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I REMEMBER, when I was at school, there was a little boy whom every one nicknamed lazy Bobby. At first I could not understand why he went by that dishonorable name; for Bobby to all appearance seemed to me the most harmless lad in the whole school. And so indeed he was; but, as I afterwards found out, a harmless good-for-nothing is as great a plague as a mischievous boy any day. The one will not work at all, but the other's fault is in doing too much, although sometimes not in the right way, to be
One day I came up with Bobby sauntering along by the roadside on his way to school. “Good morning, Bobby," said I; “we must make haste; it is ten minutes to nine, and we have half a mile to go."
“Oh!” said he, “I can walk it in less than ten minutes, and I should like to get at those blackberries. Look at the clusters of them on that spray! You can reach them, I think, for you are taller than I.” “Very gladly if I had time" replied I, “but you see we shall be late enough for school as it is."
Bobby's eye sparkled at the fruitful hedge; he gave a grumble at me, and lagged behind. I made haste for school, and was just in time: glad was I, for master used to look annoyed at late-comers.
At a quarter past nine, Bobby came waddling in. again, as usual ; ” said the master, “what has kept you ?" Oh! I blushed for Bobby when I heard him answer that he had to go a message for his mother, for I knew it was not the case. For the first time I observed how laziness or sloth may easily lead to falsehood or deceit.
When we were working our sums, lazy Bobby was sitting next me, and I felt a loathing at his being so near.
very strange and perhaps it was wrong — but I could not gaze at his dull looking eyes with any pleasure. And then he quite vexed me by peering stealthily at my slate, for I felt quite sure he was copying my work, instead of working for himself. Now, it so happened that I had done
my sum wrong,
and the master, in his rounds, showed me the error. When he came to Bobby he found the same blunder, and as Bobby had so often laid himself open to suspicion, the teacher charged him with copying from me; for how could he make precisely the same mistakes as I ?
In short, he could not deny the accusation, although he was not candid enough to confess it. At last being pressed with a severity that I thought he richly deserved, he mumbled that the sum had been “ too difficult” for him. Now. Bobby had been long at school, and it need not have been a hard sum, had he been a hard worker.
This crooked confession did not, however, save him, as he vainly thought it would; for the master at once told him that that was no reason for deceiving him by presenting his neighbour's work as his own. That was a lie, and none the whiter for being a dumb one.
Having no respect for the good opinion of his master and school-fellows, he soon lost respect for himself. First he was the laziest boy, then he became the most deceitful, and by and by he was the only unhappy boy of the school.
THE HAUNTED HOUSE.
I must have been about thirteen years old when a dozen of us schoolboys went together to explore an old house said to be haunted. It was called the “Ragged Windows,” and stood in a lonely place, far from any dwelling.
It was in the month of October, and about six o'clock at night, that we set off all together. Tarlton, one of the boldest boys in the school, and Harley, one of the cleverest, were of the party. We had a stable lantern with us, for the night was getting very dark; the wind moaned through the trees, and the dried leaves rustling along the ground, frequently made us start.
Though we all pretended to believe that there was no danger, yet every one carried a staff to protect himself from harm.
In a short time we arrived at the old stone wall, which was in front of the Ragged Windows. Two or three, who had moved from the rest to find the part of the wall easiest to get over, cried out that they heard footsteps inside the house; and one would have it that he saw a flash of light at some of the windows. But Tarlton laughed at them for faint-hearted fellows.
There were many rooms, and they all appeared wretched enough. After examining them for some time, we went up a second pair of stairs, and found that the floors of the rooms had been much decayed by the rain which had fallen through the roof.
At this moment a violent slamming of the door was heard below. It shook the old house from top to bottom, and made
my heart beat so fast that I could hardly breathe. We all turned round, for the purpose of making our way out as fast as possible; but to our terror, there, at the bottom of the stairs, stood something as still as death, dressed all in white. We hurried up the stairs again, for neither
of Tarlton nor the good sense of Harley, appeared equal to meet the figure we had seen. three of our companions plunged into the old granary. The floor instantly gave way, and one fell through. Luckily, however, he caught hold of the spars of wood on which the boards rested, otherwise a serious accident might have occurred. With some difficulty we got our companions together again; but Tarlton kicked over the lantern, which fell through the hole on the floor. We were left in perfect darkness.
After a silence of some minutes, a faint light was seen at the end of the granary: our eyes were riveted to the spot, when suddenly there rose up through the floor a figure clad in white flowing robes.
Our knees began to tremble. But when the figure stretched out its arms, and a terrific bang shook the house to its foundations, we waited no longer, but tumbled altogether pell-mell down the stairs, and made off as fast as possible. would
you believe it, that Tarlton was at the bottom of the mischief all the time? After he had fixed with us the hour at which we should go to the Ragged Windows, he had gone to a waggoner and ploughboy living at farmer Freshfield's, and persuaded them to join him in frightening us. They all went to Ragged Windows together to prepare it for our reception. There was a hole through the floor of the granary, so they passed a string over a rafter in the roof, that they might pull up through the broken floor a new white smock frock, with a stick run through the arms. They had also got hold of an old pistol ; and in this way Tarlton, the waggoner, and the plough lad, almost frightened us out of our senses.
COUNTRY CHILDREN. While at home I was thrown chiefly among the village lads, and I used to see them at their work. Joe Garner, Cris Newtown, and the rest, had to go out and work in the fields when they could get jobs to do, and as they were often at work in my father's fields, I was in the habit of going to spend a good deal of time with them.
I used to pity those lads, and think how hard it was, that, instead of strolling away in search of adventure, they must be kept to a field picking stones off the grass, or looking after the lambs; but I don't pity any such lads now. I have seen and heard a little more of the world since then, and the life of village children seems to me quite heavenly, compared to that of thousands of town children. I have heard the little sweeps coming knocking at the door in the dark winter's morning ever so early ; and then I have heard them rumbling in the chimney ; and then their shrill voices screaming at the top of it, in the sharp morning air, as I lay snug in my bed.
Since these and other things have come to my knowledge, 0 ! how happy and blithe seems even the worst life of country children! Why, thinking of town hardships, and then turning to the country, I seem to see only rosy children rolling on green slopes, wandering through green dells and woods of delight, laughing and singing, and shouting in glad little troops beneath the village tree, or busy on some sunshiny bank, making mills and weighing out dust for sugar. Or. I see them collected round the cottage hearth at night, listening to tales of wonder - Jack the Giant-killer
-Jack and the Bean-stalk Tom Thumb, and Little Red Riding-hood.
No; I have no pity for country lads in general. They have, it is true, to blow their fingers over turnip-pulling on