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Title: Belle Powers' Locket
Author: Mathews, Joanna H. (Joanna Hooe)
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 "Belle Powers' Locket" ***

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



  [Transcriber's Note: Italic text is represented by _underscores_.
  Small capitals in the original have been converted to all capitals.]



  _LITTLE SUNBEAMS._



  I.

  BELLE POWERS' LOCKET.



  By the same Author.


  I.

  THE BESSIE BOOKS.

  _Six vols. in a neat box._ $7.50.

  The volumes also sold separately; viz.: Bessie at the Seaside; City,
  Friends; Mountains; School; Travels, at $1.25 each.

  "Really, it makes the heart younger, warmer, better, to bathe it
  afresh in such familiar, natural scenes, where benevolence of most
  practical and blessed utility is seen developing itself, from first
  to last, in such delightful symmetry and completeness as may, and we
  hope will, secure many imitators."--_Watchman and Reflector._


  II.

  THE FLOWERETS.

  A SERIES OF STORIES ON THE COMMANDMENTS.

  _Six vols. in a neat box._ $3.60.

  The vols. can also be had separately; viz.: 1. Violet's Idol; 2. Daisy's
  Work; 3. Rose's Temptation; 4. Lily's Lesson; 5. Hyacinthe and her
  Brothers; 6. Pinkie and the Rabbits, at 75 cents each.

  "The child-world we are here introduced to is delightfully real.
  The children talk and act so naturally that we feel real live children
  must have sat for their portraits."--_Baltimore Christian Advocate._



  BELLE POWERS'
    LOCKET.

  "YE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD."

      BY
    JOANNA H. MATHEWS,
  AUTHOR OF THE "BESSIE BOOKS" AND "THE FLOWERETS."

    NEW YORK:
  ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,
    530 BROADWAY.

      1882.



  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by

    ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS,

  In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


    UNIVERSITY PRESS:
  JOHN WILSON & SON, CAMBRIDGE.



  Dedicated

    TO

  BESSIE MUIR FISHER.



  CONTENTS.


  I. BELLE AND HER PAPA      9

  II. AN EXCITEMENT      25

  III. AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE      40

  IV. SUNLIGHT      57

  V. A DAY WITH MAGGIE AND BESSIE      73

  VI. PROVERB-PICTURES      88

  VII. MABEL'S NEW WHIM      104

  VIII. THE LOCKET      118

  IX. BELLE'S MISFORTUNE      133

  X. A TERRIBLE LOSS      149

  XI. BELLE'S GRIEF      163

  XII. CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE      180

  XIII. MABEL'S GENEROSITY      196

  XIV. FOUND      219



[Illustration]



BELLE POWERS' LOCKET.



I.

_BELLE AND HER PAPA._


Dear little Belle!

There she sat, upon a low stool, doll and picture-book lying unheeded
at her feet, as she watched the slanting beams of light which
streamed in between the crimson curtains and poured life and gladness
over all within the pleasant room. There she sat, watching them
thoughtfully, yet with a half-smile upon her lips, as they travelled
slowly and steadily from spot to spot, now over the carpet, now up
the table-cloth, now touching the gilded mirror-frame and making it
flash with added brightness, and now falling softly on a vase of lovely
flowers and bringing out their brilliant colors in new and more perfect
beauty. And now in their noiseless but busy march they fell upon her
own little self, the brightest and sunniest thing in all the room, to
the loving eyes which watched her.

"What is my darling thinking of?" asked Mr. Powers, breaking the
stillness.

In an instant Belle was upon his knee and nestling close to him; but
she did not answer his question till it was repeated.

"What were you thinking of, my daughter?" he asked again, laying his
hand fondly on the little round head, with its short, dark rings of
hair.

"About sunbeams, papa," answered the child, turning her eyes again upon
the bar of light, which was now quivering and shimmering among and over
the prisms of the chandelier above their heads.

"Ay, they are very pretty," said her father.

"But it was not about _those_ sunbeams, papa, though they did make the
thinking come into my head. It was about being a sunbeam. I would like
to be a little sunbeam, papa."

"And so you may, and so you are, my darling," said the father. "You are
papa's little sunbeam, the brightest sunbeam he has on earth; and his
way would be very dark and sad without you."

"Yes, papa," said Belle: "you mean I am your comfort, and you are my
sunbeam, papa, 'cause you are my comfort; but I was thinking I would
like to be a sunbeam to other people too. I wonder if I could. Maggie
Bradford says I could."

"I am sure you could, darling."

"Maggie does say such nice things, papa; and so does Bessie; and
sometimes when a thing does not seem very pleasant, or as if I would
like to do it, they talk about it so that it seems very nice indeed,
and so very right that I feel in a great hurry to do it. That is, if
I do not feel naughty; for do you know, papa,"--and Belle's voice took
a mournful tone,--"do you know sometimes I am so _very_ naughty that I
feel like doing a thing just because I know I oughtn't. Papa, could you
have b'lieved that of me?"

"Yes," said Mr. Powers, smiling: "I could believe that of any one,
Belle."

"Could you, papa?" said Belle, solemnly. "Well, that does make me a
great relief; for when I used to get good again after I had been so
naughty as that, I used to think I must be 'most the wickedest child
that ever lived. But one day when I told Maggie and Bessie about it,
Maggie said sometimes she felt that way too; and then we made each
other promise to keep it a great secret, and never tell anybody."

"And so you keep your promise by telling me," said her father.

"O papa! we didn't mean our fathers and mothers. We don't think you're
anybody."

"Thank you," replied her father, taking the compliment as it was meant,
though somewhat amused at her way of putting it. "That is right, dear.
It is better for little children not to mean their fathers and mothers
when they promise not to 'tell anybody.'"

"Yes, papa; and then you see you have nobody but me to tell you
secrets, so I would feel too badly not to do it. But I want to know
about being a sunbeam, papa; how I can be a sunbeam to 'most everybody,
or to a good many people."

"What did Maggie Bradford say about it?" asked Mr. Powers: "let me hear
that."

"Why, it was yesterday, when I was spending the day with Maggie and
Bessie," answered Belle; "and it was cloudy, and the sun came out from
the clouds, and Maggie said--Papa, Maggie is the smartest child; and
do you know what I heard Mrs. Norris say about her? She said Maggie
had quite a--quite a--a--talent, that was the word, quite a talent for
poetry. Are you not very glad, papa, that my in-sep-era-ble has a
talent for poetry? Don't you think that is a pretty nice thing for a
child to have?"

"Very nice; and I am indeed happy that my Belle has such a talented
friend," said Mr. Powers, who knew that he could not please his
little daughter more than by joining in the praise and admiration
she showered upon her young friends and playmates, Maggie and Bessie
Bradford,--"very nice, indeed; but still I do not hear what Maggie said
about the sunbeams."

"Well, such a beautiful sunbeam came out of the cloud, papa; and it
made every thing look so bright and pleasant, even though the clouds
were there yet; and I said if I wasn't myself, I would like to be a
sunbeam, 'cause every one was so glad to see it, and it seemed to make
things so bright and happy; and then Maggie said we could be ourselves
and sunbeams too. Not _really_, true sunbeams, you know, but like
sunbeams, to make all bright and glad about us; and she said we did
that when we helped each ofer, or when we tried to make sorry people
feel glad, and comforted them, or did a kind thing that made some one
feel nice and happy. And Bessie and I were very proud of her for saying
such a nice thing as that, papa; and we begged her to make some poetry
about it, and she made one verse; and then Bessie said she b'lieved we
could be sunbeams for Jesus if we chose, and she coaxed Maggie to make
another verse about that, and we learned it. Shall I say them to you,
papa?"

"Certainly," said her father; and Belle repeated the following simple
lines, which she plainly thought extremely fine:--

    "I wish I was a sunbeam,
      To sparkle all the day;
    And make all glad and happy
      Who came across my way.

    "I'd like to shine for Jesus,
      And show to every one
    That all my light and brightness
      Did come from Him, my Sun."

"There, what do you think of that, papa?" she asked in a tone of
triumph, which showed her own delight and pride in her little friend's
composition.

"I think it very fair for a nine-years-old girl," answered her father.

"I think it is be-ew-tiful," said Belle. "Maggie writes lots and lots
of po'try, and she copies it all. Some of it is pious po'try, and she
puts that in one book called 'Bradford's Divine Songs,' and she puts
the unpious in another called 'Bradford's Moral Poems;' and Bessie and
I learn a great deal of them. They're splen-did, and she is just the
smartest child,--Bessie says she is."

If Bessie said a thing, it must be so, according to Belle's thinking;
and her father did not dispute the fact. Belle went on,--

"And that is the kind of a sunbeam I would like to be, papa, 'cause I
s'pose that is the best kind,--to have the light and brightness come
from Jesus,--and it would make me nicer and pleasanter to every one."

"Yes, my darling."

"But I don't see how I am to be much of a sunbeam to any one but you,
papa. Maggie and Bessie seem to know how without any one telling them,
but I don't know so very well. They are my sunbeams next to you, I know
that: are they not, papa?"

"Yes, indeed, my daughter. God bless them," said her father, speaking
from his heart as he remembered all that these two dear little girls
had been to his motherless child; what true "sunbeams" they had proved
to her, cheering and brightening the young life which had been so
early darkened by her great loss. Gay, bright, and happy themselves,
they were not only willing, but anxious, to pour some of the sunshine
of their own joyous hearts into those of others who had not so many
blessings.

All this, and more than this, had her young friends done for the lonely
little Belle, not only bringing back the light to her saddened eye, and
the smiles to her once pitiful face, but also giving her a new interest
by awakening in her the wish to shed some happy rays on the lot of
others, and leading her by the shining of their own example to become
more obedient, gentle, and unselfish than she had ever been before.

"Daphne told me I'll have a whole lot of money when I am a big lady,"
continued Belle; "and then I should think I could be a sunbeam to
ever so many people, and do ever so much to make them glad and happy.
I'll build a room, oh, ever so big! and bring into it all the lame
and deaf and blind and poor people, and make them have such a nice
time. The good ones, I mean: I won't have any naughty people that do
bad things. I shan't be a sunbeam to them, or have them in my sunbeam
home; no, nor the disagreeable ones either, who don't have nice manners
or be pleasant. I'll take ugly people, 'cause they can't help it; but
everybody can be pleasant and polite if they choose, and I shan't help
the old things who are not. Ugh!"

"But that is not the way Jesus wants us to feel, dear. When He was here
on earth, He taught us that we must try to do good to all, that we
might be the children of our Father in Heaven, who, He tells us, 'makes
His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the
just and the unjust.' Do you know what that means?"

"Um--m--m--yes, papa, I b'lieve so," answered Belle, half unwillingly:
"I s'pose it means I ought to try to be a sunbeam to disagreeable
people, just the same as if they were pleasant."

"Belle," said Mr. Powers, "do you remember the story Mrs. Rush told
you of Lem and Dolly, those naughty, unkind children who treated your
little friends so badly; and who were so disagreeable and rude in every
way, both in looks and behavior?"

"Oh, yes, indeedy!" answered Belle, in quite a different tone from that
she had last used. "I never _could_ forget that story; and now I do see
what you mean, papa. Maggie and Bessie were sunbeams to poor Lem and
Dolly, for all they were so very naughty to them."

"Yes, dear; and they lighted the path to Jesus so that Dolly found the
way to Him before she was taken from this world; and by all that we
hear it may be that some ray of light has fallen across poor Lem's way
too."

"Yes," said Belle, eagerly; "and the ofer day Maggie and Bessie's papa
had a letter from the captain of the ship what Lem is a sailor on, and
he said he was a real good boy, and tried to do right all he could.
But, papa, you see I don't know any very dirty, ragged, horrid children
to be a sunbeam to; so what shall I do? I s'pose when I say my prayers
I could ask God to let there be some _for_ me. I'll ask Him to-night to
let there be six dirty beggars, three boys and three girls, that I can
be good and kind to, and show the way to Him. Wouldn't that be a good
plan, papa?"

"Well, I think I would hardly do that," said her father, smiling.
"There is quite enough of misery in the world without asking for more
only that we may cure it; and some of it is pretty sure to come in
your way. But any little child may in her daily life shed light and
brightness around her, even though it does not happen to her to find
any such special work as was given to your Maggie and Bessie; and with
the will and heart to do it, I think my Belle will be a sunbeam indeed
to all with whom she has to do."

Now as you may not know the story of which Belle and her father were
speaking, you may like to hear something about it; and you shall have
it in a few words.

These two little girls, Maggie and Bessie Bradford, the young
friends of whom Belle thought so much, went one summer to spend
the season among the mountains; and, while there, fell in with two
poor, neglected, and wicked children, named Lem and Dolly Owen. From
these children, who seemed to love mischief and wickedness for their
own sake, and to feel a spite toward all who were better off than
themselves, Maggie and Bessie, and indeed all their family, had much
to bear. Every petty annoyance and vexation which they could invent
was tried by Lem and Dolly to trouble and grieve those who had never
injured them. But although it did cost them a hard struggle, the two
dear little girls had forgiven all this, and so won upon the miserable
outcasts by the sweet, forgiving kindness they had shown, that the
latter were at last brought to look upon them as friends, and to feel
sorry for all the evil they had done to them. Nor was this all; for
by their simple teachings and bright example they had pointed out to
poor, sick Dolly the way to Jesus; and before she died she was led to
His feet, and knew that He could save her and take her to dwell with
Him. So, happy and trusting, she had gone from a world where she had
known little but misery, to that other and better home where sin and
suffering never come; while Lem, softened partly by his sister's death,
had been put under the care of kind Mr. Porter for a while, and was
now, as you have learned from Belle's words, gone as a sailor boy with
a prospect and promise of doing well.

All this, and much more which it is not necessary to repeat,--since, if
you choose, you may learn all about it in a little book called "Bessie
among the Mountains,"--had been told to Belle by some of Maggie's and
Bessie's older friends; and had, if possible, increased her love and
admiration for them. She had received such tenderness and affection
from them herself, this motherless little one, and their friendship had
brought her such new happiness and comfort, that it was not surprising
that she did indeed look upon them as her "sunbeams next to papa," and
love them with her whole heart.

Whether Belle and her papa would have talked much more cannot be told,
for now they were interrupted by a knock at the door; and when Mr.
Powers said, "Come in," a waiter obeyed, bringing a note directed to--

  "Miss BELLE POWERS,
  Care of her Papa,
    In the hottel,
    U. S. of America,
      New York."

Happily, this note had not gone by post, but had been brought by one
servant-man who knew for whom it was intended, and had given it to
another, who brought it directly to the young lady whose name it bore.
Otherwise, I think it just possible that it might never have reached
her.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



II.

_AN EXCITEMENT._


"That is Maggie's writing," said Belle, seizing eagerly upon the note,
as the man handed it to her. "I s'pose it's about something nice:
Maggie's notes always are,--Bessie's too. Please read it to me, papa."

Mr. Powers did as he was asked; and when Belle had opened the envelope,
which was a part of the business she must of course attend to for
herself, read aloud these words, written in Maggie Bradford's large,
round hand:--

"OH! MY DEAR, DARLING BELLE,--We are so glad Bessie and I are that your
papa has made up his mind not to take you away to your home in the
south this winter. And not to have you go in that horrid steamer and
sail with monsters of the deep and be seasick, which is such a horrible
fate that I could not wish it of my worst enemy of which I hope I have
none in this world or that which is to come. And because we are so glad
about it we wanted to have a public rejoicing, and mamma says we may,
and if you don't know what a public rejoicing is it means when people
are very glad about something and want other people to be glad too and
so they make a great fuss and have something very nice. And so in the
present case mamma says you can come and make the public rejoicing with
us to-morrow afternoon and Lily Norris is coming too and Nellie and
Carrie Ransom. And mamma is going to let us have a very nice supper
and some mottos, of which she knows you are fond as I suppose are all
mankind or ought to be if they have any sense, and we think she is the
very dearest mamma that ever lived and I hope I shall be her grateful
child as I am yours till death and Bessie the same.

      "MAGGIE STANTON BRADFORD."

"Oh, yes! I'll go, 'course I will," said Belle, clapping her hands, as
her father finished reading the note; and too much accustomed to going
and coming to and from Mrs. Bradford's house as she pleased to think
it necessary to ask permission. "'Course I'll go. And, papa, isn't
this a lovely note? and isn't Maggie just the smartest child to write
so nicely? I think she writes just as good notes and letters as big
people: yes, I think hers are a good deal more interesting than big
people's. And she makes me understand every thing too. I'm glad she
told me what a public rejoicing was, 'cause I didn't know before; and
isn't that nice and pretty about not going away and monsters of the
deep?"

"But you must send your answer: Patrick is waiting," said Mr. Powers.

"Oh! to be sure," said Belle. "Please write it for me, papa;" and
accordingly her father wrote as she dictated:--

"DEAR MAGGIE AND BESSIE,--I guess I will; and I thank you very much
for making a public rejoicing, and mottoes and all. Your mamma is so
good; and I love her and you, and hope I'll be a sunbeam to everybody.
Good-by.

  "Your own precious
      "BELLE."

On the afternoon of the next day Belle was taken to the home of her
young playmates by Daphne, the old colored nurse who took care of
her. She was in very good time, you may be sure; for she insisted
on going immediately after her own early dinner; and Daphne was too
much accustomed to giving her her own way in all things to dream of
disputing her wish.

The preparations for the "public rejoicing" were not quite finished,
as might have been expected; but that did not much matter where Belle
was concerned, for she was so much with the little Bradfords that they
looked upon her almost as one of their own family; and she was at once
called upon by Maggie to "help with the arrangements," which she was
quite ready to do.

"Mamma hasn't had time to buy the mottoes yet," said Maggie, "'cause
she couldn't go out this morning; but she is going now and says we are
to go with her. Don't you want to come too, Belle?"

Belle was only too glad; and as soon as Mrs. Bradford was ready, the
three little girls, Maggie, Bessie, and Belle, set forth with her to
make the important purchase.

As they were on their way to the store, Maggie, who had skipped ahead
to a corner they had to turn, came running back with face all aglow and
eyes full of excitement.

"Oh! mamma!" she said: "there's such a fuss round the corner, and I'm
afraid we'll have to pass it."

"What is the trouble?" asked Mrs. Bradford.

"I don't know; but there's a crowd, and I saw a carriage, and a
policeman; and there's such a fuss."

"Well," said Bessie, who held the most unbounded faith in policemen,
"if there's a policeman, I s'pose he'll fix it all right: won't he?"

"But you see we'll have to pass it to reach the candy-store," said
Maggie; "and maybe, it's a drunken man, or a carry-on horse, or an
animal escaped out of the menagerie, or a mad dog, or some other
dreadful excitement;" and she looked quite distressed as she finished
the list of horrors she had imagined.

"I think I can take care of you," said her mother; "and if there should
be any danger we will stop in at grandmamma's till it is over."

Thus consoled, but still clinging tight to her mother's hand, Maggie
thought they might venture to go on; but as soon as the corner was
turned, it became quite plain that there was no danger for them,
though there was indeed what she called "a fuss."

In the middle of the street was a carriage about which a crowd had
gathered, one of the horses having stumbled, fallen, and broken his
leg. On the sidewalk stood a lady in deep mourning, with a nurse, and a
child about Bessie's age, the latter screaming at the top of her voice,
and dancing up and down, seemingly partly in fear, partly in anger; for
she would not listen to her mother and nurse when they tried to soothe
her, but struck out her hands passionately at the woman when she tried
to draw her away from her mother's side, so that the lady might find
opportunity to speak to those about her.

"Oh! the poor little girl! just see how frightened she is," said Bessie.

"I am afraid she is a little naughty, too," said her mother, as the
child gave another furious scream and stamped wildly with both her feet
upon the pavement; while the lady, who was plainly weak and nervous,
drew her hand across her forehead as if the uproar her little daughter
was making was almost too much for her.

"But I must speak to the lady and see if I can do any thing for her,"
continued Mrs. Bradford; and stepping up to her, as she stood a little
withdrawn from the crowd, she said kindly, "Can I be of any assistance
to you?"

"No, thank you," said the lady: "I am not ill, only startled; and--if
Mabel would but be quiet and let me speak and think."

Mabel seemed inclined to do this now that she had caught sight of the
other children; for ceasing her loud screams, and standing still, she
stared open-mouthed at them.

"My house is but a few steps farther on: will you not come in and rest,
and compose yourself?" asked Mrs. Bradford of the stranger.

"No, thank you," she answered again: "I believe we have but little
farther to go. Is not the ---- Hotel near here?"

"Only a block or two," replied Mrs. Bradford.

"Then we will walk on," said the lady; and directing the nurse to
bring some shawls from the carriage, she thanked Mrs. Bradford for her
kindness, and taking the hand of her little girl would have gone on.

But this did not please the child, who now drawing sharply back from
her mother, said pettishly,--

"No: I want to go to that lady's house and play with those nice little
girls."

"But we're not going home. We are going to the candy-store to buy some
mottoes," said Belle.

When Mabel heard this, she said she wanted to go to the candy-store and
buy mottoes too; and her mother, who, it was plainly to be seen, gave
way to her in every thing, said she might do so.

"But if I go and buy you mottoes, will you be a good girl, and come
with me to find your uncle and little cousin?" asked the stranger lady.

Mabel promised, anxious now only to secure the mottoes; and she and
her mother and nurse followed Mrs. Bradford and our little friends to
the candy-store.

Mrs. Bradford politely waited and let the saleswoman attend to the
stranger first, for she saw there would be small chance of peace till
the spoiled child had all she desired.

All she desired! There seemed no end to that. Not only Maggie and
Bessie, but Belle also, who was accustomed to the most unbounded
indulgence, and to have every wish gratified, stood amazed at the
number and quantity of dainties which Mabel demanded, and which she was
allowed to have. Parcel after parcel was put up for her, till not only
her own hands and those of her already well-laden nurse were filled to
overflowing, but those of her mother also.

"Now do come, dear," said the latter, when it was impossible that any
one of the three could carry another thing: "let us go and see the
little cousin, and she shall share them with you."

"No, she shan't," whined Mabel: "I don't want little cousin, and I
shan't have her now."

"Well, never mind, then. She is such a nervous child," said her mother,
turning to Mrs. Bradford. "She shall not tease you if you do not
choose. Come, darling, won't you, with poor mamma?"

But it took so much more promising and coaxing before the unruly child
could be persuaded by her weary but foolish mother to go on, that Mrs.
Bradford made her purchases and quitted the store with her own little
flock, leaving Mabel still whining and fretting, and at the last moment
insisting upon having a sugar "Temple of Liberty," which the shopwoman
told her was not for sale, but only put there for show.

"That's the spoildest child I ever saw," said Belle, as they turned
homewards, each little girl by her own desire laden with a parcel.

"Yes," said Maggie: "she's just the kind of a child to cry for the
moon, and get it too, if she could; but she couldn't. I'm glad," she
added, with an air of deep wisdom, "that our parents saw the error of
their ways and didn't train us up that way. What are you laughing at,
mamma?"

But mamma made no answer; the reason of which Maggie took to be that
just at that moment she bowed to a gentleman who was passing; and
before she could repeat her question Bessie spoke.

"I'm glad enough I'm not her little cousin she is going to see. I'm
sorry for her cousin."

"So am I," said Belle. "I wouldn't have such a cousin as Mabel for any
thing. She's too horrid."

"You have a cousin named Mabel, though, haven't you?" asked Maggie.

"Yes, so I have; but then she's not one bit like that Mabel, you know,"
answered Belle.

"You never saw her, did you?" asked Bessie.

"No, 'cause she lives about a million thousand of miles off, way off
in Boston; but she is coming to see me some time," said Belle.

"But if you never saw her, how can you tell she is not one bit like
that child?" asked Bessie.

"Why how could she be?" demanded Belle, indignantly: "her mamma is my
papa's own sister, and he'd never have such a foolish lady as that for
his sister. I guess he wouldn't;" and Belle shook her head in a manner
which seemed to say that such an idea was to be put out of the question
at once.

"Yes: you know 'birds of a feather flock together,'" said Maggie.

"What does that mean?" asked Bessie.

"Why," answered Maggie, slowly, as she considered how she might make
one of her favorite proverbs fit the occasion, "it means--well--it
means--that a foolish mother is apt to have a foolish child, and things
of that kind. Do you understand, Bessie?"

"Oh, yes!" said Bessie, looking at her sister with admiring pride:
"you always make every thing plain to understand, Maggie. Don't she,
Belle?"

"Yes," said Belle: "she's an excellent explainer. And, Maggie, do
you know I told papa what nice things you said about being sunbeams,
and told him those verses you made; and, oh! didn't he think it was
splendid?"

"I don't believe Mabel is much of a sunbeam to her people," said
Bessie. "I'm 'fraid her mother don't teach her to be."

"No, indeed, I guess she isn't!" said Belle; "and I wouldn't want to be
a sunbeam to her."

"But our Father in Heaven makes His sun to shine on the evil and on the
good," said Mrs. Bradford, softly. "Does not my little Belle want to
copy Him?"

Just the words her father had used yesterday when she was talking with
him on this very subject. They set Belle thinking; and she walked more
quietly on towards the house, trying to make up her mind if she could
"be a sunbeam" to such a disagreeable child as the one she had just
seen.

She had not quite decided when they reached Mrs. Bradford's door,
and there for the time her thoughts were taken up with her play and
playmates.

But Mrs. Bradford was rather amused when, one of the dolls being
supposed to have behaved badly, Belle was overheard to say,--

"This child must be punished severely, she is so very nervous."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



III.

_AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE._


The "public rejoicing" had not nearly come to an end, when, at a much
earlier hour than she was accustomed to go home, Belle saw Daphne
entering the play-room. Daphne's turbaned head was thrown back, and her
lips pursed up in a manner which showed Belle that she was not pleased
with something or some one. But whatever might be the cause of the old
nurse's displeasure, Belle knew well enough that it would never be
visited on her; and Daphne's appearance just at the moment when she was
so delightfully engaged did not suit her at all.

"You haven't come to take me home a'ready?" she said.

"But I has, honey: more's de shame," said Daphne, with a look of
mingled pity and affection at her little mistress, while a chorus of
exclamations arose from all the children.

"I shan't go, now! It's too early," said Belle. "Why, it isn't near
dark, Daphne. Did papa send you?"

"S'pose he tinks he did," replied Daphne; "but I specs dere's a new
missis come to han', what tinks she's goin' to turn de worl' upside
down. 'Pears like it."

"What?" said Belle, not understanding such mysterious hints, yet seeing
something was wrong; and Mrs. Bradford asked, "What are you talking
about, Daphne?"

"I'se been bidden to hol' my tongue, and I neber talks if I ain't got
leave," answered Daphne, with another toss of her turban and several
displeased sniffs.

"But you're talking now, only we don't know what it's about," said
Bessie.

To this Daphne made no answer, except by closing her eyes in a resigned
manner, and giving a sigh which seemed to come from her very shoes.

"I shan't go home, anyhow," said Belle: "the party isn't near out."

"Not when papa wants you, dear?" said Mrs. Bradford, gently.

Belle gave a sigh which sounded like the echo of Daphne's; but she
made no farther objection when her nurse brought her hat and prepared
to put it on. Daphne clapped on the hat, giving a snap to the elastic
which fastened it that really hurt the child, though she was far from
intending to do so. Then she seized her in both arms and gave her a
loud, sounding kiss.

"You just 'member you allus got yer ole mammy, whatever else you loses,
my honey," she said. By this time not only little Belle and the other
children, but Mrs. Bradford also, thought something dreadful must have
happened; although the latter did know that Daphne was sometimes
foolish, and very apt to make a mountain out of a molehill.

"What's the matter? Where's my papa?" said Belle, in a frightened tone.
"Is he lost?"

"He's safe to de hotel, dear," said Daphne. She never condescended to
say home: "home" was far away, down on the dear old Georgia plantation.
"He's safe to de hotel; that is, if somebody ain't worrit de eyes out
his head or de head off his shoulders. You come along, Miss Belle,
'fore all yer tings is gone to rack an' ruin."

"What is the matter, Daphne?" said Mrs. Bradford.

"I telled yer, missis, I ain't got leave for talk; an' I neber breaks
orders, no way. But I'se been forgetten: dere's a letter what Massa
Powers send you;" and diving into the depths of her enormous pocket,
Daphne produced a note which she handed to Mrs. Bradford. The lady
opened and read it; while Belle watched her, fearing some evil. But
Mrs. Bradford smiled and looked rather pleased, and said to Belle,--

"It is all right, darling: run home now; papa has a great pleasure for
you."

It would be impossible to express the length and depth of the sniff
with which Daphne heard this; but Belle did not notice it, and was now
rather in haste to say good-by and to go to her papa.

"I wouldn't say any thing more if I were you, Daphne," said Mrs.
Bradford, following them out to the head of the stairs.

"Dear! I ain't said nothin', Missis," said Daphne: "didn't her pa
forbid it? on'y some folks is so blin'."

"Who's blind? Not papa?" said Belle.

"It am a kin' of sperit blin'ness I'se speakin' ob, honey," said
Daphne. "Talk ob spilin' chillen, indeed! Dere's some what's so bad by
natur', you couldn't make 'em no wuss if you tried all de days ob yer
life."

With which she disappeared, banging the front door after Belle and
herself with a force which told that she was anxious for some object
on which she might safely vent her displeasure.

Belle talked and questioned all the way home, but received for answer
only the same mysterious and alarming hints; till the child hardly knew
whether to believe that something dreadful had taken place, or that she
was going home to the promised pleasure.

"Now, Miss Belle," said the foolish old woman, as they crossed the hall
on which Mr. Powers' rooms opened, "you min' I ain't goin' for let you
be snubbed and kep' under. You come and tell yer ole mammy ebery ting;
an' I'll fight yer battles, if de French nusses is got sich fly-a-way
caps on der heads."

So she opened the door of their own parlor; and Belle, feeling a little
worried and a little cross at the interruption to her afternoon's
pleasure, passed in.

What did she see?

Upon the sofa, beside her papa, sat a lady dressed in deep mourning;
and upon his knee--was it possible?--yes, upon papa's knee, in her
own proper place, was a little girl, quite at her ease, and sitting as
if she had a right and belonged there. And--could it be?--Belle took
a second look--it really _was_ the child who had been so naughty and
shown herself so spoiled. She stood for a moment near the door, utterly
amazed, and speechless with displeasure.

Now Belle was what is called a generous child; that is, she would
readily give away or share what she had with others; but she was
jealous of the affection of those she loved, especially of her papa's.
He was her own, her very own: all his tenderness and petting must
be for her. She could hardly bear that he should caress even her
beloved Maggie and Bessie; and if it chanced that he did so, she
would immediately claim a double portion for herself. She was quick
and bright too; and now she saw in a moment the cause of all Daphne's
mysterious hints and melancholy; and they helped to increase the angry,
jealous feeling in her own heart. Daphne had feared that this naughty,
contrary child was coming to interfere with her; and Belle feared it
now herself. Indeed, was it not plain enough already? There she was
on papa's knee, the seat to which no one but herself had a right; and
papa's arm was about her.

"Come here, my darling: come and speak to your aunt and little cousin,"
said Mr. Powers.

And now Belle spoke, indeed, but without moving one step forward, and
with a very different tone and manner from those which her father
expected.

"Come off of there!" she said, in a low, deep tone of intense passion.
"Come off of there! That's my place, he's my papa; you shan't have him,
and I shan't have you. You're not my cousin; I won't have you, bad, bad
girl!"

She said this with her face perfectly white with rage, her eyes
flashing; and she stood bolt upright, her two little hands clenched
and stretched downwards on either side. Then the color came fast and
deep, rising to the very roots of her hair; her lips were drawn, and
her little bosom heaved.

Mr. Powers knew what this meant. Putting Mabel hastily from his knee,
he rose and walked over to Belle. When Belle was a baby, and little
more than a baby, she had the naughty habit, when any thing displeased
her, of holding her breath until she was almost choked and purple in
the face. Other children have this ugly way, which is not only naughty,
but dangerous. But Belle's mamma had broken her of this when she was
very young; and it was a long, long time since her father had seen her
do it.

But it was coming now, and must be stopped at once.

"Belle!" he said sharply, and almost sternly, laying his hand on her
shoulder,--"Belle!"

It did seem hard, but it was necessary, and was, Mr. Powers knew, the
only way to bring his angry little child to her senses. It was enough.
She caught her breath hard, then gave one or two deep sobs, and burst
into a passion of tears, at the same time turning and trying to run
away.

Poor child! It seemed to her that this was proof of her jealous fears.
Papa had never spoken so to her before, and it was all because of that
strange child who was coming in her place. So she thought, and only
wanted to run away out of sight and hearing.

But her father caught her, took her up in his arms, and now spoke to
her in the tenderest tones, covering her wet face with kisses and
trying to soothe her.

Belle knew that she had been naughty, oh! very naughty; but she still
felt very much injured; and, although after a time her sobs became less
violent, she clung tightly to her papa, and kept her face hidden on
his bosom; shedding there the tears which brought no healing with them
because they came from anger and jealousy, and obstinately refusing to
look up or speak to her aunt and cousin.

And yet if Belle had been told but yesterday that she was soon to see
this little cousin, she would have been delighted. They had never met
before, for Mrs. Walton, Mabel's mother, had been living abroad for
many years: the little Mabel had been born there, and there several
brothers and sisters had died. Perhaps this last was one reason, though
it was certainly no good excuse, that Mabel had been so much indulged.

For some months there had been talk of their coming home, but their
appearance just at this time was quite unexpected. Young readers will
not be interested in knowing what brought them: it is enough to say
that here they were, the steamer having brought them to Boston, whence
Mr. Walton had sent on his wife and child, he staying behind to attend
to some business.

Mrs. Walton had thought to give her brother an agreeable surprise; and
so she had, for he had been longing to see her, and to have her help
in the training of his motherless little Belle; but Mrs. Walton and
Mabel had not been with him half an hour before he began to think that
Belle would do quite as well without the training which Mabel received.

The child had been clamorous to see her young cousin from the first
moment of her arrival; but Daphne, unwilling to call her darling from
her afternoon's pleasure, had invented one excuse after another, till
Mr. Powers had insisted that she should bring Belle.

The jealousy of the old colored nurse, who was already put out at
Mabel's wilful, pettish behavior, and the way in which she was
allowed to handle and pull about all Belle's toys and treasures, was
immediately aroused at the idea that her nursling should be made to
yield to the new-comer; and she had shown this in the manner which had
awakened a like feeling in Belle the moment the child discovered the
cause.

Mrs. Walton was vexed, as indeed she might well be, at the reception
which Belle had given to herself and Mabel; but the weak and foolish
mother readily excused or overlooked in her own child those very faults
which she saw so plainly in her little niece.

At first Mabel had been too much astonished at Belle's outbreak to
do more than stand and look at her; but when her cousin's cries were
quieted, and she lay still with her face hidden on her father's
shoulder, giving long, heaving sobs, she began to whine and fret, and
to insist that Belle should be made to come and play with her, and show
her a set of carved animals, one of Belle's choicest treasures which
Mr. Powers had rescued from her destructive little fingers.

"My dear brother," said Mrs. Walton, "it is indeed time that your child
was put under other female management than that of servants. She is
quite spoiled, I see."

Here a prolonged sniff, ending in something very like a groan, came
from near the door where Daphne still stood: while Belle, feeling
that both she and her devoted nurse had been insulted, kicked out
indignantly with her little feet.

But her father's hand was on the nestling head; and he said very
quietly, pouring oil on the wounded spirits,--

"My Belle and her Daphne could not well do without one another; and
Belle is much less spoiled than she used to be. She is a pretty good
girl now, thanks to the kind teachings she has had, and her own wish to
profit by them. Mrs. Bradford, the mother of her little friends Maggie
and Bessie, has been very good to her; so has her teacher, Miss Ashton,
and several other lady friends: so that she has not been left lately
without proper training, even if her papa and old nurse do indulge and
pet her perhaps a little too much. Belle and I are all in all to one
another now, and she knows I want her to be a good girl. It is a long,
long time since she has had such a naughty turn as this, and I know she
is sorry and ashamed."

Ashamed Belle certainly was; but I am afraid she was not sorry, at
least not truly sorry, for she was quite determined not to look up or
speak to her aunt and cousin; and she nursed the angry feelings in her
little heart, and made up her mind that they were both quite unbearable.

She was the more sure of this when they all went together into the
dining-room. Belle was accustomed to go there with her father, and to
eat her simple supper while he dined; and indulged though she was, she
never thought of fretting or asking for that which he said was not
proper for her; but Mabel called for every thing that she fancied, and
was allowed to have all manner of rich dainties, her mother answering
when Mr. Powers interfered,--

"It don't do to refuse her any thing. She is so nervous and excitable.
I have to manage her the best way I can."

Probably Mr. Powers thought the management which fell to the share of
his motherless little Belle was better and more profitable than that
bestowed upon Mabel, whose mother was always with her.

It was the same thing when they went upstairs again. Mabel wanted to
stand in the gallery above, and look down into the great hall below,
where were lights, and numbers of people coming and going; and all the
pleadings and promises of her tired mother could not persuade her to go
on to their room, where the nurse was engaged unpacking.

But her uncle, who was tired of all this wilfulness, soon put a stop
to it, by unclasping the little hands which held so obstinately to the
banisters, lifting and carrying her to her mamma's room, where he set
her down without a word.

Mabel was so unused to such firm interference with her wishes, and was
so astonished at it, that she quite forgot to scream or struggle till
he had gone away and the door was shut upon her. Then she made up for
lost time; but we will leave her and go with Belle.

Her father saw that she was in no mood for advice or reproof; just now
either would only add to her sudden and violent jealousy of her cousin:
so he determined to pass over her naughtiness for to-night, and hoped
that she would be more reasonable in the morning. She herself said not
a single word about what had passed, or about her aunt and cousin,--at
least not to her papa; but when Daphne was putting her to bed, both the
little one and the old woman found enough to say to one another; Belle
telling her nurse how she had met Mabel that day and how the latter had
behaved; while Daphne encouraged her to say as many unkind things as
she would, and made the most of all Mabel's spoiled, troublesome ways.

Poor little Belle! She could hardly say her prayers that night, and
went to bed feeling more unhappy than she had done for many a long day.



[Illustration]



IV.

_SUNLIGHT._


Things were no better the next morning.

Mrs. Walton did not come down to breakfast, but Mabel chose to go with
her uncle and cousin. She was in a better humor than she had been the
night before, and would willingly have made friends with Belle if the
latter would have allowed her to do so. She was less unruly and wilful
at the table also; for after the way in which her uncle had compelled
her to obey last night, she was a little afraid of him, and had an idea
that he would not allow her to have her own way in the manner her papa
and mamma did. She did not like him the less for that though, and when
she asked for one or two things which he did not think proper for her,
submitted quietly to his refusal, and took what he offered instead.
As for Belle, she not only would not speak to her cousin beyond the
unwilling "good-morning" which she uttered by her father's orders, but
she would not appear to be conscious of her presence at all; never
lifting her eyes to her, and if she was forced to turn her face that
way, making a pretence of looking over Mabel's head or beyond her. And
when they returned to their own parlor, where Mrs. Walton now sat,
Belle gathered every toy, book, or other trifle that belonged to her,
put them in a closet given for her use, and with some difficulty turned
the key and took it out; then planted herself with her back against
the door, as if she thought the lock not enough to keep Mabel's hands
from her treasures, standing there with a look of the most determined
obstinacy and sullenness.

Such behavior was not at all like Belle, and her papa scarcely knew
what to make of it. Even in her most wilful days she had never shown
herself selfish or sulky; and knowing that she now felt herself
aggrieved and injured by Mabel's presence, and fearing to excite fresh
jealousy, he did not know how to deal with her.

As for the little girl herself,--no matter how much of all this had
been caused by old Daphne,--Belle knew well that she was very naughty;
but she determined to persist in that naughtiness so long as Mabel
should be there.

To describe Daphne's high-mightiness, not only with Mabel and the
French nurse, but also with Mrs. Walton, would be impossible. She
carried her turban so straight, and moved and spoke so stiffly, that
she almost awed even her little mistress; and Mabel was quite afraid of
her. Nor would she give any help or information to the French woman,
pretending not to understand her English, which, although broken, was
plain enough.

"'Dere ain't no use yer talkin' to me," she said. "I don't unnerstan'
yer, nor I ain't goin' to. I'se allus been fetched up 'mong de
Peytons,--Miss Belle's mamma she was a Peyton,--an' I'se used to
fust-rate English; an' me an' Miss Belle we allus uses it, and neber
can unnerstan' no low talk. 'Sides, I'm deaf as a post dis mornin' and
can't hear no way."

Daphne was troubled with a convenient kind of deafness, which always
came on when she did not wish to hear a thing.

So Mr. Powers, knowing that both Belle and Daphne must be brought to
their senses and to better behavior, but not seeing exactly the way to
do it without making matters worse, betook himself to his good friend
Mrs. Bradford to ask advice.

"What am I to do?" he said when he had finished his story: "if I punish
Belle or reprove Daphne, they are in such a state of mind that it will
give fresh food for jealousy and bad feeling to both; and yet I cannot
let this go on."

"Certainly not," said Mrs. Bradford; "but before we try punishment or
reproof, let us see what a little management and kindness will do.
Suppose you send Belle, and, if Mrs. Walton will allow it, Mabel with
her, to spend the day with my children."

"My sister will allow any thing the child fancies, I fear," the
gentleman answered with a sigh; "but you do not know what you are
undertaking. A more ungovernable and ungoverned child than my
little niece would be hard to find; and I fear that neither you nor
your children would pass a pleasant day with Belle and Mabel here,
especially if Belle continues in her present mood."

"I do not fear that she will," said Mrs. Bradford. "Maggie and Bessie
being of her own age, and having a great sympathy for her, may be able
to do more in their simple way to charm the evil spirit than we older
people can. As for Mabel, if she will come, she will be under some
restraint here, as we are all strangers to her."

"Ah! you do not know her," said Mr. Powers. "I was a stranger to her
until yesterday, and yet"--his look and the shrug of his shoulders
spoke as strongly as the unfinished sentence could have done.

"Never mind: send her," said the lady. "I will not let her annoy the
other children or me _too_ much, and I may do her some good."

"Yes," said he, gratefully: "I know that you and yours never shrink
from doing good to others because the task may not be an agreeable one.
But do you mean to keep a house of correction, or, I should say, of
good influences, for all incorrigibly spoiled children?"

"Not exactly," said Mrs. Bradford, returning his smile; "and I believe
I have our little Belle more than Mabel in my mind just now; but let
them both come, and we will see if we cannot send them back to you this
evening in better and happier moods."

Repeating his thanks, Mr. Powers bade her good-by and went home; where
he found that Belle had quitted her stand at the closet-door, Mabel
having gone out. For when the latter found that she was not to be
allowed to have her cousin's toys, she raised such an uproar as soon as
her uncle was out of the way, that her mother promised her every thing
and any thing she chose, and had sent her out with the maid to purchase
all manner of playthings.

Belle was glad to hear that she was to go to the Bradfords'; and
even when she learned that Mabel was to accompany her, she still
felt a satisfaction in it, because she was sure that the children
would sympathize with her, and be as "offended" with Mabel as she was
herself. She was wild to go at once, without waiting for her cousin;
and her papa consented that she should do so, hoping that Mrs. Bradford
and the children would bring her to a better state of feeling before
Mabel made her appearance.

Somewhat to Belle's surprise she found Bessie rather more ready than
Maggie to resent her supposed injuries. Bessie did not, it is true,
encourage her in her naughty feelings, or in returning evil for evil;
but she had been so shocked by Mabel's behavior on the day before, that
she could not wonder at Belle's dislike. Moreover, Bessie was a little
inclined to jealousy herself; and although she struggled hard with this
feeling, and showed it but seldom, she was now ready to excuse it, and
find just cause for it, in Belle.

But Maggie was disposed to look at things in a more reasonable light,
and to make the best of them.

"Why, Belle," she said, cheerily, "I should think you'd be glad, 'cause
now you can be a sunbeam to your cousin, and try to do her good."

"I guess I shan't be a sunbeam to her," said Belle. "I'd be nothing but
an ugly, old black cloud, what blows a great deal and has thunder and
lightning out of it; and it's just good enough for her."

And at that moment, indeed, little Belle looked much more like a
thunder-cloud than like a sunbeam.

"I just can't bear her. I b'lieve I just hate her, and I'm going to do
it too," she continued.

"But that is naughty," said Bessie.

"I don't care: it is truf," said Belle. "I can say the truf, can't I?"

"Well, yes," answered Bessie, "when it's the good truth; but if it's a
naughty truth, it's better to keep it in."

"What did Mabel do to you to make you so mad?" asked Maggie.

"Why, she--she"--and Belle hesitated a little, rather ashamed of
herself now, as she found how small cause of complaint she really
had--"why, she took my things when I didn't say she might. She wanted
my carved animals too, what Uncle Ruthven gave me; but papa didn't let
her have them, and I wouldn't either. I put them away, and wouldn't let
her look at them,--no, not one tiny little peek."

"But, Belle, dear, you don't be selfish with your things gen'ally,"
said Bessie. "Why won't you even let Mabel see them?"

"'Cause she's too spoiled;" said Belle; "and I b'lieve she'd just go
and break them all up. I don't _know_ she would, but I b'lieve she
would."

"But we oughtn't to b'lieve bad things about people if we don't know
'em," persisted Bessie.

"I shan't let her have my things, anyhow," replied Belle; "and I'm
going to try and have her put out of the country too."

"How can you?" said Maggie. "They have a right to stay here if they
want to."

"I'll coax papa to write a letter to the President and ask him to
turn out Mabel and her mamma," said Belle; "and I'm going to be very
excitable and nervous, so he'll do any thing I want him to."

Maggie had her doubts as to the President's power in such a matter;
but she did not make them known, thinking it better to try and soothe
Belle's angry feelings, like the wise little peacemaker that she was.

"But I think that we ought to be sorry for your aunt and Mabel, and to
have very excusable feelings towards them," she said. "You know they
have not had so many advantages as we have, because they have lived
abroad for a good many years; and probably they have been corrupted by
the fashionable world of Paris."

This was an uncommonly fine speech, even for Maggie; and Bessie and
Belle were struck quite dumb by it, and for a moment could do nothing
but exchange looks and nods of admiration and wonder; while Maggie,
conscious that she deserved their approval, not only for the sentiment,
but also for the manner in which it had been expressed, sat gazing
serenely out of the window as she received the honors which were due to
her.

"Yes, I s'pose so," said Bessie, with a long breath, as she recovered a
little.

"I s'pose so too," repeated Belle, in a more amiable tone than she had
yet used.

"You see," continued Maggie, thinking it well to strengthen the good
impression she had made, and speaking with all the solemn gravity which
befitted one who had just uttered such sublime words,--"you see we
ought not to be too hard on Mabel, because she is so very saucy and
disobedient to her mother that I expect she is one of those to whom the
ravens of the valley shall pick out her eye and the young eagles shall
eat it. And, children, it is plainly to be seen that it is partly her
mother's fault, which is a sad thing, and I fear she will have to bear
the consequences. So don't you think we ought to be kind to Mabel and
try if we cannot do her some good?"

"Yes," said Bessie, putting her arm about Belle's neck; "and, Belle,
maybe when Jesus heard us say we wanted to be sunbeams for Him, He sent
this very disagreeable child to be your trial, so He could see if you
were quite in earnest about saying it."

This was quite a new view of the subject; and somehow, Belle scarcely
knew how, she began to feel more kindly towards her aunt and cousin,
and even to have a feeling of pity for them. But the imaginary "six
dirty beggars" had taken such strong hold of her mind that she could
scarcely resolve all at once to take in their place this well-dressed,
well-cared-for, but very naughty little cousin. Mabel could be good
and happy if she chose, and Belle did not see why she should be at any
trouble to make her so, since nothing but her own wilful humors stood
in the way. Still Maggie's words and those of Bessie had already had
some influence upon her, and when she next spoke it was in a still
milder tone.

"Why, Bessie," she said, "do you really think Jesus had Mabel and her
mamma come here just so I could be a sunbeam to them and try to do them
good? I don't believe He did."

"Well, maybe He didn't send them here just for that," answered Bessie;
"but when He did send them, I think He'd like you to make a little
sunshine for them."

"And then," said fanciful Maggie, always ready to catch at what she
thought a poetical idea,--"and then, you know, when the sunshine comes
the clouds 'most always go away; so if we try to be very patient and
kind with Mabel, maybe the clouds of her crossness and _obstinateness_
will roll away and be seen no more."

It was impossible to hold out against such words of wisdom as came from
Maggie's lips; and Belle began to feel that here, after all, might be
the very opportunity she had wanted.

"And then that would make your aunt glad," persuaded Bessie; "and we
are sorry for her."

"Um--m--m, well, I don't know about that," said Belle: "my aunt said a
thing about me,--a very disagreeable thing."

"What was it?"

"She said I wanted some kind of management. I forgot what kind. I don't
know what word she called it, but it meant something horrid I know; and
she oughtn't to say I was spoiled when she spoils her own child."

"No," said Maggie: "people who live in glass houses oughtn't to throw
stones; but I fear they generally do, for all."

"What does that mean?" asked Bessie.

"It means when we do a thing a good deal ourselves we oughtn't to speak
about other people who do it; but we are apt to."

"Well, then," said Belle, taking the maxim to herself, though Maggie
had not meant it for her, "I s'pose if I used to be spoiled myself, I
oughtn't to talk so much about my cousin who is."

"But you was never like _that_," said Bessie.

"I used to be pretty spoiled sometimes, and yesterday I was--ugh--I was
horrid," answered Belle, a sense of her own past naughtiness coming
over her.

"What did you do?" asked Bessie.

"I screamed and hollered--and--and I kicked. I shouldn't be s'prised if
my aunt thought I was as naughty as Mabel."

"She that repents ought to make haste to show her repentance," said
Maggie. "That is a new proverb I made up on purpose for you, Belle,
'cause I thought it suited you."

"Oh! thank you, Maggie," said Belle: "then I'll do it."

And so our three little girls resolved that they would at least meet
Mabel kindly and politely; and as far as possible put the remembrance
of her past ill-behavior from their minds.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



V.

_A DAY WITH MAGGIE AND BESSIE._


Mabel herself had some doubts as to the reception she should meet with
if she went to Mrs. Bradford's; and when her mother first proposed
it, refused to go. Daphne, who had heard the story from Belle, had
not failed to let Mabel know that this lady and her little girls were
the friends with whom she had met her cousin yesterday; and had also
drawn a very vivid picture of the disgust and dislike with which such
behavior as hers was always regarded in their family.

So, as I have said, Mabel at first refused to go near them; but finding
it dull in the hotel with only the two nurses for company, as her
mamma and uncle had gone out, she changed her mind and declared that
she would go to Mrs. Bradford's "to see what it is like, and only stay
just as long as I'm a mind to."

"And yer needn't think you'll disappint nobody but yerself if yer come
away, little miss," said Daphne, spitefully; for Mabel's new whim did
not please her at all, and she would much rather she should have kept
to her first decision, and not have bestowed her company where the old
woman thought it little desired.

However, she did not dare, much as she would have liked to do so, to
refuse to show Mabel and her nurse the way to Mrs. Bradford's house;
but she revenged herself by leading them by the longest road and least
pleasant way. But this, however much it pleased Daphne, did no hurt to
Mabel, since she enjoyed the walk and had no idea of Daphne's object.

"I'se brought you a Tartar," was the old colored woman's whispered
introduction to Mrs. Bradford's nurse when they entered the nursery;
and mammy, too, looked askance at the stranger, who immediately
perceived that she was not too welcome.

But before she had time to turn about again and say that she would not
stay, Maggie came running from the play-room; and putting all shyness
and prejudice out of mind, she went up to Mabel, took her by the hand,
and said kindly,--

"We have to feel a little acquainted with you before we know you,
because you are Belle's cousin; and she is our inseparable. Come into
the play-room. You came so late it is 'most time for our dinner, but we
will have a good play afterwards."

Such a long, friendly speech to any stranger, even one of her own age,
was a great effort for Maggie; but for Belle's sake she wanted to make
Mabel comfortable, and put her on her good behavior at once. And she
succeeded; for the pout passed from Mabel's lip and the frown from her
brow, as she said,--

"Yes, we will; and see what a big box of sugar-plums I have brought.
We'll eat them all up."

"If mamma gives us leave; but I am quite sure she will not," said
Maggie to herself, and then said aloud,--

"We might play with them, and you shall be the store-woman if you like."

"Yes, so we will," said Mabel. "Didn't Belle try to make you mad at me?
She's as mad as any thing at me herself, and won't speak to me, when I
never did a thing to her."

"Oh! she's all over that now," said Maggie, wisely noticing only the
last part of Mabel's speech. "She and Bessie are putting on the dolls'
best suits for you. Come and see them."

And half-ashamed, half-defiant, Mabel followed her little hostess into
the play-room to greet Bessie and Belle.

If Mabel was a little shame-faced, Belle was still more so; for she was
not accustomed to behave in the way she had done that morning, and her
conscience was more tender than Mabel's. But now that she had resolved
to do better she would not let shame stand in her way; and going right
up to Mabel, she said,--

"Let's kiss and make up, Mabel. I'm sorry I was so cross this morning."

"And will you let me have your playthings?" asked Mabel, as she
accepted Belle's offered kiss.

"To look at and play with, but not to keep," answered Belle. "I'll even
let you have my carved animals--if you will be careful," she added,
determined not to stop half way in her effort to make peace.

And now came mamma, rather expecting to find the little ones awkward
and uncomfortable together after all that had passed; but lo! all was
peace and sunshine. Her Bessie, it is true, watched the young stranger
with serious eyes, and had on her _disapproving_ look; for Bessie had
been more shocked than it would be easy to tell by Mabel's misbehavior
of the day before, and found it hard work to forget it. If Mabel had
been some poor, ragged, neglected child, with no one to care for her,
and many a temptation in her way, Bessie would have been the first
one to make excuses for her, and to say that nothing better could be
expected from her; but that any little girl who had loving friends and
all manner of comforts and pleasures about her should be so perverse
and troublesome, seemed to her out of all reason and hardly to be
forgiven.

Still, though she wore her demure little manner, she was very polite
to Mabel, and as ready as Maggie to show all her dolls and other
treasures. Mabel too, being pleased and amused, was on her good
behavior; and all was going smoothly.

Before long the children were called to their dinner. Mabel looked
disdainfully at the nice but simple food which was set before them,
and refused this, that, and the other thing, saying she did "not like
them."

"But you will be hungry before you go home if you do not eat now, my
dear," said Mrs. Bradford.

"I'm waiting for something better," said Mabel; at which piece of
rudeness all the other children, including even little Frankie, opened
their eyes in wonder.

"You will have nothing else except some plain dessert," said Mrs.
Bradford.

Mabel pouted, pushed her plate from her, and kicked with her feet upon
the legs of her chair; but the lady took no notice, although the three
little girls could not help exchanging looks and biting their lips, to
express to one another their disapproval of such conduct.

But to Frankie, who was blessed with an uncommonly fine appetite, this
refusal to partake of a good meal seemed a most extraordinary and
unheard-of thing; so, after staring at her with a pitying look for some
moments, and vainly offering her every dainty within his reach, even
to "de nice brown stin off my sweet potato," he seemed convinced that
she was only naughty, and set about correcting her.

"Did oo ever see Willum what is in 'Slovenly Peter' boot?" he asked.

The only answer he received was a pettish shrug of Mabel's shoulders
and a fresh kick upon the chair.

"'Tause he was lite oo, and wouldn't eat his soup," said Master
Frankie, with an air of stern reproof; "an' oo will be lite him, an'
'when de fif day tame, alas! dey laid oo in de dround.'"

Which proved too much for the gravity of his little sisters and Belle,
who thought this extremely funny; and, in spite of Mabel's scowl, went
off into peals of merry laughter.

Mabel hoped and expected that Mrs. Bradford, seeing she would not eat
what was set before her, would send for some more dainty and richer
food; but she soon found this was not to be, and that the lady did not
even appear to trouble herself because she would not eat. This was
something quite new to Mabel, who was surprised as well as displeased
at Mrs. Bradford's unconcern.

When the dessert was put upon the table, there was a plain rice pudding
and a small dish of bright clear jelly.

"I'll take jelly," said Mabel, not waiting till she was asked, as a
polite child would have done.

Mrs. Bradford quietly helped each child to a portion of the pudding and
some jelly, leaving but little of the latter in the dish.

Mabel ate up her jelly as fast as possible, keeping her eye all the
while on what remained in the dish; and as soon as she had finished her
own, thrust out her plate, saying,--

"More, please."

Mrs. Bradford gave it to her without a word; but Frankie, encouraged by
the applause with which his first reproof had been received, thought
himself called upon for another.

Frankie pinned his faith on "Slovenly Peter;" knew it all by heart,
quoted from it on all occasions, and drew from it lessons and examples
suitable to himself and others.

"Dere's anoder boy named Jatob in 'Slovenly Peter,'" he said severely:
"he was so dweedy dat he brote hisself in two. I s'pose you'll be lite
him," he added, not at all disturbed by the want of similarity between
the two unhappy fates he had predicted for Mabel.

And Mabel felt somewhat abashed when she saw how her greediness had
struck this little boy, who she could not but see behaved far better
than herself.

"Mamma," said Bessie, "would you rather I should not eat the raisins in
my pudding?"

"Well, yes, darling, I think you had better not as you were not very
well this morning," said her mother.

Again Mabel was surprised. She knew very well that she would have
rebelled against such an order, and had her own way too; but here was
this little girl not only submitting quietly and cheerfully to what
Mabel looked upon as a hardship, but actually asking if it was her
mother's wish. It was something quite new to Mabel.

Had Bessie talked to her for an hour about her greedy, wilful ways,
it would not have done one half the good that the example of her own
simple regard to her mother's wishes did. And Mabel looked at Bessie,
then down upon her plate, then raised her eyes to Bessie's again, with
some admiration mingled with the wonder in them; and little Belle, who
was watching her cousin, said to herself,--

"Now, I just b'lieve Bessie is a sunbeam, showing Mabel the right, best
way to mind her mother; but Bessie don't know she did it."

Quite right, little Belle! And it was not the first ray of light which
had fallen that day upon Mabel's wilful and selfish but not hardened
young spirit. Already was she beginning to wonder what these children,
so obedient and docile, must think of her, and to feel ashamed of her
conduct before them.

For some time past a favorite practice of the three little
girls,--Maggie, Bessie, and Belle,--had been to draw what they called
"proverb-pictures."

This was an invention of Maggie's, and was considered by the children
an unfailing source not only of amusement, but also of profit. For all
manner of useful hints and gentle moral lessons were supposed to be
conveyed in these pictures; and if one noticed any thing in the conduct
or speech of another which did not seem exactly proper, she would make
a proverb-picture, and kindly present it to the short-comer.

At first a proverb had always been taken as a foundation for these
pictures, and Maggie manufactured a good many for the purpose: hence
their name; but after a while they were sometimes drawn without
reference to any particular maxim or saying, and suited only to the
need of the moment.

And I am bound to say that they answered their intended purpose: such
hints, if needed, were always taken in good part and seldom neglected;
indeed, it was considered rather a treat to receive one, especially
from Maggie, and each little girl treasured those which were given to
her with great care, and frequently studied them over.

Nor were they considered only as a means of mild reproof or gentle
persuasion to do right; but many a little incident and scene of their
daily lives were represented, and all these formed to their thinking a
very interesting collection.

It is true that the pictures generally needed considerable explanation,
not only to other friends who might be treated to a sight of them, but
also to one another; but this was really a part of the pleasure, and
afforded great satisfaction to the young artists. That is, to Belle and
Bessie; Maggie was rather shy about doing this, and preferred to label
her pictures, or to write a short explanation beneath.

There could be no doubt that of the three Belle made the best
pictures, indeed they were not bad for a child of her age; and Maggie
and Bessie took much pride in what they considered her great talent,
and encouraged her to make the most of it, and put it in constant
practice.

So now Maggie bethought herself that it would be well for Belle to try
to do her cousin some good by means of these "proverb-pictures." She
did not feel intimate enough with her as yet to try to do so herself,
but she thought that Belle being such a near relation might very well
do it without giving offence.

When they left the table she drew Belle aside and whispered to her:--

"Belle, wouldn't it be a good plan to try Mabel with some
proverb-pictures, and see if they will improve her? You know it's a
much agreeabler way of having a good lesson than being scolded or
having people mad with you."

"Yes," said Belle: "let's do it now."

"No," said Maggie, "'cause it would be stupid for her while we made
the pictures; besides, I don't think Bessie and I know her well enough
yet, but you might do it when you go home. I composed two proverbs that
may do her some good, if you like to take them."

"Yes," said Belle: "tell me 'em, Maggie."

"One is, 'The greedy pig don't get much, after all,'" said Maggie.

"Oh, yes!" said Belle, seeing the beauty of the application at once,
and much struck with its force.

"And the other," said Maggie, "is, 'All shun a disagreeable child.'"

"What is shun?" asked Belle.

"To run away," answered Maggie.

"Yes," said Belle, thoughtfully: "those will make very nice pictures,
Maggie. I'll take 'em. Say 'em again, 'fear I forget;" and she repeated
the new "proverbs" over several times after Maggie, and for the
remainder of the afternoon her mind was much occupied with plans for
making fine drawings of them for her cousin's benefit.



[Illustration]



VI.

_PROVERB-PICTURES._


For the rest of the day Mabel behaved better, on the whole, than the
other children had expected. It is true that she was well amused, and
also that being a stranger and company, the other little girls gave way
to her, and let her do pretty much as she pleased. She showed herself
rather selfish, however, taking all their kindness as a matter of
course, and always seizing upon the best and prettiest things for her
own use.

But when it was time to go home, and the nurses came for Belle and
Mabel, there was much such a scene as had taken place on the day
when Mabel had first been met by the other children. She positively
refused to go home; and when Mrs. Bradford insisted that she should
obey, was led shrieking and screaming from the house, fighting with
her long-suffering nurse in a manner which made poor Belle feel "too
'shamed for any thing to go in the street with such disrespectable
behavior," and caused Daphne to declare that she and Miss Belle had
"never been so _degraced_ in all our born days."

This determined Belle to carry out her plan of the "proverb-pictures"
as soon as possible; and when her hat was taken off, she immediately
begged her papa for a sheet of fool's-cap paper and a pencil, and fell
to work.

When Mabel saw what she was about, she wanted to draw also; and her
uncle furnished her with paper and pencil.

"What are you making?" asked Mabel.

"I'll tell you by and by, when it's all done," said Belle, severely.
"It's not ready for you to understand just yet; but it's going to be a
very good lesson for you."

However, she suffered Mabel to look over her paper, and even to copy
the figures which grew beneath her busy fingers; Mabel little thinking
all the while that she herself was the subject of the pictures.
Meantime Mr. Powers and Mrs. Walton, pleased to see the children so
quiet, and apparently agreeing so well, talked quietly together.

But this proved too good to last.

"Now they're all done, and I'll tell you about them; and we'll see if
they'll improve you," said Belle, when she had completed two pictures.
"Do you see these animals?" and she pointed with her pencil to a
curious collection of four-legged objects, with every possible variety
of tail among them.

"Yes," said Mabel: "what are they? Bugs?"

"No," answered Belle, indignantly: "they are pigs. This is a
'proverb-picture.' Proverbs are meant to do people good, or give them
a lesson; but Maggie and Bessie and I think pictures make 'em plainer.
This is a proverb that Maggie made up. Here is a man pouring milk into
a trough what the pigs eat out of, and this pig,"--directing Mabel's
attention to a creature without any legs, those four members which
were supposed to belong to him lying scattered in all directions over
the picture, while long streaks intended to represent floods of tears
poured from his eyes,--"and this pig was so greedy that he ran as fast
as he could to the end of the trough where he fought the man was going
to pour the milk. But the man fought he'd serve him right, and so he
went to the ofer end and poured the milk in there; and when the pig
tried to run there, his legs were so tired they all fell off; so he
couldn't get any milk, and he cried so much he 'most drowned himself.
And the proverb of the picture is, 'The greedy pig don't get much,
after all.' When pigs or other people are greedy, their legs gen'ally
come off, or other accidents; and if they don't, people think they're
very horrid, any way. Do you know who the greedy pig is meant for?"

Mabel had a pretty clear idea, and was not pleased, which was not
at all strange; but her curiosity was excited respecting the other
picture, and she determined to satisfy it before she made any
disturbance.

"What is this picture?" she asked, pouting, but taking no farther
notice of Belle's question.

In the second sketch a number of square and triangular bodies, with
little, round heads, and long, sprawling legs and arms, were grouped
together in the wildest confusion at the two ends of the picture, which
extended the whole length of the sheet. In the middle was an object
supposed to represent a carriage, the like whereof was never contrived
by any coach-maker upon the face of the earth; while a horse, in the
same condition as the pig before mentioned,--namely, with all his
legs broken off,--lay upon the ground; his mate, looking much like a
chair turned upside down, standing by, disconsolate. But the chief
interest of the picture was intended to lie in the central figure,
in which a small child, with very short skirts and very long limbs,
was represented as dancing wildly about, with not rivers,--as in the
case of the pig,--but cataracts of tears spouting from her eyes. Two
circles, one within the other, stood for her head; the inner one,
nearly as large as the outer, being her mouth, stretched to its utmost
extent. And lest there should be any mistake as to the likeness, below
this figure was printed in large, crooked letters,--

_M A B U R L._

"That," said Belle, more sternly than before, "is a picture about
another proverb that Maggie made up on purpose to be of use to you. The
name of it is, 'All scamper away as fast as they can go from a spoiled
child;' at least, that was what she meant. Here is the spoiled child,
squealing and hollering; there is a poor horse that broke his leg; and
here are all the people in the street running away from her. These
four are policemen, and they were going to take her up; but even the
policemen would not stand her, and ran away too. Even her mother 'came
degusted at her at last, and left her; so she had not a single person
left. And she had no one to give her something to eat, and no one to
put her to bed; so she had to sleep in the gutter, and be starved, and
in the morning she was dead, and all dirty out of the gutter."

"She wasn't either," said Mabel.

"She was too," contradicted Belle.

Mabel made a snatch at the picture, which Belle as quickly drew from
her, so that between them it was torn in two; and Mabel at the same
moment set up the shriek she always gave when she was displeased.

Mr. Powers and Mrs. Walton, their conversation thus suddenly brought to
an end, turned hastily to see what was the matter.

It was a sorry sight that met their eyes. Belle stood looking at her
cousin with a face which, to do her justice, was only intended as the
expression of outraged and offended virtue; while Mabel, shrieking
with passion, was frantically tearing to bits the half of the sheet she
had secured.

"What is it, children? What are you quarrelling about now?" asked both
the parents at once.

Mabel did not, perhaps could not, answer; but Belle spoke up boldly.

"I'm not quarrelling, papa," she said. "I was just trying to give Mabel
a lesson of what might happen to her if she didn't behave herself,
and she was mad about it; and she tore my picture,--my nice, pretty
proverb-picture that I would have given her if she had been good and
improved herself by it. I know Maggie and Bessie would think it very
interesting if they saw it, and now I can't show it to them;" and
Belle held up the torn sheet with a very aggrieved air. "It was only
good intentions, papa; and she went and wouldn't have 'em," she added,
feeling herself almost equal to Maggie Bradford as she made this grand
speech.

Even Mrs. Walton could not help smiling in the midst of her efforts to
quiet the screaming Mabel and lead her from the room.

When they were gone, Mr. Powers took his little daughter on his knee;
but Belle was not satisfied to see that he looked very grave. For a
moment or two neither spoke, Belle not knowing exactly what to say,
although she did wish to excuse herself; while her father seemed to be
thinking.

At last he said,--

"My little girl, how long is this to go on?"

"What, papa?" asked Belle, though she had a pretty clear idea what he
meant.

"This constant quarrelling between you and your cousin. Your aunt
and I are very glad to see one another again; but all our comfort is
destroyed because you and Mabel disagree all the time."

Belle looked rather hurt.

"I'm sure, papa," she said, "I have tried to be good to-day, ever since
I went to Maggie's and Bessie's; and she was a little good too, but
greedy and selfish. And then she was in such a passion when we had
to come home, I fought I'd better try to correct her. And I'm sure I
fought proverb-pictures was a good way to do it, but they just made her
mad. I s'pose I might have known it," she added, with a sigh: "she is
so very bad and spoiled that things that do other children good only
make her worse. See, papa, if this wasn't a nice lesson for her;" and
spreading out the half of the sheet which she held, Belle explained to
her papa the portion of her picture which still remained.

Certainly, Mr. Powers did not find the likeness to Mabel very
flattering, or think it calculated to put her in a good humor with
herself or the little artist. Nevertheless, he smiled a little, which
encouraged Belle, and she went on:--

"I know that child must come to a bad end," she said; "and I shall
never try again to be friends with her, or to do her good,--no, never,
never!"

"Where is the little girl that wanted to be a sunbeam and shine for
Jesus, and show others the way to Him?" asked her father.

Belle hung her head.

"But, papa," she said presently, "you see it's no use with her. I
b'lieve she's the wickedest girl that ever lived, and I don't believe
there's any thing bad she wouldn't do if she had a chance. She took
Baby Annie's chair to-day; and when baby didn't know any better, and
cried for it, Mabel wouldn't give it to her. I think I'll just make up
my mind to leave her be all the rest of her life, and make b'lieve she
isn't my cousin. I wish she stayed to Boston or else to Europe."

"For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good," said Mr.
Powers, softly.

Belle gave another long, despairing sigh, and laid her head back
against her father's shoulder; but she made no more attempt to excuse
herself or to blame her cousin.

"I will not say that you had not some thought of doing good to Mabel,"
said Mr. Powers; "but you began wrong, Belle. I think you did not have
very kind feelings in your heart, and that you looked only at what was
naughty and perverse in her; and so your picture was not pleasant, and
only made her angry. You and Maggie and Bessie understand and love one
another, and so you take it pleasantly and patiently when one among you
tries this way of helping another in what is right. But I hardly think
that any one of you three, good friends as you are, would have been
very much pleased to have had such a picture made of you."

Belle sat thoughtful a moment, and then answered,--

"Well, no, papa, I don't b'lieve I would have liked it, if Maggie or
Bessie had made a proverb-picture about me slapping Daphne, or being in
a passion, or doing any of those very naughty things I used to do so
much. But, papa, don't you think my patience about Mabel must be 'most
used up?"

"See here," said Mr. Powers, drawing toward him a large Bible which
lay near, and turning over the leaves till he found the words he
wanted,--"see here, dear, listen to these words: 'Charity suffereth
long and is kind, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, beareth all
things, believeth all things, hopeth all things.' I am afraid my little
Belle has not that kind of charity towards her cousin."

"Charity, papa?" said Belle: "charity means giving money and things to
beggars and poor people, doesn't it?"

"Charity here means love," said Mr. Powers,--"love to God and to man,
that love which makes us want to work for Jesus by being gentle and
patient with the faults of others; which will not let us be made angry
by little things; which is not ready to think harm of our friends and
playmates; love which believes and hopes that even those who are very
wrong and naughty may be made better, and which teaches us to take the
pleasantest way of doing this, not showing others their faults in a
manner to pain or anger them, but trying to show them the better way by
an example of kindness and gentleness."

"Um--m--m, no, papa," said Belle, thoughtfully, when her father ceased
speaking: "I don't think I have much of that kind of love-charity to
Mabel,--no, I don't b'lieve I have."

"I fear not," said her papa; "but will you not try for it, my darling?"

"Yes," she answered; "but you couldn't s'pect it would come very quick,
papa. You see I don't know Mabel very well yet, and I guess I don't
care 'bout knowing her any more than I do now. She's so very, very
spoiled, and I b'lieve she'll never be any better."

"'Charity believeth all things, hopeth all things,'" said Mr. Powers.

"Is that in the Bible Proverbs?" asked Belle.

"No, it is not in Proverbs; but I can give you a verse from Proverbs
which may help you: 'A soft answer turneth away wrath.' Wrath means
anger."

"Oh, yes!" said Belle: "I found that out; because to-day, when Mabel
spoke very angry and cross, Bessie answered her very pleasant and nice;
and Mabel looked at her just as if she didn't know what to make of her;
and then she spoke nicely too, and quite behaved herself. I s'pose
Bessie has love-charity for Mabel. Tell me those words again, papa.
I'll learn a little bit of 'em every day till I know 'em all, and try
to do 'em too."

Her father did as she asked; and then, for it was growing late, sent
her away to bed, satisfied that his lesson was taking root, and that
Belle was sorry--though she did not say so--that she had offended Mabel
by her "proverb-picture."

He would have been still more sure of this, and well pleased too, had
he heard his little girl when Daphne was undressing her, and as usual
began to talk of Mabel in a very uncomplimentary way.

"Daffy," said Belle, "I guess we'll have some charity for Mabel, not
beggar-charity, but love-charity, that 'b'lieveth all things, hopeth
all things,' and makes up its mind maybe she will learn better, and be
good, after all."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



VII.

_MABEL'S NEW WHIM._


"Please give me my puf-folio, Daphne," were Belle's first words in the
morning before she was up.

"Puf-folio" stood for port-folio in Belle's English; and the one in
question was greatly prized by her, as were also the contents. It had
been given to her by Harry Bradford, who had also presented one to each
of his little sisters; and was formed of large sheets of pasteboard,
bound and tied together with bright-colored ribbons; Belle's with red,
Bessie's with blue, and Maggie's with purple. To be sure, the binding
and sewing had all been done by Aunt Annie; but the materials had been
furnished from Harry's pocket-money, and the portfolios were regarded
as the most princely gifts, and treasured with great care.

Within were "proverb-pictures" of every variety and in great number,
also many a scrap of paper, and--treasure beyond price!--whole sheets
of fool's-cap for future use.

One of these last Belle drew forth, and sitting up in her bed began
to compose another picture. She was busy with it till Daphne took her
up; and even while the old woman was dressing her she kept making
little rushes at it, putting in a touch here and there till she had it
finished to her satisfaction.

Mabel did not come to breakfast with her uncle and cousin that morning,
but chose to take it with her mamma in her own room.

So little Belle, when the meal was over, asked her papa if she might go
to her cousin.

"No, dear, I think not," said her father. "You and Mabel are better
apart."

"Oh, no, papa!" said Belle; "for I am going to have love-charity for
Mabel, and ask her to have some for me, 'cause maybe I need a little
too. I want to make up with her; and here's a new picture for her that
I b'lieve she will like better than that old, naughty one I oughtn't to
have made last night. Can't I go and be friends?"

Her father examined the picture, to make sure that it could give no
cause for new offence; and, satisfied with her explanation, allowed her
to go with it to Mrs. Walton's room.

Belle knocked, and being told to come in, obeyed. Her aunt was on the
couch, Mabel beside her playing with a doll, and the scowl and pout
with which the latter greeted her cousin were not very encouraging.

But Belle, feeling that she had been wrong herself, was determined
to persevere in "making up" with Mabel; and she said, though rather
timidly,--

"I made you another proverb-picture, Mabel, and"--

"No, no," said Mrs. Walton before she had time to finish her speech:
"we have had trouble enough with your 'proverb-pictures,' Belle: you
and Mabel cannot agree, it seems; and you had better each keep to your
own rooms."

Belle was very much hurt, although she felt this was partly her own
fault; and she turned to go with the tears in her eyes.

When Mrs. Walton saw she was grieved, she was sorry for what she had
said; and she called to the child,--

"Come here then, Belle: I want to speak to you."

Belle hesitated a moment, holding the doorknob, and twisting it back
and forth; but at last she ran over to Mrs. Walton's side, and put her
hand in that which was held out to her.

"I'm sorry I teased Mabel, Aunt Fanny," she said; "and I didn't make
this picture for a lesson to her, but for a lesson to myself, and to
let her see I did want to make up. It's 'most all about me doing
things I ought to Mabel; and I'm going to try to have love-charity, and
do 'em."

"Let's see," said Mabel, slipping off the couch and coming to her
cousin's side, curiosity getting the better of her resentment.

Belle spread out her picture, and explained all its beauties to Mabel.

"That's me, with ugly, naughty lips like I had yesterday, making you,"
she said; "and I oughtn't to do it when I am often very spoiled myself."

"No," said Mabel, gazing with rapt interest upon the drawing, and
already considerably mollified by finding that Belle put her own
failings also in her "proverb-pictures."

"But I don't mean to do it any more, Mabel; but just to try to make you
be good and love me by living good my own self. And now there's you
and me: me letting you have my carved animals, and not being mad even
if you broke one a little bit; but you wouldn't if you could help it,
would you?"

"No, indeed, I wouldn't," said Mabel, very graciously: "let's be
friends again, Belle."

So the quarrel was once again made up, and this time with more good
will on both sides.

"You are a dear child," said Mrs. Walton, and she looked thoughtfully
and lovingly at the warm-hearted little girl, who, when she knew
she had been wrong, was ready to acknowledge it, and to try to make
amends; "and Mabel and I should have been more patient with you in the
beginning. Poor child! It was a sad thing for you to lose your mother
so early."

"Oh! I didn't _lose_ her," said Belle, looking up in her aunt's face
with eyes of innocent surprise.

"How, dear! What do you mean?" asked Mrs. Walton, wondering in her
turn. "Your mamma has gone away from you."

"Yes, but she went to Jesus," answered the child, simply. "You don't
lose something when you know it is in a very safe, happy place with
some one very dear and good to take care of it, even if you can't see
it any more: do you, Aunt Fanny?"

"No, I suppose not," said Mrs. Walton.

"Well, you know mamma has gone to heaven to stay with Jesus, and He's
taking care of her; and by and by papa and I will go there too, and
then we'll see her again; so we didn't _lose_ her, you know. But then
I have to be very good and try to please Jesus, and mind what He says;
and so I know He wants me to have love-charity for Mabel, and try to
not care very much if she does things I don't like. And mamma will be
glad too. Oh, no, Aunt Fanny! I didn't lose my dear mamma: I know where
she is, all safe."

Mrs. Walton drew her to her and kissed her; while Mabel, wondering at
the new softness and sweetness in Belle's face and voice, had forgotten
the picture and stood looking at her.

"All safe!"

Five little graves lay side by side in an English churchyard far away;
and of those who rested beneath, the mother had always spoken as her
"lost darlings." She never called them so again; for were they not
"all safe"? Others had told her the same, others had tried to bring
comfort to her grieving and rebellious heart; but from none had it come
with such simple, unquestioning faith as from the innocent lips of
the unconscious little one before her. Her own loved ones, as well as
Belle's dear mother, were not lost, but "all safe."

She kissed the child again, this time with tears in her eyes.

"You see," continued Belle, encouraged to fresh confidence by the
new kindness of her aunt's manner,--"you see, Aunt Fanny, that makes
another reason for me to try to be good. I have a good many reasons to
please Jesus; 'cause dear mamma in heaven would want me to be good, and
I would like to do what she wants me to, even more when she is away
than if she was here; and 'cause I have to be papa's little comfort.
That's what he always says I am, and he says I am his sunbeam too."

"I think I must call you that too, darling. You have brought a little
ray of sunshine here this morning."

"Maggie says when we're good it's always like sunshine, but when we're
naughty it's like ugly, dark clouds," said Belle. "I'm sorry I was a
cloud yes'day, and that other day, Aunt Fanny. But I b'lieve it's time
for me to go to school now."

"Do you like school?" asked Mrs. Walton.

"Oh, I guess I do!" said Belle. "Why, you don't know what nice times we
have! and Miss Ashton is so kind."

"I want to go to school too," said Mabel.

"Not this morning, dear," said her mother.

"Yes, I shall,--I shall too, now! If Belle goes, I will. I shan't stay
here with nobody to play with me."

Mrs. Walton coaxed and promised, but all to no purpose. Mabel was
determined to see for herself the "nice times" which Belle described:
school suddenly put on great attractions for her, and nothing would do
but that she must go at once. So, taking her by the hand, Mrs. Walton
followed Belle to Mr. Powers' parlor, and asked him what he thought of
Mabel's new whim.

Now, to tell the truth, Mr. Powers had believed that the best possible
thing for Mabel would be to go to school, and be under the firm but
gentle rule of Miss Ashton; but he had not yet proposed it to her
mother, knowing that the mere mention of it from another person would
be quite enough to make the froward child declare she would never go.
Therefore he thought well of Mabel's wish, although he was not prepared
to take Miss Ashton by surprise on this very morning.

But he knew there was one vacancy in her little school, and that she
would probably consent to let Mabel fill it; and he thought it was best
to take advantage of the little girl's sudden fancy, or, as Maggie
Bradford would have said, to "strike while the iron was hot."

Accordingly he told his sister that he would himself walk to school
with the two children, and learn what Miss Ashton had to say on the
matter; and Mabel, being made ready with all speed, set forth with her
uncle and cousin.

Miss Ashton agreed to take the new-comer; and Mabel was at once put
into the seat formerly occupied by Bessie Bradford. Maggie and Bessie
had belonged to Miss Ashton's class; but their mother taught them at
home now.

Belle could not help a little sigh and one or two longing thoughts as
she remembered her dear Bessie who had formerly sat beside her there,
but she did not say a word of her regret to Mabel.

Mabel behaved as well as possible during the whole of school-time;
whether it was that she was well amused, or that she was somewhat
awed by the novelty of the scene, and all the new faces about her,
certainly neither Miss Ashton nor Belle had the least cause of
complaint against her when the time came for school to be dismissed.

And this good mood continued all that day, with one or two small
exceptions. It is true that on more than one of these occasions there
might have been serious trouble between the little cousins, but for
Belle's persevering good-humor and patience; and she would have thought
herself "pretty naughty," if she had behaved as Mabel did. But she
excused and bore with her, because it was Mabel for whom she was to
have that charity which "suffereth long and is kind."

It was hard work too for little Belle; for, though naturally more
generous and amiable than her cousin, she was pretty much accustomed to
having her own way in all things reasonable. At home her every wish was
law with her papa and nurse; Maggie and Bessie Bradford could not do
enough to show their love and sympathy; and all her young playfellows
and school-mates followed their example, and petted and gave way to her
"because she had no mother." So "giving up" was rather a new thing for
Belle, not because she was selfish, but because she was seldom called
upon to do it.

However, she had her reward; for, thanks to her own sweetness and good
temper, there was peace and sunshine throughout the day. She saw that
her father and aunt were pleased with her; and once even Mabel, seeming
touched and ashamed when Belle had quietly yielded her own rights,
turned around in a sudden and unwonted fit of penitence, and said,--

"There, take it, Belle: you had the best right; and I won't be mean to
you again, 'cause you're real good to me."

"My darling has been such a good girl to-day!" said Mr. Powers, as he
took her on his knee when they were alone, and she came for the little
talk they generally had before her bed-time: "she has been trying to
practise the lesson she learned last night, and so has made all about
her happy."

"And been a little sunbeam, papa, have I?"

"Yes, indeed, love,--a true sunbeam."

"And did I make you pleased, papa?"

"Very much pleased, and truly happy, dear."

"And mamma will be pleased too, papa; and mamma's Jesus; and it makes
Him my Jesus when I try to be His sunbeam and shine for Him, don't it?
I guess everybody would be a sunbeam if they always had 'love-charity.'
Tell me it over again, papa, so I will remember it very well, and
s'plain to me a little more about it."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



VIII.

_THE LOCKET._


And this really proved the beginning of better things for Mabel. Not
that she improved so much all at once, or that she was not often
selfish, perverse, and disobedient; or that she did not often try
little Belle very much, and make it hard for her to keep her resolution
of being kind and patient. Nor must it be supposed that Belle always
kept to this resolution, or that she and Mabel did not now and then
have some pretty sharp quarrels; still, on the whole, they agreed
better than had seemed probable on their first meeting.

And perhaps it was good for Belle, as well as for Mabel, that she
should sometimes be obliged to give up her own will to another; and
there was no fear, while her papa and old Daphne were there to watch
over her interests, that she would be suffered to be too much imposed
upon.

But there could be no doubt that Mabel was less unruly and exacting.
It might be that she was really happier with a companion of her own
age, or that she was shamed by Belle's example and kindness to her, or
perhaps it was both these causes; but day by day Belle found it easier
to be on good terms with her, and the two children were really growing
fond of one another.

Other things which had a good effect on Mabel were going to school
and being now and then with Maggie and Bessie. She could not but see
how much happier and lovelier were those children who were obedient,
gentle, and kind; and she learned much that was good without any direct
teaching. And even the "proverb-pictures" became to her what they were
intended to be to all, a source of improvement; for Maggie understood
better than Belle the art of "giving a lesson" without wounding the
feelings; and many a gentle reproof or wise hint was conveyed to Mabel
by means of these moral sketches, in which she really took a great
interest.

After the first novelty of school had worn off, Mabel tired of the
restraint and declared that she would go no more; but in the mean time
her father had arrived, and he insisted that she should keep on.

For some days after this she gave Miss Ashton a good deal of trouble,
and set at defiance many of her rules and regulations; but she soon
found that this did her no service, for Miss Ashton, gentle as she was,
would be obeyed; and Mabel did not find the solitude of the cloak-room
agreeable when she was punished by being sent there, and concluded
that, "after all, she had the best time when she was good."

She was not at all a favorite with her school-mates,--this fractious
and self-willed little child; and Belle had to "take her part" and
coax a good deal before she could persuade them to regard her with any
patience, or to feel willing to accept her as a member of their circle.

"What have you there?" asked Mabel one day, coming into Belle's nursery
and finding her looking lovingly at some small object she held in her
hand.

"It's my locket,--my new locket that papa gave me a few minutes ago,"
answered Belle.

"Let's see it," said Mabel, making a grasp at it; but Belle was too
quick for her, and would not suffer her to seize her treasure.

"You can't have it in your own hands," she said; "for it was my own
mamma's, and I don't want any one to touch it, 'cept they loved her.
Only Maggie and Bessie," she added, remembering that they had never
known her mother, but that she would by no means keep the choicest of
her treasures from their hands, feeling sure as she did that they
would guard what was precious to her with as much care as she would
herself.

"I'll show it to you, Mabel. Isn't it pretty?" and Belle held up a
small locket on a slight gold chain.

It was a little, old-fashioned thing, heart-shaped, and made of fretted
gold with a forget-me-not of turquoises in the centre. It was very
pretty,--in Belle's eyes, of the most perfect beauty; but its great
value lay in that it had belonged, as she told Mabel, to her own mamma
when she was a girl.

[Illustration: Belle Powers.    p. 122.]

It was one of Belle's greatest pleasures to sit upon her papa's knee
and turn over with loving, reverent fingers the various articles of
jewelry which had once been her mother's, and which were to be hers
when she should be of a proper age to have them and take care of them.
"Mamma's pretty things" were a source of great enjoyment to her; and
although Belle loved dress as much as any little girl of her age, it
was with no thought of decking herself in them, but simply for
their own beauty and the sake of the dear one who had once worn them,
that they were so prized. And now and then when her papa gave her some
trifle suitable for her, she seldom wore it, so fearful would she be of
losing it, or lest other harm should come to it. So now, as things were
apt to come to harm in Mabel's destructive fingers, she was very much
afraid of trusting the precious locket within them; and stoutly, though
not crossly, refused to let her have it.

Mabel begged and promised, whined and fretted; but the locket was still
held beyond her reach, till at last she made a dive and had nearly
snatched it from Belle's hold.

But Daphne's eye was upon her, and Daphne's hand pulled her back as the
old woman said,--

"Hi! dere! none ob dat, Miss Mabel. I ain't goin fur see my ole missus'
tings took from my young missus, and me by to help it. I ain't goin fur
stan' dat, no way," and Daphne's grasp was rougher than it need to
have been as she held back the angry, struggling Mabel.

The child was in a great passion: she struck wildly at the nurse, and
screamed aloud, so that her mother came running to see what was the
matter.

"There then, never mind," said Mrs. Walton, as Mabel, released from
Daphne's hold, rushed to her and complained that Belle would not let
her touch her new locket,--"never mind, I will give you something
pretty to look at."

"I want a locket like Belle's to keep for my own," said Mabel; "and
then I'll never let her see it."

"Pooh! I wouldn't look at it," said Belle, forgetting all her good
resolves, "if you showed it to me. I'd just squeeze my eyes tight shut,
and never open them till you took it away. And I don't b'lieve the man
in the locket-store has any like this."

But Mabel had hardly left the room with her mother before Belle was
sorry, as usual, for the anger she had shown, and said remorsefully to
Daphne,--

"There now, I went and forgot the Bible proverb papa gave me, and
didn't give 'a soft answer' to turn away Mabel's wrath, but just spoke
as cross as any thing, and was real naughty. I'll just run after her,
and let her touch my locket very carefully with her own hands."

And away she went, ready to make peace, even by doing that which
was not pleasant to her; but the dear little thing was only partly
successful, for as Maggie afterwards said, when Belle told her the
story, "Mabel was of that kind of nature that if you gave her an inch
she took an ell;" and no sooner did Belle let her have the locket in
her own hands than she wanted to have it about her neck and wear it.
This was too much, even for the little peace-maker: she could not make
up her mind to give way in this, nor, indeed, could she have been
expected to do so; and quiet was not restored till Mabel's mother
was worried into taking her out at once in search of such a locket as
Belle's.

But the search proved quite fruitless, for no locket exactly like
Belle's could be found; and Mabel would not be satisfied with one that
was different. In vain did she and her mother go from jeweller's to
jeweller's; in vain did Mrs. Walton offer the spoiled child lockets far
more showy and costly than the one on which she had set her heart; in
vain did the shopman assure her that such as she desired were "quite
out of the fashion," an argument which generally went a good way with
Mabel: one just like Belle's she would have.

"Then we will have one made," said Mrs. Walton; and inquired when it
could be finished. But when the jeweller said it would take a week or
more, neither would this satisfy the naughty child, who was in a mood
that was uncommonly perverse and obstinate even for her.

"I shall have one to-day," she repeated; and was so very troublesome
that even the patience of her mistaken and spoiling mother at last gave
way, and the jeweller heartily wished himself rid of such a noisy,
ill-behaved customer.

However, Mrs. Walton gave the order, and promised to bring Belle's
locket for the jeweller to see the pattern on Monday, this being
Saturday; and then returned home with her naughty child.

Belle had gone out,--gone to Mrs. Bradford's to spend the day with
Maggie and Bessie, as she always did on Saturday; and Mabel was left to
whine and fret by herself till evening.

This gave her fresh cause of displeasure: she was vexed at her cousin
for leaving her alone, and when Belle returned she was greeted with,--

"Mamma is going to take your locket away from you on Monday, and take
it to the locket-man to make me one just like it."

"No," said Belle, backing from Mabel to her father's knee, and holding
fast with one hand clasped over the other upon the beloved locket, as
if she feared it was to be snatched from her at once.

"You'll let me take it to the jeweller for a pattern, dear: won't you?"
said her aunt. "Mabel wants one just like it."

Belle shook her head.

"No, Aunt Fanny," she answered: "I couldn't. It was my own mamma's, and
I couldn't let it go from me; and I don't want anybody to have one just
like it."

She did not speak unkindly or pettishly, but with a quiet determination
in her tone, such as she sometimes showed, and which in some cases
might seem to be obstinacy. But it was not so now; and it was evident
that the child had some deep and earnest reason for her refusal,--a
feeling that the little treasure which had belonged to her mamma had
something so dear and sacred about it, that it could not be suffered to
pass into strange hands, even for a time; nor could she bear to have it
copied.

"The locket-man didn't know my own mamma, Aunt Fanny," she answered
again to her aunt's persuasions: "maybe he wouldn't be so very gently
with it. I couldn't,--I really couldn't."

Tears gathered in the eyes of the sensitive little one as she spoke,
and there was a piteous tremble of her lip which forbade her aunt to
urge her farther; but Mabel was not to be so put off.

"You cannot have it, Mabel," said Mr. Powers. "I will not have Belle
troubled in this matter."

"What is it?" asked Mr. Walton, looking up from his evening paper, to
which he had until now given all his attention, too much accustomed to
the fretful tones of his little daughter's voice to pay heed to them
when he could avoid it.

The trouble was soon explained; and Mr. Walton, who had lately
awakened to the fact that his Mabel had become a most troublesome and
disagreeable child, and that it was time for her to learn that she
must sometimes give up her own will and consider others, told her that
she must think no more of this new whim; and that if she could not be
contented with such a locket as he might choose for her on Monday, she
should have none at all.

"Then I _won't_ have any at all," said Mabel, passionately. "And I
won't eat any breakfast or dinner or supper, not for any days."

"Just as you choose," said Mr. Walton, coolly taking up his paper and
beginning to read again; while his wife looked pleadingly at him, but
to no purpose; and Belle sat gazing in amazement at the child who dared
to speak in such a way to her father. Indulgent as Mr. Powers always
was to his motherless little girl, she knew very well that he never
would have overlooked such disrespect as that, nor could she have
believed it possible that she should ever be guilty of it.

Astonishment and indignation at this novel mode of treatment held Mabel
speechless and quiet for a moment; then she set up a roar which would
have been surprising as coming from so small a pair of lungs, to any
one who had not known her powers in that particular.

But here again Mr. Walton, who, as Belle afterwards told her papa,
seemed to be disposed to "turn over a new leaf about training up Mabel
in the way she should go," interfered, and bade her go from the room,
or be quiet.

She chose neither; and the matter ended by her father himself carrying
her away, and giving orders that she should be put to bed.

Belle was very sorry for all this, and could not help feeling as if
she somehow was to blame, although the matter of the locket was one
too near her little heart to be given up. But she went to her uncle
when her own bed-time came, and begged that she might go and wish Mabel
good-night, and be friends with her once more.

But Mr. Walton thought it better, as did Belle's own papa, that the
wilful child should be left to herself till the next day; and he
dismissed Belle with a kind kiss, saying,--

"Mabel will feel better in the morning, dear, and then she will be
ready to make friends with you; but just now I am afraid she is still
too naughty to meet you pleasantly."

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



IX.

_BELLE'S MISFORTUNE._


Mr. Walton was sadly mistaken when he thought that his little girl
would have forgotten her ill-temper and be ready to be pleasant and
good-humored in the morning. Mabel awoke sulky and pouting, quite
determined to believe that Belle had grievously injured her, and
obstinately refusing to be reconciled unless she would consent to give
up the locket.

Had Belle been willing to do this, her papa and uncle would not have
permitted it; but, though Mabel was in a state of displeasure with the
world in general that morning, she chose to consider Belle as chief
offender, and treated her accordingly.

"But it's Sunday," said Belle, when she refused to kiss her for
good-morning.

"Don't I know that?" snapped Mabel.

"But I don't like to be cross with any one on Sunday," pleaded Belle.

"You're cross to me, and so I'll be cross with you,--Sunday and Monday
and every day," said the disagreeable child. "Now leave me be."

And Belle, seeing that Mabel was not to be persuaded into a better
temper, was forced to do as she said, and let her alone.

And all day, Sunday though it was, Mabel was even more peevish,
exacting, and troublesome than usual, till she was a burden and torment
to herself and every one about her.

When Monday morning came she was rather more reasonable, but still
persisted in being "offended" with Belle, and even refused to walk on
the same side of the street with her when they were going to school.

"Will you wear your new locket, Miss Belle?" asked Daphne when she was
making her little mistress ready for school.

"No, I guess not," said Belle: "something might happen to it, and maybe
it's too nice."

"I reckon it's not too fancy," said Daphne, holding up the locket and
looking at it admiringly: "you may wear it if you like, and mebbe Miss
Ashton would like to see it."

Now the locket was perhaps not quite a proper thing for Belle to wear
to school, and had her father been there he might have advised her to
keep to her first decision; but Daphne always liked to deck out her
little lady in all the finery she could lay her hands on, and, had
she not been held in check by wiser heads, would often have sent her
forth to school in very improper guise. And as Mabel was always very
much dressed, it chafed Daphne sorely to contrast the simple but more
suitable garments of her little Miss Belle with the showy ones worn by
her cousin.

So now she persuaded Belle to wear the locket, saying, not to the
child, but to herself, that it "was time folks foun' out her folks was
wort somethin', an' had plenty of pretty things if they on'y chose to
show 'em;" and, rather against the child's own better judgment, she
suffered the nurse to put the locket about her neck.

It was well for Belle, and for those who had the guiding of her, that
she was such a docile little girl, generally willing and anxious to
do that which she believed to be right, or she might have been sadly
injured by the spoiling of her devoted but foolish old nurse. As it
was, it did not do her much harm; and Daphne often felt herself put to
shame by the little one's uprightness and good sense.

However, on this morning Daphne had her way; and, as I have said, the
locket was put on.

As might have been supposed, the new ornament immediately attracted the
attention of all Belle's class-mates; and they crowded about her before
school opened, to examine and admire, with many an "oh!" and "ah!"
"how lovely!" and "how sweet!"

"Mabel, have you one too?" asked Dora Johnson; for the children had
found out by this time that if Belle had a pretty thing, Mabel was sure
to have one also.

"I'm going to," said Mabel, "one just like it: you see if I don't; even
if that cross-patch won't let the man have it to pattern off of. She
thinks herself so great nobody can have a locket like hers."

"Belle's not a cross-patch," said Lily Norris; "and, Mabel, if you talk
that way about her, we won't be friends with you, not any of the class.
Belle's old in the class, and you're new; and we don't think so very
much of you. So you'd better look out."

Mabel and Lily were always at swords' points; for Lily was saucy and
outspoken, very fond of Belle, and always upholding her rights, or what
she considered such.

"Belle's real selfish," muttered Mabel; "and you shan't talk to me that
way, Lily."

"God gave me my tongue for my own, and I keep it for just what words
I choose to say," said Lily, losing both temper and grammar in her
indignation; "and Belle's not selfish, but you; and most always when
peoples is selfish themselves, they think other ones are that ain't.
That's the kind that you're of, Mabel."

"Now don't let's quarrel," said Nellie Ransom, the prudent; "else Miss
Ashton will come, and send us to our seats."

"But, Belle, dear," said Dora, "what's the reason you don't want Mabel
to have a locket like yours?"

Belle told her story; and very naturally the sympathies of all her
class-mates went with her, and Mabel was speedily made to see that
she was thought to be altogether in the wrong, which did not tend to
restore her to good humor.

"I _shall_ take it to the locket-man for a pattern," she said angrily:
"you see if I don't. I'll get it, ah-ha."

"No, you won't," said Lily. "Belle knows you. She'll take good enough
care of it; and just you _try_ to snatch it now."

What would follow if she did, Lily plainly expressed in the threatening
shake of the head with which she accompanied her words.

Farther quarrelling or unkind threats were prevented by the entrance
of Miss Ashton, who called her little class to order, and school was
opened.

Miss Ashton had more trouble with Mabel that morning than she had had
any day since she first came to school. She was pettish and fretful
beyond all reason; elbowed and crowded the other children, pouted over
her lessons, and was disrespectful to her teacher, and once broke into
such a roar that Mrs. Ashton hastily opened the doors between the two
rooms and inquired into the cause of the trouble. This soon hushed
Mabel's screams; for the elder lady's looks were rather stern and
severe, and she at least was one person of whom the wilful child stood
in wholesome dread.

But though quiet was restored for a time, it was not to last long;
and this seemed destined to be a day of trouble, all through Mabel's
naughtiness. Miss Ashton called up the arithmetic class; and as they
stood about her desk, she saw Mabel and Lily elbowing one another with
all their might,--the former cross and scowling, the latter looking
defiant and provoking, and still half good-humored too.

"Children! Lily and Mabel! What are you doing?" she asked.

"Can't Mabel keep her elbow out of my part of the air, Miss Ashton?"
said Lily.

"For shame!" said the lady: "two little girls quarrelling about such a
trifle as that."

"But, Miss Ashton," pleaded Lily, "she sticks me so! She oughtn't to
take up any more room than that;" and she measured with her hand the
portion of empty space which according to her ideas rightfully belonged
to Mabel; while the latter, conscious that she had been wilfully
trespassing, had nothing to say.

"I am sorry that my little scholars cannot agree," said Miss Ashton.
"Mabel, stand back a little, and keep your elbows down, my dear. If you
cannot behave better, I shall be forced to send you into the other room
to my mother; and all the young ladies there will know you have been
naughty."

To be sent into Mrs. Ashton in disgrace was thought a terrible
punishment; and Miss Ashton had never yet had to put it in practice:
the mere mention of it was generally enough to bring the naughtiest
child to good behavior, and it was a threat she seldom used. But she
knew that the solitude of the cloak-room had quite lost its effect on
Mabel, and felt that some stronger measures must be taken if there was
to be any peace that day.

Mabel obeyed; but in spite of the threatened punishment, her temper
so far got the better of her that she could not resist giving Lily
a parting thrust with her elbow,--a thrust so hard that Lily's slate
was knocked from her hand and fell upon the floor, where it broke into
three or four pieces.

Now, indeed, Mabel was frightened; and the other children stood almost
breathless, waiting for what Miss Ashton would say and do.

She said nothing; what she did was to rise quickly, take Mabel by the
hand and turn to lead her to the other room.

Dreading she hardly knew what, Mabel was still too thoroughly terrified
at the prospect before her to rebel any farther, or to do more than
gasp out,--

"Oh! Miss Ashton! I won't do so any more! I didn't mean to! I will be
good!"

Miss Ashton did not answer, but drew her on; when Belle, dropping
her own slate beside Lily's, sprang forward and laid her hand on her
teacher, looking up with eyes as appealing as Mabel's.

"Please excuse her this time, Miss Ashton," she exclaimed. "I don't
think she did mean to break Lily's slate. She only meant to joggle her,
and the slate fell out of her hand; but I don't believe she meant to do
it. Try her just this once, dear Miss Ashton: maybe she will be good."

Miss Ashton looked down at the little pleader and hesitated. Truth
to tell, she had not known how terrible a bugbear her mother was to
her young flock: she was sorry now that she saw they had such a dread
of her, and perhaps was ready to seize upon an excuse to relent and
withdraw her threat.

"Oh! I will, I will be good! I'll never do so any more!" sobbed Mabel.

Miss Ashton turned about, and taking her seat placed Mabel in front of
her.

"Very well," she said. "I will excuse you this once; not because you
do not deserve punishment, Mabel, but because Belle begs for you. But
remember it is for this one time. If you behave again as you have done
this morning, I shall certainly punish you. And you must stand there
now and say your lesson apart from the other children."

Relieved from the dread of going to Mrs. Ashton, Mabel did not so
very much mind that, or the cold, displeased glances of the rest of
the class; but as she took her place, she cast a grateful look over
at Belle, to whom she truly felt she owed her escape; and Belle felt
quite repaid for the "love-charity" which had helped her to forget and
forgive Mabel's unkind behavior to herself, and to plead for her.

But the troubles which arose from Mabel's misconduct had by no means
come to an end. Belle's place in the class was just at Miss Ashton's
left hand, and when she dropped her slate it fell at the foot of the
lady's chair. It had escaped the fate of Lily's, not being even cracked
by the fall; but as poor little Belle stooped to pick it up, a far
worse misfortune than the loss of her slate befell her. As she raised
her head, the slight chain about her neck caught on the arm of the
chair, and the strain snapped it in two.

The sudden check and drag hurt Belle and left an angry red mark about
her neck, but she did not heed the sting as she saw chain and locket
fall at her feet.

She did not say a word, only snatched it up with a quick, long-drawn
breath, and stood for a moment looking at it with the utmost dismay and
grief in her countenance; while a chorus of sympathizing exclamations
arose from the other children. The mischief done was not so very great,
and could easily be repaired; but in Belle's eyes it seemed very
dreadful, and as though her treasure was very nearly, if not quite,
destroyed. Great tears rose to her eyes and rolled slowly down her
cheeks; and she turned to Miss Ashton, piteously holding out the locket
in her hand.

Miss Ashton hastened to bring comfort.

"Never mind, dear," she said cheerfully: "it can easily be mended. Tell
papa it was an accident, and he will have it done for you, I am sure."

"But now the jeweller man will _have_ to take it," said Lily,
indignantly; "and Belle didn't want to have it go 'way from her, and
it's all just for the way Mabel behaved. I should think a broken locket
and a broken slate were just about too much consequences of any one's
naughtiness and hatefulness for one day."

"Be quiet, Lily," said Miss Ashton.

"But it's true, Miss Ashton: it all came of that old Mabel's badness,"
persisted Lily.

"Lily, will you be quiet?" repeated her teacher.

Lily dared say no more; but borrowing a slate for the purpose from the
child who stood next her, she held it closely before her face, and
from behind that shelter made two or three grimaces at Mabel, which,
whatever relief they might afford her own feelings, did neither harm
nor good to any one else, as they were not seen.

Still Lily's words were felt by Belle and all the rest of the class
to be true. Belle's misfortune was certainly the result of Mabel's
ill-behavior; and it was very hard for the poor little girl to keep
down the angry feelings which seemed as if they would rise up to accuse
her cousin.

And Lily's speech or speeches, and the knowledge that she was blamed
by all her class-mates, vexed Mabel again, and crushed down the
better feelings which had arisen towards Belle, so that she put on
an appearance of complete indifference to her distress; and muttered
sulkily,--

"I don't care."

"Put the locket carefully away in your desk, dear," said Miss Ashton to
Belle, "and do not fret about it. Your papa will have it fixed for you,
and it will be as good as ever."

Belle obeyed, putting the locket carefully in one corner of her desk,
with a rampart of books raised about it; and then returned to her
place, still rather disconsolate, and feeling that she was fully
entitled to all the pitying and sympathizing looks bestowed upon her.

After this the business of the class went on without farther
interruption, and the arithmetic lesson came to an end.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



X.

_A TERRIBLE LOSS._


When Miss Ashton dismissed the rest of her little class for the recess
which they took in the course of the morning, she told Mabel to come
with her; and taking her apart into a room by herself, she talked
gravely but kindly to her.

"Would you like it, my dear?" she said, "if I sent you home with a note
to your mamma, saying I could no longer have you in the school?"

Mabel hesitated a moment, half-inclined to say that it was just what
she would like; but calling to mind the nice plays she often had
with her young school-mates, the pretty picture cards she sometimes
received from Miss Ashton when she had been particularly good or
recited her lessons well, and several other pleasures which school
afforded, she thought better of it, and said she would not like it at
all; adding to herself what she dared not say aloud to Miss Ashton,
that she would carry no such note home, but throw it away in the street
if it was given to her.

"And I should be very sorry to do it," said the young lady; "but,
Mabel, unless you do better, I cannot have you in my school. Why, my
dear, since you have been here there has been more quarrelling and
disturbance than during all the rest of the time I have had the class.
This must not go on; for you cannot stay with us if you will behave so
as to destroy all our peace and comfort."

Mabel hung her head; but she took the reproof better than she generally
received any fault-finding; and after Miss Ashton had talked a little
more, setting her naughtiness and its sad consequences plainly before
her, and urging her to be good and amiable for her own sake as well as
because it was right, she had permission to go, and left her teacher,
half-repentant, but still not quite determined to take her advice and
warnings and make up her mind to be a better child.

In this perverse mood, she did not feel like joining the other
children, who were playing on the piazza and out in the garden, but
wandered back to the school-room by herself. She sat here a moment
or two in her own seat, which was next to Belle's, knocking her feet
idly against the floor, and wishing for something to amuse herself
with; but still too proud or too sulky to go and play with the others.
But presently she bethought herself once more of the locket, and the
temptation came to her to open Belle's desk and look at it. Then
Conscience whispered, "Shame! shame! Belle was so kind to you, and
begged you off when Miss Ashton would have punished you."

The still, small voice made itself heard so plainly that she could
not refuse to listen at first, but she tried to hush it, and at last
succeeded.

"I'm not going to do any harm," she said; "only just to look at the
locket, and that can't hurt it. Belle won't know it, and she won't be
mad."

She opened Belle's desk and peeped in.

There lay the pretty trifle she coveted in the snug corner where the
little owner's hands had so carefully placed it. Mabel looked and
looked, and from looking she went to touching it. First with only one
finger, feeling guilty and ashamed all the time; for with all her
faults Mabel was not generally deceitful or meddling. Presently growing
bolder, she took it up, shut down the lid of the desk, and sat turning
the locket over and over, wishing that the jeweller were there, so that
she might show it to him while Belle knew nothing about it.

Suddenly she heard a quick, running step in the hall without; and
before she had time to open Belle's desk and put the locket in its
place, Dora Johnson came in. Mabel dropped the locket in her lap, and
threw her pocket-handkerchief over it. Dora saw nothing wrong, only
Mabel sitting there with a very red face, which she supposed to arise
from shame, as indeed it partly did, though it came from a cause which
Dora never suspected.

"It's beginning to rain, and we all have to come in," said Dora; and
the next moment the whole troop of children running in proved the truth
of her words. They did not all come into the school-room; but Dora and
one or two more were there, so that Mabel did not dare to lift the lid
of Belle's desk again and put back the locket.

She was very much frightened, and would have been content, glad indeed,
to give up the hope of any locket at all, to have had Belle's safely
back where she had left it. She knew that her school-mates would all
cry out shame upon her if they saw that she had meddled with the
locket, and she knew that she deserved this; but she shrank from the
looks and words of scorn and displeasure which she knew would fall upon
her when they discovered the treachery she had been guilty of towards
her dear little cousin.

So she felt and thought as she sat there with the locket hidden on her
lap, and at last feeling that she must rid herself of it by some means,
and fearing that Miss Ashton would return to call them to order before
she did so, she rose and wandered out of the room, holding the locket
fast within her handkerchief.

Most of the children were in the hall, and she went on into the
cloak-room. There was no one there; and as she looked about her,
wondering what she should do with the locket, the bell rang to call the
class back to their places.

With no time to think, with no plan in her head, not meaning to keep
the locket from Belle, nor yet seeing her way clearly to the means of
getting it back, Mabel hastily dropped it in a corner upon the floor,
snatched down her own hat and sacque and threw them over it; then ran
back to the school-room with beating heart and crimson cheeks. No one
noticed her guilty looks; or, if they did, laid them to the same cause
that Dora Johnson had done, and did not speak of them.

The class in reading was now called up; and as Mabel took her stand
about the middle of the row, she gave her attention, not to the task
before her, but to the locket lying hidden in the cloak-room, and tried
to contrive a way out of her difficulty.

Suddenly a thought struck her, and she gave a great sigh of relief.
This was the day on which Belle took her music-lesson after school was
dismissed: it might be that she would not discover that the locket had
been taken out of her desk till she came to go home; and she, Mabel,
would have time to put it back after the other children had left.

Miss Ashton's voice roused her, calling back her thoughts to her lesson
and reminding her that it was her turn to read; but she did not know
where the place was, and when it was pointed out to her by Belle, she
stumbled and blundered over words that she knew quite well, and read
most disgracefully, finishing her performance with a new burst of
crying.

Miss Ashton did not find fault with her, believing perhaps that
she really could not help it, but passed on to the next. Would she
have taken it so quietly if she had known the true cause of Mabel's
excitement? The child could not help asking herself this question, or
wondering what punishment she would be called on to bear if her teacher
knew all. Not for twenty lockets such as Belle's would she have borne
the miserable feelings from which she was suffering now.

So the time dragged on, heavily, heavily, till it was the hour for
dismissal; and the little ones prepared to go home.

Mabel watched Belle's every motion, scarcely daring to hope that
she would not discover her loss before she went downstairs to her
music-lesson; but Belle, never dreaming but that her treasure lay
safely hidden in the far corner where she had left it, put books and
slate back into her desk in haste, and at last followed Miss Ashton
from the room.

Then Mabel hurried into the cloak-room, a new fear taking hold of her,
as fears without number or reason ever will of the guilty. Suppose
any of the other children had lifted her sacque and found the locket
beneath it! No: it lay upon the floor still,--not just as she had left
it, it seemed to her fearful, suspicious eyes. But no one turned upon
her with accusing words or looks; and she believed herself safe, if she
could but manage to be the last child to go.

Nanette, her nurse, who was waiting for her, was too well used to her
freaks to be much surprised when she declared she was not going home
just yet; and stood by, with what patience she might, to await the
pleasure of her hard young task-mistress, who plumped herself down on
the floor upon her sacque with a look of dogged determination, which
Nanette knew well would change to one of furious passion if she were
crossed.

As Lily Norris left the room, she could not refrain from a parting shot
at Mabel.

"Mabel," she said, "in the 'Nonsense Book' there is a picture of a
sulky girl sitting on a carpet, and the reading about her begins,

    'There was a young lady of Turkey,
    Whose temper was exceedingly murky;'

and I just b'lieve the man what took her portrait, and made the poetry
about her, meant you;" with which, mindful of the fact that Mabel's
hand was swift and heavy when she was provoked, she flew from the room,
chuckling over her own joke, and joined in her laughter by those who
followed her, Lily being considered a great wit.

So had Mabel set all her young school-mates against her that there
was scarcely one who did not enjoy a laugh at her expense. But just
now Mabel was too much troubled about another matter to vex herself
concerning Lily's tantalizing words; and she was only too thankful to
see all the children leave the cloak-room one after another.

The moment the last one had disappeared, she ordered her nurse to go
out and stand in the entry; sprang to her feet and snatched up the
sacque, intending to run with the locket and pop it into Belle's desk
without loss of time.

But--there was no locket there!

She shook out her sacque and turned it over and over, looked in her
hat, searched all about the corner, and then threw her eyes hastily
around the room; all in vain. The locket was certainly gone; and the
next moment a cry, half of rage, half of alarm and despair, brought
Nanette back to the room.

"What is it?" she asked, seeing by the child's face that it was no
ordinary fit of temper that ailed Mabel.

"It's gone! Oh, it's gone!" sobbed Mabel, wringing her hands and
looking the very picture of distress.

"But what is gone? What have you lost?" asked the maid.

Then Mabel recollected herself, and cried less loudly: she would not
have even Nanette know how naughty she had been, how meanly she had
acted towards the dear little cousin who had been so kind to her; for,
mingled with her own fears for herself, there was a feeling of deep
remorse for the trouble she had brought upon Belle.

What would the latter say when she should discover her loss?

And, oh dear! oh dear! what was she to do herself?

Even her own indulgent and all-excusing mother could hardly overlook
such a thing as this.

She ceased her loud cries and tried to choke back the sobs, but in vain
did she wipe her eyes again and again: the tears gathered and rolled
down her cheeks as fast as she dried them away; and presently Miss
Ashton, who had heard her cries, came running upstairs, followed by
Belle, to see what was the matter.

But the moment she saw them, Mabel turned sullen, pouted out her lips,
and would not speak; nor could Nanette give any explanation of the
cause of the commotion she had made. And Miss Ashton, much displeased
at this new disturbance, bade the nurse put on Mabel's things and take
her home at once.

Mabel was glad enough to obey, and she suffered Nanette to lead her
home as quietly as a lamb, though she could not help a tear and a sigh
now and then; and Nanette wondered much what secret trouble should have
brought about this distress.

Nor was Mabel's mamma more successful in discovering the cause, when
she noticed the traces of tears and observed the child's evident
unhappiness. Mabel would not speak, or confess what she had done; and
she shrank from her mother's caresses and coaxings, and hung around in
sullen, miserable silence, waiting till Belle should come home grieved
to the heart, as she knew she would be, by the loss of her much-prized
locket.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



XI.

_BELLE'S GRIEF._


And meanwhile how was it with little Belle?

Daphne went for her young mistress at the appointed hour, and as soon
as the music-lesson was finished took her upstairs to make her ready.

"An' whar's yer locket, honey?" she asked, immediately missing the
ornament from about the child's neck.

"In my desk: it did come to a danger, Daphne. I broke the chain and had
to put it away. I'm going to bring it, and give it to you to carry home
very carefully, so it won't be lost."

"And how did it come broke, dear?" questioned the old woman.

"The chain caught on Miss Ashton's chair and just came right in two,"
said Belle, refraining from blaming her cousin, upon whom she knew
Daphne looked with such an unfavorable eye.

And away she ran into the school-room, Daphne following, and opened her
desk.

"Why!" she exclaimed, seeing the locket was not where she had left it;
and then hastily fell to turning her books about and looking beneath
them.

"What is it, dear heart? Whar am it gone?" said Daphne, seeing no
locket, and observing the disturbance of her little charge.

"I don't know; I left it here,--right here in this corner. Oh! Daffy, I
know I did; and I never touched it again. Miss Ashton told me not, not
till I went home; and I did mind her, oh! I did; but it isn't there.
Oh! Daffy, you look, quick. Oh! my locket, mamma's own locket!"

[Illustration: Belle Powers.    p. 164.]

Daphne turned over each book as hurriedly as Belle had done; then took
them all out and shook them, peered within the empty desk, and swept
her hand around it again and again; looked on the floor beneath: but
all in vain. The locket was certainly not there, and Belle's face grew
each moment more and more troubled.

"You's forgot, and took it out again, honey," said the old woman at
last.

"Oh! I didn't: how could I forget? And I don't dis'bey Miss Ashton when
she tells me don't do a thing. I don't, Daphne; and I couldn't forget
about my mamma's locket;" and the poor little thing burst into tears.
Such tears!

If any of you have ever lost something which to you was very dear and
sacred, which you looked upon as a treasure past all price, and which
you would not have exchanged for a hundred pretty things, each one of
far more value, you may know how Belle felt at this unlooked-for and,
to her, mysterious disappearance of her locket.

"Now, don't yer, honey-pot,--don't yer," said Daphne, vainly trying to
soothe her: "'twill be foun', I reckon; but if you ain't took it out,
some one else has, for sartain. It ain't walked out ob yer desk widout
han's, for sartain sure."

"Oh! but, Daffy, who would take it? who would be so bad to me? They
knew I loved it so. I don't b'lieve anybody could tease me so, when
they knew it was my own dead mamma's locket," sobbed the little one.

"Um! I spec' it warn't for no teasin' it war done," said Daphne, half
hesitating; then her resentment and anger at the supposed thief getting
the better of her prudence, she added, "I did allus know Miss Mabel wor
a bad one; but I _didn't_ tink she so fur trabelled on de broad road as
to take to stealin',--and de property ob her own kin too."

The word "stealing" silenced Belle, and checked her tears and cries for
a moment or two.

"Stealing!" she repeated; "Mabel wouldn't steal, Daffy. Oh, that would
be too dreadful! She must know better than that. She couldn't _steal_
my locket."

"Dunno," said Daphne, dryly: "'pears uncommon like it. Who you s'pose
is de tief den, Miss Belle?"

"But we don't have thiefs in our school, Daphne," said the little girl:
"we wouldn't do such a thing, and Miss Ashton would never 'low it."

"Dey don't ginerally ask no leave 'bout dere comin's an' goin's," said
Daphne: "if dey did, I specs der'd be less of 'em. You 'pend upon it,
Miss Belle, dat ar locket's been stealed; an' I can put my finger on
who took it right straight off."

"But," persisted Belle, whose distress was still for the time overcome
by her horror at Daphne's suggestion, "I don't b'lieve any one would
do such a thing; and, Daphne," raising her small head with a little
dignified air, and looking reprovingly at the old woman, "I don't
b'lieve, either, that it is very proper for you to call Mabel a thief.
Maybe she took it to show to the jeweller man, but I know she couldn't
steal it. But, oh dear! oh dear! I wonder if I will ever have it back
again, my own, own mamma's locket;" and the sense of her loss coming
over her with new force, she laid her head down upon her desk and cried
aloud.

For the second time the sounds of distress called Miss Ashton to see
what the trouble was; and they brought also the older girls from Mrs.
Ashton's room, for their recess was not yet quite over. They all
crowded about Belle, asking what was the matter, and trying to soothe
her; for Belle was a great favorite and pet in the school, partly
because she was motherless,--poor little one!--which gave teachers and
scholars all a tender feeling toward her, partly because she had many
taking and pretty ways of her own, which made her very attractive to
every one who knew her.

In her uncertainty and distress the child could not make plain
the cause of her trouble; and Daphne took upon herself the task of
explanation, glad, if the truth were known, of the chance. Nor was
she backward in expressing her own views of the matter, and in boldly
asserting that the locket had been stolen, and she knew by whom.

But at this, Belle roused herself and interrupted her nurse.

"No, no," she said, shaking her head as she looked up with face all
drowned in tears, and hardly able to speak for sobbing,--"no, no, Miss
Ashton, Daphne _must_ be mistaken. Mabel never would do it,--never!"

Now in spite of all her own declarations to the contrary, the fact was
that Daphne's repeated accusations, and the recollection of Mabel's
threats that she would "have the locket _somehow_," had caused a doubt
to enter little Belle's mind as to the possibility and probability
of Mabel being the "thief" Daphne called her; but mindful of the
"love-charity" she was determined to feel for her cousin,--the charity
which "believeth all things, hopeth all things,"--she tried to put this
doubt from her, and to think that some one else was the guilty person,
or that the locket had only been taken to tease her. And she was not
willing that others should join in Daphne's suspicions and believe that
Mabel could do such a thing.

But Miss Ashton herself had too much reason to fear that Daphne's
idea was, in part at least, correct. Enough had come to her ears and
passed before her eyes, to make her believe that Mabel, in her extreme
wilfulness, would not hesitate at any means of gaining her point,
especially in the matter of the locket. She did not, it is true, feel
sure that Mabel intended to keep the locket; but she thought she had
probably taken it against her cousin's will, for purposes of her own;
and this was hardly less dishonest than if she had, according to
Daphne, _stolen_ it outright.

Miss Ashton was very much disturbed. Mabel was proving such a source of
trouble, such a firebrand in her little school, which had until now
gone on in so much peace and harmony, that she had felt for some days
as if it were scarcely best to keep her; still for many reasons she did
not wish to ask her mother to remove her.

She thought it better for Mabel to be thrown more with other children
than she had hitherto been; and her hope of doing her some good could
not be put away readily; and also she shrank from offending and
grieving the child's relatives, especially Mr. Powers, who had been a
good friend to her mother and herself.

But if Mabel was a child of so little principle as to do a thing like
this, it was best to send her away at once, she thought; and there
seemed too much reason to fear that it was so.

However, she said nothing of all this to Belle, and when the old
colored woman began again, gently stopped her, saying,--

"That will do, Daphne: we will not say any more about this. Belle, my
dear, open your desk and let us search again."

Of course the desk was searched in vain, and not only the desk, but
the whole school-room; Miss Ashton faintly hoping that Belle might
accidentally have pulled the locket out and dropped it on the floor.

Meanwhile the bell had rung to call the older girls back to their
class; and Mrs. Ashton, hearing the story from them, came also to Belle
to make some inquiries. This was a serious matter, the disappearance
of a valuable thing from the desk of one of her little scholars, and
needed to be thoroughly sifted. But as soon as she appeared, Belle was
seized with that unfortunate dread of the elder lady which possessed
all the little girls; and she thought what would become of Mabel if
Mrs. Ashton, too, believed her to be a "thief." Visions of squads of
policemen, prisons and chains, danced before her mind's eye; and her
imagination, almost as quick and fertile as Maggie Bradford's, pictured
her cousin dragged away by Mrs. Ashton's orders, while the rest of the
family were plunged in the deepest grief and disgrace.

So it was but little satisfaction that Mrs. Ashton gained from her, in
reply to her questions. Not so Daphne, however; finding that her young
lady gave such short and low answers as could scarcely be understood,
she once more poured forth her opinions till again ordered to stop.

However, there was one opinion in which all were forced to agree;
namely, that the locket was certainly gone. Belle's sobs were quieted
at last, save when a long, heavy sigh struggled up now and then; but
her face wore a piteous, grieved look which it went to Miss Ashton's
heart to see. With her own hands, she put on the child's hat and
sacque, petting her tenderly and assuring her that she would leave no
means untried to discover her lost treasure; and then Belle went home
with her nurse.

Daphne stalked with her charge at once to Mrs. Walton's room; and,
forgetting her usual good manners, threw open the door without
knocking, and standing upon the threshold proclaimed,--

"Miss Walton, Miss Belle's locket am clean gone, chain an' all; an' de
Lord will sure foller wid His judgment on dem what's robbed a moderless
chile."

Her words were addressed to Mrs. Walton; but her eyes were fastened
on Mabel, who shrank from both look and words, knowing full well that
Daphne suspected her of being the guilty one.

Mrs. Walton held out her hand kindly to Belle.

"Come here, darling," she said, "and tell me all about it. Your locket
gone? How is that?"

Belle told her story in as few words as possible, avoiding any mention
of Mabel's naughtiness in school that morning, or of the threats she
had used about the locket. She did not even look at Mabel as she spoke,
for all the way home the dear little soul had been contriving how she
might act and speak so as not to let Mabel see that she had any doubt
of her.

"'Cause maybe she didn't take it," she said to herself: "it isn't
a _very_ maybe, but it's a little maybe; and I would be sorry if
I b'lieved she took it and then knew she didn't; and she might be
offended with me for ever and ever if I thought she was a thief."

But the puzzle had been great in Belle's mind; for she thought, "If she
took it for a pattern for the locket-man and not to keep it, I wonder
if it wasn't somehow a little bit like stealing;" and she could not
help the suspicion that Mabel had really done this.

Mrs. Walton was full of sympathy and pity, and asked more questions
than Belle felt able or willing to answer; but it never entered her
mind to suspect her own child.

And, indeed, with all her sad, naughty ways, she had never known Mabel
to tell a wilful falsehood, or to take that which did not belong to
her in a deceitful, thievish manner. She would, it is true, insist that
the thing she desired should be given to her, and often snatch and pull
at that which was another's, or boldly help herself in defiance of
orders to the contrary; but to do this in a secret way, to be in the
least degree dishonest or false, such a thing would have seemed quite
impossible to Mrs. Walton.

"Can it be that one of your little class-mates is so very wicked?" she
said. "Miss Ashton should see to this at once: it is almost impossible
that she should not discover the thief if she makes proper efforts."

How did the words of her unsuspecting mother sound to the ears of the
guilty little daughter who stood in the recess of the window, half
hidden by the curtains, but plainly hearing all that passed as she
pretended to be playing with her dolls?

Would Miss Ashton find her out? Would it not be better to go at once
and confess?

And it was not only fear for herself which led Mabel to hesitate thus:
she was really full of remorse and sorrow for the trouble which her
wicked, selfish conduct had brought upon Belle; and as she saw how
her forgiving little cousin avoided blaming her, these feelings grew
stronger and stronger, till they almost overcame the selfishness which
ruled her. But not quite; and she resolved to make amends to Belle in
some other way.

She thought she was doing this, and showing great generosity, when she
came out of her corner, and said to her mother,--

"Mamma, please buy a very nice locket, and let Belle have it 'stead of
me. I'll give it up to her, 'cause hers is gone."

Whatever suspicions Belle might have had were at once put to flight by
this; but the offer had no charms for her. No other locket could take
the place of mamma's; and she shook her head sadly, as she said,--

"No, thank you, Mabel: I don't want any other locket to make up that
one. I couldn't wear it, indeed I couldn't."

The melancholy tone of her voice brought back all Mabel's
self-reproach, and of the two children she was perhaps really the most
unhappy; but still she could not resolve to confess, though Conscience
whispered that if she told what she had done, there might be more
chance of finding the locket.

Had she not felt too much ashamed and unworthy of praise, she might
have been consoled by all that her mother lavished upon her for
her offer to Belle. Such unheard-of generosity on Mabel's part was
something so new and delightful that Mrs. Walton could not say
enough in its praise; and both she and Mr. Walton began to hope that
companionship with other children, and Belle's good example, were
really doing her good. Little did they think what was the true cause of
the proposed self-denial, or of Mabel's evident low spirits.

When Mr. Powers came home, he was almost as much disturbed as Belle
to hear of the fate of her locket; and when she had gone to rest that
evening, he went to see Miss Ashton to ask if she could take no steps
for its recovery.

He was very grave and silent when he came back; and neither that
evening nor the next morning did he have much to say concerning it,
save that he comforted his little daughter by telling her that he had
good hope it would be found.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



XII.

_CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE._


Mabel declared herself not well enough to go to school the next
morning; and there seemed some reason to believe it was really so, so
dull and spiritless and unlike herself she appeared; and her mother
allowed her to remain at home. The true reason was, that she feared to
face Miss Ashton and her school-mates.

In vain did her mother try to find out the cause of her trouble, for it
was easy to be seen that it was more than sickness.

But the day was not to pass over without Mrs. Walton learning this.
For that afternoon Mabel was much startled, and her mother somewhat
surprised, by a call from Miss Ashton. Mabel shrank away from her
teacher, and said she had to go to her uncle's rooms and play with
Belle; and Miss Ashton was not sorry to have her go, as she was about
to ask Mrs. Walton to see her alone.

She said this as soon as the child had left the room, adding that she
had come on what might prove a painful business; and then told Mrs.
Walton all that had passed about the locket on the day before, part
of which she had gathered from the other children, part she had known
herself. She had reason to fear, she said, that Mabel had taken the
locket, as she had threatened to have it, in one way or another; and
had been the only one alone in the room with opportunity to take it
from Belle's desk. She told, also, how strangely Mabel had acted when
she was leaving school the day before; and said, although it might not
be so, she could not help thinking that this might be connected with
the disappearance of the locket. When Mr. Powers had called upon her
the evening before, she told him all she knew, but begged him to say
nothing to or about Mabel until she had questioned the other children,
and found out who had been in the room beside herself. No one else,
so far as she could learn, had been there alone; but the moment Dora
Johnson heard that Belle's locket was lost, she had cried out that
Mabel must have taken it during recess, and that was the reason she had
"acted so queer and mysterious." This was the general opinion among the
class, and they were all loud in their indignation against Mabel. She,
Miss Ashton, had told them they must not judge too hastily; but she
could not herself deny that suspicion pointed very strongly towards the
child.

Mrs. Walton was much distressed, but also much displeased, that Miss
Ashton, or any one else, should believe Mabel to be guilty. She had
never known her to practise deceit or dishonesty of any kind, she said;
and insisted on sending at once for the child and questioning her.
Miss Ashton did not object, hoping to be able to judge from Mabel's
manner whether she were guilty or not; and Mrs. Walton, saying she was
determined to hear all that the children had to say on the subject,
sent the nurse to bring both Belle and Mabel.

"Is Miss Ashton gone?" asked the latter when the messenger came.

"No, mademoiselle," said Nanette.

"Then I shan't go. I don't want to see her," said Mabel. "Belle, don't
go. Stay and play with me."

But Belle, who was very fond of her teacher and always liked to see
her, and who, moreover, had a faint hope that she might have brought
some good news about the locket, insisted on going to her aunt's room;
and Mabel, dreading the same thing and yet not daring to stay behind,
reluctantly followed.

Mrs. Walton and Miss Ashton looked from one to the other of the
children as they entered; and as the former saw Mabel's downcast,
shamefaced look as she came forward, her heart sank within her.

What if Mabel should be really guilty, after all?

"Did you find any thing of my locket, Miss Ashton?" asked little Belle,
as soon as she had welcomed the young lady.

"Not yet, dear; but I have some hope of doing so," answered Miss
Ashton, looking at Mabel. "Now, I want you to tell your aunt and myself
all you can about it. You are quite sure you did not touch it after I
saw you put it in your desk?"

"Quite, quite sure, ma'am; and I never went to my desk after that,
'cept to put away my slate; and there's nothing more to tell about it,
Miss Ashton, only how I went there to give it to Daphne, and couldn't
find it. It was perferly gone," and Belle gave a long sigh, which told
how deep her loss lay.

"Mabel," said Mrs. Walton, suddenly, "did you see Belle's locket after
it was broken?"

Mabel hung her head more than ever, stammered and stuttered, and
finally burst into tears.

Belle looked at her, colored, and hesitated; then stepped up to her,
and putting her arm about her shoulder said,--

"I don't b'lieve Mabel did take it, Aunt Fanny: I don't think she could
be so mean to me. I _tried_ not to b'lieve it, and now I don't think I
do. Please don't you and Miss Ashton b'lieve so either, Aunt Fanny."

Belle's "love-charity" was too much for Mabel. Taking her hands from
before her face, she clasped them about her cousin's neck, and sobbed
out,--

"Oh! I did, Belle. I did take it out of your desk; but I never, never
meant to keep it,--no, not even to show to the locket-man; but I
couldn't find it to put it back; and I'm so sorry, I'll just give you
any thing in the world of mine, 'cept my papa and mamma."

Mabel's words were so incoherent that all her hearers could understand
was that she had taken the locket; and though Belle had been obliged
to try hard to believe in her cousin's honesty, the shock to the faith
she had built up was now so great that her arm dropped from Mabel's
shoulder, and she stood utterly amazed and confounded. Mrs. Walton,
too, sat as if she were stricken dumb; and Miss Ashton was the first to
speak, which she did in a tone more grieved and sorrowful than stern.

"And where is the locket now, Mabel? Did you say you cannot find it?"

Mabel shook her head in assent.

"What have you done with it?" asked Mrs. Walton, in a tone that Mabel
had never known her mother use to her before.

The whole story was at last drawn from the child, accompanied with many
sobs and tears. Belle put full faith in all she said, and almost lost
sight of her own trouble in sympathy for Mabel's distress. Her arm went
back about her cousin's neck, and her own pocket-handkerchief was taken
out to wipe away Mabel's tears.

But Miss Ashton plainly did not believe her story, and even her
own mother was doubtful of its truth; for it was told with so much
hesitation and stammering.

Mrs. Walton turned to Miss Ashton, with a look which the young lady
hardly knew how to answer, except by one which asked that the children
should be sent away again; which was done.

"You do not believe what Mabel says, Miss Ashton?" said Mrs. Walton.

"I do not see how it can be so," replied Miss Ashton: "I do not believe
there is a child in my class who is not honest; and they all love Belle
too much to think of teasing her in any way. Moreover, I know that not
one of them was in the cloak-room from the time of the short recess
till they were dismissed; and had any child had the will, I do not see
that she had the opportunity, to take the locket."

"But your servants?" questioned the anxious mother.

Miss Ashton shook her head sadly.

"My mother's two older servants have been with us for years," she said,
"and are quite above suspicion. The younger one, the colored girl,
Marcia, who sometimes waits on the children, and now and then goes into
the cloak-room, was not in the house. Her sister was sick, and she had
been allowed to go to her for the day. She is not, I fear, strictly
honest, and has now and then been detected in picking and stealing;
and, although I have never known her to take any thing of much value,
there is no saying how far temptation might lead her; but, as I say,
she was not at home at the time. I grieve to distress you farther, Mrs.
Walton; but I do not see that Mabel's story can be true."

"What do you think she has done with the locket?" asked Mrs. Walton, in
a trembling voice.

"How could I tell, my dear madam?" replied Miss Ashton, looking with
pity at the other lady. "It may be that she has really lost it, but in
some other way than the one she relates; or it may be--that she has it
still."

"Impossible!" said Mrs. Walton; but although she said the word, the
tone of her voice told that she did not believe it impossible. "Mabel
is a troublesome, spoiled child, I allow," continued the poor mother;
"but I have never known her to tell me a deliberate falsehood, and to
make up such a story as this."

"I will have the school-room thoroughly searched," said Miss Ashton;
"and whether the locket is found or no, we will at least give Mabel the
benefit of the doubt, and treat her as if she were not more guilty than
she acknowledges herself to be, unless it is proved that she knows more
about it than she says;" and then she rose, and, shaking hands with
Mrs. Walton, once more said how sorry she was for the trouble she had
been obliged to bring her, and went away.

Meanwhile the two children had gone back to Belle's nursery, where that
dear little girl set herself to the task of consoling Mabel as well as
she might.

But this was a difficult matter. So long as she had her own way, Mabel
generally cared little whether or not people thought her a naughty
girl; but as she was really pretty truthful and upright, she was
now half-heartbroken at the idea of being considered dishonest and
deceitful. She could not quite acquit herself of the latter, since she
had taken advantage of Belle's absence to do that which she would not
have done in her presence, and now she was very much ashamed of it; but
this seemed to her very different from telling a falsehood, which she
plainly saw Miss Ashton, and her mother too, suspected her of doing.

She threw herself down on the floor of the nursery in a passion of
tears and sobs; and when Belle, sitting down by her, begged her not to
cry so, answered,--

"I will, I will: they think I told a story, mamma and Miss Ashton do.
I can't bear Miss Ashton,--horrid, old thing! She made mamma think I
did. She's awfully ugly: her nose turns up, and I'm glad it does,--good
enough for her."

"Oh! Mabel," said Belle, "Miss Ashton's nose don't turn up. It turns
down about as much as it turns up, I think. I b'lieve it's as good as
ours."

"I shan't think it is," said Mabel. "I'm going to think it turns up
about a million of miles. And, Belle, 'cause everybody thinks I took
your locket to keep, and told a wicked story about it, I shall never
eat any more breakfast or dinner or supper, but starve myself, so
they'll be sorry."

Belle was too well used to such threats from Mabel to be very much
alarmed at this.

Mabel went on, trying to make a deeper impression.

"I shan't ever eat any more French sugar-plums," then as the
recollection of a tempting box of these delicacies came over
her,--"'cept only there are three candied apricots in the box papa
brought me last night. I'll eat two of them, and give you the other;
and then never eat another thing, 'cause nobody believes me; and it is
true,--oh! it is."

"I b'lieve you, dear," said Belle. "I don't think you would be so bad
to me,--truly I don't."

"Don't you?" said Mabel, turning around her flushed, tear-stained face;
"then I'll give you two apricots, Belle, and only keep one myself; and
then starve myself. You're real good to me, Belle, and nobody else is.
You're the only friend I have left in the world," she concluded in a
tragic whisper, as she sat up and dried her eyes.

"I'll try to coax them not to think you did mean to keep it and tell a
story about it," said her little comforter.

"Belle, what makes you so good to me, when I was so bad to you?" asked
Mabel.

"'Cause I want you to love me, and be good to me too," answered Belle.
"And, besides, Jesus don't want us to be good only to people who are
good to us. He wants us to be good to people who are bad to us too."

Mabel sat looking at her cousin in some wonder.

"Do you care very much what Jesus wants?" she asked presently.

"Why, yes," said Belle: "don't you?"

"What does He think about me, I wonder?" said Mabel, musingly, without
answering Belle's question, which indeed answered itself, as the
recollection of some of her cousin's naughty freaks returned to her.
But she said nothing about these; for Mabel's speech brought a thought
which she hastened to put into words, thinking that it might give the
latter some comfort.

"Oh! Mabel," she said eagerly, "He knows all about the locket; and if
you do tell the truf, He b'lieves you, and I am sure He's sorry for you
too, even if you was a little naughty about it."

It was a pity that the mother and the governess were not there to
see the way in which Mabel's face lighted up. They must have been
convinced that, however much she had been to blame, the story she now
told was true. Guilt could never have worn that look at the thought
that the all-seeing Eye read her heart and believed in her innocence.

And if there was any lingering doubt in little Belle's mind, it was
cleared away by that look.

"Now I truly know she is not telling a story," she said to herself,
"'cause she looks so glad that Jesus knows all about it; and if she
had, she would be frightened to think He knew she was so wicked."

"It's nice to think Jesus knows about it and b'lieves you, isn't it?"
she said aloud.

"Yes," said Mabel; "and I love Him for it, and I do love you too; and
I'll always love you till I'm all starved and dead. Belle, I know you
do care what Jesus wants, 'cause you try to be good and kind. I've just
a good mind to try too. Maybe if I do, He'll make them find out where
that locket went to."

Now perhaps Mabel's two resolutions did not agree very well the one
with the other; but there was no fear that the first would hold good
longer than till supper-time, nor was the hope of reward for herself
the best motive for the second. But Belle, and perhaps a higher ear
than little Belle's, was glad to hear her say this; and indeed it was a
token for good. For Mabel was beginning to see the beauty and sweetness
of Belle's conduct, and the warmth and light of her example were taking
effect on that perverse and selfish little heart. Belle was proving a
"sunbeam" to Mabel, though she did not know it herself.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



XIII.

_MABEL'S GENEROSITY._


It would be impossible to tell how troubled and disturbed poor Mrs.
Walton was by Miss Ashton's story. So was Mr. Walton when he came
home and heard it. It was hard to think that their own and only child
could be guilty of such a thing; and yet suspicion pointed so strongly
towards her that it was almost impossible to believe otherwise. They
talked it over between themselves, and with Mr. Powers when he came;
and then the children were called, and told to repeat all they knew
once more.

Mabel's story was in no way different from that she had told before,
save that it was given with far less hesitation and difficulty, but in
no other respect did it vary from the first; and here was ground for
hope that it was true.

Belle, too, told her tale with the same straightforwardness and
simplicity that she had done before, but it threw no light on what was
so dark; and, as she had done from the first, she carefully avoided
throwing any blame on her cousin, and concluded in these words, uttered
in a pleading voice:--

"Please, papa, and uncle, and Aunt Fanny, don't believe Mabel took my
locket to keep: I don't believe she did, not one bit; and I don't want
any one else to think she did."

"Why do you think she did not, dear?" asked Mr. Walton.

"First I _tried_ not to think she did," said Belle; "and then when I
told her Jesus knew if she was telling the truf, she was glad, and felt
better about it, so that made me quite sure. If she had hidden it on
purpose to keep it, she would be afraid if she thought Jesus knew it."

Her words brought great comfort and new hope to the father and mother.

"Let's all think she didn't do it, unless we have to be very, very
sure she did; and please kiss her, and make up with her, Aunt Fanny,
'cause she feels so bad about it," persisted Belle, drawing her cousin
forward, as she stood hanging her head, half-sullen, half-shamefaced,
and sorrowful at the suspicion she felt cast upon her. "Aunt Fanny, if
I had my own mamma here with me, I would feel very dreadful to know
she thought I hid something to steal it, and told ever so many stories
about it."

Who could resist her?

Not the mother certainly! who, only too glad to believe her child
innocent of more than she had acknowledged, put her arms about her and
gave her a kiss of forgiveness; while Mabel laid her head against her
mamma's shoulder, and cried there such gentle, penitent tears as she
had seldom shed before. For the sweeter and kinder Belle was to her,
the more deeply repentant she felt for the wrong she had really done
her. And not for the matter of the locket alone did she sorrow: she
remembered and felt remorseful for many another selfish, unkind act and
speech, and she could not but contrast with shame her cousin's conduct
with her own.

"Dear, little Belle!" said her uncle: "hers is the charity that
'thinketh no evil.'"

Mr. Walton said this, knowing nothing of the rules by which Belle had
lately tried to govern her behavior to Mabel as well as to others.

"Yes," said Mr. Powers, drawing his little daughter fondly towards him,
and kissing her forehead,--"yes, I believe Belle is really trying for
that charity which may keep us in love and peace with God and man."

"Papa," whispered Belle, with her arms about his neck, "it used to be
real hard not to think Mabel was the spoildest, worst child that ever
lived, and that would do all kinds of bad things; and now I don't like
to think that about her, or to have other people think so. Is that
'cause I tried to have love-charity for her? Bessie said it was when I
told her."

"Yes, darling, I think so."

"And, papa, Maggie said one of her nice, pleasant-sounding things. She
said when we were like sunbeams ourselves it made things look bright
and good that would look ugly and dark if we were not nice and bright
ourselves. Maggie makes sunniness and shinyness herself, and so does
Bessie; and they try all they can to think people wouldn't do bad
things."

After the children had been dismissed for the night, there was some
discussion between their parents whether or no it would be better for
Mabel to go to school till the mystery was cleared up; but it was at
last decided that there should be no change, and she should go as
usual.

"If she will," said Mrs. Walton, to which her husband replied,--

"I think, my dear, it is time that Mabel was learning to do what she
_must_, and not what she _will_. I fear we have ourselves to blame
for much of this trouble, which has arisen from the wilfulness and
selfishness we have too long overlooked."

But Mabel was so subdued by her trouble, and by her sorrow for her past
misconduct to Belle, that she offered no resistance to going to school
the next day, further than to say she did not want to go.

"Oh, yes, dear!" said her father: "there is no reason why you should
not."

"I'm afraid the children won't believe me about Belle's locket," she
whispered; "and they'll look at me."

"But if you stay away it would seem as if you were really guilty," said
Mr. Walton. "I do not think your school-mates will be unkind to you;
and if they are, you must bear it as a part of the punishment for your
naughtiness to Belle. Mamma and I think it better you should go. If you
are innocent, you need not be afraid."

And Mabel, quite broken-spirited, submitted without any of the loud
outcries with which she usually met any opposition to her wishes.

"I know that they'll all be mad at me, and point at me, and every
thing," she sobbed, as she started for school with Belle and the two
nurses.

"If any of them are so bad to you, I will tell them to have
'love-charity;' and if they don't, I won't be friends with them any
more, but be very offended with them indeed," said Belle, forgetting
that her new rule could work more ways than one, and hold good for
others than Mabel. Just now she was so full of forgiving pity and
sympathy for her cousin that she thought only of helping her and doing
battle in her behalf.

Mabel's fears were well founded, as it proved. She was met with looks
askance, and cold words; while Belle was greeted with a more than
usual share of affection. And Dora Johnson, who was not very careful
of other people's feelings, and was apt to say rather rude and unkind
things without much thought, said in a whisper, loud enough for Mabel
to hear,--

"Before I'd come to school if I was a locket-thief!"

Belle heard this too, and at once fired up in Mabel's defence.

"Before I would too, and before Mabel would!" she said, her bright eyes
flashing with indignation as she took her cousin's hand in a protecting
manner; "and because she isn't a thief is the reason she comes; and she
only took it out of my desk to look at, and didn't mean to steal it a
bit. But somebody else must have: I don't know who. And if everybody
don't be friends with her, they needn't be friends with me either; and
I won't have 'em, but will be awfully mad with 'em."

Belle's speech was not perhaps very coherent; but it was understood
by all, and had its effect. For since _she_ believed that Mabel had
not the locket, the rest thought that she must have some good reason
for her faith; and no more was said in words, though poor Mabel could
not but feel that she was curiously and suspiciously gazed at by every
child in the school, as if they expected to read her guilt or innocence
written on her face. Still, on the whole, matters were not so bad
as she had feared they would be. Miss Ashton was as kind and gentle
as usual, and, like her own family, seemed to wish to believe her
innocent till she was proved guilty; while Belle was more affectionate
and patronizing than she had ever been before, and returned with
reproachful or defiant looks every cold or scornful glance that fell to
Mabel's share. The search of the cloak-room for the missing treasure
had proved quite fruitless. Miss Ashton had taken the trouble to have
every thing moved from the room, the floor had been thoroughly swept,
and even the corners and edges of the carpet turned up; but all in
vain. There was no trace of the lost locket; and Miss Ashton and her
mother had decided that they could only wait and see what time would
do. Whoever had taken it, such a thing could not remain long hidden: it
must be discovered and brought home to the guilty child.

So Miss Ashton told Mrs. Walton when she called to see her again on
this unhappy matter; and she would not say, though she gave Mabel the
benefit of the doubt, that in her heart she believed her to be that
child; and the mother could only hope and pray that it might not be so.

Still it was a most uncomfortable and unhappy matter. Such a thing had
never happened before in the little school; and it was sad to believe
that there was a thief among that young group.

But good was brought out of all this discomfort and unhappiness. The
change in Mabel was surprising as well as encouraging. She clung to
Belle, and to Belle's faith in her, in a way that was really touching,
and which went far to convince her friends and teacher that she was
really innocent of more than she had confessed. And, contrary to her
usual custom, she did not try to excuse herself for what she had done,
but was truly penitent, and ready to acknowledge that this trouble had
arisen from her own fault. If Belle would have taken them, she would
have thrust upon her all her own possessions; and now whenever she saw
a pretty thing, she wanted it, not for herself, but for Belle, and
was constantly begging her papa and mamma to buy this, that, and the
other for her little cousin. And as she became more and more unselfish
and yielding towards Belle, she became so towards others, and more
obedient and docile to her parents; till the self-willed, outrageous,
spoiled elf seemed really changing and quieting down into a tolerably
well-behaved, reasonable little child.

That she was really repentant and desirous to make amends to Belle,
she showed in a very decided manner when her birthday came around, as
it did about three weeks after the loss of the locket.

At this time her Grandmamma Walton was accustomed to send her two gold
half-eagles; a large sum for a child like Mabel, and which the old lady
probably supposed was put away with care, or used to some good purpose.
But hitherto it had always been frittered away in toys, candies, and so
forth, Mabel claiming such and such portions of it to spend when some
trifle struck her fancy.

At the time the locket was first lost, her mother had told her that it
would be a good thing if she should spend the money which would come on
her next birthday on a new one for Belle; and Mabel had readily agreed.
But Mr. Walton, knowing nothing of her good intentions, had bought a
handsome locket, and given it to Belle to take the place, as far as
might be, of the one which was gone. Belle had thanked him prettily,
and admired the gift; then gave it to Daphne to put away.

"Where I can't see it, Daffy, 'cause it makes me feel like crying when
I think it was not a bit my own mamma's like that other one I lost."

It was in vain that Daphne tried to persuade her to wear it: the child
seemed to have a half romantic, but touching sensitiveness on the
subject, which could not be overcome.

But Belle now having her uncle's gift, Mrs. Walton told Mabel that
she could spend the money in some other way to gratify her cousin;
and Mabel thought of first one thing, then another, which she could
purchase for Belle.

But she had not yet decided upon any thing when her birthday came,
and with it the usual gift from her grandmother. Running into Belle's
nursery on that morning, she found her little cousin standing by the
side of old Daphne, who, with her hands over her face, was rocking
herself to and fro, moaning and crying, while Belle seemed to be
trying to comfort her. Near by stood another colored woman, looking
troubled also, though not in the deep distress which Daphne showed.
In Daphne's lap laid the contents of Belle's little purse and
money-box,--pennies, five and ten cent pieces, and so forth.

Mabel stood a moment in wonder at this unusual state of affairs; and
then, full of the business which had brought her, broke forth with,--

"Belle! Belle! Make Daphne dress you very quick. Papa is going to take
us out to buy something very nice for you with a whole lot of money
grandmamma sent me; and then he is going to take us for a nice long
drive in the Park, and let us run about and feed the swans and see the
animals. Make haste! make haste!"

Belle shook her head sorrowfully.

"I can't leave Daphne, Mabel," she said. "She has a great trouble.
Somebody went and did something naughty, and the people thought it
was Daphne's boy,"--Daphne's boy was her grandson,--"and they've taken
him to prison; but this woman knew it wasn't him, and they say he can
come out if he can get a whole lot of money; and this woman came to
tell Daphne; but she hasn't money enough, and I haven't either, and
papa has gone away to Philadelphia, and won't come back till day after
to-morrow; and what can we do?" and Belle's eyes filled, as she told
the story of her old nurse's trouble.

"And won't you come?" said Mabel.

"No, thank you, Mabel: I couldn't."

"Now go, and take yer pleasure, my honey," said Daphne, ever-mindful of
her little lady's happiness. "I'll make you ready."

"No, no, Daffy: I couldn't leave you. Oh! I do wish papa was home. He
would fix it all, and get poor Peter out of prison. You are real good,
Mabel; but I couldn't care much about the very prettiest present if I
had to leave Daphne all alone when she is so sorry."

Mabel hesitated, and thought of those two bright golden pieces. Here
was a chance to give Belle a real pleasure, if she chose. She knew
Belle well enough to feel sure that she would far rather help her old
nurse out of this trouble than to have the most beautiful gift for
herself; and Mabel believed that any thing might be done with that sum
of money, which was her own to spend as she pleased.

But, as we know, Mabel and Daphne had never been, and were not yet, the
best of friends; and it was partly Daphne's fault too. She had no faith
in Mabel's improvement, and watched with disdainful and unbelieving
eyes her little attempts to be less selfish and wilful. And Mabel knew
this, and returned the old woman's dislike with all her little might.
So how could she resolve to give up her cherished plan for Daphne's
relief? To be sure, it would give Belle more pleasure, but it would
give far less to herself; and, indeed, she was not quite sure that she
did not feel just the least satisfaction in Daphne's trouble.

"It serves her right for being so cross to me all the time," she said
to herself; but then came a feeling of shame at the unkind thought, and
she was glad that Belle did not know of it.

"Belle would give the money if it was hers, to get Peter out of prison,
I know," she thought, nothing doubting that the two half-eagles could
do this; "and maybe it would be the best way to show her I do love her,
and am sorry for being so naughty to her about the locket. I'll just do
it; but I better do it pretty quick or I'll change my mind about it,
'cause I don't want to one bit."

She rushed from the room, leaving Belle to think that she was vexed at
her refusal to go out with her; but in two minutes she was back with
the gold pieces, which she thrust into Belle's hand, saying,--

"There, Belle, if you would rather take that black boy out of prison
than have a pretty present for you and me to play with, you may. I will
give you my money for it; but I don't do it 'cause I love Daphne, not
one bit."

It was not a very gracious way of bestowing a favor, it was true; but
it was such a piece of unwonted self-denial from Mabel that her hearers
were all taken by surprise, and did not know what to say. Belle stood
with the gold pieces in her open hand, looking from them to Mabel, and
then at Daphne, who was looking amazed and bewildered in her turn.

But now Mrs. Walton appeared.

When Mabel had run back to her mamma's room for her half-eagles, as
she took them from her box she told some incoherent story, which Mrs.
Walton had not understood, but which speedily brought her after her
little girl to see what was to be the fate of the money. There was no
knowing what freak might have taken the child.

"I want Belle to take those to bring Daphne's black boy out of
prison, mamma; and she seems as if she didn't want to," said Mabel,
half-pouting.

Then Daphne understood; and, rising, courtesied to Mrs. Walton, and
told her story; ending by saying that she had not known what Miss Mabel
meant, and she begged Mrs. Walton's pardon, and she had not thought of
taking the child's money: "Bress her heart! an' I didn't desarve it,
cos I did take such a scunner at her."

Mrs. Walton seized Mabel in her arms, and covered her with kisses;
while she lavished upon her the most extravagant words of praise and
admiration. Mabel had expected this when her mother should come to
hear of her offer to Daphne; and, more than this, she had been farther
helped to make it by the belief that her mother would not let her be a
loser.

"But you shall not spend your birthday gift for that, my darling," she
said: "perhaps papa can see to it until Uncle Frederick comes home. We
will go and ask him, and tell him what a good, generous girl you are."

Far wiser would it have been if Mrs. Walton had let Mabel learn to
do good to others by making some sacrifice of her own wishes; but she
could not bear to have her darling deprived of the slightest pleasure,
on this day of all others. So bidding Daphne take heart till she should
see what Mr. Walton said, she took both children with her to tell him
the story.

Mr. Walton listened, and then kindly said he would go and find out the
truth of the case at once; and if he thought it right, he would give
bail for the lad, for that was what was needed.

"But," he said, "if I do this, I should go at once, that Daphne and her
boy may not be kept in misery longer than is necessary; and then my
little girls must lose their promised morning in the Park. The promise
was made to you first: are you both willing to give up this pleasure
for Daphne's sake?"

There was no doubt about Belle; but, as Mr. Walton added, "it was
Mabel's birthday, and she must decide."

Now indeed Mabel's generosity and self denial were put to the proof,
certainly far more than Belle's. The latter loved her faithful old
nurse too dearly to hesitate for one instant; and, even had it not been
so, the sacrifice was by no means so great for her as for Mabel. The
Park with all its attractions was no new thing to Belle: many a drive
and ramble had she had there; but to Mabel, who was a stranger in the
city, it was not so familiar, and had not yet lost its first charm for
her. And she had been so delighted with the thought of passing the
morning there! How could she give it up for Daphne?

Her father waited for her answer, and would not let his wife speak
when she would have proposed some other plan; Belle watched her with
wistful eyes; and she could not make up her mind to the sacrifice. She
hesitated, pouted, frowned; and there were all the signs of a coming
storm.

"Very well," said her father, gravely. "I had hoped that my Mabel was
really learning to care a little for others, but I fear it is not
so. It must be as she decides. We will go for our pleasure, leaving
Daphne's boy to stay another day in prison, for I have other business
to attend to later in the day; or we will give up this little treat to
save her and him much suffering. Which shall it be, Mabel?"

"I said she could have my birthday money," whimpered Mabel; "and mamma
said I was as generous as any thing."

"Ah! it did not cost you much to give up the money, my child," said her
father. "You and Belle have more toys and pretty things now than you
know what to do with; but you are not generous enough to give up that
on which you have really set your heart."

Mabel looked over at Belle once more, and as she met the beseeching
look in her eyes remembered that here was really the chance to show her
cousin that she wished to make up for her past unkindness.

She dropped the pocket-handkerchief which she was pettishly twisting
into a string, lowered her raised shoulders, and running to Belle
threw her arms about her neck, and said,--

"We'll give up the Park, and let papa go to let out Peter, Belle,--so
we will. I'll be generous, even if I don't want to."

So it was settled, and Mr. Walton went on his errand of mercy; of which
I need say no more than that it was successful, and Peter set free, to
the joy of Belle and Daphne.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



XIV.

_FOUND._


A fortnight, three, four, five weeks passed away; and still nothing
had been seen or heard of Belle's lost treasure. For the first few
days the children could talk of nothing else; and it was only Belle's
determination to stand fast by her cousin and take her part, that
prevented them from treating Mabel with open slights and coldness. Dark
looks and cool words would certainly have fallen to her portion, but
for Belle; and she knew and felt this, and it is only justice to her to
say that she was grateful to Belle accordingly.

But by and by the affair became an old story, as every thing does in
time, and the children ceased to wonder over it; and Mabel, though
never much of a favorite, was allowed to come with them and join in
their games as usual. Only the little cousins thought much about the
locket; Belle still grieving over her loss, and Mabel mourning it
almost as much, with a feeling of guilt and shame added to her sorrow
for her cousin's sake.

Perhaps nothing could have done Mabel more good than this sense of
the wrong she had done her cousin: it made her see how indulgence in
selfishness and wilfulness may bring trouble and distress which we
never intended or dreamt of in our perverse mood. Moreover she felt
abashed whenever she remembered that the most, if not all of her
school-mates, and perhaps her teacher too, believed her guilty of even
theft. It is not usually good for people to be unjustly suspected;
but in this case it did Mabel no harm. It made her less exacting and
domineering at school, and the wish to make amends to Belle made
her more yielding and unselfish at home. So her old bad habits were
somewhat broken in upon, and the praise and credit which she gained
from her parents and little cousin were so pleasing to her that they
caused her to persevere and try to do still better. It was not the best
motive for improvement, to be sure; but it was something gained in
the right way; and by and by Mabel came to the discovery that she was
really happier when she was good than when she was naughty.

One day when she and Belle were paying a visit to Maggie and Bessie,
she gave what the other children considered a very striking instance
of improvement. She had brought with her a very beautiful doll, and
to this doll little Annie had taken a desperate fancy; but it was
not thought safe to trust it to her hold, although she begged for it
piteously. Baby though she was, Annie knew that she never obtained any
thing by screaming for it; but she pleaded for the doll, which was
held beyond her reach, with kisses and many pretty, broken words,
till it was hard to resist her; while Mabel was surprised that she did
not scream and cry for that which she wanted so much, and could not
help thinking that the little one behaved far better than she would
have done herself. And at length her heart was moved so that she could
refuse Annie no longer, although no one had thought her unreasonable to
do so.

"S'pose I sit down here on the rug by Annie, and let her hold it while
I watch her very carefully," she said to Nurse, who was vainly trying
to divert baby's attention by offering her every thing else proper for
her to have.

"I don't know, dear," said Mammy, divided between the wish to indulge
her pet, and the fear that the doll would come to harm in Annie's
keeping.

"I'll be very careful of it," said Mabel. "Put her down here by me, and
I'll teach her how to hold it nicely."

Nurse obeyed, and the baby was made happy; while her little sisters and
Belle looked on in pleased surprise at Mabel's novel generosity.

"Mabel," said Maggie, "I'm going to make you a compliment; and it is
that I never saw a child improve more than you do 'most every day. I
expect one of these days you'll be quite a benefactor."

"I expect she will too," said Belle. "What does it mean?"

"Somebody who is very generous and does a great many kind things for
people," said Maggie.

"Then I'm certain you and Bessie are benefactors," said Belle,
pronouncing the long word slowly, as if she were not quite sure of it.

"We try to be," answered Maggie, demurely.

"I'm sure you are too, Belle," said Bessie.

"Yes: she just is," said Mabel. "But I s'pose you don't think I am one."

"Um--well--not quite," said Bessie, not wishing to hurt Mabel's
feelings, but too truthful to say what she did not think; "but we have
great hopes of you, Mabel. We think it was pretty _benefacting_ of you
to let Baby Annie have your new doll in her own hands. It must have
been pretty hard work."

"Yes," said Maggie: "we didn't expect it of you, Mabel; and we're very
agreeably disappointed in you."

Praise from her playmates was something quite new and very pleasant to
Mabel, and she began to feel pretty well pleased with herself.

"Yes," she said, with an air of superior virtue, "I b'lieve I'm growing
pretty good now."

"You oughtn't to say that," said Bessie: "you ought to say, 'Perhaps I
am a little better than I used to be, but I hope I'll be better yet.'"

"Why?" asked Mabel, feeling that she was not properly appreciated in
her new character.

"Because," answered Bessie, "it is not the fashion for people to talk
about their own goodness. They ought to wait and let other people do
it."

"Well," said Mabel, "I'm sure you were doing it; and so why can't I do
it too?"

"But it's _yourself_, you know," said Maggie; "and because 'every crow
thinks her own young one the blackest,' that is not any reason for her
to talk about it."

"Crows caw, not talk, Maggie," said Bessie, the matter of fact.

"Oh, well!" said Maggie, "the lesson out of the proverb is all the
same."

"I didn't mean to be proud about it," said Mabel, quite humbly; "but I
couldn't help feeling a little nice when I thought I wasn't so naughty
as I used to be. Mamma says I am better, and papa says so too."

"And we say so too," said Bessie, kissing her, the first kiss she had
ever given her of her own free will; "and we are very glad of it,
Mabel."

"I think it was Belle that made me a better girl," said Mabel: "she
was so good to me, I had to be. 'Least she was pretty mad with me at
first: wasn't you, Belle? And before I did a thing to her too; but
afterwards she was real good to me. And you and Maggie were good to me
too; and everybody liked you, so I thought it must be nice to be good,
and I would be too. And I b'lieve I do like it better."

"You see example is better than practice," said Maggie, meaning
"precept;" "and so 'cause Belle was good and kind herself, that put
you in a mind to be so; and that ought to make you very happy, Belle.
I find it is very true that if 'evil communications corrupt good
manners,' good communications also corrupt evil manners."

Little Belle had not said much while the others were talking on this
subject, but now she said quite softly to Bessie,--

"Bessie, do you think that I was a little sunbeam to Mabel? You know I
said I wouldn't be; but papa told me that verse out of the Bible 'bout
our Father making His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and he
said that meant we ought to be good and like sunshine to everybody, if
they were good or if they were bad."

"Yes: I do think you were, Belle," answered Bessie; "and I b'lieve our
Father was very pleased with you, 'cause you know Mabel was pretty evil
when she first came here; and it was very hard for you, most of all
about the locket."

"Yes," said Belle, with a sigh; "and now I've had to make up my mind
never to find my locket. Papa told me I had better. He says there is no
hope of finding it now."

Meanwhile Maggie was congratulating Mabel still further on her improved
conduct.

"We're very glad, Mabel," she said, "that we can be friends with you;
for we wouldn't have liked you to be 'a heathen man and a publican' to
us. We wouldn't like to be in that case with anybody, but 'specially
with Belle's cousin, 'cause we're so very fond of her."

"So am I," said Mabel, looking affectionately over at Belle.

And this was true. Mabel had really learned to love Belle dearly and
to trust her entirely; and, what was still better, she was becoming
anxious to copy the pretty lady-like behavior, ready obedience, and
sweet unselfishness, which she saw practised in the daily life of her
cousin, and her little friends, Maggie and Bessie Bradford.

Not that it must be thought that all went smoothly on every occasion.
Belle, as well as Mabel, had a firm will and a high temper, and she had
been much indulged and somewhat spoiled by her father and nurse; so
that now and then the two children would fall out about some trifle,
and perhaps have some quick words, and, it might be, pout and sulk
at one another for a while. But Belle was generally mindful of the
"sunshine" she was to shed about her, and so was soon ready to make
up and yield the disputed point; and then Mabel would be shamed into
repentance, and there would be harmony and peace between them once
more.

Yes: little Belle had truly proved a "sunbeam" to Mabel, throwing light
upon the right way, and not only pointing it out to her so plainly that
she could not miss it, but making it _look_ so bright and attractive
that she turned with some willingness to walk there, pleased to follow
in the steps of her little example.

And the sunshine which she set herself to shed upon Mabel's way was
reflected farther still on all about them, till where there had been
discontent and weariness now reigned harmony and happiness; and all was
peace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dora Johnson was a fat, chubby little thing, round as a ball, and like
the "Dumpling" her school-mates called her; looking as if she was never
troubled by a pain or an ache. But she was subject now and then to a
pain and fulness in her head, for which the best remedy was a turn in
the open air; and when one of these attacks came on in school, Miss
Ashton always allowed her to go for this, knowing that Dora was a child
to be trusted, who would return to her studies as soon as she was able.
Taken in time, they passed away soon with but little trouble, and her
kind teacher was watchful to prevent them as far as possible.

"Dora, my dear, does your head trouble you?" asked Miss Ashton, as she
saw the child press her hand to her forehead, while her face flushed
suddenly.

"Yes'm," answered Dora, dropping her book.

"Then wrap your cloak about you and go for a turn on the piazza or in
the garden, till you are better," said the lady.

Dora gladly obeyed, thankful for the relief which the fresh, bracing
air would bring to her throbbing head. Going for her cloak, she threw
it around her, ran downstairs and out upon the piazza. Her step was
light; and whatever sound her little feet might have made upon the
floor was drowned by the loud and continuous hammering made by some
workmen, who were tinning the roof of a neighboring house.

Dora walked once or twice the length of the piazza, and was beginning
to feel better, when she heard the sound of voices below; and presently
she saw the cook come out from the kitchen-door, followed by Marcia,
the colored girl. Cook had a large bundle in her arm, and was evidently
going out.

A door in the side of the garden-wall opened upon the street which
bounded one side of it; and, unfastening this, the cook passed out,
saying to Marcia,--

"Now mind and keep the door shut; and don't you be poking your head
out, and leaving your work."

With which she disappeared; and Marcia shut and bolted the door, then
cut one or two foolish antics as though she were pleased to be rid of
her. She did not see Dora; for the end of the piazza where the little
girl stood looking out at her was screened by a lattice over which ran
a vine. There were no leaves on the vine now, it is true; but the stems
and tendrils helped to make that corner a good hiding-place from any
one who stood below.

Dora had no thought of hiding from Marcia; and she was about to speak
to her, when she saw the colored girl, after looking carefully about
her, stoop down, and with a bit of stick begin to poke and pry between
the stones at the bottom of the wall, which was somewhat out of repair
at this part, and showed one or two large cracks running along just
above the ground.

"What can she be doing?" thought Dora; and curiosity held her silent
till she should see what Marcia would be at.

Though hidden herself, she could see the girl very well, peeping down
at her, as she did, through the lattice and the vine.

Marcia pried and pried, stopping now and then to look about her and
listen, as if afraid of being caught; and at last fished up from
between the stones something glittering which looked like--was it
possible?--Dora thought it looked like a slender chain with something
hanging to it. Could it be?--was it--Belle's locket?

She darted from her corner, along the piazza, down the steps leading
to the garden, and around to the side of the wall where Marcia was;
but the girl saw and heard her coming, and before she reached her the
thing she had held in her hand was dropped again into its hiding-place
between the stones.

Yet not so quickly but that Dora saw the motion of Marcia's hand, and
she was more than ever convinced that something was wrong.

They stood and faced one another, the little lady and the colored girl:
the former, stern and indignant, as became one who had caught a culprit
in the act; the other, sheepish and guilty, wriggling her shoulders
uneasily, and not daring to meet the eye which accused her.

"Give me that," said Dora, severely.

"Give you what, Miss Johnson?" said Marcia, twisting and wriggling
more than ever and vainly trying to put on an air of innocence.

"What you had in your hand. I b'lieve you've put it back in the wall,
but you'll have to let me see it," said Dora.

"I ain't got nothin', Miss; and I s'pect Miss Ashton wants you. I hear
her callin'," said Marcia.

"She's not calling, and if she was I wouldn't go till I knew what that
was," answered Dora, firmly. "She'll excuse me when I tell her why."

Marcia persisted, and insisted that she had had nothing in her hand;
but Dora knew better. And though the girl tried every device to rid
herself of the young lady, she was not to be moved. She would mount
guard over that hidden thing till she learned what it was, if she stood
there all day.

Equally determined was Marcia; but she coaxed and threatened and tried
to frighten in vain. Dora was a child of too much sense to be at all
disturbed by the stories she told of what would happen to her; treated
with scorn all the bribes which Marcia promised; and repeated over and
over again her resolution not to stir till she saw what was in that
crack.

As for Miss Ashton coming for her, it was just what Dora wished for:
she could tell her teacher, and leave the matter in her hands, sure
that she would find means of coming at the truth. And now there was
Nelly Ransom's voice making itself heard.

"Dora! Dora! Where are you? Miss Ashton wants to know if you are worse."

"Come here, Nelly," said Dora; while Marcia grew more and more uneasy
as she found the toils of her own wickedness closing down and down upon
her. "You go and ask Miss Ashton to come here very quick. I've made a
great discovery. Make haste."

Nelly obeyed, wondering much; and Miss Ashton, rather alarmed, speedily
appeared on the spot.

Marcia, seeing that all was lost now, did not wait for her wickedness
to be revealed; but, as the young lady came down the steps, shot away
around the other side of the house and out of sight.

Dora's story was soon told, and the crack pointed out; in another
moment the little girl and her teacher were busy following Marcia's
example, and with bits of crooked stick trying to poke out the hidden
"shiny thing," as Dora called it,--not yet sure enough to say the
_locket_.

"Oh! Miss Ashton," said the excited child, "I feel something,--I do,
I do!" and the next moment she drew up with her hooked stick--the
locket!--yes, Belle's long-lost locket!

Dora's joy and exultation knew no bounds; and she would have rushed
away with it to the school-room at once, had not Miss Ashton stopped
her.

"Let me be the one to take it to Belle. Oh! do, Miss Ashton. I was the
finder out," said the child.

"Yes, you shall give it to her; but I cannot have the class excited and
disturbed just now," said the lady. "Besides, I want to know how this
came here."

"But, Miss Ashton," said Dora, "I don't think I could keep it in. And
then Mabel, poor Mabel! you wouldn't let any one think she stole it a
minute longer, would you? Oh! I am so sorry I believed it of her, and
was so ugly to her about it."

There was reason in Dora's words; and Miss Ashton, knowing that the
curiosity of her young flock must already be excited, concluded to let
her reveal her prize, although she felt sure that there would be little
more study that morning if she did so.

It was singular how the locket should have come into Marcia's
possession, and she did not yet feel that Mabel was quite cleared. But
she gave Dora leave to make her good news known, and to restore the
locket to Belle.

Away rushed Dora, and running into the school-room held aloft her
prize, crying out,--

"Found! Found! and I did it, Belle and Mabel!"

Miss Ashton following close on Dora's steps found her class in quite as
much commotion as she had expected. Belle, with the recovered locket
held fast in her little hands, was covering it with kisses, while tears
and smiles were struggling for the mastery. She flew into Miss Ashton's
arms the moment she appeared, but could find no words for all that was
in her heart.

But this could not be said for any of the others; for questions and
exclamations were poured forth in such numbers that it was impossible
to answer them all, and in spite of Miss Ashton's warning "Sh! sh!"
there arose such a Babel of young voices that Mrs. Ashton opened the
door of her room and asked the cause of the uproar.

A sudden hush fell upon the little ones when her voice was heard; and
then Miss Ashton told in a few words where and how the locket had been
found.

Belle waited till she was through, and then slipping from her teacher's
lap ran over to Mabel, who sat sobbing at her desk; and the two little
cousins put their arms about one another in a loving, congratulatory
clasp.

"Oh! Mabel," said Belle, "I am so glad I b'lieved you didn't have it. I
would feel so bad if I had."

"I'm so glad it's come out," sobbed Mabel, with a look and tone which
went far towards convincing Miss Ashton that the child's story had
really been true, and that, however mysterious it now seemed, Marcia
in some way had obtained possession of the locket without Mabel's
knowledge.

"So am I," said Dora, who had been one of the most forward in believing
Mabel guilty; "and I'm so sorry I was hateful to you about it, Mabel.
I'll make up to you for it as long as I live! See if I don't."

Congratulations were showered on both of the little cousins; and
Belle's pleasure in the recovery of her locket was increased tenfold by
knowing that Mabel was cleared.

For when, after some difficulty, Marcia was forced to confess how she
had come by the locket, she said that on the day when she had been
allowed to go to her sick sister, she had forgotten a bundle she was
to take with her, and returned for it. Finding the gate unfastened,
she came in without ringing, entered the house, and went up to her
room without notice. But on the way up she saw Mabel run out from the
school-room into the cloak-room, and peeping at her through the crack
of the door saw her throw down some glittering object and cover it
with her hat and sacque. She passed on her way; but, as she came down,
was tempted to go in and see what the young lady had been hiding. At
first it was only curiosity; but when she saw the pretty thing, the
wish to have it came over her, and, the temptation proving too strong,
she snatched it up, put the cloak and hat as she had found them, and
ran away out of the house as quietly as possible, no one knowing that
she had returned. But she dared not let any one see the locket, and
she had put it for safe hiding in the crack in the wall, whence she
could take it out once in a while and look at it. But it had been more
trouble than pleasure to her; for Marcia had been taught better, and
found truly that "the way of transgressors is hard."

She was not very penitent now, but very much frightened, believing that
she would be sent to prison. This was not done of course; but Marcia's
sin had deprived her of a good home and its comforts. Mrs. Ashton would
have kept her, and still tried to do her good, if she had not had her
young pupils to consider; but Marcia had been much given to pilfering
of late; and this fault, so serious in any place, was particularly so
in a school. So Marcia must go, in spite of all her promises,--promises
made so often before, and so often broken. Mrs. and Miss Ashton still
kept an eye upon her, and did what they could to befriend her; but
she lost much through a sin which had brought her not the smallest
pleasure.

And now we will say good-by for a while to Belle and Mabel; hoping that
the latter, profiting by the lessons and example set before her, may
also learn to draw light and brightness from the Sun of Righteousness,
and herself prove a little sunbeam to all about her path.

[Illustration]



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      _October, 1880_.

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Transcriber's Notes:

A few instances of missing punctuation, limited to full stops and
closing quotes, have been silently corrected.

  Page 26, "Lilly" changed to "Lily" (and Lily Norris is)
  Page 81, "eat" changed to "ate" (Mabel ate up her jelly)
  Page 91, apostrophe added (he 'most drowned himself)
  Page 199, "behaviour" changed to "behavior" (govern her behavior)
  Page 210, "to-morrrow" changed to "to-morrow" (day after to-morrow)





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