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Mary Erskine by Jacob Abbott

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Buy and Download Description Mary Erskine by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879 PREFACE. The development of the moral sentiments in the human heart, in early life,- -and every thing in fact which relates to the formation of character,- -is determined in a far greater degree by sympathy, and by the influence of example, than by formal precepts and didactic instruction. If a boy hears his father speaking kindly to a robin in the spring,- -welcoming its coming and offering it food,- -there arises at once in his own mind, a feeling of kindness toward the bird, and toward all the animal creation, which is produced by a sort of sympathetic action, a power somewhat similar to what in physical philosophy is called _induction_. On the other hand, if the father, instead of feeding the bird, goes eagerly for a gun, in order that he may shoot it, the boy will sympathize in that desire, and growing up under such an influence, there will be gradually formed within him, through the mysterious tendency of the youthful heart to vibrate in unison with hearts that are near, a disposition to kill and destroy all helpless beings that come within his power. There is no need of any formal instruction in either case. Of a thousand children brought up under the former of the above-described influences, nearly every one, when he sees a bird, will wish to go and get crumbs to feed it, while in the latter case, nearly every one will just as certainly look for a stone. Thus the growing up in the right atmosphere, rather than the receiving of the right instruction, is the condition which it is most important to secure, in plans for forming the characters of children. It is in accordance with this philosophy that these stories, though written mainly with a view to their moral influence on the hearts and dispositions of the readers, contain very little formal exhortation and instruction. They present quiet and peaceful pictures of happy domestic life, portraying generally such conduct, and expressing such sentiments and feelings, as it is desirable to exhibit and express in the presence of children. The books, however, will be found, perhaps, after all, to be useful mainly in entertaining and amusing the youthful readers who may peruse them, as the writing of them has been the amusement and recreation of the author in the intervals of more serious pursuits. CONTENTS. CHAPTER I.- -JEMMY II.- -THE BRIDE III.- -MARY ERSKINE'S VISITORS IV.- -CALAMITY V.- -CONSULTATIONS VI.- -MARY BELL IN THE WOODS VII.- -HOUSE-KEEPING VIII.- -THE SCHOOL IX.- -GOOD MANAGEMENT X.- -THE VISIT TO MARY ERSKINE'S CHAPTER I. JEMMY. Malleville and her cousin Phonny generally played together at Franconia a great part of the day, and at night they slept in two separate recesses which opened out of the same room. These recesses were deep and large, and they were divided from the room by curtains, so that they formed as it were separate chambers: and yet the children could speak to each other from them in the morning before they got up, since the curtains did not intercept the sound of their voices. They might have talked in the same manner at night, after they had gone to bed, but this was against Mrs. Henry's rules. One morning Malleville, after lying awake a few minutes, listening to the birds that were singing in the yard, and wishing that the window was open so that she could hear them more distinctly, heard Phonny's voice calling to her. "Malleville," said he, "are you awake?" "Yes," said Malleville, "are you?" "Yes," said Phonny, "I'm awake- -but what a cold morning it is!" It was indeed a cold morning, or at least a very _cool_ one. This was somewhat remarkable, as it was in the month of June. But the country about Franconia was cold in winter, and cool in summer. Phonny and Malleville rose and dressed themselves, and then went down stairs. They hoped to find a fire in the sitting-room, but there was none. "How sorry I am," said Phonny. "But hark, I hear a roaring." "Yes," said Malleville; "it is the oven; they are going to bake." The back of the oven was so near to the partition wall which formed one side of the sitting-room, that the sound of the fire could be heard through it. The mouth of the oven however opened into another small room connected with the kitchen, which was called the baking-room. The children went out into the baking-room, to warm themselves by the oven fire. "I am very glad that it is a cool day," said Phonny, "for perhaps mother will let us go to Mary Erskine's. Should not you like to go?" "Yes," said Malleville, "very much. Where is it?" The readers who have perused the preceding volumes of this series will have observed that Mary Bell, who lived with her mother in the pleasant little farm-house at a short distance from the village, was always called by her full name, Mary Bell, and not ever, or scarcely ever, merely Mary. People had acquired the habit of speaking of her in this way, in order to distinguish her from another Mary who lived with Mrs. Bell for several years. This other Mary was Mary Erskine. Mary Erskine did not live now at Mrs. Bell's, but at another house which was situated nearly two miles from Mrs. Henry's, and the way to it was by a very wild and unfrequented road. The children were frequently accustomed to go and make Mary Erskine a visit; but it was so long a walk that Mrs. Henry never allowed them to go unless on a very cool day. At breakfast that morning Phonny asked his mother if that would not be a good day for them to go and see Mary Erskine. Mrs. Henry said that it would be an excellent day, and that she should be very glad to have them go, for there were some things there to be brought home. Besides Beechnut was going to mill, and he could carry them as far as Kater's corner. Kater's corner was a place where a sort of cart path, branching off from the main road, led through the woods to the house where Mary Erskine lived. It took its name from a farmer, whose name was Kater, and whose house was at the corner where the roads diverged. The main road itself was very rough and wild, and the cart path which led from the corner was almost impassable in summer, even for a wagon, though it was a very romantic and beautiful road for travelers on horseback or on foot. In the winter the road was excellent: for the snow buried all the roughness of the way two or three feet deep, and the teams which went back and forth into the woods, made a smooth and beautiful track for every thing on runners, upon the top of it. Malleville and Phonny were very much pleased with the prospect of riding a part of the way to Mary Erskine's, with Beechnut, in the wagon. They made themselves ready immediately after breakfast, and then went and sat down upon the step of the door, waiting for Beechnut to appear. Beechnut was in the barn, harnessing the horse into the wagon. Malleville sat down quietly upon the step while waiting for Beechnut. Phonny began to amuse himself by climbing up the railing of the bannisters, at the side of the stairs. He was trying to poise himself upon the top of the railing and then to work himself up the ascent by pulling and pushing with his hands and feet against the bannisters themselves below. "I wish you would not do that," said Malleville. "I think it is very foolish, for you may fall and hurt yourself." "No," said Phonny. "It is not foolish. It is very useful for me to learn to climb." So saying he went on scrambling up the railing of the bannisters as before. Just then Beechnut came along through the yard, towards the house. He was coming for the whip. "Beechnut," said Malleville, "I wish that you would speak to Phonny." "_Is_ it foolish for me to learn to climb?" asked Phonny. In order to see Beechnut while he asked this question, Phonny had to twist his head round in a very unusual position, and look out under his arm. It was obvious that in Mary Erskine by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879 PREFACE. The development of the moral sentiments in the human heart, in early life,- -and every thing in fact which relates to the formation of character,- -is determined in a far greater degree by sympa
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