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| Home | Reading Room The New McGuffey Fourth Reader

The New McGuffey Fourth Reader
by William H. McGuffey, Compiler

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Oh, how one ugly trick has spoiled

The sweetest and the best!

Matilda, though a pleasant child,

One grievous fault possessed,

Which, like a cloud before the skies,

Hid all her better qualities.

Sometimes, she'd lift the teapot lid

To peep at what was in it;

Or tilt the kettle, if you did

But turn your back a minute.

In vain you told her not to touch,

Her trick of meddling grew so much.

Her grandmamma went out one day,

And, by mistake, she laid

Her spectacles and snuffbox gay,

Too near the little maid;

"Ah! well," thought she, "I'll try them on,

As soon as grandmamma is gone."

Forthwith, she placed upon her nose

The glasses large and wide;

And looking round, as I suppose,

The snuffbox, too, she spied.

"Oh, what a pretty box is this!

I'll open it," said little miss.

"I know that grandmamma would say,

'Don't meddle with it, dear;'

But then she's far enough away,

And no one else is near;

Beside, what can there be amiss

In opening such a box as this?"

So, thumb and finger went to work

To move the stubborn lid;

And, presently, a mighty jerk

The mighty mischief did;

For all at once, ah! woeful case!

The snuff came puffing in her face.

Poor eyes, and nose, and mouth, and chin

A dismal sight presented;

And as the snuff got further in,

Sincerely she repented.

In vain she ran about for ease,

She could do nothing else but sneeze.

She dashed the spectacles away,

To wipe her tingling eyes;

And, as in twenty bits they lay,

Her grandmamma she spies.

"Heyday! and what's the matter now?"

Cried grandmamma, with angry brow.

Matilda, smarting with the pain,

And tingling still, and sore,

Made many a promise to refrain

From meddling evermore;

And 'tis a fact, as I have heard,

She ever since has kept her word.


Qualities, traits of character.

Meddling, interfering without right.

Forthwith, at once.

Spied, saw.

Amiss, wrong, faulty.

Woeful, sad, sorrowful.

Tingling, smarting.

Refrain, to keep from.


Write the story of Meddlesome Mattie, using your own words and not trying to make rhymes.

What lesson may be learned from this story?

What is a snuffbox?

This story was written almost a hundred years ago. Do ladies use snuffboxes now?



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