Jemima Placid by E. V. Lucas
or, The Advantage of Good Nature
Mr. Placid was a clergyman of distinguished merit, and had been for
many years the vicar of Smiledale. The situation of the parsonage was
truly beautiful, but the income of the living was not very
considerable; so, as the old gentleman had two sons with the young
Jemima to provide for, it was necessary to be rather frugal in his
expenses. Mrs. Placid was remarkably handsome in her youth, but the
beauty of her person was much impaired by a continued state of
ill-health, which she supported with such a degree of cheerful
fortitude as did honour to human nature. As she had had the advantage
of a liberal education, and had been always accustomed to genteel
company, her conversation was uncommonly agreeable; and her daughter
derived from her instructions those engaging qualities which are the
most valuable endowments a parent can bestow. The eldest son, whose
name was Charles, was about three years, and William, the youngest,
near a year and a half older than his sister. Their dispositions were
not in all respects so gentle as hers; yet, on the whole, they formed
the most agreeable family.
When Jemima was about six years old, her mother's health rendered it
necessary that she should take a journey to Bristol; and it being out
of her power to have Jemima with her, she left her with an aunt, whose
name was Finer, and who had two daughters a few years older than their
cousin. Miss Placid, who had never before been separated from her
mother, was severely hurt at the thought of leaving home; but as she
was told it was absolutely necessary, she restrained her tears, from
fear of increasing the uneasiness which her mother experienced.
At last the day arrived when her uncle (whom I before forgot to
mention) and his wife came to dinner at Smiledale, with an intention of
conducting Jemima back with them. She was in her father's study at the
time they alighted, and could not help weeping at the idea of quitting
her friends; and throwing her arms around her brother William's neck,
silently sobbed forth that grief she wanted power to restrain. The poor
boy, who loved his sister with great tenderness, was nearly as much
agitated as herself, and could only, with affectionate kisses, every
now and then exclaim:
'Do not cry so, Jemima. Pray, do not! We shall soon meet again, my
love. Pray, do not cry!'
When she had relieved her little heart with this indulgence of her
sorrow, she wiped her eyes, and walked slowly upstairs to have her
frock put on.
'So your aunt is come, miss?' said Peggy, as she put down the basin
on the table to wash her hands.
Poor Jemima was silent.
'I am sorry we are going to lose you, my dear,' added she, as she
wiped the towel over her forehead.
Peggy's hand held back her head, and at the same time supported her
chin, so that her face was confined and exposed to observation. She
wanted to hide her tears, but she could not; so at last, hastily
covering herself with the maid's apron, and putting her two hands round
her waist, she renewed the sorrow which she had so lately suppressed.
Peggy was very fond of her young lady, as indeed was every servant
in the house; but there was a good woman, who went in the family by the
name of Nurse, for whom Jemima had a still greater attachment. She had
attended Mrs. Placid before her marriage, had nursed all her children
from their births, and Jemima was the darling of her heart. As she
entered the room at this time, she took the weeping girl into her lap,
and wept herself at the reflection that it was the first time in her
life she had slept without her.
'And so pray, my dear,' said she, 'take care of yourself; and when
you go to bed, mind that they pin your night-cap close at the top,
otherwise you will get cold; and do not forget to have your linen well
aired; for otherwise it is very dangerous, love; and many a person, by
such neglect, has caught a cold which has terminated in a fever. Sweet
child! I do not like to trust it from me,' added she, hugging her still
closer, and smothering her face in a check cotton handkerchief which
she wore on her neck.
Jemima promised an observance of her injunctions, and being now
dressed, attended a summons from her mother, who was alone in her
chamber, the company having left her to walk in the garden, whither she
was unable to accompany them.
'I see, my dear girl,' said she, holding out her hand as she sat in
an easy-chair by the window'I see that you are sorry to leave me;
and, indeed, Jemima, I am much grieved that such a separation is
necessary; but I hope I shall be better when I return, and I am sure
you would wish me to be quite well. I hope, therefore, that you will be
a good child while you stay with your uncle and aunt, and not give more
trouble than you cannot avoid.'
Miss Placid assured her mother of her obedience, and her firm
resolution to mind all her admonitions. Mr. Finer returning at this
period, interrupted any further discourse, only Mrs. Placid
affectionately pressed her hand, and, after giving her a kiss, Jemima
sat down on a little stool by her side.
When the hour of her departure was nearly arrived, she retired into
the garden to take leave of her brothers, and went round with them to
all the different places she had been accustomed to play in. They
visited together the poultry-yard, and Jemima fed her bantams before
she left them, bidding them all adieu, and looking behind her for the
last time as she shut the gate. They then walked round by some
walnut-trees, where a seat had been put up for them to sit in the
'I wish you were not going,' said Charles; 'for I put this box and
drove in these nails on purpose for you to hang up your doll's clothes,
and now they will be of no farther use to us.'
'I wish so too,' replied his sister; 'but I cannot help it.'
'Well, do not cry,' added William; 'but come this way by the
brewhouse, and bid my rabbits good-bye, and take this piece of lettuce
in your hand to feed the old doe, and here is some parsley for the
young ones. We shall have some more before you come back, and I will
send you word if I can how many there be.'
'And, Jemima,' said Charles, 'I wish I were going with you to
London, for I should like to see it; it is such a large place, a great
deal bigger than any villages which we have seen, and they say, the
houses stand close together for a great way, and there are no fields or
trees, and the houses have no gardens to them. But then there is a
great number of shops, and you might perhaps get a collar for Hector.
Do pray try, Jemima, and buy him one, and have his name put upon it,
and that he belongs to the Rev. Mr. Placid of Smiledale, for then, in
case we should lose him, folk would know where to return him.'
'And would it not be better to have a bell,' said William, 'as the
sheep have? I like a bell very much; it would make such a nice noise
about the house; and then we should always know where he was when we
were reading, as my father will not let us look after him. What else do
we want her to buy, Charles? Cannot you write a list?'
'That will be the best way,' replied he, taking out his pencil, and,
very ungracefully, to be sure, he put the point of it to his mouth two
or three times before it would write. And then, having but a small
scrap of paper, he despatched his brother, as the shortest way, to
fetch a slate, and he would transcribe it afterwards with a pen and
ink, for he had, in endeavouring to cut a new point to his pencil,
broken it off so frequently that the lead was all wasted, and nothing
remained except the wood. William soon returned with the slate under
his arm. Charles took it from him, and then went to work to prepare a
bill of necessary things, which his sister was to purchase in London.
He leaned so hard, and scratched in such a manner as, had any grown
people been of the party, would have set their teeth on edge (a
sensation, I believe, with which children are unacquainted, for they
never seem to notice it at all).
'First then,' said he, 'I am to mention a collar for Hector, with
his name and place of abode; and I should like very much to have some
Indian glue to mend our playthings, such as father uses, and which we
cannot get here, you know.'
William assented, and Jemima was as attentive as if she had to
remember all the things he was writing without the assistance of his
list. They sat some time in silence to recollect the other necessary
commissions when she reminded them that a new pencil would be a useful
article, but Charles said his father would supply that want, and there
was no need to spend his own money for things he could have without any
expense, but if anyhow he could get a gun with a touch-hole he should
be quite happy.
'No, you would not,' returned William, 'for then, Charles, you would
want gunpowder, which you never could have, and if you had, might never
'To be sure, that is true. I have long wished for it; but, as you
say, I will be contented without it, so do not concern yourself about
that, and I need not set it down.'
I shall not trouble you with the rest of the consultation on this
important subject, but transcribe the list itself, which, with the
account of the preceding conversation, I received from a young lady who
frequently spent some months with Mrs. Placid, and to whose kindness I
am indebted for many of the various incidents which compose this
A LIST OF THINGS JEMIMA IS TO BRING FROM LONDON.
A collar for Hector; Indian glue; some little pictures to
a show; a pair of skates, as we shall like skating better than
sliding; a large coach-whip for Charles, because John will not
lend us his; and some little books which we can understand,
and which mother told Mrs. West may be bought somewhere in
London, but Jemima must inquire about it.
Such were the orders which Miss Placid received from her brothers on
her first journey to the Metropolis. They then attended her to bid
adieu to her canary-bird, which she very tenderly committed to their
care, and desired they would feed it every day, and give it water in
her absence, and mind to turn the glass the right way, otherwise the
poor thing might be starved. While she was taking her leave of little
Dick, who hung in the hall by the window, her cat came purring to her
and rubbed its head against her frock and pushed against her feet, then
lay down on one side, and while Jemima stroked it with her hand, she
licked her fingers, and at last jumped up into the window-seat to be
still nearer to its mistress, who, taking it into her arms,
particularly desired her brothers to give puss some of their milk every
morning, and to save some bits of meat at dinner to carry to it. 'For,
my pussy,' added she, 'I am quite sorry to leave you.'
Another affair remained, which was to put away all her playthings;
but this she had deferred so long that the carriage was ready before
she had concluded, so with that, likewise, she was obliged to entrust
her brothers. And, looking round her with a heavy heart upon every
object she had been accustomed to, she quitted the room with regret,
and after receiving the affectionate kisses of the whole family her
father lifted her into the carriage, and, the tears running down her
cheeks, she looked out of the window as long as the house was in sight
and her brothers continued to stand at the gate, till the road to
London turning into a contrary direction they could no longer see each
other. She then, with a melancholy countenance, watched the fields and
lanes she passed by, till at last, quite fatigued, she sat down, and
soon after fell asleep.
When they stopped at the inn where they intended to rest that night,
she was so much fatigued, having been up very early, that she did not
wake till she was nearly undressed, when, finding herself in a house
where she had never before been, she looked about, but was too good to
fret at such a circumstance, though she wished to be at home again. The
next morning they renewed their journey, and in two days arrived at Mr.
Piner's house about eight o'clock in the evening.
Jemima, who had not seen her cousins since she was two years old,
had entirely forgotten them, and, as they expected to find her as much
a baby as at their last interview, they appeared like entire strangers
to each other. They welcomed their father and mother, and looked at
Miss Placid with silent amazement; both parties, indeed, said the civil
things they were desired, such as 'How do you do, cousin?' rather in a
low and drawling tone of voice; and Miss Sally, who was eight years
old, turned her head on one side and hung on her father's arm, though
he tried to shake her off, and desired her to welcome Miss Placid to
London, and to say she was glad to see her, to inquire after her
father, mother, and brothers, and, in short, to behave politely, and
receive her in a becoming manner. To do this, however, Mr. Piner found
was impossible, as his daughters were not at any time distinguished by
the graces, and were always particularly awkward from their shyness at
a first introduction.
Our young traveller became by the next morning very sociable with
her cousins, and complied with their customs with that cheerful
obligingness which has always so much distinguished her character. She
was much surprised at the bustle which she saw in the street, and the
number of carriages so agreeably engaged her attention that it was with
reluctance she quitted her seat on a red trunk by the window to enjoy
the plays in which her cousins were solicitous to engage her. Mrs.
Finer had been for some time engaged to dine with a lady of her
acquaintance, where she could not conveniently take either of her
children, and they both fretted and pined at the disappointment so as
to render themselves uncomfortable and lose the pleasure of a holiday,
which their mother had allowed them in consequence of their cousin's
arrival. Miss Ellen, the eldest, was continually teasing to know the
reason why she might not go, though she had repeatedly been told it was
inconvenient; and Jemima beheld with astonishment two girls, so much
older than herself, presume to argue with their mother about the
propriety of her commands, when their duty should have been quiet
submission. When her aunt was gone she took all the pains in her power
to engage them to be good-humoured, presented them with their toys, and
carried to them their dolls; but they sullenly replied to all her
endeavours they did not want them, and told her not to plague them so,
for they had seen them all a hundred times. At last Sally, taking up a
little tin fireplace which belonged to her sister, Miss Ellen snatched
it from her, and said she should not have it. Sally caught it back
again, and they struggled for it with such passion as to be entirely
careless of the mischief they might do each other.
Poor Jemima, who had never disagreed with her brothers nor been
witness to such a scene in her life, was terrified to see them engage
with a degree of violence which threatened them with essential hurt.
She endeavoured to appease their fury, and ventured, after she had
stood still for some time between two chairs, to try if, by catching
hold of one of their hands, she could be able to part them, but they
only gave her some blows, and said she had no business in their
quarrel. She then retired to the farther part of the room, and ardently
wished herself at home. When spying another fireplace under the table,
she took it up with good-natured transport, and running to Miss Finer,
told her there was one for her, which she hoped would put an end to the
dispute. This, however, proved to be the property of Miss Sally, who
declared, in her turn, that her sister should not touch any of her
playthings; and finding she was not strong enough to retain it, she
threw it with all her force to the other end of the room, and
unfortunately hit Miss Placid a blow with one of the sharp corners,
just above her temple. This at once put an end to the battle, for the
blood immediately trickled down her cheek, and alarmed the two sisters,
who, forgetting the subject of the debate, began to be uneasy at the
effects of it; only Ellen, who considered herself as more innocent
(merely because she had not been the immediate cause of the accident),
with a recriminating air, said:
'There, miss, you have done it now! You have killed your cousin, I
Jemima, though in a great deal of pain, and much frightened, did not
cry; as she seldom shed tears, unless from sensibility, or at parting
with her friends. She held her handkerchief to the place, and became
more alarmed in proportion as she saw it covered with blood, till at
last, finding it was beyond their art to stop the effusion, Ellen, with
trembling steps, went upstairs to tell the servant of their misfortune.
Dinah, which was the maid's name, had been so often accustomed to find
her young ladies in mischief, that she did not descend in very good
humour, and upon her entrance exclaimed that they were all the
naughtiest girls in the world, without inquiring how the accident
happened, or making any exception to the innocence of Jemima, who could
only again most sincerely wish to be once more at Smiledale with her
mother. Dinah, after washing her temple with vinegar, which made it
smart very much (though she did not complain), told them they had been
so naughty that they should not go to play any more, nor would she hear
Miss Placid's justification, but crossly interrupted her by saying:
'Hold your tongue, child! and do not want to get into mischief
again; for my mistress will make a fine piece of work, I suppose, about
what you have done already.'
Jemima was too much awed by the ill-nature of her looks and the
anger of her expressions to vindicate her conduct any further, but
quietly sitting down, she comforted herself with the reflection that
her displeasure was undeserved, and that to fret at what she could not
avoid would not make her more happy, and therefore, with great good
humour, took up a bit of paper which contained the rough drawing of a
little horse which Charles had given her on the day of her departure,
and which she had since carefully preserved.
In justice to Mrs. Dinah I must here observe that she was not
naturally ill-natured, but the Misses Piner were so frequently naughty
as to give her a great deal of trouble, and tire out her patience; and
their mother, by not taking the proper methods to subdue the errors of
their dispositions, had made them so refractory that it soured her own
temper, and occasioned her to blame her servants for the consequence of
those faults which it was her duty to have prevented. So you see, my
dear Eliza, from such instances, how mistaken is that indulgence which,
by gratifying the humours of children, will make them impatient and
vindictive, unhappy in themselves, and a trouble to everyone with whom
they are connected. The amiable Jemima was always contented and
good-humoured, even when she was not in a state agreeable to her
wishes, and, by learning to submit to what she did not like, when it
could not be altered, she obtained the love of everybody who knew her,
and passed through life with less trouble than people usually
experience; for, by making it a rule to comply with her situation, she
always enjoyed the comforts it afforded, and suffered as little as
possible from its inconvenience In the present case her cousins, by
their ill-temper and fretfulness, had quarrelled with each other; and
when Dinah would not let them playas, indeed, they justly deserved to
be punishedthey did nothing but grumble and cry the whole day, and
were so conscious of their bad behaviour as to be afraid of seeing
their mother; while Miss Placid, serene in her own innocence,
entertained herself for some time with looking at the horse above
mentioned, and afterwards with pricking it, till Dinah set her at
liberty, which, seeing her good temper, she soon did, and gave her
besides some pretty pictures to look at and some fruit to eat, of all
which her cousins were deprived. By the next morning Jemima's temple
had turned black, and Mrs. Piner inquired how she had hurt herself. She
coloured at the question with some confusion, not willing to inform her
aunt of anything to Miss Sally's disadvantage, but, as she was too
honest to say anything but the truth, she begged Mrs. Finer would not
be angry if she informed her, which she, having promised, Jemima told
her, adding that her cousin had no intention to hurt her.
Mrs. Piner kissed and commended Jemima very much, and Dinah having
likewise given a high account of her goodness, she told her daughters
she was much displeased with them, but in consequence of their cousin's
intercession would not punish them that time, and desired them for the
future to imitate her example.
As soon as breakfast was over they were dismissed to school, while
Jemima remained with her aunt, who, after having heard her read, gave
her a handkerchief to hem, which she sat down by her to do, and when
she had done work very prettily, entered into conversation.
'I should be much obliged to you, madam,' said she, 'as I do not
know my way about London, if you would go with me to buy some things
for my brothers, which I promised to carry back when I return. I have
got some money to pay for them, for Charles gave me a sixpence, and
three halfpence, and a farthing; and William gave me threepence; and I
have got a silver penny and a twopence of my own, all screwed safely in
a little red box.'
Mrs. Piner inquired what the articles were which she wished to
purchase, and smiled on perusing the list which Charles had written.
'And pray, my dear,' said she, 'how do you intend to carry the
coach-whip, for you will not be able conveniently to pack it up? And as
to the skates, I do not think your father would choose your brothers
should make use of them till they are much older, as they are very
dangerous, and particularly so to little boys. The other things I will
endeavour to procure, and you shall take a walk with me to buy the
books and choose them yourself, and I will pay for them; so you may
save your money in the little box, for you are a very good girl, and
therefore deserve to be encouraged.'
Jemima thanked her aunt for her kind intentions, and said if she
could get a coach-whip, she thought she could carry it to Smiledale in
her hand; and as her brothers were always kind to her, she wished to do
everything in her power to oblige them.
The next day was to be a holiday at her cousins' school, on account
of their dancing-master's ball, to which the Misses Piner were invited;
and Mrs. Piner had promised Jemima she should be of the party. They
rose in the morning with the pleasing hopes of enjoying a dance in the
evening; and Ellen went a dozen times in the day to look at her new
cap, wishing it was time to put it on (for she was a silly, vain girl),
and was so foolish as to imagine herself of more consequence, because
she was better dressed than other children.
'Oh, Miss Placid,' said she, 'you will look so dowdy to-night in
your plain muslin frock, while all the rest of the ladies will wear
either gauze frocks or silk coats full trimmed. Have you seen how
handsome our dresses will be? Do, pray, look at them,' added she,
opening the drawer and extending the silk, and then, glad of an excuse
to survey it, she went to a box, and, taking out her cap, held it on
her hand, turning it round and round with a degree of pride and
pleasure which was very silly.
Jemima good-naturedly admired her cousin's finery without wishing
for any addition to her own.
'I am sure,' replied she, 'my mother has provided what is proper for
me, and is so kind as to afford me everything necessary; and my frocks
are always clean, and will do extremely well for the present occasion,
or else my aunt would have bought me another.'
'But should not you like such a cap?' said Miss Ellen, putting it on
Jemima's head. 'You look very pretty in it indeed.'
[Illustration: Ellen went a dozen times in the day to look at hey
new cap.Page 36.]
'No; I think it is too large for me,' returned Miss Placid; 'and
there is a piece of wire in it which scratches when you press it down.
You should alter that, or it will be very uncomfortable.'
In short, the ball was the only subject of conversation during the
whole day; and although Miss Piner felt an uncommon headache and
sickness, yet she would not complain, for fear her mother should think
proper to leave her at home. The pain, however, increased greatly, and
she frequently left the parlour to give vent to her complaints and
avoid her mother's notice. The heaviness of her eyes and alternate
change of countenance from pale to red, at last took Mrs. Piner's
attention, and she tenderly inquired after her health; but Ellen
affected to treat her indisposition as a trifle, though, as she was by
no means patient in general, she would at any other time have made
incessant complaints. She attempted to laugh and play, but to no
purpose, for her illness became too violent to be suppressed. However,
upon her father's hinting at dinner that she seemed to have no
appetite, and had better, if not well, go to bed, she forced herself,
against her inclination, to eat some meat and pudding, and went up
afterwards to conceal her uneasiness, and put on her clothes, thinking
that if she was in readiness it would be an additional reason for her
going. But, alas! so foolish is vanity, and so insignificant are
outward ornaments, that when Miss Ellen was decked out in the gauze
frock which had so long engaged her thoughts, she felt such a degree of
uneasiness from her sickness as to make her disregard what she had
before wished for with such ill-placed ardour.
Having eaten more than was proper for her stomach in such a
disordered state, it increased her illness very much; but being
determined to go, though her mother advised her to the contrary, and
pretending she was somewhat better, she stepped into the coach, the
motion of which soon produced a most terrible catastrophe; and before
she could speak for assistance, occasioned such a violent sickness as
totally spoiled her own and her cousin's clothes, who sat opposite to
her; nor did Sally's quite escape the disaster, for as she had spread
them over Jemima, with an intent to display their beauties, they shared
in part that calamity which had so unfortunately overtaken the others.
Mrs. Piner, though she was grieved at her daughter's indisposition,
was likewise extremely angry at the consequence of her obstinacy.
'If you had stayed at home, as I bade you,' said she, somewhat
angrily, 'nothing of this would have happened,' and, pulling the
check-string, added, 'we must turn about, coachman, for we cannot
proceed in this condition.'
Sally, notwithstanding her sister's illness, continually teased her
mother to know whether they should go when Ellen was set down and her
own dress wiped, without attending to her sister's complaints. When the
carriage reached Mr. Piner's, he came himself hastily to the door to
know what accident had occasioned their unexpected return, and upon
being informed, lifted poor Ellen into the house, while her sister
declared she would not walk indoors, as she wanted to go to the ball.
Dinah was, however, called down, and with much resistance conveyed the
young lady crying and kicking upstairs.
Jemima stood by unnoticed in the general confusion, and Miss Piner
was undressed with the utmost expedition, and sincerely rejoiced to be
rid of the encumbrance of that finery which in another situation would
have excited her envy. Our little heroine, whose sense as well as
serenity was uncommon, reflected that gay clothes must, certainly in
themselves be of little value, since they could not prevent the
approach of disease, or suspend for a moment the attacks of pain; that
the pleasure they bestowed, as it was ill-founded, was likewise
extremely transient, as Sally's passion on her disappointment was
sufficient to prove, since she was now mortified in proportion as she
had before been elated. And though her sister's reflections were for
the present suspended by the violence of pain, yet her vexation, when
she was restored to the ability of contemplating the state of her
clothes, would be equally poignant and without remedy.
While Miss Placid, in obedience to her aunt, took off the frock
which had suffered so much in its short journey, Sally sat screaming
and crying in an easy-chair, into which she had thrown herself,
declaring she would go, and pushed Dinah away as often as she attempted
to take out a pin. Nor would she be pacified by any endeavours which
were used to please and amuse her, till her mother, quite tired with
her noise and ill-humour, declared she would send word to her governess
the next morning if she did not do what she was desired; upon which
threat she submitted to be undressed, but petulantly threw every
article of her attire upon the ground, and afterwards sat down in one
of the windows in sullen silence, without deigning an answer to any
question that was proposed to her. Jemima was as much disappointed as
her cousin could be, and had formed very high expectations of the
pleasure she should receive at the ball; but she had been always
accustomed to submit to unavoidable accidents without repining, and to
make herself happy with those amusements in her power when she was
deprived of what she might wish for but could not procure.
Some time after this Mr. Steward, a gentleman who lived at
Smiledale, came up to town about business, and called upon Mr. Piner
with an intention of seeing Miss Jemima, who was much distressed that
she happened to be absent, as she wished to hear some news of her
father and brothers. However, he returned again the next day, and Miss
Placid very gracefully paid her respects to him, and inquired after the
friends she had left. He satisfied her as to their health, and
presented her with a letter from her brother Charles, which, as soon as
she could find an opportunity, she retired to read. The contents were
To Miss Placid.
'MY DEAR SISTER,
'As William writes so very slowly, and as father does not think he
should scribble at all, he has desired me to inform you of everything
that has passed since you left us. And first I must acquaint you with a
sad accident which will render one of your commissions useless. Poor
Hector, the day after you went away, was lost for several hours. We
went to every house in the village, and hunted behind every tomb in the
churchyard; called Hector! Hector! through all the fields, and then
returned and sought him in our own garden again; looked under the bench
in the poultry-yard, nay, even in the cellar and coal hole; but no
Hector returned. We sat down together on the bottom stair in the hall,
and William cried ready to break his heart. Father said he was sorry,
but told us our tears would not bring him back, and advised us to bear
the loss of him with more fortitude, took William on his lap, and read
a story to divert him. We got tolerably cheerful and went down to tea;
but as soon as my brother took up his bread and butter, the thoughts of
Hector always jumping up to him for a bit, and how he would bark and
snap in play at his fingers, quite overcame his firmness, and he could
not touch a morsel. Well, to make short of the story, the next morning
John came in and told father that Squire Sutton's gamekeeper, not
knowing to whom he belonged, had shot him for running after the deer.
Why now, said I, if he had but stayed away from the park till Jemima
had brought him a collar he would not have been killed. Poor Hector! I
shall hate Ben Hunt as long as I live for it. Fie, Charles, said my
father. Hector is dead, sir, said I; and I did not then stay to hear
any further. But since that we have talked a great deal about love and
forgiveness; and I find I must love Ben Hunt, even though I now see
poor Hector's tomb in the garden. For John went to fetch him, and we
buried him under the lilac-tree, on the right hand side, just by the
large sun-flower. And we cried a great deal, and made a card tomb-stone
over his grave; and father gave us an old hatband and we cut it into
pieces and we went as mourners. His coffin was carried by Tom Wood, the
carpenter's son, whose father was so kind as to make it for us, while
James Stavely (the clerk's nephew), my brother, and I, followed as
chief mourners, and old nurse and Peggy put on their black hoods which
they had when Jane Thompson died, and went with us, and we had the
kitchen table-cloth for a pall, with the old black wrapper put over it
which used to cover the parrot's cage; but we did not read anything,
for that would not have been right, as you know. After all, he was but
a dog. Father, however, to please us, wrote the following epitaph,
which I very carefully transcribed and affixed over his grave:
'Here Hector lies, more bless'd by far
Than he who drove the victor's car;
Who once Patroclus did subdue,
And suffer'd for the conquest too.
Like him, o'ercome by cruel fate,
Stern fortune's unrelenting hate;
An equal doom severe he found,
And Hunt inflicts the deadly wound.
Less cruel than Pelides, he
His manes were pursuits to be;
And satisfied to see him fall,
Ne'er dragg'd him round the Trojan wall.
'I am very sorry for the poor fellow's untimely end, and so, I
daresay, you will be. Our rabbit has kindled, and we have one in
particular the skin of which is white with black spots, the prettiest I
ever saw, and which we have called Jemima, and will give to you when
you return. Peggy has sprained her ankle by a fall downstairs. I forgot
my wooden horse and left it in the way, and she came down in the dark
and stumbled over it. I was very sorry, and my father was much
displeased, as it is what he has so often cautioned us against. Jack
Dough, the baker's boy, brought me a linnet yesterday, which I have
placed in a cage near your canary-bird, who is very well. I do not
think I have much more to say, for writing is such tedious work that I
am quite tired, though what I have done has been a fortnight in hand. I
have a great many things which I want to tell you if we could meet, and
I should wish to know how you like London. Good-bye! William desires
his love to you, and bids me say that he, as well as myself, will ever
'Your affectionate brother,
You may be sure that the intelligence of Hector's death gave Jemima
some uneasiness; more especially as, at the first time Mr. Steward had
called, she was out with her aunt and actually purchased a collar for
him, which, before the receipt of her letter, she had contemplated with
great satisfaction, in the idea of having so well executed her
brothers' commission, and the pleasure it would afford them.
When Miss Placid had been in town about four months, and her mother
was returned from Bristol, Mr. Placid came up to fetch her home, and
invited her cousins to accompany her to Smiledale, promising to take
great care of them and to teach them to read and write, and that Mrs.
Placid would instruct them in every other part of their learning. To
which Mr. and Mrs. Piner consented. The pleasure which Jemima felt at
seeing her father after so long an absence can be better imagined than
described. She looked at him with such transport that the tears started
to her eyes, and, wanting words to declare the feelings of her heart,
could only express her joy by stroking and kissing his hand as she sat
on a stool by his side, and pressing it with fervour between both hers,
she exclaimed that she was glad to see him. Her uncle and aunt gave her
the highest praise for her good behaviour, and assured her father that
they had never during the whole time of her visit seen her once out of
humour, or at all fretful upon any occasion. Mr. Placid said he was
extremely happy to hear so good an account of his little girl, but that
he had expected everything amiable from the sweetness of her
disposition, adding, 'It would be very strange if she had behaved
otherwise with you as, I assure you, she is at all times equally
tractable and engaging.'
The evening before her departure her aunt was so obliging as to
present her with a new doll, which she had taken great pains to dress,
and had made for it two dimity petticoats, with a nice pair of stays, a
pink satin coat, and a muslin frock. She had likewise purchased some
cotton stockings and a pair of red shoes with white roses, white gloves
tied with pink strings, and a gauze cap with pink satin ribbons.
Jemima, with a graceful courtesy, paid her acknowledgments to Mrs.
Piner for that favour, and all the kind attentions she had received
since she had been in town, and saw it packed up with great care in a
box by itself, pleasing herself with the joy it would afford her to
show it to her mother. She then busied herself in putting up the Indian
glue, and a great quantity of pictures which had been given her, poor
Hector's collar, and several books which she had bought and had already
perused with much delight, particularly 'A Course of Lectures for
Sunday Evenings,' 'The Village School,' and 'Perambulation of a Mouse,'
2 vols. each, together with the 'First Principles of Religion,' and the
'Adventures of a Pincushion.' All these mighty volumes she took with
her to Smiledale, and Mr. Placid was so much pleased with them as to
send for an additional supply to present to his friends. As to the
skates, he had desired her not to think about them, as he should by no
means approve of her brothers using them; nor would they have occasion
for a coach-whip, but as he knew Charles had broken his bat she might
carry him one instead. Jemima entreated permission to convey to them a
drum, as she thought it would be a plaything they would much enjoy. To
this he immediately consented, and went himself to procure one.
The Misses Piner, who were in as great a hurry with their
preparations as Jemima, behaved with less composure on the occasion.
They tossed everything out of their drawers in search of such toys as
they could possibly take with them, and wanted to pack up their whole
stock of playthings (which, indeed, was a very large one), and then, as
fast as Dinah put what they desired into their trunk, Ellen snatched it
out if it belonged to her sister, and Sally did the same unless it
happened to be her own. So that, quite tired with their teasing,
naughty behaviour, she turned it topsy-turvy, and declared she would
not put up any one thing except their clothes, and added she wished
they were gone with all her heart.
I shall not take up your time with any account of their journey, nor
endeavour to describe the places which they passed through on their way
to Smiledale, whither they arrived about five o'clock in the afternoon.
Jemima ran to her mother with a degree of rapture which evinced the
sincerity of her joy in returning to her embraces as soon as her
brothers would permit her to disengage herself from their caresses,
for, as they knew the day which was fixed for their return, and could
nearly guess at the time she would arrive, they had taken their stand
at the very place where they had parted with her, and, as soon as the
carriage came in sight, they ran with their utmost speed to meet it,
and came back again, jumping by the side, and when the coach stopped,
were so eager to welcome their sister that they would scarcely leave
room for her to get out, and they were in such a hurry to show her
every new acquisition they had made since her departure that they would
not allow her time to speak to anybody but themselves.