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The One Moss-Rose   By: (1822-1899)

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[Illustration: "STOP, STOP, DON'T CUT IT!"]





[Illustration: Emblem]




[Illustration: L]EONARD DOBBIN had a humble cottage upon Squire Courtenay's estate; but although the cottage was humble, it was always kept neat and clean, and was a pattern of everything that a poor man's dwelling should be. The white washed walls, the smoothly raked gravel walk, and the sanded floor, were so many evidences that Leonard was a careful and a thrifty man; and while some of his poorer neighbours laughed, and asked where was the use of being so precise, they could not help respecting Dobbin, nevertheless.

The great, and, indeed, almost the only pleasure upon which the labourer allowed himself to spend any time, was the little flower garden in front of the house. The garden was Dobbin's pride; and the pride of the garden was a moss rose tree, which was the peculiar treasure of the labourer's little crippled son, who watched it from the window, and whenever he was well enough, crept out to water it, and pick off any stray snail which had ventured to climb up its rich brown leaves. No mother ever watched her little infant with more eager eyes than Jacob Dobbin did his favourite rose; and no doubt he thought all the more of it because he had so few pleasures in life. Jacob Dobbin had no fine toys, he could not take any long walks, nor could he play at cricket, or any such games, therefore his rose tree was all the more precious; in fact, in his estimation there was nothing to compare with it in the world.

There was a great difference between poor Jacob's lot and that of Squire Courtenay's son. James Courtenay had plenty of toys; he had also a pony, and a servant to attend him whenever he rode out; when the summer came, he used often to go out sailing with the squire in his yacht; and there was scarce anything on which he set his heart which he was not able to get.

With all these pleasures, James Courtenay was not, however, so happy a youth as poor Jacob Dobbin. Jacob, though crippled, was contented his few pleasures were thoroughly enjoyed, and "a contented mind is a continual feast;" whereas James was spoiled by the abundance of good things at his command; he was like the full man that loatheth the honeycomb; and he often caused no little trouble to his friends, and, indeed, to himself also, by the evil tempers he displayed.

Many a time did James Courtenay's old nurse, who was a God fearing woman, point out to him that the world was not made for him alone; that there were many others to be considered as well as himself; and that although God had given him many things, still he was not of a bit more importance in His sight than others who had not so much. All this the young squire would never have listened to from any one else; but old Aggie had reared him, and whenever he was laid by with any illness, or was in any particular trouble, she was the one to whom he always fled. "God sometimes teaches people very bitter lessons," said old Aggie one day, when James Courtenay had been speaking contemptuously to one of the servants; "and take care, Master James, lest you soon have to learn one."

Jacob Dobbin had been for some time worse than usual, his cough was more severe, and his poor leg more painful, when his father and he held a long conversation by the side of their scanty fire.

Leonard had made the tea in the old black pot with the broken spout, and Jacob lay on his little settle, close up to the table.

"Father," said Jacob, "I saw the young squire ride by on his gray pony to day, and just then my leg gave me a sore pinch, and I thought, How strange it is that there should be such a difference between folk; he's almost always galloping about, and I'm almost always in bed."

"Poor folk," answered Jacob's father, "are not always so badly off as they suppose; little things make them happy, and little things often make great folk un happy; and let us remember, Jacob, that whatever may be our lot in life, we all have an opportunity of pleasing God, and so obtaining the great reward, which of his mercy, and for Christ's sake, he will give to all those who please him by patient continuance in well doing... Continue reading book >>

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