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