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them half-a-crown; it will support them, with care, for a few days : to be sure we may expect the weather to be very severe shortly, for the air is frosty, and the next month, November, is usually very tempestuous; in which case I know not what will become of them, for barns and sheds afford but poor shelter against the inclemency of the weather.” Oh dear!” cried Mary,
" half-acrown won't do much service; for when that is gone they must perish.
« I wish we had not so foolishly spent our Michaelmas quarter's allowance,” replied Charles; “mine all went for bats, balls, kites, and tops ; yours to see rareeshows, dancing-dogs, wax-work, and monkeys; things that can do neither of us the least good; whereas, if we had it now, it would support these poor children through all the bad weather.”
“ I wish the man had not brought such foolish things to Reading,” replied Mary, " or that Mrs. Bennet had refused to let me go to see them ; but 'tis of no use to
wish now; if I knew where to find these poor things at Christmas, I would send them every farthing."
Extravagance frequently throws us into unpleasant circumstances,” said Mr. Richardson coldly.
“ I feel it, Sir," replied Charles, “and cannot help, for a moment, placing myself in the situation of that poor boy, and thinking what I should feel to see my dear Mary suffer like his sister."
“ The miseries to which they are exposed are indeed dreadful,” answered Mr. Richardson," and cold and hunger among the least ; at present they appear innocent; but may not the companions they must necessarily meet with in their peregrinations, such as gypsies and other vagabonds, work on their poverty andinexperience, and corrupt their hearts, though naturally honest, until by degrees they convert them to midnight robbers and barbarous assassins ?"
“ Merciful goodness ! 'how horrible !" cried Mary.
“ I wish with all my heart I was a woman."
" What then, my dear girl ?” returned Mr. Richardson, in a voice of cheerful kindness.
" Why, then, Sir, I would shelter them from danger; they should never wander again."
“ Heaven forbid you should be prevented in so praise-worthy a resolve. We will inquire more particularly into their story, and if we find they have spoken truth, I will advance to you, Charles, a sum sufficient to apprentice the boy to some trade, by which he may gain a liv. ing; and for the girl, Mary shall place her at the village-school, near our country-house, where she may occasionally superintend her improvement, until she can be rendered useful in the family; and you will both have the pleasure of contemplating, that, in all probability, you have preserved to society two worthy members, who, but for ence, might have proved a scourge to their fellows, and a disgrace to human
“ What an enchanting thought !” exclaimed Charles ; « but for you, my dear Sir, we should not have enjoyed it; for though they interested me at the moment, I should soon have forgotten them."
“ And had it not been for you, papa, said Mary, I should have sent them halfa-crown, and thought myself very gene'rous, when in reality it would have done them no. essential service, while, as you have settled it, they are safe from danger ; and if they are good, we shall have the pleasure of thinking that we have contributed towards making them so.--Ah, if you had not questioned them we should not have enjoyed this satisfaction.”
“ A false pride, my dear children, frequently deprives us of the highest enjoyments; how erroneously do they judge, who live only to gratify their own caprice; the sunshine of their benevolence never extending farther than the shadow of their own persons.-But it grows late; we will dispose of your new charge, and pursue our journey."
Mr. Richardson ordered the children to be sent up; when he informed them of the determination in their favour, and received in return every acknowledgment which the grateful simplicity of their hearts could suggest.
He then gave them in charge to the waiter, desiring him to send them by the first conveyance that passed towards Acton, where he had lately hired a small house to retire occasionally with his chil. dren.