Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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Tickleboy must walk out.' She then called Betsy Giddy to
say her task, who repeated it in a very indifferent manner,
as did also Miss Polly Right, Nancy Trundle, Jenny Liptrap,
Sam Strut, and many others. But when she called Master
Crafty, Jack Sneak, Ben Heady, and Roger Riot, they could
neither of them say a word, but coloured, and looked like so


many simpletons. 'O fie! fie!' said Mrs. Bell, 'are you not
all ashamed of yourselves % You four always seem as if
determined to be the naughtiest children in my school. I
believe I shall not permit you to come much longer, but
will speak to your fathers, and desire them to send you to
the school Harry Sturdy is gone to; for I hear the master of
that has got an excellent method of making boys mind;
and if they will not do without, he thrashes them most
heartily ; and indeed I think he is in the right of it : but for
my part, I do not wish for such sort of children to come to
me ; they give me more trouble than their pay is worth. I
like good boys and girls, and for them I think no pains and
care too much, for they deserve it all ; and though I have
not many young gentlemen and ladies in my school, yet I
will venture to say, I have as good children in it as any in
the world. Who can be better than Jacob Steadfast, Frank
West, Philip Trusty % or than Jenny Meek, Sally Neatwood,
Kitty Spruce, and Polly Nimble ? Such children as these
do honour to any school, and are a blessing greater than
any riches can be to their parents ; for wealth and honours
can never make people happy, but goodness can.'

Just as she spoke these words, Miss Nancy Dawdle en-
tered the room, sobbing and hanging her head, as if ashamed
to show her face. ' Here,' continued Mrs. Bell, ' seems to
be a proof of what I am saying. Miss Dawdle is a young
lady; her parents are rich; but I do not think she appears
as if she was at i)resent veiy happy. Then turning to Miss
Nancy she enquired what was the matter, and what had
occasioned her tears. Instead of returning any answer,
Miss Dawdle only burst out into a louder roar, and sobbed so
violently, that it was some time before she could even hear
what ^Irs. Bell said to her ; but when she began to grow
rather more silent, Mrs. Bell, taking her by the hand, said,
' I am certain. Miss Nancy, by your behaviour, that you
have been a naughty child: you have committed some fault
or other, and your mamma has ordered you to tell me, that
I may punish you for it. But come, tell me honestly the
truth what it is you have done, and perhaps you may escape
better than you e.xpect.' Miss Dawdle then declared she


had done nothing, only fallen down and knocked out one of
her teetli, which was the cause of her crying; and had it
not been for that accident she should have been at school
almost an hour sooner.

Mrs. Bell then looking in her mouth, and finding that was
really the truth, told her to be pacified, and not cry any
more: вАФ 'but,' added she, ' I fear there is some other cause
likewise, or else why did you increase your tears so much
when I first enquired what was the matter ? Howe\er, it is
nothing necessary for me to be acquainted with : I will not
desire you to tell me: I do not wish to be curious about
things that do not concern me, so dry up your tears, and
come, let me hear you repeat your task : I am sure you have
had time enough to learn it, and I hope you can say it quite
perfect, as INIiss Hannah Right and many others have done,
without miscalling one word.'

Upon Mrs. Bell's saying this, Nancy began to cry again,
and appeared very unwilling to find the place in her book,
Mrs. Bell then taking it out of her hand looked it out,
saying, ' Come, come. Miss Dawdle, I see very plainly the
cause of your tears besides your fall : I fancy you like not
to say your lesson, because you are conscious you cannot,
and therefore are sensible you deserve to be punished; but
let me hear how well you can repeat what I gave you to learn:
I am sure it was not more than Polly Nimble or any good
child could have learned with ease in one day; so pray
begin.' Here Mrs. Bell paused, expecting Miss Nancy to
begin at least, though she might not be able to go all the
way through ; but Nancy remained silent. Mrs. Bell then
told her the first word; still she was silent. Mrs. Bell then
repeated the whole line; but Miss Nancy continued dumb.
Mrs. 'Bell then taking hold of her shoulder, and giving her a
shake, enquired if she did not intend to speak at all. ' Say
as much as you can child,' said she. Still Nancy made no
other reply than her tears. ' What I have you lost your
tongue, child ? ' enquired Mrs. Bell. ' What in the world is
the matter with you % Cannot you say any part of your task
at all ? Answer me this moment, for I do insist upon know-
ing why you behave so. Can you say any of your task, or



can you not?' To this plain question Miss Dawdle sobbed
out the words 'No, madam.' 'And are you, then, not
ashamed of yourself?' rejoined Mrs. Bell. ' Is this behaving
like a young lady ? It is behaving like a dunce, I think ;
and a dunce you will be all the days of your life. When you
grow to be a woman, do not you think you will make a pretty
appearance, not to be able to read, or know even the ne-
cessary contents of that task I set you % But if you do not
regard being such a dunce, for my own credit, I assure you,
I shall not let you continue so, for I do insist upon your
learning it; and till you can say it perfect, you shall continue
here an hour every day after school-time; and so shall you,
Master Crafty, and you, Ben Heady, and Jack Sneak, and
Roger Riot; for when I tell you to learn any lesson, I ex-
pect to be minded, and will be so, I assure you.'

Mrs. Bell then gave Miss Dawdle her work ; but she had
not done much before the clock struck twelve, and all the
children, except herself and the four above-mentioned boys,
went home. Mrs. Bell then gave them all their books, and
told them to be good children and take pains to learn their
tasks : ' for,' said she, ' the sooner you learn them the sooner
you will be at liberty to go home with the other children at
twelve o'clock.'

Roger Riot sat down and very diligently attended to his
book, so that when the clock struck one he could say a very
considerable part of it ; Jack Sneak likewise learned some
few lines of his; Master Crafty sat with his book before him,
pretending to be trying to learn his, instead of which he was
only counting the lines in the pages, and the letters in the
words, without getting one word the forwarder ; but Ben
Heady sat pouting, and sullenly refusing to look in his book
at all; whilst Miss Dawdle was fretting and crying in the
same manner as she had done at home.

Mrs. Bell, then getting up, went and unlocked her cup-
board. 'Well!' said she, ' I was in hopes that this new thing
(taking a rod in her hand) would have had no occasion to
have been produced ; but since you are such naughty
children, and will not be persuaded to mind by being spoken
to, I shall make use of it, I promise you ; for do not think


that I will have you crying here all clay, doing no good, and
not getting any forwarder. If you will sit and cry you shall
have greater cause for your tears than you have at present,
Miss Dawdle: so come hither to me this moment, for I will
suffer such behaviour no longer.' Nancy, upon finding Mrs.
Bell thus determined to punish her, instead of going to her,
ran to the farther side of the room, and earnestly begged her
to forgive her, promising if she would not whip her that time
she would be good for the future, and take more pains with
her learning.

Mrs. Bell, who was always very good-natured, and never
chose to inflict any punishment when she could possibly do
without, was glad to hear Miss Nancy promise to improve,
and told her if she would indeed try and be good, she would
for that time excuse her, and not proceed any farther. Miss
Nancy then once more sat down and dried up her tears as
soon as she could, and then found it very possible to learn
some of her task. All the while Mrs. Bell was engaged thus
with Miss Dawdle, Ben Heady sat holding his book between
his knees, but never once would open it to look in it, or
scarcely so much as raise his eyes off the ground, but con-
tinued looking down, with his lips pouting out in the most
stupid, sullen manner imaginable. Mrs. Bell then turning to
him said, 'You seem, Ben Heady, as if determined to be
as obstinate and naughty as you can. But what do you
expect to get by such behaviour, or who do you think you
shall most punish ? If you choose to be a blockhead all the
days of your life, it is yourself that will suffer for it, and not
I; and if you choose to be punished every day, and lose all
your play, as you already have those nice games you used
to enjoy in Mr. Right's field, it is you that feel uncomfortable
and wretched, and nobody else ; but if you will not look in
your book, but choose to sit in that stupid manner, there is
no occasion for the glorious light of the sun to be wasted
upon you; darkness will serve just as well for you to pout in;
into the dark, therefore, you shall go; in my cellar there is a
nice little closet will just hold you if you sit upon the ground,
or stand stooping, and that shall be your abode till you learn
to make a better use of the light than you do at present.'


She then took hold of his hand, and was pulh'ng him to
make him rise from his seat, which he resisted with all his
might, twisting his legs round the frame of the form, and
holding it tight with both his hands, when his father at that
instant entered the room. ' Heighday ! ' said he, ' I called,
madam, as I passed by, to enquire what was the reason of
Ben's being so late this morning, but I need ask no questions:
I see he is a naughty boy.'

'Indeed, sir,' replied Mrs. Bell, 'he is a very naughty boy.'
She then told him all that had passed; how he sat sullenly
quiet without minding his book, or anything she said to him;
and that she was going to take him out of her sight, and put
him in the cellar till he would grow good. ' Ay, pray
madam do,' said his father, ' for he quite tires out my patience
he behaves so bad; but I am determined not to keep him
much longer at home. There is a friend of mine lives in
Cornwall, and he has been so kind as to offer to take him if
I please to send him, and then he will carry him to the tin
mines and make him work hard tliere, underground ; it is
terrible, laborious, disagreeable work; but I am resolved there
he shall go, for I will not have the daily affliction of seeing
his bad obstinate behaviour. But, madam, you seem to have
some difficulty in lifting him: give me leave to help you.'

Mr. Heady then took hold of his son, and lifting him by
the arms, carried him after Mrs. Bell into her cellar, and then
shut him into a little closet, where he was very uncomfortable,
for it was not high enough to permit him to stand upright,
nor wide enough to let him sit upon the ground with his legs
out straight before him, so that he could only stand stoop-
ing, or else sit all on a heap, with his knees up to his chin.
In this dismal situation, however, he continued all day with-
out any food; for his father desired he might not have any
unless he would promise to be good.

In the meantime, whilst he was shut up in tlie cupboard,
and the others who had neglected their tasks were confined
in the school-room, the rest of Mrs. Bell's scholars were all
enjoying themselves at play in Mr. Riglu's field, who very
kindly went amongst them to entjuire how they did, and
whether they had been good at school, and repeated their


tasks perfectly. Those vv'no were conscious that they had
done so answered at once without any hesitation; whilst the
others, who were sensible they had not acquitted themselves
quite so well, coloured, and looking confused, most of them
walked away without returning any answer. Little Dick
Skipper indeed spoke directly, and said, ' I cannot say, sir,
we have all of us learned our tasks so well as we ought to
have done; but we intend to con them over again till we can
say them perfect: but Mrs. Bell did not forbid our coming
to play, nor was she very angry with us, though she did not
give us such nice cakes and sugar-plums as she did those
who did not miss a word.'

' No, to be sure,' replied Mr. Right, ' I do not think it
would have been just to have rewarded you who were care-
less and idle the same as those who were industrious and
learned their lessons; but I am glad to find you intend to
make the best amends you can for your past faults, and
learn them perfectly; and if I were you I think I would not
come much to play till I had done so; for then you will
enjoy yourselves much better than you can now, whilst you
know that business still remains to be done.' ' If you think
so, sir,' replied Dick Skipper, ' I will go home now, and mind
it now till I go back to school, and I dare say by that time
I shall be able to say it' 'And so will I too,' said Sam
Strut ; ' and I,' said Billy Freeman ; ' and I,' said Betsy
Giddy; 'and I,' said Nancy Trundle; 'and I,' said Jenny
Liptrap; ' and I,' ' and I,' said half-a-dozen besides, who all
ran home as fast as ever they could, leaving behind them
only those few who had been wise enough to learn theirs in
proper time. Mr. Right continued talking to them some
time. ' You see, my dears,' said he, ' the advantage of per-
forming your business in a proper manner and at the right
time: it leaves you at liberty afterwards to follow your diver-
sion; and so, depend upon it, you will always find it through
life, when you shall be called upon to fill more important
employments than learning your tasks. If you neglect that
business which ought to be done in the morning till the
afternoon, the proper business for the afternoon must be put
off till the next day; and, consequently, the next day will be


overcrowded with what remains to be done, that nothing will
be performed as it should be: everything will be slighted and
done in a bad manner, neither will you have any leisure to
enjoy the society of your friends, or even have the comfort
of taking a walk. Only think of our neighbours, Mr. and
Mrs. Scuttle! Do they ever seem to have any peace or en-
joyment of their lives? they are always in a hurry and con-
fusion; their house is disordered and dirty, their clothes are
ragged and untidy, their children neglected and untaught,
their works seldom done at the time appointed; and all this
discomfort and confusion proceeds from that foolish habit of
neglecting to do their business at the proper season. He is
a tailor, you know, and if he has any job of work to do,
instead of setting about it directly and getting it finished by
the time he promised, he neglects to begin it so long that he
at last is in the greatest hurry and bustle that can be ima-
gined, and everything else must be neglected to enable him
to complete it in time. His wife acts in the same foolish
method in everything she has to do. Instead of concluding
her necessary household business of a morning as quick as
she can, and then sitting down to her needle, and the care
of her children, she dawdles about and neglects, till the day
is almost spent, what she ought to have concluded in the first
hour or two of the morning; then she has no time for the
necessary jobs that remain to be done; the little holes in her
own and children's gowns go unmended till they become
great ones, and their faces also unwashed till they look
almost like pigs. Thus, from their own bad management
they lose every comfort of life, and instead of living reputably,
as they might veiy well afford to do, they are the most ragged
and distressed looking people of any family in my parish.
And this, my children, will always be the case with those
people who foolishly follow their pleasures at im[)roper times,
and neglect doing their business when it ought to be done.
Play is very necessary for young folk, but they ought never
to go to it till after they have done their proper necessar)'
em]jloyments. It is with pleasure, therefore, my dears, I
hear you have all acquitted yourselves so well; and as a little
reward for your industry I will give to each of you boys a


new bat; and you, my little girls, shall each of you have a
nice new rosy-faced baby/

Mr. Right then bid them all follow him into his house,
where he presented them all either with a bat or a doll; and
Mrs. Right gave them every one a fine large peach and a
handful of almonds and raisins. They then all made their
bows and courtseys in the very best manner they could, and
returning Mr. and Mrs. Right thanks for their kind notice of
them, tripped home to get ready to return to school again,
where they arrived almost as soon as Master Crafty, Miss
Dawdle, Jack Sneak, and Roger Riot had left it to go home
for their dinners, who were all obliged to return back again
the moment they dined, without having any time to play.

As soon as they were all assembled, Mrs. Bell talked a
great deal to them to convince them of the folly of neglect-
ing their tasks. ' I dare say,' said she, ' some of you think
me cross for setting you so much to learn ; but you should
consider, my dears, it is entirely for your benefit that I give
you any. Your parents send you to me that you may learn
to read, and not to be dunces ; and I should not do my duty
did I not try to improve you as much as I can during the
time you are with me ; for, my dears, it will not be long
before you must all leave school, and you who are poor must
provide for yourselves; whilst you who are happy enough to
be raised above the necessity of hard labour, still will find
it very requisite to do something besides sitting with your
hands before you in idleness ; and then you will have no time
to learn your books and improve yourselves, and will be
sorry that you neglected the present opportunity, when your
parents are so kind as to spare their money to pay for your
due education.' Just as Mrs. Bell said this they heard a
great noise in the road, and looking out they saw a man with
his hands cuffed led by to go to the county gaol, followed by
a great mob of people, amongst whom was his poor mother,
who was crying ready to break her heart. She had followed
him a long way, and just as she came opposite Mrs. Bell's
door, her foot turned on one side and sprained her ankle, so
that she could not possibly walk any farther. Mrs. Bell saw
the accident, and very kindly begged she would come into


the house and rest herself, and have her foot rubbed with a
Httle vinegar. The poor woman accepted the offer, and after
kissing her son very tenderly, went into the room, where her
tears for some time prevented her speaking. At last she
said, ' I am much obliged to you, madam, for this kindness
to me, and sincerely hope you will never know what it is to
suffer so much unhappiness as I do ; for I am, madam, one
of the most wretched of women. That young man you saw
with his hands cuffed is my son, who is now going to gaol
for a robbery he has committed, and I dare say he will cer-
tainly be hanged. I have long been afraid he would come
to so shocking an end, for he has always been a sad unduti-
ful lad, and never would attend to what his father and I said
to him, but would go in his own way, and never be advised
to be good.

'When he was a child at school he never took any delight
in his learning, but used to saunter away his time and be
idle; and, all I could say to him, I never could persuade him
to be diligent, and so he got into bad company, and played
with children who were as naughty as himself; and they
taught him to use bad words, and laugh at everything that
was good; and so he went on from one fault to another till
at last he committed that for which he is now going to suffer.
And I hope, my little dears,' continued she, addressing her-
self to all the scholars, ' this will be a warning to you, and
make you all good, and mind what is said to you, or else
you some day or other will be in the same situation ; for
naughty children, who will not mind their parents and
teachers, will make wicked men and women, and then they
must Ix; punished and hanged, like my poor unhappy boy.'
Here she was so overpowered by her grief that she could say
no more, and it was with great difficulty she was kept from
going into fits.

Mrs. Bell very kindly heli)ed her upstairs, and laid her
down upon her bed. After she hatl sat by her till she grew
a little better, she returned to her scholars. ' This afternoon,
my dears,' said she, ' has been so much interrupted, that I
have not been able to hear one quarter of you read, and
now it is past five, so that I suppose you all want to get

* D D


home ; and as it has not been your own faults that you have
not said your lessons, I will not detain you \ and I hope
what you have this day seen as the bad consequence of vice
will keep you all from ever practising it in the smallest
degree.' The children all promised they would always en-
deavour to be good ; and even Ben Heady (whom she then
let out of the closet) said likewise he would try to be a better
boy than he had been, ' Well,' replied Mrs. Bell, ' if you will
but try to be so, I am sure you will, for it is entirely in your
own power.' She then charged them to come soon the next
morning, and returned upstairs to the poor woman, who con-
tinued so extremely ill, and her ankle so much swelled, that
Mrs. Bell could not bear the thought of sending her away,
but very kindly insisted upon her staying all night. She
then undressed her, and put her into her own bed, intending
to sit up to nurse her.

Mrs. Bell was making a shirt for one of her neighbours
whose wife was ill, and she sat working at that by the bed-
side; and whether she fell asleep with that upon the table,
and a spark from the candle fell upon it ; or whether she set
fire to her head, or what way the accident happened I cannot
tell ; but by some means or other, about three o'clock in the
morning, her house was discovered by her neighbours to be
in flames. The whole village was instantly alarmed, and all
possible methods tried to extinguish it ; but all to no effect.
It was a wooden house, with the roof thatched, so that it
blazed with great violence, and was burned down to the
ground in less than a quarter of an hour from the time it was
first discovered. Some bones were the next day found in
the rubbish, but the flesh was so entirely consumed as to
make it impossible to distinguish Mrs. Bell from the poor
woman she so charitably assisted. So concluded the fife of
that most valuable member of society, much lamented and
much beloved by all the inhabitants of Rose Green, and
an irreparable loss to all the rising generation of that place.
From this fatal accident it is to be hoped that everybody will
learn to be extremely cautious not to leave candles burning
near linen or anywhere, without constantly watching that
they may do no mischief.



There reigned once upon a time, in a distant island, a good
prince who was passionately beloved by all his subjects. It
could not happen otherwise, for he was their common father.
He provided for all their reasonable wants, he rewarded
those who deserved well of their country, and he let none
of the wicked, nor even the idle, escape without punishment.
This amiable monarch had but one cause of anxiety: Myra,
his only child, by no means requited the attention which
had been given to her education. At twelve years of age
she was shamefully ignorant. Her thoughtlessness made
her forget every lesson which she had been taught, and her
presumption kept pace with her want of knowledge ; of con-
sequence as she thought herself perfectly accomplished, she
despised all instruction. One day she was indulging her
absurd vanity by hinting, that were she to govern the island,
things would be better managed than they were now. The
king, having been informed of his daughter's sentiments,
sent for her immediately. On her coming, he told her,
without the least discomposure, ' that as she was destined
to reign, one day or other, over his kingdoms, he should
wish to know how far her talents were proper for so important
a charge.' ' We may, if you please,' added this good prince,

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 36 of 43)