Part 3 out of 3
dress, and her teacups and saucers.
"Poor children love to play just as well as rich children, don't they,
mama?" said grave, sweet Nellie.
"I hope you will never forget, my dear, that we are all created alike,
and that all the poor little ones are just as precious in God's sight."
"And it is so nice to make them happy!"
Mrs. Linley gave her darling a smile.
"And Christ the Lord was born for everybody," Frank added in a
reflective manner. "My teacher told me so on Sabbath,--so that all
little children might be saved, and,--have a merry Christmas."
"Maybe they can't all have a merry Christmas. Some are very poor and
sick, and nobody seems to care for them--like the little beggar-girl who
stood watching us when we started. O mama! isn't it hard? What becomes
The sweet face was full of tender pity.
"God takes care of them, like the sparrows," said Frank.
[Illustration: "_They shivered with the cold._"]
Mrs. Linley did not answer. Already her heart condemned her, for after
all, she was a kind-hearted woman. She half expected to find the
wretched object on her doorstep. If so, she would try to make amends for
her harsh words. But she was not there.
When they returned home from shopping, they shivered with the cold and
ran to the register. Then papa came home, and they had the happiest
Christmas eve imaginable. Of course one cannot make one's charities go
all around the world, but Mrs. Linley thought she had stretched hers a
long distance. So she had. And yet she might have given the child at her
door a few pennies. But street-beggars were so often thieves!
Meanwhile the little beggar girl wandered on. For nearly a week she had
slept in the station-house and begged a little during the day, just
enough to keep body and soul together. She used to sell matches and
pins, but she had no capital to buy a new stock, and there were so many
in the trade. A month ago the old woman with whom she had lived died
suddenly. Then she had to live the best she could.
She went on asking now and then for a penny. Some gave the forlorn
little beggar a scowl, some did not even deign to look, and one or two
men spoke roughly to her. Oh! She was so hungry and so cold.
[Illustration: "_She came to a restaurant._"]
The bright sunshine did not seem to warm her a bit. She looked wistfully
into basement windows. She stared at the merry, happy children who ran
by in warm clothing. Her shoes were out to the ground; her tatters
flapped in the biting wind.
It was growing colder and colder. She ran along until she came to a
restaurant. Such a delightful, savory smell came through the grating,
and a faint warmth that was most grateful to her. Not a mouthful of
anything had she eaten since yesterday noon. People went along with
great market baskets full; men with bundles in their arms, girls and
boys with Christmas gifts,--all hurrying homeward.
"Move on, move on, there!" said the stern voice of a policeman.
What if she was arrested and sent to prison? She would have something to
eat. And the pain gnawing at her stomach was so hard to bear. There was
a jacket she might steal--the men around would be sure to see her. She
reached out her hand.
No, she couldn't. She never had been a thief. She remembered her mother,
who had died two years ago. The pretty lady getting into the carriage
had made her think of _her_! Oh! how good it was that the dear mother
could never be hungry again. And she had said, "Jennie, _never tell a
lie, never steal_."
She sat down on a doorstep and began to cry. It was very cold now, and
she was so chilled that the tears froze on her thin cheeks. She curled
herself up in the corner. If she could only get to sleep.
"Hillo!" said a cheerful voice, and some one shook her by the shoulder.
"You'll freeze to death here! It's pinching cold! You better run home."
"Lemme be. I haven't any home. And I was almost asleep. You've brought
all the old pain back."
Sturdy young Susy Diller, herself a poor working girl, dragged up the
forlorn little object and scanned the thin, blue face.
"Where have you been?"
"Station-houses and such," the child answered sullenly. "After old Molly
died, they turned me out. I hadn't any capital, so I had to go out of
trade. I've tried to beg--"
[Illustration: "_She sat down on a doorstep and began to cry._"]
Susy stood considering. What would Granny say if she brought the poor
thing home? "Don't you ask another one to your Christmas party," she had
said already. "There won't be room for 'em to stand on one foot." Susy
drew her sleeve across her eyes. Somehow her heart had grown very tender
since she had been going to the mission school. A little scene flashed
into her mind: On Sabbath, Mr. Linley, the most splendid man in the
world, Susy insisted to Granny, had been explaining to the boys and
girls how even the Saviour of all the world had been houseless.
"I wish I'd been there!" said Susy bravely, "I'd a' took Him in."
"Susy," replied Mr. Linley, "when we do such a thing for the very
poorest and meanest, we do it for the Lord." And then he read the
beautiful commendation that the Saviour was to bestow at the last upon
those who did what they could in this world, picturing their blessed joy
and surprise as they said: "Lord, when saw we Thee hungry and fed Thee,
or sick and ministered unto Thee?" He had a way of making such vivid
pictures that the boys used to listen wide-eyed and open-mouthed.
So Susy had announced to Granny that she meant to give a Christmas
party, and repeated to her all the conversation at the Sabbath-school as
she always did.
"I thought you was going to get that nice new jacket? And you have just
"I'll wait two or three weeks for that," declared Susy. "You see it's so
much nicer on Christmas. I don't understand a bit how the Saviour did
come down to earth, but it seems good to think He was a little boy,
though He was a good sight better'n any of us. When you think of all
that, you can get kinder nigh to him, just as I do to Mr. Linley, our
"And maybe, if we ask in the poor and lame, He will look down and think
Susy Diller is trying to keep Christmas the right way. There'll be lame
Tim Jenkins,--you know he was run over by the street cars,---and Humpy,
whose mother is dead, and the little Smith that I set up in the paper
business, and Kit Benner, who's been sick and lost his place, and--"
It was then that Granny had said: "Don't ask another one. There won't be
room enough for 'em to stand on one foot."
"And we'll have a rousin' turkey,--I know where I can get one real
cheap,--and cranberry sauce, and pickles, and mince pie. A regular
feast, and no mistake!"
But finally Susy had found two more; so now there were six of them. Susy
had work in a factory and took care of Granny, who was too old to do
much of anything, and was almost bent double with rheumatism. They had a
room on the second floor of a tumble-down barrack, and one small bedroom
out of it; but Granny thought it almost a palace, because Susy was so
good to her.
And now here was one more to share their Christmas dinner. What would
Granny say! But the young missionary did not stop long to consider the
matter,--here was a case of real suffering, and Susy's conscience
quickly adjusted itself--
"Come along," said Susy to the little vagrant, thinking somehow of the
Lord of all who had not where to lay His head.
"For maybe if He was here," she soliloquized, "we shouldn't be able to
tell Him from anyone else. And it's just--anybody."
[Illustration: "_She dropped into a little heap before the fire._"]
Susy took the little estray by the arm, and hurried her along. Poor
little Jennie! her feet seemed hardly to touch the ground, they were so
cold and numb. She didn't much care even if she was being taken to the
But she wasn't. After a while she felt the warmth and heard the voices,
but she was so tired and sleepy that she dropped into a little heap
before the fire and only heard her young rescuer say:--
"Let her sleep, Granny; it'll do her more good than anything else."
[Illustration: _"It was a famous Christmas feast."_]
"But, Susy, child, we can't take care of her all the time. And--"
Granny stopped there, looking into Susy's eyes.
"It's Christmas eve, Granny. I feel as if we ought to do something, even
if we have only a manger to take people into."
By and by, Jennie Morgan, the poor little waif, woke up, had some
supper, and told her story. It was like hundreds of others, only her
mother was a beautiful lady. She had seen some one in the street this
morning that looked just like her.
"She's smart and chipper, Granny, and she'll soon be better," said Susy.
Jennie's cheeks were very red the next morning, and her eyes very
bright; moreover, her voice had a curious tremble in it, but she
declared she was quite well. It was so delightful to be housed and warm,
and to have no great hungry pangs gnawing at her stomach.
Susy went out a while, and Granny prepared her turkey to roast. Poor
Jennie thought there never had been such a savory fragrance before.
It was a famous Christmas feast. There were lame Tim with a clean face,
and a new red necktie to do honor to the occasion; Humpy, as the little
fellow was called, who sold pins, tape, and shoe strings on the corner,
and had grown deformed from a bad fall; Kit Benner, looking white enough
and thin enough to frighten you; three others, and the little stray
Jennie Morgan, besides Granny, in a new cap and new calico gown.
Such a time as they had! They were so crowded around the table that
they had hardly elbow room. They made jokes, laughed, drank Granny's
health in the fragrant coffee, and were as happy as the happiest.
Meanwhile, over at Mr. Linley's they had a grand tree. Nellie, dressed
like a fairy, distributed the gifts, carefully laying aside those for
the poor. Of course they could not ask such people into their
festivities. It was honor enough to hang their gifts on their beautiful
tree. Then Mrs. Linley played, and they had some charming carols.
They had two or three songs sung also at Susy Diller's. Susy had learned
them at the mission school. Finally Jennie begged to lie down in the
corner by the stove, for she felt a little chilly, and her head was
"O Susy, won't you sing again?" she pleaded. "It's like heaven. Mother
used to tell me about it. And do you suppose that the Lord Jesus cares
for little girls who have to live on the street and sleep where they
can? Sometimes they can't help lying and stealing."
"Yes, He _does_ care. Mr. Linley told me so. You see," and Susy laid her
forefinger in the palm of the other hand, "you see this is the way: He
puts the thought into other people's hearts, 'cause He isn't here any
more to do the work."
"Oh!" said Jennie slowly, and with a sage nod, "wouldn't it be good,
Susy, if He would put it into the hearts of rich folks? they could do so
"Sometimes He does. Look at the newsboys' dinner! And there's a good
Poor Jennie sighed a little. She could not make it out straight in her
The crowd went away presently, declaring that it was the jolliest sort
of a Christmas. They thanked Susy and Granny over and over again.
The next day was Sabbath. Susy begged Mr. Linley to come and see the
little sick girl at her house. And one way and another, the story of the
Christmas feast came out.
For Jennie, the little beggar girl, was very sick. Cold and hunger had
done their worst. It had been so hard and dreary since her mother died,
with no one to care for her, and to have to dodge around continually,
kicked and cuffed and almost starved. And if the Lord up above _did_
"She's a pretty sick little girl," said Susy, "but Granny and I will do
our best to pull her through."
Mr. Linley felt the pulse and shook his head. The fever was high and
there was no strength to battle with it.
And then he looked into Susy's great, wistful eyes, and was touched to
the heart. The child had learned the sweetest and noblest lesson of all.
She had gone out into the highway and hedges, she had gathered in the
lame and the halt and the blind.
"You see I've grown fond of her, a'ready," explained Susy. "I'd do
anything for her."
"I'm afraid it's too late. I will send in a doctor, and some delicacies
from the house."
"If you please, I'd rather not have you do the last. You see Granny
spoke a little cross at first, and now she's trying to make it all up to
her. She'll feel better if she does everything; and she's a good heart,
What a point of conscience here amid poverty and ignorance!
"The lessons have not all been on my side," said Mr. Linley to his wife
afterward. "The poor little factory girl has taught me something that I
shall never forget. To think of her going without her coat that she
might provide a dinner for some homeless, hungry children. I wish you
would go and see them, my dear." Mrs. Linley went with her husband.
[Illustration: _"O Mother! Mother!"_]
Susy stared as if she had seen an angel. Granny dropped a curtesy, and
dusted a chair with her apron.
"Little Jennie," Susy whispered, "poor little girl, can't you open your
eyes a minute?"
She opened them--wider--wider. Then she rose a little and stared
around--stretched out her trembling hands toward Mrs. Linley, and
"O mother! mother! Susy said I should find you. I tried to be good, not
to lie or steal, though I was nearly starved. And Susy's been so--kind.
She brought me in--to the Christmas--dinner--"
Mrs. Linley caught the swaying form in her arms. The last words quivered
slowly on her lips and her eyes drooped. She remembered just where she
had seen the child, and a pang of bitter self-upbraiding pierced her
heart. She kissed the still lips for her mother's sake, and laid her
gently down. Had Susy and Granny entertained an angel unawares, while
her blind eyes had not been able to discern "the least of these?"
"Oh!" said Susy sobbing, "I'm so glad you came. I s'pose she thought it
was her own mother, for she has talked about her all the time. Poor
little girl! I shall always be thankful that I brought her in out of the
cold, though I never guessed she was going to die."
"The fame of your Christmas feast has gone up among the angels, Susy,"
said Mr. Linley reverently. "And now, my dear girl, have little Jennie
buried where you like, and bring the bill to me. I want a little share
in your good work."
Mr. and Mrs. Linley walked home quietly. Had her beautiful Christmas
tree borne any such fruit as this?
"For I was an hungered and ye fed me."
THE BARN THAT BLOSSOMED
"Mother, it was dreadful!" Gerry's face was all shades of soberness, and
her voice had a suspicious quiver in it. "I almost wish I hadn't seen.
The house is fairly tumbling down; they couldn't have been warm once
last winter. And there were five of them, from the baby up to Tad; he's
twelve. Such clothes! Just as if somebody's rag-bag had fallen apart and
begun to walk around. No wonder poor little Mrs. Jimson is nothing but a
mite of discouragement. Old Jim wasn't much of a man; but I suppose he
did put a bite inside of the rags once in a while, and she doesn't know
where even that is coming from, now he's gone. At least, not bites
enough to satisfy five unragged appetites."
Mother Brace's hands fell upon the potato-pan, knife and all. "Why,
Gerry, child, what can we do? Our own bites aren't any too big; but I
suppose we can spare a few vegetables now and again, if any grow
without old Jim to hoe them. But we certainly haven't any houses or
extra clothes, unless--maybe I could spare--"
"You can't spare a single clo', you blessed mother!" interrupted Gerry.
"You're not to worry at all, but I am going to think and think. I'm sure
I shouldn't be made to feel so bad if there wasn't something I could do
With which cheerful logic she sprang up and set about finishing her
morning's work, interrupted to attend the short and simple funeral
service said over the body of "old Jim Jimson," who had given them such
help as they could not dispense with in their square bit of garden, and
squandered the money that should have provided for the wife and five
children whose wretchedness had torn Gerry's tender heart.
All day she thought and thought; and, as she washed the supper dishes,
she was still thinking:--
"Now, Gerry Brace, what are your worldly possessions, anyway? Clothes
enough to be a wee bit more than respectable, a house plenty big for
two, but certainly not stretchable to take in six more, a little piece
of garden, and a nice big piece of grass and trees, and a barn. A barn!"
she repeated, clasping her hands in the dish-water with a splash.
"Mother Brace," she said ten minutes later, when she sat on the top step
of the front porch with her arms across her mother's knee. "I believe
I've hit on the very thing to do. There are the Jimsons in their
tumble-down house, and here are we with a perfectly whole, clean barn
without even a cat in it. Don't you see the possibilities? Presto!
Change! There is the tumble-down house empty, and here are the Jimsons
living in the perfectly whole barn." Mother Brace gasped.
"Oh, mother dear, please don't 'but.' You know there are two parts to
the barn down-stairs, and up-stairs there are three. They could have a
living-room, kitchen, and three bed-rooms."
[Illustration: "_I believe I've hit on the very thing to do_."]
"Yes'm," said Mother Brace meekly, "but where would they get the three
"Why, I suppose they sleep on something now, though probably it wouldn't
fit our clean barn; that's a fact."
For a moment Gerry looked crestfallen. Then she brightened again.
"Well, I can think that out, too, seeing I thought of the barn. The
question is, mother, would you be willing to have them come!"
There was silence on the porch for a few minutes while Mother Brace
watched the sunset over beyond the hills.
"It looks like the gates of the celestial city," she said at last,
"where there are homes for everybody. Yes, Gerry, dear, I'd be willing
to have them come, if there's anyway of fixing it."
Gerry squeezed the work-roughened hand that had slipped into hers.
"You blessed! Of course, I knew you would. Mother, I'm going to Aunt
Serinda about the beds."
"Your Aunt Serinda?" Mother Brace gasped again. "Why, Gerry!"
"Yes'm," repeated Gerry. "I'm going to Aunt Serinda. There is no sense
in having a garret full of old furniture when there's an empty barn just
hungry for it. If she hasn't enough, I'll go to Mrs. Squires. I'll take
up a collection, mother, a missionary collection."
"I'm afraid your Aunt Serinda will think--" began Mother Brace faintly.
"Yes, I know she will think," Gerry agreed. "She will say, 'How
perfectly ridiculous!' But before I get through she will give me a bed
and very likely a blanket. I shall start out to-morrow morning and see
what I can do."
True to her word, the sun had not dried the dew from the grass that was
rapidly growing green under its spring warmth before Gerry was on her
way up the neat box-bordered walk at Aunt Serinda's.
"The Jimsons!" sputtered that good woman when Gerry began to dilate upon
their forlorn condition. "Jimson weeds I call 'em. Of all the shiftless,
good-for-nothing lots! They can't be much worse off now old Jim's gone."
"No, ma'am," said Gerry; "they don't need to be. They are going to be
better off, Aunt Serinda. They're coming to live in our barn. You know
we never use it, and it's a specially tight barn, with more windows than
Aunt Serinda held up her hands in horror.
"In--your--barn? How perfectly ridiculous! Why, they'll bring microbes
enough to poison you all. And they'll run over everything."
"I hope so," said Gerry promptly. "Little Jimson-weeds have to run
somewhere. It might better be over our good clean grass than down there
in the centre where there's mischief waiting to be done every minute.
They won't bring any microbes, though, because I mean to have them burn
up all their old things before they come, I'm taking up a collection
this morning to furnish the barn. You are going to give me a bed and
some other things out of the attic, aren't you, auntie?"
"Well, of all things!" Aunt Serinda stood with her hands on her hips,
and stared at Gerry. "If you aren't the beat of any girl I ever saw! I
suppose you'd like to have me take down my kitchen stove for 'em, and
send along the spring rocker, from the parlor, besides."
Gerry laughed cheerily.
"Oh, no, auntie, only just the things up in the attic that you can spare
as well as not. You know you'd rather someone would have the use of them
than to have them wasted up there. Couldn't we go up now and see? I
ought to hurry a little. I may have to go to lots of places before I get
Aunt Serinda turned, and led the way up stairs without a word.
"There is a bed," she admitted when they stood under the peaked roof. "I
took it down from the spare room when Mary Ellen bought the brass one to
sleep in when she comes. The mattress wouldn't fit any other; so I
suppose it might as well go along. There's some patchwork quilts in that
chest, too, that Mary Ellen never liked. I guess you could have some of
It was very exciting, picking out and setting aside. Just why Aunt
Serinda, with all her abundance, had treasured so many old things was a
question. Probably it was because few people knew the keys to her heart
as Gerry did, and so no one had ever asked her for them. And it was not
Aunt Serinda's nature to give without asking.
[Illustration: "_It was very exciting, picking out and setting aside_."]
Once started, however, it seemed to be easy enough.
"Those chairs over there," she said finally, dusting her hands upon her
apron when the collection had grown to a very respectable size, "they
don't need much mending; I guess James can do it to-night. How are you
going to get all this stuff over to the barn?"
"I don't know." Gerry paused aghast. "I never once thought of that. I'll
find a way, though, or make it."
"Yes, I expect you would," said Aunt Serinda, smiling grimly; "but this
time you needn't. I'll have James hitch up the long wagon and take 'em
over when you're ready, and he could pick up anything else you collect,
on the way."
Gerry stood for a minute with shining eyes, irresolute. Then she flew at
Aunt Serinda, and, throwing both arms around that astonished person's
neck, planted a warm kiss on the nearest cheek.
"Auntie, you're a--a winter apple! Just as crisp and reliable and sweet
inside! I like you."
"Mercy me!" said Aunt Serinda, quite abashed. "Mercy me!"
The quarter of a mile down the road to Mrs. Squires' house seemed to
slide from under Gerry's feet. Mrs. Squires was round and rosy and
"Why, yes, my dear, of course, I'll help. I'm through cleaning, and
there are some things I've been wondering what to do with. I haven't any
beds, but there is a rusty cook-stove in the cellar that I'll be only
too glad to have you take. I should think it could be cleaned up and do
"Oh, yes, thank you," said Gerry eagerly; "I can black it and all that.
And Aunt Serinda's James will come for it."
There were several additions to the cook-stove before Gerry hurried on
to Judge Beaker's, following the suggestion that the Beaker girls had
just refurnished their bedroom.
It was close after house-cleaning time, and rummage sales had not yet
found their way into East Greenfield; so it was not very wonderful that
by noon Gerry really had enough things promised her to furnish the barn
with a comfort that would seem luxury to the young Jimsons and their
It must be confessed that the finishing touch for Gerry was given when
she leaned on the window-sill to tell the story to little lame Ruthie
West, not because she expected anything there, but because she was so
happy that she could not help stopping to share it with some one. Ruthie
laughed over the yellow soap feelingly offered by Mr. Evans, and cried
over the cook-stove, and when it was all told exclaimed earnestly:--
"Oh, Gerry, I must do something; I just must! I haven't any things, even
if you needed them; but you come in, please, and get my Japanese box out
of the bureau drawer. It's got my gold piece in it. It's truly mine,
Gerry; Mr. Graves gave it to me last Christmas, and I haven't been able
to think of anything nice enough to do with it. Now I know. You take it,
Gerry, and buy some pretty stuff to make some frilly things, and some
curtains, maybe--if there's enough. They'll love to have pretty things;
I know they will. And, Gerry, maybe it will help them to be good, those
little Jimson-weeds," quoting Aunt Serinda softly.
Tears rolled down Gerry's cheeks onto the shining piece of gold in
"You--darling!" she whispered, and could not say anything more.
Mother Brace's potatoes grew quite cold while she listened to Gerry's
excited reports, and grew as much excited herself in the hearing.
"I'll begin to sweep the barn this afternoon," she declared, hustling
the dishes off the table. "I don't want that poor Jimson soul to wait a
minute longer than she must to have it all."
The dust was flying in clouds from the open barndoors when the "poor
Jimson soul" herself came dragging up the path with the baby in her arms
and a dingy black dress, manifestly borrowed, trailing forlornly behind
"Oh, my!" thought Gerry as she watched her coming. "I never remembered
the clothes. They'll have to have them. I wonder--
"Come right in, Mrs. Jimson," she interrupted herself; "come and sit
down here. You must be tired with such a long walk."
"I ain't no more tired than I always am," Mrs. Jimson answered drearily,
dropping into the rocker Gerry pushed forward. "I ain't never been
rested, and I don't never expect to be. I've come to see if you've got
anything I can do to earn some money. Folks has been good, and we've
had enough to eat so far; but it stands to reason I've got to do
"Yes," Gerry nodded gravely, "and the children will have to help. Maybe
Tad can do some of the gardening ol--Mr. Jimson used to do, and Jennie's
big enough to take care of the little ones and help do the housework so
you can go out part of the time."
"I guess all the housework won't hurt her," sighed Mrs. Jimson, brushing
away a slow tear that was stealing down her cheek. But at the same
moment a ray of hope began to steal into her heart with Gerry's brisk
"I'd be willing to do anything," she went on more energetically. "I
ain't lazy, though folks may think so; but I've got plum discouraged."
"And now you are going to take heart o' grace and begin again," declared
Mother Brace, coming in with her broom over her shoulder in time to hear
the last words. "I suppose, then, you're willing to come and scrub my
barn floors for me to-morrow morning. They won't be very hard, but I
can't get down so long on account of my knee. I can pay you fifty
"Oh, I'll come." Mrs. Jimson straightened up so eagerly that she nearly
dropped the baby. "And I'll get 'em clean, too. I know how if I don't
Telegraphic signs passed between Mother Brace and Gerry by which it was
decided to say nothing about the moving at present. Nevertheless Mrs.
Jimson went home much lighter of heart and foot than when she came,
though she carried several extra pounds in the way of vegetables and
Hardly was she out of sight when Mrs. Thomas Benton, president of the
Ladies' Aid Society, rapped at the Braces' front door.
"You see," she told Gerry when she had recovered her breath, being
somewhat portly for so steep a hill, "we've heard about your barn plan,
and we thought we'd better have a finger in the pie. So we decided that
instead of packing a barrel for the heathen just now we will dress up
the Jimson's, so as to have them match better with their new home. Oh,
we shall do the heathen before long, too; only we thought maybe this was
an 'ought to have done and not leave the other undone.'"
Bright and early next morning Mrs. Jimson was on her knees scrubbing the
barn floors, little dreaming that she was helping to lay the foundation
for her own future happiness.
She could not have been more thorough, had she known, much to Mother
"There's good stuff in her," was the verdict. "She may be a weed, but
she'll pay for cultivating."
It was nearly a week before the barn was ready, a week so busy that
Gerry's bones ached when she stretched them in bed each night, but so
happy that she cared not at all for the aches. Aunt Serinda's James
toiled up and down the hill with the long wagon loaded more than once;
Ruthie's loving fingers flew upon the ruffles and frills; Gerry and her
mother set things straight, nailing and tacking diligently; and
gradually the barn became transformed.
"It's blossomed like the rose!" Gerry announced joyously. "It isn't a
barn any longer; it's a cottage. Oh, mother, it's better than a cottage;
it's a home."
Oh, it was very plain and simple; to some it might even have seemed
bare, in spite of Ruthie's pretty things. But to Gerry, with the
tumble-down house fresh in her memory, it was all that could be desired.
[Illustration: "_Mrs. Jimson was on her knees scrubbing the barn
The morning it was all ready at last, in spotless order, with the bright
sunshine and the soft spring breezes pouring in at the open windows,
Gerry ran down the hill to the Centre.
The little Jimsons were not playing in the mud outside the tumble-down
house as usual. Mrs. Jimson met Gerry at the door in a trim dark calico
dress that made a different woman of her. Seated in a beaming circle
within were the five children, each clad from top to toe in clean, fresh
garments, from Tad down to the baby, who was crowing in Jennie's arms,
radiant in a gay pink gingham.
"Aren't we splendid, Miss Gerry?" cried the little girl, pushing a
glowing face out from behind the baby's head. "Ma's just got us dressed
up, and we're going to have a bonfire of the old ones."
"It was the Ladies' Aid, Miss Gerry," supplemented Mrs. Jimson almost as
excitedly. "They've just gone, Mrs. Benton has, and they brought us all
these and more. Did you ever see anything like it? Of course, I'm going
to help clean the church to help make up," she added with a new womanly
dignity that was very becoming; "but I couldn't never pay for the
"It's beautiful," said Gerry, "beautiful! I couldn't tell how glad I am.
I'm so glad, too, that you've got them on, for mother wants you to come
up to the house a few minutes, all of you. It's something very
[Illustration: "_We want to show you our new house_."]
Seizing Tommy, the two-year-old, by the hand, she hurried off ahead of
them, fearing she could not keep her secret if she delayed another
instant. Up the hill and across the wide grassy yard she led them,
straight to where Mother Brace stood in the barn doorway.
"I've brought them," she said, and stopped, overwhelmed by this crowning
"We want you to see our new house we've fixed up," Mother Brace
explained, coming to the rescue. "Come in, all of you."
Considerably bewildered, Mrs. Jimson obeyed, shooing the children before
her like a flock of chickens. It was not usual for her to be called upon
for opinion or approval; and she made the most of it, exclaiming with
admiration and delight as they made the rounds of the tiny bedrooms, and
stood once more in the long, shining kitchen with its neatly blackened
stove and its row of polished tin pans.
"It couldn't be no completer, no ways," she pronounced judgment. "Nor no
Then Gerry found her voice, and the words came tumbling out in joyful
"It's all for you, Mrs. Jimson. You're to come here this very day, and
this is to be your home. You are to sleep in the bedrooms, and cook in
the kitchen, and--"
"But I don't understand," faltered Mrs. Jimson, her bewilderment
deepening with every second. "Where did it come from? Whose is it?
"It came from everybody," laughed Gerry tremulously. "Lots of people
helped. And it's yours, I tell you, to live in as long as you want to,
you and the children. Don't you see, dear?"
Little Mrs. Jimson dropped down suddenly in the middle of the shining
"Oh, my land! my land!" she sobbed, rocking to and fro. "I never knew
there was such folks in the world. I feel just as if I'd got into one o'
the many mansions!"
Mother Brace patted the bent shoulders gently.
"You have," she said, her voice catching, "into one He's been preparing
for you. Only instead of angels He used a lot of warm, loving human
hands to do it with."
* * * * *
"I SHALL NOT WANT"
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
I shall not want food. "I am the bread of life. He that cometh to Me
shall never hunger."
I shall not want drink. "If any man thirsteth let him come unto me and
I shall not want rest. "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest."
I shall not want guidance. "I am the way; no man cometh unto the Father
but by Me."
I shall not want companionship. "I have called you friends." "Lo, I am
with you always."
I shall not want joy. "These things have I spoken unto you that My joy
might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
I shall not want honor. "If any man serve me, him will My Father honor."
[Illustration: "_We shall find plenty to do to-day_."]
HOW DOROTHY HELPED THE ANGEL
Two angels met one misty morning in one of the Lanes of Light: one, the
Angel of Encouragement; the other, the Angel of the Rainbow, who
brightens things up generally.
"We shall find plenty to do to-day, companion," remarked the latter;
"things are looking rather gloomy."
"Ah!" said the Angel of Encouragement, "how blessed are we who carry
heaven's sunlight ever with us, and ever round us!"
And then they parted.
The Angel of Encouragement entered a house where a young girl was trying
to light a fire. A gray, weary day stretched in front of her, and the
tears would come. Some girls of her age were still at school. She was a
girl with ambitions; many a rosy castle of fancy had been built by her,
but built only to vanish.
[Illustration: "_Encourage somebody_."]
The angel bent over her, and whispered: "Try to encourage somebody
to-day." And thinking it was her own inner self that had spoken, she
answered, "Yes, perhaps that is the wise way after all."
Directly breakfast was over a postcard had to be taken to the letter box
for mother. The angel's thought had brought a bright light into the
girl's face. A little fellow was coming towards her, and he was crying;
the school bell had awakened fears. Instantly her arm was round his
"Cheer up! It will soon be going-home time."
[Illustration: "_Cheer up_."]
"Will it?" asked the child, and his sobs ceased.
"Yes. I felt like crying this morning. But it's better to be brave."
A business man was hurrying along, but paused to watch the work of
comforting. His heart was heavy, too, but her words: "It will soon be
going-home time--it's better to be brave," like a sweet chime, kept with
him all the day.
As the girl re-entered the house a song was on her lips, and a tired
woman turning a washing-machine next door caught it. She looked round
her--there was such a heap of work to do--and dinner to think of for
husband and children. No wonder there was a worried look on her face.
"Hope on! hope on! Though long the road and drear. Hope on! hope on! The
sunlit hours are near."
[Illustration: "_Hope on_."]
It was Dorothy Cummins singing! "Hope on!" The woman began to sing too.
"The sunlit hours are near!" The washer went faster. The woman's face
caught a gleam from the coming sunlight. "Hope on! Hope on!" It would
yet be possible to get all the clothes out before noon.
If she had looked into her neighbor's back garden just then she would
have seen what the singer did. A little brown bird was vainly pecking
away at a crust lying under a tree. Then the singer came, with soft,
quick steps, and broke the crust into crumbs. The sunlit hour had come
for the bird.
[Illustration: "_Broke the crust_."]
And it even came for Brother George at dinner time. Joy bells did not
always ring when he and Dorothy were in close quarters. To-day his
sister remarked, as she looked over his shoulder at some exercise papers
in his hands: "What a nice writer you are, George. Father couldn't
write a bit better than that, I'm sure."
"Don't you make fun of a fellow."
"I'm not. I mean it."
[Illustration: "_I mean it._"]
It is strange, but true, words of praise do not often come in our way.
The sunlight dazzled George just at first, but when he had grown
familiar with it, he called out just before going off to school again:
"I say, Dorothy, don't you go chopping that wood. I'll do it when I come
back again. Wood chopping isn't in a girl's line." He even shut the door
so quietly that the mother at work at her machine did not know that he
had gone--the mother who had to work so many hours in order to make ends
meet during the husband's long illness. Her face looked very sad as she
bent over her work, but such a change came over it as the door opened
and the little housekeeper came in, bearing a cup of tea and a thin
slice of bread and butter, laid daintily on a little tray.
[Illustration: "_I'm not tired now._"]
"Why, Dorothy, what have you got there?"
"A cup of tea for you, mother, and you are to drink it, and to be sure
to eat the bread and butter. I saw how little dinner you ate. I was
watching you, and you did look so very tired and worn." "But I'm not
tired now," said the mother, "not a bit of it. Why," lifting up her face
from the teacup, "your loving care has strengthened me already."
"I shall be able to help you a lot after tea," said Dorothy, before
returning to her kitchen duties.
As soon as they were over, and she had changed her dress, she peeped
into her father's room to see if he was sleeping.
"Dear daddy," said she, stroking his white brow and smoothing the
pillow, "you will soon be better now."
[Illustration: "_The twenty-seventh Psalm_."]
"How does my little one know that?"
"Because the doctor generally goes away frowning, but to-day he actually
had a smile on his face. Daddy"--with a sudden movement, as though she
had just thought of something--"shall I read you something? I have
nothing to do before tea."
"Do, my darling."
The twenty-seventh Psalm was read in a soft, low voice.
The sick man's eyes were riveted on the reader's face. "Child, what
made you read that Psalm?"
"Because, daddy, it's one of my favorites. Did you like it?"
"Yes." Then in a still lower voice, "I must tell you this, for God has
been so good to me. I have prayed all day that He would send me some
sign or message. And then you bring me words that have put new life into
me. 'I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the
Lord in the land of the living.' 'Be strong, and let thine heart take
courage.' Child," and there was a glad ring in the voice, "you have been
doing angel's work."
Twilight was filling the valley when again the angels met. "How has your
work fared to-day, companion?" asked the Angel of the Rainbow.
"My work has sped well to-day, for a girl in a lowly home, just along
the path of her daily life, has helped me greatly. Ever so many times
during the hours of light she has started, here and there, the sweet
chiming bells of hope."
"Ah," said the Angel of the Rainbow, "now I understand how it was they
sounded so much clearer to-day, and why my colors were so bright. Did
you see the lovely bow I threw across from hill to hill, and then a
second one, the rays gleaming all down the cliffs? Did they not make you
think of the Rainbow round the Throne? It is only as I catch hope's glad
singing rising from the byways below that I can paint my brightest
ONE GIRL'S INFLUENCE
* * * * *
"A young girl went from home," writes Mrs. Sangster, "to a large school
where more than usual freedom of action and less than customary
restraints were characteristics of the management. She found very little
decided religious life there--an atmosphere, upon the whole, unfavorable
to Christian culture. But she had given herself to the Lord, and she
could live nowhere without letting her light shine.
"In a very short time she found two or three congenial spirits, more
timid than herself, but equally devoted. A little prayer meeting began
to be held once a week in her room. On Sabbaths in the afternoon, a few
of the girls came together to study the Bible. Before the half year was
over, the hallowed flame had swept from heart to heart, and there was a
revival in that school."
[Illustration: _Yes, father, your dinner is ready_.]
TWO KINDS OF SERVICE
* * * * *
"Have you put up my dinner, Maude?"
John Melvin asked the question almost timidly. His daughter's face was
clouded, her lips were compressed, and she was making a great deal of
unnecessary noise as she moved about the kitchen. She did not reply at
once, and when she spoke it was in no pleasant voice.
"Yes, father, your dinner is ready. Now I must put up the children's
dinners, and there is the ironing to do, and I must do some cooking
also. This will be a busy day with me, but all my days seem to be busy.
Perhaps I do not understand how to keep ahead of the work. I have no
time for recreation; there seems to be nothing in life for me but
Mr. Melvin sighed heavily.
"I am sorry, Maude. If last season's crops had not failed, I should
have hired some stout woman to do the heavy work. It is too much for
you, a girl of nineteen, to have all these cares; but what can I do?"
"You can do nothing, father, and no one is to blame. I expect to be a
drudge. Amy," raising her voice, "where are you? Go and pick up the
breakfast dishes, and be quick about it. It isn't time to get ready for
school. Fred, what are you doing? Haven't I told you not to whistle in
the kitchen? Oh, dear! one needs more patience than any mortal ever
"I am sorry, Maude," said Mr. Melvin, again. "It was a sad day for us
all when your mother died."
And then the discouraged man, old and worn before his time, took his
dinner-pail and started for the distant wood-lot.
Maude continued to move rapidly about the kitchen and pantry, doing the
morning's work and scolding the children in a shrill voice.
"What's the use of being so cross, Maude?" asked Amy, a bright-eyed girl
of twelve. "I can't see that it does any good."
"I can't be so easy as you are, Amy. I wish things didn't fret me, but
they do. And you have an easy time, while I have to work like a slave."
"I'm sure I help you all I can, Maude. I don't suppose you want me to
stay out of school to work."
"You know I don't. You won't have time to do any more this morning.
Now, Fred, I told you to study hard to-day and not fail in your
"All right sis," rejoined Fred carelessly.
"Fred, how many times have I told you not to call me 'Sis?' I am tired
beyond endurance. I don't want to hear another word from you this
morning, sir," she added as she saw the boy was about to speak.
As the children left the house, Fred looked significantly at his sister.
"Wasn't Maude cross this morning? How she did bang things!"
Amy puckered up her brow.
"I can't understand it, Fred. Maude is always scolding."
"Yes, and she belongs to the church. I'm glad I'm not a Christian, if
"Oh, hush, Fred! Christian people are happier than we are."
"Humph! Maude professes to be a Christian, but she can't be happy. Seems
to me she's the unhappiest person I know. Papa doesn't belong to the
church, but he isn't always scolding."
"Well, I can't understand it," sighed Amy. "But, Fred, you know mama was
"She was a real Christian, too," said Fred soberly. "But I guess it's
hard work to be the real thing. Maude must be a make-believe one," he
"Oh, hush, Fred! I don't like to hear you say such things."
Left alone, Maude's hands were busy. At dinner time she ate a lunch,
and at two o'clock was through her work.
"Everything's in order," she thought, as she looked about the neat
kitchen. "And I'm not going to touch a bit of sewing this afternoon.
I'll go into the sitting-room and rest until it's time to think about
In the pleasant little sitting-room Maude sat down in an easy rocker at
the front window and looked out over the snow-covered fields. Presently
she saw the bent form of a little old lady in a black coat and red hood
coming up the path.
"Aunt Sarah Easler," she said to herself, "and coming here, too."
The old lady came in without knocking and Maude rose to meet her. Aunt
Sarah seemed much agitated. She took both of the girl's hands in hers,
tears streaming from her eyes.
"What is it, Aunt Sarah?" cried Maude. "Has anything happened?"
"My poor child! My poor child! May God help you!"
Maude felt herself growing faint, but she resolutely banished the
"What has happened?" she asked, in a voice so calm that it astonished
herself. "The children?"
"The children are all right, my dear. It is your father."
"My father! What of him? Is he hurt?"
[Illustration: "_Tired father? Supper's all ready_."]
The old lady bowed her head and replied in a broken voice: "Badly hurt,
[Illustration: _"What is it, Aunt Sarah?"_]
Maude grasped Aunt Sarah's arm.
"Your face tells me that it is even worse than that," she said, calmly.
"Is he dead?"
"My poor child!"
"You need say no more. I know he is."
Even as Maude spoke, she looked out of the window and saw four men
bearing her father's form on a stretcher. She did not faint or cry out,
but in a moment her mind went back over the three years that had passed
since her mother's death, and she saw wherein she had failed as a
daughter and sister.
Tears came to her relief, and as they gushed down over her cheeks she
awoke with a start. She looked out of the window. Oh, thank God! no men
were in sight, bearing her father's form on a stretcher.
"It was a dream," she murmured. "Heavenly Father, I thank thee!" And she
formed a few resolutions and lifted up her heart in prayer for help.
"How terribly I have erred and wandered from the way," she said aloud.
"This dream has opened my eyes, and I see what I have been doing. What
must have papa thought of me? No wonder that he is not a Christian. I
have wondered, too, that the children have been so indifferent to
religious teaching, but the influence of my life has spoiled everything.
But, thank God! the present is mine, my dear ones are spared to me, and
henceforth I will strive to have my life count for Christ."
When the children came that night they looked in wonder at their sister.
There was a smile on her face, and her voice was gentle when she spoke
to them. The tea-table was neatly spread and Fred saw his favorite hot
rolls. Presently Mr. Melvin came in, somewhat timidly, expecting as
usual to hear complaints and impatient exclamations from Maude. Instead,
she greeted him pleasantly.
"Tired, father? Supper's ready. I've made some of the toast you like and
opened a can of peaches.
"I suppose you are very tired, Maude," said Mr. Melvin, looking
wonderingly at his daughter.
"I'm a little tired, father, but I'm thankful for the privilege of
getting tired. I have a comfortable home, and we are all in good health.
You see, father, I am beginning to count my blessings. I have been a
fault-finding, ungrateful girl, and have made you all unhappy; but I
hope to make some amends for the past."
"God bless you, my daughter!" said John Melvin, huskily.
DUTY AND PLEASURE
* * * * *
"Duty first, and pleasure afterward," wrote Amy Leslie in her copy-book
one fine morning.
Line after line she penned, making many a mistake, for her thoughts were
far away. At last her mother, who was sitting near her, said, "Amy, this
is the third time you have spelled pleasure without a 'p,' and left out
the 'f' in afterward. Put down your pen and tell me what you are
thinking about; for I am sure it is not of your copy."
"I was only thinking," replied Amy, "how glad I should be if my copy
said, 'Pleasure first--duty afterward.' It is very hard always to have
the disagreeable part first. I wish I could have one whole week with no
duties at all! How I should enjoy myself!"
Mrs. Leslie remained silent for a moment; then she said, while a quiet
smile played round her lips, "Well, Amy, for once you shall have what
you want. For a whole week you may amuse yourself; no duties, mind, my
child,--none at all."
"There is no chance of my wanting any, I assure you, mama," said Amy,
joyfully; "I shall be so happy, you'll see!"
"Very well, then," said Mrs. Leslie; "you may begin to-morrow. To-day I
shall expect you to do as usual."
Amy said no more; she finished her copy, learned her lessons, then went
to the nursery to take charge of her little brother while the nurse was
busy with other work. Afterward there were socks to mend, and an errand
to run, and buttons to sew on to baby's shoes, and a letter to write.
And so the day passed, and the next morning dawned on our
pleasure-loving little friend.
"No duties" she said to herself, as she woke at seven, which was her
usual time for rising; "so I can lie in bed as long as I please." She
turned over, and as she could not sleep, began making plans for the day,
and thinking what a delightful time she would have. About half past nine
she came down stairs, to find her breakfast on the table; milk, toast,
and egg, all as cold as possible. "What a wretched breakfast!" she said,
as she took her seat.
"Well, dear," replied Mrs. Leslie, "your breakfast was ready at the
usual time, and of course is cold now."
Amy said no more. She ate with only half her usual appetite, and,
finishing in about five minutes put away her chair, and left the room.
As she went up stairs to fetch her hat, baby in the nursery stretched
his arms for her to take him; but she hurried past, and left the little
fellow crying with disappointment.
Soon she came down again, with a fairy book in one hand, and a box of
chocolate drops in the other. The sweets had been a present, but
hitherto her mother had allowed her to have only one or two daily; now,
however, she might do as she liked, and at present her idea of perfect
bliss was the combined charms of chocolate drops and fairy stories.
[Illustration: "_Carried it like a baby_."]
For about two hours she sat in the garden; then she grew tired, and a
little sick from eating too much chocolate, and was returning to the
house, when her pet kitten ran out to meet her. For a short time she
amused herself by playing with it, dressing it up in her pocket
handkerchief and carrying it like a baby; but Miss Pussy wearied of
this, and at last jumped out of her new dress and her mistress' arms,
leaving a scratch as a keepsake behind her.
Altogether, the morning was hardly a successful one, nor was the
afternoon much better. After dinner, one of Amy's little sisters tore
her dress, and was running to Amy to ask her to mend it; but Mrs. Leslie
"Don't go to your sister, my child, come to me;" and little Jessie,
wondering, let her mother darn the rent. Amy felt very uncomfortable,
for she knew that Mrs. Leslie's eyes were not strong, and were probably
aching with the effort of such fine work; but she shrank from offering
her services, and made her escape from the room as soon as she could.
In the evening she was about to draw her chair to the fire and read the
newspaper to Mr. Leslie, a duty of which she had always felt rather
proud; but her father gravely took the paper out of her hand, saying
quickly, "No, Amy, this is a duty; remember you are to amuse yourself
and do nothing else."
Amy's eyes filled with tears, and she ran up stairs to her own room. She
had no heart to read the fairy book, or to make clothes for her doll, or
to play with the kitten, or even to eat the rest of her chocolate drops.
"I shall never be able to bear another day of this," she said to
herself; "I thought it would be so delightful to have no duties, but
somehow my play does not seem half so good as it did before."
The next day brought no real pleasure and comfort. Listlessly Amy
wandered about, having no zest for any of her former amusements, and
feeling thoroughly unhappy. She began to long for the very duties which
had seemed so irksome to her; she could hardly keep from tears when she
saw others busy over lessons, or her mother doing work which had
formerly been hers.
At last her misery ended in a fit of crying, and shutting herself up in
her own room, she gave way to it. Sob followed sob so quickly that she
did not hear her door open, until her mother's arms were round her, and
her hot, aching head was pillowed on her mother's shoulder. Not a word
passed between them for a few minutes; then Amy sobbed out, "O mother!
mother! the copy was quite right, 'Duty first, and pleasure afterward;'
for without duty there is no pleasure at all."
[Illustration: "_Her mother's arms were around her_."]
[Illustration: "_Do tell us a story_."]
THE DANGEROUS DOOR
* * * * *
"Oh, cousin Will, do tell us a story! There's just time before the
school-bell rings." And Harry, Kate, Bob, and little Peace crowded about
their older cousin until he declared himself ready to do anything they
"Very well," said Cousin Will. "I will tell you about some dangerous
doors I have seen."
"Oh, that's good!" exclaimed Bob. "Were they all iron and heavy bars?
And if one passed in, did they shut and keep them there forever?"
"No; the doors I mean are pink or scarlet, and when they open you can
see a row of little servants standing all in white, and behind them is a
little lady dressed in crimson."
"What? That's splendid!" cried Kate. "I should like to go in myself."
"Ah! it is what comes out of these doors that makes them so dangerous.
They need a strong guard on each side, or else there is great trouble."
"Why, what comes out?" said little Peace, with wondering eyes.
"When the guards are away," said Cousin Will, "I have known some things
to come out sharper than arrows, and they make terrible wounds. Quite
lately I saw two pretty little doors, and one opened and the little lady
began to talk like this: 'What a stuck-up thing Lucy Waters is! And did
you see that horrid dress made out of her sister's old one?' 'Oh, yes,'
said the other little crimson lady from the other door, 'and what a
turned-up nose she has!' Then poor Lucy, who was around the corner, ran
home and cried all evening."
"I know what you mean," cried Kate, coloring.
"Were you listening?"
"Oh, you mean our mouths are doors!" exclaimed Harry, "and the crimson
lady is Miss Tongue; but who are the guards, and where do they come
"You may ask the Great King. This is what you must say: 'Set a watch, O
Lord, before my mouth: keep the door of my lips.' Then He will send
Patience to stand on one side and Love on the other, and no unkind word
will dare come out."
THE GOLDEN WINDOWS
* * * * *
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Ruth impatiently, as she put the library to rights.
"I do wish we could have a new carpet this spring. I never liked this at
all, and now it is so faded and worn it is simply dreadful. It makes me
miserable every time I look at it."
"Then, since you say you cannot very well have a new one just now, why
do you look at it?" asked Aunt Rachel, smiling. "There are a great many
unpleasant things in our lives--we find them every day--some of which we
are unable to prevent. If we persist in thinking of them and keep
fretting about them, we make ourselves and everybody about us miserable.
"It seems to me we might all learn a lesson from the bees. I have read
that when anything objectionable that they are unable to remove gets
into a hive, they set to work immediately to cover it all over with
wax. They just shut it up in an airtight cell, and then forget all about
it. Isn't that a wise way for us to manage with our vexations and
"Someone sent me a postal the other day with this motto: 'The secret of
happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one has to
do.' It is not in having and doing just as we like, but in being
determined to make the best of the inevitable. When you find an
unpleasant thing in your life that cannot be removed, learn to seal it
up and forget it.
"And then I think that many times it helps to get a different view of
things. You remember the fable of the golden windows, do you not? A
little boy who had very few pretty things in his own home because his
parents were poor, used often to stand in his own doorway at sunset time
and look longingly at the big house at the top of the opposite hill.
Such a wonderful house as it was! Its windows were all of gold, which
shone so bright that it often made his eyes blink to look at them. 'If
only our house was as beautiful,' he would say. 'I would not mind
wearing patched clothes and having only bread and milk for supper.'
"One afternoon his father told him he might do just as he pleased, so he
trudged down the hill from his house and up the other long hill. He was
going to see the golden windows. But when he reached the top of the
other hill he stopped in dismay; his lips began to quiver, his eyes
filled with tears. There were no golden windows there--nothing but
plain, common windows like his own. 'I thought you had beautiful golden
windows in your house,' he said to the little girl in the yard.
[Illustration: "_A lovely house with truly golden windows_."]
"'Oh, no!' she said; 'our windows aren't worth looking at, but stand
beside me and you will see a lovely house with truly golden windows.
See?' The little boy looked. 'Why, that is my house,' he said, 'and I
never knew we had golden windows!'
"You see, much depends on your point of view.
"I have lived to be an old woman, my dear, and I have come to feel that
the most heroic lives are lived by those who put their own vexations and
troubles out of sight, and strive by every means in their power to ease
the burden of the world; who leave always behind them the influence of a
brave, cheery, loving spirit."
* * * * *
TRUST ALWAYS: NEVER FRET
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and follow after faithfulness:
Delight thyself also in the Lord;
And He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
And He shall make thy righteousness to go forth as the light,
And thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord,
And wait patiently for Him:
Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way,
Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Cease from, anger, and forsake wrath:
Fret not thyself; it tendeth only to evil-doing.
[Illustration: _"The light of the sun does us no good unless we are
living in it!"_]
THE NEW LIFE
* * * * *
"The light of the sun does us no good unless we are living in it! Yes,
that is just what the minister said," mused Tim, as he tossed his
Sabbath-school paper upon the table, and gave himself up to the flow of
his own thoughts. "Yes, he said just that, and more, too. He said that
the life of Christ will do us little good unless we are living in it;
that is, unless we are Christians, it makes little difference to us
whether Christ gave His life for us or not."
"What is on your mind, now?" It was Tim's sister Ada who asked this
question as she came running into the room upon her return from school.
She had stopped on her way to gather violets, and that, you see, is why
she had not reached home as soon as Tim.
"Oh, I was just thinking about what the minister said last Sabbath,
that is all," replied the lad in a low voice.
"Oh, yes, what he said about people being 'born again' if they would
live the Christ life, and that reminds me that I must write his text
down in my text book. Let's see, it was last Christmas, wasn't it, when
Mrs. Martin gave us those little books, and told us to write in them the
text of every sermon we heard preached; and I am glad to say that I have
not missed many Sabbaths since then."
"Neither have I," said Tim. "And do you know, I have been wondering
whether Mrs. Martin will give her class any presents this Christmas."
"Oh, I don't know. I should think a teacher did her duty by teaching a
Sabbath-school class fifty-two times in a year, without spending her
money on presents for us, even if we are but four. I think it would be
more appropriate for us to be giving her a present this year, than for
us to be expecting one from her."
"And let's get up one for her," proposed Tim.
"And that means that we will," laughed Ada. "When you say, 'let's' in
that tone something is always sure to happen."
"But we don't want to have the whole say about the presents ourselves,"
observed the boy, evidently pleased at his sister's compliment. "Mark
and Nettie haven't come by from school yet. When they do, we will call
them in, and see what can be done."
"All right, and let's watch for them."
The windows facing the road were immediately taken possession of, and
it was not long before Ada and Tim were both rapping on the panes of
"What is it?" shouted Mark from the road.
"Come and see," replied Ada.
Mark and Nettie, a rosy-cheeked brother and sister, were soon in the
little sitting-room, and Ada and Tim were laying before them their plans
"It is just like this," said Ada; "I found Tim dreaming about Christmas,
and I just suggested that we give Mrs. Martin a Christmas present this
year. Now what do you think of it?"
"That would be just the thing," said Nettie.
"But what do you think she would want?" queried Mark.
"We can't tell, unless we ask her," replied Ada. "But have any of us
ever heard her say what she wanted?"
"I have," said Tim. "I have heard her say that what she wanted the most
of anything was to have her scholars come to Christ."
"But I mean something that we could give her."
"But if we should make up our minds to be Christians, it would make her
pleased," said Tim, "and perhaps she'd rather be pleased in this way
than to have a present."
"I know that she would," said Nettie; "and I say, let's settle the
question once for all."
The others looked in amazement at Nettie; they could scarcely understand
what she meant. Her face was flushed, and she was trembling with
emotion, but one thing was certain, and that was that Nettie was in
earnest--also Tim; and whatever Tim wanted the others to do they
"You may as well tell us what you do mean," said Mark.
[Illustration: "_We might sign a paper_."]
"Why, just what I said," replied Tim. "I think it is about time that we
began to think some of being Christians--that is, if what the minister
says is true, and I suppose that it is, for everybody believes
everything else that he says, when he has anything to say in our house
and in the store."
"I should say as much," said Nettie.
"But what can be done about it?" queried Mark, in perplexity.
"We might all sign a paper, telling her what we intend to do, and give
it to her Christmas," proposed Tim.
"So we can," said Mark, "and let's do it at once."
So Tim went to the desk, and spent a few minutes writing something upon
a piece of paper. When he had finished, he turned around and asked;
"Want to hear it?"
"Of course," answered Nettie.
So he read: "We four scholars of your class have made up our minds to be
Christians, and we give you this information as your Christmas
remembrance from us."
"Just the thing," said Ada.
"And I suppose that we must all sign it," suggested Nettie.
"Of course," answered Tim.
"But is this all that we must do to be Christians?" queried Mark.
"I should say not," answered Tim, "but if Mrs. Martin knows that we are
in earnest, she will tell us what to do."
So the paper was signed by the four, after which Mark and Nettie
continued on their way homeward.
On the Sabbath following Christmas, after the class had gathered, and
were waiting for Sabbath-school to begin in the little church on the
hill, Tim passed to Mrs. Martin an envelope bearing her name. When she
opened it and read the note that was within, her eyes filled with tears
"Oh, my precious class! My precious class!" This was all she could say,
as she looked from one to another with face shining like an angel's.
"We thought that you'd tell us just what to do," began Ada. "We felt
that we needed help from you."
"And you shall have it this very hour. We will let the lesson go
to-day, and just have a little meeting all to ourselves."
"That will be just beautiful!" exclaimed Nettie.
While the other classes in the church were discussing the lesson for the
day, Mrs. Martin's class in the pew in the rear were settling the great
question of their lives.
Mrs. Martin began by telling them the story of the Christ--how Christ
left His heavenly home, and came to earth to die for all men, since all
are sinners; and how all may be saved from sin by being sorry for their
wrong-doing, deciding to lead a right life, and taking Him as their
personal Saviour. "Is this what you all believe?"
"It is," replied the class, softly.
Then all closed their eyes, and Mrs. Martin prayed softly for them,
after which each prayed for pardon, and by the time Sabbath-school was
dismissed, all felt that Christ had accepted them as His very own.
"Oh, how I shall prize this little note," said Mrs. Martin, as they were
leaving the church for home. "You could not have given me a Christmas
remembrance which would have meant more to me. And I am sure that I am
not the only one you have remembered this day--you have given yourselves
to Christ, who died and arose from the grave for you, and He will
treasure the Christmas gift you have given Him more than I can the one
you have given me."
THE IMPOSSIBLE YESTERDAY
* * * * *
She was a tiny girl, playing by herself in a wide, grassy yard. The
older children had gone to school, but she, too young for that, was
busying herself with putting in order a playhouse in an arbor--arranging
it as nearly as possible as it had been the day before, when she and two
or three little mates had enjoyed such a merry time there. To and fro
trudged the tireless feet, patiently the small hands worked, and at last
all was complete. Then the young worker looked about her, and slowly a
shadow of disappointment crept over the face that had been so eager.
Something was lacking. Everything was in the remembered order, but it
did not seem the same. She studied it for a minute or two, then walked
away and sat down on a sunny doorstep. The mother found her there a
little later, a listless, quiet little figure.
"Are you tired of your playhouse already, dear?" she asked.
The childish eyes were uplifted with a look of wistful wonder in them,
and the answer came slowly.
"I can't do it--I can't make yesterday over again."
[Illustration: _"I can't make yesterday over again."_]
It was the hopeless task that in one form or another we all undertake,
and with which many darken their whole lives because they will not learn
that it is an impossible one. Yesterday's roses died with the day,
yesterday's manna was only for yesterday's need, but there are new
flowers and new food for to-day from the same gracious hand that
bestowed the other, if only we will go cheerfully and trustingly
forward. The treasures and pleasures we have had are for memory and
thanksgiving, but the moment we sit down beside them to grieve or to try
to reconstruct them out of their ruins we have changed them from a
blessing to a hindrance. We cannot make yesterday over again.
A CHILD'S PUZZLE
* * * * *
Meg had been playing in the garden all the morning, and when mama called
her in she had earth on her hands, and smuts on her face, and she looked
such a grubby little thing.
Mama smiled. "You have been having a good time, Meg," she said.
And she put a tin bason with some soap and warm water in it on a
chair where Meg could reach.
"Now, then, wash your hands and face, dear. Dada will soon be in for
But Meg pouted. "I don't want to wash," she said. "I am not dirty."
Mama waited a little, but when she saw that Meg did not begin to wash,
she said, quite gravely:
"You cannot sit at the table, as you are, dear. If you do not wash, then
you must go without your dinner."
Meg stood a minute, then, as she saw that mama was quite firm, she put
her hands into the water and began to wash and scrub them.
Lucy is older than Meg, and she had looked on all the time to see what
Meg would do. When Lucy saw her begin to wash and be good, she
"Why is it, mama, that you and dada can do just as you like about
everything, but we children have to do as you tell us all the time? I
don't think it is fair. I wish we could do as we like, too."
Mania did not speak for a moment. In her heart she said, "Lord help me
to make this plain to my little girls."
"Did Meg have to wash?" she asked them.
"Yes," said Lucy. "If not, she would have to--"
"Bear the punishment," said mama. "You say, Lucy, that dada and I do
just what we choose, and that is quite true. But if we choose to do
wrong, then we have to be punished too, and the punishment is far worse
than any that dada or I can give you, for it comes from God.
"Little children do not always know right from wrong, so in order to
help them and make right easy, God gives them parents and teachers to
praise them when they are good"--and here mama laid her hand on Meg's
head--"or else to punish them when they are naughty.
"My two little girls may do just as they choose, as long as they choose
to do what is right, and then when they are big and there is no mama to
tell them all the time what to do, I hope they will do right of
HOW ONE GIRL SHOWED THAT SHE WAS SORRY
* * * * *
In a little village lived a poor old woman with a pretty granddaughter.
One day the aged woman went out without her crutch, but her
granddaughter was near to serve her as a support. It continued thus for
a long time. To the promenade, to church, or market, the good old
grandame no longer used her crutch, but leaned on her granddaughter.
There was much prattling about this in the village, and all wondered. At
last they found out the cause. The granddaughter, in a fit of passion,
threw her grandmother's crutch in the fire, and the old woman was too
poor to buy another. The hasty girl cried and repented, and the frail
old woman pardoned her; but, to make reparation, her grandchild never
quitted her for an instant, and served as a faithful crutch, till she
saved up money enough to buy a substantial new crutch, on which were
these words, "Repentance and restoration."