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Full text of "Christmas, a happy time : a tale, calculated for the amusement and in[s]truction of young persons"

CHRISTMAS A HAPPY TIME -, 



CAI.Ct'J.A TED FOR 

THE AMUSEMENT \NI> INSTRUCTION 

.OF 

YOl'NCJ PERSO 
P Y MISS MAN T. 

LONDO 
V LL MAN, 42, HO L BORN HILL. 

1833 

Price OM Shilling. 



CHILDREN'S BOOK 
COLLECTION 

* 

LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 




A HAPPY TIME ; 



CALCULATED FOR 
THE AMUSEMENT AND INTRUCTION 

OF 

YOUNG PERSONS. 



BY MISS MANT. 



LONDON: 
T. ALLMAN, 42, HOLBORN HILL, 

9 

1832. 



CHRISTMAS, 

A HAPPY TIME. 



HARRIET and Elizabeth Mortimer were 
two very pretty, and generally speak 
ing, very good little girls. Their kind 
papa and mamma had taken a great 
deal of pains that they should be good, 
and it was very seldom that they vex 
ed them by being otherwise. A very 
happy time was now expected in the 
family at Beech Grove, by the arrival 
of John and Fredric Mortimer from 
school : it was within a few days of 
Christinas ; and as the sisters and bro 
thers had never, till the last few 
months, been separated, their meeting 

A3 



6 



together again was looked forward to 
with general and lively pleasure, 

'Do you see anything of the stage, 
' Elizabeth ? said Harriet to her sister,, 
who had been running down to the end 
of the plantation to peep over the gate, 
and listen if she could hear the ap 
proach of wheels. 

e No : there is nothing in sight/ re 
plied Elizabeth, whose teeth chattered 
from the cold, while her hands were so 
benumbed, she could scarcely close 
the gate, which she had ventured to 
open about half an inch. 

' They will never come/ said Har 
riet ; but you should not open the gate, 
' you know papa and mamma both 
' told us we should not do that. And 



f how cold you are ! you are all over in 
f a shiver. Come let us have a run 
* round, and that will warm you. Re- 
' member mamma begged of us not to 
'stand still in this sharp cutting wind/ 

c Yes, so she did,' replied Elizabeth ; 
' and indeed it is very, very cold, down 
' at that corner. And they will not 
' come any the sooner for our standing 
' there/ 

And according to Harriet's proposal, 
the two little girls began to run round 
the grounds, which put them in a com 
plete glow ; and Elizabeth's fingers 
very soon ceased to ache with cold. 

As they passed the green house, they 
saw the gardener matting up some 
myrtles on the outside; and Elizabeth 



8 



stopped, to enquire at what time the 
coach was likely to pass. 

( I look for it every minute, Miss,' 
replied the man ; and that's the reason 
' I keep about here, that I may be 
f handy to help the young gentlemen 
' out, and bring in the boxes and that. 
' 1 look for them to be much grown, 
< Miss, for 'tis a fine bit now since we 
c have seen them. 1 don't know what 
' Master John will say about his myr- 
f tie that he used to be so proud of, 
' for I am afraid its dead. But hark ye, 
' Miss sure that's wheels. Yes, and 
'there comes a coach too.' 

And away posted the gardener, and 
both the little girls after him. 

It was a coach ; and it was a very 



noisy one, or at least the passengers 
were very noisy. Such a blowing of 
horns, and hallooing and huzzaing. 
But the coach went by without stop 
ping at the gate; and although the gar- 
diner ran after it, and endeavoured to 
speak with the coachman, his voice 
was drowned in the multitude of little 
voices within and without the coach ; 
and he was obliged to return, disap 
pointed himself, to the disappointed 
young ladies, who stood anxiously 
looking out, within the gate. 

Before there was time to express any 
regret, another coach appeared in 
sight, and this might be the coach so 
much longed for. This also approach 
ed with shouting and blowing of horns; 
again the gardener put himself forward 
5 A 



10 



and this time the coach seemed to 
draw down towards the gate. Har 
riet even fancied she saw her dear bro 
ther John looking out of one of the 
windows. But again she was disappoin 
ted. The coachman, though he drew 
to the side of the road,, scarcely allow 
ed his horses to stop; and flinging the 
servant a letter, which he took from 
his waistcoat pocket, again he flou 
rished his whip, and again the coach 
passed on. 

' A letter for your papa, Miss/ said 
the gardener, picking it up and offer 
ing it to the young ladies: 'Shall I take 
' it to James to carry in ?' 

'No ; I will I will/ exclaimed both 
the little girls at once. Elizabeth, 
though the youngest, generally contri- 



il 



ved to be forwardest; and seizing upon 
the letter, as the gardener held it be 
tween his finger arid thumb, she scam 
pered away, followed by Harriet, and 
they both arrived almost breathless in 
the drawing-room. 

' The coaches are both past, papa,' 
said Harriet, 'without John and Pred- 
f rick* ; and as soon as the information 
had been given, she burst into tears. 

* But here is a letter, which will tell 
' about it, 1 dare say, papa,' added 
Elizabeth, f To John Mortimer, Esq. 
' Beech Grove, 'she continued, reading 
the direction, as she presented the let 
ter. It is John's writing, papa.' 



Mrs. Mortimer looked uneasy ; and 
Mortimer broke the seal of the 



12 
letter with some little alarm. 

' It is all well, said the kind father, 
almost directly ; c nothing to appre- 
' bend, my love/ added he, as he han 
ded the letter across to his wife. 

, The letter was as follows : 
My DEAR PAPA, 

No room for us in either 

of the coaches inside or out. Mr. Brown is 
going to send us in a post chaise, with two other 
boys. 

Your affectionate and dutiful Son, 

JOHN MORTIMER. 

'Our pleasure is only delayed for a 
' few hours,, said Mr. Mortimer, as h e 
put an arm round the neck of each of 



13 



his little girls. ' They will be here in 
' the course of a short time, no doubt, 
' and have you got every thing ready 
f to receive them ?' 

'Oh yes, papa, quite ready, 'replied 
Elizabeth, who was slipping her neck 
from under her father's arm, with the 
intention of again returning to the 
bottom of the shrubbery. Harriet di 
rectly followed her towards the door, 

'And where now my little girls/ said 
Mrs. Mortimer ; not to the shrubbery 
' again this evening ?' 

' We were going, mamma/ replied 
Elizabeth : c had you rather we should 
' not ?' 

' I had/ answered Mrs, Mortimer ; 



r you have been out nearly two hours, 
( and the air is now very sharp and 
s cold ; the sun is set, and in a short 
' time it will be quite dusk, You can 
e watch the road from the play- room 
' window : and I think it very likely 
' your brothers will not be here before 
' quite night.' 

Both the little girls would have pre 
ferred another run in the shrubbery, 
and another peep over the gate at the 
end of it: but they were accustomed 
to know, that their mother's judgment 
was better than their own ; and with 
out a murmur, therefore they repaired 
to the school -room. 

5 Oh ! there they are, there they 

'are, said Elizabeth, before she had 

-arcelv reached the window: 'It must 



15 



' be my brothers, I am sure it was a 
e post-chaise.' 

* Where where? said Harriet, jump 
ing up upon the window scat^and 
straining her eyes to catch a sight of 
the desired object, 

' I cannot see it now replied Eliza 
beth, 'it is gone behind the elm trees by 
the^side of the road : we shall see it 
' again, present! v. Do go, dear Harri- 
' et, and as& mamma if we may go 
'down and meet them/ 

' But I do not know they are com- 
' ing/said Harriet : *do dear Elizabeth 
' tell me where you saw them, I do 
4 not think you could have seen them: 
4 and if you did, they must be a great 
' way off.' 



16 



' Oh there there, Harriet, cannot 
' you see them now ?' said Elixabeth, 
putting her armround her sister's neck; 
' There, just by the mill, this side of 
c the elms. Now they are gone again.' 

'Yes, I see them,' replied Harriet ; 
f and now they are come out again 
1 from behind old Jackson's cottage. 
' Oh, now I see them very plain. I 
* can almost make them both out.' 

' Oh, I can make them quite out/ 
said Elizabeth ; ' and they have got a 
' horn, too, and are blowing away: and 
' ( John is shaking his handkerchief. 
' Oh, I wish we might go down and 
' meet them.' 

And both the children began jump 
ing about in an ectacy of joy. At this 



17 



moment Mr. and 'Mrs. Mortimer en 
tered the play-room. 'They are com* 
' ing, papa, they are coming, mam- 
' ma/ said Harriet and Elizabeth both 
together. Mrs. Mortimer had thrown 
a large cloak and hood over her, and 
Mr. Mortimer had his hat in his hand. 

e We were coming to fetch you to 
'meet them,' said Mr. Mortimer. 
' Come, make haste, or they will be 
' here before we can be out of the 
' house ; for the young gentlemen tra- 
' vcl rapidly with their four horses. 5 

Harriet and Elizabeth hastened after 
their father and mother, who were 
preparing to lead the way to the 
shrubbery, but before they were out 
of the hall door, the post chaise and 
four was rattling down the avenue and 



18 



in a few minutes the two lads were 
pressed to the hearts of their beloved 
parents and their affectionate sisters. 

As the two other youths who accom 
panied the Mortimer's were eager to 
pursue their journey, the chaise was 
soon on its return down the avenue : 
and John and Frederick, who. with 
all their happiness, could not help 
finding out that they were very cold 
and hungry, were glad to be summon - 
ned to the dining-roorn, and to feel the 
warm carpet, and see the blazing fire, 
and the smoking meat upon the table. 
Between eating and talking there was 
a great deal to do ; the former, how 
ever, it was most necessary to attend 
to for a short time ; and when their 
hunger was satisfied, and they drew 
with their father and mother, and 



19 



Elizabeth and Harrietround the cheer 
ful and enlivening fire, and a more 
happy party perhaps could hardly be 
imagined. Before the boys went to 
school) each of the children had low 
stools of their own, which it had al 
ways been their delight to sit upon, 
when summoned to the dining-room 
after dinner ; for at that time they had 
been accustomed to have their own 
dinner in the nursery. Now, however, 
they were to be indulged by dining 
with their parents, when the family 
dinner hour was moderately early, and 
there was no large party at table; and 
on the present occasion the same little 
stools which had been such favourites 
formerly were now brought again in 
to use. The girls had almost feared 
proposing them, as they knew not 



20 



what changes the boy's school might 
have occasioned in their brother's hab 
its ; but no sooner was the cloth remo 
ved and the grace said, than the active 
little Frederick flew to the sideboard, 
and took possession of his old and fa 
vourite seat. John followed his ex 
ample ; those of the two little girls 
were already standing by the two cor 
ners of the chimney-piece, and Fred 
rick between mamma and Elizabeth, 
and John between papa and Harriet, 
very soon settled themselves and made 
the family circle complete. Into the 
middle of this circle a favourite little 
terrier now leaped, and began his 
gambols, while the old pet Tibby the 
cat, which the children had all been 
accustomed to carry about from in 
fants, came rubbing her sides against 



the young strangers, and began pur 
ring to be taken notice of. 

As the day had closed long before the 
dinner had disappeared, theboyscould 
only hear all there was to be heard to 
night, about any alterations or im 
provements which had taken place 
ince their absence; what success 
heir sisters had met with, in keeping 
up their stock of rabbits and poultry; 
whether the ice-house had been yet 
illed ; how went on old Neddy the 
donkey, if he was yet too old to be 
idden; whether the myrtles were 
tlive, and their own gardens had been 
ul I of flowers ; and a variety of other 
nquiries, extremely interesting to 
them, and which would havedoubtles s 
been made by many of my young 
eaders on similar occasions as those 



on which we are writing. Harriet and 
Elizabeth were equally -glad to reply 
to all their brother's questions, and 
they had a great many to ask in return. 
Whether they liked school as well as 
home. whether they always had meat 
and pudding, & as much as they liked 
of both ; what plays they played at, 
and if they had good-natured compan 
ions. Th^re was an abundance to say 
upon all these subjects ; and then Mr. 
and Mrs. Mortimer had their inquiries 
to make about books and classes, and 
sums, and school hours, and play hours 
and going to bed, and getting up, so 
that the tongues all ran very nimbly ; 
and doubtless there remained plenty 
more to say,whenat length little Fred 
rick's words began to lengthen them 
selves as he uttered them, and his eyes 
were with difficulty strained open. 



Mr. Mortimer gave him a pat, and 
asked him how early he had been up 
in the morning 1 ? He had scarcely been 
in bed the whole night ; he had since 
performed a journey of near seventy 
miles, and as he was not yet seven 
years of age, it was not to wondered at 
that sleep should thus be striving to 
get the better even of his feelings of 
joy and happiness, J ohn, who was only 
two years older than his brother did 
not shew much less symptoms of fa 
tigue ; and Mrs. Mortimer proposed 
having the tea immediately, that the 
boys might get to bed. This plan was 
instantly agreed to, their heads were 
soon snug on their pillows; and in the 
morning they both awoke in high 
health and joyous spirits. 

It was now that Mr. and Mrs. Mor- 



timer could see how much their dear 
boys were grown, and how well they 
were looking. John triumphantlystood 
beside his sister Harriet, who was a 
year older than himself, and told her 
he should be very soon taller than she 
was ; and Fredrick had actually out 
stripped the little Elizabeth, who told 
one more year than he did. The girls 
however were reconciled to this ac- 
cquired superiority of stature., by dis 
covering that papa was a great deal 
taller than mamma, though they were 
both exactly the same age ; and Fred 
rick concluded the whole dissertation, 
by adding that to be sure, men ought 
be taller than women 

' It does not much signify what are 
( yonr heights, my dear children/ said 
Mr. Mortimer, affectionately gazing 



upon the whole group, ' if you are 
' but good and amiable. I should be 
'very glad to see my young Fred a 

* brave grenadier/ added the fond fa 
ther placing his hand upon the head 
of his young son: 'but I shall be much 

* better pleased to see him a good man. 
' But now who is for a walk ? the 
' morning is bright and fair, and those 
' who do not mind the cold, away for 
' your great coats and hats, and 1 will 
' take a walk with you to the ice- 
' house, and see if the men are begin- 
( ning to fill it. 

It was not necessary to repeat this 
invitation, and towards the ice-house 
the party immediately proceeded As 
they passed through the park they 
went by a sheet of water, on which du- 



ring the summer, had been a boat, but 
^vhich now was caked over with ice, 
and had every appearance of being 
hard enough to bear the weight of a 
man with his skates on. John and 
Fredrick were both running to the 
edge : and had not their father been 
with them would have immediately 
ventured on an amusement, hardy and 
bracing when followed with'prudenee, 
but which requires the caution of ex 
perience, not to be carelessly indul 
ged in. 

'Wait till to-morrow, boys/ said Mr. 
Mortimer/ the ice is not strong enough 
* to bear you to-day. In another four 
' and twenty hours, I think it w ill be 
' safe, should the frost continue, and I 
' have directed James to prepare my 
c skates/ 



The boys both desisted, for they had 
been very early taught to submit to 
the opinion of their father : but Fred- 
ric could not help saying, ' I think it 
' would bear,, papa:' and feeling more 
disappointment than his looks perhaps 
expressed. 

f We can very well wait another day, 
' Frederick/ said John, as he saw his 
brother's disappointment on walking 
on. 

' Perhaps the frost may be broken 
then,' replied Frederick ; but he soon 
found other amusement, and bounded 
over the stile into the lane, before the 
rest of the party had scarcely lost sight 
of the sheet of water in the park. 
' Oh, here are the men with a load/ 



B5 



8 



said Frederick, as his father came in 
sight, ' fine thick ice, papa oh, so 
' thick, 1 am sure it must be hard 
jough to slide where that thick ice 
( xnnes from.' 



Th at ice is taken from a mere hole/ 
replied Mr. Mortimer: 'from that dir- 
' ty little patch of water by the side of 
e yonder hedge do you see ? It is very 
' shallow, and is therefore soon encrus- 
' ted : but even before it was cut by 
' the pickaxe, it would not have been 
' smooth enough to have slidden upon, 
' and now you see it is all in pieces, 
' and you might as well try to slide on 
' a heap of stones.' 

By this time all the party had cros 
sed the stile, and were proceeding a- 
loiig the lane. 



f I wonder you do not have the ice- 
4 house filled from the water in the park 
' papa/ said Harriet. ' This is such 
4 dirty, nasty-looking stuff.' 

* You have before seen in what man- 
' ner the ice-house is filled/ replied 
Mr. Mortimer ; 'that the ice is all bro- 
* ken, almost pounded to pieces, and 
4 then stored below ground ; and I have 
' also told you that it is never eaten, 
' and it signifies little whether it is en- 
' tirely pure or not. The house will be 
' rendered as cold by this ice, as by 
' that from the park, and that is all 
' which is necessary. And it would be 
4 a pity to spoil the appearance of the 
'other, unless it were necessary ; par- 
' ticularly as John and Frederick and 
4 myself hope to have same good slides 
4 upon it during the holidays/ 



30 



Haying stopped to ask a few ques 
tions of the men employed in convey 
ing the ice from the pond, Mr. Mor 
timer now proceeded with his children 
to a farm-house not very far distant, 
where they all met a very hearty wel 
come, and where the boys' attention 
was arrested by two little grey ponies, 
which were in the meadow adjoining 
the farm yard, 

"Well what do you think of them,' 
said Mr. Mortimer. They were pro 
nounced beautiful by both the boys, 
and their father then told them they 
had been purchased for their use, and 
that of their sisters ; but that they 
would not be fit to be ridden till the 
summer. He designed to have them 
properly broken in by the next holi 
days,and the boys were delighted with 



31 



the prospect of riding them on their 
uext return from school. 

'If the young gentlemen would like 
' a ride this Christmas, Sir/ said the 
kind farmer, 'my Thomas's poney is a 
4 nice quiet little fellow, and Tom 
would be proud to lend him.' John 
and Frederick looked at each other, 
and at their father, but at length John 
suggested, that as only one could ride 
at a time they had better put off their 
rides till the summer ; and Harriet and 
Elizabeth were both pleased that such 
was the decision. 

The next visit was to the parsonage, 
where many a round happy counten 
ance greeted the return of the young* 
Mortimers : and while Mr. Mortimer 
was engaged in conversation with the 



excellent pastor of the village, Mr. 
Wexford, the young people were in 
troduced into the play-room of the 
little Wexfords. Mr. Wexford rr.ade a 
petition that the young people should 
spend the day together : but as it was 
the first of the Mortimers being at 
home, their father declined it for them, 
at the same time promising that they 
should have the indulgence in a short 
time: and also expressing a hope that 
the Wcxford's would return the visit 
at Beech Grove. 

At that time of the year there was 
little to be seen out of doors, but one 
curiosity the Wexford's described, to 
which they were very anxious to intro 
duce their young friends : and this 
was a little groupe of robin-red-breasts 
which had been hatched in their sum- 



mer-house,and which now took shelter 
there every night, and were regularly 
fed by the family. 

e The gardener says they do not do 
' us much good /said Maria Wexford. 
as they approached the summer house; 
4 but 1 do not like that they should be 
' destroyed/ 

* Oh no, J could not have them 
' destroyed, 'replied Harriet Mortimer- 
* even if they spoiled my flowers, they 
' are such pretty creatures. But where 
' are John and Fredrick ?' 

John and Fredrick had scampered 
off with the young Wex fords, and 
presently returned with apan of bread 
crumbs, which they had begged from 
the cook, and which they now hoped 
to see the red-breasts eat. 



But the little creatures were alarmed 
at seeing so many visitors ; or the sun 
enticed them to extend their flight 
beyond the green house ; for on the 
entrance of the boys, they all took 
wingand flew away. 

"I am sorry we frightened them/ 
said Harriet. 

( Do you not think they will ever 
' come back again ?' asked Elizabeth. 

( Oh yes, they will be back in the 
* evening or before/ replied Maria 
Wexford ; ' they often fly out in the 
' day-time when it is fine. But perhaps 
( you would like to run round the gar- 
' den ; you will be cold standing still.' 

The party was preparing for a race 



35 



when Mr. Mortimer appeared to sum 
mon that part of it which belonged 
to him ; and, having arranged a day 
with Mr, VV ex ford, for the families to 
meet at Beech Grove, Mr. Mortimer 
and his children returned towards the 
park. 

As they approached the sheet of 
water, which Frederick again survey 
ed with a longing eye, they perceived 
that Mr. Wexford's large Newfound 
land dog had followed them from the 
parsonage, and the boys directly began 
throwing stones and sticks before them 
for the animal to run after and bring 
back to the in. 

This dog was particularly fond of 
the water, and John having thrown a 
stick to the edge of it, it had slipped 



36 



over the side and the fine animal im 
mediately sprang after it. The boys 
for an instant were both inclined to 
smile at the animal's finding footing, 
when he had expected to sink in the 
water, but they both turned pale, and 
looked at their father, when they al 
most immediately saw him disappear 
under the ice. It had been so partially 
frozen that the weight of the dog in 
plunging, had broken it, and he had 
sunk to rise no more, Mr Mortimer's 
heart sickened as he contemplated 
what might have been the case had his 
own children ventured on the ice, and 
he blessed God that their dispositions 
were such, as to make them obedient 
to his wishes. Every means were taken 
for the recovery of the dog, and after 
some hours he was extricated from 
the ice ; but he was perfectly dead, 




t^f 



$cThcirruiS',7.1fanc>verS'*}faiii>rerSif': Jan-t' 1625. 



37 



and apparently had been so some 
time. 

As Mr, Mortimer and his children 
continued their walk towards the 
house, they heard a shrill shouting 
from the direction of the village ;^-it 
seemed like tha shouting of young 
voices, and was evidently that of joy- 
fulness. The attention of the children 
was immediately attracted towards it, 
and Mr. Mortimer indulged them by 
moving in its direction. John and 
Frederick were very soon out of sight, 
and in a few minutes they returned to 
relate the cause of the acclamations 
they had heard. They proceeded from 
the children of the parish school, who 
had just been dismissed by their mas 
ter and mistress, and were to be treat- 



ed with a week's holiday. Hurra 
hurra cried all the little noisy fellows, 
as Mr. Mortimer came up ; while the 
squeaking voices of the little girls 
joined in the cry, at the same time as 
they jumped, and danced, and frisked 
about happy and joyous as little birds. 
The young Mortimers hastened to 
wards the gate, and as they opened it, 
the young crowd gave them another 
hurra ; and two or three of the biggest 
of the boys approached, and making 
their village nods to the squire, at 
the same time touching their hats, 
they offered their Christmas pieces for 
exhibition. Mr. Mortimer gave these 
little lads sixpence each, and calling to 
the gardener to get him a few shil 
lings' worth of halfpence from the vil 
lage shop, he bade the happy group of 
children stop a few minutes near the 



39 



gate. This they were most glad to do, 
and on the return of the gardener, 
John and Frederick, commissioned by 
their father, gave each of the little 
girls two-pence, and Harriet and 
Elizabeth had the same pleasing com 
mission to execute towards the boys. 
All was joy and hilarity ; and when 
Mr. Mortimer told them that onChrist- 
mas-day they were to come to his 
house, to have some beef and plum- 
pudding, all the little happy counten 
ances shone with delight. 



l ev 



* And now run on, and get home/ 
said Mr: Mortimer : for your parents 
will be waiting for you at their din- 
' ners. And take care you do not get 
' into any mischief in the course of the 
4 next week : and if you go out to slide 
mind that the ice is well hardened 



40 



' before you venture on it. And a mer- 
' ry Christmas to you all.' 

'Merry Christmas to you, Sir/ re 
plied the biggest boy, who was a very 
well-spoken lad, and looked as happy, 
though he made less noise than the 
rest. "Merry Christmas MerryChrist- 
mas, ' was echoed from a number of 
little voices around him ; and with a- 
nother joyous shout, the motley group 
proceeded onwards through the vil 
lage. 

Mr. Mortimer now left his children, 
and proceeded also through the village 
where he had himself business to tran 
sact. The children went into the house 
to get their luncheon of bread and jam, 
and after the girls had rested them 
selves, their mother promised to take a 



41 



stroll with them and their brothers 
round the garden and through the 
green-houses. At this time of year 
there was little to see ; but still what 
little there was, was worth seeing, and 
a stroll with main ma was always a 
treat. 

* What piles of shirts and round 
frocks! mamma/ said John, while 
they were eating their luncheon. 'And 
' what numbers of frocks ! why, you 
* you might set up a shop almost.' 

'Cannot you guess what these frocks 
' and shirts are all for ?' said Harriet. 

' I can,' said the quick little Frede 
rick. * They are for the children we 
' saw in the lane just now; and they 
c3 



43 

* are to have them against Christmas/ 

'You are right, Frederick/ replied 
his mother ; ( and I have been taking 
' the opportunity of this holiday of 
' your sisters, to loook them over and 
' parcel them out/ 

Just now the door opened, and a 
housemaid appeared with a large bas 
ket of shoes and stockings, and another, 
with women's gowns and men's frocks. 

' How pleased all the poor people 
'will be, mamma !' said Elizabeth, ta 
king up a gown from the basket ; f it is 
'rather coarse cloth though, I think, 



' mamma/' 



' It would be very coarse for you 
' to wear, Elizabeth," replied Mrs. 
Mortimer, * because vou are born in a 



48 



the little boy ; c but I have done now t 
' and now shall we go out again ?' 

r Did you call on nurse this rnorn- 
' ing ?' said Mrs. Mortimer. 

' No, mamma, I quite forgot her/ 
replied Frederick; 'but we will go now 
r shall we, John, while mamma finishes 
' sorting the things ?* 

'You must never forget her, my dear 
' boy/ replied the tender mother ; 'for 
' without her care of you, when your 
' own mother was too weak to attend 
' to you, you would not have been the 
' stout active boy you now are/ 

' I hope you have a nice gown and 
f petticoat for nurse, mamma ?' said 
Frederick* 



44 



Providence has placed a large for- 
' tune at his disposal ; and one end of 
f its being given, was, that he might 
' clothe the naked and feed the hun- 
f g r Y' Christmas would not be a time 
' of much rejoicing to the poor, were 
' not the rich to assist them in making 
' it so : and I hope all rny dear chil- 
' dren, while they are enjoying them- 
' selves with every comfort and in- 
' dulgence around them, will be ren- 
' dered happier by reflecting that the 
' inhabitants of every cottage in the 
' village are rejoicing at the same 
' time/ 

'We shall not have a party on Christ- 
' mas-day, shall we, mamma ?* asked 
John. 

'None, excepting our own family, 



45 



' John/ replied Mr?. Mortimer. ' I 
f hope both your uncles will be with 
' us, and your grandpapa and graud- 
' marnma have promised to come over 
' from Cannon Hill. The Mortimers 
from Haversly too I expect, and 
f these I think will complete our circle 
' round the Christmas fire. 

'Oh, I hope grandpapa will come, 
said Frederick, * because he has al- 
' ways such a number of batties and 
'fighting stories to tell, and he is so 
' droll besides.' 

'And I am sure I hope uncle Philip 
' will come,' said Elizabeth ; e for he 
4 is so fond of play, and jumping me 
c up to the ceiling.' 

'I think you are getting almost too 
^ 



46 



* big for this play/ said Mrs. Morti 
mer ; ' and so uncle Phflip would feel 

* in his arms, I believe, were he to at- 
' tempt to jump you now.' 

' We shall all dine with you then, 
f mamma, shall we not ?' said Eliza 
beth ; 'if there is no other company. 
e You know they are relations, and 
' are all fond of us children.' 

' Yon shall all dine in the room, cer- 

* tainly/ said Mrs. Mortimer ; ' but if 
' the four young Mortimers come, I 
' think some of you will be obliged to 
' dine at the side table, but that none 
' of you will mind.' 

'Oh, we do not mind that at all, ma- 
6 ma/ said Harriet ; but we had rather 
e not have anv of the Mortimers with 



47 



' us, for they are so nide and noisy, 
f and papa always thinks that we make 
r the noise ; and I am sure it is always 
' their fault, though we cannot help 
'laughing at them/ 

'You see, in the instance of your 
( cousins, Harriet, said Mrs. Mortimer, 
'the disadvantage of never having 

* any restraint put on little girl's edu- 
' cations. I myself have seen that they 
f occasionally are boisterous and over- 
f bearing in their manners; but the 
f fault is not their own. And, if you re- 
' member,, one day when they were 

* with us, without their own father and 
' mother, they were as orderly and 
c well-behaved as possible. But will 
' you never have finished your lunch- 
f eon, Frederick ?' 

* I was so hungry, mamma/ replied 



f state of affluence, and therefore it is 

* becoming that you should be drest 

according to the fortune of your pa- 
' pa. But to give fine garments to the 
c poor would be no kindness to them, 
4 nor a fit manner of shewing our be- 
' nevolence towards them* 

'I think papa is very good and kind, 
'do not you, mamma ? * said Harriet, 
looking very stedfastly at her mother. 

'Your father has a great pleasure 
' in benefiting any one it is in hispow- 
c er to serve, and is as you observe, 
f Harriet, one of the kindest of men. 
f But he does no more than his duty, 
e and this he would himself tell you, 
' in being a vigilant guardian over the 
' necessities of his poor neighbours. 
c4 



49 



f She has not been forgotten/ replied 
Mrs, Mortimer ; ' and you shall have 
'the pleasure of carrying the bundle 
' prepared for her yourself. There it 
' is : the cotton gown, and stuff pet- 

* ticoat, the shoes, stockings, and 

* apron, lying together at the corner 
' of the table/ 

Frederick, with a little of his mo 
ther's assistance, soon made these sep 
arate articles into a bundle ; and the 
two boys set off for Nurse Winscomb's 
cottage. 

The stroll round the garden did not 
take place on that day ; for the boys 
met their father returning from the 
cottage of the nurse, and he took them 
with him to call on a gentleman resi 
ding about two miles distant, and 



50 



whose family were to be invited, with 
a few others, to meet together in the 
Christmas week. The young people 
were to be indulged with a little dance; 
and although neither John nor Frede 
rick knew much about dancing, they 
were pleased at the idea of joining 
with those who did, and already began 
to talk over the little young ladies of 
the neighbourhood, and to settle with 
whom they would, and with whom 
they would not dance. 

They came home quite tired, and 
only in time to have their dress chan 
ged before dinner, Harriet and Eliza 
beth thought they had been absent a 
long while j and on their return into 
the drawing-room, were ready with 
their smiling countenances to receive 
these dear boys 



51 



The next morning after breakfast, 
Mr. Mortimer employed a few hours 
in examining his boys in the improve 
ments they had made during the last 
half-year ; for he had wisely resolved, 
for the comfort of the whole family, 
that the entire day was not to be given 
up to play. During this time,, Harriet 
and Elizabeth were occupied with 
their mamma ; and after this as the day 
continued bright, though cold, it was 
determined to put into effect the pro 
posed stroll of yesterday. And first to 
the farm -yard, where the poultry-maid 
supplied them with corn : and with 
this enticement, the fowls arid ducks 
were called together and numbered, 
and the various beauties of both enu 
merated. This speckled hen had been 
such a good mother, and a good hand 
ful of grain was tossed to her ; then 



the beautiful little bantam had been 
nursed in a stocking', and wag so tame 
that it would come and eat out of the 
hand ; then there was the fine old 
cock that crowed so loud he might be 
heard all orer the parish, and a hand 
ful was thrown to him ; then there 
was th-3 young one which the old one 
drove about so, that it could get noth 
ing to eat; Harriet made his neces 
sities her care : but it was useless to 
throw him any: for the old cock would 
not allow him to come near the grain, 

f Nasty greedy fellow/ said Eliza 
beth, ' I am sure there is enough for 
' all, but the young cock cannot get u 
' morsel/ 

' I believe we must get rid of him/ 
observed Mrs. Mortimer ; 'for it is 



53 

' miserable to see him driven about so/ 

4 He is to be killed next, Madam,' 
answered the poultry-maid, who now 
approached with two fowls hanging 
from her hands, from which drops of 
blood were falling. 

Mrs. Mortimer moved away with the 
children : for she saw that Harriet tur 
ned pale at the eight of the blood, 

* I cannot think how Jane can kill 
' the fowls, mrnrna/ said Elizabeth ; I 
' am sure I could not, if we never had 
' any at all.' 

'I should be very sorry if you could, 
' my dear little girl, for there is no ne- 
'cessityfor your doing it; and with- 
* out conquering your feelings often- 



' derncss, you never could acquire the 
f resolution to do it. In Jane's situa- 
( ation it \vas necessary for her to ha- 
'bituate herself to an employment 
' which devolves to her as the rearer 

* of the poultry: but I assure you it 
' was a long time before she could first 
'bring herself to deprive those crea- 
' tares of life which she had been ac- 

customed to look after and feed. And 
' even now 1 belive when she can meet 
f with the gardener or groom, she most 
' generally employs them/ 

'Are there no ducks, mamma ? said 
Frederick : 'we used to have such a 
' number.' 

' There is your old favourite drake 
' just stopping under the gate/ replied 
Mrs, Mortimer : ' and we will follow 



55 



' him into the field, for it is rather cold 
'standing still.' 

They then went into the field, and 
after that carne round to the green 
house, where the gardener was very 
busily employed in gathering some 
beautiful grapes, 

' How nice and warm it is here,' said 
several of the children, on entering the 
house. The gardener then approached 
to ask the young gentlemen how they 
did, and to tell them how much they 
were grown, and to say that he hoped 
they would like the grapes. John and 
Frederick answered all the old man's 
questions with kindness and civility ; 
and as the young party were leaving 
the green-house, he asked them who- 



56 



ther they should not want some flowers 
and evergreens against their little 
dance ? 

'Oh yes, if you please, gardener/ was 
the ready and quick answer : f we 
e may, mamma, may we not ?' said 
Harriet, looking up at her mother be 
fore she gave her reply. 

'The gardener may give you what 
' he can spare/ replied Mrs. Mortimer 
' And gardener/ added she, looking 
back towards the green-house, ( desire 
c your grandson to go into the copses, 

* and bring home a little cart of holly, 
' that we may have the kitchen well 

* ornamented, when the tenantry come 
c to their dinner/ 

c He shall be sure to do it, ma'am,' 



57 



replied the gardener. ' 1 look we shall 
' have a merry Christmas, and I do like 
e to see the room well dressed up.' 

As Tom, the gardener's grandson, 
was a steady; well-behaved lad, Mrs, 
Mortimer allowed John and Frederick 
to accompany him to the copses, in 
search of the holly. Harriet and Eliza 
beth would, no doubt, very much have 
liked to belong to the party also, but 
they were easily convinced of the pro 
priety of their not doing so, and were 
therefore satisfied to see their brothers 
drive off with Torn Harding, and re 
turn in two or three hours afterwards, 
walking by the side of the little vehi 
cle, which then appeared a moving 
shrub of red-berried holly. 

On Christmas-day the expected par- 



58 



ty met round the hospitable dinner- 
table of Mr. Mortimer, having all of 
them arrived on the preceeding day at 
the grove,, excepting the other branch 
of the Mortimer family, who attended 
their own parish church in the morn 
ing, and did not arrive till the hour of 
dinner. 

The children of the villlage school, 
all in their new clothes, and with a 
sprig of holly in their bosoms and but 
ton holes, walked from the church to 
the Grove ; and there partook, as they 
had been invited to do, of beef and 
pudding, and good home-brewed beer 
The young Mortimers waited upon 
them at dinner, and before they left 
the Lodge, presented them each with 
a pluinb cake; and Mrs. Mortimer 
gave them each an amusing little book 



59 



to read to themselves arid their pa 
rents, who had not like themselves 
possessed the advantages of learning 
to read. 

The family dinner party went off 
as happily as that in the kitchen. The 
young Mortimers all sat together at 
the side table, and their papa, had not 
once occasion to call them out for be 
ing noisy, though they were merry 
and cheerful enough. It was certainly 
true, as Harriet had said, that her cou 
sins would be noisy ; on this day, how 
ever, being dispersed amongst the par 
ty at the large table, they were very 
orderly and w r ell-behaved ; and after 
dinner, when the young people had 
had taken as much fruit as was good 
for them, they retired into their play- 

D3 



60 



room together : they sat round the bla 
zing fire there provided for them, very 
comfortably and happily, and without 
one word of dissension till they were 
again called back for tea into the 
drawing room, 

The next day was the day appoin 
ted for the dinner of the tenantry, and 
busy indeed were the young Morti 
mers, in dressing up the Hall, and ma 
king it look smart and lively. A very 
large party assembled here to enjoy 
the squire's hospitable table, at which 
he himself presided ; and the day after 
this, the labouring cottagers and their 
wives met in the same room atone 
o'clock, round a table well covered 
with meat pies, legs of mutton, roast 
beef, potatoes, and plum pudding. 
They brought with them those of their 



61 



children, \vho were too young to be 
in the school : and, on this occasion, 
all the new round frocks, and cotton 
gowns were exhibited. Little Frede 
rick led his nurse up to the head of the 
table, and was very attentive to her ; 
and whenever her plate was empty, 
he took care that it should not remain 
long so 

This party went off as happily as 
the last ; and two days after was to 
take place the little dance, so anxious 
ly looked forward to, not only by the 
Mortimers, but by all the young peo 
ple in the neigbourhood. The Wex- 
fords came very early in the morning, 
to assist their young friends in prepa 
ring the ball-room ; and the gardener 
had taken good care to provide plenty 
of shrubs and flowers, for the necessary 



decoration, Mrs. Mortimer lent her 
assistance where it was required, and 
she was only fearful that the children 
would tire themselves before the plea 
sure of the evening commenced ; for 
Mr. Mortimer had now pronounced 
the sheet of water in the park suffici 
ently frozen to bear any weight that 
might be ventured on it ; and he had 
given several village lads permission 
to slide there, and prepare it for the 
use of his own boys. He now called 
upon both his own lads, and the young 
Wexfords, to join him, and for John he 
had provided a pair of scates. John 
met with a great many tumbles, to the 
amusement, not only of himself, but of 
his companions ; but he had no serious 
bruises, and soon jumped up and 
laughed at hisownawkwardness.Fred- 
erick longed to try the ska f op *" 



63 



Mr. Mortimer thought him too little 
to venture upon them, so that he was 
obliged to be satisfied with sliding. 
And very prettily he did slide, and very 
much did Elizabeth wish to slide with 
him ; for she was indeed a merry little 
girl, besides being always desirous of 
doing every thing which she saw her 
brother Frederick engaged in. But 
mamma thought it not a very fit a- 
musement for little girls; so Elizabeth 
joined Harriet and the Miss Wexfords 
in a run round the park, all of them 
occasionally returning to the ice, to 
see how the skaters aud sliders went 
on. 

The hour of dinner was a very early 
one on this day, for the evening party 
was to be an early one. The young 
people, with their papas and mammas 



64 



began to assemble at a very unfashion 
able honr, as early indeed as seven 
o'clock, and by eight they \vere all 
dancing away very merrily. Dancing 
was kept up with great spirit till to 
wards eleven, when there was a sum 
mons to supper. Another hour was 
spent in taking refreshments, and du 
ring this time there was much merri 
ment, and many jokes passing round, 
as well amongst the elder part of the 
assembly, as in that with which we 
are more particularly interested. Soon 
after twelve the party began to sepa 
rate ; all had appeared to be very w r ell 
satisfied with the pleasure they had 
been enjoying ; every one seemed in 
high good-humour and glee /and all 
the young visitors, as well as the four 
Mortimers, joined in acknowledging 
that the dance had gone off very well 



65 



indeed ; and in pronouncing that cer 
tainly f Christmas was a very happy 
' time.' 



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