Remember the little children’s book I told you about on Thursday?



Here’s the story of the pet lamb (with a glimpse, too, at nineteenth-century travel by open carriage):

One bleak, boisterous afternoon in March, a little boy, called Alfred Herbert, was seated by his papa in the gig, driving homewards. Mr. Herbert was a country surgeon, and had been making a long round among his patients. There was nothing that Alfred and his sister Lucy liked better than to go out in this way with their papa; and he often took one of them; but this time he had been obliged to go farther than he expected, and so it was getting dark and very cold, and they had still a long way to go. Alfred was only five years old. The wind blew in his face, and his cape would open and fly back. Then his toes began to ache and smart; his fingers were quite stiff; and as to his nose, it was as red as a poppy and as cold as ice.

“How long shall we be now, papa?” he had asked about ten times. At last it began to snow, and then, when he felt the soft, cold flakes of snow come patting against his cheeks and resting on his poor, frozen nose, he could bear it no longer, and began to cry.

Just then they were passing a hedge, and a cow put its head over, and gave a loud moo — moo. It was so near that it made Bobby the pony start, and made Alfred stop crying. “Why, the cow seems to have something to say to us,” said his papa. “What does it say?” asked Alfred, in a lamentable voice. “Don’t you think it sounded like ‘Moo, moo, how do you do?'” said his papa. At this Alfred laughed so heartily that he quite forgot the cold, and went on merrily for a quarter of an hour.

But next he began to feel hungry, and to think of the warm parlor at home, with tea all ready, and the bright fire, and his mama; and then he remembered his aching toes again, and very nearly began to cry a second time; but his papa said, “Make haste, Bobby! Trot  along and take us home quickly; we shall soon be there now.” So Alfred commanded himself, and did not cry.

At this minute a little boy stopped them at the corner of a lane, and said he had been waiting for a long time to speak to Mr. Herbert as he passed; for he said his poor father was very ill, and wanted help sadly. His head was very bad, and he had had no rest for two nights. “Poor man!” cried Alfred; “let us go and make him well, papa.”

Mr. Herbert turned off the road, and went to the poor man’s cottage; and before he went in he told Alfred to run up and down the lane twenty times, and then get into the gig again. So Alfred ran up and down twenty times with all his might, and as he was climbing up the step again his papa came out. “Will the poor man soon be better?” he asked directly. “Yes, I think he will,” said Mr. Herbert. So Alfred was very glad; and then his papa wrapped him up so warm and snug in a cloak, that he called it his nest, and felt quite comfortable, and did not care for the cold at all.

On they went again; and now they came to the common that was just outside the town where they lived. The wind blew across the wide common, and whistled among the thick furze-bushes. The clouds scudded away over the sky, and the moon went sailing along, sometimes hiding her face behind them, then shining out round and clear. Alfred kept watching the bright moon. “Here comes a great black cloud to hide it,” he cried. “See how the black cloud’s edges turn all light and silvery as they come near the moon,” said his papa. “Now the moon has gone to bed behind a cloud,” cried Alfred. “Ah! There it comes again!” “And look,” said his papa, “how the white snow sparkles all over when it comes again.” They they made a little story about the furze-bushes; that they were all getting ready for a dance on the heath, and were dressed out in white, sprinkled with diamonds.

… to be continued tomorrow.