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Title: Bessie in the City
Author: Mathews, Joanna H. (Joanna Hooe), 1849-1901
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 "Bessie in the City" ***

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BESSIE IN THE CITY.



_BOOKS BY JOANNA H. MATHEWS._


I. THE BESSIE BOOKS.
6 vols. In a box. $7.50.

II. THE FLOWERETS.
A SERIES OF STORIES ON THE COMMANDMENTS.
6 vols. In a box. $3.60.

III. LITTLE SUNBEAMS.
6 vols. In a box. $6.00.

IV. KITTY AND LULU BOOKS.
6 vols. In a box. $6.00.

V. MISS ASHTON'S GIRLS.
6 vols. In a neat box. $7.50.

VI. HAPS AND MISHAPS.
6 vols. $7.50.


_BY JULIA A. MATHEWS._

I. DARE TO DO RIGHT SERIES.
5 vols. In a box. $5.50.

II. DRAYTON HALL STORIES.
Illustrative of the Beatitudes. 6 vols. In a box. $4.50.

III. THE GOLDEN LADDER SERIES.
Stories illustrative of the Lord's Prayer. 6 vols. $3.00.


ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,
_New York._


[Illustration: FRONTISPIECE. Bessie in City.]



Bessie in the City.

BY
_JOANNA H. MATHEWS_,

AUTHOR OF "BESSIE AT THE SEA-SIDE."


"_Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land._"


New York:
ROBERT CARTER & BROTHERS,
530 Broadway.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York.



To the Children of
_DR. JOHN MURRAY CARNOCHAN_,
THE KIND FRIEND AND PHYSICIAN

_To whose skill and patience I owe a life-long
debt of gratitude_,

IS THIS LITTLE BOOK
_Most Affectionately Dedicated_.



CONTENTS.


                                           PAGE

    _I. Little Friends at Home_,             9

   _II. Maggie's Plan_,                     30

  _III. The Miser_,                         52

   _IV. Flossy_,                            73

    _V. The Colonel's Story_,              104

   _VI. The Story Continued_,              127

  _VII. The Peach-Stones_,                 147

 _VIII. The New Gloves_,                   167

   _IX. Two Lost Pets_,                    187

    _X. Home Again_,                       212

   _XI. New Plans_,                        236

  _XII. A Visitor_,                        255

 _XIII. The Bank-Notes_,                   281

  _XIV. Discovery_,                        297

   _XV. The Snow_,                         309

  _XVI. Shopping for Christmas_,           330

 _XVII. Christmas_,                        352

_XVIII. The Purchase of the Library_,      378



[Illustration: decorative]

BESSIE IN THE CITY.

[Illustration: decorative]

I.

_LITTLE FRIENDS AT HOME._


"MAMMA," said Maggie Bradford, as she sat upon the floor in her
mother's room, lacing her walking boots,--"mamma, I wish I had another
terrible fault."

"Why, Maggie!" said Mrs. Bradford.

"I do, indeed, mamma,--a dreadful fault, something a great deal worse
than carelessness."

Mrs. Bradford was busy unpacking trunks and arranging drawers and
closets; for the family had just come home from the sea-shore, where
they had been spending the summer; but she was so surprised to hear
Maggie say this that she turned around with her hands full, to look at
her little daughter. She saw that Maggie was very much in earnest, and
had some reason for this strange wish.

"And why do you wish that, daughter?" she asked.

"Because, mamma, if I had such a fault, people would be so very anxious
I should cure it. Oh, dear! there's another knot in my shoe-string!"
and Maggie gave a jerk and a hard pull at her boot-lace. "I do not at
all wish to keep it, only to break myself of it."

"But why should you wish for a fault which would grieve your friends
and trouble yourself only that you may be at the pains of curing it,
Maggie? You have faults enough, dear; and if they are not what may be
called very terrible, they are quite serious enough to need all your
attention, and you should be thankful that it does not require a harder
struggle to overcome them."

"I know that, mamma," answered Maggie, with a very grave face; "but
then you see if my friends wished me very much to cure my fault,
perhaps they would offer me money to do it. You know when I used to
be so very, very careless, Grandpapa Duncan paid me for trying to do
better, so that I might help earn the easy-chair for lame Jemmy Bent.
And I want money very much,--a great deal of it, mamma."

"But that would be a very poor reason for wishing to rid yourself of a
bad fault, my child. And why do you want so much money? It seems to me
that you have everything given to you which a reasonable little girl
can want; and besides you have your weekly allowance of six cents."

"Yes, ma'am," said Maggie, with another jerk at her boot-lace; "but
Bessie and I want to save all our allowance for Christmas. We want to
have two whole dollars, so that we can give presents to every one of
the family and all the servants and Colonel and Mrs. Rush. And we have
told every one that we are going to do it, so it would not be quite
fair to take the money for anything else; would it, mamma?"

"Not if you have promised to spend it in that way," said Mrs. Bradford,
with a smile at the thought of how much the two dollars were expected
to furnish; "but it is wiser not to make such large promises. You
should have been very sure that you wished to spend your money for
presents before you said you would do so."

"But I do wish to use it for that, Mamma, and so does Bessie, but we
have another plan in our minds. Bessie and I like to have plans,
and this is a charity plan, mamma, and will take a great deal of
money. There, now, there's that boot-lace broken! I just believe that
shoemaker sells bad laces on purpose to provoke little girls. Something
ought to be done to him. It's such a bother to lace my boots, and 'most
always just when I have one done, the lace breaks. It's too bad!"

"Yes, it is too bad, Maggie, quite too bad that you should destroy
so many laces; but I scarcely think Mr. White does his work poorly
on purpose to vex his little customers. It is your own impatience
and heedlessness, my daughter, which are to blame. You pull and drag
at your shoe-strings, not taking time to fasten them properly, and
of course they knot and break. That is the second one this week, and
last week, also, you destroyed two. You say you wish to learn to dress
yourself, that you may be a useful and helpful little girl; but you
make more trouble than you save when you tear the buttons and strings
from your clothes, or knot and fray your shoe-laces. It would have been
much more convenient for me to put on your boots for you than it is to
leave what I am doing to find a lace among all these trunks and boxes.
Do you see, Maggie?"

"Yes, mamma," said Maggie, looking very much mortified, "but do you not
think my carelessness is any better?"

"Indeed, I do, pussy. I do not wish to take from my little girl any of
the credit she deserves, and you need not look so distressed. You are
much more careful than you were six months ago; you have tried hard,
and improved very much; but you have still something to do in that way,
dear. I think you will find the old faults quite troublesome enough
without wishing for new ones to cure."

"Yes, ma'am," said Maggie, "but then--"

"Well, dear, but then--what?"

"Why, mamma, I wouldn't feel as if it was quite right to wish to be
paid twice over for curing myself of the same fault, and Grandpapa
Duncan might think it was not fair."

"You are right, Maggie," said Mrs. Bradford, "and I am glad to hear you
say that; but I should like to understand why you and Bessie wish for a
great deal of money. If it is for a good purpose, I think I can put you
in the way of earning some."

"Oh, would you, mamma? That would be so nice! Bessie,"--as her little
sister came into the room, dressed for her walk, and followed by Jane
with Maggie's hat and sack in her hand,--"Bessie, mamma thinks she can
let us earn some money."

"Thank you, mamma," said Bessie; "that is _delighterful_. I am so
glad."

"I will tell you what it is for, mamma," said Maggie.

"Not now, dear," said Mrs. Bradford; "it is time for your walk, and you
must let Jane put on your things. When you come home, you shall tell
me, and meanwhile, I will be thinking in what way I can help you. But
remember, I only promise to do so if I think well of your plan. You may
think it a very wise one, while I may think it very foolish."

"Oh, mamma," said Maggie, "I am quite sure you will think this is wise.
Mrs. Rush made it, and she is so very good that it must be quite right."

"Yes, I think any plan Mrs. Rush proposes for you will be a safe one,"
said Mrs. Bradford, with a smile.

"You mean you have trust in her, mamma?" said Bessie.

"Yes, dear. I can trust her. She is a true and faithful friend to me
and to my little ones," answered Mrs. Bradford, as she stooped and
kissed first one and then the other of her little girls. "And now
good-by, my darlings. I will hear all when you come back. I hope you
will have a pleasant walk."

"I shall not, mamma," said Maggie, with a solemn shake of her curly
head. "I am so very anxious to tell you, and to hear what we can do,
that I shall not enjoy my walk at all. I wish I could stay at home."

But Maggie found herself mistaken; for the day was so bright and
pleasant, the park so cool, green, and shady, and so full, of other
little children, that she not only enjoyed her walk very much, but for
the time quite forgot her plan and her wish to earn money. And in the
park, our little girls met a friend whom they were very glad to see.
They were running down one of the broad paths, when Bessie saw an old
gentleman coming towards them with a pleasant smile on his face. She
stood still to take a second look, and then called to her sister.

"Oh, Maggie, here's our dear friend, Mr. Hall!"

"Why, so it is!" said Maggie, in glad surprise, for this was a very
unexpected pleasure.

Mr. Hall lived but two or three doors from Mr. Bradford, and as he
generally came for a walk in the park after his breakfast, Maggie and
Bessie were almost sure to meet him when they were out in the morning.
But he was not apt to be there in the afternoon, and so they had not
looked for him at this time.

It so happened that Mr. Hall had stepped out upon his front stoop just
as Mrs. Bradford's little flock started for their walk; and there
he saw them all going down the street. He put on his hat, took his
gold-headed cane, and walked out after them.

"Mr. Hall, I am very pleased to see you," said Bessie.

"And so am I, Mr. Hall," said Maggie.

"And I am very much pleased to see you," said Mr. Hall; "but I should
like to know what has become of two little granddaughters of mine, who
went away to the sea-shore two months since. I thought I should find
them in the park; but in their place I find two little strangers, who
have no name for me but Mr. Hall."

"Oh, I forgot,--Grandpapa Hall," said Maggie.

"Dear Grandpapa Hall," said Bessie, "please don't let your feelings be
hurt, 'cause we only forgot for one moment. You know it's so long since
we saw you."

"And did you forget me while you were away?" asked Mr. Hall.

"Oh, no," said Bessie, "we thinked about you very often, and talked
about you too."

"Well, let us sit down and talk a little," said Mr. Hall, as he seated
himself on a bench, and made Maggie and Bessie take their places, one
on each side of him. "And so you came back from Quam Beach yesterday?"
he said.

"Yes, sir," said Bessie,--"yesterday, in the afternoon. How did you
know it?"

"Oh, I saw the carriages drive up, and papa and mamma and a whole
regiment of little folks pouring out of them. I came out this morning,
expecting to find you in the park, but you were nowhere to be seen."

"No," said Bessie, "mamma was so busy nurse and Jane had to help her,
so we could not take our walk."

"Ah, to be sure, I might have thought of that, and called for you
myself."

"But we helped mamma too, and she said we were of great use to her, so
we could not have gone out," said Maggie.

"That was right," said Mr. Hall. "Always be of use to dear mamma when
you can."

"We can't do much," said Bessie; "we are too little."

"I do not know about that," answered Mr. Hall. "These little hands and
feet can help mamma a good deal, if they are only willing. If you can
do nothing else, you can be quiet and patient when she is busy. If you
do not make trouble, you save trouble."

"And we can 'muse baby," said Bessie.

"So you can. Halloa, little man! How do you do?" This was said to
Franky, who had just come up with Jane.

Franky remembered Mr. Hall quite well, and he also remembered how the
old gentleman used to give him sugar-plums out of his pocket.

"Welly well," he answered. "Me want sudar-plum."

"Oh, you naughty boy!" said Maggie.

"Dear, dear," said Mr. Hall. "I quite forgot the sugar-plums this
afternoon. When I saw my little friends going up the street, I thought
of nothing but the pleasure of joining them, and hurried out as quickly
as I could."

"Dive Franky sudar-plums," said the child again.

"Oh, Franky!" said Bessie, "don't be so yude. You make us very
mortified. Please to 'scuse him, Mr. Hall; he don't know any better,
'cause he's only three years old."

Mr. Hall laughed and offered Franky his stick to ride on, but the
little boy would not take it; and when he found he could not have the
sugar-plums, walked away with an offended air, which amused the old
gentleman very much, though it distressed his sisters, who thought him
very impolite.

"And now tell me about Quam Beach," said Mr. Hall. "You liked it very
much, did you?"

"Yes, sir," said Bessie, "the sea is there."

"And you were fond of the sea?"

"Oh, yes, sir! it is beautiful, and it has waves, and they come up on
the beach and bring the sea-weed and shells, and make such a pleasant
sound. And we could see so far, far away out over the water, and we
saw the ships and steamers too. And there are yocks that we could sit
on and play on, and we liked it so much. I wish there was a sea here,
Grandpapa Hall. Did you ever go to the sea-shore?"

"Yes, often, and I have been to Quam Beach, and thought it quite as
pleasant as you seem to have found it."

"We used to have clam-bakes," said Maggie.

"And go out in the boat," said Bessie.

"And in the wagon for straw rides, and to swing in the barn," said
Maggie.

"And over to the hotel to see grandmamma, and Colonel and Mrs. Yush,"
said Bessie.

"Who are Colonel and Mrs. Rush?" asked Mr. Hall.

"Old friends of papa and mamma, and new friends of me and Maggie,"
answered Bessie; "and we love them--oh, so much!"

"Colonel Rush is an English soldier," said Maggie, "and he was shot in
a battle, so his foot had to be cut off, and he has been very sick,
but he's better now."

"And they came to the city with us yesterday," said Bessie, "and went
to the hotel; and Mrs. Yush is going to have a class on Sunday, and we
are to go to it."

"Are you going to leave your Sunday-school?" asked Mr. Hall.

"I never went to Sunday-school," said Bessie. "Maggie did, but mamma
thought I was too little; but she said I might go to Mrs. Yush, 'cause
it was not too far. Mrs. Yush can't go to Sunday-school, 'cause she
must yide to church with the colonel, and she cannot come back for him
in time. Maggie's teacher is going away, and she is to go to Mrs. Yush
too, and Lily Norris and Gracie Howard."

"We are all to go to her on Sunday mornings," said Maggie; "and when
she and the colonel go to church, they are to take Bessie, if it is
too cold for her to walk; so now she can go to church 'most every
Sunday. Last winter she went very seldom because mamma thought the walk
too long for her, and was afraid she would take cold. Don't you think
it is a very nice 'rangement, Grandpapa Hall?"

"Very," said Mr. Hall, smiling at Maggie's long word,--"a very nice
arrangement; and I think Mrs. Rush must be a very kind, good lady."

"She is," answered Maggie, "she's lovely."

"Grandpapa Duncan says she is as good as she is pretty, and as pretty
as she is good," said Bessie.

"And the colonel is very good too," said Maggie, "and they are both
very fond of us."

"That shows them to be sensible people," said Mr. Hall. "I think I must
make the acquaintance of this famous Colonel and Mrs. Rush. Will you
introduce me to them?"

"Oh, yes, we will," answered Bessie, "and perhaps you'll see the
colonel in the park some day. He says he shall come and walk here when
he feels well enough. He's going to live over there in the hotel;" and
Bessie pointed to the great white building that fronted the park.

"And how is Grandpapa Duncan?" asked Mr. Hall.

"Very well, and Uncle John and Aunt Helen are well too, and Nellie is
better, and has ever so many new teeth. Quam Beach did her a great deal
of good. Papa and mamma are going to Riverside the day after to-morrow,
and Maggie and I are going with them."

"I think I know some one beside Nellie to whom Quam Beach has done
good," said Mr. Hall. "There is some color in these little cheeks
which were so pale when you went away, and you are stronger and
more able to run about; while as for Maggie, she has become quite a
roly-poly."

"Mr. Hall," said Bessie, "do you know what we are going to bring from
Riverside?"

"No, how should I, when no one has told me?"

"Our little dog that Donald, the gardener, gave us," said Bessie. "His
name is Flossy, and he's old enough to leave his mother now; so we are
to have him at home."

"Oh, I remember you told me about him in the spring. So his name is
Flossy; is it?"

"Yes, sir, and he's Maggie's and mine. Do you think he will be lonely
without his puppy brothers?"

"Not with two such nice little playmates as you and Maggie," said Mr.
Hall. "You must bring him out every day and let him have a run in the
park."

"Yes, sir, and papa is going to buy him a collar with his name on it
and where he lives, so people will know he is ours if he yuns away."

"Very good," said Mr. Hall, "and now suppose we walk around a little,
or nurse will think I am keeping you quiet too long."

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

II.

_MAGGIE'S PLAN._


MAGGIE thought of her "plan" again as soon as she reached home, and
she and Bessie scampered away to their mamma's room to see if she were
ready to attend to them. She was dressing for dinner, and so they knew
they might go in and talk to her, for she said this was "Maggie's and
Bessie's hour," and as she dressed, used to tell them stories, or teach
them some pretty verses, or listen to them if they had anything to tell
her.

"Mamma," said Maggie, "have you thought of any way that I can earn
money?"

"You must tell me what it is wanted for, Maggie."

"We want to buy a library, mamma."

"What library, dear?"

"A mission library, mamma. You know my Sunday-school teacher, Miss
Winslow, is going to marry a missionary; but he is not a heathen
missionary."

"I hope not," said Mrs. Bradford, smiling. "You mean, I suppose, that
he is not going to India to teach the heathen, but is what is called a
home missionary."

"Yes, ma'am, that is it. Mrs. Rush says that he is going far out West,
where the people have very few churches or Sunday-schools and scarcely
any books, and they are very ignorant, and don't know much about God
or how Jesus came to die for them, and I am afraid Miss Winslow wont
be very comfortable out there, mamma, 'cause they don't have nice
houses like ours, but just rough ones made of logs, which they call log
cabins. You know Miss Winslow is a lady, and I am afraid she wont like
to live in a place like that."

"Miss Winslow has thought of all that, my darling; but she is willing
to put up with these hardships for the sake of carrying the glad
message of salvation to those poor people."

"Yes, mamma, and Mrs. Rush says that most of them are very glad to
hear it, and so glad to have the books the missionaries bring, and Mr.
Long, the gentleman Miss Winslow is to marry, is going to try and have
some Sunday-schools for the children who live in log cabins; and the
other day, when Mrs. Rush was talking to us about having the little
class in her room on Sunday, she asked us if we would not like to buy a
Sunday-school library to send to those poor little children, when Miss
Winslow and her missionary go out there. You can buy a nice little
library for ten dollars, mamma; just think, ten dollars!"

"Yes, I know, Maggie; but ten dollars is a great deal of money for two
such little girls as you and Bessie to raise in less than four months.
Miss Winslow is to leave soon after the first of January, and this is
now the tenth of September."

"But Bessie and I are not to do it by ourselves, mamma. Gracie Howard
and Lily Norris are to help; it is to come from the class, and Mrs.
Rush says if we cannot do it alone, she will help us; but she thinks
the little log-cabin children will like it better if they hear it was
all sent by other little children here, and we would like it better
ourselves."

"And Gracie and Lily are going to try and earn money too?" asked Mrs.
Bradford.

"They have their share, mamma. Gracie's grandmamma, who lives in
England, always sends her some money on her birthday,--a--a--I forget
what she calls it, but she says it is as much as five dollars."

"A pound?" said Mrs. Bradford.

"Yes'm, that is it. Gracie says she will give half of the money her
grandmamma sent the other day, and Lily has a hundred dollars in her
father's bank, and he pays her money 'cause she has it there."

"That is called paying interest," said Mrs. Bradford.

"And she has some of that saved up," said Maggie, "and she will have
more before Christmas; so her share will be ready too; but Bessie and
I have no money except our six cents a week, and that, you know, we
promised to spend another way. And we don't want to be helped, mamma,
but to try and earn the money by ourselves, if we only knew how. Do
you not think it is a very nice plan, and that the log-cabin children
will be very glad when they see the books?"

"I think it a very good plan, dear, and I will try to help you. You
know, Maggie, we were saying this morning that you were still not
quite as careful as you might be. Now I do not much like to _pay_ you
for trying to break yourself of a bad habit, but as this is for a
good purpose, I will tell you what I will do. Every month between now
and January, I will put by a dollar for your gloves and boot-laces.
This is much more than enough to keep you well supplied, if you take
proper care of them, but if you keep on losing your gloves, breaking
your boot-laces, and so forth, as you do now, you will have none left
for any other purpose. And remember, I cannot let you do without such
little things as you may need, for the sake of the library. I cannot
have you going without gloves, or with such as are torn or out at the
fingers, or with broken or knotted shoe-strings. I must still keep you
neat, and shall buy for you whatever I may think necessary. But if you
care enough, as I hope you do, for the little Western children to be
thoughtful and saving, you may still keep as much of this money as will
go a good way toward your share of the ten dollars."

"And am I to have money put by for me, too, mamma?" asked Bessie.

"Yes, dear, if you wish it, I will do the same for you."

Maggie did not look as pleased as her mother had thought she would.

"What is it, Maggie?" she asked. "Does not this please you? Are you not
willing to try both to help those little children, and to cure your own
fault at the same time?"

"Oh, yes'm, I am willing, and I think you are very kind. But Bessie
will keep a great deal more money than I shall. You know you said the
other day that I had three pairs of gloves where Bessie had one."

"Never mind, Maggie," said Bessie, "I think I'll lose a few gloves."

"No, no," said Mrs. Bradford, laughing and shaking her head,--"no, no,
that will not do. I cannot have one little sister trying to destroy or
lose her things in order that she may be no better off than the other.
And I am quite sure my Maggie would not be envious if Bessie saved more
than she did."

"But I may say I will not give more money than Maggie does for the
library; may I not, mamma? You know it is more hers than mine, 'cause
she was Miss Winslow's scholar."

"You may do just as you please about that, dear. Each one may give as
much or as little as she likes, if it is fairly earned or saved. And
I can put Maggie in the way of earning money by work if she wishes for
it."

"How, mamma?" asked Maggie, eagerly.

"I have several dozens of towels to be hemmed, and I intended that Jane
should do them all; but I will keep out one dozen for you, and will
pay you five cents apiece. And they must be done, not at your regular
sewing lesson, but at other times."

Now if there was one thing more than another which Maggie disliked, it
was sewing. She always called the half-hour during which her mother
taught her to sew "the worst time of the day." It was strange, too,
for she had quick and skilful fingers, and sewed remarkably well for a
little girl of seven, and people generally like to do that which they
do well. But it was not so with Maggie, and her face grew very sober
when her mother said she might hem her towels.

"But, mamma," she said.

"Well, dear?"

"Mamma, you know I cannot bear to sew. I do so _hate_ it! And a dozen
towels,--that means twelve, don't it?--why, I should never, never have
them done."

"It shall be just as you choose, dear. I do not say you _must_ do them,
only that you may. But, Maggie, we can seldom do much good to others
without taking some trouble or using some self-denial ourselves."

"I do not know what self-denial is, mamma."

"Self-denial is to give up something we would like to have, or perhaps
to do something that is disagreeable or troublesome to ourselves,
for the sake of another. This morning I gave you two plums,--one for
yourself, one for Bessie. One was much larger than the other, and I
saw that you gave it to Bessie, keeping the smaller one for yourself.
That was self-denial."

"But, mamma," said Maggie, "that was not anything much. I could not do
such a greedy thing as to give my own Bessie the little plum and eat
the big one myself. I would be too ashamed."

"I am glad to say that neither of my little girls is greedy or
selfish," said mamma. "Do you remember the day at Quam Beach when your
head was hurt, and Tom Norris came up to read a new book to you?"

"Oh, yes'm, it was so kind of him; and he read 'most all the afternoon."

"When he was on his way to our house, Mr. Howard met him and asked him
to go with him to see the wreck, but although Tom had been wishing very
much to go, he refused because he thought you would like him to come
and read to you. That was self-denial. Mr. Long and Miss Winslow do not
like to leave all their friends and their comfortable homes to go out
West, but they are willing to do it, that they may teach those poor
people who have no one to tell them of Jesus. That is self-denial. And
if my Maggie were to take her time to hem towels for the sake of the
little Western children who have no books, that would be self-denial.
And there was one great self-denial, greater than any other the world
can ever see. Do you know what that was, my darling?"

"When Abraham killed--I mean when he was going to kill Isaac," said
Maggie.

"Well, there was some self-denial in that," said Mrs. Bradford, "but
that was not what I meant. It was Abraham's great faith in God which
made him willing to obey his word and sacrifice his only son; but
there was a greater than he, Maggie, who offered a more wonderful
sacrifice."

"Mamma," said Bessie, "do you mean when Jesus left his heaven and came
to die for us?"

"Yes, dear; and when we find it hard to give up our own wishes for
the sake of others, let us remember all the dear Saviour has done for
us, and that will make the task easier and pleasanter. And the Bible
says, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye
have done it unto me.' That means that when we are working for Jesus'
people, or for his little lambs, we are working for him."

"And two little lambs can help some other little lambs," said Bessie,
as if this thought pleased her very much.

"Mamma," said Maggie, drawing a long sigh, "I think I'll have a
self-denial and hem those towels. How much money will twelve towels
make?"

"Twelve towels at five cents apiece will make sixty cents," said Mrs.
Bradford; "and perhaps by and by you will find some other way to gain
money."

"May I earn money any way I can, mamma?" asked Maggie.

"I cannot promise that," said mamma, smiling. "You might wish to earn
money in some way I might not think proper, even for a good purpose."

"And what can I do, mamma?" asked Bessie. "I want to work too, and I
don't know how to sew."

"What shall we find for those little hands to do, Maggie?" said mamma,
catching the two tiny hands Bessie held up and patting them softly
against her own cheeks.

"Work for those little hands to do?" said papa, who just then came in
and heard the last words. "I should think they were at their proper
work now,--petting mamma. Papa would not mind coming in for a share
too."

"And so he shall," said Bessie; "but petting you and mamma is nice
play, not work; and these little hands want to be useful, papa."

"I think they do pretty well for five-year-old hands," said Mr.
Bradford, as he sat down and took Bessie on his knee. "They bring
papa's slippers and rock baby's cradle, and sometimes I see them trying
to help mamma when she is busy. I think we may call them rather useful
for hands of their size."

"But they want to make money, papa."

"Ho, ho! that is it; is it? Well, I do not know that they can do much
at that business, or that they could hold any great sum if they made
it. Let us see what they can do in that way;" and putting his hand into
his pocket, Mr. Bradford pulled out a number of bright new pennies.
"Put out both hands."

Bessie put her hands together and held them out, while her father
counted the pennies into them.

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven,
twelve. There, I think that is as much as they can hold at once," said
Mr. Bradford. "Is there another pair of little hands that would like to
try if they can do as well?"

Maggie was standing at her father's knee with a very eager face, for
she knew her turn would come next.

"One, two, three," began Mr. Bradford, and counted out fifteen pennies
into Maggie's hands. "And now what is to be done with all that money?"
he asked, looking from one to another of the bright faces. "It is not
to be wasted, I suppose, since mamma seems to be in the secret."

"We want to buy a library," said Bessie.

"A library?" said Mr. Bradford. "Well, I'll promise to read every book
in any library you may buy for the next ten years."

"But it is not a big library with stupid books in, like yours, papa,"
said Maggie; "but a nice little one with pretty Sunday-school books;
and it is not for ourselves we want it."

Then papa was told about Mr. Long and Miss Winslow, all of which he
knew before, though he listened as though it was quite new to him, and
of the plan for the library, which he thought a very good one, and of
which he had as yet heard nothing.

"Mamma," said Maggie, "will you take care of our money for us? I know I
shall lose some of mine if I keep it myself."

Mrs. Bradford opened a drawer, and took from it a curious little box.
It was made of blocks of red and black wood, and had no cover; but if a
certain block were pressed, out flew a drawer which moved on a spring.
This box had been Mrs. Bradford's when she was a child, and Maggie and
Bessie thought it a great curiosity.

"There," said mamma, "put the pennies in this,--fifteen of Maggie's and
twelve of Bessie's make twenty-seven. Pretty well for a beginning. All
the money you earn may go in this."

"And the glove money too, mamma?" asked Maggie.

"No, not the glove money. I shall keep that, and at the end of each
month will give you what remains to put in the box."

"And you will keep it, mamma?"

"Yes, there it is in the corner of this drawer. You may come and take
it when you want to put anything in it."

"Papa," said Bessie at dessert that day, "will you please take the
fretful off my peach. I can't eat it so."

Bessie could never bear to eat or even touch a peach unless all the
furze or down which grew upon it had been rubbed off, and the restless,
uncomfortable feeling it gave her made her call it "the fretful."

Mr. Bradford took a peach from his little girl's plate, and as he
rubbed it smooth, said to his wife, "Margaret, my dear, peaches are
very plenty and very fine, and I, you know, am very fond of peach
preserves."

"Very well," said Mrs. Bradford, "I will put up as many as you choose
to send home."

Bessie heard, and a new thought came into her little head.

"Mamma," she said a while after, when she could speak to her mother
alone,--"mamma, you told Papa you would make a great many peach
preserves for him."

"Yes, dear."

"And, mamma, you know he likes the inside of peach-stones in the
preserves."

"The kernel, you mean."

"Yes'm, and last summer Harry kept all the peach-stones and cracked
them for you, and you paid him for them. Could you let me do it this
time?"

"My darling, you would crack those little fingers; it is too hard work
for you."

Bessie looked very much disappointed, and her mother could not bear to
see it, for she knew how anxious she was to earn money for the library.

"You may gather up the peach-stones, dear, and dry them, and Patrick
shall crack them for you, and I will pay you five cents for every
hundred."

"Oh! thank you, mamma; that is very nice, and I will put away every one
I can find."

And from this day it was quite amusing to their papa and mamma to see
how carefully Maggie and Bessie guarded every peach-stone they could
find; and to hear them constantly talking over plans to gain a few
pennies to add to their store.

"Margaret," said Mr. Bradford to his wife that evening, "would it not
be better for you to lock up that money-box of the children?"

"I think not," said Mrs. Bradford. "They will want it half a dozen
times a day. You know how such little things are, and they will always
be counting their money. I believe every one we have in the house is
quite honest, and the box cannot well be opened by one who does not
know the secret of the spring."

So the box was not locked up; but the time came when Mrs. Bradford was
very sorry she had not taken her husband's advice.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

III.

_THE MISER._


"FRED," said Harry, as the little sisters came into the breakfast-room
the next morning,--"Fred, what have you done with my new top?"

"I declare," said Fred, after thinking a moment, "I do not know."

"That's what a fellow gets for lending you his things," said Harry,
crossly; "you never give them back, and never know where you leave
them. I sha'n't let you have anything of mine again in a hurry."

"I know where it is, Harry," said Maggie. "I'll bring it to you. I saw
it last night."

And away ran Maggie, always ready and willing to oblige; but as she
reached the door, she stood still with the knob in her hand. "Harry,
if I go for it, will you give me a penny?"

"Well," said Harry, "no, I will not."

"If you don't choose to go for it, tell me where it is, and I will go
myself," said Fred.

But Maggie went without another word, and came back with the top in her
hand.

"There's your penny," said Harry, throwing one on the table.

"That's as mean a thing as ever I knew," said Fred, "to want to be paid
for going upstairs for a fellow who has a sprained leg and can't go for
himself. You know mamma said he must not go up and down much till his
ankle was well."

"I'd have thought anybody would have done such a thing sooner than you,
Maggie," said Harry, reproachfully.

Maggie stood with crimson cheeks and a shaking lip. "I sha'n't have
the penny!" she said, angrily. But just then papa and mamma came in
and the bell was rung for morning prayers, which prevented any farther
quarrelling.

But Maggie's troubles were not yet at an end for that morning.
Breakfast was over, mamma gone to the nursery, papa to his library, and
the children were alone in the breakfast-room.

"Midget," said Harry, "you know that pink fluted shell of yours?"

"Yes," answered Maggie.

"If you'll give it to me, I'll give you any two of mine you may choose."

"Oh, Harry, I can't! Aunt Annie gave me that shell, and I want to keep
it for memory of her. Besides, it's my prettiest shell."

"Aunt Annie isn't dead," said Harry. "You don't keep a thing in memory
of a person unless they're dead."

"She'll die one of these days," said Maggie; "every one has to die
sometime, and I'll keep it till then. But I meant I wanted it because
she gave it to me, Harry, and I can't let you have it." But presently,
having forgotten about the penny, and thinking of the library box,
Maggie added, "I'll give it to you for ten cents, Harry."

"Indeed, I shall not give ten cents for it!" said Harry. "It's not
worth it and--why, Mag, you are growing as mean as,--as mean as--"
Harry stopped, for he saw Maggie's color rising and the tears coming
in her eyes, and he was not an unkind boy, who would willingly hurt or
grieve his little sisters.

"She is a real miser," said Fred.

Poor Maggie! This was too much, and she burst into tears.

"Don't cry, Maggie," said Harry. "I did not mean to hurt you, but I do
not know what to make of you."

"What's all this wonderful fuss about money, Bessie?" asked Fred.

"Ask me no _lies_, and I'll tell you no _questions_," said Bessie,
holding up her head and looking at her brothers with a grave, reproving
air, "You talk very unproperly to my Maggie."

At this, the boys shouted and laughed so loud and so long that Bessie
felt as badly as her sister, and saying, "Let's go away, Maggie," they
ran off.

When Mr. Bradford came out of his room, he saw his little girls sitting
at the head of the stairs looking very unhappy. Maggie had been crying;
Bessie had her arm around her waist, as though she were trying to
comfort her, but looked as if she wanted comfort herself.

"Why, what ails my singing birdies this morning?" asked papa. "In
trouble so early in the day?"

"Papa," said Bessie, in a grieved little voice, "we are having very
_misable_ times to-day."

"That is bad," said Mr. Bradford, sitting down on the stairs beside
them; "but tell papa what it is, and see if he cannot help you into
pleasanter times."

"People say things to us," said Bessie.

"And do you not wish people to speak to you?"

"Oh, yes, papa, if they say nice things; but first, nurse called our
shells and sea-weed, 'truck.'"

"Very poor taste in nurse," said Mr. Bradford; "but I would not fret
about that. Is there anything more?"

"Yes, papa,"--Bessie hesitated,--"but I do not like to tell tales."

"But I want to know what the trouble is. I shall not think you are
telling tales when I ask you."

"Harry called me 'mean,' and Fred said I was 'a miser,'" said Maggie,
beginning to cry again. "And I wouldn't be such an ugly thing, now!"

"What is a miser, Maggie?" asked papa.

"An ugly old man, who makes believe he hasn't any money, when he has a
whole lot in bags in a chest, and doesn't eat anything but crusts, with
an ugly, thin cat who hunches up her back," said Maggie.

Maggie's idea of a miser was taken from a picture she had once seen.

"Then my rosebud does not look much like a miser," answered Mr.
Bradford, patting Maggie's round, smooth cheek.

"But he meant I was _like_ a miser, and they laughed at Bessie," said
Maggie.

"But I quarrelled and said a cross thing to them, papa," said Bessie,
who was always ready to own when she had done wrong.

"What did you say?"

Bessie repeated what she had said to the boys, making the same mistake
she had done before, and her father could not wonder that they had
laughed. He asked a question or two more, and soon knew the whole story
of the penny and the shell.

"And it is very hard to have people say such things when it is a good
purpose, papa," said Maggie, wiping her eyes as she finished.

"So it is, Maggie; but it is what we must all look for, more or less in
this world. When we are trying to do good, other people will sometimes
misunderstand us, think that we are doing the wrong thing, or perhaps
doing the right thing in the wrong way; and they may tell us so, or
make unkind remarks about us. But if we feel that we are doing right,
and know that we are about the dear Saviour's work, we should not mind
that. Yes, and we must bear to be laughed at too, my Bessie. I do not
think though that your brothers have meant to grieve you so much. Fred,
I know, will sometimes tease, but Harry is not apt to be unkind or
provoking."

"No, papa," said Maggie. "Harry is a very good, kind brother."

"So I think," said papa. "Do the boys know why you are so anxious to
earn money?"

"No, papa. I did not tell them, 'cause I thought maybe they would laugh
at me."

"They shall not laugh at you, I will answer for that. But, although
they were not very polite or kind in their way of telling you so, you
can scarcely wonder that your brothers were surprised at your wish
to be paid for any little favor you might do them. You are generally
so obliging and willing, so ready to run and to do for the pleasure
of helping others, that I myself might have thought you selfish and
disobliging, had I heard you asking for pay without knowing your
reason. And I would not do so again, dearie. Whatever you may be able
to save by denying or taking any pains with yourselves, or may make by
doing any little extra work for mamma or any one else, well and good;
but I would not ask to be paid for such small things as you are in the
habit of doing every day for those around you. You must not be too
eager to gain money for _any_ purpose."

"Not for a good one, papa?"

"No. Never do wrong that good may come of it."

"Do you think I was like a miser this morning, papa?"

"No. I do not think Fred quite understood the meaning of the word
himself when he used it in that way. To be miserly, or like a miser, is
to try to save and put by money only that we may look at it, and count
it over, taking pleasure in the thought that we have it, not in using
it for our good or pleasure, or that of others. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, papa. You mean if Bessie and I were to put all our money into
that box of mamma's, and just count it and count it, and never take any
out, or spend it for the library or anything else, we would be little
misers even if we are not old men?"

"Papa," said Bessie, "yesterday morning at prayers, you yead about the
lord who went away and gave his servants money to take care of, and
how one of them put his money in a napkin, and dug a hole in the ground
and hid it there; and when his lord came home, he was angry with him,
and punished him. Was that man a miser?"

"Yes, dear, I think we may call him a miser; and I am glad my little
girl remembers so well. We may be miserly with other things than money.
If we do not use any of the gifts which God has given us as he intended
we should do, for our own good and that of others, we are misers; and
it is as wrong to do so as it would be to waste them, or throw them
away. Suppose you were to say, 'These are very small hands and feet
which God has given to me; they are not nearly as large as papa's or
mamma's, or even as strong as my brothers; they cannot do much work,
so they shall do none at all; I will not run up and down stairs, or go
little errands: I will not rock the baby, or amuse Franky, or do any
other thing which might save my mamma some trouble; I will not even
play about, or go out to walk, but just sit still and do nothing all
day long. Or, this is a very young mind of mine, it knows very little,
and cannot understand everything, so I shall not try to learn and add
more knowledge to that which I have. I cannot do much for the praise
and glory of God who made me and gave me every good thing I have, so I
shall not try to please him at all. I will take and keep all he gives
me, but I will not use it or enjoy it, nor let others do so.' This
would be like the poor foolish man who buried his talent, instead of
making use of it for his lord. It would be like a miser."

"But, papa," said Maggie, "I don't think I _could_ be a miser with my
hands and feet. Why, I would think it was dreadful to sit still all
day and do nothing. They will move sometimes even when I don't mean
them to; and if I want them to keep still, they seem to forget and just
move of themselves."

Mr. Bradford smiled as he remembered how true Maggie's words were. It
did indeed seem impossible for those restless little hands and feet to
keep still; they must always be busy about something, and he knew that
she could scarcely have a greater punishment than to be forced to sit
quiet for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

"Papa must take his hands and feet away now," he said, "or they will be
late at the office. The hands and the head, too, have a good deal to do
to-day if they are to feel at liberty to go to Riverside to-morrow; so
kiss me for good-by."

Mr. Bradford stopped in the breakfast-room, where the boys still were,
and telling them of what their sisters were trying to do, and how
earnest they were about it, said he hoped they would neither tease nor
laugh at them, but would do all in their power to help them.

Harry and Fred were really sorry when they heard how distressed the
little girls had been, and promised to do nothing more to trouble them.

"I cannot quite promise not to laugh at Bessie, papa," said Harry. "She
says such droll things in such a droll way, or twists something about,
and comes out with it with such a grand air for such a mite of a thing
as she is, that a fellow can't help laughing."

"The greater the difficulty, the greater the kindness to your little
sister, my son. I know it is hard, sometimes almost impossible, to
help smiling, or even laughing outright, at some of Bessie's speeches;
but you may avoid doing so in a loud, boisterous, mocking way. Put
yourselves in her place, boys, and think how you would like it."

"I'm sure I do not mind being laughed at, papa; at least, not much,"
said Harry.

"No," said Fred, "that he don't; so he never is laughed at. The other
fellows say it's no fun teasing him, he's so cool about it."

"But Bessie does mind it," said his father, "and so does Maggie; and
we are not to judge that a thing is right and kind because it is not
disagreeable to ourselves. You know your Aunt Annie is exceedingly
afraid of a mouse."

"Indeed, she is," said Fred. "She'll squeal and jump on a chair, and
turn as white as a sheet, if she only suspects there is one in the
room."

"It is real honest fear, too," said Harry, "no make believe about it. I
am real sorry for her, too; it must make her so uncomfortable."

"Yes," said his father. "She was frightened by one when a child, and
cannot overcome her fear of them. Now I am not in the least afraid
of mice; indeed, if they were not so mischievous, I should enjoy
seeing them play about the house; but would you not think me cruel and
unfeeling if I were to allow a mouse to be in the room with Annie,
while I either amused myself with her fears or was quite careless of
them? Would you think I was doing as I would be done by?"

"No, sir," said both the boys.

"Then you see the golden rule teaches us not only to avoid doing those
things to others which are painful to ourselves, but also to put
ourselves in their places, and to say, 'How should I wish to be done
by if I felt as they do?' There, I have given two little lessons this
morning,--one to my girls, and one to my boys,--and shall have to read
a third to my self on the meaning of the word punctual if I do not
hurry away. Good-by to you."

As soon as their father had left them, Maggie and Bessie ran away to
mamma's room. Maggie, always eager for anything new, begged that she
might have one of her towels to begin to hem it at once. But mamma said
it was time for their walk, and they must go out first. They found
not only Mr. Hall, but also their friend, Colonel Rush, in the park,
and Bessie introduced them to each other, saying, gravely, "Mr. Hall,
please to know Colonel Yush; Colonel Yush, please to know Mr. Hall."

The two gentlemen smiled, shook hands heartily, and certainly seemed
well pleased to know each other. Perhaps it was partly because they
were both so fond of the dear little girls who stood beside them.

When the children went home, mamma had a towel neatly folded and begun
for Maggie. She sat down at once, sewing away in a great hurry, and
saying to Bessie that she was going to finish it that day. Presently
mamma, seeing that she was moving along the hem pretty fast, came and
looked at her work.

"Oh, Maggie, Maggie!" she said, "this will not do, my dear child. Such
long, crooked stitches! Why, you can sew much better than this."

"Yes, mamma, but then I am in such a hurry to finish it."

"But you must not be in such a hurry, dear, that you cannot take time
to do it neatly. Suppose, when the towel is done, I were to hand you
three cents and say, 'I am in such a hurry, Maggie, I shall only give
you three cents.' Would you think that quite fair?"

Maggie laughed. "No, indeed, mamma; but you would not do such a thing."

"I hope not; and when you come to think about it, I am sure you will
see that it is not fair for you to do my work poorly if I am to pay you
for it."

"Must it all come out, mamma?" asked Maggie, as her mother took the
work from her hand.

"I am afraid so, dear. See there, those stitches would not hold at all.
I think we will take half of one side of a towel for each day's task.
That will finish them in time, and you will soon tire of the work if
you try to hurry through it in this way."

"Mamma," said Bessie, as her mother handed back the towel to Maggie to
make a fresh beginning, "could not I learn to sew?"

"Yes, I think you are old enough to begin, if you will be patient."

"Oh, yes, mamma, I will be patient to learn, if you will be patient to
teach me."

There was not much doubt about that, so the dear kind mother found a
little piece of work and fixed it for Bessie. But she had no thimble
of her own, and for that day had to use an old one of Maggie's with a
piece of paper wrapped round her finger to make it stay in its place.
Mamma promised to buy her one that very day, and after this, whenever
Maggie hemmed her towels, Bessie would sit beside her learning to put
in stiches that grew neater and neater every day.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

IV.

_FLOSSY._


"AUNT HELEN! Aunt Helen!" said Maggie, almost as soon as they reached
Riverside the next day, "may we run down in the garden and find Donald?"

Donald was the old Scotch gardener who lived at Riverside. He had been
there for a great many years, long before Maggie and Bessie were born,
long enough, as Maggie said, "to learn to talk American," if he had
chosen to do so. But Donald loved the dear old Scotch brogue which
reminded him of his fatherland so far away, and was at no pains to drop
it; and our little girls liked him none the less that they sometimes
found it hard work to understand him. And they had good reason to like
him, for he was glad to see them when they came to Riverside, and tried
all he could to make their visits pleasant to them. They were in a
great hurry to find him this morning, and could scarcely rest till they
had permission to do so.

"Well, well," said Grandpapa Duncan, "this is a nice thing. Have you
grown so fond of Donald since you have been away that you have hardly
time to speak to me before you run away to see him?"

"Oh, no, grandpapa," said Maggie, "we like Donald very much, but you
know we like you a great deal more; but you see we are so anxious about
the puppy."

"Oh, ho! then it is the puppy you like better than me? I do not see
that that mends the matter."

"Now, grandpapa!" said Maggie.

"Couldn't you come with us, grandpapa?" asked Bessie, coaxingly.

"Yes, do," said Maggie, "it's such a nice, pleasant day. It will do you
good."

"And it will do us good to have you," said Bessie.

Grandpapa was very much pleased, but though there was a smile on his
lips and in his eye, he wrinkled up his brow and pretended to think it
was very hard he should be asked to go out. Perhaps he wanted to be
coaxed a little more.

"I have no hat or cane here," he said, gruffly.

Away ran Maggie and Bessie into the hall, and presently came back, the
one with grandpapa's hat, the other with his cane. Maggie climbed on
his chair and put his hat on his head, pretty well down over his nose
too, while Bessie placed the cane in his hand.

"Now you are all ready," said Maggie.

"But I have a bone in my knee; how am I to get up?" said grandpapa.

Maggie took hold of one hand and Bessie of the other, and after a
great deal of pulling, with some pretended scolding and grumbling from
grandpapa, he was upon his feet.

"A nice thing, to be sure," said the old gentleman, "for two little
city damsels to come out here to my quiet country home, to pull me out
of my comfortable easy-chair and trot me around after puppy dogs and
other nonsense!" and he frowned harder than ever, shaking his cane
fiercely at the laughing children, who knew very well that this was
only fun, and that he was really glad to go with them. They thought it
a fine joke, and went skipping merrily along, one on each side of him.
They had gone but a few steps from the house, when Bessie stood still,
exclaiming,--

"Oh, how pretty, how pretty! Look, grandpapa! look, Maggie!"

It was indeed a pretty sight that she saw. Just in front of them stood
two tall trees which grew straight upwards for some distance and then
leaned a little towards each other, so that at the top their branches
wove themselves together, making an arch. Over each tree ran a Virginia
creeper, or grass vine, winding round and round the trunks, spreading
over the branches, and when they could find nothing more to cling to,
throwing out long sprays and tendrils, which waved gracefully about in
the gentle breeze coming up from the river. Although it was only the
middle of September, there had been several cool, frosty nights, and
the leaves of the vine were already of a bright crimson. The trees were
still quite green, and the contrast between their color and the red of
the vine was very beautiful.

"Oh, who did it, grandpapa?" said Bessie. "Who painted those leaves?
Did Donald?"

"No, darling, no hand of man could paint that. This is the Lord's
doing, and it is indeed marvellous in our eyes."

"Do you mean our Father in heaven did it, grandpapa?"

"Yes, dear, it was the great and loving Father, who has not only made
his earth to bring forth food and drink for all his creatures, but has
also made it so beautiful that it may please and delight our eyes."

"But," said Maggie, in great astonishment, "that vine used to be all
green just like the tree. How did it come red?"

"I will tell you," said grandpapa. "Do you know what the sap is?"

"No, sir."

Mr. Duncan looked around him, and then, taking his knife from his
pocket, cut a slip from a tall plant which grew near. He pressed it
with his thumb and finger, and a small whitish drop oozed slowly out
from the end which had been cut.

"See there," he said, "that is the sap or juice of the plant. It is
in every tree or bush, and goes running through the trunk, branches,
and leaves much as the blood runs through the veins in your body. All
through the summer it keeps the branches moist and the leaves fresh and
green; but it does not like the cold, and when the frost comes, it runs
away from the leaves. Then they begin to turn, some red, some yellow,
some brown. Our pretty creepers here are among the first to feel the
cold; and they turn sooner than the trees over which they grow. As the
weather becomes colder, the sap goes farther and farther away, back
through the branches and down through the trunk till it reaches the
roots, where it lies snug and close in its winter home under the warm
earth. Then the leaves shrivel up and lose their bright colors and fall
to the ground. If you break a branch from a tree in winter, it will
snap more easily than it will in the summer, because it is dry and
brittle from the loss of its sap. All through the cold weather the sap
keeps hidden quietly away in the roots; but in the spring when the air
grows mild and pleasant, it begins to stir and move upward again. Up,
up it goes through the trunk and branches, till, as the weather grows
warmer and warmer, the little buds which hold the young leaves and
blossoms begin to show themselves, and at last unfold. Then the small
tender leaves peep out and gather strength and life from the soft air
and bright sunshine and gentle rain, till the trees and bushes are
covered with their beautiful green dress and make a pleasant shade for
my Maggie and Bessie when they come out to see their old grandpapa at
Riverside."

"And give us pretty flowers to smell and look at, and nice fruit to
eat," said Bessie.

"Yes, and see how our Father thinks of us and cares for our comfort at
every season. If we had not this pleasant shade in the summer, with the
soft green for our eyes to rest upon, we could scarcely bear the heat
and light of the sun. But in the winter we need all the heat and light
we can have; and then, the leaves drop away and let the rays of the sun
fall upon the earth to warm and cheer us."

While grandpapa was talking, they had been walking on; and now, as they
turned a corner, they saw Donald. He was tying up some dahlias. The
little girls ran forward.

"How do you do, Donald?" said Bessie.

"How is the puppy, Donald?" asked Maggie.

"And how's yersel'," said Donald. "Eh, but I'm blithe to see ye aince
mair."

"We're well," said Bessie, "and I can yun about now, and my feet don't
get so tired as they used to."

"That's gude news," said Donald; "an' noo ye'll be wantin' the wee
doggie hame wi' ye. Weel, he's big eneuch; and I think ye may tak' him
if yer mither's willin'."

[Illustration: Bessie in City. p. 82.]

The children understood enough of what Donald was saying to know that
he meant they could take the puppy home if their mother would not
object; and Maggie hastened to say, "Oh, yes! mamma will let us have
him; she quite expects us to take him home, Donald. Could you let us
see him now?"

Donald was quite ready, and they all went over to his cottage, where
the first thing they saw was Flossy himself, playing on the grass with
his two puppy brothers. They all came running up to Donald, as if they
were glad to see him, and then went snuffing and smelling about the
feet of the children, as if they wanted to find out who these little
strangers could be.

In five minutes they were all the best of friends, and Maggie and
Bessie were seated upon the grass with the three little dogs jumping,
capering, and tumbling about them and over them. Such a frolic as they
had, and how the children laughed, and how the puppies barked and
yelped and frisked about, while it was hard to say who enjoyed it most,
the little girls and the dogs, or grandpapa, Donald, and Alice, who
watched them from the cottage steps.

The puppies were all pretty, but Flossy was certainly the prettiest
of the three. He was beautifully marked in brown and white, and his
coat was already becoming long, silken, and glossy. He was also the
most playful and mischievous; and grandpapa told Maggie and Bessie he
thought they would have their hands full to keep him out of harm. Once,
in the midst of their play, Maggie's hat fell off, and in an instant
Flossy had pounced upon it, and, when Maggie tried to take it from him,
ran away, dragging it after him. Round and round the house he tore, and
they had quite a race to get it from him. At last Donald caught him and
took the hat from him; but, alas! it was none the better for its rough
journey over the gravel walks. He was next at his own finery. Alice,
Donald's wife, had tied about his neck the red ribbon which she kept to
dress him with when his little mistresses came to Riverside, but his
brothers seemed to think he had no right to be finer than they were,
and were all the time pulling and snapping at the ribbon, till at last
it came untied. But Flossy had no idea of letting another puppy have
that which belonged to himself, and pretty quickly snatched it from
them. Off he went again before the children could stop him, and running
down in the cellar and behind some barrels, soon had the ribbon torn
to bits. Alice was quite vexed when at last she pulled him from his
hiding-place, and found the ribbon entirely destroyed; but the children
thought him very smart, and did not see why he should not have his fun.

"Eh, but you're an ill beastie!" said Alice, giving Flossy a cuff on
the ear.

Bessie's little tender heart was quite grieved. "Alice," she said, "I
was 'fraid maybe you'd be sorry when we took Flossy away; but I guess
you don't care much; do you?"

"Na, na!" said Alice. "I canna be fashed wi' the three o' them, an'
this ane's the warst o' them a'. He's aye in mischief. Didna he lick a'
the cream for my mon's breakfast?"

Scarce a word did the children understand, except that Flossy had drank
the cream meant for Donald's breakfast, and that Alice was rather
pleased to be rid of him.

"Perhaps he don't know any better," said Bessie. "He'll have to be
teached."

"'Deed does he," said Alice, as if she were glad she was no longer to
have the teaching of him.

"Grandpapa," said Maggie, "may we take Flossy up to the house now, so
that he may be used to us before we go home?"

Grandpapa said they might, and Maggie told Bessie that she should carry
him.

"I'll only carry him half the way," said Bessie, "and you can carry him
the yest."

But Flossy had no mind to be carried at all. He liked to frisk about
on his own four feet, and was quite ready to run after his little
mistresses. Indeed, the puppies were all so well pleased with their new
playmates that the other two wished to go also, and Donald had to shut
them up to prevent them from following.

Grandpapa said they would not go directly home, but through the
orchard, and so down to the river bank. In the orchard the men were
picking the early apples and packing them in barrels, and grandpapa,
going to one of them, chose two large rosy-cheeked apples and gave one
to Maggie and one to Bessie. They stood a while watching the men, and
then turned to go on.

Between the orchard and the river lay a broad green field, and in this
field several cows and a large flock of sheep were feeding. Now Bessie,
although she was not a timid child about many things, was afraid of
cattle; and as Mr. Duncan opened the gate into the field, she drew back.

"Grandpa," she said, "bettern't we go the other way?"

"I think not," said grandpapa. "This way is the pleasantest, and I have
something to show you down by the water."

"But if we should be bucked, what would our mamma say?" asked the
little girl, still looking timidly at the cows.

"We shall not be bucked, dear," said grandpapa, smiling. "Does my
Bessie think I would take her or Maggie where there was danger?"

"No, grandpapa, but--" Bessie still hung back.

"You shall not go this way, dear, if you do not wish; but these are our
cows, and I know them to be all peaceable and good-tempered. But if we
turn back and go through the garden again, I shall be too tired to take
you down to the river."

"I think we'll go this way," said Bessie, and so they went on; but as
they passed the cows, grandpapa felt the little hand he held nestle
itself very tightly in his own, and as he saw how her color came and
went, he was sorry he had not turned back. The cows did not notice them
at all, not even when Flossy, who seemed to think it would be a very
fine thing to bark at something so much larger than himself, ran up
to one and began woof woofing in a very absurd manner. The cow just
lifted up her head and looked at him for a moment; then, as if she well
knew that such a tiny thing could do her no harm, put it down and began
to eat again.

"Isn't it er-dic-u-lous, grandpapa," said Maggie, "to see Flossy
barking at that great cow?"

"Rather ridiculous," answered grandpapa. "Look at those little lambs,
Bessie."

Bessie quite forgot the cows when she saw the lambs playing by the side
of their mothers. But when Flossy found the cattle cared nothing for
him, he thought he would try to make a little fuss here, and away he
ran after one of the lambs. The sheep did not take it as quietly as the
cows; the lamb was frightened, and the mother, who did not understand
that this was Flossy's fun, and that he could not have hurt her child
even if he had wished to, put it behind her, and lowering her head,
stamped her foot at Flossy as if she were very angry. Mr. Duncan called
the puppy away, but he would not mind, and Maggie ran to take him up
in her arms. The poor sheep saw her and thought here was something
else coming to hurt her baby, so she must fight a little herself. She
ran at Maggie, and butting her head against the little girl, threw her
over upon the grass. The other sheep had stood looking on; but now, as
if afraid of being punished for what one of their number had done, the
whole flock turned and scampered away to the opposite side of the field.

Maggie sat up upon the grass. She was not at all hurt, but rather
frightened and very much astonished.

"Are you hurt, little woman?" asked grandpapa, as he lifted her up and
placed her upon her feet.

"No, grandpapa, but--who did it?"

"Who did it? Why, the mother sheep there."

"She is very ungrateful," said Maggie, indignantly. "I came to help
her, and she oughtn't to do it."

"She did not know that, dear," said grandpapa. "She thought you, too,
were coming to hurt her lamb, and she could not tell what else to do.
See there, Bessie, the cows which you were so afraid of did not even
look at us, while this meek, timid sheep, of which you had not the
least fear, has knocked over Maggie. Do not look so distressed, dear;
Maggie is not hurt at all."

It was some time before Bessie could quite believe this. It seemed to
her scarcely possible that her dear Maggie should have been thrown
down in such a rude fashion, and yet not be hurt. But so it was; not
a scratch nor a bruise was to be found. The ground was not very hard
just here, and the grass quite soft and long; and beyond the fright
and a streak or two of earth on her white dress, Maggie had received
no harm from her fall. It made her feel rather sober, however, and she
walked quietly along by grandpapa's side without skipping and jumping
as she had done before.

"Grandpapa," said Bessie, "don't you think the sheep ought to know
better?"

"Well, Bessie, I think we must not blame the poor creature. She did not
know that Maggie was her friend, and Flossy had frightened her and made
her angry. If she had been alone, she would probably have run away; but
she loved her child better than she did herself, and took the best way
she knew to keep it from harm."

"You are very naughty, Flossy," said Bessie. "You did a deal of
_misfit_. You frightened the poor little lambie, and made my Maggie be
knocked down."

"Yes," said Maggie, "he'll have to be taught, 'to do to others.' Poor
little fellow! He don't know much himself."

"Yes," said Mr. Duncan, "like all young things, he has much to learn,
and his teachers must have a good deal of patience."

"Grandpapa," said Bessie, "are not lambs pretty good baby animals?"

"I rather think they are, Bessie. Perhaps their mammas sometimes find
them troublesome; but we seldom or never hear of a lamb getting into
mischief or naughty ways. So when a child is obedient and gentle, we
say it is like a little lamb."

"Mamma taught us such a pretty hymn last week about a lamb," said
Bessie.

"Can't you let me hear it?" said grandpapa. So Bessie repeated these
verses:--

      "Little lamb, who made thee?
      Dost thou know who made thee?
    Gave thee life, and gave thee feed,
    By the stream, and o'er the mead;
    Gave thee clothing of delight,--
    Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
    Gave thee such a tender voice,
    Making all the vales rejoice.
      Little lamb, who made thee?
      Dost thou know who made thee?

      "Little lamb, I'll tell thee!
      Little lamb, I'll tell thee!
    He is callèd by thy name.
    For He calls Himself a lamb.
    He is meek, and He is mild,
    He became a little child.
    I, a child, and thou, a lamb,
    We are callèd by His name.
      Little lamb, God bless thee!
      Little lamb, God bless thee!"[A]

She said them slowly and carefully, not missing one word, and grandpapa
was much pleased.

"That is indeed pretty, my darling," he said, "and grandpapa is much
obliged to you. What a dear, good mamma you have, always teaching you
something useful or pretty."

"Oh, yes!" said Bessie, "she is just the most precious mamma that ever
lived."

Grandpapa looked down as if he thought the dear mamma's little daughter
was rather precious, too; but he did not say so.

"I never saw such a good helper as our mamma," said Maggie. "She always
can tell us how to do things."

Then Maggie told how mamma was helping them to buy the library, and
of all their little plans. Grandpapa listened, and seemed very much
interested; and by the time the story was finished, they had reached
the river.

Mr. Duncan led them through a grove of locust-trees, and just beyond
was the pretty sight he had brought them to look at. This was a pond
into which the water flowed by a narrow canal cut from the river. Upon
it were floating two beautiful white swans. The children had never seen
them before, for the pond had been made, and the swans brought there,
since their last visit to Riverside. Over the canal was a pretty rustic
bridge, and below it a wire fence, which allowed the water to flow
in, but through which the swans could not pass. On the other side of
the pond was a little house, made, like the bridge, of boughs twisted
together.

"Oh, grandpapa," said Maggie, "what beautiful birds! How did they come
there? And that water, too? It did not use to be there."

"No," said Mr. Duncan. "The pond was made this summer, while you were
at Quam Beach. Those birds are swans."

"And is that their little house?" asked Bessie.

"Yes," said grandpapa; and then taking from his pocket a couple of
crackers which he had brought for the purpose, he gave one to each of
the children, and told them they might feed the swans. The birds were
not at all afraid of the little girls, and came swimming up to where
they stood, arching their graceful necks as if they quite expected to
receive something nice to eat. Indeed, they were so tame that when the
crackers were broken up, they took pieces from the children's hands
as if they had known them all their lives. Maggie and Bessie were
delighted, and Maggie thought she would like to stay by the pond all
day; but now Mr. Duncan said it was time to go back to the house, so
they bade good-by to the swans.

By this time Flossy was tired, and was quite willing to let Maggie
take him up in her arms and carry him. Before they reached home he was
asleep, and Maggie laid him in a corner of the sofa in the hall, and
covered him up with a shawl. After a while, Bessie seeing him, thought
she was tired too, so she climbed on the sofa, took Flossy in her arms,
nestled down on the cushions, and in five minutes she, too, was fast
asleep. There Maggie, who had been down in the kitchen, begging the
cook for some milk for the puppy, found her. She stood looking at her
for a moment, then ran into the library where her father and Uncle John
were sitting.

"Oh, papa," she said, seizing his hand, "come and see the prettiest
thing you ever saw. Come, Uncle John, do come; but do not make any
noise."

Papa and Uncle John followed the eager little girl, who led them to the
sofa where Bessie and Flossy lay.

"Isn't she sweet?" whispered Maggie. "Isn't it just like a picture?"

It was indeed a pretty sight. The sleeping child in her white dress,
with her curls falling over the red cushions, and the little dog
clasped in her arms, his face cuddled up against her shoulder. But Mr.
Duncan and Mr. Bradford thought that not the least pretty part of it
was the affectionate little sister standing by, looking at Bessie with
so much love in her eyes. Her father could not help stooping to kiss
her. Just then Aunt Helen passed through the hall.

"Come here, Helen," said Mr. Duncan.

"Isn't that a pretty picture, Aunt Helen?" said Maggie, as her aunt
paused to look. "I am going to call mamma."

"No, no," said Mrs. Duncan, "do not call her. You have given me an
idea, Maggie. Can you keep a secret?"

Maggie promised, and her father said he thought she might be trusted.

Now Aunt Helen could draw and paint very beautifully, and her "idea"
was to make a little picture of Bessie as she lay sleeping, and to give
it to her mother as a Christmas gift. She ran to her room, and bringing
paper and pencils, began to sketch her little niece.

Mr. Bradford looked over her shoulder.

"Could you not put the other one in?" he whispered, looking at Maggie,
who still seemed as if she could not take her eyes from her sister.
"We never separate them, you know, and it will be a double pleasure to
Margaret."

So Mrs. Duncan drew Maggie, too, though Maggie did not know this, for
her aunt said she should not let her see the picture until it was quite
finished.

"And mind," said Uncle John, "if you say a word about it, I shall look
at you with both my eyes, and put your nose between your ears."

Maggie laughed, and promised to be very careful; and now, as Bessie
began to stir, Aunt Helen ran away with the picture.

Flossy was taken home in the carriage that afternoon, and I must say,
he behaved very badly all the way. He was not used to riding, and he
did not like it at all. On the first half of the road, he whined and
fretted all the time; and when he became a little accustomed to the
motion, he would not keep quiet; and either scrambled all about the
carriage, or if Maggie or Bessie took him upon her lap, put his head
out of the window and barked at every person he saw, so that his little
mistresses were quite mortified.

"Mamma," said Bessie, "please don't think he's the troublesomest little
dog you ever saw. We will teach him to behave better. If you hadn't
teached us, maybe we would have been as full of _misfit_ as he is."

Mamma said she did not doubt that Flossy would learn better in time,
and she would have patience with him.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: William Blake.]

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

V.

_THE COLONEL'S STORY_


ON Sunday morning Maggie and Bessie were made ready, and taken over
to Mrs. Rush's rooms at nine o'clock, as had been arranged. As Maggie
had told Mr. Hall, Mrs. Rush could not leave the colonel to go to the
church school; but she was very anxious to do something for the lambs
of the Good Shepherd, who had so lately brought her dear husband into
the fold, and so she had begged that these little ones might come to
her. Mrs. Bradford was very glad to have her children go. Bessie had
never been to Sunday-school, and her mother thought the walk too much
for her on a cold day; but Mrs. Rush's rooms were so near their own
home that she could go there in almost any weather. As for Maggie, she
was rather glad not to go back to the church school. Her teacher, Miss
Winslow, was going away, as you know, and she did not at all like the
idea of having a new one.

"I should be so very homesick after Miss Winslow, mamma," she had said,
"but now I shall not mind that so much; and then Bessie will be with
me, so we will be very happy."

Truly it was a pleasant class. Four little girls who dearly loved
each other, and the sweet young lady who was to be their teacher.
Then the room was so bright and sunny, and the colonel, to please his
wife and her little scholars, perhaps also to please himself, had
taken a great deal of pains to have all nicely prepared for them.
Four small cane-seated chairs stood side by side, and on each of them
lay a Testament and a hymn-book, while on the table were a number of
picture-cards and a neat case containing a dozen books, which were to
be their library.

"When these are all read," said the colonel, "they shall have some
more."

There was only one thing which seemed wrong, but that was rather
serious. The dear teacher appeared as if she would scarcely be able to
do her part that morning. Mrs. Rush had taken a severe cold, and had
a bad headache and a sore throat. She looked quite ill, and when Mr.
Bradford, who had brought the little girls over, shook hands with her,
he said, "I think you are in no fit state for teaching to-day. You had
better let me take the children home, and make a beginning next Sunday."

"So I have told her," said Colonel Rush; "but she cannot bear to
disappoint herself or them, and I have agreed to let her try, on
condition that, if she find it too much for her, I am to take her
place. I do not know what kind of a teacher I shall make, but, at
least, I can tell them a story."

Mrs. Rush said she thought she should do very well; so Mr. Bradford
went away, and in a few minutes Gracie Howard and Lily Norris came in,
and they all took their seats. Colonel Rush went into the inner room,
where he could not be seen, but where he could hear if he chose; and
his wife began.

First, she made a short prayer, asking our Father in heaven to bless
them with his presence and his love, that he would give her strength
and grace to teach these lambs aright, and to them, hearts gentle and
tender, and ready to learn the way of life, and that he would bring
them all at last to dwell with him in his home beyond the sky. Then she
read to them of Christ blessing little children, and, showing them a
card on which a picture of this was painted, talked to them about it.

"Now we will sing," she said, "or rather you may, for I shall not be
able to help you. We will take something you all know quite well, that
there may be no difficulty about the tune. 'I want to be an angel.' Who
will start it?"

Any one of the children, if she had been alone, could have started
the tune and sung it through without trouble; but with all the rest
waiting, not one felt as if she could begin. They all sat looking at
one another, each little girl afraid to trust her own voice.

"Why," said Mrs. Rush, "are we to have no singing at all? Cannot one of
you do it?"

Then came two or three notes from the other room. Bessie took them
right up, and the rest followed immediately. As soon as they were
fairly started, the colonel paused, and let them sing it through by
themselves. Very nicely they did it, too; their sweet young voices
making pleasant music in the ears of their kind friends.

"I want you each to learn a new hymn and a Bible verse, during the
week, to say to me next Sunday," said Mrs. Rush. "We have had no
regular lesson for to-day. Can you not each remember a hymn to repeat
now?"

"I'll say, 'Saviour, like a shepherd lead us,'" said Gracie; and she
repeated the hymn very correctly.

Lily said, "Little travellers, Zionward;" but, as you probably know
both of these pretty pieces, there is no need to write them here.

Bessie said the verses about the lamb, which she had repeated to
Grandpapa Duncan at Riverside.

Maggie's turn came last. "I am going to say the very best hymn that
ever was made," she said.

"How do you know it is the very best?" said Gracie. "Maybe it isn't so
pretty as the one Bessie said. I like that very much."

"So do I; but then this one _is_ the best, for my own mamma made it,"
answered Maggie, as if there could be no doubt after this that her hymn
was the best that could be written.

Gracie opened her eyes wide, and listened with all her might. To have a
mamma who wrote hymns, must, she thought, be very fine, and she did not
wonder that Maggie felt rather proud of it.

"Shall I say it?" asked Maggie of Mrs. Rush.

"Certainly," said the lady; and Maggie began.

    "Little one, what canst thou do,
     For the Lord who loved thee so,
     That he left his heavenly throne,
     To our sinful world came down,
     On the cross to faint and die,
     That thy ransomed soul might fly
     Far beyond all sin and pain,
     Where the Crucified doth reign?

    "Little hands, what can ye do
     For the Lord who loved me so?

    "Little hands fit work may find,
     If I have a willing mind;
     And whate'er the service small,
     If I only do it all
     For the sake of God's dear Son,
     He the simplest gift will own.
     Little hands, so ye may prove
     All my gratitude and love.

    "Little lips, what can ye do
     For the Lord who loved me so?

    "Let no harsh or angry word
     From these little lips be heard;
     Let them never take in vain
     God's most glorious, holy name
     Let sweet sounds of praise and joy
     All your childish powers employ.
     Little lips, so ye may prove
     All my gratitude and love.

    "Little feet, what can ye do
     For the Lord who loved me so?

    "Follow Him who day by day
     Guides thee on the heavenward way.
     Little feet, turn not aside,
     Tread down shame and fear and pride,
     Aught might tempt ye to go back
     From the safe and narrow track.
     Little feet, so ye may prove
     All my gratitude and love.

    "Little heart, what canst thou do
      For the Lord who loved me so?

    "Thou canst _love him_, little heart,
     Such thy blessed, happy part.
     In his tender arms may rest,
     Lying there content and blest.
     This is all he asks of thee,
     Little heart, oh! lovest thou me?
     Little heart, so thou mayst prove
     All my gratitude and love.

    "Little one, this thou canst do
     For the Lord who loved thee so.
     Little hands and little feet
     Still may render service meet;
     Little lips and little heart
     In such glorious work bear part.
     Little one, thus thou mayst prove
     All thy gratitude and love."

"Oh, how nice!" said Gracie; and Lily said the same thing.

"And mamma is going to make music for it," said Bessie, "so we can sing
it."

"Then we will all learn it," said Mrs. Rush. "We shall have a piano
here next Sunday, and there need be no more trouble about our tunes.
Now I will tell you a little story."

But when she began to talk again, she was so hoarse that she could
scarcely speak, and the children saw that her throat was very painful.

"Don't try to tell us; you feel too sick," said Bessie. "We'll just sit
still, and be as quite as mices."

Mrs. Rush smiled at her, and tried once more to go on, but just then
the sound of the colonel's crutches was heard, and the next moment he
came in the room.

"I cannot let you go on, Marion," said he. "I will take your place. Can
you put up with a story from me, little ones, while my wife rests? She
is able to do no more for you to-day."

Put up with a story from him! That was a curious question from the
colonel, who was such a famous story-teller. They were all quite ready
to listen to anything he might tell them, though they felt very sorry
for dear Mrs. Rush, who, seeming rather glad to give her place to
her husband, went to the other side of the room and took the great
arm-chair, while the colonel settled himself on the sofa.

Bessie looked at him very wistfully.

"Well, what is it, my pet?" he asked.

"Don't you think you'd be more comfor'ble if I was on the sofa by you?"
she asked. "I am sure I would."

"Indeed, I should," he answered, holding out his hand with a smile, and
in a moment she was in her favorite seat beside him.

He told the others to stand around him, and commenced his story.

"A little child sat upon a green sunny bank, singing to himself in a
low, sweet voice. It was not easy to understand the words of the song;
indeed, there did not seem to be much wisdom in them. It was as if he
were only pouring out in music the joy of his own young, happy heart.

"It was a lovely place. The bank on which the child rested was covered
with a soft green moss, while around him bloomed sweet flowers, blue
violets peeping up from their nest of leaves, and filling the air with
their delicious scent, pure lilies of the valley with their snowy
bells, and the pale pink primroses. Overhead grew tall trees, shading
him from the rays of the sun which might else have beat too strongly on
his tender head; and among their branches the soft winds whispered and
the birds sang joyfully. At the foot of the bank was a path bordered
with lovely ferns and grasses and flowers, such as grew above; and
beyond this again ran a little stream sparkling in the sunlight, and
gurgling and rippling over and around the stones and pebbles which lay
in its way. And all--the boy, the birds, the whispering leaves, the
sweet flowers, the running brook--seemed joining in one hymn of praise
to Him who made them and gave them life.

"On the other side of the brook, and in a line with the narrow path,
ran a broad road, on which also grew flowers gayer and brighter than
those whose home was upon the bank or on the path; but when one came
nearer, or tried to pluck them, they were found to be full of thorns,
or turned to dust and ashes in the hand.

"Both road and path _seemed_ to lead to the mountains, which lay in
the distance; but it was not really so. There were many windings and
turnings in both, so that one who travelled upon them could not see far
before him. Sometimes they would lead over a hill, sometimes around its
foot, sometimes through a forest, sometimes through a bog or stream.
Those who became puzzled upon the broad road would lose their way and
could seldom find either track again; for there was nothing to guide
them, and they would go deeper and deeper into the dark woods or the
treacherous bog, or perhaps fall into some deep pit, and so they were
never seen again. But if one who travelled upon the narrow path was
in doubt whether he were right or no, he had only to lift his eyes,
and the true way would be pointed out to him; for all along were
guide-posts, and upon them were golden letters which shone so brightly
that he who ran might read; and they told him which turning he must
take. By the side of the path there ran also a silver thread, and he
who kept fast hold of this could seldom or never go astray; for if he
was about to turn aside, fine points or thorns would rise up in the
thread and, pricking him, bid him take heed to his steps. But however
the path might wind, in and out, now here, now there, it still led
onward to the mountains whose tops were to be seen in a straight line
with the child's home; and he who followed it could not fail to come
there.

"The child was still singing, when a stranger came up this path. He
stood still and looked at the boy with a smile, as though the simple
song pleased him.

"'What is thy name, little one?' he asked.

"'Benito,' answered the child.

"'Ah! thou art well named, for truly thou art a blessed child. What a
lovely home thou hast!'

"'But this is not my home,' said Benito. 'My Father placed me here for
a little while, but my home lies far away on the mountains yonder where
he is. There is a beautiful city there, where my Elder Brother has gone
to prepare a place for me. Stay;' and the child put his hand into his
bosom and drew out a glass; 'look through this, and then thou wilt see
the beautiful city; thou mayest even see my Father's house. This glass
is called Faith, and my Brother bade me look through it when my feet
were tired and my heart was faint.'

"The stranger took it from his hand, and looking through it, gave a
glad cry of surprise; then took from his own breast a glass like the
boy's, but not so fresh and bright.

"'I, too, have a glass,' he said; 'but it is not so clear as thine.
It is my own fault, for it needs constant use to keep it pure and
undimmed, and I have not brought it forth as often as I should have
done. But now the beautiful sight which I have seen through thine has
taught me what I lose by letting it lie hidden away. And when art thou
to go to thy Father's house?'

"'Now,' said Benito, 'for the message has come for me, and I am to
start to-day upon the very path on which thou standest.'

"'But it will be a hard way for thee,' said the stranger, in a pitying
voice. 'I am taller than thee, and can look farther ahead, and I see
rocks and stones which will hurt those tender feet, and hills which
will be difficult for thee to climb, and streams whose waves will be
almost too much for thee. Wait till thou art a little stronger and more
able to travel.'

"'I cannot wait,' said Benito; 'I have heard my Father's voice, and I
must not stay.'

"'And hast thou food and drink for the journey?'

"'My Father has promised that I shall be fed with the bread of life,
and drink from living waters.'

"'But that white robe of thine will become soiled with the dust and
heat of the day.'

"'This white robe is called Innocence,' said the child. 'My Father
clothed me in it when he left me here; and if it should become spotted
by the way, he has said that it shall be washed white again before I go
into his presence.'

"'Truly thou hast made good use of thy glass,' said the stranger; 'and
thine own courage puts my fears for thee to shame. I, too, am bound for
the mountains, for thy Father is my Father, thy home my home. Come,
shall we journey there together? We may perhaps aid one another. I
can help thee over the rough places; and thou mayest now and then let
me take a look through thy glass till mine own is brighter with more
frequent use.'

"'I will go with thee,' said Benito, who liked the kind, gentle face of
the stranger; and coming down from his mossy seat, he put his hand in
that of his new friend, who told him his name was Experience.

"'Men call me a hard teacher, my child,' he said; 'I trust I may be
gentle with thee. I shall not be able to be always at thy side, for I
may have work to do which thou canst not share, and I may leave thee
for a time; but I will always await thee or follow on after thee.'

"Experience was a grave-looking man, and his face had a sad and weary
look as though he longed for home and rest. But he had always a smile
for the child when he turned towards him. His dress was of gray, and
about his neck he wore a chain of golden beads. So they journeyed on
together, the man and the boy; each with a hand upon the silver thread
which ran by the wayside.

"'What is that chain about thy neck?' asked Benito.

"'It is the gift I carry to our Father,' said Experience, looking down
with a smile at the chain.

"'I have no gift,' said the child; 'I did not know that I should need
one. My Elder Brother told me he had paid the price which should give
me entrance to the beautiful city.'

"'He has done so,' said the other, 'and though thou goest with empty
hands, thou shalt have as loving a welcome as if thou hadst all the
wealth of the universe to offer. But still, one would wish to have some
gift to lay at our Father's feet. Perhaps thou mayest find some jewel
on the road. I had nothing when I started. These beads have been given
to me, one by one, by those whom I have helped or taught by the way;
for, little one, thou art not the first whose hand has been laid in
mine; and I have strung them together as a fit offering for him to whom
we go.'

"'I have no bead to give,' said Benito, sadly.

"'No matter; that white robe of thine gives thee a claim upon my care,
which I could not set aside if I would. Cheer up, sweet child. If a
jewel fell in thy way, and thou didst not stop to pick it up, that thou
mightst carry it to our Father, then indeed there would be reason to
fear his displeasure, but if thou findest none, he will ask none.'

"So Benito was comforted, and once more went on his way rejoicing.
His sweet talk cheered the older pilgrim, and every now and then
they would both break out into songs of praise and joy. Experience
helped the little one over many rough places, for though the path was
at first easy and pleasant, it soon grew hard and stony. Then they
passed through a dark forest, where Benito could scarcely have kept
his feet but for the help of his older and wiser friend, who took him
in his arms until they were again upon the open road. But even among
the brambles and thickets of the forest the way was plain, if they
but looked up at the guide-posts; for the greater the darkness, the
brighter shone the letters.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

VI.

_THE STORY CONTINUED._


"THEY journeyed on till they came to a grotto built upon the side of
the path, and Experience said, 'It is now the seventh hour, and we may
turn in here for food and drink.'

"So they went into the grotto, where were many other pilgrims, and
were fed with the bread of life, and drank of living waters, so that
they were strengthened for the rest of the journey. And this food
they received from the hands of two soldiers,--an old man and a young
one,--both of whom were in shining armor, with a white cross upon the
shoulder, and upon the breast of each hung a string of jewels, so
bright that the eye could scarcely rest upon them.

"'Did they find those jewels by the way?' Benito asked of his friend.

"'Yes,' answered Experience. 'The jewels are souls that have been saved
by the food which our Father taught these soldiers to serve.'

"'And see,' said the child, 'there is another pilgrim with a shining
star about his neck.'

"'He started upon his journey with much gold,' said Experience. 'And
he made good use of it; building such grottos as this, where tired
pilgrims might rest and be fed, and others where the sick and lame
might be healed. And he did this, not for his own glory, but for love
of Him whose children he rejoiced to help. So the gold has come back to
him in the form of this star, which he may offer to his Master.'

"And as the little one looked around among the pilgrims, he saw that
most of them had some gift which they were taking to their Father; and
his own heart grew sad again, for he had as yet found none, though he
had looked carefully by the way.

"When the seventh hour had gone by, the pilgrims all went forth on
their journey again. Some kept near Benito and Experience, others
passed far ahead, and some few were left behind. But the two soldiers
were always near; for as Experience walked slowly, so that he might
help the little one whose hand lay in his, so the younger soldier also
held back, that he might lend his arm to aid the feeble steps of the
older.

"They now came to a black bog where the guide-post pointed to a narrow
bridge which led them safely over it. But from the midst of the bog
came terrible cries. 'Come and help us, for we have lost our way; and
if we are not set right, we shall never reach our home.'

"Then the two soldiers said they must go and help the poor lost ones,
and Experience said he would go with them.

"'For the path is pretty plain for some distance now,' he said to
Benito, 'and I think thou couldst walk by thyself for a while. Only
from time to time look at the guide-posts, and be sure to keep fast
hold upon the silver thread.' Then he left him to go with the soldiers.

"So the boy went on by himself, watching carefully for the jewel he
hoped to find. And as he looked, a poor lame bird hopped upon his
path. The broad road was very near to the narrow one in this spot, and
walking upon it were many children and older people. These children had
long been calling to Benito, telling him to come where the ground was
soft and easy to walk upon, and where he might play all the day long
if he chose. But Benito would not listen, for Experience had told him
to close his ears; and besides he had the command of his Elder Brother
that he should set his feet on the narrow path.

"The bird was a poor, half-starved looking thing, with a broken
wing; for these cruel children had caught it, and after teasing and
tormenting it for a long while, had stoned it. It had at last escaped
them, and fluttering across the stream which divided the roads, fell at
Benito's feet.

"The boy raised it gently, bound up the broken wing, and gathering some
of the grass which grew by the wayside, made for the bird a soft nest.
Then taking from his bosom a piece of bread, given to him by the old
soldier lest he should be hungry, he fed it with some crumbs, brought
it water from the stream, and left it there in comfort and safety.

"On he went, wishing for his friends, and still looking for the jewel.
Suddenly he saw before him a beautiful butterfly, with wings of
crimsom, blue, and gold. It flew gayly about him, now lighting on his
shoulder, now circling round his head; but never coming where he might
lay his hand upon it.

"'What a lovely thing!' he said to himself. 'If I may but catch it, I
will take it to my Father.'

"The butterfly lighted upon a flower, and the child sprang after it.
Away it flew to another, and he followed, still to miss it. On they
went, from flower to flower, until it reached the stream, and flying
across, lit upon a showy tulip, just upon the farther side. Benito
hesitated and drew back, for the insect was now upon the forbidden
road, and he feared to disobey. But there was the butterfly fluttering
its lovely wings in the sunlight, the stream looked narrow here, he
could reach the prize, and be back in an instant. He should be so glad
to show it to his friends when they joined him again. As he thought
thus, he loosened a little his grasp upon the silver thread, and
instantly small prickles started up upon it, reminding him of his duty;
but he looked again at the butterfly, and then, forgetting all else,
let go his hold altogether, sprang across the stream, and once more
reached forth his hand. Again the butterfly fluttered off a little
farther, this time burying itself in the very heart of a lovely flower.

"'Ah, I have thee now,' said Benito, and, springing forward, his hand
closed upon the blossom. But he instantly drew it back, crying aloud
with pain, for sharp nettles ran themselves into his tender palm, and
the butterfly suddenly changed into an ugly creeping thing. He heard
around him mocking laughter and loud, angry cries, and, terrified, he
turned to go back. But he found himself in a bog where his feet sank
deeper and deeper, and his white dress became soiled and spotted. When
he looked towards the stream, its waters had become black and muddy,
and a fog hung over it so that he could not see the narrow path. He
drew his glass from his bosom, but alas it was so clouded that he could
not see through it, and then he cried aloud in his pain and grief.
Suddenly there came a voice from beyond the mist,--

"'Step boldly into the stream, my child, these are the healing waters
of Repentance and Confession, and thou shalt pass safely through them
to the true way once more.'

"Benito hesitated no longer, but plunged bravely into the muddy stream.
And behold the mist lifted at once, the waters became clear, and he
saw upon the opposite bank the older soldier, who held out his hand to
him. The child grasped it, and in another moment, he stood safe, but
weak and trembling beside his friend; and as he looked down in fear
and distress, lest his dress were not fit for such company, he saw it
was white and pure again, cleansed by the waters through which he had
passed.

"Then came Experience and bound up the little bleeding hands, and
replacing one upon the silver thread, took the other in his own.

"'I wished to carry the beautiful insect to my Father, that he might
know I thought of him on the way,' sobbed the child.

"'That butterfly is called Temptation, beloved,' said the old soldier,
'and could not fail to lead thee astray if thou didst pursue her. She
has many ways of deceiving those whom she would lead into sin; and,
seeing the strong wish of thy young heart to gain some gift which thou
mightest carry to thy Father, she took that very means to draw thee
aside from the path of duty.'

"The little one sighed, for his heart was sad, not as much for the
pain he had suffered as for his bitter disappointment. After a little,
he thought of his glass, and drawing it forth, found it bright and
undimmed as it had been when he started. Then he grew happy again, and
was going on his way singing, when he saw a boy, smaller than himself,
sitting by the wayside, weeping.

"Benito ran up to him. 'What aileth thee?' he asked.

"'Ah!' said the boy, 'my sister and I were going home, hand in hand,
and we were so happy, for we loved one another dearly; but a shining
angel came and carried her from my sight, and now I am alone.'

"Then Benito drew the other's head upon his breast, and kissed him and
wept with him, and spoke tender words to him, so that the child was
comforted. Then they went on together, but they had gone but a few
steps when the shining angel came again, and taking Benito's new friend
in his arms, carried him away also. He smiled sweetly on Benito as he
passed out of sight, and our young pilgrim felt a great joy in his
heart to think that he had given comfort to the little stranger.

"A short distance farther on, the travellers overtook an old woman,
bending beneath the weight of a heavy burden which she carried. She
seemed very feeble, and Benito was grieved for her as he saw how she
tottered and how hard it was for her to bear up beneath her load. She
was faint and hungry too, and at every step it appeared as if she must
sink down.

"'Can I not help thee?' asked Benito.

"'Dear child!' said the old dame. 'How can those tiny hands help to
bear a burden such as mine?'

"'I can try,' said Benito. 'Lay a part of it upon my shoulders. I will
take all I can to lighten thine. And see, take this; it will strengthen
thee for the rest of the journey;' and he handed her the piece of bread
which the soldier had given for his own needs.

"The dame took it and eat, and strength came to her as the boy had
said; and as he tried to bear upon his shoulders a part of her load,
she, too, shed tears which fell upon his bosom as she leaned over him.
But they were tears of gratitude and blessing, and did her good; so
that after this she went on her way with more comfort.

"And now the day was drawing to its close, the sun was setting, and
the end of their journey was near; for the pilgrims could plainly see
the river which lay between them and the mountains where their Father
dwelt. But just on the nearer side of the river rose a high hill, and
on it was a castle, where lived a cruel robber named Doubt, who often
came down and dragged many pilgrims up to his castle just when they
were in sight of their home. When the soldiers saw this, they said
there was one more fight to make before they crossed the river, and
again Experience went with them, leaving the child at the foot of the
hill, and telling him that if he were frightened, or if the robber
came to carry him away, he had only to gaze through his glass at the
opposite side of the river and all fear and danger would pass away.

"So the three went up the hill, and the child sat down to await their
return. As he sat there, he looked at the river and was afraid, for
he thought, 'How can such a little one as I pass through those deep
waters? The waves will be too strong for me, and will carry me away.'

"Then he remembered what Experience had told him, and looking through
his glass, he saw that the waves were so shallow that they would
scarcely wet his feet; and on the other side rose his Father's house,
so beautiful, so glorious, that he cried aloud with joy and with
longing to pass the river and be there.

"But now he found he was not to sit still, for as the fight went on
above, and the soldiers and Experience gained the victory, one after
another of the prisoners came down the hill, wounded and bleeding, for
they had risen to help those who came to set them free, and had been
terribly hurt in the battle.

"Benito rose and did what he could for them, bringing water to their
thirsty, fevered lips, staying the blood as well as he could, and
gathering fresh grass and moss for pillows for their weary heads. And
while he was so busy, he felt a touch upon his shoulder, and looking
up, he saw the shining angel who had carried away the little boy with
whom he had wept.

"'Come,' said the angel, 'I am thy Father's messenger, sent to carry
thee over the river.'

"The little one stretched out his arms with a cry of joy; but, even as
he did so, the old thought came to him, and he said, sadly, 'Ah, I have
found no jewel to offer to my Father!'

"The angel made no answer, but lifted him up, softly kissing his
forehead, and Benito sank gently into his arms. The angel carried him
swiftly over the river, and on the other side stood his Elder Brother,
who received him from the messenger, and laid him in his bosom; and he
said to Benito, 'My lamb, put thy hand into thy bosom and see what thou
findest there.'

"The little one obeyed, and drew forth a string of pure white pearls,
so fair, so lovely that they seemed more beautiful than any of the
shining jewels which his fellow-pilgrims had worn.

"'That is thy gift unto thy Father,' said his Brother. 'These are the
tears which the young child and the old dame shed upon thy bosom, the
drops of water which thou didst bring to the fainting prisoners, with
which thou didst cheer the drooping bird. They have changed into these
fair pearls, and returned unto thine own bosom, because in doing it
unto them, thou didst it unto me. See, there is thy welcome into the
home of the blessed.'

"Then looking up, Benito saw written over the door of his Father's
house, 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.'

"And his Brother carried him into his Father's presence, where he cast
his pearls at his feet, and was received into his love and care for
evermore."

The colonel paused and looked at the children, fearing that he might
have made his story too long. But it did not seem so, for they all were
so interested that they had quite forgotten everything else. Bessie lay
back with her head on his arm, and her eyes fixed on his face as if she
feared to lose a word; while even Maggie's restless hands were quite
still, lying clasped on the arm of the sofa as she stood motionless
beside him. Gracie and Lily had drawn up their chairs and sat in front
of him, listening as eagerly as the others; and now Lily drew a long
breath, and said, "Is that all?"

"All!" said the colonel. "Yes. Is it not enough? I feared you would be
quite tired of me and my story."

"Oh, no!" said Lily. "I wish you would tell us stories all day. I
should _never_ be tired."

"I should then," said Colonel Rush, smiling. "And it is nearly time for
you to go home, now."

"Colonel Rush," said Gracie, "isn't your story what is called an
allegory?"

"Yes," he answered. "Did you understand it, Bessie?"

"Most all of it," answered Bessie. "You meant that even little children
can do something for Jesus if they are kind and good, and he wont care
if it is only a little thing, if they do it 'cause they love him."

"You are right, my darling."

"And when the boy went in the wrong road after the butterfly, you
meant that we must not do wrong even when we thought it was for a good
purpose," said Maggie. "Mamma told me that the other day."

"And the Elder Brother means Jesus," said Lily.

"I am glad you all understand it so well," said the colonel, "and still
more glad that you all like it. It was Maggie's little hymn which made
me think of it. So you may thank her, too, for any pleasure it has
given you."

"And who is Experience?" asked Maggie.

"Experience may be older people who are generally wiser in some things
than the little ones, and can help them along; but who may yet learn
much from a child."

"Children cannot teach grown people; can they?" said Lily.

"I think they can," said Colonel Rush, laying his hand lovingly on
Bessie's head. "The best lesson I ever learned in my life was taught me
by a little child."

"Who?" asked Maggie.

"And what was the lesson?" said Gracie.

"You must not ask," he answered. "Here is your papa, Maggie; and Tom
for you, Lily."

The children said good-by to their kind friends, and went away,
promising gladly to come again the next Sunday.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

VII.

_THE PEACH-STONES._


THOSE peach-stones gave Maggie and Bessie a great deal to do. They were
very busy children in those days. On Monday mamma began again with
their lessons. They went to her for an hour each morning after they
came from their walk, said a reading and spelling lesson, a little of
the multiplication-table which Maggie said she was sure was made just
"to bother little girls," and a verse of poetry; and when the hour was
over, had a short sewing lesson. Maggie's "towel task," as she called
it, was done later in the day whenever her mamma had time to attend to
her.

As soon as the sewing lesson was over, they went to the yard to
look after the peach-stones. Patrick saved them all for Bessie, and
had found two boards for her on which she might dry them; and never
peach-stones needed so much attention. In the first place, there was
each morning the plate full which Patrick had collected from the table
to be washed and spread out on the boards, and the whole number counted
over and over again, for they could never make them twice the same.

Often when they went out, they found the cats had come over the fence,
and knocked them down into the earth of the flower-garden, and they
all had to be washed over again. Then Flossy, who was always with them
now, would insist on scrambling over the boards, and would send the
peach-stones flying in every direction, for he thought it fine fun to
see them rolling about. There is no telling how much they enjoyed all
this trouble, or how distressed they would have been, if it had been
suddenly brought to an end. Indeed, they were quite disappointed if
they found everything in good order when they went out in the yard.

"Margaret," said Mr. Bradford to his wife one day, as he sat at the
library window, watching his little daughters at their work, "how long
do you suppose it will take those peach-stones to dry at this rate?"

Mrs. Bradford laughed as she came and looked over his shoulder.

"Dear little things!" she said. "How they do enjoy it! I believe
they fancy they are doing the chief part of the work for our peach
preserves, besides gaining something to add to their store for the
library. I shall be sorry when the warm weather is at an end, and I
shall have to forbid them to play with water. It gives some trouble,
to be sure, in the matter of dresses and aprons, but I have not the
heart to stop them, while I do not fear they will take cold."

Nurse grumbled a good deal over the wet dresses and aprons.

"Who ever heard of such doings?" she said one day. "And what's the good
of it all? Them little ignoramuses out in the backwoods can't read your
books when they get 'em."

Maggie was very much displeased.

"You ought not to talk so, nursey," she said. "If those children
don't know how to read, they can be taught. And don't you like to do
missionary work?"

"Missionary work!" said nurse. "And do you think I'd leave my
comfortable home to go missioning?"

"That's because you're not so very good," said Maggie, gravely. "Miss
Winslow is going to leave her comfortable home, and go to teach those
little children that you called such an unpleasant name; and it's very
good of her. Besides, you needn't go away to do missionary work; you
can do it here if you choose."

"And how's that? I'd like to know," said nursey, whisking off Maggie's
wet dress.

"If we want to help people, we can do it without going away," said
Maggie, "and sometimes it's our duty to do it, and then that's our
mission; mamma said so. Now, nursey, don't you think you have a duty?"

"If I have, I don't need you to teach it to me," said nurse.

"No," said Maggie, "I am not going to teach you, 'cause you are old,
and I am little, but I am just going to enter an ex-plan-a-tion for
you, 'cause you don't seem to understand."

At this, Jane, who was dressing Bessie began to giggle, and nurse put
her head into the wardrobe, where the children's dresses lay.

"Now," Maggie went on, "you see Miss Winslow thinks it is her duty to
go and teach those log-cabin children, and that's her missionary work;
and it's Bessie's duty and mine to help her if we can, so it's our
missionary work to buy the library; and it's your duty to dress us if
we get ourselves wet while we earn the money, so that's your missionary
work; and you ought to do it with a cheerful mind, and not scold us."

Nurse tried to look grum, but the corners of her mouth were twitching,
and when she had fastened Maggie's dress, she gave her a hug and a kiss
which did not seem as though she were very angry.

As soon as the little girls had run away to their mamma's room, nurse
and Jane laughed heartily.

"Well, well," said nurse, "to hear the reasoning of her! And she has
the right of it, too, bless her heart, and just shames her old mammy."

After this, there was no more grumbling about the wet dresses.

One night there was a hard storm, and in the morning, when the children
went out, they found that the rain had washed sand and gravel all over
their precious peach-stones. This, of course, must be attended to
immediately, and it was quite a piece of work, for by this time they
had collected seven or eight hundred.

"We ought to have something large to wash them in," said Maggie. "What
can we find?"

Now, Mrs. Bradford had a new cook, who had only been in the house for
two or three days; and, as the children were seldom allowed to go into
the kitchen, she was as yet quite a stranger to them. This cook had not
a good temper, but she was very neat, and that morning she had been
making a great scrubbing and polishing of her tins, after which she put
them out in the sun. Looking about for something in which to wash their
peach-stones, Maggie and Bessie saw these tins, and among them a bright
new colander.

"Oh, that's just what we want," said Maggie. "Can we take it, Patrick?"
she asked of the good-natured waiter, who was cleaning knives in the
area.

"'Deed, and ye may," said Patrick, who thought his little ladies must
have everything they asked for.

Much delighted, the children filled the colander with peach-stones,
and, carrying it to the hydrant, turned on the water, thinking it fine
fun to see it stream through the holes of the colander.

Meanwhile Flossy, who was running about the yard, putting his nose into
everything, found a quantity of muffin-rings, and thinking that these
would be good things for him to play with, soon had them rolling about
in every direction; but our little girls were too busy to see that he
was in mischief.

It took some time to wash all the peach-stones, but they were done at
last, and just arranged again in regular rows upon the boards, when the
cook came out to take in her tins. Angry enough she was when she saw
the rings scattered around, and the clean, bright colander smeared with
sand and gravel; and terribly she scolded.

"How dare ye!" she said to Maggie and Bessie. "I'll teach ye to touch
my tins."

"They're not yours," said Bessie, "they are mamma's. Maggie and I were
with her the other day when she bought that basin with holes in, and
she only lent them to you; and, cook, we don't be talked to in that
way; mamma don't allow it."

This made the cook still more angry, and she scolded in a way quite
terrible to hear, while the children stood looking at her, too much
astonished and frightened to answer. But Flossy never heard any great
noise without trying to add his share, and he now began to bark at cook
with all his might.

"There now," said Patrick, "don't ye make such a fuss, Bridget, and
I'll just wash yer colander as clane as a new pin. They're not used to
sich talk, isn't the little ladies; for it's dacent people we are all,
Mrs. Bradford's help, and not a hard word among us at all, at all. Come
now, be civil; and do you run to your play, honeys; it is no harrum ye
have done."

But the cook would not be pacified, and scolded louder and louder,
while the more she scolded, the louder Flossy barked.

"Cook," said Bessie, "you are a very naughty woman, and I don't think
we'll keep you."

"Woof, woof," said Flossy.

"Be off with you," said cook. "You'll fly at me, will you?"

"Woof, woof," said Flossy.

The woman snatched up Patrick's knife-brick, and with a very bad word
to the children, was about to throw it at the puppy, when Patrick
caught her arm; and the frightened little ones, catching up their dog,
scampered off as fast as their feet could carry them.

Up the back steps and through piazza and hall, till they reached the
front stairs, where they sat down quite out of breath. For a moment or
two neither of them said a word, but sat looking at each other, as if
they did not know what to make of all this; while Flossy, thinking he
had made noise enough for this time, curled himself up in Maggie's lap
for a nap.

At last, Maggie gave a long sigh. "Oh, dear," she said, "what a
dreadful woman!"

"And what a wicked word she called us!" said Bessie. "Maggie, what
shall we do?"

"We'll have to tell mamma," said Maggie; "she ought to know it."

"But, how can we tell her? I don't like to say that word, and, Maggie,
I don't like you to say it either."

"But I s'pose we'll have to," said Maggie. "Mamma wouldn't like to have
a swearer in her house."

"And what will be done to the cook?" asked Bessie. "Will she be hung?"

"No, I guess not," answered Maggie. "I think they only hang people when
they kill somebody. But I s'pose she'll have to be took to prison.
Papa's a lawyer, and I guess he'll send her."

"I thought the policemen did that," said Bessie.

"I'll tell you," said Maggie. "You know papa goes down town?"

"Yes, to his office."

"And he goes to another place called 'court,'" said Maggie. "Well,
when somebody is very wicked, the police officer comes, and takes him
to the lawyer, and he says, 'Mister, this is a very naughty person who
has done something very bad;' and the lawyer says, 'Here, you, go to
prison, and just behave yourself.' And then the policeman takes him to
prison, and locks him up."

"Oh!" said Bessie, looking at her sister with great admiration, "what a
wise girl you are! You know almost everything."

"I am going to try and learn a great deal more, so I can tell everybody
everything they want to know," said Maggie.

"Maggie, do you think cook has been 'brought up in the way she should
go'?"

"No, I don't," said Maggie. "No 'way she should go' about it."

"Then do you think we ought to want her to be punished?"

"I don't want her to be punished," answered Maggie; "at least, not
much. But you see she _ought_ to be. Anyhow, we must tell mamma, and
she'll know what is best."

"But how _can_ we say that word?" said Bessie.

"I'll tell you," said Maggie, after a moment's thought. "You say half
of it, Bessie, and I'll say the rest. I'll say the first half."

"Well," said Bessie, with a long sigh. "I suppose we'll have to. Let's
go and do it quick then. I don't like to think about it."

Maggie laid Flossy down upon the soft mat at the foot of the stairs,
and hand in hand, she and Bessie went up to their mother's room. Now it
so happened that Mrs. Bradford had been passing through the upper hall
as the little girls sat talking below. She stopped for a moment to see
what they were doing, and heard Maggie tell Bessie about the lawyer.
They did not see or hear her, and she would not wait to listen, though
she was sure, from the sound of their voices that they were in trouble,
but passed on to her room, where her sister Annie and Mrs. Rush were
sitting. She told them what Maggie had said, at which they were very
much amused.

"Something has happened to distress them," said Mrs. Bradford, "and I
suppose I shall soon hear of it. If they come up with any droll story,
do not laugh, as it seems to be a serious matter to them."

Mrs. Rush and Annie Stanton promised to keep sober faces if possible;
but they did not know how much their gravity was to be tried. A moment
later, the children came in, and with grave, earnest looks walked
directly to their mother.

"Mamma," said Maggie, "we have something dreadful to tell you."

"Such a shocking thing!" said Bessie; "but we _have_ to tell you."

"That is right, my darlings," said mamma. "If you have done anything
wrong, tell me at once, and I will forgive you."

"It was not us, mamma. It was the new cook. Tell her quick, Maggie."

"Mamma," said Maggie, almost in a whisper, "she called us little dev'--"

"'ul," said Bessie.

"'s--s--s--s!" said Maggie.

Down went Aunt Annie's face into the sofa-pillows, while Mrs. Rush
turned quickly toward the window to hide hers. Mrs. Bradford coughed,
and put her hand over her mouth, but it was all useless; and Annie's
merry laugh was ringing in the children's astonished ears.

Maggie colored all over, and the tears came in her eyes, while Bessie,
with cheeks almost as red, turned angrily to her aunt.

"You oughtn't, you oughtn't!" she said; "It is not a thing to laugh at.
It was a shocking, shocking word."

"My darling," began mamma, then she, too, broke down and laughed with
the other ladies.

This was quite too much; Bessie hid her face on Maggie's shoulder, and
both burst into tears. Mamma was grave in a moment. She lifted Bessie
on her lap, and drew Maggie close to her side.

"My poor little ones," she said, "that was too bad, but we did not mean
to hurt your feelings;" and she soothed and petted them till they could
look up again and dry their tears.

"Now tell me all about it," she said; and Bessie told her story with
many a grieved sob, ending with "And then she called us that name,
mamma," for she would not trust herself to repeat the words which had
caused her and Maggie so much distress.

Mrs. Bradford was much displeased with the cook, and reproved her; but
the woman was saucy, and as she made much trouble in the kitchen, she
sent her away. The children were greatly surprised that no policeman
came for her, and that she left the house quite quietly, as if nothing
extraordinary had happened.

About this time an end came to the washing of peach-stones, for, as
the weather became cool, mamma forbade Maggie and Bessie to play with
water. So the stones had at last a chance to dry; then Patrick cracked
them, and the children took out the kernels. Boiling water was then
poured over them, and when it had cooled enough for small fingers, the
kernels were fished out; and the skin which the hot water had loosened
was slipped off by the little girls. After that mamma allowed them to
drop the blanched pits into the jars of preserves; and papa declared
that no peaches had ever tasted so good as those sweet-meats which
his Maggie and Bessie had helped to make. They had collected thirteen
hundred peach-stones, and earned sixty-five cents, which went into the
"library-box" in mamma's drawer. Maggie had hemmed four towels, for
which she had been paid twenty cents. This, with papa's twenty-seven
bright pennies, made one dollar and twelve cents.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

VIII.

_THE NEW GLOVES._


"Maggie and Bessie," said mamma one morning, "I want to see your
gloves. It is a month to-day since you began to save money for your
library."

The gloves were soon brought, and mamma examined them.

"Maggie, your second-best are too shabby to be worn any more," said her
mother, "you must take the better ones for every day, and I shall buy
you a new pair."

"Oh, mamma, I would rather keep the old pair, and save the money," said
Maggie.

"No, dear; you know I told you I must keep you as neat and well dressed
as usual. You must have what is necessary, and then what is left of
the dollar goes in your box."

"And how much will it take for new gloves, mamma?"

"About seventy-five cents. Then you have had two boot-laces; they are
ten cents; that leaves fifteen cents out of the dollar. Bessie's gloves
will do, I think, and she has had one boot-lace; that leaves the whole
of her dollar except five cents. Maggie, you must have taken great
pains to use fewer laces. This is a great improvement on last month."

But in spite of her mother's praise, Maggie's face looked very long.
Bessie had almost the whole of her dollar, and but a few cents were
left of her own.

"Mamma," said Bessie, "I think Maggie could not help it, if her second
gloves are pretty mussed. The other day Flossy yan away with them, and
before we could get them he had chewed one all up. And it was not
Maggie's carelessness, 'cause Jane put them on the bed, and Flossy
jumped up and pulled them off. Couldn't you take a little of my dollar
to help to buy the new gloves, and let Maggie keep some more of hers?"

"That will not do," said mamma, smiling at the generous little girl;
"but since it was Flossy's fault that the gloves were spoiled, and
Maggie has taken so much pains, I will only take out fifty cents for
the new pair. And I will tell you, Bessie, it is much harder for Maggie
to keep her things neat than it is for you, and then she generally puts
on her own shoes, while nurse or Jane puts on yours. Suppose next month
I add another twenty-five cents to her dollar; are you willing?"

"Course I am, mamma. I am just as glad as anything. Isn't that nice,
Maggie?"

Maggie's face brightened. "And how much have we now, mamma?" she asked.

"Forty cents out of Maggie's dollar, and ninety-five from Bessie's just
make one dollar, thirty-five cents. You have one dollar and twelve
cents in your box, which make in all two dollars, forty-seven cents."

Maggie was quite happy when she found they had such a sum, which mamma
told them was nearly half of what they wanted for the library.

Grandmamma's carriage now drove to the door, and she came in and asked
Mrs. Bradford to go out with her and take the children. Mamma said she
could not go herself, for baby was not well, and she did not care to
leave her, but the children might go if grandmamma wished. Away they
ran to be dressed, full of glee, for shopping with grandmamma was a
great pleasure, and they were almost sure to come home richer than
they went. They drove to several places, and when the children thought
there was anything interesting to be seen, they went into the store
with their grandmother. If not, they remained in the carriage, and
chatted with the coachman, or watched the people passing in the street.

At last they went to a large store, where Mrs. Stanton and Mrs.
Bradford were in the habit of going, and where Maggie and Bessie felt
quite at home. There was a good-natured clerk, who was nurse's nephew,
and whenever he saw them, he was sure to have an empty box with a
picture cover, or a bright-colored piece of paper or ribbon to give
them. Here grandmamma bought several things which did not much interest
the little girls; but at last she took them to another counter, where
she said something to the clerk about gloves.

"Why, grandmamma," said Maggie, "are you going to buy gloves? Do you
know you have a whole box full at home? I saw them the other day when
you let me put your drawer in order."

But Mrs. Stanton only smiled, and pinched Maggie's round cheek, and
just then the gloves were put before them. Oh! such gloves as those
were never meant for grandmamma's hand. Kid gloves they were too, and
who had ever seen any so small before? In her surprise and pleasure,
Maggie had almost forgotten that she had been forbidden to handle
anything when she went shopping; but just as her hand touched the
gloves, she remembered, and drew it back. But the good-natured clerk
gave them to her, telling her to look at them if she pleased.

"Just like ladies' gloves," said Bessie, who, stretching up on tiptoe,
could just see above the counter. Grandmamma lifted her and seated her
upon it.

"Do you call that a hand?" said she, playfully, taking Bessie's little
fingers in her own. "Mr. Jones, have you a pair small enough for that?"

How Bessie wished her hand was larger as the clerk shook his head!
But after looking through the whole bundle, a pair was found which
grandmamma thought would do, and then a pair for Maggie was picked
out with less trouble. They were wrapped in separate parcels, and
each child took her own, feeling quite as if she must have grown
taller since she came to that counter. Then the clerk gave them each a
piece of fancy paper,--Maggie's, gilt, with flowers stamped upon it,
Bessie's, blue, with silver stars.

As soon as they reached home, they ran to show mamma their treasures,
but Mrs. Bradford noticed that Maggie did not seem half so eager as
usual, when she had received any new pleasure. While Bessie was talking
as fast as her little tongue could go, she stood almost silent at her
mother's knee, drawing her fingers slowly back and forth over her gilt
paper.

"What makes our Maggie so quiet?" Mrs. Bradford asked. "Are you not
pleased with your grandmother's pretty present, dear?"

"Oh, yes, mamma! but I was just considering about it a little."

"What were you considering?"

"If it was quite fair for me to wear the gloves, mamma. Do you think it
is?"

"Why should it not be fair, Maggie? Grandmamma gave you the gloves for
your own; did she not?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am; but then she did not know you gave me glove allowance;
and maybe she would not have bought them for me if she had known. And
now you wont have to get me another pair this month. So maybe you wont
think I ought to have the gloves and the money too. I want to be quite
very fair, indeed, I do, mamma, and I didn't know how to think it was
quite right. Besides, those gloves are nicer than the kind you buy for
us, and perhaps you would think you ought to take a little more of my
dollar for them. If you would, I would rather have a pair of the other
kind, and put these away, and let the money go in the library-box."

"You may wear the gloves and welcome, my dear, honest little girl,"
said Mrs. Bradford, drawing Maggie to her, and kissing her. "It is
quite fair for you to do so. Grandmamma knew that I gave you a certain
sum for your gloves and so forth, and I think she meant to help you a
little by buying these for you. I am glad my darling child wishes to
be honest and upright in all she does. But I must be quite fair too. I
told you I should give you so much a month, and take from it what you
needed for gloves and shoe-laces, and whatever was left you might keep
for another purpose. Now since grandmamma has given you these, there is
no need for me to buy you another pair; but it would not be just for
me to take from you any part of the money they would have cost. It is
_your_ gain, not _mine_. When a bargain has been made, we must hold to
it, even though things turn out differently from what was expected."

"But you need not hold to this bargain, if you do not wish to, mamma."

"Indeed, I do wish to, Maggie, and you need not feel in the least
troubled about it. I am not only satisfied, but very glad that you have
received this little help."

After this, Maggie's mind was at rest, and she wore her new gloves with
great pleasure.

"Hallo!" said Fred, as he and Harry came into the library that
afternoon, and found their little sisters quietly playing in one
corner. "What scrumptious paper! Where did you get that, Midget?"

"Mr. Jones, nurse's nephew, gave it to us," said Maggie. "He gave me
the gold piece, and Bessie the silver piece, but we cut them in two and
each took half."

"I wish I could get hold of such friends as you do," said Fred.
"Somebody is always giving you something. How do you manage it?"

"We don't manage it," said Bessie, who thought that Fred meant to say
that she and Maggie liked their friends for what they gave them. "We
don't manage it, and we don't get hold of them, Fred. Our friends give
us things because they like to do it, and we never ask for anything;
do we, Maggie?"

"No," said Maggie, "and you ought not to talk so, Fred."

"I didn't mean to say anything," said he, "but it is true; is it not?
Are not people always making you presents, and taking you to places,
and doing other things to give you pleasure?"

"Yes," said Maggie, "but they do it because they like us. If anybody
loves anybody, it is a pleasure to do a favor to them. We think it is;
don't we, Bessie?"

"Oh, that is it; is it?" said Fred. "Well then, you love me; don't you?"

"Course we do, because you're our brother; and we'd love you a great
deal more if you didn't tease us, Fred."

"Well, if you love me, and it is such a pleasure to do things for
people you love, you can please yourselves very much by giving me some
of this paper."

"Oh, we can't; we want it ourselves," said Maggie, while Bessie took up
both pieces of paper, and put her hands behind her, as if she feared
that Fred would run off with them.

"Ho, ho," said he, "then you love yourselves better than you do me?"

"Fred," said Mr. Bradford, who was sitting on the other side of the
room, "do not tease your sisters."

"I did not mean to tease them, sir; but as Maggie thinks it so
delightful to please people whom one loves, I was only giving her a
chance to do it, and she don't seem to care to take it. I say, Hal,
wouldn't this paper be jolly to make stars and things for our new
kites?"

"First-rate," said Harry. "I'll tell you what, Midget and Bess, will
you sell it?"

"No," said Bessie, rather crossly, "we want it for dresses for our
paper dolls. You do tease us, and we want you to go away, even if you
say you don't mean to, and you sha'n't--" Bessie stopped, and then went
on again in a pleasanter voice. "Please to 'scuse me, Fred. I didn't
mean to be so cross, but we are so busy, and we'd yather you wouldn't
interyupt us."

These last words were said in a very polite little manner, which rather
amused the boys. Fred had been ready with a sharp answer, when Bessie
began so angrily; but now, when he saw her check her quick temper, he
was ashamed to provoke her.

"Just as you choose," he said, "but you are in such a way in these days
to lay up money for your mission-books that I thought you would be
willing enough to sell it."

"Children," said Mr. Bradford, again looking up from his writing, "if
you cannot play without disputing, I shall separate you. Fred, your
little sisters were quiet and happy before you came in. Do not let me
have to speak to you again, my boy."

Now here was the consequence of having a bad character. Fred had not
intended to vex the children, but he was so in the habit of teasing
them that they were afraid of him, and thought he meant it when he did
not; while his father, who had not heard much of what was passing, but
who had been disturbed by the fretful tone of Bessie's voice, took it
for granted that Fred was annoying her. But Bessie was too honest to
let him be blamed when he had not deserved it.

"Fred was not naughty, papa," she said. "I'm 'fraid it was me. I was
cross."

"Very well," said her father, who thought it best to let them settle
the difficulty themselves, if they could do it peaceably; "only let
there be no more quarrelling."

"Suppose we go and finish our kites," said Harry. Fred agreed, and the
two boys went away.

"Bessie," said Maggie, presently, "I'm just of a good mind to give
Harry a piece of my paper."

"For some pennies?" asked Bessie.

"No; mamma said it was not nice for brothers and sisters to sell things
to one another; and she don't want us to be too anxious to get money,
even for our library. I'm just going to give it to him, 'cause that day
when he asked me for the shell, I said I would sell it to him; and then
he'll see I am not a miser."

"Well," said Bessie, "then I'll give Fred a piece of mine, 'cause I was
cross to him just now."

"Harry shall have my gold piece," said Maggie, "and then we'll divide
these two 'tween ourselves."

"So we will," said Bessie, "then we will all have some. Maggie, you do
fix everything so nice."

Away they ran to their brothers' playroom.

"Holloa!" said Fred, when he saw them; "we are not such plagues but
that you had to run after us, eh?"

"We came to bring you some of our paper," said Maggie. "This piece is
for you, Harry, and Bessie's is for Fred."

"Well, you are first-rate little chaps," said Fred; "and Hal and I will
make each of you a nice little kite; see if we don't."

"Oh, Fred!" said Bessie.

"What's the matter now? Sha'n't you like that?"

"Ladies are not chaps," said Bessie, gravely, "and they don't play with
kites."

"Oh, you're a big lady, aren't you?" said he, laughing.

"I can be a lady if I'm not so very big. Mamma says anybody can be a
lady or a gemperlum, if they are kind and polite, even if they are very
little, or even if they are poor."

"All right," said Fred. "Then I suppose that lady wont accept a kite
from this gemperlum."

"Don't say it that way; you must say gem-per-lum."

"Well, don't I say gem-per-lum?"

"That's not the way," said Bessie, her color rising, for she knew that
Fred was laughing at her, and she thought it was hard.

"Fred," said Harry, "you are breaking your resolution already."

[Illustration: Bessie in City. p. 184.]

"That is so. What a fellow I am!"

"Fred," said Bessie, "gemperlums don't tease. Papa is a gemperlum, and
he never teases."

"And mamma said Tom Norris was a perfect little gentleman, and he does
not tease. I guess gentlemen always 'do to others as they would,'" said
Maggie, who was very fond of this line.

"They ought to if they do not," said Harry, "and no one can say that
you don't keep that rule, Maggie."

"When people have angry passions, it's very hard not to get in one when
they're teased," said Bessie. "Fred, I do have to try so very, very
hard."

Fred threw down his kite, and caught his little sister in his arms.

"See if I plague you any more then," he said. "I was just telling Harry
I did not mean to do it, and the first thing, I am at it again; but I
will try to remember, Bess. Harry, if I forget again, I give you leave
to bring me up short the best way you can."

Fred kept his word, and after this, took much pains to break himself of
his provoking habit.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

IX.

_TWO LOST PETS._


THAT night Maggie had a very bad earache. She tried to be patient, but
the pain was so severe that she could not help crying, and could get no
rest. Her father and mother were up with her almost all night, trying
to give her ease; but nothing did her any good until towards morning,
when she fell into a troubled sleep.

"Margaret," said Mr. Bradford at the breakfast-table, "is that
committee coming here this morning?"

"Yes," answered Mrs. Bradford.

"Mamma," said Bessie, "may I see it?"

"See what,--the committee?"

"Yes'm."

Mrs. Bradford smiled. "I do not think you would care much about it,
Bessie, and the committee will be too busy with its own affairs to care
to see you."

"Why, is it alive?" asked Bessie, in great surprise.

"To be sure," said Fred, before his mother could answer; "did you never
see one?"

"No," said Bessie, "could it bite me or scratch me?"

"It could if it had a mind to," said Fred, "and--" He was stopped by
Harry's hand over his mouth. Fred drew back his head, and looked angry.

"You gave me leave," said Harry.

"So I did," said Fred. "I beg your pardon, Bess, for plaguing you once
more. The committee wont hurt you; it's nothing but a lot of ladies."

"You should beg your mother's pardon, also, for answering a question
addressed to her," said Mr. Bradford; "it is a rude thing to do. Come
to me, Bessie." He took her upon his knee, saying, "A committee is a
number of people who are appointed to attend to some particular thing.
You know that the ladies in our church are going to make up some
clothing to send to the children at the Five Points' Mission; do you
not?"

"Yes, papa."

"Well, several of these ladies have been asked to make all the
arrangements for the meetings, and to have everything in order, so that
there may be no confusion when they come together to sew; and they are
called a committee. Your mamma is one of the committee, and the ladies
are to come here this morning. Do you understand?"

"Yes, papa."

It was quite late when Maggie awoke, long past breakfast-time, and
after she was dressed, she found her breakfast arranged for her in the
doll's tea-set, and Bessie ready to wait upon her. But our poor little
Maggie could not enjoy even this very much; she was languid and quite
tired out with pain, and her troublesome ear would not let itself be
forgotten, so that she did not feel much like play. Mamma took her
on her lap, rocked her, and read a new story-book, which suited much
better.

"I am sorry that I shall have to leave you for a while, dear," she
said. "If I had known that I was to have a little sick girl this
morning, I would not have asked the ladies to come here; but as it is,
I must go down. I do not think I shall be away more than an hour, and
you will be patient; will you not? Nurse will take care of you."

"And I will yead to her," said Bessie.

So when the ladies came, and mamma had to go down-stairs, she laid
Maggie on the lounge and covered her up, while Bessie sat down close
beside her with "Very Little Tales," and "Susie's Six Birthdays." Jane
had taken Franky to the park, and nurse, seeing Maggie so quiet and
comfortable, thought that she might leave her awhile.

"Baby's a bit fretful," she said, "and it's a shame to keep her in
the house this pleasant day. I'll just take her on the sidewalk for a
little fresh air. I'll not go out of sight, just up and down here a
piece, and if Maggie wants anything, you can come down and call me,
Bessie. I know you are to be trusted not to get in mischief."

Bessie was rather proud of being left to take care of Maggie, and
willingly agreed to let nurse go. The house seemed very still after she
had taken baby away. Bessie heard nothing but the sound of her own
sweet little voice as she read "Susie," and presently, looking up, she
saw that Maggie was fast asleep.

Flossy lay on the foot of the lounge, rolled up into a round ball, but
with his bright eyes wide open, watching Bessie. He had been frisking
about Maggie all the morning, trying to coax her to a game of play, but
he found it was of no use. He did not understand why his merry playmate
should be so quiet, nor did he approve of it. But he could not help it,
and so, like a wise dog, he seemed to have made up his mind to bear it,
though he lay watching and listening for the least sign of better times.

Bessie laid down her book, and sat looking at Maggie. "My poor Maggie,"
she said to herself, "she's so good and patient. I wish I could do
something for her, and I wish Aunt Annie or somebody would come and
see us and tell her a story while mamma is down-stairs. Oh, I wish
Colonel Yush would come; he tells us better stories than any one.
Wouldn't it be nice if he was to come while Maggie is asleep? and then
she'd see him when she wakes up, and she'd be so glad. If he knew she
was sick, I'm sure he would come. I'll just go out on the sidewalk and
ask nursey if she wont take me over to the hotel door, and then I'll go
up to my soldier's room and ask him to come and see Maggie."

She rose up softly from her chair and went into the nursery, followed
by Flossy, who, being very wide awake himself, had no mind to be left
with the sleeping Maggie, and jumped down from the lounge to run after
Bessie as soon as she stirred. Bessie went to the closet and took down
her garden-hat and sack from the peg where they hung. The hat was very
shabby, for it had been worn all summer at the sea-shore, and had seen
some hard use in the garden since she came home. But she could not
reach her best one, and said to herself that this would do, if nurse
would only let her wear it, of which she was not at all sure. She put
it on, walked down-stairs, and out upon the front stoop; but she saw no
sign of nurse. Up and down the street she looked, but the old woman was
nowhere to be seen.

Now the truth was, that nurse had not intended to lose sight of the
front-door, but as she passed Mr. Hall's house, Miss Carrie was at the
basement window, and calling her, begged that she would bring the baby
and let her speak to her. Nurse, always proud to show off her pet, was
willing enough, and for a few moments quite forgot her other nurslings,
as well as the open front-door; and it was just during these few
moments that Bessie came out to look for her.

"Nurse said she wouldn't go far away," said Bessie to herself, "and she
has, and now I can't go and find the colonel, 'cause mamma wouldn't
like me to go alone."

Flossy had run down to the foot of the steps, and there he stood,
wagging his tail, whisking and frisking, and altogether behaving like a
puppy who had quite taken leave of his senses, so glad was he to be out
of doors.

"We can't go, Flossy," said Bessie, as, with a sigh, she turned to go
into the house. "We're very disappointed, but we must mind mamma. Come,
Flossy, come. Don't you leave me, Flossy."

But Flossy was not so obedient as his little mistress, and instead of
coming back, he ran a short distance up the street, and then stopped,
barking joyously, and looking back to see if she were following.
Bessie went down the steps, calling him over and over again in such
a coaxing voice, that it was strange even such a wilful doggie could
resist. But it was of no use. Away went Flossy as fast as he could
run, and frightened at the thought of losing her pet, and forgetting
everything else, away went Bessie after him. Up to the end of the
block, around the corner, and so down the other side of the square,
till they came to the long, crowded crossing, over which Bessie was
never allowed to go without some grown person to hold her hand. Over it
went Flossy, in and out among the carriages and omnibuses, escaping the
wheels and the horses' hoofs in a way that was quite wonderful to see,
until he reached the opposite corner, where he again waited for Bessie.
But poor Bessie dared not cross by herself, and stood still in great
trouble.

"I wish I was over at the hotel," she said to herself, as she looked
up at the great building opposite, "and then the colonel would take me
home."

There was generally a tall policeman on the corner, whom Bessie knew
quite well, for he had often taken her hand, and led her over, or
sometimes even carried her if the stones were wet; but now he was not
there. In his place was another, who was a stranger to her, and now he
came over to her corner Bessie went up to him.

"Will you please tell me where my policeman is, sir?" she said.

"Who is your policeman?" said the officer.

"I don't know his name, but he takes me over the crossing, and mamma
don't 'low me to go alone."

"I suppose I can take you over as well as another," said he; "but your
mother must be a queer one to allow you to go out alone at all."

"She didn't," said Bessie, "and I didn't mean to, but Flossy yan away,
and I went to get him. Please take me over; I am afraid somebody will
catch him; then I'll go to the colonel's yoom, and he'll take me home."

The policeman lifted her up, and carried her to the opposite sidewalk.
Flossy was off again as soon as he saw her near him, but the officer
ran after him, and soon had him safe in Bessie's arms.

"And what are you going to do now?" said the good-natured man. "You're
over small for running about the streets by yourself."

"I am going to the colonel's," said Bessie. "I know the way, and he'll
take care of me."

She thanked him, and ran off; but the policeman followed till he saw
her go into the hotel as if she were quite sure of her way.

"She's all right," he said to himself, and then went back to his post,
thinking no more about the little stray lamb whom he had only helped
into farther trouble.

Bessie found her way without difficulty to the colonel's room, and
seeing the door open, she peeped in. There was no one there but a
servant-woman, who was dusting.

"Where is my soldier?" asked Bessie.

"Your soldier?" said the woman. "If you mean the lame gentleman, he and
the lady have gone out to ride. I don't want you here bothering round
with your dogs. Go back to your own rooms;" for the woman supposed
Bessie to be some child who belonged in the hotel.

"My soldier lets me come in his yoom when I choose, and it isn't yours
to talk about," said Bessie, very much offended, and she walked away
with her head very straight.

What should she do now? She would go back to the corner, she thought,
and ask her friend, the policeman, to take her home. But she was
becoming a little confused and frightened with all her troubles, and
when she left the hotel, turned the wrong way. On she went, farther
and farther from home, though she did not know it, and expected every
moment to see the well-known crossing. Some few people turned and
looked at her, as she passed with her dog clasped in her arms; but
she did not act at all like a lost child, and it was easy enough to
think that she was some little girl playing about her home and perhaps
watched by loving eyes.

At last she came near a broad avenue, where the cars were passing up
and down, and then she knew she was not on her way home. But just
then she heard music, and her eye was caught by a new sight. Quite a
crowd was gathered upon the sidewalk, where were two men, one with
a hand-organ, the other with a table on which little figures of
gayly-dressed men and women were spinning around. Bessie stopped to
look, standing back from the crowd; but three or four rough boys who
were hanging about took notice of her and her dog. Presently they came
up to her.

"Whose dog is that?" asked one.

"Mine and Maggie's," said Bessie.

"You give him to me, and I'll give you this," said the boy taking a
large red apple from his pocket.

"I can't even if I wanted to," said Bessie, "'cause he's half Maggie's."

"Well, you give me your half, and Maggie's will run after it."

"No," said the little girl. "I wouldn't give you my Flossy for fifty
seventeen apples;" and she walked away, but the boys followed.

"Where did you get so much hat?" said one.

"It is not much," said Bessie. "It is old and torn, 'cause I carried
peach-pits and stones in it. Mamma is going to give it away."

"I don't know who'd thank her for it," said another. "I guess your ma
spent all her money on your frock, and left none for your hat."

"She didn't," said Bessie, angrily; "she has plenty left."

"She's right stingy, then, to give you such a hat; it's only fit for
the gutter, so here goes!" and the rude boy twitched off the unlucky
hat, and sent it flying into the middle of the street, where a car
passed over it. Bessie did not care much about her hat, but she was
frightened and displeased.

"You are very yude," she said, "and I wont walk by you. You sha'n't
talk so about my mamma."

"Maybe we'll walk by you though," said the boy, and they kept by her
side for a few steps farther, when suddenly, with a loud yelp of pain,
Flossy sprang from her arms, for one of the boys had pinched his tail
so as to hurt him very much. The boys shouted, Flossy ran, they after
him, and the next moment one of them caught him up, and they all
disappeared with him round the corner.

Bessie ran on a few steps and then stood still, crying loudly with
terror and distress. Several persons immediately stopped, asking her
what ailed her, and if she were lost; but she only called, "Oh, Flossy,
Flossy! oh, mamma! oh, Maggie."

Among the people who stopped, was an old lady, who looked at Bessie
through her spectacles in rather a severe manner, and as she asked
questions in a quick, sharp way, the little girl felt afraid of her,
and would not answer. Poor lost baby! There she stood, bareheaded, with
the wind blowing her curls, her tiny hands over her face, crying so
pitifully that some of those who stood by felt as if they must cry with
her, but still no one could get a word from her.

But presently a policeman came by, and Bessie, looking up, saw him and
was a little comforted; for though he, too, was a stranger, she felt
somehow as if every policeman was a friend; and she ceased her loud
cries, though her sobs still came heavy and fast.

"Here's a lost child," said one of the crowd.

"Please take me home, sir," said Bessie, stretching out her hands to
him.

The tall officer was pleased, and, stooping, lifted the little creature
in his arms.

"Where do you belong?" he asked, kindly.

"In mamma's house," said Bessie.

"And where is mamma?"

"In a committee," answered the child.

"Humph!" said the old lady, who stood close at the policeman's side,
"in a committee, with a parcel of other foolish women, I suppose, while
her babies go running wild about the streets. She'd better attend to
her own affairs."

"She hadn't," said Bessie, who thought every one had something to say
against her own dear mother,--"she hadn't, and you are naughty to say
that. She's a nice, pretty lady, and better than anybody, and not a bit
foolish; and, oh, I do want her so, I do want her so!" and she began to
cry afresh.

"There then, never mind!" said the policeman; "we'll find her pretty
soon. Can't you tell me where you live?"

Bessie had long since been taught this, but now, in her fright and
distress, she quite forgot the street and number of the house, and only
shook her head.

"Tell me your name then," said the man.

"Bessie--Yush--Byad-ford," sobbed the child.

"Brightford--Brightford," repeated the policeman. "Does any one here
know any people of the name of Brightford?"

Poor little Bessie! Between her sobs and the difficulty of pronouncing
her r's, the officer had quite mistaken the name, and no one answered.

"You'll have to take her to the station-house," said the old lady.

"Oh, no, Mr. Policeman! I'm not to be taken up,--indeed, I'm not," said
Bessie. "I wasn't naughty, and mamma wont say so, only Flossy yan
away, and the colonel wasn't in his yoom, and I can't find my street."

"Poor baby!" said the policeman, as he felt her trembling in his arms.
"Nobody shall hurt you, my child; but if your people miss you, they
will send up to the station, and if I take you there, they will find
you right off. You can't tell where your mamma lives, hey?"

"I sha'n't talk about my mamma," said Bessie; "everybody says naughty
things about her; but I want to go to her, and please find Flossy, Mr.
Policeman."

"Who is Flossy?" asked he.

"He's her dog, I guess," said a boy who stood by. "Four big fellows
ran away with him. I se'ed 'em. They cut up the alley, and down by the
back lots. I guess you must cotch 'em in a hurry, or see no more of the
pup."

"Don't you believe that," said the policeman, as Bessie's tears and
sobs came faster than ever. "We'll find him for you one of these days;
but now I must see you safe;" and he moved on with the little girl in
his arms.

"Do you think some one will come and find me pretty soon?" she asked.

"To be sure they will. Have you a papa?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then you be sure when he finds you are gone, he'll come right off to
the station-house to see if you are there. Why, the other day I picked
up a little chap in the street not nigh as big as you. He could scarce
walk, and couldn't speak a word plain, and there, when I got him to the
station, was his mother waiting for him."

So the officer talked on kindly and pleasantly, till Bessie was a
little comforted, and when they reached the station, looked eagerly
round to see if any of her own friends were there awaiting her. But
no, there was no one there yet, only several policemen were sitting or
standing about, to one of whom Bessie's protector spoke, telling him
where he had found her.

"And now I am going back to my beat," he said to the child, "and if any
one comes that way looking for you, I'll send them right up here."

Bessie's lip began to tremble once more. She had been terribly
disappointed to find that no one was waiting for her; and now here was
her new friend going away, and leaving her with these strangers.

"Don't you cry any more," said the second policeman, taking her from
the arms of the first. "Why, those brown eyes of yours are almost
washed out. Come along with me, and see me send off a telegraph message
to the other stations to say you're here."

"I couldn't help crying," said the little girl. "I had so many troubles
to-day."

"Bless your heart!" said the sergeant. "You shall tell me all about
them presently. Why, you are just about the size of my Jenny, and I
wouldn't like to see her looking that way."

When the policeman spoke of telling him her troubles, it came into
Bessie's mind that she had not told them to her Father in heaven, and
covering her face with her little hands, she whispered, "Dear Father
in heaven, please let my own home father come and find me very soon,
'cause I'm so tired, and I want my own mamma; and don't let those
naughty boys hurt my Flossy, and let papa find him too."

The officer heard the low, soft whisper so close to his ear, though she
had not meant he should. "Bless her!" he said to himself, "I guess her
father'll be brought along pretty soon after that."

Bessie was now quite interested in watching the working of the
telegraph wires which were put in motion to carry the message that a
stray child was to be found at this station. One of the men who had
gone out came back, bringing her a cake and an apple, but though it was
long past her usual dinner hour, she could not eat.

"Now," said the sergeant, sitting down and putting her upon his knee,
"let us hear all about those troubles of yours;" for the kind man
thought if he could make her talk of herself, he might find out where
she belonged.



[Illustration: decorative]

X.

_HOME AGAIN! HOME AGAIN!_


MEANWHILE the stray birdling had been missed from the home-nest, and
great was the trouble and alarm there. Nurse, coming in, found Maggie
at the head of the stairs with a discontented face.

"What's happened ye?" she asked; "and what are ye standing here in the
draught for? Go back to the nursery, my honey."

"I can't find Bessie," said Maggie. "I went to sleep, and when I woke
up, she was gone, and Flossy was gone too, and I looked all over, and
they are not here."

"She hasn't taken wings, and flown away," said nurse. "You mind baby a
moment, and I'll hunt her up for you."

Nurse hunted in vain, and at last told Maggie she thought Bessie must
have found her way into the parlor, where the ladies were talking.
"She'll soon tire of it, and come back to you," she said; "but it was
not like her to go off and leave you."

But the time passed on; Jane came in with Franky; the children's
dinner-bell rang, and still Bessie did not come. At last the ladies
of the committee went away, and mamma came out of the parlor, but no
little girl was with her. Then the whole house was searched, up-stairs
and down, from cellar to attic; but the pet was not found.

"Could her grandmamma or aunt or Mrs. Rush have come and taken her
out?" said Jane.

"They would not be so thoughtless; they would know I should be anxious
if they left no word," said Mrs. Bradford, who was growing very much
alarmed.

"No one came in; for I did not have my eyes off the front-door while I
was out on the sidewalk," said nurse. "Yes, I did, too, just a couple
of minutes while I spoke to Miss Hall; but no one could have come in
and gone out, too, without my seeing them."

Ah, nurse, nurse, it was just those two minutes when you forgot your
duty, which did all the mischief.

"And there's her hat," said Jane, looking in the box. "Ah, there's
her garden hat and sack gone. Now maybe she's just run out after you,
nurse, and somebody's caught her and run away with her when you wasn't
looking. I've heard of such things, and how they make 'em beg, and beat
'em and frighten 'em so they don't dare tell where they belong."

This was very pleasant for the poor anxious mother, who, however,
told Jane that was nonsense; while nurse, who knew she was to blame in
letting her attention be called off, grew very angry and scolded Jane,
saying she must have seen Bessie if she left the house.

Nevertheless, Bessie was certainly not in the house; and one servant
was sent to grandmamma's, another to the hotel, to see if any trace
could be found of the missing treasure; while Mrs. Bradford herself
ran to all the neighbors, and poor Maggie stood by the window crying
bitterly for her lost sister. In a little time grandmamma and Aunt
Annie were on the spot, as anxious as the rest, to see if they could
help in the search. As people were running in all directions, it seemed
to grandmamma that the best thing she could do was to comfort poor,
distressed Maggie. But Maggie was not to be comforted, and declared
that she knew she should never, never, never see Bessie again. "Oh, I
am so very sorry I went to sleep," she sobbed. "I just expect she went
to heaven in a chariot of fire when no one was looking." Grandmamma
could not smile at Maggie's strange idea, she was so anxious herself,
but she told her this could not be so; and that Bessie had probably run
out in the street and so lost her way.

"But Bessie would not do such a thing, grandmamma; she would know mamma
would not like it, and she never disobeys her."

"Perhaps your mother never told her she was not to go out alone, dear,
and so she was tempted to run a few steps, and then could not find her
way back."

"Oh, no, indeed, grandmamma. Bessie knew quite well mamma would not
wish us to go alone even if she did not say so; and she would think
it was just the same; and Bessie never falls into temptation except
about passions. If it was me, maybe I might; and I know she'll never
come back; and oh, I cannot do without her, we are so very intimate,
grandmamma."

Grandmamma said she was almost sure Bessie would soon be found, and
told Maggie how well everything was arranged at the police-stations,
so that if a little child was lost, it could soon be restored to its
friends. Still Maggie only shook her head sorrowfully, feeling it quite
impossible to believe that Bessie had gone away of her own free will.

Then Mrs. Bradford came in, looking very pale and troubled, for she
could hear nothing of her lost baby; but a moment after, Patrick came
with news. The policeman at the corner told how he had helped a little
girl over the crossing, and seen her safe in the hotel and that she had
said she was going to see the colonel; but that he could tell nothing
farther. Patrick had gone to the colonel's rooms, but they were closed
and locked; and he heard that the colonel and Mrs. Rush had been out
for a long while.

Hearing this, Mrs. Bradford and her sister went round to the hotel, and
giving the alarm, the great building was searched from top to bottom.
Every room and closet, every hall and corridor, even the roof, and the
cellar far underground where the gas was made, were looked through; but
still no Bessie. But when the servants were questioned, the woman who
had spoken to Bessie told how she had come to the colonel's room, and
then walked off.

"She has probably wandered out again, madam," was said to the pale
mother by one of the gentlemen who had been helping in the search; "and
now you had better at once send to the police-station, and give notice
of her loss."

As Mrs. Bradford was leaving the hotel to do this, the colonel and Mrs.
Rush drove up. In two minutes they had heard all that was known, and
the colonel said he would himself go to the station.

The station to which Bessie had been taken was not the one nearest to
Mr. Bradford's house; and it was to the latter that the colonel drove
first. He did not find his lost pet there, of course; but he heard that
a telegram had come sometime since, saying that a stray child was at
the station in ---- Street, and there he went as fast as his horse's
feet could carry him.

We left the little girl who had caused all this commotion sitting upon
the knee of the kind sergeant of police, while he coaxed her to tell
him the story of her troubles, in the hope that he might find out where
she belonged.

"You don't look big enough for such a many troubles," he said; "now
let's hear about them, and see what we can do. What was the first one?"

"First Maggie had a earache and cried; and then mamma had a committee,
and had to leave us; and then I could not find nurse, and Flossy yan
away," said Bessie; and the poor child began to cry again at the
thought of Flossy.

"And who is Flossy?" asked the sergeant.

"He is our puppy that Donald gave us,--Maggie's and mine."

"And who is Maggie?"

"My own sister; don't you know that?"

"Indeed, I did not," said the policeman. "What is her name?"

"Maggie Stanton Byadford," said the child.

"And what is yours?"

"Bessie Yush Byadford."

The policeman shook his head; still he could make nothing of the name.

"And when Flossy ran away, you ran after him, did you?" he asked.

"Yes, but I didn't mean to, sir; I forgot mamma wouldn't want me to,
and Flossy yan so fast. He went 'way over the long crossing, and our
policeman was not there."

"Who's your policeman?"

"I don't know his name, only he helps us over the long crossing, when
we want to go to the hotel."

"Ho, ho, I think we are coming at it," said the sergeant. "What hotel
is that?"

"Why, the hotel where the colonel lives," said Bessie, as if there
could be but one hotel and one colonel. "I thought mamma would not like
me to go home by myself, and I asked that other policeman whom I did
not know to take me over, so I could go ask the colonel to send me
home. But he was out, and a woman scolded me, and so I went away, and
the crossing wouldn't come, and the boys were naughty and yude, and
Flossy's gone--oh, dear! oh, dear! I do want my own house and my own
mamma; and everybody said naughty things about mamma."

"There, then, don't cry any more," said the policeman. "I think that
must be the hotel, and you can't tell me what street you live in?"

"Why, yes, I can," said Bessie, who quite forgot that she had not been
able to tell where she lived while she had been so frightened. "I live
in papa's house in ---- Street, Number ----, and I want to go home so
much."

"So you shall, right off, now that you have told me where you belong,"
said the policeman. "I'll send, and see if you are right."

But just as he turned to speak to one of the men, an open carriage
drove quickly to the door. Bessie looked around, then gave a scream of
joy.

"Oh, it's my soldier, my own dear soldier! He came and found me--oh, he
did, he did!"

In less time than it would have been thought possible, the colonel had
been helped out, and was within the room. Bessie almost sprang out of
the policeman's arms, and clung about the colonel's neck, while he,
dropping one crutch, steadied himself on the other, and held her fast
with the arm that was free. It was touching to see, as, half laughing,
half crying, she poured out broken words of love and joy, now covering
his face with kisses, now burying her own on his shoulder, then lifting
it again to lay her soft cheek to his and pat it with her tiny hand.
Colonel Rush was almost as much overjoyed as she, but he was in haste
to carry the recovered treasure to her anxious mother. Nor was Bessie
in less haste to be at home; but for all that, she did not forget to
speak her thanks to those who had been kind to her, going from one to
another, and shaking hands with them in her own polite little way. The
sergeant carried her out and put her in the carriage.

"Good-by," she said, giving him her hand, "I am very much obliged to
you for letting me come in your nice station-house, and for speaking so
kind to me."

"Bless your heart," said the man, "if it wasn't for your own sake, I'd
be sorry enough to part with you. Now don't you go and lose yourself
again."

"I did not lose myself," said Bessie; "I just came lost, I did not mean
to do it."

"I don't believe you did," said the man; "good-by to you."

Then the colonel put something into his hand, and they drove home
as fast as possible. Oh, what joy there was over the little darling
who had been so long away! Mamma held her fast and cried over her; it
seemed as if she could never let her go out of her arms again; Maggie
jumped about and clapped her hands, and kissed Bessie's face, hands,
dress, and even her feet; Franky did as he saw Maggie do, saying,
"Bessie tome, all nice now." Grandmamma, Aunt Annie, and Mrs. Rush were
quite as much rejoiced, and the very servants had to take part in the
welcome. Even the new cook, whom the children scarcely knew, had to
come in for a peep at the dear little cause of all this excitement.
Then papa, who had been sent for, that he might help in the search
for his lost daughter, came home to find the sorrowing changed into
rejoicing, and Bessie running to the front-door to meet him, saying,--

"I am quite found papa. I asked our Father to let you find me, and he
sent the colonel instead, but that was just as good when he brought me
home; wasn't it?"

"Quite as good, perhaps even better, darling, since dear mamma was
spared another hour of anxiety, and you one of waiting. Our heavenly
Father often does better for us than we ask, although we may not always
know it."

"And you don't think I was naughty; do you, papa? Mamma does not."

"I must hear the story first; but now let me thank our good, kind
colonel, who has put himself to some trouble I am sure, to find you."

When Mr. Bradford had heard Bessie's story, which she told in her
own straightforward way, he satisfied her by saying that he did not
think her in the least naughty, since he was sure she had not meant
to disobey. He would not consent that grandmamma and Aunt Annie, and
Colonel and Mrs. Rush should go home to dinner; they must all stay and
have a great jubilee over the happy ending to Bessie's adventures. And
oh, such a pleasure! The children were allowed to take dinner with the
grown people, a treat which was only granted on great occasions.

"It's just like the man in the Bible, who lost his sheep and found it,
and called all his friends to come and be glad, and have a nice time
with him," said Maggie, "only we're a great deal more glad than that
man, because our Bessie is a great deal better than the sheep, and we
don't have ninety and nine, either."

"No," said papa, "we have only one Bessie and one Maggie, and a very
good Maggie and Bessie they are of their kind. I would not change them
for any others that could be offered to me. How is the ear, Maggie?"

"Oh, it's 'most well, papa. When I felt so bad about Bessie, I forgot
about it, and when I was so glad, the pain just went away before I knew
it."

"So the greater trouble cured the lesser, eh?"

"But, papa," said Bessie, "we have a great, great trouble with all our
happiness. You know Flossy is quite lost, and we'll never have him to
play with again."

"I am not sure about that," said Mr. Bradford; "I shall go to-morrow
and see what I can do to find him. Still I have not much hope, and you
must not think too much about it."

"You mean you will do all you can, papa," said Bessie, sorrowfully,
"but probaly we will never see our dear Flossy again."

"Never mind, Bessie," said Maggie, tenderly; "it is not very much
matter if we don't. We have you back again, so we've no reason to
complain."

Dear, generous-hearted little Maggie! She would not say how badly she
felt about Flossy, lest Bessie should think she blamed her for his
loss, but it was a great trial to her, as her father knew. She was
more fond of him than Bessie was, and Flossy cared more for her than
he did for any one else. Never were two merrier playfellows, and their
droll antics and frolics were a source of great amusement to the whole
family. And now he was gone, perhaps never to come back; and Maggie's
little heart was very sore, though she said nothing of her grief.
Thoughtless she often was, but never where Bessie was concerned; she
never forgot her little sister's happiness or comfort, and would bear
anything herself if so she might keep harm or trouble from Bessie. Her
father knew this, and why she spoke as if she did not care much about
Flossy, and he loved her the better for it, for he saw that it was hard
work for her to keep back the tears. He put his arm about her, and
kissed her tenderly, as he began to talk of other things.

Quite late that night, when Mrs. Bradford went up-stairs, she heard
a low sobbing from the room opening out of her own, where Maggie and
Bessie slept, each in her own pretty little bed.

"What is it, my darling?" she asked, going in. "Is your ear feeling
badly again?"

"Not so very, mamma," said Maggie, "but--please put your head down
close, mamma, so Bessie wont wake up--I do feel so very, very badly
about Flossy. If I knew somebody had him who would be kind to him,
I think I could try to bear it, but I know they will hurt him and
tease him, and he'll have such a hard time. I know he'll be homesick,
too--oh, dear--and I can't go to sleep, 'cause I think so much about
him, and I don't want Bessie to know it."

Mamma sat down on the bed and comforted Maggie, and then, holding
her hand, began to tell her a story which she took care not to make
too interesting, until presently the little hand which held her own
loosened its grasp, and Maggie's regular breathing showed that she had
forgotten her trouble.

All this made Mr. Bradford resolve that he would spare no pains to
recover Flossy, and the next morning he went to the police-station,
and asking the name and beat of the man who had brought in his little
daughter, went in search of him. He was soon found, and told where he
had met Bessie; but he had been able to learn nothing of the lost dog.
Mr. Bradford inquired all about the neighborhood in vain; the boys whom
he met either could not or would not answer his questions. He offered a
reward to whoever could tell anything that would lead to the recovery
of the dog, and when he went down town, put an advertisement in the
papers saying the same thing.

But three days passed, and still no word came of Flossy. On the
fourth morning, the family were all at breakfast, when Patrick, who
was passing through the hall, heard a scratching and whining at the
front-door. He hurried to open it, and Flossy rushed in, ran through
the hall into the breakfast-room, and before any one had recovered from
their first surprise, scrambled into Maggie's lap, buried his face
under her arm, and lay trembling and whimpering with joy. Poor little
fellow! he was in a sad state. His glossy silken coat was all matted
and dirty; he looked thin and half-starved; his pretty red collar,
with its brass lettering, was gone, and around his neck the hair was
rubbed off, as if it had been worn by a rope, and his mouth was cut
and bleeding. Papa said he thought he had been tied up, and in his
struggles to free himself, had worn the hair from his neck, and cut his
mouth with gnawing at the rope.

The children cried and laughed over him by turns, hugged and kissed
him, and although it was against mamma's rules to feed him in the
dining-room, begged that they might do it for this once. Permission was
given, and then they wanted to stuff him with everything that was on
the table; but mamma said they must be careful, or he would be sick,
so a saucer of warm bread and milk was brought and put on the hearth,
and glad enough the poor puppy was to have it. But he would not eat
unless Maggie's hand was on him, and every now and then he would stop
to look up in her face with a low whine, as if he wanted to tell her
his pitiful story. Afterwards he was well washed, and then, wrapped in
his blanket, went to sleep in Maggie's lap. He woke up quite refreshed,
but for a day or two, did not care to play much, content to lie most
of the time in Maggie's or Bessie's arms, or curled up in a ball in
some comfortable corner. But after this long rest, and several good
meals, to say nothing of a great amount of petting, he began to bark
and act like himself, and was once more the bright, merry, affectionate
plaything he had been before.

Where he had been, or how he had escaped from those who had treated him
so cruelly, was never known, but every one thought it quite wonderful
that so young a dog, and one who had been such a short time in the
house, could have found his way home alone.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

XI.

_NEW PLANS._


THINGS went very smoothly and pleasantly after this for several weeks.
Maggie finished the whole number of towels, and she had taken so much
pains, and they were so well done for a little girl of seven, that
mamma said she thought she must give her six cents apiece instead
of five. Bessie's small patient fingers were learning to do nicely,
too, and Mrs. Bradford said she should soon have two neat young
seamstresses. There were now more than four dollars in the box. They
had each had one new pair of gloves bought for them, and it was not
likely, if these were not lost, that more would be wanted before New
Year. Maggie had improved surprisingly in the matter of boot-laces,
and now did not wear them out much faster than Bessie, who did not put
on her own shoes. Growing daily more careful in this one thing, she
became so in others. Fewer buttons and strings were dragged from her
clothes, her aprons and dresses were not so soon soiled, and her hat,
instead of being tossed down in any spot where she happened to be when
she took it off, was always carried to the nursery and given to Jane,
that she might put it away.

Quite often the children had small presents of money. Grandmamma Duncan
or Uncle John, papa or grandpapa, would give them a new five or ten
cent piece,--once Uncle John had given them each twenty-five,--but
they never spent it for their own pleasure. As soon as they received
any such little gift, away they ran for the library-box, and popped
the money in. One day Maggie found ten cents in the street, and came
rushing in to her mother's room with it.

"See here, mamma," she said, "what I have found! It was lying right
down by our stoop, and there was no one near it, and I don't know whose
it is."

"Well, if you do not find the owner, we may think you have a right to
it, I suppose," said Mrs. Bradford.

"But, mamma, ought we not to put it in the paper first, and see if any
one comes for it?"

"No, dear, that would not be worth while for such a small sum."

"But, mamma, when papa found that pocket-book with money in it, he put
a piece in the paper, so the person who lost it would know where it
was."

"There were more than a hundred dollars in that pocket-book, Maggie. It
was only right that papa should let the owner know where it was to be
found. But ten cents is a very small sum, and if he put half a dozen
advertisements in the paper, it is not at all likely that any person
would come for it."

"And no one came for the money in the pocket-book," said Maggie,
"though papa kept it a great while. But, mamma, he said it did not
belong to him; and since he could find no owner, he should think it
belonged to the Lord. So he gave it to the Sunday-school. Well now, if
I do not know who lost this ten cents, do you not think it belongs to
the Lord, and I ought to return it to him?"

"Perhaps you ought, my darling," said Mrs. Bradford, well pleased to
find her little girl so strictly honest, and so unwilling to keep that
which she could not quite surely feel was her own. "Suppose you put it
with your library money?"

"Would that be quite fair, mamma? Would it be giving to the Lord that
which belonged to him to put it with that money which we are to earn?"

"Quite fair and right, I think, dearest. That money you have certainly
devoted to the Lord's work; and you may put this with it with a clear
conscience."

So the ten cents were added to the sum in the box, which, in one way
and another, was fast growing to the desired amount.

Each Sunday Maggie and Bessie went over to the hotel to Mrs. Rush's
class. Not one had they missed, for they counted so much upon it that
their mother could not bear to keep them at home, even in bad weather.
Two or three Sabbaths had been very rainy, but papa had wrapped Bessie
in mamma's water-proof cloak, and carried her over to the hotel, while
Maggie, in her own cloak and high india-rubber boots, trotted along by
his side holding the large parasol, which made a capital umbrella for
the small figure beneath it. Two bright little faces they were which
peeped forth from the hoods of these water-proofs when they appeared
in Mrs. Rush's parlor, and dearly did she and the colonel love to
see them. Then the wrappings were pulled off, and there were the two
darlings as warm and dry as if they had never stirred from their own
nursery fire.

Mrs. Rush still did all the teaching herself, but since that first
Sunday, she had quite given up the office of story-teller to her
husband. She never could invent such stories as he did, she said, and
since he had begun with it, he had better go on! So each Sunday he
had one ready for them, and when the lessons were over, teacher and
scholars were alike eager to listen. He had to repeat "Benito" more
than once, so fond were they all of it, and the children, especially
Bessie, would stop him if he told it in any way different from that
in which they had first heard it, and tell him he was wrong. They
remembered it, he said, better than he did.

Maggie and Bessie were very busy just now. Christmas was drawing near,
and they were each working a book-mark which were to be presented to
Colonel and Mrs. Rush. Bessie's was for "her soldier," and Maggie's
for his wife. Aunt Annie had promised to show them how they were to be
worked, and one afternoon took them out to buy the materials. They came
home each with a piece of cardboard, a skein of silk, and half a yard
of ribbon; and no lady who had spent hundreds of dollars that day took
half the pleasure in her shopping that our little girls did in theirs.

Aunt Annie had offered to give them what they needed from her stock of
pretty things. But no, they must buy all with their own money, or it
would not be quite their own presents. As soon as their walking dresses
were taken off, Aunt Annie was coaxed to show them at once how the
book-marks were to be made. She told them they must first decide what
mottoes they would work, and proposed several. Maggie chose, "Remember
me;" and Bessie, "I love you, Sir." Annie said it was not the fashion
to put "Sir" on a book-mark; but Bessie thought it would not be at all
the thing for little girls to give "unpolite presents."

"We ought to make our book-marks just as proper as our own speaking,"
she insisted.

Maggie was a little doubtful; but at last she said she would do as
Bessie did, since it was "better to be too polite than not polite
enough." So Aunt Annie let them have their way, and greatly to her
own amusement, cut the card long enough for "I love you, Sir," and
"Remember me, ma'am." They did not think it any the less their own work
that their aunt put the points of the needles into the holes where they
were to go. Did they not pull them through with their own fingers and
draw the silk to its proper place? Of course, it was their own work;
Aunt Annie would not have said it was hers on any account. After two
or three letters were made, Maggie learned to find the right hole for
herself with a good deal of direction.

Before bed-time that night, Maggie had worked "Remem," and Bessie, "I
lo;" and they looked at what they had done with great satisfaction.
Besides these book-marks, they were each to work one for papa or mamma,
so that they had enough to keep them busy until Christmas.

Meanwhile the picture which Aunt Helen was painting was nearly
finished. She had never allowed Maggie to see it, which the little girl
thought very strange; but she had kept the secret well. Sometimes they
went to Riverside, and sometimes Aunt Helen came to grandmamma's house,
when they would be sent for; and if mamma was not there, their aunt
would paint very industriously. Bessie wondered why she would not let
them see what she was painting, and why Maggie should always be so full
of glee at such times, and shake her head so very wisely. But after she
had been once told that it was a secret, she asked no more questions.

On the morning after the book-marks were commenced, Mrs. Bradford, who
was not very well, was lying on the sofa, while her little daughters
were playing quietly on the other side of the room, and she heard them
talking together.

"Bessie," said Maggie, "I am so glad that I have all my towels done, so
I can have leisure to make my Christmas presents."

"What does leisure mean?" asked Bessie.

"It means not to be busy."

"Oh, I am glad, too, Maggie! You was very industrious, and had a great
deal of per-se-were."

"Ance," said Maggie.

"Ance what, Maggie?"

"Per-se-ve-rance. That's what you must say," said Maggie.

"No. This morning Fred was mad 'cause he couldn't do his sum, and be
asked papa to help him, and papa said he must persewere, and he could
do it himself."

"Yes, I know it," said Maggie; "but it is persevere to do it, and
perseverance to have it."

Bessie did not quite understand, but she thought it must be right,
since Maggie said so.

"We'll ask mamma about it when she feels better," said Maggie. "Isn't
she good to us, Bessie, to help us so much to get our library?"

"Yes," said Bessie, "she's such a precious mamma. I do think every one
is so kind to us, Maggie."

"Yes," said Maggie, "when I think about my friends, I feel as if I
could not say 'God bless them' enough."

"Yes," said Bessie, thoughtfully; "and when everybody is so good to us,
and Our Father is so good to us, and we have such pleasant times, I
suppose we ought to be the best children that ever lived."

"But we're not," said Maggie; "least, I'm not. I think you are almost
as good as any one that ever lived, Bessie."

"No, I'm not, Maggie. Sometimes I feel very naughty, and just like
being in a passion, and I have to ask Jesus very much to help me."

"It's a great deal better to feel naughty, and not be naughty, than to
feel naughty, and be naughty, too, Bessie. Anyhow, you're just good
enough for me."

"But we ought to be good enough for Jesus," said Bessie. "I wish I was
as good as that boy named Nathan Something, that Harry yead to us about
on Sunday."

"Oh, yes," said Maggie, "it's all very well to read about these
wonderful children, but when one comes to do it, it's a different
thing. I don't believe that any one could be so good as never to do or
to think a wrong thing. But, Bessie, you know, I will be quite sorry
when mamma don't give us glove-money any more. I think this plan has
been of service to me in my carelessness. Don't you think I'm pretty
tol-able now?"

"Not pretty," said Bessie; "I think you are very tol'able now. Why,
Maggie, don't you know papa said he could trust you to take a message
or do an errand now as soon as any of his children?"

"Yes, and it was very nice to hear him say that, Bessie. I didn't mind
for all the trouble I took to be careful, when he said it. When we have
our glove-money, it will make more than six dollars in our box, if
mamma don't have to spend any of it for us. We only want five for the
library, so what shall we do with the rest of it, Bessie. Mamma said we
must only spend that money in doing good."

"Perhaps mamma will tell us something," said Bessie.

"But I'd like to think of something ourselves, and I did think of a
nice thing, Bessie, if you would like to do it."

"I guess I would. Tell me, Maggie."

"Yesterday, when Mary Bent came here, she had on only a thin little
cape, that did not keep her warm at all, and she looked so cold, nurse
asked her if that was the warmest thing she had, and she said yes. So
nurse brought an old piece of flannel, and basted it all inside the
cape to make it warmer; but she said the child ought to have a thick
cloak or shawl, and if mamma was home, she knew she would do something
for her. Mary said her mother had a warm shawl, but when the weather
was cold, they had to keep it to put over Jemmy, 'cause he shivered so
if he was not covered up warm. I felt so sorry for her, and last night,
I thought maybe we could take the rest of our money and buy her a warm
thing to wear. Would you like that, dear Bessie?"

"'Deed, I would," said Bessie. "You do make such nice plans, Maggie. If
we can do it, I shall just tell Mary you made it up. I don't believe
anybody has such a smart Maggie as I have."

Maggie kissed her sister, for dearly as she loved praise, none was
sweeter to her than that which Bessie was always so ready to give.

"I'm afraid we wont have enough to buy anything _very_ warm," she said,
"'cause that would cost a good deal, and we have not time to earn any,
we are so very busy."

"Yes," said Bessie, "we have our hands full; but we will ask mamma."

Later in the day they did ask her, and she said that, if they pleased,
they might use what they did not need for the library for this purpose.

"But you will not have enough to buy a warm sack for Mary, such as she
should have, my darlings," she said. "Nurse told me how poorly Mary
was clothed for this cold weather, and I had intended, the next time
I should go out, to buy some gray flannel, and let Jane make a sack
thickly lined and quilted. This will cost more than you can spare."

"Well, mamma," said Bessie, "if you will wait till after Christmas,
perhaps we might earn enough to buy a sack for Mary, and we would like
to do it ourselves."

"But in the mean while, the poor child would be suffering with the
cold," said Mrs Bradford. "Suppose I give Mary the cloak, and you buy
for Jemmy a comfortable, so that he will not need his mother's shawl."

The children agreed, though they did not look very well satisfied,
for they had set their hearts on giving the warm garment to Mary
themselves. Suddenly Maggie looked up at her mother as if a bright
thought had come into her mind, and said, eagerly,--

"Mamma, Mary said she used to wear her mother's shawl when Jemmy did
not need it. Suppose you were to buy the comfortable, and then the
shawl will be at liberty for Mary, and by and by, when we have enough,
_we_ can buy the sack."

Mamma said this would do very well, and so it was arranged. Then she
told them that if they wished, she would continue to give them the
glove-money each month, and what they saved from it they might still
spend for others who were in need; for Mrs. Bradford agreed with Maggie
that this plan had been of service to her little girl, and thought
it would be well to keep on with it, since it was teaching her to be
thoughtful and careful herself, in order that she might be of use to
others; and good habits once formed are not easy to lose.

That evening, when papa came home, he brought some glossy, crisp, new
bank-notes, which he offered to Maggie and Bessie in exchange for some
of the smaller money in their box. They were quite ready to take them,
they were so clean and pretty; and taking out two dollars in change,
Mr. Bradford put in two one dollar notes.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

XII.

_A VISITOR._


A day or two after this, a lady and gentleman named Moore came to make
a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Bradford. They brought with them their son
George, a boy about Harry's age. What kind of a boy he was may be known
from a conversation between Harry and Fred on the first evening of the
Moores' visit.

"Harry," said Fred, as they were undressing for bed, "what do you think
of that chap?"

"Who,--George?" said Harry; "I don't fancy him, though it's scarcely
fair to judge yet; but I don't think there's much in him. He's a Miss
Nancy-ish sort of a fellow."

"There's not much in him of the right sort," said Fred, savagely; "but
there's plenty of another kind; and if he tries it on here, I'll have
it out of him."

"Halloa!" said Harry; "what has set you up that way, Frederick the
Great? What would papa say to hear you speaking so of a guest in his
house?"

"I don't care," said Fred; "guest or no guest, I am not going to have
any fellow playing shabby tricks on our Midget and Bess. It is a man's
duty to stand up for his mother and sisters. I tease the girls myself
sometimes I know, more shame for me, but you will allow I haven't done
it so much lately, Hal; I couldn't since Bess told me gemperlums didn't
tease;" and Fred began to laugh; "but I never played mean tricks on
them, and I sha'n't let any chap that's nothing to them. He'd better
let them alone, or I'll fix him, that's all."

"But what has he done?" asked Harry. "Seeing he is a visitor, you ought
not to talk so about him without some special good reason."

"Reason!" repeated Fred, pulling off his jacket and tossing it upon a
distant chair; "there's special reason enough; if that is all you want,
I'll tell you. The first thing, this evening, while the grown-upers
were at dinner and you were studying in the library, he was playing
jackstraws with Maggie and Bessie. I thought it did not seem very
polite to leave him alone with the little girls; so, as I had done
all my lessons but the copying of my sums, I took my slate to the
parlor table. I suppose he thought I was not noticing his play, but I
soon found him out. First place, he said they were to throw from the
height of their fists, his being twice as big as either of the girls.
Presently he told Bessie that she joggled. I couldn't see that she did,
but I said nothing. It was the same thing with Maggie. She had only
taken off one or two, when he stopped her. Midget was quite sure that
she had not shaken, and so was I; but he declared that he had seen it.
Pretty soon he gave an awful shake himself, but the girls were looking
away, and did not see it. He looked up at them, and seeing they did not
notice it, went on playing without a word. The next time he told Bessie
she shook, she laid down the hook with a little sigh, and said, in her
innocent way, 'We always shake when we don't see; please to 'scuse us,
because we don't mean to.' Maggie declared that Bessie had not shaken,
and insisted that she should go on; and what do you think the mean
fellow did then? He blew upon the jack-straws as Bess went to draw
one out; so, of course, they went. 'Then I did shake,' said Bessie.
Of course, he won the game by ever so many. 'It's very funny we shook
so much when we didn't see,' said Midget. 'You should look sharp,' he
answered. So then I put in. 'It don't do to have more than one too
sharp in a game,' I said. He took, and after that did not care to play
any more. Now, is he not a mean sneak to trick two little girls?"

"That he is," answered Harry, indignantly; "but still it wont do for
you to make a row with him, Fred."

"That's not all," said Fred. "You know when Maggie spilled that
spoonful of ice-cream over herself at dessert, and a little went on
Mrs. Moore's dress? Well, it was all George's doing. Just as she went
to lift it to her lips, he jerked her arm with his elbow, and away went
the spoon. Then mamma said, 'Maggie, how could you be so careless, my
dear?' and Mrs. Moore looked like a thunder-cloud; but he never had
the honesty to own up, even when Meg turned and looked at him with
great, wide-open eyes, as if she expected him to speak. Papa suspected
something, I know, for he called Maggie to him, and made her stay at
his side, not a bit as if he thought it was her carelessness. He had
better look out for himself, that's all; for if he tries much more of
that game, he'll find me pitching into him."

"You wont fight him?" said Harry.

"Yes, I will fight him, too, if he plagues our girls, or cheats them."

"You know what papa thinks of fighting, Fred; and what will he say if
you quarrel with a boy who is a guest in our own house?"

"I'll guest him if he don't mind his p's and q's," said Fred,
scrambling into bed in his usual headlong fashion. "I say, Hal,
couldn't you give him a hint in the morning that we wont stand such
doings? You're a better hand to do it than I am. You'll keep your
temper, and I sha'n't."

"I'll see," said Harry, who was desirous to keep the peace between
his brother and the visitor, and who knew that Fred's hot temper, and
contempt for all meanness, would be very apt to lead him into trouble
with such a boy as he perceived George to be.

"There's his mother, too," said Fred, "telling mamma that 'she felt it
was a great risk to bring him from home, he was such a good boy, so
free from all bad habits. She had never allowed him to play with other
children, as she thought they _contaminated each other_; and she was
glad he seemed to prefer girls' society.' Bosh! He 'prefers the girls'
society' because he can come it over them, and he can't over us. His
father has more of the right stuff in him. He said, 'it was time George
was thrown with other boys, and allowed to take his share of rough and
tumble.' But I sha'n't trouble him if he don't provoke me too much,
only you tell him we wont stand seeing our sisters ill-treated."

But although Harry did as Fred asked, there was trouble before the day
was half over. Mr. Moore gave his son permission to go out to the park
during the recess of the school which the boys attended. Before the
half-hour was up, George rushed into the house crying loudly, and with
his lip cut and bleeding. He made such an outcry that the whole family
were very much alarmed; but when his mouth was washed, it proved to be
but a slight cut, and nurse declared to Jane that Franky would have
been ashamed to make a fuss for such a trifle.

"Fred had done it," he said. "Fred wanted to fight, and he would not.
He had never fought in his life. He'd be ashamed to say he had."

Mrs. Bradford was very much troubled; but she waited to hear her own
son's side of the story before she judged him. Mrs. Moore, however, had
a great deal to say.

When Fred came home, two hours later, his hand was bound up in his
pocket-handkerchief.

"How have you hurt your hand, Fred?" asked his father. "Is it true you
have been fighting?"

"Yes, sir."

"Without just cause, as George says?"

"I had cause enough, sir, if that was all," said Fred, rather sulkily
for him.

"That he had," said Harry. "You'd have been ready to fight yourself,
sir. I'll tell you how it was. George is not fair and above board,
as we found out last night. So when he came out to the play-ground, I
just told him we would allow no unfair play, and he did not try it. But
after a while he said he did not care to play with such a rough set,
and walked off by himself. I thought I ought to go and see after him,
and found him shying stones at the sparrows about the water-tanks. I
told him he had better have done with that, or he would have an M. P.
down on him. Then he said he guessed he'd go home. First thing I knew
a few minutes after, he was howling, and Fred had him by the collar.
It seems poor Charlie Wagstaff--poor, hump backed little Charlie--was
sitting on a bench reading, when my gentleman George passed by and saw
him. He began by throwing gravel over Charley's head and neck, not
thinking he was one of our boys, and that not a fellow in the school
would see him abused, and at last, getting bolder, snatched his book,
and threw it over the park railing. It was a borrowed book, and the
poor boy took his crutches and started after it. Then George began
dancing about him, and calling him 'Old hipperty hop,' and such names.
Fred, who saw them from a distance, feared something was wrong, and ran
to the spot just in time to see him pull Charlie's crutch from under
him, throw him on the ground, and then run. But Fred collared him, and
in his quick way, just let fly and hit him in the mouth. He came off
the worst, though, for his knuckles were cut by George's teeth, and
_he_ was not so much hurt. George went off roaring, and that moment the
whistle sounded, and we had to go in. It was writing hour, and when
Mr. Peters saw Fred's bleeding knuckles, he asked him if he had been
fighting. He said, 'Yes,' and Mr. Peters was going to keep him in,
when Charlie spoke up, and told the whole story. Mr. Peters said we all
knew how strict the rules against fighting in play-hours were; but he
really thought, in this case, Fred was almost excusable, and asked how
many agreed with him. Up went every hand in the school, and I don't
think he was ill-pleased either. So he excused Fred, and told me to
tell you why he had done so; and I don't believe you'll be the one to
blame him, papa."

Mr. Bradford was certainly not disposed to be severe with his boy, but
he talked to him a little on the evils resulting from his hasty temper,
and readiness to give a blow when a word would answer.

"I am not inclined to punish or reprove you under the circumstances, my
son," he said, "but you have made some discomfort for your mother and
me, as well as for yourself, by your hasty conduct. It is not pleasant
to feel that a son of ours has so conducted himself to the child of our
friends, however great the provocation; and you have forgotten the laws
of hospitality in attacking one who is a guest beneath your father's
roof."

"I'll go and shake hands with him this minute," said Fred. "I did
forget who and what he was, that's true, though I'll own I have been
afraid I should serve him out ever since he has been in the house."

And Fred went directly to find George and make peace with him. George
was unwilling to shake hands, and Mrs. Moore did not look very kindly
at Fred, but Mr. Moore insisted that his son should make friends and
receive Fred's apology. Neither Harry nor Fred told Mr. and Mrs. Moore
of George's misconduct towards Charlie, and he was not honorable enough
to tell himself, leaving his parents to suppose it was only Fred's
quarrelsome temper that had been to blame.

After this, George kept himself rather apart from the other boys,
spending most of his time with Maggie and Bessie, who did not like him
much, they could scarcely tell why, but who were very polite to him.
Flossy did not like him either, but he showed it very plainly, barking
at him whenever he saw him, and if George came near to him scrambling
into the children's arms or running under Mrs. Bradford's skirt, where
he would keep up a low snarling or woof, wooffing, which was very
unmannerly.

Just about this time Mrs. Bradford found that one of Maggie's second
teeth was making its appearance behind the first tooth, which was not
yet loosened to give place to it. She was afraid that the new tooth
would come crooked, and so spoil the looks of Maggie's mouth, and she
said she thought she must take her to the dentist and have the old one
drawn.

Now Maggie had a great horror of the dentist. Unfortunately, she had
once been taken there by grandmamma when Aunt Annie was to have a tooth
drawn. Maggie had happened to be in the carriage, and without thinking
much about it, Mrs. Stanton had allowed her to go in with them. The
tooth was a hard one to draw, and poor Aunt Annie fainted and was
very sick, while no one thought of the little frightened child who
stood trembling in a corner of the room, thinking that the dentist had
killed her dear aunt. Afterwards Aunt Annie took cold in her face, and
suffered very much because she foolishly went out too soon; but Maggie
thought it all the fault of the poor dentist. After that, whenever her
dolls were ill, it was always because they had been to the dentist.
They had smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, and broken legs and arms,
and were even deaf, dumb, and blind all through the fault of the
dentist. Mrs. Bradford was very sorry for this, as she feared it would
make trouble with Maggie when her teeth should need any attention; and
so it proved, for when she told her she thought she must take her to
Dr. Blake, Maggie turned very white.

"It will not be much, dearest," said her mother. "It is a little first
tooth, and the pain will be over in a moment."

"Mamma," said Maggie. "I would rather have my mouth ever so ugly than
have it out."

"Perhaps you do not care now, Maggie, but when you are a young lady,
you will not thank your mother for allowing your teeth to grow crooked
in order that she might spare you a moment's pain now."

Maggie said no more, but for the rest of the day she looked so
troubled, and she and Bessie had such anxious whisperings, and there
was so much feeling and touching of the tooth that was to be lost, that
Mrs. Bradford told her husband that she should take her to Dr. Blake
the first thing in the morning, that she might have no more time to
think about it.

"Maggie," said Mr. Bradford, calling her to him just as he was going
down town the next morning,--"Maggie, do you want to earn a dollar?"

"Oh, yes, papa!" and Mr. Bradford smiled as he saw the troubled face
light up for a moment.

"You and Bessie are going to be great money-makers," he said. "You must
not grow too fond of it, or learn to love it for its own sake. If, when
I come home this afternoon, you have a little white tooth to show me,
I shall pay you a dollar for it."

"And can I do what I like with it, papa?"

"Yes, whatever you please. You may spend it for Christmas presents or
for something for yourself,--just which you choose."

But Maggie did not mean to do either. She thanked and kissed her
father, and was off to tell her mother and Bessie.

"There's a whole another dollar for Mary's sack," she said, "now she'll
have it all the sooner." And she kept up her courage very well till
they drove up to the dentist's stoop. Then Mrs. Bradford felt the
little hand she held squeezing her own very tightly, and Maggie looked
up in her face with a quivering lip. "I have to think very much about
Mary's sack not to cry, mamma," she said.

"You are my own dear, courageous little girl," said Mrs. Bradford, "and
it will soon be over now." She was very sorry for Maggie, for she knew
this was a hard trial for her, and wished very much that she could bear
it in her place; but since this was not possible, all she could do was
to help her to bear it bravely.

Dr. Blake was at home and disengaged, and he was so kind and gentle
that Maggie was quite ashamed of feeling afraid of him.

"You don't say this little maid has any need of me?" he said.

Mrs. Bradford told what was the trouble, and took off Maggie's hat; the
dentist lifted her into the chair, and told her to open her mouth. She
gave a long sigh and obeyed, holding on tightly to her mother's hand.
Dr. Blake looked into her mouth for a moment, and then patting her on
the head, said to Mrs. Bradford,--

"It's all right enough, madam; the first tooth will be loose in a few
days, when you may pull it with a thread, and the second will come
quite straight. No need for any pulling of mine."

As soon as Maggie understood the tooth was not to come out, she looked
very much delighted, then grave again. "If it is not too much trouble,
sir," she said, "will you please to take it out."

"Why, you surely don't want to have it drawn for the fun of it!" said
the dentist.

"No, sir; but for another reason." Maggie was too shy to tell what that
reason was.

Since there was nothing to be done with the tooth, Mrs. Bradford put on
Maggie's hat and the doctor lifted her down from the great chair.

"Mamma," she said, as they left the house, "I shall never make my dolls
sick again because they went to the dentist. Why, I think he is just
as nice as other gentlemen, and I felt real sorry I was so afraid of
him."

While Mrs. Bradford and Maggie were gone, Bessie stood by the parlor
window looking very melancholy and watching for their return. She was
very much troubled about her sister, and would not play with George or
listen to the story which Jane offered to tell her, or do anything but
think of Maggie. Presently she saw Mr. Hall coming down the street. He
stopped at the stoop, looked up and nodded, and then came up the steps.
Bessie slipped down from her chair and running to the front-door,
called to Patrick, who was in the hall, to open it for her. She seized
her kind old friend by the hand, and said, "Mr. Hall, we have a
dreadful misfortune."

Mr. Hall was quite alarmed when he saw her sad little face, but when
he had asked what the misfortune was, and heard that Maggie had gone
to have a tooth drawn, he was very much relieved and rather amused. He
took Bessie on his knee, and after she had told him how well Maggie had
behaved, talked to her for a few moments, and then, saying that it was
about time for her mother and Maggie to be back, left a message for her
father, and went away.

Pretty soon mamma and Maggie came in, the latter, to her sister's
surprise and delight, looking very bright; and lo! there was the tooth
still in her head.

"But oh, our dollar! Bessie," said Maggie. "I am so sorry!"

"Never mind," said Bessie. "Maybe we can earn it some other way. I'm so
glad you didn't be hurt, Maggie, dear."

"Where is that tooth I am to pay for?" said Mr. Bradford, when he came
home that afternoon.

Maggie came to him, and opening her mouth, showed her pretty rice-grain
still in its place.

"Halloa!" said papa. "Did your courage give out?"

"Dr. Blake wouldn't take it out, papa; not even when I begged him. And
now you wont have to pay the dollar."

"I don't know about that," said papa. "I bought the tooth, and I did
not say where I should keep it. It is not quite convenient for me to
take care of it just at present; perhaps you would not object to giving
it lodging in its present place for a while. But it belongs to me,
remember; here is the price, and you are to take care that it does not
bite threads or crack nuts, or do anything else which might damage it.
It is mine, now, bought and paid for;" and as papa spoke, he handed
Maggie a dollar-bill. "You quite deserve it, my little girl. It was
no fault of yours that you did not keep your share of the bargain, and
since you did all you could, I shall keep mine."

After Maggie had hugged and kissed her father till he was half
stifled,--Bessie, too, doing her share at that business,--they ran for
the money-box to put away the new note. She and Bessie were trying to
count over their treasure when George came by.

"Whew!" he said. "Where did you get all that? Is it yours? What are you
going to do with it?"

"We are going to do a purpose with it?" said Bessie, for neither of the
children cared to tell George what that purpose was.

"Oh, to buy goodies and toys is your purpose, I suppose!"

"No," said Bessie. "It is not a foolish purpose like that;" and she
said no more.

They let George help them count the money, however, for they could not
do it correctly themselves, then put it all back in mamma's drawer.
George had followed them, and saw where they placed it.

That evening a parcel was left at the door directed to Maggie, and when
it was opened, there were two new books. In one was written, "For a
brave little girl who has lost a tooth, from Grandpapa Hall;" in the
other, "For the sister of the brave girl."

"Will you lend me one of your new books?" asked George, as Maggie and
Bessie were saying "good-night."

"We can't," said Maggie. "We must not keep them, you know, 'cause I did
not have my tooth out, and Grandpapa Hall meant it for that. We are
going to give them back."

"Pshaw," said George; "he'll never know I should not think of such a
thing as giving them up."

"I don't believe you would," Fred whispered to Harry.

"Why, that would be doing a story," said Bessie, and she drew away from
George with a shocked look. "Why, George, I'm afraid your mother don't
bring you up in the way you should go."

Fred and Harry laughed, but George was angry, and would not shake hands
with Bessie, when, a moment later, she bade him good-night.

But Grandpapa Hall would not take back the books; he said, as papa had
done, that they were meant for the brave girl who was willing to have
her tooth drawn.



[Illustration: decorative]

XIII.

_THE BANK-NOTES._


FROM the time that George had seen the children's money, he did not
cease to think of it, and soon he began to wish for it.

"'Tis a shame," he said to himself; "those two little snips having such
a lot of money, and here I have next to none. Father is so awful stingy
about giving me money."

This was not true, for Mr. Moore would give his son money for any
needful purpose; but as George was apt to waste his allowance, he gave
him but a small one. George had been envious when he heard how much
more Mr. Bradford gave his sons, and now when he saw what the little
girls had earned, he kept saying to himself that he wished he had half
or even a quarter of what was in that box. The wish grew stronger and
stronger; then came the thought how easily he might get at it some time
when there was no one in Mrs. Bradford's room. Then he began prying
and watching and looking at the drawer where the money lay, thinking
how fine it would be if he could only _wish_ the bank-notes out of it
into his own pocket. Conscience whispered loudly, struggling with the
evil spirit which was gaining such a hold upon him, but all in vain, he
would not listen; and her voice grew fainter and fainter.

At last he resolved that he _would_ have some of that money, come what
might, although he had in the mean while found out from the boys with
what purpose the dear little girls were saving it. And "chance" (as he
called it) threw a fine opportunity in his way.

"This bill is bad," said Mrs. Moore to her husband, one morning when
George was in the room. "It was among those you gave me yesterday, and
was refused in a store where I offered it."

Mr. Moore took it from her. "A counterfeit certainly," he said; "it is
unmistakably bad. I wonder I should have been so careless as to take
it." Then twisting it up, he tossed it among a heap of waste paper that
lay in a little basket, for Mr. Moore was rather a careless man. That
note should have been destroyed at once when he knew it was bad.

A terrible thought came into George's mind, and he did not shut it
out. He lingered a moment behind his parents, and snatching the false
note, thrust it far down in his pocket; then he followed to the
breakfast-room. But he could eat nothing; the food lay untouched upon
his plate. A guilty, almost _sick_ feeling took from him all appetite,
made him hate the sight of those happy faces about the table, and
think that every look which was turned upon him was full of anger and
scorn. Once when Harry accidentally touched him, he clapped his hand
over his pocket with a sudden fear that he was about to drag forth
the note and expose him; and when tender-hearted little Bessie came
to him, saying that, since he had eaten no breakfast, he should have
half of her orange, he pushed her rudely from him, and would not take
the gift she offered so prettily. His father reproved him sharply for
his ill-manners, and his mother said she was sure George was not well,
something had been wrong with him for two or three days; he must see
the doctor.

Yes, something was wrong, very wrong with George, but it was not what
his anxious mother thought; it was far worse than any sickness of the
body; it was the evil of a bad heart, of a guilty purpose, and no
doctor could cure him since he would not go to the great Physician.
All the morning he crept about the house, wretched and uneasy, looking
miserable enough to give cause for his mother's anxiety. Once or twice
his wicked resolution almost gave way, and he half determined to throw
away the note and think no more of the money in the box; but again the
tempter whispered, drowning the feeble voice of conscience, and giving
him many reasons why he should take what he wished for.

That afternoon he was left alone. His mother and Mrs. Bradford went
out, taking Maggie and Bessie with them, leaving him behind at his own
request. The boys were at school; his father and Mr. Bradford far away
down town; it really seemed as if all had been arranged for him to
carry out his purpose.

Rising from the sofa, upon which his mother had left him, he stole
softly to the door and peeped out. How still the house was! He went
slowly along the hall, watching the turn of the stairs lest a head
should suddenly appear above it, reached Mrs. Bradford's door, pushed
it open and entered. Now, quick--not a minute to lose. Hark! What is
that? Nothing but old nurse crooning softly to her baby in the nursery.

Noiselessly he pulled open the drawer, lifted the box, the secret of
which Maggie had showed him, from its corner, took out one of the fresh
clean notes, and put in its place the crumpled, worthless bill his
father had thrown aside that morning.

Whenever he had felt reproached for the meanness he was guilty of
towards the dear little girls who had been so kind to him, he would say
to himself that it was not at all likely they would suffer from it;
probably the bad note would be paid away with the others; his father
had taken it without noticing that it was false, why should not others
do so? Even if it should be found out, Mr. Bradford would give his
children another in the place of it; he was a rich man, a dollar was
nothing to him.

He was about to put the box back, when the thought came to him, why
take only one? Forgetting in his guilty haste that the loss of a
second would make the change of the first more easily discovered, he
touched the spring once more, took out another dollar, and then hastily
replaced the box.

The deed once done, half his fears seemed to pass away. How easy it had
been! No one had seen him, no one heard him; he was going away with his
father and mother in two days, and probably no one would find out--the
_theft_ he would not say to himself--he called it the _loss_.

While Mr. Moore was out, he thought that he had been careless in the
matter of the false note, and when he came home, looked for it, that he
might destroy it. But it was gone, and his wife could tell him nothing
of it. He called George, and asked him if he had seen it. George
hesitated, and seemed so confused that his father was sure he had it,
and asked how he had dared take it, when he knew it to be bad.

"I only took it to play with," stammered George. "I am always playing
store with Maggie and Bessie, and I thought it would be nice for money."

This was true, as Mr. Moore knew, and, more gently, he told his son to
give him the note.

"I threw it away," said the wicked boy; "I thought maybe you would not
like me to have it, and I put it in the fire."

"All right then," said Mr. Moore, "but why are you so frightened? you
have done nothing so very wrong, though it would have been better if
you had not touched the note, and I am myself to blame for leaving it
where there was any probability that it might be turned to a bad use."

George was only too glad that he had escaped so easily, and had no
feelings of sorrow for having deceived his kind, good father.

The rest of that day and the whole of the next passed, and he heard
nothing to alarm him. Every one was more kind than usual to him, though
he himself was restless and fretful, for all thought he was not well.
He kept out of the way of the other children, and spent half his time
lounging on the sofa in his mother's room. He would willingly have
spent the whole of his time there, but he was tormented with the fear
that something might have been discovered, and would go about among the
family to make sure that all was safe.

"Mamma," said Maggie, dancing into her mother's room, on the morning of
the third day,--"mamma, nurse says this is the tenth of the month."

"Well, Dimple, what of that?"

"Why, mamma, you know that is the day you give us the glove-money,
and here are my gloves,--the best ones quite, quite good, and the
second-best are very nice, too; Jane mended them yesterday; and here
comes Bessie with hers, and they are _very_ nice; and I have had only
one pair of boot-laces this month, mamma, and so do you not think we
have enough for the log-cabin library, and for Mary's sack, too? We
want to buy it and give it to her for Christmas, if you will let Jane
make it. I think we shall have enough, mamma; don't you think so?"

Certainly her mother's name of "Dimple" was well suited to Maggie just
then; for mouth, cheeks, and chin seemed running over with smiles,
while her eyes looked as if they would dance out of her head. Nor was
Bessie much less eager, as she stood beside her sister, and the four
little hands each held up a pair of gloves.

"We will see," said mamma. "Papa is not quite ready to go down-stairs;
we shall have time to count it up. I think you have over five dollars
in your box, and these two,"--as she spoke, Mrs. Bradford took some
money from her purse--"will make over seven. I think we shall manage to
buy Mary's sack out of that."

She sat down upon a low chair, the children standing on each side, and
taking the box from the drawer, emptied it into her lap.

"A pair of bootlaces for Maggie and one for Bessie, that leaves two
dollars and fifteen cents for this month. Now here is--Why, what a
crumpled note! How came this here?" and Mrs. Bradford took up the bill
which George had vainly endeavored to smooth out. "I thought all those
notes papa gave you were quite clean and fresh."

"So they were, mamma, nice and new and pretty; and, mamma, I am quite
sure I did not muss that up so, and--Why there are only two bills, and
we had three! I did not lose any, mamma,--I know I did not," said poor
Maggie, all in a flutter, lest her mother should think this was some of
her old carelessness.

"Do not be frightened, dear," said Mrs. Bradford; "no one is going to
accuse you, or think you have been careless unless there is good reason
for it. Henry, will you come here for one moment?"

Mr. Bradford came from his dressing-room, hair-brush in hand.

"Do you know anything of this bill? Have you changed any of the
children's money?" asked his wife.

He took the note from her hand.

"This is a counterfeit, and a very poor one too," he said, the moment
he looked at it. "Have either of you ever seen it before, children?"

"No, papa," said Maggie. "I know it is not one of our bills. We kept
them just as nice as you gave them to us, and one is gone too."

"When did you last have out your money?" asked Mrs. Bradford.

"The day we went to the dentist's, mamma. When papa gave me the dollar
that evening, I went for the box and put it in, and George counted the
money for us, and there were three bills there, all clean and new."

"And we told Harry how much it was, and he put it in his little book,"
said Bessie; "he always keeps how much we have in his little book,
mamma."

"Some one has meddled with it," said Mr. Bradford. "The notes I gave
the children were all new ones on the ---- Bank."

"Will we never find our own dollars, do you think, papa?" said Maggie,
with a very long face.

"Yes, indeed, my darling,--at least, you shall have others in their
place. This loss must not fall on you after all your efforts."

"I should have locked up the box," said Mrs. Bradford. "I wish I had
taken your advice, Henry."

Mr. Bradford took from his pocket-book two other bank-notes, and gave
them to the children.

"I do not wish you to speak of this to any one," he said to them; and
they promised to obey.

Then mamma counted up all the money and it came to seven dollars,
sixty-nine cents,--five for the library, and the rest for Mary's sack;
for Mrs. Bradford said there was quite enough to buy some warm, cheap
cloth, and she would let Jane make it at once, that it might be ready.
They should go out with her that day and help choose the cloth.

Mr. Bradford carefully put away the counterfeit note, thinking that it
might help to find out the guilty person, and when he went down-stairs,
called Harry and Fred into the library.

"Harry," he said, "how much money was in the children's box when you
counted it for them the other day?"

"Five dollars, sixty-nine cents, papa,--here it is written down;" and
Harry, who was very neat and orderly in all his ways, pulled out his
memorandum-book and read "M.'s and B.'s box, Dec. 5th, $5.69 cents."
This was the sum which should have been in the box, and showed that
the money had been taken within the last few days. Mr. Bradford told
the boys of the loss, for he wished that they should know of it,
but he charged them to be silent. Both he and his wife were very
uncomfortable. There were one or two new servants in the house, but
they had come with good characters, and there was no reason to think
they had taken the money. None of them knew where it was kept, or the
secret of the box. Only one besides their own children knew that.



[Illustration: decorative]

XIV.

_DISCOVERY._


MR. and Mrs. Moore and their son were to leave early the next morning,
and as the day passed on, and George heard nothing of the stolen money,
he began to think the loss would not be found out till he had gone; and
then, he thought, he should be quite safe. He did not dare to spend
it now, lest the Bradford children should wonder where the money came
from; but when he went home, he could easily do so without discovery.
He had been visiting at his uncle's before he came here, and it would
be very easy to say he had given it to him. The last time he had been
there, his uncle had given him five dollars; but this time, nothing.
There were, or there had been, more than five dollars in that box; why
had he not taken it all? It was just as easy to say he had received
five dollars as two; and when it was missed, it would be thought some
of the servants had taken it, or that it had been lost through some of
Maggie's carelessness. He had gone so far in sin now, that he did not
hesitate to go deeper and deeper; and determined, if possible, to have
the rest of the contents of the box.

That evening it seemed as if "chance," as he called it, was again about
to favor him. Mrs. Stanton and Miss Annie were there, and after dinner
all the ladies and the younger children were gathered in the parlor;
while the two boys were at their lessons in the little study-room at
the head of the stairs. Mr. Moore was out. Mr. Bradford had left the
room a short time since, saying he, too, must go out for a while, and
the servants, George knew, were at their tea. _Now_ was his time.

Making some excuse to leave the parlor, he ran up-stairs till he
reached the first turning. The door of the study-room stood ajar.
Pshaw! The boys would hear him. He peeped in. No one there but Harry,
studying after his usual fashion, with his elbows on the table, his
head between his hands, and his fingers thrust into his ears to shut
out all sound that might take his attention from his book. Fred must
have gone to his own room in the third story. He should hear him if he
came down. Headlong, noisy Fred was sure to give notice of his coming.

But he must make haste. There is not a moment to lose. Almost
forgetting his caution in his guilty hurry, he ran quickly up the few
remaining steps, and along the hall to Mrs. Bradford's room. He stole
in as he had done once before. The jet of gas in the burner over the
dressing-bureau which held the coveted prize was turned down very low,
but the bright fire dancing in the grate made the room quite light
enough for his guilty purpose.

He opened the drawer and took up the box. How light it was! and there
was no rattle of pennies, none of what dear little Maggie had called,
in the joy of her heart, "her log-cabin music." He touched the spring,
and the box flew open. Empty! He stood for a moment looking into it,
then turned it up to the firelight to make sure there was nothing
within. As he did so, he heard steps behind him; a hand was laid upon
his shoulder, and looking up with a start, he saw Mr. Bradford's face
sternly bent upon him, while at his elbow he met Fred's clear, honest
eyes blazing with scorn and indignation. His own fell to the ground,
and there he stood, like the mean, pitiful thing he was, trembling and
cowering, the open box still in his hand.

There was a moment's silence, and then Fred broke forth.

"So it _was_ you, you rascal! you mean, sneaking, cowardly thief! You
are the fellow that robs little girls of their hard-earned money!
You--you--you--" Fred's passion was choking him.

"Hush, hush, my son!" said Mr. Bradford, sadly; "it is not for you to
reproach this unhappy boy. Leave him to me. Go to your play, if you
_can_ play after what you have seen."

Fred laid both his own hands on that which rested on George's shoulder.
"Take your hand from him then, father; he is not fit to be touched by
an honest man, by an honorable gentleman! A thief!"

"Go, go, Fred, and do not speak of this till you see me again."

Fred obeyed, as he knew he must when his father spoke in that tone.

"Now," said Mr. Bradford sternly to the guilty boy, "go in there;" and
he pointed to the door of his dressing-room.

Trembling, and fearing he knew not what, but not daring to disobey,
George did as he was told. Mr. Bradford followed, silently put beyond
George's reach everything on which he might lay his hands, locked every
drawer and closet, and then turned to leave the room.

George started forward. "What are you going to do?" he stammered.

"Leave you here till your father comes. I cannot deal with you, for,
thank God, you are not my child."

"Oh, don't, don't!" said the wretched boy, falling on his knees. "Oh,
I did not mean to--I was only looking--he will punish me so--I would
not have taken--"

"Hush, hush," said Mr. Bradford, "and do not kneel to me. Do not add to
your sin by trying to deny it, but think over what you have done; and
when your poor father comes, be ready to make confession to him, and to
the God against whom you have sinned."

"But don't tell father; he will be so angry; he minds such things so
much. He--he never would forgive me."

"And yet the son of such a father could do this terrible thing? I
grieve to tell him, George; rather, far rather, even for my own sake,
would I pass over this in silence, and let you go unpunished; but it is
a duty I owe to you, as well as to him, not to let you go on unchecked
in sin. I see, too, poor boy, that it is the fear of punishment, not of
distressing your kind father, which makes you so anxious that I should
not tell him. You do not yet see your guilt, unhappy child; you only
dread the pain and shame which it has brought upon yourself."

As Mr. Bradford ceased speaking, Mr. Moore's short, quick step was
heard in the hall, and the next moment he rapped upon the door. Fred,
going down-stairs, had met him coming in, and was asked where George
was. He had answered, "Up-stairs;" but he had been so shocked and
distressed by what he had seen that Mr. Moore had noticed his manner,
and asked if anything were wrong with George. Fred would not say what
the trouble was, but told Mr. Moore where he would find his son.

Mr. Bradford opened the door.

"Fred told me that George was here," said Mr. Moore, looking much
disturbed. "What is wrong?" he asked, as he saw his son's guilty,
miserable face.

"Will you tell your father, George, or shall I?" asked Mr. Bradford.

But George only cried and sobbed, saying, "he did not mean to--it was
very hard--he was only looking"--till Mr. Moore once more asked Mr.
Bradford to explain what all this meant.

Mr. Bradford told the story in as few words as possible,--how his
little daughters had shown George the secret of the box, telling him
why they were laying by the money; how that morning two of the notes
had been missed, and the false one found in their place (as he spoke,
taking the bill from his pocket-book and handing it to Mr. Moore);
how Mrs. Bradford had put the rest of the money in a safer place; and
lastly, how he and Fred had just seen George go to the drawer and take
out the box, as if with the intention of adding to his sin by a new
theft.

It was a hard thing for Mr. Bradford to do; he knew how he should feel
himself if one of his own boys had done this. He was very much grieved
for his friend, and when he had told all as gently as possible, he went
away, and left him alone with his unhappy son. What passed between them
it is not necessary to tell you. George would have denied his guilt
even now, but the false note in his father's hand made this impossible.

Maggie and Bessie did not see him again, for Mr. and Mrs. Moore left
the next morning at an hour even earlier than they had intended; for
after this terrible sorrow had come upon them, they felt that they
could not bear to meet any of Mr. Bradford's children again.

Perhaps you may like to know how Fred and his father discovered
George's guilt. It so happened that Fred's quick temper had brought him
into more trouble at school, and he did not know exactly how to act in
the matter. He had finished his lessons, and was thinking this over
when he heard his father come up-stairs and go to his dressing-room.

"I've a great mind to tell papa, and see what he says of it," he said
to himself. To think and to do were with Fred one and the same thing;
and the next moment he was with his father, asking if he would wait and
hear his story. He might have been sure of that; Mr. Bradford always
had time to spare if his children needed his help or advice.

Fred told his story, and they were sitting talking it over in low tones
when George's step was heard in the next room. The dressing-room was
quite in the shade, and though George neither saw nor heard those who
were within, he himself was plainly seen through the open door, at his
guilty work.

And now, like our Maggie and Bessie, we need have no more to do with
this poor boy, and will take leave of him. The little girls were not
told that the thief had been discovered. Their mother thought it would
only shock and distress them, while it could serve no good purpose for
them to know it. They wondered, and talked of it between themselves for
a few days; and then there were so many pleasanter things to think of
that they forgot all about it.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

XV.

_THE SNOW._


THESE were indeed pleasant times, and very happy children were our
Maggie and Bessie. The only trouble was that night would come, and put
an end to first one and then another of these delightful days, and
that, as Maggie said, they had to stop enjoying themselves "just to go
to sleep."

"I wish the sun always shone in this country," she said, "and that
night never, never came."

"What would the little children on the other side of the world say to
that?" said papa. "If you had the ruling of day and night, and kept the
sun all the time on one side, how do you think they would like to have
it always night?"

"Oh! I did not think about that," said Maggie. "I suppose it would be
pretty selfish. I guess I had better wish for two suns, one on our
side, and one on theirs."

"Or, better still, rest satisfied that our heavenly Father has ordered
all things, night and day, sun, moon, and stars, as is best for his own
glory and the happiness and comfort of all his creatures," said Mr.
Bradford. "I think even my wide-awake Maggie would tire of the light of
the sun if it should shine for the twenty-four hours, day after day,
and the quiet, blessed night never come, when we might close our tired
eyes, and take the rest we need."

"Could we not sleep in the day-time if we were tired, papa?"

"We might sleep, but not as well or as pleasantly as we now do when
all is dark and quiet."

"Then if I was to wish for two suns, I'd better wish we should never be
tired or sleepy."

"So you might go on wishing forever, and if you had the power, changing
first one and then another of the wise laws which our Father in heaven
has made for the good of all. And what distress and confusion this
would make! What a miserable, unhappy world this would be if you,
or some other weak, human creature who cannot see the end from the
beginning, and cannot tell what would be the consequence of his wishes,
were allowed such power. No, we may thank God, not only that he does
what is best for us, but also that he has allowed none but himself to
be the judge of this."

"So I had better be contented to have the night as it is, papa; is
that what you mean? Perhaps other people would not like to have things
as I did, and they might think I was a very disagreeable child to have
them my way; and I should not like that at all."

"I would not be glad if there was never any night," said Bessie, who
was always more ready than her sister to go to rest.

"Then I wont wish it," said Maggie; "and I shall just always try to
think 'our Father' knows best, even if I don't feel quite suited
myself."

One afternoon, about dark, it began to snow, much to the children's
delight; for grandmamma had promised a sleigh-ride whenever it should
be possible. All night the soft, feathery flakes fell gently and
steadily, so that in the morning the ground was covered thickly with a
beautiful white mantle.

Since the weather had become cold, each day, after breakfast, Maggie
and Bessie were allowed to throw out crumbs for the sparrows and
chickadees, who came about the house to find something to eat. The
birds seemed to know the hour almost as well as the children, and
seldom came for their breakfast before the right time. But on this
morning the little girls were scarcely down-stairs, when their brother
called them to come and see what a flock of their pets had already
gathered on the piazza and window-ledge. For the ground being all
covered with snow, there were no stray crumbs or seeds to be found;
and the chickadees and sparrows, being early risers, found themselves
hungry and in need of their regular breakfast rather sooner than
usual; and now the prints of their tiny feet were to be seen all over
the snow, while twice the ordinary number of birds hopped about the
piazza, or perched upon the railing and window-ledge, chirping away,
twitching their little heads from side to side, and watching the
children with their bright, twinkling eyes as if asking what made them
so late.

Away ran Maggie to ask Patrick for a piece of bread, and came back with
a rush and a jump and a sudden shove at the window which put every
mother's bird of them to flight. In her hurry to feed them, she quite
forgot that they were so easily startled, and was much distressed when
she saw them all flying off in a great fright.

However, the bread was crumbled and thrown out; and by the time prayers
were over, the whole flock were back again, pecking away with much
satisfaction, and twittering and chirping as if they were telling each
other what very kind people lived in this house, and how thankful they
should be for such good friends. At least, this was what Maggie told
Franky they meant, as he watched them with his chubby face pressed
close against the window-pane.

"No shoes and stottins," said he. "Poor birdies! Dere foots too told.
Mamma buy shoe for birdies."

His little sisters thought this very sweet and funny in Franky, and
they hugged and kissed him till he thought he had said something very
fine, and kept repeating it over and over again.

Pretty soon it stopped snowing, and the sun came out. Then Maggie and
Bessie were much amused in watching the people clearing the snow from
the sidewalks, and the boys snow-balling one another. Presently Mrs.
Bradford missed Franky from the room. As she had the baby, she could
not go after him, but sent Maggie.

She ran from room to room, but could not find her little brother. When
she opened the nursery door, and put in her head, she rather wondered
to see the bureau-drawers open, and several things lying scattered over
the floor; but she did not think much about it, for there was no one
there, and she must find Franky. As she went down-stairs again, she
saw the back-door was standing open, and went to shut it. Here she met
Franky coming in with very rosy cheeks, and his face all smiles, as if
he were well pleased with himself.

"Oh, Franky!" said Maggie, "what made you go out in the cold with no
hat and coat? Didn't you hear me calling you?"

"Yes," said Franky.

"Then why didn't you come?"

"Me too busy," said the little boy; and away he ran into the parlor,
while Maggie went to shut the door. To her great surprise, she saw
the piazza strewn with shoes and stockings,--her own, Bessie's, and
Franky's, and even a pair or two of baby's little worsted socks. She
came in, and followed Franky.

"Franky," said Mrs. Bradford, "did you not hear mamma calling?"

"Yes'm," said he again, "but me too busy."

"But you must always come right away when mamma calls. What were you
doing?"

"Me dave de birdies shoes and stottins," said Franky; "dere foots too
told."

Then Maggie told her mother what Franky had done, and nurse coming in
just then, Mrs. Bradford sent her to see. Sure enough, the little rogue
had gone up-stairs, and filling his skirt with his own and his sisters'
shoes and stockings, had scattered them upon the piazza, thinking that
the birds could make use of them. Maggie and Bessie thought this a most
capital joke, and even nurse, who was much displeased, could not help
smiling as she heard their merry peals of laughter. Mamma did not scold
Franky, for she did not think he meant to do anything naughty, but she
told him he must never do so again, and that the birds did not need
shoes and stockings to keep their feet warm.

"But, mamma," said Maggie, "how is it the birds do not have their feet
frozen in the snow and the cold? If we were to go hopping about with
bare feet, it would hurt very much, and we would be sick; but the
sparrows do not mind it at all."

"Because God has fitted them, dear, as he has all his creatures, for
the life which he means them to lead. He has given to the sparrows
and chickadees, not soft, tender feet like yours, but horny claws on
which they can hop over the snow and gravel without feeling the cold,
or being hurt. See by this how he has cared for all he has made; the
smallest or weakest bird or animal is known and watched over by his
all-seeing eye. When our Saviour was on earth, he chose these little
birds to teach us a most precious lesson. Once when he was talking to
his disciples, after telling them that they were to fear God, and not
man, he wished to show them how constant and watchful was God's care
of his people, and he said, 'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father. But
the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore; ye
are of more value than many sparrows.' A Roman farthing was less than a
cent and a half, so that one of these sparrows cost less than a penny,
and this was meant to teach us that if each of these little birds which
was worth so small a sum is known and remembered by the Almighty; if
not one of them can fall and die unless he sees it, how great must be
his care and love for us, whom he has called 'of more value than many
sparrows,' and for whom he gave his only Son to die upon the cross. It
is a very sweet and comforting thought to know that he never forgets
us, and that no harm can come near us, unless he knows and permits it."

"And it ought to make us think that he sees what we are doing, and
knows if we are even a little bit naughty. Ought it not, mamma?" said
Bessie.

"Yes, darling, and it should make us very careful not to grieve or
displease him by even a wicked thought or angry feeling."

"'Cause when he sees it, he thinks we are ungrateful about his Jesus,"
said the thoughtful little Bessie.

This was Saturday and a holiday, when the children had no lessons, and
the boys did not go to school; and about twelve o'clock Harry and Fred
came in with Tom Norris, Walter Stone, and Johnny Ransom; they were all
four going into the yard to build a snow-man, and Harry begged that
his sisters might go, too, saying that he and Fred would take care of
them. Mamma had no doubt of this, and she said Maggie might go, but she
was afraid to have Bessie play in the snow, lest she should take cold.
Maggie said she would not go if her sister might not; but Bessie told
her to go, and she would stand at the library-window and watch them at
their work. Maggie still hesitated, but her mother said she would see
that her sister did not feel lonely while she was gone, and having
been well wrapped up, she at last went with the boys.

To say that Bessie was not disappointed and did not very much wish that
she, too, might have a share in the delightful play, would not be true.
But though a tear came into her eye as she saw the others run off, she
bore it bravely.

"Mamma, you would be sure to let me go if you thought it best; wouldn't
you?" she asked, lifting her face to her mother to be kissed.

"Indeed, I would, my sweet child; you may be certain mamma would never
take from you any pleasure she thought safe for you; but it would be
wrong and foolish in me to let you go when you would probably take cold
and be sick. And now what shall we do to amuse ourselves. If you like
to stand by the window and see the boys, I will bring my work and tell
you a story, or we will sit by the fire, and I will read to you."

Bessie chose the first, for she said that would be two pleasures at one
time.

When Mrs. Bradford came back with her work-basket, Bessie was standing
on a chair by the window, and she turned to her mother with a very
bright face.

"Mamma," she said, "come and see what a nice time Maggie is having. I
think I am 'most glad you didn't let me go, 'cause if I was playing
myself, I could not see how much she 'joys herself. Just hear her
laugh!" and Bessie laughed merrily herself.

Mamma stooped and kissed her sweet-tempered, generous little daughter,
who, instead of fretting and making herself and others miserable
because she could not do as she wished, not only contented herself with
the pleasures which were left to her, but really tried to find comfort
in her very disappointment.

Maggie did indeed seem to be enjoying herself. The boys had begun their
snow-man, but she found that rather hard work, and, having asked leave,
was snow-balling her playfellows with all her might. She was not very
apt to hit them, for her small hands could not take very sure aim in
her thick worsted mittens; but whenever she missed her mark, she became
only more eager, and, hit or miss, her gleeful laugh rang out all the
same. Mrs Bradford found that no story was needed; so engaged was
Bessie in watching the frolicsome antics of her sister, that she had
no thought of anything else. In the height of her play, Maggie did not
forget every few moments to stop and kiss her hand and nod and smile at
the two dear faces in the library-window. When her mother thought she
had been out long enough, she called her in, and she came all glowing
and rosy with her play in the fresh, cold air.

"Tom says the sleighing is splendid. I hope grandmamma wont forget us."

"No fear of that," said mamma; and she had scarcely spoken when Aunt
Annie's smiling face appeared at the door.

"Well, little polar-bear, where did you come from?" she asked, taking
hold of the bundle of furs and wrappings which called itself Maggie.

"Out of the icebergs to eat you up," growled Maggie, pretending to be
the bear Aunt Annie had called her.

"Very well, sir, I suppose you have a good appetite since you have come
so far; but, of course, if I am eaten up, you cannot expect my mother
to go sleigh-riding with the fellow that has made a meal upon her
child."

When Maggie heard this, she declared that she was no longer a
polar-bear, but just Aunt Annie's own little niece, who would not eat
her up even if she were starving, and whom it was quite safe to take
sleigh-riding. Both she and Bessie were wild with delight. They could
scarcely eat their dinner, and the moment it was over, ran away to the
nursery to be dressed for the ride.

When the sleigh came to the door, Aunt Annie said she had two
polar-bears to ride with her, and pretended to be quite alarmed. But
both the bears proved to be very well-behaved, and neither bit nor
scratched; although they did now and then hug a little as they sat, the
one between mamma and grandmamma, and the other between Aunt Annie and
Aunt Helen; for Aunt Helen had come from Riverside to make her mother a
visit and to stay till after Christmas.

"We are to have a Christmas tree, Aunt Helen," said Maggie.

"And all our people are to come," said Bessie.

"We have a great deal to do yet," said Maggie. "There are a great many
presents to buy, and Christmas will be here one week from yesterday,
mamma said so. Aunt Annie, you said you would take us shopping for
those things mamma is not to know about."

"Very well," said Aunt Annie, laughing. "I suppose I may as well give
up Monday to it, if your mother will let you go."

Mamma was quite willing it should be so, if the weather were fine.
The things which she was not to know about were her own, and papa's
Christmas presents. The book-marks were all worked. Those for Colonel
and Mrs Rush were quite finished and laid away; but the two which
were intended for papa and mamma still wanted the ribbon, and this was
one of the things to be bought. Then Maggie was to buy some trifle
for papa, and Bessie one for mamma. They were not trifles to them,
however, but very great and important purchases, and there was a great
deal of whispering and hiding in corners. It was rather a singular
circumstance, but one which was very convenient, that mamma never asked
what they were doing, or even seemed to see that they were engaged with
some work in which she was not asked to help.

They had a lovely drive. All the sleighs and cutters in the city seemed
to have turned out for the first fine sleighing; and the air was full
of the jingling of the merry bells, and the shouts and laughter of the
boys as they pelted each other with snow-balls, or went skimming along
on their sleds. The Central Park looked beautiful in its pure white
dress which lay so smoothly, just as it had fallen from the hand of the
kind Father above; and Maggie said the trees and bushes thought white
feathers were becoming, and so had dressed themselves out as if they
were going to a Christmas party.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

XVI.

_SHOPPING FOR CHRISTMAS._


ON Monday afternoon Aunt Annie came for the children, according to
promise, and Aunt Helen was with her.

"For I have a little business with Maggie," said Mrs. Duncan; "but
no one else is to know what it is, so mamma and Bessie are to ask no
questions."

This was delightfully mysterious.

"Nobody is to ask questions at Christmas-time," said Bessie, gravely.
"Mamma made that yule."

"And it is a wise one too," said Aunt Helen.

"How long do you suppose our Meg can keep a secret, Aunt Helen?" asked
Fred.

"I know she has kept one for three months so well, that I am going to
trust her with a second."

"Pretty good for Midget," said Fred.

It was indeed a triumph for heedless Maggie. So carefully had she
kept the secret of the picture, not even saying, "I know something,"
or, "Something is going to happen," that mamma suspected nothing; and
though Bessie knew there _was_ a secret, she had not the least idea
what it might be.

Aunt Helen started first with Maggie, telling her sister Annie and
Bessie to meet them in a certain book-store.

"Now, Maggie," she said when they were in the street. "I am going to
reward you for keeping our secret by letting you choose the frame for
the picture."

The little girl was delighted, but when they reached the store, and she
saw frames of all kinds and sizes, she became confused, and could not
tell which to decide upon.

"That one is too large," said Mrs. Duncan, as Maggie pointed out one
she thought she should like. "No, dear, that is too small again.
There," and her aunt laid four or five of the proper size, in front of
the child; "any of those will do; suppose you choose one from among
them."

So, after some more hesitation, Maggie chose a dark walnut frame, with
silver nails; and Aunt Helen said she had shown very good taste. Then
Mrs. Duncan gave the man directions about the picture, which she had
sent to him in the morning. He bowed and wrote them down, and then
said, looking at the rosy, happy face which was peeping at him over the
counter, "'Tis a capital likeness too, ma'am; never saw a better."

"Aunt Helen," said Maggie, as they left the store, "did that man mean
he knew our Bessie, and thought you made a good picture of her?"

"I thought you were to ask no questions at Christmas-time," said Mrs.
Duncan.

"Oh!" said Maggie. "I did not know I must not ask about things like
that; I thought mamma meant bundles and work, and such things."

Aunt Helen only laughed, and began to talk of something else, and
presently they came to the book-store, where Annie and Bessie were
waiting for them.

At the lower end of this store was a large table, and upon it were a
number of beautiful and useful things intended for presents. There were
writing-cases and work-boxes, paper-cutters and weights, beautiful
pictures and all kinds of knick-knacks.

"Aunt Helen," said Maggie, eagerly, "do you not think we could find
something on that table that would make nice presents for papa and
mamma?"

"I do not doubt it," said Mrs. Duncan, "if you could pay for them; but
I fear, dear Maggie, all those pretty things are quite too expensive
for you to buy."

"Well," said the little girl, with a sigh, "I suppose we may look at
them while you and Aunt Annie buy your books; may we not?"

"If I thought I could trust you not to touch anything, you might. But
some of those things are very costly, and you might do much mischief if
you meddled with them."

"Aunt Helen," said Bessie, looking up with a very sober face, "we never
meddle when we go shopping. Mamma has taught us that, and gen-yally we
yemember what she tells us."

"I believe you do," said Mrs. Duncan, smiling. "Well, then, I will
trust you;" and she and her sister walked to the other end of the store
to look at some books, leaving the children to amuse themselves.

A gentleman was sitting near the table reading a newspaper, and when
Bessie had spoken out so solemnly, he had looked up with a twinkle
in his eye. The little girls did not notice him, however, nor did he
seem to be paying attention to them. They walked round and round, now
peeping at this thing, now at that, but never offering to lay a finger
upon one.

"Oh," said Maggie. "I do wish, I do wish we could buy some of these
beautiful things for papa and mamma! But I suppose we'll have to wait
till we're quite grown up, and then perhaps they will all be gone. Just
see this paper-weight, Bessie. Would it not be nice for papa? But I
think it costs a great deal, and I can only afford twenty cents."

"And see this lovely little picture, Maggie. Mamma would like it so, I
know. See, it has the cross and a pretty vine all around it, and some
words. Can you yead it?"

"S-i-m--sim," spelt Maggie, "p-l-y--ply, simply--to--thy--cross--Oh! it
must be 'Simply to thy cross I cling.'"

"Yes," said Bessie, "it's out of 'Yock of Ages,' and mamma loves that
hymn so much. Oh! I do want it for her! Do you think twenty cents will
buy it, Maggie?"

"I guess not; but we'll ask. I'd like to be grown up for two things, so
I'd never have to go to bed till I chose, and so I could have plenty of
money to give everybody everything they wanted. Just see that picture
of a dog, Bessie. Does it not look like our Flossy? I wish it was
nearer, so we could see it better."

"I can't see it at all," said Bessie, raising herself on tiptoe, to
gain a view of the picture which was in the centre of the table. "I
wish it was nearer, but we must not touch."

"I'd like to see him better, too," said Maggie. "I want to know if he
really is like Flossy, or if he just looks so 'cause he is so far off;
I know I wouldn't break it either if I moved it; but then--we promised."

"And mamma said we were _never_ to touch without permission," said
Bessie; "and we're trusted."

They both stood for some minutes, Maggie looking wishfully at the dog,
Bessie still stretching up her neck in a vain attempt to see him, when
Maggie suddenly said, "Bessie, mamma said it was not right to put
ourselves in the way of temptation, and I think I am doing it. This was
just the way I did the day I meddled with papa's inkstand. I stood
looking at it, and looking at it, and wishing I had it, till at last I
touched it, and did such a lot of mischief. I sha'n't look at the dog
any more, and let's go to the other side, and we wont think about it."

As they turned to do as Maggie proposed, they saw a miserable-looking
face peeping in at the glass door. It was that of a boy about eight
years old, poor, and in rags, his features all pinched with cold
and hunger. He was gazing wistfully at the pretty things and the
comfortably-dressed people who were within, and perhaps wishing that
Christmas brought such happiness to him. As one after another passed in
and out, he held up his thin hand and asked for help, but few heeded
him.

"See that poor boy," said Bessie; "I don't believe he has any money to
buy Christmas presents."

"I'm afraid not," said Maggie; "I guess he has not enough to buy bread
and fire; he looks so cold and thin, and what dreadful old clothes he
has!"

"Poor fellow!" said Bessie, in a pitying voice. "I s'pose he would like
some money very much. Do you think we could spare him a little of ours,
Maggie?"

"If we do, we can't spend so much for our presents," answered Maggie,
pulling out her portmonnaie from her muff and looking doubtfully at it.

"Do you think papa and mamma would mind it, Maggie, if we each gave the
boy five cents, and did not spend quite twenty for them?"

"I don't like to take it off papa's and mamma's presents," said Maggie.
"They are so very good to us, I want to give them all we can; but,
Bessie, I'll tell you. You know I was going to spend ten cents for you,
and you ten cents for me. Now we might only spend five cents for each
other, and then we can each give five to the boy. I don't mind, if you
don't, Bessie."

"No, Maggie, I'd yather give it to him, and then maybe he'll look a
little glad."

So each taking five cents from her pocket-book, they ran to the door
and put the money into the poor boy's hand, who did indeed look "a
little glad" as he received it.

When they came back to the table, the picture of the dog stood just
in front, where not only Maggie but Bessie, also, could see it quite
plainly.

"I hope nobody will think we meddled with that picture," said Bessie.

"No one shall think so," said the gentleman, who had been sitting near,
as he rose and threw down his paper. "I moved it myself."

"Then, if you please, sir," said Bessie, "will you tell the store
people you did it? I s'pose they wouldn't think you were naughty,
'cause you're big; but we are forbidden to touch, and we were trusted."

"And I see you are fit to be trusted," said the gentleman, smiling;
"and I have a right to touch what I please here, for the store and all
the things in it belong to me. Is there nothing upon the table which
you would like to buy?"

"Yes, sir," said Bessie, while Maggie was hanging her head in a
terrible fit of shyness at being talked to by this stranger, "if we
could afford it; but we think all these things cost too much. We have
not a very great deal of money."

"Let me hear what you would like to have, and I can tell you the
price," said the gentleman.

"How much is that paper-weight?" asked Bessie.

"Fifteen cents."

Bessie's eyes sparkled, and Maggie looked up in great surprise.

"And this cross, sir, how much is that?" said Bessie.

"That, also, is fifteen cents."

"Then we'll take them both for papa and mamma. I think you are a very
cheap gentleman, sir. We thought they would be too 'spensive for us
to buy," said the little girl. "Mamma will be very pleased with this
lovely picture."

"I hope so," said the gentleman. "Such a good mamma as you have
deserves to have a present that will please her."

"Do you know my mamma, sir?" asked Bessie, as she handed him the price
of her picture.

"No, but I am sure your mamma is a lady and a good woman, although I do
not know her, and I am sure, also, that she has taught you well, and
that you have paid heed to her lessons."

Bessie was herself quite certain of all this, but she wondered how the
gentleman could know it when he was a stranger to her mother. Perhaps
you and I may be able to guess.

"And papa deserves a nice present, too," she said; "he is an excellent
gentleman."

"I have not a doubt of it," said her new friend. "And now I suppose you
would like to have your purchases wrapped up, so that your papa and
mamma may not see them before the proper time."

"We would like to show them to our aunt first," said Bessie; and she
and Maggie scampered off with their treasures.

But when Aunt Helen saw them, she said there must be some mistake.
"Those things are worth much more than you have paid for them, my
darlings, you have misunderstood; or some one has been joking with you."

"Indeed, indeed, Aunt Helen, we did not make a mistake, and the
gentleman was quite sober," said Maggie.

"Who sold them to you?" asked Mrs. Duncan.

Bessie pointed out the person, and Mrs. Duncan went to speak to him.
Her little nieces looked after her with anxious eyes, fearing lest they
might have made some mistake, and that their new treasures would be
taken from them, and Bessie ran up just in time to hear the gentleman
say, with a laugh, "Surely, I may put what price I please upon the
articles I have for sale."

Mrs. Duncan laughed, too, and said, "Yes, certainly, but--"

"I assure you, I have been amply paid, madam," said the gentleman, "and
I beg you will consider the matter settled. It is all right, little
one," laying his hand on Bessie's head as she looked up at him; "you
have made no mistake;" and then taking the paper-weight and picture, he
wrapped them in paper and returned them to the children.

From this store they went to another, where they were a long time
choosing the ribbon for their book-marks, while Aunt Helen and Annie
waited with wonderful patience till they had decided this important
question. Here, also, a pincushion was bought for nurse, and an
emery-bag for Jane. Then Maggie, coming back from a show-case, about
which she had been spying, begged Aunt Annie to go to the other end of
the store, and on no account to turn her head. Aunt Helen was taken to
the case, and a box was pointed out which Maggie thought would be the
very thing for a ribbon-box.

"But you cannot buy that, dear," said Mrs. Duncan; "it is too
expensive."

"Oh, no, Aunt Helen! it is marked five cents,--just see," said Maggie.

"My poor pet, that is five dollars, not five cents."

This was a great disappointment, for Maggie had quite set her heart on
the box; but, of course, she and Bessie could not give five dollars,
since they had not the half of that to spend.

"It's real mean," she said, angrily, "to go and cheat children so, and
make them think it's five cents when it's five dollars."

"Do not speak so, dear," said her aunt; "'cheat' is not a pretty word
for you to use, and those numbers mean five dollars very plainly to any
one who can read them. Ask papa to teach you about that to-night."

"Let's go back and buy all our presents of that gentleman," said
Maggie. "He knows how to keep store a great deal better than these
people."

"Better for your purses than for his own, I think," said Mrs. Duncan,
laughing. "No, dear, we have bought enough there for this time. We will
find something else for Aunt Annie."

"Maggie, Maggie," called Bessie, "come and look at the cunningest glass
animals you ever saw in your life."

Maggie's displeasure was quite forgotten as she saw the pretty toys,
and as she and Bessie were looking at them, Aunt Annie joined them.

"What a beautiful glass cat!" she said. "I wish Santa Claus would
have one like it on the Christmas-tree for me. I should put it on my
what-not, and I do not believe that a mouse would dare to show so much
as the tip of his tail in my room, if I had this pussy to guard me."

"Oh, Aunt Annie," said Maggie; "just as if a mouse would be afraid of
such a mite of a glass kitty! He would know it could not hurt him."

"Well," said Annie, "if you see Santa Claus, just tell him I would like
to have it."

Maggie turned and looked at Bessie with a shake of her head, and eyes
which very plainly asked the question. "Shall we buy it for her?" and
Bessie answered with a nod which said quite as plainly, "By all means."

So they begged Aunt Annie to walk away once more, a request which she
had quite expected, and she went off laughing. Bessie asked the price
of the cat, and was told, "six cents," so there was no difficulty about
that, and pussy was bought. Then, after some whispering, Mrs. Duncan
was sent after Annie, and a glass deer was bought for her _étagere_.
The woman who served the children brought a small box, and putting some
cotton in it, laid the deer and the cat upon it, and gave the box into
Maggie's hand, saying that she could carry them safely in this way.
Maggie told Bessie that the woman knew how to keep store pretty well,
after all.

One or two more small purchases were made, and then they went home.
They went shopping several times with mamma or their aunts before all
their presents were bought; but two days before Christmas everything
was ready,--the book-marks with, "To my dear Father," and "To my dear
Mother," as well as those for Colonel and Mrs. Rush, a watchman's
rattle for noisy Fred, and for Harry, since he was fond of birds, a
yellow wooden canary in a pewter cage. It would take too long to name
each article, and the person for whom it was intended; but not one
of the family, or of their intimate friends, was forgotten. Papa and
mamma, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncle, and cousins, grandmamma and
the two grandpapas, Colonel and Mrs. Rush, Jemmy and Mary Bent, and
even each servant in the house were remembered and provided for; and
the older people were quite astonished to see how much the children had
done with the two dollars and sixty cents with which they had started.

And now began the grand preparations for the important day. The
Christmas-tree in its square green box came home, and was carried
into the library, where the children were now forbidden to go. The
"grown-upers," as Fred called them, were passing in and out all the
time, going in laden with parcels of all shapes and sizes, and coming
out empty-handed. But if the older people had their secrets, the
children, also, had theirs, not the least of which was one in which the
four eldest were engaged, and which was carried on for a while in the
boys' room.

The tree was not to be displayed until the evening of Christmas-day,
when there was to be a large family dinner at Mrs. Bradford's, to which
Colonel and Mrs. Rush were invited.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

XVII.

_CHRISTMAS._


"WHO is going to hang up a stocking to-night?" asked Fred, as the
children watched their father and uncle while they dressed the room
with greens on Christmas-eve.

"I shall," said Harry.

"And I," said Maggie.

"I don't know about it," said Bessie; "maybe Santa Claus will think we
are greedy, if we hang up our stockings when we are going to have a
Christmas-tree."

"No, pet," said Harry; "he's a generous old fellow, and, besides, he'll
know that we don't expect much in our stockings. We'll leave a little
note, telling him we only do it for the fun of the thing."

"He'll scorch his old legs coming down the chimney to-night," laughed
Fred; "there's a roaring big fire in mamma's grate."

"Oh, he's used to it," said Harry; "he minds neither heat nor cold."

"Maggie," said Fred, "if you hear a scrambling and pawing in mamma's
chimney to-night, you can jump up and take a look at him through the
crack of the door."

"We wouldn't be so mean," answered Maggie. "If he meant us to see him,
he would come in the day-time when we are up; and if he knew we did it,
perhaps he'd just go whisking up the chimney, and not leave us a single
thing."

"Hurrah for honest Maggie!" said Fred. "I hope Santa Claus is around
somewhere, and heard you say that. He'll give you a reward for it."

"Children," said Bessie, "you talk as if Santa Claus yeally was."

"You don't mean to say he really is not!" said Fred. "Now, if he has
heard you, Bess, he'll be affronted, and punish you, as he will reward
Midget."

"I know who Santa Claus is," said Bessie, gravely, "and I wonder if
it's yight to talk so earnest about him."

"Mamma said it was not wrong," said Maggie, "'cause every one knew it
was only a joke, and no one meant to deceive; but it's fun to think
about him and talk about him, so I am going to do it."

"I wonder how this notion of Santa Claus ever came about?" said Harry.
"Let us ask papa."

But Mr. Bradford was too busy just then to attend to them, and said he
would tell them at another time.

When Maggie and Bessie went up-stairs, their brothers went with them to
assist in hanging up the stockings, and when nurse found what they were
doing, she came too, bringing Franky's stocking and a tiny worsted sock.

"Holloa," said Fred, "you are not going to hang up that apology for a
stocking, nursey? Why, Santa Claus will never see it! and if he did,
he'll have nothing small enough in his pack to put in it."

"I'll trust to his forgetting my pet," said the old woman. "If he
overlooks any one, it will be the one of the family that's always in
mischief and up to some saucy prank; and maybe he'll just put a rod in
that one's stocking."

"Poor mammy!" said Fred, "do you really think Santa Claus will serve
you such a shabby trick as that, and not bring you a single thing?
If he does, I'll save all my pocket-money for a month, and buy you
something nice."

Nursey shook her head at the roguish fellow, whom she dearly loved
in spite of all his mischief and teasing, and having fastened up the
little sock, she carried Maggie and Bessie away to undress them.

If the little girls had been awake an hour later, when their brothers
stopped in mamma's room on their way up to bed, they might have said
that Santa Claus had a great deal of laughing and whispering to do;
but they were sound asleep, and heard nothing till the next morning,
when nurse, according to promise, came to wake them at an earlier hour
than usual; for nurse and Patrick had been taken into the secret, and
the latter had promised not to ring the rising-bell for this morning,
but to let the children wake their parents in their own way. Harry
had procured half a dozen bells of different tones, and had taught his
brother and sisters to ring them in tune, producing what they called
"Christmas Chimes." I cannot say that they sounded much like chimes,
or that the tune was very easily distinguished; but since the children
were satisfied with their own performance, it answered all the purpose.
And certainly had not papa and mamma been already awake, they could not
have slept one moment after all this din was raised at their door. Mr.
Bradford, however, was up and nearly dressed, for Miss Baby had chosen
to wake at an early hour, and looking around for something with which
to amuse herself, had discovered two new playthings in her father's
nose and hair. These she chose to consider her own proper Christmas
gifts, and had ever since been making good use of them. Papa tired
of the fun sooner than she did, and had been forced to take the new
toys beyond the reach of the little hands. Both he and mamma laughed
heartily at their Christmas greeting; but soon came sweeter sounds,
for when the chimes were over, the four clear young voices rose in the
beautiful hymn:--

    "Hark, the herald angels sing
    Glory to the new-born King."

No music ever sounded more delightful in the ears of Mr. and Mrs.
Bradford, and when the hymn was finished, papa waited to be sure that
no more was to follow. But now came shouts of "Merry Christmas!" and
as he opened the door, the whole happy, laughing flock rushed in, with
Flossy barking joyously at their heels.

"Now for the stockings!" said Fred, when all loving wishes had been
exchanged. "One at a time. You begin, Hal."

There hung the stockings all in a row as they had been left last night;
but now they were full instead of empty, and to the top of each was
pinned a piece of paper with some words written in a large, sprawling
hand.

Now Harry, though he was by no means a miserly boy, had a fancy for
saving all sorts of stray odds and ends, saying that they might be of
use some day. This habit of his gave a great deal of amusement to Fred,
and now he seemed much delighted when on Harry's paper were found the
words, "For Master Save-all." At the top of the stocking was a packet
of sugar-plums, below an old battered tin cup, some broken pieces of
china, part of a knife-blade, and some scraps of paper. Harry rolled
the paper into a ball and threw it at Fred's head.

"Now for number two," said the mischievous fellow, unpinning the paper
from his stocking, which did not look as full as Harry's. "'The
pattern boy of the house'--that's myself, of course,--'needs nothing
but the reward of his own conscience, and the goodies whose sweetness
is only equalled by his disposition.' Good for Santa Claus! He's a
gentleman of sense."

"There's something else there," said Maggie.

Fred looked rather surprised, but plunging his hand down to the
bottom of his stocking, pulled out a small square box. Opening it, he
found two little parcels, one containing mustard, the other pepper,
with the labels, "Like to like." He colored furiously, but laughed
good-naturedly, saying, "All fair; give and take."

On Maggie's paper was written, "For the girl who would not peep." And
besides sugar-plums, the stocking held a tiny log-cabin, a puzzle
of Harry's which she had long wished to have, and two or three other
small toys. Bessie's and Franky's held pretty much the same, except
that in Bessie's, instead of the log-cabin, was a tiny doll dressed as
a policeman; for since her adventure she had been very fond of talking
of her friends, the policemen, and her stocking was ticketed, "For the
girl who will not believe that Santa Claus really is."

But now nurse, coming in after her baby, looked first at her little
sock, and to her great disgust, found nothing but a bundle of twigs
tied on the outside.

"The old rascal!" she said; "does he mean to say my baby wants a
whipping? The best baby that ever lived! I'll just lay this rod over
his own shoulders."

"You'll have to catch him first," said Fred, "and you wont have a
chance till next Christmas-eve."

"Wont I though?" said nurse, and she made a grasp at the laughing boy,
who dived, and the next instant was off with nurse after him. But nurse
was old and fat, Fred, young and active, and he vaulted over balusters,
and took flying leaps down-stairs in a way which quite terrified her;
so that she begged him to "stop and not risk his neck on this blessed
Christmas morn."

"As well risk my neck as my shoulders," said Fred. "Will you promise
not to visit the sins of Santa Claus on me if I consent not to kill
myself?"

Nurse promised, and went back for her baby, whom she carried off to
the nursery, covering it with kisses, and talking to it as though she
thought it very badly treated.

"It's rather droll, is it not, that Santa Claus' handwriting should be
so much like that of our Fred?" said Mr. Bradford.

"Not at all, sir, for he took lessons of me when he was young,"
answered the rogue, with a comical look at his father.

"Papa," said Harry, at the breakfast-table, "can you tell us now about
Santa Claus?"

"I will tell you all I know, but that is not much," said his father.
"Santa Claus is Dutch or German for St. Nicholas. Many hundred years
ago, there lived far away in the East a good old bishop, named
Nicholas, who gave up his life to acts of charity and mercy. He was
said to have a great love for children, and many stories are told of
his kindness to them; hence, he came to be regarded as their special
friend. After his death, the Romish Church, to which he belonged,
made him a saint; and as his feast day, or the day which particularly
belonged to him, happened to be near Christmas, he was supposed to
take a great share in the rejoicings of that day."

"But why is he said to come down the chimney and fill stockings?" asked
Fred.

"I do not know," said Mr. Bradford, "and though I have questioned
several people who know a great deal about old customs, I have never
been able to find out how this idea arose. In some parts of Europe,
he is supposed to be a child angel, not an old man; and in France the
children call him Noel, and put their shoes on the hearth to be filled.
Perhaps the custom of giving presents at this time arose from the gifts
which the wise men of the East brought to the infant Saviour; perhaps
it was only intended to remind us of the greatest and most precious of
all gifts which _we_ received on this day. My Bessie can tell what that
was; can she not?"

"God's Jesus, who came to save us, so his Father could take us to
heaven," said the little girl.

"Right, my darling; and can Maggie tell what was the song the angels
sang on this happy morning?"

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward
men," said Maggie.

"And every Christmas-day since the song has been repeated by men and
angels. Is it not a pleasant thought that all over the world, in every
land where Christ is known, millions of happy voices ring forth the
glad tidings, 'For unto us is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ
the Lord;' that millions of young children are singing praises to him
who became a little child that he might bring to us the one priceless
gift without which all others are worthless? For from this flows every
good thing; without the peace, comfort, and safety which this has
brought, there would be nothing but misery and unhappiness, even for
those who do not love and bless the holy child Jesus, or trust to his
salvation. Every prayer which we offer, not only on this day but on all
days of the year, finds its way to the Father's ear only through his
name; every joy is made brighter, every sorrow lighter, by the thought
of the one great blessing the birthday of our Saviour brought."

And now there were down-stairs several poor people to be attended
to before church-time; for on this day, of all others, Mr. and Mrs.
Bradford would not forget those who had not as many good gifts as
themselves. There was Mary Bent, who had risen long before daylight
that she might be in the city at an early hour. Very cold and tired she
looked, but she cheerfully answered the children's "Merry Christmas;"
and when she had eaten the good breakfast Mrs. Bradford ordered for
her, the color came into her pale cheeks, and she quite agreed with
Maggie and Bessie that this was the happiest day in all the year.

"Mrs. Duncan ordered our Christmas dinner sent from Riverside, ma'am,"
she said, courtesying to Mrs. Bradford; "and old Mr. Duncan sent a
puzzle to Jemmy; so there's nothing more to be wished for."

"Still," said the lady, "I suppose you will not refuse the present
which the children have for you."

No fear of that, as the sparkle of Mary's eyes showed when Maggie and
Bessie came with the warm sack which they had bought for her. It was
tried on at once, and found to fit pretty well, leaving, it is true,
some room for Mary to grow, but that was a fault on the right side.
Mrs. Bradford gave her a hood for herself, and a book for Jemmy, with
a parcel of cakes and candies, and some tea and sugar for her mother,
and the little radish-girl went home with a light, happy heart.

There was an old negro man nearly a hundred years of age, but who still
managed to hobble about with a stick and pay a Christmas visit to his
kind friends, and who, when Mrs. Bradford gave him money and a hat,
said, "Dear honey, I didn't spect nothin'; I jest came for a sight of
your pooty face." But, nevertheless, old Jack would have been sadly
disappointed to go away empty-handed; indeed, I think it quite doubtful
if he would have gone away at all until he had received something.

There were several others to be made happy, but it would take too long
to tell who they all were. Every one, however, went from Mr. Bradford's
door blessing the kind hearts who could not be content unless they
shared with others the many good gifts God had bestowed upon them.
Then to church to praise the Lord for all the mercies of the day; after
which, Maggie and Bessie were taken to a large room, where the children
of the Church Mission School were to have a Christmas dinner. Roast
beef and turkey, with other good things, had been furnished for the
little ones, many of whom, perhaps, never had a comfortable meal save
on this day of the year.

Mrs. Bradford brought her children away before the dinner was quite
over, for she feared Bessie would be too tired, and when they reached
home, told her she must take a little rest. Bessie thought it a pity
to lose a moment of Christmas-day in sleep; but, like the obedient
child she was, lay down on mamma's sofa. But after lying quite still
for about ten minutes with her eyes closed, she said, "Mamma, I have
kept my eyes tight shut for a great many hours, and the sleep will not
come."

Her mother laughed, and said she might get up, since the time seemed so
long, and sent her to the nursery to be dressed for dinner.

And now came grandmamma and Aunt Annie, Grandpapa Duncan, Aunt Helen,
and Uncle John with Baby Nellie, and afterwards, Colonel and Mrs. Rush.
What a long dinner-table that was, and what a circle of bright, happy
faces about it! Maggie and Bessie, and perhaps Fred and Harry, too,
had thought it rather foolish to think of dinner when there was the
Christmas-tree waiting in the library; but, somehow, they all contrived
to enjoy the merry meal very much. Fred declared he wished his father
kept a hotel, it was so jolly to sit down to dinner with such a lot of
people.

Soon came Tom, Lily, and Eddy Norris, with Gracie Howard, to share in
the grand event of the day. Papa and Uncle John disappeared for a few
moments, then the servants were called, the library-door thrown open,
and there stood the Christmas-tree in all its splendor. On the topmost
bough was a figure of old Santa Claus, with his pack upon his back;
around him burned a row of wax tapers, and on every little twig hung
flags, spangles, bright-colored balls, and bonbons; while the larger
and stouter branches and the green tub were covered with the heavier
gifts. Such shouts of delight as came from the little ones! Baby, in
mamma's arms, seemed to think the whole show was for her amusement,
and crowed and laughed and stretched out her dimpled hands towards
the pretty things, which she would soon have destroyed, had she been
allowed to grasp them.

When the tree had been sufficiently admired, Mr. Bradford stepped
forward, and, taking down one after another of the gifts, handed them
to the persons for whom they were intended. One of the first things was
a sweet picture in a black walnut frame, which he gave to mamma. Great
was her delight when she saw the faces of her two little daughters, so
prettily painted by her sister.

"Now may we see, Aunt Helen?" said Maggie, and receiving permission,
she and Bessie ran eagerly forward. "Oh, how sweet Bessie and Flossy
look! And there's another pretty little girl standing by--Why, that's
me!"

Every one laughed, but Maggie was so pleased she did not think about
that, but thanked Aunt Helen for putting her in the picture. Bessie was
even more surprised, and could not understand how her aunt could paint
a picture without her knowing it.

Now papa called Maggie, for there was a beautiful little bed for her
doll; and next came one for Bessie. Never was there a tree that bore
such various and delightful fruit,--fruit suited to large and small,
from Grandpapa Duncan down to the dear baby; and never were richer
or happier children than our Maggie and Bessie. There seemed to be
presents from every one to every one, and happy voices and merry
laughter filled the room. The Colonel and Mrs. Rush were very much
pleased with the book-marks, "I love you, Sir," and "Remember me,
Ma'am;" that is, if smiles and kisses were to be taken as signs, and
promised to keep them as long as they lived.

Nor were papa and mamma less delighted with the paper-weight and
picture and the markers worked with "To my dear father," and "To my
dear mother." Mamma did not in the least care that Maggie, trying to do
hers by herself, had put the o and the m, quite close together, making
it read "Tomy dear mother," a mistake which mischievous Aunt Annie,
enjoying the joke, had not corrected. Of all the gifts which Mr. and
Mrs. Bradford received that evening, none pleased them more than those
which the fingers of their own little daughters had manufactured.

As for nurse, she scarcely had eyes or thoughts for her own presents,
so occupied was she with the treasures which showed that the youngest
darling of the flock had not been forgotten.

"Well, mammy," said Fred, shaking in the old woman's ears the silver
and coral rattle which had been grandmamma's gift to baby, "will you
forgive the trick which Santa Claus served you last night?"

"I will," answered nurse, "and I wish he may never turn out a worse
fellow than the rogue who played his part."

The excitement and gayety was calming down a little, when Harry
suddenly said, "See there, papa. There must be a fire," and he pointed
towards the window.

Mr. Bradford hastily drew back the curtain, and as a crimson glare was
seen upon the snow, it did indeed seem for a moment as if Harry's words
were true.

But directly Mr. Bradford said, "It is no fire, but a splendid aurora;
let us go up-stairs, where we may have a better view;" and taking
Bessie in his arms, he carried her to an upper room, whither they were
followed by all the rest. It was indeed a magnificent sight which met
their eyes. Far down in the northern sky appeared a dark purple arch;
above it a second of the brightest gold, while from the latter shot
long rays or streamers of every brilliant color, changing each instant,
and overhead glowed the steadier crimson light, which, throwing its
reflection on the pure white snow, had caused Harry to think it was a
large fire.

For a moment Maggie and Bessie stood speechless with delight, for
they had never seen anything like this before. Then Bessie exclaimed,
joyously, "Papa, papa, have the angels opened the gates of heaven to
let the glory shine out 'cause it's Christmas night?"

No one smiled at the pretty idea, though all were pleased; for sweet as
was the thought, it yet was solemn, and as they watched the flashing
play of those beautiful northern lights, it did indeed seem almost
as if there were reason in the little darling's words, and as if
the hosts of heaven in their rejoicing over man's salvation might
be giving them some glimpse of the glory purchased for them on this
blessed night.

But Mr. Bradford whispered softly as he drew her closer to him, "No, my
darling. Our eyes may never behold the beauty of heaven till our Father
takes us to himself. This is the work of his hand, and lovely it is;
but it is as nothing to the glory of the great white throne whereon he
sits."

And so ended this happy Christmas which our Maggie and Bessie will both
remember as long as they shall live.

[Illustration: decorative]



[Illustration: decorative]

XVIII.

_THE PURCHASE OF THE LIBRARY_


ON the Sunday morning following Christmas, Mrs. Rush asked her little
scholars if they all had their money ready for the library. Each one
answered "Yes," and she told them she would allow them to choose what
books they would send; and that on the next day she would take them all
down town to a large store, where they would find a great number of
pretty and suitable children's books. Accordingly, on Monday morning,
she drove up to Mr. Bradford's door at the appointed hour. Maggie and
Bessie, ready for the ride, were watching for her, and did not keep
her a moment waiting. Then they stopped at Mr. Howard's door to take
up Gracie, and next at Mr. Norris' for Lily. Each little girl, as she
entered the carriage, would offer Mrs. Rush her share of the money; but
she told them they had better keep it until they had bought the books,
and then pay for them with their own hands.

"Please don't say 'the books,'" said Maggie.

"And why not?" asked Mrs. Rush. "Are you not going to buy books?"

"Yes'm," said Maggie; "but then it is a great deal more satisfaction to
say 'library.'"

"Oh! that is it," said Mrs. Rush, laughing. "Well, hereafter, I shall
be careful to say your 'library.'"

"Not ours; the log-cabin children's library," said Gracie.

"Very well," said Mrs. Rush. "You will have me all right by and by. I
see I must be on my guard with such very particular young ladies."

"Don't you like to be coryected, Mrs. Yush?" asked Bessie.

"Certainly; when I am wrong, I always wish to be put right; and I shall
speak of your log-cabin library in any way you please; for you have
surely earned the right to say how it shall be."

"Tom says Maggie and Bessie deserve more credit than Gracie and I,"
said Lily, "because they really earned the money, and Gracie and I had
it without taking any trouble about it."

"But you have denied yourselves in order to give it," said Mrs. Rush,
"and I think you ought not to be without your share of credit."

"What does 'credit' mean?" asked Bessie.

"Oh!" said Maggie, before any one else could speak, "it means to think
yourself very great, and to have a fuss made about you. I am sure we
did not do it for that; did we, Bessie?"

"I know Tom did not mean that," said Lily. "He thinks you're very nice."

"And I think Maggie makes a mistake, and does not quite understand the
meaning of the word 'credit,'" said Mrs. Rush. "To give a person credit
for any action, dear Maggie, is only to give him the praise that is due
to him. There is no need to think that people are making a fuss about
you because they do this."

"I can't help it, Mrs. Rush," said Maggie. "I always do feel great when
people praise me, and nurse says it is not good for me."

"What do you mean by feeling great?" asked Mrs. Rush. "Do you mean you
feel vain and self-glorious?"

"No," said Maggie, "not quite that, but I feel pleased, and as if I
liked it; and I know sometimes I do things because I hope people will
praise me; but I am quite sure I did not do this for that, but because
I felt sorry for those log-cabin children, and wanted to help them."

"I have not a doubt of it, my dear little girl," said Mrs. Rush, "and I
do not think you could have been so earnest and persevering if you had
not had a better motive than the desire for praise. I believe you have
all done it from a sincere wish to help others who are not as well off
as yourselves; and it is not wrong to like praise, Maggie, if we do not
allow it to make us vain, or to cause us to cease from well-doing. We
all enjoy it, old and young; and if it is sincere, and we feel that we
deserve it, it is quite right to be pleased with the approval of our
friends."

"But Maggie is a great deal nicer than she thinks herself," said
Bessie. "I don't think anybody knows how very nice she is, 'cept me."

Mrs. Rush smiled at the affectionate little sister, who never missed a
chance of saying a kind or loving word for Maggie.

So they chatted away until they reached the bookstore, where Mrs. Rush
went in with the whole of her small flock. This was a very large store,
and from the floor to the ceiling the walls were covered with shelves,
on which lay piles on piles of books. The gentleman whom Mrs. Rush
wished to see was engaged, and she sat down to wait until he should be
at liberty to attend to her; while the children gathered about her,
noticing all around them, and prattling away as fast as their tongues
could go.

"Did you ever see such lots and lots of books?" said Gracie.

"I suppose the gentleman who owns this store must be about a million
years old," said Lily.

"Why, he couldn't be," said Maggie; "only the people that lived in the
Bible were so very old. I wish I had lived then, it's such fun to be
alive."

"If you had lived then, you would not be alive now," said Mrs. Rush,
with a smile; "and no one ever lived to be a million years old. The
world has not been created so long, and the oldest man, Methuselah, was
only nine hundred and sixty-nine when he died. But what made you think
Mr. ---- must have lived a million years, Lily?"

"Because he has written such lots of books," said Lily; "just see how
many!"

"But you do not think Mr. ---- has himself written all these books?"

"Why, yes'm," said Lily.

"It would indeed take a long life-time to write so many," said Mrs.
Rush, "but I do not believe Mr. ---- has written more than half a
dozen."

"Who did it, then?" asked Lily.

"A great many different persons. People write books and bring them
to Mr. ----, and he publishes them; that is, he has them printed and
bound, and then sells them."

"I am glad it took a great many people to do it," said Maggie, "because
if they take the trouble to write books for children, I suppose it's
because they like us; and it is pleasant to have a great many people to
love you."

"I wonder why 'most everybody loves children," said Gracie.

"If you thought about Christmas, you'd know that," said Bessie. "It's
'cause Jesus was once a little child; and besides, when he was a man,
he loved children his own self."

Just then the gentleman for whom Mrs. Rush was waiting came forward,
and said he was now at leisure to attend to her. She told him for what
she had come, and that she wished these little girls, who were going to
pay for the library, to choose their favorite books.

He shook hands with them all, and then, taking paper and pencil, told
them to tell him in turn what they would have.

Bessie, being the youngest, had the first choice, and she named the
books she liked best. The others did the same, but when the list was
made out, Mr. ---- said ten dollars would purchase several more, and
bringing some volumes which had just been published, said he could
recommend those for their purpose. The children were quite ready to
take them upon his word, and when the whole ten dollars' worth was laid
out, looked at the pile with great satisfaction. Mr. ---- offered to
send the books wherever they might choose but that would not answer at
all. The library must be taken with them in the carriage, and carried
home by Mrs. Rush, with whom it was to remain until those of the
children's friends who wished to see it had had the opportunity, when
it was to be sent to Miss Winslow, with a note from the four little
girls to the Western children. Maggie was asked by the others to "make
up" the note, and as Mrs. Rush took them all home to spend the rest of
the day with her and the colonel, it was done before they separated
that evening. This was the note which Colonel Rush wrote out and put up
with the books:--

     "Dear log-cabin children, whose names we don't know, but we
     like you all the same, please to take this library. Four
     of us send it to you,--Maggie and Bessie and Gracie and
     Lily; and I am Maggie, and the others are the rest. Our
     dear teacher, Miss Winslow, who used to have us all except
     Bessie, who was too little, in her Sunday-school class, is
     going to teach you in your log-cabin, and Santa Claus put
     a log-cabin in my stocking, but I knew it was Fred; and
     she says you have very few books, and we would like you to
     have some more; so we have bought this library for you, and
     we hope you will read all the books and like them. Papa
     and Colonel Rush are going to send you some picture cards
     with hymns and verses like those in our Sunday-school, and
     Miss Winslow is going to take you some Bibles, so you see
     if you want to learn about Jesus you can, and if you are
     good children, you will. Miss Winslow is very good, and you
     will love her very much, and we are very sorry she is going
     away; but now we have Sunday-school in Mrs. Rush's room,
     and she is so sweet you can't think, and the colonel does
     tell us such stories; so we can spare Miss Winslow, and you
     must be very good to Miss Winslow, because she left her
     comfortable home to be a missionary to you, and Mr. Long,
     too, so you ought to mind all they say, and if you do not,
     you ought to be served right, and never have any of the
     library books to read. But we think you will be good, and
     some day Miss Winslow is going to write to us about you,
     and if you are naughty, you would be ashamed to have it put
     in a letter. Dear log-cabin children, we all send you our
     love, and we hope you had a Christmas-tree, and here are
     our names:--

                          MAGGIE BRADFORD.
                          GRACIE HOWARD.
                          LILY NORRIS.
                          BESSIE BRADFORD."

The colonel wrote it all down just as Maggie dictated it to him, but
when Miss Winslow read the letter to the Western children, she did not
think it necessary to read the whole of the last part, but left out a
few words here and there. As Maggie did not know this, it did not make
any difference to her.

The books were covered and put up in a neat box which Mr. Bradford
provided, and then given into Miss Winslow's care. She was very much
pleased, and told the little girls she should not fail to tell the
Western children all about their kind young friends in the East.

Some weeks after she went away, there came a letter from her, directed,
"To my dear little scholars." It had come in another to Mrs. Rush, and
arrived on Saturday night; so when they came to her room on Sunday
morning, they found this pleasure awaiting them. Mrs. Rush read it
aloud to them.

     "MY DEAR LITTLE GIRLS,--

     "After a long and tedious journey, we arrived at this
     place. We lost several articles of our baggage by the way,
     but I am glad to tell you that your precious library was
     not among them. That came quite safely, and it would do
     good to your generous young hearts to see what delight
     these poor children take in the books; and not only the
     children, but the grown people, also, are very anxious to
     have them.

     "We are not living in a large city or village, but in a
     small settlement of a dozen or so of houses, and very
     different the houses are from those you are accustomed to.
     They are all log-cabins, our own as well as the rest; but
     we manage to make ourselves pretty comfortable and quite
     contented. Then we have so much to do that there is no time
     to think of little annoyances.

     "On Sunday the people come from other settlements, miles
     and miles away, to hear Mr. Long preach; and when our
     simple services are over, the children beg for the books
     you have sent for their use. Some of them are well thumbed
     already, but, on the whole, they take good care of them,
     partly for their own sakes, partly for that of their kind
     little friends so far away.

     "On week-days, Mr. Long rides from place to place to teach
     and talk to the people. When I can borrow a pony or mule,
     I go with him, and the cry is always for 'books, books.' I
     take two or three from the library with me, and leave them
     here and there. They pass from house to house, till all
     who wish have read them, then they are returned to me, and
     others asked for.

     "There is an old colored woman who lives in one of the
     houses near us; she has not left her bed for years; she
     is lame and helpless. I went to see her when I first came
     here, but she took little notice of me until I offered to
     read to her. Then she turned her face to me, and asked if
     I had books. I told her yes, and seeing she was ready to
     listen, I opened my Bible and read several chapters to
     her. To my surprise, she seemed to be quite familiar with
     God's word, and asked for certain chapters, not by name
     or number, but by repeating some verse they contained, or
     by telling me the subject. Since then I have been to see
     her every day; and thinking she might like to hear some of
     the pretty stories in your library, I took one with me the
     other morning. She seemed well pleased with the idea, and
     before I began, I told her how I had procured the books.
     She was much interested, and at last asked the names of
     the children who had been so thoughtful. When I mentioned
     Maggie and Bessie Bradford, her whole face lighted up,
     and she asked me whose children they were. I told her, and
     she at once said she had known Maggie's and Bessie's papa
     when she was at home, 'to dear ole New York;' and told me
     that her brother Jack, if he were still alive, often went
     to see Mr. Bradford's family, who were very kind to him. So
     when Maggie and Bessie see old Jack, they can tell him this
     news of his sister. Poor old Dinah never tires of asking
     about you, or of talking of the family, and when I go away,
     always begs me to leave one of the library-books with her.
     She cannot read a word, but she says she likes to look at
     the picturs, and to hold the book in her hands, because it
     does her good just to feel it and think it came from 'dear
     Massa Henry's chillen.'

     "So, my little darlings all, you see what joy your present
     has brought to these poor people. That God may bless you
     for your readiness to help in his work, and reward you
     abundantly is the prayer of

                          "Your loving
                              "MARY LONG."

[Illustration: The End.]

       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes

Minor punctuation typos have been silently corrected. Retained
author's preferences for "wont" instead of changing to "won't;" and
kept both variations of "mean while" and "meanwhile."

Page 72: "stiches" is probably a typo for "stitches."
  (Orig: learning to put in stiches that grew neater)

Page 132: "crimsom" is probably a typo for "crimson."
  (Orig: butterfly, with wings of crimsom, blue, and gold.)

Page 264: Retained spelling variations of "Charlie" and "Charley."

Page 278: Retained the question mark, but it may be a typo.
  (Orig: "We are going to do a purpose with it?" said Bessie,)

Page 394: "picturs" may be a typo for "pictures" or intentional
dialect.
  (Orig: but she says she likes to look at the picturs,)





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