Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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lessons before the others came ; but as he was going along,
he saw a little cosset lamb which belonged to a lady about
half a mile off, lying in the road ; he went to it to stroke it,
(for it was very tame,) and then designed to go on again ;
but when he came to it, he found it could not get up, for
one of its legs was broken, a carriage having gone over it
whilst it lay sleeping in the road.


Poor Jacob was much distressed to see it in such a pain-
ful situation, and did not know what to do. He wanted
sadly to go to school, and yet he could not think of leaving
the poor thing in the way, to be hurt or run over again, or
without giving it some relief to its pain. He lifted it up
and tried to lead it; but that seemed to make it worse, and
he could not bear to hurt it. He then asked several people
who were going by to be so good as to carry it to Mrs.
Peatlove's; but they all refused him. Some said they had
not time to carry lame sheep about : others told him to carry
it himself, which he would have been glad to have done ;
and one told him crossly, if he carried it anywhere, it should
be to his own house to roast for dinner.

Jacob, finding nobody would help him, lugged it in his
arms to a spot of grass by the side of the footpath, intend-
ing to carry it to Mrs. Peatlove's after school ; but he had
not got many steps when, turning to look at it, he saw a
great dog go and bark, and snap at it, so that the poor
creature was obliged to get up and hobble on three legs ;
but the dog still kept barking and frightening it, so that in
trying to run fast it fell down every minute.

Jacob, who was a very good-natured boy, could not bear
to see it in such distress, took off his hat, and threw it to
frighten the dog away, but unfortunately hit the Iamb in-
stead of the dog, and knocked it down again upon some
new gravel, which cut the skin off the other knee.

Upon seeing that he had added to its distress, he ran to
it, and resolved, if it was possible, he would carry it home,
though he should lose one of Mr. Right's new books, which
he was very sorry to be obliged to do ; yet he still rather
chose to help the lamb, and with very great difficulty got
it into his arms and carried it to INIrs. Peatlove's. But
though she lived not above half a mile off, he was almost
two hours getting there, the lamb being so very hea\y (for it
was a very fat one) that he was obliged often to sit down
and rest.

During the time that Jacob was engaged with the lamb,
Mr. Right called to see Mr. Steadfast, and enquired where
Jacob was. ' He has been gone to school a great while,'


replied his father, ' and I suppose is almost ready to come
back by this time.' ' If he is at school,' said Mr. Right, ' I
shall see him, for I am going to Mrs. Bell's to know how
her scholars go on, and to enquire who deserves a new
book and a housewife, which Mrs. Right and I have pro-
mised to give to the good ones this evening.'

Mr. Right then took leave of Mr. Steadfast, and went to
Mrs. Bell's. When he got to her house, after asking how
she did, and speaking to all the little folks, he enquired
where Jacob Steadfast was '? 'He has not been here this
morning, sir,' said Mrs. Bell ; ' I fancy he is at home.' ' How ! '
said Mr. Right, ' not been here this morning ! I am quite
surprised to hear you say so, for I am just come from his
father, who told me he had been come to school a great
while ; so that I am fearful some accident has happened to
him, as he is too good a boy to play truant, and not come
to school when he was sent.' ' I am afraid so too,' replied
Mrs. Bell, ' for he is a very good child, and would not do
wrong upon any account : I wonder where he can be ! ' 'I
am only come to enquire which of the children are good to-
day,' said Mr. Right \ ' and as I return back, I will look for
him.' ' They are all good,' answered Mrs. Bell, ' except Miss
Nancy Dawdle, who will neither mind her work nor learn
to read ; she has been spelling the same lesson for this
month, and, I declare, she cannot now tell one word with-
out the book : and a handkerchief she is hemming for her
mamma, has been obliged to be picked out so often that it
is quite spoiled, and in holes. I shall be ashamed to send
it home, for it is not fit to be seen.' ' Pray,' said Mr. Right,
' how old is Miss Dawdle ?' ' She is seven, sir,' replied Mrs.
Bell. 'Why then,' said Mr. Right, ' I think she is seven times
worse than a baby. Not able to read and work at seven
years old ! what a shame it is ! Babies cannot work, be-
cause they have not sense enough ; but a girl of her age to
be such a dunce, is a sad thing mdeed ! And when she is
a woman, if she should happen to have any children, she
will neither be able to make their clothes, nor to teach them
to work for themselves ; nor will she be able to teach them
to read ; and therefore they will be all dunces, unless some


body should be so kind as to instruct them ; and then they
will despise her, for being such a foolish, useless woman.
And as she is so silly a girl, she will neither have a new book
nor a housewife.' Mr. Right wished Mrs. Bell a good day,
and told the children to come to i)lay in the afternoon in
his field, and he should certainly reward them as he had

He then went away, and looked ever}'where he coulfl
think of for Jacob Steadfast ; but not being able to find him,
he returned home very uneasy, as he thought he must have
met with some accident.

Jacob, however, got safe home, and told his father all
that had happened ; that instead of going to school, he had
carried Mrs. Peatlove's lamb home with a broken leg. ' I
wanted much to go to school this morning,' said he, ' for Mr.
Right will give all who read well a new book in the evening ;
and I should have been very glad to have had one; but the
poor lamb did seem to be in so much distress and pain, I
could not bear to leave it to be worried by dogs, or any-
body who was ill-natured ; so I carried it home, and hope
you will not be angry I did not go to school.' ' No,' replied
his father, ' I shall not be angry that you was good-natured,
neither do I in the least doubt that what you tell me is true,
for you never deceive me ; nor do I think that if you take
pains with your spelling and reading in the afternoon, that
Mr. Right will refuse giving you a book, as you did not
neglect your lesson this morning through idleness, but for
the sake of helping a poor creature that was in pain : he
will think you did right to carry it home, for he loves good-
natured people ; and it would have been very cross not to
have helped the poor lamb. We should always give all the
pleasure we can to everything ; but it is still more our duty
to try to relieve them when in pain; and whatever some
foolish children may think to the contrary, it is ver}^ wicked
to hurt and be cruel to anything, though it is smaller than a
little ant. Everything alive feels and suffers when hurt, just
as much as we do; and as we dont like to be hurt ourselves,
we should never hurt anything. When children are tor-
menting flies, or any other insect, and pulling off their legs


and wings, they should consider how they would hke to
have their arms and legs pulled off; and they may be assured
that the poor fly is hurt to the full as much, though it cannot
scream as they would.' ' I was very much tired,' said Jacob,
' when I got to Mrs. Peatlove's ; but she made me stay and
rest myself, and gave me a nice large piece of plumcake
and an orange. 1 would have brought them home for )-ou
and my mother, only Mrs. Bell says it does not look civil to
])ut cake or fruit into one's pocket ; but I .should much
better have liked a little bit with you, than to have eaten it
all myself.' ' You are a very good boy,' said his father, ' we
are much obliged to you for your kind wishes ; but you was
very welcome to all: and, as you observe, it would not have
looked pretty to have put it in your pocket, when Mrs.
Peatlove gave the cake and orange to you to eat while you
sat and rested yourself

After he had dined, Jacob went to school and read ex-
tremely well, and in the evening went with the rest of the
children to play in the field. Mr. Right soon came out to
enquire whether they all still continued good.

Upon seeing Jacob, he asked him why he did not go to
school in the morning when his father sent him. Jacob
told him all the history of the lamb, which Mr. Right ^^•as
much pleased with. 'But,' said he, 'you should have run
home and asked leave before you stayed from school all the
morning, for it might have given your parents great un-
easiness if they had happened to have called at Mrs. Bell's
and not found you there, as it did me, I assure you : how-
ever, as you did it with a good intention, and meant to do
right, and have read well this afternoon, you say, you shall
not lose anything by your kindness to the poor lamb; so
here is a most clever entertaining book for you, called " The
Memoirs of a Peg-Top."'

Jacob thanked him, and promised that the ne.xt time he
met with anything to detain him from school, he would
certainly go home and ask leave.

Mr. Right then gave each of the good children a book;
and Mrs. Right also gave several housewifes and pincushions
to those little girls who worked neat, telling them she hoped
* c c


they would take care and make a proper use of them, and
always carry them in their i)ockets, tliat they might have
pins, thread, and needles, ready at any time they were
wanted; but if they were careless and lost them, she should
never give them anything again.

Mr. Right likewise charged them to take care of their
books, and keep them clean, and not tear them. ' I dont
mean,' said he, 'by taking care of them, that you should put
them away and not read them; for then you might as well
be without ; but to make a proper use of books is to read
them, and to mind the good things they teach. You, Jacob,
will see in your book the bad effect of lying, and find how
much a baker's boy suffered for his falsehood ; and likewise
see the consequence of doing mischief and teasing people ;
but as all the books I have given are very good ones, I beg
you will all mind what you read, and not think they are
only pretty stories to amuse you, for they were printed on
purpose to teach you to be good; and unless you remember
to behave as the good children, and take care never to act
like the naughty ones therein made mention of, you may as
well not trouble yourselves to read at all, for there is no use
in them if you do not mind what you read.'

Roger Riot said he never thought of minding what was in
books ; he only read them for the sake of knowing pretty
stories, and he thought that was all books were made for.
' Then,' said Mr. Right, ' you are much mistaken, for it is a
great deal of trouble for people to write and print books; and
if they only amuse you, you might as well have a bat or a
ball, or some other plaything, which does not require half
so much time and pains to make.' 'But,' said Roger, 'when
books are about cows, or horses, or dogs, or birds, what good
can they do? or what can we learn from them V 'You may
often learn a great deal from them,' replied Mr. Right, ' if
you do but attend. I will tell you a story about two dogs,
which will teach you how foolish it is to be cross and ill-

'There was a gentleman who was very fond of dogs, and
one day as he was walking he met a boy with two puppies in
his arms: he enquired of the boy what he was going to do


with them. The boy replied he was going to tlie pond to
drown them, for there were so many at home they could not
keep any more.

' The gentleman looking at them, and seeing one very
handsome, told the boy he would give him twopence for that.
The boy gladly accepted of the money, and then, taking the
other pupi)y, which was very ugly, said, "I will now drown
you, you frightful little beast, by yourself" The gentleman,
who was very good-natured, thought it was a pity the poor
puppy should be drowned, only because it was not pretty ;
and therefore told the boy if he would take them to his house,
he might leave them both. The boy agreed to carry them,
for he said he did not want to drown them if anybody would
keep them: so he ran away to the gentleman's house, and
gave them to the footman, who stood at the door. "What
in the world," said the man, " have you brought this little
brown, ugly cur here for ? " " Your master," replied the boy,
"has bought them both." "Then," replied the man, "he
may feed them both himself, for I never will feed this fright-
ful beast : " so he took tliem downstairs, and gave the pretty
one some meat and milk, but did not suffer the other to eat
or drink a mouthful.

' When the gentleman came home, he had them brought
into the parlour, and gave the handsome one the name of
Cato, and the ugly one that of Syphax. Cato he let sleep
on a crimson cushion by the fireside, whilst poor Sy])hax
was turned into the hall to lay upon the cold marble. Cato
was fed every day with plenty of good things from his
master's table; and Syphax had only a few bones, and even
sometimes went without them. Everybody who came into the
house admired the beauty of Cato, and as constantly took
notice of the great ugliness of Syphax.

' It was not long before Cato discovered a cross, snappish
disposition; and if anybody touched him he would growl
like a bear and sometimes bite their fingers ; and if, as he
trotted tlirough the hall, he saw his brother gnawing one of
liis bones, he would run to him and take it away. Very fre-
ciuently he bit the heels of any person who came into the
house ; and, in short, sliowed every sign of ill-nature i)0ssible
c c 2


for a dog to discover : whilst Syphax, on the contrary,
showed as many proofs of good-nature as his brother did of
bad ; so that though he was so extremely ugly, the family
began to like him better than they did Cato. And some-
times his master would even let him walk out with him.

' One evening when they were going across a meadow
where there were some cattle feeding, one of the cows, which
was exceedingly mischievous and frequently ran at people,
tried to toss the gentleman with her horns; which Syphax
seeing, immediately flew at the cow and caught hold of her
nose, by which he held her quite tight till his master got out
of the meadow; whilst Cato all the time, instead of being of
any service, was only running and barking at the birds, and
snapping at the butterflies which flew about.

' Another time, when they were walking out altogether, the
gentleman unfortunately slipped into a ditch full of water,
and taking hold of some weeds which grew by the side, Cato
snapped at his fingers, whilst poor Syphax caught hold of his
coat and endeavoured with all his strength to drag him out.

' His master was so pleased with the important services
he had done him, that he was determined he should always
afterwards live in the parlour as well as Cato. Accordingly,
when he went home he called him in, and patting him, gave
him some meat. Cato was so angry at seeing him in the
parlour, and laying near his cushion, that he ran to him, and
hurt and bit him most terribly; and when their master en-
deavoured to part them, he bit his thumb almost off. His
master was so displeased with his behaviour that he beat him
out of the room, and made him keep in the hall, as poor
Syphax had been used to do; and notwithstanding his beauty
he soon fared worse than ever Syphax had done; for he was
so snappish and growled so much at everybody who passed
through the hall, that at last they drove him quite out of the
house, and whipped him awa}' from the door every time he
tried to get in; so that instead of having plenty of food, and
sleeping on a soft cushion by the fireside, he was obliged to
stand shivering in the cold and wet, and could 'hardly find
bones enough to live upon ; for he was so much disliked,
because of his bad behaviour, by all the family, that nobody


chose the trouble of feeding him ; and he soon became so
lean and dirty as to look quite ugly.

' One day as he was running after a horse to bite its heels,
the horse kicked back his foot and dashed his brains out ;
so there was an end of Cato, whose own fault it was that he
did not continue to live comfortably and happy as well as
Syphax, who grew fat, and, by his good temper, became a
great favourite with all the family.'

When Mr. Right had finislied the story, he asked Roger
how he liked it. Roger replied, ' I like it very well ; but I
do not see what I can learn from it, except that cross dogs
will not be liked as well or live as comfortably as good-
natured ones.' 'Very well,' said Mr. Right, ' neither will cross
boys ; and though the story I have been telling you has been
about dogs, yet, you may be assured, it will be just the same
with children; and though they might happen to be so hand-
some as to make people at first admire them for their beauty,
as they did Cato, still, if they are not good, their being
pretty will be of no use to them; neither will it make any-
body love them: and some time or other they will suffer for
their crossness, as Cato did for biting the horse's heels.
Whereas, those children who are good, though they should
be even as ugly as Syphax, will, like him, when once people
know their sweetness of temper, be loved and encouraged as
he was: so that you see, Roger, even from histories of birds
or beasts you may often learn to be good.'

What Mr. Right said was ceitainly true: for to be sure we
may often learn how foolish it is to be cross and naughty our-
selves by seeing the bad consequence of it even in beasts
and birds; and if it makes them so disagreeable, who have
not sense to behave better, how very bad must it be in us
who have sense and understanding to know what is right and
wrong ! And very wrong I am sure it will be for any child
who reads this pretty little book, not to try and be as good
as the best children they have read about, and take care
never to be like the naughty ones.

After Mr. Right left oft" speaking to Roger, it began to rain
so fast that he was obliged to go indoors; and all the
children ran home.


The next day they went to school as usual ; and the day
after they broke up for the Whitsuntide holidays; and Mrs.
Bell gave each of them a task to learn at home.


The next morning those of Mrs. Bell's school who were in-
dustrious, and wished to grow uase, and be clever men and
women, began to learn their tasks, that they might be able
to say them perfectly when they went to school; for though
Mrs. Bell was by no means unreasonable, yet she had given
them sufficient to employ them about half-an-hour ever^' day,
and if they had the rest of the time for play, that would be
holiday enough, she said, to content all reasonable children;
and indeed I think so too; for surely half-an-hour no child
will grudge to spend in learning, though it were in holiday
time. But yet some of Mrs. Bell's scholars were foolish
enough to grumble at this, as if they had been much injured.

Miss Nancy Dawdle cried till she made herself sick about
it, and, instead of learning it like a good child, and then
enjoying herself comfortably the rest of the day, she every
morning began fretting and crying till she put herself quite
out of humour, and could not take pleasure in anything after-
wards; for when a person has gotten an ill-humour nothing
can divert or make them feel agreeable.

Mrs. Dawdle every day tried to persuade Nancy to act in
a better manner. ' Do, my dear, pray,' said she, ' sit down
and learn your task before you go to play : you will not be
able to say it when you return to school ; and only think
what a disgrace it will be, not to be able to repeat it so well
as the rest of your school-fellows.'

Nancy would then take up the book ; but instead of en-
deavouring to make herself perfect in her lesson, only began
fretting and crying, letting her tears fall upon the leaves, and
then rub them about with her fingers, till in several places
she quite rubbed holes in the paper, and almost made her
book illegible. She would likewise, instead of keeping at
the right place^ turn over the leaves, and look eveiy where


but where she ouglit; nay, she would even sometimes hold
her book the wrong end upwards, and waste more time
spelling the words backwards, than would have been quite
sufficient to have learned her task perfectly. In the same
foolish manner Master Crafty and Jack Sneak behaved.
Ben Heady would never be persuaded to look in his book
at all; and Roger Riot sadly neglected his, not from ciying
and fretting as the other three foolish children did, but from
attending so much to his play that he could think of nothing
besides. But Frank West, Jacob Steadfast, Jenny Meek,
Kitty Spruce, Polly Nimble, and a few more, did not miss a
single word; nor were they contented to learn just so much
as Mrs. Bell had set them, but, wishing to show their readi-
ness and desire to get forward and excel, learned far beyond
the places that Mrs. Bell had ordered them. The rest of
the children, though they did not repeat theirs equally per-
fect, yet acquitted themselves far better than Nancy Dawdle,
Master Crafty, Jack Sneak, Ben Heady, or Roger Riot.

When they returned to school (which was just a fortnight
after they had broke up), those who knew they were perfect
in their lessons, went with great cheerfulness and pleasure;
whilst those who were conscious of deserving reproof, crej^t
slowly along, reading over their tasks all the way they went.
But if they had not found time in the whole fortnight to learn
them, it was not very likely they should be able during their
walk to do it; it was to little purpose, therefore, for them to go
creeping along in that slow sauntering manner; and indeed
Miss Dawdle suffered very severely for it, for as she was
walking on, not minding where she went, her foot slipt, and
down she tumbled, and hit her mouth with so much violence
against a stone, that she cut her lip and knocked out one of
her teeth. She screamed out, and getting up, ran home as
fast as possible, crying to her mamma.

When Mrs. Dawdle saw her with her mouth bleeding,
' My dear child,' said she, ' what is the matter with you ?
What have you done to your mouth ?' ' O! mamma,' replied
Nancy, ' I was tr}'ing to learn my task as I went along
to school, and as I was looking in my book, I did not see
my way, and my foot slipped, and so I tumbled down, and


have hurt my mouth so very bad, that I do not know how
to bear it.' ' I am sorry,' returned Mrs. Dawdle, ' that you
are so much hurt; but upon my word, Nancy, I must say
that is your own fault. Had you learned your lesson before,
as I often bid you, there would have been no occasion
for you to have been conning it as you went along, but you
might then have walked as you should do, and minded your
way: so that, though I am sorry you are hurt, still, I do
really think you deserve to be so, for your own indolence
and folly.'

Mrs. Dawdle then had her daughter's face and mouth
washed, and when it had quite left off bleeding sent her to
school again. But before she arrived there, most of- Mrs.
Bell's scholars were assembled, and those who could say
them perfect, had all repeated their tasks, whilst all the
others kept back, looking over their books, and wishing
everyone to be called before themselves, that they might
have the longer opportunity of refreshing their memories.
Mrs. Bell instantly saw the reason of their behaviour, and
shaking her head, said, ' I am sorry to see so many of my
children unprepared to bring their books to be heard their
tasks. I was in great hopes that everyone would have been
quite good, and I therefore begged the favour of my neigh-
bour Bird, when he went to London last week, to bring me
down a number of cakes and some pretty pictures, which I
intended to divide amongst you, if you had been good at
home in the holidays, and said your lessons well ; but I
doubt I shall not have occasion to use many of them. I
am almost afraid I shall have more need of something else
I got new too; but I shall be very sorry to be obliged to
produce that : I hate the sight of such ugly things, and
would rather it should live in the cupboard, than ever come
out to show itself ; but if children will be naughty, Mr.

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 35 of 43)