by Charlotte Maria Tucker
Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. Proverbs 20:13
“Oh, Geordie, Geordie! Isn't this the time for work and not for play? Little kitty can lap up her milk without your talking to her and to watch her taking her breakfast won't help you to get your task ready for school."
So said Jeannie Down, as she laid a soft touch upon the shoulder of her idle little brother. As Geordie did not reply, she went on. "Where is your book, Geordie dear?" What do I hear you say--you don't know and you don't care? I am sure that my boy would not like to grow up a dunce, and not be able to read a nice book to us on winter's evenings, when we are blocked up by the snow. Ah! that's right. You've picked up your book and are going to set steadily to work. A boy mustn't be idle like a kitten. I want you to get learning now, while you're little, that you may grow up to be a wise and a useful man and honestly earn your living and be a comfort to father. Would it not be nice if you with your labor and I with my knitting could support him when he grows old and keep him in comfort in this dear little cottage amongst his own native hills? Father is not so strong as he used to be and he feels labor much more. Father has worked hard for us, Geordie. We will, I hope, one day work hard for him and so we must make the best use of our time now, my boy, and not waste it in nothing but play."
Jeannie spoke in that soft, winning tone, which somehow or other her little brother and sister could never resist. They were motherless children and yet they could scarcely be called so, for Jeannie, the eldest of the family, was "Little Mother" to the rest. She was not yet eleven years of age and yet already what a blessing she was in her home! Who kept the cottage so tidy and clean, and made the fire and baked the bread, and knitted her father's gray woollen socks, and mended his clothes so neatly? Even Bessie could answer "Little Mother." Who washed and tended and fed the baby and rocked him to sleep in her arms and never was cross or impatient when he kept her awake at night? Was it not "Little Mother"?
And who took care of Geordie and Bessie, taught them, sang to them, told them pretty stories, and pleaded with them so gently when they were idle or naughty? Was it not "dear Little Mother"?
"I can't think how you manage all those children," her neighbor Maggie Macfie, who was fourteen years old, had said to Jeannie the evening before. "Jock and Donald will never mind a word that I say, and they're for ever getting into mischief. Though I'm sure that I'm always at them and do all that I can to keep them in order with a slap or a box on the ear!"
"I find a whisper in the ear better than a box on it," laughed Jeannie, "and I fancy sometimes that a smile does more than a slap."
"The children are my torments!" muttered Maggie.
"The children are my darlings!" thought Jeannie.
It is not the rough angry wind that makes the little buds open and teaches the birds to sing. It is the warm and kindly sunshine that comes smiling down and melts the hard ice and sets the frozen stream again flowing and sparkling in light.
Little Geordie learned his lesson nicely that morning, for Jeannie took the book and helped him. And then he set off for school with his book and slate in the neat bag which "Little Mother" had made, and in his hand the nice biscuit which "Little Mother" had baked.
"Mind you don't loiter by the way, dear," said Jeannie.
Geordie had to pass a stream, and on its bank he saw Jock and Donald sitting fishing for minnows with a bit of string and a crooked pin at the end.
"Hello, Geordie!" shouted Jock. "Come and have a bit of fun with us."
"No, I must go straight to school," answered Geordie. "Jeannie bade me not stop by the way."
"Who cares for what a girl says!" cried Jock. "Maggie bade us go straight to school, but I don't mind angering Maggie," added the naughty child, with a saucy laugh.
"But I do mind vexing Little Mother," said Geordie, half to himself. "She is always trying to give me pleasure. I couldn't bear to give her pain."
Jeannie had great influence over the children, for hers was the rule of love. No frown was ever seen on her brow, no blow ever came from her hand, no hasty word from her lips. And what was the secret of this? What made Jeannie so gentle and loving, so patient and kind?
It was the love of God in her heart which, like a deep pure spring in the soul, overflowed in love and kindness to all around her. If Jeannie took pleasure in tending and teaching her little brother and sister, and trying to lead them in the right way, it was because it was her delight to obey the heavenly Master, who hath said, Feed My lambs (Joh 21:15). What she did, she did for His sake. What she did, she did by His help. And so the life of the "Little Mother" was holy and happy, as well as busy and useful.
Sweet the song of the robin in the bright spring morning, but sweeter sounded the voice of Jeannie as she taught her children the Sabbath hymn. Bright were the roses which climbed up the cottage wall and peeped in at the window. But brighter was the smile of the "Little Mother" as she rocked the baby on her knee. Winter would come one day and silence the song of the robin and wither the roses and darken the sky, but sweet as ever would be Jeannie's hymn and bright as ever that smile of love which gladdened the home of THE "LITTLE MOTHER"!
Edited by Pam Takahashi
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