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The Picnic
Written in 1867

by Charlotte Maria Tucker

"What a delightful morning for a ride!" exclaimed Mina, as she patted the pretty black pony which her brother Felix was about to saddle for her. "I almost wish that the place fixed on for the picnic were three times as far away that I might have a longer gallop over the common, gay with golden flowers and along the green shady lanes."

"You forget," said Felix with a smile, "that if you have to ride, we have to walk, and that two miles each way is enought to give us an appetite for the chicken pie and cold tongue which are stowed away in the basket."

"This is just the day for a picnic!" cried Mina, "I am sure that we shall enjoy ourselves much in the wood. There is only one thing that may damp our pleasure," she added less gaily, "I almost wish that mamma had not invited Priscilla Grey, and yet it is unkind to say so; it would have been hard on the poor girl to have left her behind."

"She's as ill-tempered a wasp as ever I met with!" cried Felix, "and it seems to me as if she had an especial spite against you, for no reason that I can think of, except that our parents being richer than hers, you ride on Frisky while she has to go upon foot."

"I have never willingly done anything to vex her," said Mina.

"You would never vex any creature living!" exclaimed Felix, who was very fond of his sister. "But Priscilla is always on the look out for some cause of offence and those who do so can always manage to find one! If you only heard how she was speaking of you the other day! It made me so angry that if she had not been a girl, I think that I really should have struck her! She said—"

"I don't want to hear what she said, dear Felix," observed Mina, who was a peace-loving girl.

"But I've a bit of good news to give you. Priscilla, after all, will not be at the picnic today. She slipped her foot yesterday going downstairs and has sprained her ankle, not badly enough to lay her up, but enough to make it quite out of the question for her to walk four miles."

It must be owned that Mina's first feeling was one of relief at being rid of the company of so disagreeable a girl. But at that moment the sun, which had been hiding behind a cloud, darted out his glorious beams, lighting up the landscape around, smiling on the weedy waste as well as the beautiful garden. Those rays brought to the mind of Mina part of a verse from the Bible, "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good." Mina remembered what she should do as one of the children of Him who bade us love our enemies and do good to them that hate us.

"Felix," said the gentle girl, "if Priscilla cannot walk, she can ride."

"Of course, if she has anything to ride upon better than a dog or a cat!" laughed Felix.

"I could lend her my pretty Frisky and walk with you to the wood."

Felix gave a loud whistle of surprise. "Lend her your pony and lose your ride! How can you dream of doing such a thing?"

"Indeed, Felix, I feel that I must do it. As you have kindly saddled Frisky, we will go together—it is but a step—and lead him to the door of Priscilla."

"Well, you are wondrously kind," cried Felix. "I could understand your giving up your ride for a sister or a friend, but to think of your doing so for the sake of such a girl as Priscilla!"

"It is not just for her sake," said Mina, and she thought to herself, it is for the sake of Him who is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.

With a little difficulty Mina persuaded her brother to yield to her wishes and they led the black pony to the door of the small house in which Priscilla lived with her mother. Priscilla, who was in worse temper than usual from being disappointed of her expected treat, caught sight of them through the window.

"Ah, there's that girl Mina!" she exclaimed, with a burst of spiteful passion. "She's bringing that ugly beast that she is so proud of just to let me see how much better off she is than I am! I wish that it would rain—I wish that a heavy thunderstorm would come and spoil the fun of the picnic!"

But very different were Priscilla's feelings when Mina ran into the room, first inquired kindly after her ankle, and then offered to lend her Frisky that she might ride to the wood. Shame, and something like gratitude mingled with pleasure and surprise, and Priscilla owned to herself what she never had owned before, that it was not only in worldly wealth that Mina was richer than she.

No rain fell, no thunderstorm came to spoil the pleasure of the picnic. There were few clouds in the sky and none over the spirit of Mina. She enjoyed her walk—she enjoyed her feast—she enjoyed seeing and adding to the pleasure of all. But her richest enjoyment came from the whisper of an approving conscience that she had not been overcome of evil, but had overcome evil with good!

Edited by Pam Takahashi
Proofed by Deborah Gardner

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