Short Stories » What a Baby Did
What a Baby Did
PERHAPS you are thinking : "Well, what did a baby do ? and what could it do but be either pretty and cunning, or just as cross as can be? and what is there wonderful about either ? " If that's what you're guessing, you're mistaken; for this baby that I mean did a great deal of good, more than some grown folks ever did in their lives. When anyone shakes their head and looks out of their eyes as you do now, I know you've given up guessing. All right. I'll tell you what the baby did, and it's true.
This baby's parents were obliged to go to town twice every week to supply certain rich families with tnose nice things which grow chiefly in the country. What good would it do for city people to try to raise green peas, turnips, water-melons, and velvety peaches? Are there not boys everywhere who can flatten themselves so thin that they can get through all kinds of fences ? and how many hatfuls of green peas would you think a small boy can eat, or how many raw turnips? And what perilous risks have not boys dared in the pursuit of water-melons ? And with what sure aim they can sling a rock at a peach ! These are a few reasons why the production of such good things are left to the country people. I'm not saying that boys are all of them bad ; the best boys I ever knew had a weakening of the soundest sense of honor on several points, and they are these : Fondness for water-melons, going fishing, shooting, and looking too earnestly upon an apple orchard.
The weakness was in not checking the desire immediately, for temptation grows fast while one hesitates. These acts may be called small transgressions, and are often passed over lightly, but when one has planted and toiled to produce a thing, another who has not done anything toward it has no right to expect a share, unless by honorable means.
I'm quite sure of one thing, and that is, all boys have a high respect for country gardeners, for they will follow such a wagon as long as there is anything unsold in it.
Just let a farmer fasten a stick upright on his wagon, stick a red apple on top, and the crowd will gather.
If he throws out a few now and then, don't the boys cheer him and coax their mothers to buy of him? Don't they declare for him that those are " dandy apples " ?
Well, just such appreciative boys and girls were away down in that crowded, dusty, hot city, waiting every week all summer long for the market gardeners' wagons to bring them a ifttle of the freshness of the country by way of one good thing or another; and so, why not go and earn something?
But there was the baby not old enough to take care of himself, and the little sisters at home not able to do it, and what a hard time a poor baby would have all day long in that noisy city. So a friend said: " Leav-e Benny with us; we will be pleased to have a baby in the house, and he can have a quiet, cool time till you come home." So it was settled, and Benny was brought to spend the day ; he always brought some- thing along with him for his friends. Sometimes it was a pound of sweet butter newly churned and tasting of the clover and the dew, sometimes a fine melon ; well, every time it was something good and just what was needed for the day.
Now, you can see that as these folks had no garden, Benny was a benefactor as well as a visitor. His disposition was so quiet, amiable, and lovely, that the family said he was almost too good, for he never fretted or demanded attention. The soft little arm around one's neck, his pretty little way of smacking his lips for a kiss, and his patient waiting for his parents' return, all endeared him to the family.
Now, if Benny had been a fretful baby, all this pleasant state of affairs would have been impossible. So when I say, " what a baby did," you see it was not anyone else's goodness, but the sweetness of his own nature.
The nice things that came fresh from the hill-side farm would have been no object if the baby had been disagreeable. So it was the baby that did it all, and he shall always have the credit. This little incident shows us that no one is too small to be good and be a blessing to those around.
When summer and fall are gone, and the wagon stops no more for Benny to be lifted out and carried into the house, how still it will be, missing him ! Ah ! that makes me think of something else that the baby did. The family -became so used to keeping quiet on Benny's day with them, that the laughing, romping children grew into the habit of entering slowly, as though he might be in there asleep. " I feel as though Benny is here when he isn't here." Then they would unconsciously smile at thought of him, and say/' He's a dear little fellow, ain't he ? "
Now who can say that Benny did not wield an influence, and if a baby possesses that much, you had best consider, " How much influence have I, and of what kind is it?"