Summer Holidays



One morning, after the three boys had taken a pretty long walk, they came to a small cottage, standing by a garden, round which was a neat hedge. Part of this garden was planted with vegetables, and part with flowers, while many vines and sweet brier bushes stood before the cottage door. There were also large, white roses, which Samuel thought finer than any he had yet seen; and in a corner of the garden farthest from the house, stood two bee hives. As the boys passed by, a young woman came out on the piazza, and asked them in. John and Thomas had often been here; so they opened the gate and passed through with their cousin. The young woman, whose name was Alice, brought out chairs, and some new milk in bowls, for each of them to drink. Then she walked with them through the garden, showing them through the flowers, and telling their names. He was much pleased with the bee hives; they were made of wood, with glass tops, so that the bees might be seen at work. After watching them for some time, they returned through the garden to the cottage door. At this moment an old lady came to the door, and spoke to Mr. Harvey's boys. Samuel observed that she was very feeble, and that her voice could scarcely be heard. She looked like one who had been often sick. When they left the cottage, he asked who she was.

"Her name is Gray," said Thomas. "Alice is her daughter. Mrs. Gray's husband was a sailor, and when Alice was about three years old, he went on a voyage to catch whales, but was lost, with all the crew. Mrs. Gray was poor, and had four children; and as no one in the town where she lived would help her, she opened a school for little boys and girls. The money she got by teaching, supported her family, until her two oldest children moved away. Soon after, the poor woman herself became sick, and the school was closed. Then she moved into this part of the country, and tried to make her living by weaving mats out of rushes. But in the fall, her landlord, a hard hearted man, turned her out of doors, and the poor woman would have died, if some neighbors had not taken her in, and provided for her until she could work for herself.

At last she went to live on one of the hills that you can see near the iron mine. She did pretty well that winter; but one day in the spring, a great freshet ruined everything that she had, and almost carried away her house. Afraid to stay on the hill any longer, she was about to go to the city, and ask assistance from the societies which give help to poor people, when some persons, told her to move to the cottage she is in now, and that they would pay the rent. She did so. When Alice grew older, she worked hard to support her mother, and she planted all the flowers and vegetables that you saw in the garden. Father made her a present of the bee hives. Everybody loves her because she has so sweet a temper."

"And is the old lady still sick?" asked Samuel.

"Yes," said his cousin, "she will never be well again. Yet she is happy in having a good daughter and kind friends, and loves to see the young people, who sometimes stop to talk or read to her."

At some distance from the cottage the boys met a bull in the road. It was standing still when they first saw it; but in a little while it began to strike the ground with its feet, and toss about its head. Samuel was afraid to go on; but his cousins told him to follow them, without attempting to run. As they passed, the bull looked fiercely at them, and began to roar; but they walked on, keeping their eyes steady on it, all the while. It continued to make a great noise, but did not follow them. After they had passed it, Thomas said they could then walk as fast as they chose, lest the bull might follow them. Samuel asked him, if bulls had not sometimes killed people.

"Yes," he replied, "bulls are dangerous when anything makes them angry. And at such times, if you run from them they are sure to follow. They often fight with each other; and farmer Smith had a bull killed by another one last spring. If you meet them in the road, it is best to face them, without showing any fear. It is not often that they will attack anyone who has courage enough to look straight at them."

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