
the true cause of the accident.
'Don't you tell Mrs. Pomfret where you
found the candle when you came into the
room,' said he to Franklin. 'If she asks
me, you know I must tell the truth,' replied
he. 'Must!' repeated Felix, sneeringly;
'what, you must be a tell-tale!' 'No, I
never told any tales of anybody, and I
should be very sorry to get any one into
a scrape; but for all that, I shall not tell a
lie, either for myself or anybody else, let
you call me what names you will.' 'But
if I were to give you something that you
would like,' said Corkscrew,-' something
that I know you would like !' repeated
Felix. 'Nothing you can give me will do,'
answered Franklin, steadily; 'so it is use-
less to say any more about it-I hope I
THIE FALSE KEY.
shall not be questioned.' In this hope he
was mistaken; for the first thing Mrs.
Pomfret did in the morning was to come
into the butler's room to examine and de-
plore the burnt curtains, whilst Corkscrew
stood by endeavouring to exculpate himself
by all the excuses he could invent.
Mrs. Pomfret, however, though sometimes
blinded by her prejudices, was no fool; and
it was absolutely impossible to make her
believe that a candle which had been left
on the hearth, where Corkscrew protested
he had left it, could have set curtains on
fire which were at least six feet distant.
Turning short round to Franklin, she desired
that he would show her where he found the
candle when he came into the room. He
begged not to be questioned; but she in-
sisted. He took up the candlestick; but
the moment the housekeeper cast her eye
upon it, she snatched it from his hands.
'How did this candlestick come here ?
This was not the candlestick you found
here last night,' cried she. 'Yes, indeed it
was,' answered Franklin. 'That is impos-
sible,' retorted she, vehemently, 'for I left
THE FALSE KEY.
this candlestick with my own hands last
night in the hall, the last thing I did after
you,' said she, turning to the butler, 'was
gone to bed-I'm sure of it. Nay, don't
you recollect my taking this japanned
candlestick out of your hand, and making
you go up to bed with the brass one, and I
bolted the door at the stair-head after you ?'
This was all very true; but Corkscrew
had afterwards gone down from his room
by a back-staircase, unbolted that door, and
upon his return from the alehouse, had
taken the japanned candlestick by mistake
up-stairs, and had left the brass one in
its stead upon the hall table.
0 ma'am,' said Felix, 'indeed you for-
get, for Mr. Corkscrew came into my room
to desire me to call him betimes in the
morning, and I happened to take particular
notice, and he had the japanned candlestick
in his hand, and that was just as I heard
you bolting the door. Indeed, ma'am, you
forget.' Indeed, sir,' retorted Mrs. Pomfret,
rising in anger, I do not forget; I'm not
come to be superannuated yet, I hope.
How do you dare to tell me I forget?'
THE FALSE KEY.
' 0 ma'am,' cried Felix,' I beg your par-
don, I did not-I did not mean to say you
forgot, but only I thought, perhaps, you
might not particularly remember; for if
you please to recollect'- I won't please
to recollect just whatever you please, sir
Hold your tongue. Why should you poke
yourself into this scrape ? What have you
to do with it, I should be glad to know ?'
'Nothing in the world, oh, nothing in the
world; I'm sure I beg your pardon, ma'am,'
answered Felix in a soft tone; and, sneak-
ing off, left his friend Corkscrew to fight his
own battle, secretly resolving to desert in
good time if he saw any danger of the ale-
house transactions coming to light.
Corkscrew could make but very blunder-
ing excuses for himself; and, conscious of
guilt, he turned pale, and appeared so much
more terrified than butlers usually appear
when detected in a lie, that Mrs. Pomfret
resolved, as she said, to sift the matter to
the bottom. Impatiently did she wait till
the clock struck nine, and her mistress's
bell rang, the signal for her attendance at
her levee 'How do you find yourself this
THE FALSE KEY.
morning, ma'am ?' said she, undrawing the
curtains. 'Very sleepy indeed,' answered
her mistress, in a drowsy voice ;' I think
I must sleep half an hour longer-shut the
curtains.' 'As you please, ma'am; but I
suppose I had better open a little of the
window-shutter, for it's past nine.' 'But
just struck.' 'Oh dear, ma'am, it struck
before I came up-stairs, and you know we
are twenty minutes slow-you don't say so!'
exclaimed Mrs. Pomfret, as she let fall the
bar of the window, which roused her mis-
tress-' I'm sure I beg pardon a thousand
times-it's only the bar-because I had
this great key in my hand.' 'Put down
the key then, or you'll knock something
else down; and you may open the shutters
now, for I'm quite awake.' 'Dear me! I'm
so sorry to think of disturbing you,' cried
Mrs. Pomfret, at the same time throwing
the shutters wide open; 'but, to be sure,
ma'am, I have something to tell you, which
won't let you sleep again in a hurry. I
brought up this here key of the house-door
for reasons of my own, which I'm sure
you'll approve of; but I'm not come to that
40 THE FALSE KEY
part of my story yet. I hope you were not
disturbed by the noise in the house last
night, ma'am.' I heard no noise.' I am
surprised at that, though,' continued Mrs.
Pomfret, and now proceeded to give a most
ample account of the fire, of her fears, and
her suspicions. 'To be sure, ma'am, what
I say is, that, without the spirit of prophecy,
"one can noways account for what has passed.
I'm quite clear in my own judgment that
Mr. Corkscrew must have been out last
night after I went to bed; for, besides the
japanned candlestick, which of itself I'm
sure is strong enough to hang a man, there's
another circumstance, ma'am, that certifies
it to me-though I have not mentioned it,
ma'am, to no one yet,' lowering her voice.
'Franklin, when I questioned him, told me
that he left the lantern in the outside porch
in the court last night, and this morning it
was on the kitchen table. Now, ma'am, that
lantern could not come without hands; and
I could not forget about that, you know, for
Franklin says he's sure he left the lantern
out.' 'And do you believe him ?' inquired
her mistress. 'To be sure, ma'am-how can
THE FALSE KEY.
I help believing him ? I never found him
out in the least symptom of a lie since ever
ne came into the house; so one can't help
believing in him, like him or not.' 'With-
out meaning to tell a falsehood, however,'
said the lady,' he might make a mistake.'
'No, ma'am, he never makes mistakes; it
is not his way to go gossiping and tattling;
he never tells anything till he's asked, and
then it's fit he should. About the sirloin
of beef, and all, he was right in the end, I
found, to do him justice; and I'm sure he's
right now about the lantern-he's always
Mrs. Churchill could not help smiling.
If you had seen him, ma'am, last night
in the midst of the fire-I'm sure we may
thank him that we were not burned alive
in our beds-and I shall never forget his
coming to call me. Poor fellow he that I
was always scolding and scolding, enough
to make him hate me. But he's too good
to hate anybody! and I'll be bound I'll
make it up to him now.' 'Take care that
you don't go from one extreme into another,
Pomfret; don't spoil the boy.' 'No, ma'am,
42 THE FALSE KEYE
there's no danger of that; but I'm sure if
you had seen him last night yourself, you
would think he deserved to be rewarded.'
'And so he shall be rewarded,' said Mrs.
Churchill; 'but I will try him more fully
yet.' 'There's no occasion, I think, for try-
ing him any more, ma'am,' said Mrs. Pomfret,
who was as violent in her likings as in her
dislikes. 'Pray desire,' continued her mis-
tress, that he will bring up breakfast this
morning; and leave the key of the house-
door, Pomfret, with me.'
When Franklin brought the urn into the
breakfast-parlour, his mistress was standing
by the fire with the key in her hand. She
spoke to him of his last night's exertions in
terms of much approbation. How long
have you lived with me ?' said she, pausing;
'three weeks, I think ?' 'Three weeks and
four days, madam.' That is but a short
time; yet you have conducted yourself so
as to make me think I may depend upon
you. You know this key 'I believe,
madam, it is the key of the house-door.' 'It
is. I shall trust it in your care. It is a great
trust for so young a person as you are.'
THE FALSE KEY.
Franklin stood silent, with a firm but modest
look. If you take the charge of this key,'
continued his mistress,' remember it is upon
condition that you never give it out of your
own hands. In the daytime it must not be
left in the door. You must not tell any-
body where you keep it at night ; and the
house-door must not be unlocked after
eleven o'clock at night, unless by my orders.
Will you take charge of the key upon these
conditions ?' 'I will, madam, do anything
you order me,' said Franklin, and received
the key from her hands.
When Mrs. Churchill's orders were made
known, they caused many secret marvellings
and murmurings. Corkscrew and Felix
were disconcerted, and dared not openly
avow their discontent; and they treated
Franklin with the greatest seeming kind-
ness and cordiality.
Everything went on smoothly for three
days. The butler never attempted his usual
midnight visits to the alehouse, but went
to bed in proper time, and paid particular
court to Mrs. Pomfret, in order to dispel
her suspicions. She had never had any
44 THE FALSE KEY
idea of the real fact, that he and Felix were
joined in a plot with housebreakers to rob
the house, but thought he only went out at
irregular hours to indulge himself in his
passion for drinking.
Thus stood affairs the night before Mrs.
Churchill's birthday. Corkscrew, by the
housekeeper's means, ventured to present a
petition that he might go to the play the
next day, and his request was granted.
Franklin came into the kitchen jfist when
all the servants had gathered round the
butler, who, with great importance, was
reading aloud the play-bill. Everybody
present soon began to speak at once, and
with great enthusiasm talked of the play-
house, the actors, and actresses; and then
Felix, in the first pause, turned to Franklin
and said, 'Franklin, you know nothing of all
this you never went to a play, did you ?'
'Never,' said Franklin, and felt, he did not
know why, a little ashamed; and he longed
extremely to go to one. Iow should you
like to go to the play with me to-morrow ? '
said Corkscrew. 'Oh,' exclaimed Franklin,
I should like it exceedingly.' 'And do
THE FALSE KEY.
you think mistress would let you if I asked?'
' I think-maybe she would, if Mrs. Pomfret
asked her.' But then you have no money,
have you ?' 'No,' said Franklin, sighing.
'But stay,' said Corkscrew, 'what I am
thinking of is, that if mistress will let you
go, I'll treat you myself, rather than that
you should be disappointed.'
Delight, surprise, and gratitude appeared
in Franklin's face at these words. Cork-
screw rejoiced to see that now, at least, he
had found a most powerful temptation.
'Well, then, I'll go just now and ask her.
In the meantime, lend me the key of the
house-door for a minute or two.' 'The
key !' answered Franklin, starting; 'I'm
sorry, but I can't do that, for I've promised
my mistress never to let it out of my own
hands.' But how will she know anything
of the matter ?-Run, run, and. get it for
us.' 'No, I cannot,' replied Franklin, re-
sisting the push which the butler gave his
shoulder. 'You can't?' cried Corkscrew,
changing his tone; 'then, sir, I can't take
you to the play.' 'Very well, sir,' said
Franklin, sorro fully, but with steadiness.
THIE FALSE KEY.
'Very well, sir,' said Felix, mimicking him,
'you need not look so important, nor fancy
yourself such a great man, because you're
master of a key.'
'Say no more to him,' interrupted Cork-
screw; 'let him alone to take his own way.
-Felix, you would have no objection, I
suppose, to going to the play with me ?'
'Oh, I should like it of all things, if I
did not come between anybody else. But
come, come !' added the hypocrite, assuming
a tone of friendly persuasion, 'you won't
be such a blockhead, Franklin, as to lose
going to the play for nothing; it's only
just obstinacy. What harm can it do to
lend Mr. Corkscrew the key for five minutes?
He'll give it to you back again safe and
sound.' 'I don't doubt that' answered
Franklin. 'Then it must be all because
you don't wish to oblige Mr. Corkscrew.'
'No; but I can't oblige him in this; for,
as I told you before, my mistress trusted
me; I promised never to let the key out
of my own hands; and you would not have
me break my trust. Mr. Spencer told me
that was worse than robbing.'
THE FALSE KEY.
At the word robbing both Corkscrew and
Felix involuntarily cast down their eyes,
and turned the conversation immediately,
saying, that he did very right; that they
did not really want the key, and had only
asked for it just to try if he would keep his
word. 'Shake hands,' said Corkscrew, 'I
am glad to find you out to be an honest
fellow.' I'm sorry you did not think me
one before, Mr. Corkscrew,' said Franklin,
giving his hand rather proudly; and he
'We shall make no hand of this prig,'
said Corkscrew. 'But we'll have the key
from him in spite of all his obstinacy,' said
Felix; 'and let him make his story good
as he can afterwards. He shall repent of
these airs. To-night I'll watch him, and
find out where he hides the key; and when
he's asleep, we'll get it without thanking
This plan Felix put in execution. They
discovered the place where Franklin kept
the key at night, stole it whilst he slept,
took off the impression in wax, and carefully
replaced it in Franklin's trunk, exactly
TIHE FASE KIEY.
where they found it. Probably, our young
readers cannot guess what use they could
mean to make of this impression of the key
in wax. Knowing how to do mischief is
very different from wishing to do it; and
the most innocent persons are generally the
least ignorant. By means of the impression
which they had thus obtained, Corkscrew
and Felix proposed to get a false key made
by Picklock, a smith who belonged to their
gang of housebreakers; and with this false
key they knew they could open the door
whenever they pleased.
Little suspecting what had happened,
Franklin the next morning went to unlock
the house-door as usual; but finding the
key entangled in the lock, he took it out
to examine it, and perceived a lump of wax
sticking in one of the wards. Struck with
this circumstance, it brought to his mind
all that had passed the preceding evening,
and, being sure that he had no wax near
the key, he began to suspect what had
happened; and he could not help recollect-
ing what he had once heard Felix say, that
'give him but a halfpenny-worth of wax,
THE FALSE KEY.
and he could open the strongest lock that
ever was made by hands.'
All these things considered, Franklin
resolved to take the key just as it was,
with the wax sticking in it, to his mistress.
'I was not mistaken when I thought I
might trust you with this key,' said Mrs.
Churchill, after she had heard his story.
' My brother will be here to-day, and I shall
consult him. In the meantime, say nothing
of what has passed.'
Evening came; and after tea Mr. Spen-
cer sent for Franklin up-stairs. 'So, Mr.
Franklin,' said he, 'I'm glad to find you
are in such high trust in this family.'
Franklin bowed. 'But you have lost, I
understand, the pleasure of going to the
play to-night.' 'I don't think anything-
much, I mean, of that, sir,' answered Franklin,
smiling. 'Are Corkscrew and Felix gune
to the play ?' 'Yes; half an hour ago,
sir.' Then I shall look into his room, and
examine the pantry and the plate that is
under his care.'
When Mr. Spencer came to examine the
pantry, he found the large salvers and cups
THE FALSE IKE,.
in a basket behind the door, and the other
things placed so as to be easily carried off.
Nothing at first appeared in Corkscrew's
bed-chamber to strengthen their suspicions,
till, just as they were going to leave the
room, Mrs. Pomfret exclaimed, 'Why, if
there is not Mr. Corkscrew's dress-coat
hanging up there! and if here isn't Felix's
fine cravat that he wanted in such a hurry
to go to the play Why, sir, they can't
be gone to the play. Look at the cravat.
Ha! upon my word, I am afraid they are
not at the play. No, sir, no! you may be
sure that they are plotting with their bar-
barous gang at the alehouse; and they'll
certainly break into the house to-night. We
'shall all be murdered in our beds, as sure
as I'm a living woman, sir; but if you'll
only take my advice'---'Pray, good Mrs.
Pomfret,' Mr. Spencer observed, 'don't be
alarmed.' 'Nay, sir, but I won't pretend
to sleep in the house, if Franklin isn't to
have a blunderbuss, and I a baggonct.'
'You shall have both, indeed, Mrs. Pomfret;
but don't make such a noise, for everybody
will hear you.'
TILE FALSE KEY I
The love of mystery was the only thing
which could have conquered Mrs. Pomfret's
love of talking. She was silent, and con-
tented herself the rest of the evening with
making signs, looking ominous, and stalking
about the house like one possessed with a
Escaped from Mrs. Pomfret's fears and
advice, Mr. Spencer went to a shop within
a few doors of the alehouse, which he heard
Corkscrew frequented, and sent to beg to
speak to the landlord. He came; and,
when Mr. Spencer questioned him, confessed
that Corkscrew and Felix were actually
drinking in his house, with two men of
suspicious appearance;-that, as he passed
through the passage, he heard them disput-
ing about a key; and that one of them said,
' Since we've got the key, we'll go about it
to-night.' This was sufficient information.
Mr. Spencer, lest the landlord should give
them information of what was going for-
wards, took him along with him to Bow
A constable and proper assistance was
sent to Mrs. Churcnill's. They stationed
THE FALSE KEY.
themselves in a back parlour which opened
on a passage leading to the butler's pantry
where the plate was kept. A little after
midnight they heard the hall-door open.
Corkscrew and his accomplices went directly
to the pantry; and there Mr. Spencer and
the constable immediately secured them, as
they were carrying off their booty.
Mrs. Churchill and Pomfret had spent
the night at the house of an acquaintance
in the same street. 'Well, ma'am,' said
Mrs. Pomfret, who had heard all the news
in the morning, 'the villains are all safe,
thank God. I was afraid to go to the
window this morning; but it was my luck
to see them all go by to gaol. They looked
so shocking! I am sure I never shall
forget Felix's look to my dying day But
poor Franklin! ma'am; that boy has the
best heart in the world. I could not get
him to give a second look at them as they
passed. Poor fellow! I thought he would
have dropped; and he was so modest,
ma'am, when Mr. Spencer spoke to him,
and told him he had done his duty.' And
did my brother tell him what reward I
THE FALSE KEY.
intend for him?' 'No, ma'am, and I'm
sure Franklin thinks no more of reward
than I do.' 'I intend,' continued Mrs.
Chdrchill, 'to sell some of my old useless
plate, and to lay it out in an annuity for
Franklin's life.' 'Oh, ma'am!' exclaimed
Mrs. Pomfret with unfeigned joy, 'I'm sure
you are very good; and I'm very glad of it.
And, ma'am,' continued Mrs. Pomfret, 'the
night after the fire I left him my great Bible,
and my watch, in my will; for I never was
more mistaken at the first in any boy in my
born days; but he has won me by his own
deserts, and I shall from this time forth love
all the Villaintropie folks for his sake.'
THE MERCHANT'S DAUGHTER.
NTIL I was eleven years of age,
my life was one continued series
of indulgence and delight. My
father was a merchant, and supposed to be
in very opulent circumstances,-at least, I
thought so, for at a very early age I per-
ceived that we lived in a more expensive
way than any of my father's friends did. It
was not the pride of birth, of which many
may justly boast, but the mere display of
wealth that I was early taught to set an
undue value on. My parents spared no costs
for masters to instruct me; I had a French
governess, and also a woman-servant, whose
sole business it was to attend on me. My
play-room was crowded with toys, and my
dress was the admiration of all my youthful
visitors, to whom I gave balls and enter-
tainments as often as I pleased. I looked
down on all my young companions as my
inferiors; but I chiefly assumed airs of
superiority over Maria Hartley, whose father
was a clerk in my father's counting-house,
and therefore I concluded she would regard
the fine show I made with more envy and
admiration than any other of my com-
panions. In the days of my humiliation,
which I too soon experienced, I was thrown
on the bounty of her father for support.
To be a dependant on the charity of her
family seemed the heaviest evil that could
have befallen me; for I remembered how
often I had displayed my finery and my
expensive ornaments, on purpose to enjoy
the triumph of my superior advantages;
and, with shame I now speak it, I have
often glanced at her plain linen frock when
I showed her my beautiful ball-dresses.
Nay, I once gave her a hint, which she so
well understood that she burst into tears,
that I could not invite her to some of my
56 CHABLOTTE WILMOT.
parties because her mamma once sent her
on my birthday in a coloured frock. I
cannot now think of my want of feeling
without excessive pain; but one I saw
her highly amused with some vi:i ii:i toys,
and on her expressing the'p] lle? the
sight of them gave her, I said, 'Yes, they
are very well for those who are not accus-
tomed to these things; but, for my part, I
have so many, I am tired of them, and I
am quite delighted to pass an hour in the
empty closet your mamma allows you to
receive your visitors in, because there is
nothing there to interrupt the conversa-
Once, as I have said, Maria was betrayed
into tears. Now that I insulted her by
calling her own small apartment an empty
closet, she turned quick upon me, but not
in anger, saying,' Oh, my dear Miss Wilmot,
how very sorry I am'-- here she stopped;
and though I knew not the meaning of her
words, I felt it as a reproof. I hung down
my head abashed; yet, perceiving that she
was all that day more kind and obliging
than ever, and being conscious of not having
merited this kindness, I thought she was
mean-spirited, and therefore I consoled
myself with having discovered this fault in
her, for I thought my arrogance was full
as excusable as her meanness.
In a few days I knew my error. I
learned why Maria had been so kind, and
why she had said she was sorry. It was
for me, proud, disdainful girl that I was,
that she was sorry. She knew, though I did
not, that my father was on the brink of
ruin; and it came to pass, as she feared it
would, that in a few days my play-room
was as empty as Maria's closet, and all my
grandeur was at an end.
My father had what is called an execu-
tion in the house; everything was seized
that we possessed. Our splendid furniture,
and even our wearing apparel, all my
beautiful, ball-dresses, my trinkets, and my
toys, were taken away by my father's
merciless creditors. The week in which
this happened was such a scene of hurry,
confusion, and misery, that I will not
attempt to describe it.
At the end of a week, I found that my
58 CHARLOTTE WILMOT.
father and mother had gone out very early
in the morning. Mr. Hartley took me
home to his own house, and I expected to
find them there; but oh, what anguish did
I feel when I heard him tell Mrs. Hartley
they had quitted England, and that he had
brought me home to live with them! In
tears and sullen silence I passed the first
day. of my entrance into this despised house.
Maria was from home. All the day I sat
in a corner of the room, grieving for the
departure of my parents; and if for a
moment I forgot that sorrow, I tormented
myself with imagining the many ways which
Maria might invent, to make me feel in
return the slights and airs of superiority
which I had given myself over her. Her
mother began the prelude to what I ex-
pected, for I heard her freely censure the
imprudence of my parents. She spoke in
whispers; yet, though I could not hear
every word, I made out the tenor of her
discourse. She was very anxious lest her
husband should be involved in the ruin of
our house. He was the chief clerk in my
father's countihg-house. Towards evening
he came in and quieted her fears by the
welcome news that he had obtained a more
lucrative situation than the one he had
At eight in the evening, Mrs. Hartley
said to me, 'Miss Wilmot, it is time for
you to be in bed, my dear,' and ordered
the servant to show me up-stairs, adding,
that she supposed she must assist me. to
undress, but that when Maria came home,
she must teach me to wait on myself. The
apartment in which I was to sleep was at
the top of the house. The walls were
whitewashed, and the roof was sloping.
There was only one window in the room, a
small casement through which the bright
moon shone, and it seemed to me the most
melancholy sight I had ever beheld. In
broken and disturbed slumbers I passed the
night. When I awoke in the morning, she
whom I most dreaded to see, Maria, who I
supposed had envied my former state, and
who I now felt certain would exult over
my present mortifying reverse of fortune,
stood by my bedside. She awakened me
from a dream, in which I thought she was
60 CITABLOTTE WILMOT.
ordering me to fetch her something; and on
my refusal, she said I must obey her, for I
was now her servant. Far differently from
what my dreams had pictured did Maria
address me! She said, in the gentlest tone
imaginable, 'My dear Miss Wilmot, my
mother begs you will come down to break-
fast. Will you give me leave to dress
you ?' My proud heart would not suffer
me to speak, and I began to attempt to put
on my clothes; but never having been used
to do anything for myself, I was unable to
perform it, and was obliged to accept of the
assistance of Maria. She dressed me,
washed my face, and combed my hair; and
as she did these services for me, she said in
a most respectful manner, 'Is this the way
you like to wear this, Miss Wilmot ?' or,
'Is this the way you like this done ?' and
curtsied as she gave me every fresh article
to put on. The slights I expected to
receive from Maria would not have dis-
tressed me more than the delicacy of her
behaviour did. I hung down my head
with shame and anguish.
In a few days, Mrs. Hartley ordered her
daughter to instruct me in such useful
works and employment as Maria knew.
Of everything which she called useful I was
most ignorant. My accomplishments, I
found, were held in small estimation here,
by all indeed, except Maria. She taught
nothing without the kindest apologies for
being obliged to teach me, who, she said,
was so excellent in all elegant arts, and was
for ever thanking me for the pleasure she
had formerly received from my skill in
music and pretty fancy-works. The distress
I was in made these complimentary speeches,
not flatteries, but sweet drops of comfort to
my degraded heart, almost broken with mis-
fortune and remorse.
I remained at Mr. Hartley's but two
months; for at the end of that time my
rather inherited a considerable property by
the death of a distant relation, which has
enabled him to settle his affairs. He
established himself again as a merchant;
out as he wished to retrench his expenses,
and begin the world again on a plan of
strict economy, he sent me to school to
finish my education.
THE KNIGHT AND THE GREYHOUND.
HERE was once a knight who was
very fond of hunting and fighting,
and often went away from home,
leaving his only child, whom he loved very
dearly. Besides, he had two pets, a grey-
hound and a falcon, which were the play-
fellows of the little child, and slept and
ate in the same room with it.
One day, while the knight was out
hunting, the nurse left the room where
the child was sleeping in its cradle. The
faithful old greyhound was sleeping beside
it, and the falcon, perched at the head of
the cradle, had almost fallen asleep too.
But luckily the bird was wide awake
enough to see a terrible danger which
threatened the child. A great serpent
KNIGHT AND GREYHOUND. 03
had come out of a hole in the wall, and
was creeping towards the cradle with open
The falcon at once began to flap its
wings so loudly as to awake the dog, who
saw the serpent just in time to seize it as
it was about to dart upon the sleeping child.
A desperate fight then took place between
the two animals, and in the end the grey-
hound killed the serpent, but not without
being seriously hurt by its cruel enemy.
In the meanwhile, the knight was riding
slowly homewards to his castle, when he
saw the falcon flying towards him, and
fluttering round his head as if to urge him
to make haste. Fearing that something
must be the matter at home, he spurred
his horse and galloped as fast as he could
to the castle. As soon as he reached the
gate, the screams of the nurse led him at
once to the room where he had left his
child, and there he saw a sight which filled
him with rage and grief.
The cradle was upset, and the poor little
baby was lying on the floor covered with
blood, while the greyhound stood over it,
6i KNIGHT AND GREYHOUND.
and was also marked with blood. The
knight's first thought was that the dog had
killed his child, and, not stopping to think,
he drew his sword, and with one stroke laid
the faithful animal dead at his feet.
Then a faint cry came from the child,
and showed that it was, still alive; and
when they raised the cradle, they found
behind it the body of the serpent which
the greyhound had killed.
The knight understood it all now, and
was bitterly sorry that in his passion he
had killed the faithful dog, which had been
wounded in defending his child. He would
have given anything he had in the world to
make the poor greyhound alive again, but it
was too late; and all his life he could not
forget the folly and ingratitude with which
he had rewarded this brave and faithful
animal. So great was his repentance that
he never went hunting or fighting again,
and in this way punished himself for his
THE HALF-EMPTY BOTTLE.
GREAT battle was once fought
between the Germans and the
Swedes, in which many thousands
were killed on both sides, and at length the
Swedes were defeated. In the evening, a
private soldier of the German army was
placed as a sentinel on the battlefield, at
a place covered with the bodies of dead and
wounded men. He was very tired and
thirsty, and had no time to eat his supper
before going on duty, so he took with him
a bottle of beer to refresh himself.
Just as he was about to raise it to his
lips, he heard a low groan beside him, and
found that it came from a wounded Swede,
who, tossing on the ground in pain and
fever, was faintly crying out for drink.
The good-natured soldier took pity on
G6 THE HALF-EM1PTY BOTTLE.
him, and, stooping down, handed him the
'Here You shall have half.'
But the Swede was mad with pain and
rage, and instead of feeling grateful to the
other man, he suddenly pulled out a pistol
and fired it in his face, intending to kill
him, and take the whole of the beer for
Luckily, the ball only grazed the German's
ear; and when he saw the treachery of the
man to whom he was trying to be kind, he
quietly took away the bottle, and drank half
of its contents. Then he gave it back to
the wounded man, only saying,
'There, you rascal, you can take your
When this generous act became known,
the general of the Germans sent for the
soldier and rewarded him handsomely.
Besides, the king was so pleased with him
that he gave him leave to wear a half-empty
bottle as his crest, and it is so worn by his
descendants to this day.
PRYING AND PEEPING.
MMA'S mother was a widow, and
she was an only child. So her
mother loved her very much, and
was very sorry to see that she had one great
fault, which would make other people dislike
her. She was very inquisitive about what-
ever was said ordone by everybody she knew;
and if she could not find out in any other
way, she would listen at the door or take
some other sly means of getting to know
what she wished. Her mother often spoke
to her about this, and tried to show her how
dishonest it was to pry into other people's
secrets. She was more than once turned
:ut of the houses of friends who had caught
her spying upon them in some such mean
way. But for all that, Emma was not
cured of her curiosity till a sad accident
happened to her.
68 PRYING AND PEEPING.
One day a gentleman called upon her
mother, and asked to see her alone. They
went into the next room together, and
Emma stole after them, for she was on pins
and needles to know what it was that this
gentleman could have to say to her mother.
Just as he was going to begin to speak,
the gentleman had noticed that the door
had been left a little open. He rose, and
shut it sharply; but he had no sooner done
so, than a loud scream came from the other
side, and when he quickly opened it, Emma
was seen lying on the ground, rolling over
and over in agony. She had stolen to the
door to listen, and her finger had been in
the chink when it was shut to.
A doctor was at once sent for, but he
could do little to relieve poor Emma. The
end of her finger had to be cut off, and she
suffered great pain for many weeks. But
this accident did her good, for she never
look-d at this finger, shorter than the others,
without being warned against her tempta-
tion to listen to other people's affairs.
HARLES TURNER had been a
good boy, and had said his
lessons well for some time, so
his father wished to give him a reward.
He took him out into the garden, and
showed him a plot in which nothing was
'There !' he said, 'you have long wished
to have a garden of your own, and this is
now to be set apart for you. You can divide
it into two parts, one for flowers and the
other for vegetables.'
Then he led the way to a little shed,
where there were a spade, a rake, a watering-
pot, all of a size which Charles could use.
Besides, there were baskets to carry earth,
and cuttings in pots, and little bags full of
seeds, each one ticketed with the name and
the time at which it was to be sown.
You can fancy Charles's delight. He
thought as much of his little garden as if
it had been a large estate, and promised
himself that it should be as well taken care
of as any part of his father's garden. He
spent all his spare time in it, and worked
hard, so that soon the bare earth began to
be covered with plants and blossoms.
He was often told never to go through
the garden door without shutting it after
him; but one day he went out for a few
minutes, and forgot to do this. The door
being open, a hen that had got out of the
poultry yard, and was wandering about to
see what it could see, thought it might as
well make a journey into the garden. So
in it went, and begun hunting for worms,
of which it soon found plenty in the rich
earth. And of all places it chose out one
where Charles had just been planting some
So when the boy came back, he found
the hen diligently scratching with its claws
and digging with its beak in the middle
of his garden. Charles had never a very
good temper, and now he was quite wild
S THE HEN. T1
with anger. 'Oh, you brute!' he cried, 'I
will make you pay for this !'
At once he ran to shut the door, for fear
the hen should escape his vengeance; then
he began to chase it, throwing at it stones,
sticks, clods of earth, and whatever else he
could lay his hands on.
The poor fowl, which hadn't known it
was doing wrong, was in a great fright, and
did its best to escape. First it waddled
along as fast as it could, cackling and clap-
ing its wings; then it tried to fly, but found
the wall too high for it. It fell back once
more into Charles's flower-beds, and was
caught by the claws among some sweet-
Ah I'll have you now !' Charles cried,
rushing up. Only two 'ows of tulips and
lilies separated him from his victim ; in his
rage he did not care that he trampled them
down to get at the hen. But just as he
thought he had it, the hen made a desperate
effort and got free, tearing away some of his
prettiest flowers, and the chase began again.
Charles caught up his rake, and threw it as
hard as he could after the fowl. But, alas !
it missed its aim, and struck the greenhouse,
where it broke a pane of glass, and had two
of its own teeth knocked out.
Just then the poor hen got into a corner;
and he would most likely have made short
work with it, if Mr Turner had not at that
moment entered the garden.
Charles dropped the spade, and looked
ashamed to be seen in such a passion.
Do you see, papa, what mischief this
horrid beast has done in my garden! he
said, as if to excuse himself.
'Yes,' said Mr. Turner,' I have seen it
all. I was looking out of the window, and
I am not pleased with you, Charles. It
would be much fairer than punishing the
hen, if I were to take a stick and treat you
as you wished to treat it. And I will not
let this foolish anger pass without punish-
ment. You will have to pay for the
greenhouse window out of your own pocket-
Poor Charles hung his head, and went
sadly to see how much mischief had been
done. He made up his mind that he would
try not to lose his temper again.