Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ Helen, mother says you must go to school today; so get up, come along and get ready, and not be moping there any longer.”

“ Did mamma say so ?" inquired Helen.

“ Yes, she did. You are well enough I know, for you always say you are sick at school-time. Get your bonnet, for I shan't wait.”

6. Helen got up slowly, and wiping with her apron the tear which had started in her eye, she made her preparations to obey her mother's command. Now Clara had a very irritable disposition. She could not bear to have Helen receive any more attention or sympathy than herself; and unless she were really so sick as to excite her fears, she never would allow her to be sick at all. She was determined not to go to school alone this morning, and had persuaded her mother to make her sister go with her. .

7. In a few moments they were both ready: but now a difficulty presented itself. The distance to school was so great, that they seldom returned at noon. Their dinner had been packed for them, in a large basket which stood in the entry. Upon whom, now, should the task of carrying this devolve ?

“ Helen,” said Clara, “I've carried the basket every day for a week ; it's your turn now.”

“But it is twice as heavy now, Clara. I can but just lift it.”

8. “Well," answered Clara, “I don't care. I have got my Geography and Atlas to carry; so take it up, and come along, Miss Fudge. I shan't touch

[ocr errors]

Helen took up the basket without saying another word, though it required all her little strength, and walked slowly behind her sister. She tried hard to keep from crying, but the tears would come as fast

as she wiped them off. They walked on thus in silence for about a quarter of an hour.

9. Clara felt too much ill-humour to take the least notice of her sister. She knew she had done wrong, and felt uneasy, but was yet too proud to give up, and was determined to "hold out ;" excusing herself by thinking,—“Well, Helen is always saying she is sick, and making a great fuss. It's just good enough for her.” When she had reached the half-way stone, she had half a mind not to let her rest there, as usual ; but the habit was too strong, to be easily broken, and she sat down sullenly to wait for Helen to come up.

10. This was a spot, which few could have passed , unnoticed. The broad flat stone was shaded by a beautiful weeping willow, whose branches hung so low, that even little Maria could reach them by standing on tiptoe ;--and around the trunk of this tree, ran a little brook, which came up just to this rustic seat, and then turned off into the next meadow. It would seem as if the beauty of this place must have charmed away the evil spirit, which was raging in Clara's breast ;—but no! the cool shade brought no refreshment to those evil passions, and the little ripples which sparkled in the sunbeam, did not, for one moment, divert her attention from her own cross feel. ings.

11. As I said before, she sat sullenly, till Helen came up, and then began to scold her for being so slow.

“Why don't you come along faster, Helen ? you will be late to school, and I don't care if you are : you deserve a good scolding for acting so."

" Why, Clara, I am very tired, my head does ach, and this basket is very heavy. I do think you ought to carry it the rest of the way.”

12. “Do give it to me then,” said Clara ; and snatched it from her with such violence that the cover came off. The apples rolled out and fell into the water, the gingerbread followed, and the pie rolled into the dirt. It has been truly said, “ Anger is a short madness ;" for how little reason have those who indulge in it. Helen was not to blame for the accident, but Clara did not stop to think of this. Vexed at having thus lost her dinner, she turned and gave her little sister a push, and then walked on as rapidly as possible. O! could she have foreseen the consequences of this rash act-could she have known the bitter anguish, which it would afterwards cause her, worlds would not have tempted her to do it; but Clara was angry.

13. Helen was seated just on the edge of the stone, and she fell into the water. It was not deep. She had waded there many a day with her shoes and stockings off, and she easily got out again, but it frightened her very much, and took way all her strength. She could not even call to her sister, or cry. A strange feeling came over her, such as she had never had before. She laid her head on the stone, closed her eyes, and thought she was going to die, and she wished her mother was there. Then she seemed to sleep for a few moments ; but by and by she felt better, and, getting up, she took her empty basket and walked on, as fast as she was able, towards school.

14. It was nearly half done when she arrived there, and as she entered the room, all noticed her pale face

and wet dress. She took her seat, and placing her · book before her, leaned her aching head upon her

hand, and attempted to study: but in vain; she could not fix her attention at all. The strange feeling ber

gan to come over her once more; the letters all mingled together; the room grew dark; the shrill voice of the little child screaming its A B C in front of her desk, grew fainter and fainter; her head sunk upon her book, and she fell to the floor.

15. Fainting was so unusual in this school, that all was instantly confusion, and it was some minutes before the teacher could restore order. Helen was brought to the air ; two of her companions were despatched for water; and none were allowed to remain near, excepting Clara, who stood by, trembling from head to foot, and almost as white as the insensible object before her. O! what a moment of anguish was this, — deep, bitter anguish. Her anger melted! away at once, and she would almost have sacrificed her own life, to have recalled the events of the morning. That was impossible.

16. The future, however, was still before her, and she determined never again to indulge her temper, or be unkind to any one. If Helen only recovered, the future should be spent in atoning for her past unkindness. It seemed for a short time, indeed, as if she would be called upon to fulfil these promises. Helen gradually grew better, and in about an hour was apparently as well as usual. It was judged best, however, for her to return home, and a farmer, who happened to pass in a new gig, very kindly offered to take her.

17. Clara could not play with the girls as usual, she could not study. Her heart was full, and she was very impatient to be once more by her sister's side. The recesses were spent in collecting pictures, notes, and little books ;-and the long study-hours were employed in printing stories. In this way she attempted to quiet that still small voice, whose secret

whispers were destroying all her happiness. O how eagerly she watched the sun in his slow progress round the school-house; and when at last he threw his slanting beams through the west window, she was the first to obey the joyful signal; and books, papers, pen, and ink, instantly disappeared from her desk.

18. Clara did not linger on her way home. She even passed the half-way stone' with no other notice than a deep sigh. She hurried to her sister's bedside, impatient to show her the curiosities she had collected, and to make up, by every little attention, for her unkindness. Helen was asleep. Her face was no longer pale, but flushed with a burning fever. Her little hands were hot, and as she tossed restlessly about on her pillow, she would mutter to herself, --sometimes calling on her sister, to stop, stop,' and then again begging her not to throw her to the fishes.

19. Clara watched long, in agony, for her to wake. This she did at last; but it brought no relief to the distressed sister and friends. She did not know them, and continued to talk incoherently about the events of the morning. It was too much for Clara to bear. She retired to her own little room, and lonely bed, and wept till she could weep no more.

20. By the first dawn of light, she was at her sister's bedside ; but there was no alteration. For three days, Helen continued in this state. I would not, if I could, describe the agony of Clara, as she heard herself thus called upon, and deservedly reproached by the dear sufferer. Her punishment was, indeed, greater than she could bear.

21. At the close of the third day, Helen gave signs of returning consciousness,-inquired if the

« PreviousContinue »