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Title: Bertha's Christmas Vision: An Autumn Sheaf
Author: Alger, Horatio, Jr.
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 "Bertha's Christmas Vision: An Autumn Sheaf" ***

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

[Illustration: “The little girl looked up gratefully, and thanked him for
what she regarded as an act of kindness to herself.”

P. 11.]






                            CHRISTMAS VISION:
                            An Autumn Sheaf.

                          BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.

                       BROWN, BAZIN, AND COMPANY,
                         94, WASHINGTON STREET.

       Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
                           HORATIO ALGER, JR.,
     In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of

                     PRINTED BY JOHN WILSON AND SON,
                           22, SCHOOL STREET.


To my Mother.

As I turn over the pages of this my first book, and mark here and there
a name which use has made familiar, I feel the more, that, but for your
sympathy and encouragement, much would still remain unwritten. With me
you have sorrowed over the untimely death of “Little Charlie.” “Bertha,”
with her precious gifts,—whereof so many stand in need,—has grown to you
and me not a child of fancy, but a living presence. “Little Floy,” and
the “Child of the Street,” will recall, to your mind as to mine, the
touching lines of Mrs. Browning:—

    “Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers!
        Ere the sorrow comes with years?
    They are leaning their young heads against their mothers;
        And _that_ cannot stop their tears.
    The young lambs are bleating in the meadows;
        The young birds are chirping in the nest;
    The young fawns are playing with the shadows;
        The young flowers are blowing toward the West:
    But the young, young children, O my brothers!
        They are weeping bitterly,—
    They are weeping in the play-time of the others,
        In the country of the free.
    They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
        And their looks are sad to see;
    For the man’s grief abhorrent draws and presses
        Down the cheeks of infancy.”

To you, then, I dedicate this book,—which is partly yours, in spirit, if
not in deed,—confident, that, whatever may be its shortcomings in the
eyes of others, it will find a kindly welcome at your hands.




    MY CASTLE                                                 34

    MISS HENDERSON’S THANKSGIVING DAY                         38

    LITTLE CHARLIE                                            53

    BERTHA’S CHRISTMAS VISION                                 55

    WIDE-AWAKE                                                64


    THE ROYAL CARPENTER OF AMSTERDAM                          77

    OUR GABRIELLE                                             94

    THE VEILED MIRROR                                         96

    SUMMER HOURS                                             115

    THE PRIZE PAINTING                                       118

    THE CHILD OF THE STREET                                  152

    LOST AND FOUND                                           156

    GERALDINE                                                203

    THE CHRISTMAS GIFT                                       205

    MY PICTURE                                               224

    GOTTFRIED THE SCHOLAR                                    227

    INNOCENCE                                                240

    PETER PLUNKETT’S ADVENTURE                               242


Of all the houses which Martin Kendrick owned, he used the oldest and
meanest for his own habitation. It was an old tumble-down building, on
a narrow street, which had already lived out more than its appointed
term of service, and was no longer fit to “cumber the ground.” But the
owner still clung to it, the more, perhaps, because, as it stood there in
its desolation, unsightly and weather-beaten, it was no unfit emblem of

Martin the miser! Years of voluntary privation, such as in most cases
follow only in the train of the extremest penury, had given him a claim
to the appellation. It might be somewhat inconsistent with his natural
character, that, with the exception of the one room which he occupied,
the remainder of the large house was left tenantless. After all, it was
not so difficult to account for. He could not bear the idea of having
immediate neighbors. Who knows but they might seize the opportunity
afforded by his absence, and rob him of the gains of many years, which,
distrusting banks and other places of deposit, he kept in a strong box
under his own immediate charge?

Martin had not always been a miser. No one ever becomes so at once;
though doubtless the propensity to it is stronger in some than in others.
Years ago,—so many that at this time the recollection only came to him
dimly, like the faint sound of an almost-forgotten tune,—years ago, when
the blood of youth poured its impetuous current through his veins,
he married a fair girl, whose life he had shortened by his dissipated
habits; and the indifference, and even cruelty, to which they led.

The day of his wife’s death, the last remnant of the property which he
inherited from his father escaped from his grasp. These two events,
either of which brought its own sorrow, completely sobered him. The
abject condition to which he had reduced himself was brought vividly to
his mind; and he formed a sudden resolution,—rushing, as will sometimes
happen, from one extreme to the other,—that, as prodigal as his past life
had been, that which succeeded should be sparing and penurious in the
same degree; until, at least, he had recovered his losses, and, so far as
fortune went, was restored to the same position which he had occupied at
the commencement of his career.

But it is not for man to say, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no
farther,”—to give himself up, body and soul, to one engrossing pursuit,
and, at the end of a limited time, wean himself from it.

Habit grows by what it feeds on. It was not long before the passion of
acquisition acquired a controlling influence over the mind of Martin
Kendrick. He reached the point which he had prescribed for himself; but
it stayed him not. Every day his privations, self-imposed though they
were, became more pinching, his craving for gold more insatiable. Long
ago, he had cut himself off from all friendship,—all the pleasures and
amenities of social intercourse. He made no visits, save to his tenants,
and those only on quarter-day. Nor were these of an agreeable character
to those favored with them; for Martin was not a merciful landlord. He
invariably demanded the uttermost farthing that was due; and neither
sickness nor lack of employment had the power for a moment to soften his
heart, or delay the execution of his purpose. His mind was drawn into
itself, and, like an uncultivated field, was left to all the barrenness
of desolation. Such is always the case, when a man, by his own act, shuts
himself out from his kind, foregoes their sympathy and kind offices, and
virtually says, “I am sufficient unto myself.”

Martin had one child, a girl, named Florence. At the time of the death of
her mother, she was but six years old. He had loved her, perhaps, as much
as it was in his power to love any one; and, as long as she remained with
him, he did not withdraw himself so entirely from human companionship.
But, at the age of seventeen years, she became acquainted with a young
man, a mechanic, in whose favor her affections were enlisted. He proposed
for her hand; but her father, in whom love of gold was strong, on
account of his poverty drove him, with scorn, from his door.

The young man was not to be baffled thus. He contrived to meet Florence
secretly, and, after a while, persuaded her to forsake her home, and
unite her fortunes with his,—with the less difficulty, since that home
offered but few attractions to one of her age. Her father’s indignation
was extreme. All advances towards reconciliation, on the part of the
newly-wedded pair, were received with a bitterness of scorn, which
effectually prevented their repetition. From that time, Martin Kendrick
settled down into the cold, apathetic, and solitary existence which has
been described above. Gradually the love of gain blotted out from his
memory the remembrance of his children, whom he never met. They had
removed from the city, though he knew it not; and the total amount of
interest displayed respecting them discouraged any idea they might have
entertained of informing him.

       *       *       *       *       *

“It’s a cold night,” quoth Martin to himself, as he sat before the least
glimmering which could decently be called a fire in the apartment which
he occupied. He cast a wistful glance towards a pile of wood which lay
beside the grate. He lifted one, and poised it for a moment, glancing
meanwhile at the fire, as if he was debating in his mind whether he had
best place it on. He shook his head, however, as if it were too great
a piece of extravagance to be thought of, and softly laid it back. He
then moved his chair nearer to the fire as if satisfied that this would
produce the additional warmth without the drawback of expense.

It was, indeed, a cold night. The chill blasts swept with relentless
rigor through the streets, sending travellers home with quickened pace,
and causing the guardians of the public peace, as they stood at their
appointed stations, to wrap their overcoats more closely about them.
On many a hearth the fire blazed brightly, in composed defiance of the
insidious visitor who shuns the abodes of opulence, but forces his
unwelcome entry into the habitations of the poor.

A child, thinly clad, was roaming through the streets. Every gust, as it
swept along, chilled her through and through; and at length, unable to
go farther, she sank down at the portal of Martin Kendrick’s dwelling.
Extreme cold gave her courage; and, with trembling hand, she lifted the
huge knocker. It fell from her nerveless grasp, and the unwonted sound
penetrated into the room where Martin sat cowering over his feeble fire.
He was startled, terrified even, as that sound came to his ears, echoing
through the empty rooms in the old house.

“Who can it be?—robbers?” thought he, as he walked to the door. “I will
wait and see if it be repeated.”

It was repeated.

“Who’s there?” he exclaimed, in a somewhat tremulous voice, as he stood
with his hand upon the latch.

“It’s me,” said a low, shivering voice from without.

“And who’s ‘me’?”

“Floy,—little Floy,” was the answer.

“And what do you want here at this time of night?”

“I am freezing. Let me come in and sit by the fire, if only for a moment.
I shall die upon your steps.”

The old man deliberated.

“You’re sure you’re not trying to get in after my money, what little I
have? There isn’t any one with you, is there?”

“No one. There is only me. Oh, sir, do let me in! I am so cold!”

The bolt was cautiously withdrawn; and Martin, opening a crack, peered
forth suspiciously. But the only object that met his gaze was a little
girl, of ten years of age, crouching on the steps in a way to avail
herself of all the natural warmth she had.

“Will you let me come in?” said she, imploringly.

“You had better go somewhere else. I haven’t much of a fire. I don’t keep
much, it burns out fuel so fast. You had better go where they keep better

“Oh, sir, the least fire will relieve me so much! and I haven’t strength
to go any farther.”

“Well, you may come in, if you’re sure you haven’t come to steal any

“I never steal: it’s wicked.”

“Umph! Well, I hope you’ll remember it. This is the way.”

He led her into a little room which he occupied. She sprang to the fire,
little inviting as it was, and eagerly spread out both hands before it.
She seemed actually to drink in the heat, scanty as it was, so welcome
did it prove to her chilled and benumbed limbs.

A touch of humanity came to the miser, or perhaps his own experience
of the cold stimulated him to the act; for, after a few minutes’
deliberation, he took two sticks from the pile of fuel, and threw them
upon the fire. They crackled and burnt; diffusing, for a time, a cheerful
warmth about the apartment. The little girl looked up gratefully, and
thanked him for what she regarded as an act of kindness to herself.

“Fuel’s high, very high; and it takes a fearful quantity to keep the fire

“But what a pleasant fire it makes!” said the little girl, as she looked
at the flames curling aloft.

“Why, yes,” said Martin, in a soliloquising tone, “it is comfortable; but
it would not do to have it burn so bright. It would ruin me completely.”

“Then you are poor?” said the little girl, looking about the room.
The furniture was scanty; consisting only of the most indispensable
articles, and those of the cheapest kind. They had all been picked up, at
second-hand stores, for little or nothing.

It was no wonder that little Floy asked the question. Nevertheless, the
miser looked suspiciously at her, as if there was some covert meaning in
her words. But she looked so openly and frankly at him as quite to disarm
any suspicions he might entertain.

“Poor?” he at length answered. “Yes, I am; or should be, if I plunged
into extravagant living and expenses of every kind.” And he looked half
regretfully at the sticks which had burned out, and were now smouldering
in the grate.

“Well,” said Floy, “I am poor too, and so were father and mother. But I
think I am poorer than you; for I have no home at all, no house to live
in, and no fire to keep me warm.”

“Then where do you live?” asked the miser.

“I don’t live anywhere,” said the child, simply.

“But where do you stay?”

“Where I can. I generally walk about the streets in the daytime; and,
when I feel cold, I go into some store to warm myself. They don’t always
let me stay long. They call me ragged, and a beggar. I suppose,” she
continued, casting a glance at her thin dress, which in some places was
torn and dirty from long wearing,—“I suppose it’s all true; but I can’t
help it.”

“Where do you think of going to-night?” asked Martin, abruptly.

“I don’t know. I haven’t any place to go to; and it’s very cold. Won’t
you let me stay here?” asked the child, imploringly.

The miser started.

“How can you stay here? Here is only one room, and this I occupy.”

“Let me lie down on the floor, anywhere. It will be better than to go out
into the cold streets.”

The miser paused. Even he, callous as his heart had become, would
not willingly thrust out a young girl into the street, where in all
probability, unless succor came, she would perish from the severity of
the weather.

After a little consideration, he took the fragment of a candle which was
burning on the table, and, bidding Floy follow him, led the way into
a room near by, which was quite destitute of furniture, save a small
cot-bed in the corner. It had been left there when Martin Kendrick first
took possession of the house, and had remained undisturbed ever since. A
quilt, which, though tattered, was still thick and warm, was spread over

“There,” said Martin, pointing it out to Floy, who followed him
closely,—“there is a bed. It hasn’t been slept on for a great many years;
but I suppose it will do as well as any other. You can sleep there, if
you want to.”

“Then I shall have a bed to sleep in!” said Floy, joyfully. “It is some
time since I slept on any thing softer than a board, or perhaps a rug.”

Martin was about to leave her alone, when he chanced to think the room
would be dark.

“You can undress in the dark, can’t you?” he inquired. “I haven’t got but
one light. I can’t afford to keep more.”

“Oh! I sha’n’t take off my clothes at all,” said the young girl. “I never

She got into bed, spread the quilt over her, and was asleep in less than
five minutes.

Martin Kendrick went back to his room. He did not immediately retire to
bed, but sat for a few minutes, pondering on the extraordinary chance—for
in his case it was certainly extraordinary—which had thrown a young girl,
as it were, under his protection, though but for a limited time. He was
somewhat bewildered, so unexpectedly had the event happened, and could
scarcely, even now, realize that it was so.

But the warning sound of a neighboring church-clock, as it proclaimed
midnight, interrupted the train of his reflections, and he prepared for
bed; not neglecting, so strongly was the feeling of suspicion implanted
in him, to secure the door by means of a bolt. When he awoke, the sun was
shining through the window of his room. He had hardly dressed himself,
when a faint knock was heard at the door of his room. Opening it a
little ways, he saw Floy standing before him.

“What! you here now?” he inquired.

“Yes. Where should I go? Besides, I did not want to unlock the front door
without your permission.”

“That is quite right,” said Martin. “Some one, who was ill-disposed,
might have entered and stolen,—that is, if he could have found any thing
worth taking.”

“And now, sir, if you please, I’ll make your bed,” said the child,
entering the room. “I’ve made the one I slept in.”

Martin looked on without a word; while Floy, taking his silence for
assent, proceeded to roll back the clothes, shake the bed vigorously, and
then spread them over again. Espying a broom at one corner of the room,
she took it, and swept up the hearth neatly. She then glanced towards the
miser, who had been watching her motions, as if to ascertain whether they
met with his approval.

“So you can work?” said he, after a pause.

“Oh, yes! mother used to teach me. I wish,” said she, after a while,
brightening up, as if struck with a new idea,—“I wish you would let me
stay here: I would make your bed, take care of your room, and keep every
thing nice. Besides, I could get your dinners.”

“Stay with me! Impossible. I don’t have much to do: besides, I couldn’t
afford it.”

“It won’t cost you any thing,” said Floy, earnestly. “I know how to sew;
and, when I am not doing something for you, I can sew for money, and give
it to you.”

This idea seemed to produce some impression upon the old miser’s mind.

“But how do I know,” said he, a portion of his old suspicions
returning,—“how do I know but you will steal off some day, and carry
something with you?”

“I never steal,” said Floy, half indignantly. “Besides, I have no place
to go to, if I should leave here.”

This was true; and Martin, considering that it would be against her
interest to injure him in any such way,—an argument which weighed more
heavily than any protestations on her part would have done,—at length

“Well, you may stay,—at least, a while. I suppose you are hungry. There’s
a loaf of bread in the closet. You may eat some of it; but don’t eat too
much. It’s—it’s hurtful to the health to eat too much.”

“When will you be home to get some dinner?” asked the child.

“About noon. Perhaps I will bring some sewing for you to do.”

“Oh, I hope you will! It will seem so nice not to be obliged to be
walking about the streets, but to be seated in a pleasant room, sewing!”

When Martin came home at noon, instead of finding the room cheerless and
cold, as had been his wont, the fire was burning brightly, diffusing
a pleasant warmth about the apartment. Floy had set the table in the
centre of the room,—with some difficulty it must be confessed; for it was
rickety, and would not stand even, owing to one of the legs being shorter
than the rest. This, however, she had remedied by placing a chip under
the deficient member. There was no cloth on; for this was an article
which Martin did not number among his possessions. Floy had substituted
two towels, which, united, covered perhaps half the table.

A portion of the loaf—for there was but one—she had toasted by the fire,
and this had been placed on a separate plate from the other. On the
whole, therefore, though it was far from being a sumptuous repast, every
thing looked clean and neat; and this alone adds increased zest to the
appetite. At least, Martin felt more of an appetite than usual; and,
between them, the two despatched all that had been provided.

“Is there any more bread in the closet?” asked Martin.

“No,” said Floy: “it is all gone.”

“Then I must bring some home when I return to supper.”

“I have been thinking,” said Floy, hesitatingly, “that, if you would
trust me to do it, and would bring home the materials, I would make some
bread; and that would be cheaper than buying it; and, besides, it would
give me something to do.”

“What!” asked Martin, as he looked, with an air of surprise, at the
diminutive form of little Floy, “do you know how to make bread? How came
a child like you to learn?”

“Mother used to be sick a good deal,” said Floy, “and was confined to her
bed, so that she could do nothing herself. She used to direct me what to
do; so that, after a while, I came to know how to cook as well as she.”

“Well, what shall I have to bring home?” asked the miser, whom the hint
of its being cheaper had enlisted in favor of the plan.

“Let me see,” said Floy, as she sat down and began to reflect: “there’s
flour and saleratus and salt. But we’ve got the salt; so you need only
get the first two.”

“Very well; I will attend to it. Oh! I forgot to ask what sewing you knew
how to do. Can you make shirts?”

“Yes; I have made a good many.”

“Then I will bring you home some to-night, if I can get any.”

When she had cleared away the dinner-dishes, washed them, and put them in
the closet,—an operation which the simplicity of the meal rendered but a
short one,—Floy began to look round her, to see what else she could do.
A desire seized her to explore the old house, of which so many rooms
had for years remained deserted. They were bare and desolate, inhabited
only by spiders and crickets, who occupied them rent free. It might have
been years, perhaps, since they had echoed to the steps of a human foot.
They looked dark and gloomy enough to have been witness to many a dark
deed of midnight assassination. But it was all fancy, doubtless; and in
little Floy they produced no other feeling than that of chilliness. She
rummaged all the closets with a feeling of curiosity, but found nothing
in any one of them to reward her search until she came to the last.
There was a large roll of something on the floor, which, on examination,
proved to be a small carpet, quite dirty, and somewhat moth-eaten. It had
probably been left there inadvertently, and remained undiscovered until
the present moment. Floy spread it out, and examined it critically. An
idea struck her, which she hastened to put into execution. Threading
her way back to the miser’s room, she procured a stout stick which stood
in the corner, and, going back, gave the carpet a sound drubbing, which
nearly stifled her with dust. Nevertheless, she persevered, and soon got
it into quite a respectable state of cleanness. She then managed, by
a considerable effort, to lug it to Martin’s room, and, in an hour or
so, had spread it out, and finally fastened it by means of some tacks
which she found in one corner of the closet. The effect was certainly
wonderful. The carpet actually gave the room a very cosy and comfortable
appearance; and little Floy took considerable credit to herself for the

“What will he say?” thought she. “I wonder whether he will be pleased.”

It was but a few minutes after this change had been effected that Martin
came in. It was about three o’clock,—sooner than Floy expected him; but
he had thought she might require the materials early, in order to make
preparations for the evening meal.

As he opened the door, he started back in surprise at the changed
appearance of the room. It occurred to him, for a moment, that he had
strayed into the wrong place; but the sight of Floy, sitting at the
window, re-assured him, and he went in.

“What is all this?” he inquired in a bewildered tone.

Floy enjoyed his surprise. She told him in what manner she had effected
the change, and asked him if he did not like it.

He could not do otherwise than answer in the affirmative; and, in truth,
an unusual sense of comfort came over him as he sat down and looked about

Floy had taken possession of the flour, and was already kneading it.

“Now,” said she, after this was done, “I must put it down by the fire to
rise; that will not take long; and then it will be ready to bake.”

“Have you got any shirts for me?” she inquired after a while.

“Yes,” said Martin, recollecting himself, and unrolling a bundle which
he had placed on the table. “There are half a dozen for you to begin on;
and, if you do them well, you can have some more.”

Floy looked pleased.

“Now,” said she, “I shall have something to do when you are away.”

“You like to be doing something?” said Martin, inquiringly.

“Oh, yes! I can’t bear to be idle.”

Martin did not go out again that afternoon. About six o’clock, Floy set
the table, and placed upon it a plate of warm cakes which might have
pleased the palate of an epicure. It was the best meal the miser had
tasted for years, and he could not help confessing it to himself. Floy
was gratified at the appetite with which he ate.

Thus matters went on. The presence of the little girl seemed to restore
Martin to a part of his former self. He was no longer so grasping and
miserly as before. Through little Floy’s ministry, he began to have more
of a relish for the comforts of life, and less to grudge the expense
necessary to obtain them.

It was not many weeks before he fell sick, in consequence of imprudent
exposure to the rain. At first he did not regard it; but a fever set in,
and he was confined to his bed.

At the urgent solicitation of Floy, he consented to have a physician
called, though not without something of reluctance at the thought of the

Then it was that he began to appreciate more fully the importance of
Floy’s services. Ever ready to minister to his wants, no one could
wish a more faithful or attentive nurse. As she sat by his bedside in
the long days through which his sickness was protracted, busily engaged
with her sewing, he would lie for hours, watching the motion of her busy
fingers with pleased interest. Occasionally—for he had nothing else to
do—his mind would wander back to the scenes of his early manhood, and he
would sigh over the recollection of the happiness which might have been
his. Then his thoughts would be borne along the dreamy years which had
intervened, unlighted by the rays of friendship, and uncheered by the
presence of affection. The image of his daughter, whom he had cast off,
and of whose after-fate he knew nothing, came up before him, and he could
not repel it. A change, a beneficial and salutary change, was rolling
over his mind,—the fruit of those long involuntary hours of sickness and

On the first day succeeding his recovery, he invited Floy to go out with
him. It was an unusual request, and Floy hardly knew what to make of it.
She got her bonnet, however (for shawl she had none), and complied. It
was a chilly March day, and the thin dress which she had worn from the
time of her coming to Kendrick’s was but an ill protection against the
weather. She shivered involuntarily.

“You are cold,” said Martin; “but you will not need to go far.”

He led the way into a dry-goods store.

“Have you any warm shawls suitable for a little girl?” he inquired.
He selected one, and paid for it. “Show me some dress-patterns,” he

Two different ones were chosen. Martin paid for them.

“Can you direct me,” he inquired, “to any good dressmaker’s?”

The clerk had at first been inclined to laugh at the old man, whose
attire, though warmer, was no better looking than Floy’s; but the
promptness with which he paid for his purchases, and the glimpse which
had in this way been obtained of a well-filled pocket-book, inspired him
with a feeling of respect, and he readily complied with his request.

“Now,” said Martin cheerfully to Floy, “we will have you a little better
dressed, so that you need not fear the cold.”

“I am sure,” said Floy, gratefully, “that I am much obliged, and I don’t
know how I can repay you.”

“You have already,” said the old man with feeling. “I don’t know how I
should have got along without you when I was sick.”

“Floy,” said Martin, thoughtfully, as they came out from the
dressmaker’s, “although you have been with me for some time, I have
never thought to ask your name,—I mean your other name besides Floy.”

“My name is not Floy,” said the child. “They only call me so. My real
name is Florence,—Florence Eastman.”

“Florence Eastman!” said the old man, starting back in uncontrollable
agitation. “Who was your mother? Tell me quick!”

“Her name,” said the child, somewhat surprised, “was Florence Kendrick.”

“Who was her father?”

“Martin Kendrick.”

“And where is he? Did you ever see him?”

“No,” said Floy, shaking her head. “He was angry with mother for marrying
as she did, and would never see any of us.”

“And your mother?” said Martin, striving to be calm. “Is she dead?”

“Yes,” said Floy, sorrowfully. “First, my father died, and we were left
very poor. Then mother was obliged to work very hard, sewing; and
finally she took a fever, and died, leaving me alone in the world. For
a week, I wandered about without a home; but at last you took me in.
I don’t know what would have become of me if you had not,” said she,

“Floy,” said Martin, looking at her steadfastly, “do you know my name?”

“No,” said Floy. “I have often wondered what it was, but never liked to
ask you.”

“Then,” said he, in an agitated tone, “you shall know now. I am Martin
Kendrick, your GRANDFATHER!”

Floy was filled with amazement, but, after a moment, threw herself into
his arms. “Will you forgive mother?” she asked.

“I will! I have! But, alas! she has much more to forgive me. Would that
she were still alive!”

Every day, Martin Kendrick became more alive to the claims of affection.
His miserly habits gave way, and he became more considerate in his
dealings with his tenants. The old house, in which he lived so many
years, was torn down; and he bought a neat cottage just out of the city,
where he and Floy live happily together. Floy, who has been sent to
school, exhibits uncommon talent, and is fitting for the station she will
soon assume as the heiress of her grandfather.


    “I have a beautiful castle,
      With towers and battlements fair;
    And many a banner, with gay device,
      Floats in the outer air.

    “The walls are of solid silver;
      The towers are of massive gold;
    And the lights that stream from the windows
      A royal scene unfold.

    “Ah! could you but enter my castle,
      With its pomp of regal sheen,
    You would say that it far surpasses
      The Palace of Aladeen;—

    “Could you but enter as I do,
      And pace through the vaulted hall,
    And mark the stately columns,
      And the pictures on the wall;—

    “With the costly gems about them,
      That send their light afar,
    With a chaste and softened splendor,
      Like the light of a distant star!”

    “And where is this wonderful castle,
      With its rich emblazonings,
    Whose pomp so far surpasses
      The homes of the greatest kings?”

    “Come out with me at morning,
      And lie in the meadow-grass,
    And lift your eyes to the ether blue,
      And you will see it pass.

    “There! can you not see the battlements;
      And the turrets stately and high,
    Whose lofty summits are tipped with clouds,
      And lost in the arching sky?”

    “Dear friend, you are only dreaming;
      Your castle so stately and fair
    Is only a fanciful structure,—
      A castle in the air.”

    “Perchance you are right. I know not
      If a phantom it may be;
    But yet, in my inmost heart, I feel
      That it lives, and lives for me;—

    “For, when clouds and darkness are round me,
      And my heart is heavy with care,
    I steal me away from the noisy crowd,
      To dwell in my castle fair.

    “There are servants to do my bidding;
      There are servants to heed my call;
    And I, with a master’s air of pride,
      May pace through the vaulted hall.

    “And I envy not the monarchs
      With cities under their sway;
    For am I not, in my own right,
      A monarch as proud as they?

    “What matter, then, if to others
      My castle a phantom may be,
    Since I feel, in the depth of my own heart,
      That it is not so to me?”


Thanksgiving Day dawned clearly and frostily upon the little village
of Castleton Hollow. The stage which connected daily with the nearest
railroad station (for as yet Castleton Hollow had not arrived at the
dignity of one of its own) came fully freighted, both inside and out.
There were children and children’s children, who, in the pursuit of
fortune, had strayed away from the homes where they first saw the light;
but who were now returning, to revive, around the old familiar hearth,
the associations and recollections of their early days.

Great were the preparations among the housewives of Castleton Hollow.
That must indeed be a poor household which, on this occasion, could not
boast its turkey and plum-pudding,—those well-established dishes; not to
mention its long rows of pies,—apple, mince, and pumpkin,—wherewith the
Thanksgiving board is wont to be garnished.

But it is not of the households generally that I propose to speak. Let
the reader accompany me, in imagination, to a rather prim-looking brick
mansion, situated on the principal street, but at some distance back,
being separated from it by a front yard. Between this yard and the fence
ran a prim-looking hedge, of very formal cut, being cropped in the most
careful manner, lest one twig should, by chance, have the presumption to
grow higher than its kindred. It was a two-story house, containing in
each story one room on either side of the front door; making, of course,
four in all.

If we go in, we shall find the outward primness well supported by the
appearance of things within. In the front parlor—we may peep through the
door, but it would be high treason, in the present moistened state of
our boots, to step within its sacred precincts—there are six high-backed
chairs standing in state, two at each window. One can easily see, from
the general arrangement of the furniture, that from romping children,
unceremonious kittens, and unhallowed intruders generally, this room is
most sacredly guarded.

Without speaking particularly of the other rooms,—which, though not
furnished in so stately a manner, bear a family resemblance to “the best
room,”—we will usher the reader into the opposite room, where he will
find the owner and occupant of this prim-looking residence.

Courteous reader! Miss Hetty Henderson. Miss Hetty Henderson, let me make
you acquainted with this lady (or gentleman), who is desirous of knowing
you better.

Miss Hetty Henderson, with whom the reader has just passed through the
ceremony of introduction, is a maiden of some thirty-five summers,
attired in a sober-looking dress of irreproachable neatness, but most
formal cut. She is the only occupant of the house, of which, likewise,
she is proprietor. Her father, who was the village physician, died some
ten years since; leaving to Hetty,—or perhaps I should give her full
name, Henrietta,—his only child, the house in which he lived, and some
four thousand dollars in bank-stock, on the income of which she lived
very comfortably.

Somehow, Miss Hetty had never married; though, such is the mercenary
nature of man, the rumor of her inheritance brought to her feet several
suitors. But Miss Hetty had resolved never to marry,—at least, this was
her invariable answer to matrimonial offers; and so, after a time, it
came to be understood that she was fixed for life,—an old maid. What
reasons impelled her to this course were not known; but possibly the
reader will be furnished with a clew before he finishes this narrative.

Meanwhile, the invariable effect of a single and solitary life combined
attended Hetty. She grew precise, prim, and methodical, to a painful
degree. It would have been quite a relief if one could have detected a
stray thread even upon her well-swept carpet; but such was never the case.

On this particular day,—this Thanksgiving Day of which we are
speaking,—Miss Hetty had completed her culinary preparations; that is,
she had stuffed her turkey and put it in the oven, and kneaded her
pudding; for, though she knew that but one would be present at the
dinner, her conscience would scarcely have acquitted her if she had not
made all the preparations to which she had been accustomed on such

This done, she sat down to her knitting; casting a glance every now and
then at the oven, to make sure that all was going on well. It was a quiet
morning; and Miss Hetty’s thoughts kept time to the clicking of her

“After all,” thought she, “it’s rather solitary taking dinner alone, and
that on Thanksgiving Day. I remember, a long time ago, when my father and
my brothers and sisters were living, what a merry time we used to have
round the table. But they are all dead; and I—I alone—am left.”

Miss Hetty sighed; but, after a while, the recollections of those old
times returned. She tried to shake them off; but they had a fascination
about them, after all, and would not go at her bidding.

“There used to be another there,” thought she,—“Nick Anderson. He too, I
fear, is dead.”

Hetty heaved a thoughtful sigh, and a faint color came into her cheeks.
She had reason. This Nicholas Anderson had been a medical student,
apprenticed to her father; or rather placed with him, to be prepared
for his profession. He was perhaps a year older than Hetty, and had
regarded her with more than ordinary warmth of affection. He had, in
fact, proposed to her, and had been conditionally accepted on a year’s
probation. The trouble was, he was a little disposed to be wild, and,
being naturally of a lively and careless temperament, did not exercise
sufficient discrimination in the choice of his associates. Hetty had
loved him as warmly as one of her nature could love. She was not one
who would be drawn away beyond the dictates of reason and judgment by
the force of affection. Still, it was not without a feeling of deep
sorrow,—deeper than her calm manner led him to suspect,—that, at the end
of the year’s probation, she informed Anderson that the result of his
trial was not favorable to his suit, and that henceforth he must give up
all thoughts of her.

To his vehement asseverations, promises, and protestations, she returned
the same steady and inflexible answer; and, at the close of the
interview, he left her, quite as full of indignation against her as of
grief for his rejection.

That night, his clothing was packed up, and lowered from the window; and,
when the next morning dawned, it was found that he had left the house,
never, as was intimated in a slight note pencilled and left on the table
in his room, to return again.

       *       *       *       *       *

While Miss Henderson’s mind was far back in the past, she had not
observed the approach of a man, shabbily attired, accompanied by a little
girl apparently some eight years of age. The man’s face bore the impress
of many cares and hardships. The little girl was of delicate appearance;
and an occasional shiver showed that her garments were too thin to
protect her sufficiently from the inclemency of the weather.

“This is the place, Henrietta,” said the traveller at length, pausing
at the head of the gravelled walk which led up to the front door of the
prim-looking brick house.

Together they entered; and a moment afterwards, just as Miss Hetty was
preparing to lay the cloth for dinner, a knock sounded through the house.

“Goodness!” said Miss Hetty, fluttered. “Who can it be that wants to see
me at this hour?”

Smoothing down her apron, and giving a look at the glass to make sure
that her hair was in order, she hastened to the door.

“Will it be asking too much, madam, to request a seat by your fire for
myself and little girl for a few moments? It is very cold.”

Miss Hetty could feel that it _was_ cold. Somehow, too, the appealing
expression of the little girl’s face touched her. So she threw the door
wide open, and bade them enter.

Miss Hetty went on preparing the table for dinner. A most delightful odor
issued from the oven; one door of which was open, lest the turkey should
overdo. Miss Hetty could not help observing the wistful glance cast by
the little girl towards the tempting dish as she placed it on the table.

“Poor little creature!” thought she. “I suppose it is a long time since
she has had a good dinner.”

Then the thought struck her, “Here I am alone to eat all this. There is
quite enough for half a dozen. How much these poor people would relish

By this time the table was arranged.

“Sir,” said she, turning to the traveller, “you look as if you were
hungry as well as cold. If you and your little daughter would like to
sit up, I should be happy to have you.”

“Thank you, madam!” was the grateful reply. “We are hungry, and shall be
much indebted to your kindness.”

It was rather a novel situation for Miss Hetty,—sitting at the head of
the table, dispensing food to others beside herself. There was something
rather agreeable about it.

“Will you have some of the dressing, little girl? I have to call you
that; for I don’t know your name,” she added, in an inquiring tone.

“Her name is Henrietta; but I generally call her Hetty,” said the

“What!” said Miss Hetty, dropping the spoon in surprise.

“She was named after a very dear friend of mine,” said he, sighing.

“May I ask,” said Miss Hetty, with excusable curiosity, “the name of
this friend? I begin to feel quite an interest in your little girl,” she
added, half apologetically.

“Her name is Henrietta Henderson,” said the stranger.

“Why, that is my name!” ejaculated Miss Hetty.

“And she was named after you,” said the stranger, composedly.

“Why, who in the world are you?” she asked, her heart beginning to beat
unwontedly fast.

“Then you don’t remember me?” said he, rising, and looking steadily at
Miss Hetty. “Yet you knew me well in bygone days,—none better. At one
time, it was thought you would join your destiny to mine——”

“Nick Anderson!” said Miss Hetty, rising in confusion.

“You are right. You rejected me because you did not feel secure of my
principles. The next day, in despair at your refusal, I left the house,
and, ere forty-eight hours had passed, was on my way to India. I had not
formed the design of going to India in particular; but, in my then state
of mind, I cared not whither I went. One resolution I formed,—that I
would prove by my conduct that your apprehensions were ill founded. I got
into a profitable business. In time, I married; not that I had forgotten
you, but that I was solitary, and needed companionship. I had ceased to
hope for yours. By and by, a daughter was born. True to my old love, I
named her Hetty, and pleased myself with the thought that she bore some
resemblance to you. Afterwards my wife died; misfortunes came upon me;
and I found myself deprived of all my property. Then came yearnings for
my native soil. I have returned (as you see), not as I departed, but poor
and care-worn.”

While Nicholas was speaking, Miss Hetty’s mind was filled with
conflicting emotions. At length, extending her hand frankly, she said,—

“I feel that I was too hasty, Nicholas. I should have tried you longer.
But, at least, I may repair my injustice. I have enough for us all. You
shall come and live with me.”

“I can only accept your generous offer on one condition,” said Nicholas.

“And what is that?”

“That you will be my wife!”

A vivid blush came over Miss Hetty’s countenance. She “couldn’t think of
such a thing,” she said. Nevertheless, an hour afterwards the two united
lovers had fixed upon the marriage-day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The house does not look so prim as it used to do. The yard is redolent
with many fragrant flowers. The front door is half open, revealing a
little girl playing with a kitten.

“Hetty,” says a matronly lady, “you have got the ball of yarn all over
the floor. What would your father say if he should see it?”

“Never mind, mother; it was only kitty that did it.”

Marriage has filled up a void in the heart of Miss Hetty. Though not so
prim, or perhaps careful, as she used to be, she is a good deal happier.
Three hearts are filled with thankfulness at every return of MISS


    A violet grew by the river-side,
      And gladdened all hearts with its bloom;
    While over the fields, on the scented air,
      It breathed a rich perfume.
    But the clouds grew dark in the angry sky,
      And its portals were opened wide;
    And the heavy rain beat down the flower
      That grew by the river-side.

    Not far away, in a pleasant home,
      There lived a little boy,
    Whose cheerful face and childish grace
      Filled every heart with joy.
    He wandered one day to the river’s verge,
      With no one near to save;
    And the heart that we loved with a boundless love
      Was stilled in the restless wave.

    The sky grew dark to our tearful eyes,
      And we bade farewell to joy;
    For our hearts were bound by a sorrowful tie
      To the grave of the little boy.
    The birds still sing in the leafy tree
      That shadows the open door:
    We heed them not; for we think of the voice
      That we shall hear no more.

    We think of him at eventide,
      And gaze on his vacant chair
    With a longing heart, that will scarce believe
      That Charlie is not there.
    We seem to hear his ringing laugh,
      And his bounding step at the door;
    But, alas! there comes the sorrowful thought,—
      We shall never hear them more!

    We shall walk sometimes to his little grave,
      In the pleasant summer hours;
    We will speak his name in a softened voice,
      And cover his grave with flowers;
    We will think of him in his heavenly home,—
      His heavenly home so fair;
    And we will trust with a hopeful trust
      That we shall meet him there.


It was the night before Christmas. Snow was falling without; and the
wind dashed the cold flakes, in eddying whirls, into the faces of those
wayfarers whom business or pleasure kept out thus late. They drew their
warm garments more closely about them, and hurried onward; little heeding
the pelting of the storm while the vision of a cheerful hearth and a
merry family circle danced before their eyes and warmed their hearts.
Merry St. Nicholas, too, the patron saint of children, was abroad. It
was a busy night with him. Thousands of parcels must be made up, and
showered down as many chimneys into expectant stockings, before the
morrow’s dawn. So he gives the reins to his coursers, and speeds swiftly

                            “through forest and brake;
    Through deep, drifting snow; over river and lake;
    Over hill, over dale, where the keen northern blast,
    With fierce, angry moaning, drives fearfully past.”

In a large and pleasant room sat little Bertha, gazing thoughtfully
into the fire. The fire crackled and burnt; and shadows, cast by its
flickering light, danced on the wall. But little Bertha’s thoughts were
far away, and she heeded them not. For many weeks, she had been looking
forward to this very night; and now she was trying to conjecture what
gifts good St. Nicholas had in store for her. At length she grew weary
of conjecture, took a lamp from the table, and went up stairs to bed. It
was a neat little chamber; and the counterpane on Bertha’s bed rivalled
in whiteness the falling snow without. Bertha looked out of the window,
against the panes of which the snow was beating noisily.

“It is a cold night,” thought she. “St. Nicholas will have a hard time of
it. What if he should not come at all?”

Bertha’s apprehensions were soon dispelled; for, as she looked out, the
sound of silvery bells came nearer and nearer, till at length it paused
under her window, and, a moment afterwards, was heard in an opposite
direction. Bertha rubbed her eyes, and strove to distinguish the sleigh
from which these sounds proceeded; but she could distinguish nothing.

“Can it be St. Nicholas?” thought she.

Even as she spoke, mingling with the sound of the retreating bells,
she thought she could distinguish the words of a song. She listened
attentively; and these were the words which the wind bore to her:—

    “The path I have chosen
      Is covered with snow;
    The streams are all frozen;
      Yet onward I go.

    “I glide o’er the mountain,
      And skim o’er the lea;
    I pass by the fountain;
      Yet no eye can see—

    “My form or my shadow
      On snow-drift or mound,
    On hill-top or meadow,
      Or frost-spangled ground.

    “While sleigh-bells are ringing
      Upon the highway,
    And glad parties singing
      So thoughtless and gay,—

    “I pass through and over
      Each hamlet and hall
    Ere mortals discover
      Who gave them a call.

    “I pause but to count o’er
      The gifts for each one,
    And then quickly mount o’er
      The stile. I am gone!”

“That must certainly be Santa Claus,” thought Bertha. So she carefully
hung up her stockings before the fire, and went to bed. She soon became
tired of waiting for St. Nicholas to come; and, in a few minutes, she was
asleep. But the thoughts of Christmas had taken fast hold of her mind,
and, as she slept, shaped themselves into the following dream:—

She thought, that, as she was lying awake in her chamber, there appeared
suddenly before her three figures, clad in white. Slowly they advanced,
hand in hand, till they stood before her bedside. Then, with united
voices, they chanted the following lines:—

    “Maiden, from the fields of air
      We have winged our rapid flight,
    Bringing gifts both rich and rare,
      On this frosty Christmas night.
    Guard them ever: they will be
    Of exceeding worth to thee.”

They ceased; and Bertha, in great astonishment, inquired,—

“What! are you St. Nicholas? Or,” she added, recollecting herself,
“perhaps you are his sisters?”

The visitors resumed their chant:—

    “Maiden, no! Thy Christmas saint
    Beareth gifts of mortal taint:
    At the touch of sure decay
    They shall vanish quite away.
    Those we bear are not of earth:
    Theirs has been a higher birth.”

The visitors ceased; and one of their number, coming forward, commenced

    “I am Faith. To thee I bear
      Childlike trust and confidence
    In the ever-watchful care
      Of our Father’s providence.
    Maiden, one of sisters three,
    This the gift I bear to thee.”

The second came forward, and repeated:—

    “I am Hope. When darksome clouds
      Gather round thy earthly way,
    And Misfortune’s shadowy veil
      Intercepts the light of day,
    I will come on wings of light:
      Clouds and mist shall straightway fly,
    And reveal the golden gates
      Of a happier home on high.
    Maiden, one of sisters three,
    This the gift I bear to thee.”

Smiling graciously on the wondering Bertha, Hope drew back, and gave
place to her sister, who commenced as follows:—

    “I am Charity. Let me
      Ever on thy steps attend,
    And, as long as life shall last,
      Be thy counsellor and friend.
    In thy bosom I would sow
      Seeds of gentleness and love,
    And, a resident of earth,
      Fit thee for a home above.
    Maiden, last of sisters three,
    This the gift I bear to thee.”

Again the sisters joined hands, and, with united voices, chanted, as at

    “Maiden, from the fields of air
      We have winged our rapid flight,
    Bringing gifts both rich and rare,
      On this frosty Christmas night.
    Faith and Hope and Charity!
    Earthly maiden, sisters three,
    These the gifts we bear to thee.”

Their voices died away, and they were gone. Bertha opened her eyes, and,
lo! it was all a vision that had come to her on this Christmas night. The
morning sun was shining brightly through the window-panes. Noisily over
the frozen snow dashed the sleighs; and their bells rang a merry peal in
honor of Christmas Day. Bertha glanced at the well-filled stockings that
hung in front of the fire, and then she knew that St. Nicholas had been
there with his budget of gifts; and the words sung by the sisters came
into her mind:—

    “Maiden, no! Thy Christmas saint
    Beareth gifts of mortal taint.
    Those we bear are not of earth:
    Theirs has been a higher birth.”

“I will not forget the gifts of the good sisters,” she murmured softly.
“Doubtless it is my heavenly Father who has sent them to me.”

So it was that little Bertha, attended by the three sisters, walked
peacefully and happily through life.

The ways of God’s providence, so dark and mysterious to many, became
plain and clear to her; for she saw with the eye of Faith. Clouds
sometimes gathered about her path; but Hope waved her wand, and they were
at once dispelled. Jealousy and envy and angry thoughts disturbed her
not; for her heart was filled with the heavenly spirit of Charity.

Would that we all might be blessed with Bertha’s Christmas vision!


Many years ago, in a city whose name I cannot now recall, there lived a
poor woman, whose husband had died, leaving nothing but a little son. For
some time, she continued to support herself, and her son, whom she dearly
loved, by working early and late at the spinning-wheel. But, after a
while, a heavy misfortune fell upon her: it was no less than the loss of
eyesight. So she was obliged to give up her spinning; for now she could
distinguish neither the web nor the woof. You can imagine her distress at
being deprived so suddenly of seeing the great and beautiful spectacle of
fields, flowers, and sky, which every day presents to our gaze. Still,
she would not have heeded all this; but she found herself cut off, at the
same time, from all means of subsistence.

Meanwhile, her son had grown up into a stout, active boy of twelve. He
was full of life and animation; and that, I suppose, was the reason he
had received the name of “Wide-awake.” Now, little Wide-awake had a kind
heart as well as manly spirit; and when he saw that his mother, who had
worked so hard and so long for him, had become blind, he said to himself,
“Now it is my turn to work.”

So he told his mother that he was going to seek for work, and that,
after three months, he would faithfully return. But first he sold the
spinning-wheel, which was no longer of any use, and one or two other
articles, and gave the money to a neighbor, who promised to spend it for
his mother as she had need. Then he took a cheerful leave of his mother,
and went off with a light heart, though his pockets were empty.

He had not walked far when he overtook an old woman, who was bending
beneath the weight of a heavy burden. She was homely, and appeared very
tired. Wide-awake was passing by, when she called out to him, “Come here,
little boy: help me to carry this bundle. I am old, weak, and tired; you
are young and strong.”

Wide-awake was very obliging; and, though the old woman’s tone was not
the pleasantest in the world, he very willingly took one side of the
bundle, and helped her to carry it. The day was hot, and the bundle
heavy; but he bore up stoutly, so that the old woman began to get over
her ill humor, and to ask him some questions. So he told her his whole
story,—how his mother was blind and unable to work, and he was seeking
his fortune.

“Well,” said the old woman, “if that is the case, I think you had better
come and live with me. I live in a little cottage not far off, and am
in want of a boy to go on errands and do other little things for me. If
you will come and stay with me three months, I will reward you as you
deserve. But I will warn you that I am very particular, and shall require
you to obey me in every thing.”

Of course, Wide-awake was only too glad to accept the old woman’s offer.
He was quite sure that he should be able to suit her; and he could not
help picturing to himself how glad his mother would be to have him return
with perhaps a piece of gold; for this seemed a great sum to Wide-awake,
and a very generous compensation for three months’ labor.

After a while, they came to the old woman’s cottage. It was a small
house, containing three rooms. One of these was a kitchen, in which the
old woman did all her cooking; another was her chamber; and the third she
told Wide-awake he should have to sleep in.

Early the next morning, the old woman came to his bedside, and shook him

“Up! up!” said she. “Is not the sun up? and you are lying here asleep!
What is your name?”

“Wide-awake,” said he, rubbing his eyes.

“Then,” said the old woman, “hereafter, be sure to be wide awake before
the sun. Dress yourself as quickly as possible, and I will give you your
breakfast; and then to work.”

Wide-awake was up and dressed in a moment. The old woman set before him
a bowl of bread and milk for his breakfast. After he had eaten this, she
took him to a fold near by, where he saw ten beautiful sheep.

“These,” said she, “will be your care. You will drive them to the great
meadow a mile hence, and watch them, taking care that none stray away.
Three times a day—at morning, noon, and night—you will drive them to the
spring, and let them drink; and, at seven o’clock, you may bring them

Wide-awake promised faithfully to obey her in every respect. He found the
great meadow without difficulty. He watched the sheep, and watered them,
as he had been directed, and, at nightfall, drove them home. The old
woman counted the sheep, and, finding them all there, was well content,
and gave Wide-awake his supper.

So time passed on. Every day the old woman became better satisfied with
Wide-awake, who, on his part, was looking forward to the time when he
might go home.

One morning about this time, as Wide-awake was about to drive out his
sheep as usual, the old woman stopped him.

“They have grown quite fat,” said she; “so I shall carry them to the city
and sell them. I shall be gone a week, and shall leave you here to take
care of the house while I am gone. You will not have much to do. But
there is one thing I must warn you against: you must not, on any account,
open the door of the closet which is in your chamber. If you do, you will
repent it.”

Wide-awake was not troubled with curiosity; and so he found no difficulty
in making this promise.

The old woman departed, and Wide-awake was left alone. Having nothing
else to do, he began to think of home and his mother. Then he began to
wonder how much his mistress meant to give him for his services. He
determined that he would buy a nice arm-chair for his mother, and a great
many other things, if his money only held out. But they were all for his
mother’s comfort, and not for his own, as I have already explained that
Wide-awake was far from being selfish.

On the fourth day after the old woman’s departure, a stout man came to
the door, and asked leave to rest a little while. Wide-awake knew that
his mistress would have no objection; so he gave him permission, and,
moreover, placed before him some bread and milk. The man ate heartily,
and, in the mean time, contrived to draw out of Wide-awake all the
particulars of his situation, and the old woman’s prohibiting him to open
the door of the closet.

“I have no doubt,” said he, “that it is there where she keeps her money.
If I were in your place, I would look and see. It wouldn’t do any harm.”

“But,” said Wide-awake, in astonishment, “she told me not to do it on any

“Never mind that,” said the man, winking: “it’ll do no harm; and she’ll
never know it.”

“But,” said Wide-awake, firmly, “I have promised; and I never break my

“Well, then, if you won’t, I will,” said the stranger, rising; “for I’m
determined to know what there is in that closet.”

But Wide-awake sprang to the door, set his back resolutely against it,
and said,—

“Never! while I live.”

“Poh!” was the contemptuous reply. “What is your strength against mine?
Don’t you know that I can kill you?”

“That may be,” said Wide-awake, firmly,—though the thoughts of his mother
came over his mind; and he could not help sighing for her, if he should
die,—“but I will not yield.”

“Are you quite determined you will not let me in?” said the stranger.

The voice seemed altered; and, looking up, Wide-awake beheld, to his
great surprise, that it was the old woman who addressed him.

“Where is the man who was here a minute since?” asked he in surprise.

The old woman smiled, and explained to him that she was a fairy, and
had taken a man’s figure to test his sincerity. She said she was quite
satisfied with the result, and, as she had no further need of his
services, would let him return home.

“But I owe you something for your past fidelity. What shall it be? I
leave it to your choice. Wealth, happiness, and long life: I will confer
either of these upon you. Choose.”

“And may I choose any thing I like?” said Wide-awake, with eyes sparkling.

“Yes,” said the fairy (for so we must now call her).

“Then I will choose that my mother be restored to sight.”

“You have chosen well, my child,” said the fairy, kindly: “it shall be
as you say; and, to reward you for your affection to your mother, I will
freely bestow upon you the three gifts which you did not choose. You
shall be rich; and your life shall be both long and happy.”

Wide-awake found his mother fully restored to sight. With the wealth
which the fairy bestowed upon him, he built a neat cottage for his
mother, who was long spared to him. The fairy’s promise was verified in
every particular.


    We have planted it deep in the yielding soil,
      Hard by the house of prayer;
    And the cool air plays through its leafy top,
      As it stands in silence there.

    It is young like ourselves; but, day by day,
      The dews of heaven will fall,—
    And the gladsome rays of the summer sun,
      That shines for each and all;
    And, under their gentle ministry,
      It will grow both stout and tall.

    Then will the roots of the stately tree
      Have spread both far and wide;
    And perchance its branches will overtop
      The church that stands beside;
    And safe amid its clustering leaves
      Will summer birds abide.

    And those who, full of youthful life,
      About the sapling played,
    With sober mien and whitened locks
      Will stand beneath its shade,
    And ponder with a thoughtful brow
      On the changes Time has made.

    The years will roll, with a steady course,
      To meet Time’s infinite sea;
    And the silent waves, in their fearful sweep,
      Will ingulf both you and me;
    But still, like a beacon that tells of the past,
      Will stand our first elm-tree.


The superintendent of the Dock Yard in Amsterdam was seated in his office
one afternoon, indulging himself in smoking a rude pipe; a luxury then
recently imported from the colony of Virginia, in the New World.

His reflections, whatever they were, were broken in upon by a knock
at the door,—not a timid, hesitating knock; but a bold, authoritative
summons. The superintendent, judging it must proceed from some person
of consequence, hastily laid aside his pipe, and quickly threw open the
door, to admit his unknown visitor.

Instead of the high personage he anticipated, he beheld standing before
him a stout man, of commanding person, and dressed in the attire of a

He was a little vexed to think he had been so much deceived; and perhaps
it was natural that he should accost the intruder in a somewhat peevish

“Well, my good man, what do you want, that you come thumping at the door
as if you were really a man of mark? What would you have?”

“I seek employment,” said the stranger in a deep voice, not at all
intimidated at his reception.

At the same time, he presented a letter to the superintendent.

“Ha!” said the latter, glancing at it with considerable surprise; “from
the Russian ambassador!”

He read aloud as follows:—

    “SIR,—The bearer, a countryman of mine, is desirous
    of obtaining employment in the Dock Yard under your
    superintendence. He is not altogether unacquainted with this
    description of labor, but wishes to perfect himself in it. I
    feel assured that nowhere can he do so to greater advantage
    than under your instruction.”

The compliment implied in the concluding sentence served to moderate the
vexation occasioned by his recent misapprehension; and he turned with a
milder mien to his visitor.

He was a little surprised to find, that, quite unconscious of the great
distance between the superintendent of the Dock Yard and a common
workman, he had, without ceremony, seated himself. “Humph!” thought he;
“I suppose that’s the way they do in Russia.”

“So you are from Russia, my good man?” said he, in a half-patronizing

The visitor inclined his head in the affirmative.

“It’s a barbarous place, I’ve heard: the people are not half civilized;
you did wisely in coming here. You must see a great difference between it
and Holland?”

“Yes,” said the Russian, “we have much to learn. Other nations are
greatly in advance of us in many respects; but that will pass away, and
Russia will take her place at the head of them all.”

The superintendent shrugged his shoulders. He evidently did not believe

“So you wish employment?” he continued, after a pause. “What is your

“Peter Timmerman,” was the reply.

“Very well; you may set to work to-morrow. Your wages will be a florin a
day. You may report yourself at six o’clock.”

Thus terminated the interview. The Russian made a bow of acknowledgment,
and left the office, leaving the superintendent more puzzled than
enlightened at the insight into Russian character with which he had been

The next morning, at the appointed time, Peter Timmerman presented
himself at the Dock Yard. He set to work with an intelligence and
earnestness which evinced that he was far from being a novice, and by
no means inclined to be a drone. A week had not passed before he was
acknowledged to be the ablest workman in the yard.

His fellow-workmen looked upon him with a little natural curiosity, and
would have been very glad of his confidence. It was soon found, however,
that, although asking many questions in regard to the details of his
occupation, he preserved a uniform silence respecting his own family
and past life, carefully evading any inquiries which the curiosity of
his companions prompted. On one occasion, when some one of them pushed
it to an indiscreet extent, the eyes of the Russian blazed with anger,
and he lifted the tool he had in his hand in a threatening manner; but
apparently reflection came to his aid, and, lowering it, he proceeded
with his work. This little incident convinced his comrades, that,
whatever mystery there might be connected with his past history, it would
be both useless and dangerous in them to endeavor to extort it from him.
Henceforth, then, he was not troubled with inquiries, but was treated
with an involuntary and perhaps unconscious deference by those with whom
he was brought in daily contact.

If occasionally it might be thought that he was greater than he seemed,
there was nothing to confirm this idea in his mode of life.

The florin which he daily earned was the utmost limit of his expenses.
No workman lived more frugally. He had secured board and lodgings at the
house of a poor widow woman, the mother of one of his companions in the
yard, where he paid a small price, and lived accordingly. The whole
family consisted of the mother and son. This son, who was a lively and
well-looking young man of one and twenty, was, next to Peter, the most
skilful workman in the yard. He worked intelligently, and did not suffer
his eyes to remain idle. It was his ambition to rise from the position of
a mere workman, and become a master-builder.

Perhaps one thing which contributed to heighten his ambition was the fact
that the superintendent of the Dock Yard possessed, among the items of
his wealth, a fair, cherry-cheeked damsel, whose beauty had set half the
hearts of the young men in Amsterdam on fire. Trust me, friendly reader!
young men are pretty much alike all the world over; and the current
of youthful feeling is just as likely to effervesce in the Hollander,
phlegmatic as he is generally supposed, as in the residents of more
southern climes.

But, after all, was it not foolish in the young ship-carpenter to aspire
to an object so generally admired and sought after as the Fraulein
superintendent? for such she was designated, out of respect for her
father’s office. Perhaps it was; and yet Heinrich Dort did not think so.
After all, he was the best judge in what concerned himself.

He had observed the young Fraulein’s eyes wandering toward the side of
the church on which he sat, and he could not mistake the object that
attracted them. Whenever the maiden saw that he was returning her gaze,
she always cast down her eyes; and then, of course, she looked ten-fold
as beautiful in the eyes of Heinrich Dort.

After all, the eye is more eloquent than the tongue. Heinrich thought he
could not mistake it in this instance. It was certainly rather singular
that the two should meet in the walk one pleasant Sabbath afternoon; and
no less so, perhaps, that, precisely at the moment, the Fraulein should
drop a brooch which she held in her hand. Of course, she searched for it
diligently in every place but the right one; and, of course, Heinrich was
required, by the claims of politeness, to volunteer his assistance. The
lost ornament was soon found; but Heinrich, probably fearing it might be
lost again, did not leave the Fraulein, but accompanied her, by a very
round-about way, to her home. Perhaps it might have been absence of mind
that made them miss the direct way,—at least, so we will conjecture,
since we can do nothing more.

At all events, such was the commencement of Heinrich’s acquaintance with
the Fraulein. They used to meet every Sabbath afternoon; and Heinrich,
acknowledging his presumption all the time, ventured to confess that his
whole hope of happiness rested upon her answer to a little question which
he had to propose.

What that question was, I may as well leave to be surmised. The answer
was conditionally favorable. The maiden intimated that no opposition
need be anticipated from her, provided he should obtain her father’s
consent. Heinrich felt very happy until he began to consider that this
qualification might prove a very formidable one; and he feared that the
superintendent might think the young workman altogether an inadequate
match for his daughter, whose dowry would be twenty thousand florins at
the very least. But there is an old saying,—“Faint heart never won fair
lady.” Whether Heinrich had ever heard of this, or whether, indeed, it
had ever been translated into Dutch at all, I am quite unable to say;
but, at all events, he was resolved that such a prize should not pass
from his hands without a struggle.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although the young workman was far from being constitutionally timid,
preserving an undaunted front in the face of danger, it must be
confessed that his heart beat audibly and his hand trembled perceptibly
as he knocked at the door of the superintendent’s office; not that there
was any thing particularly suited to inspire fear in the rotund figure of
that personage.

The latter perceived that the young man was disturbed. He was rather
flattered to find it so, as he attributed it solely to the effect of his
presence, which he privately considered not a little imposing. It was,
therefore, with an approach to affability that he motioned him to be
seated, and inquired,—

“Well, my good fellow, how goes business? Have you come for any

“No, your excellency,” replied Heinrich. “Business goes well enough; but
it is on another subject that I wish to trouble you.”

“Well, out with it, man. No parleying,—that’s my way.”

“You have a daughter.”

“Donder and blitzen! So I always have supposed. And is it to impart this
precious piece of information that you have come here?”

“No, your excellency,” hesitated Heinrich; “but the fact is, that—that—in
short, an attachment has sprung up between your daughter and myself; and
I am here to crave your permission to marry her.”

“Well, that is coming to the point with a vengeance!” exclaimed the
testy little superintendent. “And may I beg to know whether my daughter
sanctioned this visit on your part?”

“She did.”

“Then she has less wit than I thought for. She—the daughter of the
superintendent of the royal Dock Yard of Amsterdam—to stoop to be the
wife of a common workman! The girl must be out of her senses. But if she
chooses it to be so, I shall not. Young man, you have been presumptuous.
For once, I will pass over it; but beware of offending a second time.”

The little great man made an imperious gesture of withdrawal, which
Heinrich could not do otherwise than obey. He returned home in great
depression, as might be anticipated of one whose dearest hopes had been
crushed out. Sitting at the door, he perceived his mother’s lodger and
his own fellow-workman, Peter Timmerman.

The latter, contrary to his custom, opened a conversation with Heinrich,
whose manner he could not avoid noticing.

“What has befallen you, comrade,” he said, “that you should look so

“And if I tell you,” returned Heinrich, whose disappointment had made him
somewhat testy,—“if I should tell you, how could you help me?”

“Perhaps not at all,—perhaps very much. At all events, it will relieve
your mind to unburden it of sorrow, if any weighs upon it.”

“You may be right,” said Heinrich, after a pause. “At all events, it
will do no harm. You must know, then, that I have been foolish enough
to fall in love with the superintendent’s daughter, who favors my suit.
But because I am not wealthy, and am _only a workman_” (the young man
emphasized the last words in a bitter tone), “her father rejects my suit.”

“But how if you occupied as high a position as himself?”

“Oh! then there would be nothing to fear.”

“Listen, then, in your turn. I may help you to what you seek. Did you
ever hear of Russia?”

“I have,” said Heinrich. “It is a great country, but a barbarous one.”

“That is true; at least, it is not so far advanced as its neighbors. But,
if I live to accomplish all my plans, it shall yet equal any of them.”

“_You!_ Who, then, are you?” exclaimed the young man, in astonishment at
such language from such a source.

“_I am Peter, the reigning czar_,” said the Russian, composedly. “I could
trust no one but myself to carry out a plan I had formed for supplying
the chief defect of Russia,—an efficient navy. Accordingly, I have
entered myself here as a common workman. I have gained what I sought; I
have made myself familiar with the construction of vessels; and I shall,
after a brief visit to England, return to my kingdom, and take measures
to build a fleet. I have thought of you as one competent to superintend
their building. You shall have a handsome salary, and I will confer upon
you an order of nobility.”

“Then I can marry the Fraulein superintendent after all!” And Heinrich
leaped to his feet in exultation. “But how shall I thank your ex⸺ I mean
your majesty, for such a load of favors?”

“By fidelity to my interests,” said Peter. “But I am tired, and must go
in. Whatever arrangements you make must be completed within three days.
Good night.”

The next morning, Heinrich paid another visit to the superintendent. When
he left, at the end of half an hour, the superintendent accompanied him
to the door in the excess of his affability. No more opposition was made
to his suit. Heinrich Dort, the workman, was quite a different person
from Heinrich Dort, general superintendent of the Russian navy.

The events which followed are known to history. Peter, with the
assistance of his superintendent, laid the foundation of a flourishing
marine; and the latter, through all the mutations of the Russian
dynasty, succeeded in retaining the confidence of the government until
Death gathered him to his fathers at a ripe old age.


    When the harsh days of the winter
      Softened into early spring,
    And the birds—gay, feathered songsters—
      First commenced their carolling,
    Kindling in our hearts o’erflowing
      More of love than tongue can tell,
    Sweeter than the breath of morning
      Came our star-eyed Gabrielle.

    And our earth-worn hearts were gladdened
      As we gazed into her eyes,—
    Liquid mirrors, freshly tinted
      With the hues of paradise.
    Through the long days of the summer,
      Bound as with a magic spell,
    Warm and warmer in our bosoms
      Grew the love of Gabrielle.

    But, alas! the summer faded,
      And the autumn leaves grew sear,
    And our cherished household blossom
      Faded with the fading year.
    In the quiet grave we laid her;
      There, we trust, she sleepeth well;
    And we hope, when life is over,
      We shall meet our Gabrielle.


The old year was fast drawing to a close. But a few hours, and the advent
of its successor would be hailed by merry shouts and joyful gratulations,
mingling with the merry chime of bells ringing out a noisy welcome from
church-towers and steeples.

Adam Hathaway, a wealthy merchant, sat in his counting-room, striking
a balance between his gains and losses for the year which had nearly
passed. From the smile that lighted up his countenance, as he drew near
the end of his task, it might safely be inferred that the result proved

He at length threw down his pen, after footing up the last column, and
exclaimed joyfully,—

“Five thousand dollars net gain in one year! That will do very well,—very
well indeed. If I am as well prospered in the year to come, it will
indeed be a ‘happy New Year.’”

His meditations were interrupted by a knock at the door. He opened it,
and saw standing before him a man of ordinary appearance, bearing under
his arm something, the nature of which he could not conjecture, wrapped
up in brown paper.

“Mr. Hathaway, I believe?” was the stranger’s salutation.

“You are correct.”

“Perhaps, if not particularly engaged, you will allow me a few minutes’
conversation with you?”

“Yes, certainly,” was the surprised reply; “though I am at a loss to
conjecture what can have brought you here.”

“You are a wealthy man, Mr. Hathaway, and every year increases your
possessions. May I ask what is your object in accumulating so much

“This is a very singular question, sir,” said the merchant, who began to
entertain doubts as to his visitor’s sanity,—“very singular. I suppose I
am influenced by the same motives that actuate other men,—the necessity
of providing for my physical wants, and so contributing to my happiness.”

“And this contents you? But your gains are not all devoted to this
purpose. This last year, for example, the overplus has amounted to five
thousand dollars.”

“I know not where you have gained your information,” said Mr. Hathaway,
in surprise. “However, you are right.”

“And what do you intend to do with this?”

“You are somewhat free with your questions, sir. However, I have no
objection to answering you. I shall lay it up.”

“For what purpose? I need not tell you that money, in itself, is of no
value. It is only the representative of value. Why, then, do you allow it
to remain idle?”

“How else should I employ it? I have a comfortable house well furnished:
should I purchase one more expensive? My table is well provided: should I
live more luxuriously? My wardrobe is well supplied: should I dress more

“To these questions I answer, No. But it does not follow, because you
have a good house, comfortable clothing, and a well-supplied table,
that others are equally well provided. Have you thought to give of your
abundance to those who are needy,—to promote your own happiness by
advancing that of others?”

“I must confess that this is a duty which I have neglected. But there are
alms-houses and benevolent societies. There cannot be much misery that
escapes their notice,” said Mr. Hathaway.

“You shall judge for yourself.”

The stranger commenced unwrapping the package which he carried under his
arm. It was a small mirror, with a veil hanging before it. He slowly
withdrew the veil, and said, “Look!”

A change passed over the surface of the mirror. Mr. Hathaway, as he
looked at it intently, found that it reflected a small room, scantily
furnished; while a fire flickered in the grate. A bed stood in one corner
of the room, on which reposed a sick man. By the side of it sat a woman,
with a thin shawl over her shoulders, busily plying her needle. An infant
boy lay in a cradle not far off, which a little girl called Alice, whose
wasted form and features spoke of want and privation, was rocking to

“Would you hear what they are saying?” asked the stranger.

The merchant nodded acquiescence. Immediately there came to his ear the
confused noise of voices, from which he soon distinguished that of the
sick man, who asked for some food.

“We have none in the house,” said his wife. “But I shall soon get this
work finished; and then I shall be able to get some.”

The husband groaned: “Oh that I should be obliged to remain idle on a
sick bed, when I might be earning money for you and the children! The
doctor says, that, now the fever has gone, I need nothing but nourishing
food to raise me up again. But, alas! I see no means of procuring it.
Would that some rich man, out of his abundance, would supply me with but
a trifle from his board! To him it would be nothing; to me, every thing.”

The scene vanished; and gradually another formed itself upon the surface
of the mirror.

It was a small room, neatly but not expensively furnished. There were two
occupants,—a man of middle age, and a youth of a bright, intellectual
countenance, which at present seemed overspread with an air of dejection.

Mr. Hathaway, to his surprise, recognized in the gentleman Mark Audley,
a fellow-merchant and formerly intimate friend, who, but a few months
before, had failed in business, and, too honorable to defraud his
creditors, had given up all his property. Since his failure, he had been
reduced to accept a clerkship.

“I am sorry, Arthur,” said he to his son, “very sorry, that I could not
carry out my intention of entering you at college. I know your tastes
have always led you to think of a professional career; but my sudden
change of circumstances has placed it out of my power to gratify you. It
is best for you to accept the situation which has been offered you, and
enter Mr. Bellamy’s store. It is a very fair situation, and will suit you
as well as any.”

“I believe you are right, sir,” said Arthur, respectfully; “though it
will be hard to resign the hopes that I have so long cherished. I met
Henry Fulham to-day. He was in my class at school, and is to enter
college next fall. I couldn’t help envying him. How soon will Mr. Bellamy
wish me to enter his store?”

“Day after to-morrow, I believe,—that is, with the beginning of the year;
New Year’s Day being considered a holiday.”

“Very well; you may tell him that I will come at that time.”

The scene vanished as before. A change passed over the surface of the
mirror. Again the merchant looked, and, to his surprise, beheld the
interior of his own store. A faint light was burning, by the light of
which a young man, whom he recognized as Frank Durell, one of his own
clerks, was reading a letter, the contents of which seemed to agitate him

The scene was brought so near, that he could, without difficulty, trace
the lines, written in a delicate, female hand, as follows:—

    “MY DEAR SON,—You are not, probably, expecting to hear from
    me at this time. Alas that I should have such an occasion to
    write! At the time of your father’s death, it was supposed,
    that, by the sacrifice of every thing, we had succeeded in
    liquidating all his debts. Even this consolation is now
    denied us. I received a call from Mr. Perry this morning, who
    presented for _immediate payment_ a note given by your father
    for fifty dollars. Immediate payment! How, with a salary barely
    sufficient to support us, can you meet such a charge? Can
    any way be devised? Mr. Perry threatens, if the money is not
    forthcoming, to seize our furniture. He is a hard man, and I
    have no hopes of appeasing him. I do not know that you can do
    any thing to retard it; but I have thought it right to acquaint
    you with this new calamity.

                       “Your affectionate mother,

                                                      “MARY DURELL.”

The young man laid down the letter with an air of depression.

“I scarcely know how to provide for this new contingency,” said he,
meditatively. “My salary is small; and it requires the strictest economy
to meet my expenses. I might ask for an advance; but Mr. Hathaway is
particular on that point, and I should but court a refusal. But to have
my mother’s furniture taken from the house! The whole amount would hardly
cover the debt. There is one resource; but alas that I should ever think
of resorting to it! I could take the money from the till, and return it
when I am able. But shall I ever be able? It would be no more nor less
than robbery. At all events, I will not do it to-night. Who knows but
something may turn up to help us?”

The young man blew out the lamp, and left the store. The picture faded.

“I will show you another picture, somewhat different from the others: it
will be the last,” said the stranger.

The next scene represented the interior of a baker’s shop. The baker—a
coarse-featured man, with a hard, unprepossessing aspect—was waiting on a
woman thinly clad in garments more suitable for June than December. She
was purchasing two loaves of bread and a few crackers. There was another
customer waiting his turn. It was a gentleman, with a pleasant smile on
his face.

“Make haste!” said the baker, rudely, to the woman, who was searching for
her money to pay for her purchases. “I can’t stop all day; and here’s a
gentleman that you keep waiting.”

“Oh! never mind me: I am in no hurry,” the gentleman said.

“I am afraid,” said the woman, in an alarmed tone, “that I have lost my
money. I had it here in my pocket; but it is gone.”

“Then you may return the bread. I don’t sell for nothing.”

“Trust me for once, sir; I will pay you in a day or two; otherwise my
children must go without food to-morrow.”

“Can’t help that. You shouldn’t have been so careless.”

The woman was about turning away, when the voice of the other customer
arrested her steps.

“How much money have you lost?” he inquired.

“It was but half a dollar,” was the reply; “but it was of consequence to
me, as I can get no more for a day or two; and how we are to live till
then, Heaven knows.”

“Perhaps that will help you to decide the question.” And he took from his
pocket a five-dollar bill, and handed it to her.

“Oh, sir!” said she, her face lighting up with gratitude, “this is indeed
generous and noble. The blessings of those you have befriended attend

She remained to make a few purchases, and then, with a light heart,

The last picture faded from the mirror; and the stranger, wrapping it up,
simply said,—

“You have seen how much happiness a trifling sum can produce. Will you
not, out of your abundance, make a similar experiment?”

The stranger disappeared; and Mr. Hathaway awoke to find his dream
terminated by the chime of the New Year’s bells.

“This is something more than a dream,” said he, thoughtfully. “I will,
at all events, take counsel of the mystic vision; and it shall not be my
fault if some hearts are not made happier through my means before another
sun sets.”

When the merchant arose on the following morning, it was with the light
heart which always accompanies the determination to do right. He was
determined that the salutation of “A happy New Year” should not be with
him a mere matter of lip-service.

“I believe,” said he to himself, “I will go and see my old friend, Mark
Audley. If his son Arthur is really desirous of going to college, what is
there to prevent my bearing the expenses? I am abundantly able, and can
dispose of my money in no better way.”

As he walked along with this praiseworthy determination in his heart,
his attention was drawn towards a little girl, who was gazing, with
eager, wistful eyes, into the window of a neighboring shop, where were
displayed, in tempting array, some fine oranges. He thought—nay, he was
quite sure—that in her he recognized the little girl who figured in the
first scene unfolded the evening before by the mysterious mirror. By way
of ascertaining, he addressed her in pleasant tone:—

“Your name is Alice,—is it not?”

“Yes, sir,” said she, looking up, surprised, and somewhat awed.

“And your father is sick,—is he not?”

“Yes, sir; but he is almost well now.”

“I saw you were looking at the oranges in that window. Now, I will buy
you a dozen, if you will let me help you carry them home.”

The purchase was made; and the merchant walked along, conversing with his
little conductor, who soon lost her timidity.

Arrived at the little girl’s home, he found that he had not been deceived
in his presentiments. It was the same room that he had seen pictured in
the mirror. The sick man was tossing uneasily in bed when Alice entered.

“See, papa,” said she, joyfully,—“see what nice oranges I have for you!
And here is the kind gentleman who gave them to me.”

The merchant, before he left the humble apartment, gave its occupants a
timely donation, and made New Year’s Day a day of thanksgiving.

Mr. Hathaway soon found himself at the residence of his friend Audley,
who gave him a warm welcome. “This is indeed kind,” said he. “The
friendship that adversity cannot interrupt is really valuable.”

Mr. Hathaway now introduced the object of his visit, asking, “What do you
mean to do with Arthur? He was nearly ready to go to college,—was he not?”

“He was; and this is one of the severest trials attending my reversed
circumstances, that I am compelled to disappoint his long-cherished wish
of obtaining a college education.”

“That must not be,” said Mr. Hathaway. “If you and Arthur will consent, I
will myself pay his charges through college.”

“Mr. Hathaway,” said Mr. Audley, in a glow of surprise and pleasure,
“this offer evinces a noble generosity on your part that I shall never
forget. You must let me tell Arthur the good news.”

Mr. Audley summoned his son, and, pointing to Mr. Hathaway, said, “This
gentleman has offered to send you to college at his own expense.”

The eyes of the youth lighted up; and he grasped the hand of his
benefactor, saying, simply, “Oh! if you but knew how happy you have made

“I do not deserve your thanks,” was the smiling reply. “I have learned
that to make others happy is the most direct way to secure my own

Mr. Hathaway took his way to the store. Arrived there, he sought out
Frank Durell, and requested him to step into his office, as he wished to
speak to him in private.

“Your salary is five hundred dollars a year, I believe?” said he.

“Yes, sir,” said Frank Durell, somewhat surprised.

“I have come to the conclusion that this is insufficient, and I shall
therefore advance it two hundred dollars; and, as a part of it may not be
unacceptable to you now, here are a hundred dollars that you may consider
an advance.”

“Sir,” said Frank Durell, hardly believing his senses, “you cannot
estimate the benefit I shall derive from this generosity. My mother, who
depends upon me for support, was about to be deprived of her furniture
by an extortionate creditor; but this timely gift—for I must consider it
so—will remove this terrible necessity. I thank you, sir, from my heart.”

“You are quite welcome,” said the merchant, kindly. “In future, consider
me your friend; and, if you should at any time be in want of advice or
assistance, do not scruple to confide in me.”

“At least,” said the merchant, thoughtfully, “I have done something to
make this a ‘happy New Year’ for others. The lesson conveyed in the dream
of last night shall not be thrown away upon me. I will take care that
many hearts shall have cause to bless the vision of THE VEILED MIRROR.”


    It is the year’s high noon!
      The air sweet incense yields;
      And, o’er the fresh, green fields,
    Bends the clear sky of June.

    I leave the crowded streets,
      The hum of busy life,
      Its clamor and its strife,
    To breathe thy pérfumed sweets.

    Oh rare and golden hours!
      The birds’ melodious song
      Wave-like is borne along
    Upon a strand of flowers.

    I wander far away,
      Where, through the forest trees,
      Sports the cool summer breeze
    In wild and wanton play.

    A patriarchal elm
      Its stately front uprears,
      Which, twice a hundred years,
    Has ruled this woodland realm.

    I sit beneath its shade,
      And watch, with careless eye,
      The brook that babbles by
    And cools the leafy glade.

    In truth, I wonder not,
      That, in the ancient days,
      The temples of God’s praise
    Were grove and leafy grot.

    The noblest ever planned,
      With quaint device and rare,
      By man, can ill compare
    With this from God’s own hand.

    Pilgrim with wayworn feet,
      Who, treading life’s dull round,
      No true repose hast found,
    Come to this green retreat;—

    For bird and flower and tree,
      Green field and woodland wild,
      Shall bear, with voices mild,
    Sweet messages to thee.



It was a small attic chamber in an obscure part of London. The light that
entered at the open window revealed two figures,—Arthur Elliott and his
young wife.

“Dear Arthur,” said the latter, as she brushed back the heavy chestnut
locks from his pale brow, “you must not—indeed you must not—labor so
incessantly. You will injure your health,—perhaps ruin it entirely,—and
then what will be left to me?”

“Mary,” said the young painter, caressingly, “you are alarming yourself
to no purpose. I am not weary. Besides, what were a little weariness
in comparison with the great purpose I have in view? You know the
exhibition will open in a fortnight; and my picture is still unfinished.
Oh!” continued he, with enthusiasm, while a faint flush overspread
his pale cheek, “if it could be my fortune to gain the great prize of
five hundred pounds which has been offered for the best painting on
exhibition, I believe I could die content!”

“Arthur!” said his wife, reproachfully.

“But better still,” said the young painter, caressingly, “to live and
enjoy it with you, my sweet wife! With such a start, what might I not
hope for? Fame, fortune, friends, all would be mine. But it is growing
late; and I have still much to do before I retire. But do not wait for
me, dear Mary: I shall work the faster, if I know that you are reposing.”

Arthur Elliott was the son of a clergyman in one of the midland counties
of England. At the age of seventeen, he had entered the office of his
uncle, an attorney in London,—a hard, worldly man, wholly engrossed
in business. Young Arthur, who was a boy of a sensitive and highly
imaginative temperament, found little sympathy with his peculiar tastes
in the musty folios over which he was expected to pore day after day, or
in the deeds and legal instruments which he was called upon to engross.
He devoted his leisure time to obtaining some knowledge of painting from
a teacher of that art. He made so great proficiency in this department as
to surprise his teacher, who exclaimed, with enthusiasm, that he was born
to be an artist.

“And why should I not be?” thought Arthur to himself. “With law I am
completely disgusted: I shall never make a figure at it. Why, then,
should I not abandon what I so utterly detest, and pursue that which
offers so much stronger attraction?”

Full of this resolution, he went to his uncle, and requested his
permission to adopt it. But the scheme appeared absurd and chimerical to
the man of business; and he utterly forbade Arthur’s cherishing any such
plans in future. This, to one of his nephew’s high spirit, was more than
he could bear. His place in his uncle’s office was vacant the next day,
and remained so. Arthur had collected his little articles of personal
property, and fled to the house of his instructor, where, undetected, he
pursued his studies with the utmost assiduity. His master had a daughter,
a beautiful girl, whose disposition and manners were as amiable as her
features were faultless. What wonder that Arthur fell in love, and that
the two, with her father’s consent, exchanged vows of fidelity, though
both were as yet too young to think of marriage?

This, however, was hastened by an event which plunged them both in
affliction. Mary’s father died. She was left alone in the world, with no
one but Arthur to depend upon. Arthur was just on the verge of twenty;
Mary, but sixteen. Under the circumstances, however, it was thought best
that they should marry. Mary’s fortune was but small, her father having
left nothing behind him but the materials of his art.

At first, Arthur resolved to follow in the steps of his father-in-law,
but, as is too often the case, found that genius unknown is
unappreciated. His income became very scanty,—hardly sufficient to supply
himself and Mary with the bare necessaries of life.

It was at this stage in their fortunes that it was announced, that,
at the annual exhibition of paintings, the prize already alluded to
would be awarded to the most meritorious production of art. This offer
fired Arthur’s ambition. Why should not he, filled as he was with the
inspiration of genius,—why should not he gain it? It was not impossible.
He would at least try.

He selected as his subject “The Transfiguration of the Saviour.” Without
entering into the details of the painting, which could only be done
properly by an artist, it is sufficient to say that the conception was a
grand one, and the execution of a high character.

But, in the mean time, how were they to live? The painting on which
Arthur was now engaged was a work of time; and it was a considerable
period before he could hope to derive any pecuniary profit from it. Thus
far, Mary had assisted her husband, as far as she was able, by obtaining
work from the slop-shops, which amounted to a mere pittance. But they had
learned to live frugally under that sternest of teachers,—Necessity.


It was early in the morning of the day after that on which our story
commences. Arthur, worn out by his midnight vigils, had not yet risen.
Mary was astir: she had already prepared and eaten a frugal meal; and the
small table—the only one in the apartment—was covered with a white cloth,
on which was spread, with as tempting an array as the nature of the food
would admit, the breakfast intended for her husband.

Suddenly, there was a violent knock at the door. Mary glanced towards her
husband,—who was still buried in deep sleep,—apprehensive that he might
be awakened, and then went to the door and opened it.

A coarse-featured man entered.

“Good morning, Mrs. Elliott,” was his salutation. “You see I have come
for my week’s rent. I am not likely to forget that.”

“The rent!” said Mary, apprehensively. “I am sorry, Mr. Mudge; but I
haven’t quite got it ready. I didn’t succeed in finishing the work I had
on hand as soon as I anticipated; and I must ask your indulgence for a
day or two.”

“Oh, yes! the old story!” said the man, with a sneer. “And if I should
come again in a day or two, you wouldn’t have finished the work you have
on hand, and would ask for a day or two more. Oh, yes! I am used to such

“But, Mr. Mudge, have I failed you before? and should I be likely to
begin now? If you will come on Tuesday, you shall have the money, if I
have to pawn some of my furniture to raise it.”

Mr. Mudge was half persuaded, but still sullen. “There’s your
husband,—why doesn’t he work? He is able to. You wouldn’t find any
difficulty in raising the rent, if he would do something.”

“Arthur works already beyond his strength,” was the wife’s slightly
indignant rejoinder (for she could not bear to have any imputation cast
upon _him_); “and some day we shall see what will come of it.”

Just then, her husband stirred in his sleep; and Mary, hastily repeating,
“Call again on Tuesday, and you shall have it,” closed the door, and went
to his bedside.

“They are a proud set,” said Mudge to himself, as he descended the
rickety staircase, which nearly caused him to stumble,—“they are a proud
set; and they say pride and poverty always go together. But, if the rent
isn’t ready on Tuesday, their pride will be likely to meet with a fall,
or my name isn’t Mudge.”

Perceiving that her husband still slept, the artist’s wife took up her
work, and began to ply her needle busily. The work she had received from
the slop-shop consisted of shirts, for which she received ninepence
apiece. She had taken a bundle of six, which, when completed, would
amount to a little less than a crown. By great diligence, she could make
three of these in two days; which would give them an income of not quite
seven shillings per week. Of this sum, one half was obliged to go for the
rent of the miserable room in which they lodged.

By and by, Arthur awoke from the deep sleep in which he had been plunged,
and looked around him.

“It is late,” said he: “the sun is already high; and I must to work.”

He dressed himself hastily, and partook of the food which his wife had
prepared for him.

The next day passed; and Monday afternoon brought to Mrs. Elliott the
sad conviction that she had miscalculated as to the rapidity with which
she could perform her work, and that she would not, after all, be
prepared to meet Mr. Mudge with the rent on the day following. Knowing
his unfeeling nature, she could not doubt that he would insist on their
instantly vacating the apartment. This was to be avoided at all hazards.
She knew her husband’s high spirit; and she feared for the consequences,
if Mr. Mudge should be insolent.

Full of this thought, she took a light gold chain, which in happier days
her husband had presented to her, and proceeded, with reluctant step, to
the pawnbroker’s. It was drawing towards evening; and she hurried through
the streets, scarcely daring to look to the right hand or to the left,
lest she might meet with some interruption.

Solomon Fagin, a Jew, who fully sustained the reputation of his race,
as an avaricious man wholly devoted to the love of gain, stood, with a
cringing expression on his drawn-up features, behind the counter of his
shop in David’s Alley. He was trafficking, or rather seemed to have just
closed a sale, with a young gentleman well dressed and of prepossessing
appearance. The latter made way politely for Mary, who was too much
pre-occupied to acknowledge his courtesy.

“How much will you advance me on this?” asked she, hurriedly, extending
the chain, which had originally been purchased for two guineas.

Solomon looked in her face cunningly, as if to estimate, by the degree of
anxiety she displayed, how little he might venture to offer.

Mary was very nervous, and exceedingly anxious to get home before it grew
much darker. This probably gave her an appearance of solicitude, which
the Jew attributed to destitution.

“These things ish very sheap,” he at length said,—“dog-sheap: people
don’t want ’em. I can’t offer you more than ten shillings, and shall
lose on that.”

The young gentleman had been an attentive spectator of this scene. He
fathomed the cunning of the Jew, and, advancing to the counter, took the
chain in his hands.

“Come, Solomon, this is too bad! You should offer three times as much,
and you would make a good bargain then. You know, as well as I do, that
that chain never cost less than two guineas. Come, come! be honest for

“It ish all very well,” said Solomon, who did not relish the
interruption, “vor young shentleman to talk; but if young shentleman
should keep a pawnbroker’s shop, he would change his mind.”

“Perhaps so; but I will wait till I am a pawnbroker first. But, Solomon,
if you don’t offer more, I’ll take it myself.”

The Jew, who was afraid of losing a good bargain, and internally cursing
the interference of the young gentleman, began to mumble that it was
very hard to press a poor man so,—that he should certainly lose on it.
However, he closed by offering fifteen shillings.

Mrs. Elliott was about to close with this offer; but the other stepped
forward, and said,—

“No, no! this will never do. That chain cost two guineas at least. I am
sure of it; for I bought one precisely similar the other day. Give it to
me, madam,” said he, respectfully, to Mrs. Elliott, “and I will advance
you that sum.”

The artist’s wife accepted his proffer with grateful astonishment, and
hastened to leave the shop. She had gone but a few steps, when she was
overtaken by the chance companion whom she had met at the pawnbroker’s.

“Do not think me bold,” said he, “if I suggest that it is hardly safe to
carry money open in your hand; and, indeed, it is so dark, that it is
hardly safe at all for a lady to pass through the streets unattended. If
you will accept my escort, I shall be most happy to conduct you to your

Mrs. Elliott hesitated. She knew it was scarcely safe to trust to an
entire stranger; but the young man’s conduct thus far had so prepossessed
her in his favor, that she did not refuse.

“Sir,” she replied, after a moment’s hesitation, “I know not whether I am
in the right; but I cannot help trusting you. I do not think you intend
to impose upon me. I _will_ trust to you.”

“You shall not regret your confidence,” said her companion. “May I ask
where you reside?”

“At 16, S⸺ Street,” was the reply of Mrs. Elliott. “I am much indebted
to you, sir, no less for the trouble you are now taking than for the
generosity with which you saved me from being imposed upon by the Jew.”

“Oh!” said the other, laughing, “Solomon is a cunning old fellow, who
will cheat where he gets a chance. No worse Jew for that, or pawnbroker
either. It is their business to cheat; and I fancy Fagin is as much of an
adept at it as any one.

“I hope,” he continued, after a pause, “that you were not driven by
distress to the sale of an article which you must value highly?”

“It was presented to me by my husband,” was the reply. “I would not have
parted with it, but that this was probably the only means of saving
ourselves from being turned out of doors.”

“I am sorry for that,” was the sympathizing reply. “Does your husband
know that you have come out on such an errand?”

“No, or he would have offered to pawn some of his own clothing first. Of
this I was afraid; and it was for this reason that I stole secretly out.”

They had now reached the outer door of the dwelling in the upper part of
which Mr. Elliott lodged. It was necessary for them to part.

In parting, the stranger pressed Mrs. Elliott’s hand, and then walked
rapidly away. She found, to her astonishment, that he had placed the
chain in her hand. But he was now so far distant that she could not call
him back. Thanking him in her heart for this unlooked-for generosity,
Mrs. Elliott went up stairs with a light heart; for she foresaw, that,
with the sum of money of which she had so providentially come into
possession, they would be able to live comfortably for some weeks;
in addition to which, she would have it in her power to procure some
delicacies for her husband’s palate.

After a little consideration, she decided not to mention this adventure
to her husband; as the idea of her selling his gift would be painful to
him, and would do him no good. There was no danger of his inquiring, so
much was he absorbed in his painting. Besides, if he thought at all upon
the subject, he would think she had been out on business connected with
her work.

She hastily passed up stairs, and set about preparing supper for herself
and husband.


The sun was not more punctual to his hour of rising than was the visit of
Mr. Mudge, the landlord, to the lodging of the artist.

“Well,” said he, abruptly, “have you got the rent ready? I can’t wait a
day longer.”

“Nor will it be necessary,” said Mrs. Elliott, calmly. “Here is the

Mr. Mudge, notwithstanding his love of money, looked a little
disappointed at this ready payment. His mind was essentially a vulgar
one; and he felt an instinctive aversion to Mrs. Elliott, whose
superiority to himself he could not help admitting. He had hoped to have
the pleasure of turning them out.

“Well, they won’t always have ready money,” was his internal reflection;
“and, the first good excuse I have, they shall go, bag and baggage.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Elliott was making progress on his painting.

“You deserve the prize, Arthur,” said his wife, after gazing admiringly
upon her husband’s work,—“you deserve it; and I hope that you will be
successful in obtaining it.”

“It has cost me many hours of hard labor,” said the artist, wearily, as
he laid aside his pallet for a moment, and passed his hand across his
brow. “I never felt so great an interest in a picture before; and now two
days’ labor, I think, will complete it. It needs but a few touches.”

As he spoke, Mary saw an unnatural flush upon his cheek, and that his eye
glowed with an unusual brilliancy. She was alarmed.

“Do, Arthur, for my sake, lie down and rest a while. You do not look
well, and sleep will refresh you. You say two days will finish it, and
you have a week before you.”

“I believe I will lie down for a few minutes,” said Arthur; “for my head
aches strangely, and I feel weary.”

He laid down; but it did not refresh him. In a little while, he became
feverish, so that he could not leave his bed. His wife went out to summon
a physician. All her hopes centred in Arthur; and the thought that he
was sick, that he was in danger, quickened her step. She saw nothing
that was going on around her, so intent was she on her object, till
suddenly some one touched her familiarly on the shoulder. She looked
around, and saw by her side the companion whom she had encountered at the

“I am happy to meet you once more,” said he; “but you seem in haste.”

“Yes,” said she, hurriedly; “my husband has been suddenly taken sick, and
I am in pursuit of a physician.”

“Let me relieve you of that duty. If you will return to your husband, who
doubtless needs your presence, I will summon a physician. I know your
lodgings, and will return with medical assistance immediately.”

Mrs. Elliott gratefully accepted this proffer of service, for she had
felt much solicitude. When she returned, she found her husband seized
with a fit of delirium, in which he uttered incoherent sentences, all of
which had some connection with his picture and the approaching exhibition.

In a few minutes, the stranger returned with a physician. To the anxious
inquiries of Mrs. Elliott, the doctor replied,—

“Your husband is suffering from the excitement and fatigue consequent
upon too severe mental exertion. This has thrown him into a fever, from
which it will take time to recover.”

After leaving directions, he withdrew, promising to repeat his visit the
next day.

“How much my poor husband will be disappointed!” Mrs. Elliott could not
help exclaiming. “He must now abandon the hope of presenting his picture
at the exhibition.”

“What!” said her visitor, with interest, “is your husband an artist?”

In reply, Mrs. Elliott led him to a corner of the room, and withdrew the
screen that concealed the painting.

He gazed upon it with deep admiration for some minutes, and then said,
with enthusiasm,—

“Ah! this is indeed beautiful!”

“It is nearly completed,” said the artist’s wife; “but that will be of no
service to us now.” And she let fall the screen, and sighed heavily.

A sudden idea struck the visitor.

“Will you trust the painting to me for a few days?” he asked. “You shall
not regret it.”

Mrs. Elliott, convinced that her husband would not recover in time to
finish it, assented without difficulty. She never thought of distrusting
one who had been of such essential service.

“Thank you,” said the visitor. “As you have reposed this confidence in
me, I must acquaint you with my name and address, that you may know whom
you have trusted.”

He handed her a card containing the following direction: “F. Sedley, 7,
Covent Place.”

“I will send for it this afternoon,” said he, as he withdrew, “and will
call in upon you again to-day or to-morrow. I shall be anxious to learn
how your husband gets on.”

The delirium which attended the early stages of Mr. Elliott’s
indisposition continued for some days. At length, consciousness returned.

“How long have I been sick?” he inquired.

He was told.

“And what day is it now?”

“Wednesday, the fourteenth.”

“And to-morrow the exhibition will take place. Oh that I could have held
out but two days longer! I would have asked for no more. In that time I
should have completed my painting, and it would have been entered in
competition. Fate seems to be against me.”

He groaned, and covered his face with his hands.

“But,” said his wife, soothingly, “remember, dear Arthur, that, if
Fate seems against us, God is always with us. He orders every thing in
infinite wisdom.”

“But,” was the hardly reconciled answer, “his ways are very difficult of
comprehension. The wisdom is hidden. I cannot see it.”

“Yet,” said his wife, full of hopeful confidence, “if we trust in him, we
shall not be deceived.”

“But,” said Arthur, after a pause, “how shall we live in the mean time? I
can do nothing now for our support; and much of your time is taken up in
attendance upon me.”

“I am richer than you think,” said Mary, opening her purse, and
displaying the sum she had received from her visitor, much of which was
still untouched.

To his inquiries how she obtained it, she replied by unfolding the
whole story, and indulged in the warmest encomiums on the generosity
and kindness of Mr. Sedley, whose providential interposition had saved
her from being imposed upon by the avaricious pawnbroker. Arthur was
interested in the recital, and expressed a wish to become acquainted
with him. After a pause, he inquired for the painting. “Let me look upon
it once more,” said he. “Perhaps I shall be better able to judge of its
merits after a lapse of time.”

Mary looked embarrassed. “Excuse me,” said she to her husband; “but Mr.
Sedley expressed a wish to carry it home with him for a few days, and
I could not refuse. Doubtless he wished to exhibit it to some of his
friends; and in that way it may find a purchaser.”

Arthur acquiesced in this conclusion, and approved of the course which
Mary had adopted.


It was the morning of the exhibition,—a clear, bright morning in
September, which seemed to combine all the balmy softness of summer with
a freedom from its excessive heat. The sun shone down upon the numberless
roofs of the great city, and found its way into the lanes and alleys,
lighting them up, for the hour, with a brightness not their own. Through
the little window—the only one—by which light was admitted into the room
where the Elliotts lodged, the golden rays streamed in, and lent their
glory to the face of the sleeping artist, who had not yet awakened from
the night’s slumber.

There was a knock at the door. Mary opened it; and Mr. Sedley made his

“To-day,” said he, “is the day of the exhibition. Will you accompany me?
I have a free pass.”

“But my husband?” said she, doubtfully. “I cannot leave him.”

“I have provided for that. I have brought a nurse with me, who will
take your place, and remain here with your husband. She is skilful and
experienced, and you can safely trust him in her hands.”

Here the sleeper awoke, and Mary introduced Mr. Sedley to her husband.
The latter thanked him warmly for the interest he had manifested in their
welfare, and insisted on Mary’s accompanying him to the exhibition.

“Though I shall have no part in it,” he said, “I still wish to hear all
about it.”

Mary could no longer refuse, but, dressing herself as neatly as her
limited wardrobe would admit, prepared to accompany Mr. Sedley. To
her surprise, she found a private carriage waiting, with the usual
accompaniments of a coachman and a footman; the latter of whom very
deferentially opened the door of the carriage, and waited for her to

She began to entertain new ideas of her companion’s consequence. The
carriage dashed boldly through the narrow streets, until it emerged from
them into the more fashionable and crowded thoroughfares.

Mary found sufficient to amuse her in the splendid carriages, many of
them surmounted with a coronet, all hastening in the same direction with
themselves. There was an unusual number in the streets,—a circumstance
which was easily explained by the interest and curiosity which had been
awakened by the exhibition.

At length, they reached the magnificent hall in which it was to be held.
The porter bowed deferentially to Mr. Sedley as he made way for him to

And now they are in the room. What a magnificent collection! It
represented the combined genius of the British artists, nearly all of
whom had contributed to it. Mary, who, though no artist, had caught
something of the spirit from her husband, looked about her in speechless

“This is indeed grand!” said she, at last. “It surpasses my highest

“It is indeed,” said Mr. Sedley. “England has good cause to be proud of
her artists. But see! do you not recognize an old acquaintance?”

Mary looked, and, to her unbounded surprise, beheld “The Transfiguration
of Christ”—her husband’s painting—suspended against the wall. Mr. Sedley
hastened to explain.

“I thought it a pity,” he said, “that so fine a picture should be lost
to the exhibition. I accordingly hired an artist to give it the last
touches, and had it brought here.”

Mary thanked him with a glance full of gratitude. She looked again, and
beheld her husband’s picture surrounded by eager admirers. Among them
were the titled and noble; and it was with an emotion of pride that she
heard the expressions of admiration which it elicited, and the eager
questionings as to the author’s name.

“I do not know,” she heard one say: “I believe it is some _protégé_ of
Sir Francis Sedley. At all events, he presented it.”

“Sir Francis Sedley?” she inquired, pausing, and looking in her
companion’s face.

“I cannot deny it,” said he, smiling. “But come: let us draw nearer to
the head of the hall: the prizes are to be announced.”

They pressed forward; and the chairman of the committee arose, and after
a few preliminary remarks, in which he commented on the difficulty they
had experienced in making the award, and congratulated himself on the
splendid collection which had that day been brought together, announced
that the first prize, of five hundred pounds, was awarded to Arthur
Elliott for his painting entitled “The Transfiguration.”

Loud shouts rang through the hall.

Mary was oppressed by the fulness of her joy.

“Let me go out into the air,—I shall feel relieved,” she said.

Sir Francis kindly accompanied her.

“Oh, sir!” said she, “it is to you that we are indebted for this great
joy. Poor Arthur! how he will be delighted!”

“Will you not return to him and communicate it?” asked Sir Francis.

A hackney coach was called, and Mrs. Elliott soon arrived at her lodgings.

“Oh, Arthur!” said she. “The prize! the prize!” It was all that she could

“Who has got it?” asked the sick man, eagerly, as he rose in his bed.

“It is yours! They have awarded it to you!”

A proud flush passed over the faint cheek of the artist. “I am
satisfied,—I am happy,” said he.

The joy occasioned by his success operated most beneficially on the
sunken energies of the artist. Before many weeks, he recovered fully, so
as to resume his art. His prize painting was sold for a great sum to an
English nobleman, who was bent on adding it to his collection.

       *       *       *       *       *

At present, there is a beautiful cottage situated a few miles out of
London, in the suburbs. There is a pleasant garden connected with it,
and it seems the abode of peace and happiness. This is the residence of
the eminent artist, Arthur Elliott, and his happy wife. There are few
households to whom it has fallen to enjoy such unalloyed happiness as
theirs. They have not forgotten the author of their prosperity. In the
library of Sir Francis Sedley there hangs a beautiful picture,—a perfect
gem of art,—on the back of which is traced, in delicate characters,—

“Arthur Elliott to his Benefactor.”


    Through the silent thoroughfares
      Of a city rich and great,
    Shivering in the pitiless blast,
      Walked a poor child, desolate.

    Bright and cold the stars looked down,
      Glittering in a field of blue;
    But they brought no warmth to her
      Whom the winds pierced through and through.

    Hugging tight her ragged shawl,
      On she hies with hurried feet,
    Gliding like a phantom form
      Through the darkness-shrouded street.

    Cheerful homes are very near;
      Happy firesides hem her in;
    And she hears from many a window
      Careless childhood’s merry din.

    No warm fireside her awaiteth;
      On no couch her limbs shall lie:
    For the cold street is _her_ dwelling;
      And _her_ chamber’s roof, the sky.

    Fiercely blows the northern blast,
      Penetrating every fold
    Of her thin shawl; and she whispers,
      Shivering, “I am very cold!”

    Hark! the bells with brazen clangor,
      Rising every moment higher,
    Peal upon the startled city
      The terrific cry of “Fire!”

    O’er the child’s face, wan and weary,
      Comes a quick flush of delight,
    As she marks a lofty steeple
      Wreathed in spires of lurid light.

    Onward with the hurrying crowd
      Pressed the child through wind and storm,
    With one thought to cheer her bosom,—
      She would once again be warm.

    _Once again!_ Through every fibre
      Creeps a warm, reviving glow,
    As with outstretched hands the maiden
      Standeth in the street below.

    Little reck the gallant firemen,
      As their saving task they ply,
    Of the poor child who is standing
      Where the burning cinders lie.

    “Stand from under! stand from under!”
      Rises high the voice of all,
    As the swaying steeple totters,
      Slowly totters, to its fall.

    One there was that did not heed it,
      One there was that did not stir,
    Till too late! The blazing rafters
      In their fall enveloped _her_.

    Child of want and heir of sorrow,
      Chill and famished, weak and faint,
    Thou hast passed from out the shadow;
      Thou _no more_ art desolate.



We are apt to look to the Old World exclusively for startling contrasts
between fashion and splendor on the one hand, and squalid wretchedness
and crime on the other. With an air of complacency, we speak of our great
and happy republic, as affording a retreat for the homeless, and a refuge
for the oppressed. Yet, in the face of all this, it would be difficult to
find in any European city a more thoroughly vicious district than that of
the Five Points in New York. Few, doubtless, of the fashionable crowds
who daily promenade Broadway, have ever penetrated its recesses,—few
but would shrink in dismay from horrors of which they had not even
dreamed, if they should do so. But it is not our purpose to moralize upon
that which has already begun to attract the attention, and inspire the
exertions, of philanthropic hearts and hands. That task we leave to abler
pens. Enough that we have hinted at the character of the locality in
which our story takes its rise.

One of the worst recesses of this notorious district enjoys the
singularly euphonious name of “Cow Bay.” The entrance to it is a filthy
arched passage-way, round which are crowded miserable tenements; so
miserable, that the scanty sunlight, which finds its way through the
dirt-begrimed windows, seems to shrink away, as if it were more than
half ashamed of the company it is in. In front of these houses, you
may see men whose faces betray no evidence of intelligence or virtue;
women whose miserable and woe-begone expression, perchance loud voice
and angry vituperation, attest that from them all that renders the sex
attractive has for ever departed; children—and this is the saddest sight
of all—dirty and sickly, and who are children only in size and in years;
for upon their hearts the happy influences of genuine childhood have
never fallen. For them, alas! life is a rough pathway, paved with flinty
stones, which pierce their feet at every step.

A tall man, with a shambling gait, and hat drawn over his eyes, walked
swiftly through the arched passage-way above alluded to, and, muttering
an imprecation upon a child who got in his way, entered one of the
houses, whose front door stood invitingly open, and, groping his way up
the staircase, which was quite obscure, although it was mid-day, opened a
door at the head of the staircase, and entered.

It was such a room as the appearance of the house might lead one to
expect. It was, however, furnished more ambitiously; as at least
one-half the floor was covered with a rag carpet, and the scanty
furniture was arranged with rather more taste than might have been
anticipated. By the window sat a girl of twelve, sewing. Between her and
the children who were playing outside there was a wide contrast. She was
perfectly clean and neat in her attire; and her face, though pale,—as it
might well be, shut up as she was in a noisome quarter of a great city,
with no chance to breathe the fresh country air, or roam at will through
green fields,—was unusually winning and attractive.

The man we have referred to threw himself with an air of weariness on a
chair near the door, and muttered ungraciously,—

“Why haven’t you got dinner ready? I’m hungry.”

“Is it time?” asked the child, springing from her seat quickly, as if
afraid of having neglected her duty.

“Time enough,” returned the man; “for I’ve been at work this morning, and
have got an appetite like a wolf. Besides, I want you to be through soon;
for I shall send you out shopping this afternoon. Has any one been in to
see me this forenoon, Helen?”

“No,” said Helen (for that was her name).

“Good. I don’t care to have visitors.”

Helen quickly brought out, from a closet hard by, a plate of cold meat,
some cold vegetables, and a plate of bread and butter. The man drew his
chair to the table, and during the next quarter of an hour, in which he
was so busily occupied with satisfying his appetite that he had no time
for any thing else, said not a word to the child, who, on her part, was
too much accustomed to his manner to utter a word.

At length, having accomplished his task in a manner so satisfactory that
very little remained on the table, he drew his chair away, and motioned
the child to take her place at it.

“Take your place and eat, Helen,” said he, a little less gruffly than
before; “and, while you are eating, I will tell you of a little plan I
have formed for you.”

“How do you like living here?” he resumed when she had seated herself.

She looked into his face, as if to know whether it would do to express
her real opinion. His face was not so forbidding as it appeared at times,
and she ventured to say,—

“I—I think there are some places which I should like better.”

“No doubt, no doubt, Helen. I think I have known pleasanter places
myself. But where do you think you should like to live best; that is,
supposing you could live wherever you chose?”

“Oh!” said the child, her eyes brightening, and her whole face glowing
with excitement, “I should like, above all things, to live in the
country, where I could run about the fields, and hear the birds sing,
and—and⸺ Oh! the country is so beautiful! I think I lived there once,—did
I not, uncle?”

“Yes, Helen; but it is a good while ago. How would you like to live there
once more?”

“May I? Can I? Will you let me?” asked the child, eagerly.

“Perhaps so. But it will depend on whether you will be good, and try to
please me.”

“Oh! I will do whatever you say.”

“Well, that sounds well. Then I’ll tell you what my plans are, and where
it is that you are to go.”

So saying, he drew from his pocket a copy of the “New York Tribune,” and
read aloud the following advertisement:—

    “WANTED, by a family a few miles distant from the city, a young
    girl, of from twelve to fourteen, to serve as nursery-maid and
    companion for two young children. Address

                                                     “P. H. GREGORY.”

“There,” said the reader, laying down his paper, “is a situation which
will just suit you. You like children; and pretty much all you will have
to do will be to attend to them. Then Mr. Gregory lives in a beautiful
place. He is a rich man, and can afford it. Would you like to go?”

“Above all things,” said Helen, eagerly (for to her the prospect of a
release from the dismal place in which she lived was most pleasing).

“And you wouldn’t miss me, your affectionate uncle?” said the man, with a
peculiar expression.

The child’s eyes fell. She blamed herself frequently for not holding
in higher regard the only relative of whom she knew any thing: yet
so ungenial was his nature, and so harsh and forbidding was he nearly
always, that it would have been singular if he had inspired affection in
any one. So it happened, that, in the joy of the anticipated change, she
had not for a moment thought of the separation which it must occasion
between herself and her uncle.

“Of course,” she said, timidly, “I shall be sorry to leave you”——

“You needn’t say any thing more, child,” was the reply. “I don’t profess
any particular affection for you, and I don’t believe you feel any for
me; and you may be sure I shouldn’t have proposed this removal to you if
I had not some object of my own in it. Would you like to know what that

“Yes,” she said, hesitatingly.

“Well, I will tell you; because it is necessary that you should fully
understand, before you go, on what conditions I allow you to do so. But,
if you dare to impart to a breathing soul a hint of what I tell you, I
will seek you out, and—well, no matter,” he continued, seeing that his
threat made her turn pale. “You must know that this Mr. Gregory, with
whom I am going to place you, once cheated me out of a large sum of
money, which I cannot hope to regain, except by stratagem. Now, I want
you to get in there, and I will then give you instructions how to manage.
They keep a large amount of valuable plate in the lower part of the
house. It will be comparatively easy for you, when you are once there, to
render me essential service by opening the front door to me, so that I
may be able to secure it without detection; and then”——

“But,” said the girl, shrinking in dismay from this proposition, “would
not that be robbery?”

“Robbery? Pooh, child! Didn’t I tell you that he had cheated me out of
twice the value of the plate? And, as I can’t get my pay in any other
way, it’s perfectly proper to get it in that.”

Helen was no casuist. She had never had any one to teach her right
principles; but she had an instinctive feeling that this was wrong. She
wished to remonstrate, but dared not. Her uncle saw her embarrassment,
and guessed its cause. He rose from his seat, and stood sternly
confronting her.

“Helen Armstrong,” said he, in a compressed voice, “unless you promise me
faithfully to perform the part I have assigned you, I will bind you out
to Brady Tim, the grocer.”

This Brady Tim was a repulsive character, and kept a grocery of the
lowest kind nearly opposite the rooms occupied by the girl and her
uncle. He was a complete tyrant, and would often beat his children in
the most unmerciful manner. Their shrieks, which she was often doomed
to hear, would always make her blood run cold, and inspired her with an
inconceivable dread of the man who occasioned them. This her uncle well
understood; and he was well aware that no threat which he could utter
would make so deep an impression upon the child’s mind.

“You have your choice,” said he. “Shall I tell Brady Tim that you will
come to-morrow morning? or will you go to Mr. Gregory’s?”

“I will go,” said the child, overawed.

“And you will follow my directions?”


“Then preparations must instantly be made. I shall have to buy you a few
things to have you go looking decently. Have you got a good bonnet?”

“Only my old one, and that is bent every way.”

“Well, I will get you a new one. You will also want a shawl and some
gloves. As you are to be a companion to the children, it will be a
recommendation if you go looking neat and comfortable. It won’t take long
to purchase them; and whatever else you need I can send you afterwards.
Wait a moment, and I will be ready to accompany you.”

He went into the inner room, and quickly emerged, completely
metamorphosed in his personal appearance by a white wig and whiskers,
and a staff, on which he leaned heavily. The girl looked at him in

“What sort of a grandfather do you think I shall make?” said he,
laughing. “I shall go out with you to Mr. Gregory’s; and I have no doubt,
that, in consideration of my gray hairs, they will be induced to take my
grand-daughter into their service.”

So saying, he left the room, accompanied by the child, who had improved
the interval in smoothing her hair, over which she placed an ugly straw
bonnet, which, however, was shortly to be displaced by one of a prettier
pattern. Their purchases completed, they stepped into an omnibus, which
would convey them within half a mile of Mr. Gregory’s.


A few miles distant from the city was a tasteful brown cottage, having a
piazza on all sides, and surrounded by a carefully trained hedge. This
was the summer retreat of P. H. Gregory, a New York merchant.

It was a warm day in June. Two children, a boy and girl, respectively of
six and eight years, were playing in the yard, when they espied through
the hedge an old man, with hair and whiskers white as the driven snow,
accompanied by a young girl, toiling, apparently with great difficulty,
towards the house, notwithstanding the assistance he derived from a
stout cane, on which he leaned heavily.

Attracted by the sight, they ran into the house, calling on their mother
to look out and see. She had scarcely done so, when, to her surprise, she
found that the pair had entered the gate, and were coming towards the

“Is Mrs. Gregory within?” asked the old man of the servant who answered
the bell.

Mrs. Gregory anticipated the reply by coming forward.

“Poor old man!” said she, compassionately (for the attire which Armstrong
had donned for the occasion was singularly threadbare, and evinced the
lowest depth of destitution),—“poor old man! what can I do for you?”

“I have brought my grand-daughter with me, good lady,” said the old man,
feebly, “in answer to your advertisement. She’s a good girl, and I wish
I could keep her with me; but the times are hard, and it costs a sight to
live; and so I’ve been thinking the best thing I could do is to get her a
good place, and a good mistress, as I am sure you would be to her, madam.”

Mrs. Gregory’s sympathies were enlisted in the child’s favor by this
artful address, as well as by her own modest and downcast look. She was
not aware, however, that not a little of her confusion arose from the
dissimulation in which she was compelled to take a part.

“What is your grand-daughter’s name?” asked Mrs. Gregory. “She seems

“She is only twelve; but she’s capable,—very capable. When her poor
grandmother was sick for nearly a year before she died,”—and Armstrong
wiped his eyes with his ragged sleeve at the sorrowful thought,—“Helen
took the whole care of her and of me; and no one could find a better

“It must have been a great care to you, Helen,” said Mrs. Gregory, kindly.

Helen had been so much taken aback by the last fabrication respecting a
grandmother of whom she had never heard, that she was barely able to say,
in a low voice,—

“Yes, ma’am.”

“But you will never regret it, my child,” said the lady. “God will not
fail to reward good children. So your name is Helen?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I like the name. I had a child of that name once. Were she living, she
would be about your age. But”—and the lady sighed deeply—“she disappeared
one day, and we never could find any trace of her.”

Had Mrs. Gregory been an attentive observer, she would have seen a gleam
of intelligence pass over the old man’s face at this moment; but she was
too much absorbed by her sad thoughts.

“I think,” said she, after a pause, “that I will engage you, Helen,
although you are rather young for my purpose. When can you come?”

“She is ready now,” said her grandfather. “I can send her the rest of her

“Very well. Then you may come in, and take off your things.”

“Come, Helen, and give a parting kiss to your poor old grandfather. He
will be very lonely without you, my dear child; but he knows that he has
left you with a kind lady, who will care for you.”

Helen advanced to her grandfather’s embrace with very little alacrity. As
he pressed his lips lightly to her cheek, he whispered, so that she only
could hear,—

“Keep your eyes open;” and then added aloud, “Be a good girl, Helen, and
mind the kind lady who has engaged you, in all respects. Remember all
the lessons I have taught you; and do not forget,” he continued, with a
meaning look, “what I told you before I came away.”

Helen replied faintly in the affirmative. Mrs. Gregory attributed her
evident embarrassment to the fact that she was about to leave her only
relative to go among strangers; and she resolved in her heart to lighten,
as well as she might, the sorrow of the child.

“I will bring your clothes to-morrow, my dear grand-daughter,” said
Armstrong, as he rose slowly from his chair, and, resuming his cane,
walked feebly from the house.

As soon, however, as he was fully out of sight, he straightened his bowed
form, and walked rapidly onward till overtaken by a passing omnibus,
which he entered, and was soon carried back to the city.


Helen was not long in making the acquaintance of Ellen and Frank Gregory,
the children of her employer, over whom she was expected thenceforth to
have oversight.

Those who have always lived in the country, or to whom frequent visits
have made it familiar, can hardly appreciate the depth of enjoyment which
it brought to a child, who, like Helen, had been confined for years in
the most noisome portion of a great city. To her, the most common objects
seemed invested with an interest altogether new; and she plucked with as
much eagerness the dandelions and buttercups which covered the greensward
in profusion as if they had been the rarest exotics. There is a
freemasonry in children which does away with formal introductions and the
barriers of etiquette. When, two hours after her companion’s departure,
Helen and the children came bounding in, flushed with exercise, Mrs.
Gregory had an opportunity to observe—what before had escaped her
notice—that Helen was more than ordinarily pretty. Something there was
in her expression that seemed to strike the chords of memory; but Mrs.
Gregory dismissed it as only a chance resemblance.

“Helen,” said she, calling the child to her side, “have you always lived
in the city?”

“For a long time, madam. I cannot remember ever to have lived anywhere

“And do you like it as well as the country?”

“I do not like it at all,—it is so dark and dirty and close. The sun does
not shine there as it does here; and I could not run out into the fields,
but all day long I had to sit alone.”

“Alone? Wasn’t your grandfather with you?”

“Yes,” said Helen, casting down her eyes. “He would come home to meals;
but he had to attend to his business.”

“He seems too old and infirm to be able to do much,” said Mrs. Gregory,

Helen was about to disclaim the age and infirmity, when the thought of
the near relation in which Armstrong stood to her came over her mind in
time, and she only answered, “Yes, ma’am.”

“How long since your grandmother died?”

This, too, was an embarrassing question for Helen; but the necessity of
saying something prompted her to reply, “A good while.”

Perceiving, though she could not conjecture why, that her questions
confused Helen, Mrs. Gregory desisted.

It was about four o’clock on the succeeding afternoon that Mrs. Gregory,
who was sitting at the window, detected the bent form of the assumed old
man slowly making his way up the hill.

“Your grandfather is coming,” said she to Helen, who sat beside her.

Helen tried to look as joyful as the approach of her only relative might
be expected to make her; but the thought of the deception which she
was even then practising towards a family who were showing her great
kindness, and the still greater wrong which she was required to do them,
made it a difficult task for one no better versed in dissimulation.

Mrs. Gregory noticed it no further than to form the opinion that she was
a little odd in her manners.

As Helen expected, Armstrong requested her to walk a little apart
with him; and then, dropping at once the whining tone he had assumed,
inquired, quickly and peremptorily,—

“Well, what have you discovered?”

“Nothing,” said Helen, timidly, and as if deprecating his anger.

“Nothing?” he echoed, his eyes lighting with indignation. “What am I to
understand by that?

“Come, child,” said he, softening his tone, as he saw that she was
terrified by his roughness, “I don’t mean you any harm; but the fact is,
I have placed you here to help me, and help me you must, otherwise I
shall be compelled to carry you back to live with me in New York. Perhaps
you would like to go?”

“Oh, no, no!” said Helen. “Don’t carry me back! Let me stay here!”

“Well, so I will, if you behave well. Now, tell me truly, have you no
idea where they keep the silver? I know they have a large quantity of it.”

Helen reluctantly admitted, that, although she did not know, she could
form an idea.

“Where?” asked Armstrong, eagerly.

“In the pantry, at the west corner of the house.”

“Humph! And do they lock the door at night?”

“Yes; but the key remains in the lock.”

“So far, so good. Does any one sleep in the lower part of the house?”

“No one.”

“Better still.”

A moment afterwards, Armstrong added, a new thought striking him,—

“I have not seen any dog near the house. Do they keep any?”


“That is lucky. A determined dog is sometimes a troublesome customer. I
recollect, one night, Dick Hargrave and I had planned a little expedition
of this kind, when it was all broken up by a cursed bull-dog, who rushed
out upon us as if he would tear us to pieces; and, to tell the truth, he
did tear Dick’s coat off his back.”

Helen listened in dismay; for it revealed to her what she had not
known,—that her uncle had been implicated in affairs of a similar kind
before. It will be remembered that Armstrong, in proposing to her to
co-operate with him, had used the pretext that Mr. Gregory had cheated
him, and that he was resolved to repay himself. This, Helen had believed
at the time; but his present unguarded remarks led her to entertain
strong doubts of its truth. Her strong natural dislike for the duplicity
and treachery required at her hands determined her, in spite of her
habitual timidity and fear of her companion, to venture a remonstrance.
This, however, she delayed till he should make a specific demand upon her.

He resumed: “I don’t know but there’s a pretty good chance of success.
To-night is Tuesday night. I can’t very well get ready before Friday.
On that night, you must contrive, in some manner,—taking care to incur
no suspicion,—to come down stairs and unlock the front door. I shall be
on hand at one o’clock. Be very particular about the time; for what I do
must be done quickly.”

“But, uncle, wouldn’t that be robbery?”

“Robbery! Didn’t I tell you that old Gregory had cheated me out of more
than the sum I shall take?”

“But they have treated me kindly; and it makes me feel ashamed to know
that I am trying to injure them, uncle”——

“Don’t call me uncle again! I’m no uncle of yours,” said Armstrong,
roughly. Noticing the child’s look of surprise, he added, “There, the
murder is out! I had intended to treat you as a niece; but you don’t
deserve it. It is time to talk to you in a different strain. I declare
to you, Helen, that, unless you comply with my command, I will make you
repent it most bitterly. Do you hear?”

“Yes,” said Helen, terrified no less by his looks than his words.

“Then take care that you remember: Friday night, at one. And now, as we
understand each other, that is all that is necessary.”

They returned to the house in silence. Armstrong, with a hypocritical
whine, thanked Mrs. Gregory for her kindness to his dear grand-daughter,
who, he was glad to find, seemed so contented and happy in her new

“You will pardon an old man’s tears,” said he, drawing his hand across
his eyes; “but she is all that is left to me now.”

“What a good old man!” thought Mrs. Gregory, as she hastened to
assure him that whatever she could do to add to the comfort of his
grand-daughter would cheerfully be done.

As for Helen, she was astonished and confused at what she had discovered.
She had always been led to believe that Armstrong was her uncle, and had
more than once reproached herself for the dislike she could not help
entertaining for him. Now he had himself disclaimed the relationship; and
Helen was left to conjecture fruitlessly who and what she was.


We must carry the reader back some nine or ten years. In front of a
pleasant country residence, a child of three years sat on the grass,
plucking the flowers that grew at her feet, and then tossing them
from her. Ever and anon she would utter a cry of childish delight, as
a gaudily-painted butterfly flew past her, and would stretch out her
little hands to arrest its flight; but the wanderer of the air found no
difficulty in eluding the tiny hands of the child.

At length, as if weary of her pastime, she rose from her grassy seat, and
tottled towards the open gate, out of which she passed, and strayed along
the path by the roadside, pausing where fancy prompted. Her disappearance
had not been noted by those in the house, partly because their attention
was occupied by a tall, swarthy woman, with fierce black eyes, who was
at that moment asking, or rather demanding, alms of the mistress of the

“We are not in the habit,” said the latter, “of giving money; but
whatever food you may require will be cheerfully given.”

“I don’t want any food,” said the woman, abruptly. “You talk as if
victuals was the only thing one could need. I have had something to eat
already. I want money, I tell you.”

“Then why don’t you work for it?” asked the lady, somewhat offended at
the boldness of her speech.

“Because I don’t see why I should work my life out while others are
living in plenty. There are plenty of fine ladies who wouldn’t lift their
fingers if it was to save a life. Am I not as good as they? Why, then,
should they fare any better than I?”

“That I do not pretend to say. I only know that he is most happy who
strives to content himself with that station in which the Almighty has
placed him.”

“Oh! it is all very well for those to talk of being contented who have
every thing to make them so. Very praiseworthy it is, to be sure!” said
the woman, laughing scornfully.

The violence of her language increased to such an extent, that Mrs.
Gregory—for it was she—found it necessary to order her to leave the
house. She did so, but not without many imprecations. As she strode along
with hasty steps, she espied by the roadside a little girl, holding in
her hand a flower that she had just plucked.

“Isn’t it _pitty_?” said the child, holding it up.

A thought struck the woman, and she arrested her steps.

“Where do you live, little girl?” she asked, softening her voice as much
as practicable, so as not to alarm the child.

“I live there,” said the little girl, pointing to the house the woman had
just quitted.

“Yes, yes,” muttered the latter to herself; “you’re the child of that
proud lady that refused me what I asked. Perhaps she may repent it.”

“Would you like to go with me?” she asked, turning once more to the
child. “I will show you where there are flowers a great deal prettier.”

“Yes,” said the unsuspecting child, gaining her feet, and placing her
hand in the woman’s.

Was there no magic in the soft touch of that little hand that could turn
away that bad woman from her wicked purpose?

Alas! when the heart becomes familiar with crime, all the gentler parts
of the nature become hard and callous.

“Would you like to have me take you in my arms, and then we should get
there quicker?” said the woman, who knew it would not do to accommodate
herself to the child’s slow pace.

The latter made no resistance; and, with the little girl in her arms,
the woman walked swiftly along. She soon turned aside from the street,
for fear of attracting a degree of observation,—which, under present
circumstances, would be embarrassing to her,—and took her way, by a less
frequented road, to the city.

The child soon became restless, and wished to go home. The woman assured
her that she was carrying her there. Before long, the regular motion
of walking acted as a sedative upon the child, and she fell asleep. Her
bearer made the most of this opportunity, and walked with quickened steps
towards her haunt—for home she had none—in the great city, which she had
already entered. Some whom she met gazed with curious eyes at the woman
and her burden, and could not help noting the contrast between the two in
dress: but no one felt called upon to interfere; and so she reached her

The next day saw Helen—for this the woman discovered to be the child’s
name—stripped of her tasteful attire, and clothed in a ragged and dirty
dress, suited to the company into which she had fallen. At the same time,
her abundant curls were cut off close to her head, principally to render
more difficult the chance of recognition.

The woman found Helen of essential service in her line. Though disfigured
by her uncouth dress and the loss of her curls, her beauty was
sufficiently striking to draw many a coin from compassionate strangers,
which would not otherwise have been obtained. This little episode
completed, we resume the main thread of our narrative.


Notwithstanding the kind treatment which Helen received in her new home,
she did not seem happy. Although the companions among which she had been
thrown had not been of a nature to give her very elevated ideas of moral
rectitude, something within told her that the act required of her would
be one of the basest ingratitude. The more she thought of it, the more
her heart recoiled from it. Yet so accustomed was she to obey the man
Armstrong without question,—not so much from affection as from fear and a
sense of duty,—that she had hardly admitted to herself the possibility
of refusing to comply with his demands. Now, however, that he had himself
confessed that no relationship existed between them, the force of the
latter consideration was not a little weakened; and, as fear decreases in
the absence of those who inspire it, she began now to consider in what
way she could contrive to avoid it.

Circumstances occurred before the dreaded Friday night which served to
hasten her decision. On the day previous, while roaming through the
fields with Ellen and Frank Gregory, in jumping hastily from a stone
wall, her foot turned, and her ankle was severely sprained. The pain was
so violent that she nearly fainted, and was quite unable to make her way
to the house, which was some quarter of a mile distant. The children
were exceedingly frightened, and, returning in breathless haste, gave an
immediate alarm.

Two men were speedily obtained, who, constructing a soft litter, conveyed
Helen to the house, without occasioning her much additional pain. A
physician was at once summoned. Meanwhile, Helen was put to bed, where
she received every attention. Mrs. Gregory had a warm heart, which
suffering in any form was sure to reach; and, had Helen been her own
child, she could not have been more tenderly cared for.

The physician decided that it was nothing very serious; though he
recommended, as a necessary precaution, that the injured member should
not be used for a fortnight or more, lest inflammation might ensue.

Helen did not hear him pronounce this sentence. When, however, she was
informed of it by Mrs. Gregory, after his departure, her mind at once
reverted to the fact that it would be an insuperable obstacle to her
performing the part assigned her. Actuated by the relief which the
thought brought to her, and without thinking of the manner in which it
would be construed, she involuntarily exclaimed,—

“Oh! I am so glad!”

“Glad!” exclaimed Mrs. Gregory, in astonishment. “What can you mean? You
surely cannot mean that you are glad you will be confined to the house by

Helen was embarrassed. She knew she could not explain herself without
telling all; and that she had not yet determined upon. At length she

“Because it will prevent me from doing something that I did not want to

“But why did you not want to do it?” asked Mrs. Gregory.

“Because I do not think it would have been right.”

“Then why would you have done it at all, even if you had been well
enough, if it was wrong?” asked Mrs. Gregory, more puzzled than ever.

“Because I was afraid to refuse,” said Helen, in a low tone.

“It was nothing that I required of you, I am sure,” said her mistress.


“It surely could not be that your grandfather would require of you any
thing improper?”

Helen was silent.

“Then it is so. My dear child,” pursued the lady, kindly, “I have lived
longer than you, and naturally have more knowledge of the world. I need
not say that I have every disposition to befriend you, not only for your
own sake, but for the sake of my own little Helen, who, had she remained
to me, would have been about your age. Will you not, then, confide in
me so far as to inform me what it was that your grandfather required of

Helen considered a moment, and then, with a rapidity of decision which
sometimes comes after long and anxious thought, decided to communicate
every thing.

“I will tell you every thing,” she said, “if you will promise that no
harm shall come to the man who brought me here.”

“Your grandfather?”

“Will you promise?” asked Helen, anxiously.

“Yes, Helen,” said Mrs. Gregory: “though I cannot conceive what is to be
the nature of your revelation, I will promise that no harm shall befall
your grandfather.”

“You are so good and kind,” said the child, “that I can trust to what you
say. Then I will tell you, first of all, that the one who came with me is
not my grandfather.”

“Not your grandfather?” echoed Mrs. Gregory, in surprise.

“No. He is not even an old man. He only dressed himself up so when he
came here.”

“And what made him do that?”

“Because he thought you would pity him, and be more ready to take me.”

“Is he any relation to you?”

“I thought he was my uncle,” returned Helen, “until he came here last
time. Then he told me that he was no relation.”

“Where are your relations?”

“I don’t know,” said Helen, thoughtfully. “I suppose I must have had some
once; but I can’t remember any thing about them. I have lived with my—I
mean Mr. Armstrong, ever since I can recollect.”

“And what was it he wanted you to do? Why was he so anxious to have you
come here?”

“Because⸺ You mustn’t blame me,” said Helen, earnestly, lifting her eyes
to Mrs. Gregory’s face; “for it made me very unhappy to think of doing
it. But he wanted me to leave the door open to-morrow night, so that he
could get in and carry off the silver.”

“Is it possible?” exclaimed Mrs. Gregory. “And he wished to implicate you
in such a crime?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Helen. “He told me that was what he wanted me to come
here for; and then I didn’t want to come at all. But he threatened me if
I did not. Then, when he was here last time, I tried to persuade him to
give up his design; but he wouldn’t listen to me, and I didn’t dare to
say any thing more.”

“You said, Helen,” remarked Mrs. Gregory, “that you never knew about your
relations. Can’t you remember any thing that happened when you was a
little child?”

“No,” said Helen, “not much; but I think I must have lived in the
country once, though I can’t remember when. There was an old woman, very
cross, that I used to be with before Mr. Armstrong took me. She used to
beat me sometimes.”

“How did she look?” said the lady, feeling a strange interest—for which
she found it difficult to account—in the child’s story.

“She was very tall; and she used to look at me—oh! so fiercely!”

“And is there nothing, no little keepsake, that you have, to remind you
of those childish days?”

“Yes,” said Helen, “there was one. It was an ivory ring that I have
always carried around with me. The tall woman tried to take it away from
me one day; but I cried so that she let me keep it.”

“Have you got it with you?” asked Mrs. Gregory, in great agitation.

“Yes,” said Helen, surprised at the strange effect this communication
appeared to have upon her mistress. “I always carry it in the pocket of
my dress.”

Mrs. Gregory, with trembling hands, sought the receptacle indicated,
and drew out an ivory ring, on which were inscribed the letters “H. G.”
Without a word, she sprang to the bed, clasped the bewildered Helen to
her bosom, and exclaimed, tearfully,—

“It is as I thought! You are my child!—my long-lost Helen!”

When her emotion had in some measure subsided, she made Helen acquainted
with the circumstances mentioned in the previous chapter, and also
informed her that the ring, which had served as the happy means of
restoring a long-lost child to her parent, was the gift of a brother of
hers, who had inscribed upon it “H. G.,” as the initials of Helen’s name,
and that the child had it with her on the day of her disappearance.

The happiness of Helen in being restored to her mother, and the joy of
the children on ascertaining that the one whom they had learned to love
so well, already, was their own sister, may better be imagined than

One leaf remains to be added to this chronicle. It relates to Armstrong,
hitherto the guardian of Helen. Although the latter had received at his
hands so little for which she had occasion to be thankful, she could
not reconcile herself to the idea of his being imprisoned. We cannot
look with indifference upon the punishment of one with whom we have been
intimately associated, however well deserved it may be.

As Armstrong had no intimation of the check which his projects had
received, and as he was convinced that Helen’s fear of him would lead
her to carry out his commands, he stealthily approached the house the
following evening, as he had intended. The door had been purposely left
unlocked; but, in the room adjoining, four stout men had been stationed,
who at once seized upon the unsuspecting burglar, and, in spite of his
violent struggles, bound him. Thus secured, Mr. Gregory, who was one of
the four, explained to him in what manner his crime had been defeated,
and added,—

“Although you have been detected in crime, and richly deserve the penalty
which the offended law affixes to it, I have been induced by Helen to
afford you a chance of escaping. I will furnish you a ticket entitling
you to a passage in the next California steamer, and will not reveal your
guilty attempt, if you will engage to leave the country immediately.
Should you fail to go, I shall feel released from the promise I have made
to Helen, and at once cause you to be arrested.”

It is needless to say that Armstrong at once accepted these terms; and
the next steamer bound to the Pacific bore him a passenger.

As for Helen, the cloud which shadowed her earlier years has quite
disappeared; and in the affection of the home circle, to which her many
good qualities endear her, she finds all that can make life pleasant and


    When the summer, crowned with blossoms,
      Robes with beauty all the trees,
    And, with pérfumed breath and fragrant,
      Loads the idly-floating breeze,
    Then, with cheerful steps and airy,
      O’er the fields with flowers upspringing,
    Comes our pleasant household fairy,
      Fragrant blossoms round her flinging,
    While the birds that haunt the tree-tops
      Pause to listen to her singing.
    Ever cheerful, ever smiling,
      Is the gay, warm-hearted maiden;
    And her sunny presence gladdens
      Hearts with deepest sorrow laden.
    Very few there are, I ween,
    Quite as fair as Geraldine.

    When the autumn,—nut-brown autumn,—
      With its wealth of golden sheaves,
    Lends a new flush to the apples
      Peeping from the orchard leaves,
    Forth unto the sunny harvest
      Rides she in the farmer’s wain,
    Who, with busy hand and tireless,
      Gathers in the golden grain;
    And she cheers his pleasant labor
      With a gay, unstudied strain.
    Ever cheerful, ever smiling,
      Is the gay, warm-hearted maiden;
    And her sunny presence gladdens
      Hearts with deepest sorrow laden.
    Ah! there can be none, I ween,
    Quite so fair as Geraldine.


Heavily, heavily fell the snow, covering the dark-brown earth, already
hardened by the frost, with a pure white covering. As the rain falls
alike upon the just and upon the unjust; so, too, the snow, God’s
kindred messenger, knows no distinction of persons,—visiting all alike,
forgetting none, and passing by none.

In one of the principal streets of New York stood a boy of some twelve
years. His clothing was poor, and too scanty to afford a sufficient
protection against the inclemency of the season. Through the visor of his
cap, which had become detached in the middle, having a connection only at
the two extremities, might be seen his rich brown hair. Notwithstanding
the drawback of his coarse and ill-fitting attire, it was evident that
he possessed a more than ordinary share of boyish beauty. But just at
present his brow is overcast with a shade of anxiety; and his frame
trembles with the cold, from which he is so insufficiently shielded.

It is a handsome street, that in which he is standing. On either side he
beholds the residences of those on whom Fortune has showered her favors.
Bright lights gleam from the parlor windows, and shouts of mirth and
laughter ring out upon the night.

All is joy and brightness and festivity within those palace-homes.
The snow-flakes fall idly against the window-panes. They cannot chill
the hearts within, nor place a bar upon their enjoyment; for this is
Christmas Eve, long awaited, at length arrived. Christmas Eve, around
which so many youthful anticipations cluster, has enjoyments peculiarly
its own, over which the elements, however boisterous, have no control.
Yet, to some, Christmas Eve brings more sorrow than enjoyment,—serving
only to heighten the contrast between present poverty and discomfort and
past affluence.

But all this time we have left our little hero shivering in the street.

Cold and uncomfortable as he was, as well as anxious in mind,—for he
had lost his way, and knew not how to find it again,—he could not help
forgetting his situation, for the time, in witnessing the scene which
met his eye, as, for a moment, he stood in front of a handsome residence
on the south side of the street. The curtains were drawn aside; so that,
by supporting himself on the railing, he had an unobstructed view of the
scene within.

It was a spacious parlor, furnished in a style elegant, but not
ostentatious. In the centre of the apartment was a Christmas-tree,
brilliant with tapers, which were gleaming from every branch and twig.
Gifts of various kinds were hung upon the tree, around which were
gathered a group of three children, respectively of eight, six, and
four years. The eldest was a winsome fairy, with sparkling eyes and
dancing feet. The others were boys, who were making the most of this
rare opportunity of sitting up after nine o’clock. At a little distance
stood Mr. Dinsmoor and his wife, gazing with unalloyed enjoyment at the
happiness of their children.

While Lizzie was indulging in expressions of delight at the superb wax
doll which St. Nicholas had so generously provided, her attention was for
a moment drawn to the window, through which she distinctly saw the figure
of our hero, who, as we have said, had in his eagerness raised himself
upon the railing outside, in order to obtain a better view. She uttered
an exclamation of surprise.

“Why, mother! there’s a boy looking in at the window! Just look at him!”

Mrs. Dinsmoor looked in the direction indicated, and saw the little boy,
without his perceiving that attention had been drawn towards him.

“Some poor boy,” she remarked to her husband, in a compassionate tone,
“who loses for a moment the sensation of his own discomfort in witnessing
our happiness. See how eagerly he looks at the tree! which no doubt
appears like something marvellous to him.”

“Why can’t you let him come in?” asked Lizzie, eagerly. “He must be very
cold out there, with the snow-flakes falling upon him. Perhaps he would
like to have a nearer view of our tree.”

“Very well and kindly thought of, my little girl,” said Mr. Dinsmoor,
placing his hand for a moment upon her clustering locks. “I will follow
your suggestion; but I must do it carefully, or he may be frightened, and
run away before he knows what are our intentions.”

So speaking, Mr. Dinsmoor moved cautiously to the front door, and opened
it suddenly. The boy, startled by the sound, turned towards Mr. Dinsmoor
with a frightened air, as if fearing that he would be suspected of some
improper motive.

“Indeed, sir,” said he, earnestly, “I didn’t mean any harm; but it looked
so bright and cheerful inside that I couldn’t help looking in.”

“You have done nothing wrong, my boy,” said Mr. Dinsmoor, kindly. “But
you must be cold here. Come in, and you will have a chance to see more
comfortably than you now do.”

The boy looked a little doubtful; for to him, neglected as he had been
by the rich and prosperous all his life, it was very difficult to imagine
that he was actually invited to enter the imposing mansion before him as
a guest. Perhaps Mr. Dinsmoor divined his doubts; for he continued,—

“Come: you must not refuse the invitation. There are some little people
inside who would be very much disappointed if you should, since it was
they who commissioned me to invite you.”

“I am sure, sir, I am very much obliged both to them and to you,” said
the boy, gratefully, advancing towards Mr. Dinsmoor, of whom he had lost
whatever little distrust he had at first felt.

A moment afterwards, and the boy stepped within the spacious parlor.
To him, whose home offered no attractions, and few comforts, the scene
spread before him might well seem a scene of enchantment.

“Lizzie,” said Mr. Dinsmoor, “come forward and welcome your guest. I
would introduce him to you; but, unluckily, I do not know his name.”

“My name is Willie,—Willie Grant,” was the boy’s reply.

“Then, Willie Grant, this is Miss Lizzie Dinsmoor, who is, I am sure,
glad to see you, since it was at her request that I invited you to enter.”

Willie raised his eyes timidly, and bent them for a moment on the
singularly beautiful child, who had come forward and frankly placed her
hand in his.

There is something irresistible in the witchery of beauty; and Willie
felt a warm glow crimsoning his cheeks, as for a moment, forgetful of
every thing else, he bent his eyes earnestly upon Lizzie. Then another
feeling came over him; and, with a look of shame at his scanty and
ill-fitting garments, he dropped her hand, and involuntarily shrank
back, as if seeking to screen them from sight.

Perceiving the movement, and guessing its cause, Mr. Dinsmoor, with a
view to dissipate these feelings, led forward Harry and Charlie, the
younger boys, and told them to make acquaintance with Willie. With loud
shouts of delight, they displayed the various gifts which St. Nicholas
had brought them, and challenged his admiration.

Every thing was new to Willie. His childhood had not been smiled upon by
Fortune; and the costly toys which the boys exhibited elicited quite as
much admiration as they could desire.

Occupied in this way, his constraint gradually wore off to such a degree
that he assisted Charlie and Harry in trying their new toys. Soon,
however, the recollection that it was growing late, and that he had yet
to find his way home, came to him; and, taking his old hat, he said to
Mr. Dinsmoor, in an embarrassed manner,—

“My mother will be expecting me home; and I should already have been
there, but that I lost my way, and happened to look in at your window,
and you were so kind as to let me come in.”

“Where does your mother live, my little fellow?” asked Mr. Dinsmoor.

“On ⸺ Street.”

“Oh! that is not far off. I will myself show you the way, if you will
remain a few minutes longer.”

Mr. Dinsmoor rang the bell, and ordered a plate of cake and apples, as he
conjectured they would not be unacceptable to his little visitor.

Meanwhile, Lizzie crept to her mother’s side, and whispered,—

“Willie is poor,—isn’t he?”

“Yes. What makes you ask?”

“I thought he must be, because his clothes look so thin, and patched.
Don’t you think he would like a Christmas present, mother?”

“Yes, my darling. Have you any thing to give him?”

“I thought, mother, perhaps you would let me give him my five-dollar
gold-piece. I think that would be better than any playthings. May I give

“Yes, my child, if you are really willing. But are you quite sure that
you would not regret it afterwards?”

“Yes, mother.” And Lizzie ran lightly to the little box where she kept
her treasure, quickly brought it forth, and placed it in Willie’s hand.

“That is your Christmas present,” said she, gayly.

Willie looked surprised.

“Do you mean it for me?” he asked, in a half-bewildered tone.

“Yes, if you like it.”

“I thank you very much for your kindness,” said Willie, earnestly, “and I
will always remember it.”

There was something in the boy’s earnest tone which Lizzie felt was an
ample recompense for the little sacrifice she had made. Mr. Dinsmoor
fulfilled his promise, and walked with Willie as far as the street in
which he lived, when, feeling sure that he could no longer mistake his
way, he left him.

Mr. Dinsmoor, whom we have introduced to our readers, was a prosperous
merchant, and counted his wealth by hundreds of thousands. Fortunately,
his disposition was liberal; and he made the poor sharers with him in the
gifts which Fortune had so liberally showered upon him.

Notwithstanding the good use which he made of his wealth, he was fated
to experience reverses,—resulting, not from his own mismanagement, but
from a general commercial panic, which all at once involved in ruin many
whose fortunes were large, and whose credit was long established. In a
word, Mr. Dinsmoor failed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Eleven years had rolled by since the Christmas night on which our story
opens. Lizzie had not belied the promise of her girlhood, but had
developed into a radiantly beautiful girl. Already her hand had been
sought in marriage; but, as yet, she had seen no one on whom she could
look with that affection without which marriage would be a mockery.

Charlie and Harry, too,—eleven years had changed them not a little.
The boys of four and six had become fine, manly youths of fifteen and
seventeen. The eldest had entered college. Harry, however, who was by no
means studious, had entered his father’s counting-room.

That was a sorrowful night on which Mr. Dinsmoor made known to his
afflicted wife the bankruptcy which was inevitable. Still sadder, if
possible, was the sale which it enforced of the house which they had so
long occupied, the furniture which had become endeared to them by memory
and association, and the harsh interruption which loss of fortune put to
all their treasured schemes.

“My poor boy,” said Mrs. Dinsmoor, sorrowfully, as she placed her hand
caressingly on the brown locks of Charlie, the eldest of the two boys,
“it will be a hard sacrifice for you to leave the studies to which you
are so much attached, and enter a store, as you will be obliged to do.”

“Ah! I had not thought of that,” murmured Charlie. “It will, indeed, be a
sacrifice; but, mother, I would not care for that, if you could only be
spared the trials to which you will be exposed from poverty.”

“Thank you for your consideration, my child; but do not fear that I
shall not accommodate myself to it. It is a heavy trial; but we must try
to think that it will ultimately eventuate in our good.”

At the auction of Mr. Dinsmoor’s house and furniture, the whole property,
without exception, was knocked off to a young man, who seemed apparently
of twenty-two or three years of age. He was able to secure it at a price
much beneath its real value; for times were hard, and money scarce, so
that he had but few competitors. Mr. Dinsmoor did not hear his name, and
the pressure of sad thoughts prevented his making the inquiry.

Possession was to be given in one week. Meanwhile, Mr. Dinsmoor sought
out a small house in an obscure part of the town, which, in point of
elegance and convenience, formed a complete contrast to the one he had
formerly occupied. He felt, however, that it would be all his scanty
salary as clerk—for he had secured a situation in that capacity—would
enable him to afford.

Lizzie looked, with a rueful face, at the piano, as a dear friend from
whom she must henceforth be separated, it being quite too costly a
piece of furniture to be retained in their reduced circumstances. Her
proficiency in music, for which she had great taste, made her regret it
doubly, since she might with it have added to the resources of the family
by giving music lessons.

On the last evening in which they were to remain in the old house, their
sad thoughts were broken in upon by a ring at the bell.

“Can they not even leave us to enjoy the last evening in quiet?” said
Charles, half petulantly.

Immediately afterwards, there entered a young man, in whom Mr. Dinsmoor
recognized the purchaser of the house.

“I need not bid you welcome,” said he, smiling faintly, “since you have a
better right here now than myself. Had I been told, three months since,
that this would be, I would not have believed it; but we cannot always
foresee. I shall be prepared to leave to-morrow.”

“I shall be better satisfied if you will remain,” said the young man,

“What do you mean?”

“Simply, that as this house and furniture are now mine, to do with as I
like, I choose to restore you the latter, and offer you the use of the
former, rent free, as long as you choose to occupy it.”

“Who, then, are you,” asked Mr. Dinsmoor, in increasing surprise, “who
can be so kind to utter strangers, with no claim upon you?”

“You are mistaken. You have a claim upon me. Shall I tell you what it
is? Eleven years ago to-morrow,—for to-morrow is Christmas Day,—a poor
boy, who had known none of the luxuries, and but few of the comforts,
of life, stood in this street. His mind was ill at ease; for he had
lost his way: but, as he walked on, he beheld a blaze of light issuing
from a window,—from _your_ window,—and, aroused by curiosity, he looked
in. Around a Christmas-tree, brilliant with light, a happy group were
assembled. As he stood gazing in, he heard the front door open; and a
gentleman came out, and kindly invited him to enter. He did so; and the
words of kindness and the Christmas gift with which he departed have
not yet left his remembrance. Seven years passed, and the boy’s fortune
changed. An uncle, long supposed to be dead, found him out, and, when he
actually died, left him the heir of a large amount of wealth. Need I say
that I am that boy, and that my name is Willie Grant?”

The reader’s imagination can easily supply the rest. Provided with
capital by his young friend, Mr. Dinsmoor again embarked in business;
and, this time, nothing occurred to check his prosperity. Charlie did
_not_ leave college, nor did Lizzie lose her piano. She gained a husband,
however, and had no reason to regret the train of events which issued


    I have a beautiful picture;
      And gorgeous are its dyes,
    Wherein the green of the meadows
      Blends with the blue of the skies.

    A forest stands in the background;
      And hills are at the sides;
    And a valley lies between them,
      Through which a streamlet glides.

    There are fields that teem with a harvest
      Of rich and ripening grain,
    That has caught the glow of the sunlight,
      And will not return it again;—

    There are broad and spacious pastures,
      Where the quiet cattle stray,
    And the schoolboys meet to play at ball
      On their weekly holiday;—

    While here and there a cottage
      Peeps out from the leafy lane;
    And through the trees you can catch a glimpse
      Of the farmer with his wain.

    And out in the dark old forest
      There is many a stately tree,
    That has seen the green leaves come and go
      For more than a century.

    I have heard of the ancient masters,
      I have heard of their marvellous skill,
    And how the dull, dead canvas
      Would glow with life at their will;—

    But, when the sunshine falleth
      The rifts of the cloudlets through,
    It lends to my picture a glory
      That Raphael never knew.

    And, when the solemn moonlight
      Looks down with its mellow shine,
    My picture is bathed in beauty
      That seemeth almost divine.

    And whenever I gaze at my picture,
      Whether sun or stars light the sky,
    I feel that my spirit is strengthened,
      And my heart is made richer thereby.


Alone in his study sat Gottfried the scholar. The shelves which lined the
apartment on every side groaned beneath the weight of bulky quartoes and
ponderous folios. The accumulated learning of many ages and countries,
flowing in diverse channels, had mingled into one stream, and, with its
fertilizing current, contributed to enrich the mind of Gottfried. And
these many volumes, couched in languages which to all but their owner
were a sealed book, which many years’ assiduous labor and midnight vigils
alone could unclose,—these were but the index of Gottfried’s attainments.

Never in the palmiest days of chivalry had knight been more constant
to his mistress than Gottfried to his books. Without these, life would
have been to him a blank, and the world a desert. What to him were the
companionship of friends, the charms of social intercourse? He recognized
no friends but his books; and with them alone he held intercourse. He
had cultivated his intellect to the neglect of his heart: beneath his
fostering care, the former had swelled into the proportions of a giant;
the latter, like an untilled garden, had been abandoned to the rank
growth of weeds, which had already overshadowed it, and checked the
growth of kind feelings and human affections.

But of this defect Gottfried was not conscious; or, at least, he would
not have acknowledged it to be such. With all his wisdom, he knew not the
meaning of virtue; for he was perpetually confounding it with learning;
so that with him the philosophy of life might be said to consist in
these few words: “To be learned is to be virtuous.” Thus it was, that,
in the pride of his attainments, he looked down upon other men as
immeasurably his inferiors, and was even half convinced that they were of
a different nature from himself.

He aspired to become in the world of intellect what Alexander was in the
physical world, and, like that monarch, sighed to think that there were
no more worlds to conquer,—no more victories to be gained.

Gottfried had just written the concluding paragraph of a treatise upon
some abstruse subject, which possessed an interest only for scholars like
himself. His pen dropped wearily from his fingers, and he passed his hand
across his eyes.

“Yes,” said he, musingly, and a smile lighted up his face, “at length
it is finished, the labor of many years. But the reward is to come. My
fame as a scholar, already great among men, will become greater still.
Fame, bright goddess of my youthful dreams! how through weary years have
I toiled for thee! How willingly have I resigned those objects on which
other men set their affections! Wealth, pleasure, love,—I have sacrificed
them all to this one engrossing pursuit. Who shall say that I have lived
in vain?”

Gottfried had labored for many hours without rest. He took down his
scholar’s cap and cloak from the wall against which they were suspended,
and attired himself for a walk.

It was a beautiful day. The sun had passed the meridian, and was shining
with softened splendor on fields decorated with the green carpet
which Nature so bounteously provides. Here a group of cattle reposed
in tranquil enjoyment beneath the spreading branches of trees, which
afforded a grateful shelter from the sun’s heat. A little farther on, a
tiny stream was seen rippling on its way. Beside it were childish figures
playfully plucking the flowers that grew upon the banks, and tossing
them into the water, where they were soon borne down the quick current.
Children, however small, have an eye to the beautiful; and the little
group sang and shouted in all the exuberance of their spirits. The smile
of outward nature was reflected upon the faces of these little ones.

As Gottfried passed by, one of them, supposing that all must share in her
feelings, plucked a flower, and, holding it up, exclaimed, “Is it not

“What is pretty?” asked Gottfried, looking up.

The flower was held up in answer. “Poh! child: it is only a buttercup.”

The child drew back abashed, and Gottfried pursued his way. He regarded
not the fair landscape which like a dream of beauty opened upon his
steps. His mind was still at home among his books. Indeed, it rarely
passed beyond those four dark walls wherein all that he cared for in
life was enclosed. With the laws of Nature, so far as they had been
ascertained by human wisdom, he was thoroughly conversant; but for Nature
itself he cared little. He could tell you all that science has discovered
of the mysterious courses of the heavenly bodies; but the finest evening
that ever looked down with its thousand glittering eyes from the blue
vault above vainly tempted him forth from his study. He would have
regarded it as a mere weakness to yield to such an impulse. He at least
was in no danger of yielding; for he never felt the impulse.

Gottfried passed on, plunged as before in deep thought, of which the
treatise which he had just completed was the absorbing subject.

A woman with a babe in her arms, whose melancholy face and tattered garb
spoke sadly of unhappiness and destitution, stood in the path. He would
not have noticed her, had she not timidly touched the hem of his garment.

“Why do you disturb me?” he asked impatiently, as he looked up. “You have
interrupted the current of my thoughts. What would you have?”

“I hope, sir,” said the woman, in a low tone, “you will pardon the
interruption. I would not willingly intrude; but you see my situation. I
am left destitute, and without friends. For myself, I care not. Perhaps
it is well that I should die; but my child,—I would live for him.”

Gottfried listened with an unmoved countenance, and as one who but half
comprehended what he heard.

“If you are poor and in distress,” he said at length, “you can apply to
the proper authorities. I have matters of more importance to attend to.”

“Of more importance than the life of a fellow-creature?” interrupted a
rough-looking man, in a farmer’s dress, who had just stepped up. “Nay,
then, I have not. Come with me, my poor woman. I live in the cottage
yonder. It is but a poor place; but it will afford you food and shelter.”

“Such men,” mused Gottfried, “do not estimate the superiority of science
over the trivial objects upon which most waste their lives to little
purpose. But how should they? They pass their lives in a round of petty
duties and petty employments, above and beyond which they care not to

Such were the meditations of Gottfried. Ah! thou that canst see the mote
in thy brother’s eye, and dost not discern the beam that is in thine own!

Gottfried was approaching his study on his return from the walk, when
his meditations were disturbed by a cry which always makes the blood
course more quickly through the veins,—the fearful cry of “Fire!”
Voice after voice took up the cry till it swelled into a terrible and
confused clamor. Fire! Gottfried looked up, and, to his inexpressible
consternation, beheld the flames rapidly consuming his own dwelling. The
conviction flashed upon him, with the speed of lightning, that he had
left a candle burning which he had lighted for the purpose of sealing a
letter. Undoubtedly it had come in contact with the loose papers which
lay about it, and _this_ was the result.

“My books! my treatise!” exclaimed Gottfried with anguish, as he
contemplated the probability of their destruction. “They will all be

He hurried to the scene of disaster. The firemen were plying their utmost
efforts to bring the flames under. But the fire had already made such
headway that they struggled against hope.

Gottfried lent his aid with the energy of despair. Finally, unable to
conceal from himself that the building must be consumed, he rushed into
the crackling flames, in the hope of at least rescuing the manuscript of
which he had written that day the concluding paragraphs.

It was a mad effort, such as nothing but despair could prompt. The smoke
stifled him; the flames scorched and burned him. He was dragged out
by main force, having succeeded in passing but a few feet beyond the
threshold. Luckily he was in a state of insensibility, so that the last
scenes in the conflagration passed without his knowledge.

The weeks that succeeded were a blank to Gottfried, for he was plunged
in the delirium of a brain fever. When, at length, he awoke to
consciousness, it was in a small and poorly-furnished chamber. At the
bedside was seated a woman, coarsely but neatly attired.

“Where am I?” he inquired, bewildered. “What has happened to me?”

“You are at length better, thank Heaven,” said the woman, earnestly,
“since the delirium has left you.”

“Delirium!” said Gottfried, raising himself on his elbow in surprise.
“Oh, yes! I now recall the fearful calamity which has befallen me. My
books,—are they all gone? Is there not one left?”

“Yes, one was saved.”

“What is it? Bring it to me.”

From a shelf near by, the attendant took down a small volume which had
been scorched, but not otherwise injured, by the flames.

He opened it. It proved to be the New Testament in the original tongue.
Perhaps out of his whole library this was the book which he had least
studied. Now, however, that it was all that was left him, he passed
hours in its perusal. Gradually, as he read, a light broke in upon him;
and he began to perceive, at first by glimpses, but after a while with
all the clearness of light, that his life had been a mistake, and that
learning was not, as he had fancied, the great end of existence. He
perceived that in its attainment he had neglected what were of infinitely
more importance,—his duties to God and his fellow-men. With a feeling of
humiliation, he could not but confess that his life had been in vain.

One day, as he was rapidly approaching recovery, he turned to his nurse,
and said, abruptly,—

“Where have I met you before? Your face looks familiar.”

“On the day of the fire,” was the reply, “you met me and my little one.
We were destitute, and implored charity.”

“Which I denied. Yet you nurse me with all the devotedness of one who is
serving a benefactor. How is this?”

“I am only doing my duty. But it is not to me you are indebted: it is to
the good farmer whose hospitality we both alike share.”

“Is it possible?” said Gottfried, with humiliation. “It is, then, he over
whom I triumphed in fancied superiority. With all the learning which I
have gathered from books, I feel, that, in the true wisdom of life, I am
vastly inferior to you both.”

On his recovery, Gottfried again applied himself to his studies; but
henceforth he never sought to elevate mere worldly knowledge above “that
wisdom which passeth all understanding.”


Contributed by a friend.

    The blue sky was her canopy;
      The flower-gemmed turf, her shrine;
    Her incense, deep and fervent love,
      Pure from the heart’s rich mine.

    Her brow was fair, her eyes were mild,
      Her sunny smile was bright:
    No discontent its shadow threw
      Across her spirit’s light.

    Angels their constant vigil kept,
      And guarded her from harm;
    Breathing around her, while she slept,
      A spirit-soothing charm.

    But she hath left this guilt-stained earth:
      No more her smiles may cheer;
    No more her gentle voice of mirth
      May breathe its music here.

    Her haunts are desecrated now,
      Or desolate and lone;
    And Psyche’s palace, where she dwelt,
      Has ceased to be her home.


Some years since, there lived in Portland a worthy shoemaker named Peter
Plunkett. Unpoetical as his name may appear, Peter possessed a vivid
imagination, which, had it been properly cultivated, might have made
him, perchance, a poet or a novelist. As it was, he chiefly employed it
in building air-castles of more than royal magnificence, wherein dwelt
fairies and genii. If there was any book that approached the Bible, in
Peter’s estimation, it was the “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.” He had a
devout belief in all the marvellous stories which it contains, and often
sighed in secret that it had not been his fortune to live in the days of
that potent monarch,—the Caliph Haroun Al Raschid.

Peter Plunkett’s peculiarity was well known. Indeed, his mind was most
of the time far back in the golden age of fairies, so that he would
sometimes be guilty of amusing mistakes. On one occasion, he addressed
his housekeeper as “Most charming princess!” whereupon the good woman was
led to entertain serious doubts as to his sanity, which, indeed, were not
wholly unreasonable, since, though an excellent cook, she certainly did
not look much like a princess.

Not far from Peter’s shop lived Squire Eveleth, who, being mirthfully
inclined, resolved to take advantage of the worthy shoemaker’s fancies,
and play upon him a practical joke.

Happening into Peter’s shop, he led the conversation to the subject of
genii. “I have sometimes thought,” said he, gravely, “that the fairies
and genii have not yet abandoned the earth, but still continue, invisibly
to us, to exercise an influence over our destinies.”

“So have I,” said Peter, eagerly. “Many a time I have fancied, as I
sat here at work, that I could hear the rushing of their wings as they
circled about me; and I have sometimes invoked them to appear in visible
form; but they never have.”

“Perhaps they will some time,” said the squire, encouragingly. “I wish
you would come and take tea with me to-morrow,” he continued, after a
pause. “I should like to confer with you about these things.”

Consent was readily accorded; and the next afternoon found Peter Plunkett
a guest of the squire. The latter, unperceived, mingled a potion with
Peter’s tea; and the result was that in half an hour he was in a sound
sleep. In this condition, the squire had him conveyed in a carriage to
the depot; and, in a few minutes, they were travelling towards Boston.
They reached the city in the evening; and Peter, still sleeping, was
conveyed to the Revere House, carried to a bed-chamber, and deposited in
bed. Squire Eveleth then retired, and, after leaving a note on the table,
left the house; and, after passing the night at another hotel, returned,
in the morning train, to Portland.

The sun was already high in the heavens when Peter Plunkett awoke. He
gazed, bewildered, at the unwonted appearance of the room, and, jumping
out of bed, walked mechanically to the window.

“Surely this can’t be Portland,” he said to himself, as the towers and
steeples of Boston met his view. “Where am I? What can have happened to

Turning from the window, his eye rested upon a letter lying upon the
table, addressed to himself.

He opened it hastily, and read as follows:—

    “MORTAL! be thankful; for to you, in return for your
    unquestioning faith, has been vouchsafed a favor which
    distinguishes you above your fellow-men. I who write to you am
    Aldabaran, the potent genie of the air. Last night, I snatched
    you from your couch, in the dead of night, and bore you hither.
    You are now at the Revere House, in Boston. In your pocket
    you will find gold, which I have placed there. It will defray
    all your expenses, and bear you back to Portland. But beware
    lest you divulge to any one the chance that has befallen you;
    for, should you be so indiscreet, I swear to you by Solomon’s
    seal, which glows with unapproachable splendor, that you will
    instantly be transformed into a gigantic jackass, and be doomed
    in that shape to walk the earth for ever as the penalty of your

                         “Farewell, and beware!


As Peter Plunkett read this terrible missive, his hair stood on end with
affright; yet, in the midst of his terror, he was filled with joy at the
nature of the favor which had been granted him.

That night, he returned to Portland. Many curious inquiries were made
of him as to the object of his journey; for this was the first time he
had left Portland for many years. To all these inquiries he preserved
an impenetrable silence; merely shaking his head mysteriously, lest he
should incur the dreadful doom denounced against him. Henceforth he
deemed himself as one singled out from the great mass of mankind. Upon
his fellow-mortals he looked with a pitying eye, as beings with whom the
invisible spirits of the air had never deigned to hold communication.
Happy in his innocent delusion, he would not exchange places with the
most powerful monarch. Locked up in his trunk are the gold coins which he
found in his pocket in accordance with the mysterious letter. He will
never spend them; for he regards them as a fairy gift; and he fancies,
that, while he holds them in his possession, Fortune will ever smile upon


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