THE BIRlHDAY PRESENt.
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT,
THE BASKET WO1AN
%tories for (TiIbren.
THE ORPANiS AND OLD POZ," "THE MIMIC,"
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
ITHE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
NEW YORK(: 411, BROOIE STIjEET.
SAVILT, 1ID-WARDS, AND CO., PEIfNTES,
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
mammaMA" said Rosamond, after a
long silence, do you know what I
have been thinking of all this time ?"
"No, my dear.-What ?" Why,
mamma, about my cousin Bell's
birthday; do you know what day it
is ?" No, I don't remember."
" Dear mother don't you remember
it's the 22nd of December; and her
birthday is the day after to-morrow ?
-Don'tyou recollect now ? But you
never remember about birthdays,
mamma. That was just what I was
thinking of, that you never remember
4 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
my sister Laura's birthday, or-or-
or 'inne, mamma ?"
What do you mean, my dear ?
I remember your birthday perfectly
well." Indeed but you never keep
it, though." "What do yon mean
by keeping your birthday ?" "Oh,
mamma, you know very well--as
Bell's birthday is kept. In the first
place, there is a great dinner." "And
can Bell eat more upon her birthday
than upon any other day ?" No;
nor I should not mind about the
dinner, except the mince-pies. But
Bell has a great many nice things-
I don't mean nice eatable things, but
nice new playthings, given to her al-
ways on her birthday; and everybody
drinks her health, and she's so happy."
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 5
"But stay, Rosamond, how you
jumble things together! Is it every-
body's drinking her health that makes
her so happy ? or the new playthings,
or the nice mince-pies? I can easily
believe that she is happy whilst she
is eating a mince-pie, or whilst she is
playing; but how does everybody's
drinking her health at dinner make
her happy ?"
Rosamond paused, and then said
she did not know. But," added
she, the nice new playthings, mo-
ther !" But why the nice new play-
things ? Do you like them only be
cause they are new ?' Not only
-I do not like playthings only be-
cause they are new; but Bell does,
I believe- for that puts me in mind
6 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
-Do you know, mother, she had a
great drawer-full of old playthings
that she never used, and she said
that they were good for nothing, be-
cause they were old ; but I thought
many of them were good for a great
deal more than the new ones-Now
you shall be judge, mamma; I'll tell
you all that was in the drawer."
"Nay, Rosamond, thank you, not
just now; I have not time to listen
Well then, mamma, the day after
to-morrow I can showyou the drawer:
I want you to be judge very much,
because I am sure I was in the right.
-And, mother," added Rosamond,
stopping her as she was going out of
the room, will you-not now, but
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
when you've time-will you tell me
why you never keep my birthday-
why you never make any difference
between that day and any other
"And will you, Rosamond-not
now, but when you have time to think
about it-tell me why I should make
any difference between your birthday
and any other day ?"
Rosamond thought-but she could
not find out any reason: besides, she
suddenly recollected that she had not
time to think any longer; for there
was a certain work-basket to be
finished, which she was making for
her cousin Bell, as a present, upon
her birthday. The work was at a
stand for want of some filigree-paper,
S THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT
and as her mother was going out, she
asked her to take her with her, that
she might buy some. Her sister
Laura went with them.
"Sister," said Rosamond, as they
were walking along, what have you
done with your half-guinea ?" "I
have it in my pocket." Dear you
will keep it for ever in your pocket:
you know my godmother, when she
gave it to you, said you would keep
it longer than I should keep mine;
and I know what she thought by her
look at the time. I heard her say
something to my mother." Yes,"
said Laura, smiling; she whispered
so loud, that I could not help hear-
ing her too: she said, I was a little
miser." But did not you hear her
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
say, that I was very generous ? and
she'll see that she was not mistaken.
I hope she'll be by when I give my
basket to Bell-wont it be beautiful?
There is to be a wreath of myrtle,
you know, round the handle, and
a frost ground, and then the medal-
Stay," interrupted her sister; for
Rosamond, anticipating the glories of
her work-basket, talked and walked
so fast, that she had passed, without
perceiving it, the shop where the
filigree-paper was to be bought.
They turned back. Now it happened
that the shop was the corer-house
of a street, and one of the windows
looked out into a narrow lane. A
coach full of ladies stopped at the
10 THE IIRTHDAY PRESENT.
door, just before they went in; so
that no one had time immediately to
think of Rosamond and her filigree-
paper, and she went to the window,
where she saw her sister Laura look-
ing earnestly at something that was
passing in the lane.
Opposite to the window, at the
door of a poor-looking house, there
was sitting a little girl weaving lace.
Her bobbins moved as quick as light-
ning, and she never once looked up
from her work. Is not she very
industrious ?" said Laura; and
-ery honest too," added she in a
minute afterwards; for just then, a
baker with a basket of rolls on his
head passed, and by accident one of
the rolls fell close to the little girl.
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 11
She took it up eagerly; looked at it
as if she was very hungry ; then put
aside her work, and ran after the
baker to return it to him. Whilst
she was gone, a footman in a livery
laced with silver, who belonged to
the coach that stood at the shop-
door, as he was lounging with one of
his companions, chanced to spy the
weaving-pillow which she had left
upon a stone before the door. To
divert himself (for idle people do
mischief often to divert themselves)
he took up the pillow, and entangled
all the bobbins. The little girl came
back out of breath to her work; but
what was her surprise and sorrow to
find it spoiled. She twisted and un-
twisted, placed and replaced, the
12 THE BIRTIHDAY PRESENT.
bobbins, while the footman stood
laughing at her distress. She got up
gently, and was retiring into the
house, when the silver-laced footman
stopped her, saying insolently-" Sit
still, child." I must go to my
mother, sir," said the child; be-
sides, you have spoiled all my lace-
I can't stay." Can't you?" said
the brutal footman, snatching her
weaving-pillow again, "I'll teach you
to complain of me." And he broke
off, one after another, all the bobbins,
put them in his pocket, rolled her
weaving-pillow down the dirty lane,
thenjumped up behind his mistress's
coach, and was out of sight in an
"Poor girl!" exclaimed Rosamond.
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 13
no longer able to restrain her indig-
nation at this injustice: Poor little
At this instant her mother said to
Rosamond-" Come now, my dear, if
you want this filigree-paper, buy it."
"Yes, madam," said Rosamond; and
the idea of what her godmother and
her cousin Bell would think of her
generosity rushed again upon her
imagination. All her feelings of pity
were immediately suppressed. Satis-
fied with bestowing another excla-
mation upon the Poor little girl /"
she went to spend her half-guinea
upon her filigree-basket. In the
mean time, she that was called the
"little miser" beckoned to the poor
girl, and, opening the window, said,
14 T11E BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
pointing to the cushion, Is it quite
spoiled ?" "Quite! quite spoiled!
and I can't, nor mother neither, buy
another; and I can't do anything
else for my bread." A few, but
very few, tears fell as she said
How much would another cost ?"
said Laura. Oh, a great-great
deal." More than that ?" said
Laura, holding up her half-guinea.
"Oh, no." "Then you can buy
another with- that," said Laura,
dropping the half-guinea into her
hand; and she shut the window be-
fore the child could find words to
thank her; but not ,.- i,,: she saw a
look of joy and gratitude, which gave
Laura -more pleasure probably than
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 15
all the praise which could have been
bestowed upon her generosity.
Late on the morning of her cousin's
birthday, Rosamond finished her
work-basket. The carriage was at
the door-Laura came running to
call her; her father's voice was
heard at the same instant; so she
was obliged to go down with her
basket but half wrapped up in silver-
paper--a circumstance at which she
was a good deal disconcerted; for
the pleasure of surprising Bell would
be utterly lost if one bit of the filigree
should peep out --.... the proper
time. As the carriage went on, Rosa-
mond pulled the paper to one side
and to the other, and by each of the
16 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
"It will never do, my dear," said
her father, who had been watching
her operations. "I am afraid you
will never make a sheet of paper cover
a box which is twice as large as
"It is not a box, father," said
Rosamond, a little peevishly; "it's a
Let us look at this basket," said
he, taking it out of her unwilling
hands; for she knew of what frail
materials it was made, and she
dreaded its coming to pieces under
her father's examination. He took
hold of the handle rather roughly;
when, starting off the coach seat, she
cried-" Oh, sir father! sir! you
will spoil it indeed !" said she, with
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. .17
increased vehemence, when, after
drawing aside the veil of silver-paper,
she saw him grasp the myrtle-wreathed
handle. "Indeed, sir, you will spoil
the poor handle."
"But what is the use of the poor
handle," said her father, "if we are
not to take hold of it ?" And pray,"
continued he, turning the basket
round with his finger and thumb,
rather in a disrespectful manner,
"pray, is this the thing you have
been about all this week ? I have seen
you all this week dabbling with paste
and rags; I could not conceive what
you were about. Is this the thing ?"
"Yes, sir. You think, then, that I
have wasted my time, because the
basket is of no use : but then it is
18 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
for a present for my cousin Bell."
"Your cousin Bell will be very much
obliged to you for a present that is
of no use. You had better have
given her the purple jar."
Oh, father,! I thought you had
forgotten that-it-was two years ago;
I'm not so silly now. But Bell will
like the basket, I know, though it is
of no use."
Then you think, Bell is sillier
now than you were two years ago,-
well, perhaps that is true; but how
comes it, Rosamond, now that-you
are so wise, that you are fond of such
a silly person ?" I, father ?" said
Rosamond, hesitating; "I don't think
I am very fond of her." I did not
say very fond." Well, but I don't
THE 1RTIIDAY PRESENT. 19
think I am at all fond of her."
"But you have spent a whole
week in making this thing for her."
"Yes, and all my half-guinea be-
"Yet you think her silly, and you
are not fond of her at all; and you
say you know this thing will be of
no use to her."
But it. is her birthday, sir; and
I am sure she will expect something,
and everybody else will give her
Then your reason for giving is
because she expects you to give her
something. And will you, or can you,
or should you, always give, merely
because others expect, or because
somebody else gives?" "Always!
20 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
-no, not always." Oh, only on
Rosamond, laughing: "Now you
are making a joke of me, papa, I see;
but I thought you liked that people
should be generous,-my godmother
said that she did." So do I, full
as well as your godmother; but we
have not yet quite settled what it is
to be generous." "Why, is it not
generous to make presents ?" said
Rosamond. That is a question
which it would take up a great deal
of time to answer. But, for instance,
to make a present of a thing that you
know can be of no use, to a person
you neither love nor esteem, because
it is her birthday, and because every-
body gives her something, and be-
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 21
cause she expects .something, and
because your godmother says she
likes that people should be gene
rous, seems to me, my dear Rosa-
mond, to be, since I must say it,
rather more like folly than gene-
Rosamond looked down upon the
basket, and was silent. Then I
am a fool, am I ?" said she, looking
up at last. Because you have made
one mistake ?-No. If you have
sense enough to see your own mis-
takes, and can afterwards avoid them,
you will never be a fool."
Here the carriage stopped, and
Rosamond recollected that the bas-
ket was uncovered.
Now we must observe, that Rosa-
2 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
mond's father had not been too severe
upon Bell when he called her a silly
girl. From her infancy she had been
humoured; and at eight years old she
had the misfortune to be a spoiled
child. She was idle, fretful, and sel-
fish; so that nothing could make
her happy. On her birthday she
expected, however, to be perfectly
happy. Everybody in the house
tried to please her, and they suc-
ceeded so well, that between break-
fast and dinner she had only six fits
of crying. The cause of five of
these fits no one could discover; but
the last, and most lamentable, was
occasioned by a disappointment about
a worked muslin frock;' and accord-
' ingly, at dressing-time, her maid
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 23
brought it to her, exclaiming "See
here, miss, what your mamn!. has
sent you on your birthday. liere's
a frock fit for a queen-if it had but
lace around the cuffs." "And why
has not it lace around the cuffs?
mamma said it should." "Yes, but
mistress was disappointed about the
lace; it is not come home." Not
come home, indeed and. didn't they
know it was my birthday ? But then
I say I wont wear it without the lace
-I can't wear it without the lace,
and I wont."
The lace, however, could not be
had; and Bell at length submitted
to let the frock be put on. ".Come,
Miss Bell, dry your eyes," said the
maid who. educated her; "dr, y:'.ur
24 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
eyes, and I'll tell you something that
will please you."
"What, then ?" said the child,
pouting and sobbing. "Why--
but you must not tell that I told
you." "No-but if I am asked ?"
"Why, if you are asked, you must
tell the truth, to be sure.-So I'll
hold my tongue, miss." "Nay, tell
me, though, and I'll never tell-if I
am asked." "Well, then," said the
maid, your cousin Rosamond is
come, and has brought you the most
beautifullest thing you ever saw in
your life; but you are not to know
anything about it till after dinner,
because she wants to surprise you;
and mistress has put it into her
wardrobe till after dinner." "Till
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 25
after dinner !" repeated Bell, impa-
tiently; "I can't wait till then; I
must see it this minute." The maid
refused her several times, till Bell
burst into another fit of crying, and
the maid, fearing that her mistress
would be angry with her if Bell's
eyes were red at- dinner-time, con-
sented to show her the basket.
"How pretty!-but let- me have
it in my own hands," said Bell, as
the maid held the basket up out of
her reach. Oh no, you must not
touch it; for if you should spoil it,
what would become of me ?" Be-
come of you, indeed !" exclaimed the
spoiled child, who never considered
anything but her own immediate
gratification-" Become of you, in-
26 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
deed! what signifies that-I shan't
spoil it; and I will have it in my
own hands.-If you don't hold it
down for me directly, I'll tell that
you showed it to me." Then you
wont snatch it ?" "No, no, I wont
indeed," said Bell; 'but she had
learned from her maid a total dis-
regard of truth. She snatched the
basket the moment it was within her
reach. A struggle ensued, in which
the handle and lid were torn off, and
one of the iu' '.:1,ii: l-, crushed in-
wards, before the little fury returned
to her senses.
Calmed at this sight, the next
question was, how she should con-
ceal the mischief which she had done.
After many attempts, the handle and
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 27
lid were replaced; the basket was
put exactly in the same spot in which
it had stood before, and the maid
charged the child, to look as if no-
thiig was the mtaller."
We hope that both children and
parents will here pause for a moment
,to reflect. The habits of tyranny,
meanness, and falsehood, which chil-
dren acquire from living with bad
servants, are scarcely ever conquered
in the whole course of their future
.After shutting up the basket they
left the room, and in the ,li..i.,.'
passage they found a poor girl wait-
ing with a small parcel in her hand.
" What's your business?" said the
maid. "I have brought home the
28 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
lace, madam, that was bespoke for
the young lady." "Oh, you have,
have you, at last ?" said Bell; and
pray why didn't you bring it sooner?"
The girl was going to answer, but
the maid interrupted her, saying-
" Come, come, none of your excuses;
you area little, idle, good-for-nothing
thing, to disappoint Miss Bell upon
her birthday. But now you have
brought it, let us look at it ?"
The little girl gave the lace with-
out reply, and the maid desired her
to go about her business, and not to
expect to be paid; for that her mis-
tress could not see anybody, because
she was in a room full of company.
"May I call again, madam, this
afternoon ?" said the child, timidly.
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 29
Lord bless my stars!" replied the
maid what makes people so poor,
I wonders! I wish mistress would.
buy her lace at the warehouse, as I
told her, and not of these folks.
Call again! yes, to be sure. I be-
lieve you'd call, call, call twenty
times for twopence."
However ungraciously the permis-
sion to call again was granted, it was
received with gratitude. The little
girl departed with a cheerful counte-
nance; and Bell teased her maid till
she got her to sew the long wished-
for lace upon her cuffs.
Unfortunate Bell !-All dinner-time
passed, and people were so hungry,
so busy, or so stupid, that not an eye
observed her favourite piece of finery.
80 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
Till at length she was no longer able
to conceal her impatience, and turn-
ing to Laura, who sat next to her,
she said, "You have-no lace upon
your cuffs. Look how beautiful
mine is!--is not it? Don't you
wish your mamma could ;i1h...- to
give you some like it?-But you
can't get any if she would, for this
was made on purpose for me on my
birthday, and nobody can get a bit
more anywhere, if they would give
the world for it." But cannot the
person who made it," said Laura,
" make any more like it ?" No,
no, no!" cried Bell; for she had
already learned, either from her maid
or her mother, the mean pride which
values things not for being really
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 31
pretty or useful, but for being such
as nobody else can procure. "No-
body can get any like it, I say,"
repeated Bell; "nobody in all Lon-
don can make it but one person, and
that person will never make a bit for
anybody but me, I am sure. Mamma
wont let her, if I ask her not."
"Very well," said Laura, coolly, "I
do not want any of it; you need not
be so violent: I assure you that I
don't want any of it." "Yes, but
you do, though," said Bell, more
angrily. "No, indeed," said Laura,
smiling. You do, in the bottom of
your heart; but you say you don't
to plague me, I know," cried Bell,
swelling with disappointed vanity.
"It is pretty for all that, and it cost
32 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
a great deal of money too, and no-
body shall have any like it, if they
cried their eyes out."
Laura received this declaration in
silence-Rosamond smiled; and at
her smile the ill-suppressed rage of
the spoiled child burst forth into the
seventh and loudest fit of crying
which had yet been heard on her
What's the matter, my pet ?"
cried her mother; "come to me, and
tell me what's the matter." Bell ran
roaring to her mother; but no other-
wise explained the cause of her sor-
row than by tearing the fine lace with
frantic gestures from her cuffs, and
throwing the fragments into her
mother's lap. Oh the lace, child
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. U3
-are you mad ?" said her mother,
catching hold of both her hands.
" Your beautiful lace, my dear love
-do you know how much it cost ?"
" I don't care how much it cost-it
is not beautiful, and I'll have none of
it," replied Bell, sobbing; for it is
not beautiful." But it is beautiful,"
retorted her mother; "I chose the
pattern myself. Who has put it into
your head, child, to dislike it ? Was
it Nancy?" No, not Nancy, but
them, mamma," said Bell, pointing to
Laura and Rosamond. Oh fie !
don't point," said her mother, put-
ting down her stubborn finger; "nor
say them, like Nancy; I am sure
you misunderstood. -Miss Laura,
I am sure, did not mean any
34 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
such thing." No, madam; and
I did not say any such thing,
that I recollect," said Laura, gently.
" Oh no, indeed!" cried Rosa-
mond, warmly, rising in her sis-
No defence or explanation, how-
cver, was to be heard, for everybody
had now gathered round Bell, to dry
her tears, and to comfort her for the
mischief she had done to her own
cuffs. They succeeded so well, that
in about a quarter of an hour the
young lady's eyes, and the reddened
arches over her eyebrows, came to
their natural colour; and the busi-
ness being thus happily hushed up,
the mother, as a reward to her daugh-
ter for her good humour, begged that
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 85
Rosamonid would now be so good as
to produce her charming present."
Rosamond, followed by all the
company, amongst whom, to her great
joy, was her godmother, proceeded
to the dressing-room. Now I am
sure," thought she, Bell will be
surprised, and my godmother will
see she was right about my gene-
The doors of the wardrobe were
opened with due ceremony, and the
filigree-basket appeared in all its
glory. Well, this is a charming
present, indeed !" said the godmother,
who was one of the company; my
Rosamond knows how to make pre-
sents." And as she spoke she took
hold of the basket, to lift it down: to
86 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
the admiring audience. Scarcely had
she touched it when, lo! the myrtle
wreath, the medallions, all dropped-
the basket fell to the ground, and
only the handle remained- in her
All eyes were fixed upon the wreck.
Exclamations of sorrow were heard
in various tones; and "Who can
have done this ?" was all that Rosa-
mond could say. Bell stood in sul-
len silence, which she obstinately
preserved in the midst of the in-
quiries that were made about the dis-
At length the servants were sum-
moned, and amongst them Nancy,
Miss Bell's maid and governess. She
affected much surprise when she saw
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 37
what had befallen the basket, and
declared that she knew nothing of
the matter, but that she had seen her
mistress in the morning put it quite
safe into the wardrobe ; and that, for
her part, she had never touched it,
or thought of touching it, in her born
days. Nor Miss Bell neither,
ma'am,-I can answer for her; for
she never knew of its being there,
because I never so much as men-
tioned it to her, that there was such a
thing in the house, because I knew
Miss Rosamond wanted to surprise
her with the secret: so I never men-
tioned a sentence of it-did I, Miss
Bell, putting on the deceitful look
which her maid had taught her, an-
88 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
swerod boldly, "No ;" but she had
hold of Rosamond's hand, and at the
instant she uttered this falsehood she
squeezed it terribly. "Why do you
squeeze my hand so ?" said Rosa-
mond, in a low voice; "what are
you afraid of?" "Afraid of!" cried
Bell, turning angrily; "I'm not
afraid of anything-I've nothing to
be afraid about." Nay, I did not
say you had," whispered Rosamond;
"but only if you did by accident-
you know what I mean-I should
not be angry if you did;-only say
so." I say I did not!" cried Bell,
furiously; "Mamma !-mamma !-
Nancy! my cousin Rosamand wont
believe me! that's very hard-it's very
rude! and I wont bear it-I wont."
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. ,09
"Don't be angry, love-don't," :said
the maid. Nobody suspects you,
darling," said her.mother ;-" but she
has too much sensibility. Don't cry,
love, nobody suspected you. But
you know," continued she, turning to
.the maid, somebody must have done
this, and I must know how it wa't
done. Miss Rosamond's charminin
present must not be spoiled. in this
way, in my house, without my taking'
proper notice of it. I assure you I
am very angry about it, Rosamond."
Rosamond did not rejoice in her
anger, and had nearly made a sad
mistake by speaking aloud her
thoughts-I was very foolish-"
she began, and stopped.
"Ma'am," cried the :maid, sud-
40 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
denly, "I'll venture to say I know
who did it." Who ?" said every
one eagerly. "Who ?" said Bell,
trembling. "Why, Miss, don't you
recollect that little girl with the
lace, that we saw peeping about in
the passage ? I'm sure she must
have done it; for here she was by
herself half an hour or more; and
not another creature has been in mis-
tress's dressing-room, to my certain
-knowledge, since morning. Those
sort of people have so much curi-
osity, I'm sure she must have been
meddling with it," added the maid.
Oh yes, that's the thing," said
the mistress, decidedly. Well,
Miss Rosamond, for your comfort
she shall never come into my house
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 41
again." Oh, that would. not com-
fort me at all," said Rosamond
"besides, we are not sure that she
did it; and if- "
A single knock at the door was
heard at this instant: it was the
little girl, who came to be paid for
her lace. "Call her in," said, the
lady of the house; "let us see her
The maid, who was afraid that the
girl's innocence would appear if she
were produced, hesitated; but upon
her mistress's repeating her com-
mands, she was forced to obey. The
child came in with a look of sim-
plicity; but when she saw the room
full of company she was a little
abashed. Rosamond and Laura
42 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
looked at her and at one another with
surprise, for it was the same little
girl whom they had seen weaving
lace. "Is not it she ?" whispered
Rosamond to her sister. "Yes, it is;
but hush!" said Laura; "she does
not know us.-Don't say a word; let
us hear what she will say."
Laura got behind the rest of the
company as she spoke, so that the
little girl could not see her.
"Vastly well!" said Bell's mother;
"I am waiting to, see how long you
will have the assurance to stand
there with that innocent look. Did
you ever see that basket before ?"
"Yes, ma'am," said the girl. Yes,
ma'am cried the maid; and what
else do you know about it? You
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 43
had better confess it at once, and
mistress perhaps will say no more
about it." "Yes, do confess it,"
added Bell, earnestly. Confess
what, madam ?" said the little girl;
"I never touched the basket, madam."
"You never touched it; but you
confess," interrupted Bell's mother,
"that you did see it before. And
pray how came you to see it ? You
must have opened my wardrobe."
"No indeed, ma'am," said the little
girl; "but I was waiting in the pas-
sage, ma'am, and this door was partly
open; and looking at the maid, you
know, I could not help seeing it."
"Why, how could you see through
the doors of my wardrobe ?" rejoined
44 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
The maid, frightened, pulled the
little girl by the sleeve.
"Answer me," said the lady;
"Where did you see this basket?"
Another stronger pull. I saw it,
madam, in her hands," looking at the
maid ; "and- Well," and
what became of it afterwards ?"
"Ma'am," hesitating, "miss
pulled, and by accident-I believe,
I saw, ma'am-miss, you know what
I saw." "I do not know-I do not
know : and if I did, you had no busi-
ness there; and mamma wont believe
you, I am sure."
Everybody else, however, did be-
lieve; and their eyes were fixed upon
Bell in a manner which made her
feel rather ashamed. What do you
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 46
all look at me so for? Why do
you all look so? And am I to
be put to shame on my birthday ?"
cried she, bursting into a roar of
passion; "and all for this nasty
thing !" added she, pushing away the
remains of the basket, and looking
angrily at Rosamond.
"Bell! Bell! 0 fie! fie !-Now I
am ashamed of you; that's quite
rude to your cousin," said her mother,
who was more shocked at her daugh-
ter's want of politeness than at her
falsehood. "Tale her away, Nancy,
till she has done crying," added she
to the maid, who accordingly carried
off her pupil.
Rosamond, during this scene, es-
pecially at the moment when her
46 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
present was pushed away with such
disdain, had been making reflections
upon the nature of true generosity.
A smile from her father, who stood
by, a silent spectator of the catas-
trophe of the filigree-basket, gave
rise to these reflections; nor were
they entirely dissipated by the con-
dolence of the rest of the company,
nor even by the praises of her god-
mother, who, for the purpose of con-
doling with her, said, "Well, my dear:
Rosamond,. I admire your generous
spirit. You know I prophesied that
your half-guinea would be gone the
soonest. Did I not, Laura said
she, appealing, in a sarcastic tone, to
where she thought Laura was.-
"Where is Laura? I don't see her."
Laura came forward. You are too
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 47
prudent, to throw away your money
like your sister. Your half-guinea,
I'll answer for it, is snug in your
pocket-Is.it not ?" No, madam,"
answered she in a low voice.
But low as the voice of Laura was,
the poor little lace-girl heard it; and
now, for the first time, fixing her
eyes uponLaura, recollected her bene-
factress. "Oh, that's the young
L.,iI she exclaimed, in a tone of joy-
ful gratitude-" the good, good young
lady, who gave me the half-guinea,
and would not stay to be thanked
for it ; but I will thank her
"The half-guinea,. Laura!" said
her godmother-" What is all this ?"
"I'll tell you, madam, if you please,"
said the little girl.
48 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
It was not in expectation of being
praised for it, that Laura had been
generous, and therefore everybody
was really touched with the history
of the weaving-pillow; and whilst
they praised, felt a certain degree of
respect, which is not always felt by
those who pour forth eulogiums.
Respect is not an improper word, even
applied to a child of Laura's age; for
let the age or situation of the person
be what it may, they command respect
who deserve it.
"Ah, madam !" said Rosamond to
her godmother, "now you see-
you see she is not a little miser. I'm
sure that's better than wasting half a
guinea upon a filigree-basket;-is it
not, ma'am ?" said she with an eager
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. 49
ness which showed that she had for-
gotten all her misfortunes in sym-
pathy with her sister.-" This is
being really generous, father, is it
"Yes, Rosamond," said her father,
and he kissed her;-" this is being
really generous. It is not only by
giving away money that we can show
generosity; it is by giving up to
others anything we like ourselves;
and therefore," added he, smiling,
"it is really generous of you to give
your sister the thing you like best of
The thing I liked the best of all
others, father," said Rosamond,-half
pleased, half vexed; what is that, I
wonder ? You don't mean praise, do
50 THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT.
you, sir ?" Nay, you must decide
that yourself, Rosamond." Why,
sir," said she, ingenuously, "perhaps
it was OICE the thing I liked best;
but the pleasure I have jusb felt makes
me like something else much better."
Toute leur 6tude 6tait de se complaire et de
s'entr'aider." *-PAUL ET VIRGINIE.
AT the foot of a steep, slippery,
white hill, near Dunstable in Bed-
fordshire, called Chalk Hill, there
is a hut, or rather a hovel, which
travellers could scarcely suppose
could be inhabited, if they did
not see the smoke rising from its
peaked roof. An old woman lives in
this hovel,t and with her a little boy
Their whole study was how to please and to
help one another.
This was about the close of the last century.
52 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
and girl, the children of a beggar,
who died and left these orphans
perishing with hunger. They thought
themselves very happy when the
good old woman first took them into
her hut, and bid them warm them-
selves at her small fire, and gave
them a crust of mouldy bread to eat.
She had not much to give; but what
she had she gave with good-will.
She was very kind to these poor
children, and worked hard at her
spinning-wheel, and at her knit-
ting, to support herself and them.
She earned money also in another
way. She used to follow all the
carriages as they went up Chalk-hill;
and when the horses stopped to take
breath, or to rest themselves, she put
stones behind the carriage-wheels, to
prevent them from rolling backwards
down the steep slippery hill.
The little boy and girl loved to
stand beside the good-natured old
woman's spinning-wheel, when she
was spinning, and to talk to her. At
these times she taught them some-
thing, which, she said, she hoped
they would remember all their lives.
She explained to them what is meant
by telling the truth, and what it is
to be honest. She taught them to
dislike idleness, and to wish that they
could be useful.
One evening as they were standing
beside her, the little boy said to her,
Grandmother,"-for that was the
name by which she liked that these
54 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
children should call her-" Grand-
mother, how often you are forced to
get up from your spinning-wheel,
and to follow the chaises and coaches
up that steep hill, to put stones
under the wheels, to hinder them
from rolling back! The people who
are in the carriages give you a half-
penny or a penny for doing this,
don't they ?"-" Yes, child."--" But
it is very hard work for you to go
up and down that hill. You often
say that you are tired, and then you
know that you cannot spin all that
time. Now, if we might go up the
hill and put the stones behind the
wheels, you could sit still at your
work; and would not the people give
us the halfpence ? and could not we
bring them all to you ? Do, pray,
dear grandmother, try us for one
day-To-morrow, will you ?"
"Yes," said the old woman; "I
will try what you can do; but I must
go up the hill along with you for the
first two or three times, for fear you
should get yourselves hurt."
So the next day the little boy and
girl went with their grandmother, as
they used to call her, up the steep
hill; and she showed the boy how
to prevent the wheels from rolling
back, by putting stones behind them;
and she said, This is called scotch-
ing the wheels.;" and she took off
the boy's hat and gave it to the little
girl, to hold up to the carriage-
windows, ready for the halfpence.
56 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
When she thought that the chil-
.dren knew how to manage by them-
selves, she left them, and returned
to her spinning-wheel. A great many
carriages happened to go by this
day, and the little girl received a
great many halfpence. She carried
them all in her brother's hat to her
grandmother in the evening; and
the old woman smiled, and thanked
the children. She said that they had
been useful to her, and that her
spinning had gone on finely, because
she had been able to sit still at her
wheel all day-" But Paul, my boy,"
said she, "what is the matter with
your hand ?"
Only a pinch-only one pinch,
that I got as I was putting a stone
behind the wheel of a chaise. It
does not hurt me much, grandmother;
and I've thought of a good thing for
to-morrow. I shall never be hurt
again, if you will only be so good as
to give me the old handle of the
broken crutch, grandmother, and the
block of wood that lies in the
chimney-corner, and that is of no
use. I'll make it of some use, if I
may have it."
Take it then, dear," said the old
woman; and you'll find the handle
of the broken crutch under my bed."
Paul went to work immediately,
and fastened one end of the pole into:
the block of wood, so as to make
something like a dry-rubbing brush.
"Look, grandmamma, look at my
58 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
scotcher. I call this thing my
scotcher," said Paul, "because I shall
always scotch the wheels with it. I
shall never pinch my fingers again;
my hands, you see, will be safe at
the end ofthis long stick; and, sister
Anne, you need not be at the trouble
of carrying any more stones after me
up the hill; we shall never want
stones any more. My scotcher will
do without anything else, I hope. I
wish it was morning, and that a car-
riage would come, that I might run
up the hill and try my scotcher."
"And I wish that as many chaises
may go by to-morrow as there did
to-day, and that we may bring you
as many halfpence too, grandmother,"
said the little girl.
So do I, my dear Anne," said
the old woman; "for I mean that
you and your brother shall have all
the money that you get to-morrow.
You may buy some gingerbread for
yourselves, or some of those ripe
plums that you saw at the fruit-stall,
the other day, which is just going
into Dunstable. I told you then
that I could not afford to buy such
things for you; but now, that you
can earn halfpence for yourselves,
children, it is fair you should taste a
Sripe plum, and a bit of gingerbread
for once and away in your lives.
We'll bring some of the ginger-
bread home to her, shan't we, bro-
ther ?" whispered little Anne. The
morning came; but no carriages
60 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
were heard, though Paul and his
sister had risen at five o'clock, that
they might be sure to be ready for
early travellers. Paul kept his
scotcher poised upon his shoulder,
and watched eagerly at his station at
the bottom of the hill. He did not
wait long before a carriage came.
He followed it up the hill; and the
instant the postillion called to him,
and bid him stop the wheels, he put
his scotcher behind them, and found
that it answered the purpose per-
Many carriages went by this day;
and Paul and Anne received a great
many halfpence from the travellers.
When it grew dusk in the evening,
Anne said to her brother-"I don't
think any more carriages will come
by to-day. Let us count the half-
pence, and carry them home now to
"No, not yet," answered Paul;
" let them alone-let them lie still
in the hole where I have put them.
I dare say more carriages will come
by before it is quite dark, and then
we shall have more halfpence."
Paul had taken the halfpence out
of his hat, and he had put them into
a hole in the high bank by the road-
side; and Anne said that she would
not meddle with them, and that she
would wait till her brother liked to
count them; and Paul said, If you
will stay and watch here, I will go
and gather some blackberries for you
62 TIHE BASKET-WOMAN.
in the hedge in yonder field. Stand
you hereabouts, half-way up the hill;
and the moment you see any carriage
coming along the road, run as fast
as you can, and call me."
Anne waited a long time, or what
she thought a long time; and she
saw no carriage : and she trailed her
brother's scotcher up and down till
she was tired. Then she stood still
and looked again; and she saw no
carriage; so she went sorrowfully
into the field, and to the hedge where
her brother was gathering black-
berries, and she said, "Paul, I'm
sadly tired; sadly tired !" said she,
" and my eyes are quite strained with
looking for chaises; no more chaises
will come to-night; and your scotcher
is lying there, of no use, upon the
ground. Have not I waited long
enough for to-day, Paul? "O, no,"
said Paul; "here are some black-
berries for you: you had better wait
a little bit longer. Perhaps a car-
riage might go by whilst you are
standing here talking to me.
Anne, who was of a very obliging
temper, and who liked to do what she
was asked to do, went back to the place
where the scotcher lay; and scarcely
had she reached the spot, when she
heard the noise of a carriage. She
ran to call her brother; and, to their
great joy, they now saw four chaises
coming towards them. Paul, as soon
as they went up the hill, followed
with his scotcher; first he scotched
64 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
the wheels of one carriage, then of
another; and Anne was so much
delighted with observing how well
the scotcher stopped the wheels, and
how much better it was than stones,
that she forgot to go and hold her
brother's hat to the travellers for
halfpence, till she was roused by the
voice of a little rosy girl, who was
looking out of the window of one of
the chaises. Come close to the
chaise-door," said the little girl;
"here are some halfpence for you.
Anne held the hat; and she after-
wards went on to the other carriages.
Money was thrown to her from each
of them; and when they had all
gotten safely to the top of the hill,
she and her brother sat down upon a
large stone by the road-side, to count
their treasure. First they began by
counting what was in the hat -
" One, two, three, four halfpence."
But 0, brother, look at this!"
exclaimed Anne; this is not the
same as the other halfpence."
"No, indeed, it is not," cried
Paul; "it is no halfpenny; it is a gui-
nea, a bright golden guinea!" "Is
it ?" said Anne, who had never seen
a guinea in her life before, and whc
did not know its value; and will it
do as well as a halfpenny to buy gin-
gerbread? I'll run to the fruit-stall,
and ask the woman; shall I?"
"No, no," said Paul, "you need
not ask any woman, or anybody but
me; I can tell you all about it, as
66 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
well as anybody in the whole
The whole world! 0, Paul,
you forget!-not so well as my
Why, not so well as my grand-
mother, perhaps; but, Anne, I can
tell you that you must not talk your-
self, Anne; but you must listen to
me quietly, or else you wont under-
stand what I am going to tell you;
for I can assure you that I don't
think I quite understood it myself,
Anne, the first time my grandmother
told it to me, though I stood stock
still, listening my best."
I_;:. 1.-' ,.. by this speech to hear
something very difficult to be un-
derstood, Anne looked very grave;
and her brother explained to her,
that, with a guinea, she might buy
two hundred and fifty-two times as
many plums as she could get for a'
Why, Paul, you know the fruit-
woman said she would give us a
dozen plums for a penny. Now for
this little guinea would she give us
two hundred and fifty-two dozen ?"
If she has so many, and if we
like to have so many, to be sure she
will," said Paul; but I think we
should not like to have two hundred
and fifty-two dozen of plums; we
could not eat such a number." "But
we could give some of them to my
grandmother," said Anne. But
still there would be too many for her
68 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
and for us too," said Paul; and
when we had eaten the plums, there
would be an end of all the pleasure;
but now I'll tell you what I am
thinking of, Anne, that we might
buy something for my grandmother,
that would be very useful to her
indeed, with this guinea; something
that would last a great while."
"What, brother? what sort of
thing ?" Something that she said
she wanted very much last winter,
when she was so ill of the rheuma-
tism ;-something that she said yes-
terday, when you were making her
bed, she wished she might be able
to buy before next winter."
"I know! I know what you
mean" said Anne,-" a blanket. 0,
yes, Paul, that will be much better
than plums; do let us buy a blanket
for her; how glad she will be to see
it! I will make her bed with the
new blanket, and then bring her to
look at it. But, Paul, how shall we
buy a blanket? Where are blankets
to be got ?"
Leave that to me, I'll manage
that. I know where blankets can
be got, I saw one hanging out of a
shop the day I went last to Dunsta-
ble." "You have seen great many
things at Dunstable, brother." "Yes,
a great many; but I never saw any-
thing there, or anywhere else, that I
wished for half so much as I did for
the blanket for my grandmother.
Do you remember how she used to
70 THE :BASKET-WOMAN.
shiver with the cold last winter?
I'll buy the blanket to-morrow. I'm
going to Dunstable with her spin-
ning." And you'll bring the blan-
ket to me, and I shall make the bed
very neatly, that will be all right!
all happy!" said Anne, clapping her
But stay! hush! don't clap your
hands so, Anne; it will not be all
happy, I'm afraid," said Paul, and
his countenance changed, and he
looked very grave. It will not be
all right, I'm afraid, for there is one
thing we have neither of us thought
of, but that we ought to think about.
We cannot buy the blanket, I'm
afraid." Why, Paul? why ?" "Be-
cause I don't think this guinea is
Nay, brother, but I'm sure it is
honestly ours. It was given to us,
and grandmother said all that was
given to us to-day was to be our
own." "But who gave it to you,
Anne ?' Some of the people in
those chaises, Paul. I don't know
which of them; but I dare say it was
the little rosy girl."
No," said Paul, for when she
called you to the chaise-door, she
said, Here's some halfpence for
you.' Now, if she gave you the
guinea, she must have given it to
you by mistake."
"Well, but perhaps some of the
people in the other chaises gave it to
me, and did not give it to me by
mistake, Paul. There was a. gentle-
man reading in one of the chaises,
72 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
and a lady who looked very good-
naturedly at me, and then the gentle-
man put down his book, and put his
head out of the window, and looked
at your scotcher, brother, and he
asked me if that was your own
making: and when I said Yes, and
that I was your sister, he smiled at
me, and put his hand into his waist-
coat-pocket, and threw a handful of
halfpence into the hat, and I dare
say he gave us the guinea along with
them because he liked your scotcher
so much." "Why," said Paul, that
might be, to be sure; but I wish I
was quite certain of it." Then, as
we are not quite certain, had not we
best go and ask my grandmother
what she thinks about it ?"
Paul thought this was excellent
advice; and he was not a silly boy,
who did not like to follow good ad-
vice. He went with his sister directly
to his grandmother, showed her the
guinea, and told her how they came
My dear honest children," said
she, I am very glad you told me
all this. I am very glad that you
did not buy either the plums or the
blanket with this guinea. I'm sure
it is not honestly ours. Those who
threw it to you gave it by mistake, I
warrant; and what I would have you
do is, to go to Dunstable, and tryif you
can at either of the inns find out the
person who gave it to you. It is now
so late in the evening that perhaps
74 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
the travellers will sleep at Dunstable,
.instead of., going on the next stage;
and it is likely that whosoever gave
you a guinea instead of a halfpenny
has found out their mistake by this
time. All you can do is to go and
inquire for the gentleman who was
reading in the chaise."
Oh !" interrupted Paul, I know
a good way of finding him out. I
remember it was a dark-green chaise
with red wheels: and I rememberI.
read the inn-keeper's name upon the
chaise, John Nelson.' (I am much
obliged to you for teaching me to
read, grandmother.) You told me
yesterday, grandmother, that the
names written upon chaises are the
names of the innkeepers to whom
they belong. I read the name of the
innkeeper upon that chaise. It was
John Nelson. So Anne and I will
go to both the inns in Dunstable,
and try to find out this chaise-John
Nelson's. Come, Anne, let us set
out before it gets quite dark."
Anne and her brother passed with
great courage the tempting stall that
was covered with gingerbread and
ripe plums, and pursued their way
steadily through the street of Dun-
stable : but Paul, when he came to
the shop where he had seen the
blanket, stopped for a moment, and
said, It is a great pity, Anne, that
the guinea is not ours. However,
we are doing what is honest, and that
is a comfort. .-Here, we must go
70 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
through this gateway, into the inn-
yard; we are come to the 'Dun
Cow.'" Cow !" said Anne, I
see no cow." "Look up, and you'll
see the cow over your head," said
Paul--"the sign-thepicture. Come,
never mind looking at it now: I
want to find out the green chaise that
has John Nelson's name upon it."
Paul pushed forward, through a
*crowded passage, till he got into the
inn-yard. There was a great noise
ind bustle. The hostlers were carry-
ing in luggage. The postillions were
rubbing down their horses, or rolling
the chaises into the coach-house.
What now? What business
have you here, pray ?" said a waiter,
who almost ran over Paul, as he was
crossing the yard in a great hurry to
get some empty bottles from the bot-
tle-rack. You've no business here,
crowding up the yard. Walk of',
young gentleman, if you please."
Pray give me leave, sir," said
Paul, to stay a few minutes, to look
amongst these chaises for one dark-
green chaise with red wheels, that
has Mr. John Nelson's name written
"What's that he says about a
dark-green chaise ?' said one of tha
What should such a one as he is
know about chaises ?" interrupted
the hasty waiter, and he was going
to turn Paul out of the yard; but the
hostler caught hold of his arm, and
78 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
said, "Maybe the child has some
business here; let's know what he
has to say for himself."
The waiter was at this instant
luckily obliged to- leave them to at-
tend the bell; and Paul told his
business to the hostler, who, as soon"
as he saw the guinea and heard the
story, shook Paul by the hand, and
said, Stand steady, my honest lad;
I'll find the chaise for you, if it is to
be found here; but John Nelson's
chaises almost always; drive to the
' Black Bull."'
After some difir.:), the green
chaise, with John Nelson's name
upon it, and the postillion who drove
that chaise, were found; and the pos-
tillion told Paul that he was just
going into the parlour to the gentle-
man he had driven, to be paid, and
that he would carry the guinea with
"No," said Paul, "we should like
to give it back ourselves." "Yes,"
said the hostler; "that they have a
right to do."
The postillion made no reply, but
looked vexed, and went on towards
the house, desiring the children would
wait in the passage till his return.
In the passage there was standing a
decent, clean, good-natured-looking
woman, with two huge straw baskets
on each side of her. One of the
baskets stood a little in the way of
the entrance. A man who was push-
ing his way in, and carried in his
80 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
hand a string of dead larks hung to
a pole, impatient at being stopped,
kicked down the straw basket, and
all its contents were thrown out.
Bright straw hats, and boxes, and
slippers were all thrown in disorder
upon the dirty ground.
Oh, they will be trampled upon !
they will be all spoiled! exclaimed
the woman to whom they belonged.
"We'll help you to pick them up,
if you will let us," cried Paul and
Anne; and they immediately ran to
When the things were all safe in
the basket again, the children ex-
pressed a great desire to know how
such beautiful things could be made
of straw; but the woman had not
time to answer them before the pos-
tillion came out of the parlour, and
with him a gentleman's servant, who
came to Paul, and clapping him
upon the back, said, So, my little
chap, I gave you a guinea for a half-
penny, I hear; and I understand you
have brought it back again; that's
right-give me hold of it." "No,
brother," said Anne; "this is not
the gentleman that was reading."
"Pooh, child, I came in Mr. Nelson's
green chaise. Here's the postillion
can tell you so. I and my master
came in that chaise. It was my
master that was reading, as you say,
and it was he that threw the money
out to you; he is going to bed; he
is tired, and can't see you himself.
82 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
He desires that you'll give me the
Paul was too honest himself to
suspect that this man was 'iling
him a falsehood; and he now readily
produced his bright guinea, and de-
livered it into the servant's hands.
"Here's sixpence apiece for you,
children," said he, and good night
to you." He pushed them towards
the door; but the basket-woman
whispered to them as they went out,
"Wait in the street till I come to
"Pray, Mrs. Landlady," cried this
gentleman's servant, addressing him-
self to the landlady, who just then
came out of a room where some com-
pany were at super, "Pray, Mrs
Landlady, please to let me have
roasted larks for my supper. You
are famous for larks at Dunstable;
and I make it a rule to taste the best
of everything, wherever I go; and,
waiter, let me have a bottle of claret.
-Do you hear ?"
Larks and claret for his supper!"
said the basket-woman to herself, as
she looked at him from head to foot.
The postillion was still waiting, as if
to speak to him; and she observed
them afterwards whispering and
laughing together. "No bad hit,'
was a sentence which the servant
pronounced several times.
Now it occurred to the basket-
woman that this man had cheated
the children out of the guinea to pay
84 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
for the larks and claret; and she
thought that perhaps she could dis-
cover the truth. She waited quietly
in the passage.
"Waiter !-Joe Joe!" cried the
landlady, why don't you carry in
the sweetmeat puffs and the tarts
here to the company in the best par-
"Coming, ma'am," answered the
waiter; and with a large dish of tarts
and puffs, the waiter came from the
bar; the landlady threw open the
door of the best parlour to let him
in; and the basket-woman had now a
full view of a large cheerful company,
and amongst them several children,
sitting round a supper-table.
"Ay," whispered the landlady, as
THE BASKET-WOMAN. 8O
the door closed after the waiter and
the tarts, "there are customers
enough, I warrant, for you in that
room, if you had but the luck to be
called in. Pray what would you
have the conscience, I wonder now,
to charge me for these here half-
dozen little mats, to put under my
dishes ? "
A trifle, ma'am," said the basket-
woman. She let the landlady have
the mats cheap; and the landlady
then declared she would step in
and see if the company in the best
parlour had done supper. "When
they come to their wine," added she,
" I'll speak a good word for you, and
get you called in afore the children
are sent to bed."
86 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
The landlady, after the usual
speech of, "I hope the supper and
everything is to your liking, /., ,
and gentlemen," began with, "If any
of the young gentlemen or ladies
would have a cur'osity to see any of
our famous Dunstable straw-work,
there's a decent body without would,
I dare say, be proud to show them
herpincushion-boxes, and her baskets
and slippers, and herother curiosities."
The eyes of the children all turned
towards their mother; their mother
smiled, and immediately their father
called in the basket-woman, and de-
sired her to produce her curiosities.
The children gathered round her
large pannier as it opened; but they
did not touch any of her things.
O, papa!" cried a little rosy girl,
"here are a pair of straw slippers
that would just fit you, I think; but
would not straw shoes wear out very
soon ? and would not they let in the
Yes, my dear," said her father,
"but these slippers are meant--"
"For powdering-slippers, miss," in-
terrupted the basket-woman. "To
wear when people are powdering
their hair," continued the gentleman,
" that they may not spoil their other
shoes." "And will you buy them,
papa?" "No, I cannot indulge
myself," said her father, in buying
them now. I must make amends,"
said he, laughing, for my careless-
ness; and as I threw away a guinea
T8 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
to-day, I must endeavour to save
sixpence at least."
"Ah, the guinea that you threw
by mistake into the little girl's hat,
as we were coming up Chalk-hill.
Mamma, I wonder that the little girl
did not take notice of its being a
guinea, and that she did not run
after the chaise to give it back again.
I should think, if she had been an
honest girl, she would have returned
"Miss !-ma'am !-sir!" said the
basket-woman, "if it would not be
impertinent, may I speak a word ?"
A little boy and girl have just been
here inquiring for a gentleman who
gave them a guinea instead of a half-
penny by mistake; and not five
minutes ago I saw the boy give the
guinea to a gentleman's servant, who
is there without, and who said his
master desired it should be returned
There must be some mistake, or
some trick in this," said the gentle-
man: are the children gone?-I
must see them-send after them."
"I'll go for them myself," said the
good-natured basket-woman; I bid
them wait in the street yonder; for
my mind misgave me that the man
who spoke so short to them was a
cheat-with his larks and his claret."
Paul and Anne were speedily sum-
moned, and brought back, by their
friend the basket-woman; and Anne,
the moment she saw the gentleman,
90 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
knew that he was the very person
who smiled upon her, who admired
her brother's scotcher, and who threw
a handful of halfpence into the hat;
but she could not be certain, she
said, that she received the. guinea
from him; she only thought that it
was most likely that she did.
But I can be certain whether the
guinea you returned be mine or no,"
said the gentleman. "I marked the
guinea; it was a light one; the only
light guinea I had, which I put into
my waistcoat pocket this morning.'
He rang the bell, and desired the
waiter to let the gentleman who was
in the room opposite to him know
that he wished to see him. The
gentleman in the white parlour, sir,
do you mean ?" "I mean the
master of the servant who received a
guinea from this child." "He is a
Mr. Pembroke, sir," said the waiter.
Mr. Pembroke came; and as soon
as he heard what had happened, he
desired the waiter to show him to the
room where his servant was at supper.
The dishonest servant, who was sup-
ping upon larks and claret, knew
nothing of what was going on; but his
knife and fork dropped from his hand,
and he overturned a bumper of claret,
as he started up from table, in great
surprise and terror, when his master
,came in with a face of indignation,
and demanded "the guinea the
guinea, sir that you go.t from this
child ;-that guinea which you said I
92 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
ordered you to ask for from this
The servant, confounded and half
intoxicated, could only stammer out
that he had more guineas than one
about him, and that he really did not
know which it was. He pulled his
money out, and spread it upon the
table with trembling hands. The
marked guinea appeared. His mas-
tcr instantly turned him out of his
service with strong expressions of
And now, my little honest girl,"
said the gentleman who had admired
her brother's scotcher, turning to
Anne, and now tell me who you
are, and what you and your brother
want or wish for most in the world."
In the same moment Anne and
Paul exclaimed, "The thing we wishi
for the most in the world is a blanket
for our grandmother."
"She is not our grandmother in
reality, I believe, sir," said Paul;
" but she is just as good to us, and
taught me to read, and taught Anne
to knit, and taught us both that we
should be honest-so she has; and I
wish she had a new blanket before
next winter, to keep her from the cold
and the rheumatism. She had the
rheumatism sadly last winter, sir-
and there is a blanket in this street
that would be just the thing for
"She shall have it, then; and,"
continued the gentleman, "I will do
09 TIIE BASKET-WOMAN.
something more for you. Do you like
to be employed or to be idle best ?"
We like to have something to do
always, if we could, sir," said Paul;
"but we are forced to be idle some-
times, because grandmother has not
always things for us to do that we
can do well."
Should you like to learn how to
make such baskets as these ?" said
the gentleman, pointing to one of the
Dunstable straw-baskets. Oh,
very much!" said Paul. "Very
much!" said Anne. "Then I should
like to teach you howto make them,"
said the basket-woman; "for I'm
sure of one thing, that you'd behave
honestly to me."
The gentleman put a guinea into
the good-natured basket-woman's
hand, and told her that he knew she
could not afford to teach them her
trade for nothing. "Ishall come
through Dunstable again in a few
months," added he; and I hope to
see that you and your scholars are
going on well. If I find that they
are, I willdo something more for you."
"But," said Anne, "we must tell all
this to grandmother, and ask her
about it; and I'm afraid-though
I'm very happy-that it is getting
very late, and that we should not
stay here any longer." "It is a fine
moonlight night," said the basket-
woman, "and it is not far. I'll walk
with you, and see you safe home
96 THE BASKET-WOMAN.
The gentleman detained them a
few minutes longer, till a messenger
whom he had despatched to purchase
the much wished-for blanket returned.
Your grandmother will sleep well
upon this good blanket, I hope,"
said the gentleman, as he gave it into
Paul's opened arms. "It has been
obtained for her by the honesty of
her adopted children."