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A short story by M. (Arnaud) Berquin

Anabella's Journey To Market

Title:     Anabella's Journey To Market
Author: M. (Arnaud) Berquin [More Titles by Berquin]

Nothing can be more natural and pleasing than to see young children fond of their parents. The birds of the air, and even the wild inhabitants of the forest, love and are beloved by their young progeny.

Little Anabella was six years old, very fond of her mamma, and delighted in following her every where. Her mother, being one day obliged to go to market, wished to leave her little daughter at home, thinking it would be too fatiguing for Anabella, and troublesome to herself; but the child's entreaties to go were so earnest and pressing, that her mother could not withstand them, and at last consented to her request.

The cloak and bonnet were soon on, and the little maid set off with her mamma, in high spirits. Such was the badness of the paths in some places, that it was impossible for them to walk hand-in-hand, so that Anabella was sometimes obliged to trudge on by herself behind her mamma; but these were such kind of hardships as her little spirit was above complaining of.

The town now appeared in sight, and the nearer they approached it, the more the paths were thronged with people. Anabella was often separated from her mamma; but this did not at present much disturb her, as by skipping over a rut, or slipping between the people as they passed, she soon got up again to her mother. However, the nearer they approached the market, the crowd of course increased, which kept her eyes in full employment, to spy which way her mother went; but a little chaise drawn by six dogs having attracted her attention, she stopped to look at them, and by that means lost sight of her mother, which soon became the cause of much uneasiness to her.

Here, my little readers, let me pause for a moment, to give you this necessary advice. When you walk abroad with your parents or servants, never look much about you, unless you have hold of their hand, or some part of their apparel. And I hope it will not be deemed impertinent to give similar advice to parents and servants, to take care that children do not wander from them, since, from such neglect, many fatal accidents have happened. But to proceed.--

Little Anabella had not gazed on this object of novelty for more than a minute, before she recollected her mamma, and turned about to look for her; but no mamma was there, and now the afflictions of her heart began. She called aloud, "Mamma, mamma;" but no mamma answered. She then crawled up a bank, which afforded her a view all around; but no mamma was to be seen. She now burst into a flood of tears, and sat herself down at the foot of the bank, by which people were passing and repassing in great numbers.

Almost every body that passed said something or other to her, but none offered to help her to find her mother. "What is the matter with you, my little dear," said one, "that you cry so sadly?" "I have lost my mamma;" said Anabella, as well as the grief of her heart would permit her to speak. Another told her never to mind it, she would find her again by and by. Some said, "Do not cry so, child, there is nobody that will run away with you." Some pitied her, and others laughed at her; but not one offered to give her any assistance.

Such, my little pupils, is the conduct of most people. When any misfortune brings you into trouble, you will find enough ready to pity you, but few who will give you any material assistance. They will tell you what you then know yourselves, that you should not have done so and so; they will be sorry for you, and then take their leave of you.

Little Anabella, however, was soon relieved from her present terrible anxieties. A poor old woman, with eggs and butter in a basket, happened to be that day going to the same market, whither Anabella's mother was gone before her.

Seeing Anabella in so much distress, still crying as if her little heart would break, she went up to her, and asked her what was the cause of those tears that fell from her little cheeks: She told her she had lost her mamma. "And to what place, my dear," cried the old woman, "was your mamma going when you lost her?" "She was going to the market," replied Anabella. "Well, my sweet girl," continued the old woman, "I am going to the market too, and, if you will go along with me, I make no doubt but we shall find your mother there. However, I will take care of you till you do find her." She then took Anabella by the hand, and led her along the road.

The good old woman put her hand in her pocket, and pulled out a piece of nice plum-cake, which she gave to Anabella, who thankfully accepted of it; but her little heart was too full to permit her to think of eating at that time. She therefore put it into her pocket, saying that she would eat it by and by, when she had found her mamma, which she hoped would be soon.

As they walked along, the good old woman endeavoured to amuse Anabella by telling her pretty stories, and enquiring of her what books she read. "I very well know," said the old woman, "that you young children are too apt to be fond of histories of haunted houses, of witches, ghosts, and apparitions, which tend only to fill you with idle fears and apprehensions, and make you afraid even of your own shadows." But when Anabella told her that her books were all bought at the corner of St. Paul's Church-yard, she seemed perfectly satisfied.

They had hardly entered the market, when the little rambling eyes of Anabella caught sight of her mamma. She shrieked with joy, and, like an arrow out of a bow, darted from the old woman, and flew to her parent, who clasped her pretty dear in her arms, and, after tenderly embracing her, "How came you," said she, "my sweet angel, to wander from me? I have been so frightened as to be hardly able to contain myself."

Anabella threw her arms round the neck of her mamma, and fixing her lips to her cheeks, kept kissing her, till a torrent of tears gave ease to her heart. As soon as she was able to speak, "My dear mamma," said she, "I stopped to look at a pretty little chaise drawn by six dogs, and in the mean time I lost you. I looked for you, and called for you, but I could neither see nor hear you. I sat down crying by the side of a bank; some as they passed pitied me, and others joked me; but none attempted to take care of me, till this good old woman led me by the hand, and brought me here."

Anabella's mother was very thankful to the good old woman for her tenderness and humanity to her daughter; and not only bought of her what eggs and butter she had left, but even made her a small present besides, which she a long time declined accepting of, saying she had done no more than what every good Christian ought to do.

Anabella kissed the good old woman over and over again, and all her way home talked of nothing but her kindness. Nor did she afterwards forget it, as she would frequently go and pay her a visit, when she always took with her some tea and sugar, and a loaf of bread. Anabella's mother constantly bought all the eggs and butter the good old woman had to spare, and paid her a better price for them than she could have got at market, saving her, at the same time, the trouble of going thither.

Thus you see, my young friends, what are the consequences of good nature and humanity. You must accustom yourselves early, not only to feel for the misfortunes of others, but to do every thing that lies in your power to assist them. Whatever may be your condition in life at present, and however improbable it may be, that you may ever want, yet there are strange vicissitudes in this world, in which nothing can be said to be really certain and permanent. Should any of my readers, like Anabella, lose themselves, would they not be happy to meet with so good an old woman as she did? Though your stations in life may place you above receiving any pecuniary reward for a generous action, yet the pleasing sensations of a good heart, on relieving a distressed fellow-creature, are inexpressible.

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M. (Arnaud) Berquin's short story: Anabella's Journey To Market