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incident in my life, which occurred when I was a year or two older than you now
Your grandfather's house was, as you know, a large, old-fashioned place ; and had the reputation of being haunted, which, however, was, of course, all non
There was a back staircase which led from the kitchen to the upper part of the house, the top room of which, in that direction, was used as a lumber room. There was a window in this room which opened on to the leads, and a little further along was another window, which lighted the upper part of the great staircase, as it was called. Well, one dark, windy night, I went into the kitchen just as one of the servants was leaving it with something she had been told to take into the lumber-room. I plainly saw that she was unwilling to go, and that she was very fearful ; and a wicked thought came into
my head, which I lost no time in executing. I ran from the kitchen to the hall, was soon at the top of the great staircase, out at the window, and in the dark lumber-room, before the timid girl was half up the back staircase. Presently, I heard her coming very slowly, and caught the glimmer of her light as she approached the last flight of stairs. I had chosen my time well, as I thought, and, putting my fingers to my mouth, gave a long shrill whistle. I heard a loud shriek in return, a heavy fall, the light disappeared, and then all was still. moment my conscience reproved me, and my fears were excited. I ran down the stairs, stumbled over the poor senseless girl, who lay stretched in the passage, and soon returned with a light. But it was long, long before I could succeed in awaking my poor victim to her senses.
In vain I shouted to her, ‘Ann Anndon't be silly! It was I that whistled ! There's nothing to be afraid of!' There she lay, to all appearance, dead. But oh! the misery I felt—to think that perhaps I had for ever driven away the senses of a fellow-creature ! During those dreadful minutes, I made a solemn vow, that if it would but please God to forgive my folly, and restore the poor girl to herself, I would never again be thus guilty. It seemed to me then, that my vow was heard and accepted; for just as I was about, most unwillingly, to seek some other assistance, the poor girl recovered from her swoon, and burst into a violent flood of tears; and though she felt for some days very unwell, no other ill effects followed. So much for practical joking !
“ You will easily, my dear William, perceive, by what I have written, that my
excellent friend, Mr. has informed me of your cruel joke upon an old and infirm man, and of its consequences, so far as they are at present known.
“By revealing to you my own youthful folly, I have willingly put it out of my power to say anything very harsh respecting yours. But I earnestly hope, my dear boy, that as this is probably the first, so may it be the last, of your practical jokes. Be assured that the comfort and happi. ness—to say nothing of the lives—of our fellow creatures are far too serious things to make fun of. There is one thing, however, I must say. Your sin was greatly aggravated by falsehood.
This pains me deeply—that you, my William, should ever have been guilty of lying. That God may give you repentance and pardon for this awful crime is
earnest prayer. But seek this pardon yourself;
and try to show by your future conduct that you have not indeed utterly forsaken the way
of truth. “ As to poor blind Dick, as I find the object of your joke is called, I have written to Mr. requesting him to continue his kind offices to promote his recovery, and to see that nothing is needed for his present comfort. We must not allow him to suffer in any way, so far as we can prevent it, by your folly. I shall expect from you that you will readily bear a part of the expense thus laid upon me; but we will speak of this when we see each other at Christmas. For the present, farewell.”
Poor blind Dick had a long illness, notwithstanding all the attention that was paid him: but, at length, to the inexpressible joy and gratitude of Frank, Harry, and William, the very day before they