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as to make it bleed. But they did not mind these troubles much till they were on their way for home. But Maria and Julia both found that they had not enjoyed themselves quite as much as they expected, and then Maria began to think of her little bird: she had forgotten till now that she had no cage for it, and she did not know what food it took; she was afraid it would die. She felt very uneasy,
and wished she had not touched the bird.
It was growing dark. The little girls had staid longer than they had intended; they felt hungry, and tired, and very unhappy too, for they knew that very soon they must see their kind mother, and they dreaded to meet her.
They entered the house softly, hung their bonnets up in the usual place, and walked softly into the parlor. There was no one there. They stood looking at one another, and hesitating, not knowing what was to be done. Must they go into their mother's room, and see her in their torn frocks and muddy shoes ?
“What shall we say to mother,” said Maria, “when she asks us where we have been;-Oh, let's say we were late at school, for we were, you know; -school was not done till half an hour later than usual." “ But then,” said Julia, “ she'll know we did not stay all this while, so let's tell her all about it.” “Oh dear, I don't want to," said Maria,“ don't you wish we had not gone ?”
“Ay, I wish you had not gone,” exclaimed Thomas, one of the hired men, who had overheard the last sentence,-“ for then, I'd have been saved an hour's chase after you.”
The girls looked at one another with surprise and fear. Why miss,” continued he, “your father, and George, and I, have been searching for you this half hour, because your mother was so frightened."
Thomas disappeared, to tell the news of their return, and Julia and Maria determined at once to go and confess all to their mother. They walked softly up the stairs, and gently knocked at the door. Nurse came to the door ; she put her finger on her lip, to signify that they must not speak, while at the same time, she looked at them as they never before had seen her. That moment their mother spoke, and nurse ran to the bedside. The door was just open, and the children distinctly heard their mother's low voice, enquiring if they had returned. They thought she seemed more feeble than, when, in the morning, she requested to see the children. How sorry and grieved they felt as they walked softly across the room, and stood by their mother's bedside.
Why, my children! where have you been,” said she, taking a hand of each,- How could you stay from mne so long ?” The little girls held down their heads and burst into tears. At length Maria said, “We went to walk down by the willow-trees, and found a nest of birds; we did not know it was so late."
As she said these words, she looked into her mother's face. She looked very pale, and more sick than she had seemed, and Marja trembled when she thought,—what if she should die to-night ! how I wish I had not gone to walk.
Mrs. Packard was in reality much worse. She was too much exhausted to talk with the children, and they were obliged to leave her. Oh, how they felt when they received the usual kiss, and kind “Good night,” from their dear mother, and how sorry they felt to think they had disobeyed her.
Children are always punished for doing wrong ; for, though they may not receive either punishment or reproof from their parents, they will always suffer in their minds, unless they are very much hardened indeed.
DUTY AND THE RABBITS.
An older sister had usually accompanied little Alice to her school, but circumstances rendered it necessary that she should be placed for a time, under the protection of her brother James.
James was fond of Alice, and seemed much pleased with the idea of enjoying the company of the little prattler on his long walk to school.
“Oh ! dear!” said James one morning, as he looked at the clock, twenty minutes of nine ! I shall certainly be late.” As he said his the crowded his books into his satchel and caught up his cap from the table. In a moment he was half way down to the garden-gate, when suddenly recollecting Alice, he turned somewhat impatiently to look for her. She was just coming out of the door, and looked so smiling and happy, that James could not help pleasantly saying, “ Why Alice, you look as fresh and blooming as a rose.”
- James,” said his mother as she stood at the window watching their departure, “ take good care of
They walked on for some time silently. James was thinking of his Latin Grammar, and Alice was busy in plucking all the prettiest flowers and ar
ranging them into a nosegay for her teacher. Presently they came to the top of a bill which over-looked the school-house. James saw a number of his companions standing before the door apparently much engaged in conversation. He was very eager to join them, and began to run, and to urge on after him his little sister. Alice had walked much faster than usual all the way, and now really felt herself unable to keep up with her brother.
" James,” said she, “ do wait for me. Come and take hold of my hand. I'm tired, and I can't walk any
Oh!” said he, “ I cannot come back. I am in a great hurry, but I will wait for you till you get up to
Alice attempted to run and seize the hand which James held out to her, but unluckily she tripped against a stone, and fell to the ground.
James was busy in brushing off the dirt and dust from Alice's delicate dress, and endeavoring to divert her attention from her soiled apron, when some one called to him from behind. Upon turning round he perceived his school-mate, Tom, running towards him.
“ Holloa ! James,” said he, “ What makes you so Jate this morning? I've come to tell you that William Stone has got his rabbits, and we are all going to see them after school. There are four of them. Two white ones and two gray ones.”
« Oh ! I should be delighted to go,” said James, “ but,” continued he, hesitating and speaking in rather a low tone of voice, “ I don't believe I can."
“ Don't believe you can,” said Tom. “Why not?”
"Why, I suppose I must go home with my sister,” replied James.
“ Nonsense!” said Tom, “just as if she couldn't find her way home without you. But come along," continued he, pulling James by the arm,
or we shall be late.”
They at length arrived at the little school-house where Alice was to be left.
“ Shall I wait for you under the elm-tree ?" said she, as they parted. James did not answer her, for he was very busy just then, contriving some plan, by which he might get his sister safely home, and go and see the rabbits too.
“ Oh! now I know how I can manage it,” thought he, “I will run over in recess and tell her to go home with the Nelson's. Mother won't care just for once, if she does walk with them."
In recess he ran over to tell Alice his plan, but the Nelsons were absent that day from school, and he was almost glad of it, for he secretly felt that his mother would not have approved of such a plan. But what should he do. He considered for some time, and then told Alice that she might start for home alone when school was done, and that he would try to overtake her,
After school James with the other boys went to see the rabbits.
They lingered to admire and wonder at the little animals, till William Stone was called to dinner. The moment James turne home, he thought of Alice. He ran as fast as he could through the village till he arrived at the church. He looked at the clock and saw that it was just one. Giving up now all bopes of overtaking Alice, he walked slowly and thoughtfully home.
As he approached the garden-gate, he thought everything seemed very still and quiet, and he feared that his little sister might not have arrived home,