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

The Toy‑Shop

T HE carriage soon came to the door: they got in, and drove to a house, to pay the visit. The lady whom his Mamma was going to see happened to be out, so they went on directly to the toy-shop. When the carriage stopped, and John opened the door, Willy was in such a hurry to get out of the carriage and into the shop, that he had very nearly fallen down the steps.

He had often heard of the beauties of a toy-shop from his playmate Harry; and he had sometimes, when he was walking out with Ann, and passing the shop, stood still wondering and admiring the different toys in the shop window; but he had never been within a toy-shop before. He was so much surprised at the number of toys of all sorts, which he saw when he entered, that he stood quite still, and looked as if he was taking no notice of any of them: he did not even hear the shopwoman, who asked him what toy he would wish to have. His Mother, therefore, answered for him, that he came to buy a hoop.

The shopwoman then took down a large parcel of hoops which hung up on a high peg: they were of different sizes; and Willy at length seemed to awake from his wonder, when his Mamma told him to choose one. But, instead of looking at the hoop, he cried out, "Look, Mamma, at that great rocking-horse: how pretty it is! and here is a little tiny coach with two horses; and oh! look, look, here is a doll in a little kitchen, making-believe to cook the dinner: I should like to have that better than the hoop."

"Well, my dear, you may choose; but if you take the kitchen you can only play with it in-doors, and it will not move about; it can only stand still to be played with, and you do not much like standing still:"

"Oh, but I should like to stand still to see this doll cook the dinner!"

"You know that she is not alive, Willy; so she cannot even make-believe to cook a dinner; she only looks as if she were going to do so."

"And you think I should soon be tired of it, then, Mamma?" asked Willy, who was used to trust to his Mamma's opinion more than to his own, because he knew that it was more often right.

"I do think you would," replied she.

"Well, but then the rocking-horse, the great big rocking-horse!"

"That I cannot buy for you, my dear, because you are not old enough to ride so large a rocking-horse alone, and you would not enjoy it much if you were obliged to be held on all the time you rode."

"No," said he; "but then the coach and horses; I could take them out of doors, and draw them about, and show them to Harry."

"But after Harry had looked at them," replied she, "and drawn them about a little, he would be too busy with his hoop to stay with you; and, perhaps, he would say, 'I wish you had bought a hoop, Willy, and then we could have trundled them together, and tried which could do it best; but I cannot stay for your tiny coach and horses, they move so slowly; so good-by, Willy,' and off he would go, rolling along his hoop, and running after it as fast as he could run."

"Oh, no, Mamma," cried Willy; "I will go with him, and I will have a hoop."

His Mamma chose one, and a little stick of a proper size for a child of his age. She was then going out of the shop, but Willy hung back; he could not bear to leave so many beautiful toys.

"Look there, Mamma," said he, "and there: pointing to different toys; they are all prettier than my hoop."

"I gave you leave to choose, my dear," said she, "and you chose the hoop, which, I think, was the best choice you could make; but now I cannot allow you to change your mind, which would be silly of you." So she took hold of his hand, and they left the shop. They no sooner reached the Park, than they saw Harry trundling his hoop.

"There he is," cried Willy, who no longer thought of any thing but the pleasure he should have in showing Harry his new hoop, and in trundling it with him. The first thing they did was to measure their hoops together, to see which was the largest. Willy's was rather the smaller of the two;—"But that is right," said Harry; "for you are not so old, nor so tall as I am." They then set off together. Harry could keep up his hoop longest, because he had been longer used to trundle one; and therefore knew best how to do it; but Willy was quite pleased, because he did it better and better every time. They met with another little boy, named Charles, who was drawing a little coach and horses; he tried to run with them; but whenever he began to run, the tiny coach overset, and he was obliged to stop to pick it up; whilst the other two boys ran on, and were a great way before him. At last he was so tired of picking up his coach, and longed so much to run with the hoops, that he asked his nurse to take care of his toy, and let him run with Willy and Harry. The nurse consented; indeed, she was very glad that he should take a good run to warm himself, for he was quite chilled with loitering after his coach and horses. However, when he got up to Harry and Willy he had no hoop to play with; and he could only look on and see them play with their hoops, and long to have one himself. A little while after, when Charles was not near them, Willy stopped and said,—"Harry, what do you think?"

"Well, what?" said Harry.

"Why, do you know that I wanted to buy a coach and horses just like Charles's, instead of a hoop; now I am so glad I did not."

"Yes, indeed," said Harry; "poor fun we should have had together, you with your drawling coach, and I with my hoop. You would always have been left behind, as Charles was:—those toys are only fit for babies, or little girls to draw about the nursery. If you had bought one, you would have been as sorry as Charles is now. I dare say he would be very glad to change his coach for a hoop."

"I should not like to change at all," said Willy, "but I should like to lend my hoop to him a little while."

Just then Charles came up to them, and Willy offered him his hoop; Charles was quite pleased, and as he knew how to trundle it, he ran on with Harry. Willy, who was a little tired with running, stayed behind. He did not think, as he had done the day before,—How sorry I am that I have not a hoop! but he thought, How happy Charles is with my hoop! and he was very glad of that. Charles's nurse then came up, with the tiny coach, and offered it to Willy; saying,—"As you have lent him your hoop, it is but fair you should play with his coach and horses."

Willy hesitated; he had rather taken a dislike to a coach and horses; but when the nurse pointed out to him the harness and the driver, and the little door that could open and shut, Willy's dislike went away, and he played with it with great pleasure, till Charles returned him his hoop. He had taken two or three runs with it along with Harry, when his Mamma called him to go home.

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