« AnteriorContinuar »
THE THORN IN THE FOOT.
MERRY romping girl of eight years old,
was Elsie Macdonald. With her laughing blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and brown curling hair, she was the very picture of a happy village child. But Elsie did not live in a village, though
there was one not far from her home. Her father, who was coachman to Sir Ralph Wilson, had his dwelling in the neatest of lodges, at the entrance to the
long winding avenue of Ferniebank, the country residence of the baronet. Elsie's parents had both been born and brought up
on the estate. William Macdonald was a steady, industrious servant, who well merited the confidence his master reposed in him ; while his wife, -a sensible, kindly woman,-did her best to keep a wellordered house, and train her children in the fear of God. Now, I am sorry to tell you, that despite her good parents and pleasant home, Elsie, with all her merry ways, was a thoughtless, wilful little girl, who did not always try to obey her mother.
When Elsie was a baby, she had a habit (which a great many babies have) of kicking off her little shoes and stockings; but no one expects a baby to know or do what is right till it gets sense. Elsie had sense now; but she did not do rightly. She was no longer a baby; but she had her baby habit. Neither threat nor persuasion could induce her to go otherwise than barefoot. She said that shoes and stockings kept her feet too hot; that the shoes pinched her,which last assertion was not quite true; for a short time before the events occurred which I am going to relate, Miss Alice Wilson had had a pair of shoes made which fitted Elsie beautifully, and the little girl, overawed by Miss Wilson's presence, had put them on, and started for school. Alas for the kind gift! In the afternoon, Miss Alice, walking through a neighbouring field, found the new shoes, with the little stockings tucked inside, snugly deposited in a hedge, and Elsie, some distance off, was playing with a merry troop of children, her dainty white feet gleaming in the sunlight, as she skipped about on the grass! After this, Mrs Macdonald did not try to force the child to obedience. She said she would learn some day that her mother and Miss Alice were in the right, and the lesson would do her good. So Elsie was left to go on her own way, singing and tripping with her bonnie bare feet through meadow, wood, and field,—the fairest, blithest little lassie in all the country side.
One bright September day, after the village school had been dismissed for the afternoon, some of the older girls proposed to go into the woods and gather brambles. The plan was hailed with glee. Off they all went, Elsie among them, and a merry time of it they had.
After eating as many brambles as they cared for, filling baskets to carry home to parents and brothers, the children began to play at hide-and-seek, and other such games. Elsie was among the noisiest and happiest of the party, and in hot chase after a child named Susan Black, bounding out and in among the bushes, and leaping over everything in her way, when suddenly she felt a sharp pain in her left foot. She was about to stop, but the desire to catch Susy prevailed; so she ran on, pain and all, for a few minutes, till her companion, fairly tired out, was caught, hot and panting.
Oh, Susy, how you have made me run, and I've hurt my foot so ! exclaimed Elsie, sitting down to examine the wounded member ; but no mark was visible.
You've just poked it among the bushes,-never mind,' said Susy. 'It is my turn now, I'll give you the start,one, two, three.'
Away bounded Elsie; and her companion, when she had counted ten, sprang after her; but the race was short. Elsie's foot was really painful, and very soon she left her
playmates and went home, looking so grave, one would scarcely have recognised her.
* Elsie, child, what's wrong?' said her mother, whose quick, loving eye detected that all was not right.
Nothing,' said Elsie shortly. 'Nothing!' repeated Mrs Macdonald, looking at her.
'I was chasing Susy Black, and I'm tired,' said the little girl. She had been told so often that some misfortune would be the consequence of her wilfulness, that she was afraid to tell the truth; and all that evening she was very miserable, for the poor little foot ached and throbbed; yet, silly child, she would not tell her mother what ailed her.
Tired and sick, she went to bed, hoping her foot might be all well in the morning. It did feel much better when she awoke; but the walk to school brought back the pain. Her lessons, ill-prepared the night before, were quite forgotten. She lost place after place; so when school was over, Elsie was booby, and went home crying bitterly.
Mrs Macdonald was sorry to see her little girl's tears, and to hear how badly her lessons had been said ; but she was in such evident distress, that her mother wisely deferred speaking to her of her fault until bed-time. And the child seated herself disconsolately by the fireside, lifting the kitten which lay there on to her knee.
* Elsie, fetch me your father's socks,' said her mother by-and-by. The child rose slowly to obey, and, in spite of her efforts, she could not walk steadily. Mrs Macdonald, who was watching her, noticed that she limped.
'Child, you are lame !' she exclaimed.
Her mother, who was washing, shook the suds from her hands, wiped them on her apron, and, without a word, laid down the socks which Elsie had brought, and lifted her child upon her knee.
• Which foot is it?' She held up the left ; the sole was swollen and inflamed. “How did you hurt it, Elsie ?' Yesterday, in the woods,' said the child, crying.
• Yesterday ! exclaimed her mother ; "and it was not sore till to-day?'
“Yes,' sobbed she ; "it has been sore ever since.' “And why did you not tell mother ?' 'I don't know,-I was afraid,' she sobbed again. ‘Oh! Elsie,' said the kind mother, with a deep sigh. Then setting the child on the chair, she made a poultice, tied up the little aching foot, and brought a picture Bible from the inner room.
There, Elsie,' she said, putting the book on the child's knee, 'that will amuse you ; you'll not get out again tonight.'
No; poor Elsie did not get out that night, nor for several more. The thorn which had run into her foot was driven in deeper with the walking; it festered and grew very sore indeed, causing Elsie a great deal of pain. Had she told her mother when she first came home, it would not have been half so bad; now she had to suffer, and sit quietly in the house during the bright sunny days, when her little companions were running about, and shouting in their merry play.
All the time that the child's foot ached so sorely, her mother never once scolded her, nor said a word about Elsie's disobedience concerning the shoes; but when the thorn had been got out, and the wound was healed, Mrs Macdonald came one night, and sat down beside Elsie after she had put her into bed.
Are you tired of staying in the house ?' asked she of the child.
Yes, mother-very.' "You shall go out to-morrow, dear.' • Oh, how nice!' exclaimed Elsie ; and the blue eyes
e sparkled as they had not done since the day she chased Susy.
“Yes, it will be very nice,' said her mother; and then kissing the little girl, she added, “Miss Alice's shoes are in the drawer there, Elsie; shall I lay them out for you to-morrow ?'
The child threw her arms round her mother and burst into tears. 'I have been very naughty,—forgive me, mother.' • Do you
think now that mother knows what is best for you ?' asked Mrs Macdonald.
Sobs were the only answer, as the little arms clung more tightly round her neck.
Come, my child, don't cry so. You have done wrong, Elsie, and you have suffered for it; let it be a lesson to you, dear, always to obey your parents. Good night, and God keep my child !'
Next morning Elsie trudged off to school wearing the