It Takes Two to Make A Quarrel

HOW Harry Marshall had reckoned upon that piece of currant-pudding! The farmer’s wife, whose name was Jolly (and a very fit name for her it was), had promised him a plateful for dinner, because he had taken such good care of her pet brood of chickens while she had been away from Elm Tree Farm on a visit.

Harry was a farmer’s lad, ten years old, tall and stout for his age, and able to do a great many more things than some city boys of fourteen. He could ride and drive, keep the stable in order, and even handle a plough. Nor was he a dunce; for, thanks to an evening school, which some of his Sunday teachers had opened in the village, he had learned to read and write very fairly. He had a comfortable place at farmer Jolly’s; but there was plenty of work to do, and the food was plain, though he always had enough; so he did not get pudding every day. No wonder, then, that he should go to bed and dream about that particular currant-pudding of which I am writing. You must not suppose that this was made with such “currants” as are put into a Christmas pudding; they are only small grapes.  No; it was a real currant-pudding, full of nice red fruit and juice, enough to make your mouth water.

The long morning’s work was at last over, and Harry, nothing loath, hastened in and took his place at the side table in the kitchen, where he usually sat. His plate of meat and potatoes was soon cleared, for the boy’s appetite had been sharpened by several hours in the fields.

“And now, Harry,” said Martha, the servant, “here’s your pudding, and a nice piece it is; but you mustn’t be long about it, for John and Peter will want you back in the field; they have been gone this half hour.” So saying, Martha placed the longed-for treat before Harry, and went out to attend to some work in the farm-yard.

Just at that moment a wasp, who had grown tired of buzzing about the peaches in the garden, and trying in vain to get at them (for Peter had covered them with network), peeped in at the window with one of his many eyes, and, spying Master Harry’s pudding, thought, I suppose, that he should like a share. So, without waiting to be invited, he flew in with a loud hum, and made straight for the table, just as Harry had stuck his fork into the first piece of crust.

Now, our farmer’s boy, though he liked pudding, did not like wasps, which he fancied were always ready to sting; and being himself rather hasty in temper, he at once declared war against the little intruder. First he hit at it with his knife, but without success; and then with his fork, but only with this result—that the pudding, instead of going into Harry’s mouth, flew under the grate among the ashes, while the wasp seemed to be humming a song of defiance.

Harry grew red in the face, and vowed vengeance against “the nasty thing;” but “the nasty thing” would not come and be killed. Seizing a large wooden pudding spoon, which lay close at hand, Harry jumped on one of the wooden chairs and aimed a desperate blow at the poor insect. But Yellow-band was too sharp for him, and Harry, losing his balance, fell down with a thump on the sanded floor, while his weapon, spinning across the kitchen, came in contact with one of Mrs. Jolly’s basins, and brought it down with a crash. In rushed Martha in a fright, and, worse still, farmer Jolly’s round, good-natured face appeared close behind.

“Bless the boy,” cried Martha, “what have you been up to now?”

“Why—why,” said Harry, rubbing his shoulder and looking ruefully at the broken china, “it was all that horrid wasp.”

“And why couldn’t you leave the wasp alone?” retorted Martha, angrily, as she picked up some of the pieces.

“Ay, boy,” said farmer Jolly, “why couldn’t you leave the wasp alone, eh? Why couldn’t you leave it alone?” he repeated, catching Harry by the arm with a grip that made him wince.

“Please, sir—please, sir,” stammered the boy, “I thought the nasty—the wasp I mean—was going to sting me.”

“Stuff and nonsense,” replied the farmer; “if you don’t interfere with the wasps, the wasps won’t interfere with you. How often have I told you that it takes two to make a quarrel? Now you have wasted your time, spoiled your dinner, and done mischief; so you had better be off to your work, and Martha will put the pudding away till to-morrow.”

Harry hastened out, looking very foolish, and feeling very much disappointed. “I wish I’d left the wasp alone,” he said to himself; “then I shouldn’t have lost the pudding. The farmer says, ‘It takes two to make a quarrel,’ and I suppose it does. At that rate we needn’t quarrel at all, unless we like. I’ll think about that, so I will.” And so he did; and when he felt  inclined to quarrel, not only with wasps, but with boys, he checked himself by calling to mind farmer Jolly’s words.

And I am of opinion that, if the boys and girls who read this story would remember it too, they would escape many unpleasant and disagreeable things, and be more likely to have a really happy year. For a far wiser Teacher than farmer Jolly once said, “Blessed (or happy) are the peacemakers.”