The Little Boy That Was Afraid of the Water
Once on a time there were two little boys.
William was five years old, and Johnny was not
quite three. The weather was very warm, and
these little boys got so weak, and looked so pale
and sick, that the doctor said their parents had
better take them to Hastings, and let them bathe
in the sea. So their Mother packed up their
clothes, and some books, for she did not wish
them to be idle; and one pleasant afternoon they
all went by the railway to Hastings.
The little boys were very much amused at all
they saw. There were several other boys in the
carriage, and William and Johnny looked very
hard at them, and wished they knew what their
names were, and whether they had a Noah's
Ark and Rocking-Horse like theirs.
After three hours' ride by the puffing,
screaming railway, they arrived safely at Hastings,
and they found a carriage waiting for them,
which soon took them to the house which their
papa had hired. Tea was immediately brought
up, and then, as they were all very tired, they
went early to bed.
After breakfast the next morning, William
and Johnny walked down to the smooth and
beautiful beach with their parents, where a
great many people, some of them children, were
bathing. They seemed to like it very much;
and it really did look very inviting, for the sun
made the water sparkle like diamonds, and the
waves seemed dancing and leaping, and looked
as if they longed to give everybody a good
William was delighted. He could hardly
wait to be undressed, he was in such a great
hurry to be ducked; and when the bathing-woman
took him and plunged him under the
water, although he gasped for breath, he laughed,
and kicked, and splashed the water, and cried,
"Duck me again! duck me again!" and he
looked so pleased, that some other children came
to where he was, and they all had a grand frolic
Little Johnny laughed too, as he stood in the
machine; but, when his Mother said, "Come,
Johnny, now it is your turn," he made a terrible
face, and cried, "Dear Mamma, please let me go
home. I shall never see you again if you put me
in that great big water." But his Mamma said
he must go in, because it would do him a great
deal of good, and she undressed him, and put
him into the woman's arms.
Johnny now began to scream as loud as he
could, and cried out, "Mamma, Mamma, I want
to go back to you." But the old woman did not
mind him a bit, and holding him by his arms,
she plunged him under the water.
The poor little fellow came up gasping and
panting, and sobbed out, "Oh, my dear Mamma,
come and kiss me 'fore I die."
Everybody laughed—for there was no danger—except
his kind Mother. A tear started to
her eye, for she knew her dear little son really
thought he was dying, and would never see her
again. But in a little while he felt better, and,
after his Mother had taken him, and had rubbed
him all over and dressed him, and he had run up
and down the beach with William and the other
children, he felt such a nice warm glow all over
him, that he forgot all about his fright.
Very soon he said, "Mamma, I am so hungry—I
am as hungry as a little bear."
"That is because you have been in the
water," replied his Mother.
"Are the fishes always hungry?—does the
water make them hungry too?" said Johnny.
"I believe they are always ready to eat,"
replied his Mother; "you know that they are
caught by bait. This bait is often a little worm,
put upon a sharp hook. The fish snap at the
bait, and the hook catches them in the mouth.
Come, little hungry fish," added his Mother,
"and I will give you something to eat; but I
will not put it on a hook to hurt you."
The next day the little boys went into the
water again, and, although Johnny made up a
doleful face, he did not think he should die this
time; and, when he saw the other children
laughing and splashing each other, and crying,
"Duck me again! what fun we are having!" he
tried to like it too, and after a little while did
begin to like it; for when children
try to overcome
their foolish fears, they will almost always
succeed, and be rewarded, as Johnny was, by the
pleasure they enjoy, and the happiness they give
to their parents.
After a few days Johnny got to be so brave,
that he was the first to run down to the beach
and jump into the bathing-woman's arms, and he
cried louder than any, "Duck me again!" and
splashed everybody that came near him; and
both William and Johnny got so strong, and ate
so heartily, and had such great red cheeks, that
when they went home to London, a few weeks
after, their friends hardly knew them, and Johnny
never again had any foolish fears about going into