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Maria. No, but I do not think mother will be angry. I am not much hurt.
William. Ah, well! there is mischief enough done. We shall be worse off than you before the day is over.
I would not be sorry to be you, and escape punishment.
Robert. Here is a corner of the pictureframe broken off. Now, William, you must not put it up as it is. Willium. Well, get
and mend it. But do make haste ! You do not seem in any hurry, and there is no telling who may come in.
Adelaide. I really think it would be better to go and tell mother exactly all we have done, and how the accident happened. Maria's head is sadly cut, and I should like something to put on it.
William. Take her to Susan, then, and ask her not to tell. Robert and I will put up the picture again, while you are gone. There is really no great harm done.
Robert. Then why should you be in such a hurry to get all away and hide it? I would rather be punished than conceal it like this. Here, you have torn off the corner of my handkerchief in getting it off the screen. We must attend to Maria first. See how much she is hurt, poor child! She is quite pale, and I am sure she is in great pain, though she does bear it so patiently.
Robert ran out of the room without further question, and made his way into the drawing-room where his mother was sitting. His terrified and eager look prepared her for the news of the accident, and she was soon in the midst of the scene of confusion.
Before asking any questions, she took Maria to her room, and bathed her head. Then having carefully bound up the wound, she returned to the other children and commenced the examination.
William, during her absence, had disentangled the screen from its trappings, and put it by in its case, and now he stood forward eagerly to tell his tale.
William. We hung a string on that hook, aunt, and the hook came out and the picture fell. I am afraid the corner of the frame is broken, but some glue will soon set that to rights. Shall I call John to drive in the nail ?
Mrs. Seymour. No, stay a moment. How could the picture break this bookcase door?
Robert. Let me tell you all, mother. We were talking of the punkahs or fans they have in India, and at last we resolved to make one, and we took the leaf of the folding-screen and tied it across the room by ropes; and as William and I were pulling it backward and forward, the hook gave way, as you see, and the picture fell.
Mrs. Seymour. You know well you, should not have touched the screen, as it is not one of your toys; nor should you have attempted anything so dangerous with the younger children below. I believe that the hurt Maria has received will lead you to more consideration for her in future, but I must also teach you more care of my property. I cannot allow you to play in this room for the remainder of the week, and I shall expect you
pay for mending the broken glass from your pocket-money. William, I want to speak to you in my room.
William followed with quailing heart, and took the seat which his aunt pointed to beside her; but when he looked into her face, he saw no severe anger there, but a calm and settled grief as she first broke the silence.
Mrs. Seymour. I am pained, my dear boy, with the evident attempt you have been making to conceal from me what you
had done this afternoon. You have been led, by your fear of me and anxiety to avoid punishment, into a fault much more serious than the careless use of my furniture. Do you know what I mean?
William. I did not tell a lie, aunt.
said was strictly and exactly true, but it was not all the truth. Part was conce
ncealed, as you well know, to serve a purpose of your own.
This is as much deception as an actual lie. But I want to speak to you
of the cause of this; for, indeed, dear William, it grieves me to see that your feelings toward me are those of fear, rather than of love. Your dear parents are far away in India, and you have no one to take their place but your uncle and me.
We wish to guide and correct you in your conduct, and to prepare you to be hereafter a happy and useful man; but if you do not help us, by giving us your love and confidence, we can do but little. William. I do love you, aunt, I ani
Indeed I do!