Page images
PDF
EPUB

Better had it been for those unfortunate men had they remained with Lewis, and shared his heroic death. As it was, they perished in a more painful and protracted manner, being sacrificed by the natives to the manes of their friends with all the lingering tortures of savage cruelty. Some time after their death, the interpreter, who had remained a kind of prisoner at large, effected his escape, and brought the tragical tidings to Astoria.

Such is the melancholy story of the Tonquin, and such was the fate of her brave but headstrong commander and adventurous crew. It is a catastrophe that shews the importance, in all enterprises of moment, to keep in mind the general instructions of the sagacious heads which devise them.

Mr Astor was well aware of the perils to which ships were exposed on this coast from quarrels with the natives, and from perfidious attempts of the latter to surprise and capture them in unguarded moments. He had repeatedly enjoined it upon Captain Thorn in conversation, and, at parting, in his letter of instructions, to be courteous and kind in his dealings with the savages, but by no means to confide in their apparent friendship, nor to admit more than a few on board of his ship at a time. Had the deportment of Captain Thorn been properly regulated, the insult, so wounding to savage pride, would never have been given; had he enforced the rule to admit but a few at a time, the savages would not have been able to get the mastery. He was too irritable, however, to practise the necessary self-command; and, having been nurtured in a proud contempt of danger, thought it beneath him to manifest any fear of a crew of unarmed savages. Hence the melancholy result.

THE BLUE AND WHITE FLOWER-POT.

My father was seated on the lawn before the house, his straw-hat over his eyes (it was summer), and his book on his lap. Suddenly a beautiful blue and white flowerpot, which had been set on the window-sill of an upper story, fell to the ground with a crash, and the fragments spluttered up round my father's legs.

• Dear, dear!' cried my mother, who was at work in the porch ; 'my poor flower-pot that I prized so much! Who could have done this? Primmins, Primmins !'

Mrs Primmins popped her head out of the fatal window, nodded to the summons, and came down in a trice, pale and breathless.

Oh,' said my mother, mournfully, “I would rather have lost all the plants in the greenhouse in the great blight last May; I would rather the best tea-set were broken ! The poor geranium I reared myself, and the dear, dear flower-pot which Mr Caxton bought for me my last birthday! that naughty child must have done this !!

Mrs Primmins was dreadfully afraid of my father; why, I know not, except that very talkative social persons are usually afraid of very silent shy ones. She cast a hasty glance at her master, who was beginning to evince signs of attention, and cried promptly : 'No, ma'am, it was not the dear boy, it was I !'

* You ; how could you be so careless ? and you knew how I prized them both. Oh, Primmins !'

Primmins began to sob. * Don't tell fibs, nursy,' said a small shrill voice : and

[ocr errors]

I, coming out of the house as bold as brass, continued rapidly, don't scold Primmins, mamma; it was I who pushed out the flower-pot.'

· Hush !' said nurse, more frightened than ever, and looking aghast at my father, who had very deliberately taken off his hat, and was regarding the scene with serious eyes, wide awake.

· Hush! And if he did break it, ma'am, it was quite an accident; he was standing so, and he never meant it. Did you, Master Sisty ? Speak !' this in a whisper, or pa will be so angry.' · Well,' said

my mother, 'I suppose it was an accident: take care in future, my child. You are sorry, I see, to have grieved me. There is a kiss; don't fret.'

'No, mamma, you must not kiss me; I don't deserve it. I pushed out the flower-pot on purpose.'

Ha, and why?' said my father, walking up.
Mrs Primmins trembled like a leaf.

· For fun !' said I, hanging my head ; just to see how you'd look, papa ; and that's the truth of it. Now, beat me-do beat me!'

My father threw his book fifty yards off, stooped down, and caught me to his breast. Boy,' he said, you have done wrong; you shall repair it by remembering all your life that

your father blessed God for giving him a son who spoke truth in spite of fear.'

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The box of dominoes was my delight.

• Ah !' said my father, one day when he found me playing with it in the parlour. • Ah! you like that better than all your playthings, eh?'

* Ah, yes, papa.' •You would be very sorry if your mamma were to

[ocr errors]

throw that box out of the window and break it for fun.' I looked beseechingly at my father, and made no answer. But, perhaps, you would be very glad,' he resumed, if suddenly one of those good fairies you read of would change the domino-box into a beautiful geranium in a beautiful blue and white flower-pot, and that you could have the pleasure of putting it on your mamma's windowsill.'

• Indeed I would,' said I, half crying.

“My dear boy, I believe you ; but good wishes don't mend bad actionsgood actions mend bad actions.'

So saying, he shut the door and went out; I cannot tell you how puzzled I was to make out what my father meant.

The next morning my father found me seated by myself under a tree in the garden ; he paused, and looked at me with his grave bright eyes very steadily.

“My boy,' said he, 'I am going to walk to will you come? And, by-the-by, fetch your domino-box; I should like to shew it to a person there. I ran in for the box, and, not a little proud of walking with my father on the high-road, we set out.

* Papa,' said I by the way, there are no fairies now.' • What then, my child ?'

• Why, how then can my domino-box be changed into a geranium and a blue and white flower-pot ?'

'My dear,' said my father, leaning his hand on my shoulder, "everybody who is in earnest to be good, carries two fairies about with him—one here,' and he touched my forehead ; 'one here,' and he touched

my

heart. "I don't understand, papa.' "I can wait till you do, my boy.'

[ocr errors]

*

Ah! how proud, how overjoyed I was when, .after placing vase and flower on the window-sill, I plucked my mother by the gown, and made her follow me to the spot.

It is his doing and his money!' said my father ; 'good actions have mended the bad.'

What !' cried my mother, when she had learned all; ' and your poor domino-box that you were so fond of. We shall go to-morrow and buy it back if it costs us double.'

Shall we buy it back, my boy?' asked my father.

O no—no—10—it would spoil it all !' I cried, burying my face on my father's breast.

My wife,' said my father, solemnly, this is my first lesson to our child—the sanctity and happiness of selfsacrifice-undo not what it should teach him to his dying hour.'

CHARACTER OF A HAPPY LIFE.

1.
How happy is he born and taught

That serveth not another's will;
Whose armour is his honest thought

And simple truth his utmost skill !

2.
Whose passions not his masters are,

Whose soul is still prepared for death,
Not tied unto the world with care

Of public fame, or private breath;

« PreviousContinue »