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to rush into anything. I had barely sense enough left to see that my property was disappearing while there was yet a pittance remaining. Then I turned upon my steps, took care of the rest, and am now subsisting upon it, with no hope in this life and bụt little interest in the next.”
And yet, dear children, this boy gave apparently as fair promise as the other. And now I give you the second reason why you should not be overmuch troubled if you are poor, — that poverty seems to be favorable to the best mental and moral training of a vast majority of persons. Remember that this is not universally true. Many who are the sons and daughters of rich men are eminently fit for you to follow, by the grace of their manners, the wisdom of their minds, and the goodness of their hearts. The beauty of their daily life cannot be surpassed. But I think you will find that a large majority of those who are eminent for their talents, their virtues, and their usefulness were not born in costly houses, did not wear rich clothes in their childhood, and were not provided with numerous servants, elegant carriages, and expensive toys.
Let me tell you also another thing. Your standing in the world is not going to be affected by these things. You will be appreciated when you are grown up according to what you are, and not according to what you have. Does your schoolmate slight you now because you dress plainly and have little money to spend ? He is a silly child for doing it, and you are a silly child for minding it; but we do not blame either of you a great deal, because we do not expect children to be very wise. But when you shall be grown up, the time for such things will have gone by. No gentleman or lady will slight you for not possessing those things which are not essential to a gentleman or lady, and it is impossible to be slighted by any one else. When you are grown up, we expect you to know this, and if you could find a little comfort in it now I should be very glad.
Above all things, my little friends, do not be envious. Be as willing to see good traits in your rich companions as in your poor ones. Because your schoolmate comes with a new dress every week, do not try to make out that she is proud. Because a boy has a pony, do not insist that he tells lies. Be just and generous towards rich and poor. Think the best you can of every one, make the most of everything you do possess, enjoy the pretty things which your friends have, even though you cannot get them yourself, and you will be as happy and contented as if you owned all the silk-worms and ponies in the world.
NCE upon a time the world rang from
zone to zone with the praises of two brave knights, who rode through it armed cap-a-pie, hacking lustily with their two-edged swords at all that was wrong, and crowning with sweet flowers all that was virtuous and good. I said “once upon a time”; but the strain that arose then has been ringing through the world ever since, and its vibrations will continue to be heard, sweet and low, to the end of all time.
It was the rising sun that threw far and away over the greensward the shad
ows of the two stalwart knights, as they rode forth to their task, — shadows so long, and so broad, that they
VOL. II. — NO. I.
stretched to every part of the earth, kissing tenderly the light clouds that lay on the far western horizon. Two very stalwart knights were they, indeed, and very gallant they looked as they rode side by side along the broad highway, - Sir William with his lance ever couched for coming foeman, and Sir John with a shield so bright that it glanced like a meteor as he rode : and a brilliant meteor it was, truly, though only too brief in its transit athwart the world.
And if the lance of Sir William was adorned with a wreath of immortelles, had not some fair hand entwined with forget-me-nots the hilt of Sir John's rapier ? The lance and the sword are vanished now, but the flowers will bloom forever, and I have sprigs of them on my desk as I write.
And lo! the weird figures that follow in the train of the two knights ! Two singular dwarfs, I declare, — little fellows, but amazingly strong, if you may judge by the breadth of their shoulders, and the play of their muscles as they go. See how nimbly one of them leaps forward at a beck from the finger of Sir William! What a grotesque figure he is ! All nerve, and
muscle, and pluck, and grasp ; Stylus his name, and squire to the valiant knight Sir William is he. His face tapers to a pen of the keenest nib. You can see that ink is his wine, and that he dips his nose in it very often. He is a wonderful combination of strength and activity. He will knock the legs from under some mean rascal at his master's bidding, and then, planting in the ground the weapons of the fallen wretch, will throw summersaults over them without so much as scratching a finger. He plays with his jokes as a juggler does with cannon-balls, and if he thinks you are a deceitful person, and trying to impose on him, the chances are he will
let one of them drop heavily on your favorite toe. Side by side with him jogs Plumbago, squire to the courtly and handsome knight Sir John, at whose right hand he is always ready for active service. A
quaint and swarthy imp is Plumbago, very frolicsome in his disposition, and gifted with a humor of the rarest and most pleasant kind. You can tell, to look at him, that he is a jovial companion by the way. He has more queer adventures to relate to you, and incidents, and accidents, and what not, than would go to the making up of a thousand comedies of the drollest kind. Probably Plumbago made more people merry in his lifetime than all the comedians that ever lived ; but this was only when he liked his company, and saw that it was good. When he fell in with the dissolute, or the foolish, or the mean, or the insolent, or the
hypocrite, or the quack, he detected them at once, and would wither with a look any of them that were so unlucky as to thrust themselves in his way. He could make them so ridiculous that people jeered them, and pointed with the finger at them when they dared to appear in the streets. Bad people came at last to be terribly afraid of Plumbago, who had a way of setting the street boys upon them, and worrying them like rats. And then he would play leap-frog over their backs, and drive their hats down over their eyes, always eluding their attempts to catch him, until they became so ashamed of themselves that they slunk into the by-ways, and kept out of sight. But the little boys and girls loved him for the good playfellow he was, aad the fun he made for them when they gathered flowers together by the Foodside, or shells upon the shore, or danced merrily in the hall at evening, or on the velvet lawn. He was a wonderful little fellow, was Plumbago, and one who made his mark, I can tell you.
It was a lovely summer morning as the two knights, thus accoutred and followed, took their way along a winding road that led over a thousand hills and through a thousand valleys. Yonder lay the sea, purple and amber in the floods of morning splendor. Towns stood darkly out against the sky, or nestled down in the wooded nooks. The castle frowned from the rock. The blue smoke from the lowly cottage went spirally up until it was lost in the clear expanse above. The meadows were starred with golden flowers, and the lowing of the cattle went over them like a sonorous hymn of praise. From every hedge and thicket came the carols of a thousand joyous birds, and the swallows gleamed like mail-clad warriors as they chased the burpished insects through the air. Small music was heard in the grass, too, for the grasshopper and his reedy band were there, and the cricket tuned his pipe. Nature has her holidays, sometimes, and this was one of them, proclaimed by the glad things whose voices were heard on every side.
" Is n't it a pity to think that there should be misery and wickedness in such a lovely world as this ?” said Sir William, as they rode along. “The clinking of my sword jars harshly with the music around. Hark to the glad voices of the birds ! but remember that a hawk may yet redden his talons in the blood of the sweetest singer of them. I wish we warriors might live without blood-letting; but duty calls us, and the word is “Onward, m2.ca!'”
“It is a question between letting blood sometimes, or letting evil triumph over good,” replied Sir John, with a thoughtful smile. “See !” added he, “look what a beautiful brook comes tumbling down through yonder glen; and, O my! what splendid speckled trout those are leaping from the pool at the foot of the fall! Yonder is the miller too, lolling over the hand-rail of his bridge, and I hear his ringing laugh as he jeers the stout old gentleman who fishes up to his knees in water in the pool. O, I should like to linger in this tranquil spot the whole day through, and cast my fly over the ripples for the yellow trout. But there is work before us, and our motto is, 'Onward, march!'"
And onward they went, on and on, until they saw a town that lay at some distance on the plain before them. And they knew it was a gala-day there, for past them on the road hurried a throng of people, various in dress and
manners, many of them laden with merchandise for the fair. There was a crusty old lord in his chariot and four, and his wheels raised such a cloud of dust as he passed that Stylus called him names while he was yet well within hearing, and Plumbago made a face so like the old lord himself, that even the impudent footmen behind that nobleman's carriage could not help laughing. But then he twisted himself ludicrously into the very semblance of the footmen, and they did not laugh any more. Lovely girls cantered past on splendid horses, escorted by their cavaliers, and Sir John kissed his hand to them, for they were friends of his and loved him greatly. Here came a couple of skulking knaves, at whom Sir William's horse lashed out his legs when they came behind him; and here a market-cart, with a rustic driver, and an old woman smoking a pipe, and some small children toddling along the roadside, among whom was a little golden-haired girl, so pretty that Sir John lifted her up to his saddle-bow, and carried her all the rest of the way to the market-town.
The great square was thronged with people when the two knights arrived, so thronged that they had some difficulty in making their way to the centre of it. “Now, Plumbago,” said Sir John, “wind a blast upon your bugle-horn, and proclaim to the assembled people that here in the market-place I hang my shield, in order that all who are so disposed may come and see themselves reflected in it.”
Sweet and mellow the bugle-notes rang out in the clear air, and, when the two squires had cleared a space in the middle of the throng, the shield of Sir John was placed there, - a burnished disk of silvery radiance, in which the passing events were reflected as clearly as the night-sky in some placid lake. Nay, were not things
of the past shown also in that magic mirror ? and were there not those who looked for the future in it, and saw it there too, and took their counsel on it, likewise, as they went their way?