Dinah’s New Year’s Present
Dinah Morris is a colored girl. She lives in the South. By South we mean in the southern part of the United States.
Dinah is one of the most good-natured children that ever lived, but she is very, very lazy. There is nothing she likes, or used to like, so much as to curl up in some warm corner in the sun and do nothing.
Dinah’s mother wished very much that her child should learn to read, but the lady who tried to teach her soon gave it up. “It is no use,” she said, “Dinah will not learn. She is not a stupid child, but she is too lazy for anything.”
It happened, soon after this, that a young man from Massachusetts came to the house where Dinah lived. He brought with him something no one else in the neighborhood had ever seen before–a pair of roller-skates.
When Dinah saw the young man going rapidly up and down the piazza on his skates she was so astonished she hardly knew what to think. She ran after him like a cat, her black eyes shining as they had never shone before.
One day the young man allowed her to try on the skates. The child was too happy for words. Of course she fell down, and sprawled about the floor, but did not mind at all.
“Look here, Dinah,” said the young man, “I understand that my aunt has been trying to teach you to read.”
Dinah answered that she certainly had.
“Why didn’t you learn?” asked the young man. “You need not trouble to answer,” said he, “it was just because you are too lazy. Now, if, on the first of January, you can read, I tell you what I will do. I will send you as good a pair of roller-skates as I can buy in Boston.”
How Dinah’s eyes snapped. For a moment she said nothing, then exclaimed decidedly, “I’ll have those skates, sure.”
And she did. When she bent her mind on her work she could always do it well, no matter what it was.
The lady who had before this found her such a difficult child to teach, now had no trouble. If Dinah showed the least sign of her former laziness the word SKATES! was enough to make her bend her mind on her lesson instantly.
On New Year’s morning she received a box marked in large printed letters:
MISS DINAH MORRIS, Care of Mrs. Lawrence Delaney, NEW ORLEANS, LA.
If she can read what is on the outside of this box she can have what is inside.
And as Dinah read every word plainly and quickly, of course she had for her very own the fine roller-skates the box held. And now sitting curled up in the sun, doing nothing, is not the thing she likes to do best.