Edward and Charles – Beginner Level
Edward and Charles were brothers who lived happily with their mother and father on a large farm. They lived a long way from the nearest school, and did their studies at home.
One day their father called for the two boys to come and see him. He took each by the hand, and lovingly put his arms around them. He told them that he was going away for a month. He said that he wanted them to be very good when he was away. They must help their mother by doing everything she wanted, and not do anything to make her unhappy.
He also said that they must be kind to Ben, a boy from a very poor family who worked on the farm. “God loves him,” he said, “just as much as if his family were rich. And much more than He would love one of you if you were to be unkind to Ben.”
Edward and Charles both told their father that they would do everything that he wished. But only one of them was really sad that his father was going away. Edward was happy, for he was a very bad boy. He was not going to do as his mother asked, but whatever he wanted to do. And he was going to be unkind to Ben whenever he pleased.
The boys’ mother was sick and stayed in her room most the time. She knew very little of what the boys did every day. Every morning, after Edward had something to eat, he would take his hat and go outside. He never told anyone where he was going, or when he would come home.
One day, when Edward had gone off like this, Charles also wanted to go outside. He asked his mother if he could take his dog for a walk in the fields. Charles had not walked very far when he thought he heard Ben crying. He went as fast as he could to the place where the sound came from. There he found Ben with many large pieces of wood upon his back. Edward was hitting him because he cried and said he could not carry them.
When Charles began to take some of the wood away, Edward said that he would hit him if he did not stop. But Charles was not to be stopped. He told his brother that if he wanted to stop him, he would have to fight. Edward did not like being hurt. He never hit anybody but Ben, because Ben could not hit back. He knew that Ben needed to work to help his family. He also knew that his father would make Ben go away if he were to hit Charles or himself.
So Edward walked away. He sat by the river and tried to think of ways that he could get back at his brother. There was a small boat under a tree near where he was sitting, and this gave him an idea. The next morning, Edward asked Charles if he would like to go for a walk together by the side of the river. When they came to the boat, Edward told Charles that he had been playing on it the day before. He asked Charles if he could get into the boat to look for some money he thought he may have dropped.
Charles, who was always happy to help his brother, jumped into the boat. As soon as he did this, Edward cut the rope that held it to the tree. The boat went out into the water, and began to be carried away. It was a badly thought out idea. No one can tell where the boat would have been gone. Also, Charles could have died if a big wind had come up and turned the boat over.
Ben, who was working nearby, saw the danger. Ben could swim like a fish. He took off his clothes and went to help Charles as fast as he could. He was soon near enough to the boat to take hold of the rope. He then pulled the boat to the side of the river, so that Charles could jump off on to the ground.
Edward knew that his mother knew nothing of the bad things he had done. And he also knew that Charles was too kind to tell his father. But an old man who worked on the farm with Ben had seen everything. As soon as their father got home, he told him of all the bad things that had Edward had done when he was away.
The father saw that he had kept the two boys at home too long, and that they should both go away to school. But he also saw that they were not same in kindness to others.
He wanted Edward to understand how unhappy he was about what he had done. For the first year, he put him in a school a long way from his home. It so far that he could not come home at Christmas.
Charles was put in the nearest school to their farm. He came home many times in the year, and his father bought him a small horse that he could ride around. He always let Ben ride with him, for they were now good friends.