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had climbed upon her mother's chair, and was looking over her shoulder, "we shall do nothing else but play then; and I shall sit up an hour longer, that I may play so much more; shall I not, mamma ?"

"Is that you, Ellen ?" said Lady Caroline, looking round, "you, who always begin to rub your eyes, and complain that the candles grow dim, before eight o'clock ?"

Little Ellen hid her face on her mother's shoulder, for she knew well how often she was found asleep in the nursery, long before that hour; but Fanny went on, settling all the affair of her cousin's visit, counting her favorite games upon her fingers, and arranging, as she thought, for the whole time of their stay to be one season of uninterrupted happiness.

"That you should do your best to promote the enjoyment of your visiters," observed Lady Caroline, "is perfectly right; and in order to do this, it is also right to think for them beforehand; but suppose we consult them, as well as ourselves, for some of them are older than you, and all may not be so fond of play as you and Ellen."

On the following evening, therefore, about the same hour of the day, when the shutters were closed, and a bright fire was burning, Lady Caroline proposed, that, as many hours still remained of what some persons considered the pleasantest part of the day, they should enter upon some occupation or amusement in which all could join.

The little visiters, of course, being not yet quite settled in their new home, felt rather backward in making any choice, but Fanny, considering herself

as chiefly responsible for their entertainment, had no hesitation in proposing that the evening should be spent in play.

"Wait a moment, Fanny," said Lady Caroline. "Your cousins, I dare say, are too polite to dispute this point with you, especially if you insist upon it so earnestly; yet, after all, they may have some choice of their own." And she then turned the conversation, so as to endeavor to find out what were their peculiar or individual tastes. "My little girls," she added, "care for nothing so much as play, and I am quite satisfied that they should sometimes be as much in earnest in their play, as they are at other times in their learning. But you, I hope, are able to make a wiser choice, and if you will be kind enough to say what it is, I am sure we shall be happy to act upon it for this evening least."


My cousin Fanny," said the oldest boy, "has already said what is her wish: suppose we act upon that for one evening, and try how it answers, we shall then be better able to judge for the next."

"You are right," said Lady Caroline. "This evening, then, we give up to play." She then laid down her work, and asking her niece to assist her in removing the fancy ornaments from the tables, prepared for giving herself up, like the rest, to a whole evening of play.

For some time Fanny's plan answered wonderfully, and the interruption of tea only made her more impatient to commence operations again.

Even the politeness due to visiters gave place in her mind to brilliant visions of half-forgotten games,

so that instead of handing their cups, and helping them to what was on the table, she could think and speak of nothing, but how these games were to be played, whether their party consisted of a sufficient number, or who should be the first to go out, while the secret to be guessed at was whispered round the room.

Lady Caroline, who really enjoyed the romping of children when not carried beyond the bounds which health and natural enjoyment demand, was by this time perfectly satisfied with her share of the evening's amusement; she therefore retired for a while to her own room, after charging the juvenile party not to allow their lively spirits to carry them beyond all bounds of reason, or all regard to the comfort and order of the apartment, now entirely given up to their use.

Lady Caroline was soon occupied with her own affairs; so much so, that she only listened occasionally to the merry sounds in the room below, which, however, grew considerably more boisterous, until at last they were interrupted by a tremendous crash, to which succeeded instantaneous silence.

Lady Caroline Grey was not one of those mothers who attach as much importance to the fracture of a piece of china, as to the breaking of a moral law; yet she was truly sorry-and she showed by her countenance that she was so-to find that a china vase, the gift of a parent long since deceased, was laid in scattered fragments on the floor. Could the whole of that evening's enjoyment have been gathered into one moment, it would have been far from equal to the distress which was now written

upon every face; yet Lady Caroline reproached no one, made no inquiry into how the accident had happened; but feeling that as much blame attached to her own carelessness in leaving the room, as to that of the little party who remained, she stooped down to gather up the broken fragments, simply remarking, My poor father gave me this china vase the week before he died."


“And now,” she added, after taking up the last piece, "there is nothing left to hurt you. You can play again, only do so a little more moderately. But what is the matter with you, Ellen? It is far from bed-time yet, and you know I have given you leave to sit up an hour longer than usual."

The fact was, little Ellen was completely tired, and, burying her face in her mother's lap, she gave way to a burst of childish tears, the natural consequence of her over excitement. Fanny, too, was looking but little disposed to renew her play, for she knew the treasure this vase had always been to her mother; she knew also that she herself had had no hand in breaking it, but that she had often warned her cousins from going into that corner of the room; yet at the same time she shrunk from throwing the entire blame on them. They, on the other hand, stood silent and abashed, supposing that the anger of their aunt was only suspended for a season. And thus the evening closed-a whole evening of play, which Fanny had always regarded as equivalent to a whole evening of enjoyment.

“I think,” said Lady Caroline Grey, when the little party were met again around her fire at the dark hour on the following day, "I think Fanny's whole evening of play has not been quite so suc

cessful as she anticipated. It answered very well for a while, and during one hour we all enjoyed it; but amusement may be spun out until it becomes absolutely wearisome, and when our natural spirits are worn out, and we have recourse to noise and violence, or indeed to any other forced means to make us merry, pleasure is sure to end in disappointment, and mirth not unfrequently in accident or distress."

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"Oh yes, dear aunt," said James, the older boy, who now felt a little ashamed of the childish part he had acted," you are perfectly right. We will not be so foolish and inconsiderate again. If f you will give me leave to choose for this evening, I think I know what will please you better, and make us all more happy."

James was consequently allowed by the unanimous consent of the company to have his choice, and he proposed, with considerable importance, to tell stories.

"What! for the whole evening?" asked Ellen. "And will you tell them all yourself?" inquired Robert.

Both questions were answered without hesitation in the affirmative; but before he was permitted to begin, one tried to stipulate that the stories should be short; another, that they should end well; a third, that all should take a part in their recital; a fourth, that any one who was tired might be allowed to go out of the room.

Poor James! these stipulations would have been `rather discouraging to a mind of less enterprise than his; but he commenced his task, nevertheless, with considerable energy; and whether he had his

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