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The Children's Book by  Horace E. Scudder
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THE RENOWNED HISTORY OF MRS. MARGERY TWO-SHOES

IN the first part of this work the young student has read, and I hope with pleasure and improvement, the history of this Lady, while she was known and distinguished by the name of LITTLE TWO-SHOES; we are now come to a period of her life when that name was discarded, and a more eminent one bestowed upon her, I mean that of MRS. MARGERY TWO-SHOES; for as she was now president of the A, B, C college, it became necessary to exalt her in title as in place.

No sooner was she settled in this office, but she laid every possible scheme to promote the welfare and happiness of all her neighbors, and especially of her little ones, in who she took great delight; and all those whose parents could not afford to pay for their education, she taught for nothing but the pleasure she had in their company; for you are to observe that they were very good, or were soon made so by her good management.

CHAPTER I

OF HER SCHOOL, HER USHERS, OR ASSISTANTS, AND HER MANNER OF TEACHING.

WE have already informed the reader, that the school where she taught was that which was before kept by Mrs. Williams. The room was very large and spacious, and as she knew that nature intended children should be always in action, she placed her different letters, or alphabets, all round the school, so that everyone was obliged to get up and fetch a letter, or to spell a word when it came to their turn; which not only kept them in health, but fixed the letters and points firmly in their minds.

CHAPTER II

A SCENE OF DISTRESS IN A SCHOOL.

IT happened one day, when Mrs. Two-Shoes was diverting the children after dinner, as she usually did, with some innocent games, or entertaining and instructive stories, that a man arrived with the melancholy news of Sally Jones's father being thrown from his horse, and thought past all recovery; nay, the messenger said, that he was seemingly dying when he came away. Poor Sally was greatly distressed, as indeed were all in the school, for she dearly loved her father and Mrs. Two-Shoes, and all her children dearly loved her.

At this instant something was heard to flap at the window, at which the children were surprised; but Mrs. Margery knowing what it was, opened the casement, and drew in a pigeon with a letter.

As soon as he was placed upon the table, he walked up to little Sally, and dropping the letter, cried "co,co,coo;" as much as to say, "There, read it."

"My dear Sally,—God Almighty has been very merciful and restored your papa to us again who is now so well as to be able to sit up. I hear you are a good girl, my dear, and I hope you will never forget to praise the Lord for that his great goodness and mercy to us. What a sad thing it would have been if your father had died, and left both you and me, and little Tommy in distress, and without a friend. Your father sends his blessing with mine. Be good, my dear child, and [336] God Almighty will also bless you, whose blessing is above all things.

"I am, my dear Sally,

"Your affectionate mother,

MARTHA JONES.

CHAPTER III

OF THE AMAZING SAGACITY AND INSTINCT OF A LITLE DOG.

SOON after this, a very dreadful accident happened in the school. It was on a Thursday morning, I very well remember, when the children having learned their lessons soon, she had given them leave to play, and they were all running about the school, and diverting themselves with the birds and the lamb; at this time the dog, all of a sudden, laid hold of his mistress's apron, and endeavored to pull her out of the school. She was at first surprised; however, she followed him, to see what he intended. No sooner had he led her back into the garden, but he ran back, and pulled out one of the children in the same manner; upon which she ordered them all to leave the school immediately, and they had not been out five minutes before the top of the house fell in. What a miraculous deliverance was here! How gracious! How good was God Almighty to save all these children from destruction, and to make use of such an instrument as a little sagacious animal to accomplish his divine will! I should have observed that, as soon as they were all in the garden, the dog came leaping round them to express his joy, and when the house was fallen, laid himself down quietly by his mistress.

Some of the neighbors who saw the school fall, and who were in great pain for Margery and her little ones, soon spread the news through the village, and all the parents, terrified for their children, came crowding in abundance: they had, however, the satisfaction to find them all safe, and upon their knees with their mistress, giving God thanks for their happy deliverance.

You are not to wonder, my dear reader, that this little dog should have more sense than you, or your father, or your grandfather.

Though God Almighty has made man the lord of the creation, and endowed him with reason, yet in many respects, He has been altogether as bountiful to other creatures of his forming. Some of the senses of other animals are more acute than ours, as we find by daily experience.

The downfall of the school was a great misfortune to Mrs. Margery: for she not only lost all her books, but was destitute of a place to teach in; but Sir William Dove, being informed of this, ordered it to be guilt at his own expense, and till that could be done, Farmer Grove was so kind as to let her have his large hall to teach in.

CHAPTER IV

WHAT HAPPENED AT FARMER GROVE'S AND HOW SHE GRATIFIED HIM FOR THE USE OF HIS ROOM.

WHILE at Mr. Grove's, which was in the heart of the village, she not only taught the children in the daytime, but the farmer's servants and all the neighbors to read and write in the evening; and it was a constant practice, before they went away, to make them all go to prayers and sing psalms. By this means the people grew extremely regular, his servants were always at home instead of being at the alehouse, and he had more work done than ever. This gave not only Mr. Grove, but all the neighbors, a high opinion of her good sense and prudent behavior; and she was so much esteemed, that the most of the differences in the parish were left to her decision; and if a man and wife quarreled (which sometimes happened in that part of the kingdom), both parties certainly came to her for advice. Everybody knows that Martha Wilson was a passionate, scolding jade, and that John her husband was a surly, ill-tempered fellow. These were one day brought by the neighbors for Margery to talk to them, when they talked before her, and were going to blows; but she, stepping between them, thus addressed the husband: "John," says she, "you are a man, and ought to have more sense than to fly in a passion at every word that is said amiss by your wife: and Martha," says she, "you ought to know your duty better than to say anything to aggravate your [337] husband's resentment. These frequent quarrels arise from the indulgence of your violent passions; for I know you both love each other, notwithstanding what has passed between you. Now, pray tell me, John, and tell me, Martha, when you have had a quarrel over night, are you not both sorry for it the next day?" They both declared that they were. "Why, then," says she, "I'll tell you how to prevent this for the future, if you promise to take my advice." They both promised her. "You know," says she, "that a small spark will set fire to tinder, and that tinder properly placed will set fire to a house: an angry word is with you as that spark, for you are both as touchy as tinder, and very often make your own house too hot to hold you. To prevent this, therefore, and to live happily for the future, you must solemnly agree, that if one speaks an angry word, the other will not answer, till he or she has distinctly called over the alphabet, and the other not reply till he has told twenty; by this means your passions will be stifled, and reason will have time to take the rule."

This is the best recipe that was ever given for a married couple to live in peace. Though John and his wife frequently attempted to quarrel afterwards, they never could get their passions to a considerable height, for there was something so droll in thus carrying on the dispute, that, before they got to the end of the argument, they saw the absurdity of it, laughed, kissed, and were friends.

CHAPTER V

THE CASE OF MRS. MARGERY

MRS. MARGERY was always doing good, and thought she could never sufficiently gratify those who had done anything to serve her. These generous sentiments naturally led her to consult the interest of Mr. Grove, and the rest of her neighbors; and as most of their lands were meadow, and they depended much on their hay, which had been for many years greatly damaged by the wet weather, she contrived an instrument to direct them when to mow their grass with safety, and prevent their hay being spoiled. They all came to her for advice, and by that means got in their hay without damage, whilst most of that in the neighboring village was spoiled.

This occasioned a very great noise in the country, and so greatly provoked were the people who resided in the other parishes, that they absolutely sent old Gafer Goosecap (a busy fellow in other people's concerns) to find out evidence against her. The wiseacre happened to come to her to school, when she was walking about with a raven on one shoulder, a pigeon on the other, a lark on her hand, and a lamb and a dog by her side; which indeed made a droll figure, and so surprised the man that he cried out, "A witch! a witch! a witch!"

Upon this she, laughing, answered, "A conjurer! a conjurer! a conjurer!" and so they parted; but it did not end thus, for a warrant was issued out against Mrs. Margery, and she was carried to a meeting of the justices.

At the meeting, one of the justices who knew little of life, and less of the law, behaved, very idly; and, though nobody was able to prove anything against her, asked who she could bring to her character. "Who can you bring against my character, sir?" says she. "There are people enough who would appear in my defense, were it necessary: but I never supposed that any one here could be so weak as to believe there was any such thing as a witch. If I am a witch, this is my charm, and" (laying a barometer or weather glass on the table) "it is with this," says she, "that I have taught my neighbors to know the state of the weather." All the company laughed; and Sir William Dove, who was on the bench, asked her accusers how they could be such fools as to think there was any such thing as a witch?

After this, Sir William inveighed against the absurd and foolish notions which the country people had imbibed concerning witches and witchcraft, and having proved that there was no such thing, but that all were the effects of folly and ignorance, he gave the court such an account of Mrs. Margery, and her virtue, good sense, and prudent behavior, that the gentlemen present were [338] enamored with her, and returned her public thanks for the great service she had done the country. One gentleman in particular, I mean Sir Charles Jones, had conceived such a high opinion of her that he offered her a considerable sum to take care of his family, and the education of his daughter, which, however, she refused; but this gentleman sending for her afterwards, when he had a dangerous fit of illness, she went, and behaved so prudently in the family, and so tenderly to him and his daughter, that he would not permit her to leave his house, but soon after made her proposals of marriage. She was truly sensible of the honor he intended her, but, though poor, she would not consent to be made a lady till he had effectually provided for his daughter; for she told him, that power was a dangerous thing to be trusted with, and that a good man or woman would never throw themselves into the road of temptation.

All things being settled, and the day fixed, the neighbors came in crowds to see the wedding; for they were all glad that one who had been such a good little girl, and was become such a virtuous and good woman, was going to be made a lady; but just as the clergyman had opened his book, a gentleman richly dressed ran into the church and cried, "Stop! stop! This greatly alarmed the congregation, particularly the intended bride and bridegroom, whom he first accosted and desired to speak with them apart. After they had been talking some little time, the people were greatly surprised to see Sir Charles stand motionless, and his bride cry and faint away in the stranger's arms. This seeming grief, however, was only a prelude to a flood of joy which immediately succeeded; for you must know, gentle reader, that this gentleman, so richly dressed, was the identical little boy, whom you before saw in the sailor's habit; in short, it was Mrs. Margery's brother, who was just come from sea, where he had, after a desperate engagement, taken a rich prize, and hearing, as soon as he landed, of his sister's intended wedding, had rode post to see that a proper settlement was made on her, which she was now entitled to, as he himself was both able and willing to give her an ample fortune. They soon returned to the communion table, and were married in tears, but they were tears of joy.

CHAPTER VI

THE TRUE USE OF RICHES

ABOUT this time she heard that Mr. Smith was oppressed by Sir Timothy Gripe and his friend Graspall; upon which she, in conjunction with her brother, defended him in Westminster Hall, where Mr. Smith gained a verdict. As a justice of the peace he was struck off the list, and no longer permitted to act in that capacity. A relation of his who had a right to the Mouldwell estate, finding that it was possible to get the better at law of a rich man, laid claim to it, brought his action, and recovered the whole manor of Mouldwell; and being afterwards inclined to sell it, he in consideration of the aid Lady Margery had lent him during his distress, made her the first offer, and she purchased the whole. This mortified Sir Timothy and his friend Graspall, who experienced nothing but misfortunes, and was in a few years so disposed of his ill-gotten wealth, that his family were reduced to seek subsistence from the parish, at which those who had felt the weight of his iron-hand rejoiced, but Lady Margery desired that his children might be treated with care and tenderness; "for they" (says she) "are no ways accountable for the actions of their father."

At her first coming into power, she took care to gratify her old friends, especially Mr. and Mrs. Smith, whose family she made happy.


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