Gateway to the Classics: The Seasons: Spring by Jane Marcet
The Seasons: Spring by  Jane Marcet

Trundling a Hoop

T HE next morning, Willy went out to walk with his Mamma, in a large public garden. As they were walking they met his friend Harry, who was trundling a hoop.—"What, have not you got a hoop?" said he to Willy: "all the boys have hoops, now that the weather is fine and the ground dry." His Mamma promised to buy him one. In the mean time Willy was so much delighted to see how well Harry trundled his hoop, and so impatient to know if he could do it as well himself, that he begged Harry would lend it him to try. Harry very willingly lent him the hoop. "But," said he, "if you have never trundled a hoop before, you will not find it so easy as you think it is." Willy was in such a hurry to trundle the hoop, that, instead of asking Harry which was the right way to set about it, he began knocking it about with the stick: but, every time he struck it, instead of rolling along, it fell to the ground.

"Why, what a stupid boy you are!" cried Harry; "you cannot trundle a hoop at all; it is no use lending it to you."

Willy coloured up. He felt a little ashamed, and a little angry; for he did not think it fair to find so much fault with him, when he had just told him he would find it difficult; but he forgot to think that, having been told so, he should have asked Harry to show him how to strike the hoop, instead of knocking it about at random.

His Mother then said to Harry, "He cannot know how to trundle a hoop until he has learnt: try to teach him, and if he cannot learn, then I shall think him stupid."

Harry was very willing to teach him: but, though he had learnt how to trundle a hoop himself, he was quite at a loss how to teach Willy; so Mamma was obliged to come to his help. She showed him that the hoop should be held quite upright; for that, if it leaned on one side, it would fall on that side to the ground.

Willy tried again and again; but the hoop would always lean on one side, and when he raised it on that side, it leaned on the other, and so fell to the ground. Willy was vexed: he was afraid that his Mamma would think him stupid, because he could not learn: but she called out, when it fell, "Never mind, Willy; try again; don't give it up."

So Willy tried again; and, to his great joy, the hoop, at last, rolled on straight before him; and as it was going down hill, it went on without being struck again. Willy, quite delighted, ran after it as fast as he could go, without thinking that there was great danger of falling, if he ran fast down hill. At last he could not stop himself; and just when he had reached the bottom, both he and the hoop tumbled down together.

He gave himself rather a hard blow; but his Mamma was soon by his side, and, picking him up, laughed, and said, "Well, Willy, which is most hurt, you or the hoop?" This amused Willy, who was very near crying; so he thought he had better laugh and joke too; and said, "I am the most hurt; for, you know, Mamma, the hoop is not an animal, so it cannot feel.

"Very true, Willy; and what is a hoop? do you think it is a vegetable?"

"No, that it is not," said Willy; "for it is not a tree, nor a flower, nor a fruit. So, Mamma, it is not a plant, nor a bit of a plant either."

"Yes, it is," said his Mother. "The hoop is made of part of a tree; so you see that it is a bit of a plant. When a tree is cut down, and the outside bark peeled off, all the inside is wood. Now, if the carpenter cuts a long, smooth, thin, narrow piece of wood, like this," said she, showing the hoop—but Willy interrupted her, saying, "This hoop is not long, but round?"  "It was a long slip of wood first, my dear; but then the carpenter took hold of the two ends, and bent them till they met; he then fastened them together. Look, Willy," said she, "here is the place where the two ends of the slip of wood are joined to make a round hoop."

"How nicely they join, Mamma! If you had not shown me the place, I should never have found it out."

"It is very plain to see, but you did not observe it: if you had looked for it, you would easily have found it out; but you looked at the hoop only to see how it trundled. Now, my dear, give it back to Harry, for we must go home."

"So soon?" asked Willy: "that is a pity! I should like to stay and play a little longer."

"Well, one turn more; and then, to-morrow, if I have time, we will go to the toy-shop to buy a hoop, and then you and Harry can trundle your hoops together."

"Oh, how I wish it was to-morrow now!" cried Willy. He then thanked Harry for lending him the hoop; and he could think of nothing else all the way home. "I wonder why a hoop is not an animal, Mamma," said he; "it runs about as well as the cat or Alpin."

"It does not run, Willy, because it has no legs: it rolls along if you strike it with a stick; but it cannot move by itself, as animals do, because it is not alive."

"I wish it had legs," said Willy, "for then it would stand still sometimes; but now I must keep beating it all the while with the stick, or else it stops, and then tumbles down."

"If it had legs, you could not trundle it, Willy: the legs would strike against the ground, and prevent its rolling on."

"Oh, then, I should not like it to have legs; but it might stand still without legs, like that great stone: see, Mamma, it stands so still that I cannot move it," said Willy trying with both his hands to turn it over.

"Should you like not to be able to move your hoop?"

"Oh dear, no; all the fun is to make it run."

"Then you must not wish it to be like that stone, which is too heavy for you to move, and which will not roll about, because it is not round. A hoop must, for little boys to be able to trundle well, be both light and round; and then it is not easy to make it stand still; but if you take great pains it can be done; as I will show you when you have your new hoop."

Willy was very impatient for the day to be over, and for the morrow to come. "I wish, Mr. Sun," cried he, "you would move a little faster, and get you gone to the other countries; but then you must make haste back again; for I do long so for to-morrow, to go and buy a hoop." At length the day ended, and the morrow seemed to Willy to come very quickly; for he slept through the whole of the night. But, alas! the sun was not to be seen: it was hidden behind thick black clouds, which covered all the sky, and were pouring down in rain upon the ground.

Poor Willy looked almost as dismal as the weather. "Do you think it will rain all day long, Mamma?" said he, in a pitiful tone. "I cannot tell, my dear; but if it clears up, I fear it will be too dirty for us to walk out. This was no comfort for Willy; but he resolved he would not let his Mamma find out how much he was vexed. "What shall I do Mamma, now we cannot go out?" She looked at him, to see if he bore his disappointment with courage; and observed that there were no tears in his eyes, though his voice was rather fretful.

"Suppose, my dear, that you were to fetch your book and read your lesson."

"Read now, Mamma, instead of playing with my hoop? oh dear, how tiresome!"

"Well," replied his Mother, "I only proposed it, because you asked me what you should do; I leave you the choice, whether you will read or not." Willy went towards the drawer in which his books were kept; but he did not skip or run, as he usually did, but walked slowly. His Mamma looked after him, and was glad to find that he chose to read, though he did not do it with a very good grace. However, as he was not in a merry mood, he did not look about him so often as he generally did, and the lesson went off tolerably well. As soon as it was over, Mamma rang the bell, and ordered the carriage.

"Where are you going in the carriage, Mamma?" enquired he eagerly.

She replied that she was going to pay a visit.

"And is that all?" said he, looking again downcast.

"No," replied she, smiling, "it is not all; so, after the visit, I mean to go—guess where?"

"Oh, to the toy-shop!" cried he, brightening up, "and you will take me with you?"

"Yes, my dear: your patience has been tried to-day, and you have tried to bear it as well as you could, so you deserve to be rewarded." How glad Willy was that he had not cried; he was going to buy his hoop, his Mamma was pleased with him, and he jumped about for joy.

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