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Jane Marcet

Another Snowball

As soon as Mamma was ready, after breakfast, she called Willy, and said, "Before we go out, one thing I must tell you, Willy—when I let you bring home a snowball yesterday, it was to amuse you and make you happy, not to make you cry, and even something worse, Willy."

"I know what you mean, Mamma," said Willy, colouring; "but if you will let me make another snowball, I promise that it shall not make me naughty any more, even if it melts again."

"It is easy to promise," replied his Mamma; "but do you think you will be able to keep your promise, if you should again lose a snowball? You are but a little boy, Willy, and I doubt whether you can command yourself yet."

"Command myself, Mamma! how can I do that? I know that you command me, and Papa commands me; but how can I command myself?"

"Suppose that you felt as if you were going to be out of temper, or to cry, you should say to yourself, or think to yourself,—'Willy, you must not cry, you must not be cross; it is wrong to cry, it is wrong to be naughty;'—that is the way to command yourself—but that is not all, you must also know how to obey when you command."

"Oh, Mamma, I know how to obey commands; I am used to obey you and Papa, so I shall know how to obey myself."

"Well, my dear, we shall try; but I assure you it is not very easy for a little boy of your age to be able to command himself; and to keep a promise."

"Indeed, Mamma," said Willy, "I am not such a very little boy; you know, I shall be four years old next birth-day; and I am three years older than Sophy; and Ann sometimes says that I am a great big boy."

"Whether you are big or little I do not much care; but whether you are good or naughty I mind a great deal."

"Well, Mamma, only try, and you will see."

"I will, my dear," replied his Mamma.

They then went out, and found that a great deal more snow had fallen in the night, which made it so deep on the ground that Willy could hardly lift up his feet to walk through it, and when he tried to run, down he was in the midst of it; but this was only fun to him, for the snow was as soft as a feather bed: he scrambled up again as well as he could, when something came and knocked him down again. It was a good hard blow he got, but still it did not hurt him; and when he looked up, he saw that it was a great lump of snow which had fallen from the branch of a tree over his head.

"Indeed, my dear, we must not stay here," cried his Mamma. "I shall have my bonnet and cloak spoiled more even than if the snow was falling from the clouds, for then it comes in light flakes; but from the trees it falls in great masses." So she took Willy to a part of the walk where there were no trees, and there he made his snowball, and brought it home, and put it out at window: he would gladly have kept the sash of the window open, but this Ann would not allow; so he stood at the window watching his ball through the panes of glass, and he saw there was no water in the plate, so he thought to himself—"My ball is safe; it does not melt; I shall keep it a great long while to play with;" and he jumped about for joy, and once or twice, when Ann was busy about the room, he ventured to open the sash for a moment to feel his ball, and it was quite hard, and so cold, "so very cold, that I am sure it is not melting," said he.

The worst of it was, that when night came the shutters were shut, and he could see his ball no longer. He wished sadly to take it in, and could not help thinking it would be safer within doors, than left out there all alone, in the cold and the dark. He asked Ann, but she fell a laughing: "The cold is just what suits it, my dear; if you take it in, it will be sure to melt as it did yesterday." So Willy was obliged to make up his mind to let it remain out all night; but when he went to bed, and had wished his Papa and Mamma, and Ann, good night, he went to the window, and opening a fold of the shutter, said, "Good night, snowball; now mind you don't melt before to-morrow morning." But, alas! the poor snowball did not mind, or rather it could not mind; for the next morning the sun shone very bright, and its rays fell full upon the snowball; and, though it was winter, the rays were warm enough to begin melting the snowball: first they melted the surface, that is, the outside, and made the snowball quite wet; then the water which came from the melted snow dribbled down into the plate, and the sunbeams, which became warmer as the sun rose higher in the sky, melted the next surface, and every surface that was melted the ball became smaller and smaller, till, when Willy awoke and got up, it was dwindled away, so that it was no larger than an apple. Poor Willy was wofully disappointed: the colour came into his cheeks, and the tears into his eyes, when he suddenly recollected the promise he made his Mamma, not to put himself out of temper about the second snowball; so he tried all he could, and winked his eyes to prevent the tears from falling; and he said to Ann, who was dressing him, "Now, I am not naughty about the snowball, am I?"

"No," replied she; "you bear it like a man."

This praise gave him spirits and as soon as he was dressed, he ran to his Mamma, told her that his ball was almost quite melted, but that he had not cried about it, nor even been out of temper.

"I am very glad of that, my love," said Mamma, taking him on her knees and kissing him.

"Now I see that you can remember your promise, and keep it, I shall trust you another time." And Willy thought how much happier he was when his Mamma kissed and caressed him than when she was vexed and angry with him, as she was when he cried for the loss of the first snowball.