The Little Girl Who Was Taught by Experience.
Be it remembered, that on the nineteenth day of June, A.D. 1827, in the fifty-first year of the Independence of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, _Bowles and Dearborn_ of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, _to wit_: "THE LITTLE GIRL, WHO WAS TAUGHT BY EXPERIENCE."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned," and also to an act entitled "An act supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints."
JNO. W. DAVIS, _Clerk of the District of Massachusetts_.
THE LITTLE GIRL WHO WAS TAUGHT BY EXPERIENCE.
Little Lucy's mother had died when she was a very small child;--this was a great misfortune to Lucy, for her mother loved her very tenderly, and she would have taken the trouble to tell her what she did wrong, and when she _felt_ wrong, and would have taught her to correct all her faults; she would have taught her that happiness could not dwell in her heart, while she permitted wicked passions to rise up and grow strong there, any more than the beautiful flowers which she planted in her little garden-bed, could thrive and bloom when she allowed all the rank weeds which sprang up with them, to become strong and remain there to choke them: wicked passions like troublesome weeds, grow very fast, and they soon root out all the mild, gentle virtues which are just budding into beauty, if we do not take great pains to check them, and pluck them out of our hearts.
Lucy's mother would have taught her all this, for she saw these evils were already springing up to destroy the lovely blossom of virtue in her young bosom; but she died, and Lucy was left to the care of a most indulgent father; he did not like to correct his little girl, for he only saw her when his busy day was over, and then he wished to gratify all her desires, to fondle over her and play with her and bless her while he thought of her dear mother whom he had lost; he did not see her faults the little time he was with her, the servants did not like to tell him of them, and poor Lucy was growing up a _vain_, selfish, self-willed, prying little girl, with an obstinate temper which could bear no contradiction.
Lucy had a _pretty face_ and her father and the servants talked to her so much about it, that at last she really thought it was something good in her to be pretty, that she was in some way better because she was handsomer than other little girls; no kind friend ever said to Lucy, "that as she had not made her own face, she could not be more good for its being a pretty one; and that as she could not by any care keep it a moment, if it should please her heavenly Father to take it away, that it was very silly in her to be vain of it, and value it so much; but that she could do a great deal, to make herself good, and amiable, and obliging, and affectionate; and therefore she would be more dear to her friends and more happy in herself every time she even tried to correct a wrong feeling."
It was a _sad_ thing that Lucy had no one to teach her all these things, for she might have learnt them easily then, and she was growing more selfish, and vain, and obstinate, and disobedient as she grew older, she thought a great deal about her dress, fine things to wear, and nice food to eat, and she liked to pry into things which did not concern her to know.
Lucy had an aunt living in Boston, who was a sensible and a very kind-hearted woman. She heard that Lucy would become a disagreeable if not a wicked child, if some friend did not have compassion and try to save her from her growing faults. She kindly sent to Lucy's Father who lived in New York, and persuaded him to let his daughter come and pass one year with her; she had a little girl of her own about the same age as Lucy, who had been watched, and guarded, and taught by this kind mother, and she was now a lovely child, so good--obedient--and amiable, that every one who knew her, saw that she would grow up a blessing to her family and friends; her mother had early taught her, and made her feel from experience, that she was always happier when she governed her temper, corrected a fault, and thought more about making others happy than she did of pleasing herself; she told her that her heavenly Father always looked down with peculiar love upon her, when she resisted a wicked feeling or a selfish action, and sent his _best_ and sweetest reward of peace and joy into her heart, a reward he bestows only on goodness, but which is more delightful than any pleasure which the wicked can purchase. Now the little Emily had already learned to feel this delightful peace, and she would give up any thing to obtain it.
It was on her birthday morning, about a month after Lucy's arrival at her aunt's, that she received a very kind letter from her father enclosing two beautiful crown pieces which he said "he thought would be an acceptable present for herself and cousin, and he hoped this would make his little darlings happy." Lucy _did_ feel happy for one moment, and she looked at the pretty shining pieces again and again, then she began to feel dissatisfied, and went slowly and with a sullen countenance, into the parlour where Emily was finishing her work.
"My father has sent me these two crown pieces," said she, "but he says I must give one of them to you, Emily, I'm sure I don't know what for;"
and Lucy looked unhappy, and selfish, and sour, because she could not keep both the pieces which her father had sent, and no one who had seen Lucy then would have thought she could ever have a pretty face; the naughty temper in her heart, looked out at her eyes, her scowling brows, and her pouting lips, and made her quite disagreeable, as she threw down the piece of silver upon the table with a loud noise.
"Oh how good your dear father is," said Emily, "what a beautiful bright piece it is--but do not give it to me, dear Lucy, if you don't wish to,"
continued she, as she looked up at Lucy's unhappy face, "I should like to have it to be sure, because I am saving all my money for a particular purpose, 'tis to get poor nurse Hooper a new gown, mother says she has not been to meeting all this summer because she has had nothing decent and whole to wear, and she told me that if I would save all my money till I had enough I should have the pleasure of getting her one my own self; and I should be so delighted to see how happy she would look, for mother says all the pleasure nurse has is going to meeting; we you know go to dancing,--and learn music--and read entertaining books--and have a great many pleasures, but poor old nurse never leaves off hard work from morning to night, laboring with all her strength--only when as _she_ calls it 'the blessed day of rest comes;'--how I should like to get her a nice new pretty gown, and see her walking along to meeting with it on, and her psalm book and fan wrapped up neatly in her clean checked handkerchief as she used to last year. But," added she, as she looked a _second_ time at Lucy's sour face, "not if you don't wish to give me the money Lucy."
"But I must give it to you, I suppose, if I do not like to," said Lucy, "for papa will ask you when he comes next week what you did with it and all about it, and I know you will tell him, 'tis just like you."
"If he asks me I must tell him, you know Lucy, I can't help it, can I; but if he does not ask me, I will not tell him any thing about it, if you don't wish me to."
"Oh but I know he will ask you, so you may as well have it, and spend it too as foolishly as you choose; I know what I shall do with _mine_ though, I will buy that pretty pair of silk slippers which I saw at Miss Rust's yesterday, and wished for so much, and I will wear them with my new silk frock with Barage trimmings, when we go next week to Brookline, for there I shall see that proud Miss Prince again, with all her fine clothes;--she thought nobody could dress as smart as she did, but I will show her that I can,"--and Lucy began to smile with pleasure at the thought of mortifying Miss Prince.
"But I would not dress so much just to go out to Mrs. Russel's," said Emily, "we shall wish to walk out in the grounds, and you will be obliged to take so much care not to hurt your dress, you will not have half the pleasure; how can you jump about the grass, and gather flowers?"
"I don't care for that," said Lucy, "I will wear the gown and the slippers too. Papa always lets me dress as I like. I shall take care enough."
Emily did not say any thing more, but she ran away to show her mother her present, and to ask her if she would be so kind as to tell her what sort of a gown she should get for Nurse Hooper, and to count over all the silver pieces she hoarded in her purse. Her mother told her she was much pleased to find she remembered the poor friendless old woman, and that she should have the pleasure of getting the gown the next day,--and she said she would advise her all about it. Then her mother counted her money and found she would have some left after the gown was bought, which she could spend for herself. Emily said she would not determine what she should do with it then, but put it away till she wanted something very much. Her mother told her that was a very prudent and wise determination.
The day at last came for their visit to Brookline, the carriage was ordered, and Emily came down with her plain Cambric slip and thick shoes, which looked very proper, and comfortable, and neat. But Lucy put on her trimmed silk dress, and the lilac satin slippers she had bought to wear with it.
"Why my little girl," said her aunt, as she came into the room, "what could induce you to put on that rich silk to-day? you can have no enjoyment of play in such a dress, and those delicate slippers too,--you cannot _walk_ in them; remember we are going into the country, and shall wish to taste the sweet air of the fields, you had better run and change your dress now my love, there is quite time enough, and Emily will go and assist you."
"O no, aunt," said Lucy, "I had rather not go at all, than do that, I shall take care, I am big enough to take care I hope;" and she again looked sullen and sour.
"I shall not compel you my dear, most certainly, because that would not convince you that you are wrong, but I advise you once more to go and change your dress for a more proper one; I warn you that you will not have half the comfort, but a vast deal more trouble in going as you are; I wish indeed that you could believe, that I must know better than yourself about such things, because it might save you from much suffering, but if you prefer to learn by your own experience, you certainly shall;--experience is an excellent instructer, but we often pay very dearly for her lessons: well what do you say?"
"I am not at all afraid," said Lucy, impatiently. "Papa always lets me dress as I like."
"Let us go then," said her aunt.
The day was balmy and mild as possible, and the ride to Brookline was without accident, and perfectly pleasant. Lucy forgot all that her aunt had said, she was thinking how all the company would admire her fine dress and how mortified, and vexed, and surprised, the proud Miss Prince would be. At last they reached the beautiful seat of Mrs. Russel, and were received most kindly by that excellent lady. But what can express Lucy's disappointment to find there was to be no one besides themselves, not even Miss Prince, whom she was so sure of meeting, and that after Mrs. Russel had permitted a smile of pity to pass over her face as she looked at her dress, there was no more notice taken of it in any way.
Presently a walk in the garden was proposed, and they all proceeded to view the grounds. Emily went skipping about with a heart light with innocence and peace, smelling the sweet flowers, and eating the rich fruit which was ripening in profusion around her;--Lucy also took some fruit for she was very fond of it, and she thought she ate it very carefully; but presently she felt something wet upon her arm, and when she looked to see what it was, she found she had dropped some of the juice on the front part of her dress, which had already taken out the color in several places.
Now this was her best and her favorite dress, it was a present from her father when she left New York to visit her aunt, and it was quite new.
She felt very uncomfortable at this sad sight, and she already began to wish she had not put it on:--however she could do nothing to it, and she continued to walk slowly and carefully through the shrubs and flowers, until she saw the party all collected round a fish-pond at the bottom of the garden, viewing something very attentively.
"O the beautiful gold fish," exclaimed Lucy, "I had quite forgotten to ask about them, I dare say they are in that pond, and I do long to see them," and away she ran with all her speed, thinking only of the pretty gold fish which Emily had told her about so often; but the wind filled out the light folds of her beautiful silk dress, and as she passed a turning in the walk, the trimming was caught by the briars of a rose-bush and torn almost entirely off, before she could stop herself.
Lucy stood aghast at this sad rent! the delicate trimming was quite in tatters, and the thought of what her aunt had said to her (for she now remembered it every word) made her ashamed to look her in the face; however, she pinned it on as well as she could, and again she walked slowly and carefully, quite forgetting the gold fish and every thing but her misfortunes and her shame, and wishing she had not been so self-willed and perverse. But when little children will not be guided by the experience and judgment of their best and wisest friends, and will try for themselves, they often learn through much suffering and trouble, and pay dearly for the instruction which they might have had for nothing.
While Lucy was thus sauntering along, one of Mrs. Russel's little girls came running up to her full of spirits. "Come with _us_ dear Lucy," said she, "we are going to the bottom of the pasture-field to look into Mr.
Barrel's beautiful garden, 'tis much handsomer than ours, and there is an opening in the fence so that we can see it all plainly through the cracks. There are a great _many_ images in the garden. In one place there is an old woman feeding chickens, and she is holding up her apron of corn so naturally, exactly as our Betsey does when she feeds our little ones; and her gown is pinned away behind her, and shews her quilted petticoat and she _does_ look _so_ funny; and then in another part of the garden, there is a man raking hay, he looks as natural as _life_--come--this way, my dear, there is Emily just jumping over the stone-wall."
The pasture was very large. It was made perfectly dry by a ditch which was dug along on one side; this drained off all the water, so it was easy and dry walking. The girls went on jumping and springing, and Lucy once more forgot her troubles, and began to enjoy herself, while Emily felt _so_ innocent and happy, that she could not express her delight.
They came at last to the opening in the fence which gave them a good view of this fine garden; the flower beds were all laid out in squares, and diamonds, and circles, which were all bordered with beautiful green box. And Lucy saw the old man with his rake, who looked exactly as if he could move and was just going to turn his hay; and she saw the droll looking old woman holding up her apron of corn; and they were very much amused, discovering new beauties in this garden for a long time, but at last they were startled by hearing the snorting of a horse very near to them. They had not seen that there was any horse in the pasture before, but when they looked up they saw Mr. Russel's great black horse galloping up to them, rearing and kicking up his hind feet in the air, while John the stable-boy was running after him with a halter to catch him.
The little girls were very much frightened when they saw such a great loose horse so near to them, and they began to run towards the house as fast as their limbs would carry them, for they thought the black horse was close at their heels, and they did not stop to look behind them.
Sarah Russel and Emily got on a great deal faster than Lucy, because her slippers were tight and her dress troublesome, but she used her utmost speed, and had nearly reached the stone wall over which the girls were jumping, when in attempting to leap across the ditch her foot slipped in, and down came poor Lucy flat upon her face. What a sad situation she was in! she had lost her shoe in the black muddy ditch,--her unfortunate silk frock was all covered with green slime, from the slippery grass on the banks,--she had hurt her ancle so badly she could scarcely stir,--and she expected every moment that the great black horse would be upon her, and trample her to death,--the other little girls thinking she had kept up with them had jumped over the wall and were gone out of sight and hearing, and she could not possibly get up alone.
"Oh! dear, what shall I do?" cried Lucy, "will nobody come to save me."
Now it happened that young Mr. Thomas Russel had come out to assist John in catching his horse, (because he was a frolicksome and troublesome horse to catch) and he was already so near that he heard Lucy's cries. He came to her, kindly took her up and quieted her fears, and showed her that the horse was a long way distant, and then he felt with his stick round in the ditch to find her beautiful lilac slipper.
Alas! it was beautiful no longer; for when he fished it out of the muddy gutter on the end of his cane, it was so filled and covered with the filth that no color could be seen. Mr. Russel kindly carried her in his arms to the house, and then he took her slipper to the pump and pumped upon it till he got it clean enough to dry at the fire. An old shoe of Sarah Russel's was found for Lucy to put on, after her stockings and her clothes had been wiped, but it was much too large for her to walk in, if she had been in a condition to walk.
While the rest of the party were enjoying the garden, the summer house, the shrubbery and the lawn, eating fruit and gathering flowers, poor Lucy, placed in a chair by a roasting kitchen fire to dry, her beautiful dress _tattered_ and _filthy_, her fine satin slippers quite and _entirely_ ruined, her face bruised, and her ancle lame, had time to feel all her folly and perverseness.
"If," said she to herself, "I had not been so self-willed and so very silly as to put on this silk dress, any other, even my best muslin, might have been washed and repaired, and if I had only worn my thick, easy shoes, I should not have slipped at all; and if I had slipped, any other shoes but _these_ might have been made tolerably clean again; but now my beautiful silver crown might as well have been thrown into the sea, for it is _all_ gone and has only purchased pain and disgrace. O how ashamed I shall feel to look at aunt and Emily, for they both told me almost exactly how it would be if I would wear this improper dress, though aunt did not know that I wanted to wear it just to vex that proud Miss Prince; and after all she was not here to see it, and will only rejoice to hear of my mortification and disgrace. I dare say that Emily is as clean and as nice as she was when she came, at least she don't feel so sore, and so dirty, and wet, and uncomfortable as I do, nor so much ashamed."
Lucy shed most bitter tears. She had not the consolation under all these accidents, of feeling that she had had good or innocent motives for wishing to wear the improper dress, and that her friends would pity her; and again she wept over her vanity, her wilfulness, her envy, and malice.
At last she heard the happy party returning to the house full of mirth and gaiety, and as they entered she heard Emily say, "I have looked all round for Lucy, I wonder where she has hidden herself; I suppose she has found something new and delightful in this charming place, but she will soon be here now, because the sun is almost down--our _happy day_ is ended, for mother has ordered the carriage to be ready as soon as tea is over," and she came bounding into the house rosy and smiling with innocent delight; but her countenance became sad as she caught sight of Lucy through the open door, sobbing at the kitchen fire, in the deplorable condition which we have described her.
Emily was immediately at her side, trying with kind words and an affectionate manner, to sooth and comfort her. She was too good-natured to tell Lucy that she suffered for her own faults, she was too kind _once_ to say to her "I _told_ you so, I _knew_ you would be sorry, _now_ don't you wish you had done as _I_ advised you?"--Emily did not say any thing like this; but she looked kindly at her, took hold of her hand, and wiped her eyes, and said, "come, never mind it now dear Lucy, but think of all the pleasures we have had, and what a pleasant ride home we shall have in the moon-shine--and besides, I dare say we shall be able to mend the trimming, I will help you, and see if we can't get out these spots with Cologne water, and some of mother's patent soap, which is made on _purpose_ to take out spots from silk; come, never mind, accidents will happen, and I am so thankful that the horse did not kick you, how frightened we were when he looked so wild."
Thus Emily kindly tried to divert poor Lucy till supper was ready. Now Lucy had thought a great deal about the nice supper, and the good things which she expected to see on the table, but she had cried till her stomach was sick, and her appetite quite gone; she could not taste any of the delicacies on which she had depended so much, and besides, she did not wish to show herself before her aunt and Mrs. Russel in such a condition, so she crept into the carriage which had been drawn up to the door, and waited there till her aunt and cousin were ready.
Lucy's aunt had been told before she reached the house of what had happened, by Mr. Thomas Russel, who had gone out to meet her; but, as he told her that Lucy was not so much hurt as she was mortified and frightened, she spared her the pain of seeing her before company, and even after she was in the carriage, and had begun their ride home, this kind aunt said nothing about the accident; for she thought it best to let Lucy reflect in silence upon the events of the day, that the _lessons of experience_ for which she had paid so very dearly, might induce her to correct those faults from which all her sufferings proceeded.
When they arrived at home, and were all collected in the parlour, Lucy's aunt desired to look at the bruises, and as she kindly bound them up, said to her,--"You have had your first lesson of experience my dear little girl to-day; it has indeed been a hard one, and I dare say will be long remembered; you were much frightened, much bruised, much disappointed, and very much mortified. I am sure I am _sorry_ for your sufferings, but if you will let them convince you, that pride--malice--selfishness--wilfulness--and obstinacy, are all faults which will make you suffer more and more as long as you keep them, you may _yet_ bless this day, as I shall most certainly, as the most fortunate of your life, and worth a _purse full_ of such pieces as that which you have so foolishly thrown away. You start, my little girl, but I assure you that all these dreadful faults were in your heart when you determined to use your father's present as you did, and kept to that determination; for I heard all your conversation with Emily on the day it was received.