Produced by Loriba Barber and PG Distributed Proofreaders
That as merely human it may not always be depended upon.
AND HER DAUGHTER,
BE NOT WISE IN YOUR OWN CONCEIT.
It was at that time of year when leaves begin to lose their green hue,
and are first tinctured with a brown shade that increases rather than
decreases their beauty, that Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer received a letter
from a brother of Mrs. Mortimer's, at Portsmouth, requiring such
immediate attention that it was thought advisable that the answer should
be given in person and not in writing, and without a day's loss of time.
So it was determined that Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer should leave their home,
even as soon as the following morning, to visit their brother at
Portsmouth, and that they then should settle the business for which they
went as quickly as possible, that their absence from home need not be
prolonged unnecessarily, nor indeed for any length of time. It did not
take long to arrange this part of the affair, and what packing was
requisite was also done quickly, but the point which required most
attention and thought was, what was to become of Marten and his young
brother Reuben while their papa and mamma were away. "I have never left
them before," said their mamma, "and I feel somewhat anxious about their
being left now."
"Anxious, dear mamma," exclaimed Marten, who had overheard the remark.
"Anxious," he repeated, "why I am a great boy now, and I shall soon be a
man, when I shall have to take care of myself altogether; and if I
cannot take care of myself for a week, what is to become of me when I
am grown up? Indeed, mamma, I think you forget how old I am. I was
thirteen on the 21st of April."
"Tirteen," lisped little Reuben--"Marten tirteen--April--Oh, Marten very
old mamma--very, very wise;" and Reuben opened his eyes quite wide and
looked so very earnestly in his mother's face, that one would have
thought he was trying to read therein what she could mean about being
anxious as to leaving Marten,--the Marten who appeared so very old and
so very wise to him,--to take care of himself for a few days without his
parents protection. "Thirteen," repeated Mrs. Mortimer, "thirteen no
doubt seems very, aye very old, to you Reuben, for you are not yet half
that age; but I am more than three times that age," she added, smiling,
"and that you know must make me very, very much wiser than Marten, and
now once again I say I am anxious about leaving you without your father
or myself, and I should be more anxious than I am if I did not believe
it is our duty to go at once to Portsmouth; and that it being right for
us to go, I can leave you, my boys, in God's care, who is the tenderest
of fathers to his children."
"But mamma," asked Marten, "why do you fear for me? Am I not steady,
mamma? Do not I like to do what you and papa tell me to do? Am I ever
obstinate or rebellious to you? Indeed, mamma, I feel quite grieved; I
think it is unjust to mistrust me, mamma, really I do."
"If you feared for yourself, I should have less fear for you, Marten,"
replied Mrs. Mortimer, "for I know well that the heart of man is by
nature prone to sin, and that our thoughts and desires while we are on
earth are like our natures, full of imperfections. Temptations are ever
before us--they press upon us every minute, and it is not in our own
strength we can resist or overcome even one of them, and while this
life lasts we are not safe, unless we acknowledge their powerful
influence and trust in the Divine Spirit alone to be able to withstand
"I have not been thought a disobedient boy till now," said Marten
somewhat sulkily. "I think my usual conduct should plead for me."
"Every child has temptations, Marten," replied his mamma, "and every
well behaved child, though not a pious one, resists them: and in truth
these temptations are so numerous, that one scarcely thinks of them,
unless we witness the conduct of a spoiled baby, as shame prevents grown
up persons giving way to many things. But I want you to see that in this
life we are in a state of constant trial, and as St. Paul says, if it
were only for this life, a Christian is of all men most miserable; for
added to these outward temptations, which assail all mankind daily and
hourly, the Christian knows he must resist inward temptations, which
perhaps are known to none but himself and his God. These temptations are
more pressing than other temptations, on account of their peculiar
nature: for the one, if indulged in, brings the displeasure or frowns of
the world--the other, as I said before, is perhaps unknown to all human
beings but oneself."
"Well, but mamma," said Marten impatiently, "I do know all this, for you
have taught it me before. It is not like as if I had to learn the thing
now for the first time. I think you are too severe, mamma, indeed I do;
and when you come back, I believe you will say so. Trust me, mamma, and
do not be anxious about me. I shall do very well, and I promise to take
good care of Reuben. I will see to his lessons, and do my own, and he
shall sleep with me while you are away, and I will attend carefully to
him and never leave him, and when I am learning my Latin, he can be in
the room with me, and we shall do very well together, I promise you. So
trust me, mamma, without anxiety of any sort."
"I will trust you," replied Mrs. Mortimer smiling kindly, "but not with
yourself Marten, for I see clearly you have a lesson to learn, my boy,
and I hope you will learn it shortly, without much trouble to yourself.
You think you are going to fulfil all your duties in your own strength,
as they ought to be fulfilled. You will see that you cannot. Could human
nature, unassisted by the Divine nature, have done so, then what need
would there have been for the Son of God to have taken our form and
purified our nature in himself? By grace alone are we saved, for there
is none good--no, not one; but as God is holy, we must be holy, ere we
can dwell with Him, and the work of the Divine Spirit is to make us
pure; and while we are in the flesh, to uphold us in the right and
straight road, till being made one with God our sanctification is
accomplished. Now then is our hour of temptation. Marten--and believe
me, my boy, if you attempt to withstand that temptation in your own
strength, you are like one putting fire to tow, and expecting it will
Marten made no reply, for he was tired of the subject; but after Mrs.
Mortimer had left the room, he said to Reuben--"Well, we shall see what
we shall see, and mamma shall acknowledge I am right after all." So the
carriage came to the door next morning betimes, and Mr. and Mrs.
Mortimer got into it, and Marten and Reuben stood in the coach drive to
hold the gate open for the carriage to pass through; and the great dog
Nero stood by them very much excited, not knowing whether to go with the
carriage or to stay with the boys.
"Be sure you see Nero has a run every day, Marten," said Mr. Mortimer,
as the carriage passed through the gate--"that dog wants plenty of
"Oh! don't fear, papa, I shall not forget him," replied Marten, running
a step or two after the carriage; "and mamma, I will attend to your
doves--you had forgotten to speak about them, had you not, mamma? I will
remember them and Nero too, papa, and Reuben also. Yes, I will attend to
all--I shall have plenty of time for all. Have you anything more you
wish done, papa?" and Marten was obliged to stop speaking, as the
carriage was now going on rapidly, and he found he could not talk and
keep up with it at the same time.
"No, no, Marten," replied Mr. Mortimer laughing--"No, no, my boy--you
have got more on your hands now than will suffice you: so off with you
home, and take care that when we return we do not find the doves flown,
Nero lost, or Reuben with black eye or bruised leg, and yourself in some
unlucky plight, my boy. Now go home, and God bless and watch over you,
my sons. We hope it will not be long before we return," and he waved his
hand to bid good bye. Marten had run himself out of breath, so he was
not able to answer his father, and he was not sorry to stand still an
instant or two to watch the carriage out of sight, and give time for
Reuben to overtake him, for the child could not keep up with his
brother's quick running. And even now Marten might have read this
lesson, had he been wise enough so to do that already, he had been led
away by temptation to forget his brother, and that though he had done
so, Nero had been more faithful than himself; for Nero, though he could
have outran Marten, yet would not forsake the child, but restrained his
impatience that he might keep near the little one, who ever needed a
protector by his side, for the child was young, and his mother had
perhaps reared him too delicately.
Reuben had never before been separated from his mamma, and he was half
inclined to cry, and perhaps fret at her absence; but Marten, who was a
very kind brother, and really loved the child tenderly, contrived so to
divert his attention that he soon forgot his troubles.
Marten was so bent upon behaving well during his mamma's and papa's
absence and of fulfilling every duty, that though Reuben wished to stay
out all morning and play, his brother would not allow it, but persuaded
him to go in with him and say his lessons, as if his mamma had been at
home. But Marten had taken upon himself much more than was required of
him by his parents, and it was not without difficulty, even on the first
day, determined as he was upon the point, that he could fulfil all his
intentions, for Marten had not taken into consideration that if he
thoroughly devoted himself to Reuben, he could not spend his time in
learning his own lessons, which usually occupied the best hours of the
morning. The doves could be fed whilst Reuben was by his side--indeed
Reuben could be very useful in this matter, for he had been accustomed
to visit the aviary daily with his mamma, and the pretty birds knew him
and were not as afraid of him as they were of his big brother Marten. So
Reuben fed the doves himself, and stroked their soft feathers, and
washed out their little tin in which the water was put for them to
drink; and he placed the food for them in its right corner, and he swept
out the floor of the aviary, for he was small enough to stand upright
within it, and he knew how to do it without frightening the birds. So
far all was well, and all was well too whilst Reuben was saying his
lessons; but when Marten wanted to study his Latin exercise, the child
was so restless and troublesome, that it was only by speaking very
decidedly to him--indeed almost crossly--that Marten could get a moment
But even then Marten had to shut up his book somewhat hastily, for
Reuben began to cry for his mamma, who never spoke sharply to him, and
was always ready to attend to the little one by a kind look or tender
Marten was, however, so satisfied with himself in having accomplished
all his plans for the day, that he did not see how he had given way to
temptation in being cross when provoked; and as he put Reuben to bed,
for he chose to do it himself, he could not help saying aloud, "I wish
mamma could have followed me unseen all day: how pleased she would have
been with me, for I have done all I meant to do, even though I was
tempted more than once to leave something undone."
The next morning Marten arose, perhaps not quite so earnest in his
intentions as the day before, but still there was only a slight
disinclination to fulfil all his duties--so slight, indeed, that he
would have been very angry if any one had spoken to him about it, and
hinted at the truth. In this frame of mind, though most things were
done, some few were slurred over, particularly the Latin Exercise and
Grammar, for Marten's papa had not set him any task, and had even said
Marten might have a holiday during his absence; and at any other time
the boy would have been glad of this indulgence, but now he fancied
himself so good, that he believed he could do everything, and everything
"I will do an exercise to-morrow, Reuben," said Marten. "Papa does not
expect any done, and if I have one for every other day to shew him, he
will be very much pleased, I know."
Reuben, as may be supposed, could not make a suitable reply to this; for
all he understood about it was, that Marten was going out with him
instead of staying at home to do that troublesome Latin. So Reuben was
pleased and Marten was thoughtless, and out together they went and
enjoyed themselves not a little, in the pleasant autumn weather.
Thus hours passed on, and the third day brought a letter from Mrs.
Mortimer, which was not quite satisfactory, for it said that the
business which took her and her husband from home could not be easily
settled, and they feared they would be detained a whole fortnight at
Portsmouth. Mrs. Mortimer, however, was not uneasy about her boys, for
she knew that the servants, with whom she had left them, were quiet
steady persons, who would not allow them to do what was wrong without
speaking to them; and then Reuben was such an universal favourite, that
she felt sure no one would be wilfully unkind to him. But above all,
Mrs. Mortimer trusted her children with Him who "knoweth our frame and
remembereth we are but dust." Psal. ciii. 14.
Mrs. Mortimer had been absent about a week, and Marten was still in
ignorance of the weakness of human nature, at least as far as he was
himself personally concerned, when one morning Reuben came running to
him in great distress, to say that the doves were missing--his mamma's
own pretty birds that she loved so much; and Reuben, whose tears were
somewhat too ready, began to cry, for he feared, poor child, the cat had
eaten them, or some other misfortune equally distressing had befallen
"Was the door of the aviary open?" asked Marten. "Are you sure it was
open, Reuben? or did you open it yourself?"
"It was open," said Reuben, "wide, wide open--so wide, Marten;" and he
made his brother understand that he had gone inside without stirring it
the least little bit.
"It was open, you say," replied the elder boy, "but how could that be?
You or some one have been careless, very careless, Reuben; for it is
certain the birds could not open it for themselves." Reuben was about to
cry again, but Marten soothed him, for all at once Marten remembered
that the careless--very careless person was none other than himself; for
on the day before, whilst Reuben was sweeping out the aviary, Marten had
called him hurriedly, and though the child had once proposed to return,
his brother had kept him by his side for some trifling purpose, and so
they had both forgotten the aviary door was open. However, the doves
were gone, and they must be reclaimed, if alive, but if dead--what a sad
story would there be for Mrs. Mortimer. So the books were put by, and
the two boys went out in search of the birds, and Reuben, who understood
their ways, took the precaution to carry with him the box in which their
food was usually placed. On this occasion there was a nice piece of cake
put into the box, which was to be crumbled for the doves, and Reuben
knew that they liked cake as well as he did himself, and more especially
the kind of cake which cook had given him.
Have you ever heard of a person who it is said once looked for a needle
in a pottle of hay? for if so, you may picture to yourself the feelings
of Marten when he started to find the ringdoves. But perhaps you will
say, anyhow, the needle would lie still, unless the man who was
searching for it should shake the straw too roughly, and throw it out,
therefore the space of its concealment, being a limited space, supposing
the pottle the very largest ever made, there would be a chance in time
of its discovery, but not so the case of the birds. They had wings to
fly with, and miles of lovely blue sky to fly through, and green
branches to rest on, and harvest fields to alight in, that is if they
were in the land of the living; but, perhaps, after all, mistress pussy
had destroyed them, and their pretty feathers, perhaps their only
relics left, might be so scattered by the wind, that already they might
be yards and yards separated from each other. With these sad forebodings
clouding his brow, Marten set off with Reuben on his search, feeling
that it was a hopeless one, and not one word did the boy utter to all
Reuben's lamentations as they crossed the meadow which was spread in
front of their house towards a little wood, which was the home of many a
bird of the pigeon or dove species, and therefore Marten thought would
be the most likely place to go first to look after the strayed ones.
Think, then, what must have been his joy as they entered the second
meadow not far from the stile, absolutely to behold the ringdoves, his
mamma's own ringdoves walking upon the grass cooing and billing, and
turning about their soft eyes in this direction and the other, as if
half afraid of the freedom they had acquired for themselves. As to
Reuben, he was so pleased, that the little foolish fellow clapped his
hands and shouted for joy, which so alarmed the doves, that they took to
their wings and soared high, but flutteringly in the air, as if in their
fright they did not know what they ought to do for their own safety.
Marten was very angry with Reuben for his folly--very angry indeed, and
I hardly know what it was he said; only this I do know, that he took the
box of cake from the child's hand, and bade him stand at a particular
spot--about twenty yards or so, in a direction farthest from the wood,
and from the stile leading to their home; "and there," he added, "remain
till I tell you you may stir, if you are so stupid as not to know that
clapping your hands and shouting loud will frighten any birds,
particularly timid ones like doves--tame doves, especially, who have
strayed from their home."
Marten looked so cross, that Reuben did not even like to cry, for he
felt he had been very silly; so the poor little fellow stood where his
brother had bade him stand, half afraid to breathe, and quite afraid of
moving--lest by any noise he should again drive away the doves, and
Marten should again be angry. And there we will leave him to speak of
how his brother set himself to work to reclaim his mother's birds.
I have said before that he had some cake in a box in his hand, and
having tossed off his hat--lest by any accident it should fall off when
he was stooping forwards, he threw himself upon the grass his full
length, and as he rested on his right hand; with his left he sprinkled
some of the cake he had with him on the ground, to attract the doves
near to him, in the hope he would catch one; and the second, he rightly
guessed, would not then be long out of his power. Marten relied on the
tame habits of the doves, who had been accustomed not only to eat out of
his brother's hands, but also from his mother's, and occasionally of
late from his own; but it is a different thing feeding birds in their
own aviary, and when they have escaped half wild to their native haunts.
And now, whilst the boy stretched upon the ground, was wholly occupied
in the earnest desire of reclaiming the wanderers, Reuben's attention
after awhile was diverted by seeing that some one was approaching
towards them from a hill, in a direction farthest from their home. This
person was riding at no slow pace, and as I said before, as his road led
him down hill, he seemed not to spare his horse; meeting the wind, as
Reuben thought gloriously, and passing along at a pace, the child
considered more glorious still. "When I am a man," the little fellow
said to himself, "I will ride so, I will have a horse, and I will ride
very very fast,--yes,--that I will."
Now it seemed that the rider from the elevated road could look over the
meadows below, and probably having good eyes, for they certainly were
young and sharp ones, he soon spied out Marten and Reuben, and as it
came out afterwards that Marten was the person he sought after, he
caused his pony to leap over a small ditch that was in his way, and then
guiding it to a gate he dismounted and fastened the animal to the post
by its bridle. In leaping the ditch his hat had fallen off, and making
signs to a large Newfoundland dog that had accompanied him, the noble
animal was by him directed to lie down near the horse and take charge of
the hat, whilst his master stepped lightly along the grass in the
direction where Marten lay extended, so occupied about the doves as to
regard nothing that was passing round him. The new comer was a youth of
about Marten's own age, the only child of a gentleman who lived about
four miles from Marten's father, and the most constant companion that
Marten possessed. His name was Edward Jameson, and he shall himself say
the cause of his present visit. Reuben knew Edward well, and he
recognized him before he had tied his pony to the gate post, but he had
not seen the fine Newfoundland dog before, and Reuben was so fond of
dogs. The little fellow remembered that Marten had forbidden him to
leave the tree or to speak, but he could not keep his small feet from
moving up and down restlessly, nor could he scarce command himself not
to call out and tell his brother of Edward's arrival. But Edward wanted
to see what Marten was doing in the very odd attitude he had taken, so
he crept noiselessly on, his head turned somewhat sideways to Reuben,
and his hand held up threateningly to the child, for he saw he had been
recognised, and he was afraid of some hasty word, which would cause
Marten to start up, and then he feared he should not surprise his
friend. Edward was able to get quite close to Marten, and even to touch
him before Marten was aware of his presence; and he stepped up so
quietly, that the doves were so little frightened, that they hardly
stopped a moment from picking up the crumbs.
"Why Marten, old fellow, what are you doing here?" asked Edward. "Whose
doves are those, I say? are they your mother's? have you let them
loose--Eh?" Edward spoke softly, but not so softly that he did not cause
Marten to start at the unexpected sound of his voice; still, as the
birds were at some little distance, and were accustomed to the human
voice, they scarcely were alarmed, and hardly moved a step or two away
from the crumbs scattered for them, and Marten recovering himself
quickly, said--"Oh! Edward, do help me to catch these doves: they have
escaped from their aviary, and my mother will be so vexed if they fly
"To be sure I will," replied Edward; "but my boy, who is in the habit
of feeding them, for that person would best know how to catch them I
"My mother feeds them herself chiefly," said Marten, "and Reuben
sometimes attends to them when she is engaged."
"Well, set Reuben to decoy them now, for I am in a hurry and have got
something to say to you as quickly as possible, and it is very
important. Anyhow, the child can watch them whilst you are attending to
So Reuben was called from his station at the tree, and Marten gave him
directions what he was to do; and the now little important one lay down
on the grass, as Marten had done before him; and as might have been
expected, the doves, accustomed to his baby voice and small figure, soon
drew nearer and nearer to him, so that when the conference was over
between the two elder boys, Reuben was able proudly to shew not one,
but both doves, so wrapped up in his pinafore, that though they
fluttered about a little, they were quite secure. "Come here a step or
two from the child," said Edward, "and don't think of those troublesome
birds just now, but tell me at once, can you come and pay me a visit for
a couple of days? my cousins William Roscoe and Jane and Mary are
expected at our house to night on their way to London. You know William
Roscoe, Marten, and what a fine fellow he is and I have asked my father
and mother, and they have allowed me to get as many young ones together
as the short time would allow, and we are to have splendid fun. Won't
you come, Marten? I promise you a glorious time of it, if you will but
"My father is from home," replied Marten thoughtfully, "and so is my
mother, but I don't think that matters, Edward: they have never refused
my visiting you, and I do not think they would now. Indeed, I am sure
they would not, if they were at home, but what am I to do with Reuben? I
have taken charge of Reuben whilst mamma is away, and what can I do
"About Reuben," returned Edward? "can't the servants take care of him at
home? he will do very well at home, and be very contented, I know."
"But I have undertaken the charge of him," said Marten, "and I should
not like, after what I have said, to leave him, even for a couple of
days. I must either bring him with me, Edward, or stay at home with
him--indeed, I must."
"Well, then, bring the little fellow," replied Edward kindly; "anything
so as you come, Marten; and remember there will be plenty of girls
invited, for Jane and Mary Roscoe, and Reuben can surely play with them,
and they will take care of him, no doubt. So bring him, by all means, if
that is the only hindrance; but still, I say, you would do better to
leave him at home with the servants; however, that's your business, not
mine. I reckon on you to-morrow, about eleven o'clock--to stay all
night, next day, and the night following, if you like; so good bye, till
then. I have half the country to ride over to beat up my recruits;" and
without waiting another word from his friend, Edward ran across the
meadow, snatched up his hat from where the faithful dog was carefully
guarding it, sprang upon his pony, and then once again leaping the
ditch, he cantered off at a pace so rapid, he was soon lost to Marten's
How pleased was Reuben to shew his brother that he had caught the doves,
and Marten was also pleased: for any how he need not distress himself
about them, as they were secured, but he thought it advisable to take
them under his own charge, as he considered he could hold them firmer
than the little one. And now the boys ran home as quickly as they could,
and the pretty birds were shut up in their aviary, and Marten hastened
to the kitchen to find the house-maid, who was called nurse, as she had
been Reuben's nurse before she had changed her occupation in the family,
the child no longer requiring a personal attendant. In the kitchen
Marten learnt that she was gone out into the garden to gather some herbs
for the cook, and thither he followed her to tell her that his friend
Edward Jameson had been with him, and what had been the purport of his
"Nurse," said Marten, when he found her, "I am come to ask you to get
mine and Reuben's things ready to-night, for I am going to take him with
me to spend a couple of days at Mr. Jameson's; and there will be company
there in the evenings, so we must have our best things, nurse, and will
you be so kind as to see after the doves, and tell Thomas to loosen
Nero's chain every day, that he may have a good scamper over the
fields, for papa says he should have plenty of exercise."
"Stop, stop, master Marten," replied nurse, "what is all this about?
your things and master Reuben's, do you say, are to be got ready for two
day's visit--and the doves fed? am I to find them before I feed them,
master Marten?" and nurse laughed.
"They are found, nurse," answered the boy, "and they are now safe in the
aviary, and I will take care the door shall not be opened again while
mamma is away. I mean to put a padlock on, nurse, so you see no one can
let them out, and I shall keep the key myself."
"Oh! master Marten, master Marten!" said nurse, laughing again--"I see,
if it depended upon you, we should all be in a bad way, and so the poor
birds are to be locked up, are they: and master Reuben is not to be
allowed to go into the aviary to talk to them, as the little one loves
to do--and all for what? Give me a steady ruler, if you please--not such
as you, master Marten--a fine head of a family you will make, if one may
judge of your boasted management of the doves in the first part of the
story, and then the leaving the aviary door open and finishing with
locking them up and keeping the key yourself. Well for their
happiness--mistress will soon be at home to attend to them herself; but
what are you going to do with the child, my own darling? I can't have
any tricks played with him, I tell you."
"Tricks, nurse," repeated Marten passionately. "What? do you mean to say
I would play tricks with my own brother? No one loves Reuben, I am sure,
better than I do, unless it is mamma. What do you mean, nurse?"
"What do you mean, then, master Marten, by saying you are going to take
the child amongst strangers, neither me nor his mamma being with him,
and he never accustomed to strangers--and company in the house too--I
don't half like it--and I know I feel half inclined to say he shan't
"And pray under whose charge was he left?" asked Marten. "Your's or
mine, nurse? I should like to know."
"It was much of a muchness," replied the good woman. "Missis said to
you, take care of your brother; but missis knew I loved the sweet
darling too dearly to require even half a word on the subject. And
supposing he does go with you, master Marten, who is to put the dear
child to bed at nights? I must insist, indeed I must, that you see to it
yourself. I know how frightened he will be amongst strangers at bed
"To be sure I will, nurse," said Marten, glad to see the good woman was
so far giving in to his wishes. "I promise not only to sleep with him,
but to take him to bed myself and stay with him till he is asleep."
"Well, well, master Marten," exclaimed nurse impatiently--"Well, well,
don't undertake too much and then do nothing; and I must say again," she
continued warming with her subject, "that the child had better be left
at home where there are plenty to look after him, and not be carried off
to that strange house, away from us all."
"Oh! me go with Marten, nurse, dear nurse! me go with Marten!" said
little Reuben imploringly, for the child had just joined them in time to
hear nurse's last remark. "Oh! Reuben so like to go with Marten."
"You don't know what is best for you, silly one," replied nurse, "nor
who is your truest friend either, but your little head is bent upon
being a man soon, and you must ever be trying to do what your brother
does. But, master Marten, how can you play or go about with master
Jameson, and yet attend to this child too?"
"Oh! I can take care of Reuben, and yet have plenty of time for myself,
nurse, I am sure," said Marten.
"That's according," answered nurse, "for if you are always giving your
company to this little one here, and she patted Reuben on the back, he
will keep you smartly to it whenever he is awake, I promise you. Won't
you, my pet? Are you not a weary little fellow, darling?" she added, as
she stooped to kiss him, "that is when you can get folks to be wearied
"No, nurse," answered the child stoutly;--"no--me not weary--me not
tired--me don't want to go to bed."
"Bless your pretty tongue," exclaimed nurse; "but here, take this
parsley to cook, and say it is the finest double parsley I can find,
there's a darling."
As Reuben ran away on his errand, nurse addressed herself to Marten in
a kind motherly manner, for nurse was not a young woman, and she was
also a pious one. "Master Marten," she said, "I am sure you will be kind
to the little one--you always are--for I must say you are one of the
very best brothers I know, and that is saying a deal for you--for I
believe there are many good brothers and sisters in the world, and yet,
pardon your old nurse, young master, when she tells you you are doing
wrong, though I think your intention is good. Look to your own heart,
master Marten, and ask yourself why are you dragging this poor child
after you to Mr. Jameson's. I was in the room with Missis when she was
speaking to you the day before she left, and I heard what she said about
temptation, and how we are tempted every hour in the day. You did not
believe her, master Marten, and you do not believe her now, and you are
going to try temptation to the very utmost, and you think you will stand
it, and I know you won't, for I remember what my dear lady said, that no
one can resist temptation in their own strength. This is the reason why
I don't like my baby to go with you, but if you, my dear young master,
will just think over what your mamma said, and ask for the approval of
your Saviour and the direction of his Holy Spirit in all things--why
then, as I said before, I will trust my darling with you any where, for
I know that you love him dearly, and would not willingly hurt a hair of
his precious little head."
"Nurse," exclaimed Marten indignantly, "one would imagine I had been
very unkind to Reuben whilst mamma has been away; now I don't think it
is fair, and if I were to leave my brother at home and stay out a couple
of days enjoying myself, papa and mamma might both justly think I had
neglected him; No, I have undertaken the care of him till their return,
and I mean to fulfil my undertaking: and I must say, unless you have any
unkindness to charge me with, I consider you have no business to speak
to me as you have done." And Marten walked away with a heart determined
to resist the wise advice of nurse.
And now nurse had nothing for it but to get the things ready for the
boys the next day, for nurse knew that Marten was always allowed, if
convenient, to go to Mr. Jameson's when invited, and as the houses were
about four miles apart, she also knew he was in the habit of staying
there all night, if asked so to do. As regards Reuben, he too had been
there once or twice to stay with his mamma, but nurse considered very
wisely, that it was a very different thing, a child of the little one's
age going from home with or without his mamma; but still she could not
interfere more than she had done, for Reuben had certainly been put
under his brother's care. She did, however, try to persuade the little
one that he would be better at home with her, but any person who knows
the ways of children might easily guess nurse might as well have spoken
to a post as to Reuben, for all the good she did, for the boy began to
cry, and begged so hard to go with his brother to play with the big boys
at Mr. Jameson's, that she thought it as well to say no more on the
And now I must pass over some hours till the time came for John to drive
the boys over in the pony carriage to Mr. Jameson's. Marten could have
walked the four miles very well, or he could have rode there on his own
pony, but Reuben could not have walked half so far, and thus it
happened, that as John had something to do he could not leave undone, it
was quite twelve o'clock before the three arrived at Mr. Jameson's
house, and thus it chanced that they were almost the last comers of the
party of children invited to meet the Roscoes.
It was a lovely day, and as warm as any summer day, though the autumn
was just setting in, and such a group of young children were at play on
the grass plat, near the house, that the like Marten nor Reuben had
never seen before. It was such a very pretty sight, that John quite
forgot to give out of the carriage the parcel nurse had made of the
young gentlemen's clothes; and the consequence was, he had all the
trouble to come back half a mile of the road, when he suddenly bethought
himself of his forgetfulness. But as to the pretty sight John saw, I
wish I could draw you a picture of it; if I could I would, I promise
you, and I would put it in this very page for you to see. Fancy, then, a
beautifully soft velvet lawn, in front of a large handsome house, upon
which lawn the sun shines warmly but kindly, and the blue sky looks
most pleasingly there and here, broken by white clouds that relieve the
eye without obscuring the light. At the farthest end of the lawn from
the house were some fine trees, under the shelter of which two girls
were playing at battledore and shuttlecock, and very well they played
too. A little nearer this way, that is where John and the carriage
stood, in the direction of the house, was a young child seated on the
turf holding a dog, whilst two other children were trying to make it
jump to catch a flower, one held in her hand. There was also a big boy
on a pony talking to a great girl, who was lying on the grass; but the
prettiest group of girls were standing or kneeling round a pet lamb
which they were decking with wreaths of flowers. They none of them wore
bonnets nor walking dresses, and even the boy on the pony was without a
hat. Why they had all agreed to uncover their heads, I cannot say
exactly, but I know they had been having some joke about it before the
young Mortimers arrived; and the great girl on the turf had even then
got her brother's cap and had hidden it somewhere, and it was to ask her
about it he had ridden up to her on his pony, as she rested on the
"Oh! they are all girls but one," exclaimed Marten in a disappointed
tone, "and I am afraid I shall not find the boys easily, and I hate
playing with girls."
"As much as we girls dislike playing with rude boys, master Mortimer,"
said Jane Roscoe, advancing forwards and replying to Marten's speech,
which had really been addressed to John; "but understand we are the
fairies of this lawn--this is our territory, and my aunt Jameson has
bestowed it upon us. We take tribute if you intrude on our premises, so
either be off to your own mates, or lay down your cap as owning our sway
as ladies and queens of the lawn."
"I am sure I would rather go to your brother, or Edward, Miss Roscoe,"
replied Marten, "if you would but tell me where I should find them."
"No doubt near the stables, or at the dog kennels," she answered pertly,
"so you had better go, for I tell you we don't want boys amongst us; we
have had some trouble in ridding ourselves of them just now."
"And if they are all like you, I am sure I for one don't want to stay,"
thought Marten; and he took Reuben's hand to seek his friends, where the
young lady had so uncourteously directed him to find them.
And here, before I would follow Marten to find his young friends, I
would wish to remark that it is such girls as Jane Roscoe who make rude
boys, and such young women that make rude men. Boys and men generally
take their manners from the females with whom they associate, and when
one sees a very rude boy, it does not speak well for his sisters at
home, or at least for the young ladies with whom he may happen to be
most intimate. As to regular schoolboys, they are rude, because
schoolboys in general are famed for bad manners, and young gentlemen
seem to like to bring this odium on schools, fancying rudeness is
manliness, when in reality it is a decided sign of the contrary. Think
of the bravest men that have been known, that is bravest in their own
persons, and I will venture to say they have been gentle and courteous
in female society, for they know and feel they can dare to be so, as
their credit for manly daring is known and acknowledged by every one.
Take one of your rough ones, and I for one set him down as a mere bully,
that hides his cowardice under blustering words. But I have wandered
somewhat from my point, for I was saying rude girls make rude boys, as
shewn in the case of Jane Roscoe; and civil girls make civil boys, as
evinced in her sister Mary, as I am going to relate.
"Me want to go to the pretty lamb," said Reuben, hanging heavily on his
brother:--"Me go to the lamb--me don't like horses."
"But you shall see the great big Newfoundland, Reuben, that you admired
so much yesterday," said his brother. "Should you not like to see the
large black dog?"
"Reuben wants to go to lamb," replied the child, and he resolutely stood
still. "Pretty lamb, Reuben, go to lamb now."
"You can't go to the lamb, Reuben," said his brother impatiently, "so
you must be content to go with me to see the large black dog. I am not
going to give up my cap to any one, I promise you; so come on now, and
don't keep me staying here all day."
But Reuben, as nurse had said, was a weary little fellow when bent upon
any thing, and now he was bent upon going to play with the lamb, so he
was determined not to move, or if he did it should only be in the
direction of the lawn. Marten was, however, almost as determined to go
the other way, on account of Jane Roscoe, and for a moment there seemed
a doubt which boy should carry the day. The elder had the most strength,
and he was inclined to use it, for Miss Roscoe had offended him, and
lifting the child from the ground he was about to run off with him in
the direction of the stables, when Reuben, not accustomed to opposition
of this description, set up a loud cry of passion, which at once drew
the attention of all near to himself and his brother.
"There," exclaimed Jane, "what are you teasing the little one so for?
why not let him have his own way and come amongst us, if he will?"
"Well, go," said Marten angrily, "go, Reuben, if you like; but I tell
you I will not come with you."
But this was not what Reuben desired, and he stood at a little distance
from his brother looking, I am sorry to say, very naughty and selfish,
for he was really wishing Marten to give up his own desires to attend to
and humour his; and so now he stood moving neither one way nor another,
his face turned towards the lamb so finely bedecked with flowers. His
cry, however, had aroused the young girls from their occupation, and
Mary Roscoe, whom one would have supposed had been really kissing the
lamb, so close was her face to it, when Marten had first seen her;
sprang from her knees, and running across the lawn to the gravel path,
now stooped down to Reuben, and looking him kindly in the face--"Little
boy," she said, "what did you cry for? what did you want? tell me,
little boy, and I will see what I can do. I am a fairy, little boy. We
are all fairies on that turf, and I will take you with me to fairy land
and shew you some fairy wonders."
Reuben at once and without hesitation put his hand in hers, saying--"Me
go see pretty lamb me go with you--me will go."
"Then come along," said Mary, and turning her head over her shoulder
towards Marten, she added, "I will take care of him; so you may go to
Edward and William if you like, and I dare say you will like it better
than playing with girls."
"Oh! thank you, Miss Mary, thank you," replied Marten most gratefully to
the kind little girl, "thank you, I am so much obliged to you."
But Marten spoke aloud, and thus drew Reuben's attention to the fact
that he was going to be left with strangers, and once more he raised a
cry as much of passion as of fear. So Marten, to soothe him, made a step
towards the lawn with the child, though Mary still held his hand,
giving a private sign to Marten that he might slip away on the first
"Your tribute, your tribute," exclaimed Jane Roscoe: "not one step upon
the grass, Master Mortimer, without giving up your cap as a sign you own
us 'The ladies of the lawn.' Give it up, I command, or stay where you
"Will you give it me again in a minute or two, as I come back," asked
"Ask Frank Farleigh there if he has got his," said Jane. "You shall have
yours when he has found his, that is if we can hide it as securely."
"Then you may get it as you can," retorted Marten rudely, stepping upon
the grass, and on Jane's springing after him setting off on a race as
fast as he could across the lawn, in utter defiance of the young girls.
A cry was raised instantly, and all the children left their sports to
pursue the boy, who had thus boldly defied their power; and lucky was
it for him that he was agile and could twist and turn in his course as
rapidly as a hare. But when there is at least twelve to one and a clear
space, the raced has little chance, and thus it came about that the boy
in self defence was forced to fly towards the stables as the only place
of safety, having no leisure even to think that he was leaving his
brother amongst strangers, proving himself unable to withstand
temptation, even during one short hour of his visit. Marten, too, had
raised a war between himself and the young girls of the party, which was
not likely to be settled peacefully during the time of their stay at
Mrs. Jameson's, and thus he had, to a certain sense, separated himself
either from Reuben or from the bigger boys, without intending to do so
for the two parties, as might be foreseen by any experienced eye, were
of too different a sort to get on hourly together, as their tastes and
amusements were utterly at variance.
As my story is intended to shew that temptations hourly assail us, and
that in our own strength we cannot often resist them, else wherefore did
Our Lord teach his disciples to pray that they might not be led into
temptation, but because he knew that man of himself never turns away
from the forbidden fruit. I shall not here speak much of how after a
good run hither and thither, Marten at last found Edward and his
companions in an open field, most of the horses and dogs from the
stables being collected together, and such a scene of excitement going
on that the boy had no leisure to think of anything that was not passing
before his eye; and therefore, as Reuben did not appear, he, like the
rest being unseen, was forgotten. In excuse for Marten I must say that
he first ran to the stables, and there learnt from a boy whom he found
there, that Master Jameson had had permission that morning from his papa
to have out one or two of the horses and ponies, on condition that
Chambers, the old coachman, and Rogers, the groom, were present with the
young gentlemen, and that every obedience were paid to their directions,
so that if they saw anything wrong they might enforce attention to their
As many of the young gentlemen too had ridden over on their ponies to
Mr. Jameson's, there were a goodly collection of horses assembled
together, and the races that ensued, and the leaping over low fences
that followed, so quickly passed away the time that when the first bell
rang, announcing that dinner would shortly be served, Marten was quite
astonished to find that it was nearly three o'clock, and that almost two
hours had passed since he had seen his brother. But now, as the boys
were taking the horses and dogs to the stables, he hastened towards the
house as fast as he could, for he saw the lawn was tenant-less, and
knowing the way to the room where he usually slept when at Mrs.
Jameson's, he hurried up the stairs only to find that his things had
been placed there, and that Reuben's little parcel had been taken
elsewhere and was probably where the child also was, for no Reuben was
to be seen. As Marten could meet with no servant, he ran along the
gallery trying to distinguish amongst the many voices he heard on all
sides that of his brother's, but in vain, so many were the sounds that
reached his ear, and as he did not like to open any of the doors, or
push those farther open that were not quite closed, he raised his voice
and called aloud "Reuben, Reuben, I want you--Reuben come to me in the
passage--here I am--come to me Reuben."
To Marten's annoyance, instead of his brother replying to his call, Jane
Roscoe stepped out into the gallery, exclaiming--"Oh! it is you, is it?
Whom do you want? What are you come here for? these are the girl's
rooms! those are our bedrooms, and this is our sitting room. Are you
come to make an apology for your rudeness this morning? If so, I will
call the rest out to hear what you have to say."
"I want my brother, Miss Roscoe," replied Marten, trying to speak
civilly. "May I go into your sitting room, or would you have the
goodness to tell him to come to me here."
"I shall do no such thing," answered Miss Jane, "you may get him as you
can, though I do not know how you will manage to do that either; for
Mary has taken such a fancy to the little fellow, that she will not give
him up easily."
"Would you tell me if Reuben is content?" asked Marten, "for if so I
would rather leave him with Miss Mary."
"Just pop your head inside that door," said the rude girl, "and judge
for yourself, that is, if you dare to do so--for your brother is there,
and Mary and a dozen more girls. Do you dare?" she inquired mockingly,
"come let me see you do it, then."
"Dare," repeated Marten indignantly, "and why should I not dare--I want
"Do it then," said Jane, "if you are not a coward, which I strongly
suspect you are;" and when was a spirited boy of thirteen so urged on
that had the prudence to know where to stop with propriety to himself.
Marten, choking with rage, did advance to the door pointed out, and put
his head inside, and there, on beholding a group of young ladies of all
ages, from eight to fourteen, and no little brother, and finding all
eyes turned upon himself as an impertinent intruder, he drew his head
back quickly, and was met with a loud laugh from Jane, which so annoyed
him, that without stopping to think, he ran off to his own room as fast
as he could. The voice of Mary Roscoe however reached him as he ran
along the gallery, uttering these words: "I'll take care of Reuben,
Master Marten--I'll take care of Reuben, he is very happy." And so
Marten allowed himself to be content, and as he knew dinner would
shortly be ready, he lost no more time, but set to dress himself in his
best as quickly as he could. Mr. and Mrs. Jameson did not dine with the
young people, but Mrs. Jameson came in and walked round the table, and
spoke to most of the young ladies and gentlemen, and asked after their
papas and mammas, and she said she hoped they would be good children and
enjoy themselves very much, and in the evening she and Mr. Jameson would
come in to see them at play. She told Jane Roscoe she expected her and
Mary to take care of the young ladies and see that they had everything
they wanted, and she said much the same to her son and William Roscoe
about the boys.
There was a very long dining table laid out, and, as might be expected,
all the boys got together at the end where Edward sat, and all the
girls got round Jane Roscoe, for it must be remembered that hostilities
had begun in the morning between the boys and girls, and Jane was not
the kind of girl to make peace, or desire to make peace and conduct
herself as would be becoming a young lady. Frank Farleigh, indeed,
crossed the barrier, and once again demanded his cap from his sister,
but he pleaded in vain, and I do not know how the matter would have been
settled if good-natured Mary Roscoe had not proposed that it should be
considered as a forfeit, and that the cap should be cried with the other
forfeits in the evening games. "And I promise you it shall be hardly
won," cried Jane, and Frank's sister then whispered to her as if they
were settling what Frank was to do for it, and then Jane laughed--her
teasing laugh--and if Frank did give his sister a most cruel schoolboy
pinch, I can't but say she had only herself and her rude companion to
thank for it. "I don't care," he said, as he joined the boys, "I can
wear that old cap of Edward's, and when I go home they _must_ give it
back to me."
During this time Marten was looking about for Reuben, and soon he saw
that the little fellow was seated by Mary Roscoe, as happy as possible,
for Mary was a kind-hearted girl, and loved every thing and every body,
and every body loved her, and now she was taking care that the child was
helped before herself, and with what he liked, and when she met Marten's
eye, she kissed Reuben very earnestly, and called him a sweet darling
and her own pet, and she asked the little one if he did not love Mary.
Reuben returned the kiss and looked so smilingly up at Marten, that his
brother could not but be contented, and having thanked Mary most
heartily for her very great kindness, he was only too glad to get away
once more to where the boys were seated. Poor Marten was not aware, and
I do not exactly see how he should have been aware, that the easy
kindness of Mary Roscoe was but too likely now to bring his brother into
trouble, for Mary did not like to refuse the little fellow any thing;
and as the child was hungry and more than ready for the meal, for it was
past his usual dinner hour, I am obliged to confess he ate greedily of
the good things set before him, one after another without moderation or
discernment, pudding following meat, and cheese after pudding, and fruit
after that, till quantity and diversity were so mingled together, that
it was a wonder the babe endured himself as well as he did. He was,
however, so satisfied and even cloyed, that towards the end of the time
he contented himself with a taste of this and that, and under the easy
rule of Miss Mary, the remnants of his desert were transferred to his
pockets, to serve to regale him at some future moment. I have said that
Marten could not have been aware of this foolish weakness of Mary
Roscoe, but Marten was not free of blame in the affair, for he had
started wrongly as regarded Reuben, and in his self conceit he had
placed himself in circumstances where the temptations that surrounded
him were more than his nature unaided could resist. Marten would not
listen to those who would have taught him that our blessed Saviour
verily took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed
of Abraham, wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto
his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in
things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the
people, for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able
to succour those that are tempted. Heb. ii. 16, 17, 18. But we shall
soon see from Marten's story a verification of the words of St. Paul
addressed to the children of God. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he
standeth, take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but
such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you
to be tempted above that ye are able; but will, with the temptation,
also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. x. 12,
And now,--to return to Reuben, he had ate and ate so much, that I am
almost ashamed even to think of it; and silly Mary Roscoe, who should
have put a bridle on his little mouth, never once thought of doing so,
and how should she, for she had never had one on her own? till the poor
child felt so uncomfortable that he was half ready to cry--for, added to
the over quantity he had contrived to swallow, he was very weary, for he
was but a young one, and he had been out in the air all the morning and
undergoing more active exercise than even he was accustomed to go
through, for he had moved about at the direction of others, and not by
his own voluntary will. So feeling uneasy, he was just about to raise a
cry, which I believe would have recalled Marten to a sense of his duty,
when the whole troop of children rose from table to amuse themselves as
best they liked till six o'clock, when tea was to be served in a large
room for them, and the evening was to be finished in games of whatever
description they chose, Mr. and Mrs. Jameson having promised to be
Marten just stopped to see Mary Roscoe lead off his brother, who
accompanied her very contentedly, and then I am obliged to own he
thought no more of the little fellow for such a length of time, that we
who take an interest in poor little Reuben must banish Marten from our
thoughts and follow the child, the poor little victim of his brother's
self conceit. The young ladies on leaving the dining room ascended the
stairs and went to the room with which Marten had so daringly put his
head in the morning, and here they divided into groups of two or three,
as chance might be, and a chattering began, the like of which could
never be heard again, unless under the like circumstances. It seems a
cruel thing to try to put down any of the nonsense, and perhaps worse
than nonsense, that was then and there talked; and I would not do so if
I did not hope it would prove a warning to some girls that persons do
listen to their conversation sometimes when they fancy no one hears, and
that those same persons do think them very silly and ignorant, and
occasionally wrong. And first, I will take a party of three girls, who
all went to the same school, and these three, I am sorry to say, were
talking of their governess and teachers in a way they ought never to
have done. It was not Mrs. Meredith and Miss Williams, and Miss Smith,
but it was "Meredith, that cross old thing," and "pretty little Smith,"
and that "detestable Williams." And then one asked the other if she
remembered how funnily Fanny Adams had managed in the affair, of
laughing at the French Master, how six of them had been sent up to their
bedrooms in disgrace, and when that detestable Williams came in and
found them still laughing, how she scolded them all, and how Fanny Adams
put some Eau-de-Cologne to her eyes, which nearly blinded her, and made
her eyes water very much, and so deceived Miss Williams that she
pardoned her, though all the rest were left in disgrace.
And here, because there was no better disposed person to speak to these
poor girls upon their light and improper discourse, I would just say one
word:--My dear school boys and school girls, our Saviour says, "Love thy
neighbour as thyself." Let me then ask you, do you in any way follow
this kind command when you so treat your teachers and governors? Think
you, for an instant, of the labour, the anxiety, the perpetual
self-denial, the patience required by an instructor of childhood, even
when the children do their best; but when deceit, hypocrisy, and
hardness of heart is also added to the giddiness and thoughtlessness of
youth, what must be the teacher's suffering?
Remember that our Lord himself was subject to his parents. Luke ii. 57.
Though what could they, poor human creatures, have taught him? Then
follow, as a loving child should do, his holy example, and remember his
precept, of "love thy neighbour as thyself," and inquire of yourself how
would I like to be treated as I treat my governess or tutor?
But perhaps you would wish to listen to another couple of girls, who
soon drew a larger party round them, and what folly were they about,
you would ask? Why, one child, who was very vain about her figure, must
needs get a piece of string, or tape, and begin to measure her
companion's wrist, thumb, neck, waist, and height, saying--"Twice round
the thumb, once round the wrist, twice round the wrist, once round the
neck, twice round the neck, once round the waist, and twice round the
waist, once the height." As Louisa Manners well knew of old that this
measurement suited herself, she was always disposed to try any young
girl by her rule, knowing well her own turn would come, and that she
would be able to appear with satisfaction to herself; and here again I
would say, was our Lord's precept followed, of love thy neighbour as
thyself? did Louisa desire a rival? This couple, as I said, soon drew a
party round them, and after the measurement, which lasted some time and
led to a discussion of dress, most of the frocks and sashes coming in
for notice, one of the three school girls, mentioned at first, named
some new step in dancing, just introduced at her school the last dancing
day, and then such a practising and trying of this step commenced
amongst the young ladies as made a pretty sight to look on, the young
ladies being all nicely dressed, and for the nonce thinking more of
their occupation than of themselves.
In the meanwhile Reuben had been supplied with something that served the
purpose of a plaything by Mary Roscoe, and being seated in a corner of
the room away from harm or interference, the little fellow shortly
became so drowsy, that before long, notwithstanding the noise and
chattering about him, his head drooped on his bosom, and he was so sound
asleep that he was unconscious of his uncomfortable position. He had
slept full a quarter of an hour when he was discovered by one of the
elder girls, who proposed that they should lift him from his seat and
take him to a bed in an adjoining chamber, where he would be more
comfortable. And here I must again remark, for want of some one else to
do so, that of the twelve or fourteen girls there assembled, there was
not one present who would have been unkind to the little fellow
intentionally; but yet I am afraid, that with the exception of the
good-natured Mary Roscoe, there was hardly one who would have put
themselves out of the way on his account, or have given up a pleasure or
amusement of even five or ten minutes to comfort the boy, who ought in
truth never to have been amongst them, so little had he been accustomed
to the ways of other children, even of his own age.
Reuben slept on, and that so soundly, that when tea was ready he was not
awake, and he would probably have been wholly forgotten if the young
ladies on their way down stairs had not made so much noise by the door
of his room, that startled and alarmed, he began to cry violently, and
his good friend Mary could not easily appease him. However, the child
was really refreshed from his sleep, and the kind girl having washed his
face and hands herself, and smoothed his pretty curling hair, led him
down with her to the room where the tea was served, and provided him
with all he wanted, and withal with such a large lump of sugar, the like
of which he had never perhaps, not even in his dreams, possessed before.
Whoever has read of Mrs. Indulgence in "The Infant's Progress" may have
some idea of Mary's management of Reuben, but if the little one could
have spoken or reasoned on the point, how heartily would he have said
that he pined for his own dear mamma's judicious kindness and controul,
under which he used to sport all day happy and joyful as a butterfly on
a bright summer's morning.
After tea, which did not last very long, the tables were cleared away
and the plays began--the elder children, as might be expected, taking
the lead, and for awhile all was order and propriety. Fortunately for
the young ones they had no lights near them from which they could be in
danger, for the lamp hung from the ceiling and the fire was allowed to
go out in the grate. The tables, as I said before, were moved away, and
the seats were piled one above another so that a good space was left in
the room for the games, and only two chairs were kept for Mr. and Mrs.
Jameson, who had sent word to say they were coming down to see the
sport, and as they were very fond of a dance, they expressed a wish
that the evening's amusement should begin in that way.
The boys were somewhat annoyed at this, as they wanted more active
games, and Frank Farleigh absolutely proposed to change the dance to
leap-frog; however, as Mrs. Jameson wished for dancing, no one was bold
enough openly to speak against it, and Miss Farleigh and Jane Roscoe,
who were intimate friends, played a duet together very nicely, to which
the rest danced.
And now it was that Mary Roscoe first felt the annoyance she had
incurred by her kindness to Reuben, for the child did not wish to leave
her, and seeing all were dancing, or jumping to the music as he thought,
he believed he could do the same, and clinging to her she found that to
appease him she must take him for her partner, and thus this really
good-natured girl was unable to dance with any pleasure to herself, as
the little one was unable to make his way alone. However, Mary was
truly kind-hearted, and not one cloud was on her fair brow when the
dance was finished, and she told her little partner to sit down amidst
the piled up chairs at one end of the room. But as nurse had said Reuben
was a weary little fellow, and Mary little knew the truth, if she
thought she was so easily to get rid of him, for the child was half
alarmed at the numbers of strange faces thronging around him; he was not
well, too, with the many sweet things and fruits he had eaten, and now
it was approaching his usual bed-time, and though he had had a sleep,
yet he had been roused from it suddenly and improperly, fed with sweet
cake since, and any experienced person present might know that shortly
the child would get so excited in the scene before him, it would be no
easy matter to soothe or calm him.
Now it happened that Marten, feeling exceedingly obliged to Mary for
her kindness to his brother, and equally disliking her sister, and Miss
Farleigh and some of the other young ladies, was very anxious to dance
with Mary, to thank her for her kindness to Reuben, but he little
thought that by doing so, the child finding both his friends together
must insist upon being with them, and the second set of quadrilles was
danced by poor Mary as the first had been, the little fellow clinging to
her, for both Marten and Mary were afraid of a burst of tears if they
opposed the child in this matter. Marten, however, spoke somewhat
sharply to him, saying he was teasing Miss Mary, and if they allowed him
to dance this time, he must promise to sit still afterwards, and not be
troublesome again. Reuben knew that he must obey his brother, so when
that dance was finished he went and sat himself down, as directed,
though his young heart was very sad, as he longed to be jumping about
with the other children. Mary was now able to enjoy herself, and I do
not hesitate to say she was very glad to get rid of Reuben and be at
liberty to run about where she would, for she was a happy girl, and this
evening she was the happiest of the happy, for she was a favourite of
After the dancing had continued some time, a game was fixed upon, which
game being one that kept the children seated, they soon got tired of it,
and blindman's buff was proposed and entered into with great spirit,
though, as will presently be seen, this spirit, for want of some less
indulgent to controul it, became at last almost unbearable.
It was whilst Edward Jameson was blindfolded that the first rudeness
began, for Miss Jane seized hold of a newspaper and began rustling it
so about Edward's head, that being blindfolded he became so annoyed by
it, that he began to toss his arms about, making such rushes hither and
thither, that the girls had to run away, lest they should be struck.
Whilst Jane was teasing Edward, one of the boys seized hold of the
handkerchief that blindfolded him, and another boy made a thrust at him
in front, and it was only a wonder that Mr. and Mrs. Jameson, who were
sitting by, did not speak to the children, to advise a little more
quietness in the play. But there were a party of young girls whispering
together behind Jane, and when Edward turned in her direction, though
she escaped, he fell amongst these girls, and, as might be expected,
such a romping scene ensued, as may often be seen at blindman's buff.
Just at this moment a servant came in to say a gentleman had called on
some business, and both Mr. and Mrs. Jameson left the room together, to
see this gentleman. They were scarcely gone before the noise increased
to such an extent, that one or two of the servants came to the parlour
door; and well was it, as we shall shew presently, that they did so, but
Mr. and Mrs. Jameson being gone to another part of the house, were not
disturbed by the sounds. So, as I said, Edward found himself amongst the
group of young girls, who all struggled to get away from him; and then
such a scene of running and screaming, and shouting and romping
followed, as the like of which I have no desire to see. Every one ran,
and no one knew whither they were going, and it so chanced that some ran
in the direction of where Reuben had been seated by Marten, amidst the
piled-up chairs. The child, who had been sitting there sometime, and who
did not understand the game, for he had never seen it before, was
doubtful whether to be frightened or not; but as Edward, whom he knew so
well, and who was always kind to him, was the pursuer, and as the
children were laughing, he thought he might laugh too, and not liking
sitting still when all were running and jumping round him, he slid down
from his high seat and joined the group that had fled to that end of the
room from Edward. As ill luck would have it, Edward turned in that
direction somewhat suddenly, and there was a loud cry of one and all to
run, and instantly all did run, Reuben too obeying the call, and setting
off as fast as his little legs would let him.
As might have been expected, the elder children escaped, and Edward
caught the boy, whom he instantly named, and tearing off the
handkerchief from his eyes, he was going to tie it round those of
Reuben, when Marten interposed, and said "he would not understand the
game." Edward was, however, tired of being blinded and of being
buffetted about, and not thinking how very young Reuben was, for he knew
very little about children, as he had no little brothers nor sisters of
his own, he only said he had caught the child, and that it was but fair
he should be blinded, as he was caught and had absolutely prevented him
from catching one of the others when they were close to him. As Reuben
himself thought it was manly to be blinded, and believed all he had to
do was to run about with the handkerchief round his head, he was very
anxious to do as Edward had done, and Mary, to whom he pleaded for
permission so to do, blinded him herself, and as she tied the
handkerchief round him she said, "Now, young gentlemen, don't hurt the
little fellow, pray be gentle with him, for he's very young."
Mary then took his hand, and leading him into the centre of the room
she slightly directed him where to go. It must be understood that Reuben
knew no one in the room but Marten, Edward, and Mary, and as he did not
know the rules of the game, the elder boys and girls, soon wearied of
the little fellow running hither and thither, for they did not wish to
hurt the child, and so they ceased for awhile their boisterous play;
but, as might be expected, this would not last long, and Marten stepping
forwards on the little one laying hold of some boy near him, said, "My
brother does not know any one here by name, is it not enough that he has
caught some one? He does not know, I am sure, who his hand is upon, even
if he were unblinded."
"Oh! it is a boy," replied Reuben. "Me know it is a boy, and a large
boy. Yes, it is a large boy."
"That is enough, is it not?" asked Marten, looking round, "surely
that's enough;" and he unbound Reuben, telling; the child he had done
No one seemed inclined to dispute the point, for all saw the child was
too young to play with them; and William Stewart, the boy caught, and
who was desirous of being blindfolded, was quite pleased to have the
handkerchief tied round his head, and now the play became more
boisterous than ever, owing to the cessation before, and probably all
would have gone on well if little Reuben, elated by his brother's
telling him he had done very well, had not chosen to join in the play,
saying over and over again to any one who would listen to him, "Me knew
it was a boy--a large boy--me knew it was a boy--me said a large
boy--yes, me felt his coat--me knew it was a large boy." This too might
have passed, and the child might have repeated his story over and over
again without much harm if he could have got a listener, or he even
might have been content without one, if he had not fancied he understood
the game as well as the oldest present, so he entered into it with all
his little spirit, and intruded his small person where others could not
go--now here, now there, till excited and heated and confused by those
around him flying in all directions, he was thrown down, and as he did
not fall alone, the poor little fellow was rather severely hurt. And now
in that one moment of downfall was assembled all the troubles of the
day,--weary, excited, hurt, and overfed, he began to cry, and that so
violently, that those who lifted him up trusted to his being not really
injured by the very noise he made in his distress. Marten and Mary ran
to him, but they were as strangers to him, for his eyes were dimmed by
tears, and his ears closed by his own wailings; and luckily for all
three one of the servants, for, as I said before, they had come to see
the young people at play, and who was a motherly kind of woman, advanced
into the room and offered to take the charge of the child and comfort
him before she put him to bed. Marten was most thankful for this offer,
and you may be sure Mary was not sorry to part with the sobbing boy, and
thus Marten put it out of his own power to keep his voluntary boast to
Nurse at home about sleeping with his brother, for when the riotous
evening closed, for it was a very riotous evening, Reuben had been
asleep some hours, and in a quarter of the house appropriated to the use
of the young ladies where beds were as plentiful as requisite on an
occasion like the present. Marten then had nothing for it but to beg
Mary to see after his brother, which the young lady as thoughtlessly
promised to do, and then he accompanied his young companions to that
department of the house appropriated to the use of the boys, where, as
might be expected after a little more rude sport, he fell into a sleep
so profound and long, that every thought of Reuben was banished from his
mind. And now, to return to the poor baby, the victim of mismanagement,
or of his brother's self-conceit. Sobbing and roaring he was carried or
dragged up stairs, undressed, and put to bed, where the extreme violence
of his grief proved its own relief, for he fell asleep with the tear in
his eye, and long long after the cause of sorrow was forgotten, his sobs
might be heard proclaiming that the effect even now had not passed away.
By and bye, however, the calm of sleep restored him more to himself
again, and before the motherly woman who had taken pity on him left the
chamber, he was sleeping the refreshing sleep of childhood.
As the young people had gone to bed so late the evening before, for it
was quite twelve o'clock, and the next day was also to be a day of
indulgence, it was nearly half-past eight before Marten awoke, and what
with one thing and another it was quite nine before he had an
opportunity of asking any one after Reuben, or indeed of discovering
that no one knew anything of the little one farther than that he had
awoke at his usual hour, seven o'clock; that the kind woman who had
attended him the night before had helped to wash and dress him, and
having told him to be quiet, lest he should awake the children asleep in
his bed room, she left him as she thought safe in the young ladies'
sitting room, to amuse himself as best he might. Two hours nearly had
passed since then, and no further information could be obtained of the
little boy; but he was gone, that was certain for he was nowhere to be
found in any part of Mr. Jameson's large house. It so happened that
breakfast had commenced, and Marten and some of the bigger boys had
nearly finished the meal before all the young ladies came down, and as
Mary Roscoe chanced to be late, for this good natured girl had been
helping others as usual, Marten did not discover the absence of his
brother till she entered the room and seated herself at the table. Then
he stepped round to her and asked if Reuben would soon be down. "Oh!
dear little fellow," exclaimed Mary, starting up, "He did not sleep in
my room, so I know nothing about him; but now I will run to find him to
bring him to breakfast. I dare say he has overslept himself, or I should
have heard of him before now."
"If you are speaking of the little boy who cried so bitterly at
blindman's buff, Mary," said a Miss Lomax, "he was put to sleep in a
little bed by himself in our room. Maria and myself noticed how soundly
he slept through all the noise we made when we went to our rooms, but
when we got up this morning the little fellow was gone, and we wondered
who had drest him and taken him away so quietly as not to disturb us."
"Oh! then I'll find him in a minute," said Mary, "if he has been drest
so long he must be sadly in want of his breakfast, poor little darling,"
and Mary was half way up stairs before she had finished her speech.
And now how shall I describe what a fearful state the whole house was in
before ten minutes more had passed away: the child was lost, the fearful
question of where and how he might be found was on everybody's lips.
Poor Marten, it was dreadful to see his terror and grief, and Mary, oh!
how negligent Mary felt herself, for had she not assisted greatly to his
loss by taking him from his brother, and had she not promised that
brother the evening before to see him in his bed and look after him,
which she had forgotten to do. Jenkins, too, the motherly female who had
so kindly attended the little one the night before, how did she blame
herself for not taking the child with her after she had dressed him,
when she was obliged to go to her work, which was much increased that
morning by the state in which the young people had left the room, the
scene of the last night's revels.
And here I would make a remark, which I must beg no one to reject,
without well weighing the idea. The most amiable females of the party
assembled at Mrs. Jameson's, Mary Roscoe and Jenkins, who had put
themselves most out of their way, and had really acted the kindest by
the child, were those who felt the most in the affair, and most blamed
themselves for their own conduct, whereas if all had tried their best,
as they did, the little fellow would have ever had some kind heart
beside him to soothe and comfort him, and some one might have
anticipated his uneasiness at finding himself alone amongst strangers.
Anyhow they would not have been as strangers to him, for he afterwards
acknowledged, on being questioned, that had Miss Mary been sleeping in
the room, he should not have done as he did. But now to my remark, those
who strive to do best have the most tender consciences, and the more one
strives after right the more scrupulous and tender does the conscience
become, and the more does it aspire after noble feelings and honourable
thoughts and actions. This is a work of the Divine Spirit and of no
mortal power, and it is a training for glory, purifying our hearts for a
divine home, obtained for us through our Saviour's death and
righteousness, and in familiar language we will liken it after this
manner. Supposing two children stand side by side in the open street,
one is the child of a king, nicely drest and delicately clean, as would
be expected from his noble birth and expectation, the other is the
little hedge-side vagrant, to whose young face water or cleansing has
probably been unknown. Imagine, then, ought passing these two children,
which could pollute their persons, what would be their feelings? the one
might even laugh at the filth or mud that bespattered him, the other
would shrink with loathing or disgust, and would not be easy or
comfortable till every effort was taken to remove the stain. And we are
children of the King of kings, we are washed and clothed by Him, and
the more our garments are fitted for our future station, the fairer are
our inward persons; the more do we feel annoyed and grieved by any foul
spot, which could sully their purity and disfigure their beauty. My
young readers remember this, and smile no more at sin; aye, and shun
carefully its stains that would pollute you, and when they do alight
upon you, remember whose blood alone it is can purge away their
Poor Mary had no breakfast that morning, nor no comfort nor rest either,
for after searching for the child all over the house, she must needs
look for him in the gardens, the pleasure grounds, the lawn, behind each
tree and shrub, and even in the stables and offices, but no Reuben was
to be met with, and the dear little girl, when wearied out with
searching sat down to weep and lament herself, starting up occasionally
when some fresh place came to her mind, and running to it, but to meet
with disappointment and increased alarm. But Mary was not alone in the
search, for both Mr. and Mrs. Jameson were full of anxiety respecting
the child, and trusty men were sent in all directions to look after the
lost one; and when Mr. Jameson spoke to his lady on the imprudence of
having invited so young a child, she replied, that having given
permission to their son to ask a certain number of young people, she had
not attended to him when he named the bidden guests, taking it for
granted that a boy of thirteen would prefer companions of his own size
to a child of Reuben's tender age. And now it came out from Edward how
Marten had refused to come without his brother, and that Mr. and Mrs.
Mortimer were from home, and this, as might be expected, added not a
little to the distress of Mr. and Mrs. Jameson, for hitherto they had
thought the child had visited them with the permission of his parents,
and now that they heard that those parents were at Portsmouth, they were
more and more uneasy, and they blamed themselves not a little for having
been so indulgent in their direction to Edward. "But, indeed," said Mrs.
Jameson, "one could not have foreseen these circumstances, and when I
saw little Reuben seated by Mary at the dinner table, though I wondered
at his presence, yet he seemed so happy I believed all was right with
him." But the lesson was not lost upon Mr. and Mrs. Jameson, nor on
Edward, and I am happy to say, in future the latter was more ready to
ask advice of his parents than before this affair, for he too was very
uneasy about Reuben. As to Marten, without thinking of his hat, on
learning that the child could not be found in the house nor in the
pleasure grounds, he told one of the men who was sent with him by Mr.
Jameson, that he should go home as fast as he could to see if his
brother might not have made his way there, or at least be met with upon
the road. The distance from one house to the other was, as I said
before, four miles, and though poor Marten had little expectation that
the tender child could find his way so far, even if he knew the right
road, yet he understood the little one so well, that he felt convinced
he would at least attempt to get to his home, so that he considered it
useless to look for him in any other direction. And now we must leave
the unhappy and alarmed brother to speak of little Reuben, who was left,
as we mentioned, by Jenkins in the sitting-room with a few toys near
him. Never had Reuben been so left to himself before, but still for a
short time, though it was for a very short time he was content, then
came a wish for his breakfast, and with it the remembrance that if his
mamma had been with him he would even then be in her dressing-room. She
would be listening to his prattle, or he would be occupied in doing
something for her which he considered was useful, but which in reality
she could herself have done with half the time that she was obliged to
give to her baby boy. The thoughts of his mamma made the forlorn one
cry, and call upon her name, but no one heard his sobs or saw his tears,
and with it came a recollection of the sorrows of yesterday, and he
suddenly thought "Where is Marten? Where can Marten be? Is he gone? Has
he left Reuben?" The idea was not to be borne by the poor child in a
state of quietness, he rose from his seat, dropped his toys from his
lap, and without looking back he went to the door, which being ajar he
opened wider and passed through into the gallery. His friends, he
believed, had left him; they were at home. His mamma, too, he thought,
might be there with his papa and Marten, and, anyhow, he was sure Nurse
was there, Nurse who loved him so, and whom he loved so dearly. So down
the stairs stepped the sorrowing baby, holding the banisters with both
small hands, for it was necessary for him in descending the steps to
have both feet at one time on each, and noiselessly almost did he
proceed, for his fairy tread made no sound, and his sobs were tried to
be suppressed, in the earnest determination to attempt to find his way
to his home. And now he reached the last step, and lightly did he run
across the hall to the great door, which was open, and with some
difficulty, for there were more steps; he arrived at the carriage drive
between the house and lawn, whereon he had seen the lamb the day
And now would I could picture the little one, as he stood in his short
red frock, blown by the breeze which showed his dimpled knee, for his
white sock did not extend much above his shoe. His arms, neck, and head
were without covering, and his pretty curls played around his face in
graceful confusion. Calling on his mamma and upon Marten, he took the
carriage drive towards the gates, so far not having a doubt he was in
the direction of his home, and unseen by any one, he passed through a
small gate into the high road. Here he might have been puzzled which way
to take, if it had not been for a clump of eight elm trees on the left
hand road, and he had often heard John and Marten talk of those elm
trees, for they were called the "Nine Elms," and yet Marten had said
there were only eight now, and whenever he had gone to Mr. Jameson's
with his papa and mamma, and John who drove them, John had kept the
carriage waiting under the elms, and he used to put Reuben out of the
carriage amidst the trees, to run in and out amongst them, touching one
after the other, whilst John taught him to count them, saying one, two,
three, four, and so on. So Reuben knew he must pass the elm trees, and
as he was just awake, and the morning fresh and pleasant, his small feet
carried him along some way nicely, and even swiftly, and for a few
minutes, they were not many, all seemed promising, and the inexperienced
one believed he should soon be at his home. After the clump of trees,
the baby so confidently considered he was in the right way, that when he
came to a place where two roads joined the one up which he had ran, he
never looked about him, fancying they must both go to his home, and not
yet being weary, he took, as might be feared, the wrong turn, and soon
he heard distinctly the roaring of a cascade, much famed in those parts,
as it dashed over the rocks in the direction in which he was going Now
Reuben knew the sound of the cascade, for he had lived near it all his
young life, and he knew it was not far from his home; but he did not
consider that he never passed it on his way from his father's house to
Mr. Jameson's, but still, not mistrusting the road he was going, he ran
along till he suddenly found by a turn of the lane, that he was in full
front of the stream. The child however was not disconcerted by this, and
the fresh air meeting him, and for the moment raising his spirits, he
stepped on over the loose stones brought down at different times by the
waters, boldly, and even gaily, though his course was impeded by the
unevenness of the way. He must have stepped on some distance, when all
of a sudden he was unable to proceed farther along the path, by the
jutting out of a rock into the stream, for the water was pouring down
rapidly and more profusely than was general, for there had been heavy
rains in the mountains, and thus the bed of the torrent was fully
covered, its width being very inconsiderable beneath the rock. The spot
was one wholly unknown to the child, and surely it was a terrible sight
to meet the eye of a babe, who hitherto had not known what it was to be
left without a mother's or nurse's care. The place was in the heart of a
mountain gorge, famed for its rare beauty, and the cascade came dashing
from the rocks, which were very bold and picturesque in the little creek
or gully where the child stood. The water, as I said, was pouring down
white with foam, and majestically pursuing its course, shaking the
earth around with its terrible roarings.
Fancy our little forlorn one then standing under the shelter of the
rock, which, hanging over him in rough masses, threatened to fall an
crush his baby form, the stream rushing impetuously at his feet, and one
little place beneath the rock, in fact part of the rock itself being
somewhat elevated from the bed of the stream below, forming his only
secure and dry resting place. I have said before, he had no covering on
fit for walking attire, his arms, neck, and head being fully exposed to
the breezes which now blew cruelly on his young figure, so that he could
scarcely keep his feet, and glad was he to creep under the shelter of
the threatening rock. There he stood looking around him in wild despair,
for he had raised his voice to cry for pity, and its infant tones were
not heard amidst the roaring waters; again and again he looked round
him, but no help was there, and he trembled more from fear than cold. He
was frightened at the roaring waters, for they seemed to him to be
approaching, and wholly overcome with fear and wretchedness, and quite
incapable of contending against his unhappy situation, he crouched
beneath the threatening rock, too miserable to shed a tear. "Mamma,
mamma," he said,--"Mamma, mamma," and that weak cry was repeated again
and again, though no human ear could hear his sorrows or soothe his
cries. Poor baby, what availed it then? your earthly father was the
tenderest of parents--he could not have foreseen this trouble, and
therefore he could not have been armed against it, but your heavenly
Father's eye was on you, little one, and his eyes are ever on infants,
the loveliest beings of his creation, and he who spared Nineveh,
because there were in that wicked city more than six score thousand
souls, who knew not their right hands from their left, still watches
over his babies now, for has he not said of "Such is the kingdom of
But observe the little one, what makes his cry of 'Mamma, Mamma,' cease?
the babe has heard a sound, a pleasant sound, and he forgets his
trouble. It is the sweet song of a bird upon a branch of a tree on the
rock above him, and the bird likes the morning air and the sound of the
waters, and he is singing his song of joy, and Reuben listened to him
and was pleased, and then the little bird hopped down from his high
perch and came lower and lower till he was quite close to the child, so
close that the little one held out his hand, which frightened away the
pretty bird, and Reuben was once more alone again, and commenced his cry
of "Mamma, Mamma, come to Reuben, Mamma." But the bird had come to the
rock because it had seen some bright berries on the bushes there, and
before it had began its song it had pecked off one or two with its bill,
or perhaps it might have been that other birds had pecked them off, and
then rejected them, or the wind might have blown them from the parent
bush; be that as it may, there were about as many as a dozen red berries
scattered on the ground, where the little bird had hopped, and Reuben
had seen them in looking at the bird, and now he began to collect them,
looking here and there to find some more, and he thought if he put them
into a nice heap together, their bright red colour would draw thither
another singing bird to visit him. So he collected his berries, and
tried to pile them together, and thus more time passed, for whilst doing
so, every little thing seemed to divert his attention--a skeleton leaf,
a small flower, a smooth pebble, a drop of water sparkling in the
sunshine, all attracted his infant eye, and thus, as we might say, his
heavenly Father watched over the boy and soothed him from the real
sorrows of his situation, till the time of his deliverance was at hand.
And are we not children of a large growth? are not our sorrows soothed
and relieved by our Creator's mercies? and are not innocent pleasures
and consolations put in the way of every child of God? and it is our own
fault, yes, our own fault, and very much are we to blame when we reject
the blessings of consolations offered us. "When our Saviour left us, he
promised to send us a comforter to abide with us for ever." John xiv.
16; and as the Divine Spirit never fails in his fulfilment of his
promises, be assured, you mourners, if you are not comforted, it is
because you will not accept the consolation offered to you; for he has
said, "I will not leave you comfortless, for he shall dwell with you,
and shall be in you." John xiv. 17 and 18.
But why does little Reuben suddenly move his curls from off his cheek?
why does he listen, as he never listened before? and why does a merry
little laugh escape his lips? and then he listens again, and now he does
not laugh, but springing to his feet, with arms extended, he calls out
"Nero, Nero." It is not that Nero hears that baby voice, it is not that
the noble dog responds to the call, for the soft sound is lost amidst
the roar of the waters; but he who fed Elijah by the means of ravens,
and taught the dove to bear the olive leaf to Noah, has guided hither to
the child a sure and safe conductor to his home. Look, look there!
across the stream stands Nero. Nero let out by Thomas for a wild run for
exercise as directed first by Mr. Mortimer, and then by Marten; there
he stood, his eyes red with eagerness, his tongue protruding, and
panting and impatient as not knowing where next to turn his agile
bounds. But not for another moment did this hesitation continue, for
Reuben ran to the edge of the rock, both arms extended, and scarcely
able for the breeze to keep his little feet firm upon the ground. "Nero,
Nero," he cried, and almost ere his lips had closed, after the appeal,
the noble dog, with a glorious bound sprang from stepping-stone to
stepping-stone across the stream, and had overwhelmed the boy with his
caresses. What mattered it to Reuben, that his kind friend in his joy at
their meeting had absolutely overturned the child upon the ground? What
cared he for that? It was Nero, his own Nero, his Nero from home, and
Reuben did so love him, and Nero returned his love so warmly, and
they were always so happy together, and there was no danger to be feared
for Reuben, whilst the faithful animal was by him, which he had power to
ward off. Reuben had recognised the dog's bark even amidst the waters
roar, and that had made him laugh, for he never doubted that Nero would
come to him shortly. And now I don't know how to tell how the rest
happened, for in truth Reuben never could explain how things went on,
particularly after the arrival of Nero, and there was no other living
thing in that solitude but the child and dog. All that Reuben could
recollect afterwards was, that he was cold and hungry, and that he
wished to get home, and that Nero, too, seemed even more anxious than
himself to get home, but Reuben dared not cross the stream, and Nero
seemed almost as unwilling as himself to take the child across, and yet
the faithful creature would not leave the boy for more able assistance.
Reuben was frightened at the threatening rock above his head, and yet he
knew not how to leave it, for he had run on far enough to lose the way
to the lane which led to Mr. Jameson's, and he was frightened at all
around, and shivering and hungry, for he had tasted no food that
At last, finding all his efforts useless to tempt the little one across
the stream, a new idea seemed to strike the sensible dog, for Nero was
very sensible. He seemed all of a sudden to bethink himself that there
might be another road home; and taking hold of Reuben's dress in his
mouth, he attempted to draw him along the road the child had come. Now
to this the little one was rather inclined, for he believed it would
take him home, but on attempting to walk he found that he had hurt his
foot before he had reached the rock, and that the cold air had made it
stiff and painful. Poor Reuben was going to cry, and then I do not know
what would have happened if Nero, finding out that something was wrong,
had not seated himself beside the child on the ground to comfort him;
and in so doing, reminded Reuben that Marten always told Nero to sit on
the ground before he told his brother to get on the dog's back for a
ride, for Reuben often took a ride on Nero's back. And now, then, fancy
the child seated upon Nero, who rose at once gently from the ground, and
with great care and stateliness commenced his progress homewards. It is
said that a white elephant will not allow any one to ride upon him who
is not of royal descent, and then the king of beasts steps on with full
consciousness of the honour of his kingly burthen; but what could his
pride be, compared with that of Nero's, as the faithful creature
stepped on and on with his infant rider? It was not, after all, so slow
a progress as might have been imagined, and as it is believed the dog
followed the scent of the child's footsteps, he naturally went up the
lane the little one had trod that morning. On arriving where the road
divided, Nero was, however, no longer at a loss, for he knew which
direction his own home lay, and Nero was not likely to be tempted
elsewhere than home, for if he could have reasoned he would have said,
in as strong terms as nurse herself could have used, that Reuben had
better be at home than anywhere else whilst he was so young. Nero, as I
said, now knew the road, for he had often accompanied the different
members of Mr. Mortimer's family when they went to visit Mr. Jameson's,
and how carefully, on account of his young rider, did he step on his way
And now I could say a great deal upon the fidelity of Nero, the
trustfulness of Reuben, and the useful lesson the little one was
learning; but I am anxious to speak of Marten and nurse, and all those
who loved the child and trembled for his loss. And yet I cannot talk of
their distress, the deep deep remorse of Marten, his full and complete
acknowledgment of his own carelessness and ignorance of himself, so that
nurse could not even say one word to him, though her tears and sobs were
a deep reproach. No, I cannot speak of this, I would rather tell of how
in the midst of all this trouble, tears were changed to smiles, and even
laughter took the place of sobs, when Reuben came riding into the court
yard tired, cold, and hungry, it is true, but no little important at his
wonderful adventure. And then came such kisses and caresses, such
warming by the kitchen fire, such a comfortable breakfast for the
child, such luxuries for the dog, which Reuben was allowed to bestow;
and then such runnings hither and thither to inform all the kind
searchers all was right with the child, and such congratulations, that I
should never have done, if I attempt but to repeat one half of them; so
let me conclude in these words of the apostle, "Let no man say when he
is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil,
neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn
away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it
bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
James i. 13, 14, 15. But our Saviour has declared, "I will ransom them
from the power of the grave. I will redeem them from death. Oh! death, I
will be thy plague: Oh! grave, I will be thy destruction." Hosea xiii.
By this little narrative we are taught that whoever fills himself up
with the belief that he is wise and clever, will be apt, like Marten, to
fall into some sort of trouble, which he did not look forward to. All
the wisdom of man lies in knowing that unless he is guided in all his
actions by his heavenly Father, he is sure to go wrong, let his age or
condition be what it may. If little Reuben had been really lost or hurt,
very severe indeed would have been the punishment of Marten for his
conceit, but God in his tender love let him off for his fright only;
which, however, we doubt not, was sharp enough to make him remember the
lesson all his life.
It is well for poor sinful men, women, and children, however, that they
have a brother, even the Lord the Saviour in his human person, who
cannot forget them as Marten forgot Reuben, no, not for one moment.
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