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or that some accident had befallen her. His fears were soon dispelled however, for on going into the parlor, he found her safe and happy, playing with her doll. Upon inquiring he learned that her teacher had taken charge of her on her way home. His mother had gone to visit a friend, and who would know that James had not fulfilled his duty towards his sister?
The next day was damp and unpleasant, and it was a matter of some discussion whether it was best for Alice to go to school. After considerable conversation on the subject, James' mother suddenly turned to him and said, "James you can take good care of her, and I think she had better go. There will be some wet places, but you can lift her over, and by noon, I think it may be pleasant."
James blushed at the remembrance of his conduct the day before, but no one observed it.
“Oh! yes,” said he, " do let her go. I will take good care of her."
"I have no doubt of it," said his mother, "I can assure you I should not trust my little girl in the hands of an unfaithful boy."
"I wish," thought James, as she said this, "that my mother could always repose confidence in me. It shall not be my fault, if she does not, in future. How I wish I had done my yesterday. I might have seen the rabbits another time. I do not merit my mother's praise. How mean and dishonorable it is for me to receive praise when I do not deserve it. I wish she knew of my conduct yesterday: I must tell her."
He looked up from the book on which he had been unconsciously gazing. Nobody was in the room but his mother.
“James,” said she, "I am going into town this afternoon, should you like to go with me?
"Oh! yes," said James, "very much indeed,
"But what?" asked his mother.
"But I did something wrong which I must tell you of first,” replied James.
"Wrong James," said his mother, "explain yourself."
"Why, I left Alice to come home alone yesterday noon, while I went to see William Stone's rabbits."
"I thought Alice was safe under your care, James," said his mother, "I am very glad however that you have told me how it was. There is always some hope of children when they acknowledge it frankly, when they have done wrong. You certainly did wrong; you betrayed a trust; you proved an unfaithful protector."
“I think I shall always take good care of Alice in future," said James.
"I hope you will," said his mother," but you know you are easily led astray by temptation. I am sorry I cannot take you into town this afternoon, but I must deny myself the pleasure. However, you will spend a much happier afternoon at home, than you could have done in town with a burdened conscience. You must learn to persevere in duty, and to resist temptation. I hope by staying at home this afternoon, you will longer remember this hard lesson."
Just then little Alice made her appearance equipped tor school, and the conversation was interrupted.
MARY and Ellen did not lay aside their playthings until it was quite dark. They had sometimes thought that they never should be tired of play, but this evening, as they put their doll into the cradle, and piled up their cups and saucers, they felt that it would be pleasant to go and sit quietly in the parlor with their mother. How good God is to send us the night. He knows that we need rest and quiet, and that if it were always day, men would wear themselves out with continued study or work, and that little boys and girls would make themselves sick by their long plays.
Mary and Ellen ran into the parlor. They found their mother sitting alone. Mary threw herself down on the sofa, and little Ellen asked her mother to hold her.
"Mary," said their mother, after a little pause, "did you ever hear the word reluctantly?"
Ellen said she never remembered to have heard it. "Well then," continued Mrs. B. "if you are not too tired, I should like to explain two or three words to you this evening."
"Oh! yes," said Mary, "do talk to us. We like to have you."
"The other day," said Mrs. B., "I asked a little girl to go up stairs and get my work-basket." "Oh mother!" she said, "I'm so tired, Can't Mary go?" I looked at the little girl as she said this, and saw scowls on her forehead, and a very cross expression in her face. When she saw me looking at her, she got down from her chair, walked very slowly across
the room, and shut the door to, harder than usual, as if she was a little angry."
"Oh! I know who you mean," said Ellen laughing, "you mean me."
66 Well," said her mother, "you did not obey me willingly and cheerfully in this case, but very reluctantly. Now Mary you may bring me that green covered book on the piano, but you may obey me reluctantly.
"Why I don't know how to do it," said Mary, laughing.
"I will tell you," said her mother. "In the first place, you must not start from your seat the moment I speak to you, but, you may move round a little very slowly, and look as if you did not want to be disturbed. When you walk across the floor you must step heavily, and make a little unnecessary noise; and instead of placing the book properly in my hand, you must give it a kind of toss into my lap."
Mary performed her part very well, only she tossed the book upon the floor instead of her mother's lap.
"Now," said their mother, "I think you understand what is meant by obeying reluctantly;' but there is another kind of obedience which I should like to explain to you. Some children obey with alacrity. The other day, for example, little Charly dropped an orange out of the window. "James," said I, 'run and get that orange down by the garden-gate." James, instantly laid aside his book, ran down stairs, and returned in a moment with the orange, which he pleasantly offered to his little brother."
Mother," said little Ellen, "may I obey with alacrity ?"
"Oh! yes,” said her mother, smiling; "I hope you will always do so. You may go now and shut the closet door."
Mary jumped down from her mother's lap, ran across the room, shut the door, and was back again in a moment.
"Very well, very well indeed," said her mother. "I hope Mary will remember always to obey with alacrity. Now, I have a proposal to make to you and Ellen; that is, something which you may do or not do, as you please. I wish you to make a resolution, that, for two days, you will endeavor to obey me with alacrity. I will keep an account of the number of times you obey reluctantly, and of the number of times you obey cheerfully. Should you
like this plan ?"
"Oh! yes,” said Mary; "when shall we begin?" "You may begin to-night," said Mrs. B., "if you please."
"To-night is Saturday night," said Mary; "Monday evening you will read us the account. Shall you show it to father?"
"If you have no objection. I think he would like to see it," replied her mother.
“Oh! no,” said Mary, “I mean to ask him to guess how many times we have obeyed reluctantly, and how many times with alacrity."
"I don't mean to obey reluctantly once," said little Ellen.
"Nor I either," said Mary.
"I dare say you mean to do right, my children," said their mother. "I expect you to succeed very well, but not perfectly. You will sometimes forget your resolution, and sometimes it will be very hard for you to obey. But Sarah has come to take you to bed now, so good night."
Mary and Ellen were very sorry to leave their