Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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which was very silly, as she could not possibly mind her
business whilst she was at play.


Mrs. Bell had often chid her for doing so, and indeed had
taken several of her toys from her, and told her that all play-
things which were brought to school she should always take
away ; and if they did not choose to part from them, children
should not bring them to school.

Miss Polly, however, for all she had forfeited a great many
very pretty things, often would take them with her, and one
day she carried a nice new doll which her grandmamma had
given her. It was too big to put in her pocket, so she tied a
bit of ribbon round its neck, and hung it under her frock to
her side, like a watch. When she and her brother and sister
came in, Mrs. Bell said, ' Good morning to you, my dears,
you all look like very good children ; I hope you intend to
read and work very well ; and you, Miss Polly, I hope, will
be quite good, and not play and talk as you sometimes do.'
She then gave them their works, and Master John his book,
to learn to spell, for he was too young to read. Mrs. Bell
always began school at nine o'clock, and if any of her scholars
came later, she set them on a little stool by themselves ; for
she said she did not like lazy children, and all who came to
her school should come early, or else be punished.

After Miss Polly Right had been very quietly at work for
about an hour, she grew quite tired, and began to talk and
play with Betsy Giddy, a little girl about six years old, who
had agreed the day before with JN'Iiss Polly to bring a little
tea-chest to school to show her.

Mrs. Bell spoke to them several times to hold their tongues
and mind their business, otherwise, she said, they would not
only make her angry, but would be obliged to sit still much
longer than would be necessary to finish their tasks, if they
did not play and hinder themselves. But instead of mind-
ing what she said to them, they soon took out the doll and
tea-chest, and began to play. Mrs. Bell saw them, and call-
ing them to her, she said, ' What naughty children you are !
I have a great mind to beat you both for doing what I have
so often told you not to do ; but if you are so fond of your
playthings that you cannot be contented without them whilst
you are at school, I will take care they shall be close enough
to you ; ' and taking a bit of string, she tied the doll round


Miss Polly's neck, and the tea-chest round Betsy's, and then
placed them in two corners of the room. Only think what
a foolish appearance they must make with such things tied
to their necks ! But in that manner she made them stand
till twelve o'clock, when, upon their promising to behave
better in the afternoon, she let them go home, though she
did not let them have their playthings again, but kept them,
as she always did those which were brought to school, and
gave them when they broke up to those children who
behaved best.


Miss Polly and Betsy were very sorry to part from their
doll and tea-chest, but were so much ashamed of the manner
they had lost them, and indeed knew they deserved to have
them taken away, that they made no complaints, though
when they were asked at home what they had been crying
for, were too good to think of denying it, but confessed the
whole truth.

Their parents then told them they were sorry they had
been such silly children, and thought they deserved to lose
their playthings, if they would play with them, after they had
been told so often to leave them all at home, and mind their
books and their work while they were at school. When they
returned home from school in the afternoon, they behaved
very well, and could not help thinking how silly tliey had
been to do otherwise in the morning.

Among the children who went to Mrs. Bell's school was
one Frank West : his father was a shoemaker, and his mother
used to take in plain work : they were very good peoj^le, and
lived very happy : they had only three children, Frank, who
was about seven years old ; Sally, a girl of fourteen ; and a
little boy whose name was Joe, but who was too young to
go to school, as he was not quite two years old ; but he v/as
so good and quiet a child, tliat Mrs. Bell used often to let
him stay all the time with his brother, as they were very fond
of each other.


One afternoon, when Frank had taken Joe to stay with
him at school, he was playing about the room, and all at
once screamed out that somebody had pulled his hair. Mrs.
]5ell looked up, but could not see that anybody touched
him; she therefore told him not to cry, and said she be-
lieved he fancied he was hurt. Presently after he said a pin
scratched his back. Mrs. Bell saw the mark of the pin, but
still could not find out who had done it, as all the children
seemed to be very quietly minding their works or books. ' I
hope,' said she, ' there is not anybody so wicked as to hurt
this poor little boy for the purpose ; if I find there is, I shall
be very angry, and punish them exceedingly.'

They all said they had not touched him ; and Master Bill
Crafty said it would be a shame to hurt such a good child.
' Come here, little Joe,' said he, ' I will show you a picture
in my book; ' then letting his book fall, he told Joe to pick
it up, and whilst he was stooping to get it, gave him a kick
in the face and made his nose bleed sadly.

Mrs. Bell, who happened to see him, was, you may be
sure, extremely angry, and calling him to her, she took oft'
his coat and beat him very much with a cane she kept on
purpose to beat naughty children. She then tied his hands
behind him, and his legs together, and assured him he should
not go home that night, but that when school was over she
would shut him up in some closet, Avhere he might be safe,
and not do any more mischief. When she asked him what
was the reason he behaved so wickedly, he said he did it to
tease Frank West, who he knew could not bear to see his
brother Joe hurt. And why did you wish to tease Frank
Wesf?' said Mrs. Bell. ' Because,' replied Master Crafty,
' you always say he reads better than I do, and call him a
good boy oftener than you do me, and you gave him a nev.'
book last Monday, and did not give me one ; and when I
asked him to give me his, he would not, so I thought he
should not get off without suffering for it, and that is the
reason I hurt Joe, to tease Frank.'

' You are a sad naughty boy indeed,' said Mrs. Bell, 'and
I don't think I shall ever be able to call you good again.
If you wish to be called so, why are you not good ? and be-


have as well as Frank does, and learn to read as well % For
he is a much better boy than you are.' ' I don't like he
should be called so,' said Master Crafty, ' for he is only a
shoemaker's son, only a poor boy, and I am a young gentle-
man.' ' Dont tell me of his being only a poor boy,' said
Mrs. Bell; ' I think poor boys are just as good as young
gentlemen, and better too when they behave better. Though
one child's father happens to be richer than another's, that
makes no difference at all in the children \ and, I can assure
you, it is for being good, and not for having more money,
that some children are loved better than others. Frank
West is a very good boy, and takes a great deal of pains to
read well, and that is the reason I gave him a book. If I
had given you one, you would not have known what use to
have made of it, for you are such a dunce you hardly know
what ROD spells, and I dont think that is much like a
young gentleman not to be able to spell : but worse than
that, you are a sad wicked child, and if you do not grow
better you shall not come to my school, for I will not have such
a bad boy among my scholars.'

Poor little Joe cried for some time, for he was sadly hurt.
At last he sat down on a stool by Mrs. Bell, and laying his
head- upon her knee, listened very attentively to his brother
Frank, who read the following story out of his new book,
which had been given him for being good :


Once there was a little boy who took great pleasure in play-
ing with a cat. He had a sister who was very fond of a bird,
which she would often take out of the cage ; and as it was
very tame she put it upon the ground, and let it hop about
the room. The cat had been so long used to the bird that
it never offered to hurt it, even when it pecked up the bits of
meat the cat was eating, as it sometimes would do. The
bird had lived so long in the cage that it knew its way into
it, and after it had hopped about as long as it pleased, would
fly up to its cage again. Yet, though it was very tame,
Kitty (which was the girl's name) ne\'er chose to leave the

z 2


door of the cage open when the windows were not shut, for
fear it should fly away and not come back again; but one
day, after the bird had been flying and hopping about the
room, and was returned to its own house, Kitty saw one of
her school-fellows, Betsy Trip, going by, and opened the
window to speak to her. Betsy Trip said, ' Pray, Kitty,
come downstairs to me, for the sun almost puts my eyes out
to look up to you there.'

Kitty, without thinking of her bird's cage door being open,
left the sash up, and ran down to her playfellow, and asked
her to walk in. Betsy did not refuse her, and to play they
went for an hour or two in the garden.

While they were there the bird again came out of its cage,
and after hopping from one chair to another, at last flew to
the window, and from the window to a tree, and then to
another tree, till at last it flew to that part of the garden
where the little girls were at play, and where the cat sat
watching for something to eat ; for his master, who always
fed it, had been out all day, and went away in such a hurry
in the morning that he forgot either to feed it himself, or to
desire anybody else to give it some meat, or some milk.

The bird, when it saw its old friend the cat, flew upon the
ground, and was hopping towards it, when the cat, who did
not expect to see Kitty's bird out of doors, and could not
possibly know one sparrow from another (because sparrows
are so much alike), jumped upon it, and eat it up in a mo-

Just as puss had finished eating it, and was hcking her
lips, some of the feathers laying by her, Kitty came to the
place. ' So, Mrs. Puss,' said she, ' you have been eating a
bird, have you % and its feathers are the same colour as my
bird's; but I hope it was not that! '

She then ran in doors, and finding the empty cage, and
remembering she had left the window open, did not doubt
but that it was her dear bird which the cat had been eating.
She burst out a-crying, and went to tell her mother of her
great loss. ' I am very sorry,' said her mother; ' but you see,
my dear, it was your own fault, for had you shut the window
the bird could not have flown away: I hope it will make you


take more care another time, and teach you to think of what
you are doing.'

When Kitty's brother came home, she ran to tell him of
the death of her bird; but before she could speak he called
out, ' Pray, Kitty, have you fed my cat % for I forgot to give
her her breakfast, and I am afraid she is almost stars^ed.' ' I
wish she had been quite starved,' replied Kitty, rather than
she should have done the naughty trick she has, for she has
eaten up my bird.' 'Eaten up your bird !' said Tom (for
that was his name), 'she shall suffer for that, I promise her.'

He then threw a stone he had in his hand at her, which
happened just to hit her on the head, and killed her. Tom,
when he saw she was dead, was not less sorry for her than
his sister had been for die bird, and began to cry very

When his mother heard the cause of his tears she said,
' Are not you very silly children, not to take more care of
your poor live creatures than to run to your plays in such a
hurry as to forget them, and afterwards to punish the cat for
y®ur own faults ? Had you, Tom, fed her, she would not
have been so hungry as to have flown at the bird in such a
hurry, before your sister got to her; and had Kitty been
more careful, and shut the cage door or window before she
went downstairs, her bird would not have flown away; it is
entirely your own faults, and if anybody should be punished,
it is yourselves, and not the poor cat ; but I hope the death
of your favourites will teach j'ou, Tom, not to throw stones
at anything again.' So ended the lives of the prettiest cat
and tamest bird that ever were seen.

When Frank had finished reading his pretty history, it was
time for the children to go from school, who had all behaved
very well, excepting Master Crafty. When, therefore, his maid
came to fetch him home, Mrs. Bell told her how verj^ naughty
he had been, and hurt a poor little good boy, only because
his brother was better than himself ' I shall therefore keep
him aU night, if his papa and mamma please to let him stay.'
' Very well, ma'am,' replied the maid, ' I dare say he may
stay, for I am sure his papa and mamma dont like naughtv
boys.' So she left him; and Mrs. }]ell jiut him to bed at"fi\'e


o'clock, without letting him have a mouthful of bread for
his supper, and I am sure he did not deserve any.


As soon as Mr. and Mrs. West saw their little Joe's nose,
they enquired of Frank what was the matter with him.
'What have you been doing to him?' said his father. 'I
have not done anything,' replied Frank, 'but Master Crafty
has kicked him, and pulled his hair, and used him sadly,
only to tease me, because I am a better boy than he is, and
read better; but if poor Joe is to suffer for it, I wish I did
not read so well.'

'Dont say so, my boy,' said his father; 'never wish you
was not so good: you may be sure it is always best to be
good; for though Master Crafty, and such foolish children
as he is, may disHke you for not being as naughty as him-
self, yet all good people, and those who have sense, will
always love a good child, and the better you are, will like
you the more, and though you are but a poor boy, will love
you dearly ; but Master Crafty, for all he is a gentleman's
son, will be despised and disliked by every one who knows
him. People may like his money, but they will never like
him ;. nor will he find himself comfortable, as he must often
be whipt and punished while he is a boy, and when he is a
man he will be very unhappy. Do not, therefore, my dear
Frank, wish to be a naughty boy, or a dunce, for the sake of
pleasing Master Crafty; but be good, and mind your book,
and you will be a better and more useful man than ever he
will, for all he is the richest : an honest man, my boy, though
never so poor, is worth twenty fine gentlemen if they are
not good.'

When his father had done speaking, Frank told him he
would still try to be good and mind his book, let Master
Crafty behave as he would ; for I think as you do, father,'
added he, ' that I had better be poor and good, than rich
and naughty.'

]\Ir. West then gave him a nice slice of cold plum-pudding


he had saved on purpose for him, which, after having eat, he
took his bat and ball, and went to play at cricket in a field
of Mr. Right's, in which he was so kind as to let the good
children of the village come and play after school-time.

Mr. Right used often to walk among them, and was so
kind and good-natured, that he would sometimes play with
them at cricket, or assist those who did not know how to
play without being taught; or he would help them to fly
their kites, or give them a piece of string for their peg-tops.
He was so good a man himself, that he wished to make
everybody happy; but as he knew none could be so who
were not good, he took great pains to teach them to be
good; and if ever he saw any of the cliildren behave wrong,
or quarrel, or use ugly words, he always made them leave
off play, and took them into his house, and talked a great
deal to them of their fault, and tried to convince them how
silly it was to behave in such a manner; and if they would
not mind him, and promise to be good, he sent them home,
and would not let them play in his field ; and if they dared
to play there again before they had asked his leave, he sent
his man to drive them out with a horsewhip.

One day, when all the children were as usual gone to play
in the field, Mr. Right heard a great screaming, and going
to enquire what was the reason of such a noise, he found
Ben Heady and Jack Sneak fighting like two dogs; while
Kitty Spruce, Sally Neatwood, Polly Nimble, and many
more little girls were most of them crying and gathering up
bunches of flowers which lay scattered about on the grass:
the rest of the boys were either looking at them, or else
playing together at the other end of the field. ' What is the
matter here V said Mr. Right. ' What is the meaning of all
this confusion? Ben Heady and Jack Sneak! leave off
fighting this moment, and let me know what is the matter.'

Ben and Jack were so much engaged that they did not
mind what was said to them, but continued knocking each
other about till Mr. Right took hold of each of them, a^id
insisted upon being told what they were fighting for. Ben
said he fought because Jack was a cheat; and Jack said he
fought because Ben struck him first; but they were both in


such passions, that Mr. Right could not find out what they
were quarrelling for, or understand wliat they said; for when
])eople put themselves in such hurries, there is no knowing
what they mean or wish to say. No children who are good
will ever i)ut themselves into passions or pets, because every-
thing is not just as they wish.

At last, after Mr. Right had waited for some time, and
could not get any account of the affray, he said, ' I find both
these children are too naughty to talk reason, or tell me
what is the matter; I desire, therefore, that somebody else
who saw what was the cause of their quarrel and of the
little girls crying, will tell me the whole truth.'

Kitty Spruce, who was about eleven years old, then came
to him, and said, ' I will tell you, sir, all about it. When I
went to-day to carry some eggs to Mrs. Meagrim, she ga\-e
me a large nosegay of flowers for my mother; but when I
took them home, my mother said they smelt so very sweet
they made her head ache, and if I liked them, I might have
them to play with. So when I came into the field, I brought
them with me ; and Sally Neatwood, Polly Nimble, Jenny
Liptrap, and some more little girls, and myself, picked some
more out of the hedges, and some daisies and butter-flowers
ofif of the grass, and were making some garlands round our
hats, when Ben Heady came to u.s, and kicked them all
about, to make the girls pipe, he said. Afterwards he took
a stick, and, with Roger Riot, drove us all before them.
^Vhilst we were running away. Jack Sneak picked up some
of the nosegays we had tied up, and put them into his
pockets, which when Ben saw, he left off driving us, ran to
him, and gave him a blow in the face, so then they both
stript and went to fighting, and that, sir, is the whole of the
aft air.'

' And a sad affair I think it is,' said Mr. Right. ' Is it not
a shocking thing, that a parcel of little boys and girls can-
not play together without fighting and quarrelling? Is it
not strange, that in this nice large field which I make no use
of for the sake of letting you all have a clean, safe, pleasant
place to play in, you cannot find room enough to follow
your own amusements without disturbing each other ? But


those who cannot be contented and good-humoured, shall
not come into it at all, for I will not allow of any quarrels
here; and unless you, Ben Heady, and you, Jack Sneak,
will shake hands together, and ask all the girls' pardon, as
likewise shall Roger Riot, I will send all three of you home
to your parents, and desire them to punish you as you de-
serve; nor shall either of you play again in my field till you
have acknowledged your faults, and ask pardon for what you
have done.'

Roger said he was very sorry for having behaved wrong;
that he did not think about its being ill-natured, and only
made the girls run for fun ; and that he was very willing not
only to beg their pardons, but would also help them to
gather some more flowers.

Mr. Right said he was glad to find him so ready to own
his fault, as it was the best thing people could do after
they had been in the wrong ; but he hoped for the future,
he would take more care how he behaved, and not do ill-
natured actions because he did not think about it ; for he
should always think what was right or wrong before he did

Then, turning to Ben Heady, enquired whether he would
ask pardon, and confess his fault, as Roger had done. But
Ben said, ' No ! I will never ask the girls' pardon.' ' No
more will I,' said Jack Sneak. ' Then you shall neither of
you stay here, said Mr. Right, and unless you change your
minds, and behave better, I will not give either of you a
Christmas-box;' (for Mr. Right used to give all the good
children in his parish either a new book, or a new hat, or
something useful, at Christmas). He then called his servant,
and sent them home to their parents with an account how
they had behavQ,d.

Ben Heady's father, as soon as ever he heard it, took up
a great horsewhip which lay upon the table, and thrashed
him very much indeed. ' I will teach you not to be so
spiteful again,' said he, ' What harm had the girls done you ?
and how dare you not mind what Mr. Right says to you?
I will make you remember being such a naughty boy.'

Jack Sneak did not escape much better ; for his father


gave him a box on the ear, and then pushed him into a
little closet, where he had no room to stir or move, saying,
' If you dont behave well enough to play in Mr. Right's field,
you shall not come and be troublesome here ; so that shall
be your playing-place, till you learn to be good, and not
quarrel and fight.'

After Mr. Right had sent Ben and Jack home, he returned
into his house, and all the rest of the children continued to
play very happily till it grew dark, and was time for them to
go home to bed. As they went by INIr. Right's parlour
window, they all made bows or curtsies, and then he came
out, and to every one he gave a nice round cake, telling
them he liked to please good children, and if Ben and Jack
had behaved well, they should each have had one too ; ' but
I never will give anything to naughty children, or let them
play in my field ; ' then wishing them a good night, and
charging them to be good the next day at school, he letumed
into the house, and they went away.


The next morning by nine o'clock Mrs. Bell's scholars were
once again met together, and Master Crafty, to whom she
had given a little bit of bread and a cup of water for his
breakfast, sat upon a stool in the corner of the room.
When she heard of Ben Heady and Jack Sneak's behaviour,
she placed them upon two more stools in the other corners
of the room ; for she said naughty children ought not to be
near the good ones.

Roger Riot, who was generally a very good-tempered boy,
though he sometimes was a little forgetful, brought a great
nosegay of flowers, as big as he could carry in both his hands,
to give to the girls, whose garland he had spoiled the night
before, and begged ISIrs. Bell to take care of them till they
went home ; so she kindly put them in water, and set them
in the yard, to keep them fresh till twelve o'clock ; for she
always tried to please her scholars when they were good.

She then gave them all their books and works ; and


whilst she was busy hearing one of the children read, Jack
Sneak crept softly out of the room, and went into the yard,
where he found the nosegay, and pulled it all to pieces, and
picked off every flower from the stalks, and hid the bits
under a washing tub, upon which the nosegay had been
placed. He then returned into school, and took up his book
as if he had not been out.

Nothing particular happened the rest of the morning : all
the other children behaved as they should do, and Miss
Hannah Right read so well, that Mrs. Bell gave her a new
book when she had done, and told her she might read in it
in the afternoon.

When the clock struck twelve, and they were going home,
the little girls asked for the nosegay which Roger Riot had

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 31 of 43)