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´╗┐Title: Little Alice's Palace - or, The Sunny Heart
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Little Alice's Palace - or, The Sunny Heart" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcribed from the 1872 T. Nelson and Sons edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



LITTLE ALICE'S PALACE;
OR,
THE SUNNY HEART.


LONDON:
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.

1872.

{i:Miss Mason and Lolly: p0.jpg}



CHAPTER I.


The rain was pattering, pattering steadily upon the roof of a little
brown cottage that stood alone by the country roadside.

There had been a long and dreary winter, and now the bright spring was
coming, with its buds and leaves and flowers, to gladden the earth, that
had all the time seemed to be dead.

As the shower came down, the little green blades of grass sprang up to
catch the drops; and they seemed almost to laugh and sing, so full of joy
were they when they could lift their heads from the dust.

It was so much sweeter to be out once more from their prison-house and to
exult with all God's fair creation; so they bathed themselves in the
falling shower, and made themselves fresh and clean; and nobody would
ever have believed that they came out from their dark beds in the earth.

Little Alice looked out of the windows of the brown cottage, and saw them
nodding gaily to her as they were taking their bath; and so she smiled
back again, and talked to them from her perch in the window-seat as if
they were brothers and sisters, with eyes and ears to see and hear, and
hearts to return her love.  Indeed, there was no one else to whom she
could talk the livelong day.  No father, for he was dead; no living
brothers and sisters; no mother at home, for they were very poor, and her
mother must be gone at early dawn to labour for their food and clothing
and shelter;--and so Alice had to make companions of the blades of grass
that nodded at her through the drops.

"Oh, you beauties!" said she gladly; "and I know who made you, too, and
what a great, good God he is to send you here--bright little creatures
that you are.  How pleasant it will be down by the brook-side when the
sun comes out, and you and I and the blue violets and the dandelions have
our visiting-time together!  Never a little girl had such joy as I have!"
And Alice put her face close to the pane, and looked up into the sky to
thank her kind heavenly Father for sending her such blessings.  It seemed
as if she could see him bending graciously down towards her, as her
Sunday-school teacher had often represented him to her; and then she
thought of Him who was upon the earth, and who took up little children in
his arms and blessed them; and she put out her hands towards the heavens,
saying earnestly, "Me, too, dear Saviour: bless me too!"

So absorbed was she that she didn't hear anybody enter the room until a
timid voice said,--

"Who were you speaking to, Alice?"

There was such a woful figure by the door as she turned her head--no
bonnet, no shoes, and a tattered frock, all draggled with dirt and rain,
and the long, uncombed locks straggling about the child's shoulders, and
such a blue, pinched look in the thin face!

"Oh, it's you, Maddie, is it?" said Alice, jumping from the window and
taking the hand of the new-comer.  "But it was a pity to get so wet.  I'm
glad you've come.  We'll keep house together till it clears away, and
then maybe we'll have a nice walk.  First we must dry your clothes,
though."  And she put some sticks in the fireplace, and putting a match
to them, stationed Maddie before the blaze, while she held the skirt out
to dry.

"Isn't it pleasant here?" asked Alice, with a beaming smile.

Maddie looked around, with a half shrug, upon the cheerless room, with
its bit of a table and the one chair and the low, curtainless window, and
then her eyes fell upon the scantily-clad little girl by her side; and
then she shivered, as the dampness of her clothes sent a creeping chill
through her frame; but she didn't say it was pleasant.

"Aren't you afraid to stay here so much alone, Alice?" she asked, giving
another glance about the room.

"But I never stay _alone_, Maddie!" answered the dear child.  "I have
plenty of company--'Tabby,' and the flies, and now and then a spider, and
everything that goes by the door, and the clouds and the sunshine and the
leaves and the--oh dear! so many things, Maddie, that I can't begin to
tell you."  And she stopped short for want of breath.

"And somebody you were talking to.  Who was that?" asked Maddie.

"Ah, yes, best of all!  Don't you know, Maddie?" said Alice, sinking her
voice to a whisper, and gazing earnestly at her young companion.  "Miss
Mason told me how He is everywhere, and sees and hears us, and that he
loves us better than our mother or father can do, and watches over us and
keeps us from all harm.  If you go to the school with me you'll learn all
about it, Maddie dear.  No, no; I'm never _alone_ though mother _is gone_
all the long day."

"Do you _see_ Him, Alice?" asked Maddie earnestly.

"Not as I see _you_, Maddie," returned her companion with reverence; "but
when I look up into the sky, and sometimes when I sit here by myself and
speak things that I have learned from my Bible, I seem to feel some
strange brightness all above and around me; and it's so real to me that
it's just like seeing with these eyes.  Miss Mason says 'it's my soul
that sees.'  Whatever it is, it's very beautiful, Maddie."  And Alice
clasped her hands in a sort of ecstasy, and drew near to the window to
look up once more into the heavens, whither her eyes and her heart so
continually turned.



CHAPTER II.


The shower did not last long, and the warm sun melted the diamonds from
the grass, so that it was soon fit for the little girls to go out into
the freshness and enjoy the pleasant air.

"Don't you think this a pretty cottage?" asked Alice, as they stepped
outside and stood looking upon her home.  "See the moss all over the
shingles; how velvety it is!  Tabby goes up there to sleep on the soft
cushion in the sun.  And here's where I put my convolvuluses, and they
climb up and run all over the window and make such a nice curtain, with
the pink and blue and white and purple mixed with the green; and they
reach up to the very chimney, Maddie, and hug it round, and then trail
down upon the roof.  Oh, I think it's elegant!  And here's my flower-bed,
right under the window, where mother can smell the blossoms as we sit
sewing when she has a day at home.  We take real comfort here, mother and
I, Maddie."  And so the little blithesome child prattled about her humble
home, while her companion looked in astonishment upon her, wondering why
it was that Alice always seemed so happy, while _she_ was so miserable.

"We'll go down by the brook-side now," said Alice.  "There's my grand
palace.  Such hangings! all blue and gold and crimson; and carpets that
your feet sink into; and a great mirror, such as the richest man couldn't
buy.  Don't you know what I mean, Maddie?"  And Alice laughed gleefully
as they reached the brook-side, and pointed to the heavens above, so
brilliant in the sunny radiance, and down to the green and flowery turf
beneath their feet, and to the clear stream that reflected all things,
like the purest glass.  And she said, "Now, don't you like my palace,
Maddie?"

"Yes, it's very pretty here," said Maddie; but she didn't seem to feel
about it as Alice did, who was in such good spirits that she could keep
neither her feet nor her tongue still, but frisked about the green like a
young deer, and chattered like a magpie, only in far sweeter tones.

"_This_ is my _bower_," said she, lifting up the drooping branches of a
willow and shutting herself and Maddie within.  "Here I come for a nap
when I am tired of play; and the leaves rustle in the wind, making a
pleasant sound, and the birds sit on the boughs and sing me asleep, and I
dream always happy dreams.  When awake, I think about the pure river that
my Bible speaks of, and the tree of life that is on either side, and the
beautiful light that isn't like the sun, nor the moon, nor the blaze of a
candle, but comes from the face of God, and is never hidden from us to
leave us in darkness."

Maddie sat down upon a large stone that Alice called her throne, and
looked eagerly up at her companion for more; for Alice's words seemed to
her like some beautiful story out of a book.

"Did you ever go into any great house, Maddie?" asked Alice.

"No, never," said Maddie.  "I passed by Mrs. Cowper's one day, and looked
in at the open door when somebody was coming out, but I couldn't see
much."

"That's just where I went with mother," said Alice; "and little Mary took
me into a high room, the walls all velvet and satin and gold, so that my
eyes ached for looking; and there were such heaps of pretty things on the
tables and all about the place; but it didn't make me feel glad as I do
when I get out here in my grand palace with these living, breathing
things around me.  O Maddie, there isn't anything on earth so beautiful
as what God has made!"

"Do you stay out here always?" asked Maddie.

"Oh no," said Alice; "that would be idle.  When mother has work I stay at
home to help her.  I've learned to sew nicely now, and can save mother
many a stitch.  To-day's my holiday, and I can play with you as long as
you please.  I've brought some dinner, and we'll set a table in my dining-
hall."  And she took from her pocket a little parcel, and led Maddie from
the bower to a hollow near the brook, where was a flat rock, and there
she spread her frugal fare.

There were two pieces of homemade bread and a small slice of cold bacon,
which she put upon leaves in the middle of the rocky table; and gathering
some violets, she placed them in bunches here and there, till the table
was sweet with their delicious fragrance.

Just as the children were about to help themselves to the food, there
came some little tired feet over the grass; and a more forlorn figure
than Maddie's stood a few yards off, looking shyly, but wistfully, at
them.

"Now, Lolly, you may just run home again as quick as you can," said
Maddie sharply.  "We haven't enough dinner for Alice and me.  Go, now!"
And she went towards her and gave her a slight push, at which the child
cried, but without turning away or making a step towards home.

"Is that your sister?" asked Alice, going up to Maddie.

"Yes; she's always running after me," returned Maddie, with an
ill-natured frown.

"Poor little thing!" said Alice.  "I wish my sister Nellie had lived.  I
shouldn't be cross to her, I know.  Come here, Lolly: you shall have some
of _my_ dinner."  And she led the little grateful child to the wild
table, that seemed to her like a fairy scene, with the fresh leaf-plates,
and the pure sweet flowers breathing so delightfully.

"Mother makes capital bread--doesn't she, Maddie?" said Alice, as she ate
her small portion with evident relish, while she shared the remnant with
her guests.

"Now, Maddie," said she, as they finished the repast, "you clear the
table and wash the dishes, and Lolly and I'll go to my mirror to make
ourselves nice to sit down, and then I'll tell you the story my teacher
told me the other day, if you would like to hear it."

Maddie gladly agreed to this; and Lolly gave herself up to the gentle
hands of her new friend, who took her to the brook and washed her face
until the dirt all vanished and her cheeks were like two red roses.  Then
she took her pocket-comb, and, dipping it into the water, made the
child's hair so smooth that Lolly didn't know herself when she looked
into the brook, and asked, "What little girl it was with such bright eyes
and fresh rosy cheeks?"  And when Alice told her that it was herself, she
laughed with delight, and said "she would come every day to dress herself
by Alice's mirror if she could look so nice."  And then Alice and Maddie
and Lolly went to the bower for the story.

Alice sat down on the grassy bank, and Lolly laid her head upon her
friend's lap, while Maddie crowded close to her to listen.

"I don't know that I can remember it very well," said Alice; "but I'll
tell it as nearly as I can like Miss Mason.  She called it 'The Little
Exiled Princess,' and this is it."



CHAPTER III.


Once upon a time there was a little girl no bigger than Lolly here,
sitting in the dirt by the roadside, crying.

Her frock was all ragged and soiled, and the tears had run over the dust
upon her face, making it streaked, and disfiguring it sadly.

Altogether, she was a very miserable little object, when a lady, walking
along the road, suddenly came upon her, and stopped to see what was the
matter.

As the lady gazed upon the strange, ragged little creature, there came
tears into her eyes, and she said softly, as if speaking to herself,--

"Who would think that this is the daughter of a great King?"

The child, seeing a beautiful lady before her, jumped from the ground,
and, with shame, began to shake herself from the dirt that clung to her
garments; but the stranger, taking no notice of her untidy condition,
clasped the child's fingers in her white hand, and told her to lead her
to her home.

It was a brown cottage, very like mine, only _that_ one was hung with
cobwebs, and the dust was an inch thick upon the floor, and the window
was so begrimmed that scarcely any light came through.

"Ugh!" said the lady, as she stood upon the threshold and looked in.

"Bring me a broom!"  And she brushed away the hanging webs, and made the
floor neat and clean, and taught the child to wash the window, until the
bright sun came in and played about the floor and upon the walls; and
then she made the little girl wash her face and hands, and put on a
better frock, that she found in the chest.

"Now, my little princess," said she, "come outside for a while, in the
fresh air, and I will talk to you."

"Why do you call me 'little princess'?" asked the child, as they sat down
upon the cottage-step, while the birds twittered about them and the sweet
breath of summer touched their cheeks.

"Because you are the daughter of a great King," said the lady, gently
stroking her soft, brown hair, that she had found so tangled and shaggy,
but had made so nice and smooth.

"My father was a poor man, and he lies in the graveyard," said the little
girl, as she looked wonderingly at her friend.

"Yes; but I mean your heavenly Father," said the lady--"he whom we call
GOD.  Surely you have heard of him, my dear child!"

The little girl said that she had heard of him; but, from what she could
learn, the lady knew that she looked upon him as one that is afar off;
and she wished to teach her how very near he is continually, even round
about her bed and about her path, and spying out all her ways.

"Do you live here all alone, dear child?" asked she kindly.

Her words were so sweet and gentle that they sounded like the murmur of
the brook near the little child's home.

"All day long alone, while mother is away at her work," answered the
child, with her eyes full of sad tears.

"And what do you do with the weary hours?  Do they not seem very dull and
dreary to you?" asked the lady.

"Ah, yes," said the little one.  "I have nobody to play with or talk to;
and I'm glad when the night comes and I can creep into bed and shut my
eyes and forget everything."

"What if you had some kind friend ever near, to smile on you and bless
you,--somebody to whom you could tell all your little sorrows as you are
now doing to me?" said the lady.  "Would that be pleasant?"

"Oh yes, indeed!" returned the child.  "Will you stay?" for she had felt
it very sweet to be sitting there with the kind lady's words falling like
music upon her ear, and her heart was lighter and happier than it had
been in all her life.

"I cannot always be with you," said the lady.  "But there is One who
'will never leave you.'  How beautiful he has made everything about you!"
And she looked upon the green earth, with the peeping flowers, and upon
the delicate shrubs that skirted the roadside, and the wild-roses and
creeping plants along the hedges, and then she looked up into the blue
heavens, with such an expression of love that the child gazed at her with
rapture.

"Such a good God!" said the lady, still looking up with the bright light
upon her face.  "And such a wondrously beautiful world, where we may walk
joyously, with his love in our hearts as well as all about our path; and
yet we sit in the dust weeping, and forget that he is our Father, and
that he is watching for us to turn towards him--poor, wandering, wayward
children that we are!"

Though the lady spoke as if to herself, the child knew that she was
thinking of her; for she had not quite put away the shame of her first
appearance; and she touched her white hand timidly with her brown finger,
and said, really in earnest, "I won't sit in the dirt again."

"That's a dear child," said her friend.  "You must never again forget
that, although you are poor, and must live in this world for a while, you
are in truth a little exiled princess, and your glorious home is with the
great King, your Father, in the skies; and it does not become the
daughter of so great a King to put herself on a level with the beasts;
but you must lift yourself up more and more towards heaven."

The little girl looked at her, and straightened her figure to its
greatest possible height.

"Not to carry yourself proudly, as the daughter of an earthly king might
do," continued the lady, "but be above doing a mean or low thing, and try
to be heavenly and pure, like your blessed Lord and Father; and then he
will lift you up to his beautiful, high throne."

The child's head drooped again, and she looked despondingly at her
teacher, as if she did not really know what to do.

"I'm going now," said the lady; "but I shall come once a week to see how
you get on.  I shall not expect the cobwebs to gather any more in the
cottage, nor the dust to collect upon the floor, nor to shut out the sun
from the window, nor the little princess's face to be dirty and ugly;
because that would offend the pure and holy God, who made this world
fresh and clean and beautiful, and expects his children to keep it so.  Do
you think you will remember 'Our Father'?"

"'Who art in heaven,'" said the child, calling to mind the prayer taught
her some time in her life, but long since almost forgotten.

"Not in heaven _only_, dear child," said the lady.  "I want you to think
of him as close beside you always, wherever you go.  Can you read?"

"A little."

The lady opened a pocket-Bible, and drawing the little girl closer to
her, said, "Now, say after me,--

"'Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy
presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed
in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and
dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead
me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say, Surely the darkness
shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.  Yea, the
darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the
darkness and the light are both alike to thee.'

"You see, my dear child," said she, as she reverently closed the book,
"we cannot get away from God if we would, and surely we would not try to
hide ourselves from so kind a Friend and Father if we could.  Only when
we are doing something that we are ashamed of do we shun the face of one
who loves us; and if we try to flee from the eye of God we may be sure we
are guilty of some wickedness.  How much sweeter is it to do what we know
will please him, and look freely up into his face, as a good child
delights to meet his earthly parent's smile!"

The lady rose to go, and the child looked wistfully at her and then at
the little Bible.

"Ah yes; I will give you this.  It will tell you what to do."  And she
put the book into the child's hands.  "You will read a chapter every day
till I come?"

The little girl gladly promised, but was sad at the parting; for never an
hour passed so cheerily as the hour with the kind teacher.

"You may be sure I'll come again, for _He_ sends me," said the lady.  And
she looked up once more with the heavenly face, and then stooped till her
soft lips touched the child's forehead; and, while the pressure of the
gentle kiss thrilled through the very soul of the little girl, her friend
was gone.



CHAPTER IV


"Did she come again?" asked Maddie, who had got upon her knees in front
of Alice, with mouth and eyes and ears wide open for the story.

"Oh yes; many and many a time," said Alice.  "And she taught the little
girl to see her Father's love in the trees, and the flowers, and all
about, as she walked amid his beautiful creation; and she learned to be a
neat, tidy little girl, instead of the dirty, miserable creature that sat
crying in the dirt by the roadside when she first saw her friend.  The
lady taught her to look upon herself as greatly beloved by her Father,
and after that she was not miserable any more."

"Did you ever see the little princess?" asked Lolly, raising her head
from Alice's lap and looking earnestly at her.

"Yes, indeed.  Every day since the lady came to her," said Alice.  "She
lives in the same cottage now; but it has grown to be a beautiful place;
for God's flowers are all about it, and God's sun streams in at the
window, and all over the mossy roof, like a golden flood,--and God
himself is always with her to keep her from harm and from being lonely or
sad."  And as Alice said this, the tears glistened in her blue eyes, as
the dew-drops sparkle through the sunlight in the violets.

"We'll go and see her now," continued she; "and I'll show you two other
little exiled princesses."  And she took Lolly and Maddie down by the
brook-side, and bade them look in her great mirror; and there they saw
themselves and Alice--all children of the great King.

"Ah, now I know!" said Maddie, clapping her hands.  "_You_ are the little
princess, Alice, and Miss Mason is the good lady.  Is she so nice as all
that?"

"_Just as nice_, dear Maddie," replied Alice; "and if you and Lolly will
go with me to the Sunday-school, she'll tell us a great many more
beautiful stories, to help us on our way to our heavenly home.

"But come.  It is nearly time for us to go now.  Mother will be looking
for me.  Good-bye."

And the little girl with the sunny heart bounded into the cottage with a
smile and a kiss for her mother.



CHAPTER V.


When Alice left the children, they went sauntering along the road towards
home.  Very slowly they walked, and not joyously and hopefully, as little
children do who think of their father's house as the brightest and
dearest spot in the whole world.

It was a long distance from the brown cottage of their friend; but the
freshness of the evening made it delightful to be out, and they had been
resting so many hours that they were not weary.  Besides, the twinkling
stars came out in the sky, and there was shining above them the calm,
bright moon; and altogether it was so serene and lovely, that they almost
wished they could be always walking in some pleasant path that should
have no unpleasant thing at the end--such as they felt their home to be.
Presently they came to a bend in the road, and a few steps from the
corner was a low-roofed house, a ruinous-looking place, with rags stuffed
in the broken window-panes.  There were green fields around it, and tall
trees gracefully waving near it; but the old house spoiled the landscape
by its slovenly, shabby appearance.

A dim light was burning in the room nearest the children; and as they
approached, they could see their father and mother sitting at a table,
eating their coarse supper of bread and cold salt pork.

Lolly thought what a pleasant table Alice had by the brook-side, and the
scent of the violets seemed even now to reach her, and the music of the
waters was in her ears, and the bright, happy face of her little playmate
came freshly before her, making the dingy room where her parents sat,
with the gloom of the dim light and the tattered dusty furniture, still
more uninviting and cheerless.

Lolly lingered outside the door, while Maddie entered.  She sat down upon
the step, and called to mind all that Alice had said to them that day.

She was younger than Maddie by a year or two, but her soul was older--that
is, it was more thoughtful and earnest; and instead of dwelling always on
the things of earth, she had a wistful longing for something higher and
better, which Alice's words had begun to satisfy.

The cool breeze played upon her cheek, and the sound of the air, as it
rustled the leaves, and the breath of the flower-scented meadows fell
soothingly upon her senses; and as she looked up into the starry sky,
with its myriads of gleaming lights, and recalled the story, she felt
within herself that indeed she was a little princess as well as Alice,
and that far above all the glory of the heavens her Father was awaiting
her return to the heavenly palace.

"Maddie and I mustn't forget these things," said she to herself; "but
must try to get ready for our better home."

So much was Lolly thinking of the things she had heard in the story, that
she might have sat there in the dew all night, but that her mother called
her to eat her supper and go to bed.

Maddie was already fast asleep upon a trundle-bed, that was pushed under
the great bed by day, and drawn out at night; for there were only the two
rooms in the house, and they had to make the most of all the space.

Lolly had never felt the house so small and close as on this night; for
her soul was swelling with such large free thoughts, that the four narrow
walls of the bedroom seemed to press in upon her and almost to stop her
breath.

She could not go to bed until she had opened the window and looked up
once more into the bright sky; and as she did so, she said very
earnestly, "O my Father!"

She did not know any prayers.  She had never been taught to call upon
God.  Most that she had ever heard of the other life was through Alice's
story that day; and her heart was so glad of the knowledge, that it
already began to go out towards her heavenly home and her gracious
Father.

As she spoke these words, there came such a happy feeling to her spirit--a
feeling that she was not alone, but that she was watched over and
protected; and with a sense of security and safety, such as she had never
before known, she lay down beside her sister, and was soon sweetly
slumbering.



CHAPTER VI.


Lolly was awakened in the morning by the fretful voice of her mother, as
she went scolding about the house, trying to pick up something for
breakfast; and she heard her father answering her in no pleasant mood,
and kicking about the floor whatever came in his way.

It was a sad awakening for poor Lolly, and, for the minute, it put wholly
out of her mind the pleasure of the previous day, and the lesson learned
in the green and sunny place by the brook-side; and she was sorely
tempted to cover her head with the bed-clothes, and sleep again, until
her parents were off to their work, and then give herself up to idleness
and play, as she had always done.  But the bright happy face of Alice
came before her to help her, and she was out of bed in a minute.

"Maddie, Maddie!" said she, leaning over her sister and giving her the
least bit of a shake in order to arouse her; "come, get up.  The sun is
shining on the wall, and it is a beautiful day.  I want you to go with me
for Alice."

"Get away!" returned Maddie in a huff.  "I haven't slept half enough!"
And, settling herself again, she dropped off into a heavier slumber;
while Lolly, seeing that it would do no good to disturb her, dressed
herself and went into the other room.

Her mother was baking a cake, and her father sat near, idle.  Both looked
surprised to see Lolly up so early.

There was a woollen-factory in the village, perhaps half a mile away, and
they were off generally long before the children were up; and Maddie and
Lolly usually ate such pickings as they left upon the table, and spent
their days as they pleased, with little thought or care from their
parents.

Lolly could not wait to get her breakfast.  She cared for nothing to eat,
now that her mind was intent upon some great thing, and she sped away
over the dewy grass to find her new friend.  She had never been in
Alice's house, for they had only lived a little while in the place where
they now were, and Maddie alone had found out their neighbour.  Her
sister would not always let her play with her, and it was only a mere
chance that led her to follow Maddie the day before and get acquainted
with Alice.

I did not mean to say _chance_.  I would rather say a kind watchful
_Providence_--which is the true and right word for a Christian to use;
because everything that happens in this world is governed by God's over-
ruling power for some good purpose; and Lolly was led to the spot where
her sister and Alice were at play, expressly that she might learn
something of her bright, eternal home.

Now that she had seen the sunny-hearted little girl once, it took her but
very few minutes to find her again.

The distance seemed nothing at all; and, from the time she left her own
door, she could see the cheerful face all along her way, making her walk
very pleasant and not in the least lonely.

The cottage door was wide open, and the sunlight lay in golden streaks on
the floor at the entrance, where Tabby had stretched herself comfortably.
Lolly could see into the little square room at the right.

The table was spread with a neat, white cloth, and Alice and her mother
were eating their breakfast together.  There were two white plates on the
table, and white cups and saucers, and a smoking dish of porridge.  All
this Lolly could see as she stood hesitating near the door; but, in a
minute, Alice caught a glimpse of her little, shy face, and ran to lead
her in.

"You must have some of this nice breakfast," said she, giving Lolly a
plateful of the porridge, and pouring some milk on it from a small white
pitcher.

Lolly looked timidly at Alice's mother, to see if she might eat it; and
the kind pleasant smile she received made her feel quite at home, so that
she needed no further urging.

Soon after the mother went away, and left Alice to put the room in order;
and, when all things were right, Alice said "she could go with Lolly as
well as not that day, and they would make a pretty place of the shabby
cottage; for it was just in the best spot--so wild and shady and green."

It was rather a sorrowful task at the beginning, and almost any other
little girl than Alice would have been quite discouraged.

There was a great deal of rubbish in the sitting-room, and the floor and
windows looked as if they had never known anything of soap and water.
Maddie sat upon the top of a half-barrel, swinging her brown, soiled
feet, and playing with a black puppy, that was snapping at her toes;
while the table was strewn with crumbs and dirty dishes from the
morning's meal, and chips and sticks and bits of rags were upon the
floor.

She looked as if she had just got out of bed.  Her face was dull, and her
hair showed no touch of brush or comb, and her nails were long and dirty;
but she jumped from her perch with some signs of shame as she saw Alice,
so neat and tidy, at the door; and she began to scramble about as if she
wished to make things a little better.

"May I help you to-day, Maddie?" asked Alice.  "I haven't any work at
home, and I like to get things tidy.  We'll make such a room of this
before night!" And, without another word, she began in earnest to bring
order out of strange confusion.

Lolly was a capital helper, because her heart was in the matter, and she
really wanted a pleasant, cheerful home; but Maddie was content to look
on, and scarcely moved a finger to help.

They packed away the wood and chips in the closet under the lowest shelf,
and washed the dishes and set them up edgewise in their proper places;
and they mopped the floor, and scrubbed the windows and table, and
brought boughs of evergreen to hang upon the nails around the walls and
make it cheerful and pretty.

Alice thought of this.  She said, "Rich folks hang paintings on their
walls--and these are God's pictures, the work of his almighty fingers,
and so beautiful!  Why not put them where we can always look at them, and
in them see his love and kindness?"

Lolly thought her the most wonderful little girl in all the world, and
clapped her hands for joy as she looked upon the altered room.

Then they went outside, and swept the sticks and chips from the lawn; and
Maddie managed to hunt up a hammer and some old rusty nails, and to help
Alice to fasten the loose boards upon the door, which improved it more
than anything else could do.

It was so low from the roof to the ground that by stepping on a chair
they could easily reach; and they trained a running rose-bush, that had
been long neglected, and hung, trailing, over the grass, so that it
nearly covered the whole side of the cottage, and would soon be like a
bright green mantle over the dark walls.



CHAPTER VII.


Just as they had finished their labours, and Alice had prevailed upon
Maddie to put herself in a little better order, and the three young
friends had seated themselves upon the step to get something from Alice's
Bible--some words of love and blessing, as Alice said, from their
heavenly Father--there came a lady up the road towards them.  She was
walking very slowly along, with her parasol shielding her face, so that
it was quite concealed from the children; but Alice knew her dress, and
ran quickly to meet her, crying joyously, "It is Miss Mason, dear Lolly!"

Maddie ran into the cottage and hid behind the door, like a foolish
little girl; but Lolly sat still, very glad that the good teacher was
coming to speak to her, yet trembling with a sort of nervous fear;
because she was a shy little girl, and so seldom saw strangers.

She wondered that Alice dared go so fearlessly up and walk along, with
her hand in Miss Mason's hand, and her face upturned towards the lady's,
while she talked as freely as if it had been herself or Maddie listening.
But when Miss Mason stood by the step and stooped down to kiss her sun-
burned cheek, and said sweetly, "So this is your little friend Lolly, is
it, Alice?" she did not wonder any longer; for her heart leaped to meet
the gentle lady, and she could not take her eyes from such a kind and
loving face.

"Where's Maddie?" asked Miss Mason, with a smile.

She could see her peeping through the crack of the door; and,
understanding the case, she said carelessly,--

"I suppose she will join us by-and-by.  We will sit here and read in
Alice's book until she comes, and then I want to talk to you.  Alice told
me you lived here, Lolly, and I want you to go to the Sunday-school.  We
are very happy there, are we not, Alice?"

Alice answered with a beaming face, and she and Lolly sat, one on each
side of the teacher, and listened as she read to them from God's holy
Word.

She read first about the creation of this beautiful world, and the garden
where Adam and Eve were placed; and, when she had made Lolly and Maddie
understand all about how sin came--for Maddie, attracted by the sweet
voice and pleasant manner, had crept softly from her hiding-place and
curled herself upon the step behind the lady--Miss Mason turned to the
New Testament and read to them a few verses about Jesus, who took upon
himself our nature and suffered for our sins.

The children were much impressed by the story of the Saviour's sufferings
and death; and when the teacher told them that every naughty word and
deed of theirs was like a nail in the Saviour's feet or hands, they felt
that they would never again do a wicked thing.

Then she told them how impossible it would be for them to keep from sin
without God's continual help; and she taught them how to look up to him
and ask for his aid and blessing.  And when she had made sure that they
could say a short prayer, and had obtained a promise from them that they
would go every Sunday to the Sunday-school, she kissed them all three
very affectionately, and went on to search for others of her heavenly
Father's wandering children.

"When she had gone quite out of sight, and they were taking another good
look at the changed rooms, that seemed so grand to them all, Lolly said
thoughtfully to Alice,--

"Do you think the great King will like to come here now?"

"He _is_ here," said Alice reverently.  "Don't you feel it, Lolly?  We
never see him, you know, as we see each other; but we feel that he is
near, just as you feel that your mother is in the room even when the
darkness hides her from your eyes."

Lolly repeated the little prayer softly, "O my heavenly Father, I will
try to love thee.  Wilt thou not come unto me, and be with me wherever I
am, and help me to be thy child?"  And, as she said the words, she knew
that God was with her, and that from that hour there was a Presence in
the house that would drive away all the gloom, and make such brightness
as filled the cottage of her little friend.

It was time for Alice to go; but she lingered a little while longer to
teach Maddie how to prepare the supper, so that when her mother came home
weary from her labour, there might be no more hard work for her to do,
but real comfort and rest.

"Now, don't get tired of housekeeping," said she, as she tied on her sun-
bonnet to go.  "I shall run over some day to see how you get on; and I'm
sure it's so much prettier to be sweet, and clean, and tidy, that you'll
love to keep the house nice."  And away she tripped to make things
pleasant for her own dear, hard-working mother.

Sunny little girl!  She knew how many tiresome steps her diligent hands
and loving heart could save her poor widowed mother; and in everything
she did there was a tender thought of the warm heart against which her
infant head had lain when her little feet and hands were weak and
helpless.

She was glad now that they had grown strong to aid, that she could give
back some of the care and effort.  Alice never dreamed of growing
impatient in her mother's service.  She did not wait to be asked to help
her, but watched for opportunities, and so proved a great blessing and
treasure in the lowly cottage home, that would have been very dismal and
sad without her sunny, buoyant little body.



CHAPTER VIII.


Peter Rand and his wife came lagging up the road as the sun was setting.
They had passed an uncommonly laborious day, and were completely tired
out with their toil.  They were very silent, and were thinking what a
sad, miserable home was theirs, and how little of cheer they had in life.
Nothing seemed bright to them, although the earth was like a paradise for
greenness and fragrance and beauty.  As they drew near the house, Mr.
Rand was very much surprised by the great change in the outward aspect of
the place.  He could scarcely believe that he had not mistaken the road,
and come to some other cottage than the slovenly one that he had left in
the morning.

His wife, intent upon the supper that her hungry appetite craved, had
pressed forward in haste to prepare it.

As she entered the door, however, she started back with the strange
feeling that she was in the house of some neighbour; but Pug, the little
dog, ran frisking about her, and convinced her that is was indeed her own
house.

The table was set in the middle of the room, and the dishes were arranged
in nice order; and just in the centre was Lolly's pewter mug, with a
bunch of sweet, blue violets to grace it all.

There was the savoury odour of the baking cake from the fire, and the
fumes of the steeping tea filled the room, and already gave a sense of
refreshing to the weary work-people.

The rags were taken from the windows, and square bits of paper were
pinned over the openings; and the floor was neat and clean, and the
beautiful green boughs hung upon the walls, and the children sat, with
clean hands and faces, awaiting the return of father and mother.

They looked so bright and happy that the weary couple quite forgot their
fatigue, and chatted merrily over their pleasant meal, praising the
children for their thoughtful work, and saying they didn't believe there
was a more beautiful home in the world than theirs.

Altogether, it was a very happy evening.  Maddie and Lolly made their
father and mother sit down quietly while they cleared off the table, and
washed the dishes, and swept the crumbs away; and then they all had a
cozy little time, talking of new hopes and plans.  For the change was so
comfortable that it put life and spirits into every soul; and the father
said he would get some glass and putty and mend the windows; and the
mother would make some white curtains, and the children would get
evergreen and form it into wreaths to loop them up.  Oh, it takes so
little to make a cheerful, happy home!  It is only the idle and vicious
that need be really miserable.  If God does not always give us plenty of
money, he furnishes us with so many rich things in this world of his,
that we may adorn even a lowly and barren place until it shall appear
richer than the gayest palace.  Maddie and Lolly found this out through
Alice; and every day they hunted the woods for mosses and flowers, and
their father made little shelves to put them on, and formed many a pretty
seat of twisted branches of trees; so that by-and-by their cottage was
one of the prettiest places anywhere around, and attracted the notice of
everybody that passed it.

Miss Mason came very often, now that she had found them out; and she not
only prevailed on the parents to send their children to Sunday-school,
but they themselves went regularly to church, and tried to serve the
great and holy God who had put it into the hearts of their children to
make their earthly place of abode something akin to the better home.

So soon as they began to feel the presence of the heavenly King, all the
despondency and gloom vanished, and, even though poor and hard-working,
they were happy in the possession of such riches as nothing but the love
and favour of our heavenly Father can give.



CHAPTER IX.


It was not very long after the children learned to look away from earth
to the blest abode beyond the skies, when Lolly began to droop and grow
weak and listless; and, although her parents and Maddie thought it was
but a trifling illness, she herself felt that her Father was about to
call her home.  She was not afraid to die; and, when she grew so languid
that her little feet lost the power to take her to the Sunday-school,
Miss Mason and Alice and the kind minister came often to talk to her of
her approaching joy.

There was one beautiful little story that the minister used to tell her
over and over again, she liked it so much.  I do not know whether he made
it, or whether he got it from some book; but I want to tell it to you,
for I like it as well as Lolly did.  It is this:--"There was a bright,
beautiful butterfly that was about to die.  She had laid her eggs on a
cabbage-leaf in the garden; and, as she thought of her children, she said
to a caterpillar that was crawling upon the leaf, 'I am going to die.  I
feel my strength fast failing, and I want you to take care of my little
ones.'

"The caterpillar promised, and the butterfly folded her wings and
breathed her last.

"Then the caterpillar did not know what to do.  She wanted some
instruction with regard to her charge: so she thought she would ask a
lark, that went soaring up into the blue sky.  At first the lark was
silent, and plumed his wings and went up--up--up, as if to gather wisdom
for his answer; and then he came, singing, down and said,--

"'I'll tell you something about your charge; but you won't believe me.
These young butterflies that you look for will become caterpillars.'

"'Poh! poh!' said the old caterpillar.  'I don't believe a word of it.'

"'No; I told you you wouldn't.  And what do you suppose they will live
upon?' said the lark.

"'Why, the dew and the sweet honey from the flowers, to be sure,' replied
the caterpillar.  'That is what all butterflies live on.'

"'They won't, indeed,' said the lark.  'They will eat cabbage-leaves.'
And he went soaring away again into the clear heavens.

"Presently, back he came and said to the caterpillar,--

"'I'll tell you something stranger still about yourself.  You'll be a
beautiful butterfly.'

"The caterpillar laughed at the idea; but, as she turned around and saw
the eggs upon the leaf all hatched into little crawling caterpillars, she
was forced to believe what the lark had said concerning herself; and she
went about as happy as could be, telling everybody what a glorious change
would come to her after she had folded herself in her close chrysalis."

The minister told Lolly that this caterpillar in the chrysalis was like
us worms of the dust when lying in the narrow grave enshrouded in our
death-robes; and that, like as the caterpillar bursts his darksome bonds
and soars away upon butterfly pinions, so shall we come forth from the
tomb on the resurrection day, and with angel-wings mount upward to the
world of light and peace.  Then he read a few verses to her from that
beautiful account of the rising from the dead, in the fifteenth chapter
of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Lolly would lie upon her sick-bed and fasten her earnest eyes upon him as
he read and as he spoke so sweetly to her of the other life; and then she
would look away through the open window to the heavens above, and seem to
see the face of her Father, who was drawing her slowly to himself.





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