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´╗┐Title: Effie Maurice - Or What do I Love Best
Author: Forester, Fanny, 1817-1854
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 "Effie Maurice - Or What do I Love Best" ***

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[Illustration: "Give it to the poor woman with the sick baby," whispered
Effie--CHAPTER III]



EFFIE MAURICE

OR

What do I Love Best

A TALE


London
GALL AND INGLIS, 25 PATERNOSTER SQUARE;
_AND EDINBURGH_.



Contents.


CHAPTER

   I. THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

  II. PLANS PROPOSED

 III. NEW YEAR'S DAY

  IV. THE MISER

   V. THE POOR WIDOW

  VI. GENEROSITY AND JUSTICE

 VII. THE NEW BOOK

VIII. ANOTHER OF MR. MAURICE'S LESSONS

  IX. THE FUNERAL



EFFIE MAURICE

OR

What do I Love Best



CHAPTER I.

'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'


'Mother,' said little Effie Maurice, on a Sabbath evening in winter, 'Mr
L---- said to-day that we are all in danger of breaking the first
commandment,--do you think we are?'

'Did not Mr L. give you his reasons for thinking so?'

'Yes, mother.'

'Didn't you think he gave good reasons?'

'I suppose he did, but I could not understand all he said, for he
preached to men and women. Perhaps he thought children were in no danger
of breaking it.'

'Well, bring your Bible--'

'O mother, I can say all the commandments, every word. The first is,
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me." I thought this was for the
Burmans and Chinese, and all those who worship idols where the
missionaries go.'

'The poor heathen are not the only idolaters in the world, my child; we
have many of them in our own Christian land.'

'What! _here_, mother? Do people worship idols in this country?'

'Yes, my dear, I fear we do.'

'_We_ do, mother? You don't mean to say that you, and papa, and Deacon
Evarts, and all such good people, worship idols?'

'Do you suppose, Effie, that all the idols or false gods in the world
are made of wood and stone?'

'Oh no, mother, I read in my Sunday-school book of people's worshipping
animals, and plants, and the sun, and moon, and a great many of the
stars.'

'And gold and silver, and men, women and children, did you not?'

'Yes mother.'

'Well, if a man loves gold or silver better than he loves God, does it
make any difference whether he has it made into an image to pray to, or
whether he lays it away in the shape of silver dollars and gold eagles?'

Effie sat for a few moments in thought, and then suddenly looking up,
replied,--'Men don't worship dollars and eagles.'

'Are you sure?' inquired Mrs Maurice.

'I never heard of any one who did.'

'You mean you never heard of one who prayed to them; but there are a
great many people who prefer money to anything else, and who honour a
fine house, fine furniture, and fine dress, more than the meek and quiet
spirit which God approves.'

'And then money is the god of such people, I suppose, and they are the
ones that break the first commandment?'

'Not the only ones, my dear; there are a great many earthly gods, and
they are continually leading us away from the God of heaven. Whatever we
love better than Him, becomes our God, for to that we yield our
heart-worship.'

'I never thought of that before, mother. Yesterday, Jane Wiston told me
that her mother didn't visit Mrs Aimes because she was poor; and when I
told her that you said Mrs Aimes was very pious, she said it did not
make any difference, ladies never visited there. Is Mrs Wiston's god
money?'

'If Mrs Wiston, or any other person, honours wealth more than humble,
unaffected piety, she disobeys the first commandment. But in judging of
others, my dear, always remember that _you cannot see the heart_, and
so, however bad the appearance may be, you have a right to put the best
possible construction on every action.'

'How can I believe that Mrs Wiston's heart is any better than her
actions, mother?'

'In the first place, Jane might have been mistaken, and money may have
nothing to do with her mother's visits; and if she is really correct,
Mrs Wiston may never have considered this properly, and so at least she
deserves charity. I desire you to think a great deal on this subject,
and when you understand it better, we will talk more about it.'

'I think I understand it now, mother. Every thing we love better than
the God of heaven becomes our god, and if we don't bow down to pray to
it, we give it our _heart-worship_, as you said, and that is quite as
wicked. But after all, mother, I don't think there is any danger of my
breaking the first commandment.'

'Do you remember the text Harry repeated at the table this morning? "Let
him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."'

Effie looked very thoughtful for a moment, and then laying her face in
her mother's lap, she said: 'It is not because I am so good that I think
so, mother; I know I am very wicked, but I am sure that I love my
heavenly Father better than any thing else.'

'I am glad to believe you do,' said Mrs Maurice, drawing the child
nearer to her and kissing her cheek. 'I am persuaded that calmly and
deliberately you would not prefer the world to Him. But perpetual
distrust of self, with constant trust in God, is your only ground of
safety. Those who do not fall, may for a moment slip, and you with all
the rest of us must watch and pray.'



CHAPTER II.

PLANS PROPOSED.


The conversation that Effie Maurice had had with her mother made a very
deep impression on her mind; but still, with all the confidence of one
who has had but few trials, she was grieved that any one should suppose
she could for a moment forget her heavenly Father, or prefer any thing
to His glory and honour. She repeated what her mother had said to her
brother Harry, and he increased her self-confidence by recalling a great
many little sacrifices she had made, which he was quite sure other young
persons would not do.

'And now, Effie,' said the kind-hearted brother, 'we will talk no more
about this, for it makes you very sober. Remember that to-morrow is New
Year's day, and we've got the money to spend that Aunt Norton sent us,
so we must be out early, or all the prettiest things will be sold. I
went by Mr T.'s shop to-night, and it was all lighted up so that I could
see great sticks of candy, almost as big round as my wrist, and jars of
sweetmeats, and there was a rocking horse all saddled and bridled, and
the neatest little whip you ever did see, and _such_ a little rifle--but
I forgot, girls don't mind those things; let me think--I dare say there
were dolls, though I didn't look for them, and then such a pretty little
rocking-chair all cushioned with purple silk, just about big enough for
dolly, and heaps of other nice things--so we must be out early, Effie.'

'Harry--'

'What is it, Effie?'

'I was thinking--'

'What about? Do you want something I haven't mentioned? I dare say it is
there.'

'No, I was thinking--I--I believe I will give my money to the
missionaries.'

'Now, Effie!'

'Then I shan't make a god of it.'

'But Aunt Norton gave you this to buy some pretty things for yourself.'

'I know it, but--'

'And you have given ever so much to the missionaries.'

'Well, Harry, I don't know that I need any new toys.'

'When you see Mr T.'s shop--'

'I don't want to see Mr T.'s shop, that would be going in the way of
temptation.'

Harry was silent a few moments,--he was two years older than Effie, and
although sometimes dazzled by appearances, as in the case of the
attractive toy shop, when he waited to think, his judgment was usually
very good for one so young. At last he looked up with a smile, 'I've
thought it out, Effie, we don't need any new toys; we might buy books
for our little library, but father has promised us two or three more
soon. Then our subscriptions to the Missionary Society, and the Bible
Society, and the Colporteur Society, are paid (to be sure it wouldn't
hurt us to give a little more), but I have just thought what to do with
this money (that is, yours and mine together, you know), which I think
is better than all the rest.'

'What is it?'

'We'll make a New Year's present of it.'

'To whom?'

'Can't you think?'

'To father, or mother?'

'No, I should love to buy them something, but they would rather not.'

'To old Phillis, then?'

'Old Phillis!--it _would_ be a good notion to buy her a gown, wouldn't
it, but I was thinking of John Frink.'

'You didn't mean to give it to _him_, I hope, such an idle,
good-for-nothing boy as he is?'

'He isn't idle and good-for-nothing now, Effie. Since he began to go to
the Sunday school he's as different as can be. Now if we could put our
money together, and help him to go to school this winter (he can't even
read the Bible, Effie,) I think it would do more good than anything else
in the world.'

'Perhaps it would, but I never liked John Frink very well. He will learn
to read the Bible at the Sunday school, and if he did know any more, I'm
not sure he'd make a good use of it.'

'Perhaps he wouldn't, but we could hope, Effie, and pray, and then we
should have the pleasure of knowing that our duty was done, as Mr L.
said the other day. If John Frink should become reformed, only think of
how much good he might do in that wicked family, and among the wicked
boys here in the city, and then when he gets to be a man--'

'But if he isn't reformed, Harry?'

'That is just what Mr S. said to father, the other day, when he asked
him for money to buy tracts for boatmen on the canal--"If they don't
read them," said he.

'Father told him that if we did our duty faithfully, it was all that is
required of us, and we must leave the results in the hands of God. Now I
think just so of John Frink, only that I can't help believing that he
will reform. The Bible says, "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the
evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall
prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."
Now, maybe, all the money you have given this year will do good, but
perhaps this to John Frink most of all.'

'I believe you are right, Harry,' said Effie, 'but you will give me
to-night to think about it.'

'Oh yes, to be sure, you could not give the money, with your whole
heart, unless you believed it was to do good, and so you may think just
as long as you please. Now your kiss, Effie, for I must go to bed. We
will be up early, if we _don't_ go to Mr T.'s shop.'



CHAPTER III.

NEW YEAR'S DAY.


Harry Maurice was out 'bright and early,' wishing everybody a 'Happy New
Year,' and making them happy at least for the moment, by the expression
of his ruddy, laughing face. We love to see in children cheerfulness and
contentment. Harry's head was full of plans for doing good, and though
more than half of them were visionary, they seemed realities then, and
so being in good humour with himself, he could not fail of being so with
everybody else. Effie refused to go with him to Mrs Frink's, for she had
her own little gifts to dispense, but she consented to take a walk with
him in the afternoon, and even to call at Mr T.'s shop, for she
concluded there could be no danger in looking at the toys after they had
disposed of their money.

Harry's account of his reception at Mrs Frink's was anything but
satisfactory to Effie, for although he evidently endeavoured to make the
best of it, he said not a single word of John's gratitude. 'I am afraid,
Effie,' he rather mischievously whispered, 'if you had gone with me to
Mrs Frink's you would have thought dirt was her god, for I believe she
loves it better than anything else.'

'O Harry, I am sure it is wicked to make fun--'

'I didn't mean to make fun, Effie, but I'm sure I couldn't help thinking
of the old man in Pilgrim's Progress with the muck rake, refusing the
crown, all the time I was there.'

'Father told me that the man with the muck rake, meant the miser.'

'Well, I suppose it does, but I should think it might mean any body that
is not a Christian, for such people, you know, are rejecting a heavenly
crown for worldly things, which are in reality worth about as much as
the trash the old man is raking together in the picture.' Effie stared
at her brother in complete astonishment, for she could not but wonder
how so small a head could contain such a wondrous amount of knowledge.
Harry endured a stare for a moment with considerable dignity, but he was
naturally a modest lad, and finally added, 'That is pretty nearly the
substance of what Frank Ingham told me about it--I can't remember the
words quite.'

After dinner was over, and Harry and Effie had distributed the remnants
of it among several poor families that lived on an adjoining street,
they set out on their walk. The day was extremely cold, but clear and
still, and altogether as beautiful as any day in the whole year. Effie
in cloak, hood, and muff, seemed the very picture of comfort as she
walked along beside her brother in his equally warm attire, towards Mr
T.'s shop.

'Are you cold? What makes you shiver so?' inquired Harry. Effie did not
answer, but she drew her hand from her muff and pointed with her gloved
finger to a little girl who stood a few yards from her, stamping her
feet, and clapping her red bare hands, and then curling them under her
arms as if to gain a little warmth from thence. 'Poor thing!' said
Harry, 'I should think she would freeze, with nothing but that old rag
of a handkerchief about her shoulders, and that torn muslin bonnet. I
don't wonder you shivered, Effie, it makes me cold to look at her.'

'Let us see if she wants anything,' said Effie.

By this time the attention of the little girl was attracted by the
children's conversation and glances, and she came running towards them,
crying at every step, 'Give me a sixpence, please?'

'We have no money, not even a penny,' said Harry, 'are you very hungry?'
The girl began to tell how long it was since she had had anything to
eat, but she talked so hurriedly, and used so many queer words, that the
two children found it very difficult to understand her.

'She is in want, no doubt,' whispered Harry to his sister, 'but father
would say, it was best to give her food and clothing, not money.'

'I wish I had a sixpence, though,' said Effie.

The wealthy and the gay, the poor and the apparently miserable, went
pouring by in crowds, and some did not hear the beggar-child's plea,
others that heard did not heed it, while many paused from idle curiosity
to gaze at her, and a few flung her a penny, and passed on. Harry and
Effie too went on, frequently looking back and forming little plans for
the good of the child, until their attention was attracted by other
objects of compassion or admiration. Sleighs were continually dashing
past them, drawn by beautiful horses, and filled with the forms of the
young, the gay, and the happy. Old men, bowed down by the weight of
years, hobbled along on the pavements, their thin blue lips distorted by
a smile--a smile of welcome to the year that, perhaps, before its
departure, would see them laid in the grave--and busy tradesmen, with
faces strongly marked by care, or avarice, or anxiety, jostled by them;
ladies too, in gay hats and large rich shawls, or the more
comfort-seeking in cloaks and muffs; and poor women, with their tattered
clothing drawn closely around their shrinking forms, were hurrying
forward apparently with the same intent. Every variety of the human
species seemed crowded on those narrow pavements.

Harry and Effie were only a few rods from Mr T.'s door, when Mr Maurice
overtook them, on his way to some other part of the city. He smiled, as
he always did, on his children, then putting a few pence into Effie's
hand, whispered something about '_temptation money_,' and passed on.

'I shan't be tempted, though,' said the child, holding the coin before
her brother's eyes.

'No, Effie,' replied the boy, 'it isn't wrong to spend this money for
yourself, so you can't be tempted to do wrong with it. This is every
body's day for pleasure, and you ought to enjoy it.'

'I have enjoyed it,' said Effie, looking upon her brother smilingly,
'and I guess somebody else has helped me.'

'I guess so, too,' was the reply, 'I think we have been a great deal
happier than if we had come here in the morning.'

Children though they were, they were demonstrating the words of the Lord
Jesus, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'

Mr T.'s shop was crowded to overflowing with children, a few grown
people intermingling: and every one, from the errand boy, that, with his
hard-earned pittance in his hand, was estimating the amount of good
things it would purchase, to the child of the wealthy merchant,
murmuring because the waxen doll she contemplated adding to her store,
was not in every respect formed to suit her difficult taste, seemed
intent on pleasure.

Harry and Effie were as much pleased as any one, and some, who had seen
with what readiness they had parted with their money in the morning,
would have wondered at their taste for toys; but these children had one
talent which a great many grown people as well as children would do well
to imitate. It was not absolutely necessary that they should _possess_ a
thing in order to _enjoy_ it. They had been taught when very young, to
distinguish beautiful things from those that were merely novel, and
although they liked (as I believe is natural) to call things their own,
they could be pleased with what was calculated to produce pleasure,
without envying its possessor, just as you would look upon a beautiful
sunset, or a fine landscape, without thinking of becoming its owner. But
Effie had a little money to spend, and this occasioned a great deal of
deliberation, for to tell the truth, the little girl was so pleased with
her day's work, that she was still determined on self-denial.

'Take care,' whispered Harry, as he watched her examining some trifles
which he was pretty sure were intended for old Phillis, 'take care,
Effie, that you don't get proud of your generosity--there is more than
one way to make self a god.'

Effie blushed, and calling for some nuts, threw her money on the
counter, saying to her brother, 'We can share them together in the
evening.' The nuts were scarce stowed away in reticule and muff, when a
poorly-clad young woman, very pale and thin, bearing in her arms an
infant still paler, pressed her way through the throng, and gained the
counter. She inquired for cough lozenges. It was a long time before she
could be attended, but she stood very patiently, though seemingly scarce
able to support the weight of her own person. Harry involuntarily
glanced around the shop for a chair, and as he did so, his eye rested on
a bright-faced little girl, close beside his sister, who was choosing
and rejecting a great many pretty toys, and now and then casting a
glance at the well-filled purse in her hand, as if to ascertain after
each purchase the state of her finances.

'Beautiful!' she exclaimed, her eye glistening with pleasure at the
sight of the purple cushioned rocking-chair of which Harry had told his
sister.

'Is that all?' inquired a sad, low voice, and again Harry's eye turned
to the poor woman who was purchasing the lozenges.

'Yes, ma'am, to be sure,' replied the pert shopkeeper, 'and a pretty
large all too--what could you expect for a penny?'

The poor woman made no reply, but the hurried glance she gave her infant
with its accompanying sigh, seemed to say, 'God help my poor baby then!'

Harry involuntarily thrust his hand into his pocket, but he quickly
withdrew it, and glanced at the little girl who was purchasing the
rocking-chair.

'This chair has cost so much,' she said, addressing the shopkeeper,
'that I have only a shilling left.'

'Oh, then,' whispered Effie, emboldened by her brother's looks of
anxiety, 'give it to the poor woman with the sick baby.'

The little girl stared at her somewhat rudely, then turning to the
woman, exclaimed, 'What! _that_ one, with the horrid looking bonnet!'
and, shaking her head, laughingly replied, 'Thank you, Miss, I have a
better use for it.'

Effie was really distressed. The poor woman looked so pale and sad, and
yet so meek and uncomplaining withal, that both brother and sister found
themselves strangely interested.

'O how I wish we could do something for her,' whispered Harry. 'Will
you please exchange my nuts for cough lozenges?' inquired Effie in a
faltering voice, of the shopkeeper.

'Rather too busy, Miss.'

'But it will oblige me very much.'

'Happy to oblige you on any other day, Miss, but we really have no time
for exchanges now.' By this time the poor woman had gained the door, and
Effie, looking round, observed that her brother too was missing.

'He followed the woman with the baby,' said the little girl who had
purchased the rocking-chair; then pursing up her mouth with an
expression as near contempt as such a pretty mouth could wear, she
inquired, 'Is she your _aunt_?'

The angry blood rushed in a flood to Effie's face, but she quickly
subdued it, and with ready thought replied, 'No, my _sister_.'

It was now the turn of the stranger girl to blush, and at the same time
she cast upon her new companion a slight glance of surprise. She then
turned over with her fingers her new toys, glanced at the rocking-chair,
and seemingly dissatisfied with all, again turned to Effie.

'Please give her this,' she said, putting the remaining shilling in her
hand. 'I know what you mean, my mother taught me that, but--she is dead
now.'

'If Harry finds where the poor woman lives,' returned Effie, 'we will go
there together.' The little girl seemed to waver for a moment, then said
hastily, 'No, I must go home--give the money to her,' and hurried away
as fast as the crowd would permit. In a few moments Harry returned. He
had found out where the poor woman lived, but it was a great distance,
and he was too considerate to leave his sister alone. Harry was not one
of those philanthropists who, in doing a great amount of good, become
blind to trifles; for his father had taught him, that duties never
interfere with each other, and he knew that he owed Effie every care and
attention. I have often observed that those children, who are the most
kind and considerate to brothers and sisters, always shew more justice
and generosity to others, than those who think such attentions of but
little importance.

Harry found out but little more of the woman, than that she was poor,
and sick, and friendless. Her baby too, her only comfort, was wasting
away before her eyes, whether of disease or for lack of food, she did
not tell, and there was none to help her.

'We will speak to father about her,' said Harry, as they proceeded
homeward, 'perhaps he can do something for them,--it is a sweet little
baby, Effie, with a skin clear and white, and eyes--oh, you never saw
such eyes! they look so soft and loving, that you would think the poor
thing knew every word you said, and how I pitied it. I could hardly help
crying, Effie.'

'I am glad you followed the poor woman.'

'So am I. But Effie, you don't know how vexed I was with that selfish
little miss, that bought the rocking-chair.'

'Harry!'

'Now, don't go to taking her part, Effie, it will do no good, I can tell
you; she is the most selfish and unfeeling little girl that I ever saw.
Because the woman wore an _old bonnet_, she couldn't help her--only
think of that! how mean!'

'She--O Harry! now I know what mother meant when she talked to me so
much about having charity for people, and told me that we could not
always judge the heart by the actions. I thought as badly of her as you
at first, but I'm sure now she is not unfeeling.'

'Well, if she has any feeling, I should like to see her shew it, that's
all. I tell you, Effie, if anybody ever made a god of self, it is that
little girl we saw to-night. She thought her gratification of more
consequence than that poor baby's life.'

'No, Harry, she is one of the thoughtless ones mother tells us so much
about. If you had seen her when she gave me this money,' putting the
silver piece into her brother's hand, 'you would never call her
unfeeling.'

'Did you tease her for it?'

'No, I didn't ask her again, for I did feel a little vexed--yes, a good
deal so, at first, but, Harry, I don't feel vexed now, I am sorry for
her. There was a tear in her eye, I am pretty sure, though she was
ashamed to have me see it, and her lips quivered, and she looked--oh, so
sad, when she told me her mother was dead; I wish you could have seen
her, Harry.'

'I would rather not see her again, for I can't bear proud people--'
Effie was about interrupting her brother in defence of the little
stranger girl, but at that moment a new object attracted their
attention. It was a fine sleigh drawn by a pair of beautiful gray
horses, that, with proudly arched neck and flowing mane, stepped
daintily, as if perfectly aware of the fact that they were gentlemen's
horses, and carried as fashionable a load as New York afforded. A little
girl leaned quite over the side of the sleigh, and smiled and nodded to
Effie, then waving her handkerchief, to attract still more attention,
dropped something upon the ground. It was the child they had seen at the
toy-shop. Harry flew to pick up the offering, and gave it to his sister.

'Now, what do you think of her?' inquired Effie, as her eye lighted on
the self-same purse she had seen but a little while before; 'I knew she
must be kind-hearted--did you ever see anything so generous? Here is
ever so much money, and all for the poor woman and her sick baby--why
don't you speak, Harry?'

'Because--I--'

'You don't think she is selfish now, I hope?'

'I don't think anything about it, Effie, because I don't know. If she
gave her own money she is generous, but if she begged it of somebody
else to give--'

'If she begged it of somebody else, it was generous in her to give it to
this poor woman, instead of putting it to some other use.'

'Well, Effie, the money will certainly do the poor woman a great deal of
good, and I rather think the little girl feels better for giving, so I
am sure we ought to be glad.'

'I wish I could find out her name,' said Effie, 'perhaps it is on the
purse.' Harry drew the silken purse from his pocket, and after examining
it closely, found engraved on one of the rings the name of 'ROSA
LYNMORE.'

In the evening the children related the events of the day to their
mother, and found her approbation a sufficient reward for all their
self-denial. The conduct of Rosa Lynmore was duly canvassed, too; and,
while Mrs Maurice praised her generosity, she endeavoured to shew her
children the difference between this one impulsive act, and the
constant, self-denying effort which is the result of true benevolence.
'This little girl,' she said, 'may make but a small sacrifice in parting
with this money, not half so great as it would be to go and seek out the
poor woman and administer to her necessities, but still we have no right
to find fault with what is so well done, and I am sure, my children,
that you do not desire it.'

'No, mother,' said Effie, 'I see now why you told me not to judge Mrs
Wiston by appearances; if I had come away a little sooner, I should have
thought this pretty Rosa Lynmore one of the most selfish little girls in
the world. But now I know she was only thoughtless.'

'Well, I hope, my child, you will always remember not to judge hastily,
and without sufficient reason; yet to be utterly blind to the apparent
faults of those around you, is neither safe nor wise. It is not safe,
because by being too credulous you may easily make yourself the object
of imposition; and not wise, because, by such indiscriminate charity,
you lose a useful lesson.'

'I think, mother,' said Harry, 'that I can see the lesson we can learn
from Rosa Lynmore's faults.'

'I don't see that she has any faults,' said Effie, earnestly. 'I am
sure, Harry, you ought not to make so much of that one careless little
word about the bonnet; it _was_ an ugly bonnet, with so deep a front
that I dare say Rosa didn't see the poor woman's pale face.'

'You call it a careless word, Effie,' said Mrs Maurice, 'you admit that
this little girl was guilty of thoughtlessness, and surely you cannot
consider _that_ no fault--but under certain circumstances this fault is
more pardonable than under others. Now you know nothing of these
circumstances, and so could not, if you wished, be Rosa Lynmore's judge.
But, taking everything as it appears, you may draw your lesson without
assuming a province which does not belong to you. Now, Harry, we will
hear what you have to say.'

'It was not what Rosa _said_, that I meant, mother,--I was thinking of
what we might learn to-day from all her actions, and I am sure I didn't
want to blame her more than Effie did.'

'I supposed not, my son.'

'But, mother, Harry had reason to blame her more, for he didn't see how
sorry she looked, and how her voice trembled when she said, "She is dead
now."--meaning her mother, I shouldn't think a little girl would ever do
right, without a mother to teach her.'

'Such children deserve pity, my love, and I am glad you have a heart to
pity them, but I suspect that all little girls have wicked thoughts and
feelings that they must strive against, and whether they are blessed
with parents, or have only a Heavenly Father to guide them, they will
have need to watch and pray. But Harry has not given his lesson yet.'

'Father told me a story the other day--an allegory he called it--about
impulse and principle.

'Principle went straight forward, and did whatever was right, and tried
to make her feelings agree with it, but Impulse hurried along in a very
crooked path, stopping here, and then bounding forth at the sight of
some new object--one minute neglecting every duty, and the next, doing
something so great that everybody was surprised, and praised her beyond
all measure. Principle very seldom did wrong, and made so little show,
that she was quite unobserved by the world in general, but Impulse was
as likely to do wrong as right, and according as good or evil
predominated, received her full share of praise or censure. Principle
had an approving conscience, and however she might be looked upon by the
world, she was contented and happy, while poor Impulse was half of the
time tossed about by a light thing called Vanity, or gnawed by a monster
named Remorse. I liked the story very much, and I couldn't help
remembering it to-day, when the little girl dropped the purse over the
side of the sleigh. I thought she was governed by Impulse, and though
this is a good act, unless she has a better heart than most people, it
is no true sign that the next one will be good.'

'Very true, my son, but you have not explained to Effie what you mean by
impulse and principle.'

'You can explain it better than I can, mother. I don't remember half
that father said about it.'

'Well, tell me as much as you can remember then.'

'Why, principle means ground of action, and people who are governed by
principle always have some good reason for what they do, and do not act
without thinking. Father says old people are more apt to be governed by
principle of some kind, either good or bad, than children, for he says
children generally act first, and think afterwards.'

'And impulse?' inquired Effie.

'People that act from impulse are altogether at the mercy of
circumstances, and are driven about by their own feelings. They never
wait to inquire whether a thing is right before they do it, but if it
seems right for the minute it is sufficient.'

Harry's explanation seemed quite satisfactory to his mother, and what
was just then of more importance, to Effie, who, it was but natural,
should find some fault with a definition which seemed to throw anything
like discredit on her new favourite. Any further allusion to the subject
was, however, prevented by the entrance of Mr Maurice, who, as he had
been out all day, making charitable and professional instead of
fashionable calls, had some very interesting stories to relate. But
there was one so strange, and to the children so new, that it threw the
rest quite into the shade, and absorbed their whole stock of sympathy.
It was late before Mr Maurice finished his story, and as it may be late
before our readers get to a better stopping-place, we shall reserve it
fer another chapter.



CHAPTER IV.

THE MISER.


'In passing through a narrow back lane,' said Mr Maurice, after relating
several tales of minor importance, 'I paused to look upon a low
building, so old that one corner of it was sunken so much as to give it
a tottering appearance, and if possible it was more dark and dismal than
the others. It seemed to be occupied by several families, for a little
gray smoke went straggling up from two or three crumbling chimneys, but
the rooms were all on the ground floor. As I stood gazing at it, I was
startled by a boy (about your age, Harry, or a little older perhaps) who
came bounding from the door, and grasping my coat untreated me to go in
and see his grandfather.'

'Did you go, father?' inquired Effie, 'wasn't you afraid?'

'Afraid! what had he to be afraid of?' exclaimed her brother, 'I should
just as lief go as not.' Yet, notwithstanding the little boy's vaunt
there was a slight tremor on his lip, and his large blue eyes grew
larger still and darker where they were dark, while the whites became
unusually prominent.

'Of course I went,' resumed Mr Maurice, in a sad tone, 'and a fearful
spectacle did I behold. I had expected to see some poor widow, worn out
by toil and suffering, perchance by anguish and anxiety, dying alone, or
a family of helpless ones, such as I had often visited, or a drunken
husband. I had often glanced at guilt and crime, but never would my
imagination have pictured the scene before me. The room was dark and
loathsome, containing but few articles of furniture, and those battered
and defaced by age, and with a rickety bed in one corner, on which lay
stretched in mortal agony the figure of a wrinkled, gray-haired old man,
apparently approaching the final struggle. O my children, poverty,
loneliness, want, are the portion of many on this fair, beautiful earth,
but such utter wretchedness as appeared in that man's face, can only be
the result of crime.' Mr Maurice was evidently deeply affected, and his
wife and children were for a moment silent.

'Was he dying, father?' at length Harry ventured to inquire, in a
subdued tone.

'He seemed very weak, except now and then when he was seized with
convulsions, and then he would writhe and throw himself about, and it
was more than I could do to keep him on his bed--I do not think it
possible for him to survive till morning.'

'Didn't he say anything, father?'

'It was a long time before he said anything, but after I had succeeded
in warming some liquid, which I found in an old broken cup, over the
decayed fire, I gave him a little of it, and in time he became much
calmer. Between his paroxysms of pain, I induced him to give some
account of himself, and the circumstances that brought him to his
present situation, and what think you was the prime moving cause of all
this wretchedness?'

'I suspect he was very poor,' said Effie.

'Something worse than that I should think,' added her brother, 'perhaps
he was a gamester.'

'Or a drunkard,' suggested Effie.

'Or both,' responded the mother, or perhaps he commenced by being merely
a time-waster, and money-waster, and finally was reduced to what persons
of that stamp are very apt to consider the necessity of committing
crime, by way of support.

Mr Maurice shook his head. 'It was neither poverty, nor play, nor
drunkenness, nor indolence, nor extravagance, that made that old man
wretched, and yet he was the most wretched being I ever saw.'

'He was poor, though, wasn't he, father?'

'Poverty is but a small thing, Effie, and in our land of equal laws and
charitable institutions, very few suffer from absolute want, but that
old man was richer (in gold and silver I mean) than I am.'

'What! and lived in that dreadful place, father?'

'Oh! I see it,' exclaimed Harry; 'he is a miser.'

'Yes, Harry,' returned Mr Maurice, 'you are right, the love of money is
the cause of all his misery. He came to this city a great many years
ago, (he could not himself tell how many, for his memory evidently
wavered,) and commenced business as a linen draper. He had one only
daughter then, and he lavished all his earnings on her at first, but
finally she married, and from that time he became wholly engrossed with
self. He was never very fond of show, and so did not become a
spendthrift, but he adopted the equally dangerous course of hoarding up
all his savings, until it became a passion with him. After a while he
retired from business, but the passion clung to him with all the
tenacity of a long established habit, and he became a usurer. He was
known to all the young profligates, the bad young men who throng our
city, and became as necessary to them as the poor avaricious Jew was in
former days to the spendthrifts and gamesters in London. He told me
frightful stories, my children, of tyranny and fraud, of ruined young
men led on by him till they committed self-murder, of old men shorn of
their fortunes through his ingenious villainy--'

'O father!' exclaimed little Effie, covering her eyes with her hands.

'All this,' said Mr Maurice, solemnly, 'was the result of the indulgence
of a single bad passion.'

'But the little boy?' inquired Mrs Maurice.

'The husband of the daughter proved to be a miserable, worthless
fellow, and for some time the old man sent them remittances of money,
but after a while his new passion triumphed over paternal love, and the
prayers of the poor woman were unheeded. Two or three years ago she came
to the city on foot--a weary distance, the old man said, but he could
not tell how far, bringing with her the little boy that first attracted
my attention to-night. Her husband was dead, and her elder children had
one by one followed him to the grave, till there was only this, the
youngest left. She had come to the city, hoping that her presence would
be more successful than her letters had been in softening the old man's
heart, but she only came to die. Her journey had worn her out, and she
was to be no tax upon the old man's treasures. She died, and the
miserable grandfather could not cast off her only son. The little
fellow's face looks wan and melancholy; as if from suffering and want,
and he seems to have passed at once from a child into an old man,
without knowing anything of the intermediate stage.'

'Poor boy!' said Mrs Maurice 'you didn't leave him alone with his
grandfather, I hope?'

'No, I engaged a neighbour to spend the night with them, and called at
my office on my way home to write a letter to a brother, of whom the old
man told me, who is now residing in the country. The little grandson
will probably be wealthy now, but I do not believe the enjoyment of it
will make up for his past suffering.'

'I hope he won't be a miser,' said Effie.

'I shouldn't think it very strange if he should be,' replied her
brother, 'the example of his grandfather is enough to spoil him.'

'But you forget, Harry,' said Mrs Maurice, 'what a terrible example it
was. I think the little fellow will be likely to avoid it.'

'Very probably,' added Mr Maurice, 'there is more danger of his going
into the opposite extreme.'

'I am sure, father,' said Harry, 'that it can't be so bad to spend money
foolishly, as to hoard it up the way that old man did.'

'No,' said Effie, 'for he made a _god_ of it, and it is better to care
too little about it, than too much.'

'But the man that spends his money in frivolous pursuits, or what would
be called slightly criminal adventures, who lavishes the money which God
has given him to do good with, upon himself, seeking only his own
gratification--'

'O father!' interrupted Harry, 'he made a _god_ of himself.'

'Such a man,' continued Mr Maurice, 'may be led on from one step to
another until he becomes as guilty as the old man of whom I have told
you to-night.'

'If I were a man,' said little Effie, shuddering, 'I should be afraid to
do anything lest I should do wrong.'

'And why so?' asked Mrs Maurice; 'you forget, my dear, that you, too,
are exposed to temptations, that none of us are exempt from trials, and
our only hope is in the promise that the child of God shall not be
tempted above what he is able to bear.'

'Remember,' added Mr Maurice, taking the family Bible from its shelf
preparatory to their evening devotions, 'to love not the world, neither
the things that are in the world. And remember, when you are searching
your hearts to discover their hidden idols, that the same Divine Being
has said, "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in
him."'



CHAPTER V.

THE POOR WIDOW.


The next morning, in accordance with his children's wishes, Mr Maurice
accompanied Harry to the residence of the poor woman they had seen at Mr
T.'s shop. It was a miserable hovel, but after all there was an air of
cleanliness and comfort about it, that the most abject poverty can
seldom of itself destroy. A white curtain, mended it is true, in very
many places, yet looking quite respectable, still shaded the only window
of the apartment. There were a few coals, on which was laid a single
stick of wood, in the open fire-place, but it sent forth but a small
quantity of heat, and the room felt damp and chilly. On a narrow bed
drawn close to the fire lay the sick child, and beside it sat the mother
plying her needle steadily, and every now and then casting an anxious
eye upon her babe. She arose when Mr Maurice and Harry entered, and her
reception of the boy was truly affecting. She told again and again of
his following her the day before, and how kindly he had inquired if he
could do anything for her, and then bursting into loud sobs, and leaning
over the bed, she said nobody could do anything unless it was to cure
her baby. Mr Maurice took the hand of the little sufferer, but it was
burning hot, and the face, which was the day before pale, was now so
flushed that Harry could scarcely recognise it.

'He has a fever,' said Mr Maurice.

'A fever! oh don't say so,' shrieked the poor woman, 'it was of that his
father died--it is a cold, nothing but a cold! Oh, how could I be so
foolish as to take him out!'

What could Mr Maurice do, but soothe her, and promise to be the child's
physician? In a few moments she became calmer, and then she told him
that her baby had been failing for a long time--day by day she could see
that he grew poorer, but she could not tell why, till at last a cough
had come, and concluding that it was occasioned by a cold, she had given
the usual remedies, but without effect. The day before, having no one
with whom to leave him, she had taken him out, and the fever that ensued
was the result.

'Do you think I have killed my baby, sir?' she inquired mournfully; and
she looked so long and earnestly into Mr Maurice's face for an answer,
that he was obliged to reply 'No.' It was easy for him to discern that
the death-blow was before received.

'Oh thank you,' replied the poor mother, joyfully, 'I was sure he must
get well.' Mr Maurice was about to speak, but interrupted
himself--should he undeceive her? Should he tear from her her last hope?
perhaps it was weakness, but he could not do it. The blow was too
sudden, too heavy, and it must be softened to her. She said nothing of
poverty, but he knew by the rapidity with which she plied her needle in
the intervals of conversation that she was toiling for her bread and
fuel, and he secretly resolved to place her in a condition to devote
herself entirely to the care of the child.

As Mr Maurice glanced around the room, noting each article it
contained, and gaining from thence some item of knowledge concerning the
character of its owner, his eye fell upon a shelf on which lay a few
tracts, a Bible, and a hymn-book. 'I see,' said he, pointing to them,
'that whatever trial you may be called to pass through, you are provided
with a better comforter than any earthly friend.'

The poor woman shook her head, 'They were my husband's, sir.'

'Your husband was a pious man, then?'

'He used to read the Bible and have family worship. Sometimes I went
with him on Sunday to hear the minister, but I was always tired and
drowsy, and could not keep awake.'

'I suppose you don't go at all now?'

'No, sir'

'Nor read the Bible?'

'No, not very often--I don't get time.'

'You surely have time on the Sabbath-day?'

'Oh, sir, that is the only leisure day I have, and then I like to take
little James, and go with him to his father's grave, and when I get
back, there's tea to make, (I never have tea but on Sundays, sir,) and
somehow the time slips away till dark, when I go to bed. I can't afford
to light a candle on Sunday nights.'

'Do you never visit your neighbours on that day?'

'Oh no, sir, since my husband died, I have not cared for going out, and
a lone woman like me is but poor company for others, so they never come
to see me.'

'You tell me of visiting your husband's grave--when you stand over it,
do you ever think of the time you will meet him again?'

'Not often; he used to talk to me about it, but I never can think of
anything but _him_, just as he lived, and I remember a great many kind
things he used to say, and speak them over to the baby (little James--he
was named for his father, sir,) in his own words.' And the poor woman
bent over her work, and plied her needle faster than ever.

'It is natural,' said Mr Maurice, kindly, 'that you should remember your
husband as he was when living, but it is strange that you so seldom
think of seeing him again.'

'Oh, sir, that looks like a dream to me, I can't more than half believe
it, but I know the other to be reality.'

'Yet one is as true as the other.' The woman sighed, and her countenance
looked troubled, but she made no answer.

'You believe the Bible?'

'Ye-es, sir--my James believed it, and so it must be true.'

'Then you will allow me to read you a chapter, I suppose.'

'If you please, sir, but it always seemed to me a very gloomy book, and
I am afraid it will make me low-spirited.'

'No, I think not, it may raise your spirits.' Mr Maurice took down the
Bible, and opened it at the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. A
piece of torn paper lay between the opened leaves, and a few of the
verses were marked with a pencil. As Mr Maurice proceeded to read, the
face of the poor woman was gradually lowered till it almost rested on
her bosom, and at last, yielding to the intensity of her feelings, she
buried her face in the bed-clothes, and did not raise it again till the
chapter was finished.

'Oh, many and many is the time he has read it to me!' she exclaimed,
'and he put in the mark only the day before he died, so that I might
find it; but I could not, oh I couldn't bear to read it!'

'And why not?'

'Oh, I know it is true! I know I shall see him again! but, sir, he was a
_Christian_.'

'And so prepared to die, was he not?'

'Yes, sir, and my poor baby--'

'If it is taken away it will go to him in heaven.'

'Oh no, oh no! my baby must not die! My James was good, and has talked
to me hours, and hours, about being ready to die, but I used to laugh at
him--_that_ goes to my heart the worst, sir, to laugh at _him_ who was
as gentle as that baby, _him_ who is in his grave now. Oh if I could
forget _that_! He is in heaven, sir, but I--I shall never get there!
It's of no use to read the Bible to me, and talk to me--James used to
pray for me, but it was of no use, I am too wicked. But if you can save
the baby, sir, if God will let the child live, I shall have a little
comfort.'

Mr Maurice had succeeded in rousing the poor woman's feelings, but he
found that she felt more acutely than he imagined, and he now brought to
his aid the still small voice of the Gospel. He told her of the fountain
in which sin might be washed away, he told her of the place where the
weary might find rest, and pointed her to the Lord Jesus Christ, for
mercy; but though she appeared to listen, her thoughts were evidently
fixed upon her husband and child, and the truths he uttered fell
unheeded on her ear. After talking some time, he again read a portion of
the Bible, prayed with the poor woman, and went away.

'Oh, how I pity her, father,' said Harry, when they were on their way
home. 'Do you really think the little baby will get well?--I do hope it
will.'

'That is a natural wish, my child; but God knows what is best, and if He
should see fit to remove it, we have no right to murmur.'

'No, father, but poor Mrs Gilman will feel so dreadfully, for then she
will be entirely alone. She told us, you know, that before she married
James Gilman she was a poor servant girl, and an orphan, and she don't
know whether she has any relatives or not. It will be very hard for her
to see everything she loves taken from her and buried in the grave.'

'So it will, my dear boy, and she deserves all our sympathy; but it may
be that a kind Heavenly Parent, since she has no earthly ones to guide
her, is using these means to draw the poor widow nearer to Him. If this
chastisement is sent by His hand, it will undoubtedly be in love and
mercy.'

'Do you think, father, that Mrs Gilman loves her little James too well?'

'I will answer your question by asking another, Harry. Do you think her
love for the child interferes with that she owes to God?'

Harry was for a few moments silent. At last he answered, 'She certainly
loves him better than she does God, and that is not right; but you
always told Effie and me that we could not love each other too well.'

'And I told you right, provided _that_ love is made subservient to a
holier one. But your first duty is, in the words of our Saviour, "to
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Obedience to this precept
involves a great many other duties, but none of these should interfere
with the great first command.'

'But, father,' inquired Harry, 'if Mrs Gilman should become a Christian,
would she love her baby less.'

'No, she might love it more, but not with the same kind of affection
she bears it now. This is a blind idolatry--her child is her all, and
she cannot bear to part with it, even though it should join her lost
husband, and wear a crown in glory. If she were a Christian, she would
be able to say, "Thy will be done," and to place entire confidence in
the Divine Master, and bow in submission to His requirements, even
though they should call on her to resign this treasure.'

'Oh, how happy we should be, if we loved God better than anything else!'
said Harry.

After they had arrived at home, and while Mrs Maurice was engaged in
preparing some comfortable things for the poor woman, Harry was heard to
whisper in his sister's ear, 'Poor Mrs Gilman makes a god of her baby,
Effie.'



CHAPTER VI.

GENEROSITY AND JUSTICE.


Several days passed away, and little Effie was watching every
opportunity for making applications of the truth her mother had taught
her, but yet, (such is the deceitfulness of the human heart,) she still
considered herself out of danger. If any little boys or girls who may
perchance read this story, are as confident as Effie, we only ask them
to watch over their thoughts and actions for as long a time as she did,
and see if they do not discover their mistake. One day Mrs Maurice went
to make a call on a lady of her acquaintance, and as Harry was engaged
with his father, she allowed Effie to accompany her. It was a beautiful
parlour into which they were ushered, and Mrs Town received them with
due politeness. They were scarce seated when the servant announced
another visitor, and a lady with whom Mrs Maurice was very well
acquainted entered, and immediately stated the object of her call--to
obtain subscriptions for a charitable society.

'I am tired of these societies,' said Mrs Town, 'do not you think, Mrs
Maurice, that individual charity is preferable?'

'Undoubtedly, in many instances, but societies have done much good, and
I am therefore disposed to countenance them.'

'But don't you think,' said Mrs Town, 'that a person is very apt to
think by being a member of a society she is freed from individual
responsibility?'

'There may be such people,' was the reply, 'and undoubtedly are, but
they are those who give merely because they are expected to do so, and
this is the easiest mode of cheating the world and themselves that could
be devised.'

'Well,' replied Mrs Town, 'I have always made it a point never to place
my name on a subscription list, so I shall be obliged to decline. I
hope,' she said to the disappointed lady, who had been advised to call
upon her because she was rich, 'I hope you will meet with better success
elsewhere.'

'I hope I shall,' the lady could scarce forbear saying, as Mrs Town
curtsied gracefully in answer to her embarrassed nod, but she soon
calmed her excited feelings and passed on.

'Poor Mrs D.!' said Mrs Town. 'This must be very unpleasant business. I
can't see what could induce a lady of her respectability to engage in
it.'

'I know of no one who could perform the task better,' said Mrs Maurice.

'Certainly not, but--' Mrs Town paused, and then added, hesitatingly,
'it seems a little too much like begging.'

'It surely is begging,' said Mrs Maurice, with much animation, 'begging
for the poor, the weak, the desolate, the unfriended--these have claims
upon those who to-morrow may be in their places--and more, Mrs Town, it
is begging for our brethren, our sisters--these have claims upon us that
cannot be waived--but above all, it is begging for the King of kings,
Him who hesitated not to give His own Son for us, and His claims cover
all others. Not only our gold and silver are His, but ourselves.'

'Oh, my dear Mrs Maurice, I would not have you to suppose that I object
to _giving_--by no means--it is only from an ostentatious display of
charity that I shrink--this is a duty that should be exercised in
private, a--' Mrs Town was interrupted in the midst of her vindication
by a servant who entered and placed a note in her hand, which she folded
closer and was about putting in her pocket--'Please, ma'am,' said the
servant, 'she wishes you to read it now, and say if you can see her.'

Mrs Town glanced at the note and coloured slightly, but she had been too
long accustomed to concealing her feelings for a stronger manifestation.
'Tell her to come to-morrow,' said she.

The servant was gone a moment and again returned, 'Please, ma'am,' said
he, 'the woman won't go away, she says she _will_ see you, for her
husband is sick, and her children starving, and she must have her
_pay_.' Mrs Town started from her seat: this was a strange comment upon
her beautiful theory of individual charity. Mrs Maurice retired as soon
as possible, and as she passed through the hall she saw a miserably-clad
woman with a face extremely haggard and care-worn, whom she supposed to
be the person claiming--not _charity_, but _justice_, of Mrs Town. Effie
saw that her mother's face was unusually clouded, and she did not
venture to comment upon the past scene, but she said to her brother as
soon as they were alone, 'I am glad we are not rich like Mrs Town,
Harry, lest we should make a _god_ of our money.'

Mrs Maurice did not, however, neglect at a suitable time to fix upon
Effie's mind the impression she had received from the scene at Mrs
Town's. 'Remember, my child,' she said, 'if you should ever live to
become a woman, that _justice_ should be preferred to _generosity_, and
never talk of _giving_ while some poor person may be suffering for that
which is her just due.'

'Mother,' said Harry, 'Elisha Otis told me to-day that his father thinks
people who talk so much of giving, are all hypocrites.'

'People who make a great noise about any good act which they perform
appear somewhat pharisaical, but we have no right to condemn them upon
that score _alone_, for it often proceeds from a great desire to do
good. You know we are very apt to talk of that which most occupies our
thoughts, Harry. But where did Elisha Otis's father get such notions of
charitable people?'

'That is what I was going to tell you about, mother. You know how much
Deacon Brown, gives--he heads all the subscription papers, and I heard
father say the other day that he was a great help to the church; but Mr
Otis says that he is never willing to pay people that work for him their
full price, and then they have to wait, and dun, and dun, before they
can get anything.'

'I am sorry to hear this, my son, very sorry.'

'Isn't it true mother?'

'It is true that Deacon Brown in some instances has seemed more generous
than just, and this case is very good to illustrate what I before said;
but Mr Otis makes it appear much worse than it is.'

'Then he don't cheat his workmen, mother?'

'No; but, by procrastination, thoughtlessness, or even perhaps the
desire which business men may have to make a good bargain, he may do
wrong, and so lay himself open to all these remarks. Bad qualities, you
know, shew much plainer in a good man than a bad one, and are almost
always made to appear worse than they really are. But let this be a
warning to you, my boy--remember that _good_ (not _great_) actions
seldom cover faults, but faults obscure the lustre of many good actions,
and destroy the usefulness of thousands of really good and pious
people.'



CHAPTER VII.

THE NEW BOOK.


'A present for you, Effie,' said Mr Maurice, a few days after the
foregoing conversation, 'a present from your uncle William! it is in
this nice little packet, now guess what it is.'

'O father--'

'No, but you must guess.'

'Why it's a book--say a book, Effie,' interposed Harry, 'with sights of
pictures, I dare say, and may be pretty gilt letters on the back, too.'

'Is it a book?' inquired Effie, her little eyes dancing with pleasure,
'and from uncle William, too? Oh how good he is to remember a little
girl like me!'

By this time Mr Maurice had unwound the cord and unfolded the paper, and
displayed a neat little book--what think you it was? 'Peter Parley's
Stories,' says one, 'The Love Token,' says another. No, you are both
wrong. Effie Maurice was almost a woman before these books were written.
Mrs Sherwood was then the children's friend, and some beautiful stories
she told them, too. The book had neither pictures, nor gilt letters, but
this did not spoil it for Effie, and she was soon so busily engaged in
reading that she forgot that there was anything in the world but herself
and the delightful book--more still, she forgot even her own existence,
and thought only of the people about whom she was reading. A half-hour
passed away and then Mrs Maurice reminded Effie of her room, and told
her it had better be put in order.

'Yes, mother, in a few minutes.' The few minutes passed away, and Mrs
Maurice spoke again.

'I will, mother.' Mrs Maurice saw that Effie forgot these words almost
as soon as spoken, but instead of telling her at once to put up the
book, and do as she was bidden, she allowed her to pursue her own course
for this once, hoping by this means to cure her of a very bad habit.

Soon after, Mrs Maurice descended to the kitchen to give some
directions, and Effie was left alone. Once the thought entered her mind
that she had promised to visit Mrs Gilman that day, but she immediately
concluded another time would do as well, and so continued her reading.
After a while Harry, who had been out with his father, entered in great
haste, with a packet of medicine in his hand.

'Effie,' he said, 'father wants you to take this to Mrs Gilman's when
you go, it is for her little James, and I--'

'I am not going to-day, Harry.'

'Can't you go? Oh do! don't mind the book! you can read it another
time.'

'So I can go to Mrs Gilman's another time.'

'Oh, but the medicine, Effie.'

'Can't you take it as well as I? It is too bad for me to have to be
running there all the time.' It was very unusual for Effie to speak so
peevishly, but Harry was in a very happy mood, so he merely exclaimed,
'Why, Effie!' and glanced at the book as much as to say, 'did you learn
it there!' Effie saw the glance, and ashamed of her ill nature said, 'Oh
it is such a good story, Harry! but if you can't go to Mrs Gilman's, why
not send a servant?'

'Father said some of _us_ ought to go; so do, Effie, just put up your
book for this once. The medicine is to prevent the convulsions that
frightened us so yesterday, but father is going out into the country (it
is delightful sleighing!) and he says I may go. You know it isn't every
day I can get a sleigh-ride, Effie.' And the delighted boy gave his
sister such a very hearty kiss that she could not forbear answering good
humouredly, especially as she had some suspicion that she had not spoken
pleasantly at first, 'Well, I will go, Harry, but don't hinder me now, I
shall get through the chapter in a few minutes.' 'Well, don't forget,
and when I come back I will tell you about all I see.'

Effie finished her chapter and thought of the medicine, and wondered if
it was really so important that it should go immediately; but she was
now in the most interesting part of the story, and she continued to read
a little farther. So the time stole away--I can't exactly tell how, but
perhaps some of my little readers (especially if they have read the
little book that delighted Effie so much) can imagine--till the dinner
hour. By this time Effie had finished her book, and her father and Harry
had returned from the sleigh-ride, the latter particularly in excellent
spirits. Effie thought of the medicine as she sat down to the table, and
in a moment all her enjoyment vanished; for she had been guilty of
procrastination, she had broken her word, and what excuse had she to
offer for her neglect? That she had scarcely known what she was about,
was no excuse at all, for she knew she ought to have known. She could
not, however, prevail upon herself to confess her fault, until after she
had repaired it, and so decided to go to Mrs Gilman's immediately after
dinner, and when she had set all right again, to tell the whole affair
to her parents and brother.

Harry was full of stories about his ride, and she heard as well as she
could about the farmer's big dog that at first wouldn't let them come
in, and afterwards shook hands with them, and the cat that could open
doors, and the hens and rabbits, but she forgot all about them in a
moment, and only wished she could slide away from the table and nobody
see her. At last the meal was ended, and they were about rising from the
table when they were startled by a message from Mrs Gilman's. Her little
boy was in convulsions.

'I will go immediately,' said Mr Maurice, 'poor little fellow! nothing
can save him now--that medicine was my last hope.'

'Oh, father!' exclaimed Effie.

'Nay, my child--' Mr Maurice began, but he saw that it was not mere pity
that produced so much agitation, and inquired hastily 'what is the
matter?' Poor Effie attempted to speak, but burst into tears.

'Oh, Effie!' exclaimed her brother, grasping her arm, 'you couldn't have
forgotten the medicine.' The poor child only sobbed the harder, and
Harry, turning to the table, pointed to the little packet, thus
explaining the mystery!

'And so for a selfish gratification you have endangered a
fellow-creature's life,' said Mr Maurice, sternly.

'Oh, father!' exclaimed Harry, 'she's so sorry! Don't cry, Effie, don't
cry!' he whispered, at the same time passing his arm around her neck,
'father didn't mean to be so severe, he is only frightened about little
James--I am very sorry I didn't go, for it was too bad to make you leave
the book.'

But all Harry's soothing words could not make Effie blind to her own
neglect, and when she saw her father go out with an anxious, troubled
face, and her mother looked so sorrowful without saying a single word to
her, she could not help going back in her thoughts to Mrs Town, Rosa
Lynmore, and even the miser, and thinking she was worse than any of
them.

Her brother Harry still clung around her neck, and kept whispering she
was not to blame, the fault was his, till Mrs Maurice called him away,
and then very reluctantly he quitted her side. Poor Effie, thus left
without sympathy, crept away to her own little room, and sat down, not
merely to weep, but to enter into a regular self-examination. The truths
she thus discovered were exceedingly humiliating, but the child began to
feel that she needed humbling, and she did not shrink from the task. I
do not know but Effie's self-condemnation was greater than the fault
really called for, but it certainly was of great use to her, and made
her humbler, and gentler, and more forgiving than she ever was before.

Effie did not see her father or Harry again that night, but when her
mother came to see if she was warm in her little bed, she whispered in
her ear, 'Oh, I have so many faults: and my heart is full of false gods.
I am afraid I never really loved my Heavenly Father.'

'Yet, Effie, a great many children, and some grown people, would
consider this neglect of yours to-day a very small thing.'

'Oh, mother! I know it is not small, though I never thought it was so
very wicked before.'

'And what makes you think it is wicked now?'

'Because it has led me to do so many wicked things. In the first place,
it was wrong to read immediately after breakfast, for then is the time
that you desire me to work.'

'Well, do you see any bad effect that the neglect of this rule may have
on your future life?'

'I suppose I should make a very useless woman, if I should grow up in
ignorance of work.'

'Yes, certainly you would; when I insist upon your attending to your few
duties at a particular time--can you imagine the reason of this? Why not
read the book this morning, and make up the lost time this evening?'
Effie could not tell, and Mrs Maurice went on to explain the necessity
of _order_ in the distribution of time, and shewed her little daughter,
that it was as necessary in the government of a house as in the
government of a nation. 'But that is not the only bad effect,' she
added, 'of your self-indulgence.'

'Oh no, mother, it made me disobedient to you, though I am sure I didn't
think of being so at the time.'

'I dare say not, but you see when we once go wrong, we are like a
traveller who has lost his path, and can be certain of nothing.'

'Then I forgot my duty to poor Mrs Gilman--I even made myself believe
that there was no need of going to see her; and I was cross to Harry,
and so selfish, that if I had not been ashamed to own it, I would have
had him give up his ride and go with the medicine.'

'And he would rather have gone ten times than--'

'I know it, mother, rather a hundred times than have the baby die.'

'Or see you do so very wrong.'

'Oh, Harry has been crying about it, I know, though he can't feel half
so badly as I do. But that was not all, mother--last of all, I broke my
promise. I told Harry I would go as soon as I finished the chapter.'

'And all this,' said Mrs Maurice, 'is the result of what, under other
circumstances, would be a mere innocent gratification, a pleasant
pastime, and a useful exercise.'

'But, mother, when I once begun, I thought I could not stop.'

'Then that was the very moment when you should have stopped, and this
one victory would have made others easier. Now I am not afraid, my dear,
of your being led astray (at least at present) by things which you know
to be wrong; your danger lies on the unguarded side, and yet it is as
likely to prove fatal to your peace of mind, your piety, and your
usefulness.'

'It never seemed to me before, that so much evil could come from such a
small thing.'

'Then you have learned an all-important lesson, which I trust will not
be soon forgotten.'

'But, mother, I shall always be afraid of doing wrong now--I don't even
know what is right.'

'That shews me, Effie, that you begin to look upon yourself as you
really are. If you are left to yourself, you will do wrong; but if you
distrust self, and place all your confidence in God, and at the same
time study to do right, you will not, for any long time, be left in
darkness.'

The conversation of Mrs Maurice continued to a late hour; but as the
remaining time was spent in encouraging poor Effie, who needed all that
could be said to her, we will pass it over, and merely inform our
readers that she awoke in the morning wiser, and even happier; for the
joy that is felt in heaven over a repenting sinner, is reflected upon
that sinner's own heart.



CHAPTER VIII.

ANOTHER OF MR MAURICE'S LESSONS.


'Father,' said Harry, after the little family had gathered around the
fire as usual, on the ensuing evening, 'it seems strange that people can
love good books too well.'

'I believe they are not very apt to, Harry, especially boys who are so
fond of snowballing and sliding, as a certain little fellow I met
to-day.'

'Oh you mean me, now, father, but I thought you liked to have me play.'

'So I do; only look out that the books and play go together. One is for
the mind, and the other is for the body, and both should be cared for.'

'Well, father, Mr Titus tells the boys, that the mind is the only thing
worthy of attention, at least he talks as though he thought so; and so
some of the larger boys think it is not scholarlike to play, and sit
mewed up in the house from morning till night, like so many drones.'

'And so grow pale and sickly-looking, do they not?'

'Yes, sir; and what's more, I don't think they learn a bit faster than
some of the rest of us.'

'Very likely, Harry--for whether they think proper attention to the body
important or not, the state of the mind depends very much upon it. A
healthy mind, that is, a perfectly sound, active, and energetic one,
cannot dwell in a diseased body; and so your play, while it amuses you,
and seems to others to be mere waste of time, invigorates the body,
affords rest to the mind, and is in reality as essential to your
well-being as the food you eat, or the clothing you wear in winter.'

'I wish Mr Titus could hear you say that, father.'

'Perhaps it would not be safe to talk so to all his boys, for I presume
the most of them would at present be more benefited by what he says.
Children seldom love study too well. Even our little book-worm, Effie,
would never become too much engaged in anything but a story.'

'Father, Thomas Marvin says that he can't get to school for a while,
and he can't spend the time in exercise; as he says fun takes his mind
off his books, and makes him lose a great deal. He is intending to teach
a school when he goes away from here, but I don't believe he will, for
he looks sickly now. But he thinks it is very foolish to spend time in
jumping about, and all that, when there are things so much more
important to be done.'

'The body, which God has so wonderfully made, and which He watches over
with such tender care, is very far from being beneath our notice, Harry;
and while we should give the greater care to the immortal part, we
should not neglect the other. I have been visiting a scholar to-day, who
I doubt not was once of young Marvin's opinion in these things, and,
poor fellow! he does not even see his folly now.'

'Please tell us about him, father,' said Effie, with interest, 'did he
study so much to make him selfish and wicked?'

'I will tell you the story, and then you must be the judge,' returned
Mr Maurice. 'I believe, however, that in this case selfishness was more
out of the question than usual; he had too much zeal, "a zeal not
according to knowledge." Lewis Varden was the son of a poor widow, who
contrived to support a large family in comfort and to give them a good
education. He was the youngest son, and perhaps from the circumstance of
being too tenderly nurtured, and perhaps from some constitutional
defect, was never so strong and muscular as his brothers, and so his
mother determined that he should study a profession.

'Lewis was particularly pleased with the arrangement, as he had a
natural fondness for sedentary employments, and at sixteen had become so
extensive a reader, as to be a kind of family encyclopedia. The
question, however, remained to be decided whether he should study law or
medicine, the only professions which among us are at all lucrative.

'While he was yet wavering between the two, he lost his mother, and
suddenly the whole object of his life, even his own character, became
changed. Mrs Varden was what is usually called a good woman, that is,
with a sharp eye upon her worldly interests, she maintained her standing
in the church, and bore a fair reputation; but she was a worldly-minded
Christian, and as such had not sufficiently encouraged in her children
any peculiar love for holiness. She was, however, a devoted,
self-sacrificing mother, as far as their worldly interests were
concerned: and never was a lost parent more sincerely mourned.

'From that time forth, Lewis seemed to lose all connection with the
business part of the world, and he devoted himself more closely than
ever to his books.

'Yet among these books, the Bible now found a place, and occupied a
large share of his attention. From reading it, because it suited his now
serious thoughts, he began to love its contents, and finally he made
them the guide of his life. He became a member of the church in the
little village where he resided, and was soon regarded as a very
promising young man.

'His new friends were exceedingly anxious that he should study for the
ministry, and he entered with alacrity upon his new duties. But not
content with what he considered the circuitous way to usefulness usually
taken, he determined by industry to cut it short, and so the noonday sun
and midnight lamp found him at the same task. When worn out by his
incessant mental labours, he would throw himself down and sleep for a
little time; but his dreams were only a continuation of his waking
thoughts, so that even in sleep he was studying still.

'When his fellow-students expostulated, he laughed at the idea of his
health being injured by incessant application, and seemed to be afraid
that variety of employment would distract his attention. So he went on
from week to week, and month to month, preparing his mind for
usefulness, but his body for the grave. His pale brow grew yet paler,
his cheek hollow, and his hand thin and colourless, but still he
declared himself to be in perfect health, and no one knew his danger.

'Finally, he was attacked by a cold, a very slight one, he at first
thought, but it clung to him, and could not be shaken off. The poor
fellow is now wasting away by consumption, but I cannot convince him of
his danger, and to-day when I called on him at the house of his brother,
I found him surrounded by books and papers, his large dark eye
absolutely glowing with enthusiasm, and a deep red spot burning on
either cheek.'

'Oh, father, what did you say to him?' inquired Harry, earnestly.

'A short time ago I recommended quiet and relaxation, telling him
plainly that his disease was beyond the reach of medicine, so he
understood my look of painful surprise at once.

'He only shook his head, laughingly, and said, "Ah, Doctor, this life is
too short to throw away, and so I have gone to work. But you must not
blame me," he said, observing that I was about to speak, "I am only
planning a few sermons I intend to preach next summer."

'And then he went on to talk about his intentions, and inquired my
opinion of some particular sentiments that he had been writing down,
until he became so much excited that I was obliged to order the removal
of all his papers. Poor fellow! he will never preach a sermon. In his
impatience to become useful, he has destroyed his power to do good.'

'I don't think,' said Effie, 'that poor Mr Varden makes knowledge his
_god_ exactly, because he does it all for good; but it would be very
wicked for Harry or me to do so, because we know how wrong it is. I wish
everybody that praised people for studying too hard could know it is
wicked.'

'But remember,' said Mr Maurice, 'that where one person's cheek is
paled by hard study, fifty make themselves utterly useless by neglecting
the bodily exercise which _moderate_ mental effort demands. It is
aversion to active employment, and not the love of knowledge, that has
slain its hundreds and crippled its thousands.'



CHAPTER IX.

THE FUNERAL.


It was a bright and sunshiny day, and so warm as to make the snow moist
and yielding beneath the foot--such a day as children love and choose
for their happiest sports; but to at least two children it was anything
but a day of pleasure. Poor Mrs Gilman's little James had lingered on
beyond all expectation, and finally died, calmly and quietly, as if he
had been composing himself for sleep. And so it was--a long sleep.

This was the day on which the little one was to be buried, and Harry
and Effie were sincere mourners. Not like the poor mother--oh no, no one
could feel like her--but they wept as one child of adversity weeps for
another, all through life, from the cradle to the grave.

Children are sad when they see those of their own age falling like the
spring flowers around them; and when the little infant grows cold and
lifeless in its cradle, beneath a loving mother's eye, and is borne away
to the silent, lonely graveyard, they insensibly grow thoughtful, and if
they have been deprived of previous instructions, death becomes their
teacher, and for a little time they grow wise beneath the influence of
his lessons.

But Harry and Effie had not been thus deprived, and as hand in hand
they followed the little coffin to the grave, through their tears of
sadness and sympathy there gleamed out a bright and elevated expression,
almost a happy one, which shewed that they looked beyond these
sorrow-claiming objects, and saw the suffering child they had loved and
pitied a redeemed spirit of light. They could see that the little
flower, which had drooped and faded in the atmosphere of this world,
grew bright and beautiful in the sunshine of immortal love. They knew
that the kingdom of God was made up of just such little children--those
who had died before they knew anything of the sin and wickedness of this
world; or having known it, having grown old and gray beneath its heavy
burden, had laid all at the feet of Jesus, and in spirit gone back to
helpless, guileless infancy again.

They knew that their little friend now dwelt with that dear Saviour,
who, when on earth, blessed little children, who gathers the lambs in
His arms, and carries them in His bosom. Yet it was a sad day for them,
for they mourned the dead, as mortals always mourn when mortals die,
although they did not wish him back, and they pitied the living. More
tears were indeed shed for Mrs Gilman, than for the child.

The contents of Rosa Lynmore's purse had been reserved by Mr Maurice for
this sad occasion, he having supplied all previous wants; and it had
been sufficient to give a decent burial to the little boy, who slept
quietly at his father's side--to be awakened only when you and I, my
dear reader, shall be aroused from the same slumber.

Mr Maurice was right when he said if Mrs Gilman was stricken, it would
be in mercy; for her heart being weaned from the world, at last found a
refuge from its loneliness in the consolations of religion, and left the
broken reed of earthly love, on which it had leaned too confidently, for
the Rock, Christ Jesus, the friend that never fails.

She entered Mr Maurice's family as a domestic, and has grown gray in its
service.

Harry Maurice, it was for a long time thought, would become a preacher
of the Gospel; but when he became old enough to judge, he decided in
favour of his father's profession, declaring that he who fails to do
good in one situation in life, would most decidedly fail in another.

Sweet little Effie! Her struggle with her heart on the occasion of the
book was not the last; it was difficult for her to learn its
deceitfulness, and she required repeated lessons.

As she grew older, however, she was always complaining of her own
sinfulness, while every one else thought her the meekest, the gentlest,
and most self-sacrificing being that ever lived. She had, indeed, become
remarkably sharp-sighted to her own faults, and, in proportion,
forgiving to those of others.

But at last a trial came. She was called on to leave all she loved on
earth, and carry the Gospel to a far off benighted land.

She wept at parting with her parents, but even then she whispered in her
mother's ear thanks for the early lessons she had received, and added,
'But for these I might never have learned true self-denial, and might
have preferred my dear home to the service of my Master.'

Effie loved her home sincerely, but she loved her Saviour who gave it to
her better, and she will have her reward.

And now, my little readers, I have not told you this story simply to
amuse you, although I should like to see you interested in its perusal,
but I had a better object.

It is not enough that you should see your own faults, and try to mend
them yourself; neither is it enough that you should pray, 'lead us not
into temptation;' but you must '_watch and pray_' also, always
remembering that however pleasant and beautiful this world is, there is
a brighter and a better, where little children and old men may equally
sit down together in happiness, having one God and one Father.





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