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Little Men

3. Sunday
The moment the bell rang next morning Nat flew out of bed, and dressed himself
with great satisfaction in the suit of clothes he found on the chair. They were not
new, being half-worn garments of one of the well-to-do boys; but Mrs. Bhaer kept
all such cast-off feathers for the picked robins who strayed into her nest. They
were hardly on when Tommy appeared in a high state of clean collar, and
escorted Nat down to breakfast.
The sun was shining into the dining-room on the well-spread table, and the flock
of hungry, hearty lads who gathered round it. Nat observed that they were much
more orderly than they had been the night before, and every one stood silently
behind his chair while little Rob, standing beside his father at the head of the
table, folded his hands, reverently bent his curly head, and softly repeated a
short grace in the devout German fashion, which Mr. Bhaer loved and taught his
little son to honor. Then they all sat down to enjoy the Sunday-morning breakfast
of coffee, steak, and baked potatoes, instead of the bread and milk fare with
which they usually satisfied their young appetites. There was much pleasant talk
while the knives and forks rattled briskly, for certain Sunday lessons were to be
learned, the Sunday walk settled, and plans for the week discussed. As he
listened, Nat thought it seemed as if this day must be a very pleasant one, for he
loved quiet, and there was a cheerful sort of hush over every thing that pleased
him very much; because, in spite of his rough life, the boy possessed the
sensitive nerves which belong to a music-loving nature.
"Now, my lads, get your morning jobs done, and let me find you ready for church
when the 'bus comes round," said Father Bhaer, and set the example by going
into the school-room to get books ready for the morrow.
Every one scattered to his or her task, for each had some little daily duty, and
was expected to perform it faithfully. Some brought wood and water, brushed the
steps, or ran errands for Mrs. Bhaer. Others fed the pet animals, and did chores
about the barn with Franz. Daisy washed the cups, and Demi wiped them, for the
twins liked to work together, and Demi had been taught to make himself useful in
the little house at home. Even Baby Teddy had his small job to do, and trotted to
and fro, putting napkins away, and pushing chairs into their places. For half and
hour the lads buzzed about like a hive of bees, then the 'bus drove round, Father
Bhaer and Franz with the eight older boys piled in, and away they went for a
three-mile drive to church in town.
Because of the troublesome cough Nat prefered to stay at home with the four
small boys, and spent a happy morning in Mrs. Bhaer's room, listening to the
stories she read them, learning the hymns she taught them, and then quietly
employing himself pasting pictures into an old ledger.
"This is my Sunday closet," she said, showing him shelves filled with picture-
books, paint-boxes, architectural blocks, little diaries, and materials for letter-
writing. "I want my boys to love Sunday, to find it a peaceful, pleasant day, when
they can rest from common study and play, yet enjoy quiet pleasures, and learn,
 
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