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The Birthday Present

"Mamma," said Rosamond, after a long silence, "do you know what I have been thinking of all this time?"

"No, my dear.--What?"

"Why, mamma, about my cousin Bell's birthday; do you know what day it is?"

"No, I don't remember."

"Dear mother! don't you remember it's the 22nd of December; and her birthday is the day after to-morrow? Don't you recollect now? But you never remember about birthdays, mamma. That was just what I was thinking of, that you never remember my sister Laura's birthday, or-or-or MINE, mamma."

"What do you mean my dear? I remember your birthday perfectly well."

"Indeed! but you never KEEP it, though."

"What do you mean by keeping your birthday?"

"Oh, mamma, you know very well--as Bell's birthday is kept. In the first place, there is a great dinner."

"And can Bell eat more upon her birthday than upon any other day?"

"No; nor I should not mind about the dinner, except the mince-pies. But Bell has a great many nice things--I don't mean nice eatable things, but nice new playthings, given to her always on her birthday; and everybody drinks her health, and she's so happy."

"But stay, Rosamond, how you jumble things together! Is it everybody's drinking her health that makes her so happy? or the new playthings, or the nice mince pies? I can easily believe that she is happy whilst she is eating a mince pie, or whilst she is playing; but how does everybody's drinking her health at dinner make her happy?"

Rosamond paused, and then said she did not know. "But," added she, "the NICE NEW playthings, mother!"

"But why the nice new playthings? Do you like them only because they are NEW?"

"Not ONLY--_I_ do not like playthings ONLY because they are new; but Bell DOES, I believe--for that puts me in mind--Do you know, mother, she had a great drawer full of OLD playthings that she never used, and she said that they were good for nothing, because they were OLD; but I thought many of them were good for a great deal more than the new ones. Now you shall be judge, mamma; I'll tell you all that was in the drawer."

"Nay, Rosamond, thank you, not just now; I have not time to listen to you."

"Well then, mamma, the day after to-morrow I can show you the drawer. I want you to judge very much, because I am sure I was in the right. And, mother," added Rosamond, stopping her as she was going out of the room, "will you--not now, but when you've time--will you tell me why you never keep my birthday--why you never make any difference between that day and any other day?"

"And will you, Rosamond--not now, but when you have time to think about it--tell me why I should make any difference between your birthday and any other day?"

Rosamond thought, but she could not find out any reason; besides, she suddenly recollected that she had not time to think any longer; for there was a certain work-basket to be finished, which she was making for her cousin Bell, as a present upon her birthday. The work was at a stand for want of some filigree-paper, and, as her mother was going out, she asked her to take her with her, that she might buy some. Her sister Laura went with them.

"Sister," said Rosamond, as they were walking along, "what have you done with your half-guinea?"

"I have it in my pocket."

"Dear! you will keep it for ever in your pocket. You know, my godmother when she gave it to you, said you would keep it longer than I should keep mine; and I know what she thought by her look at the time. I heard her say something to my mother."

"Yes," said Laura, smiling; "she whispered so loud that I could not help hearing her too. She said I was a little miser."

"But did not you hear her say that I was very GENEROUS? and she'll see that she was not mistaken. I hope she'll be by when I give my basket to Bell--won't it be beautiful? There is to be a wreath of myrtle, you know, round the handle, and a frost ground, and then the medallions--"

"Stay," interrupted her sister, for Rosamond, anticipating the glories of her work-basket, talked and walked so fast that she had passed, without perceiving it, the shop where the filigree-paper was to be bought. They turned back. Now it happened that the shop was the corner house of a street, and one of the windows looked out into a narrow lane. A coach full of ladies stopped at the door, just before they went in, so that no one had time immediately to think of Rosamond and her filigree-paper, and she went to the window where she saw her sister Laura looking earnestly at something that was passing in the lane.

Opposite to the window, at the door of a poor-looking house, there was sitting a little girl weaving lace. Her bobbins moved as quick as lightning, and she never once looked up from her work. "Is not she very industrious?" said Laura; "and very honest, too?" added she in a minute afterwards; for just then a baker with a basket of rolls on his head passed, and by accident one of the rolls fell close to the little girl. She took it up eagerly, looked at it as if she was very hungry, then put aside her work, and ran after the baker to return it to him. Whilst she was gone, a footman in a livery, laced with silver, who belonged to the coach that stood at the shop door, as he was lounging with one of his companions, chanced to spy the weaving pillow, which she had left upon a stone before the door. To divert himself (for idle people do mischief often to divert themselves) he took up the pillow, and entangled all the bobbins. The little girl came back out of breath to her work; but what was her surprise and sorrow to find it spoiled. She twisted and untwisted, placed and replaced, the bobbins, while the footman stood laughing at her distress. She got up gently, and was retiring into the house, when the silver laced footman stopped her, saying, insolently, "Sit still, child."

"I must go to my mother, sir," said the child; "besides, you have spoiled all my lace. I can't stay."

"Can't you?" said the brutal footman, snatching her weaving-pillow again, "I'll teach you to complain of me." And he broke off, one after another, all the bobbins, put them into his pocket, rolled her weaving-pillow down the dirty lane, then jumped up behind his mistress' coach, and was out of sight in an instant.

"Poor girl!" exclaimed Rosamond, no longer able to restrain her indignation at this injustice; "poor little girl!"

At this instant her mother said to Rosamond--"Come, now, my dear, if you want this filigree paper, buy it."

"Yes, madam," said Rosamond; and the idea of what her godmother and her cousin Bell would think of her generosity rushed again upon her imagination. All her feelings of pity were immediately suppressed. Satisfied with bestowing another exclamation upon the "Poor little girl!" she went to spend her half-guinea upon her filigree basket. In the meantime, she that was called the "little miser" beckoned to the poor girl, and, opening the window, said, pointing to the cushion, "Is it quite spoiled?"

"Quite! quite spoiled! and I can't, nor mother neither, buy another; and I can't do anything else for my bread." A few, but very few, tears fell as she said this.

"How much would another cost?" said Laura.

"Oh, a great--GREAT deal."

"More than that?" said Laura, holding up her half-guinea.

"Oh, no."

"Then you can buy another with that," said Laura, dropping the half- guinea into her hand; and she shut the window before the child could find words to thank her, but not before she saw a look of joy and gratitude, which gave Laura more pleasure probably than all the praise which could have been bestowed upon her generosity.

Late on the morning of her cousin's birthday, Rosamond finished her work- basket. The carriage was at the door--Laura came running to call her; her father's voice was heard at the same instant; so she was obliged to go down with her basket but half wrapped up in silver paper--a circumstance at which she was a good deal disconcerted; for the pleasure of surprising Bell would be utterly lost if one bit of the filigree should peep out before the proper time. As the carriage went on, Rosamond pulled the paper to one side and to the other, and by each of the four corners.

"It will never do, my dear," said her father, who had been watching her operations. "I am afraid you will never make a sheet of paper cover a box which is twice as large as itself."

"It is not a box, father," said Rosamond, a little peevishly; "it's a basket."

"Let us look at this basket," said he, taking it out of her unwilling hands, for she knew of what frail materials it was made, and she dreaded its coming to pieces under her father's examination. He took hold of the handle rather roughly; when, starting off the coach seat, she cried, "Oh, sir! father! sir! you will spoil it indeed!" said she, with increased vehemence, when, after drawing aside the veil of silver paper, she saw him grasp the myrtle wreathed handle. "Indeed, sir, you will spoil the poor handle."

"But what is the use of THE POOR HANDLE," said her father, "if we are not to take hold of it? And pray," continued he, turning the basket round with his finger and thumb, rather in a disrespectful manner, "pray, is this the thing you have been about all this week? I have seen you all this week dabbling with paste and rags; I could not conceive what you were about. Is this the thing?"

"Yes, sir. You think, then, that I have wasted my time, because the basket is of no use; but then it is a present for my Cousin Bell."

"Your Cousin Bell will be very much obliged to you for a present that is of no use. You had better have given her the purple jar."

"Oh, father! I thought you had forgotten that--it was two years ago; I'm not so silly now. But Bell will like the basket, I know, though it is of no use."

"Then you think Bell is sillier now than you were two years ago,--well, perhaps that is true; but how comes it, Rosamond, now that you are so wise, that you are fond of such a silly person?"

"_I_, father?" said Rosamond, hesitating, "I don't think I am VERY fond of her."

"I did not say VERY fond."

"Well, but I don't think I am at all fond of her."

"But you have spent a whole week in making this thing for her."

"Yes, and all my half guinea besides."

"Yet you think her silly, and you are not fond of her at all; and you say you know this thing will be of no use to her."

"But it is her birthday, sir; and I am sure she will EXPECT something, and everybody else will give her something."

"Then your reason for giving is because she expects you to give her something. And will you, or can you, or should you, always give, merely because others EXPECT, or because somebody else gives?"

"Always?--no, not always."

"Oh, only on birthdays."

Rosamond, laughing: "Now you are making a joke of me, papa, I see; but I thought you liked that people should be generous,--my godmother said that she did."

"So do I, full as well as your godmother; but we have not yet quite settled what it is to be generous."

"Why is it not generous to make presents?" said Rosamond.

"That is the question which it would take up a great deal of time to answer. But, for instance, to make a present of a thing that you know can be of no use to a person you neither love nor esteem, because it is her birthday, and because everybody gives her something, and because she expects something, and because your godmother says she likes that people should be generous, seems to me, my dear Rosamond, to be, since I must say it, rather more like folly than generosity."

Rosamond looked down upon the basket, and was silent. "Then I am a fool, am I?" said she looking up at last.

"Because you have made ONE mistake? No. If you have sense enough to see your own mistakes, and can afterwards avoid them, you will never be a fool."

Here the carriage stopped, and Rosamond recollected that the basket was uncovered.

Now we must observe, that Rosamond's father had not been too severe upon Bell when he called her a silly girl. From her infancy she had been humoured; and at eight years old she had the misfortune to be a spoiled child. She was idle, fretful, and selfish; so that nothing could make her happy. On her birthday she expected, however, to be perfectly happy. Everybody in the house tried to please her, and they succeeded so well, that between breakfast and dinner she had only six fits of crying. The cause of five of these fits no one could discover: but the last, and most lamentable, was occasioned by a disappointment about a worked muslin frock; and accordingly, at dressing time, her maid brought it to her, exclaiming, "See here, miss, what your mamma has sent you on your birthday. Here's a frock fit for a queen--if it had but lace round the cuffs."

"And why has not it lace around the cuffs? mamma said it should."

"Yes, but mistress was disappointed about the lace; it is not come home."

"Not come home, indeed! and didn't they know it was my birthday? But then I say I won't wear it without the lace--I can't wear it without the lace, and I won't."

The lace, however, could not be had; and Bell at length submitted to let the frock be put on.

"Come, Miss Bell, dry your eyes," said the maid who educated her; "dry your eyes, and I'll tell you something that will please you."

"What, then?" said the child, pouting and sobbing.

"Why--but you must not tell that I told you."

"No,--but if I am asked?"

"Why, if you are asked, you must tell the truth, to be sure. So I'll hold my tongue, miss."

"Nay, tell me, though, and I'll never tell--if I AM asked."

"Well, then," said the maid, "your cousin Rosamond is come, and has brought you the most BEAUTIFULLEST thing you ever saw in your life; but you are not to know anything about it till after dinner, because she wants to surprise you; and mistress has put it into her wardrobe till after dinner."

"Till after dinner!" repeated Bell, impatiently; "I can't wait till then; I must see it this minute." The maid refused her several times, till Bell burst into another fit of crying, and the maid, fearing that her mistress would be angry with HER, if Bell's eyes were red at dinner time, consented to show her the basket.

"How pretty!--but let me have it in my own hands," said Bell, as the maid held the basket up out of her reach.

"Oh, no, you must not touch it; for if you should spoil it, what would become of me?"

"Become of you, indeed!" exclaimed the spoiled child, who never considered anything but her own immediate gratification--"Become of YOU, indeed! what signifies that--I sha'n't spoil it; and I will have it in my own hands. If you don't hold it down for me directly, I'll tell that you showed it to me."

"Then you won't snatch it?"

"No, no, I won't indeed," said Bell; but she had learned from her maid a total disregard of truth. She snatched the basket the moment it was within her reach. A struggle ensued, in which the handle and lid were torn off, and one of the medallions crushed inwards, before the little fury returned to her senses.

Calmed at this sight, the next question was, how she should conceal the mischief which she had done. After many attempts, the handle and lid were replaced; the basket was put exactly in the same spot in which it had stood before, and the maid charged the child, "TO LOOK AS IF NOTHING WAS THE MATTER."

We hope that both children and parents will here pause for a moment to reflect. The habits of tyranny, meanness, and falsehood, which children acquire from living with bad servants, are scarcely ever conquered in the whole course of their future lives.

After shutting up the basket they left the room, and in the adjoining passage they found a poor girl waiting with a small parcel in her hand. "What's your business?" said the maid.

"I have brought home the lace, madam, that was bespoke for the young lady."

"Oh, you have, have you, at last?" said Bell; "and pray why didn't you bring it sooner?" The girl was going to answer, but the maid interrupted her, saying--"Come, come, none of your excuses; you are a little idle, good-for-nothing thing, to disappoint Miss Bell upon her birthday. But now you have brought it, let us look at it!"

The little girl gave the lace without reply, and the maid desired her to go about her business, and not to expect to be paid; for that her mistress could not see anybody, BECAUSE she was in a room full of company.

"May I call again, madam, this afternoon?" said the child, timidly.

"Lord bless my stars!" replied the maid, "what makes people so poor, I WONDERS! I wish mistress would buy her lace at the warehouse, as I told her, and not of these folks. Call again! yes, to be sure. I believe you'd call, call, call twenty times for twopence."

However ungraciously the permission to call again was granted, it was received with gratitude. The little girl departed with a cheerful countenance; and Bell teazed her maid till she got her to sew the long wished-for lace upon her cuffs.

Unfortunate Bell!--All dinner time passed, and people were so hungry, so busy, or so stupid, that not an eye observed her favourite piece of finery. Till at length she was no longer able to conceal her impatience, and turning to Laura, who sat next to her, she said, "You have no lace upon your cuffs. Look how beautiful mine is!--is not it? Don't you wish your mamma could afford to give some like it? But you can't get any if she would, for this was made on purpose for me on my birthday, and nobody can get a bit more anywhere, if they would give the world for it."

"But cannot the person who made it," said Laura, "make any more like it?"

"No, no, no!" cried Bell; for she had already learned, either from her maid or her mother, the mean pride which values things not for being really pretty or useful, but for being such as nobody else can procure. "Nobody can get any like it, I say," repeated Bell; "nobody in all London can make it but one person, and that person will never make a bit for anybody but me, I am sure. Mamma won't let her, if I ask her not."

"Very well," said Laura, coolly, "I do not want any of it; you need not be so violent: I assure you that I don't want any of it."

"Yes, but you do, though," said Bell, more angrily.

"No, indeed," said Laura, smiling.

"You do, in the bottom of your heart; but you say you don't to plague me, I know," cried Bell, swelling with disappointed vanity. "It is pretty for all that, and it cost a great deal of money too, and nobody shall have any like it, if they cried their eyes out."

Laura received this declaration in silence--Rosamond smiled; and at her smile the ill-suppressed rage of the spoiled child burst forth into the seventh and loudest fit of crying which had yet been heard on her birthday.

"What's the matter, my pet?" cried her mother; "come to me, and tell me what's the matter." Bell ran roaring to her mother; but no otherwise explained the cause of her sorrow than by tearing the fine lace with frantic gestures from her cuffs, and throwing the fragments into her mother's lap. "Oh! the lace, child!--are you mad?" said her mother, catching hold of both her hands. "Your beautiful lace, my dear love--do you know how much it cost?"

"I don't care how much it cost--it is not beautiful, and I'll have none of it," replied Bell, sobbing; "for it is not beautiful."

"But it is beautiful," retorted her mother; "I chose the pattern myself. Who has put it into your head, child, to dislike it? Was it Nancy?"

"No, not Nancy, but THEM, mamma," said Bell, pointing to Laura and Rosamond.

"Oh, fie! don't POINT," said her mother, putting down her stubborn finger; "nor say THEM, like Nancy; I am sure you misunderstood. Miss Laura, I am sure, did not mean any such thing."

"No, madam; and I did not say any such thing, that I recollect," said Laura, gently. "Oh, no, indeed!" cried Rosamond, warmly, rising in her sister's defence.

No defence or explanation, however, was to be heard, for everybody had now gathered round Bell, to dry her tears, and to comfort her for the mischief she had done to her own cuffs. They succeeded so well, that in about a quarter of an hour the young lady's eyes, and the reddened arches over her eyebrows came to their natural colour; and the business being thus happily hushed up, the mother, as a reward to her daughter for her good humour, begged that Rosamond would now be so good as to produce her "charming present."

Rosamond, followed by all the company, amongst whom, to her great joy, was her godmother, proceeded to the dressing room. "Now I am sure," thought she, "Bell will be surprised, and my godmother will see she was right about my generosity."

The doors of the wardrobe were opened with due ceremony, and the filigree basket appeared in all its glory. "Well, this is a charming present, indeed!" said the godmother, who was one of the company; "MY Rosamond knows how to make presents." And as she spoke, she took hold of the basket, to lift it down to the admiring audience. Scarcely had she touched it, when, lo! the basket fell to the ground, and only the handle remained in her hand. All eyes were fixed upon the wreck. Exclamations of sorrow were heard in various tones; and "Who can have done this?" was all that Rosamond could say. Bell stood in sullen silence, which she obstinately preserved in the midst of the inquiries that were made about the disaster.

At length the servants were summoned, and amongst them, Nancy, Miss Bell's maid and governess. She affected much surprise when she saw what had befallen the basket, and declared that she knew nothing of the matter, but that she had seen her mistress in the morning put it quite safe into the wardrobe; and that, for her part, she had never touched it, or thought of touching it, in her born days. "Nor Miss Bell, neither, ma'am,--I can answer for her; for she never knew of its being there, because I never so much as mentioned it to her, that there was such a thing in the house, because I knew Miss Rosamond wanted to surprise her with the secret; so I never mentioned a sentence of it--did I, Miss Bell?"

Bell, putting on the deceitful look which her maid had taught her, answered boldly, "NO;" but she had hold of Rosamond's hand, and at the instant she uttered this falsehood she squeezed it terribly. "Why do you squeeze my hand so?" said Rosamond, in a low voice; "what are you afraid of?"

"Afraid of!" cried Bell, turning angrily; "I'm not afraid of anything,-- I've nothing to be afraid about."

"Nay, I did not say you had," whispered Rosamond; "but only if you did by accident--you know what I mean--I should not be angry if you did--only say so."

"I say I did not!" cried Bell, furiously; "Mamma, mamma! Nancy! my cousin Rosamond won't believe me! That's very hard. It's very rude, and I won't bear it--I won't."

"Don't be angry, love. Don't," said the maid.

"Nobody suspects you, darling," said her mother; "but she has too much sensibility. Don't cry, love; nobody suspected you. But you know," continued she, turning to the maid, "somebody must have done this, and I must know how it was done. Miss Rosamond's charming present must not be spoiled in this way, in my house, without my taking proper notice of it. I assure you I am very angry about it, Rosamond."

Rosamond did not rejoice in her anger, and had nearly made a sad mistake by speaking aloud her thoughts--"I WAS VERY FOOLISH--" she began and stopped.

"Ma'am," cried the maid, suddenly, "I'll venture to say I know who did it."

"Who?" said everyone, eagerly. "Who?" said Bell, trembling."

"Why, miss, don't you recollect that little girl with the lace, that we saw peeping about in the passage? I'm sure she must have done it; for here she was by herself half an hour or more, and not another creature has been in mistress' dressing-room, to my certain knowledge, since morning. Those sort of people have so much curiosity. I'm sure she must have been meddling with it," added the maid.

"Oh, yes, that's the thing," said the mistress, decidedly. "Well, Miss Rosamond, for your comfort she shall never come into my house again."

"Oh, that would not comfort me at all," said Rosamond; "besides, we are not sure that she did it, and if--" A single knock at the door was heard at this instant. It was the little girl, who came to be paid for her lace.

"Call her in," said the lady of the house; "let us see her directly."

The maid, who was afraid that the girl's innocence would appear if she were produced, hesitated; but upon her mistress repeating her commands, she was forced to obey. The girl came in with a look of simplicity; but when she saw a room full of company she was a little abashed. Rosamond and Laura looked at her and one another with surprise, for it was the same little girl whom they had seen weaving lace.

"Is not it she?" whispered Rosamond to her sister.

"Yes, it is; but hush," said Laura, "she does not know us. Don't say a word, let us hear what she will say."

Laura got behind the rest of the company as she spoke, so that the little girl could not see her.

"Vastly well!" said Bell's mother; "I am waiting to see how long you will have the assurance to stand there with that innocent look. Did you ever see that basket before?"

"Yes, ma'am," said the girl.

"YES, MA'AM!" cried the maid; "and what else do you know about it? You had better confess it at once, and mistress, perhaps, will say no more about it."

"Yes, do confess it," added Bell, earnestly.

"Confess what, madam?" said the little girl; "I never touched the basket, madam."

"You never TOUCHED it; but you confess," interrupted Bell's mother, "that you DID SEE it before. And, pray, how came you to see it? You must have opened my wardrobe."

"No, indeed, ma'am," said the little girl; "but I was waiting in the passage, ma'am, and this door was partly open; and looking at the maid, you know, I could not help seeing it."

"Why, how could you see through the doors of my wardrobe?" rejoined the lady.

The maid, frightened, pulled the little girl by the sleeve.

"Answer me," said the lady, "where did you see this basket?" Another stronger pull.

"I saw it, madam, in her hands," looking at the maid; "and--"

"Well, and what became of it afterwards?"

"Ma'am"--hesitating--"miss pulled, and by accident--I believe, I saw, ma'am--miss, you know what I saw."

"I do not know--I do not know; and if I did, you had no business there; and mamma won't believe you, I am sure." Everybody else, however, did believe; and their eyes were fixed upon Bell in a manner which made her feel rather ashamed.

"What do you all look at me so for? Why do you all look so? And am I to be put to shame on my birthday?" cried she, bursting into a roar of passion; "and all for this nasty thing!" added she, pushing away the remains of the basket, and looking angrily at Rosamond.

"Bell! Bell! O, fie! fie!--Now I am ashamed of you; that's quite rude to your cousin," said her mother, who was more shocked at her daughter's want of politeness than at her falsehood. "Take her away, Nancy, till she has done crying," added she to the maid, who accordingly carried off her pupil.

Rosamond, during this scene, especially at the moment when her present was pushed away with such disdain, had been making reflections upon the nature of true generosity. A smile from her father, who stood by, a silent spectator of the catastrophe of the filigree basket, gave rise to these reflections; nor were they entirely dissipated by the condolence of the rest of the company, nor even by the praises of her godmother, who, for the purpose of condoling with her, said, "Well, my dear Rosamond, I admire your generous spirit. You know I prophesied that your half-guinea would be gone the soonest. Did I not, Laura?" said she, appealing, in a sarcastic tone, to where she thought Laura was. "Where is Laura? I don't see her." Laura came forward. "You are too PRUDENT to throw away your money like your sister. Your half-guinea, I'll answer for it, is snug in your pocket--Is it not?"

"No, madam," answered she, in a low voice.

But low as the voice of Laura was, the poor little lace-girl heard it; and now, for the first time, fixing her eyes upon Laura, recollected her benefactress. "Oh, that's the young lady!" she exclaimed, in a tone of joyful gratitude, "the good, good young lady, who gave me the half- guinea, and would not stay to be thanked for it; but I WILL thank her now."

"The half-guinea, Laura!" said her godmother. "What is all this?"

"I'll tell you, madam, if you please," said the little girl.

It was not in expectation of being praised for it, that Laura had been generous, and therefore everybody was really touched with the history of the weaving-pillow; and whilst they praised, felt a certain degree of respect, which is not always felt by those who pour forth eulogiums. RESPECT is not an improper word, even applied to a child of Laura's age; for let the age or situation of the person be what it may, they command respect who deserve it.

"Ah, madam!" said Rosamond to her godmother, "now you see--you see she is NOT a little miser. I'm sure that's better than wasting half a guinea upon a filigree basket; is it not, ma'am?" said she, with an eagerness which showed that she had forgotten all her own misfortunes in sympathy with her sister. "This is being REALLY GENEROUS, father, is it not?"

"Yes, Rosamond," said her father, and he kissed her; "this IS being really generous. It is not only by giving away money that we can show generosity; it is by giving up to others anything that we like ourselves: and therefore," added he, smiling, "it is really generous of you to give your sister the thing you like best of all others."

"The thing I like the best of all others, father," said Rosamond, half pleased, half vexed. "What is that, I wonder? You don't mean PRAISE, do you, sir?"

"Nay, you must decide that yourself, Rosamond."

"Why, sir," said she, ingenuously, "perhaps it WAS ONCE the thing I liked best; but the pleasure I have just felt makes me like something else much better."

Maria Edgeworth

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