George Hart was five years old when he went to stay some months at his uncle’s house. He was very glad to be with his cousins, for he liked good rough games of play, and he did not cry at a knock or a fall.
At home he had no one to play with him but his sister Mary, and she was quite a little thing, and if he had played roughly with her it would have hurt her. George was a good-natured boy, and he did not wish to hurt any one.
When he got to his uncle’s, he thought he should never be tired of all the nice toys and useful things that his cousins were so kind as to shew to him. In the house there was a long room called the workshop, in one part of which was a large bench with saws, hammers, nails, and all kinds of tools.
His two cousins, Fred. and James, had been taught by their father the use of these tools, and they could make a great many things, such as neat railings for their garden, boxes and small bed-steads, stools and tables for their sister Kate’s baby-house. Fred was ten years old; he could handle a plane and turn at the lathe. James was eight years old; he was not quite so clever with the tools as his brother, but he could read Latin and cypher.
On shelves round the workshop were kites, bows and arrows, bats, balls, boxes of bricks and of paints, a crane, whips, tops, books, pictures, and a great many other things. Whenever the boys had been playing, their papa liked them to put their toys on the shelf, and not to leave them about on the floor to be trodden on and spoilt.
Fred and James went to school for some hours every morning and afternoon. Kate was engaged two hours every morning with her mamma, who taught her to read and write and cypher, and to draw a little. Kate was only seven years old. George’s aunt was kind enough to teach him also, but as he was so much younger than Kate, his lessons were very short and soon over. Long before Kate had finished her lessons, George was left to play by himself.
During George’s visit to his cousins, his uncle was absent from home, but his aunt gave him a small saw; and Fred shewed him how to place the wood that he wished to saw, in the large vice that was fixed to the bench. For some time, George thought sawing was the best play in the world; saw, saw, saw, and the saw-dust fell in little heaps on the ground.
He liked to make a great deal of saw-dust, so that when Kate came from her mamma, they might fill little bags together. Kate could work, and she sewed a number of black bags and a number of white ones. Thus they were able to help one another; one made saw-dust, the other made bags; and then they both loaded their cart with them. The black bags looked just like coal sacks, and the white bags like sacks of flour. Sometimes they made saw-dust pies, and they were happy at their play…
The Parent’s Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction – 1833