Frederick’s Holidays – Elizabeth Semple

“I wish,” said Frederick to Mr. Peterson, “I could be with my aunt in town, to spend the holidays; I shall be so tired here in the country, I shall not know what to do with myself. Two of my schoolfellows live in the next street to my aunt, and they will be going with their Father to walk in the Park, and will have so much more pleasure than I shall have. Why, I might as well be at school, as here sauntering about the fields.”

“You are not very civil,” answered Mr. Peterson. “When you came from Havanna, last year, and had no other acquaintance, you liked very well to with me in the holidays: however, if you desire it, my dear Frederick, you shall go to your aunt’s, that you may be near your little friends; and I will write to their Father, to request that he will give you leave to be with them as much as possible, that you may partake of all their pleasures; for I do not think you will have a great deal in your aunt’s house; you know she is always ill, and cannot have it in her power to procure you much amusement.”

Frederick was accordingly sent to town, and his first wish was to pay a visit to his two friends in the next street. His aunt’s servant was ordered to conduct him to the house, and he was shown immediately up stairs; but, instead of meeting with those he expected, he found their Father alone in the drawing-room, sitting at a table covered with papers, and apparently very busy.

On inquiring for his schoolfellows, he was very much surprised at being informed that they were gone into the country: “for,” said their Father, “they would not have liked to be confined at home all their holidays, and I should have had no time to run about with them; they might as well have remained at school as have been here: but where they are gone, they will enjoy themselves. They will spend a week at their Grandfather’s, and from thence go to my good friend Mr. Peterson’s, where they will have all the pleasure and amusement they can possibly wish for.”

Frederick was so vexed and disappointed that he could not open his lips, but made a low bow, and returned to his aunt, whom he found just risen to breakfast. She was quite crippled with rheumatism, and had so great a weakness in her eyes, that she could not bear the light, and would only allow, one of the windows to have one shutter a little open.

In this dismal room, without any thing to amuse himself with, was poor Frederick condemned to spend his holidays: his aunt made him read to her whenever she was awake; and it was only when she dropped asleep for half an hour, in her easy-chair, that he could creep softly to the other end of the room, and peep with one eye into the street, through the little opening between the shutters.

Poor Frederick now sincerely repented having been so rude and ungrateful to Mr. Peterson, and wished a thousand times a day he had been contented to stay at his house: he would have been very happy to have had it in his power to return, but he dared not propose, it to his aunt, and would also have been too ashamed to appear before Mr. Peterson.

After many melancholy days and tedious evenings, spent in lonely solitude, he at length saw the happy morning which was to end his captivity. “What a foolish boy I have been!” thought he, as he was putting his things together. “The day of my return to school is my first holiday; and the preparations I am making for it, the only pleasure I have felt since I left it. In the country, where I might have enjoyed the liberty of running in the fields, in the open air, I was discontented and restless; and I left it, to shut myself up in a sick room. I am now going back to school, to have the pleasure of hearing how agreeably all my schoolfellows have been spending their time, whilst I shall have nothing to recount to them but how many vials were ranged on my aunt’s chimney-piece, and how many hackney-coaches I could see with one eye pass through the street.”

Frederick was very right; he found his two little friends just arrived, and who, for a whole week, could speak of nothing but the pleasure they had enjoyed at Mr. Peterson’s. They told him of their having been several times on the river, on fishing parties; of two nice little ponies, which had been procured for them, that they might ride about in the shady lanes, and round the village; and of the beautiful houses and gardens they had been taken to see in the neighborhood.

They had a great many very pretty presents, which they showed to Frederick, and which they had received from their friends, who had been pleased with their behavior, and had desired they might be allowed to pay them a visit at the next vacation.

Frederick could never forget how much had lost by his folly; he knew he had been wrong; and, as he was not a bad boy, he was not ashamed to acknowledge it, but wrote a very pretty letter to Mr. Peterson, begging him to forgive the rudeness he had been guilty of, and telling him how much he had suffered by it; assuring him that he would never again desire to quit his house to go to any other, and saying, that he never should have done it if he had not been a foolish, restless boy; that he had been severely punished for his fault, and hoped he would think it enough, and grant him his pardon as soon as possible.

Mr. Peterson readily complied with his request, and invited him, the next time he left school, to accompany his two little friends to his house, where they spent a month in the midst of pleasure and amusement. Frederick was so happy that he never once thought of the town, nor had any desire to quit Mr. Peterson, in search of other amusements.