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BUI.N S A D
BUSI NESS AND PIEkSURE
Ii >I K : 'I
F EXTRAVAGANT FANNY
T N 1 ] ; ( i A\ [JP ; **,u ;,,
WHICH IS MY LIKENESS?
"" ... -" "- " ' '- "
S E O- .
WHICH IS MY LIKENESS?
Seeing @urselties as toe See 1thcro.
(THE LATE MISS C. D. BELL.)
LOND O N:
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW:
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
THE CHATTER-BOX, ... ... ... ... ... 9
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK, ... ... 42
THE VIOLET, ... ... ... ... .. 76
THE PIN, ... ... ... ... ... ... 111
THE VULGAR LITTLE LADY, ... ... ... ... 148
THE PIGS, ... ... .. .. ... ... 185
NEGLIGENT MARY, ... ... ... ... .. 226
FINERY, ... ... ... ... ... ... 266
THE SNAIL, ... ..... 305
WHICH IS MY LIKENESS?
" MAMMA mamma what do you think Uncle
Charles has sent us for our Christmas present ?"
cried little Harry Lindsay, as he ran into his
mamma's room one fine Christmas forenoon.
He was followed by his two sisters, Caroline
and Lucy. Their mamma glanced smilingly
at a large portfolio which Lucy carried, and
"Perhaps some of Uncle Charles' pretty
Yes, mamma; but what are the pictures
about ?" cried both the girls.
"Oh! that indeed I cannot say; they
might be about so many things."
"But guess, mamma, only guess," Harry
10 THE CHATTER-BOX.
Perhaps pictures of you three children,
and of baby, Charles, and Helen."
"No, no, mamma; guess again," theyall cried.
"Likenesses of Shaggie, Touzle, and Wee-
wee-of the turtle-doves-of-"
No, no, quite wrong," said Caroline,
"I should like to have a likeness of dear
old Shaggie, though, and Touzle too," added
Harry. I shall ask Uncle Charles to draw
You nonsensical boy !" said Caroline.
" Why, we have Shaggie already with you on
his back, and Touzle jumping up to catch the
bridle. And such a pretty picture of Wee-
wee, mewing for her kitten, which baby has
all huddled up in his pinafore. But, mamma,
pray guess again."
No, indeed, I shall not," Mrs. Lindsay
answered, laughing. Why, children, I might
guess all day-Uncle Charles can make pictures
of anything, of everything. You must tell
me if you wish me to know."
Well, mamma, they are pictures about the
poems he made us learn last summer," said
Caroline. "There are nine of them, and
THE CHATTER-BOX. 11
"Uncle Charles says that if we make a good
use of these he may perhaps send us more."
1Mamma," asked Lucy, "what does Uncle
Charles mean by making a good use of them
what use can one make of pictures except to
look at them ?"
And to get pleasure out of them," suggested
Perhaps Uncle Charles means you should
get good as well as pleasure out of them."
"But how, mamma? I don't see how,"
Perhaps he expects that the picture may
help you to remember the moral of the poem-
may help it to make a deeper impression on
Do you think they can? I hardly under-
stand how," Lucy said, thoughtfully.
"Am I not to see the pictures?" Mrs.
Lindsay asked, smiling. Perhaps if I saw
them, I could tell you better how Uncle
Charles meant them to do you good. Am I
to see them, Lucy?"
Oh! to be sure, mamma," opening the
portfolio. See, here is the first: The
Chatter-box. Is not it pretty ?"
12 THE CHATTER-BOX.
But now, mamma, what is the good we are
to get from it?" asked both Harry and Caroline.
"I think it is as I said. Look at the
expression of the lady's face. How annoyed
and vexed she looks! Don't you think the
picture tells you even more plainly than the
poem, that a constant chatter-box must often
be our 'aversion?' Don't you think that the
recollection of that lady's face might often
keep you from annoying people as the Lucy
of the picture is annoying her ?"
The Lucy-that is you, Miss Lu," said
Lucy only laughed. Her conscience was
clear. She was no great talker. She and
Harry looked at the picture, and tried to imi-
tate the lady's looks and gestures of disgust
and annoyance. Caroline did not join them.
A love of chattering was one of her faults.
She did not much like the subject.
"I think," said Mrs. Lindsay, after a
moment's consideration, "that the picture
shows us also very plainly the selfishness of
Oh mamma do you think all chatter-
boxes are selfish ?" Caroline asked anxiously.
THE CHATTER-BOX. 13
Indeed, my dear, I do think so. The
confirmed chatter-box thinks only of what is
in her own mind, of what she has to tell, of
what she wishes to know. She cares very
little for what other people may be thinking
of, or feeling. Is that not selfish ?"
Caroline turned away her head with a deep
blush, and did not speak. Mrs. Lindsay put
her arm kindly round her.
Courage, my little Caroline," she said;
"you are not as yet either a confirmed or a
very selfish chatter-box,
SWhile you are still young, you can bridle your tongue
With a little good sense and exertion,'
and so save yourself from ever becoming, like
poor Lucy, our jest and aversion.' Shall
Uncle Charles' picture of the poor persecuted
lady, and the selfish chatter-box, teach you to
do that ?"
"But, mamma, where do you see that the
chatter-box is selfish?" asked Harry.
"I think I can see," said the more thought-
ful Lucy. "Look, Harry, how bright and
happy the little girl looks, while the lady is
so much vexed. She is quite glad to get out
14 THE CHATTER-BOX.
her chatter, and does not care a bit how much
pain or trouble her interruption may cause.
That is selfishness, horrible selfishness."
"To be sure it is," Harry said assentingly.
Mamma, was that what you meant ?"
"Exactly. When I looked at the little
girl's smiling face, and contrasted it with the
frowning brow and forbidding gesture of the
lady, I was reminded of a poor silly selfish
chatter-box whom I knew when I was a little
girl like you, Lucy."
Oh mamma! tell us about her," cried
Harry and Lucy. Caroline was still silent.
Mrs. Lindsay smiled at the eager listening
faces of the other two. But she kept her arm
round Caroline, as if to remind her that,
chatter-box though she might be, she was still
very dear to her mother's heart.
"Eliza was the name of my chattering
friend," she began. She was a pretty clever
little girl. She was the eldest of the family;
and while she was a baby, she was a great pet
with father, mother, uncles and aunts. When
very little, she spoke much more plainly than
children of her age usually do; and it was
amusing to hear long words come so distinctly
THE CHATTER-BOX. 15
out of such a little mouth. Then, too, she only
came into the drawing-room at times when
those there wished to amuse themselves with
her, and so she was encouraged and tempted
on to talk continually.
"By-and-by, however, other young voices
came to take their share in the family noise.
Quietness came to be more of a rarity and
luxury than baby prattle. And Eliza, now
able to roam all about the house at all hours,
began to be rather a torment with her constant
Like water for ever a-dropping.'
In neither drawing-room, dining-room, bed-
-room, nor study, could her friends be secure of
one hour's rest from the busy, chattering, in-
Now her papa and mamma tried to check
the evil they had at first encouraged. But it
was too late. Eliza had become too confirmed
and too determined a chatter-box. Whoever
was in the room, or however they were em--
ployed, it was all the same to Eliza-chatter,
chatter wenl her tongue without a moment's
rest, without a moment's thought for what
16 THE CHATTER-BOX.
others might think or wish. Her papa or
mamma might be tired or unwell, engaged
with company, busy with letters, or interested
in a book-Eliza never thought, never cared,
but poured forth her constant stream of silly
babble of what she had seen, what she had
heard, what she had done or wished to do,
where she had gone or meant to go. If a
positive command to be quiet silenced her, it
was only for a minute. Again the wearisome
tongue began, until one got as tired of telling
her to be silent as of hearing her talk; and
one could only get a little peace by sending
her out of the room, or going away one's self.
The father and mother talked gravely to
her, and tried to show her that she gave every
one around her a great deal of trouble and
pain, and caused every one who came near her
to pass many uncomfortable hours, which she
could easily have spared them by merely
holding her tongue, and that she made people
really dislike her, and avoid her society as a
plague and a weariness. Eliza talked far too
fast, and too continually, to be able to think
of what was said to her. Her friends spoke
earnestly and entreatingly, but their words
THE CHATTER-BOX. 17
fell only on her ear. Before they had reached
her mind, or made any impression there, the
full, overflowing torrent of her own talk had
carried them clean away, to be never more
"Many and many a mortification had she
to bear as she grew older; and people began
more and more plainly to show that they
thought her a nuisance. Her little compa-
nions all disliked her. She was always so
busy talking, that she never paid attention to
what she was doing; and spoiled our toys,
and put us out in our games, with the most
provoking carelessness. Besides, we, too, had
our little stories to tell, our questions to ask,
our thoughts to express; and we had no pa-
tience for a companion who was always speak-
ing, never listening. So, whenever we could,
we kept out of her way, and chose another
play-fellow or walking-companion; and many
an hour was she left alone and moping, while
we others were playing in some secret corner,
rejoicing that Eliza had not found us out.
"Her elders, too, avoided her, and would
not invite her to their houses. One charming
Christmas week all we young people of the
18 THE CBATTER-BOX.
village spent with a dear old lady and gentle-
man, in a beautiful large country-house, where
every kind of amusement was provided to
make us happy; and Eliza was left at home,
because the old lady said she could not think
of allowing her little friends to be annoyed
by such a chatter-box. Another time, one of
her aunts went to pay a round of visits among
their relations in the West of England and in
Wales. She was asked to bring one of her
nieces with her. But she chose Annie, Eliza's
younger sister, and told Eliza plainly that she
really could not take one who she knew would
be a constant torment to every one to whose
house she went. And whenever their grand-
papa was ill, he used to ask that Eliza might
not be the one who was sent to ask for him,
because her long tongue wore him out, and
gave him a headache.
When Eliza was about twelve years old,
her mamma had a very dangerous illness. Her
children were too young to enter fully into the
anxiety and alarm felt by their elders. But
they missed their mother's pleasant company
and kind care, and many were the lamen-
tations heard in nursery and school-room
THE CHATTER-BOX. 19
over their long banishment from her room.
At this time came out in strong contrast the
characters of the two girls of the family-Eliza
and Annie. Eliza was, I am sure, really sorry
for her mamma's illness; but she talked so
incessantly and tiresomely about her grief, and
was besides so noisy, heedless, and troublesome,
that every one was inclined to think that her
sorrow was nothing but talk. Annie, on the
other hand, said very little, but went about
the house so gentle, thoughtful, and good,-
was so watchful to render any little help that
came in her way, and so careful to avoid giv-
ing trouble, that no one could help seeing that
she was continually thinking of her mother's
state, continually striving to do her service.
"The children's aunt, Miss Grey, came to
nurse their mamma, and I remember hearing
her tell my mother, that it was difficult to
fancy how much poor chattering Eliza plagued,
or how much the quiet Annie comforted, every
member of the household, during those long
weeks of anxiety and sorrow. Even in her
worst days- Mrs. Grey always insisted that her
husband and sister should leave her at tea-
time, in order that the children might not miss
20 THE CHATTER-BOX.
their accustomed pleasure of being with their
father at that meal. At those times Eliza
was, Miss Grey said, a teasing, chattering par-
rot; Annie, a gentle ministering spirit. How-
ever sad and anxious Mr. Grey might be, or
however worn out with watching, Eliza could
not be quiet. On and on poured her torrent
of foolish, tiresome talk; tiresome useless
questions, and still more tiresome and useless
entreaties to be allowed to see her mother,
until many and many a night she drove her
papa from the room, unable any longer to bear
the continual wearing-out torment of her long
tongue. But Annie went about the room
quietly and softly, never intruding herself on
any one's attention, but ever ready to give
any little comfort or pleasure that she could;
now bringing her papa a footstool, or her aunt
a cushion, that they might rest more comfort-
ably in their easy-chairs; always ready to take
her father's empty cup at the right time, to
pick up the handkerchief or newspaper he had
dropped, to take the little ones out of his way
when they were teasing him, or to ring the
bell when her aunt wished the tea-tray re-
THE CHATTER-BOX. 21
"When Mrs. Grey got a little better, and
"wished to see her children, Annie was allowed
into her room several days before Eliza. Mr.
Grey said he was very sorry for Eliza, but that
he really could not help it. He could not
trust her to keep quiet for even five minutes,
and he did not think it fair to deprive Annie
of the pleasure of seeing her mamma because
Eliza could not hold her tongue.
"Eliza wept and begged, and wore every
one out with her incessant complaints and en-
treaties; and at last, though very unwillingly,
Mr. Grey allowed her to go in for a few mi-
nutes, upon condition that she promised to go
away the very instant she was told. Unfor-
tunately, immediately after Eliza went in, Miss
Grey was called out of the room. She wished
to take Eliza with her, for she was afraid to
trust her with her mother alone. But Eliza
was so unwilling to go that Mrs. Grey inter-
ceded for her, and her aunt left her with many
strict injunctions to be very quiet, and not to
speak except in answer to her mamma's ques-
tions. Eliza promised, and meant to keep her
word. But, alas the bad habit of chattering
was too strong for her. Soon the stream of
22 THE CHATTER-BOX.
words began to overflow, and went on faster
and faster, until Eliza had forgotten every-
thing but her own talk. Mrs. Grey was too
weak to make her voice be heard above Eliza's
loud tongue, and after once or twice trying a
gentle entreaty that she would speak more
slowly and more softly, she was obliged to give
it up, and lying still and silent, bear the an-
noyance as best she could. Like all great
talkers, Eliza never considered whether what
she had to say might be pleasant or unpleasant
to her hearers, and often said things which
had much better have been left unsaid. So
it was now. She teased and fretted her mamma
with long stories about little family troubles
which Mrs. Grey could do nothing to help,
but which it grieved her to hear. She told
how this child had been naughty, and the
other had hurt himself,-how this servant had
been careless, and the other idle, until poor
Mrs. Grey was fairly worried into a fever,
thinking that everything was going wrong in
the house while she was confined to bed
and unable to put anything right. And
when Miss Grey returned, she found her
patient very seriously worse, heated, feverish,
THE CHATTER-BOX. 23
cast down in spirits, and with a violent head-
"After this Mr. Grey insisted on sending
Eliza away from home. She could not be al-
lowed again to see her mamma; and she was
so troublesome with her constant entreaties and
complaints, and it vexed Mrs. Grey so much
to know that she was kept away from the
room, that it became quite necessary to get
rid of her, and she was sent to spend a few
weeks with an aunt who lived a long way
We, Eliza's playmates, heard all this at the
time, and were very sorry for her. Surely,
we said, she will now be cured of chatter-
ing. Surely she must now see the evil and
annoyance she gives to every one, and she will
now teach herself to hold her tongue.
"But it was not so. Poor Eliza came back
to her home a worse chatter-box than ever.
Her aunt had a silly, idle servant, who liked
gossipping better than work, and who was
ready to listen to all Eliza's long stories, and
to hear all the gossip she could about every-
body and everything. Like most silly people,
this woman was a great wonderer and ex-
24 THE CHATTER-BOX.
claimer. Poor Eliza was not accustomed to
be listened to with much patience at home,
and her new friend's eager attention, and
loudly expressed surprise and interest, were
very pleasant to her. Soon she began to wish
to excite the same interest and wonder in
others as well as in Jean ; and at first, hardly
knowing that she did so, she got gradually
into the habit of making her stories a little
more wonderful, a little more interesting than
the truth. That is a habit which, once begun,
it is difficult to stop; and going on quickly
from one stage to another, Eliza soon be-
came one of the worst exaggerators I ever
"Now was her talking habit worse than
ever. Hitherto she had been only tiresome,
now she had become mischievous. The most
trifling remark made by one neighbour upon
another, grew in her hands,-or rather upon
her tongue,-into the most bitter reproach or
cutting contempt; and in more than one case,
life-long enmities sprung up between those
who had been the dearest friends. I have not
time to tell you, even if I could recollect, all
the mischief the poor heedless chatter-box
THE CHATTER-BOX. 25
wrought before she left our village ; how one
servant lost a good place through Eliza's ex-
aggerated repetition of a few words, never
meant for her ear ; how our curate's niece was
disappointed in obtaining an excellent appoint-
ment, because of a false accusation spread
abroad against her character, which was traced
to Eliza, and the original foundation of which
she could not even recollect; and so on through
twenty or thirty cases of greater or less im-
portance. But the last piece of mischief I
recollect well, for it concerned one whom we
"In our village lived a Mrs. Harland, a
widow with a large family and a small income.
She was an excellent woman, everybody's
friend, and one of the best of mothers. She
was very anxious to give her children a good
education, and laboured far beyond her strength
for the means to do so. They were good chil-
dren, devoted to their mother, and careful to
use to the utmost every advantage she could
get for them. The eldest son, William, was a
particularly fine fellow,-very warm-hearted,
and so anxious to fit himself for any situation
in which he could help his mother. He was
26 THE CHATTER-BOX.
a hard-working, successful student, and in a
few years had learned everything that the vil-
lage schoolmaster could teach him, without
having any prospect of getting a better in-
structor. Just at this time he attracted the
notice of a Mr. Lind, a rich gentleman in the
neighbourhood. Mr. Lind was a very benevo-
lent, although a very eccentric man, and when
he heard how well William Harland had al-
ways behaved, and how anxious he was to
improve himself, he offered to give him a pre-
sentation to a school, where the sons of indi-
gent gentlemen received a first-rate education
at small expense. The offer was thankfully
accepted. It was the very thing Mrs. Har-
land and William would have most desired,
and William studied harder than ever to pre-
pare himself to pass the introductory exami--
"July came, and everything was going on
well. The presentation had been positively
promised, though not as yet given into their
hand. The head-master of the school, who
had been visiting Mr. Lind, had examined
William, and pronounced him ready to take
a high place in the class to which he should
THE CIIATTER-BOX. 27
belong. The hearts of mother and son were
full of joy and hope, when the mischievous
chatter-box stepped in to spoil it all. Thus
"I have said that Mr. Lind was a peculiar
man. Generous and kind-hearted he was, but
hot-tempered, and unable to bear the least in-
terference with any of his numerous whims,
--the least encroachment upon what he con-
sidered his rights. This last point was a kind
of mania with him. He had a large property,
and to guard it from trespass, even to its
most remote nook and corner, was the business
and torment of his life. Unfortunately at the
side near the manor-house, Mr. Lind's estate
touched upon a small farm belonging to a surly
old farmer, between whom and Mr. Lind there
was a continual enmity. A slight, low railing
alone divided the farm-yard and offices from a
large, beautiful, and very favourite grass-park
of Mr. Lind's. And although the worthy gen-
tleman had a constant series of actions for
trespasses going on against the farmer's pigs,
poultry, farm-boys, and such lawless, restless
gentry, yet neither party seemed to think of
guarding against such trespass by erecting a
28 THE CHATTER-BOX.
higher and more sufficient fence. Malicious
people said it was because they liked the ex-
citement of quarrelling.
"On this same summer of which we are
speaking, the farmer had a very fine flock of
sixteen young geese, which were in the con-
stant habit, after dabbling to their heart's
content in the goose-pond, of taking a walk
through Mr. Lind's grass-park. Of course
mischievous neighbours carried the news of
this daily trespass to the fiery-tempered
squire, and many a ride he took to the spot
in the hope of finding the trespassers in the
very act. But always to be disappointed, un-
til one unlucky July afternoon, when, passing
through the park by mere accident, he came
upon the geese, walking about in great state,
twisting their long necks, and turning out
their big feet with much majesty and dignity,
as if they thought they had done a very clever
and highly praiseworthy act."
The children laughed at their mamma's
description of the geese, and she laughed with
them, although she said she was hardly right
to make mirth of what ended very sadly. She
THE CHATTER-DOX. 29
"Poor Mr. Lind was in a very bad temper
at the moment he espied the geese. He had
found a ragged boy stealing sticks in that very
park, and, although he had enjoyed the satis-
faction of frightening the little fellow nearly
out of his wits by threats of future vengeance,
yet he was provoked to feel that his own kind
heart would not suffer him to put his threats
into execution, against one who was a widow's
only child. So it was a relief to his feelings
to find something upon which he could vent
his anger. He determined at once to drive
the geese up to his own premises, and keep
them prisoners until their master should pay
any fine he might think fit to exact.
"No sooner thought of than done. True,
he was alone, on horseback, and to drive a flock
of geese is, as every one knows, no easy task.
But Mr. Lind was not easily turned back by
difficulties. In a minute he was off his horse,
had its bridle over his arm, had beckoned to
the sobbing, frightened stealer of sticks, bribed
him with the promise of forgiveness to act as
his assistant, and off they set with their wad-
dling, cackling troop before them. But a sore
and wearisome work it was. The hot July
30 THE CHATTER-BOX.
sun shone mercilessly down upon them as they
toiled up the steep hill; while now on one
side, now on the other, some of the wayward
birds straggled out of the flock and turned
back; and ever and again the led-horse turned
restive, and strained, and struggled against the
bridle. The farm-yard at the bottom of the
park was full of labourers, busy with some
alterations in an outbuilding. They all stood
and watched the tedious march up the hill,
and greeted every fresh disaster with shouts
of laughter and cheering, by no means sooth-
ing to poor, weary, harassed Mr. Lind's ears.
At last the top of the park was reached, Mr.
Lind paused a moment to wipe his heated
brow, and to take rest. His ragged com-
panion went forward to open the gate. The
geese were safely hedged into a corner, and
must pass through to the other field, where
they could be kept out of sight of the laughers
in the yard, until more skilful drivers could
be sent to take them to their prison. The
worst was surely over, when-quack, quack !
whirr, whirr !-with a loud cackle of triumph,
all the sixteen geese took to their wings, flew
over Mr. Lind's head, and never touched the
THE CHATTER-BOX. 31
ground until they were safe on the brink of
their own pond !"
"Oh! Mamma," cried the children, "how
the people would laugh and how angry Mr.
Lind would be !"
"Angry, indeed, poor man Without one
look behind him, or one word to the bewil-
dered, staring little urchin, who stood with
the open gate in his hand, not knowing
whether to laugh or cry, he rode home in a
fit of silent passion, vowing in his heart bitter
vengeance upon every one who had in any
way helped, or even witnessed, his failure.
His passions were not, however, long-lived,
and by the second day after, he had nearly
forgotten his anger, when, on riding in to the
weekly market, it was brought back in ten-
fold fury by the sight of a large, very clever
caricature of the whole scene, sketched in chalk
upon the doors of the town-hall. Poor Mr.
Lind's infirmities of temper were well known,
and although there were few of his neighbours
who had not at some time had experience of
his kindness, there were, at the same time,
few who had not been either angered or
amused by his pertinacious pursuit of tres-
32 THE CHATTER-BOX.
passers, small and great, intentional or uncon-
scious. So, of course, the caricature excited
a large share of attention, laughter, and even
admiration. Mr. Lind could not stand ridi-
cule, and his rage was really most pitiable,-
most sinful. He offered a reward of ten
pounds to any one who should find out the
drawer of the caricature, and swore a terrible
oath that he would be revenged.
"Alas alas as our miserable chatter-box
stood that afternoon a minute to look at the
caricature, one man beside her said to an-
I wonder who can have done it! It is
very clever. He must be a grand hand with
the chalk, whoever he is !'
"' The only one I ever saw who could draw
so cleverly,' returned his companion, 'was
young William Harland, and he is the last
fellow in the world to meddle in such a
"Eliza heard the beginning, not the end of
the sentence; and, as ever anxious to excite
surprise, the next person she met was told
that people thought it might be William Har-
land who had drawn the caricature. In the
THE CHATTER-BOX. 33
mouth of a gossip, a story grows like a snow-
ball rolling down hill, and, before the evening,
Eliza had made both herself and others believe
that there was good reason to think William
had really been the offender. Of course the
story came round to Mr. Lind's ears, and, in
the passion of the moment, without pause or
question, he sent off his presentation by that
night's post to the son of a friend, who had
asked for it, and been refused.
Poor William Harland! He had for
months been working beyond his strength,
that he might do credit to his kind friend's
patronage. He never was a robust lad; he
could not bear the disappointment, and fell ill
of brain fever. For weeks the doctors de-
spaired of saving his reason or his life, and
you may imagine what Eliza's parents suf-
fered during that time. In the end he re-
zovered, but his health had received such a
shock that the medical men said he must
never think of studying for any learned pro-
fession. And thus were all his own and his
mother's dearest hopes blighted for life! He
was a real Christian, poor fellow, and loved
his heavenly Father too trustingly to murmur
34 TIE CHATTER-BOX.
at any trial He might send. But those who
have seen him since, have told me that al-
though cheerful and good as ever, he has never
again worn the bright, hopeful look, which we
all liked so much in his young, boyish face."
"Oh, mamma! what a shame to make it
end ill !" cried Harry, as his mother ceased
"My dear Harry, I did not make it end
any way," she answered with a little smile.
I have only told you the truth. But do you
know, little as young children think of the
fault of chattering, I do not see how a story
about a chatter-box can end otherwise than
ill. At least it must, I think, end like the
(In her being) 'our jest and aversion.'"
"But, mamma, the chatter-box might be
That may be with one who, like a dear
little girl I know," with a tender pressure of
poor Caroline's hand, is only beginning to be
a chatter-box, and is resolved in time to use
'good sense and exertion.' But Eliza, unfor-
tunately, had got too bad, and most confirmed
chatter-boxes are too bad to mend. They
THE CHATTER-BOX. 35
talk so incessantly, that they have no time to
think of the evils their long tongue brings
about,-no time to make or carry out resolu-
tions of amendment. So it was with Eliza.
The grief she had brought upon the Harlands,
the sorrow she had caused her own parents,
were forgotten, or thought little of, just as she
had always forgotten or thought little about
the many rebukes, mortifications, and disturb-
ances she had brought upon herself."
"But, mamma," cried Harry, as Mrs. Lind-
say seemed about to rise, you are not going
away You have seen only one picture, and
there are nine. Do stay, mamma, a little
longer, and look at the others."
Not just now, my dear; I cannot stay
now. I must go and amuse baby while nurse
gets her own dinner and prepares his. I shall
see the others at another time."
At another time !" Harry repeated discon-
tentedly. "At what other time, I wonder.
After our dinner, papa wishes you to walk
with him; and before the big people's dinner,
Charles will be home, and make you listen to
his news. Between the old and the young,
really we poor middle ones are quite neglected."
36 THE CHATTER-BOX.
"Oh, Harry 1" cried Lucy, when mamma
has given us so much of her time just now,
and told us such a long story!"
Harry made a grimace, half ashamed, half
"Still," he persisted, "it is hard that she
should leave us now for baby. Why can't
Helen play with baby?"
Here is Helen to answer for herself," said
the pleasant voice of the elder sister, who just
then came in. And the answer is a simple
one: unfortunately, Master Baby prefers mam-
ma to Helen quite as much as you do!"
Oh, you know, Helen, I like to have you
to talk with very much!" Harry said, a little
apologetically; only you are not mamma.
And, mamma, may we show you the rest of
the pictures after dinner this evening?"
Not this evening, my dear. I expect
your uncle and aunt, and shall not be able to
attend to you this evening; but if you like
to come to me to-morrow forenoon, you may.
I am generally at leisure between twelve and
one every day, and shall be glad to look at
the pictures with you then."
To-morrow and every day, until we get
THE CHATTER-BOX. 37
through them, mammha," cried Lucy. Oh,
that will be charming and we can talk them
all comfortably over just as we did to-day."
"And have a story about each one," added
"Well, well, we shall see," Mrs. Lindsay
said, smiling, as she left the room.
Caroline had taken no share in the latter
part of the conversation; and when the other
two had run off to show their pictures to
Mr. Lindsay, she did not go with them, but
remained sitting as she had sat during the
conclusion of her mother's story,--leaning
her head upon her shoulder, and looking up
into her sweet face, while hand was clasped
in hand. Helen spoke to her, but she neither
moved nor answered. Helen went up to
her, and gently turned her head towards her.
Caroline's eyes were full of tears.
Why, Carry, dear, what is the matter?-
what has grieved you?" she asked tenderly.
Caroline turned away her face, and seemed
unwilling to reply. But the kind elder sis-
ter knew well how to gain the confidence of
all the little ones, and soon drew from her the
cause of her grief.
38 THE CHATTER-BOX.
I am so sorry to be a chatter-box," she
said, the tears falling faster and faster,-" so
vexed to think how often I must have been
a plague to you all. I know "-dashing away
her tears, and speaking very earnestly-" I
can recollect so many times when I have dis-
turbed papa when busy writing, or mamma
reading; and you and Charles fifty, a hundred
times, I have plagued with my foolish talk,
when you had other things to do. Oh, Helen !"
-hiding her face on her sister's shoulder,-
"I can't bear to recollect what a torment I
must so often have been !"
"My poor Carry!" said Helen tenderly;
"it is very, very sore to feel that one has ever
been a plague to any one. But don't you think,
darling, that it is a good thing you know and
feel it so clearly now? It would be such a
terrible thing to be a plague to people and
not to know it, because then you could never
"Do you think I can help it now?" Caro-
line asked eagerly, raising her head. "I have
so often intended to cure myself of talking so
much, and the intentions have always passed
away. Do you think I shall be able to keep
THE CHATTER-BOX. 39
in mind the sorrow I have now, and never,
never to forget.to be afraid of teasing people?
That is what I should like so much."
"Try very hard, dear, to keep it in mind,
and to bring it back to your mind as often as
you can. When you are going into a room,
or expect to meet people anywhere, try hard
to make yourself feel how likely it is that they
may be busy about other things, and not able
to listen to you; and so you will be more
ready to see if your talking would really be a
nuisance or not."
Yes," Caroline replied thoughtfully; and
I should recollect, too, how unlikely it is that
old people can care very much for the foolish
things I have to say. Their heads must be
full of better things."
You should recollect too, dear," Helen
said, "how much pleasure it gives you to
have people listen attentively to you when
you have anything to say, and you should
be glad to give other people the same plea-
Ah, yes," Caroline answered, beginning to
smile a little through her tears; mamma
says that little girls cannot expect to be able
40 THE CHATTER-BOX.
to give much pleasure to their friends, and so
they should take all the more care of the little
power they have. I have thrown away a good
deal of my little power, have I not, Helen, in
never being ready to listen to others? Oh, I
hope I shall do better now! But, Helen, I
do not think that 'a little good sense and
exertion' will be enough. I am afraid it will
take a good deal; it is so difficult to keep
silent when one has a great many things one
wishes to say."
The best way is to forget yourself and
your own wishes, and to think only of others.
When Charles comes home this afternoon, keep
saying to yourself, 'Never mind what I wish
to tell him: let me think only of how much
there is he will like to tell us.' "
I shall try to do it, Helen; only if once
the words begin, they go on so fast that I for-
get everything but themselves."
Don't be discouraged, Caroline, dear,
though you forget your resolutions the first
twenty or the first hundred times. Try, try
again, and in the end you must succeed. And
remember, darling," very earnestly, that as
it is God who wishes you to seek the pleasure
THE CHATTER-BOX. 41
of others before your own, so he will help you
to do so if you ask him."
Caroline's only answer was a hearty kiss,
as Lucy and Harry ran into the room to sum-
mon her to dinner.
WHEN Mrs. Lindsay entered the drawing-room
the next day at twelve o'clock, she found the
three of her children waiting for her. She
took her seat in her arm-chair, and opened
an album of pictures which Harry put in her
hand, while Caroline sat in her chair observ-
ant, and Lucy waited until she spoke. Mrs.
Lindsay was eagerly welcomed.
Come, come, mamma," cried the impatient
Harry. Now you are comfortably seated
in your favourite chair, let us begin business
"That I should get out my work seems
more like business than anything you are
about," Mrs. Lindsay said, laughing. "That
portfolio looks very like pleasure, Harry."
"Oh, mamma!" cried the two girls, "you
forget that the business of this hour is to get
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 43
good out of the portfolio. The pleasure comes
pretty much of itself."
And the first business," added Harry, is
to say which picture we are to have first.
Lucy wants 'Negligent Mary,' and I think the
most amusing is 'The Vulgar Little Lady.'"
Suppose we take them as they lie," Mrs.
Lindsay suggested; and so there can be no
dispute about the matter."
Agreed agreed !" they all cried. Harry
opened the portfolio; while Caroline, bending
over the back of her mother's chair, whispered
with a blush,-
There are no more chatter-boxes, mamma;
so I don't care so much which is taken first.
I am not afraid of the others, now the horrible
chatter-box is disposed of."
And I hope soon that the portfolio chatter-
box shall be the only one in the house, my
own little Caroline," Mrs. Lindsay said, kindly.
" I watched you all last evening, and was
very glad to see how much you tried to make
yourself quiet and modest, to keep yourself
from interrupting or annoying any one. I
saw you check yourself a great many times,
and was both pleased and surprised that you
44 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
could keep your resolutions in mind while
there was so much talking and laughing going
on all around you.'
Ah, mamma i" Caroline said, eagerly; "it
is so easy to do well when I know you are
watching me. It is such a pleasure to feel
that you see all the difficulty of going right. It
makes me so strong to go on in spite of every-
thing. I like-" she was continuing, eagerly,
when she caught an impatient look from
Harry, who had brought out the picture, and
was eager to begin. Caroline checked herself
suddenly, and was rewarded by a bright smile
from her mother.
"Here, mamma," cried Harry, "is 'The
Poppy.' Look! Uncle Charles has indeed
made it grow,
High on that bright and sunny bed;
And up it holds its staring head,
And thrusts it full in view.'"
And see, too," Caroline cried, Uncle
Charles has put in such a regular 'poppy girl.'
Look howshe is showing off her smart dress, and
how conceitedly she turns up her chin! Did
you ever see such a disagreeable looking girl ?"
THE POPPY OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 45
And yet she has a pretty face too," Lucy
said; she might have looked very well if she
had only walked quietly along, and not held
her hands in that conceited way, and pointed
her toes so much, and looked so much as if
she thought herself better than any one else."
"And as if she wished every one else to
think so too," Caroline added. You see that
is exactly what makes her a 'poppy girl.' The
poppy, too, might look very well if it were
not so high upon its bright and sunny bed;'
if it did not hold its staring head so full in
view.' A poppy looks very well among grass
or shrubs where it is half hid, where one does
not see its long bare stalks, which always
look as if they ought to have had twenty
rather than one head upon them."
And less unwelcome had it been
In some retired shade.'"
And Uncle Charles wishes to show us how
disagreeable little girls look when they make
themselves like a poppy," Caroline remarked.
" Well, certainly," laughing, I should not like
to be that young lady."
And yet," Lucy said, blushing a little, "I
46 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
think it is natural to like to be pretty. Is
that wrong, mamma ? "
No, my dear, I do not think it is. We
feel that it is pleasant to look upon a pretty
face, or to listen to a pretty voice, and we
should be grateful to God if he puts it in our
power to give that pleasure to others. But,
on the other hand, if God has not seen it best
to give us that power, we should be quite con-
tented to do without it, quite satisfied that
he does all things well, all things best."
"Yes," Caroline said, "just as we ought to
thank God if he gives us riches with which we
can help others. But at the same time, we
should be quite contented to do with little if
God does not please to give us much."
And be always anxious to make the most
of what we have, be it much or little," Mrs.
Lindsay continued. The poor person ought
to take a great deal of pains to help his neigh-
bour, because pains is all he has to give; and
the rich ought to be very much afraid of not
using to the utmost the riches with which God
has intrusted him."
"And how about the pretty and the ugly
person, mamma ?" Lucy asked.
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 47
"The pretty girl ought to take great care
that she does not by carelessness in her dress,
by awkward habits, or by a disagreeable, con-
ceited expression, spoil the pleasure which God
meant others to receive from her prettiness.
The ugly one must make up for the want of
these natural ways of pleasing, by taking great
pains to give pleasure in every way, great or
small, that comes within her power. As God
has shown us in many ways that he wishes us
to care for the happiness of others, so we may
be very sure that he never leaves one of us
without the means of doing so. And all we
have to concern ourselves about, is to see that
we do not throw away any power of giving
pleasure, however small it may be; that we
make the utmost use of every opportunity of
making others happy, which God brings to us
every hour of the day; and that we thank him
cordially for every one."
In that way, mamma," Caroline said, you
think we ought to be careful about our dress?
You don't think it wrong to pay attention
to colours and tastes, and all that kind of
"Certainly not. We ought to dress our-
48 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
selves so as to look as pleasant as possible in
the eyes of others. We ought to take a little
trouble to get colours that suit each other, and
suit us,-to have our dress fit us well, and of
the neatest, most becoming shapes. I think
it is really wrong to give others the pain of
looking at an ill-fitting, untidy dress, when by
a little trouble we could save them from that
And about fashion, mamma ?"
About fashion, it is the same thing.
When people's eyes get used to one style of
dress, it is not pleasant to see any one wear
something very different. We must follow
the fashion in a certain degree, unless we
mean to give people that uncomfortable feel-
ing, which the sight of a very singularly
dressed person always gives. Only we must
not suffer this small duty to interfere with
greater ones. We must not be extravagant
in consulting either fashion or taste in dress."
I think, mamma," Lucy said, modestly,
"that if we are really thinking only of mak-
ing the best use we can of the power to give
pleasure which God has given us, we shall
not find it so very difficult to know what
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 49
is a right or what is a wrong care about
I think so too, dear Lucy. If we can only
think more of others than of ourselves in look-
ing after our dress, I think we shall find it
pretty easy to do the right thing. But Harry
thinks this dissertation on dress very tire-
Only you know, mamma," said Caroline,
" he, too, ought to think of saving us the pain
of looking at crumpled collars, dirty hands, and
Harry made one of his grimaces at Caroline,
but took her reproof very good humouredly.
I only wish," he said, that Uncle Charles
had chosen some poems about boys as well as
about girls. Yesterday's story was about a
girl, and I suppose to-day's must be too."
Because you think there never was such
a thing as a conceited boy," Mrs. Lindsay said,
laughing. Well, suppose we leave boys and
girls both out of the question for to-day,
and I shall give you the story of a Conceited
Excellent, delightful, the very thing!" was
shouted by all three, and Mrs. Lindsay began.
50 TIE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
The sun shone cheerily down upon the
pond where a number of ducks were dabbling
about, pluming their feathers, and gossipping
over the news of the day, as happy and as
noisy as ducks could be. Among them was
one very handsome fellow. His head and
neck shone in purple, green, gold, and deep
blue, as the sun's rays glanced upon it. A
delicate ring of pure white set off these bright
colours, and separated them from the soft
shaded gray of his back and wings. His
breast was also pure white, and distinct bars
of purple, green and gold, across each wing
and across the tail, made up the perfect beauty
of his dress. A handsome duck indeed he was,
but as conceited as handsome, and despising
every one who was less beautiful than himself.
"'Quack, quack, what a trial it must be to
be plain!' quoth he, swimming proudly through
a group of common little brown ducks, scat-
tering them right and left before him without
a word of apology, casting disdainful glances
back upon them out of his small black eyes.
'I would not for the world be like these poor,
plain creatures. So commonplace they are I
so dingy While one can see at a glance that
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 51
I am of a superior race. And the sun likes to
shine upon me, my brilliant colours glitter so
in his beams.'
"A party of ladies came to look at the
pond. The other ducks, good, honest little
things! were too much occupied with their own
concerns to take much heed of the strangers.
They swam about here and there, chattered
to each other, dived for worms, and enjoyed
themselves thoroughly without caring how
they looked, or what the ladies thought of
them. But the conceited duck swam close
to the edge of the pond; kept carefully in the
sunshine, that his head and neck might shine
to the best advantage; and dared not pick up
the most tempting morsel that might be close
under his feet, lest he should by any chance
get mud upon his bright yellow beak, or dis-
compose his gay feathers.
"' I think my neck looks best held this
way,' quacked he, twisting it about, and turn-
ing his head over his shoulder. No-there
now-just so, the sun shines brightest on it.
And,' looking at his reflection in the water,
'what a very handsome fellow I am! It
would really be too great a misfortune to be
52 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
like these poor ugly little things. Hark! how
the gay ladies are laughing aloud with joy to
see my beautiful colours and elegant form!'
But he did not know that the ladies were
busy watching the happy group of plain brown
ducks, and that they laughed to see their funny
little tails stick up in the air when they dived
under the water. They had only looked at
the conceited duck for a minute or so, and
said how handsome he was, and then turned
again to watch the busy merry ones, who did
not care for their notice.
Oh, mamma," cried Caroline, "that reminds
me of the day we spent at Mrs. Shirley's, when
Emily Vane would not play with us, because
she was so anxious to show off her pretty
curls, and smart silk dress. And she kept
strutting up and down in front of the draw-
ing-room windows, hoping that the ladies and
gentlemen were admiring her, when they were
all the time amusing themselves watching us
at play, and rejoicing to see us so happy. In-
deed, mamma, I think Uncle Charles must
have thought of Emily Vane when he drew
that picture, she was just such a ridiculous,
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 53
Well, well, my dear," Mrs. Lindsay said
quietly; I think we had better leave poor
Emily alone. If we see ourselves instead of
our neighbours in these pictures, we shall get
more good from them."
Caroline blushed deeply, and Mfrs. Lindsay
went on with her story.
'I think,' said the conceited duck after a
time, when he was getting tired twisting his
neck about, 'that I could show myself off
better if I were to go on land. No one can
see my pretty yellow legs, and my handsome
large feet, while I am swimming about in this
muddy water. And even the bright bars upon
my wings are more than half hidden just now.'
So he scrambled on shore, and waddled
past the ladies; but they only exclaimed,
What a clumsy creature, see how awk-
wardly he walks! Why can't he stay in the
water, where one does not see anything but
his pretty back and head?'"
Ah, mamma!" cried Harry, "that is the
'And less unwelcome had it been
In some retired shade.'"
Just as mamma often says," added Lucy,
54 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
laughing, little girls and boys are very plea-
sant when they keep to their own place. But
they are the most disagreeable animals in the
world, when they push themselves forward
into notice, where no one wants them. But
please, mamma, go on."
The ladies were tired of watching the
ducks," Mrs. Lindsay continued, and walked
away, leaving the poor conceited duck, feeling
very foolish, alone upon the bank, while all
his despised companions were as busy and
happy as ever in the pond. A gate into the
garden stood open, and to hide his mortification
the duck waddled in there, hoping to find
some new admirers in this domain set apart
for the higher gentry.
"'Yes, this is the place where people of
taste and fashion walk,' quacked he; 'here I
shall be sure to find some one able to appre-
ciate my beauty and elegance.'
He came to a bed of fine carnations, and
waddled up and down the row, seeking for
something to eat, for even conceit cannot
always keep one from feeling hungry. But
he found nothing to suit his taste there. And
after doing as much mischief as he could,
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 55
trampling the soft mould with his broad feet,
and breaking over fine heads of carnations as
he pushed between the plants, he made his
way to a bed of broad-leaved cabbages. Here
there were so many delightful snails, that for
a little he had almost forgotten his beauty
while gratifying his appetite, when he was
startled by the loud voice of the gardener, who
had just come in.
"' Who left the gate open?' the angry man
asked with great heat. 'Here is a pretty to
do. These abominable ducks have been de-
stroying my carnations with their nasty clumsy
feet. Jack, Will, here, I say, come help me to
find the ducks, and drive them out!'
"' Find the ducks, indeed!' Not so difficult
to do. Our poor conceited friend immediately
"'.Quack, quack, there is some one wishes
to see my beautiful dress. I must make haste
and get out into the sunshine. Among dark
leaves here, no one can see me. I might as
well be like one of the miserable brown ob-
jects in the duck-pond out there. Let me
get out on the gravel-walk, where there is
room to see me all round.'
56 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
"No sooner said than done, and the gar-
dener and his boys, who had been .guided to
the spot by his conceited babble, were well
pleased to see their enemy come out in full
view. While the drake was meditating which
was the most graceful way to carry his head,
down came the gardener, Jack, and Will, with
sticks and stones, whoop and halloo, to drive
him back to his own premises. Even his
conceit could not construe sticks and stones
into notes of admiration; and forgetting the
graces, he was glad to waddle off as fast as he
could, his head poking forward as awkwardly
as that of the ugliest duck in the flock, and
his small, mean eyes, and straight, ungraceful
bill, looking meaner and more ungraceful than
ever, as he strained the one in search of a
hiding-place, and opened the other in useless
complaints. The boys thought more of the
fun of chasing him, than of the best way of
setting about it; and they mismanaged the
business so as to send him over the fence into
the shrubbery, instead of back through the
gate to the pond. The gardener stormed and
scolded both boys and duck, but to little use.
Master Drake had got in among the thick
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 57
brushwood, and being out of breath, and not
able to quack, they could not find him, and
were forced to go and gather the vegetables
for dinner, trusting that he could not do much
harm to the bushes and shrubs until they had
time to' seek him.
"The poor hunted duck remained for a
little to get back his breath, his courage, and,
alas! also his conceit.
That poor ignorant man was only one of
the common people,' said he, as he dressed the
feathers on his breast and wings, which had
got ruffled in his hasty passage through the
bushes. 'He knows nothing about beauty,
nothing about fashion. If the poor wretch
had had the smallest atom of taste, he must
have seen at once what an ornament I should
have been to his garden, how greatly my pre-
sence must have added to the pleasure of all
who walk there. See what it is to be without
taste and refinement!'
"After a little, hearing all quiet around
him, he ventured to peep out of his hiding-
place, and at last to hop on to a gravel-
walk, and, with a little caution, to set out
upon a new pilgrimage in search of admirers.
58 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
Soon he got past the thicket of shrubs, and
came out upon the lawn, where were two
ladies lying upon the grass reading.
"'Ah, ha!' quoth the duck; 'these are the
people I like to associate with. These are the
people able to understand my perfections.
Let me see, Mr. Gardener, whether your
betters will treat me as you do. No driving
away, no throwing of stones here, or I am
Much mistaken he was, poor conceited
fool! The ladies were engrossed with their
books, and did not observe him as he wad-
dled up to them, with what he considered
his most fascinating gait, his most irresistible
graces; his wings flapping a little now and
then, to show off his purple and green bars,
his head moving now right, now left, and now
bent gracefully back over his shoulder. He
even stepped upon the dress of one of them
without arousing her, until a loud,-
'Quack, quack; see how handsome I am!'
startled both readers.
"They both gave a slight scream, and the
one on whose dress Master Duck had set his
dirty foot sprang up, crying out angrily,-
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 59
"'Why what a nasty creature is this?
What in the world is it doing here?'
The gardener was close to the gate of the
garden, near enough to hear the betraying
quack of his enemy, and the ladies' scream.
In a minute he was beside them, and had
caught up poor Duck in his arms.
It is a nasty, ill-conditioned beast, ma'am,"
he said to his mistress, and has been all over
my carnation-bed, and no one knows where
else, trampling with its big, ugly feet, and
breaking off the best flowers, and doing mis-
chief enough for a dozen.'
"'Oh, take it away, Dods," cried the lady.
'It has no business here. Take it to Mary,
and tell her to look better after her poultry,
and not suffer them to go straying about the
lawn and gardens, destroying everything, and
frightening people in that way.'
"So Dods bore off his prey in triumph,
giving him a good many hard pinches, and
paying no attention to his remonstrances and
complaints. Mary was in the poultry-yard,
preparing to give her feathered flock their
afternoon meal. She was by no means pleased
by the scolding which Dods delivered to her
60 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
in no very set terms. In revenge, she deter-
mined that Master Duck should go supperless
to bed. So she drove him into the hen-house,
and shut him up there in the dark, while the
modest, well-behaved poultry feasted upon
blades of cabbage, cold potatoes, meal, and
such like dainties."
"Cold potatoes a dainty! Oh, mamma "
cried Harry, laughing.
A duck's dainty at least, Harry," she said,
echoing his laugh. "And a great dainty they
would have been to him, who had tasted
nothing except a few snails since his early
breakfast hour. However, it was not to be.
The door was fast shut; there was no opening
by which he could get out. He must submit
to darkness, solitude, and hunger. The only
amusement or occupation left him was to re-
flect upon the events of the day. Reflect he
did, but to no good purpose.
"' See what it is to be distinguished!' sighed
he. I always knew that the great were
objects of envy and malice by those who
could never hope to equal them; but I never
before experienced it so severely in my own
preson Ah, after all, the only comfort one
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 61
can have, is to know one's own perfections,
and to learn indifference to the opinions of the
vulgar and ignorant.'
And with this sage reflection, he drew up
one foot, hid his head under his wing, and
tried to forget his sorrows in sleep.
The next morning he got out to the yard
with the others, and a plentiful breakfast made
up for the want of supper the night before.
But having satisfied the cravings of appetite,
his vanity resumed its old sway, and a long
hour was spent in dressing his feathers and
admiring his reflection in the water of the
pond. He, as usual, kept at a distance from
his fellows; and, swimming about in solitary
state, considered seriously the history of the
"'After all,' he quacked, I am sure I
did take the right road to fame. How can a
bird of my rare merits expect to be appre-
ciated by dairy-maids and cow-boys, gardeners
and grooms, such as frequent this dirty poultry-
yard? Certainly I was formed to adorn a
higher sphere; and my duty to myself re-
quires that I should never rest until I have
established myself in that place for which I
(2 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
was born. True, I failed yesterday. But
courage, friend! no true distinction was ever
attained in a day. Let me guard against the
base envy of my inferiors, and all must yet
go well. I could not understand the gibberish
spoken by that low-bred fellow the gardener;
but sure I am that he took advantage of my
helpless situation, as a foreigner ignorant of
his language, to bring false charges against
me, which I could not refute. Otherwise,
ladies of so much elegance and refinement
could not have failed to perceive my claims
upon their admiration and attention. Let me
gather wisdom from experience, and keeping
out of the way of the rude and ignorant, pre-
sent myself only before those who are fitted
by nature and education to recognize my rare
charms, and my claims to respect.'
With this sage resolution, he pleased him-
self through the early hours of the day; and,
choosing his time when the servants were in
the house at dinner, he slipped quietly out of
the pond, and took his way towards the lawn,
where he had yesterday seen the fair ladies.
Ducks are not very clever creatures; and as
his first object was to hide himself from the
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK 63
dairy-maid and gardener, so he wandered
about the greater part of the day among the
trees, shrubs, and long grass, behind the gar-
dens and shrubberies, suffering a good deal
from anxiety as to where he was, and not a
little from hunger, although he did now and
"then pick up a fat worm or two by the way.
At last when evening was coming on, and the
other ducks, having made a good meal, were
gathering comfortably into their house, an
unusual noise near him caused him to peep out
from among the shrubs, and to his great joy
he found himself close to the front door of the
house, before which was drawn up a carriage
and pair of dashing horses. On the door-step
stood a group of gaily-dressed ladies and
gentlemen, preparing to go out to dinner.
The coachman and footmen in attendance,
being in livery, looked to the foolish duck
like beings of a higher order than his enemy,
the plainly-dressed gardener.
"'Ah, ha! I am in luck at last,' quoth he.
'There are none here but the high-born and
the beautiful. Like draws to like, say the
philosophers. Here at last I am sure of a
good reception. Let me show myself while
64 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
yet there is time and light to see me pro-
"So, throwing back his head, and puffing
out his chest, he waddled forward with as
much dignity as possible. The ladies were
getting into the carriage-the gentlemen
handing them in-the servants attending, to
keep the delicate dresses from being soiled
upon the wheels. No one looked so low as
"' Dear me, this is very strange!' thought
he. 'No one sees me. Ah, it is a pity the
sun is down: no light suits my colours so
well as that of the sun. However, let us
make the most of what we have. Suppose I
jump in daintily and elegantly upon that
lady's lap. That rich purple satin would form
a fine contrast to my delicate, yet brilliant
"Daintily and elegantly the poor duck
could not jump; but with a loud rustle and
whirr of his heavy wings, and with a wonder-
fully harsh and disagreeable quack, up he got
in some awkward way, and right into the lap
of the lady of the house. The horses started
and reared at the sudden noise; the ladies
THE POPPY; OE, TIE CONCEITED DUCK. 65
screamed; one of the gentlemen was knocked
down by the carriage being brought violently
against him; and the coachman's fine hat, with
its gold lace, fell off into the dirt. In short,
never was there such a scene of bustle and
confusion as poor, foolish Master Conceit had
broughtt about. To be sure, if one only wishes
to make a noise in the world, that is easily
enough managed. The difficulty is to make
certain of being praised, not blamed, for the
"When matters were a little quieted, the
cause of the disturbance was discovered, and
then the ladies exclaimed and scolded. Mary
was summoned to answer for the misdemean-
ours of her charge, and angry enough and
spiteful enough she looked, I can assure you.
"' Indeed, my lady,' she said, pinching the
duck under her arm, there is no doing nothing
with a beast like this. To be sure it is a
beauty; but if it were not for that, I should
say, the only thing was to let it be one of those
I am to kill to-morrow.'
"'A beauty indeed!' cried the angry lady,
trying to wipe the stains off her new satin
dress, for we know ducks are not very parti-
66 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
cular about what they tread on. 'Never
mind its beauty, Mary; I would not for a
great deal have the nasty, tiresome creature
live another day. So shut it up to-night, and
kill it to-morrow morning.'
"And so it was. The early sun saw poor
Master Duck carried out into its light, that
Mary might see better how to cut off its head.
"'See what it is to be beautiful!' sighed
poor Duck, eyeing the glittering knife in her
hand-' I die a martyr to my good looks;' and
down came the knife, and his beautiful green,
purple, and gold head and neck, fell to the
ground, stained with blood and dust. And he
died, not knowing that conceit, not beauty,
was the cause of all his woe. While at the
same bright morning hour, the plain, brown
little ducks flocked joyously down to the water,
mourning very little for the loss of their gay
companion; or rather, for ducks have little
sentiment in their composition, not sorry to be
rid of the surly temper, the sharp beak, and
strong wing of their overbearing companion."
The children were much amused by their
mamma's story. Only Harry, with his passion
for happy endings, grumbled a little about her
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 67
killing poor Master Conceit. She might, he
thought, have reformed him, and turned him
into a good, happy, humble duck. Helen
had come into the room, and had heard nearly
all the story.
"Does it not remind you, mamma," she said,
" of papa's story about the little girl who was
vain of her performance on the piano ?"
"What little girl? What story? Tell it to
us, Helen," cried the children.
"It was when papa was a little boy," said
Helen ; "his mother used every Christmas to
give a large party of both old and young
people. The elders went to a late dinner, the
children to an early tea. They were thought
to be particularly pleasant, well-managed
parties. The young people got tea comfort-
ably before the elders came to engross grand-
mamma's attention. While the elders were at
dinner, the children romped to their heart's
content in a large school-room at the back of
the house, where they might make as much
noise as they pleased. And at the very time
when they were beginning to get a little tired
of their own company, and of their boisterous
sports, grandmamma's maids came in to brush
C8 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
the hair and smooth the dresses which had
been ruffled and disordered by blind-man's
buff, and such like games; and the little ladies
and gentlemen were led into the drawing-
room, where the dinner company had again
assembled, and where pictures and quiet games
were provided for their amusement.
"At one of these parties were two little
cousins, Jane and Amy, who were both famous
for their performance upon the piano. After
some time spent in romping in the school-
room, some one espied an old piano in a
corner of the room, and all agreed that a dance
would make a charming variety in the even-
ing's amusement. Jane was first asked to be
the musician; but she was much too vain of
her playing powers to waste them upon chil-
dren, who could not understand the full merit
of her performance. And she answered dis-
dainfully, that she could not play upon such an
old cracked instrument; and, that, at any rate,
she never played dance music. It was too
common and trifling for her. She liked fine
pieces, with harmony and real music in them.
"Her little companions were too much pro-
voked by her affectationto ask her a second time,
TIE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 69
and they turned to Amy, who was always ready
to oblige. She complied at once, and sat down
to the piano without a moment's delay for airs
or graces of any kind. She wished only to
give pleasure to her little friends, and was
simply and heartily glad that she could do so.
She was not considered so good a musician as
Jane ; but she played with so much spirit
and good-will, was so willing to change her
time or tune to please the taste of the little
dancers, and bore so good-humouredly with all
their interruptions, their comments, fault-find-
ing, or directions, that they thought they .had
never before had such delightful music, or such
a pleasant musician. Jane looked on dis-
dainfully at Amy's attempts to please her
audience; and although she condescended to
dance to the music, she made many disparaging
remarks upon it.
"' Such a miserable instrument,' she said in
her affected way; I really wonder, Amy, how
you can play upon it.'
'Oh,' Amy answered cheerfully, 'if the
others like it, I do not care. It is all we have,
and we must make the best of it.'
"'But to have ignorant children like these
70 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
tell you how fast or how slow you are to play,'
Jane pursued with increased disdain, 'when you
know so much better than they do what is the
right time. Indeed, if I played at all, I should
insist that they should take what I chose to
give them, or go without.'
"' I play to please them. They know best
what will please them most. Why should I
not give it to them if I can?' 'The same
tune over again,' in answer to a shout of
disapprobation at a change of tune. Well,
here it is as'long as you please.' And, laugh-
ing and nodding to her own music, she rattled
away with as much spirit as ever.
"The dancing was kept up until the sum-
mons to the drawing-room interrupted them.
And although Amy's fingers ached a good
deal before that time, her only regret was,
that she was not able to play so fast or so
loud as she had done at first, and as her
They all went up stairs, and were kindly
received, and noticed by the company. Ques-
tions were asked about their games, and Amy's
little admirers were eager to tell how nicely
she had played for them.
TITE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 71
"' I should like to hear you play, my dear,'
said an elderly lady to Amy. Will you play
for me as readily as for your young friends?'
Jane stood near and heard the request.
She desired intensely to be asked to show off
her proficiency, and was mortified and angry
that so much should be said about Amy's
performance, while no one seemed to recollect
that she, too, was a performer.
"' I almost wish I had played for the chil-
dren,' thought she; 'and then they would have
spoken of me also. I practised that fine diffi-
cult piece with so much care for this very
occasion. It will be too provoking if no one
asks me to play.'
"The provocation might very well have
occurred, for few of the elders knew that
Jane could play, and her own companions
had forgotten her while praising Amy. But
Amy never forgot any one, and pointing to
Jane in her pleasant modest way, she
My cousin plays better than I do. ma'am.
She will play to you, if you pleas..'
"The lady immediately asked Jane to plav:
and although mortified to owe the invitation
72 TIIE POPPY; OR, TIE CONCEITED DUCK.
to Amy, she was too anxious for an opportunity
of display to refuse. She did not at all consider
what others might like best, but choosing the
fine piece she had so carefully practised, she
sat down with many affected airs to play it.
Now little girls can sometimes give their older
friends pleasure by a quiet, simple performance
of a pretty, simple air; but it is very seldom
that they can play brilliant pieces with good
effect. If there were no other reason for their
failure, their hands are too small to execute
the chords, and running passages, as they ought
to be done. Now and then, one does meet
with a little girl whose performance is won-
derful for her age; but even in such a case,
one always feels that in the company there
are many grown up musicians who could have
played the piece much better than she can.
The piece Jane had chosen had little real
beauty in it. Her master had given it to her,
because there were in it many passages which
it was good for her to practise. It was much
too long to play in a mixed company, and
before it was half done, all the children had
gathered together at the other end of the
room, and were amusing themselves as they
"THE POPPY ; O, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 73
best liked, without hearing one note; and
the elders, tired of listening to what they did
not care for, and provoked by Jane's conceited,
affected air, began to talk and laugh as if no
music were going on. Jane, thinking only of
showing off her wonderful talent, did not re-
"mark the inattention of her audience, but
rattled through the whole tedious piece, and
at the conclusion looked round triumphantly
to see the admiration, and to listen to the
praises of the company. Great was her
mortification to find that she had not one
solitary listener, and that a cold 'Thank you,
my dear,' uttered by grandmamma in the
midst of a speech to her neighbour, was to be
the only reward for all her exertions. She
rose from the music-stool, crestfallen and
ashamed; and as she thought of the loud
hearty praises and thanks poured upon Amy
by the school-room party, tears of mortification
rose to her eyes.
Amy was again asked to play, but was not
very willing to do so.
"' I shall play if you like, ma'am,' she said,
modestly; 'but every one wishes to hear
Miss Gordon sing. Is not it a pity to make
74 THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK.
them waste time listening to such little things
as I can play? They would rather not, I am
Amy was right. Although many there
might have liked to hear a little melody,
simply and prettily played by the pleasant,
unaffected child, yet most were impatient to
enjoy the far greater treat of Miss Gordon's
really fine singing, and were in their hearts
grateful to the little girl whose good sense and
modesty prevented -her from delaying that
pleasure unnecessarily. Later in the evening,
when an air was spoken of which Amy alone
knew, she sat down at the first expression of
a wish to hear it; played it as naturally and
simply as she had played reels and quadrilles
upon the cracked piano down stairs; and gave
as much pleasure to, and received as hearty
thanks from, her elder as from her younger
hearers. Jane, conceited as she was, could not
help perceiving the difference between herself
and her cousin; and papa says that she really
learned a lesson that night which she never
forgot, and she was never afterwards so con-
ceited or affected as she had been."
"Now, mamma," cried Harry, laughing,
THE POPPY; OR, THE CONCEITED DUCK. 75
" that is the right way to end a story; you
should have ended yours just so."
Come, Master Harry," his mamma an-
swered, rising and putting away her work, I
shall tell you no more stories if you criticise
them in such an impertinent manner."
Ah yes, mamma," cried the two girls;
" you promised us a story for every picture."
Indeed I did not," she answered, laugh-
ing; I only said, 'Well, we shall see.'"
But that means a promise," remarked
Caroline. It always means when you say it,
'I shall do the thing if I can.'"
The if I can,' is a very necessary addi-
tion in this case, Carry. For, really, when I do
not see the picture until the very moment in
which I am expected to tell the story, it is no
such easy matter to find a tale that will quite
Well, mamma, to-morrow's picture is the
one to suit to-day's. It is the Violet. You
might promise to have a story ready for it
before this time to-morrow."
We shall see," Mrs. Lindsay repeated, smil-
ing and nodding her head as she closed the
door behind her.
"WE have a very pretty poem for to-day,
mamma," cried Caroline the following morn-
ing as Harry opened the portfolio.
"And a pretty picture too, mamma," added
Lucy. Is not that a pleasant face, mamma?
I like the expression so much."
It ought to have a good expression, Lucy,"
Mrs. Lindsay answered. "Uncle Charles would
try to make his violet girl look loving, unself-
ish, and modest; and love, unselfishness, and
modesty together, make up the most pleasant
expression that a countenance can wear.
'Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew;
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.'"
"That is modesty, mamma, I see," Lucy
said; and I suppose in the
'Yet thus it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed,'
TIE VIOLET. 77
there is both modesty and unselfishness. A
selfish person is never content to bloom 'in
modest tints arrayed.' But I do not see any-
thing about love."
I do not know about the love of the real
violet," Mrs. Lindsay answered, smiling; "but
very sure I am that no little girl could deserve
to be called
A lovely flower,
Its colour bright and fair,'
unless she were loving. In the diffusing a
sweet perfume,' kindness is at least implied;
and that kindness is little worth, lasts but a
short time, which does not come from a gentle,
Mamma," Caroline said, I like the poem
and the picture; but I do not expect to like
the story so well as the others."
"And why not, my dear?" Mrs. Lindsay
asked, in some surprise. Or how can you
possibly tell whether you shall like it or not
before you hear it?"
Oh! of course I cannot tell. But only I
fancy it must be about a poor girl; and some-
how I always like best the stories which are
about children quite like ourselves."
78 THE VIOLET.
But why do you fancy it must be about
a poor girl? Are rich children never humble and
modest? Can no rich girl be like the violet?"
Oh!" laughing, of course they can. Of
course, there is no 'must be' in the matter.
But only you know, mamma, in story-books the
people who are like the violet, who are humble
and quiet, and do a great deal ofgood that no
one expects them to do, and who ask for no
praise, and that sort of thing, all these people are
poor. I mean, in story-books they are poor."
"Well, Caroline, my story is not of that
kind at any rate. My little violet girl is in
the same rank of life as you and Lucy, and in
much the same circumstances, being one of a
large family, with a goodly store of brothers
Ah! well, mamma," cried both girls, that
is what we like best; so please, mamma, go on."
You look very sad, mamma. Has Aunt
Caroline's letter brought you any bad news?"
asked Alice Lee, as she knelt on the footstool
at her mother's feet, and looked anxiously up
in her face.
THE VIOLET. 79
It tells me of grandmamma, dear," Mrs.
And is grandmamma ill, then, mamma?"
Not exactly ill, but very feeble. Aunt
Caroline's own little Mary is very ill, and
Aunt Caroline must go home to her imme-
diately, and she is grieved to leave her mother
alone. But you may read the letter," putting
it into her hands.
Alice read it through.
Aunt Caroline thinks grandmamma ought
to have some one to live with her always, to
watch over her, comfort, and render her the
little services she requires," Alice remarked,
as she folded up the letter.
Yes; and your papa and I feel strongly
that Aunt Caroline is right. But," thought-
fully, and as if speaking to herself more than to
Alice, the difficulty is to get any one who will
suit. None of the sons or daughters can leave
their own homes just now, and grandmamma
will not agree to have a hired companion."
Alice had re-opened the letter, and read
over some passages. She thought deeply for
a few minutes, and then said, but with a little
80 THE VIOLET.
Mamma, could not I go to take care of
You, my darling !" Mrs. Lee exclaimed in
great surprise. Why, how could we part
with our little Alice? And how should you
like to go away from us all?"
Ah! I should not like it," she said, while
something very like a tear stole into her eye.
" But if it were right, mamma? And it would
be for only a little time. Aunt Caroline says
that in spring Aunt Mary will be home to
take care of grandmamma; and you and papa
have so many, and grandmamma has not one."
"But, my Alice, you are such a young
"Yes, mamma, I know," she said earnestly
-" I know there are many things I cannot do,
and in many ways I should be of little use.
I know very little, and can give but little
help to any one. But then, mamma, the little
services Aunt Caroline mentions are exactly
what I can do as well as an older and wiser
person. She says that grandmamma has got
so blind that she loses her books and spec-
tacles, stumbles over stools and chairs when
she walks about alone. You know I could
TIE VIOLET. 81
find her things when she had mislaid them,
and I could watch to remove everything out
of her way when she moves about the room.
Then Aunt Caroline says that grandmamma
is stiff and feeble, and that it is a great exer-
tion for her to get out of her chair when she
wants anything. I could run errands, poke the
fire, and ring the bell, and save her many a
little journey, many a rising out of her chair,
I am sure."
Mrs. Lee did not answer immediately. She
sat considering deeply, looking into her little
girl's clear, gentle eyes, and fondly stroking
back her hair from her open forehead.
"Alice," she said at last, very seriously,
" there is a great deal in what you say. I
almost think you are right. I almost think
it is our duty to allow you to try, at least, to
live with grandmamma for two or three
months. Of course, I can decide upon no-
thing until I have seen your papa. But, in
the meantime, before we even begin upon the
question, you ought to know exactly what
you propose to undertake. It is not right, I
know," after a moment's hesitation, to speak
of the faults of your grandmother, of my hus-
82 THE VIOLET.
band's mother; but I cannot send you from
me without warning you fairly of the dif-
ficulties in your path. Poor grandmamma's
natural temper was never very pleasant; and
old age and infirmities have made it much
"Ah! yes, mamma; I know," Alice said
eagerly, as if anxious to save her mother the
pain of speaking more distinctly. The last
time I was with grandmamma, papa told me
that now she really could not help being a
little cross sometimes. Her fretfulness was,
he said, only a part of her illness; and that
we ought no more to blame her for being soon
angry and a little unreasonable, than for hav-
ing a headache, or for not seeing well."
"Exactly, Alice," Mrs. Lee said, seeming
much relieved. But although we ought not
to blame her for her peevishness, yet it is
sometimes hard to bear. Grandmamma re-
quires to be helped in a great many ways;
but, at the same time, she does not like people
to suppose that she is not as able to help her-
self as she used to be. And so it may very
well happen, that, after you have taken a
great deal of pains and trouble to serve her,
THE VIOLET. 83
she may be more inclined to blame than to
Of course, mamma, that would not be
pleasant," Alice answered with a smile and a
little shake of her head. "But still you
know," very seriously, God will make me to
feel anxious to serve dear grandmamma; and
if I really can serve her, that must be my re-
ward, not her praises or thanks."
"My own good, loving child !" Mrs. Lee
said, fondly putting her arm' round her, and
kissing her. But there is another difficulty
in your way: grandmamma's old servant,
Peggy, is nearly as cross as grandmamma's
self. She is getting too old, and perhaps too
lazy, to do many things that she used to do;
and yet she does not like to see any one else
do them. Grandmamma's comfort depends
much upon Peggy's being kept in a good
humour. You must make up your mind to
do a good deal of Peggy's work, while you
suffer Peggy to get the credit of it all. Can
you do this, my little Alice?"
Mamma," she said, after a moment's
thought, I think if I can once make myself
think only of grandmamma's comfort and hap-
84 THE VIOLET.
piness, I shall be willing enough to do every-
thing, and to get credit for nothing. But
whether I shall be prudent enough and wise
enough to manage my part without offending
Peggy, is a different question. But, mamma,"
her countenance brightening, if God wishes
me to go and take care of grandmamma, he
will most certainly help me to do it well."
Most certainly he will, my darling," Mrs.
Lee said, kissing her again. He will make
you both willing and able to do everything
he calls upon you to do."
"Ah! then, mamma, it is all right," Alice
said quietly, and with a bright smile. You
have only now to see what papa says, and I
am quite ready."
The proposal was talked over that evening;
and although Mr. Lee felt, as his wife did,
that it was hard to part with their good,
loving little girl for even two months, and
although he feared that she might meet with
much to try and grieve her, yet he was in the
end brought to think that, as there was really
no one else to take her place, she ought to
And what we ought to do, my little one,"
THE VIOLET. 85
he said to Alice, God always gives us strength
to do, and happiness in doing."
And so the matter was settled; and in one
short week from that time, Alice and her
trunk were safely deposited in her grand-
mamma's house. Mr. Lee went with his little
girl; but, on account of some pressing busi-
ness, he had to return by the next train, and
was able to spend only a quarter of an hour
with her and with his mother.
Alice felt very sad when she saw her father
go away, and realized that she was left alone
to make the best she could of her difficult task.
She was a good deal tired by her long journey,
and there was nothing in her present circum-
stances to cheer or comfort her. It was a
dull, gloomy November afternoon, or rather
evening. The fire burned very low, for Mrs. Lee
had been half-sleeping before they came in,
and there had been no one to attend to it. The
parlour looked indeed dull and dreary in com-
parison to her mother's bright, cheerful sitting-
room at home; and there had been no cor-
dial, kindly welcome to make her forget these
outward discomforts. Old Mrs. Lee had been
very unwilling that Alice should come to her,
86 THE VIOLET
and had only yielded a reluctant consent in
order to get rid of her daughter's entreaties
and remonstrances. She therefore received
Alice very coldly, and seemed glad to be able
to speak bitterly about the untidiness of her
dress, which had been a little disordered by
the journey. Wearied and sad, Alice found it
difficult to bear sharp words and unkind glances,
and was glad when her grandmamma proposed
that she should go up stairs and get off her
On reaching her own room, Alice went
straight to the looking-glass, to ascertain the
cause of her grandmamma's biting remarks.
"There is nothing so very bad, after all!"
she said, after a careful consideration of her
own appearance; grandmamma need not have
been so cross. However, they say that when
-one feels cross and uncomfortable, it is a relief
to have some person or thing upon whom to
pour forth the crossness ; so, I suppose, to be
that person was the only good I could do
grandmamma for the present."
At this moment the door opened, and Peggy
came in upon pretext of bringing up some of
Alice's luggage, but in reality to get an oppor-
THE VIOLET. 87
tunity of giving Alice a bit of her mind, as she
Whatever in the world," muttered she,
" Master George and Miss Caroline,"-so she
called Alice's father and aunt,-" whatever
they could be thinking of to send a little brat
like that to be a plague and bother to every
one, I'm sure I can't guess However, child,
I can tell you," coming close up to her, and
speaking very bitterly, I can tell you I am
not going to suffer any one, old or young, little
or big, to interfere with me; so, if you think
to watch, spy, and push yourself in between
my mistress and me, you will find yourself
very much mistaken, I can assure you," and,
so saying, she flounced out of the room, leaving
Alice with a heart by many degrees heavier
than it had been before.
I am sure I don't want to watch, or spy,
or interfere with any one," she said, sorrow-
fully: why will they give me credit only for
evil? Why will they not love me, and be
kind to me, and let me help them as much as
I can ?-that is all I want. However," dash-
ing away the tears which had begun to fall,
" I am not here to think about what I want,
88 THE VIOLET.
or don't want. I am here to help grand-
mamma. That is what God wishes me to do;
and to do it well is all I have to care for."
And having smoothed her hair and arranged
her dress, she knelt for a moment by her little
bed, and prayed to her Father in heaven for
strength and guidance.
I know, Father," she said in her simple
way, that it is thy will that I should labour
hard to be a comfort to grandmamma; so I
am sure, quite sure, that thou wilt give me all
the strength, all the patience, and wisdom that
I need." And comforted and strengthened by
this exercise of simple faith, she rose and went
down stairs with a quiet and trusting heart.
Down in the parlour things looked more
cheerful. The fire burned brightly, the cur-
tains were drawn, and the lamp lighted. The
tea-tray had been brought in; and Mrs. Lee
sat behind it, looking more pleasant and kind,
as she always did when she found herself in
her own place, and able to fulfil her own duties
as mistress of the house. All her life she had
liked better to serve than to be served. No
great harm in that, to be sure; but the pity
was, that she could not be contented without
THE VIOLET. 89
the power to serve when God had seen fit to
take it from her.
Alice's little duties began at once. Mrs.
Lee began to make tea; the sugar-tongs had
not been put in their usual place, and, with
her failing sight, she could not find them.
Alice saw what was wrong, and was ready to
spring forward and give them to her. But she
remembered her mamma's warning, and kept
still until Mrs. Lee had turned to the other
side of the tea-tray, when the little girl con-
trived to push them noiselessly forward into
full view. So when her grandmamma, fretted
and cross because she could not find them,
turned back to the sugar-basin, there they
were all ready, and the old lady's face bright-
ened up directly, and she felt quite pleased
with her own cleverness in finding them.
So far Mrs. Lee's theory had helped Alice.
But experience in one or two failures was
necessary to fix the principle in her mind.
In rising from the tea-table, Mrs. Lee stumbled
over a footstool; but when Alice sprang for-
ward to remove it, she met only with an angry,
"What is the child about ? Do you think
I don't see where I am going ? Or that I
90 THE VIOLET.
cannot go across tLe room without your
Alice made no answer, except by a little
good tempered laugh, which softened the old
lady directly. And Alice took an early op-
portunity, as she crossed the room to get her
work, to move chair, table, and stool out of
her grandmother's way, without seeming to
After a little Mrs. Lee took up her knitting;
and Alice soon perceived that she had allowed
the ball to run under her chair, and the worsted
to rub against the sharp edge of the seat, so
that it was cut, and worn to less than half of
its proper thickness. She waited and pondered
what she could do. She was afraid to vex
her grandmamma by any remark; and yet
it seemed a pity to allow her to waste all her
work in that way. And Alice knew that the
worn worsted must give way the first time
the stocking was washed, if not sooner. So
after a minute or two she ventured very
modestly to tell her grandmamma what had
happened, and to suggest that the injured
worsted should be broken off. But Mrs. Lee
THE VIOLET. 91
"Nonsense, child! Attend to your own
work, and leave me to attend to mine. I knew
how to knit stockings fifty years before you
were born. Don't you think to teach me !"
Again Alice only laughed pleasantly. But
when her grandmother had retired to bed, she
took up the stocking, and taking down all
her grandmother had done that evening, she
broke off the frayed worsted, and worked up
again with the good to the row at which Mrs.
Lee had left off. It was not a very easy
task, for the pattern was new to Alice, and
it gave her a good deal of trouble to find it
out, and to make her work so like her grand-
mamma's as not to spoil the stocking. Alice
was, besides, sleepy and tired, and longed to
get to bed, so that the work seemed doubly
tedious and difficult.
"And then to think," Caroline interrupted,
" that she should get no thanks for all her
pains, but only a scolding if her grandmamma
found out what she had done. Well, mamma,
that was disagreeable enough. It is not so diffi-
cult to take pains to help people, if we know
that they will be grateful and thank us."
"But then, you know, Caroline," said Lucy,
92 THE VIOLET.
" the violet hangs her head and hides herself
under the leaves, and only cares to give people
pleasure by her sweet perfume. Alice was
very like the violet. But please, mamma, go
on. Did Mrs. Lee find out that Alice had
helped her ?"
Not about the stocking. But upon the
following day Alice was pretty often found
fault with for being officious and interfering.
The bustle of Alice's arrival had not been
very good for the old lady. She had passed
a restless night, and was more than usually
uncomfortable and cross. She required more
help and service than usual, for she was weak
and worn out; and yet she was less than
usual willing to be helped. Alice passed a
very trying day. Nothing she did, or left
undone, seemed to give satisfaction. When
anything went wrong, it was sure to be in
some way Alice's fault. And many a time
through the day Alice was forced to remind
herself that she had promised not to think
about herself at all; that the only thing she
had to attend to, or care for, was her grand-
mother's good and comfort.
"It really seems to do grandmamma good
THE VIOLET. 93
to scold a little," she thought, as she went up
to her room to prepare for dinner. It is a
great deal better that she should scold me
than Peggy, because poor Peggy cannot bear
to be scolded, and either answers grandmamma
or gets cross, and does not attend to her com-
forts as she ought to do. Either way, grand-
mamma is put about; so I have been at least
of some use to-day, and that is a great
After dinner Mrs. Lee got a comfortable
sleep in her arm-chair, and Alice had a little
quiet time to think over the day's proceedings.
She did not think them over to grumble and
complain of her grandmamma's unreasonable-
ness and crossness ; but to see where she had
made any blunder, which might be avoided
for the future, and to find out new and better
ways of being of use.
After her refreshing sleep, Mrs. Lee was
kinder and more reasonable, and things went
on much more pleasantly during the rest of
the evening. The next day, and the next,
and the next were also more agreeable and
harmonious. Mrs. Lee was beginning to get
accustomed to Alice,-beginning to love her,
94 THE VIOLET.
and to rejoice in the comfort of having such a
pleasant, watchful attendant. And as for Alice,
God was day by day more fully answering her
prayer, making her day by day more unselfishly
and simply earnest to help her grandmother,
and more cheerfully willing to go without
thanks or praise for her service. She was also
day by day gaining -mre knowledge and ex-
perience of the best ways of making the old
lady comfortable, and had the satisfaction of
feeling that she was each day more successful
than on the preceding one.
But while Alice got on thus prosperously
with her grandmother, she made little progress
in gaining Peggy's good-will. The old servant
had firmly persuaded herself that Alice wish-
ed and planned to supplant her in her lady's
favour; and not all the little girl's gentleness
and modesty could dislodge this notion from
her mind. Alice was sorely troubled about
it. She saw that, as her mamma had said,
Peggy had got old and lazy, and left undone
many little things which she had been used
to do, and upon which her mistress' comfort
greatly depended. And yet, if Alice at any
time proposed to take such small duties upon
THE VIOLET. 95
herself, the proposal was sure to be met by a
snappish negative, and by a fit of crossness
which would, for one or two days, as the case
might be, disturb the comfort of all in the
house. The sneers and crossness she could
bear well enough, so far as herself alone was
concerned, for she knew they were undeserved;
but when she saw how much Mrs. Lee's com-
fort or discomfort depended upon the state of
Peggy's temper, she felt that it was most ne-
cessary that she should be very prudent, and
should, even while working hard to do Peggy's
work, suffer Peggy to get all the praise.
And by slow degrees in this, too, she suc-
ceeded. The first success was in a matter
which had caused Mrs. Lee a good deal of an-
noyance. She had a great many little fancies
about the arrangement of her toilette. For
more than fifty years past, she had always had
everything she required for dressing and un-
dressing laid out in a particular way; and she
could not bear to have the least thing for-
gotten,-to have a brush, a glass, or a pin out
of its appointed place. During all these years
Peggy had been her constant attendant, and
had until lately taken a great pride in having
96 THE VIOLET.
every little thing exactly as Mrs. Lee liked.
But now her memory was beginning to fail,
and she grudged the trouble of thinking over
and recollecting all the many particulars.
Now one thing was forgotten or misplaced, and
now another; and scarcely a day passed in
which Mrs. Lee was not made cross and un-
comfortable by some such neglect, either morn-
ing or night, if not both. Once and again
Alice had asked Peggy to suffer her to attend
to these matters, but Peggy had always refused;
until one fortunate evening when she happened
to have a headache, and to be very busy mak-
ing marmalade, and therefore graciously con-
sented to allow Alice to do the best she could.
Alice had often been present at her grand-
mother's toilette, and had, in preparation for
such an occasion, taken pains to learn exactly
how everything should be arranged. With
great care and thoughtfulness she now put
her knowledge to use, and with perfect suc-
cess. There was not the smallest thing out
of its place And as Alice listened to her
grandmother's expressions of pleasure, and saw
her lie down in bed looking so much more
happy and comfortable than had often lately
THE VIOLET. 97
been the case, she resolved never to rest until
she had gained leave to take this little business
Peggy's black looks warned her that the
present was no time to urge the proposal. To
Peggy had been given all the credit of this
night's successful arrangement; and, although
she had not been generous enough to give
Alice her due, yet she felt quite as cross and
jealous as she could have done had the truth
been made known. Alice wisely forbore the
least allusion to her success, or to the delicate
subject, until two or three days had passed,
and Peggy had forgotten the feeling of rivalry
which had been excited. And then, watching
for a transient fit of good humour, she coax-
ingly asked, a as favour to herself, that her
grandmamma's toilette arrangements might
be left to her. Peggy gave a reluctant as-
sent, hinting that Alice would soon tire of the
business. And from that day forward no
more complaints were heard, and Mrs. Lee was
full of praises of Peggy's care and thought-
Another continual source of annoyance was
the dusting of a little cabinet of curiosities
98 THE VIOLET.
and old china. Mrs. Lee wished that every
article should be carefully dusted every morn-
ing; and for all these years this had been
Peggy's morning task. Now she thought it quite
enough to do it once a week or so. Every
morning when Mrs. Lee came down stairs, her
first business was to go up to the cabinet;
and being too blind to see the general effect,
she would pass her finger over the ornaments,
or round the cups and saucers, and fret her-
self into thorough discomfort and weariness if
the smallest speck of dust could be discerned.
Alice in this case said nothing to Peggy, but
rising half an hour earlier every morning,
continued to have every article nicely dusted
before any one appeared. It was a tedious
and tiresome task for a little girl, and of course
no word of thanks ever rewarded her pains; but
her grandmamma's mind was set at ease, and
that was all she cared for. And when, after
having tried the finger-test as usual, Mrs. Lee
put the invariable question,-" Has the cabi-
net been dusted this morning, Alice ?" the little
girl rejoiced that it had taken a form which
she could answer with perfect truth, with-
out bringing upon Peggy the reproof which
THE VIOLET. 99
she so bitterly detested, and which had so evil
an effect upon her temper.
In the same way with Mrs. Lee's slice of
toast and her basin of gruel: Peggy sometimes
burned the one and overboiled the other, now
that her sight and memory were beginning to
fail. And as the only other servant was a
giddy, thoughtless girl, Alice soon got into the
habit of slipping quietly out of the room, be-
fore tea and supper, and going to the kitchen
to coax Peggy to let her be cook for the time.
All these seem very small matters to attend
to, and had Alice considered her own credit,
or laboured for praise and admiration, she
would have thought them too small to be worth
so much trouble; but seeing that these were
the very things which made her grandmother
comfortable or uncomfortable, she considered
them as being the very things God had sent
her there to do; and being modestly and
humbly willing to keep herself in the back-
ground, she set about doing them heartily and
with her might. Her grandmamma's comfort,
and not praise to herself, was what she worked
for; and God gave her the reward she sought,
-gave her the pleasure of knowing that she