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The holidays were now fast approaching to their termination, and the two boys began to pull very long faces at the idea of their speedy departure to school.
Why, Jasper,” said Mr. Gracelove, one morning to his youngest son, with affectionate raillery," you look as sad, and as solitary, as the remainder biscuit after a long voyage. What is the matter with you? I am half afraid you are tired of your company, and want to get back to your companions at Dr. Syntax's."
Anything but that, my dear papa,” replied Jasper, with somewhat of a weeping countenance. “I own I feel rather sad, but it is because I am so shortly to leave such kind parents as you and my dear mamma. But I am not the only one who feels sorry on the occasion ; for Edmund was saying, only an hour ago, what a difference we should soon find in hearing the school-bell ringing us up, every morning, to Latin and Greek, instead of hearing Thomas gently knock at the door, to say that the boat was ready for a sail on the lake, or the ponies, for a ride through the country.
“ Well! but, Jasper,” said his father, with a humorous smile, “ you know variety is said to be very delightful; and now that you have had such a surfeit of sweet things, and such a round of amusements at home, the ordinary fare and occupations at school will operate as a charm, though in a different way."
“ Yes! in a very different way indeed, dear papa,” exclaimed his son, with great simplicity; "and, besides, we don't feel yet the surfeit you suppose ; for my brother was trying to coax ny dear mamma, only this morning, to indulge us once more in the repetition of what you consider we have had, as Dr. Syntax calls it, a quantum sufficit.
“And you, no doubt, Jasper,” rejoined Mr. Gracelove, looking very arohly at his son, “ intend following the laudable example of your brother, and trying the same winning art on me. I admire the ingenuity of your tactics, my dear boy, the one creeping up the sleeve of his mamma, and the other up that of his papa, and so gaining your point; thus making, as the great dramatist says, assurance doubly sure.'”
" I'm glad to hear you say, ' gaining your point,' dear papa, because then we shall go.” “ Go where, my dear Jasper ?"
Why, on another excursion, papa; for if you will only allow us to go once more, we shall have additional scenes of pleasure to think of, during our leisure hours at school, which will lighten our little troubles, and our absence from home.”
Well, Jasper,” said the fond parent, “you plead with so much fair reasoning and simplicity of heart, that I cannot refuse your request; and, as an additional favour, you and your brother shall choose the various objects to be visited in our day's ramble.
But remember, Jasper," he continued, “ you must repay this compliance with your wishes by a ready attention to mine, on returning to your studies. Remember, it is by a zealous application to these, and to your other duties at school, especially to your religious duties, that you are to render yourself a respectable member of society; beloved by the good, and respected by all. Don't you recollect what
Cicero says of these humanizing pursuits
· Hæc studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solatium præbent ; delectant domi, non impediunt foris ; pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.'”
“ Thank you very much, dear papa, for your kind consent to our desires,” said the grateful boy. “You and mamma are always so very, very affectionate and indulgent to us, that it is on this account that we have so many heart-breakings on leaving you to return to school. I will promise to do all that you wish me; at least"—hesitating for a moment—" I will pray to God to enable me to do so. Indeed, I feel quite sure that to please you and dear mamma would be alone a sufficient reward for any exertions I can possibly make; while, at the same time, I know that the advantages to myself will be great and permanent."
“You are very dear to me,” said his father, tenderly em. bracing him; "and now, tell me where you and Edmund would prefer going ?"
“Oh! to the blacklead mines, dear papa, for as my brother and I are now learning to draw, we want to see the place where the material is found of which they make the pencils. We are anxious, also, to see that enormous mountain rock called 'Honister Crag,' of which you were speaking to us a few days ago; and, as it lies in the direction of Buttermere, we can continue our excursion to that beautiful lake, and afterwards return home by the Vale of Newlands, or the hill of Whinlatter, as you may think best.”
“I cannot but give you credit, my son,” observed the gratified parent, " for your accurate geography, as well as for the little tour you appear so readily to have planned, and which we cannot do better than follow."
Why, to be very candid, papa, as you always tell us to be, Edmund and I have been examining a map of the lakes several times during the last few days, in order to be prepared with the outline of a last excursion, with which we felt quite sure your kindness would indulge us. The little sketch, as our drawing-master calls it, which I have just given you of our proposed route, is the result of the examination referred to."
“ This proves the truth of that wholesome proverb," said his father, “ to 'think twice before you act once.' Nothing is so well done as after previous deliberation ; in consequence of which, the moment I put a question to you an answer is returned, both wise and prudent. As regards the virtue of candour, to which you allude, my dear Jasper, I cannot but acknowledge, with real parental gratification, that both yourself and your brother have well profited by the lessons which I have ever taught you respecting the strict observance of this essential quality; and by the still better teaching, as I hope, of personal example. Truth is, indeed, the standard of all excellence. The throne of the Great Ruler of the universe is based upon it; and He requires the possession and the exercise of this virtue in man as one of the conditions of his acceptance, through the righteousness of the Saviour's blood. For remember, my son, what the Spirit of God has said when speaking of the New Jerusalem : 'There shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.' * As
you have now become a student of the French language," observed his father, “ you will be able to appreciate the beauty of those two lines of the French moralist on this interesting subject, where he says, and says so truly
“And now, my son, go and tell your brother that all is
* Rev. xxi. 27.
arranged according to your wishes, and that to-morrow, if all be well, we will put the plan in execution."
With light heart, Jasper bounded out of the room, to communicate the joyful intelligence to Edmund and his sisters ; while Mr. Gracelove went to give orders for the required number of ponies for the following day, and to make other preparations which the occasion demanded.
After dinner, on the day when this conversation took place, the map was again consulted, and the following arrangement decided upon for the morrow's excursion. In the first place, the boat was to convey the party to the southern shore of the lake, in the direction of Borrowdale, where the ponies were to be in waiting to carry them forward to the blacklead mines. After examining these, they were to wind their way through the wild valley of Gatesgarth Dale to Buttermere Lake, taking a view of Honister Crag and other romantic objects as they passed along. At Buttermere, a very judicious alteration in the mode of their conveyance was proposed to be made,—that of exchanging their horses for the open carriage, which it was agreed should be ordered to meet them there by the shorter road of the beautiful Vale of Newlands. Then, after seeing the lake and its adjacent curiosities, they were to drive along the shores of Crummock Water to those of Lowe's Water, and diverging at that point, to return home by the fine picturesque elevation of Whinlatter.
This change in the locomotive power, as the engineers term it, was very desirable, inasmuch as the female portion of the party would have been unable to have traversed so considerable a space, on horseback, as the wide circuit included ; at least without great fatigue, which would have been somewhat inconsistent with a day of pleasure.
The two happy boys scarcely slept during the night preceding the excursion. Fitful dreams of boats and ponies; rocks