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Jack and Jill

7. Jill's Mission
The good times began immediately, and very little studying was done that week in spite
of the virtuous resolutions made by certain young persons on Christmas Day. But, dear
me, how was it possible to settle down to lessons in the delightful Bird Room, with not
only its own charms to distract one, but all the new gifts to enjoy, and a dozen calls a
day to occupy one's time?
"I guess we'd better wait till the others are at school, and just go in for fun this week,"
said Jack, who was in great spirits at the prospect of getting up, for the splints were off,
and he hoped to be promoted to crutches very soon.
"I shall keep my Speller by me and take a look at it every day, for that is what I'm most
backward in. But I intend to devote myself to you, Jack, and be real kind and useful. I've
made a plan to do it, and I mean to carry it out, anyway," answered Jill, who had begun
to be a missionary, and felt that this was a field of labor where she could distinguish
herself.
"Here's a home mission all ready for you, and you can be paying your debts beside
doing yourself good," Mrs. Pecq said to her in private, having found plenty to do herself.
Now Jill made one great mistake at the outset--she forgot that she was the one to be
converted to good manners and gentleness, and devoted her efforts to looking after
Jack, finding it much easier to cure other people's faults than her own. Jack was a most
engaging heathen, and needed very little instruction; therefore Jill thought her task
would be an easy one. But three or four weeks of petting and play had rather
demoralized both children, so Jill's Speller, though tucked under the sofa pillow every
day, was seldom looked at, and Jack shirked his Latin shamefully. Both read all the
story-books they could get, held daily levees in the Bird Room, and all their spare
minutes were spent in teaching Snowdrop, the great Angora cat, to bring the ball when
they dropped it in their game. So Saturday came, and both were rather the worse for so
much idleness, since daily duties and studies are the wholesome bread which feeds the
mind better than the dyspeptic plum-cake of sensational reading, or the unsubstantial
bon-bons of frivolous amusement.
It was a stormy day, so they had few callers, and devoted themselves to arranging the
album; for these books were all the rage just then, and boys met to compare, discuss,
buy, sell, and "swap" stamps with as much interest as men on 'Change gamble in
stocks. Jack had a nice little collection, and had been saving up pocket-money to buy a
book in which to preserve his treasures. Now, thanks to Jill's timely suggestion, Frank
had given him a fine one, and several friends had contributed a number of rare stamps
to grace the large, inviting pages. Jill wielded the gum-brush and fitted on the little flaps,
as her fingers were skilful at this nice work, and Jack put each stamp in its proper place
with great rustling of leaves and comparing of marks. Returning, after a brief absence,
 
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