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New mother.

From Anyhow stories by Lucy Lane Clifford.

Start of Story

Then Blue-Eyes and the Turkey looked round, and when they saw the tall loaf, baked crisp and brown, and the cups all in a row, and the jug of milk, all waiting for them, they went to the table and sat down and felt a little happier ; and the mother did not put the baby in the high chair after all, but took it on her knee, and danced it up and down, and sang little snatches of songs to it, and laughed, and looked content, and thought of the father far away at sea, and wondered what he would say to them all when he came home again. Then suddenly she looked up and saw that the Turkey's eyes were full of tears. " Turkey !" she exclaimed, "my dear little Turkey ! what is the matter? Come to mother, my sweet; come to own mother." And putting the baby down on the rug, she held out her arms, and the Turkey, getting up from her chair, ran swiftly into them. " Oh, mother," she sobbed, " oh, dear mother ! I do so want to be naughty." " My dear child ! " the mother exclaimed. " Yes, mother," the child sobbed, more and more bitterly. " I do so want to be very, very naughty." And then Blue-Eyes left her chair also, and, rub- bing her face against the mother's shoulder, cried sadly. " And so do I, mother. Oh, I'd give anything to be very, very naughty." " But, my dear children," said the mother, in astonishment, " why do you want to be naughty ? " " Because we do ; oh, what shall we do ? " they cried together. "I should be very angry if you were naughty. But you could not be, for you love me," the mother answered. " Why couldn't we be naughty because we love you ? " they asked. " Because it would make me very unhappy ; and if you love me you couldn't make me unhappy." " Why couldn't we ? " they asked.

Then the mother thought a while before she answered ; and when she did so they hardly under- stood, perhaps because she seemed to be speaking rather to herself than to them. " Because if one loves well," she said gently, " one's love is stronger than all bad feelings in one, and conquers them. And this is the test whether love be real or false, unkindness and wickedness have no power over it." " We don't know what you mean," they cried ; " and we do love you ; but we want to be naughty." " Then I should know you did not love me," the mother said. " And what should you do ?" asked Bine-Eyes. " I cannot tell. I should try to make you better," " But if you couldn't ? If we were very, very, very naughty, and wouldn't be good, what then ?" "Then," said the mother sadly and while she spoke her eyes filled with tears, and a sob almost choked her " then," she said, " I should have to go away and leave you, and to send home a new mother, with glass eyes and wooden tail." " You couldn't," they cried. " Yes, I could," she answered in a low voice ; " but it would make me very unhappy, and I will never do it unless you are very, very naughty, and I am obliged." " We won't be naughty," they cried ; " we will be good. We should hate a new mother ; and she shall never come here." And they clung to their own mother, and kissed her fondly. But when they went to bed they sobbed bitterly, for they remembered the little man and woman, and longed more than ever to see them ; but how could they bear to let their own mother go away, and a new one take her place ?

" GOOD-DAY," said the village girl, when she saw Blue-Eyes and the Turkey approach. She was again sitting by the heap of stones, and under her shawl the peardrum was hidden. She looked just as if she had not moved since the day before. " Good day," she said, in the same cheerful voice in which she had spoken yesterday ; " the weather is really charm- ing." "Are the little man and woman there?" the children asked, taking no notice of her remark. " Yes ; thank you for inquiring after them," the girl answered ; " they are both here and quite well. The little man is learning how to rattle the money in his pocket, and the little woman has heard a secret she tells it while she dances." " Oh, do let us see," they entreated. " Quite impossible, I assure you," the girl answered promptly. " You see, you are good." " Oh !" said-Blue Eyes, sadly ; "but mother says if we are naughty she will go away and send home a new mother, with glass eyes and a wooden tail." " Indeed," said the girl, still speaking in the same unconcerned voice, " that is what they all say." IT.] THE NEW MOTHEK. 25 " What do you mean ? " asked the Turkey. " They all threaten that kind of thing. Of course really there are no mothers with glass eyes and wooden tails ; they would be much too expensive to make." And the common sense of this remark the children, especially the Turkey, saw at once, but they merely said, half crying " We think you might let us see the little man and woman dance." " The kind of thing you would think," remarked the village girl. " But will you if we are naughty ? " they asked in despair. " I fear you could not be naughty that is, really even if you tried," she said scornfully. " Oh, but we will try ; we will indeed," they cried ; " so do show them to us." " Certainly not beforehand," answered the girl, getting up and preparing to walk away.

" But if we are very naughty to-night, will you let us see them to-morrow ? " " Questions asked to-day are always best an- swered to-morrow," the girl said, and turned round as if to walk on. " Good day," she said blithely ; " I must really go and play a little to myself; good day," she repeated, and then suddenly she began to sing " Oh, sweet and fair 's the lady-bird, And so's the bumble-bee, But I myself have long preferred The gentle chimpanzee, The gentle chimpanzee-e-e, The gentle chim " " I beg your pardon," she said, stopping, and looking over her shoulder; "it's very rude to sing without leave before company. I won't do it again." " Oh, do go on," the children said. " I'm going," she said, and walked away. " No, we meant go on singing," they explained, "and do let us just hear you play," they entreated, remembering that as yet they had not heard a single sound from the peardrum. " Quite impossible," she called out as she went along. " You are good, as I remarked before. The pleasure of goodness centres in itself ; the pleasures of naughtiness are many and varied. Good day," she shouted, for she was almost out of hearing. For a few minutes the children stood still look- ing after her, then they broke down and cried. " She might have let us see them," they sobbed. The Turkey was the first to wipe away her tears. " Let us go home and be very naughty," she said ; " then perhaps she will let us see them to-morrow." " But what shall we do ? " asked Blue-Eyes, look- ing up. Then together all the way home they planned how to begin being naughty. And that after- noon the dear mother was sorely distressed, for, instead of sitting at their tea as usual with smiling happy faces, and then helping her to clear away and doing all she told them, they broke their mugs and threw their bread and butter on the floor, and when the mother told them to do one thing they carefully went and did another, and as for helping her to put away, they left her to do it all by herself, and only stamped their feet with rage when she told them to go upstairs until they were good.


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