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an officer with a light, about to seal a letter.
Mary. Oh sad! How could he run such a risk?
Mr. F. The king sternly demanded to know why he had disobeyed his order, when the officer told him he had been writing to
his wife, who I think was ill. “Stop," said the king; “before you seal the letter sit down, and add these words to it, ‘By the time you receive this letter I shall be hanged.'”
M. Terrible! terrible ! The king must have had a heart as hard as a stone.
P. He was a very
cruel king! Edward. But was the officer really hung?
Mr. F. I do not remember reading that any pardon was extended to him.
E. Then it was a very cruel act indeed.
Mr. F. Most things that relate to war are cruel; but still this act of disobedience was a great crime, for the light used by the officer might have been a means of guiding the enemy to the camp, and occasioning very great slaughter.
Ē. To be sure it might! I never thought of that.
Mr. F. In the army, almost every thing depends on discipline and obedience. Bonaparte was at one time called by his soldiers, “ The little Corporal.” In going his rounds, to see if his sentinels were on duty, on a certain occasion, he came upon a sentinel who refused to let him pass. In vain he told the soldier that he was an officer, and must go on, for the sentinel told him that he should not. “My orders," said the soldier, “are to let no one pass;
should not go on if you were the little corporal himself.”
T. Well done, soldier !
Mr. F. No; on the contrary, he highly commended him for his obedience and discipline. Something like this is said to have taken place in England. The duke of Wellington, as the story goes, was out hunting,
when a labouring man, who stood with a pitchfork in his hand by a gate, refused to let him go through. “Pooh, pooh!” said his grace, “ I am the duke of Wellington.” “That makes no difference," said the sturdy countryman; “my master told me to let nobody through the gate; and go through the gate nobody shall !"
M. What a passion the duke would be in!
Mr. F. Not at all; for putting his hand in his pocket, he gave the man half a sovereign, for so faithfully obeying the commands of his master.
M. The duke of Wellington and Bonaparte acted much in the same manner.
Mr. F. In the word of God, servants are commanded to be obedient to their masters; wives to their husbands; and children to their parents; and striking acts of obedience are set forth; but the crowning act of all, was that of our blessed Saviour, who, though the Lord of heaven and earth, “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Phil. ii. 8. With such an example before us, my dear children, let us learn to be obedient, and gladly take his yoke upon us, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. At our next meeting, I shall speak of acts of love and affection, acts which I trust my children will practise all the days of their lives.
ACTS OF LOVE AND AFFECTION. It was in the summer arbour that the next family meeting took place, that the young people might make progress in learning to act. As Edward was about to enter, Mary observed a spider's web stretching across the entrance, and immediately held him back. “We ought to think,” said she, “ before we break the web of the spider.”
Aconsultation then took place, and Edward, Mary, and little Peter agreed that the thread across the arbour was one of the main lines on which the poor insect had begun to construct his web, and it would be a sad pity to destroy it. “Beside," said Edward, “We must learn to feel as well as to think; and if we feel kindly towards the spider, we shall not do him an injury."
“Yes," said Thomas; “but what is the spider weaving his web for? It is that he may catch the poor flies, which never did him any harm; and if we feel for the spider, we ought to feel for the flies.” As, however, there were three in favour of not breaking the thread, it was decided against Thomas.
Having passed through the thinking and feeling part of the affair, they had next to
decide how to act. The spider's line was about two feet from the ground, so that there appeared to be equal danger in creeping under and in stepping over it. A bright thought struck Mary, and away she ran for a stool. Just as she had mounted the stool, to jump
over the spider's thread, Mr. Franklin came up, and to him was submitted the whole affair, and all that had taken place therein.
“Glad am I to perceive," said he, that you are disposed to turn to advantage in little things your attainments in thinking, feeling, and acting; but, in this case, as I am a party concerned, I claim to be heard. Let justice be done to every one."
The children were all attention, wondering in what way their papa would decide the case. The following observations of Mr. Franklin soon put the matter at rest. " It does credit to you, Edward, Mary, and little Peter, that