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´╗┐Title: Minnie Brown - or, The Gentle Girl
Author: Wise, Daniel, 1813-1898
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: MY UNCLE TOBY'S LIBRARY

Minnie Brown.]


MINNIE BROWN;

Or, The Gentle Girl.

by

FRANCIS FORRESTER, ESQ.

Author of "Arthur Ellerslie," "Redbrook," etc.



Boston:
Geo. C. Rand, 3 Cornhill.
Wm. J. Reynolds & Co.
1853.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by
Daniel Wise,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
Massachusetts.

Stereotyped at the
Boston Stereotype Foundry.
Press of G. C. Rand, Cornhill.



MINNIE BROWN.


Minnie Brown had not so handsome a face as some little girls; yet
people called her a beautiful child. Her beauty was not in her eyes,
her cheeks, her chin, her nose, her forehead, or her hair. These were
all well enough; her face was pretty enough in its way, but it was no
prettier than the faces of many other girls whom no one ever thought to
be very beautiful. Still, almost all who knew Minnie spoke of her as a
beautiful child. Why was this? What was there in Minnie to make people
call her beautiful?

I will tell you. Minnie's mind was beautiful. She had a lovely spirit,
a mild temper, and an obliging disposition. Minnie appeared to love
every one. She was never angry, unkind, or rebellious. She almost
always wore a pleasant smile on her rosy lips; a light of loving
tenderness generally shone in her soft blue eyes. She always spoke in a
gentle voice. Whoever looked upon her felt pleased at her appearance;
and hence it was that she was called a beautiful child.

I do not mean to say that Minnie was faultless. There has never been
but one faultless child in the world, and that was the sinless Child of
Mary. But Minnie's faults were very few. Her natural disposition was
very gentle, and she had learned to pray to Christ as her loving Savior
and holy elder Brother. And thus, by studying to oppose all that was
bad in her heart, by encouraging all that was good, and by expecting
her Brother Savior in heaven to help her, she had become such a child
as I have described.

But Minnie had many trials of her patience and goodness, like all other
children. These troubles, however, did not set her crying and fretting
as some girls do, when vexatious trials annoy them. Her mother had
taught her that trials were for her good. Minnie always remembered this
lesson, because of the way in which it was taught to her. It was by
means of a little tree, which Minnie's father set out in front of their
cottage, one spring, with great care. Mr. Brown was a man of taste. He
spared no pains to make his residence a pleasant one. He meant this
tree to grow into a shade tree; and a beautiful little tree it was.
It was tall, slender, smooth, and had very graceful branches. Minnie
admired it very much. She hoped it would live and become a great tree.

[Illustration]

At first, it appeared as if it would do so. The buds swelled, the
leaves began to show their green edges, and Minnie was looking every
day to see them burst into beauty. But the weather grew very cold, wet,
and windy. For more than a week, the sun refused to shine. The sky was
as dreary, and the air as cold, as rough November. Minnie often looked
out of the window at the little tree in the storm; and when it swayed
to and fro, she said to her mother,--

"I hope that little tree will live, mother."

"I hope so, too, my child," replied Mrs. Brown.

But when the fine weather and sunshine returned, the tree gave signs of
drooping.

"I think it will die," said Mr. Brown, one day, after examining its
appearance.

"I hope not," said Minnie.

But the tree did die, and in a few weeks was fit for nothing but to be
cut down and burned.

"What made it die, mother?" inquired Minnie, one day, as she was
watching the men who were digging it up.

"It was not vigorous enough to endure the late storm. Your father took
it from the middle of the woods because of its beauty. It had always
been sheltered from the storm by other trees; and so it died when it
was exposed without shelter."

"Would it have lived, if it had been grown on the _edge_ of the woods,
mother?"

"Probably it would. Had it always stood in the face of storms, it would
have grown up hardier."

"Well, that's funny. I should never have thought of such a thing."

"Perhaps not," replied Mrs. Brown. "There are a vast many things you
have yet to learn. In one respect you are like a young tree."

"Why, mother! How can I be like a young tree?" asked Minnie, with an
air of surprise.

"Well, you need storms to blow on you while you are young, that you may
be able to endure trouble when you are older."

"Storms, mother! What storms?"

"I mean _trials_, Minnie. When you are ill used by a schoolmate, and
are tempted to be revengeful, you are tried as the tree is tried by
a storm. If you remain patient and loving under the trial, you are
benefited by it, and will be more likely to endure the next trial you
meet. Thus all your little storms, or trials, will be for your good."

"What, always?"

"Yes, Minnie, always, if you act right under them."

"Was it for my good to be pushed into the pond by Ralph Rattler,
mother?"

"If it has led you to exercise a spirit of forgiveness towards Ralph,
it has done you good."

Minnie paused a moment, as if in deep thought. She was asking herself
if she had really forgiven Ralph for pushing her into the pond at the
risk of her life. She thought she had. A gush of feeling poured up from
her heart. Her eyes filled with tears, and, looking lovingly into her
mother's face, she said,--

"I do think, mother, that I have forgiven Ralph."

"That is right, my dear Minnie. And having done so, you are better
prepared to suffer wrong patiently than you were before."

"But, mother," added Minnie, "I don't think I love Ralph quite so well
as I do Arthur, who saved my life. Is that right?"

"I suppose you cannot help the preference you feel for Arthur, my
child. He is a good boy. Ralph is not. Arthur loves his mother, and is
the best boy in the village. Ralph is disobedient, proud, and unlovely.
But while you thus prefer Arthur because of his better qualities, you
must feel nothing but kindness and pity for wicked Ralph, and a desire
to benefit him."

"That is just as I do feel, mother. But what's that?"

"I think I heard the door bell ring. Run and see, Minnie."

Minnie stepped quickly to the door. A little girl, named Lillia, stood
on the threshold.

"How do you do, Lillia!" said Minnie.

"I am very well, Minnie. I want you to come down to my house and play a
while. Mother's gone out, and I am all alone."

"I'll ask my mother," replied Minnie. "Wait a moment."

Minnie returned to the parlor, and said to her mother, "Lillia Leet is
at the door. She wants me to play with her at her house a little while,
because her mother is out. May I go, mother?"

"Do you wish to go, Minnie?"

"I am not very particular, mother. Only Lillia is alone, and perhaps
she will feel bad if I refuse."

"You may go, then. Only be sure and return to tea."

"Yes, mother, I'll be at home by tea time."

Now, Minnie had been taught to be neat and careful. So she did not
leave her things in disorder because she was going out, or because
Lillia was waiting for her. But she took the book she had been reading,
and placed it carefully away in the bookcase. Then she put her
needlework into the work basket, and carried it into the closet. After
which, she took down her bonnet and shawl, and joined her playmate at
the door.

Lillia had grown impatient at this little delay. She was not a very
amiable girl, and did not try to control herself.

"Come, Minnie," said she, a little pettishly; "I thought you would be
all day getting ready."

"O," replied Minnie, gently, "I had to put my book and work away."

"Well, come, let us make haste, now. I've got a new swing at my house."

"A new swing! Where is it fixed, Lillia?" said Minnie.

"Out in the garden, under the arbor."

"O, that is a beautiful place, it will be so nicely shaded by the grape
vine."

The two girls soon arrived at the summer house. Lillia took hold of the
swing, and showing the large new rope to Minnie, said,--

"Don't you think this is nice, Minnie? See how strong it is. There is
no fear of its breaking down, as your old thing did last summer."

"Yes, it is a beautiful swing, indeed, Lillia. You will have a nice
time with it; and--"

"Swing me," said Lillia, interrupting Minnie. She had placed herself in
the seat of the swing, and was pushing herself to and fro.

Minnie obeyed her wish, and pushed the swing with right good will,
until Lillia was able to touch the top of the arbor with the tips of
her toes. Then she cried out,--

"Push away, Minnie! It swings nicely, don't it?"

"Yes, it's a capital swing," replied Minnie, who was almost out of
breath through her labor in swinging her companion.

But Lillia kept swinging on, laughing and chatting in great glee,
without once offering to give Minnie a chance to enjoy it; but whenever
she failed to swing her briskly, cried out,--

"Push away, Minnie! It is capital fun!"

Minnie bore this selfish treatment a long time. But finding herself
very tired, and seeing that Lillia showed no disposition to relieve
her, she stopped, and began to tie on her bonnet, and to place her
shawl on her shoulders.

"Where are you going, Minnie?" asked Lillia.

"I am going home," replied Minnie.

"Well, that's real hateful in you," answered the selfish Lillia. She
did not seem to see that the ugliness was in her own conduct, and not
in Minnie's. She had really abused her gentle companion, who had borne
her selfish conduct without a word of complaint. But Minnie now thought
it was time to bear this treatment no longer. So the only reply she
made to Lillia's reproachful speech was to say,--

"Good by, Lillia."

And she tripped along the garden, out at the gate, and up the street,
saying to herself, "I must love Lillia, if she is selfish. I hope I
shall never treat others as she has treated me."

Not long after this little incident, Minnie's father was seen with a
ladder, busily employed among the branches of a grand old oak tree,
which stood on the greensward in the rear of his house. While thus
employed, Minnie came home from school. Seeing her father in the tree,
she ran into the yard, and asked,--

"Pa, please tell me what you are doing."

"What do you think I am doing, Minnie?"

"I don't know, pa; but this coil of rope makes me think you are fixing
me a swing."

"Well, suppose I am; what then?"

"O, then I shall be very happy, for I want a swing very much."

"Well, that is what I am doing, Minnie. In half an hour you will have
as good a swing as you can desire."

"Thank you, dear pa. I shall love you better than ever, and I shall be
so happy to have a swing."

And then Minnie jumped round upon the grass, and hummed a pretty little
song. She was so pleased she hardly knew how to express her joy. So
she carolled it forth like the birds, in a sweet and simple song. After
some minutes spent in singing and watching her father, she said,--

"Pa!"

"What do you want, Minnie?"

"May I go and invite Fanny, and Rhoda, and Jeannie to try my new swing
when it is done?"

"Certainly, my child. Run and get them. The swing will soon be ready."

Minnie ran off in search of her playmates. She did not invite Lillia.
Not because she bore any ill will towards her, but because she knew
her presence would only prevent the other girls from being happy.
Selfish Lillia would want to swing all the time. In a short time she
returned with her three friends. The swing was ready; and Minnie said,--

"Fanny shall swing first, because she is the youngest. Then Jeannie
shall have a turn, and then Rhoda."

"But when will you swing yourself, Minnie?" inquired one of the girls.

"O, never, mind me; I can swing any time, you know."

Then the girls began to swing, and Minnie was never happier than while
she was thus busied in affording her schoolmates pleasure.

[Illustration]

This was a secret she had learned from her mother. And it is a very
precious secret, which very few persons understand. Lillia did not
understand it; for she always looked after her own pleasure alone. Yet
there was not a more unhappy child in that village than Lillia. But
Minnie had found out that to make others happy was to be happy herself.
You may feel sure, therefore, that this first trial of her swing was
much more delightful to her than Lillia's was to her. Her three friends
were highly gratified, and when they had all had a good swing, they
exclaimed,--

"Now, Minnie, you must get in, and we will swing you."

Then Minnie jumped into the seat of the swing. Fanny and Jeannie stood
in front of her, to push the swing back-wards, and Rhoda stood behind
on the opposite side, to push her forwards. A right merry time she
had, until it was necessary for them to part.

"You will come again soon, girls, won't you?" said she to her happy
little friends.

"Yes, good Minnie, we will. You are so kind, you may be sure we will
come again."

Then they all kissed her, and wished her good evening.

"Good evening, girls," she replied; and then she sprang, agile as a
fawn and fresh as a fairy, into the house.

Minnie was not one of those children who have two sides to their
character. Some boys and girls are like the statue of a noble
personage, which was brass on one side and iron on the other. When from
home, they appear mild, gentle, obliging; but when with their parents,
they are fretful, peevish, and disobedient. Minnie was the same gentle,
obedient little being at home as she was abroad. But even there she had
her little trials.

She was very fond of reading. No little girl read a good story with a
greater relish than Minnie. And, like all other children, she did not
love to be disturbed in the midst of an interesting book. But she had
found that this disposition needed to be brought under control, or it
would lead her astray.

A pretty story is easier to read than a dry lesson. Many little girls
neglect the lesson for the story, because the latter is the easiest.
Minnie often felt tempted to do this. One evening, just as she sat down
to get her lessons for the next day, her father brought in her favorite
magazine. She was greatly interested in certain parts of it, and had
been looking for it anxiously several days. When her father laid it on
the table, he said,--

"Here is a new number of your magazine, Minnie."

"O, I am so glad, pa! Do let me see it!"

Mr. Brown gave it to her. She carefully cut its leaves, and was soon
busy in looking at its pictures, stories, and puzzles. Her lessons were
entirely put out of mind, and the poor spelling book and geography
looked quite forsaken, as they lay pushed aside on the table.

Her good mother silently watched Minnie. She knew it was too late for
her to read the magazine, and to get her lessons besides. She also knew
that Minnie _ought_ to get the lessons. Yet she felt loath to try her,
by bidding her lay the magazine aside. Hence she waited to see what
Minnie would do.

Minnie had got fairly and fully interested in the charming little
magazine. A half hour had passed since her father gave it to her,
and still she was poring over its pages. It was plain that she had
forgotten the lessons entirely.

"Minnie!" said her mother.

"Yes, ma!" replied the little girl, without taking her eyes from the
book.

"Minnie, my child! Are your lessons learned?"

"No, mamma!"

"Had you not better study them, Minnie, and leave the magazine until
to-morrow?"

"Can't I finish this story first, mother?" asked she, while a slight
cloud of impatience gathered on her brow.

"Does my Minnie think it _right_ to neglect her lesson for the
magazine?" asked her mother, gravely.

"No, mother, it is not," replied the child, roused by this appeal to
her sense of right.

"Then what will you do, Minnie?"

"Study my lesson, mother," said she, firmly, as she resolutely closed
the magazine, and handed it to her mother, adding, "Please, mother,
keep it until to-morrow. It is so interesting, I am afraid I shall read
it if I keep it myself."

This was a noble act in a little girl. It was an act of self-conquest
which very few children would have done so readily. I like her plan of
giving the magazine to her mother. It was putting a means of temptation
out of the way. It was easier for her to study the lessons with the
magazine out of sight, than it would have been to keep it lying on the
table. Thus did Minnie triumph over an indoor trial.

On another occasion, Minnie was very busy over her lessons, and she
was very anxious to get them well. She had just begun a new study. It
was difficult at first, and required all the attention she could give
to it. But Minnie was not one of those children who say, "I can't,"
to every hard lesson. She always said to every duty, "I'll try;" and
she was trying with all her might, when her mother called to her, and
said,--

"Minnie!"

"Yes, mother!"

"I want you, my child."

Now, some children whom I have seen, when thus disturbed, have looked
very cross. Their eyes have flashed with angry fires, and they have
been wont to use pert words, such as, "Can't you let me get my lesson?"
"What do you want?" "I should think you would like to have me study;"
and similar wicked phrases.

But Minnie did not belong to this class of girls. It was not often her
mother called her off from her studies. She was a sensible woman; she
knew that a parent should not make needless trials for a child. But at
this time she was doing something she could not very well leave. Hence
she had called Minnie.

Minnie did not like to be called away from her lessons, and was for a
moment inclined to feel angry. But a glance at her mother checked the
wrong feeling, and she stepped up to her mother's side, who said to
her,--

"Minnie, go into the bed room and see if baby is asleep. Take your
cousin with you. He wants to look at the baby."

Minnie felt a little pang at her heart for the angry feeling which had
tried to rise up against her mother. So she kissed her, and without
saying a word took her cousin by the hand, and went into the bed room
to look at her baby brother. Carefully stepping up to his little cot,
she gazed upon his plump, happy face. His eyes were closed, and his
lips moved, as if in his dreams he was talking with the angel watchers
who guard an infant's bed. So Minnie knew he was asleep, and returned
with her report to her mother; after which she resumed her studies,
feeling very glad because she had gained another victory over a little
trial of patience and temper.

[Illustration]

But Minnie's trials were not all over. Children have their troubles all
through childhood. Indeed, trouble is like an evil genius, who visits
all parts of the world, peeps in at every house, sits at every table,
and meddles with every body. You need not wonder, therefore, that
Minnie, good and gentle though she was, had frequent trials.

This new trial was caused by Lillia. Fanny, Rhoda, and Jeannie had told
that selfish girl about Minnie's swing, and the fine time they had
enjoyed with her. Lillia was vexed because she was not invited too. She
could not bear a slight. Her selfish heart always felt galled at the
least neglect from others. So, when Fanny and the other girls told her
of Minnie's swing, she said,--

"How did you know that Minnie had a new swing?"

"Why, Minnie told us, to be sure, and invited us to a kind of swing
party."

"Invited you, did she?"

"Yes, she came to our house, and asked us to go with her."

"The hateful creature! Why didn't she invite me? It was only the other
day I took her into my father's arbor, and let her swing all the
afternoon."

This was a wicked lie. A selfish child, like Lillia, never regards the
truth. She seeks only to gratify her evil passions, as Lillia did by
this falsehood.

But the girls looked at her as if they doubted her word. It seemed so
unlike Minnie to be ungrateful or neglectful of any one, they hardly
knew what to make of it. At length Fanny remarked,--

"I never saw any thing hateful in Minnie."

"And I think Minnie is a very lovely girl," added Rhoda.

"So do I," exclaimed Jeannie. "And if she didn't ask you to her house
after swinging in your arbor, it was for some good reason, I know,
Miss Lillia."

These words were, like coals of fire in Lillia's heart. They really
gave her great pain, and she looked fierce with anger; but keeping down
some of her passion, she said, as calmly as she could speak,--

"You don't know Minnie as well as I do. She is deceitful."

"Minnie Brown deceitful! It can't be!" exclaimed Rhoda.

"Yes, she is one of those smooth sort of folks, who say one thing to
your face and another behind your back," replied Lillia.

"I don't believe that," said Fanny.

"Nor I either," added Jeannie.

"No: I suppose not. You all think Minnie is a little saint, I dare say.
But I could tell you something that would change your minds; only I
won't do it," said Lillia.

"What is it?" asked all the girls, in a breath, their curiosity being
fairly aroused.

"I shan't tell you. If I should, you wouldn't believe it."

"Yes we would. Come, Lillia, do tell us," said Fanny, in a coaxing
voice.

"No I won't."

"She hasn't any thing to tell," observed Rhoda, tauntingly.

"Yes, I have something to tell, too, Miss Rhoda, and it's something
about you."

"About me?"

"Yes, about you!"

"And is it about me, also?" asked Fanny.

"Yes."

"And me, too?" asked Jeannie.

"Yes, it's about you all."

"What can it be?" asked they again. Then, drawing closer to Lillia,
they said, "Come, dear Lillia, do tell us."

"Well, since you are so anxious, I will tell you. Minnie said to me the
other day, that she thought you, Miss Fanny, was a very hateful thing;
that Rhoda was a proud thing; and that Jeannie told lies."

The girls now looked at each other with blank surprise; and Fanny
asked,--

"Did she say so, truly, Lillia?"

"She did, truly. She told me so down in the garden, the day that she
was with me to try my new swing."

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Fanny. "I should have never thought such a
thing of Minnie!"

"Nor I," observed Rhoda.

"Nor I," added Jeannie; "and I won't speak to Minnie again."

Upon this, the girls all agreed to treat Minnie with neglect; and
having spent some time longer with Lillia, they parted, and returned to
their several homes.

The purpose they had formed was a wrong one. They ought not to have
believed so unlikely a story about Minnie. And if it was clear that
Minnie had said what Lillia charged against her, they ought to have
gone to her, and asked her to explain herself. Certainly it was wrong
to treat her with contempt, without giving a reason.

It was not long before the innocent Minnie, tripping lightly along the
street, met Fanny and Rhoda. As usual, she ran towards them with a
smile upon her pleasant face, and said,--

"How are you, girls? I am _so_ glad to meet you!"

But the girls turned their faces the other way, and passed on without
saying a single word in reply.

Poor Minnie! She was cut to the heart. What her two friends meant by
such conduct, she could not imagine. So she burst into tears, and
walked back to her home weeping.

On the way, she met Jeannie, who, seeing her in tears, did not pass her
in silence, but stepping up to her, said,--

"What is the matter, Minnie?"

It was some time before Minnie could find voice enough to explain the
cause of her tears. When she had done so, Jeannie told her all that
Lillia had said.

"O," said Minnie, "it was cruel of Lillia to say so."

She then related all that had taken place at Lillia's on the afternoon
of her visit to the swing in the arbor, and denied having ever said
a word against either Lillia or any of the other girls. Jeannie, who
was quick to perceive the state of things, was satisfied, and tenderly
kissing Minnie, said,--

"Never mind, Minnie, I will go and find the girls, and tell them. I
know they will believe you. Don't cry, dear Minnie; I'll make it all
right."

And then she ran off in search of the other girls. But Minnie hurried
home to tell her sorrow to her mother. Mrs. Brown was out. Looking out
at the window, Minnie saw her father seated under the old tree in the
yard. She instantly ran out, and leaning her head on his shoulder,
sobbed and wept violently.

"What is the matter, my child?" inquired Mr. Brown, in a voice soft
with sympathy. Mr. Brown was very fond of his daughter, and was greatly
moved to see her so deeply grieved.

[Illustration]

But Minnie only sobbed the louder for some time. At last, she was able
to restrain her tears enough to tell him her troubles. He then soothed
her young heart, and told her to remember the little tree and the
storms; and that this was one of the trials which were to fit her to
endure the storms of her future life; and he told her she must bear it
bravely.

Minnie smiled through her tears. Her heart grew strong again as she
thought of that little tree, and she said,--

"I will try, dear pa; but, O, it is hard to have such stories told
about me, and to have the girls treat me so."

"Yes, Minnie, it is a very severe trial. But, if you bear it bravely,
and ask God to make you strong to suffer, and especially if you do not
indulge any harsh feeling against Lillia, it will do you good in the
end."

Just then some bright eyes were seen peeping through the railing of the
yard. Jeannie had found the other girls, and all three of them had come
to tell Minnie they did not believe Lillia. Fanny and Rhoda asked her
to forgive them for not speaking to her, and promised not to believe
ill of her any more.

Minnie's eyes grew bright now. The storm was over, and the sun shone in
her heart as brightly as ever. Good, kind, gentle Minnie!

The summer, with its bright suns, birds, flowers, fruits, and
pleasures, had passed swiftly away. Winter, with its snows, storms,
and long evenings, had arrived, and Christmas, merry Christmas, was at
hand. Minnie, her father and her mother, were seated in the parlor,
around a bright wood fire, which blazed and crackled away in good
old-fashioned style. Minnie was busied with a puzzling sum, knitting
her little white brow, and pursing her pretty red lips, as she vainly
tried to solve it. Her father, after watching her for some time, said
to her,--

"Minnie!"

"Yes, pa!"

"I intend to let you have a Christmas tree this year."

"O, a Christmas tree! Dear, good pa, how I do love you!" said Minnie,
as she threw down her pencil upon the slate; and, clapping her hands,
she danced round the room for joy.

As Christmas was nigh, it was proper to talk over the proposed tree
and the party who should be invited. "You may select as many of your
schoolmates as you may choose," said her father, in reply to her
question about the number of the party.

"O, thank you, pa. I will ask Fanny, and Rhoda, and Jeannie, and
Lillia, and Ettie, and----"

Here her father interrupted her, by asking,--

"Why do you think of asking Lillia, my child?"

"Because she has been my enemy, pa, and I want to make her love me, if
I can."

"That's right, Minnie. Christ will love and bless you, if you always
try to return enmity with kindness."

The list was now completed by the addition of several other names.
Arthur Ellerslie was among the boys to be invited. And that night, I
think, Minnie had a dream. And the principal object in that dream was
a Christmas tree, sparkling with lighted wax tapers, and loaded with
choice presents for boys and girls.

The days were short and few between that evening and Christmas. But to
Minnie old Time seemed to walk with leaden feet and slow steps. Yet
they passed away as days always will, and Christmas night arrived at
last.

There were great doings at Minnie Brown's that night. The sun had
hardly set, before a bevy of boys and girls, Minnie's invited guests,
began to arrive. Uncles and aunts, and bright-eyed cousins, from the
neighboring town, had arrived in the afternoon. And now the back parlor
was pretty well filled; and such a good-natured buzzing, laughing,
and chatting as were heard there, it would do your heart good to hear
again; for the voices sounded like music--the music of happy hearts.

Mr. Brown was something of a wag, in his way. He was, withal, a man
who did not think it beneath him to mingle with children on proper
occasions, and to minister to their joy. So it pleased him, on this
pleasant evening, to play the part of "Old Father Christmas."

[Illustration]

Dressed in old-fashioned costume, with a yule log on his shoulders, a
wreath about his head, and a right jovial twinkling in his eyes, he
introduced himself to the company with many smart sayings, which added
not a little to their amusement.

After a time, the folding doors were thrown open, revealing a splendid
Christmas tree in the front parlor. It reached to the ceiling. Lighted
wax tapers burned on almost every branch. Between these tapers hung a
large number of gifts for the various members of the happy company.

This display called forth fresh bursts of pleasure from the young
people. When their cries of "O, dear!" "How beautiful!" "Splendid!"
"What a magnificent tree!" "How grand!" &c., had ceased, "Old Father
Christmas" invited them to step forward and receive the various gifts
of love and friendship the tree contained.

Among all the gifts on that tree, there was none so beautiful as
that which fell to the share of Minnie. It was a rich rosewood box,
containing various articles, such as delicate little scent and cologne
bottles, scissors, &c. Inside of the lid there was a looking-glass; and
on the top of the lid, outside, a pretty little silver plate, on which
was very neatly engraved the name of MINNIE BROWN.

This choice box was handed round among the company with great care. But
it happened that it was a long time getting to that part of the room
where Lillia stood. She was very impatient to look at it. When it came
near to her, she tried to snatch it out of the hand of a little girl,
who was passing it to Fanny. Her effort was a rough one. She struck
the box with her hand, and down it went upon the floor, smashing the
bottles and breaking the looking glass in its fall.

"O Lillia, see what you've done!" exclaimed Fanny.

"How could you do so, Lillia?" said several voices at once.

"Poor Minnie! I'm sorry her box is broken," observed a good-natured
aunt.

These and similar remarks passed from lip to lip after this accident.
As for Lillia, she was ashamed and frightened at what she had done; and
she stood gazing on the wreck of Minnie's box, pale and tearful.

Minnie was grieved. A tear swam in her eye at first; but she remembered
the little tree, and restrained herself. She saw how bad Lillia felt,
and thought she would not add to her grief by seeming to feel too much
herself. So, taking the box, she said, in a cheerful voice,--

"Never mind! The box is not broken; only the bottles and the glass. Pa
will get some new ones to fit it, and it will be as good as before.
Never mind! Lillia did not mean to do it."

That night, when the party broke up, Minnie kissed Lillia, and
whispered in her ear,--

"Don't feel bad, Lillia! You didn't mean to break my bottles, and I
shall love you just the same as ever."

It was by such acts as these that Minnie made herself beloved. Her
character grew more and more beautiful, and she was known, all over the
village, as MINNIE, THE GENTLE GIRL.





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