WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
b1r)ilbren of t1)ie 1I)urcI).
BY MRS. S. C. STUDLEY.
GENERAL PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL
SUNDAY SCHOOL UNION.
Depository 20 John-Street
ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850,
BY THOMAS ROBINSON,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of
VINCENT L. DILL, Stereotyper,
PODNxY & RUSsELL, Printers.
VALUED FRIEND AND PASTOR,
REV. WILLIAM F. MORGAN,
WHOSE KIND AND PIOUS COUNSELS HAVE
SO OFTEN CHEERED THE SICK ROOM
~n mttfcb It Was brvtten,
THIS LITTLE BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY
tlat bo 3 want most ?
"WELL,Ruth, here you are, just exact-
ly where I left you-drawn up close into
the corner of this big old sofa, with a
book in your hand; and it must be a
doleful book too, for I see you have been
crying. You had better have gone out
with mother and me. But pray shut it
up now, and let me tell you about our
I was so interested in this story,
Esther," replied Ruth to this address of
her twin sister, that I could not bear
6 WHAT DO 1 WANT MOST?
to leave it till I had come to the end;
but I have finished now."
The tears were still in Ruth's eyes as
she slowly closed the book and looked
up at her sister.
"Don't cry any more, Ruth," said
Esther: "What is the use? It's only a
story after all; and if it is really true, it
was all over long ago, and I dare say
the poor people shed tears enough them-
selves over their troubles at the time; so
it can't do the least good for you to mourn
over them now. Oh, Ruth! if you were
as unlucky as I am,there would be some
excuse for grieving."
"Why, what is the matter?" enquired
Ruth, somewhat alarmed at her sister's
Oh, I have plenty of trouble. In the
first place, you know I am called care-
less, and heedless-my things are always
spoiled or worn out too soon, and yours
never seem to be. In the next place I
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
can't have what I want. If I see any
thing that I admire, and want mother to
buy, it is perfectly certain that it is too
expensive, or else not suitable. It just
keeps me in a fret all the time."
If that is all," said the gentle Ruth,
"you need not feel so very badly, dear.
Only try and learn to be careful-that
will cure the first trouble. And then be
content with what mother chooses-that
will not be hard, I am sure. I remember
now, she said we might choose our bon-
net ribbons, and I told you when you
were going out, that I should be satisfied
with whatever you liked. What color
did you take?"
I am going to tell you all about it,
Ruth. We went directly to Miss Ar-
nold's shop, and there we saw, spread
out upon the counter, boxes full of the
most beautiful flowers I ever looked upon
in all my life; and the most splendid
ribbons! In a few moments Mrs. Norton
8 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
and Flora came in. Mother soon select-
ed two simple straw bonnets for us, just
as she said she intended to do, and then
told me I might choose a ribbon from a
box which she placed before me. To
tell the truth, they did not look very pret-
ty to me, compared with the gay ones
which I had been admiring, and I turn-
ed away to see what Flora's mother was
going to buy for her. Flora was look-
ing among the flowers-those beautiful
French flowers-for a wreath, to trim a
splendid openwork straw hat which she
was to have. Come Esther,' said she,
'help me choose. Here are moss-rose
buds, pink and white, and most exquisite
little daisies, and lilies of the valley; and
here are bunches of wheat, and all sorts
of things. And here is a wreath entirely
green. How bright, and pretty! I think
I will take this. What are you going to
have? Why don't you take these moss-
rose buds, you and Ruth-the pink for
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
one, and the white for the other. They
would be lovely on those nice neat little
bonnets.' Oh, said I, we are to have
them trimmed with ribbon; mother never
buys us flowers; she does not think
proper that we should wear them, and
she says she has a very good reason.
'If I were you,' said Flora, 'I would
keep teasing her till she changed her
mind, and bought me some flowers.'
No, said I, you would not. You would
never tease my mother for any thing more
than once, for you would find out, the
first time you tried it, that it was not of
S the least use in the world. She is never
cross, but when she says no, she means
it, and there is no more to be said.
"Presently mother called me, to ask
if I had made up my mind which ribbon
I liked best. I told her I did not like
any of those in that box very well-I
thought they all were common looking
things, not half as pretty as some others
10 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
in the shop. Without saying another
word to me, mother took up a white rib-
bon with a narrow green edge, and told
Miss Arnold she wished her to trim our
bonnets with that."
Oh! Esther," exclaimed Ruth, "you
were wrong. It was rude to speak to
mother in that way. I dare say the rib-
bons were neat and pretty after all; and
what more do we want? We are child-
ren, you know, and our dress is not of
much importance if we are always tidy."
I know I was wrong, Ruth, and I
felt sorry the moment after I spoke. But
I envied Flora, and that made me ill-
.atured. Well; as we came on towards
home, mother stopt at Mr. Clifton's store,
and bought a new book which he told her
had just been published-a book of trav-
cls. When we came out, I asked her if
it was for Sam? She said 'No; it was
for Ruth.' Then I remembered that
when she took me to the shoe store the
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
other day, and bought my brown gaiters,
she told me she should certainly reward
you for your carefulness, as you always
made your shoes last longer than mine.
Now do you wonder that I envied you
Ruth ? But never mind, I've got the
brown gaiters, and they are ten times
handsomer than our old black ones. And,
oh, if I don't make those brown gaiters
last, Ruth You will never see me
beating my toes and heels against things
when I have them on, as you all say I
That is a good resolution, and I
hope you will keep it, Esther. But pray
do not envy me, or any one else. You
can be just as careful and just as good
as any body else, by trying: and I am
sure you need not desire fine things, for
we have every thing we ought to wish
"You are mistaken, Ruth; I can think
of a great many things I should like,
12 WHAT DO 1 WANT MOST?
which we do not have. Now if you and
I cannot dress handsomely, I should like
to see mother wear elegant clothes. I
must confess, I used to think last win-
ter, when I saw Mrs. Norton come into
church with that long, elegant feather
waving so gracefully, how well such a
feather would look upon mother's hat,
and how proud I should feel to see one
there. She has a tall, fine figure, and it
would have made her look quite like a
But flowers and feathers are very
T know they are. But that does not
alter the case; I admire them, and
should like to have them. I like all
beautiful things and handsome people.
I wish we were handsome, Ruth."
" Why, Esther, what a strange humor
you are in this afternoon! Of what sort
of consequence is it that we should be
handsome? I never think of your looks
AT DO I WANT MOSt ?
-I love you as well as if you were a
beauty. Perhaps we should be vain if
we had any beauty, and that would spoil
it all. I don't mind being plain."
Whatever you may think about it,
Ruth, I mind it very much-having gray
eyes, and a snubby nose, and such light
hair, and such short, fat hands and feet."
At any rate," replied Ruth, laugh-
ing, there is a pair of us, for every one
says we look exactly alike, and so we
can keep each other company. But I
say again, I do not care a straw about it."
"And then to have such a hateful
name as I have got," rejoined Esther.
' Yours is bad enough, but mine is worse.
They are very poor names indeed, al-
though they are in the Bible. I don't
see why mother could not have had us
christened Josephine and Augusta, or
Ada and Ella, or Gertrude and Georgi-
anna, or at least, something more fashion-
able than Ruth, and Esther."
14 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
"You know very well." said Ruth,
"why mother gave us these names. You
were named after our dear, good aunt;
and my name is mother's own, and I would
not exchange it for any other if I could."
But mine is too ugly. It just gives
Sam a good excuse for teasing me. Don't
you hear him often when I come dowrr
dressed for church, or for a walk, saying
'Hurra! here comes the queen?' and
then he mutters to himself Queen Esth-
er comes in royal state.' It's too bad-I'll
speak to father about it this very night.
I only wish he had some out-landish
name, such as Nebuchadnezzar, or Oba-
diah, or even Job-Yes, that would do
nicely. Then, whenever he vexed me,I
would pay him the compliment to enquire
after his health, and ask how his boils
were getting on."
That would be wrong, Esther, and
mother would be very much displeased
with you. I wonder how you can be in
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 15
such a bad humor with every body and
every thing. Pray try and get out of
it-it quite distresses me to see you so.
But in spite of it all, I can't help laugh-
ing to think how much you wish to be
handsome. Just tell me now exactly
how you would like to look."
"I can tell you any thing, Ruth, be-
cause I know you will keep it all to
yourself. I should like large, dark eyes,
and glossy black hair, and a tall, grace-
ful form, with beautiful hands, and small,
slender feet, so that when I walked out I
could be sure no one would say, What
clumsy feet that young lady has.' Then
I should want a nice ftir complexion-
and you know if I looked so, Ruth, peo-
ple would be apt to take a fancy to me,
and like me. Now you won't tell what
I have said ; I would not have Sam
know it for the world."
At that moment the door opened, and
Master Szimuel Howard entered.
16 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
Wouldn't have Sam know it for the
world," exclaimed he. Wouldn't she?
Come Ruth, tell me what secret the
queen has got now."
"You know I never tell secrets," said
"Well, then, girls, let the secret go,
and come out here: Ben and I want to
show you something."
Ruth and Esther followed their brother
out of the house.
Now, ladies," said he, "here is a
chance for you! The sign is up, and we
are all ready for customers."
The boys had contrived to fasten a
long stick over the barn door, from which
was suspended one of Esther's new
bronze gaiters. As they approached,
Benjamin commenced walking up and
down before it, ringing a small bell, and
saying, For sale-any quantity of the
highly esteemed royal bronze gaiters, of
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 17
the latest pattern. Walk in ladies; the
clerks will be happy to wait on you."
Poor Esther was overflowing with in-
dignation. Ruth, ever kind and consid-
erate, seized the unfortunate gaiter, led
her sister back to the house, and tried
her best to soothe and comfort her under
her heavy weight of trials.
Didn't I tell you, Ruth, that I was
always unlucky? Just because I spilled
a little water upon it this afternoon, and
put it in the window to dry, it must fill
out, and then the boys must find it! Oh,
that provoking Sam! I cannot bear it
any longer-I must tell father to-night.
I am almost worried to death."
"Try to forgive him this time, Esther."
said Ruth. We should be sorry to see
Sam in trouble. I know you are worried,
but I think you will feel better after tea,
and it is almost time for that."
Samuel was not an ill-natured boy,
though he was disposed to ridicule his
18 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
sister's excessive love of finery and her
desire for admiration. In spite of this
little affair of the gaiter, which had so
irritated her, he intended to give her
pleasure that very afternoon. He had
bought a pretty basket with some of his
pocket money, and filled it with wild
flowers of which he knew she was ex
tremely fond; and when, a few moments
after, he brought in his gift, and present-
ed it in the kindest and most conciliating
manner, Esther was more than pacified,
and quite ready to forget his trifling
I- --- I-~
" LET your conversation be without cov-
etousness; and be content with such
things as ye have." This is one of those
plain precepts of the gospel which we
should all do well to remember. But,
alas! it is only by slow degrees, and
often by bitter experience, that we are
brought to see its wisdom, and its im-
portance to our well-being and happiness.
It is God, our Maker and our kind
Heavenly Father, who has appointed our
condition in life, and the "things we
have" are those which He has chosen
I - - -
20 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
and provided for us. Shall we not trust
Him, and believe that however different
they may be from what we would have
chosen for ourselves, He will keep His
promise, and make them all "work
together" for our good?
Esther Howard was the child of Chris-
tian parents, and had been well in-
structed in her duty. But she had not
yet learned contentment. She thought
she should be a great deal happier, if
she could indulge her passion for fine
clothes. In this she was mistaken. She
might have had all that the world could
give, and still have been far from happy.
We know what king Solomon said,
after he had provided himself with all
that wealth could procure-" Whatsoever
mine eyes desired I kept not from them,
I withheld not my heart from any joy "-
and yet, he adds, all was vanity and
vexation of spirit."
The secret of happiness lies in having
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
the heart right towards God-in being
satisfied with the allotments of His Prov-
idence, and sincere in our endeavors to
obey his commandments.
Whenever a child in humble and
prayerful dependence on God's help
overcomes a single fault, or resolves to
strive after a Christian virtue, he has
made a sure step towards real happiness,
and done a better thing than if he had
found a heap of gold, which could only
have bought him a few perishable earthly
Doctor Howard was a respectable
physician residing in a pleasant town in
New England. He had started in life
with no fortune but his talents and pro-
fession. His wife was a sensible, pru-
dent woman, with strict Christian prin-
ciples, which enabled her to conform
cheerfully to all that was required in the
situation in which Providence had placed
her. She found her happiness in the
22 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
discharge of her domestic duties-in
promoting the comfort of her family, and
endeavoring to bring up her children in
the fear and love of God. Samuel, the
eldest, was now in his fourteenth year,
and the ttvin-sisters, Ruth and Esther
nearly twelve. Benjamin Darwin, the
son of a widowed sister of Mrs. Howard
who lived in the country, was staying in
the family, and attending school with his
The doctor had saved from his income
enough to buy a good house; and being
now in the prime of life, and having an
excellent practice, he was able to live
comfortably, and give his children the
advantage of a good education. They
were all children of good abilities, and
in good health. Samuel was a fine look-
ing boy; but strange to say, he did not
appear conscious of it himself, and never
gave any evidence of personal vanity.
It was true, as Esther had said, the
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
sisters were not handsome, and I agree
with Ruth in thinking it of no import-
ance. They looked as well as most
other girls, and were quite as agreeable.
They both had some faults, and some
good qualities; but, under the guidance
of their careful mother, there was good
reason to hope they would improve, and
become good and useful women. There
was a want of energy in Ruth, although
she was so sweet tempered. If she
could be quiet, and have plenty of books
to read, she was satisfied; and the idea
of a new dress or bonnet never excited
her in the least-the shape and color were
matters of perfect indifference to her.
Esther's temperament was different,
and consequently she was exposed to a
different set of temptations. Under cer-
tain circumstances where contentment
would have been a great attainment in
Esther, it would have been an easy thing
for Ruth; and, on the other hand, when
24 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
activity would have been a great effort on
the part of Ruth, her sister's native im-
pulses would have prompted her to exer-
tion. If any of my young readers sup-
posed that Ruth was faultless, because
she appeared more amiable than Esther
in the former chapter, they were alto-
gether wrong. I might have laid before
them a scene, in which they would have
been almost provoked at Ruth's indo-
lence, and greatly admired Esther's
promptness and industry. But I wished
to show one of Esther's weak points of
character-to exhibit a certain fault-
one which is not very uncommon among
young girls, even at an early age. I
mean excessive love of finery and dis-
play.-Now although they may not real-
ize it, there is scarcely any thing which
makes them appear more ridiculous; nor
any thing not absolutely vicious which
leads to worse results in after-life if
LT DO I WANT MOST?
How much hard-earned money which
might have been better spent, have hus-
bands and fathers seen lavished on need-
less and unbecoming dress; and how
many poor foolish girls, who are known
to have no pecuniary resource but their
own exertions, will toil night and day to
attire themselves like ladies of indepen-
dent fortune, forgetting that in so doing
they violate both christian principle and
Let us hope that Mrs. Howard sees
her daughter's fault, and, like a good
christian mother, will strive to root it out,
and implant a virtue in its room. It is
for heaven she must train the young im-
mortals committed to her care-not for a
gay deceitful world which has no solid
joys and is fast passing away.-Man
looketh on the outward appearance, but
God looketh on the heart, and there is an
"inward adorning," which, in his sight,is
of great price.
RUTH was so completely absorbed with
her new book that it nearly escaped her
recollection that there was a dressmaker
in the house, at work upon some pretty
pink ginghams and white cambrics which
had been purchased for Esther and her-
self. When she was called to have a
dress tried on, she thought she would
rather go without it altogether, than be
disturbed. But there was no escape.
Esther, on the contrary, was on the
alert, eagerly interested in the fitting and
making, and anxious to assist in sewing
upon them. She told Ruth that evening,
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
that she believed she never had a dress
which fitted her so beautifully, and felt
so nicely as her pink gingham.
And what a beautiful gloss it has,
Ruth," said she. I should not wonder
if they were taken for silk."
Well," replied Ruth, suppose they
are-what then? They would not be
any more comfortable if they were silk;
and we should be almost afraid to stir,
for fear of soiling them."
"Not I, indeed! There is nothing I
should like better than to wear silk
dresses, and look really genteel."
"But you need not think any body
will suppose our ginghams are silks.
Every one knows that mother would not
buy pink silks for us, and for my part I
am glad she does not."
"When I am a woman, Ruth, and
buy my own clothes, you'll see how I
will dress I will have handsome things
if I can possibly get them."
28 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
"And I will buy very plain clothes,
and save my money to spend for books
and pictures. I'll have a splendid
library, and read as much as I please."
I have been thinking," said Esther,
after a short pause in the conversation,
that after all, those white and green rib-
bons will look very well with our sum-
mer dresses. Any thing answers with a
white dress, and green makes a beau-
tiful contrast with pink-and so does
brown. Oh, yes! I am lucky this time;
my brown gaiters will be just the very
thing with my pink gingham."
So they will, Esther. You certainly
have good taste, and I dare say you
would always choose pretty things if you
had your own way."
The new dresses were finished and
deposited in the wardrobe ready for use.
The bonnets came home from the milli-
ner's, and the busy week drew towards
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
It was Saturday evening, at sunset.-
The family were all together in the parlor
waiting for tea, which was not quite
ready. There were some clouds in the
sky, and some one had remarked that it
looked as if a storm were gathering.
Esther was restless, and there was an
expression of anxiety on her countenance.
She frequently walked to the window
and looked out, and at last inquired of
her father if he thought it would rain the
next day. She had already asked each
of the boys the same question once, and
Ruth about half a dozen times; but,not
satisfied with the opinions they had
given, she chose finally to appeal to her
father's superior judgment.
"I cannot tell, my daughter," replied
the doctor; "a rainy day would be very
welcome, for we have great need of it."
"But Sunday is not a good day for
rain, father," said Esther.
"I know there are some inconve-
30 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
niences attending a rainy Sunday; but
unless it should storm violently, we need
not suffer much deprivation. We are all
stout and well, and with the help of um-
brellas and india-rubbers can manage to
get to church."
This answer did not appear to set
Esther's mind at ease, though she could
offer no objection to it. She had certain
anticipations for the morrow, which she
did not like to give up.
Samuel, who had much shrewdness,
observed her anxiety, and guessed its
cause. He knew that vanity was her
besetting fault, and often roguishly
amused himself by wounding and mor-
tifying it; for it annoyed him that his
sister, who was in other respects such a
pleasant girl, should have such a weak-
ness of character. Calling Ruth into a
corner of the room where he and Benja-
min were sitting, he asked, "Is there
any thing new, Ruth ?"
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
I don't know what you mean, Sam-
uel," said she.
"(I mean, has any thing new been
bought for you girls-any new summer
Oh! if it is that, can tell you. Our
new dresses are finished.-You know
Miss Willis has been here this week
What are they?"
(' Pink ginghams and white cambrics.
Esther says they fit us beautifully."
SWell, is that all?"
Let me see-oh-our bonnets came
home this morning. I have not seen
them yet, but Esther says they are very
"Now I've got it, Ben!" exclaimed
Samuel; The queen wants a fair day.
How nicely we shall look!"
"Do you care about the weather,
Ruth ?" inquired Benjamin.
No; not much."
32 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
"I thought so. And if it should be
ever so pleasant, you will be just as
likely to forget your new bonnet and put
on your old one."
Come, Ben," said Samuel, as the
bell rang for tea; I go for rain."
The sky grew darker and darker, and
the prospect for poor Esther still more
gloomy. As they returned to the parlor
after tea, she heard her brother say, "(I
am sure it will rain hard to-morrow,
Ben, and we shall have a great time
getting to church. I shall lift the queen
over the puddles, and you must take
care of Ruth. Won't I be careful of
Esther began to feel again that she
had a large share of trouble. She went
to bed that night disappointed and irri-
tated, looking forward to a gloomy day
-she had not yet learned that even a
rainy Sunday is welcome to one whose
heart is right. It is a day of rest and
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 33
spiritual refreshment-a precious oppor-
tunity for private prayer and reading the
word of God, for examining our hearts
and lives, and making good resolutions,
for reflecting on God's mercy and good-
ness to us, and our duty to Him. Oh
how can the sacred hours of Sunday be
a weariness, while we have so much to
thank God for, so much to pray for, and
so much to accomplish in his service!
It is a great mistake to suppose, as
some young persons do, that Sunday is
necessarily a dull, tedious day, from
which all cheerful and pleasant things
must be banished. It arises from their
i ignorance of what true religion is. Reli-
gion was designed to make us happy
both now and hereafter. The very word
Gospel means good tidings. The angels
sang for joy when Christ was born.-
"Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace, good-will toward men."
Certainly then, the day which is set apart
34 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
for his service, should bring to us thoughts
of joy and gladness.
Children usually have entire leisure on
Sunday from any worldly duty or occu-
pation; and because they cannot with
propriety indulge in their ordinary
amusements, it does not follow that they
must be sad and uncomfortable. Every
child who reads this book knows that he
has an immortal soul, and must go to
live in another world when he has de-
parted from this; also that he has a sin-
ful nature which must be renewed and
sanctified before he can be fit for heaven.
Perhaps he thinks very little of this dur-
ing the week, while all is bustle and
activity around him, and he too is occu-
pied; but, in the stillness of the day of
rest, he may call to mind these solemn
truths, and remember that the earlier he
begins to love God and form a christian
character, the easier and the better it
will be. The hymn says truly-
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
"'Tis'easier far if we begin
To fear the Lord betimes ;
For sinners who grow old in sin
Are hardened by their crimes.
"It saves us from a thousand snares
To mind religion young;
Grace will preserve our following years,
And make our virtues strong."
These thoughts need not take away
your cheerfulness. Remember that God
loves you. He has shown it by sending
His Son to die for our sins. He shows it
by His kind care of you night and day.
Fear to offend him; be ashamed to break
the commandments of so a kind Heav-
enly Father; but never fear that God
does not love you and wish you to be
happy. Whatever you have done wrong
during the week, let not Sunday pass
without confessing your faults, praying
for pardon, and for help to avoid them
in future. You need not think you must
sit still and read all the time. You may
have profitable thoughts as you walk
3(6 WHAT DO 1 WANT MOST?
about the house or garden. Only let
every thing you see, lead your mind to
God; for every thing that is curious and
beautiful in nature is the work of his Al-
mighty hand. You may reflect, too, that
there are glorious things in God's uni-
verse which we cannot now see or ima-
gine, which will be revealed to us here-
after. Think of the vast company of
angels and pure spirits who are serving
God in heaven, and who, as the Bible
tells us, rejoice "over one sinner that
repenteth." You cannot hear their joy-
ful songs, or see how promptly they
move to do His will; but you know that
if you are God's obedient child, you will
hereafter be made equal unto the an-
gels," for your Saviour has said it.
And I am sure there are few who
have not, in the other world, some dear
relative or friend-perhaps a father or
mother, a brother or sister, or a school-
mate; and their memory may well come
WHAT DO I WANT MOST
to you among other secret thoughts on
this holy day, to encourage you in the
path which leads to God's right hand.
If you want active employment, is
there not some one about you more igno-
rant than yourself, to whom you can
teach something good which you have
learned? Or can you not do something
to assist or oblige some older person in
the family? Acts of kindness well be-
come the Sabbath.
I am sure,if you consider well what I
have said, you will see that you never
need ask on a Sunday morning, even
though it looks stormy and dismal, What
shall I do with myself to-day?
Esther had looked forward to putting
on her new clothes,as the most important
business of the coming day; and ex-
pected to be happy in the consciousness
of being well dressed. But, alas! it
would probably rain, and she would lose
all her anticipated enjoyment!
How little do we know what shall be
on the morrow." In spite of Esther's fore-
bodings, the sun shone brightly and the
birds sang sweetly on Sunday morning.
There had been some fine showers in the
night, and every thing looked fresh and
green, and she joyfully exclaimed as she
arose, "Oh! Ruth, what a lovely day !"
Esther was in fine spirits. She had
not neglected to learn her Sunday school
lesson, for, although she did not feel the
interest in it which it deserved, she was
too proud to run the risk of appearing
stupid, and being reproved for remissness.
It so happened that the lesson for that
WHAT DO 1 WANT MOST? 39
day was the last part of the sixth chatp-
ter of St. Matthew's Gospel, commencing
with these verses,--" And why take ye
thought for raiment? Consider the lilies
of the field, how they grow; they toil
not, neither do they spin; And yet I say
unto you, that even Solomon in all his
glory was not arrayed like one of these."
One would suppose that, under the
circumstances, these words would have
appeared very striking to Esther; but,
strange to say, she hurried over this
beautiful passage of Scripture as though
it had no meaning, and, as soon as she
felt sure that she could repeat it accu-
rately, she hastened to dress.
She surveyed herself in the glass with
great satisfaction before leaving the cham-
ber, and said to Ruth, The bonnets
are very pretty after all. Yet Flora was
right-the moss-rose buds would have
been an improvement. I suppose Flora
too will wear her new bonnet to-day."
40 WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
I am not disposed to find fault with
the fact that Esther was pleased with
her new clothes. But she attached too
much importance to them. She allowed
them to engross too many of her
thoughts, and had a vain, conceited air,
as though she was conscious of looking
well, and deserving to be looked at and
admired. This made her appear ridicu-
lous, and,as I have said before, often pro-
voked her brother to say and do things
which were calculated to mortify her.
The doctor was called out of church
that morning to sec a sick person, and
when Mrs. Howard was returning home
after service with the children, Samuel,
who was walking by the side of his cousin
just behind the girls, took the opportunity
to make some remarks upon the dress of
several persons who were passing down
the street. "See, Ben," he exclaimed,
there goes that proud Mrs. Norton load-
ed with finery, with Miss Flora marching
WHAT DO I W
ANT MOST? 41
at her side-and there is the beautiful
Miss Duncan, with her shining silk dress."
"Don't say any thing against Laura
Duncan, Samuel; for I have taken par-
ticular notice of her, and I'll venture to
say she never thinks of her dress any
more than our Ruth does, no matter how
handsome it is."
Well, I'm glad mother dresses our
girls in a plain way. However, the
queen would if she could. See her now!
she walks off as if she were really
dressed in satin."
Samuel went on talking in a manner
not at all becoming the day. He was
absolutely frolicksome; and perceiving
that the string of one of Esther's gaiters
had got loose, and was trailing upon the
ground, he could not resist the tempta-
tion to place his foot upon it for a mo-
ment, in order to make her stop and turn
round, and look disconcerted when she
found that something was out of order.
42 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
The consequence was that, instead of
turning around, she fell forward upon the
pavement. Samuel felt self-condemned
the moment he saw her fall. He sprang
forward to lift her up, but unfortunately
lost his balance, and fell off the side-
walk into a gutter, which, owing to the
late rain, was well filled with muddy
water. It was difficult to tell which
presented the more inelegant appearance,
Esther with her bruised and bent bon-
net and red face, or Samuel with his
clothes bespattered with mud.
Mrs. Howard and Ruth were entirely
ignorant of the cause of this accident,
and, as the time and place would not
admit of an explanation, they all made
the best of their way home.
Esther had her suspicions of Samuel,
but there was no need of accusing him.
He came forward and confessed, and
begged her to forgive him. His mother
sent him to his room to spend the remain-
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 43
der of the day in retirement, leaving it
for his father to expostulate with him
concerning his behavior.
Mrs. Howard smoothed Esther's dis-
ordered dress, bent the unfortunate bon-
net into its proper shape, and bade her
put it away, and try to compose herself.
Esther went to her room, and sat
down to examine and mourn over it.
" See, Ruth," she said, as the tears
streamed down her face, "it is almost
ruined-that bruise will always show,
and people will think it is an old bonnet!"
Never mind," said Ruth, "I will
exchange with you if mother will allow
me; I shall not care about the mark,
and I don't believe any body will notice
it on me."
"Oil, Ruth, Ruth !" exclaimed Esther,
with a fresh burst of grief-" Here is
another trouble just as bad! I am the
unluckiest person in the world. I can-
not have any thing decent!"
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
She had just discovered that in her
fall she had grazed the morocco upon
one of her gaiters, and made a bare spot
of considerable size.
"I see it, dear, and it is too bad," said
Ruth. "I wish I had a pair just like
them, so that I could exchange with you;
but I suppose you would not like to
take my black ones, though they are
almost as good as new."
It would not be of the least use,
Ruth. Something would be sure to hap-
pen to them the first time I wore them.
You see how it is with me."
"Does your face feel badly, Esther?
It looks very red; there are two spots-
one on your cheek, and the other on
"Yes; but I can bear it. Any thing
but spoiling my clothes in this way."
Mrs. Howard now entered the cham-
ber, and finding Esther's face bruised,
oathed it with cold water, and told her
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
she would be obliged to stay at home
the rest of the day. She bade her stop
worrying about her clothes, which could
do no good at any time, and was espe-
cially improper on Sunday. She re-
minded her of the lesson learned that
morning, and advised her to reflect upon
it, and ask herself if she had not taken
too much "thought for raiment;" more
than was necessary for a child who had
no care about providing for herself, and
was in no danger of suffering from the
want of any thing needful or proper.
Esther knew she deserved this hint
from her mother; but she was too much
distressed and mortified to forget the cir-
cumstance at once, and, after her mother
left the room, she continued to lament it.
" It is worse," said she, "yes, a great deal
worse than a rainy Sunday. I wonder
Ruth, why you never have any mishaps
and troubles-they all come to me."
As the redness subsided from Esther's
46 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
face, two large black and blue spots ap-
peared, which so disfigured her, that she
was entirely reconciled to the idea of
remaining at home in the afternoon.
When the family were leaving to go to
church, her mother put into her hand the
following anecdote, which she had met
with a short time before.
Befurchte, (gardener to Elizabeth,
consort of Frederick II.) had one little
daughter, with whose religious instruc-
tion he had taken great pains. When
this child was five years of age, the
queen saw her one day, while visiting
the royal gardens at Shonhausen; and
was so much pleased with her, that, a
week afterwards, she expressed a wish
to see the little girl again. The father
accordingly brought his artless child to
the palace, and a page conducted her
into the royal presence. She approached
the queen with untaught courtesy, kissed
her robe, and modestly took the seat
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 47
which had been placed for her by the
queen's order, near her own person.
From this position she could overlook the
table at which the queen was dining with
the ladies of her court; and they watched
with interest to see the effect of so much
splendor on the simple child. She looked
carelessly on the costly dresses of the
guests, the gold and porcelain on the
table, and the pomp with which all was
conducted; and then, folding her hands,
she sung, with her clear childish voice,
Jesus! thy blood and righteousness
Are all my ornament and dress;
Fearless, with these pure garments on,
I'll view the splendors of thy throne.
All the assembly were struck with
surprise at seeing so much feeling, pen-
etration and piety in one so young.
Tears filled the eyes of the ladies; and
thie queen exclaimed, Ah! happy child!
how far are we below you.' "
WHEN Samuel came down into the par-
lor the next morning, he found his sisters
alone. There was an expression of sor-
row on his face, a look which seemed to
say," I would do any thing, or suffer any
thing, if I could undo what happened
Esther did not look happy, and the
bruised spots were still visible upon her
face. Samuel went immediately towards
her, and in the most affectionate manner
expressed his regret, and begged her to
forgive him if she had not done so already.
I forgive you, Sam," said she, be-
cause I know I ought to; but I think it
----- ---~- ~ -_- -I
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 49
is a mean thing for boys to tease their
sisters, and I should love you better if
you did not do it."
Come, now," said Benjamin, who at
that moment entered the room, "let us
have this thing settled. Ruth and I love
peace, and we'll do what we can to make
peace, and settle all disturbances. I have
no doubt Sam has shed tears enough to
nearly drown himself, and Esther is not
so cruel as to deny him pardon."
"It is all settled without our help,"
said the quiet Ruth. They are good
friends again, and there is to be no more
Well, then," rejoined Benjamin,
we'll proceed to see what can be done
to repair damages. I saw the mischief,
and I believe there is help for some of it.
In the first place, time will make your
face fair again, Esther; and secondly,if
Ruth cannot repair bonnets, Miss Arnold
can; thirdly, I myself have some skill
50 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
in the boot and shoe business, so bring
me your gaiter."
Esther had so much confidence in her
cousin's ingenuity as well as kindness, that
she at once complied with his request.
Benjamin took the gaiter to his own
room, where he had, among other treas-
ures, a box of paints, which now seemed
to him particularly valuable. By the aid
of a small brush, and a little coloring
which matched the morocco, he soon
succeeded in covering the defaced spot
so neatly that it could only be distin-
guished by close examination.
When he returned with it, the girls
were astonished and delighted. You
see," said he playfully, I'm an artist.
I have my pencils and my paints. I gen-
erally use them on paper. Men some-
times paint on canvass, sometimes on
ivory; but who will presume to say that
a young adventurer may not try his skill
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
Esther thanked her cousin many times
for having relieved her of what she con-
sidered one serious trouble.
If it does not look quite as well as
the other," said he, all you have to do
is, when you wear them, to 'put the best
foot forward,' as the saying is, and no-
body will be the wiser."
It came to the very tip of Samuel's
tongue to say, "Never fear but she'll do
that;" but, remembering his promise, he
They were now all in fine spirits, and
Benjamin went on to say that, as he had
all the necessary materials, to say noth-
ing of his skill, which he believed none
of them would dispute after the evidence
just received, he would hold himself
ready to take the likeness of any one
present, whenever it might be desired.
Esther was the first to answer, "I
will wait a few days if you please, Mr.
Artist, until I come to my looks."
52 WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
Fortunately for Esther, who would
have been mortified at the idea of ap-
pearing before her young companions
disfigured as she was by her bruises,
the school of which she and Ruth were
members was now enjoying a vacation
of a week. Ruth reminded her of this
consoling circumstance, for it was her
way to look upon the bright side of
things, and make the best of what could
not be helped.
On that afternoon the twin-sisters went
with their little work-baskets into an
arbor at the end of the garden, over
which the boys had trained a rose-vine.
They called it the Ladies' bower."
It was in all its glory now; for it was
a lovely day in June, and the roses were
in full bloom.
As Ruth and Esther were quietly sit-
ting in this pleasant retreat, busily en-
gaged with their sewing, a girl with
large dark eyes and curling hair came
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
bounding down the garden walk, with
quick and frolicksome steps. There was
no doubt of her being welcome, from the
happy looks with which she was re-
ceived as she entered the arbor and
took her seat beside Esther.
"Here you are, my darlings!" ex-
claimed she; "I am delighted to see
you. I could hardly wait till four
o'clock, and mamma did not like me
to come out earlier;" and she added,
almost in the same breath, "Mamma
sends love, and Miss Kitty says 'how
d'ye,' and I'm to stay just two hours."
Having finished this hurried sentence,
the talkative little girl laid down her
handsome parasol, took off her bonnet,
brushed her curls away from her face,
and stopped to rest.
Who can blame Esther for thinking
that Laura Duncan looked beautiful
that afternoon? Esther had an eye for
the beautiful in nature and in art, and
54 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
such a gift is not a fault; it is designed
by our Creator as a means of enjoyment.
Yes; Laura was a very handsome child.
But she attached no importance to her
beauty; she seldom thought of her looks.
She wore beautiful clothes; but she
thought no more of them than most chil-
dren who wear plain ones do of theirs,
for she had always been accustomed to
them. When Miss Kitty put on her
clean white cambric dress and pretty
new green silk embroidered apron, it did
not occur to her that she should awaken
any admiration in her young friends;
but she said, as she was leaving home,
" I hope I am all neat and nice, Kitty-
Ruth and Esther are always so."
Laura was the daughter of a rich
West India planter, and the only sur-
viving child of her parents. Her father
had been dead about three years, and it
was one of his last requests, that she
should be brought to America for her
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
education. Mrs. Duncan had been living
for more than a year in New England,
and Laura was attending the same
school with Ruth and Esther Howard.
Mrs. Duncan did not mix much in
society. Her sorrows had given her a
distaste for company. She had, how-
ever, a few acquaintances whom she va-
lued, and among them were Doctor and
Mrs. Howard. Laura was very fond of
the girls. If either was a favorite with
her, it was Esther; perhaps for this rea-
son-she was often in trouble, and, of all
things in the world, Laura's affectionate
heart loved to sympathize with and
console the distressed.
Mrs. Duncan had brought with her to
America a mulatto woman, who had
always been Laura's particular attend-
ant. This was the person spoken of as
Miss Kitty. She was a very dignified
looking woman, and always wore on her
head a bright colored Madras handker-
56 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
chief tastefully arranged as a turban,
rings in her ears and on her fingers, and
a muslin apron as white as snow. She
had the care of Laura's clothes, and,
when Laura was too young to go out by
herself, had been in the habit of attend-
ing her. Kitty was so kind-hearted and
so fond of young people, that they could
not help liking her; and then the pecu-
liarity of her dress, and her foreign ac-
cent when she spoke, helped to make her
Laura was the one great object of care
and interest both with her mother and
her faithful Kitty. Every thing was
done to gratify and amuse her. She
was naturally a pleasant tempered child,
full of animation, warm-hearted and gen-
erous, and withal very fond of talking
when she could find a listener.
Perhaps no girl ever had fewer trials.
Whatever she wanted was bought for
her, and it seemed as if there was noth-
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
ing left for her to covet. All the house-
hold were ready to contribute to her
comfort. How then could she be ill-
natured? She had not acquired the
habit of fretting and worrying which
some young persons indulge in. It is
true that she had never seen any exhib-
ition of such a spirit in her mother or
Kitty, and example has great influence
on children in this as well as in other
Mrs. Duncan was a quiet woman, with
very gentle manners, and now there was
a sadness about her, which her affec-
tionate child understood and regarded.
What Laura would have been under the
ordinary trials which children have, we
cannot say. Doubtless she had faults-
for every child has a sinful nature. But
she had in infancy been made a mem-
ber of CHRIST in the holy rite of Bap-
tism, and her mother had endeavoured
so to instruct and guide her, that she
58 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
might lead the rest of her life according
to that good beginning. It is only doing
Laura justice to say that, in whatever
she did or said, she tried to be governed
by christian principles.
This, then, was the girl whom Ruth
and Esther were so delighted to welcome
to their pleasant arbor. Laura at once
observed the bruises on her friend's face,
and expressed the warmest sympathy.
" But never mind, Esther," said she, it
will soon be well again; I am glad you
did not hurt yourself any worse-you
see it will not spoil your vacation. I've
come down with my mamma's compli-
ments to yours, on purpose to invite you
and Ruth to come and spend Thursday
with me. It is my birth-day, and
mamma wishes me to enjoy it."
In a moment Esther's eyes were filled
with tears. "Don't you see, Ruth," she
exclaimed, "how unlucky I am? How
could I bear that Mrs. Duncan and Miss
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
Kitty should see me with these hateful
spots upon my face!"
"Nonsense!" said Laura, wiping
away the tears; they would think noth-
ing at all of them, only they would be
sorry you had a fall. And besides, they
may be all gone by Thursday." Here
was a gleam of consolation, and Esther
changed the subject. Taking up Laura's
parasol, she expressed great admiration
of it. Admiration, however, was not
the only sentiment with which she re-
garded Laura and her beautiful things;
there was envy in her heart. This was a
sinful feeling, and Esther should have
struggled against it, and driven it away
at once. But, no-she forgot that it was
her duty as a christian child to oppose
" all the sinful lusts of the flesh." She
cherished this unholy, unhappy feeling,
and it gained more and more ground in
"I thought it was very pretty when I
60 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
first had it," said Laura, "but now I do
not care much about it. I saw it in a
store, and when I went home I asked
mamma to buy it for me. She said,
'Nonsense, my dear; you do not need
it.' Then I said, 'Oh! please, dear
mamma, do let me have it.' So the very
next time Kitty went out, mamma told
her to get it."
"You must be very happy, Laura,"
said Esther; "( you have every thing that
heart can wish for."
Of course I am happy, Esther," said
Laura looking at her young friend with
some astonishment; but are you quite
sure I have every thing my heart can
You seem to have; your mother has
plenty of money, and buys you all the
pretty things you want."
"Don't you know, Esther, there are
some very nice things that money cannot
buy? I could tell you of something I
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
would be very glad to have which you
have got, and which sometimes makes
me almost envy you. But my mamma
taught me long ago that no one in this
world is entirely satisfied; that every
body has something to wish for; and so
we should be contented with what God
has given us."
Esther knows that," said Ruth; "it
is just what mother often tells us-and it
was only last evening father was telling
us the same thing, when he explained
the last part of 'my duty towards my
Laura's countenance became serious.
-" I once had a father who taught me
the catechism," said she, and a few tears
fell from her bright eyes. She soon
wiped them away and continued, Yes,
there is something I want very much.
Now Ruth, let us each tell what we want
most. I should like to hear what you
and Esther will say. You shall tell first."
62 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
Well," said Ruth, looking at her
work which she had replaced in the bas-
ket, "at this moment I think I should
like above all things a little sewing ma-
chine, which would do all my needlework
for me, and leave me time to read, or sit
here and look at the trees and flowers
from morning till night."
That is one of the funniest things I
ever heard," said Laura; "I shall tell
Kitty-it will make her laugh heartily.-
Come now, Esther, it is your turn next;
what do you want most ?"
Oh, I want a great many things! I
should like to be able to buy whatever
pleases my taste-handsome clothes, and
all sorts of beautiful things. I would
like to be rich."
Ah, Esther," said Laura earnestly,
"we cannot have every thing, and you
have got what is better than fine clothes.
If I had a sister, a dear twin-sister, who
could be my constant companion, I think
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
I should care very little what we were
dressed in. I should like, too, a kind bro-
ther, like yours; but most of all I want
"You are a good girl, Laura, a great
deal better than I," said Esther, putting
her arm affectionately around her friend,
" and your wish is the most sensible of
the three. It makes me quite ashamed
of myself. Let us be your sisters-we
I had a sister once, Esther, but she
died when I was a very little girl, only
two years old. I cannot remember her,
but Miss Kitty often talks to me about her.
Her name was Caroline. She was six
years old when I was born, and Kitty
says she wept for joy when she saw me
first. One of the last things before she
died, she asked for me; and then she
kissed me, and said such a sweet little
prayer that every body in the room wept
and said Amen.' Her grave is in our
64 WHAT DO I W
garden at Altona. Kitty used often to
take me there on a pleasant Sunday even-
ing, and it is one of the first things I
can remember. There is a white marble
monument over the grave, and a railing
around it. It says upon it,' Sacred to
the memory of Caroline, the beloved
daughter of John and Mary Duncan.'
Then there are the dates of her birth,
her baptism, and her death; and below
them' A member of Christ, a child of
God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of
Heaven.' Kitty would say, Look there
my dear child, and see what you were
made at your christening.' Then she
would tell me what a good christian
child my sister Caroline was-how faith-
ful in saying her prayers, and obeying
her parents, and speaking the truth
always, and how kind she was to every
one. Kitty tells me about my christen-
ing too. The bishop came down to our
plantation with my aunt and uncle, who
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 65
were my sponsors; for we lived far from
"Then you were not christened in
church," said Ruth.
"No; it was in our dining hall. All
the servants came in, and Kitty says it
was a beautiful sight to see little Caro-
line, when the bishop took me in his
arms, kneeling upon a low stool with her
hands clasped together, looking intently
Papa used to read the service in the
hall every Sunday, because we could not
go to church. Mamma played the psalms
upon the organ, and we all sang, even
the black boy Buonaparte who blew the
bellows. I sat close by papa in my little
chair, and we were very happy then.
But oh, there was one dark day when we
were all together in that hall the last
time. Every body was crying. There
was no music then-it was all sad. The
bishop was there, and he tried to comtlrt
66 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
us, and preached about the resurrection.
We laid dear papa by the side of Caro-
line, and then our happy days at Altona
were all ended. Afterward mamma was
ill a long time; and every thing was so
changed, I was glad when we came to
America. I am sure I ought to be happy
now, for mamma does every thing to
make me so; but still I wish I had a
Ruth and Esther listened with much
interest to what Laura told them, and
they both thought they should love her
more than ever, since she had had so
much sorrow. Even Esther perceived,
on comparing her own condition with
Laura's, that she had, on the whole,
quite as much to enjoy and be thankful
While Ruth sat pondering upon Lau-
ra's story, Esther ran out into the garden
to see if she could find a few ripe straw-
berries for her, and make up a pretty
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
bunch of flowers. "There's some one
else coming on Thursday to visit me,
Ruth," said Laura, "besides you and
Esther-it is poor little Mary Lodge."
But Mary cannot walk to your
house," said Ruth with some surprise.
"No; she cannot; but mamma will
send Kitty in the carriage for her, and
we shall try to make her enjoy the day."
Oh! I am very glad," said Ruth;
"I know she will enjoy it, and it will be
a pleasant change for her, after being
confined to the house so long. I believe
she seldom goes out. Poor Mary! I
think, Laura, if she had been here jusi
now when we were each telling what we
wanted most, we can guess what she
would have said."
"(Yes, Ruth, I have no doubt, she
would give any thing she has, to be able
to walk about as she used to do. Ah!
what a sad thing it is to be sick and
68 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
The girls soon left the arbor to join
Esther; and when Laura's two hours
had passed, she returned cheerfully
home, having obtained permission from
Mrs. Howard that Ruth and Esther
should spend her birth-day with her,
and Samuel and Benjamin should come
That night, as she was undressing,
Laura said to her attendant, "(Kitty, I
have had a discontented feeling this af-
ternoon. I envied the girls when I saw
them so happy together, and I thought it
was hard that I had no sister to love me."
"It was very natural my dear; but
God gives us what is best, and we must
trust Him and be content. Envy is a
bad thing-you must drive it out of
your heart; for if you let it stay it will
keep growing bigger and bigger, till there
is no room left for good and happy
feelings. Think of all your blessings,
and keep a thankful spirit, my child."
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 69
Laura said her prayers very earnestly;
and when she uttered that petition,
"(deliver us from evil," she knew that
God would hear her, and help her to
overcome every wrong feeling. So with
a quiet mind she lay down to sleep, and
awoke in the morning as happy and
merry as the birds that were singing at
MRS. DUNCAN'S residence was a hand-
some cottage in a retired part of the
town. In front there was a large yard
with a border of flowers. On one side
of this yard was a noble old pine tree,
and on the other a fine horse-chesnut
which was now covered with blossoms.
On the south side of the house was a
beautiful lawn, with shady elms and
gracefully waving willows. A large
glass door opened from a parlor upon
this lawn, and this was a favorite sitting
room in summer. Here Laura brought
all her play-things-whatever she could
find among her numerous treasures which
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
she thought would serve to amuse and
entertain her young friends, and here she
waited to receive them on the morning
of her eleventh birth-day. Ruth loves
books," she said, "and she shall have
plenty to look at and read, if she feels
like it. And Esther likes pretty things;
so, Kitty, if you please, we'll take down
my box of keepsakes. And poor little
Mary will like to see all the dolls. I do
not exactly know what Flora likes, but I
believe she likes the same kind of things
that Esther does."
Laura paused, and presently said, I
think I do not like Flora as I do the other
girls, but I hope I shall be polite and
kind to her, since mamma wished her to
We cannot love every body alike,
but we must be kind and polite to all,"
said Kitty, and never make any body
feel uncomfortable, especially when they
come to visit us."
72 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
"Well, Kitty, I'll try to do what is
right. Are you going soon for Mary?"
Your mamma said it was better to wait
till the other girls had come, because Mary
would be more likely to get fatigued if
she came very early, as she was not strong."
We will now leave our friend Laura
awaiting her guests, and go in search of
Ruth and Esther.
Neatly dressed in their new white
cambrics and black silk aprons, the twin-
sisters set off to pay the anticipated visit,
looking as fresh and sweet as two rose-
buds. When they had walked about
half the distance, they overtook a girl of
their acquaintance who was going in the
same direction. She had on a bright
lilac silk dress, and an open-work straw
bonnet with a green wreath around it.
This was Flora Norton, and she too was
going to pass the day with Laura. Flora
was thirteen years of age, and taller than
either of the other girls, but still she was
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
their class-mate in school, and usually
visited with them. The day was fair,
and the girls all in good spirits, and their
tongues were very busy talking of what
they should probably enjoy, until they
reached Mrs. Duncan's. Soon after they
arrived there, the carriage was ordered,
and Miss Kitty went for Mary Lodge.
Mary was the clergyman's daughter.
She had been very ill with a fever, and
one of her limbs had become contracted,
so that it was almost impossible for her to
walk. She had now been lame several
months, and it was likely she would
always continue so. Doctor Howard
often used to speak of Mary to his
daughters. She was so patient and sub-
missive,that every body loved as well as
pitied her. She seldom went out to visit
now among her young friends, but Mrs.
Duncan knew it would be a recreation
to the poor little invalid to spend that
beautiful summer day with them.
74 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
The carriage soon returned. Kitty
alighted, and, taking Mary in her arms,
brought her into the house, and placed
her in a small cushioned chair which had
been prepared for her. Mary was but
ten years old, and was now very slender
and light. Laura received her very cor-
dially, took off her bonnet and gloves,
and sat down by her side. Mary's pale
face brightened with an expression of
real pleasure, which it did Laura's heart
good to see. Ruth and Esther too were
glad to see her; but Flora had few
kindly feelings; selfishness filled her
heart. Now, thought she, we shall be
tied down to Mary all day, because
Laura will not think it polite to leave
her. She cannot go upon the lawn or
into the garden with us, and so I suppose
we shall have to stay in the house all the
time. I wonder why they asked her.
After Laura had talked with Mary a
few moments, she left her to amuse her-
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self with the dolls; and went to Ruth,
who was looking at a picture which hung
over the mantle-piece. That is our
house at Altona, Ruth," said she.
At Altona," said Ruth inquiringly.
Yes, that is the name of our planta-
tion; and in that pleasant verandah we
used to sit in the evening and take our
tea. Those small buildings are the ser-
vants' houses; and those trees, with the
bare trunks and long leaves growing out
of the tops, are cocoanuts. You cannot
imagine how graceful and beautiful they
are, Ruth, till you see them in reality."
Laura went on entertaining Ruth with
explanations of this and other pictures in
the room. In the meantime, the door
being open, Esther and Flora had passed
into the dining room; and, after looking
at a curiously ornamented clock with
much interest, had gone to the side-board,
and were contemplating the silver which
was arranged upon it, when Laura joined
76 WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
them. Esther was particularly attracted
by a bowl with a richly chased rim
That is our christening bowl, which
we used at Altona," said Laura.
Esther at once called out, "Oh Ruth,
Ruth! come and see the christening
Laura thought of Mary, and quickly
said, Don't come, Ruth; I'll bring it for
you and Mary to look at."
Stepping upon a chair, she took down
the bowl and returned to the other room,
followed by Flora and Esther. She
found Ruth by the side of Mary. Then
she told Mary what she had before told
Ruth and Esther-that at Altona they
were far from church, and occasionally
the bishop or some other minister came
out to see them; and how all their chris-
tenings and Sunday services were held
in the large hall. Then my own dear
papa was living," she added in a melan-
WHAT DO I WANT MOST
choly tone, as though she felt that she alone
of that little group was now fatherless.
"I am very sorry for you, Laura,"
said little Mary with tears in her eyes.
" I am sure I should be very unhappy
without my father."
Thank you, Mary: but you know
we cannot have every thing; and, as
mamma says, sorrow comes to every
one in some way." Then reflecting a
moment, Laura said, If you would like
to hear them, I will repeat the verses
papa taught me about my baptism."
The girls said they should like it very
much, and so Laura,with much earnest-
ness, recited the following:-
In baptism I was made
God's own adopted child;
Member of Christ, and heir of heaven,
That kingdom undefiled.
I am a christian child !
The cross is on my brow,
And I must fight right manfully
Beneath Christ's banner now.
78 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
My warfare is with sin,
Which I am bound to hate;
And I must look for strength to Him
Who called me to this state.
Three things for me were promised,
Which I am bound to do,
If I God's favor would retain,
And be a soldier true.
First, that I should renounce,
Oppose with all my might
Whate'er would lead my soul astray
From what I know is right.
When wicked thoughts arise,
Oh! I must bid them flee,
And pray the Holy Ghost to dwell
Continually with me.
No bitter, angry words,
No language that's profane,
No slander, falsehood or deceit
My christian lips must stain.
And next, the Christian Faith
I humbly should receive,
And all God's holy Word doth teach
_ ___ __~__
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Thirdly, that I should keep
The pure and perfect way
Of God's commands, and walk therein
By grace from day to day.
Until my life shall end
I should in these abide,
Nor let temptations, snares, or foes,
E'er turn my feet aside.
And shall I not believe
That I am bound to do
All that was promised for me,
And be a soldier true ?
Yes, verily, I will;
But God must give me aid;
I thank Him now,with all my heart,
That I His child was made.
For me my dearest Lord
Endured the cross and shame:
For me He shed His precious blood;
Oh! blessed be His name!
For me He left the light
Of His example pure;
And now He offers grace and strength,
To make my victory sure.
-- ------ 1
80 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
I am a christian child !
The cross is on my brow:
Could I dishonor Christ my Lord,
And sell my birthright now ?
When in the clouds He comes,
And every eye shall see,
Oh, then, if I have faithful been,
He'll own and honor me
Mary said she liked the verses, and
thought her father would be pleased to
have her commit them to memory; so
Laura promised to ask her mamma to
write them down for her. She then
went on speaking of her godmother, and
her cousins "at home "-as she called
it in the West Indies. Presently she
thought of her box of keepsakes, which
she had intended to show the girls.
They all gathered closely around Miss
Kitty, who exhibited, one by one, its
precious contents. There were several
lockets, one, in particular, which con-
tained some of her sister Caroline's hair,
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
braided with that of her father and
mother. This was attached to a finely
wrought chain, which excited great admi-
ration. Then there were several pretty
rings, and a small music-box,which was
wound up to play for the entertainment
of the company. But the thing at which
Ruth looked with most delight, was a
case containing a Bible and Prayer-book
bound in crimson velvet, with gilt clasps.
This had been given Laura by her god-
mother. At length Kitty opened a cas-
ket and exhibited a beautiful set of corals
-a necklace, breastpin and bracelets.-
And now Esther's eyes sparkled with
delight. She exclaimed that she had
never in all her life seen any thing so
beautiful! so splendid Flora joined
her in praising and admiring them, but
Ruth and Mary said they thought the
books far more valuable. Flora was
proud of her own handsome things, but
she now saw that Laura had more than
82 WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
she possessed; and envy arose in her
heart. She at once determined in her
mind that it was quite necessary for her
to become the owner of a set of corals,
and that she would do her best to induce
her mother to buy them. Esther, though
she envied their possessor, never thought
of aspiring to trinkets like these; and
Ruth and Mary experienced only a sim-
ple emotion of pleasure in looking at
them. When dinner was announced,
the girls were astonished to find how
rapidly the morning had flown. In the
afternoon, Mrs. Duncan, who was fond
of children, devoted herself to their en-
tertainment. She proposed a walk in the
garden, and told Kitty to take Mary in
her arms and bring her along, that she
too might share as fully as possible in
the enjoyment. When they had walked
about as much as they wished, she had
the little cushioned chair placed under a
large, shady elm upon the lawn for
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 83
Mary, and proposed that one of the girls
should sit by her, while the rest went to
gather flowers and bring her, to make
into a wreath; and then they might
choose a queen and crown her.
Ruth offered to remain with Mary;
and Laura, accompanied by the other
girls, went in search of flowers. Laura
soon returned to Mary, with a few for
the commencement of the wreath; while
Esther and Flora went on to gather
more. Busily engaged in talking, they
walked to the end of the garden; when,
looking over the wall into a field beyond,
they spied some pretty wild flowers,
which they thought would help to make
a variety,if they could possibly contrive
to get them. Then they consulted to-
gether, as to how they should manage
to get over the wall. "You see," said
Flora, it will not do for me to attempt
it; my dress is so delicate, the least
thing would soil it; but yours is only cam-
84 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
bric, and if you should chance to get a
spot upon it, it would easily wash out.
You are more expert at climbing too, and
I will give you my hand to help you."
Esther, with her accustomed zeal, com-
menced climbing. She reached the top
of the wall, which was low, in safety;
but unfortunately lost her footing on the
other side, and fell. She gave a faint
scream, which alarmed Flora. Are
you hurt, Esther," she inquired ? "No;"
replied Esther sorrowfully; "I've only
scratched my hand a little against this
blackberry bush, but that is no matter;
I've torn my apron in two places! Oh,
dear! it is just my luck-what will they
"I'm sorry, Esther, but we cannot
help it now; so make haste and pick the
honey-suckles, and let us go back. Only
think how much worse it would have
been if I had fallen, and spoiled my silk
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
"You are a selfish, disagreeable girl,
Flora, and do not deserve to have a silk
dress," said Esther indignantly; for she
could not help perceiving how little real
sympathy her companion felt for her.
"Indeed, Miss Howard !" said Flora,
with much pretended dignity, perhaps
I do not deserve the honor of your
Having said this, Flora walked off,
leaving Esther to get back without any
assistance. Esther gathered the flowers
without observing that she was left alone;
and when she had done, there she stood
by the blackberry bush, wondering what
she should do next. At length she
began to cry from vexation. It was not
long, however, before she heard Laura's
kind voice; and the next moment a
hand was extended to help her over the
"Oh, Laura!" said she, "I cannot
bear that selfish Flora Norton! She went
86 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
off on purpose, and left me here, when
she knew I could not get back alone."
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
eight, nine, ten," said Laura, with much
emphasis; "and here you are, safely
So I am, thanks to your goodness,
Laura; but pray, what are you counting ?"
"It is a way I have,when I am afraid
of saying something else. If I stop and
count ten when I am angry, it keeps me
from saying a harsh thing, and then I
have less to be sorry for afterwards;
besides, it gives me time to remember
what you heard me say this morning in
No bitter, angry words
My christian lips must stain."
Then you were angry, as well as I."
"Yes, very angry, Esther; and you
have no idea how often I have to count
ten when I am with some persons. I
WHAT DO I WANT MOST ?
know exactly how you feel; but try not
to mind it! Count ten to yourself and let
us make haste back to Mary-the boys
With some difficulty Esther restrained
herself from any further expression of
her displeasure; and Mary's delight at
receiving the unexpected acquisition to
her flowers, put her in a tolerably good
humor, in spite of the torn apron.
The wreath was soon finished, and it
was unanimously agreed that Laura
should be crowned. She said she did
not approve their choice, and wished
they would choose some one else for
queen ; but they would not listen to her.
Mrs. Duncan was sitting in the piazza,
apparently engaged with needlework;
but in reality watching the young people,
and enjoying the sight of their pleasure.
Laura in her embarrassment ran to her
mamma, and, after exchanging a few
words with her, returned to her young
NT MOST I
W g HAT DO I
companions. If I accept the crown,"
said she, "you must all promise to be
Having obtained the desired promise,
Laura with many blushes received the
wreath upon her head.
Long live the queen!" exclaimed
Benjamin Darwin. They all joined in
the merry shout, Long live the queen "
Laura's first act of sovereignty was to
command the gentlemen of her court to
kneel before her; and, touching them
each on the shoulder with a sprig of
laurel which she had in her hand, she
said, Rise up Sir Benjamin Darwin,"
and "Rise up Sir Samuel Howard."
Oh!" exclaimed Ruth, she has
knighted them. Don't you know, Esther,
we saw this morning a picture of Queen
Elizabeth knighting some gentlemen?
But she used a sword."
And now," said Laura, rising from
her seat, "it is my royal pleasure that
[ WA O
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
Lady Mary should this day wear my
crown and bear my honors." So saying,
she transferred the pretty wreath from
her own head to that of her friend.
Mary, though gratified by this proof of
affection, would rather have seen it
remaining where it had first been placed.
Sir Samuel, coming gallantly forward,
begged leave to congratulate Queen
Mary that she had no royal cousin Eliza-
beth, to make her a prisoner and finally
cause her to be beheaded.
There was no lack of fun and amuse-
ment among this little party the rest of
the afternoon; and the visit had a plea-
sant ending, which was altogether unex-
pected. When they were about leaving,
after tea, Mrs. Duncan brought forward
a basket, which she said contained some
little presents for them. From this bas-
ket she took two handsome Prayer-books,
which she gave to the boys, telling them
that she had been gratified to observe
90 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
their attention to the services in Church.
It was a thing she always loved to see,
and no man could be great and good
without an habitual reverence for sacred
Then she gave to Flora and Mary
each a prettily bound copy of Mrs. Sher-
wood's stories on the Catechism. Lastly
the basket was found to contain for the
twin-sisters, two pretty green aprons,
embroidered like the one they had seen
They were aj pleased, especially
Esther. Indeed, hardly any thing could
have delighted her more than an article of
dress. Ruth would have preferred a book,
but was too polite to appear dissatisfied.
Mrs. Duncan insisted on Esther's leav-
ing her black apron which she had un-
fortunately torn; and promised that Kitty,
who had great skill in darning, should
mend it nicely, and take it home in a
day or two.
SHALL we agree with Esther that Flora
Norton was a selfish, disagreeable girl?
Alas, it was too true! But Esther said it
in anger. Let us acknowledge it with
pity. Poor Flora! She might have been
different, had she enjoyed the care of such
a mother as Mrs. Howard or Mrs. Dun-
can. Her mother was a gay, worldly
woman, who seldom looked into her own
heart. Had she known more of the dif-
ficulty of self-discipline and growth in
grace,-how hard it is to regulate the
tastes and tempers and affections,-she
would have realized, perhaps, what a
solemn vow, promise, and profession she
92 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
had made for her daughter at her bap-
tism ; she would have regarded her faults
with more tenderness, as the indications
of a depraved and sinful nature, which
must be renewed and sanctified by
God's Holy Spirit.
Flora was often told that she was not
as good as she ought to be-that she had
an unfortunately bad temper, which it
was to be hoped she would outgrow;
but she was never reminded of her obli-
gations as a baptized member of Christ's
Church. Her mother never talked with
her calmly and seriously about her beset-
ting sins, or taught her how to watch and
strive against them, or, above all, to pray
for help to overcome them. Indeed, the
whole force of this mother's example was
calculated to give her child the impression
that, although the forms of religion were
not to be neglected, dress and fashion
and worldly advancement were in reality
the chief things worthy of attention.
WHAT DO I WANT MOST
The time will surely come, when
Flora will realize how much a faithful
sponsor might have assisted her in form-
ing a christian character. Habits of long
standing are not easily overcome; faults
which have been suffered to grow with
our growth, have taken such deep root
that they are not easily exterminated.
Happy then are those children whose
parents strive to keep them in the way
of holiness, to train them up in the way
they should go! Far better they should
be coarsely fed and clothed, than that
their souls should suffer for want of such
The day after the visit to Mrs. Dun-
can's, Ruth and Esther were giving their
mother some account of it. Mrs. How-
ard told Esther she was sorry that she
made Flora an angry reply when she
spoke uncivilly to her; and hoped she
would hereafter copy Laura's example
of self-control and true politeness.
94 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
"Oh dear! mother," replied Esther,
rather impatiently, I wish I was good."
If you mean," replied the mother,
"that you wish you had no faults to cor-
rect, no sins to repent of, it is a very idle
wish. You cannot expect to be free from
the infirmities which are common to our
nature. There is no one living who has
not much to contend with, and this is the
reason why the Bible calls the christian
life a 'warfare,' and a race.' No one
can improve without making serious
efforts to do so; and if you really wish to
be good, my child, you will try very
hard to become good."
Tears came into Esther's eyes. She
drew close to her mother's side, and,
taking her hand, said, I wish I might
never displease you, mother, it always
makes me unhappy-but sometimes I
have such wrong feelings."
"I understand you, my dear," said
Mrs. Howard, stooping down and kissing
WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
her daughter; "and I believe what you
I know, mother, I did not behave
well about the bonnet ribbons the day
you took me to the milliner's; but you
were very kind, and did not reprove me."
"It was unnecessary, because I saw
at once that you were sensible you had
done wrong. You ought to have been
satisfied to choose from the box of rib-
bons I placed before you."
I know it, mother; but I cannot help
admiring beautiful things, and those
French flowers and ribbons were so
If you think that I blame you, Esther,
for admiring beautiful things, you are en-
tirely mistaken. I should be very sorry
if you were incapable of appreciating
them. Probably you did not feel more
pleasure than I did, in looking at those
ribbons and flowers. The display of
taste and skill in making them, and their
96 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
beautiful varieties of color, were well cal
culated to excite admiration. No, Esther;
if you had simply admired them, I should
find no fault. But you coveted them, when
you knew I did not choose to buy them
for you. I wish you would try to be con-
tented with such things as are provided
for you. Be assured, my dear child, it is
a Christian duty. You are not old enough
now to judge properly for yourself, and
you ought to submit cheerfully to the
judgment of your parents. I should be
very sorry to see you grow up with this
passion for finery."
Mother," said Esther, Flora Norton
told me yesterday that she had heard
her mother say she knew we might all
dress better if you pleased, because
father had a great deal of practice, and
a fine income."
I am thankful" replied Mrs. Howard,
' that I learned early in life to set little
value on dress, compared with many
WHAT DO I WANT MOST? 97
other things. For this important lesson I
am indebted to my mother, who took
great pains to check the love of finery
which I exhibited when very young.
Being the daughter of a poor clergyman,
you know it was not possible for me to
gratify every wish which might arise.
The state of life unto which it had
pleased God to call me,' made it neces-
sary that I should cultivate habits of
economy; and simplicity in dress was a
part of my duty. As I advanced in life,
and began to act for myself, I found the
value of such habits. When your father
and I were married, we had no fortune,
and had we begun by spending the whole
of his income, and so kept on, year after
year, we should never have had a house
of our own, or any thing laid by for
times of sickness or want. Flora's fath-
er is rich, and does not depend on his
own exertions at present to support his
family; and if he should die, lie would
98 WHAT DO I WANT MOST?
leave them the same means of living
which they have at present. The case
is very different with us. If it should
please God to deprive your father of
health, so that he could not attend to his
business, or to remove him from us by
death, we should be obliged to do with-
out many things which we now have;
and it would be wrong in me to encour-
age my children in expensive habits,which
might hereafter make them uncomfort-
able. We consider your education of the
first importance. You would regret very
much, when grown up, if you had not
been well educated; but you will then
think it of small consequence that you
were plainly dressed in your childhood."
I am quite contented, mother," said
Ruth; and I love my books better than
almost any thing else."
I am aware of it, Ruth, I know that
your temptations are of a different sort
from your sister's. But do not forget