ONE fine Sunday morning two little girls, called Amy and Kitty Harrison, set out from their mother’s cottage to go to the Sunday school in the neighbouring village. The little hamlet where they lived was half a mile from the school. In fine weather it was a very pleasant walk, for the way lay by the side of a little chattering stream, which fed the roots of many pretty wild flowers; and then, leaving the valley, the path struck across some corn-fields, which were now quite yellow for harvest. And even in wet weather the little girls seldom missed the school; for their mother was a careful woman, and they themselves loved their teacher and their lessons. Mrs. Mordaunt, the wife of the clergyman, taught them on Sunday, for both Amy and Kitty were in the first class.
Amy was tripping lightly along, enjoying the sunshine. Every now and then she bent down and gathered a wild flower,—the four-leaved yellow potentilla, or the meadow-sweet, or a spike of golden rod, or a handful of forget-me-nots, watered by the stream, to make a little nosegay for her teacher; for Mrs. Mordaunt loved flowers and would sometimes take the lesson for the day from them. And she loved better still the affectionate remembrances of her children.
Kitty, meanwhile, was walking very soberly along, reading her hymn-book. Perhaps from this you may think that Kitty was the more industrious and thoughtful of the two; but it was not so. Amy had risen early that morning, and got her lessons all ready, and so she could enjoy the pleasant walk freely; for you know, or if you do not know I hope you will learn, that it is always those who are busiest at their work that can be merriest in their hours of leisure. Nothing gives us such an appetite for enjoyment as hearty work. So Amy tripped on, humming a cheerful hymn, while poor Kitty kept on saying over and over again the words of her hymn, and vainly trying to stop her ears from hearing and her eyes from seeing all the pleasant sights and sounds around her. But the birds were so busy singing, and the fish kept springing up from the stream, and every now and then a bright butterfly would flit across, or a little bird perch on a spray close to her, and everything around seemed trying so mischievously to take her attention from her book, so that they had reached the gate at the end of the wood before Kitty had learned two verses of her hymn.
You see, these two little girls were not quite like each other, although they had the same home, and the same lessons, and the same plays. If you sow two seeds of the same plant in the same soil, you know they will grow up exactly like each other. The flowers will be of the same colour, the same smell, the same shape; the roots will suck up the same nourishment from the soil, and the little vessels of the stems and leaves will cook it into the very same sweet, or sour, or bitter juices. But with little children it is quite different. You may often see two children of one family, with the same friends, the same teaching, the same means of improvement, as different in temper and character from each other as if they had been brought up on opposite sides of the world....