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curious, and fond of prying into matters. She said, she was quite afraid to have her in the house, for one never felt safe where there was a servant of that disposition."
“ That is true, Fanny; there are few more dangerous faults in servants, both to themselves and others; whether they are employed in high offices of the state, or in lower offices, in shops, or in domestic concerns; curiosity may bring ruin on themselves and their employers. I will tell you a story about this to-day, Fanny, while you go on with your work."
“Oh, thank you, dear mother,” cried Fanny, seating herself to her work quite eagerly.
“ This story,” said Mrs. Brooks,“ is one of a poor young servant whose curiosity injured herself, though not her employers. Now I want you to remark, my child, that curiosity almost always is the accompaniment of idleness, and not of industry. It is very seldom found that the industrious are curious about what does not belong to them ; many such persons if you spoke to them, indeed, about such things, would tell you they have no time to attend to them; it is as much as they can do to attend to their own business. But the idle are almost always curious, and those who will not busy themselves in their own concerns will be busy-bodies in those of others.
“ Martha Jones, however, was quite an exception to this rule. She was a most industrious girl, and very well behaved. Her father and mother died, and left her an orphan; she had learned to read and write very well, for they had kept her at school; but a fever carried them off very quickly, and then Martha was obliged to go out and work for her bread. While she was at school her companions had often been vexed with her for a custom of looking into their bags; and the governess said she was often seen at her desk when she had no business to be looking into it. Such faults as this, however, appeared trilling, and Martha was never punished for it, though she was often told she ought not to do so. Thus the evil increased ; Martha's curiosity never was properly checked ; and as she grew, it grew too, and became stronger with her strength. When her parents died she was obliged to go to service, and the clergyman of her parish, who took an interest in
Martha on account of her parents' death, and from believing she had been a good girl at the school, was so kind as to procure a very good place, though it was at a distance from her native village.
“ Martha had a great deal to learn, but she was very willing to learn ; she was of a kind, cheerful, obliging temper, and her mistress and master too were pleased with her. They bore with her mistakes and ignorance, at first, and she soon learned to do everything that was required of her really very well. She had happily been placed with those that feared God, and were therefore kind and considerate to their servants ; not hard task-masters, like Pharaoh, who, you know, required the poor Israelites to deliver the full quantity of bricks, yet refused to give them straw.
6. This master and mistress did their duty to their servants, and then required the servants to do their duty also by them, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of God, with goodwill doing service. Their servants, I am sorry to say, did not all do so, and did not all profit by the great advantage of having such a master and mistress. There was one evil-minded woman among them.”
" Oh, was that Martha ?” cried Fanny.
“ No, my dear; Martha Jones was not an evil-minded girl, but do you think she had no fault?”
Ah, mother, I know we all have faults and sins, for I learned this text last Sunday from the Psalms, There is none that doeth good, no not one;' which means, that there is none that does entire good, does it not ? so that no one can in all things entirely do good, and entirely please God.”
“ Yes, my dear, because the same Psalms say, we are born in sin, and brought forth in iniquity ;' and therefore we need God's grace to purify our souls, and Christ's death to atone for our sins, and to believe and trust in him, for it is only by faith in him we can do anything acceptable to God, or good in his sight. And now I will go on with the story.
6. Martha Jones, then, had one sad fault, I dare say she had others within her heart; but this was seen in her actions.”
“Oh, I am afraid,” cried Fanny, “ it was her curiosity.”
“ It was," said Mrs. Brooks, "just that. When Martha had been a school-girl, you know, she used to like to look into her school-fellows' bags, and into her governess's desk, and when she went out to service she kept up the habit, and would look into her mistress's work-box or writing-desk, or anything that had been left open, and sometimes into her drawers, where there were a great many handsome things. She had never seen such things before, and so her curiosity would lead her on, when she had once begun, until she could
not stop; and then she would be dreadfully frightened lest any one should see her, and feel just as if she were very guilty, and had been trying to steal something. Her mistress, however, was very fond of her, and perhaps she never observed her fault, nor knew how serious it was, or perhaps, as Martha was so young, her mistress thought it natural she should like to look at fine things which she had never seen before. One day, however, she left her room, and Martha went in and began to wonder where she had put some jewels that she had seen brought home that morning. She began, as usual, to open boxes and drawers, and was busy indulging her curiosity, when she heard a step close beside her. She started, so that her breath quite went, and she gasped with terror."
" It was her mistress,” said Fanny. “ No, it was the servant who I told you was not a good
When she saw Martha, she said, “So, were you going to steal my mistress's property ?'
“ Martha was quite confounded; she trembled so that she could scarcely stand ; but when she thought for a moment, she recollected that the clergyman of her own parish, who had got her this place, had advised her whenever she committed a fault, or even made a mistake, to go and tell her mistress about it at once. You may be scolded, Martha,' he said, . but it is always better to tell it at once, because the matter may be set right sooner, and you will suffer less than you would do by concealment.' So when Martha recollected this she said to her fellow-servant
"No, Mary, I was not thinking of stealing, I only had the curiosity to see all these things; but I will go and tell my mistress at once about it, for I feel it was very wrong, and I am just as frightened as if I were a thief.'
6. Oh,' said this woman, who knew quite well her mistress would be pleased with Martha's honest confession, don't do such a foolish thing as that, why you would never be trusted while you lived ; you would be turned away without a character, and could not show your face at your own place.'
" Dear,' said poor Martha, “ what shall I do?'
66. If mistress has not seen you already at these tricks,' said this cunning woman, “ I won't say anything about it, so you see it is well to have me for
friend.' “ Martha was very grateful to her false friend; but, oh, how little did the simple girl know or suspect her cruel designs ! This wicked woman had stolen a great deal of valuable
property from her mistress, and as she wished to continue in her place she thought it would be a good plan if she could make poor Martha appear to be the thief, so she had watched her every day when she was looking into the drawers and caskets that had been left open, but knew well that if Martha confessed her fault, as she said she would do, her plan would be quite spoiled, so she must wait a little, and take another opportunity when the incautious girl suffered her curiosity to draw her into some fresh scrape.
“Only two days, however, had passed when Martha had to take up a letter to her master which had the post-mark of her native place, and she was required to wait in the room, as he wanted to give her a message after he read it. She saw that some tidings in it disturbed him very much. Her curiosity was excited, and when she twice returned to the room he seemed to be still thinking of the letter, and she heard something spoken of, which she was sure referred to it; she heard hér mistress say with a sigh the words unfortunate creature,' and Martha instantly began to wonder in her own mind what unfortunate creature could be meant. Certainly, she thought, it was some one mentioned in that letter. Strange to say that letter was the last thing she thought of before she fell asleep that night.
"Certainly matters fall out strangely at times, and when they are related it seems as if they had been invented on purpose ; so you will think, Fanny, when I tell you what followed. It happened that Martha's master found that his coat had got some spot, which he wished to be taken out, and he gave it to her, and desired her to take it down stairs and see if it could be got out. Martha took the coat down stairs.
“ Now, Fanny, what did she do? what made her do such a thing ?”
" What could she do ?” said Fanny, “ something about her curiosity, I am sure; but what could she do with a coat ?"
“ Ah! my dear, the coat had a pocket. The girl used to look into her school-fellows' bags, and into her governess's desk, and into her mistress's drawers; so, almost naturally, she looked into her master's pocket, and there what do you think she found ?”
66 What?” said Fanny.
“ The letter ; the very letter she had been so curious about. Her curiosity led her to take it out, and her curiosity led her to open it; and, worse than all, her curiosity led her to read it. It was a mournful letter, condoling with her
master about some misfortune; she could not understand it, but her
fell on these words which were written in a rather hasty hand— I have been distressed at hearing the conduct of poor M- Jones, unfortunate creature! ruined for this life, and, I fear, for the life to come; without a friend to look to, and too guilty to look to God, for to God the guilty will not look, though God is more merciful than men.' With great horror Martha read these lines, and saw at the end of the letter the name of the clergyman of her native parish. Poor, foolish girl! to what a state had her curiosity brought her! Scarcely knowing what she was about, she called to her artful fellow-servant to see the letter.
6. It must be me,' she said ; 'M-Jones must be me!
66. Oh, yes,' said the wicked woman, “ that is quite clear. In fact you may as well know all, Martha ; my mistress has lost a great many valuable things—all is found out, my dear.'
"" But I have done nothing; at least I have taken nothing,' said Martha.
“. Suspicion is as bad as proof against a servant,' said the other. • I wished to be your friend, Martha, and I am so still; but if I am put on my oath, you know, I must declare that I have often seen you at her boxes and drawers ; and you see it is clear that my master has written something about you.'
6. What shall I do ?' asked the unhappy girl, who, conscious she had given ground for suspicion, too readily fell into the snare thus laid for her.
“If I were in your place I should go away from this at once,' said her cruel adviser.
66' But I dare not go back to my own place in disgrace.'
66. That is true,' said the other; “it is hard to know how to advise you.'
“ As the coat was now ready Martha was obliged to take it up stairs. Her master was talking earnestly with his wife in her dressing-room, and some of the drawers into which her curiosity had so often led her to look, happened to be open. Martha's countenance was greatly disturbed, and very anxious ; they both looked at her more seriously than usual ; she was terrified when they did so ; the wicked fleeth when no man pursueth,' and they whose consciences are not clear often imagine they are suspected when no suspicion exists. Martha Jones was only sixteen ; she did not know much of the world, and was easily persuaded by others. She hastened