Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

repeated all she had said, and thus so completely convinced the two gentlemen of her father's dishonesty, that they not only refused to accede to his discharge, but told what they had heard to Sir James Amberry, who, in consequence, wrote to Mr. Burford, declining to take him into partnership, and stating that he had preferred another, whom he believed to be an honester man.

4. Thus had this conceited girl blighted all her father's progpects by her vanity and falsehood. Mr. Burford, though unwell, immediately proceeded to London, to clear his character; and, being unable to afford a seat in the coach, he was obliged to walk. The fatigue increased his illness, and he was laid up at an inn on the wayside in a raging fever. Meanwhile, Sir James Amberry and his lady, travelling to Wales, put up at the same inn for a night, and learning that a poor traveller was lying very ill there, they charitably went to see him.

5. Sir James was surprised to find that it was the unfortunate Burford, and still more to hear the sick man raving about the mischiefs which his daughter had brought upon him by her talk in the stage-coach. In short, an explanation was thus brought about. Sir James Amberry, convinced of his innocence, 94 spared no expense to secure his recovery; and Mr. Burford was soon restored quite well to his family. But the opportunity for beginning business again as a merchant had been lost through his wicked daughter, and he afterwards was obliged to content himself with a less lucrative employment. We may thus see what dangers lurk around us when we venture on the least departure* from truth.

MRS. OPJE

III. — ANOTHER DAY.
1. O! TIMELY happy, timely wise,

Hearts that with rising morn arise, -
Eyes that the beam celestial view,
Which evo more makes all things new!

2. New33 every morning is the love

Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life, and power, and thought.

3 New mercies, each returning day,

Hover around us while103 we pray ;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New Thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven:

4. If, in our daily course, our mind

Be set to hallow94 all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice :

5. Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,

As more of heaven in each we see ;
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care :

6. The trivial round, the common task,

Shall furnish all we ought to ask, -
Room to deny ourselves — a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

JOHN KEBLE.

IV. — THE PRISONER AND THE RATS. 1. In Paris there was once a large fortress called the Bastile, El which was used as a prison. The king, when offended with any one, caused him to be taken to the Bastile, and confined there. In this way many prisoners were kept in confinement for several years, and sometimes till the end of their lives. They were loaded with heavy chains; they were never allowed to go into the open air; and they were not permitted to see any of their relations.

2. There was once in the Bastile a prisoner named La Tude.* He was put in when twenty-three years of age, and kept there and in other prisons for thirty-five years, so that he was quite an old man when he got free. This poor man was confined for many years in a little room where he had no company. He saw no one but the jailer who brought him his food. This was the greatest of all his afflictions, for there are few things more necesa sary to happiness than the society of our fellow-creatures.

3. In La Tude's room there was no light, except what came through a horizontal slit in the wall; and, as the wall was thick, this slit was very deep. One day, as he was looking through the slit, he saw a rat come to the further end of it. Rats are creatures which human beings do not in general like to have near them ; but La Tude was so solitary that he was glad of the approach of any living thing. He threw the rat a small piece of bread, taking care not to frighten it by any violent move.

ment.91

4. The little visitor came forward and took the bread, and

* The a as in father, the u as in uso

then seemed to wish for more. La Tude threw another piece to a less distance, and the animal came and took that piece also. He then threw another to a still less distance, by which the rat wis tempted to come still nearer to him. Thus he inducedo it to have some confidence in him. As long as he threw bread, the creature remained ; and when it could eat no more, it carried off to its hole the fragments which it had not devoured.

5. The next day, the rat appeared again. La Tude threw it some bread, and also a small piece of beef, which it seemed to relish very much. On the third day it came again, and was now so tame as to eat from the prisoner's hands. On the fifth day it changed its residence to a small hole near the inner end of the slit, apparently wishing to be nearer to its benefactor. It came very early the next morning to get its breakfast from La Tude, and appeared no more that day.

6. On the ensuing morning it came again, but it now had a companion. This was a female rat, which peeped cautiously from the hole, apparently very much afraid of the prisoner. La Tude tried to entice the stranger towards him, by throwing brca) and meat to her; but for a long time she refused to venture out. At length, seeing the other rat eat so heartily, she rushed forward, seized a piece, and immediately retreated.

7. In a little while she became bolder, and even disputed somo pieces with the male rat. Whenever she succeeded in taking a piece out of his teeth, he came up to La Tude, as if to make complaint, and receive consolation. When La Tude gave him a piece to make up for what he had lost, the little creature95 sat down close by, and ate it in an ostentatious manner, sitting on his haunches, and holding the meat in his pats like a monkey, as if he meant to defy his female friend to come and take it from him, now that he was so near one who could protect him.

8. For some days the female continued to be very shy, though the male rat ate in peace near La Tude. But at length she could bear no longer to see her companion faring so well, while she was starving. One day, just as La Tude had given the male rat his first piece, she sprang out, and seized it in her teeth. The male rat held fast; she pulled violently; a severe struggle took place; and the two creatures rolled away together towards their hole, into which the female pulled the male. La Tude was greatly diverted by this contest, and, for the moment, almost forgot his misfortunes.

9. By and by the female rat became as familiar as the other, and daily ate her dinner out of La Tude's hand. There then appeared a third, who was much less shy at first than either of the others had been.98 At the second visit, this third rat consti

[ocr errors]

tuted himself one of the family, and made himself so per fectly at home, that he resolved to introduce certain companions. The next day he came accompanied by two others, who, in the course of a week, brought five more; and thus, in less than a fortnight, La Tude found himself surrounded by ten large rats.

10. He now gave them, severally, names, which they learned to distinguish. They would also come out whenever he called them. He allowed them for some time to eat out of his own plate; but, their habits being rather slovenly, he was afterwards glad to give them a separate dish. He would also make them leap, like dogs, for bits of bread and meat. When they had dined, he made them all dance around him. In short, they became to him like a family of gamesome little children, and he almost felt happy in their presence.

11. He now scarcely wished for freedom, for in the world he had met with nothing but cruelty and oppression, while here all was affection and peace. But his pleasure with his rats was not of long continuance : at the end of two years he was removed to another room in a distant part of the prison, whither his rats, of course, could not follow him. He wept bitterly at thus parting with the friendly creatures, and, for some time, felt the pains of imprisonment to be more severe than they ever appeared before.

12. We thus see how painful is complete solitude, and how gladly a human being will associate with any kind of company, rather than be altogether alone. The story also shows that, in certain circumstances, the creatures which we most loathe and despise may be of service to us.

V. — THE SCHOLAR'S PILGRIMAGE.

1. NOTHING could be more easy and agreeable than my condition when I was first summoned to set out on the road to learning, and it was not without letting fall a few ominous tears that · I took the first step. Several companions of my own age accom

panied me in the outset, and we travelled pleasantly together a good part of the way.

2. We had no sooner entered upon our path, than we were accosted by three diminutive strangers. These we presently discovered to be the advance-guard of a Lilliputian army, which was seen advancing towards us in battle array. Their forms were singularly grotesque: some were striding across the path, others standing with their arms a-kimbo; some hanging down their heads, others quite erect; some standing on one leg, others on two; and one, strange to say, on three; another had ais arms crossed, and one was remarkably crooked; some were very slender, and others as broad as they were long.

3. But, notwithstanding this diversity of figure, when they were all marsballed in line of battle they had ů very orderly and regular o appearance. Feeling disconcerted by their numbers, we were presently for sounding a retreat; but, being urged forward by our guide, we soon mastered the three who led the van, and this ve us spirit to encounter the main army, who were conquered to a man before we left the field. We had scarcely taken breath after this victory, when, to our no small dismay, w descried a strong reënforcement of the enemy, stationed on tiie opposite side. These were exactly equal in number to the former army, but vastly superior in size and stature; they were, in fact, a race of giants, though of the same species with the others, and were capitally a contregai for the onset.

4. Their appearance discouraged us greatly at first, but we found their strength was not proportioned to their size; and, having acquired much skill and courage by the late engagement, we soon succeeded in subduing them, and passed off the field in triumph. After this we were perpetually engaged with small bands of the enemy, no longer extended in line of battle, but in small detachments of two, three, and four in company. We had some tough work here, and now and then they were too many for us. Having amoyed us thus for a time, they began to form themselves into close columns,54 six or eight abreast; but we had now attained so much address, that we no longer found them formidable.

5. After continuing this route for a considerable way, the face of the country suddenly changed, and we began to enter upon a vast succession of snowy plains, where we were each furnished with a certain light weapon, peculiar to the country, which we flourished continually, and with which we made many light strokus, and some desperate ones. The waters hereabouts were dark and brackish, and the snowy surface of the plain was often defaced by them. Probably we were now on the borders of the Black Sea. These plains we travelled across and across for many a day.

6. Upon quitting this district, the country became far more dreary: it appeared nothing but a dry and sterile region, the soil being remarkably hard and slaty. Here we saw many curious figures, and we soon found that the inhabitants of this desert were mere ciphers. Sometimes they appeared in vast Dumbers, but only to be again suddenly diminished.

7. Our road, after this, wound through a rugged and hilly

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »