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The Water-Lily
by [?]

My father and mother were gone out for the day, and had left me charge of the children. It was very hot, and they kept up a continual fidget. I bore it patiently for some time, for children will be restless in hot weather, but at length I requested that they would get something to do.

“Why don’t you work, or paint, or read, Hatty?” I demanded of my little sister.

“I’m tired of always grounding those swans,” said Harriet, “and my crochet is so difficult; I seem to do it quite right, and yet it comes wrong.”

“Then why don’t you write your diary?”

“Oh, because Charlie won’t write his.”

“A very bad reason; his not writing leaves you the more to say; besides, I thought you promised mamma you would persevere if she would give you a book.”

“And so we did for a long time,” said Charlie; “why, I wrote pages and pages of mine. Look here!”

So saying, he produced a copy-book with a marbled cover, and showed me that it was about half-full of writing in large text.

“If you wrote all that yourself, I should think you might write more.”

“Oh, but I am so tired of it, and besides, this is such a very hot day.”

“I know that, and to have you leaning on my knee makes me no cooler; but I have something for you to do just now, which I think you will like.”

“Oh, what is it, sister? May we both do it?”

“Yes, if you like. You may go into the field to gardener, and ask him to get me a water-lily out of the stream; I want one to finish my sketch with.”

“You really do want one? you are not pretending, just to give us something to do?”

“No, I really want one; you see these in the glass begin to wither.”‘

“Make haste then, Hatty. Sister, you shall have the very best lily we can find.”

Thereupon they ran off, leaving me to inspect the diary. Its first page was garnished with the resemblance of a large swan with curly wings; from his beak proceeded the owner’s name in full, and underneath were his lucubrations. The first few pages ran as follows:

Wednesday. To-day mamma said, as all the others were writing diaries, I might do one too if I liked, so I said I should, and I shall write it every day till I am grown up. I did a long division sum, a very hard one. We dined early to-day, and we had a boiled leg of mutton and an apple pudding, but I shall not say another time what we had for dinner, because I shall have plenty of other things to say.”

Friday. Gardener has been mending the palings; he gave me five nails; they were very good ones, such as I like. He said if any boy that he knew was to pull nails out of his wall trees when he’d done them, he should certainly tell their papa of them. Aunt Fanny came and took away Sophy to spend a fortnight. Uncle Tom came too; he said I was a fine boy, and gave me a shilling.”

Saturday. My half-holiday. Hurrah! I went and bought two hoop-sticks for me and Hatty; they cost fourpence each.”

Sunday. On Sunday I went to church.”

Monday. To-day I had a cold, and after school I was just going to bowl my hoop when Orris said to mamma it rained, and ma said she couldn’t think of my going out in the rain, and so I couldn’t go. After that Orris called me to come into her room, and gave me a fourpenny piece and two pictures, so now I’ve got eightpence. Orris is very kind, but sometimes she thinks she ought to command, because she is the eldest.”

Tuesday. I shall not write my diary every day, unless I like.”

Wednesday. I dined late with papa and mamma and the elder ones: it rained. If the others won’t tell me what to say, of course I don’t know.”