Mrs. Brown had several children, the eldest of whom was only a year older than her cousin Ellen Jones. Sarah (for that was the name of Mrs. Brown's eldest daughter) was an active, good-tempered girl, and of great use to her mother in helping her to look after the children, and to clean the house. Her mother could not spare her to go to school, except in the afternoon, as there was plenty for her to do at home in the morning, in order to keep everything tidy and comfortable. Sarah sometimes complained, and thought it unkind of her mother to prevent her from going to school. She said one day to Mrs. Stanley, the minister's wife, that it was very hard to be obliged to stay and scrub the house when her cousin Ellen was learning to read and write.
Mrs. Stanley said in reply: " You must remember, Sarah, that to stay at home and help your mother is your duty now; and how could you expect to be any the better for learning to read and write, if, in order to do so, you should neglect your parents? You can read the Testament, and you do read it every afternoon; besides which, you learn to work, which is of the greatest use to a child who will most likely, by and by, go to service. On Sunday you read the Bible at the Sunday school, and have it explained; and in church you have an opportunity of hearing of God, and of praying to him. Rather, my child, be thankful for the blessings you have, than repine at what you think a hard lot; and show your thankfulness to God and your parents by trying to perform well the duties which have fallen to your share."
Poor Sarah left school a little vexed at what Mrs. Stanley had said. She expected to have been told that hers was a hard case; and she hoped that Mrs. Stanley would try to persuade her mother to send her to school every morning. But the wise and excellent lady judged rightly, that, next to her God, Sarah's first duty was to her parents, and that nothing should interfere with that. However, she very kindly left a tract occasionally with Mrs. Brown, for Sarah to read, and showed the little girl kindness in many other ways. After this Sarah became more contented, and resolved to make the best use of the schooling she had, and to hope for more time to improve herself when the children should be older.
*A sampler is a rectangular piece of (usually white) cloth, on which alphabet was embroidered ('marked'), together with a motto, a short prayer or a verse, and decorated with a simple ornament. It was usually made by a girl learning needlework as a mark of her accomplishment.
to be continued