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About Minding Quickly by Unknown


Emma was one day sitting by the fire, on a little stool. She was trying to cut a mouse out of a piece of paper. She had a pair of scissors, with round ends. Her mother had given her these scissors for her own, because they were safer for her to use than scissors with pointed ends.

Presently, her Mother said, "Come here to me, Emma."

"Wait a minute, Mother," said Emma.

"Do you know," said her Mother, "that it was naughty for you to say that?"

"Why, you can wait a little minute," said Emma; "I am very busy. Don't you see that I am making a mouse?"

 "Emma," replied her Mother, "do you know that I ought to punish you, because you do not mind?"

"I am coming directly," cried Emma, dropping her scissors and her paper mouse, and running up to her Mother.

Her Mother took her up on her lap, and said, "My little girl, this will never do. You must learn to come at once when you are called; you must obey quickly. If you continue in this very naughty habit of not minding until you are told to do a thing two or three times, you will grow up a very disagreeable girl, and nobody will love you."

Emma looked up mournfully into her Mother's face, and said, "Mother, I will try to do better."

She was a good-tempered child, and was seldom cross or sullen; but she had this one bad habit, and it was a very bad habit indeed—she waited to be told twice, and sometimes oftener,  and many times she made her kind Mother very unhappy.

For a few days after this Emma remembered what her Mother had said to her, and always came the first time she was called. She came pleasantly, for it is very important to mind pleasantly, and did everything she was told to do immediately; and her Mother loved her dearly, and hoped she was quite cured of her naughty ways.

But I am very sorry to have to say that a time came when Emma entirely forgot her promise. You shall hear how it happened.

One morning Emma's Mother said to her, "Emma, it is time for you to get up, and put on your stockings and shoes."

Emma did not move. She lay with her eyes wide open, watching a fly on the wall, that was scrubbing his thin wings with his hind legs.

"Did you hear me, Emma? Put on your stockings and shoes!"

Emma got up very slowly. She put one foot  out of bed, and then looked again at the fly. This time he was scrubbing his face with his fore legs. So she sat there, and said to herself, "I wonder how that funny little fly can stay upon the wall. I can't walk up the wall as the fly can. What a little round black head he has got!"

"Emma!" said her Mother, and this time she spoke in a very severe tone.

Emma started, and put her other foot out of bed, and took up one of her stockings.

Her Mother got out of her bed, which was close to Emma's crib, and began to dress herself. When she was dressed, she looked round, and saw Emma, with one stocking half on, and the other rolled up in a little ball, which she was throwing up in the air.

Her Mother was angry with her. She went up to her, and took her stocking away from her, and told her to get into bed again; for if she would not dress herself when her Mother bid her, she should be punished by being made to lie in  bed. She shut up the window shutters, and took all the books out of the room, and telling Emma not to get up until she gave her leave, she went down stairs to breakfast.

Now children don't like to be in bed in the daytime,—at least I have never heard of any one that did; and Emma was soon tired of lying in a dark room wide awake, with nothing to do, and no pleasant thoughts, for she could think of nothing but her naughty behaviour. So this was a very severe punishment, and she began to cry, and wish she had minded quickly, and then she would have been down stairs, where the sun was shining brightly into the windows. She would have been sitting in her chair, with her dear little kitten in her lap, and a nice bowl of bread and milk for her breakfast. She always saved a little milk in the bottom of the bowl for Daisy her kitten, and after she had done, she would give the rest to Daisy. So you see that Emma lost much pleasure by not minding quickly; and, what was  worse than all, she had displeased her Mother, and made her unhappy.

Oh, how weary she got! how she longed to get up! She did not dare to disobey her Mother, and she lay in her crib a long, long time, and thought she never could be so naughty again.

At last her Mother came into the room. She opened the shutters, and said, "Emma, you may get up and put on your stockings and shoes."

Emma jumped up quickly, and had them on in two minutes, and then she took off her night-gown and put on her day-clothes, which hung over the back of the chair by her crib, and went to her Mother to have them fastened, for she could not fasten them herself. Her Mother fastened her clothes, and then, taking her little girl's hand, she said, "My dear little Emma, you have made me feel very unhappy this morning. I do not like to punish you, but it is my duty to try to cure you of all your naughty ways, and it is your duty to try to overcome them. If you do not,  some day you may meet with some terrible misfortune, like that which happened to a boy I used to know when I was young. I will tell you the story. This boy, like you, grieved his parents often, by not minding quickly; and he suffered for it in a way that he will never forget as long as he lives. He was one day standing on the steps of the house where he lived, and I was standing at the window of the house opposite, where I lived. I was watching some men that were on the top of this boy's house, fixing the slates on the roof. The roof was covered with loose pieces of slate, and nails, and rubbish.

"Presently one of the men on the roof cried out, 'Go in, little boy; go in.' But the boy was looking at a kite that some other boys had in the street, and he did not choose to go in. The man thought that he had minded what he told him, and without looking again he tumbled down a great heap of slates and rubbish. The house was quite high, and a large and sharp piece of slate  came down very swiftly, and struck the boy on the side of his head, and cut off nearly the whole of his ear. In a moment the blood poured down his neck and over his clothes, and I thought he would bleed to death. Oh, Emma! what a dreadful punishment for not minding quickly!

"For a long time he went about with his head bound up, and when he got well again the side of his face looked very bad indeed, for where his ear had been there was a dreadful scar that never went away. Now he is a man, and he often tells children how he got this dreadful scar, and all because he did not mind quickly."

The tears had rolled down Emma's face while her Mother was telling her this story. When she had finished it, Emma put her arms around her Mother's neck, and told her that indeed she would try to obey at once, and be a good little girl, so that her dear Mother would never be unhappy about her again.

Her Mother kissed her, and took her down  stairs, and gave her some breakfast, and all this day, and ever after, she did try very hard to be good. Whenever she felt herself going about anything slowly, the thought of the poor boy who had lost his ear would come into her mind, and she would jump up at once, when her Mother called her, and do whatever she wanted her to do, pleasantly and quickly.