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´╗┐Title: 'Our Guy' - or, The elder brother
Author: Boyd, E. E., Mrs.
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 "'Our Guy' - or, The elder brother" ***

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[Illustration: Frontispiece]



"OUR GUY"

OR

THE ELDER BROTHER.

BY

MRS. E. E. BOYD.


       *       *       *       *       *


          BOSTON:
          BRADLEY & WOODRUFF.
          234 & 236 CONGRESS ST.


          Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by
          HENRY HOYT,
          In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.
  New Year's Eve,                         5

  CHAPTER II.
  Differently Constituted,               19

  CHAPTER III.
  Guy or Christ,                         38

  CHAPTER IV.
  Little Philip,                         47

  CHAPTER V.
  What happened one day,                 53

  CHAPTER VI.
  Death,--Then Life,                     69

  CHAPTER VII.
  Guy gives his views in full,           78

  CHAPTER VIII.
  The Young People's Association,        92

  CHAPTER IX.
  A Day of Pleasure,                    111

  CHAPTER X.
  Miss Smithers comes, and a Surprise,  129

  CHAPTER XI.
  The Young People's Excursion,         144

  CHAPTER XII.
  Pete's Slavery and Freedom,           157

  CHAPTER XIII.
  Rev. John Jay delivers his Message,   166

  CHAPTER XIV.
  Weeping may Endure for a Night,       175

  CHAPTER XV.
  "But Joy cometh in the Morning,"      191



"OUR GUY."



CHAPTER I.

NEW YEAR'S EVE


HE had gone, the good old year! It was no wonder people sighed as his
pulse beat slower and slower, for he had brightened many hearts and
gladdened many homes. If he had brought sadness and heart-ache to some,
it was only that he never once failed in any duty. Taking from the hand
that had given him life-joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments,
crosses and ease, he gave unto each one what the Master designed. But it
happens very often that the rosy morning ends in a night dark and
tempestuous, while the clouds that greet our early waking, are followed
by the bright shining of the sun. And there is no life which would not
be more bright and joyous, if it only opened the windows and let the
light God means it to have, shine in.

So there were sighs and regrets as there always are, when one who has
been true and kind, has left us forever.

Out on the frosty air floated the sound of bells. Merrily, joyously they
pealed forth to welcome the new life that had just dawned, while from
far and near the guns gave out their noisy greeting.

Sad hearts brightened, tearful faces smiled. With their old friend had
gone the old life; they would throw aside regret and be brave and
strong. Among an assembly of silent worshippers knelt two sisters side
by side. It was as if they had gathered round the bedside of a
departing one, trying to catch the last look and to hear the last sound,
the stillness only broken by sobs from wrung hearts. Tremblingly their
girlish voices united with the multitude, as with a covenant-keeping God
they renewed their covenant in the words:--

          "Come, let us use the grace divine,
             And all with one accord,
           In a perpetual cov'nant join
             Ourselves to Christ the Lord;

           Give up ourselves through Jesus' power
             His name to glorify,
           And promise in this sacred hour
             For God to live and die.

           The cov'nant we this moment make,
             Be ever kept in mind;
           We will no more our God forsake,
             Or cast his words behind.

           We never will throw off his fear,
             Who hears our solemn vow,
           And if thou art well pleased to hear,
             Come down and meet us now.

           Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
             Let all our hearts receive;
           Present with the celestial host,
             The peaceful answer give.

           To each the cov'nant blood apply,
             Which takes our sins away;
           And register our names on high,
             And keep us to that day."

At the words, "We will no more our God forsake," the voice of the eldest
suddenly failed, and burying her face she sobbed aloud. The other seemed
to have gathered strength with every word, and now as she sang:--

          "We never will throw off his fear
             Who hears our solemn vow;--"

her voice rang out clear and steady. To her sister it already had an air
of triumph, and caused her to look up wonderingly into the face so full
of trust and holy purpose. The clear, bright eyes met her tearful gaze;
there was a pressure of the hand as entreatingly she said, "Sing, Ruth;
the _Lord_ is our strength, He will help us."

Re-assured and comforted, Ruth sang, "To each the cov'nant blood apply,"
thinking of her sister's words, and feeling already His help.

The New Year's hymn was sung, friends looked into each other's faces
with words of cheer, and then separated. They went their ways to carry
out their purposes, and with them went Ruth and Agnes.

The girls were orphans. For ten years they had been motherless, and
several years previous their father had died. They had no one but their
brother Guy, not even a distant relative, and this made them cling very
closely to one another. One day when Guy was in a very gay and gracious
mood, he took his sisters by the arm and whirling them round sang,
"Lovers three are we, no truer could you see," to which Ruth laughingly
added, "And we'll faithful be, Guy, Agnes and me."

But they were not demonstrative. That is they rarely kissed each other;
they did not show their love in these many ways that are so beautiful
among brothers and sisters. Somehow they had never learned them, for
their father had been a stern, forbidding man, who would have called
such things "Stuff, and Nonsense," and their mother was very timid,
looking up to her husband in everything. She would not have dared to
teach her children these endearing ways. Sometimes she said "dear," and
kissed them, and O, how their hearts filled up with love! It made them
happy for days after. But they always knew she loved them even more than
words or caresses could express, and they gave her back the strength of
their young, loving natures. When she left them they drew up closer to
each other in thought, loving silently, yet with greater intensity.

Guy, the eldest, was twenty-two and Agnes eighteen. He had just been
admitted to the bar, and expected to stand high in his profession before
long. His sisters were sure if any one rose, he certainly would, for he
had not only ambition but talent, and in speaking of "our Guy," they
dwelt on the name with great tenderness and pride. He assured them that
no one had made a higher mount at first than he, having rented a third
story room, and as the girls did not know much about such matters they
were quite satisfied.

Agnes was confiding, truthful. "Saintly," Guy called her. She did not
know how to reason about things as Ruth, she said, and "of course was
not so wise;" but withall she was stronger and wiser, for she had
learned the true wisdom of leaving everything in the hands of God,
knowing that He could better order them than she. And knowing this, she
did not question His providences, although they were many times painful
and hard to understand. He was to her always a loving Father, and she
wanted to be to him a loving, dutiful child.

Ruth was intensely earnest and more practical than Agnes. She believed
in the exercise of judgment and not such entire dependence upon the
Lord; the latter kept one weak she thought, and she did not see the
sense of doing anything that she could not quite understand. So in
spiritual things she very often took her own way, but it did not
satisfy; her life seemed a life of failure, while Agnes never appeared
to be disappointed. They often talked to each other about these things
and Ruth felt strange after their talks and more confident of success,
but her unsanctified will, her efforts at self-government brought the
same result as before.

Guy was not a Christian, he had not even gone much to church since he
began to study law, but he was a good, kind brother, and the sisters
were sure he would come out right some time. If they had given the
reason of their assurance, Agnes would have said, she prayed for it and
believed that God would answer prayer, while Ruth's reply would have
been, "He is our Guy, and of course he will die a Christian." The girls
did not talk so much to their brother as to each other; he could not
understand their "spiritual talks," and his life and theirs were after
all so different. But when he spent an evening at home as he
occasionally did, their joy was extreme. Agnes then was sure the Lord
meant to answer her prayer very soon, and asked to be directed so that
she might draw her brother to Christ by her consistent life. Ruth
exerted herself to the utmost to entertain him. Watching him very
closely to see the effect of her efforts, and being rewarded by some
such remark as: "Ruth, you are becoming quite brilliant; it will not do
to have you cooped up here; you must see more of the world."

That satisfied her; she knew she was doing him good, and she would not
stop at anything to accomplish her purpose. For while she was not so
keenly alive to spiritual things as Agnes, she saw as Agnes never
appeared to see, the danger there was of his being led astray, knowing
how few real Christians were to be found in the legal professions.

The girls had had many struggles during the last few years, even since
Guy commenced the study of law. And he had not been without his
difficulties. It had been a hard fight between his love of profession
and love for his sisters. So that many a time he resolved to throw aside
his books and earn a livelihood in some other way, any way rather than
have them helping him. But whenever he mentioned it, they seemed so
distressed that he yielded the point, resolved to study with more
earnestness so that one day they might be proud of him. He did not know
already how proud they were, or what pleasure it was to make sacrifices
for him; for they never hinted at the self-denial they were called upon
continually to practice.

It had occurred to Guy's mind frequently that he ought to spend more
time with his sisters, that being alone, their evenings must be dull;
but home always suggested that which he wanted to drive from his
thoughts as much as possible; hard toiling and sacrifice on the part of
his sisters. If he kept this before him constantly, he reasoned, it
would so dishearten and depress him that his chance of success would be
naturally lessened. Indeed his spirits must be kept up or he give up
altogether. When he began to make money, things should be very
different; he would devote himself entirely to them. But with diplomas,
fortunes do not come, and so it was rarely that the girls had their
brother home with them. When they did, we have seen how it cheered and
re-assured them.

On the death of their father it was ascertained that very little support
was left for his family, and Guy entered a store at a very small salary,
while Ruth was compelled to remain at home on account of her mother's
delicate health. She managed to obtain a few scholars, however, and
every month had a little to add to the general fund. Agnes, then too
young to support herself or others, continued to go to school, and in
time received a teacher's certificate. But as she was not yet old enough
to obtain a situation in the public schools, she helped Ruth with hers
which had increased in size, making quite a good appearance in the
second story back room.

They were at that time living comfortably, when Guy, who had never liked
the store, expressed his ardent desire to study law. He was rather
surprised to find the readiness with which his mother consented, and the
eagerness of his sisters. Speaking truthfully, they thought him far
above his present business and much preferred that he should have a
profession. So it was not long until he was in a lawyer's office. Then
their mother died. It seemed a very cruel thing to Guy that she should
be taken away just now; if she could only have lived a few years longer
to see her son a great man; he had determined to repay her for all her
devotion.

Ruth soon had to do without her assistant when Agnes, with a bright,
cheerful heart, went out into the world "to help Guy and Ruth." And now
the sisters are teaching, while "Guy Gorton, Attorney at Law," mounts
his three flights of stairs daily, with a great deal of hope, and as
large a share of importance.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER II.

DIFFERENTLY CONSTITUTED.


NEITHER of the girls could tell which awoke first on New Year's morning,
for as Agnes said at the breakfast table, when they looked at each other
they were both awake.

Guy declared it was no wonder she graduated with such high honor when
she was so extremely wise; and Ruth gave it as her opinion that she
always had been a most precocious child, relating instances, some of
them so amusing that with the recollection came a general outburst of
merriment. "Do you remember the time the Millerites were making such an
ado about the world coming to an end, Guy, how she went to mother and
asked if it twisted itself round and round until it came to the end?"

"Don't I though, and the day she asked mother if _vertigo_ meant a
monkey. When mother told her no and laughed, she said it must be some
animal, for she read in the paper that a man went up into a tree and
while there was seized with vertigo."

"And the day she was transferred to another school, when she said she
had a note of transubstantiation."

"Yes, and"--Guy was about to continue, but Agnes declared she was not
going to sit there as a target for their fun, and ran laughing out of
the room.

"What are you going to do with yourselves, girls?" asked their brother,
as lighting a cigar he prepared to go out.

"O we are going to stay at home and have a nice time; you know holidays
don't come very often."

"Well, you women folks have queer ideas of a nice time, if that is what
you call staying in the house. Why, it is enough to make you stupid. Fix
yourself up like other girls, and promenade; that is what I mean to do."

"What, fix yourself up like other girls?" demurely asked Agnes, glad of
an opportunity to pay him back.

"O precocious child, I must be careful!" and he started for his
promenade.

"Be sure to be back at one," was Ruth's reminder, and then the girls
began to plan their "nice time." "I'll wash the breakfast dishes, Ruth,
while you make the beds, you tuck the counterpane in so smoothly and
have the pillows so straight," and Agnes, with sleeves pinned up and
crash apron on, began her work. Her heart was very light, and as she
worked she sang:--

          "Behold I come with joy to do
             The Master's blessed will;
           My Lord in outward works pursue,
             And serve his pleasure still.
           Thus faithful to my Lord's commands,
             I choose the better part,
           And serve with careful Martha's hands,
             But loving Mary's heart.

           Though careful, without care I am,
             Nor feel my happy toil,
           Preserved in peace by Jesus' name,
             Supported by his smile:
           Rejoicing thus my faith to show,
             His service my reward;
           While every work I do below,
             I do it to the Lord."

Ruth went up stairs and carefully spread the counterpane and arranged
the pillows, but she did it mechanically. She was thinking of what Guy
said about "fixing themselves up like other girls." She wondered if he
was dissatisfied with their appearance, and if that could be the reason
why he so seldom went out with them. Then he said they would become
stupid if they did not go out more. If she could be sure he did not
think them stupid now, she should not care. But he could not think so,
for he had told her she was brilliant, and she knew she was gayer and
more entertaining to him than to any one else, while as for Agnes, she
was too good to be stupid.

"I should like to dress better just for his sake, now that he is a
lawyer," she said with a little thrill of pleasure and pride. "Of course
he will have a great many friends and they will have to see us
sometimes. But--" here there was a pause and a deep sigh, "O, he does
not know how little we have to dress with, if we would keep out of debt.
There now, Agnes is singing and I am doing I scarcely know what," she
added, as her sister's voice reached her. She did not hear the words, if
she had heard they would have helped her. As it was, she chided herself
for beginning the year so badly and hurried down stairs to help prepare
dinner. Both she and Agnes decided it must be the very best dinner they
ever had, for Guy liked good things, and on school days they had to live
plainly. If the pudding was not _plum_ pudding, it would be "almost as
good," and they set to work gleefully stoning the raisins and beating
the eggs.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could live this way always?" said Ruth, as
she put a large raisin in her mouth.

"Yes," replied Agnes, "but--"

"Now, Agnes, do leave the _buts_ and ifs out once, and say that you
would really like it."

"Well, yes, I am sure it would be very nice not to have to think and
plan so much about our way of living, and sometime I almost wish we had
more money for your sake and Guy's, but--I can't help it, it will
come," as Ruth made an impatient gesture--"indeed, Ruth, I should almost
fear to be rich."

"Why, for fear of losing your religion? I thought you had more faith."

"Yes, perhaps that is the reason, Ruth, my lack of faith on this point.
If I consecrated all but my money to the Lord, I might fear, for it
would not bring happiness with it, but God's grace can dim even the
shining of gold to the Christian, so that neither the eye nor the heart
may be held by it."

"It is when I look at the pitiful way in which it is doled out, even to
Him who gave it, that I dishonor God by having such thoughts. After all,
the grace of submission which we need, Ruth, is as hard to learn, as any
lesson that might come with riches; don't you think so?"

Agnes left the room for a few minutes and Ruth did not reply. But the
thought took possession of her mind. "The grace of submission, that is a
hard thing to learn indeed, at least for some people. I wonder if any
one ever submits _willingly_, or if it is not because when they reason
about it they find they cannot do better. I don't know about this thing
of having no will of your own: some people require greater strength than
others. Now there are Agnes and I so very unlike; she could not manage
and plan nearly so well as I. So it is necessary for me to have more
strength of will because I have no one to depend upon. If we had more
money it would be easier to be amiable and sweet, for then I should not
be perplexed. But I must need a great deal of teaching, or rather a
willingness to be taught, and that is the reason I can never see or feel
like Agnes in spiritual things."

Such a sense of want, such a longing came into her soul, that she
almost cried out; but Agnes returned, and driving back her emotion, Ruth
went on with her preparations.

With the greatest care Agnes set the table, bringing out the best china,
and arranging and re-arranging until she was sure everything was right,
then she and Ruth found it was time to dress.

"Fixing up like other girls," still ran in Ruth's mind, and going to the
wardrobe, she selected her maroon colored merino dress, because Guy said
it suited her complexion.

"Your best dress and lace bow," exclaimed Agnes, who considered herself
quite well dressed in her black alpaca, though it had been turned, and a
blue neck-tie.

"Yes," replied Ruth, "my best dress and lace bow. Extravagant, isn't it?
Promises well for the year?"

"One would think you expected somebody."

"So I do; a gentleman."

"O, Guy, you mean; but what is the reason you have your best dress on?"

"Indeed that is the very reason. I don't know for whom I should want to
dress, if not for Guy."

"Of course, Ruth, we should do more for him than for anyone, but you are
so careful of your good clothes, and so seldom wear them at home."

"Well, I have been thinking perhaps I had better pay more attention to
my appearance. Fix up a little more to be like other people, I mean. One
feels better satisfied with herself when she is looking well. And then,
Agnes, as Guy goes more into society, I fancy he is becoming
fastidious."

"Yes, I suppose so," returned Agnes, re-arranging her neck-tie. "How do
I look, Ruth; does this dress look shabby?"

"Shabby! one would scarcely know that it is not new. You always look
well dressed; but it takes a great deal of fixing to set me off."

Guy's face showed his approbation as he glanced over the table, and his
"Why, girls, this is a feast fit for a king!" carried with it, greater
pleasure, than the most graceful compliment from other lips could have
done. After dinner they walked out together "to see the New Year," Guy
said; and the girls felt sure that he must know all the great men of the
town, he bowed to so many. Then he was not the least ashamed of his
sisters either, Ruth thought, and she became quite animated, so that
Agnes, who knew nothing of the reason, wondered at the unusually high
spirits. _She_ was very happy, for she was with the two she loved best
on earth, and it seemed such a glad beginning to the year. She smiled,
talked, and looked to where Guy pointed, seeing beauty in everything,
even in the ragged children who begged pennies as they passed along, for
an inward light gave the charm, and a sweeter voice than that of brother
or sister, made gladness. Several visits were made that afternoon to old
friends who urged them to stay for tea; and it would have been pleasant,
the girls thought, but Guy appeared anxious to go home, so they yielded
very cheerfully. Guy had been planning a delightful surprise for his
sisters, and he meant to make the announcement at the tea-table.

"Now for home and an early tea," he said after making their last call.

The girls brightened at the thought that home was really becoming
attractive to Guy, and although they had thought it would be pleasant to
free themselves from home duties for one evening and enjoy it with their
friends, they lost sight of their own wishes in their great desire to
please Guy.

"It is the best place after all, isn't it?" said Agnes, looking at her
brother, who was holding the door for his sisters to enter. But his
hasty, "Yes, hurry up with tea, girls," gave a new turn to their
thoughts. Perhaps after all he meant to spend the evening out.

"Wouldn't it have been delightful if we could have staid at Borden's?"
asked Agnes, sitting down at the foot of the bed, her favorite seat, as
she untied her bonnet.

"Indeed it would," was the reply. "I don't know when I ever wanted so
much to stay. We might often go out for tea if it were not for Guy, and
that is one reason I wish we could keep a servant."

"A servant would not be company for him, Ruth, he would not come home at
all for tea if we were not here. But if he cared more for our friends he
would be more willing to visit with us. I don't think, however men care
to be from home at meal-time, and I am so glad Guy is not dissatisfied
with our plain way of living, now that he sees so much style and moves
in such a refined circle."

"Where would be the use in being dissatisfied, he knows it can't be
helped," was Ruth's reply as she turned to leave the room.

"I thought you were hungry," remarked Ruth, as Guy refused one or two
dishes that were handed him.

"Not very," was the reply.

"Well that was cool, hurrying us home as if you were on the point of
starvation, and now acknowledging that you are not hungry," said Agnes,
laughing.

"O, I only wanted you to have tea over soon, so that we could go out."

"Out!" exclaimed both, "where?"

"To the theatre, there is a splendid bill for to-night. Look your very
best girls."

A deathlike silence followed this announcement, and as Guy had finished,
he rose from the table and went into the parlor, leaving his sisters
sitting there. When he had gone they looked at each other. "O, Ruth!"
said Agnes, sorrowfully. And Ruth replied, sharply, "Well?" but it had a
sound of pain as if she had encountered some terrible sorrow, yet meant
to bear it.

"He will be so angry," continued Agnes. "O, I wish we had staid at
Borden's. Hadn't we better tell him now that we cannot go?"

"You can tell him for yourself, Agnes," and Ruth began removing the
dishes with as much haste as if she were eager to go.

"And you, Ruth?"

"I am going."

"Ruth, you certainly cannot mean it. Going to the theatre and you a
Christian, and this is the first day of the year. O, Ruth, remember
last night and your covenant." Her arms were round her sister now as
though she would hold her back from evil, but Ruth shook her off, and
ran hastily up stairs to the school-room. Locking the door, she walked
up and down the room, with hands tightly clasped and a face expressive
of the strongest conflict.

"Last night, and your covenant," yes, she remembered only too well. But
was not she right in this? Guy _would_ go to these places and he must
not go alone. Her sister was the best one to go with him. He could never
go wrong if she were with him. What was the use of praying that he might
become a Christian, and leaving him to go alone as he chose. No, she
would win him over. He should see that Christians did not have to attend
church and pray all the time, for that would make him dislike religion,
but that they were like other people, only better.

When all this was settled, she began her preparations tremblingly,
thinking how very plain her dress would be compared with the handsome
dresses, to be seen there, but determined to appear well for Guy's sake,
and not to let him know the struggle she had passed through.

As she left the school-room and ascended the short flight of stairs
leading to their bedroom, she heard Agnes and Guy talking.

"She is telling him," she said. "O, I wish I could be Agnes! but we are
differently constituted, and there are different requirements made of
us. Agnes does the praying, and I must make the efforts, the
sacrifices."

Yes, Agnes was telling her brother. She had not to reason as to what was
right or wrong in this case, having read that we are to shun every
appearance of evil, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Her
heart beat fast, and her voice trembled, but not with indecision; for
her soul was strong in its purpose to do right at all cost as she
entered the room and said:

"Guy, I can't go to the theatre."

"What's the reason you can't?" was the surprised inquiry.

"Because our church does not allow it, and _I_ do not think it is a good
place."

"You don't! how do you know when you never were there? See here, Agnes,
don't be a simpleton. Where is Ruth? I'll be bound she'll go; she has
good sense and good taste. I saved up cigar money this week on purpose
to take you. Hurry now, or we shall not get good seats."

"I can't do wrong, Guy; I must not go;" and Agnes went out of the room,
back into the bright little kitchen where she had been so happy that
morning. She wanted to go to her own room, but Ruth was there.

Guy was angry, very angry, Agnes thought, from his voice as he spoke to
Ruth, but they passed out and she was alone.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER III.

GUY OR CHRIST.


THERE are times when the soul isolates itself and is with God only;
although in the midst of a multitude. Then, although seeming alone, it
has companionship, it is not lonely. And there are hours of heart-felt
loneliness, though surrounded by a crowd, when no look, word or touch of
another can reach our hearts, so separated are we.

Agnes had felt all this, but never before did she feel such a complete
and painful separation as when the door had closed and she was left.
Ruth had made a sacrifice for Guy. She knew it must have been very hard
to do it, and only her love for him could have induced her to go. But
Ruth did not love him better than she. He would not understand that,
and would think that want of love had prevented her from yielding. But
O, if he could see her heart, if he could know how willingly she would
give up her life for him, how gladly she would sacrifice everything but
principle to satisfy him.

"And I can't tell him," she thought; "he would not understand it, but
think I was trying to excuse myself, for we never talk like other
brothers and sisters about our love for one another." Then came the
question, "Why must I suffer and be misunderstood, when Ruth can act
differently?" But again the voice was heard that ever brought calm and
sweet assurance, saying, "Is this your love for me? He that loveth
father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me, but he that loseth
his life for my sake shall find it."

"O yes," was the response, "I would do a great deal for love of Guy, but
more, far more for love of Jesus;" and so for His love she was willing
to lose even Guy's love for a time if necessary, and could bear to be
misunderstood if the Saviour trusted her. There was no shrinking from
the thought of telling Him; no fear of being misunderstood there, so
kneeling down, she poured forth the story. There were not many words,
for as sometimes in opening our heart to a friend, we look up and catch
a glance which tells us there is no need of further explanation, so she
looked and felt that she was understood.

Earnestly she plead for her brother and sister. That _he_ might soon
learn to walk in other paths, and that _she_ might lean more fully on
Christ and less on her own understanding.

One thing perplexed her; that was whether she had better remain up until
Guy and Ruth returned, and if she did, how she ought to act. It would
not do to ask them about the performance, as that would revive
unpleasant thoughts; and if she did not speak at all, they might think
her in an ill humor. But she determined not to let this disturb her, the
Lord, she knew, would help her to do right when the time came.

"Well, I declare! if she is not sitting up waiting for us," exclaimed
Guy, quite gaily, with no sign of displeasure in tone or manner.
"Weren't you dull? Confess now that you cried a little because you did
not go? Look at her eyes, Ruth, didn't she?"

Not appearing to notice his last remark, Ruth playfully reminded her of
her newly-formed resolution to rise at an earlier hour than heretofore,
and told her to be sure and call _her_ when breakfast was ready, for she
was so sleepy she did not know when she should waken. Agnes
good-naturedly promised to do so, provided she was awake herself, and
ran up stairs, glad to escape from her brother. Ruth followed her in a
few minutes, and going over to the dressing glass stood looking in. "How
well you look to-night, Ruth," said Agnes admiringly. "I do not think I
ever saw you with such a brilliant color. Did you enjoy yourself?" The
question was put hesitatingly, as if she was not sure whether to put it
or not.

"No, did you think I could? I can't even tell you what the play was, my
brain was in such a whirl. But I laughed and talked and Guy was
satisfied."

She sighed wearily as she laid aside her ornaments, and the tempter ever
ready to take advantage, whispered to Agnes, "_She_ suffers for her
brother's sake, but _you_ will not."

"No, not even for Guy, if it displeases the Lord. I must not let this
move me," was the quick response.

There was no more said by the sisters that night. Agnes longed to help
Ruth back to peace of mind, but Ruth did not seem disposed to enter into
conversation, so there was only one way in which to do it, and her
sister's case was given over to the One who alone can ease the burdened
conscience, and Agnes slept undisturbed.

Ruth knelt as usual before retiring, but she could not reach up through
faith to grasp the blessed promises; something kept her down and widened
the distance between her and the Saviour. No sweet assurance came, for
there had been other thoughts before those of pleasing Him. She had
acted according to her own judgment and pursued the course she thought
best. She had not the comfort of knowing that He directed her paths,
because she had not in all her ways acknowledged Him.

"I think it is the hardest thing I have to overcome, Ruth," said Agnes,
as she came down quite late and found breakfast ready. She felt
condemned and dissatisfied with herself, not knowing what to do, having
prayed about it so often.

"How do you pray?" inquired Ruth, rather amused at her sister's
distress.

"Why, I ask the Lord in faith to help me to get up."

"That is, you expect the Lord to set you right out on the floor?"

"O, Ruth, you are making fun."

"Indeed, I am in earnest; that seems to be what you expect. Now if I
prayed about it, I should ask that I might have my senses about me when
I was called, so that I might think what I ought to do, and _do_ it.
That is about as much as the Lord will do, and then if we fail, the
fault is our own."

"Will you call me to-morrow whenever you waken, Ruth? I must have been
making a mistake all along."

After that there was no more difficulty, and Ruth told her she was to be
envied, having overcome her last failing.

"I wish I had," was the earnest reply, "but I have any number of faults
that you do not see."

"Then I should not call them by such a hard name, if they were modest
enough not to thrust themselves out to public gaze."

"You would not? It is only grace that keeps them within bounds, and I am
quite as conscious of them as if they were seen. They do not, however,
overcome me as they might if others saw them. But after all, Ruth, I
think we often call things faults in others, that would be virtues, if
we knew more of their lives and the motives that prompted their
conduct."

"It is probable," said her sister, "but there is not much of this
getting to understand each other's natures. There is not enough trouble
taken to find one another out."

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER IV.

LITTLE PHILIP.


THERE never was a greater contrast than that presented by the two
sisters in their mode of government. Entering the school-room of each,
you could not detect the least difference in the order of the scholars,
but while the result appeared the same, the methods were very different.

Ruth said "silence" or "looked silence," as the children expressed it,
and there was silence. She spake and it was done, for the children well
knew that she would have no disobedience. She was never unkind, and she
loved children, though she seldom showed them her love; so if you had
asked her scholars if they loved their teacher, they probably would
have said they thought her nice and kind, for she did not whip, and she
tied up their cut fingers.

It did not look dignified, some people thought, and they were sure Miss
Agnes had no control over her scholars, as they saw her surrounded by
them every day on her way to and from school. It was such an honor to
carry her lunch basket, such delight to be first to meet her and have a
place at her side. O, how they loved her! "She was the very nicest
teacher that ever lived." And many even resolved not to study too hard
for fear they should be promoted and have to leave her. Then when the
time came for them to leave, such tears were shed at parting, that Agnes
determined not to allow herself to be so loved in the future, and
succeeded for a day or two; but it was strange, she did not know how it
came, there was always the same ending.

Ruth assured her she would get over all that in time; but love was as
necessary to Agnes as sunshine is to flowers, and among these little
ones the pent up fountain found an outlet.

Ruth kept her love away, deep hidden from sight, when it became so
intense that it was almost painful; in the other nature it kept bubbling
up and running over whenever it found a heart that would receive it.

Agnes delighted in teaching, but Ruth, while just as faithful, taught
because it was the best thing she could do, rather than from choice. But
the duty was irksome, and often she longed to throw the book from her
and give the scholars their dismissal. When such feelings possessed her,
she "did penance," as she said, by giving special attention to the
lessons, "for it would not do to have the children suffer from her
whims."

One day there came to her school a little deformed boy, about eight
years old. He had been brought there by one of the scholars, and when
Ruth entered the school-room she did not notice him, but proceeded with
the opening exercises. She had taught the children to repeat with her
alternate verses of Scripture, and this morning selected the
twenty-third Psalm. After she had repeated the first verse, the scholars
took up the second. But there was one voice, clear and distinct, above
all the others. Glancing round, she saw a pale face, whose large,
earnest eyes, bent full upon her, touched her strangely. Slightly
averting her head, she went on where the children left off, but still
there was the fixed look. It was not a stare or look of curiosity, such
as a new scholar might show, but penetrating as though the child had
passed through deep experiences, maturing the intellect while the body
was dwarfed and feeble. At the close of the exercises, a little girl
taking him by the hand, led him up to the desk, and introduced him as a
new scholar.

"What is his name?" inquired Ruth.

"I'll tell her; mother said I should be a man and speak out. My name is
Philip Driscoe," and here the thin tiny hand was slipped in Ruth's. How
very thin and white it was, like a baby's hand. As it lay for a moment
in Ruth's the fingers closed over it, and stooping down she kissed the
child. "I like you, you are good, like mother," and drawing closer he
laid his other hand over hers by way of caress.

A sudden impulse seized her to take him in her arms, but the children
were there, looking on understandingly. Holding both hands she bent
smilingly down, but in an instant her eyes were full of tears. She was
thinking of Guy. What if he had been thus afflicted? A thrill of
gladness followed the pain occasioned by the thought, and collecting
herself she took the child over to a seat in the middle of the room,
promising him a book in a little while.

"And a slate and pencil to make pictures?"

"Yes, can you draw pictures?"

"O, elegant ones; mother says I'll make real ones when I am a man, if I
don't die."

Ruth could not tell what to make of herself that day, or for many days
after, she was so drawn toward that little face. "Now if it had been
Agnes, it would have been quite natural."

But the truth was, wherever there was suffering or weakness of any kind,
her heart threw off its casing, and she felt that she could do anything
to shield or comfort. When the call came for strength or sympathy, she
could give it unhesitatingly, but when there was only ordinary occasion,
she made no response.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER V.

WHAT HAPPENED ONE DAY.


AT the beginning of the year, Agnes had resolved not to let a day pass
without having benefitted some one. "It may only be perhaps by looking
pleasantly, or speaking tenderly, yet if done in the right spirit, the
Lord will accept it and make it result in some good," she argued. And in
the spirit of this mission she started for school one morning.

"What a wonderful thing it is to know that while there are millions of
people on the earth, there is something for each one to do, that no one
else can do. A work the Lord has laid out for each one of us," were her
thoughts as she walked. But another thought followed: "How do you know
your own work? you may be doing the wrong thing after all."

This was not the first time such a suggestion had been made. Once it
troubled and bewildered her, but now her mind was clear on that point.

"For," she reasoned, "my work must be to do everything that comes in my
way, as well as I can, without waiting for special calls. And if I do
this faithfully, and the Lord sees that I can do a different work, he
will turn my mind in the direction of it, and bring it near to me."

Her reflections were disturbed by the loud, eager voices of several of
her scholars, who announced in one breath, "O, Miss Agnes, you ought to
have seen Martha Nelson's father. He had his leg cut off, and they took
him on a settee to the hospital, and Martha's mother is nearly crazy."

"How was it?" inquired Agnes, turning from one to another of the eager,
frightened faces.

"Why, he drives a dray, you know, and he fell off when the horse was
going fast, and the dray ran over him. Everybody says he was drunk."

"Hush, hush, we must never speak of another girl's father, as we would
not like to have our own spoken of. Poor Martha, she will need to-day
something that each of us can give her. What is it?"

"Pity," said one of the girls, who by look and voice showed that her
heart was already touched.

"Is that all?"

"And love," was the reply.

"Yes, the dear Lord wants us all to do something for Him to-day, and as
we cannot do great, hard things, He wants us to love and be sorry for
Martha. And if we love people, we will do all the kind things we can
for them; don't you think so, especially when they are in distress. And
when we say our prayers, we must not forget to ask our Heavenly Father
to love and care for Martha, now that her father is away from her, and
may perhaps never get well."

When the lessons were over and school dismissed, Agnes hastened to the
home of poor Martha. It was quite a distance from her own home, being at
the other end of the town, and this was prayer-meeting night. But her
day's work could not be complete until she had sympathized with these
suffering hearts.

"Here it is, teacher," exclaimed the children who had offered to show
her the way, "The house with the shutters shut tight."

Knocking, and then trying the door which she found unfastened, she
entered the darkened room, having told the children it would not be
best for them to go in on that day. A sad disappointment, for they had
meant to kiss Martha and tell her they were sorry, and hear all about
the accident, although some of them had witnessed it.

Passing into the back room, Agnes found Mrs. Nelson and her children
surrounded by a half dozen neighbors, in the midst of a discussion as to
the position of the poor man when he fell. The one who had the floor at
that moment was a tall, vigorous looking woman, who evidently had
battled hard to occupy her present position. She had gone as far as:
"'Says I to my man, there goes Bill Nelson;' and says he to me, 'Yes,
there's no fear of his old woman letting him over-sleep himself; she's
too smart for that'; when, all at once I seen him fall with his head to
the horses' hind feet and----" here the entrance of Agnes, whose knock
had not been heard, caused the speaker to subside, and a general
movement of chairs and stools to take place.

"O, it's teacher, mother," said Martha, springing to meet her, light
coming into her heavy, swollen eyes.

"And how do you do, ma'am; it's kind of you to come. And it's a sorry
day this has been."

By this time chairs had been backed until they could go no farther,
aprons smoothed, and the sleeves of the tall orator pulled down. Then
there was silence, Agnes having taken one of the three chairs offered
her.

"Yes, Mrs. Nelson, this is a sad occurrence. You have need of a great
deal of sympathy, and I am sure you will have it." As Agnes looked round
the room, and saw the various expressions of countenance at this remark,
they appeared so ludicrous that under any other circumstances it would
have been hard to control herself. As if encouraged by her notice, the
tongues were again set in motion, and to her horror she was having all
the details of the accident.

Martha had drawn her stool beside her teacher, who now took the
opportunity of whispering comfort, and telling her how much her
school-mates loved her and sympathized with her.

"I knew you would come when school was out, but it seemed so long. Did
anybody have to be kept in?"

"No, the scholars were all quiet and attentive to-day; they were
thinking of their little school-mate."

At these words, meant to comfort and reassure, the child laid her head
on her lap and broke into loud sobs. Agnes thought she had done harm
rather than good, and the tears sprang to her own eyes. Placing her arm
round the child, she drew the bowed head up and let it rest on her.

"Poor thing," whispered the neighbors, "she takes it hard."

With a great effort Martha looked up into her teacher's face and said:
"I wasn't thinking about father then."

Not knowing but what the child might have some trouble that she could
relieve, Agnes whispered: "What were you thinking of? Don't fear to tell
me; perhaps I can help you."

"O, teacher," and there came a great sigh, "you help me all the time.
Nobody ever was like you, and it was because you were so kind I had to
cry."

There were other wet cheeks than Martha's then, and Agnes was already
repaid for her long walk. With a few more kind words addressed to Mrs.
Nelson, she rose to go, and Mrs. Nelson followed her into the other
room.

"How can you manage without your husband? Had you anything but his
wages?" she inquired, feeling that sympathy at this time might perhaps
require a stronger expression than words.

"That is just what I've been thinking of, Miss, if I could get time to
think. They are well meaning, you see," pointing toward the other room,
"but they have no considerateness. It's not for me to sit down and be
grieving over what can't be mended, but to be looking round for a way to
bring bread into the house. For as you asked me, Miss, I'll just tell
you. We haven't even had all his earnings; if we had, this wouldn't have
happened to him. But I'll not hear a word said against him there," with
another glance toward the back room. "I'll try, if God spares me, to
keep starvation out, and maybe when he is lying there, something good
may come into his mind."

"If you could only spare Martha to live out at service for a while, she
might help you. At any rate you would have one less to feed," Agnes
ventured to remark.

"That is just what came into my head this afternoon, Miss. The one next
to Martha is old enough to take care of the rest when I am out, and if
you could hear of a nice place where they wouldn't be too hard on her,
I'd be a thousand times obliged to you, if you'd speak a word for her.
She sets great store by you, and a word from you as her teacher, would
do more good than if I'd talk for a week."

Agnes promised to do what she could, and then timidly, but earnestly,
reminded her of the sure help in the time of trouble, the one whose
friendship and love are equal to all our demands. By the time she
reached home, Ruth was becoming anxious, for when Agnes intended going
anywhere after school, she always announced it before leaving in the
morning.

Knowing that her sister would probably be uneasy, and that she should
have little time to prepare for church, she almost ran home; so that
when she entered breathless, her face a deep crimson, Ruth's tone of
alarm, as she exclaimed, "What is the matter, Agnes!" brought Guy
immediately into the room.

"O, nothing Ruth; please wait until I breathe;" and she tried to get up
a laugh. "I did not know I was so out of breath. If you wait a minute, I
will explain," for Ruth was beginning to protest that something was
wrong.

"There now," she said, removing her hat, and leaning back in the rocking
chair, "I am ready to put your fears to rest." Then followed an account
of the accident and her visit to the family.

"See here, Agnes, it is all very well to sympathize with people in
distress, when you don't have to sacrifice yourself; but you are not
called upon to do more than you are able to perform. And it is quite
enough for you to teach school, without running to see all the
youngsters whose fathers get tipsy and break their legs," was the
opinion Guy gave after hearing her story.

"What do you charge for advice, Mr. Lawyer?" she asked, laughingly, as
springing up she advanced to the table and begged Ruth to hurry with the
tea, for she was "as hungry as a hawk."

Guy followed, declaring that "if all clients were as self-willed and
independent as she, the lawyers might pull down their shingles, take a
last look at Coke and Blackstone and then----"

"Well, and then?"--queried Ruth, very much amused.

"Why----then go to grass."

"Little boys should not use slang," said Agnes, demurely.

"Neither should little girls act contrary to the wishes of their big
brother," was the reply.

After a blessing had been silently asked, Agnes said:

"Do you really think I am self-willed, Guy?"

"Of course I do; it does not require a knowledge of law to decide that."

"How do I show it? I never meant to be so."

"Well, you succeed pretty well if you don't. I should not like to see
you make the effort, if that is the case. How do you show it? Why, by
thinking you know better than other people. Don't she, Ruth, and acting
out her thoughts?"

"You are partly right and partly wrong," was the reply. "Agnes is not in
the least self-willed. It is I who may be called that. In this you are
wrong. You are right in saying she acts out her thoughts; but you give
a wrong reason. It is not because she thinks she knows better than
others. She does not trust her own judgment nearly as much as either you
or I."

"Now don't you begin to be mysterious, Ruth, if she don't, whose does
she trust?"

"The Lord's."

"Oh!" and Guy had no more to say. Agnes could have embraced her sister
then. She wanted to say something to Guy about Ruth, because she knew
her better than even he or any one could know her. But he was so silent
now, perhaps this was not the best time. Guy ate a little, Agnes
thought, and she did not feel so hungry after all; so when Ruth had
finished she said: "Let me wash the tea things myself to night, Ruth, I
have not been doing anything all day. I will be ready in time for
church." She plead as eagerly as if asking a great favor, and Ruth
amused at her childishness, with a warning about not placing the glasses
in too hot water, ran up stairs, little thinking of the effect her words
had either upon the one for whom they were spoken, or the one to whom
they were addressed.

"If we had Martha Nelson, she could do so much for Ruth when I am at
school," thought Agnes. "But the money, where is that to come from?"
Turning it over and over in her mind, she could see no possibility of
having Martha, but somehow there was an impression that Martha should be
with them. On the way to church, she decided to speak to Ruth about it.

"Did you ever have impressions that certain things _should_ be, Ruth,
and yet the things seemed impossible?"

"I scarcely understand you," Ruth replied. "What kind of things?
spiritual?"

"No, spiritual impressions of temporal things, I suppose. But this is
why I ask." Then she told of Martha's mother wanting to find a place for
her, and of the impression amounting almost to a conviction that she was
to come to them. "Only I can't see where the money is to come from."

"How much does her mother want a week?" asked Ruth, thoughtfully; for
when Agnes had these impressions, they generally had weight with her
sister. Indeed she sometimes felt as if the Lord told their Agnes more
than almost any other Christian; that she was peculiarly favored of God.

"I did not think of asking her, but it can't be much, for she is young
and will require to be taught. Why do you ask, Ruth?"

"I hardly know; perhaps if she did not want much, we could take her."

"Well, I shall ask her mother without giving the reason, and then if it
is best, the way will be made clear."

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER VI.

DEATH,--THEN LIFE.


"MRS. Nelson will be willing to let Martha go to a good home for her
board and clothing until she learns enough to be entitled to wages,
Ruth," Agnes joyfully announced. After a little consultation as to
whether their old dresses could be cut down for her, and some misgiving
on the part of Ruth as to the training of such a mere child, when
neither of them could devote much time to her, they concluded to make
the trial.

"If she's worth anything she will be worth a great deal to me just now,
for it will enable me to do what I have long been planning, without
seeing any way to accomplish it," thought Ruth.

Martha, poor child, in her great joy at the thought of living with "Miss
Agnes," seemed to have forgotten the painful circumstance which
compelled her to leave home. But on the day that her mother finished
patching her few clothes, tying them up and telling her she might go at
once to her new home, there came sad tidings from the hospital. They
need never hope to have the husband and father home again, unless to
take one last look before they buried him out of sight.

"Let me stay with you, mother; Miss Agnes will not be angry, and you
will be so lonely," plead the child, forgetting everything else in the
one great thought of her mother's approaching widowhood.

"Yes, I will be lonely," wailed the mother. "God only knows the
loneliness and heart-ache that is in store for me. But we'll not shed
tears now, child, there'll be time enough by and by. We must away to to
see him; he'll have a word to say to us I'm thinking."

She meant to be brave, and to keep back the tears until "by and by," but
the thought of hearing the last words, perhaps, or what was worse,
finding him unable to speak to her, completely unnerved her, and the
strength she had all along tried to keep for her children's sake, failed
her. In the midst of this scene, while Martha stood beside her mother,
wringing her hands and beseeching her not to groan so, Agnes stepped in,
having had but one session of school.

"What is it?" she enquired, alarmed. "Your father is not dead, Martha?"

"I don't know, they sent word that he was dying, and we are going to
him. Won't you go, Miss Agnes? I am afraid," and the child shuddered as
she spoke.

A shudder passed through Agnes, but she said: "Yes, I will go with you,
but I must find some of the scholars to send home and tell Miss Ruth."
She thought with horror of going there to the hospital, where men and
women were lying struggling for life, to be followed by their wild,
staring eyes, and their cries of entreaty for relief. For a moment she
was possessed with the feeling that she could not encounter the fearful
sight, and the question arose: "Why need I cause myself to suffer when I
cannot relieve the sufferings I shall witness?" But ashamed of her
cowardice, she banished the thought as unworthy a place in her heart,
glad to be able to share the sorrows and help to comfort those whose
time of trial and sore distress had come.

"I shall need help one day, perhaps," she said to herself, "if Ruth or
Guy should be taken first. But I pray God that I may die before them,
unless--" here the child-like-spirit showed itself, and her soul became
suddenly strong--"it would be to His glory that I should thus suffer."

A boy was sent with a message to Ruth, and then, as Mrs. Nelson was
ready, they set out on their mournful visit. It was a long and silent
walk. The heart of the sorrow-stricken woman was too full for words, and
Agnes, so young and unaccustomed to such scenes, did not know what was
best to say.

The hand that held Martha's tightened its grasp as they came within
sight of the hospital, and although the voice was very low that
whispered in the woman's ear, "Be strong, God will help you," it gave
courage and re-assurance.

Up the broad steps and through the long corridors they passed; Martha
trembling and drawing closer, while Agnes dared not look to the right or
left. Presently they stopped before a curtained recess, and drawing
aside the curtain Mrs. Nelson passed in. Martha wanted her teacher with
her, she said; but when she was told her father might have things to say
to his wife and child alone, she withdrew her hand and followed her
mother. It was not long, however, until the nurse came out with a
request for Martha's teacher.

"He wants some singing, Miss, and the little girl told him you could
sing beautiful," said the man. As Agnes stepped near the bedside, Martha
called out eagerly, "Here she is, father, this is Miss Agnes."

He tried to speak, but it was only a movement of the lips, no sound
came. Sitting where he could see her, Agnes began in a low, clear voice,
to sing:

          "There is a fountain fill'd with blood,--"

When she came to the lines--

          "And there may I, though vile as he,
             Wash all my sins away,--"

the dying man held out his hand as if beckoning her over. Again his lips
moved, and stooping she heard: "Again--sing."

As her voice arose again, slowly repeating the words, her heart made
supplication for the soul so rapidly passing away. Hymn after hymn was
sung, all speaking of Jesus and his great love for sinners, and to Agnes
it seemed that Jesus was himself speaking in each. She knew he was there
in the midst of them, and wondered if the sick man saw him. Bending
down, she whispered: "O, how the Saviour loves you; do you love Him?"

He looked at her with the strange, earnest look the dying only have; the
look that seems to be measuring eternity; and then his hands were raised
and clasped, while his eyes remained fixed on hers.

"He is asking you to pray," said the nurse; "He is near gone."

There was no time to listen to Satan now, or to think of anything but
this soul venturing out into the unknown future. Was it prepared?

O, how she plead for him! As if face to face, she talked with God. The
Holy Spirit gave her words and great assurance; it seemed as if the
answer must come. He had promised to hear and to give the things
desired. He had _never_ refused to listen to the feeblest petition, and
here was a burdened soul; was not the Saviour near, to take from it its
burdens? So she entreated as though she alone could save him, yet
knowing well that Jesus alone had power to forgive sins.

They had been sobbing around her, but she did not know it. Now there was
a strange silence, a sudden calm, and she felt that she had prevailed.
As they rose from their knees, something about the dying man attracted
them. While they had been kneeling, Jesus had drawn near and whispered
to him. The power and music of that voice were ringing in his ear; the
beauty of His smile was flooding his soul and radiating his face. In
that moment he had passed from death into life.

His wife and child looked at him with awe; the nurse drew back as if the
place were too "holy ground" for him. Only Agnes and the new-born soul
understood it. But it had only caught a glimpse of the Saviour; before
long, with the same indescribable expression, it passed away to be
"forever with the Lord."

They went home silently as they had gone there; but a new feeling had
taken possession of them. They had seen strange things; new thoughts had
been given them, and death had not to them its old terror, for they had
seen it swallowed up in victory.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER VII.

GUY GIVES HIS VIEWS IN FULL.


MARTHA was fairly installed as kitchen-maid, to the great delight of
Agnes, while Ruth congratulated herself that there would be no more
dishwashing for her, a thing she detested above all others. "She appears
anxious to learn, doesn't she?" asked Agnes. "She was a good scholar and
perfectly obedient. I think you will like her, Ruth. If we gain her
affections I am sure she will do anything for us."

"But then we must be careful, Agnes, it does not answer to pay too much
attention to servants. They are sure to become consequential and to
value themselves too highly, if you notice them much."

"But she is a child, and everything is strange. Besides, when she thinks
of her father and of separation from her mother, she must be sad, and
perhaps may try your patience. I shall help all I can, but she had
better look upon you as mistress. Be patient for my sake, sister."

There was no reply to this, and Agnes was afraid she had made a mistake
in proposing such a child, instead of one more fully grown. That night
after Martha had gone to bed, she slipped up stairs to know if she had
repeated her prayers.

"O, yes, ma'am, I always say them; I should be afraid to go to sleep if
I did not."

"We have a great deal to thank God for, Martha. Every day He cares for
us, and it is the least we can do to thank Him. Do you thank Him for
what you have, or only ask to have more?"

"I guess I ask most for the things I want. I forget about thanking, only
I mean it."

"Yes, and God sees that you mean it, but He expects you to tell Him so.
Now if I were to give you a great many things every day, and you did not
thank me but were all the time thinking of other things you desired to
have, I should call you ungrateful and not give you any more. Don't you
see how it is? Now when you are praying, be sure to ask not to be
allowed to forget pleasing God, by doing every thing as if He were here
looking at you. Are you warm enough child?"

"O yes, ma'am, Miss Ruth came up and tucked me in nicely, and--"

"And what?"

"She kissed me and said 'good night.'"

Agnes's first impulse was to exclaim with surprise; but checking herself
she stooped down, saying: "And I must follow Miss Ruth's example, I
suppose. Be a good girl, Martha, and Miss Ruth and I will be your
friends."

"I need have no fears; Ruth could never be anything but kind, although
people so often misunderstand her and think her stern. She will never
let generosity carry away her sense of justice; and after all that is
the better way," thought Agnes, as she descended to the sitting room.
Guy was home that night. As Agnes entered the room he laid down his book
with the remark: "I say, Agnes, brother Snowden is considered the salt
of the earth among you church people, isn't he?"

"I suppose he is a good man; I don't know much about him. Why do you
ask?" was the reply.

"Well, only that it strikes me _that_ kind of salt would not make very
strong pickle."

"How you talk," said Ruth, "You know nothing about his Christian life."

"O, that is it, he has two lives has he? Well, I admit that I know
nothing about his _Christian_ life. But I do know about his business
life, if that is a separate and distinct thing. When a Christian comes
to me and asks me to undertake a case that is simply trickery and fraud,
then I want to know how he can separate himself from his profession of
religion. I thought religion had to run through one's life, instead of
hinging and unhinging it when one chose. I know one thing, that some of
your church members dabble in puddles so dirty that I would not touch
them with the tip of my finger, and this Snowden is one of them."

"I would not judge the many by one," replied Agnes, quietly.

"No, that is a wholesale way of speaking," said her sister, positively.
"And you may not have understood the man, Guy; and you know you are
rather hasty."

"See here, Ruth, don't you begin to take sides with that fellow. Agnes
is bound to defend him, because he is a goat of the same fold. But you
may be glad you slipped out, backslid is the word I believe, for it is
no honor to have the association of such a contemptible specimen of
mankind."

Ruth's face flushed and her eye kindled at his allusion to her
backsliding, but she did not speak, while Agnes, who was deeply pained
at his unkind speech, immediately replied: "You are wrong, Guy, Ruth is
a church member, the same as I. And while neither of us can endorse what
is done by every member of the church, we know there are good, earnest
Christians there, and it is not for us to sit in judgment upon any."

"Bravo!" he exclaimed. "This is most animating. It is a pity you were
not a man, you would make a capital advocate. But excuse me, I forget,
we have ladies in the profession. If you have no objection to reading
with me, I shall be proud to present to the bar such an able pleader."

This was just what Agnes wanted, to have the conversation turned. So
that Ruth and the church escaped, she did not care what was said of her.
For fear of Guy returning to the old subject, she inquired whether he
thought women could ever attain any eminence in the profession.

"Yes, the fact of them being women will not mentally disqualify them,"
he replied. "As a general thing they are clear sighted, and although not
always logical, have a way of carrying their point in spite of all
opposition. To office work some might be well adapted, but when it comes
to practise at the bar, to get up and harangue a crowded court-room; to
be brought in contact with low characters and take any part in criminal
proceedings, then I say a woman is out of place. When they take that
stand I shall step aside and let them glory in their shame."

Guy spoke with great warmth. Ruth appeared to be listening attentively,
though she did not speak. Encouraged by the interest manifested by his
sisters, Guy Gorton Esq., Attorney at Law, was in the act of giving a
fuller expression of his views, and by his _logical_ reasoning,
determining woman's position for all time, when the door-bell rang and
Martha ushered in visitors.

To Ruth it was a happy relief, for though she had appeared to manifest
interest, very painful thoughts were passing through her mind. She had
made a great sacrifice for Guy in hope of doing him good, how great, no
one knew, and yet withall she had failed in her object. He looked at her
as the world always judges of Christians; not by profession but
practise. However, it may sneer and cavil at doctrine, the world is not
slow to recognize and respect the character that like pure gold carries
with it not only beauty but sterling worth.

"Bartered my Christian character," she thought, "and what have I in
exchange? Complete failure, dead loss;" and all through the evening,
though she talked and laughed, the question and answer came up before
her.

When their friends had gone and the girls went up to their room, each
sat down on her favorite seat as if for a talk. With Agnes it was the
foot of the bed, having the low post on which to lean, while Ruth took
the low rocking-chair. The thoughts of both ran in the same direction,
but neither seemed inclined to break the silence. Agnes would have
spoken, but Ruth was sensitive, and any allusion to the subject might
pain her. Suddenly she said, "What a lovely character Edith Hart is,
Ruth. Her manners are charming, and she is perfectly sincere, I am
sure. Did you notice what difference Guy paid to her opinions and how
much he seemed to admire her? I wish he would fall in love with her and
marry her, for of course he will marry some one, and she would have such
a good influence over him."

"Yes, when they were married she might, if he in the meantime had not
exerted a wrong influence over her. It must require a great deal of
grace to maintain your Christian integrity, when those you love are
worldly minded. I don't think Edith would hold out any better than the
rest of us, if she loved Guy as she should. But there is no use in
talking about that, it will be a long time before Guy can marry."

"Why, his practise is improving, isn't it? I often hear him talk of his
clients, and you know lawyers charge very high for advice. I don't know
where I heard it, but I am of the impression that they will not give
the least bit of advice under five dollars. At that rate, you know, he
will make out well."

Ruth wanted to laugh at her sister's simplicity. Do as she would, she
never could teach Agnes the value of money. And now, poor child, she
seemed to think Guy had nothing to do but open his mouth and gold
dollars would roll out, as diamonds did in the wonderful story of "Toads
and Diamonds." In one way she was glad that Agnes knew so little about
money matters; she wanted to save her from care or anxiety. But there
were times when she was so perplexed and straitened, that it made her
impatient to think any grown person could be so stupid as to live in
their house and not more fully understand their circumstances. At such
times she murmured and even rebelled, wondering why she should have all
the burden. It did not reconcile her to it, to know that others admired
and deferred to her judgment. She grew tired of thinking and planning,
and longed for a strength greater than her own, upon which she could
lean, for some one to help her bear the burdens. This was not sentiment.
If the thought of marriage came to her as it probably did, especially at
such times, she put it far from her. She would never leave Guy and
Agnes; but if they only had been constituted differently, they could
have helped her. And they in turn, little dreaming of her struggles,
looked at her with admiring eyes, giving her credit, as far as they
could follow her, and thinking what a wonderful woman their Ruth was.

"But it is slow work after all," she said, by way of reply to her
sister's remarks. "A man must possess great talent and still greater
patience and perseverance, to arrive at any distinction; and until he
reaches that, he cannot expect to make his fortune. There are so many
young lawyers, they are crowding each other out."

"But Guy must be satisfied, Ruth; he does not appear troubled or
disappointed."

"Why should he? he is like hundreds more, and that fact is consoling.
Besides, the slower and more cautious he is in the ascent, the more
assured will he be when he reaches the summit."

She rose as she said this, and Agnes thinking the talk was over, removed
her arms from the friendly bed-post. But she had only gone over to the
bureau for her Bible, that she might read a chapter as usual before
retiring. Returning to her seat she abruptly asked: "Do you think much
about the future, Agnes?"

"Do you mean about heaven?"

"No, the future of time."

"Not nearly as much as I used to. Before my heart was renewed, I kept
looking to the future for something satisfying; but it never came until
I found the Saviour."

"Yes, but I mean do you wonder what your life is to be, and what changes
will come to us all?"

"O, often such thoughts come, but they are disquieting, and I drive them
away. It is better to live by the moment, just as we breathe."

Ruth opened her book and began to read. Her eye having fallen on the
last verse of the sixth chapter of Matthew, it had called forth the
above question. Now she read it all carefully; it was just what she
needed to-night. Dissatisfied with herself, and feeling that she was not
satisfying others, she wanted to find the rest that comes from leaving
everything in a Father's hands, but she was yet to find the spirit of
trust and submission.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER VIII.

THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION.


RIPLEY, like most towns of its size, possessed few novelties, and rarely
produced a sensation. It did its duty in the way of gossip, as towns and
villages are expected to do. Carrying out, in a manner peculiar to some,
the injunction of the apostle: "Look not every man on his own things,
but every man also on the things of others." When the Rev. John Jay was
called to the Fourth street church, the whole town partook of the
excitement, for he was a young and single man; moreover, he came from a
distant city, with the strongest recommendation. He had been there about
a year, when the community were again aroused to a high pitch of
expectancy, by the following announcement one Sabbath morning: "The
Official Board of this church will hold a special meeting at the close
of the Wednesday night prayer meeting. A full attendance is requested as
a matter of grave moment is to be presented."

As the minister made this announcement, he fervently wished they would
always attend to business after prayer-meeting. He would not then have
to refer so often to that means of grace, for the Fourth street brethren
looked well to the temporal interests of their church.

He did not see the nod given by brother Smith to brother Snowden, which
said:--"I told you it was a comin'; now you'll believe me;" nor the
succession of nods in return, which indicated:--"Well, to think of it.
After that I give up." Neither did he overtake the group of officials
who slowly wended their way homeward in earnest discussion, shaking
their heads, and trying to give greater force to their words by an
energetic movement of the hand and arm.

He was picking his steps as best he could through a crowd of children,
who were darting here and there, looking up at him with beaming eyes,
and trying to touch his hands at least, if they could not hold them. As
he looked at these lambs, he wondered if there could be love for the
Saviour in any heart which did not make the young a special care. After
he had parted from them, two little feet came tripping back to remind
him of his promise that he would finish the story of Moses in the
afternoon. He went home thanking God for the innocence of childhood,
while with their noon-day meal many of of these children partook of
poison administered by their parents. For what else is fault-finding,
intolerance and uncharitableness, but the deadliest poison?

And what gave rise to this, was simply that the young people of the
church and community wanted to organize a Young People's Association, at
the suggestion of their pastor, and wished the privilege of holding it
in the Lecture-room. The thing was projected so suddenly, that very few
of the older members knew anything about it until it was brought to
their notice in this manner.

When the hour for the evening service arrived, there were few who had
not heard the news; for brother Smith and brother Snowden considered it
a good Sabbath day's work to discuss the matter in all its bearings with
all the members they could meet, although they did not doubt but the
women folks would be sure to side with the young people.

On Wednesday night the Lecture-room was crowded. Those whose faces were
seldom seen in the Lord's house, and many of the brethren who always
found it extremely inconvenient to attend on that night, were there. Of
course, none but the Board could remain, for the meeting, but the others
could hover round and catch the news much sooner than if they had staid
at home.

The Rev. John Jay drew very near to Christ in presenting his flock, and
most earnestly prayed for the young of the congregation and community,
many of whom he saw there for the first time. As he prayed, brother
Smith and Snowden were loud in their responses.

Those who went to meet the master of assemblies, felt it good to be
there. Unto them had been broken the bread of life. Unto them a
well-known voice had spoken, and now they were stronger, braver and more
hopeful. When the minister, with uplifted hands, pronounced the words of
the benediction, like the gentle dew, fell that peace into their
hearts, drawing them out in tenderest sympathy toward all His creatures.

After it had been ascertained that there were no intruders, and the
doors had been carefully closed, the business commenced. Prayer was
dispensed with, for there had been so much of it before.

"I move we dispense with everything but the business in hand," said one,
and as the meeting concurred, the petition was presented by one of the
most promising young men of the church, named Hayes. In it the
petitioners set forth that they, feeling the need of proper social
entertainment and mental improvement, wished to organize for that
purpose, and most respectfully asked the use of the Lecture-room.

The secretary had no sooner uttered the last sentence, than brother
Smith arose and protested against any such desecration of the Lord's
temple.

"Social entertainment! What did that mean, but a parcel of boys and
girls without a speck of grace in their hearts, wantin' a good
courtin'-place where their father's and mother's wouldn't see them. For
his part, no child of his should join them.

"There's carryin's on enough under our very noses, in the hearin' of the
word without givin' any more license," he continued, waxing warmer.

"That's so," said brother Snowden, and one or two others grunted an
assent.

Then the young man named Hayes arose and calmly said: "It is well known
that the young seek enjoyment. Their minds are fresh and active; they
will turn in one direction or another. We cannot control them; we can
only seek to guide them. Many of our young are going to ruin, because
there are no well directed efforts put forth to meet the wants of their
impulsive natures. The world offers to gratify them. It stretches out
its arms and says: 'Come to me. I have pleasures for all at my command.'
And already many have turned and accepted the proffered good. We
Christians groan over these and talk of their final doom; yet what do we
offer those, whose eager, hungry natures cry out to us for bread?

"We say, 'Go to church on the Sabbath, and to prayer-meeting; that is
well; but they want more than this and so do we. That will do for the
spiritual part of our nature. But there is a social and intellectual
part which must be cared for. And let me tell you, brethren, until the
church makes provision for every want of the young, it can never gain a
proper hold upon them.

"It is not for me to stand here as the teacher of those older and wiser
than I. But it seems to me if we had the Apostle Paul here, he would
define our duty in broader and more decided terms. And still a greater
than Paul says: 'What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread
will he give him a stone?' That question applies to every want of the
being. How are you going to answer it to-night? I charge you not to
close your doors upon those who knock, lest, if the gate of heaven
closes upon them, you be found not guiltless."

These pointed words evidently made a good impression, and the opposition
had not courage to oppose farther. Several of the brethren, men whose
hearts were under divine control, and whose lives were devoted to the
advancement of the Master's cause, in a few words endorsed the remarks,
and when the question was called for, there was but one side, the
opposition not voting.

When the young people were called together, there was quite a large
gathering. Rev. John Jay was unanimously elected President, and Mr.
Hayes, Secretary. But now the great difficulty was, to obtain members.
All at once, these young men and women, the latter especially, became
conscious of their ignorance, and dreaded its exposure, for the public
Library of Ripley, was not very extensive or attractive. Its old volumes
of Theology, its Annals and Histories, had been too heavy matter for
youthful digestion, and as a majority of the young women did not
consider it necessary to know anything of the affairs of the nation, or
to possess any knowledge of the world outside of their own town, they
had been content to glean from the newspapers, to note the deaths and
marriages, watch for some new recipe in cookery, or the love-stories as
they appeared each week.

After a great deal of difficulty, twenty signatures were obtained, with
the understanding that the young ladies in preparing their essays, were
not expected to read them or make public their names. Every thing at
first, until the members acquired more confidence, was to be voluntary.
After the business of the evening had been transacted, a call was made
for contributions.

This was at once responded to by the principal clerk in the principal
grocery store, he giving them in loud and thundering tones: "The Star
Spangled Banner." So grandly did he render it, especially the "bombs
bursting in air," that one young lady covered her face to shut out the
view of the descending bombs, and the President was compelled to move
aside, to prevent, if not the deadly missiles, the bodily weight of the
speaker from descending upon him.

Loud applause greeted him at its conclusion, and but for the hint given
by the President that it was time to close, they would have been favored
with another brilliant display. The general opinion expressed by those
having any knowledge of theatricals was, that it was "almost as good as
a play," and the orator of the evening was overwhelmed with compliments.
After this, there was little difficulty in obtaining members; indeed the
young clerk the very next day succeeded in getting fifteen, so that by
the following meeting night, there was a large and expectant assemblage.
The young grocer held forth of course, and several others were so
stirred with patriotism that Fourth of July orations and patriotic
speeches followed each other in close succession. With a great deal of
persuasion, a few ladies were prevailed upon to sing, and thinking the
music should correspond with the addresses, they were about to give Hail
Columbia, when the President suggested that something else by way of
variety would be acceptable to the audience.

"The Old Arm Chair" was substituted and gave general satisfaction. Even
old brother Sneddinly, who with a few others was at a side door
listening, declared that anything that brought the Bible into it, must
have been written by a Christian; and if it wasn't in the Hymn Book, it
went pretty near as slow and solemn as some of the hymns. The latter
assertion could not be contradicted by his companions, and they even
went so far as to congratulate the pastor on his success in getting up
"so big an affair." "Suppose you add still further to its success by
your presence and assistance," he suggested with a smile; "we need some
wise and clear heads among us."

But that thought could not be entertained for a moment by the brethren.
"How would it look for them to be mixing in with a parcel of young
folks, most of whom made no show whatever of religion? O no, that would
be too great a compromise! There ought to be a strict line drawn
between the world and Christians."

"Isn't there danger of drawing it so tight that we will cut them off
from us entirely?" asked the pastor.

"No fear of that," was the reply, "if it is held tight at one end, the
other end will be loose enough to slip them through."

"Thank God," said the Rev. John Jay, mentally; "there shall be no
tightening or straining at this end!"

The Association soon became the all-absorbing topic of the place. The
young people discussed it, and the old people discussed it. It was
destined to become a grand success, the Rev. John Jay thought, as he saw
denominational prejudices give way and the young people of the different
churches unite to help one another and be helped. Yet there was one
drawback; some of those for whom he was most anxious, whose feet had
begun to travel the downward road; the children of those who professed
to be God's children, were never seen there. His soul was troubled. He
knew at whose door the fault lay, yet what could he do? He was young and
inexperienced. These men and women, parents of the prodigal ones were
older than he. Should he show them the fearful mistake they were making
in condemning everything that was not purely a religious worship? Should
he tell them by reason of their sternness and their narrow prejudices,
which seemed more to them than the souls of their children, they were
driving their children away from them and from God? Would they bear this
from him, even though as Christ's ambassador he were to speak? He was
exceedingly doubtful; perhaps they might dismiss him. Wouldn't it be
better for him to remain and watch over these wayward ones, showing
them that he knew the weakness of human nature and the unquenchable
ardor of youth? He concluded to try it. He would make that his one great
work; he would win them to Christ. With a heart somewhat lightened, he
gave himself out more fully in loving words to the young, and entered
more earnestly into every plan suggested to make the association an
attraction. But just as he was seeing the good results here, in another
direction the storm was gathering. He saw it in the black looks and
averted eyes of many of the officials and even of their wives, but as
yet its mutterings had not reached his ear.

Some to whom he had endeared himself heard, and were fiercely indignant
that such a sweet, Christ-like spirit, as their pastor's, should suffer
pain through such allusions.

Just the very thing he had labored to accomplish, was that which was to
testify against him. Many young hearts had been drawn nearer to Christ
through him, and their voices were heard in the songs of praise which
went up from that little prayer-circle on Wednesday night. But these
pious men and women, although rarely ever present themselves, saw
nothing in which to rejoice. On the contrary, they mourned over the
weakness of one, who by virtue of his sacred office, should be far
removed from such things. Wasn't it too evident that the young women
went to church to see the young pastor, and the young men to see the
young women? It was time such things were stopped; they were a shame and
disgrace to a church.

In the meantime the society was flourishing, a new element had been
brought into it, and so far as its literary character was concerned, the
most sanguine expectations of the Rev. John Jay had been met.

Several public meetings had been held, filling the house to overflowing,
and eliciting the highest and most deserving praise. But that was of
course from outsiders, and those simple-minded souls in the church, who
never see evil without looking for good; who indeed are always finding
the latter in everything and in every one but themselves. These were not
competent judges. "Had the church been left to them, where would have
been its sacredness and sanctity? Why, they never even changed their
voices in the Lord's house, and they even wore a smile while there, as
if they had forgotten the Lord was in his holy temple."

Thank God, there are those who carry His image about wherever they go!
Such need not by their own effort show a conscienceness of His presence.
He is the continual light of their countenance, and the gladness and
music he makes in their hearts, is heard in their voice. They worship
and praise with every breath, because their souls must find an outlet to
the great love which holds them.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER IX.

A DAY OF PLEASURE.


IT was an unusually warm day in June, and Ruth had dismissed her
scholars early on that account. She stood by the window plucking the
dried leaves off the climbing rose, and thinking how delightful the
approaching vacation would be, when a little hand touched her. Looking
down she found Philip by her side.

"And what will mamma say at having no little boy at home?" she asked,
drawing him nearer, and smoothing back his wavy hair.

"O, mamma knows. She only said I must not trouble you. I guess I
wouldn't do that, though, because I love you too much."

Here the little hand tried to give Ruth's a great squeeze, while such an
effort brought color to the pale cheeks. Not only that, but it brought
something he wanted very much, a kiss.

"You always kiss me for telling you that, Miss Ruth, and so does mamma.
What do you do it for? Do you like little boys to love you?"

"You have not told me how much you love me," was the laughing reply. "I
cannot answer questions till I know all about them."

"O, I love you more than all the world, except my mamma;--isn't that
_ever_ so much?"

"Yes, that is a great deal. Then you don't love any one but your mamma
and me?"

"I love God," and the earnest eyes were fixed on the blue clouds. "Would
you like to be up there, Miss Ruth? Mamma reads about it for me. I
should like to go up there and see it. I should like to see God, too,
but I would come back again, you know. Mamma always cries and hugs me
when I say that; just as if I would stay away from mamma and you. I
guess I wouldn't. But I would see all the beautiful things the Bible
says are there, and then I would draw pretty pictures. Mamma says there
is a house up there for us all, and some day we will go and stay there.
Do you want to go, Miss Ruth?"

"Yes, some day," she replied; but there was no kindling of the eye, no
joy of soul at the thought, for Ruth knew that her earthly love was
stronger and more absorbing than the heavenly. "There, now, we will go
and see about Miss Agnes's dinner," she added, glad to divert his
thoughts.

"Miss Agnes has not come, Martha?" she inquired.

"No, ma'am. I have been watching for her. She will be awful hot, I
think."

"You are Miss Agnes's little girl, and I am Miss Ruth's little boy,
aren't we?" asked the child.

"I am Miss Ruth's, too," said Martha, decidedly.

"Yes, but you love Miss Agnes best."

"I love both just the same--only different; but Miss Agnes was my
teacher."

Ruth gave such a quick look, that the child drew back frightened,
thinking she was angry; but she smiled at her, and Martha's fear left
her. How much a smile will do, and what a very little word or act will
bring that smile. So when Agnes came home "awful hot," as Martha said,
she was met by smiling faces, and waited on by loving hands, and finally
it ended in a "real party," for they all had strawberries and cream, to
keep Miss Agnes company.

"Isn't he a darling," whispered Agnes, glancing toward Philip, who was
intent on his strawberries.

"Yes, he is a remarkable child; his mother must be very fond of him. I
have been planning something to-day, Agnes, for all hands," looking
round at the children, as she spoke.

"What?" asked her sister, brightening.

"I can't tell you until we are alone. But it will bring the roses to
somebody's cheeks, and be very nice for all the somebodies."

"Don't let us do any thing this afternoon, but talk or read," proposed
Agnes; and hearing this, Philip hurried to the school-room for his own
little chair, so that he might lay his head on Ruth's lap and listen.
But _Christus Consolator_ was too profound, and lulled by the sound of
Agnes's sweet voice, and Ruth's caressing touch, he slept.

"When the sun goes down it is time for little birds to be in their
nests," said Ruth, and Philip now wide awake and knowing what was to
follow, ran to tell Martha to get her hat. The first time he had staid,
Ruth sent word to his mother that she would take him home, and ever
since it had been understood.

"One on one side, and one on the other," he said, as he placed himself
between Ruth and Agnes, offering a hand to each. But Ruth asked what was
to become of poor Martha, and soon the two children were talking as
gravely, and looking as demurely side by side, as if they had been
grandfather and grandmother.

On their way home, while Martha walked before, Ruth developed her idea,
which was that they should have a pic-nic, perhaps several of them
during vacation, "as it would be so expensive to go away for a length of
time you know. Just a family affair," she continued, "and we will take
the children along to enliven us."

Agnes fell in with the plan very readily, and pictures of ferns, mosses
and lichens at once rose before her delighted vision.

There were trying days still to be passed in the school-room, days on
which Ruth felt it would be a relief to scream out or do something
desperate. But when she looked at the little ones under her care, trying
to be good and obedient while under control, she chided herself for her
impatience, at the same time relaxing her discipline. But the days went
by and the holidays came, and Miss Ruth's joy at her freedom was not one
bit less than her pupils'; though she didn't run screaming to tell every
one that "school was broken up." "We might as well go soon, Ruth. I feel
as if I could scarcely breathe here," said Agnes, a few days after
school had closed.

"A day won't help you much if you are in that state. What shall you do
all the other warm days?"

"Imagine I am in the woods," was the laughing reply.

"Then you had better bring your imagination to bear upon it now. Guy
will have to dine down town that day. I fancy he will not like it very
well, for he is so fastidious. Guy was certainly meant to be rich."

"Why not ask him to go with us?" suggested Agnes.

"If you want to be laughed at you will. Imagine our Guy going with two
women, two children, and a lot of baskets, to spend a day in the woods!"

"I should think he might enjoy the change quite as much as we. But men
are queer, they look upon women's pleasures as childish, I really
believe."

The day before the pic-nic every one was busy; even Philip insisted
upon helping. When Guy came to dinner there was such an air of commotion
that he at once inquired the cause.

"What's up, girls? house-cleaning? If that's the case, I'm off; no
soap-suds and white-wash for me."

"Hear him; house-cleaning in July!" exclaimed Agnes.

"I do believe, Guy, you men would never do a bit of cleaning all your
lives, if you were house keepers."

"You may bet on that," was the reply. "That is just where we would show
our good sense."

"Your filthy habits, you mean."

"Well, either, whichever suits you. But you haven't said what was in the
wind."

"None came this way to-day, we could not tell."

"We are going to close the house to-morrow, Guy, so you need not come
home to dinner. We intend going to the woods to find fresh air."

But Guy didn't like the idea; it sounded common, he thought. Every day
he met a lot of women and their babies, with a parcel of brats following
them, going over the river or somewhere. "Why can't you take a week each
of you, and go to the country like other people?"

That, "like other people," was too much for Ruth, and she said, sharply:
"We can't be what we are not. Beggars must not be choosers."

Guy replied in as sharp a tone that "some people liked to make a parade
of their poverty," and finished his dinner in silence. This unfortunate
affair threw a damper over the girls, but the children did not come
within the shadow of the cloud. Ruth had a sudden angry impulse not to
go at all, scarcely knowing why, as it would not spite her brother. But
she could not yield to such a thought when the happiness of Agnes and
the children was to be considered.

Agnes spoke very little after the occurrence, knowing what state of mind
Ruth was in, but she sang in a low voice some of her sister's favorite
hymns, and in a little while the cloud rolled away, the sun came out,
and the storm was all over. By tea-time Guy and Ruth were as if nothing
unpleasant had happened, but there was no allusion made to the pic-nic.

"I wonder how people feel who are going on an extended tour," said
Agnes, as they filled their lunch baskets.

"That depends very much upon the people themselves," replied Ruth. "This
little trip is giving us more real pleasure than some people would know
in travelling all over the globe."

"Yes, I suppose so; it is the appreciation that is needed, and without
that there can be no enjoyments."

Fortunately, for Guy, he did not see the party set out the next morning,
or the shock might so completely have overcome him as to unfit him for
any business whatever. But they waited until he had gone, and then they
started with their baskets, trowel, and garden-fork.

"People will take us for herb-gatherers, and think these are our
children," said Agnes, gaily.

"Shocking!" exclaimed Ruth, with mock earnestness.

They took the boat for several miles down the river, to the great
delight of the children, especially Philip, whose keen eyes took in the
smallest white speck of a sail, and then when they had climbed a very
little hill, and gone down a big one, they were in the woods.

"What a delightful perfume! Isn't it charming!" exclaimed Agnes,
delightedly, as she sat down by a tree to "enjoy herself." But the
children who had been scampering about, declared there was a much nicer
place not far off, and so Miss Agnes, who could imagine no scene more
charming, very reluctantly consented to tear herself away.

The spot chosen by the children was indeed lovely. Perfectly level
ground covered with the richest moss, out of which rose broad flat
rocks, and along side of which, not many yards distant, ran a clear
little stream on whose banks the feathery fern grew, and into which it
dipped its graceful frond. On the other side of the stream the wood was
more dense, but through it a broad path led to a bend in the river.

"We need go no farther," exclaimed both Ruth and Agnes. "Nothing could
exceed this for loveliness and shade.

"By the river of Babylon there we sat down," and Agnes once more settled
herself.

"There we hung our harps upon the willows," added Ruth, throwing her
shawl on a branch overhead. "Now, Agnes, let us take it easy and make
the most of the day, for such days will be like angel's visits."

"Well, suppose we rest first. Methinks I could forget myself in sleep."

Presently Ruth was accosted with, "I think I know now what I should do
if I were rich."

"What?" she asked.

"Take sick people into the country. That is, if I could afford to keep a
carriage. I have been thinking about it since yesterday."

Ruth knew what had brought it to her mind. Guy's picture of the women
and their babies; sick, of course.

"Yes," she said. "Many of those who die every year might become strong
and well again, if they could be taken from the close, stifling air of
their wretched homes into that which is pure and fresh."

"Nothing could give greater pleasure than to have these poor, emaciated
babies and wan-faced women look up at you with a smile, as if saying, 'O
how this cheers us.' I wonder if it will ever be?"

"'Tis hard to tell," was the reply. "But suppose you had a carriage,
your husband might object to your using it in this way."

"Then I should not use it at all." Here Agnes looked as if at that time
rejecting its use.

Ruth laughed. "Wait, my dear, until you get it," she said. "Or before
you give yourself away, it would be well to ask the gentleman, if, in
case you owned such a thing, you could use it for such purposes."

"Not I indeed. No man ever finds me asking him such a question; what was
_his_ would be mine. But I shall know, when I see the man, what manner
of spirit he is of."

This occasioned another laugh, in which Agnes joined, and the two,
banishing the thoughts of sick babies and pale-faced women, had a gay
time. In the meantime, the children had scrambled over rocks to gather
lichen, and dug holes deep enough to bury a kitten in, in their efforts
to get moss; they had sailed little nut-shell boats down the stream, and
in the many ways that children have enjoyed themselves. Everybody was
hungry of course, so by the time Agnes was ready for her ferns, there
were empty baskets in which to place them. But they read and talked
before that, and walked through the woods on the other side out to the
river, finding several beautiful plants on their way. Then at the last
the ferns were gathered, and Agnes did wish they could have had more
baskets. But Ruth informed her she might have gone home by herself if
she had.

"Now that is my idea of enjoying oneself," said Agnes, as tired but very
happy, she laid her head on her pillow.

"Yes, that is rational, sensible enjoyment," replied Ruth. "I wish
sensible people would have the moral courage to act sensibly in this
matter of rest and recreation. But it would shock a great many quite as
much as it did Guy. Now I think it is well and often necessary for
persons to have a more decided change, when their health requires it,
and their means will allow. But this thing of going to fashionable
resorts, for the sake of appearance, spending hundreds of dollars in
mere dissipation; coming home envious and dissatisfied at the greater
show made by others, instead of seeking change for the good of it, at
the same time having their hearts drawn out after those less fortunate,
is to me one of the greatest evils of the day."

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER X.

MISS SMITHERS COMES, AND A SURPRISE.


"WE had better engage Ann Smithers," said Ruth, after several old
dresses had been cut down and made over for Martha. "She knows so well
how to manage, and has patterns of the styles. With our help she can
accomplish a great deal in a few days."

"Do you think we can get new dresses this Fall? We have worn these
faithfully, you know?" inquired Agnes, as she examined and re-examined
her suites.

"Not for some time, I fear; it takes a great deal to keep up a house
these times. But it does not seem fair that you should give your money
to me, Agnes. In future you had better keep what remains after paying
for your board. It is not right to have you work hard and get so few
clothes."

"Do you get any more, and haven't I as good a right to do without things
as you?"

"No, it is different. I keep the house, and perhaps things are not
managed well. I don't know. I get bewildered at times to know which is
the best way. But now that we have Martha and she understands her work
so well, I intend to give music lessons this Fall. That will be a great
help."

"And yet, when you think _you_ ought to do this, you want _me_ to keep
money from the house, so that I may have new dresses when I choose. O,
Ruth, could you think me so selfish!"

"It would not be selfish, it would be right," urged her sister. But she
could not bear to tell Agnes that if it were not for Guy they might
both dress differently. He had come to her repeatedly for money to help
him out of difficulty, and now he said there was no manner of use in
attempting to do business up three flights of stairs; he must have a
ground floor, and of course that would involve greater expense.

"If you could only manage to start me in this, Ruth," he had said,
"there is no reason why I should not succeed. These one-horse affairs
are always failures. I will pay you back again when money comes in you
may be sure, as there is no doubt it will."

Then Ruth, who could not resist such pleading, told him to make the
change and she would help him out with his rent, resolving then and
there to do extra work in order to meet the demands upon her. She
reasoned in this way, that if she chose to make sacrifices for Guy,
Agnes need not share them, and if she told her she surely would insist
upon it. And that was the reason she thought it best for Agnes to keep
part of her own money.

"How little she suspects," she thought as Agnes sat down to rip her
dresses, looking quite satisfied at having to do with her old clothes.
"What a sweet spirit our Agnes has."

Agnes worked and thought. She did not have the least idea how the money
went, but she knew a little more would not be amiss, so she said: "If
there was any other way in which I could help you, Ruth."

"Never mind that," was the reply, "you can direct Martha, and see to
things when I am out, that will be a great help; for although Martha
does remarkably well for a child of her age, there are many things to be
attended to, requiring a more mature judgment."

"Quarter day" came, and when Agnes handed Ruth her money, it was
returned except the sum kept out for her board. "You know it was decided
that in future you should have your own money, Agnes."

"But, Ruth, I don't understand. Why should I when yours all goes for the
house?"

"If it were not best, I should not urge it," was the reply, and Ruth
seemed so positive that Agnes yielded. Weeks rolled on and to every
inquiry made by Agnes as to the time when Ruth meant to buy herself a
dress for winter, there was some trifling excuse made. Finally she told
Agnes there was no necessity for her waiting, it would be better if she
bought hers now before school commenced, and she could get her own
whenever she was ready.

"What kind would you get if you were in my place?" asked Agnes, a new
light breaking in upon her.

"A poplin by all means, they will be worn altogether."

"That is the very thing," thought Agnes. "I am sure now that she does
not mean to get any dress this winter, and she is so fond of good
clothes. Our Ruth is the most self-sacrificing woman, I ever knew. Now
it would be different if it were I, for I do not care for dress in the
same way as she; but I am so glad I thought of it, she shall have one
after all."

Full of this thought she set out to make her purchases. After looking
over several pieces, she came to one that was just what she wanted for
Ruth, a rich brown of beautiful quality. But the price perplexed her,
she could not get two and pay so much for them.

"Have you any others of this shade?" she asked.

"They are much coarser," was the reply, as the salesman handed down
several pieces of inferior quality. After a great deal of thinking and
calculating, Agnes ordered a dress of the fine material and one of the
coarser. "Will you oblige me by laying the fine dress pattern aside for
a few days until I send for it?" she asked. "I will pay for both now
however." Then giving Miss Smithers' address for the other, she left the
store and was soon at Miss Smithers' door.

Everything was explained. How that Ruth never would think of herself,
and it was time some one should think for her, and then Agnes arranged
the time for having them made.

"When mine is cut so that it cannot possibly do for Ruth, I shall have
hers sent. I can hardly wait for the day," she said, with the delight of
a child. "Please cut my skirt before then, Miss Smithers, for Ruth will
think it coarse and insist upon my sending it back, unless it is cut.
But it will make up quite prettily, and in winter no one notices the
quality of your dress." Guy would have been amused at her business
capacity then, had he heard her.

Such a time as she had when she went home. Ruth could not understand why
the dress was sent to Miss Smithers', instead of there. "Just as like as
not you have been cheated," she remarked, "and then when the skirt is
cut there is no help for it. To be sure it will be an assistance to have
some of the cutting done."

Then came Miss Smithers and the dress. With assumed calmness Agnes
showed it to her sister, but not without many secret misgivings.

"There, isn't it pretty, Ruth?"

"Yes, very, but it is extremely coarse, Agnes. Why didn't you get a
_good_ dress? You have enough second-best ones for this winter."

"This will answer nicely now, I like it. Besides, I did not want to
spend all my money on a dress."

"Well, if you like it, and as long as it is cut, there is no use in
making you dislike it. It is all well enough if it were not such a poor
quality."

Late in the afternoon, when there was little more to be done by the
sisters, the rest being Miss Smithers' special work, Agnes asked Ruth if
she could spare Martha to go on an errand for her. Handing her a note
and telling her to take it to the address and wait for an answer, Agnes
sat down to await the _denouement_.

"O dear, I wish it was over," she thought. "I am almost afraid to show
it to her. I feel as badly as if I had done something wrong. Is it ever
right to deceive? Of course this does not harm any one, and I did not
see any other way in which I could manage it; but after all it was
taking advantage of Ruth, and it may give her pain instead of the
pleasure I intended." These and many other questions passed through her
mind as she sat waiting for Martha. Presently she appeared with the
parcel.

"Open it, Ruth, it is yours," said Agnes, determined now to face it at
once. "I bought it and mine at the same time, but I kept it purposely
until to-day."

Ruth was so touched by this thoughtfulness on her sister's part, that
she was a long time in untying the cord. She did not want to look up
just then, for her eyes were full of tears.

"Let me," said Agnes, and she drew it away from Ruth. "It is almost the
same shade as mine," she said, holding it up to Miss Smithers.

"Well, now, so it is," replied that lady, laying down her work and
taking the new dress pattern. "They are as nearly alike as two peas. If
people did not know you so well, they would take you for twins."

"O, Agnes, it is ever so much finer," exclaimed Ruth. "What did you do
that for?" She spoke as if it pained her, and Agnes laughingly replied:
"Because, big sisters should always have the best things. Now don't look
so doleful, Ruth, one would think you were going to be beheaded. I
declare, Miss Smithers and I would be bowing and smiling like Frenchmen
or Frenchwomen, rather if we were having a dress presented to us."

Ruth laughed and bowed, and then Miss Smithers made one of her
characteristic speeches and so, "it was over," at last as far as Agnes
was concerned.

Not so with Ruth. She could scarcely command herself for the rest of the
day, she was so deeply moved by this thoughtful act of her sister. "And
to think of her wearing a common dress just for the sake of getting me
a handsome one," she said.

"Dear Agnes, if she only knew what thoughts I have had about having to
do without things sometimes, she could never love me enough to make this
sacrifice. I suppose it was providential; God had a hand in it. But that
is the strange part, that He should reward me after all my complaining."

These were soul-expanding thoughts, and had Ruth but taken them to God,
praying that they might be made the means of drawing her into a closer
union with Him, what a wonderful change would have passed over her. As
it was, they gave such a softness to her tone, and such gentleness to
her manner, that Martha, quite encouraged, ventured to express her
admiration of the dress, of the giver, and of the receiver, in such a
mixed up way, that Ruth was forced to laugh outright.

"I got a beautiful idea the other day, Agnes," said Ruth, as she sat
stitching her dress. "One who had been speaking of her Christian life,
said, 'in looking back she saw some triumphs achieved, some enemies
slain.' While a friend replied that, 'in place of every foe that had
fallen some grace sprang up.' I had not looked at it so before; it is a
beautiful thought."

"And comforting as well as beautiful," said Miss Smithers, with
moistened eyes. "But Agnes, here, don't know so much about this thing of
fighting as we, Ruth."

"If I don't, then I am not living a Christian life," replied Agnes,
earnestly. "For the Bible says we must war a good warfare, and if I am
not doing it then I must be in sympathy with Satan. Miss Smithers,
Christians make great mistakes about each other, often. Because we do
not see each other's struggles, we think there can be none. Now when I
have the most to contend with, I do not talk most about it, for no one
can help me but God."

"Yes, to be sure that is true. But it is a most wonderful relief to me
to speak. When I have anything on my mind it has to come out. But you
are so gentle and placid like. I really thought you were not like other
people."

"Well, now you will know, in future, that I am like other people in my
struggles, faults, and--"

"Bless me, not faults. I never saw a fault in you, all the time I have
known you."

"There is a great deal in living with one to know them. Ruth can tell
you that."

"Everything," said Ruth, emphatically as she left the room.

In matters of dress, the girls seldom approached their brother. Perhaps
because they so seldom had anything new. Then he liked showy dress, and
theirs was always moderate. But at night, after Miss Smithers had gone,
Ruth could not help exhibiting her poplin, and telling what Agnes had
done.

"Now that is what I call pretty," he said, when Ruth threw it over her
shoulder. But when she told him it was a gift from Agnes, a deep crimson
overspread his face. In a few minutes it was gone, and looking at Agnes
steadily, he said in a peculiar tone, "How much you women are capable of
doing."

Neither of them understood him, but there was something in his face and
voice that deterred them from questioning him, and Agnes replied with a
smile, "I am glad you like it, Guy. I treated myself to one at the same
time, and it is made up ready to wear."

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER XI.

THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S EXCURSION.


RUTH and Agnes had joined the Young People's Association, and now there
was to be a grand excursion. Such an excursion as had never been seen in
Ripley. Guy had become acquainted with the Rev. John Jay, through his
sisters, and as that gentleman had united his entreaties with theirs
that Guy should accompany them, he was at last prevailed upon. It
happened to be the very hottest day of the season, although the latter
part of August, and although Guy had several times declared to himself
that he would "back out" of the affair, the extreme heat decided him.
"He would go with a pack of monkeys to the moon, or anywhere, for a
breath of pure air." Of all the gay parties that ever set out from
Ripley this was the gayest. Scarcely a breath of air stirred. People
were astir because their business compelled them to make some exertion,
but they moved about listlessly, as if the mere act of living were a
labor rather than a pleasure.

The excursion was to start from the church, where already there was
quite an array of omnibusses drawn up as much in the shade as possible.
So when six young people came up breathless, their faces flushed and
eyes sparkling, hoping they were not too late to get a seat, they did
_so_ want to get among the green fields, out of that stifling place, the
horses pricked up their ears, and the sleepy drivers brightened up,
having come in contact with the freshness and charm of those glad gay
natures.

"We can't make very good time to-day, no how," said the driver of the
coach they were about entering. "It's going to be as hot as blazes."

"All right, driver; we're in no particular hurry. Any time this week
will do," said one of the young men as he clambered in.

"Isn't it delightful, none but ourselves," was the exclamation. But just
then Guy, Agnes and Ruth appeared, and took their seats. By this time
the other coaches had been filled, the word was given, and the party
started off amidst cheers and waving of handkerchiefs. It was for the
time as if a fresh breeze had suddenly sprung up, giving new life to the
town through which they passed.

"Can't you turn into a by-road soon," said one; and "O, please do, it is
excruciating going over these cobble-stones," said others. But the heat
had not quite dried up the driver's fun, or else the street was in very
bad condition, for just as this was said, they were bounced up like so
many rubber balls, and the driver, with a twinkle in his eye, remarked
that there could not be more than a mile or so of that kind of road.

"Are there any undertakers along this road?" asked Guy, seriously.

"Undertakers! what do you mean, Guy?" said Agnes, quite shocked at his
levity. The whole party set up a laugh in which the driver heartily
joined, knowing what had called forth the remark.

"I merely thought we would require the services of one, if not more, at
the rate we are going, especially as there is a mile more of such road."

In the midst of another laugh which followed this speech, the coach
turned off into a shady lane where the trees on either side almost met,
forming a delightful shelter from the sun, which was now pouring down
its rays most lavishly.

Through sun and shade the horses kept up their trot, the driver being
called to repeatedly to be kind to them, until the joyful announcement,
"The woods, the grand old woods!" was made. Just at the entrance to the
woods stood a hotel. And the arrival of the coaches made quite a stir at
the "Cross Keys," as it was called. The proprietor was aroused from his
slumbers under the old chestnut tree at the end of the house, where he
had been vainly endeavoring to fix in his mind some of the previous
week's news; judging from the paper which lay on the grass, and the
spectacles which, just resting on the tip of his nose, seemed ready to
follow the news,--by the barking of the dogs and the scampering of
servants.

"Bless me," he gasped, "if there ain't a load. Pretty plucky whoever
they are to travel this sort of weather." And gathering up himself and
his glasses, he made as great speed towards the front of the house as
his roly-poly figure and the heat would admit.

By the time he reached it, black Pete, whose business was to attend to
the stables and do a little of anything needed about the house, stood
cap in hand, grinning and bowing to the party who were alighting.

"Nice kind of a day this, friend," said one of the young men, as Pete
took his station near the horses heads. "No heat to speak of up this
way, I suppose."

"Just a little, sah!" and Pete's grin was broader than ever, while he
rolled his eyes in the direction of the girls. "It feels a good sight
breezin' since you come sah, de young ladies, I mean." Here there was
another bow, and the whole thing, the bow and the compliment was so
overwhelming, that the girls ran laughing up the steps, almost
upsetting the worthy landlord.

Presently they were followed by the young men who had staid behind to
have another word with Pete, and then those who had not brought dinner,
among whom of course were Guy and his sisters, made arrangements with
the landlord for that meal, urging him to bring out everything his
larder contained, in view of the fact that a party of ravenous wolves
were to be fed.

"This weather don't appear to set very hard on you at that rate," he
replied, his fat sides shaking with merriment as he went off to obey
orders.

Then Guy and a few others began to search for a cool place, in which to
eat dinner. First they tried the house, but it was so dark they could
not see, and when the shutters were opened the flies swarmed in; next
they tried the porch, but the glare was too great. Some were beginning
to be cross and unamiable, when Pete's head again appeared.

"If de ladies and gen'lemen wants a nice cool place, there's one over
yonder in de arbor."

"O, yes, come and take tea in the arbor," sang the girls, as they
bounded down the steps and followed Pete, whose delight appeared to
equal theirs, for although the sun could not penetrate the closely
interwoven vines, which covered it, neither could the air, had there
been a breath stirring. But it was "romantic" all thought, and Pete
agreed with them; though I question whether if he had gone to the stake
for it, he could have told what the word meant. There was one thing he
_did_ know, however, and that was, that if they remained out of doors,
he could enjoy their society, and it was not every day such a rare treat
was his. So while the party sought the woods until the time for dinner,
Pete went to bring out "de table and cheers," thinking of the good time
he was to have, "listenin' to de grand talk of dem town folks."

At the appointed hour the "wolves" sought their prey.

"I guess dat here will do to begin with," remarked Pete, drolly, as he
deposited on the table two large dishes of chicken, and a plate of
tongue.

"Yes, that will do for the first bite," was the reply, of one of the
young men. Pete showed his ivories and darted off again. But on the
return trip he had an assistant, and between the two the board was amply
spread.

"I'll just be rusticatin' round here, Susan, so you needn't stay," he
said, as Susan announced her readiness to "fetch them anything else that
was needed."

The girl looked at Pete, then at the party. Her look of inquiry was met
with: "O, no, there is no need of you waiting, if we require anything he
can get it."

Pete made a bow, and Susan, glad to be relieved, thanked them and
retired. Pete would have acted in full the part of waiter; already he
had installed himself behind the prettiest young girl's chair, but he
was requested to seat himself outside and keep his ears open in case of
being needed.

Seating himself on the top step of the summer-house, and leaning his
back against the lattice-work, he obeyed orders by listening intently to
all the conversation. He evidently favored the ladies, from the nods of
approval and looks of delight which he gave at their remarks.

It certainly could not have been from the conversation that he was
reminded of angels; perhaps the bright, fair faces of the girls and
their light attire suggested it, but he began, during a little lull in
the talking, to hum:--

          "O, gib me de wings of de angels,
           To fly away, to fly away,--"

before he had gone farther, there was an exclamation of delight; "Don't
stop, sing it all, it is splendid!"

Pete chuckled and after wriggling round to where he could see without
being seen, and clearing his throat several times, took up the strain
again; this time in a louder key, and with the swaying of the whole
body, where before it had only been the movement of the head.

            "O, gib me de wings of de angels,
            To fly away, to fly away,
            O, gib me de wings of de angels,
            To fly to my heabenly home.
          Thar thar ain't any sorrow nor sighin',
          Thar thar ain't any sickness nor dyin',
          But de Lord will himself wipe de tears from our eyes,
            When we fly to our heabenly home.

              O, gib me de wings of de angels,
              To fly away, to fly away;
              O, gib me de wings of de angels
              To fly to my heabenly home;
          Thar we'll all be dressed up in white raiment,
            And keep walkin' along de gold pavement,
          And we'll each hab a crown and a harp in our hand,
            When we fly to our heabenly home.

              O, gib me de wings of de angels,
              To fly away, to fly away;
              O, gib me de wings of de angels,
              To fly to my heabenly home.
          Thar we'll sing hallelujah foreber,
            And keep wavin' our palms all together,
          And the Saviour will say, 'Come sit down by my side,'
            When we fly to our heabenly home."

By the time Pete had finished he was in a state of rapture, swaying from
side to side as though in fancy he were mounting upwards on angel's
wings. But he was brought out of his ecstasy by the shouts of

"Bravo! well done for you, Pete."

"Where did you learn it?" eagerly inquired Agnes.

"At de camp, Miss," was the reply.

"Why, were you in the army, or were you a slave?" another asked.

Pete rolled his eyes until nothing but the whites could be seen, as he
said, "At de Camp-Meetin', you know. No, ladies, I never was a slave
only to old Satan. Dat was enough of slavery for dis here darkey."

"Say, now, tell us how he treated you, that's a good fellow," said Guy,
handing him some loose change out of his pocket. "This is for singing,
now go on."

Poor Pete's face grew very grave. "It ain't very pleasin' to tell of,
and ef it's jest de same, I won't scare de ladies with talkin' about
it."

"But we wish it," they said, and as there was no help for him, Pete
began.

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER XII.

PETE'S SLAVERY AND FREEDOM.


"WELL, it's rather flusticatin' to tell grand folks like you about a
darkey what's of no account, but I thinks of it considerable when there
ain't much else to do. You see I had a father and a mother, and my
father wasn't of much account for he drinked like a fish. Then he
walloped us all round, and come pretty near killin' the whole of us like
he did mother."

"Killed your mother, the wretch! what did you let him do it for?" asked
one of the girls excitedly.

"Couldn't help it Miss; but I'm comin' to that. Well, you see he got
drunk and walloped us, and mother said she weren't going to slave
herself for a animal like him, so when he came home drunk she wouldn't
give him nothing to eat, and that made him furiouser.

"Mother said he might bang till he got tired, so she used to lock
herself in her room and take us with her, and then when he got tired
cussin' and swearin' he lay down and went to sleep. Mother worked hard
enough, I tell you, to get bread for us all: you see there was six of
us, and it took a powerful sight of wittles. She never said nothin'
about workin', though, only when father broke up the cheers and things,
and then she used to cry, and we all cried." Here Pete drew his hand
across his eyes, and the girls looked pityingly at him. In spite of the
pain caused by such recollections, they were so curious to know all,
that Pete was again urged to go on.

"Well, I helped de best way I could, for I was a little shaver then, and
Jim, he was next to me, he did little jobs for de white folks around.
But father he got worse, and wouldn't work no how, and he was always
gettin' took up, and then when they let him out of jail he was furiouser
than ever. One night, O laws! I most wish I'd never gone and been born
when I think of that, mother and all us children was asleep. Father had
been took up, and so we wasn't afeard of nothin'. It was a snowin' and a
blowin' sky high, and nobody could hear nothin' for the wind. All at
once I felt somethin' a movin' over my face, soft like, and then it made
for my throat. Then I ups and gives a spring, and run into mother's
room, but somethin' tripped me, and I fell down right on top of it. Then
it moaned out like, and--and I knowed it was mother a lying there, and
that somebody had killed her.

"I began to call 'murder' as hard as I could, but father, it was him did
it, got a hold of me again, and told me he'd soon shut up my fly trap. I
know'd he was goin' to do it, so I give an awful leap and sprung clear
over his head and right out in de snow. I know'd he wouldn't go far to
katch me, for he'd have enough to do to clear hisself, so I waded along
till I come to de man's house that Jim worked for.

"He had two awful fierce dogs, and one of them made a spring at my
throat while de other caught hold of my leg and took a bite out. De man,
hearin' de dogs, put his head out of de window and asked what was de
matter. So, as I couldn't speak, I just groaned, and he told de dogs to
lay down. Well, he came down and took me in de house, and all I could
say was 'Father,' and 'Murder.' So he called up de rest of de men folks
and took them over, but when they got there father was gone, and mother
and de baby was dead. Poor mother, she was holding de baby tight to her
bosom. De other childerns was screechin' and cryin', and de door was
wide open, and they was nearly frozen. Well, de poor house buried mother
and de baby, and took all de children but Jim and me, and de man Jim
worked for said he could stay thar as long as he wanted help. I hadn't
no place to go to, so I worked where I could, and that wasn't much
because it weren't de time of year for work, and I slept in sheds and
barns, wherever de folks would let me.

"Mother she was a good woman, and made us say our prayers every night,
but I didn't say 'em any more after that night, because I didn't see de
use of prayin' to God when he let my mother get killed. I hated God then
and I said so to Jim, only nobody else talked to me about them things,
and I didn't get a chance to tell 'em. It was a good many years that I
went on that way, only I got steady work. One summer de fellows said
thar was goin' to be a camp meetin' somewhar near, so I concluded to go
and see what it looked like. So I sets out on Sunday mornin', and when I
seen de white tents, and heard de people singin' and shoutin', I thought
it was de curiousest thing I ever seen. I got along tolerable well,
talkin' to de colored folks what waited on de tables, when all at once a
big horn was blowed, and everybody went off to preachin'.

"I went too, jest to look on, and when de preacher give out his text he
said, 'Thou God seest me.' I didn't think I need to be afeard, for I
didn't steal nor nothin', so I looked him square in de face. But by and
by I began to feel queer, and then I begin to look down on de ground. It
appeared as ef old Satan was a tryin' to drag me down to de bottomless
pit, and I know'd ef he'd git me thar once, he'd take care to hold on to
me pretty tight. I was afeard to look down, expecting every minute to be
swallowed up, and I couldn't look up for I know'd God was looking at me.
All at once something appeared to pull me down, and thar I lay while de
people was a singin' and a prayin' all around. After a good spell
somethin' spoke and says: 'Look up, Pete;' and I says, 'What's wantin'?'
Nobody didn't give no answer, so I begin to groan agin. Then somethin'
spoke agin louder, and says: 'Don't be afeard, Pete, it's me.' I kind of
looked up, but didn't see nobody lookin' at me, so I felt worse. Then
the third time somethin' says: 'Rise, Pete, your sins is all forgiven.'
I says, right out loud; 'Who says so?' and de same voice, only sweeter
and more lovin' says, 'De blessed Jesus; you needn't to be afeard any
more.'

"I tell you I jumped up quick, and began to laugh as hard as I could.
Some of de people said I was crazy, but de pious folks said I had got a
blessin'; and so I had, de blessedest blessin' ever I got. Dat's about
all, ladies and gentlemen," and Pete, bowing, betook himself to clearing
the table.

The Rev. John Jay, who with the rest, had been an attentive listener,
now said: "To be able to tell that last part, my friend, is worth more
than all the world to a man; 'for what will it profit a man if he gain
all the world and lose his own soul, or what will a man give in exchange
for his soul.'"

"That's so, sah," replied Pete with glistening eye, "he wouldn't be of
much account no how."

Several more hours delightfully spent in the woods, and then the coaches
were announced, and the homeward road taken, but not without a parting
word to Pete.

"Good-by," called out the girls as they drove off, and "Don't let old
Satan play any more pranks with you," said Guy, to all of which he
replied by bowing low, and saying: "Thank you, ladies; thank you
gentlemen; take keer of yourselves, and don't forgit to stop here de
next time." He watched until, not only their forms were lost sight of,
but until the dust which had been disturbed into thick clouds, had
settled; then turning toward the house, he began his favorite air:

          "O, gib me de wings ob de angels."

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER XIII.

REV. JOHN JAY DELIVERS HIS MESSAGE.


THE Rev. John Jay was not satisfied that he had been true to the older
members of his flock. As a watchman he had only faintly blown the
trumpet on some points, fearing the consequences.

Now in deep humility of soul, he plead for grace to declare all the
counsel of God. If the spirit gave him utterance, need he have fear as
to the result? Was it not written, "For as the rain cometh down and the
snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and
maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and
bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my
mouth. It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that
which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

Now he would cry aloud and spare not; he would lift up his voice like a
trumpet, and show the people their transgressions, and thus deliver his
own soul.

With firm steps he ascended the pulpit, that Sabbath morning, and with a
heart full of holy resolve. But as his eye fell on the whitened locks
and wrinkled faces of many whose years almost trebled his, involuntarily
he cried: "Oh Lord God, I am but a child! how can I do this thing?"

We know how quickly human love runs to protect and comfort the little
trembling one, so when the cry was heard, there was a tender gathering
up into the arms of the Compassionate One, and there came a heavenly
calm and holy boldness. There was no sleepers in church that morning,
although some questioned whether they were not dreaming, as this youth,
hitherto so modest, and unassuming, in authoritative tones pointed out
to them their mistakes and the fearful consequences arising from them.

We want men and women to go from house to house, to gather in those who
have wandered from God. But whose fault is it that they have wandered?
Answer it, ye fathers and mothers. Your judgment is better than the
Almighty's.

When the woman was taken in sin, he said: "Martha do I condemn thee! go
in peace and sin no more." Didn't He open up heaven just then, even to
that sinner? He who 'knew no sin.' But it does not do for us, standing
in our strength and wisdom, to say to the weak and erring, to the young
and foolish, "We feel for you; our hearts are not too old--we are not
too far removed from you by grace, to know what snares surround you. But
we will gather about you with loving hearts; we will give you kindly
counsel, not sharp reproof; neither will we condemn you.

"How many little ones do you carry to Christ every day, my brother, my
sister? Remember He expects you to lift them up by your prayers and
efforts, and bear them to Him. He waits with open arms. Whom by kind
words and loving deeds, and earnest prayer, have you drawn toward Him?
Or whom have you driven from Him, by reproof, fault-finding, and holding
yourself aloof? You are afraid the church will be desecrated by the
gathering of our young people; they will have such a pleasant, happy
time in their weekly meetings, that they will not reverence God's house.
Think you, you are more pleasing in His sight, you who turn out of the
way the lame and the blind. Ah, it were better never to have been born,
than by narrowness of soul, by false reasoning, and warped judgment, to
have led astray, or turned aside from God one of these youthful souls.
As fathers and mothers, should you not rejoice that your children are
among you; that they are improving the gifts bestowed upon them by God,
and fitting themselves to fill higher places in the church and the world
than you.

"And now, dear friends, fathers and mothers, men and women naming the
name of Christ, by His love I beseech you, go out to-day stripped of
your prejudices, and your robes of self-righteousness; go out with
humility, with yearning, Christ-like love, and say: 'We are all sinners;
we need each other's help, and the Saviour has need of all. We will go
hand in hand through joy and sorrow, through toil and temptation, up to
the gates of the Celestial city, up to the joys at God's right hand.'"

So the Rev. John Jay delivered his soul. So he scattered good seed,
leaving the budding, the blooming, the fruit bearing to God.

But it did not all fall on good ground. Some fell by the way-side, and
Satan, snatching it up, sowed seeds of discord in its place. So that in
a short time it became evident there were two parties in the church.
Those who claimed to espouse the Lord's cause, when in reality they were
trying to hold the doors of the kingdom of heaven, so that none but
those they thought fit should enter, and others, whose watch-word was:
"All souls for Christ. Being all things to all men if by any means we
may win them to Christ." The former said the Rev. John Jay was
intolerant, and a stirrer up of strife; that he was too much of a
radical for them, and consequently he must leave. The latter talked to
the Lord about it, and determined to stand by His servant. Their numbers
were greatly augmented by the young people, who declared if the minister
were dismissed not one of them would ever enter the church. So the old
and young were brought together sooner, and in a different manner than
was anticipated by the young pastor. But the "right" prevailed, and the
Rev. John Jay remained. He soon began to miss a number of familiar
faces, while at the same time he observed, with great satisfaction, many
for whom he had heretofore looked in vain; some of them the young men
who had been induced to spend a social evening with him each week in his
study, and among them was Guy Gorton.

Upon inquiry he found that brother Smith, as leader of the movement, had
decided to worship God in a room of "their own hiring, where there was
no young boy to teach them their duty."

As the croakers went out, the young people flocked in, and never did
Fourth street church witness such a revival as during that winter. Side
by side were found gray-haired parents and their children seeking to
learn of Jesus' love, and many a heart that had long resisted all other
influence, was led by youthful pleading to forsake sin and turn to
Christ. Old and young were secretly drawn together in the bonds of
Christian love and sympathy. Even the Association became a family
gathering at which the young people did the work and entertained the
older folks, they, good, simple souls thinking there never were such
talented young men and women, and there never could be such a society as
the Association of Fourth street church. "But," they added, "all this
and much more, would never have been but for our dear, faithful pastor,
the Rev. John Jay."

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER XIV.

"WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR A NIGHT."


GUY had lost his cheerfulness, his sisters thought. Certainly he had not
his old gayety of manner, and they anxiously inquired if he were sick.

"I am sure you must be," urged Ruth; "won't you see a doctor, Guy? Then
there is another thing, you read too much; indeed you will injure
yourself if you continue to study so."

But he only laughed at their fears, and continued to spend his evenings
at home over his books. Seeing that he did not seek other society, the
girls gave little entertainments; not costing much to be sure, not more
perhaps than some little things they needed, but now did without, so
that he might be surrounded by pleasant company, and acquire a taste
for the society of good people.

Now it never once occurred to Guy that his sisters were doing this for
him. He thought they must be becoming more fond of society, and it
pleased him very much, for he did not see why they should not shine in
the very highest circles. Before long he meant that they should. And now
when their friends came, he did his best to entertain them for their
sake, and they were overjoyed at his returns of brilliancy and wit.

Now that the winter had really set in, and promised to be severe, Ruth
recollected that Guy's overcoat had not been taken out of the cedar
chest, where it had been laid in Spring.

"It is no wonder he has not asked for it," she thought, as she looked at
the thread-bare sleeves, and noticed the rusty appearance of the whole
coat. Spreading it out, she looked at it, then sitting down thought of
what could be done. "Now there is hartshorn, that dissolved in water,
cleans cloth beautifully; but even if I did scour it, Guy could never
wear a thread-bare coat."

Then came the question: "How can he get another? I know if he could, he
would have had it by this time. I must have been thinking of myself and
my own clothes, or I should not have lost sight of this so long. I will
see how much money there is; at any rate if it should take every cent in
the house, Guy must have the coat."

For a long time Ruth sat in the cold room making plans; finally she
decided to have a talk with Agnes about it, because it would never do,
not to let her have a share in the pleasure of making Guy comfortable.
That night the bed-post and rocking-chair were appropriated, and there
was a long, earnest talk. Agnes was not so much surprised as her sister
anticipated, when she found that Guy was a great way off from making a
fortune. For ever since the time Ruth refused to purchase her dress,
Agnes had been finding out things she never dreamed of before. It was
Ruth who was surprised to find that Agnes knew so much of the real state
of affairs. In one way it was a relief, now that she did know, and Ruth
felt that a great part of her burden had gone; but it was gone from her
to be laid on Agnes, and that thought was more painful than the burden
had been.

"It is to be divided equally, remember," said Agnes. "O, I am so glad
that I am earning money, Ruth."

Ruth urged that as she was older, she should bear the greater part of
the expense; but Agnes would not consent to this; and finally it was
settled that each should give half. Then they were perplexed as to the
manner of doing it. Agnes thought it best to tell him, and let him order
it himself; but Ruth was sure he would not take the money. Three months
before, she would not have hesitated to offer it; but he had changed
since then, and something told her he had resolved to be less dependent
in the future.

"I don't like concealments," urged Agnes; "I felt meanly in acting so
about your dress, Ruth."

Ruth smiled, and said: "You always had a tender conscience, child, but
there is no other way of doing this, I am convinced."

Agnes yielded to Ruth's judgment, and Martha was sent with the old coat
to the tailor, and told to say that Miss Ruth would call in the
afternoon.

"When is it to be done?" asked Agnes, eagerly, when Ruth returned.

"On Christmas eve; and only think, Agnes, it will be four dollars less
than we supposed. He will make it of the finest cloth too."

"Christmas is coming," said the children many, many times, during the
ten days that followed. Ruth's visit to the tailor, and "Christmas is
coming," said she and Agnes, as many times as the children. Yes,
Christmas was coming, it was drawing near, bringing gladness as it
always does; but something else was coming, and drawing still nearer.

The shadow of a great sorrow had fallen. Had they looked in Guy's face
they would have seen it; but they were busy with their little presents
for each other, and for Martha and Philip. Besides, they rather avoided
Guy, for fear he should read their secret. So it grew and grew, until
they could escape it no longer. Guy was ill of a fever.

All at once, without a word of complaint, he was taken down, and to all
their entreaties that he would speak to them just once, there was no
reply.

"O Guy, my brother, my darling, speak," moaned Ruth, as with an agonized
voice and look she bent over him. "To think of your lying here alone,
suffering through the long night, and no one near to give you even a
drink of water."

So she went on talking and bathing his burning brow, while Agnes, giving
one earnest look, in which her whole soul seemed to go out, hurried to
send Martha for the doctor; then she went back, and putting her arm
round Ruth, drew her away.

"Don't take me from him, Agnes; I have the best right here," she cried,
fiercely, starting up from the seat into which Agnes had placed her. "I
did not help to benefit him; I set him no good example. I must save him
now, even if I should die for him."

"Sister Ruth," and her words were slow and measured, "our lives cannot
save Guy; only one power can. Look to God, dear sister; he is our only
help. And He _will_ help us," she added with strong emphasis.

"O, will He, Agnes; are you sure?" and Ruth looked into the face of her
sister, waiting for her reply, as if into the face of God.

"He will help us," came again. Then they threw their arms round each
other and cried.

"What is it?" asked Agnes, when the doctor shook his head.

"Brain fever, I fear," was the reply.

"Will he die?" almost shrieked Ruth. "You will save him, doctor. O, you
won't let Guy die."

"Do you know, my child, you can kill your brother, and you will if you
give way to this grief. I will leave no means untried. You are a
Christian; you know how to pray; there is greater comfort in that than
in any of my assurances; but I give them to you; your brother shall live
if it is in the power of man to save him."

Agnes murmured, "O God, give him skill, and give us strength," while
hope revived in Ruth's heart, and she listened eagerly to the doctor's
directions.

"You will have many days of nursing, it is probable, and you must take
it in turn," he said; "but at night it will be well to have a friend.
There is a great deal of restlessness then, and one feels lonely. Be
sure you give the medicine promptly, and keep up the ice applications,
as I shall be back in a few hours."

"Whom can we get?" asked Agnes, when he had gone.

"Don't let us have any one, Agnes; no stranger could take care of Guy,
as well as we," said Ruth, beseechingly.

"But, Ruth, if anything should happen, if Guy should grow worse, we
would blame ourselves for not doing all the doctor told us."

"Very well, then. You know best, Agnes. I can't think to-day."

Without saying more, Agnes went down stairs, and told Martha to see if
Miss Smithers was at home, and if so to tell her to come right away, but
not to sew. "Then leave this note with one of the school children," she
added.

She met Ruth's scholars as they came, and sent them away quietly,
telling them when Miss Ruth was ready she would send them word, and then
she tried to take her breakfast. "I must be strong," she said, and tried
to eat, but she could not swallow. There was Guy's place, but he was not
there. "Will he ever be again!" The question came, but she drove it
away. He was in God's hands and so was she. She could take nothing
back, but rest in the thought of His fatherly love and compassion.

Miss Smithers came, and Agnes was not mistaken in her. She was ready
for every emergency, and never failed to give the right comfort, at the
right time. Even Ruth grew to depend upon her, and to miss her kind face
when she was compelled to leave them, and seek rest. Agnes had not
thought of asking her to give up her work, only to have her stay with
them at night. But Miss Smithers did not mean to leave either day or
night, until Guy was out of danger, and Agnes gladly yielded the point.

When the sorrow through which the sisters was passing, became known,
they had the fullest sympathy of friends. Miss Smithers received all who
called, and thus saved them from many painful interviews. For at such
times when there are many hearts to feel for us, and to offer the most
delicate expressions of sympathy, there are always coarse natures who
know no other manner of showing their sympathy than by opening up our
wounds and making us bleed afresh.

"How many friends we have, Agnes. I did not know so many cared for us.
If Guy recovers we shall be very happy," said Ruth, as Miss Smithers
told them of the many who had called.

Guy lay still unconscious, while the fever leaped through his veins, and
almost purpled his fair face. Now he was at his books, then again he was
pleading; but all the time there was this thought: "I can't rob Ruth, I
can't take her money."

"O, if he would not talk so; if he would say anything else but that, I
could bear it," she moaned, and then she whispered that "Ruth, his own
dear Ruth was there, that he must not talk any more," but still he went
on in the same strain.

Poor Agnes was sorely tried. Here was Ruth breaking out in the wildest
frenzy, at times, refusing to eat or to leave the bedside; and here the
brother, far dearer to her than life, not able to look at her, nor to
say that he understood her when she did not yield to his wishes. If he
died, he could not know how great her love for him was. And then the
subtle tempter came: "If God loved His children He would not cause them
thus to suffer. _Your_ life has been harder than that of out-breaking
sinners." But while Agnes could not reason, thank God she could trust,
and reaching out her hand as a little child, she said: "Lead me in the
way that is best for me, and do not let me be afraid or discouraged."

Christmas had come and gone, but they would not have known it, had not
Guy's coat been sent home according to promise, the day before. They
had meant to hide it from Ruth, but she happened to be down stairs at
the time it came, and it was kissed and fondled as though it had been
Guy himself. Then it was laid away, no one else knew where. She forgot
that Agnes had a share in it, forgot everything but that it was Guy's,
and he her own darling brother.

Agnes had never asked the doctor any more questions since the day Guy
was taken ill. But she wrote down his directions for fear the least
thing should be overlooked, and never administered medicine, or rendered
him the slightest service, without breathing a prayer that it might lead
to his recovery. So the days passed wearily on, and the crisis drew
near.

"We must not tell them," said the doctor to Miss Smithers, on the
morning of the day. "It will only more completely unsettle Miss Ruth,
while the other poor child need have no more laid upon her. If the worst
comes, there will be strength given, and anticipated trouble is always
the hardest to bear. If you have any influence over Miss Ruth, keep her
very quiet, everything depends on that."

Miss Smithers went up to her room, and was there for a long time. When
she left it she carried with her something that made her heart strong
and her face bright. If you have ever known it you will understand; if
not, no words can give you the idea.

The day wore on and still Guy was restless. The doctor came, looked and
went away, but there was no outward change. Night closed over them as
they sat watching, the two to whom he was the dearest living thing, and
another whose heart had been drawn toward him as if he had been her
son.

If faith were dependent upon what is seen only, then Miss Smithers might
have yielded to the entreaties of Ruth and the imploring looks of Agnes,
to let them stay beside Guy, whose unrest was painful in the extreme,
for there surely could be no hope here. But she kept them beside her,
whispering: "Trust me this once, children;" and in some way they felt
that she must be right.

It was near midnight on the last day of the year. What would the New
Year bring?

[Illustration: Decoration]



CHAPTER XV.

"BUT JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING."


THEY sat, each one busy with her thoughts, so very different, perhaps,
and yet in one respect so alike, when suddenly they became conscious of
a change. The sisters started, looked quickly at Miss Smithers, and then
would have ran to the bedside, but laying a hand on each, she said, with
strong emphasis, "If you want your brother to live, you will not move
from here."

They looked at her in surprise, then the truth dawned upon them, and
turning, they clasped each other's hand and prayed.

Softly Miss Smithers crept toward the bed, and stooping down she scanned
the upturned face. As she raised her head she met the searching gaze of
Ruth and Agnes. She smiled, then pouring into a spoon a liquid left by
the doctor, in case of such a change, she gave it, then turning down the
light to the faintest glimmer went back to her seat.

"He sleeps," was all she said, but there was no more needed. They
scarcely breathed after that, they sat so still--holding each other's
hand until the gray dawn of the New Year's morning broke, and the doctor
came.

His quick eye detected the change as soon as he entered. How his face
beamed, and how they loved him then. Beckoning to them when he left the
room, they followed into the one adjoining.

"Now, girls, there was a hard fight last night," he said, "but the day
is ours, or Guy's. What he needs is to have not a finger moved in the
room as long as he sleeps. When he wakens you are each to be as calm and
fresh as a May morning, or it will set him to thinking and bring back
the fever. Now both of you go at once to bed after you take a cup of
coffee, and sleep until Miss Smithers calls you; then she will follow
your example. Remember on no other condition can your brother recover,"
he continued, as they plead to stay and see him waken. As he went out he
said: "A happy New Year, my children; you have much to thank God for
to-day."

O didn't they thank Him! Their hearts were so full of joy and
thankfulness that it was a long time before they could forget everything
and sleep. It was noon when they awoke, and yet Miss Smithers had not
called them. Stealing to the door they looked in; they wanted just one
look at Guy, to be sure it was true and not all a dream, and then they
went down stairs.

Martha, little woman that she was, was overjoyed at seeing them and
knowing Mr. Guy would soon be well.

"You did not get your Christmas present, dear child," said Ruth;
"whenever brother Guy wakens you may go up for it; it is in the top
drawer of my bureau wrapped up in white paper."

"Miss Agnes gave me two white aprons, all scolloped round," said Martha,
with a beaming face.

"You have been a good girl, Martha, we could not have done without you,"
continued Ruth. "When Mr. Guy is better, we will tell him you helped to
make him well."

"Mother said I should be as good as I could, and if you wanted any more
help, she would stay all the time, because Miss Agnes was so kind to
father," replied the child.

Miss Smithers appeared looking very tired, but cheerful. "Now girls you
may go up, he is awake and wants you. But there must not be many words."
Ruth took two steps at once in her haste to get up, but she was so out
of breath, she had to recover before going in the room, so that both
entered together. Guy was awake and knew them; they could scarcely
realize it. They kissed him; then each held a thin hand and told him not
to speak. When he grew stronger they should have a good, long talk. He
smiled faintly and then fell asleep again.

They would have gone away now, but he held their hands in a tight clasp,
and so they sat for hours, until he awoke--tired and cramped, yet afraid
to move. That night Miss Smithers insisted upon sitting up, and they
went to bed in their own room, but not until they had had a long talk.

"This night, two years ago, Agnes, do you remember?" asked Ruth,
drawing her chair over to the fire. "You recollect I went to the
theatre, and you refused. If Guy had died, I know I should have lost my
reason. If it had only been that once, but although I suffered agony
then, you know how often I have gone with him since. This came to me all
the time of his sickness: 'You mislead your brother, if he is lost you
are to blame;' and O, Agnes, you don't know what I suffered! But I
promised God if he would only spare Guy, I would lead a new life and
never enter such places again. I see my mistake now, we can never 'do
evil that good may follow.'"

"And I have been thinking, Ruth, that I have been at fault, in not
making direct appeals to Guy, about his soul. I thought it was better to
_live_ right, so that he might see there was power in religion; but I
find that one thing cannot take the place of another. There must be
_talking_ and _living_, both. And I think we had better talk more about
ourselves before Guy; we have shut him out too much from these things,
while in everything else we have thought of him."

"If he would only become a Christian, Agnes, how happy we should be. I
should not have a single care then."

"He will, Ruth, I feel it; he will be given in answer to prayer and holy
living. But we must live so near to God, that we can _claim_ this at His
hands."

Guy grew stronger. "Who could help it with such care?" he asked. Agnes,
who was compelled to go to school now, very often found herself in the
midst of a recitation wondering what she could take home, or what she
could make for him, when she went home. Ruth gave herself up completely
to him. Feeling that as she had hindered, so now she must be a great
help to him in every way. She copied and read for him, and would not
have hesitated to undertake a case in court, so that it was of benefit
to Guy.

Sometimes as she sat with him, the doctor's and druggist's bills came up
before her, and almost made her heart stand still, for during all his
sickness she had not been earning anything, and they were depending upon
Agnes's salary for everything until she could begin to teach again.

She almost despaired of ever being free from anxiety, but looking at Guy
her doubts left her. God had spared him to them, and she would trust Him
to help them out of their troubles.

Little Philip came every day, now that Guy was able to sit up, and by
his odd speeches and persistent attempts at making a picture of Mr. Guy,
proved a constant source of amusement, so that Guy looked for him daily,
after breakfast.

Ruth several times attempted a conversation with her brother about the
things on her mind, but had always failed in the attempt. It came
however in this way. She was sewing, and Guy had been reading. Laying
down the book and watching his sister for a few minutes, he said: "I
have been thinking, Ruth, if all young men had such good sisters as I,
how few would go far astray."

"O, Guy," she said, her eyes filling with tears, "I have been anything
but a good sister. I thought of it day and night, when you were ill, and
it nearly drove me mad."

"What do you mean, Ruth, I don't understand you. What had you to blame
yourself for?"

"The great thing, my neglect of duty. I did not hold religion up in its
true light. I lowered the standard, and you did not give it proper
respect. I wronged you, Guy, and I wronged God and my own soul. I meant
to tell you all this, but something kept me back. My inconsistent life
came up before me, and I thought I would wait until you had seen a
change in me."

"I see it _now_," he replied; "One can see changes more readily in you,
than in Agnes."

"Because there is nothing to change in her. Guy, I would give all the
world if I had it, to be the trusting Christian our Agnes is. If you had
seen her when you were ill, you would have known how wonderful she is.
She thought of everybody and everything, but never once despaired or
murmured. I think the Lord spared you because of her."

"Why?" he asked in a husky voice.

"Because, she said the other night, we must live such lives that we can
_claim_ the answer to our prayers; and that is not the kind of a life I
have been living. I did not dare to claim anything; I only _begged_ to
have you spared, and promised to lead a new life."

Guy's thin hands went up to his face and tears ran down his pale cheeks.
"Now is the time," thought Ruth, and going over to him she threw her
arms round him saying: "I went with you, Guy, dear brother say that you
will go with me. Don't let us three be separated any longer."

And this was Ruth, positive, self-possessed, Ruth. She had never refused
him anything, and how much she had done for him, he well knew, and at
what great sacrifice. He could not refuse her now, so he drew her down,
and kissing her, said: "We will go together, Ruth, God helping me."

In a few minutes Agnes came from school, her face beaming, as usual. She
looked from Guy to Ruth, then she knew.

"O, Guy, it has come at last?" she exclaimed, laughing and crying at
the same time, and in her joy kissing Guy and Ruth, again and again.
Then Miss Smithers had to know, and Guy's friend, the Rev. John Jay.

That night they opened their hearts to each other. Guy told them how
when Ruth showed her new dress to him, he had seen himself in a new
light, and resolved to be their helper in the future instead of what he
had so long been.

"And I will be it yet, girls, don't fear," he added. "If you have to
pass through some trying days before then do not be discouraged. It
shall be seen my sisters have a brother who is not willing to receive
love and everything else without a return."

When he was able to go out the coat was brought from its hiding place.
It had been laid away with tears, now it was taken out with smiles. Then
both sisters helped him on with it, smoothing it here and settling it
there, their faces radiant with pleasure. And Guy, in return, gave them
what he knew they would rather have than anything else, a fond,
brotherly kiss. They walked with him as far as the office, where Ruth
had been that morning seeing that Martha had swept and dusted it
thoroughly; but all the way there and home, they could not keep their
eyes from Guy, he looked so handsome in his new coat. They had seen no
one like him all the way along.

Days, weeks and months rolled on, some of them trying enough, as Guy had
said. But the spirit of faith and trust nerved them for the struggle,
and in the end the clouds rolled away and the sun shone out.

Guy was at last able to fulfill his promise, for he had now entered into
partnership with an eminent lawyer. Very proud he was when he made them
his first present of new dresses, but prouder still when he was able to
dress them "as such sisters deserved to be dressed."

With their prosperity they did not forget their dear old friend Miss
Smithers, and many were the tokens of love and gratitude she received.

Both Ruth and Guy claimed an equal right to Philip, and through them he
became a pupil of a celebrated artist; while Martha, who was claimed by
the entire household, could not pretend to say which she liked best, and
all were served with the strength and love of her whole nature.

They sat by the fire one night talking. "I used to think it impossible
for lawyers to be good, earnest Christians, Guy," Ruth said.

"And now?" he asked.

"Now I see my mistake, for I know one."

"Thank God for the grace which can keep the soul unspotted in the midst
of corruption and temptation," was the reply. "Yes, Ruth, I, too, have
found that for every man and every calling there is the same grace,
which if brought to bear upon the life and calling, will exalt the
meanest and make it honorable. What are you thinking of, Agnes?"

"Of what you have been saying. If God made such a master-piece as man
out of clay, He intends that he shall occupy a high ground, morally, I
mean, and place it within the reach of all. How glad I am, Guy, that
true position is to be found in this attitude of the soul before God, no
matter what the social standing is. Then I have been thinking that if we
left ourselves in his hands, He would be continually adding gifts and
graces, rounding our angles, and bringing out the full symmetry of every
part, so that by the beauty of our character we would draw others to
Him."

Guy and Ruth exchanged glances, then Ruth said: "Here is one who is all
angles. It would take a great deal of rounding to make me symmetrical
and attractive."

Guy slowly repeated: "'But we all with open face beholding as in a glass
the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to
glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.'"

[Illustration: Decoration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 3, "21" changed to "19" (Differently Constituted, 21)

Page 3, "48" changed to "47" (Little Philip, 47)

Page 4, "168" changed to "166" (Rev. John Jay delivers his Message,
166)

Page 5, " d" changed to "old" (the good old year)

Page 13, twice, "christian" changed to "Christian" (was not a Christian)
(die a Christian)

Page 14, "christians" changed to "Christians" (Christians were to be)

Page 62, word "is" removed from text. Original read: (as is her teacher)

Page 62, "i'd" changed to "I'd" (I'd talk for a week)

Page 76, word "take" removed from text. Original read: (near, to take
take)

Starting with page 92, the chapter numbers are off by one. This has been
corrected, for example: "VII" changed to "VIII" (CHAPTER VIII)

Page 107, "dirction" changed to "direction" (direction the storm)

Page 137, "dad" changed to "had" (if I had done something)

Page 151, "stiring" changed to "stirring" (a breath stirring)

Page 206, "symetrical" changed to "symmetrical" (make me symmetrical)





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