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a little sulky: “ Frank,” said I, we cannot have the things.” “Never mind,” replied Frank; “come with me; we will have a slide on the lake : it is completely frozen over.” Away we ran, in high glee; but before we reached the new object of our wishes, we heard Uncle Barnaby's voice from his study window—“Boys! boys ! do not go on the ice till I have time to see about it; I am engaged just now, but I shall be with you shortly.” other disappointment,” thought I; “it is not all pleasure abroad any more than at home.” Frank did not appear at all disconcerted; he knew uncle better than I did. “Come,” said he, “ let us have a game at cricket the while." “ The while of what?” i inquired, rather pettishly. “The while that uncle finishes what he is about, and sees whether he thinks it safe for us to
on the ice.” you think then that he will see about it?” be sure I do ; did he not say he would ?” but that is only a put off, is it?” “Not with Uncle Barnaby: he always means what he says. Let me tell you, he would think it a sin to say he
any thing, and then neglect to do I have often seen him make a memorandum, lest he should forget even the smallest thing that he engaged to do. There were two things that he promised to see about: that was yesterday, before you came ; and I should not wonder a bit if he is attending to one of them now.” “Then,” thought I, “that is the way to be trusted ; and if Uncle Barnaby really does see about what he says he will, I shall be quite satisfied with what he says.
No very long time elapsed before my uncle came to us : -“ Now, boys,” said he, “am I under any engagements with you!” “No absolute promises,
sir,” replied Frank ; “but there are several things you promised to see about.” “Yes, sir,” I ventured to interpose, “you promised to see whether we might go on the ice.” “I have seen about it, my little man," returned my uncle, kindly patting my head," and I wish you not to go on the lake to-day : the ice is not sufficiently firm to bear you without danger. If you like to amuse yourselves on the duck-pond you may safely do it; and as the frost is likely to continue, by to-morrow I should think you may venture on the lake. Well, what next?” “ About the Shetland pony, uncle," said Frank,—"why there he certainly is ! Have you decided on purchasing him, uncle ?”—“Yes, Frank, I have this morning concluded a bargain with farmer Stokes, who assures me that he is quite manageable, and free from vice. The farmer is an honest man, and one on whose word I can rely; so I have no hesitation in giving you full permission to mount Bucephalus, and I hope he will afford you much pleasure. I need not say, you will permit your cousin to share your recreation.” Certainly, uncle. Cousin Sam shall have the first ride. I thank you a thousand times for your kindness.”
”_ _“You are heartily welcome, my boy. But come, let us make clear scores before we part : were there any other promises ?”—“Only about the lecturer, sir, and his philosophical experiments.” “Well, Frank, Mr. been with me.
I find him a very sensible, wellinformed, and modest man, and think that his lectures will be interesting and instructive; we have, therefore, arranged for him to spend a few days with us, as soon
as his public engagement is He will lecture in the library, on Monday
and Tuesday evenings. In the mean time, you may ride round, and invite any of your young friends within reach to join our party.” thank you, uncle, thank you! I am uncommonly obliged to you: how much you strive to give us pleasure! There is one thing, sir, I really am vexed with myself for having proposed to cousin Sam, use I am afraid you will not approve of it-I spoke to him about making some fire-works.”—“Āy, true; Rogers has been telling me about it.
She is frightened to death, she says, lest, as the old ditty has it, we should be all blown up alive. I must own, I am not over fond of
gunpowder ; first, because it is a dangerous plaything; and next, because it is employed for the purposes of war, and otherwise taking away human life. The principles of peace are so very dear to me, that I dislike even a plaything that might possibly foster the passion for war. Apart from these considerations, I could enjoy a display of well-constructed fire-works as well as either of you. I fancy some of the experiments of our philosopher may throw an interesting light on the nature and properties of the several ingredients, the combination of which forms gunpowder. Perhaps you will find enough to occupy the intervening time, and will consent that the gunpowder experiment should stand over.” I need hardly say, that we both cheerfully consented to postpone or surrender our project, when thus dealt with on the terms of reason and principle; and when so much compensative kindness was manifested in connexion with prohibition or hesitation as to an improper or a questionable indulgence.
The pony afforded us ample entertainment for
that day. We traversed many miles of the adjacent country, in the old Yorkshire method of “ ride and tie, ,”* calling on our way on several acquaintances of Frank's, to engage their company for the following week, and to discuss with them the properties and merits of the pony.
The evening was happily occupied in cheerful, yet instructive conversation with Uncle Barnaby ; in looking over some valuable works on natural history; and in complying with the wishes of our respective parents, by writing to inform them of our safe arrival at our uncle's.
Next morning, at the breakfast table, almost before we had had time to form a wish or a thought about the sliding, uncle convinced us that he had not lost sight of his engagement. Well, lads,” said he, “ I am glad to see so fine a morning. As soon as you have finished your meal, we will equip ourselves, and go out for an hour's skating. The ice is quite firm ; and though the air is cold, we shall be able to keep ourselves warm by exercise.” Kind-hearted man! he had taken the trouble to procure for each of us a pair of skates to fit our size, a pair of woollen gloves, and a stock, or, as it is called in modern language, a comforter. Thus suitably equipped, we sallied forth, and, to our great surprise, as well as gratification, our kind uncle accompanied us, and not merely discovered the vigilance of a cautious guardian, but joined in our
* In case the reader should not be familiar with this phrase, the plan alluded to is a contrivance by which two persons avail themselves of the services of one animal, without riding double. One of the travellers starts on foot, the other on horseback ; at an appointed spot the rider dismounts, ties up the horse, and proceeds on foot. The other comes up, mounts, and takes his tumn for a ride ; and thus the whole distance is divided.
sport with all the skill, dexterity, and agility of an accomplished skater. “Who would have thought,' said I to Frank, “ that such a steady, elderly gentleman as Uncle Barnaby would jump about like a boy, and laugh at a tumble, just as we do?”
* Ah,” replied Frank, “you will know uncle better by-and-by; and you will always find, that he first considers whether a thing is right and proper ; then, if he decides to do it at all, he goes into it with all his energy, and leaves off just at the right time.”
Sure enough, just as Frank had said, after joining heartily in our sport, and teaching us many entertaining movements, uncle looked at his watch, and immediately took off his skates, saying, “ My lads, I have spent as much time in play as I can afford; I must go in, and attend to some business. You may amuse yourselves for another hour, if
you like; but come in in good time to prepare yourselves for dinner.”
We pursued our sport with much glee, and without any sense of fatigue ; but just half an hour before dinner-time-such is the influence of example-Frank observed to me that it was time for us to go in; “For,” said he, “uncle will expect us to be punctual.”. I know some men who scorn the idea of punctuality in little things, and reckon it petty and enslaving, fit only for old maiden ladies, who, they say, have nothing else to think about. But this I am sure of, both in Uncle Barnaby and cousin Frank, punctuality in little things never detracted a grain from manliness and nobleness of character. On the contrary, it gained them a higher degree of respect and good-will from all around them, and left them at liberty to attend