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CTwo Little 1Roohs
LOUISA C. SILKE
AUTHOR OF 'NORA'S STRONGHOLD,' 'LOVING SERVICE,' ETC.
tbe Religious tract Society
56 PATERNOSTER ROW; 65 ST. PAUL'8 CHURCHYARD
AND 164 PICCADILLY
-VA G E
THE OLD FISHERMAN 1
MISS HORLEY 25
A FIT OF NAUGHTINESS .
A TALK WITH OLD WEST 4:
MAKING A CONFESSION 52
CONSEQUENCES OF WRONG-DOING 81
CONCLUSION : 9
E EB'S such a beauty !' exclaimed a little
boy's voice in rapturous tones.
'I don't expect he's as big as
mine,' said another voice.
'Yes, he is,-bigger. Just you come and see.
And two little curly heads were bent eagerly over
a small wooden pail, half full of sea water, in which
a young crab that had just been captured had been
'There now! he's the biggest we've caught yet,
isn't he ?' exclaimed the first speaker triumphantly.
'Well, yes, I suppose he is,' said the other half
reluctantly. But I daresay I shall catch a bigger
'I must take care I don't lose him though,' said
the owner of the prize, with an anxious glance at
8 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
his treasure, which did not seem at all disposed to
settle down quietly in his new quarters.
'He'll crawl out of the tub if you don't take care,'
remarked the other. 'But come, let us see what
else we can find.'
The speakers were two little boys, with trousers
tucked up to their knees, and shoes and stockings
taken off for the purpose of leaving their legs and
feet bare that they might wade into the pools and
shallows which the tide in receding had left here
and there on the stretch of level sand.
The two little fellows were new comers to
Hartridge, and the shore was a place of endless
delight to them. In addition to other attractions it
possessed that of novelty, as they had never been to
the sea-side before, having spent all their short
lives in an inland town about twenty miles from
It was easy to see at a glance that they were
brothers and twins, the likeness between them was
so strong. They had the same brown eyes, curly
brown hair and rosy dimpled cheeks, and the same
well-built little figures very much the same height,
though Eddy was a trifle slighter than his brother,
while Freddy's eyes had a more mischievous twinkle
in them than Eddy's, which were more pensive and
Casual observers would see no difference between
them, but those who looked more closely noticed
~ ------ ~~c~;1 iI
:~ .* r
~ W. J. Moryoh,
10 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
that Freddy -appeared the more robust of the two,
his complexion being brown and red, while Eddy's
was white and red. His rosy lips too were fuller
and more inclined to pout than Eddy's, which were
more firmly set when not parted with a smile.
Just at present both seemed equally eager in
the pursuit of tiny crabs, while now and then they
came upon some shell or piece of seaweed which
drew from them exclamations of delight.
Everything was so new to them; they were con-
tinually meeting with surprises and making fresh
discoveries. Their happiness was never-failing, and
they thought no spot could ever be so delightful as
their present place of abode.
Hartridge was a pleasant sea-side village, quite a
small place, quiet and rural, with green fields sur-
rounding it on all sides except that on which the
sea lay. Mrs. Rook had lately come to reside there
with her two little boys, partly because she could there
meet with a small cottage sufficient for her needs
at a lower rent than in the town, and also because,
through the interest of a friend, she had obtained
some pupils in the young daughters of Mr. Arnott,
the squire of the place. For, now that she had lost
her husband, she felt that she must not only lessen
her expenses in every possible way, but must set
herself to earn something to add to her very slender
John Rook, her husband, who had been an
organist and a teacher of music, had been looked upon
as a clever young man, sure to do well and rise in
the world, but death had carried him off before he
had been able to lay by much to leave his wife and
Mrs. Rook herself was the daughter of a clergy-
man, and having received a thoroughly good educa-
tion, was fully qualified to teach the two little girls
at the Hall. She considered herself very fortunate
in having met with pupils so readily. The one
great drawback was that she was obliged to be away
from her own children during so many hours of the
day, and thus they were left more than she liked
to their own resources.
But there was no help for it. She was obliged to
trust them down on th.e beach by themselves, as
there was no one she could send with them, Jane,
the young maid-of-all work, having too much to do
to allow of her accompanying them.
But Mrs. Rook comforted herself with the
reflection that it was a very safe coast, with no
rocks or cliffs or dangerous places, but just smooth
sand and a pebbly beach, so that they could scarcely
come to much harm. And there were always people
about. Mrs. Rook had made friends with some of
the old fishermen who were generally lounging on
the beach, and they in a way kept an eye upon the
little brothers, in whom they took a lively interest.
On this particular afternoon they paddled about
12 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
for a long while hunting for fresh treasures with
unabated eagerness; and then they stood for some
time hand in hand close to the water's edge watching
the waves come rippling in at their feet, while now
and then a larger one than usual would break and
suddenly rush up so much farther than they ex-
pected that they had to run hastily back, which
they did with merry shouts of laughter.
They quite forgot to take heed how time was
passing, until Freddy at length remarked, 'I'm
getting dreadfully hungry, Eddy. I expect it must
be near tea-time.'
'Let us ask old West what the time is. There
he is beside that boat. He will know.'
'Yes, for he has a watch. But, oh, what a
monster it is; not like mother's, but a big silver
thing like a small warming-pan,' laughed Freddy.
Old West smiled as he saw the little fellows
'Well, my little men, you've been having a fine
game of play this afternoon. I've been watching
you for ever so long, and your bursts of laughter
were so merry they almost made the old man join
'Please, will you tell us the time ? Is it nearly
five o'clock yet ?'
'It's after five: twenty minutes past.'
Oh, I say, Eddy, we must be quick. We ought
to have been back before five.'
'If we don't take care mother will be home first,'
rejoined Eddy, as he scampered off after his brother
to the place where they had left their shoes and
These were put on as hastily as possible, and
then they ran off as fast as they could go up the
lane which led to Myrtle Cottage.
^ C H --PTE R. 1 .
T a bend in the road they met their
mother, who with anxious Ioqks was
coming in search of them, as they
were so much behind time that she was getting
alarmed. They ran into her arms, and, much
relieved to find her fears had been groundless, she
gave them both a hearty hug.
'How is it you are so late, dears ? You ought to
have been in by five o'clock, and I was beginning to
be afraid some harm had happened to you.'
'We didn't know it was so late till we asked old
West the time, and then we came off as fast as we
'I thought you were sure to know when meal time
was approaching by your appetites,' said Mrs. Rook.
'I suppose I didn't get hungry as soon as usual
this afternoon,' returned Freddy. 'But I always
get hungry first,' he added, seeming to think there
was something meritorious in that fact. 'If it
depended on Eddy, we should generally be late.'
'Aren't you hungry too, my darling ?'
'Oh, yes, mother, I am now,' said Eddy. 'And
I'm sorry we are late, for it has made you come all
this way to look for us; and poor mother is always
tired with her day's work,' continued the child,
taking her hand in his, while he looked up lovingly
into her face.
'I'm not so tired to-day, dear; and we will have
a nice time together after tea sitting out in the
garden, as it is so warm. I've borrowed a pretty
story book to read to you.'
'That will be jolly! And, mother, see all the
things we have found this afternoon; and look at
my dear little crabs. Aren't they ducks ?'
'Well, no, I should say they are crabs still.'
'Now, mother, you know what I mean. Aren't
they dears then ?'
I am glad you have brought plenty of sea water
with them in your pails. But I think to-morrow
you had better put them back where you found them.
That would be the kindest thing you could do.'
Oh, mother put away our dear little baby crabs !'
cried Eddy, disconsolately. 'We meant to catch
some more to-morrow.'
16 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
'I fear they can't like their now quarters, which
must seem very confined. Just think, darling, you
wouldn't like to be suddenly taken away from your
home, would you ?'
'No, mother; but we are boys, not crabs. No
one is likely to come and snatch us up and carry us
off,' said Freddy.
'But supposing any one did such a thing, would
you not be very glad if he afterwards repented and
brought you home again ?'
'Yes, indeed. It would be dreadful to be taken
away from you, mother dear,' said tender-hearted
Eddy. 'I think I should die. And perhaps those
little crabs have mothers, and we have taken them
from them! That does seem cruel. And perhaps
the poor mothers are looking for them, as you came
to look for us just now, and they can't find them.
Poor things! I'll take mine back to-morrow.
Won't you do the same, Freddy ?'
'I don't know-I'll think about it. Perhaps they
haven't mothers after all. We can't be sure, you
'But even if they haven't mothers you would
not wish to be unkind to them, I'm sure,' said Mrs.
Rook. 'But here we are at our gate. Run and
wash your hands, and make haste down to tea,
which has been ready for some time.'
The little boys did full justice to the meal, and
when it was over, what was to them the happiest
part of the whole day began, when they could have
their mother all to themselves. And she was accus-
tomed at that hour to give herself entirely up to
them until their bed-time.
It had been a lovely summer's day, and the
evening was warm, so they were able to do what the
boys liked better than anything, which was to
carry out seats and establish themselves under the
old apple tree in the garden at the back of the
cottage, where there was a small lawn surrounded
by flower-beds. On the other side of the hedge there
was a green field, so it was very pleasant and open.
Sitting one on each side of their mother, and as
close to her as they could well get, they listened
while she read to them out of the promised story
book, which proved so interesting that even restless
Freddy was charmed into quietude, and remained
perfectly still for quite a long space of time.
When bed-time came the boys were very reluctant
to go indoors; it always seemed so much harder in
summer, when the evenings were so light and
beautiful, and it was so tempting to be out of doors,
than in winter, when somehow they got more sleepy,
and found their little beds very snug places.
But Mrs. Rook had, trained them to obedience;
and though her words, 'Now, boys, it is time to go
in and get ready for bed,' were met with two little
groans and remonstrances from two little voices,
followed by pleadings to be allowed to stop up just
18 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
a wee bit longer, yet the boys knew that when she
answered decidedly, 'No, dears, come at once,' they
must do as she said.
She went up with them, and heard them say their
little hymns and prayers; and when they were both
in bed, she sat by them for a few minutes, talking to
them simply about the love of God their Father and
of Christ their Saviour, trying to lead their last
evening thoughts upwards and heavenwards.
It was not long before sleep closed their eyes, and
the merry voices were silent.
The house seemed very quiet then, and there was
nothing to distract Mrs. Rook's thoughts as she sat
in the small parlour below, busy mending some of
the little garments which wore out so fast.
As her head bent over her work her heart went
up in prayer to God that He would bless her two
little sons, His own precious gift to her; that He
would seal them for His own, and that from their
earliest years to their latest hours on earth they
might ever be His true and faithful soldiers and
When at last she prepared to go to rest, she went
and stood beside them for some moments looking
down very lovingly upon these, her dearest earthly
treasures. Though poor in this world's goods, she
felt she was rich as long as she had them left to her.
Ujbe CIO fribennan.
HE next morning Mrs. Rook was up
early, for she had to see to her
children and the needs of her little household before
she set off for the Hall at half-past nine.
The two boys generally accompanied her as far as
the lodge; and then, while she passed in through the
gates they turned and went down the lane to the
beach, their favourite place of resort.
Old West, whom they looked upon as an old
acquaintance by this time, was sitting on a bench
sunning himself as they drew near. Eddy ran to-
'Would you like to look at my dear little crabs
before I put them back in the sea ? I'm so sorry to
part with them ; but mother says it would be kinder
" I' 1" "
K' p!; .- -
i . ; .
----r *. s; . ,'l> ^ v
II -' '' '
W--- i 7.'^^c-^
THE OLD FISHERMAN. 21
to put them back; and she says we ought to be kind
to all live things.'
West, to please the child, peered into the pail with
an appearance of interest.
'They are tiny things sure enough,' he remarked.
'But they are lively enough when they aren't turned
over on their backs. I shouldn't think them little
things could have much feeling. If you want to keep
them, I don't see why you shouldn't.'
'Don't you think little things feel ?' asked Eddy
doubtfully. 'I think they must though. I'm sure
little boys feel. And I shouldn't like to be unkind
to any little things, because God made them,' he
added gravely, as he looked up artlessly into the old
man's face. 'And God loves the things He made,
doesn't He ?'
'Maybe,' was all the reply West gave.
Oh, I know He does,' went on the child. He
loves me; and He loves you too; doesn't He ?'
'Can't say,' returned the old man.
'Oh, don't you know He loves you ?' cried the
child in distressed tones.
'I don't know much about Him,' confessed the
'Don't you ?' said Eddy, with a look of perplexity
if not of dismay on his childish face. 'Don't you
know God? Didn't your mother teach you about
Him when you were a little boy, like our mother
22 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
'Ay, she did that. But it's so long ago I've almost
forgotten all about it,' replied old West slowly, his
eyes wandering in a dreamy way over the expanse
of ocean, while there came back to him, as if revealed
by a flash of lightning, the picture of the old childish
days, when he had stood at a mother's knee, and
listened to heavenly truths from her lips.
'I ran away from her when I was quite a young-
ster, and went off to sea. And when I came home
again she was dead.'
'Oh, how dreadful that must have been for you!'
exclaimed Eddy. 'So you could never ask her to
forgive you! And how unhappy it must have made
her to have her little boy run away from her.'
'I gave small heed to that. I was a bad heartless
fellow in those days. But I've been punished for it.
In my turn I've had boys who have been bad sons to
me. And now I'm a lonesome old man with no one
to care for me.'
Tender-hearted Eddy was quite touched by this
picture of desolation. He longed to comfort his
'But there is One who cares for you,' he said softly.
'Who may that be, my little man ?'
'God,' said Eddy in a low voice. 'He cares for
'Ah, so you said just now. But how can He care
for me ? I have never cared for Him, scarce given
Him a thought. Why should He care for me ?'
THE OLD FISHERMAN. 23
I don't know,' returned the child slowly, as if the
question was too difficult for him to answer. 'Only
I'm sure He does; for people don't generally give
their very best things to those they don't care for, do
they ? '
'But God gave His own Son to die for us. Mother
says He couldn't have done more than that, because
that was the very best He had. So you see He does
love you. I should say He must love you very much
-oh, ever so much.'
West did not reply, save by shaking his head
doubtfully. But as Eddy ran off to join Freddy,
who was calling loudly for him, the old man followed
him with his eyes wistfully, as if he envied him his
childish faith and happy trust.
'Love an old man like me !' he murmured to him-
self. 'I can scarce believe that. Angry with me He
may well be, for I've done nothing but anger Him
all my life long. And now it's too late to change
But somehow he could not this morning dismiss
the subject from his mind. Now that his busy
working days were over, and he could do little but
sit about in the sun, he had plenty of time for think-
ing; and though he had throughout his life banished
all remembrance of God from his mind he could not
help at times-now that his days on earth were fast
running out-casting a glance onward and wondering
24 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
what lay before him. But he was very ignorant.
All was vague and dark.
He had a dim sense that God would punish the
wicked and reward the good; but he knew little
more. He had never cared to know. On one point,
however, he was clear: his life had been a bad one;
in God's sight he was a sinner, condemned to death.
Could it be possible that the little boy's words were
true ; that God loved hiam! If God loved him, then
He might perhaps pardon him. He wished now
that he knew more about these things.
l^ '^S'I 'I ':-
7 J OYS, I have something to tell you,'
said Mrs. Rook, calling her little
sons, who were chasing one another
round the garden after tea.
They immediately rushed to her side to hear what
it was she had to say. She had taken her seat
under the old apple tree, and they threw themselves
down on the turf at her feet.
'Now, mother, what is it ?'
'You know I am very much ashamed of your
being such dunces,' she began.
'Yes, mother,' returned Freddy in tones of per-
fect unconcern. It did not affect his spirits in the
least to be told he was a dunce.
26 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
'And it will not do for you to go on like this
without being taught,' continued Mrs. Rook.
'But you've no time now to teach us, mother, so
it can't be helped,' said Freddy, disposing of the
subject in an easy manner.
'I have had no time to teach you myself since we
came here, it is true, and I can't help regretting it.
But as it is so, I must find some one else to teach
'Why should you trouble, mother ? We are very
happy as we are,' said Freddy.
'We shouldn't like anyone but you to teach us,
mother,' said Eddy.
'My dears, we mustn't always think of what is
pleasant, or what we like. Though I should not
like at all that my little boys should grow up dunces
and be a disgrace to me.'
'A disgrace to you, mother!' echoed Eddy in
Yes, my boy. If you were to grow up ignorant,
you could not take your place among educated
people; you could not fill any good position in life;
others would always get above you. Moreover, you
couldn't be of the same use in the world.'
Eddy's face was growing longer and longer, as this
grave view of life and the necessity for learning was
presented to him, and even fun-loving Freddy looked
more sober than usual, as it dawned upon him that
life was not to be all play and frolic.
MISS HORLEY. 27
'Then who shall you get to teach us, mother?'
he inquired, with a sigh at the thoughts of being
pinned down to lessons.
'That is what I was going to tell you. I have
been pondering the matter over for a long time,
wondering what could be done. And I had even
begun to think I should have to send you to the
village school. But I did not like that idea, as
there are some big, rough boys there, and I was
afraid of your growing rough and rude.'
'I shouldn't have liked that plan,' remarked
Eddy. 'The boys shout and make such a noise,
and sometimes they fight. I should have been quite
frightened of them. I am glad you are not going to
send us there.'
'I'm very glad, too, that there's now no necessity.
For to-day I have had a very kind proposal made me
by a lady who has offered to teach you in the mornings,
and without any charge too; all out of pure kind-
ness, and for the sake of doing good. And as I am
so poor, it is a great thing not to have to pay for
your schooling. I don't know how to be grateful
enough to her for her generous offer.'
'Who is she, mother ?'
'The Rector's sister, Miss Horley.'
'Oh, mother, she is quite an old woman,'
'Hush, my boy, that is not the way to speak of
her. She may not be young, but she is very good,
28 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
and kind and clever too. She is the best friend I
have met with in this place. And to undertake to
teach two troublesome little boys is kindness indeed.
I do trust you will both try to be very good always.'
Is she coming here to teach us ?'
'No. You are to go to the Rectory every morning
for a couple of hours, to begin with. As you get
older, the time may be lengthened.'
'Two hours every day to sit quite still, and do
horrid lessons,' grumbled Freddy, rolling over on the
turf with an air of abandoning himself to being
'I hope I shall hear no grumbles or growls,' said
Mrs. Rook, 'but that you will both go cheerfully to
your tasks, and do them as well as you possibly can.'
'I hate lessons,' said Freddy, pouting. 'At least,
with anybody but you.'
'But as my teaching you is an impossibility at
present, we must be thankful for this other plan. I
felt so glad and so grateful to Miss Horley when she
proposed it. And it will make me very unhappy if
my little boys shew themselves discontented, and
disposed to be naughty over it.'
'We won't, mother,' said Eddy. 'We will try to
be ever so good, and learn fast too, as you wish it. Of
course we like hunting for crabs and shells and sea-
weed, or making castles in the sand, better than
reading and writing and sums; but we will try to be
good and not grow up dunces for your sake,' added
MISS HORLEY. 29
the loving little fellow, putting his arms round his
mother's neck and pressing his rosy lips to her cheek.
'That's right, my darling. It will make mother
so happy if you will do that. You boys have her
happiness very much in your keeping, you see. You
can make her glad or sad according as you behave
well or ill.'
'We shouldn't like to make you sad, mother
dear,' said Eddy. 'We will try to be good boys,
won't we, Freddy ?'
Freddy did not reply in words, but he got up off
the grass, and coming to his mother's side, gave her
a silent embrace. And Mrs. Rook, who understood
their different natures, was satisfied, knowing that
that silent kiss from the more undemonstrative
Freddy meant a good deal.
'But when are we to begin, mother? You
haven't told us that.'
'On Monday morning. So you will still have
three days' more holiday.'
'But we shall have the afternoons for play, shan't
'Yes, dear. You will have all day nearly except
those two hours, for a time, at any rate.'
'It won't be so bad after all, Freddy,' said Eddy
resignedly. 'Only I expect I shall be dreadfully
afraid of Miss Horley.'
'I was forgetting to tell you that there will be
another little boy to do lessons with you,--Miss
30 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
Horley's nephew, whom she is teaching herself. She
thinks it will be good for him to have companions,
and as you are about the same age, she hopes it will
work well. You must be very kind to Willie Horley,
for he has lost his mother, poor little fellow.'
Saturday was always a half-holiday for Mrs. Rook,
and was much looked forward to by the boys, as then
they could have more of their mother's company,
and she often took them for some nice rambles in
the country, through the fields and lanes, where they
were not trusted to go without her.
This Saturday afternoon they were all invited to
tea at the Rectory, that Miss Horley and her little
pupils might become acquainted.
The boys had never been to the Rectory before,
and were much awed by the solemnity of the
occasion. They kept close to their mother's side at
first, and under shelter of her wing surveyed Miss
Horley, whom hitherto they had only seen at church.
She was a little, prim, elderly lady, with grey
hair, gold-rimmed spectacles, and a high cap. Her
neat figure was always attired in black, but lavender
was her favourite colour for cap ribbons; and she
generally wore lace ruffles falling round her wrists.
Her nose was the most prominent feature in her thin
face, for her eyes were small, but a kind pleasant
smile often played about her mouth.
The precision of her manner was calculated to
inspire the little boys with awe,-she was so very
MISS HORLEY. 31
different from their mother, who had a young-looking
smiling face and an easy manner quite devoid of
Willie Horley was a shy, pale-faced, little boy, not
half so strong and sturdy-looking as Freddy and
Eddy, nor so spirited in disposition. He had been
sent home from India on his mother's death to be
under the care of his aunt, while his father still
remained out there.
Miss Horley, if not young, at least seemed to
remember what young people liked, for there were
delicious cakes and preserves on the table, as well as
nice home-made bread and butter. And she did
not appear satisfied until full justice had been done
to everything provided.
After tea the three boys were allowed to play in
the garden, which was a large old-fashioned one,
while their elders, Mr. and Miss Horley and Mrs.
Rook, sat chatting on a rustic bench on the
The Rector was an elderly man, with white hair
and a kind manner, but not much used to children.
He patted his little visitors on the head when he
came into the dining-room for tea, and said he hoped
they were good boys, but beyond that he did not
seem to have much to say to them.
'Now you will know your way here on Monday
morning,' said Miss Horley to the little brothers, as
with their mother they took their leave of her.
32 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
'And I hope we shall spend some pleasant hours
together over lessons.'
The boys did not seem to have any response to
make, so their mother replied for them.
'I hope they will be very good, and give as little
trouble as possible. I don't know how to thank you
enough, Miss Horley, for your kind offer. It is quite
a load taken off my mind, to feel that my boys are
at length going to get some good teaching instead
of running wild all day.'
'And I am very glad to be of any use to others.
Besides, I am fond of children, and it will be a great
interest to me to see them getting on.'
',P ^^^3A APT ,-V
-,I inlt Ot Vau1jbtinclcE .
N. Monday morning at
the appointed hour,
two little figures hand
in hand, with grave
.-1 I themselves at the Rectory
S Miss Horley was watching for
Sthl:-Ii. and led them into the
i .,, she had set apart for the
l -- j schoolroom.
She possessed the art of
teaching children, and soon managed to interest
them, so that the two hours slipped away much
more quickly than either Freddy or Eddy would
have thought possible beforehand.
For the first week or two both were very good.
There was a certain amount of novelty about doing
lessons, and as long as that lasted even Freddy did
not grumble half as much as Mrs. Rook had feared
However, this state of things was not to last for
ever. Perhaps it was scarcely to be expected,
however much it was to be desired, that two little
34 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
boys full of life and spirits would never transgress
bounds or misbehave in any way.
Freddy was the first to break out. There came
one morning when his lessons seemed more difficult
than usual, though probably the real reason was that
he did not give his mind to them. His eyes and his
thoughts were continually roving out of the window,
following the birds and the bees and the butterflies,
all of which were free to roam whither they would,
while he was expected to sit still on a chair learning
spelling, or doing sums which would not come
He envied the birds and the bees and the butter-
flies. They had no dreadful multiplication tables
to learn, no columns of figures to add up. If he
too had wings he would fly out through the open
window and join them, he was thinking to himself.
How nice it would be to have wings! for then Miss
Horley, who hadn't them, wouldn't be able to come
after him or catch him; he could fly and hover
overhead and dart away whenever she came near, as
the butterflies did when he tried to catch them.
He was in a naughty mood this morning. He
felt he didn't like Miss Horley as well as usual,
because she wouldn't do his sum for him, but
having shown him where his mistakes were, she had
told him to work it over again himself, and try
once more to get it right.
And now he was thinking how nice it would be, if
A FIT OF NAUGHTINESS. 35
he only had the wings he was coveting, to make her
have a regular chase for him all round the garden,
and he wouldn't let himself be caught, but would
flutter out of reach, until she had promised to put
the sum right for him, and not make him learn any
more spelling or tables.
How he wished he had wings! But if he had he
thought he would go farther than the garden; he
would fly right off to the beach. He was longing
for lessons to be over more than ever this morning,
because then he and Eddy were to have a great
One of the friends they had made on the beach
was a man who owned a boat, and he had promised
to take them for a row that morning. Mrs. Rook
had given her permission, as she knew Mr. Ball to
be thoroughly trustworthy; and as he had some
little children himself, she felt he would know how
to take care of her two treasures.
It had been settled the evening before, and so
delighted had the boys been at the prospect that
they had been scarcely able to sleep when bed time
came. So it was no wonder that Freddy was im-
patient to be off, and could hardly sit still. His
feet seemed tingling to carry him down to the
beach, where very likely the boat was already
waiting for them.
'Freddy, are you attending?' said Miss Horley,
breaking in upon his musings. 'Time is passing,
36 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
and that sum must be finished. You appear very
idle, my dear, this morning. Now try and give your
thoughts to what you are doing, and you will find it
will come right in a few minutes. It is really an
easier sum than the one you did yesterday with
scarcely a mistake.'
But Freddy did not try to apply himself. His
rosy lips pouted more than ever, and a cloud settled
down on the usually good-tempered face. His eyes
still roamed out of the window, until Miss Horley
'If you will not be a good boy, Freddy, and at
least try to do the task set you, I shall have to
punish you by keeping you behind the others when
they go off to play. I cannot allow idleness. But I
hope there will be no need to punish. I hope you
will try and be very industrious for the little while
However, Freddy would not allow himself to be
persuaded to make an effort to conquer his idleness,
and when lesson time was over his task was still
Just as the children were about to put up their
things, Miss Horley was summoned out of the room
for a moment by a servant. No sooner was her back
turned, than Freddy, making the most of his oppor-
tunity, and wholly given up to the spirit of naughti-
ness, jumped out through the open window and ran
off as fast as he could go.
A FIT OF NAUGHTINESS. 37
,'' .. .. .....f. .
Sin a tremendous
,hurry to gain the
dance, and Eddy,
". in a tremendous
hurry to gain the
beach and claim
promise of a row,
away the books,
S" was just running
out at the door
when Miss Horley returned.
38 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
She had taken off her spectacles, and without them
she was extremely short-sighted. So it was little
wonder that she mistook the one brother for the
other, seeing they were so much alike that even
with her spectacles on she had some difficulty in
knowing them apart.
She stopped the little fellow by laying her hand
on his shoulder, saying, 'I am very sorry there
should be any need of punishment, but I must keep
my word. I cannot let you go off to play with the
others. You will stand here in the corner until I
return.' And then Miss Horley, quite unconscious
of having made any mistake, quitted the room again,
being obliged to go to a poor woman who was wait-
ing to see her.
Eddy at once perceived how matters stood, and
that he had been mistaken for Freddy. But he did
not speak to undeceive Miss Horley.
The idea had occurred to him that he would bear
Freddy's punishment for him. He loved his little
brother dearly, and he thought if he remained there
in his place, then Freddy could still have the longed-
for row in the boat. And Eddy knew how Freddy
had been counting upon it.
So had he too. He also had been longing very
much for the promised treat, and tears came into his
eyes at the thought of losing it. But he would
rather lose it than that Freddy should do so. It
always pained his loving little heart to see his
A FIT OF NAUGHTINESS. 30
brother in disgrace or punishment; it was much
easier to bear it himself, especially when he had not
the shame of feeling he deserved it, and moreover
when it was borne for one he loved as he did Freddy,
in order that the latter might have such enjoyment
as a row on the sea.
They had only been on the water once before,
when their mother had taken them, so they just
knew how delightful it was, but had had no chance
of growing tired of it.
Willie had gone out for a walk with his nurse.
The house was very silent, though out of doors
there was plenty of life,-the birds were singing,
the rooks cawing, and the bees buzzing busily from
flower to flower. But in the schoolroom there was
only one solitary little figure standing with drooping
head but steadfast face in the corner where he had
He was too conscientious to leave it, though the
window was open, which fact Miss Horley had
apparently forgotten, and he might, had he chosen,
have jumped out through it, as Freddy had done.
But while he stood rooted to the spot his thoughts
were with the boat, which he saw in his mind's eye
tossing gently on the waves, going up and down
with a swinging motion which he and Freddy
thought delightful, though their mother did not
seem to care for it as much as they did. How he
would have liked to have been in that boat
40 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
He remained standing in his corner a long time,-
a very long time it seemed to him; and in fact it
was longer than Miss Horley had intended, for the
woman who had been waiting to see her had much
to say, and employed many words in saying it, so
that Miss Horley was scarcely aware how much
time had elapsed, until, the interview being over, she
looked at her watch. Then she hastened to the
There stood a solitary little figure in the corner,
looking subdued and rather woe-begone, as she
'You may go now, Freddy,' she began, 'and I
hope there will never be any need to repeat this
Eddy felt he sincerely hoped so too.
'You are sorry, my child, are you not, for having
been so idle ?' pursued Miss Horley.
Eddy scarcely knew what to reply, and could
only hope Miss Horley would let him off without
Instead of doing so, however, she seated herself
on a chair, and drawing him towards her, looked at
him more closely, in hopes of perceiving signs of
penitence written in his face. She had her spectacles
on now, and after taking this second look she took
'Why, how is this ?' she exclaimed in amaze-
ment. 'This isn't Freddy after all! It's Eddy,
A FIT OF NAUGHTINESS. 41
isn't it ?' she added, as if unable to believe the
evidence of her senses.
The fact could not be denied.
'Yes, I'm Eddy,' said a low voice.
'But how is it you are here, my child, and not
Freddy, who was the one I meant to punish?'
asked Miss Horley, still completely mystified.
'You didn't think I meant to punish you, did you ?'
'No. I saw you mistook me for Freddy.'
'And you thought you would be punished in his
stead, that he might go free ? was that it ?'
Eddy nodded his curly head in assent. He was
not sure whether Miss Horley was going to be
angry with him or not, she was looking at him with
such a curious expression on her face,-one he had
never seen there before. And there almost seemed
to be tears in her eyes, they looked so bright.
'You won't punish Freddy now, will you ?' he
ventured to ask.
'No, certainly not, as you have borne the punish-
ment. My dear little fellow, how fond you must be
of your brother !' exclaimed Miss Horley impulsively,
as she folded the child in her arms and pressed
more than one kiss upon his fair cheek.
It was not often she was so demonstrative; she
considered that children should not be spoiled or
made too much of; but Eddy's simple self-devotion
and self-sacrifice had quite touched her.
She held him in front of her and looked again into
42 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
the open countenance and clear brown eyes, think-
ing what a loveable little face it was.
'Freddy ought to love you very much,' she said,
'And how much we all of us ought to love One
who has taken our place and suffered in our stead !
she continued. 'You know Whom I mean, Eddy?'
'Jesus Christ,' said the little boy reverently.
'How much you ought to love Him, my child :
For think of all He has done for you. You know
death was the penalty from which He saved you.
What made Him die in your place ?'
'It was because He loved me.'
'And in return He wants your little heart to be
very full of love and gratitude to Him.'
'But now, my dear,' continued Miss Horley, 'I
won't keep you any longer. Run off to your play.'
With a light heart and bounding step the little
boy did as he was bid.
'EL 'Calk with ol00 lest.
DDY hastened down to the beach with
a faint lingering hope that perhaps
after all he might not be too late to get just a
short row. But when on reaching the shore he
eagerly scanned every boat and every face, he could
nowhere perceive either Freddy or Mr. Ball.
So they had gone without him! and he must give
up all hopes of the boat for to-day. And perhaps
another time would never come. It was a little
At this moment he perceived old West sitting on
an upturned boat a short distance off, and he
walked slowly towards him.
'Well, my little master,' said the old man as he
approached; 'so you are all alone this morning.'
44 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
'Have you seen Freddy ?' inquired the child.
'Yes. He came down here a good while ago,
and Ball was looking out for him with his boat.
He meant to take you both for a row,' he said,
'and they waited about looking for you ever so
long, and then they went a little way, and came
back again two or three times, to see if you had
come. But at last they seemed to give you up, and
they are gone farther off this time.'
Eddy looked longingly out over the waves, which
were dancing and sparkling in the sunshine, but he
could not make out the boat, and rather dejectedly
he sat down by his friend, and began playing with
the pebbles lying near, piling them up in a heap to
make a sort of castle.
'How is it you weren't with your brother this
morning?' asked West. 'I have never seen you
Eddy briefly explained that he had been kept
behind and punished in mistake for Freddy.
'So it's you who ought to have been having the
row in the boat, and he who ought to have gone
without?' said the old man. 'Why, you've just
changed places altogether. How was that? Why
didn't you say you weren't the one to be punished ?'
'Because I wanted Freddy to be let off,' replied
the child simply.
'And so you've been punished for his sake-in
his stead,' said old West, musingly. 'Didn't you
46 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
tell me something the other day about One who had
been put to death in my stead?'
'Yes, Jesus Christ. I know a verse of a hymn
that tells about it.
He knew how wicked man had been,
And knew that God must punish sin;
So out of pity Jesus said,
He'd bear the punishment instead."'
'Just as you did for your little brother ?' remarked
West. 'And Master Freddy won't be punished as
well, will he ?'
'Then if Jesus bore what was due to me, I suppose
God won't lay it upon me too.'
'No. Mother says that is just why Jesus came
and died-that we might be pardoned and go free.
And there's more about it in that hymn. Shall I
say it ?'
'Yes, do, my little man.'
S" But such a cruel death He died,
He was hung up and crucified;
And those kind hands that did such good,
They nailed them to a cross of wood.
And so He died; and this is why
He came to be a man and die;
The Bible says He came from heaven,
That we might have our sins forgiven."'
''Twas a wonderful plan!' murmured the old
A TALK WITH OLD WEST. 47
man after some moments' silence. 'Wonderful love
to take the place of an old sinner like me, and bear
the penalty I had deserved.'
And many a time throughout that day old West
repeated to himself the words,
'He knew how wicked man had been,
And knew that God must punish sin,
So out of pity Jesus said,
He'd bear the punishment instead.'
For he had made Eddy say them over to him
several times until he knew them by heart.
'Come and tell me more about these things to-
morrow,' he said to the child before he left him.
'I want to know more about them.'
The thoughts of a future day of reckoning await-
ing him when his life on earth-which was surely
drawing near its close-should be ended, had been
troubling him of late. But here was a bright ray of
hope. Jesus had borne all his sin for him. Then
assuredly He must love him, as the little boy had
said the other day.
At length after a long interval, as it seemed to
Eddy, of waiting, Mr. Ball's boat hove in sight. The
little boy rushed down to the water's edge to meet it.
'So here you are after all, Eddy,' exclaimed his
brother, as he jumped out of the boat. 'What-
ever became of you ? We waited and looked for
you ever so long, and then at last, as the time was
going so fast, we started without you.'
48 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
Miss Horley kept me behind thinking it was you.'
'And didn't you tell her?' asked Freddy.
'You never said you were Eddy, and not Freddy ?'
again inquired the boy with much surprise in his
'Why didn't you ?'
Because then I thought you wouldn't lose your
row,' said Eddy simply.
Freddy seemed touched. Throwing his arm round
his brother, he gave him a warm kiss, which was a
thing he did not very often do. It was more fre-
quently Eddy who kissed him, their natures being
'Eddy, you are a brick !' said his brother in tones
of admiration. 'But I'm very sorry you have lost
'I must try and take Master Eddy another time,'
remarked Mr. Ball, who had listened to the few words
that had passed between the little boys. 'It seems
I have taken the one who didn't deserve it, and left
behind the one who did.'
Freddy looked a little ashamed.
But you shan't be a loser, my little man,' he con-
tinued, turning to Eddy. 'It's dinner time now, so
we can't go this morning. But we will see what
to-morrow will do for us.'
Oh, thank you !' cried Eddy joyfully. 'That will
A TALK WITH OLD WEST. 49
be jolly I was so afraid I had missed the treat alto-
gether. And you'll take Freddy too, won't you ?'
'Wouldn't you like it if you went without him ?'
'It wouldn't be half as nice,' returned Eddy,
looking up coaxingly in Mr. Ball's face.
'Very well then, you shall both come. Though
he has no right to come; it is only because you ask
That afternoon, as Mrs. Rook was returning home
for tea she met Miss Horley. The meeting had in
fact been planned by the latter, as she wished to tell
the former of her little son's unselfish behaviour.
'Darling Eddy!' murmured the mother, with
glistening eyes; and when as soon as she turned the
corner she met her two boys running to meet her, she-
clasped him very closely to her heart.
As soon as tea was over, and they had taken up
their favourite position in the garden, she called
Freddy to her for a little private talk. He hung his
head as she went on to tell him she considered his
behaviour very unprincipled in running away from
the punishment which he was aware he had deserved
by his idleness.
'You knew Miss Horley meant to keep you behind,
and it was taking an unfair advantage of her being
called away at that moment.'
'But I didn't know she would punish Eddy,' he
ventured to say in remonstrating tones.
'But if you had remained like an honourable
50 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
conscientious boy to bear your own well-merited
punishment, it would not have fallen upon him. It
was very sweet of him to bear it for you; but I think
you must feel ashamed of your part in the matter.'
'I won't behave so again, mother.'
And after a few more words with him, Mrs. Rook
let him return to his game.
'Mother,' said Eddy later in the evening, leaving
his play and coming to his mother's side, 'couldn't
you go and have a talk with old West some time or
other? He says he doesn't know much about God,
and he wants to know more.'
'Does he, darling? I'm sure I should be very
glad if I could help him in any way.'
'Then I'll tell him so. He said to me, ." Come
again to-morrow and tell me more about Him."
But I'm only a little child; I don't know much. If
you were to go you could teach him like you do us.
Isn't it very strange, mother, for an old man not
to know about God ?'
'It is very sad, dear.'
'He doesn't even feel sure that God loves him.
But if you will go, mother, you can teach him all he
wants to know.'
'It is only God the Holy Spirit, dearest, who can
really teach us these things. But I can tell him some-
thing about them. And so can you, too. God can
teach even a little child how to speak for Him. You
could tell West some of the Bible stories you know.'
A TALK WITH OLD WEST. 51
'Which ones do you think would be best, mother ?'
'The ones about Jesus, I think, and all His love
for sinners when on earth; how He let them come
to Him, never turning any away, and -how at last
He died, all out of love to them. And I will ask
God to let my little son be one of His young mes-
sengers, to carry a message from Him to this old man.'
'Does He ever have such little messengers ? Does
He really ?' asked the child, with an eager look on
'Yes, darling, often. When His little children
are good and obedient, He often gives them the
honour of going on errands for Him, so to speak.'
'Oh, mother, I should like to be one of His little
messengers. I should like to do something for Him.'
'Then ask Him, dearest. Only you must re-
member it is the obedient ones He uses; those who
try to please Him in all things.'
'Shall you be able to go and talk to old West to-
morrow, mother ?' inquired the little boy after a
'I'm afraid not, dear. I'm afraid I shall have no
time until the day after-Saturday. So you must
go and tell him some of your Bible stories to-morrow,
and you can repeat to him some of the texts you have
learnt.' You must ask the Holy Spirit to teach you
what to say.'
,' 1 '
t affTing a Confession.
SCHANGE had come over Eddy,
which Mrs. Rook's eye was
I quick to note. She could not tell
whether the little fellow was feeling unwell-he
certainly was looking pale, and his appetite was not
good-or whether he was unhappy about anything,
for he did not seem in his usual spirits, not showing
half his wonted zest in his games with Freddy, but
appearing more disposed to mope by himself than
to romp and play with his brother.
His mother felt there must be something wrong
in some way, and anxiously watched him, for the
purpose of discovering what it could be. She
resolved to make an opportunity for speaking to
him alone, so that if there were anything on his
mind he might be able to pour it out freely into
her ear without restraint.
MAKING A CONFESSION. 53
Accordingly after tea, sending Freddy on an.
errand which would take him out of the way, she
called Eddy to her.
'Is anything the matter with you, darling ? You
didn't seem hungry at tea time.'
Instead of replying, the little boyburst into tears.
'What is it, dear? Come and tell mother all
about it,' said Mrs. Rook, drawing her young son
towards her, and putting her arm round him.
He hung his head, as between his sobs he whis-
pered, I've been such-a very-naughty boy.'
'What have you being doing, dear ?'
'I've told-a wicked story !' sobbed the child.
Oh, Eddy, my dear little boy, how could you do
such a thing ? I'm very grieved. But what made
you do it ? Tell me all about it.'
In a voice choked with sobs, Eddy went on, 'It
was last Monday. Miss Horley had said we might
have a run round the garden before lessons-and I
was hiding from Freddy and Willie. I was running
away all by myself in a separate path, and looking
behind to see if they were coming, when I knocked
against a beautiful lily that was standing in a pot, and
upset it, and the stem was broken, and the pot too.'
'Well, dear; what did you do then ?'
'Just at that moment Miss Horley called us in
'And I hope you went to her at once and con-
fessed what you had done.'
, *" > : i' .... ,
. .. u*I' ; ,,
.( '** \ i. -1: "* ,
I ,-. '
,i,; ,, : -- ,,\ \
MAKING A CONFESSION. 55
Eddy's silence showed that such had not been
the course he had followed.
'Well, tell me all the rest, dear.'
'While we were at lessons Mr. Horley came in.
He had found out about the lily, and he asked if
any of us boys had done it, or knew anything about
it. The others answered No," for of course they
didn't know anything, and when it came to my turn
I said No too, for I was afraid Mr. Horley would be
so angry. For he said it was a flower he prized very
much, as it was a rare kind, and he was thinking of
showing it at the flower-show.'
'And so you told an untruth to screen yourself.
How could you do so, Eddy said Mrs. Rook
'I don't know, mother. It slipped out all in a
minute, and I've been so unhappy ever since!'
returned the child still sobbing.
'What made you unhappy, dear ? was it the fear
of being found out and punished?'
Eddy did not reply for the moment. His face
was hidden on his mother's shoulder.
'Or was it the feeling that you had grieved your
Heavenly Father? For He heard that untruth,
Eddy. It was spoken in His ears. Did you remem-
ber that ?'
'I did afterwards, mother, and it made me so
'Ah, if you had only thought of it at the time,
56 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
you would then have been more afraid of telling the
untruth than of Mr. Horley's displeasure. Isn't it
worse to displease God ?'
'I'd give anything not to have said that No,"'
murmured Eddy, with a very sorrowful look on his
usually happy face. 'Will God forgive me, mother?'
'Yes, dear, if you ask Him, and are sorry for
your fault, as I am sure you are. But you mustn't
do it again, Eddy. You must ask for more courage,
that you may never never again tell an untruth
from fear. God does not like His children to be
cowards, but "very courageous." You must ask
Him to make you brave always, under all circum-
stances. Will you do this, dear, every day ?'
'Yes, mother,' said the little fellow, lifting his
eyes to hers with a thoughtful earnest look in them,
while his face was very grave.
It is only He who can keep you from falling
into this fault again. So you must beg Him to
hold and to keep you every day and every hour.'
'And then, Eddy,' continued Mrs. Rook, 'you
must confess it all to Mr. Horley. You must do
that to-morrow morning.'
Yes, mother,' said the child after a moment's
pause, during which he had evidently been trying
to conquer his shrinking from the difficult task put
That will prove that you are sincerely sorry for
your fault,' pursued Mrs. Rook.
MAKING A CONFESSION. 57
'And then will God love me again?' asked Eddy,
raising his tear-dimmed eyes to his mother's face.
'My child, He has never ceased to love you. He
is so patient and long-suffering with us that He
loves us as well after our falls as He did before.
Never doubt His love, my darling, or fancy that it
has grown cold. Go back to Him when you have
grieved Him, feeling certain there is no change in
Him. He is waiting at this moment with out-
stretched arms to receive His little penitent child
who is sorry for having done wrong.'
A happy look broke over the troubled little face-
which had been so clouded these last few days-as
if these words of his mother had brought sunshine
into his young heart again.
At this moment Freddy interrupted them. He
had returned from his errand, and was come in
search of his brother.
'So here you are, Eddy,' he exclaimed, putting
his head in at the door. 'Come out in the garden.
I want you. But, hullo, what's the matter?' he
added, as he caught sight of tear-drops on his
'Shall I tell him, Eddy ?' asked Mrs. Rook.
'Yes, mother,' returned the child, in a low voice
as he buried his face for shame in her dress.
'And he has to go and tell all about it to Mr.
Horley to-morrow morning!' exclaimed Freddy,
when he had heard the story, with a comical look of
58 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
consternation on his face. 'I'm glad I'm not in his
'But never mind, Eddy,' he added, in more
sympathising tones, 'I will go with you, if that
will make it any easier;' and coming to his brother's
side he put his arm round him. 'It won't be
quite as bad then, will it ?'
'No, not quite,' returned the other.
'And look here, Eddy, I tell you what I will do,'
said Freddy, in a spirit of great generosity, 'I'll give
you all my pocket-money, and you must save up
yours, until we have got enough to buy Mr. Horley
another plant in the place of the one you broke.
Wouldn't that be a good plan, mother ?'
'Yes, my boy, a very good plan. The least Eddy
can do is to try his best to replace it; though I fear he
will not be able really to do that, as we are not very
likely to succeed in obtaining another lily of that
kind just as fine and good as the one broken. Still
we must do what we can. But it will take all your
pocket money for weeks and weeks.'
Eddy's face grew long at the thought.
'Never mind, Eddy; I told you you should have
all I've got,' said Freddy in comforting tones.
'But you've only got three halfpence and I've
only twopence, and that won't go far,' remarked
Eddy dolefully. 'And you said you were going to
spend your money on bulls' eyes to-morrow, and not
save it up any longer.'
MAKING A CONFESSION. 59
I'll go without the bulls' eyes, and you shall have
the three halfpence,' said Freddy magnanimously.
' And you shall have my halfpenny every week.
So cheer up and come and play.'
Eddy threw his arms round his brother, and
gave him a grateful hug.
'But I don't like you to go without your bulls'
eyes. Oh, dear, how I wish I had never told that
story I hope I shall never be such a coward again,'
said poor Eddy with a sigh.
The next morning the two little boys hand in
hand sought Mr. Horley in his study.
To Eddy, with his more shrinking timid nature,
it was a great ordeal to come and make his con-
fession to the grave clergyman, and very downcast
and shame-faced he looked. But Freddy, much
more at his ease, wore an air of having taken his
brother under his protection, and formed a resolve to
stand by him to the last. The fact was he had not
forgotten how Eddy had borne his punishment for
him on the day of the boating excursion, and he
felt he owed it to him to do what he could to help
him out of this scrape, as he called it.
Had it not been for Freddy's assistance Mr. Horley
would have been some time in arriving at a clear
understanding of the state of things, Eddy's own
account being a little confused,-beyond the plain
statement that he had been a very naughty boy,
and had told an untruth.
60 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
At length, however, Mr. Horley comprehended
how the matter stood.
He had drawn Eddy towards him, and had placed
him between his knees, that he might hear him the
better, for the child spoke in a low voice, and hung
his head as if ashamed to look up.
Mr. Horley laid his hand on his curly locks.
'Look up, my little man. You are sorry for that
untruth, I see plainly; and as to the injury to my.
plant, I freely forgive you that. But the untruth
was a sin against God, and only He can forgive it.
It is of Him you must ask pardon. Have you done
'Yes,' returned the child, almost in a whisper.
'Then He too has forgiven you for Christ's sake;
we may be sure of that. And I think what you
have already gone through has been punishment
enough, and will teach you, I hope, to be more
watchful and careful for the future, that every word
you speak may be the truth, and nothing else. For
remember it cost no less than the death of Christ-
the shedding of His blood-to wash out the stain of
that sin, that one lying word that you uttered the
other day. It is a serious thing to sin against God,
my child. But it is a blessed thing that He is so
ready to pardon all who go to Him in Christ's name,'
said Mr. Horley, speaking very gently.
'And now, my little fellow, don't distress yourself
any more about my plant,' he added kindly.
MAKING A CONFESSION. 61
'But we are going to try and buy you another in its
place as soon as we can, only it does take such a long
time to save up enough pocket-money,' said Eddy.
'Mother can't give us more than a halfpenny a
week,' explained Freddy, 'and that does for bulls
eyes, but it doesn't go far for other things-for they
all cost such a lot of money. But if you'll wait,
please, we'll bring it as soon as ever we can.'
'We'll see about that,' said Mr. Horley, clearing
his throat. 'I'll speak to your mother about it.'
'Oh, she said we were to do it. But I don't know
how long it will take, because I don't know the
cost of the plant. How long do you think ? Three
'I hope not so long as that. What! three months
to go without bulls' eyes! Is it possible two boys
can be contemplating such a thing? But now, my
dear little fellows, be off to your lessons,' and patting
their heads kindly, Mr. Horley dismissed the, .
Eddy left the room feeling as if a great load had
been taken off his mind, and silently resolving never
again to utter a falsehood.
The result of Mr. Horley's talk with Mrs. Rook
was that, in accordance with her wish, he consented
to allow the boys to save up their money for a few
weeks, with a view to replacing the damaged plant.
For Mrs. Rook thought it would impress upon Eddy,
and indeed upon both of them, the evils of wrong-
doing. She did not wish the matter to pass from
62 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
their thoughts lightly, but wanted them to learn
from it to hate untruth and falsehood.
SMoreover, she was glad that Freddy should
practise a little real self-denial on behalf of another,
while it rejoiced her heart to- see his generous
SSo for a few weeks no bulls' eyes or toffy could be
bought; and Eddy felt very unhappy to think of
Freddy going without on his account.
But at the end of that time Mr. Horley declared
that what they had already saved up would be
sufficient for the purchase of a certain plant upon
which he had set his affections, and he thought he
had better go and choose it himself.
So they took their little heap of coppers-the
whole not amounting to more than eightpence or
ninepence-and made them over to him.
Mr. Hcrley expressed himself as quite satisfied
and fully repaid; but somehow or other the boys
never quite understood what plant he had chosen,
unless it were a little scrubby geranium which
appeared upon the scene, and was very unlike the
beautiful stately lily.
The next morning, just as lessons were over, Mr.
Horley entered the school-room with a little bag of
bulls' eyes for each boy. Miss Horley looked rather
doubtfully upon the proceeding, until her brother
reminded her that two out of the three boys had
had a fast from such luxuries for weeks, when she
MAKING A CONFESSION.. 63
admitted that 'perhaps they might do them no
harm just for once.'
Eddy wanted to hand over all his to Freddy, but
the latter felt it would be greedy to accept the offer.
However, when all his own were gone, then he con-
sented to share Eddy's, which had purposely been
kept in reserve.
DDY,' said Mrs. Rook one afternoon as
they sat at tea, 'I went to see Mr.
West this afternoon, and he was asking
for you. He wants to see you, darling.
Should you like to go with me after tea ?'
'Yes, mother. Is he very ill ?'
'Very ill indeed, dear. So ill that there will be
no getting better for him in this world.'
Eddy looked grave. 'Is he going to die, mother?'
he asked in an awe-struck voice.
'Yes,. dear; the doctor says he can't live many
Is he afraid, mother ?'
'No, darling; because now he feels that to die
will be to go home to be with the Saviour, who has
loved him so much and done so much for him.'
Eddy had come to be quite fond of the old man,
of whom he had seen so much when on the beach,
and who had invariably been kind to him. So,
though he thought it very sad to hear that old West
was dying, he willingly accompanied his mother to
his bedside to bid him farewell.
They had to clamber up some steep narrow stairs
before they found themselves in the small barely
furnished room in which West lay.
Some rays of the sinking sun were coming in
through the window, lighting up the place with
golden sunbeams, some of which fell on the face of
the sick man, which looked wonderfully calm and
peaceful. As he caught sight of Eddy a smile of
pleasure overspread his countenance.
'It's very kind of you, my little master, to come
and see the old man,' he said in a faint voice; 'but
he wanted to thank you before he went for telling
him how Jesus "bore his punishment instead of
him." 'Twas from you I first heard the good news-
or at least heard so as to give heed. I thank you
kindly for bringing me the message; and I hope
you'll take it to many another poor sinner.'
Eddy had never before seen West with such a
happy look on his face. Was it because he was
'Is it nice to die ?' he asked.
It would be very terrible if one hadn't got hold
of a Saviour: but now that He's mine and I'm His
i6 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
I've got nothing to fear. I'm only longing to see
Him face to face. Once I said I didn't know
whether He loved me, but I don't say that now,
because I know better. There aren't any words to
tell how He loves me, and I love Him. Yes, it's
very nice to think of going to Him.'
The old man's face was radiant, not only from
the beams of the western sun which were playing
around him, but from the inner sunshine which
seemed to fill his whole heart and soul; and Eddy
departed, after bidding him adieu, with the feeling
impressed on his young mind that it was a happy
thing to die and go to be with Jesus. Death was
robbed of all its terrors for him; and when a few
days after he heard that West was no more, he felt
glad to think that he was now where he had been
wishing to be, with Jesus.
r' HE summer, which
had been a very
happy one for the two
little boys, had passed
away, and now autumn i
had come with cooler
nights andmornings,but B.)
bright sunshiny days, r
when it was a pleasure
to take long rambles
through the fields and w-
68 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
The hedgerows had now become rich in colouring
as well as in spoils, and the blackberries, which
were ripening fast, possessed great attractions for
the two little Rooks; even those which were still
red and hard they picked and ate whenever they had
a chance, and appeared to consider them delicious.
But blackberries did not grow well close to
Hartridge. Only a few, and those very poor ones,
were to be obtained just within reach; it was
necessary to go farther inland to find them in
Miss Horley had promised her three little pupils
a great treat. Willie's birthday was approaching,
and she was going to celebrate it by taking the boys
into the country to the spot where the finest black-
berries grew, and where they were to be found in the
The children were looking forward to it with eager
anticipation, longing for the day to arrive. Mrs.
Rook was to be asked as well as the two little
Arnotts from the Hall, girls about nine and ten
years of age.
At length the wished-for day dawned, and in
high spirits the little people took their seats in the
waggonette which Miss Horley had hired to convey
them to the spot.
The weather was lovely; such warm bright sun-
shine, that there seemed no risk whatever in sitting
down comfortably to eat their dinner in a sheltered
spot which Miss Horley found in a little copse on
the sunny slope of the down. The trunks of some
fallen trees made excellent seats. But the baskets
and hamper Miss Horley had brought had first to
be unpacked and the provisions spread out on the
tablecloth, which was laid on the ground. The little
boys weie allowed to help, and they thought it very
pleasant work, but perhaps partaking of the various
dainties was the best of all, as the drive had
sharpened their appetites, and both Freddy and
Eddy were thoroughly hungry by this time.
Miss Horley had provided an unlimited supply of
good things, and a very merry meal it was, with
bright happy faces sitting round. Miss Horley was
in a way as happy as any of them, in being the
means of affording pleasure to others, while Mrs.
Rook was prepared to enjoy everything almost as
much as the children.
After luncheon, each being supplied with a
basket, they all set to work to gather the black-
berries, which grew thickly on the bushes around-
plenty of them low enough to be within the children's
But in spite of this their baskets did not fill very
rapidly, the truth being that so many found their
way into their mouths that naturally their heap of
fruit did not rise so high as it did in Miss Horley's
and Mrs. Rook's baskets. Their rosy lips as well as
their fingers were soon stained with the juice of the
70 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
fruit; but what cared they for that, or even for the
fact that their faces were getting besmeared, and
their hands scratched and torn ?
Freddy and Eddy, who had come to the conclusion
'that blackberry picking was splendid fun,' threw
their whole heart into the business. But when Miss
Horley after a time took a look at their baskets,
she expressed surprise at the small results of their
Mrs. Rook, guessing the cause, declared it was
time they left off eating so many, and they must
now try to fill their baskets, or Minna and Nellie
would quite put them to shame, for they had
been picking industriously, and had now a fair
heap to show. Whereupon they began to amend
their ways so far as to eat only the finest and
ripest, while they put the others into their baskets.
Thus the time sped away, until Miss Horley and
Mrs. Rook, beginning to feel tired of standing about,
seated themselves on a fallen tree near the spot
where they had had dinner. But the children were
by no means tired yet.
'We needn't leave off, need we ?'
'No, my dears; you may go on picking for another
half-hour if you like, for the waggonette will not
return for us before that time. You. may go all
round the field, and see what is to be found on the
further hedges, but you must none of you leave the
field. Do you understand me, children ? You may
go anywhere you like in this field, but you must on
no account go beyond it.'
On receiving this permission, off scampered the
children towards the hedge at the top of the field,
which they had not yet searched; and very merry
they were for a time, laughing at the scratches and
wounds which they got in their efforts to reach the
finest berries, which generally grew provokingly high.
At any rate, those which were out of reach always
seemed better than those that were low enough to
be gathered easily.
Freddy and Eddy were the most ambitious and
enterprising of the party, for the little girls were
afraid of tearing their frocks, and Willie had not
energy enough to wish to take any unnecessary
But the two little Rooks did not seem to care for
scratches or tears or for anything, save possessing
themselves of those berries which, hanging on high,
appeared to defy all their efforts to reach them.
After a time the little party began to get
scattered, Freddy and Eddy in their eagerness
going on ahead, while Willie and the Arnotts lagged
The two boys were now some distance from the
others. When they came to a gap in the hedge
Freddy peeped through.
'Oh, I say, Eddy, there are such splendid black-
berries growing on the other side ; much better than
72 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
any we've got yet. Let us go after them;' and lead-
ing the way Freddy pushed through the gap, Eddy
The latter had not heard Miss Horley tell them
not to leave the field, as at that moment he had
been some little distance off, having lingered
behind the others to finish stripping a spray of
ripe berries. But the rest of the party had been
standing close to Miss Horley in a little group.
Could it be possible that Freddy had not heard?
or was it that he did not choose to give heed ?
At any rate he hastened eagerly on.
What a jolly place this is he exclaimed. It's
ever so much better than the field we were in. Make
haste, Eddy, and pick as hard as you can, and then
we shall get more than the others after all. We
could easily get twice as many. It's awfully jolly
coming out blackberry picking, isn't it ?'
'It's just about the jolliest thing I know,'
responded Eddy, his beaming little face looking the
picture of happiness. 'It's awfully kind of Miss
'Yes! she's a brick,' remarked Freddy, 'and I
don't mean ever to be naughty over my lessons
again, and be a bother to her; because I think it
would be a shame when she is so kind.'
The little boy having delivered himself of this
virtuous resolve, made another vigorous onslaught
upon the bushes near. Then turning to take a look
round about, he espied in the middle of the field,
higher up the hill, a small wood or copse where
there appeared to be a tangle of brushwood, and low,
bramble bushes trailing over the ground.
'Look, Eddy, what a splendid place that would
be I ever so much better than even this. Come
along, let us go and try our luck there. Only we
must make haste, for the time is going;' and off
started Freddy at a run, followed by Eddy, who was
quite unconscious that he was doing wrong.
They found such rich spoil on this new ground
that Freddy remarked, I can't think why Miss
Horley didn't bring us here in the first place. It's
ever so much better than the other field.'
A minute or so later came a shriek of delight
from Eddy, who had gone on a little in advance.
'Oh, Freddy, come here quickly. I've found
something new-some dear little plumes growing on
'Where are you ?' cried Freddy, who could not
see him through the thick bushwood.
'Here,' said Eddy, parting the bushes. 'Do
make haste and come and see these funny little
things. Won't the others wish they had been with
Freddy had nearly reached the place where his
brother stood when the latter, stepping backwards,
without looking where he was going, suddenly, with
a scream of terror, disappeared from view.
74 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
Freddy crept to the spot where Eddy had been
standing, and found it was the brink of what appeared
to be a precipice. Shrubs and bushes and trailing
ivy grew so thickly on the ground, that unobservant
little eyes like Eddy's might easily fail to perceive
that just there a deep excavation had been made;
that it was in fact the edge of a large chalk pit,
three sides of which stood straight up like massive
walls, the fourth sloping upwards to the wood, while
the bottom lay at a great depth below.
Freddy had to pull himself up suddenly, and
clutch hold of a bush, or he too, owing to his ignor-
ance of the nature of the ground, might have gone
right over also.
Laying himself flat down on the turf, he looked
over the edge, and to his horror saw his little brother
lying still and motionless, and to all appearance
dead, several feet below him.
He had not fallen quite to the bottom-or there
could have been no hope of his life-but he was
lying on a kind of ledge formed by the road, which
wound down into the pit, which was a very large
one. It had been so long disused that bushes and
young trees had sprung up at the bottom; beautiful
green moss and lichen had crept over the loose
blocks of stone lying on the ground, while turf filled
up the spaces between. The three sides of the pit,
which were steep and perpendicular, had assumed,
owing to time and the changes of the weather, many
different and vivid tints. It was in fact quite a
as it was on the
hill side in the
midst of a little
wood composed of
trees of varied
described a path
which led round
.r , q -
76 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
into the road below where the little prostrate form
lay, and in a few moments he stood beside it.
And then a great awe took possession of him, and
a terrible fear made him turn quite cold.
Eddy neither moved nor spoke-in spite of the
cries and entreaties of the other-but lay still and
rigid, all in a little heap, while his upturned face
was pale and white as death.
Was he really dead? Freddy concluded that he
was; and there, in that lonely spot, with no living
creature within sight, despair seized upon his young
heart, and throwing himself down on the ground
beside Eddy, he gave way to a burst of bitter grief
If Eddy was dead, he had killed him It flashed
upon him in that terrible moment that it was his
doing that he was lying there.
Miss Horley's words forbidding them to leave the
other field came back to him, and at the same time
the remembrance that Eddy had been the only one
of the party who had not heard them, as he had
been at that moment some distance off He saw
it all now; he had chosen to disobey, and had lured
Eddy, unconscious that he was doing wrong, on to
The thought was almost too dreadful to bear. His
dear little brother and playmate dead never again
to join in his romps and games, his childish joys and
sorrows Oh, how could he ever live without him !
And then-it was he who had done it
BLACK BERRYING. 77
And now a fresh and fearful vision arose before
him. What would his mother say when he told her
that Eddy was lying there dead ? Perhaps it would
kill her too. And yet he would have to tell her,
and Miss Horley as well-unless indeed they came
and found him there first.
What would they think ? How would they treat
him, when they found that it was all his fault ?
Oh, he almost wished he had been killed instead of
Eddy, and then perhaps they would have cried over
him, a little bit, and would have forgiven him, and
been sorry for him.
But now it was terrible to think what their
displeasure might be, and what the punishment
that might be his. He felt he deserved anything,
however dreadful. He even began to wonder
whether he should be sent to prison
It did not take long for all these thoughts to
flash through his mind; but at this point he became
aware of something moving in the wood at his right
hand. There was a crackling of twigs and a rustling
of leaves. What could it be ? Was it a policeman
coming to take him up ?
He was too frightened to move, but looked with
startled eyes towards the spot whence the sounds
proceeded. At length the bushes opened, and a
man appeared in view: not a policeman, but a
He had been attracted by Freddy's sobs, and came
78 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
wondering what could be the matter. A glance
was sufficient to explain it all to him.
'Fallen over the top, I suppose,' he said, as he
advanced and stood looking down upon the two
little forms, one still and unconscious, the other
crouching down, his frame shaken by sobs, while the
face he lifted up was blanched with fear.
'How came you two boys to be here alone ?'
Freddy briefly explained matters. And then he
asked in an awe-struck whisper, 'Is he dead ?'
The man was kneeling beside the little figure.
'No,' he said slowly, 'he's not dead; he is still
alive, but I expect he is very badly hurt.'
Freddy's heart, which had given a great bound on
hearing his brother was not dead, now again sank
very low indeed at these last words.
Make haste and run and tell your friends what
has happened,' said the man; 'and I will stay here
'Come, don't lose any time !' continued the man
a little impatiently. : What are you waiting for ?'
'It's so dreadful to have to go and tell them,'
sobbed the child.
'That may be; but they must be told. Come,
my man, it won't do to waste time, and leave your
brother lying here.'
Thus urged, Freddy was forced to set off on his
He had not far to go. The two boys had already
been missed, and he had scarcely emerged from the
copse before he met the whole party coming in
search of them with anxious faces. For the elders
had at length extracted from the other children the
fact that they had seen Freddy and Eddy pass
through the gap in the hedge into the field beyond;
and Miss Horley's thoughts at once turned to the
And now Freddy stood before them with a white
face, down which the tears were streaming.
They thought at first that he had been hurt.
'What is the matter, dear?' asked Mrs. Rook
anxiously, as she hastened towards the child.
He stood looking at her with a frightened face
instead of running towards her, as he would have
done at any other time. But though he opened his
lips, no words came at first.
The others now had drawn near, and all were
startled by his appearance. His face showed that
something serious had happened.
'What is it ? Eddy-where is he ?' gasped Mrs.
'Falldn over into the chalk pit ?' asked Miss
Horley, in a low voice.
The boy nodded assent.
'Let me go and see what is the matter, and you
remain here for a minute,' said Miss Horley, turning
to Mrs. Rook, from whose face all colour had fled.
0S TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
'No, no; I must go to my boy, and know the
worst. Lead the way, Freddy.'
The boy turned to do as he was bid.
Stay here, my dears, for the present,' said Miss
Horley, addressing the others. 'Be good children,
and remain where you are, but on no account come
inside the wood, as it is a dangerous place. I will
come back to you as soon as possible, but now I
must go and see if my help is needed. I can trust
you, Minna, as the eldest of the three, not to let the
others get into mischief.'
'Yes, Miss Horley,' replied the little girl gravely,
showing a due sense of the responsibility of her
position. 'We will wait here for you.'
All were too much sobered by the accident which
had happened to have spirits left for mischief. They
saw by the faces of their elders that they were much
alarmed, and all they could do was to wonder whether
Eddy was very badly hurt.
'Do you think he is killed ?' asked Nellie, in a
tone of awe.
Upon this Willie began to cry; the thought of
such a fate overtaking his little school-mate and
playfellow was too dreadful ; and the little girls had
to set themselves to the task of attempting to
S Consequences' / .-
HE only -
done in that lonely "
spot was to convey I
Eddy home as .
quickly as pos-
tor. The waggonette was waiting in the road below.
At Miss Horley's suggestion, the man lifted Eddy
in his arms-very gently and carefully he did it--
and bore him down the field and through the gate,
close to which the carriage was standing. They laid
all the cushions at the bottom, and then placed the
child upon them.
Mrs. Rook took her seat beside him, and then
they drove off, Miss Horley remaining behind with
the rest of the party until the carriage could return
82 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
for them again. She took Freddy back with her to
the Rectory, resolved to keep him there for the night,
that so he might be off his mother's hands, who
would have enough to do, she felt sure, in attending
Freddy was inconsolable, crying and sobbing
nearly all the way back, and indulging in a fresh
outburst of grief when he heard he was not to go
home, but to spend the night at the Rectory, unless
his mother should express any wishes to the
The Arnotts' nurse was waiting at the lodge
gates for them, as the carriage passed that way, so
they were safely disposed of; and after having seen
Freddy and Willie seated at tea in the nursery, Miss
Horley hurried off to Mrs. Rook, all anxiety to learn
the doctor's report, and to hear if Eddy had recovered
Her own secret fears whispered that the child was
too much hurt to live, and as she walked along in
the dusk, tears filled her eyes, as she thought of
what the grief of the mother would be should the
little life be thus cut short.
His gentle winning ways had endeared him very
much to her; but what was her love for him com-
pared with that his mother bore him! She should
mourn and sorrow sincerely for the little fellow; but
what would her grief be compared with the mother's
anguish, should the accident end fatally!
CONSEQUENCES OF WRONG-DOING. 83
She trusted such would not be the case, and vet
she scarcely dared to hope.
The doctor had just left the house, but was going
to return again shortly, she learnt from Jane, whose
red eyes showed she had been crying.
'Oh, miss, it would be so dreadful if M:.i, t.r Eddy
were to die!' said the girl, in a husky voice. 'It
would be enough to break mistress's heart, I should
think, to lose him.'
Mrs. Rook, on hearing that Miss Horley was there,
stole out of Eddy's room for a moment, and came
down to speak to her. She said the child had
recovered consciousness, or rather partial conscious-
ness, for he still seemed stunned and scarcely to
know what was passing.
One leg was found to be broken, and he had sus-
tained other injuries, in addition to being much
bruised; but Mr. Harvey had said he should be
better able to give a decided opinion later on, when
he had examined him again.
Miss Horley could see that he considered the case
doubtful, and her heart was sad for both mother and
child. Still she kept a hopeful face, and before
leaving arranged that Willie's nurse, who had had a
good deal of experience, should come to be with
Mrs. Rook through the night. The latter gratefully
accepted the proposal that Freddy should remain
where he was for the present, as it was necessary
that Eddy should be kept perfectly quiet, and
84 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
she felt her whole attention must be given to
After a few more words, Miss Horley left to return
home to the other boys.
Freddy again gave way to tears on finding he was
not to go home to his mother and brother; but the
former had sent him a message urging him to be a
good boy, and give no trouble, and thus show his
love to her. Miss Horley drew him to her side as
she delivered the message, but he heard it with
averted face, and did not seem to care for the
embrace which Miss Horley was ready to bestow
upon him, for she felt sorry for the child.
'I think you had better go to bed now,' she said,
feeling sure he must be tired out with excitement
and grief. 'It is not very far from your usual hour.'
He made no remonstrance, and saying she would
go up with him herself; she took him by the hand,
and led him to a little room opening out of the
nursery which had been prepared for him.
'EEmma will sleep in the nursery to-night, as
nurse is away,' she explained, 'and the door between
the rooms will be left open ; so you will only have
to call her if you want anything.'
She seated herself for the purpose of hearing the
child say his prayers, but first of all she put her arm
round him, and drew him towards her. She knew
the little fellow must be feeling sad and lonely, and
she would gladly have comforted him, but he seemed
CONSEQUENCES OF WRONG-DOING. 85
to shrink into himself, and show a reserve which she
did not understand.
Poor Freddy's heart was very heavy; heavy with
the burden of sad confessions which he was longing
to pour into his mother's ear. He was sorely want-
ing to obtain her forgiveness; to know if she really
could forgive him. And he felt he did not deserve
any kiss from Miss Horley. If she knew all, he
expected she would punish him instead of being
kind to him ; would perhaps say he was not fit even
to play with Willie. For had he not, if Eddy should
die, been the cause of his death ? Oh, it was dread-
fiul to think of it. It was almost more than he knew
how to bear.
He began to think that to confess it to Miss Horley
wouldbe better than bearing this terrible burden alone.
Miss Horley knew that Freddy had disobeyed
her; indeed, she was under the impression that
both the brothers had been equally disobedient,
but she thought that this evening, when the little
boy was so miserable and tired out, was not the best
moment for speaking to him of his fault. She
would do that at some other time. And surely she
thought he was being punished enough, as she looked
at his face, which was the picture of woe.
'Now, my boy, kneel down and say your prayers.
I am sure to-night you will want to put up an extra
petition to God-that He will heal and raise up
again dear little Eddy, if it be His will.'
86 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
Freddy flung himself on his knees, and buried his
face in Miss Horley's lap; but instead of the words
of his simple prayer, came the confession sobbed out,
'I've been such a naughty, wicked boy! It was all
my fault that it happened.' And a shudder ran
through his frame, as sobs choked further speech.
Miss Horley tried to raise him, but he would not
lift up his head, only went on in broken accents, 'It
was-all my fault. Eddy-didn't know-you had
told him not to go into that field.'
'I thought you all heard what I said,' remarked
Miss Horley in surprise.
'No; he didn't; for when you spoke he was behind
a bush, right at the other corner of the field.'
'I did not notice that he was missing; and I had
been thinking what sad results his disobedience had
brought with it. Then it is all owing to your wrong-
doing, is it, Freddy ?'
Sobs were his only reply.
'My poor little boy !' exclaimed Miss Horley, feel-
ing he had indeed been made to find that 'the way
of transgressors is hard.'
She understood now why he had been so incon-
solable. She had been inclined almost to wonder at
such depth of feeling in one so young; but now she
could imagine something of what the load must be
resting on his troubled little heart.
She could only say again, 'My poor little boy'
Your disobedience has indeed brought with it terrible
CONSEQUENCES OF WRONG-DOING. 87
consequences; a greater punishment than any your
mother or I could have inflicted. We must ask God
in His great goodness to spare dear Eddy's life; but
even if he lives he will be a long time recovering,
and will have to suffer a good deal!'
'If I had only known,' sighed Freddy, 'what was
going to happen, I should have kept far enough
away from that dreadful chalk pit!'
'Ah, dear child, we none of us know what will be
the consequences of our wrong-doing. Sometimes
we see them; sometimes we do not. But, however
that may be, the sin is the same. Do you feel that,
Freddy ? Do you see that your disobedience would
have been just as wrong even if no harm had followed,
if you had both returned safely, and I had never
known anything about it?'
Freddy apparently did not quite see it in that
'I want you, dear, to be sorry for having done
wrong, and not only for the results of it. Then you
will ask God to keep you always from disobeying
Him. But we will talk over this matter another
time. You ought to be in bed now. But I am sure
you wish to ask God to forgive you before you lay
your head down on the pillow.'
Poor Freddy felt very miserable as he lay down in
his strange bed, with no good-night kiss from his
mother, with no Eddy beside him. It was the first
night in his life that he had ever spent away from
88 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
them; and, all things considered, it was not much
wonder that he cried himself to sleep.
As the next few days passed by, the hopes that
had been entertained of Eddy's recovery grew stronger.
The fear of losing him was removed, but there still
remained the doubt whether he would ever again be
what he once had been; whether he would so com-
pletely recover as to be able to run about and leap
and jump as he had done. For there were other
injuries besides the broken leg.
It was nearly a week before Freddy was allowed
to see him, and then it was only for a short time.
P" M i-. Rook left them alone together for the first
few minutes. When she returned she found Freddy
gazing sadly at his little brother's pale face and the
thin hand which he held in his, while Eddy was
saying, 'Never mind, Freddy; the doctor says if
I'm a good boy I shall get well all the quicker, so
I'm going to be so good.'
'But isn't it dreadfully hard to be lying there all
this time ? I should hate it. And they say it will
be weeks and weeks before you can get up and run
about and play again.'
'But I've got other nice things. Mother is
making a beautiful scrap book for me--but you shall
go shares in it-and when I'm better she has a lot
of pretty story books to read to me that Mrs. Arnott
sent; and then, you see, I have her all day now, and
it's nice to have mother.'
CONSEQUENCES OF WRONG-DOING. 89
And so the little fellow with his contented spirit
counted up the pleasant things that fell to his share.
'Poor Freddy !' he went on, 'I'm so sorry for you
having to be away from mother all this time. But
she says she thinks she will soon be able to
have you home. I want you back again very
Mrs. Rook now came forward to take Freddy away,
as it would not do for Eddy to talk more just then,
he was still so very weak.
It was a fortunate circumstance for Mrs. Rook
that her two little pupils were away from home just
now, so that she was quite free. They had gone
with their parents for six weeks to the Isle of Wight,
Mrs. Arnott having been ordered change of air, and
she had decided to take Minna and Nellie with her.
The plans had all been arranged before the eventful
day of the blackberrying expedition, and Mrs. Rook
felt very glad that it had so happened.
Freddy remained a fortnight at the Rectory. Both
Mr. and Miss Horley were so kind that he grew
quite fond of them, but still he longed for home, and
it was a joyful day to him when he was allowed to
return. He went back a more thoughtful boy for
all the trouble he had gone through.
Henceforth he devoted himself to Eddy, seeming
to think he could not do too much to atone for all
that he had brought upon him. He spent as much
of his playtime as he was allowed by his brother's
90 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
bedside, helping to amuse him; ready, in fact, to
make himself a sort of slave to him.
For it went to his heart to see the little face so
pale and thin and different from the chubby one of
old, and to find how soon Eddy grew tired of play,
or of being read to, or even of talking. It seemed
to Freddy's impatience as if he would never get
strong and like himself again.
And all this time, for many and many a week,
Freddy had to go to and fro to his lessons alone,
without the brother who had always before trotted
at his side, or been ready to run races with him to
see who would get to the Rectory first.
But after a while Eddy showed more signs of
amendment, and a very happy day it was for Freddy
when his brother for the first time was allowed to sit
up to tea. In fact, he was in such spirits that he
was in -danger of getting too uproarious, and being
sent away downstairs.
Eddy had been a very good child, on the whole,
throughout his illness, but now he began to show the
usual signs of convalescence in being somewhat cross
and fractious at times.
Mrs. Rook made allowance for it, but Freddy had
yet to learn to have patience with the whims of an
invalid, and grew cross too when he found his brother
so difficult to please. And then they would have a
But they soon made it up again. For neither of
CONSEQUENCES OF WRONG-DOING. 91
them liked playing alone, so after a few moments of
keeping apart in offended dignity, they generally
began to make advances to one another, and soon
were again playing amicably together.
At length, to the joy of all, Eddy was able to walk
again. At first it was just a few steps across the
room; then farther and farther each day.
Freddy watched over his progress with a sort of
fatherly interest, much as a mother watches her
infant making its first attempts to go alone.
'Bravo, Eddy, you are getting on famously he
would exclaim patronisingly. 'You did it better
than yesterday; but still you walk rather like an old
man. How jolly it will be when you are able to
come out and run races again !'
Miss Horley had been a constant visitor to the
cottage all this time, and had often remained to take
Mrs. Rook's place beside Eddy for an hour or
more, while his mother went out-of-doors to get
some fresh air. Her kindness was unvarying,
and her presence was always welcome at Myrtle
Cottage. Mrs. Arnott too was very kind, and sent
the carriage several times to take Eddy for a drive
as soon as he was able to be out-of-doors, but was
still not strong enough to walk. Of course Mrs.
Rook and Freddy went too, and they all enjoyed the
change of scene thus afforded them.
To Mrs. Rook's intense thankfulness Eddy's re-
covery, if slow, was complete, and in time he was able
92 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
to return to the old life; to accompany Freddy to
lessons at the Rectory, and join in his games and
Both boys had learnt the evils of disobedience, and
henceforth, whatever their faults and failings might
be, they at any rate bore a good character for
MANY years have passed by, but Hartridge
still looks much the same as it did in the
days when the two little Rooks used to play on the
beach, or do lessons with Miss Horley.
The Rectory too looks just as it did of old; the
same red brick house and large old-fashioned garden,
with its spreading trees and shady moss-grown
Several people are sitting or standing about on
the lawn on this particular June day, when the sun
is-so hot that it is pleasant to rest under the shade
of the large chestnut trees. Tables and other
preparations for tea have already been brought
Mr. Horley is there, appearing little changed, and
the years seem to have passed lightly over his
sister's head also. Mrs. Rook is rather more altered,
some grey hairs and even a wrinkle or two having
made their appearance, but she is looking very
bright and happy.
Standing near her are two tall well-grown young
men with a strong likeness to each other. They
94 TWO LITTLE ROOKS.
are our old friends Freddy and Eddy Rook, who
with their mother are paying a visit to the Rectory.
For Hartridge has not been their home for some
years. As they grew older Mrs. Rook moved into a
town where there was an excellent grammar school,
to which she sent them by day, maintaining a home
for them chiefly by her exertions in teaching. She
worked hard, never sparing herself all those years.
And she had her reward in the love and devotion of
her two sons, who, as they grew older, conscious of
the sacrifices she made for them, felt they owed her
a debt that could never be repaid.
The boys did well, Eddy especially working hard,
and showing a studious turn of mind. His great
desire was to become a clergyman, but the expenses
of college seemed too much for his mother to meet,
and he was beginning to think he must forego his
wish, when the way unexpectedly opened up for him.
He not only obtained the scholarship for which he
had been trying, but just about that time a legacy
was left to Mrs. Rook by a bachelor uncle who died
abroad, and of whom she had never seen much.
This enabled her to send Eddy to college with the
help of the scholarship he had won, and now he was
looking forward to being ordained in a few months,
when he was to become Mr. Horley's curate.
Freddy had developed his father's taste for music,
and had decided to make that his profession. He
had already a good many pupils, and was getting on
well. He had also in secret many ambitious dreams
about becoming a well-known composer some day.
His work obliged him to remain in the town, but
it was at no great distance from Hartridge, so that
the meetings between the brothers could still be
many and frequent; while Mrs. Rook was to divide
her time between her two sons, sometimes making
her home with one, sometimes with the other.
Miss Horley always retained a very high place in
the regard of the brothers, who did not forget how
much they owed to her for her patience with them
and kindness to them during their early years.
JAMES MUIR, PRINTER, EDINBURGH.