Page images

This civil bickering* and debate

The goddess chanced to hear,
And flew to save, ere yet too late,

The pride of the parterre. +
“ Yours is,” she said, “the nobler hue,

And yours the statelier mien ;
And, till a third surpasses you,

Let each be deemed a queen.”


Let no mean jealousies pervert your mind,
A blemish in another's fame to find :
Be grateful for the gifts that you possess,
Nor deem a rival's merit makes yours less.



A POOR day-labourer had grown in his garden an uncommonly large turnip, at which everybody was astonished. "I will make a present of it,” he said, “ to our noble master, because it pleases him when we manage the fields and gardens well.”

He carried the turnip to the castle; and the noble lord praised the industry and generosity of the man, and gave him three ducats.

A countryman in the village, who was very rich and very covetous, heard of it, and said, “I shall at once make a present of my great calf to the noble lord of the place. If he gives three beautiful gold pieces for a trumpery turnip, how much shall I receive for a beautiful calf ?”

* Bickering, quarrelling, contention. + Parterre, flower-beds in a garden.

He led the calf in a rope to the castle, and begged the gracious master to accept it as a present. The master knew well why the avaricious countryman behaved so generously, and said he did not wish the calf.

But the countryman continued to beg him not to despise so small a gift. . At last the shrewd nobleman said, “Well now, as you really force me to it, I will take your present. But as you are so particularly generous towards me, so neither can I be found parsimonious. I will therefore make you a present in return, which cost me fully two or three times more than your calf is worth.”

And saying thus he gave the astonished and disconcerted peasant the well known large turnip!

[ocr errors]

The gen'rous heart earns rich reward,
But selfish gifts men disregard.



[ocr errors]

“ I am sure that she means to slight me; six days has she been in town, and yet has never come to see me !” exclaimed Sophia, bursting into passionate tears.

She has doubtless been very busy," quietly observed her mother. “ Her brother is just departing for India ; she has so much to take up her thoughts and her time that we may be satisfied that she has a good reason for not coming. I am sure that she does not intend to give offence."

“I am certain that she does !” exclaimed Sophia, who had the very unhappy art of making herself wretched by always expecting too much from others, and by being ever on the look-out for anything like a slight.

“ You remind me of a story that I once read," said her mother, “of a gentleman who lived in India, a place where scorpions so abound that they creep under furniture, and even hide in shoes, so that great care is required to avoid them.”

Sophia dried up her tears, and turned to listen ; for, like most young people whom I know, she delighted in anything like a story.

“One day," continued her mother, “the gentleman of whom I speak, probably intending to take a ride, began to put on a pair of boots. What was his aların when, on thrusting his foot into one, he felt a sharp sting-like pang!”

“ Was it a scorpion ?” exclaimed Sophia.

“The same thought flashed across the gentleman's mind. 'I am stung!' thus he reflected; I shall perhaps die from the injury ; but at least I will kill the venomous creature, whatever pain it may cost me.'

So he stamped down his foot, with mingled anger and fear, and was more hurt than before ; but the greater his pain the harder he crushed down the thing which caused it.

“It must be dead at last !' cried the gentleman, much excited, as he drew his poor foot out at length. 'I should like to see the reptile !' so, lifting up his boot, he shook it violently, to throw out what was in it, and out tumbled

Oh, mamma! what was there ? ” cried Sophia.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

“ Out tumbled a shoe-brush, my dear."

Oh, dear!” exclaimed Sophia, laughing ; "so he had been stamping on the bristles all the time, and hurting himself dreadfully, all for nothing !”

“He had been taking an innocent shoe-brush for a venomous reptile, my love, when a little examination would have shown him, and some other people besides, that we may inflict upon ourselves much causeless pain, by always fancying the worst, and being on the look-out for scorpions ! ”

The gentle lecture of the mother was here interrupted by the entrance of Sophia's long-expected friend ; and when the little girl found' what good cause had kept that friend away from her so long, and how foolish and unjust her own suspicions had been, she turned with an arch smile towards her mother, and whispered, “Ab, mamma, I now see what you meant ! I have been stamping on the shoe-brush in the boot.”


IF people's tempers should cast shadows, what would they be ?" said Augustine, as he lay on the grass and looked at Amy's shadow on the fence. “ Joe Smith's would be a fist doubled up; and Sam Stearn's a bear, for he is always growling; and sister Esther's a streak of sunshine; and cousin Julia's a sweet little dove; and mine—;" here Augustine stopped.

According to Augustine, then, our inner selves are casting their shadows; that is, I suppose, we are throwing off impressions of what we really are, all


around us; and, in fact, we can no more help doing so than we can fold up our real shadows and tuck them away in a drawer.

Suppose we follow out Augustine's idea, and ask, And mine—what shadow would my temper cast ?” It might surprise and possibly frighten us, although it might, in some measure, help us to "see ourselves as others see us. The fact is, our associates know us better than we know ourselves, they see our shadows: and, although they may sometimes be longer or shorter than we really are, the outlines are in the main all correct; for our shadows are, after all, the images of ourselves.

We sometimes hear of people who are “afraid of their shadows,” and it seems cowardly and foolish ; but if Augustine's idea should come to pass, a great many would have reason to be frightened by the image of their inner selves, so deformed and unsightly it might be, or so disagreeable that nobody would wish to take a second look.

Now, it is this shadowing out of what we really are, in spite of ourselves, which makes it such a sober and responsible business to be living, and which makes it so immeasurably important to be living right; for other people are constantly seeing and feeling our influence, whatever it may be. Every boy at school is throwing off a good or bad impression upon his school-mates. Every boy at home is casting off kind and gentle influences in the little circle around him ; or, it may be, he is like the image of a fist doubled up, or a claw scratching, or like a vinegar cruet, pouring out only the sour. How is this ? Let my young readers look to this point.


« EelmineJätka »