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Good Words 1860
Be Not High-Minded, But Fear

A Story for Children

It was a cold day in the end of April. The sun shone sometimes with a gray misty light across the hills, which its beams, instead of enlivening and warming, seemed only to make more drear and dismal-looking. Showers of sleet fell frequently, and the ground was wet and slushy. In the midst of all this cold and wet, two little lambs were brought into the world, which, from their constant and pitiful cries, they evidently thought very comfortless and inhospitable. Their long, thin legs trembled with the cold so much that they could scarcely stand; and though their mother did what she could to get them a dry place to lie down, under the shelter of an old dyke, still the ground was so soaked with wet everywhere, that she could not find any place suited for two such tender little creatures to make their bed.

One of them soon began to shew signs of sinking under its troubles, and the poor mother looked very sorry for it, but she could do nothing to help it. Presently, however, she heard a step which she knew well, and looking up with her meek, patient eye, she. saw the shepherd coming towards her.

"How is this?" he said, looking at the lambs; ''one of them seems in a fair way to get on, in. spite of this terrible weather, but here is a little fellow that will die if I don't take care." So saying, he lifted the lamb gently, and carried it away, the mother looking piteously after him, and hoping that he would not hurt her lamb. She spoke as well as she could, and said, "Ba-a, ba-a," and the poor little lamb gave one feeble "Ma" in reply, and. then knew nothing more that happened to it, till it opened its eyes in a comfortable, warm kitchen, and saw a little girl hanging tenderly over it. "Ma," said the little lamb, and the child gave a cry of delight, and exclaimed, ''O mother, the dear little lamb is coming round. Would it not like some milk? It shall have my porridge if it will eat it."

The mother smiled, and said, "No, Kitty, the lamb would not like your porridge, so you had better take it yourself; it has got almost cold while you have been watching the poor little animal." "Never mind," replied Kitty, "I am so glad the lamb is not dead;" and she sat cheerfully down to her bicker of porridge, first lifting her little hands reverently and shutting her eyes, while she asked a blessing on her simple supper. Kitty was- the shepherd's only child, and a great pet with both her parents; but they had too high a sense of Christian duty to spoil their child, and so she had grown an obedient, affectionate little girl, loving and beloved by all who knew her.

"Now, Kitty, it is time to go to bed," said her mother, when she had finished her supper.

"Just one kiss to my dear little lamb," said Kitty. "May I call it mine, mother?"

''You may call it what you like, my dear, but you know it belongs to master."

"Oh yes, but I should like to call it mine, and I will feed it; and perhaps when it goes to the hill again it will still know me."

So Kitty kissed the lamb, and trotted blithely away to her bed; but she could not sleep, for she wanted to give her lamb a name, and could think of none to suit. She would like it called after herself; but she had a favourite doll which bore her name, and if the lamb were called Kitty too, there would be three Kitties, besides two very playful little kittens, just a month old, that were generally called Kitty also. So to avoid confusion in the names, her own little head got quite confused; but she fell asleep at last, and dreamed that she was changed into a lamb, and was lying shivering and wet at the side of a dyke, as her father had described the little lamb to have been when he had found it, and she was just endeavouring to cry "Ma-a," like a lamb, when she awoke, and found that she had tossed off all the bed-clothes; but her mother came in at that moment, and covered her up nice and warm, and Kitty fell asleep, and never awoke again till the sun was shining brightly into her room, and a kind voice said, "Come, lazy Kitty, get up! Mother has been up and dressed an hour ago." Up sprang Kitty; and her first inquiry was after the lamb, which had spent a very comfortable night before the kitchen fire.

The weather continuing cold, it was kept in the house for two or three days, and Kitty, to her great delight, was allowed to feed it. On the fourth day after it had been brought in, the sun shone very bright and warm, and the lamb was sent out to the green in front of the house. Kitty never tired of watching its gambols, and when her father came in to dinner, she ran to meet him, and said, "Oh look, father, isn't he pretty?"

"Oh, I see it can cut capers to-day," said her father, smiling.

"Caper—caper," said Kitty. "Father, may I call my lamb Caper?"

"You may call it Jack Ketch, if you please," said her father, laughing.

"Oh no, I don't like that name so well as Caper," replied Kitty, gravely, having been quite distressed for the last few days that she had been unable to fix on a name for her lamb.

To please his child, the shepherd did not take the lamb back to the hill, but brought its mother and little brother to be beside it in the field before the house.

Now, I am sorry to say, that all the kindness which it had received had. only made the little lamb very forward and conceited. He thought it was because he was so much better than his mother and brother that such extreme attention had been paid him; and so, when they came to speak to him, and appeared very glad to see him again, he tossed his head proudly, and asked how they had managed to get on at the hill-side in the late cold weather. "As for me," he said, conceitedly, "I would not have gone out for the world while the rain and snow made it so wretched. I lay beside the fire all the time, and had a very nice little girl to wait on me."

"Caper! Caper!" was heard at this moment in a sweet childish voice.

"There is my little maiden," said the lamb, with a look of pride at his two companions. "Perhaps she has something good for me to eat, so I may as well go and see what she wants;" and away he trotted, while his brother looked angrily after him, and his mother shook her head, and seemed very sad. After a time Caper grew to be really a very handsome lamb, but he gave himself so many airs while with his mother and brother, and boasted so much about their having been brought to that sheltered field only on his account, that they were both more glad than he was, when Kitty's merry cry of "Caper!" took him away from them to play with her. One day she made a beautiful necklace of daisies, which she hung round his neck, and he came back with this ornament, more conceited and disagreeable than ever. While he was laughing at his brother for his shabby appearance, and talking-very disrespectfully to his mother, he saw the shepherd coming out of his house, accompanied by a stout, cheerful-looking man, and the two walked together across the field, towards a gate which led to the hill.

"There is a fine one," said the man, nodding his head towards Caper as they walked along; "he would suit my purpose very well."

"Poor Kitty," said the shepherd; "she would be in a bad way at losing Caper."

"The beast seems in excellent condition," replied the other, not noticing what the father had said. ''We will call in for it when I have got the rest."

Caper was very proud. ''He chose me because of my good looks. After all, it is a great thing to be handsome and well dressed," he added, looking contemptuously at his brother, and then casting a glance of satisfaction at his necklace. "Kitty, indeed! Why should she stand in the way of my preferment? I dare say she would like to have me always with her; but I was born for something better than to be the companion of a shepherd's daughter. I should not wonder if that man has been sent by some nobleman to get a few handsome lambs as an ornament for his park. I have heard the shepherd talk about deer being kept in that way, and made a great deal of; and, though I never saw one, I have no doubt a lamb is as handsome as a deer, any day."

So saying, Caper strutted about, would not answer Kitty when she called him, nor listen to his mother, who told him not to make too sure of his good fortune.

At last the shepherd and his companion came back, bringing eleven lambs with them; and Caper, making up the dozen, was driven out of the field with the rest.

At first he was quite delighted with the newness of all he saw, and frisked with the other lambs, and now and then nibbled a little grass at the road-side, and was quite happy. In a short time, however, he began to feel tired, and found the road very hot and dusty to walk upon, after the pleasant green field in which he had always played. Then he thought it very cross, and rather impertinent, of the man who accompanied them to send his dog after him, and make him go on whether he would or no; and at last, when they came to a large town, and people passed them, and carriages and horses came among them, poor Caper was so tired and in such a fright, that he wished very much he could get back to his mother and little brother and Kitty. After going through what seemed to Caper an endless number of streets, the lambs were driven through a gate into a courtyard, and all crowded into a very uncomfortable place for the night, with a few turnips placed beside them for their supper. "I suppose we shall get to the park to-morrow," said Caper to himself with a sigh, and he turned away from the turnips in disgust.

Next morning, very early, the man who had brought them to this dreadful place came with another, and pointing to three of the lambs, among which was Caper, he desired them to be brought out.

Caper came trembling, for he saw something bright and sharp in the man's hand, and he began to fear that all was not right. They were taken to a building close by, and Caper saw the man lift his instrument, and strike one of the lambs. He cried piteously, but it was of no use—it was his turn next. ''Oh, I wish I had behaved better to my mother—that I had been kinder to my brother,

I wish I had not been so proud. I wish------;" but with one long, low ma-a he ceased to wish—for he was dead.

Have none of my young readers ever been like this poor little lamb in my fable? Have they never taken the kindness that was shewn to them as their right, and been proud, conceited, and overbearing? Oh! let them pause, and remember in time that death is coming to all, but that to human beings something more than death is coming; for "it is appointed unto man once to die, but after that the judgment!"

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