hA I The Baldwin LbrarY
- M M 0 ,
PLANS FOR LIFE.
FREDERICK WARNED AND CO.,
BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
DALZIEL BROTHERS, CAMDEN PRESS, N.W
Ax EVENING WITH MISS ELLERBY
A MORNING AT HOME
THE TEST .
HELEN FLETCHER'S VISIT .
Au8ns Lois .
"A DIFFICULT QUESTION DECIDED .
"A NEW TROUBLE .
AN EVENING ALONE .
AN EVENING WITH MISS ELLERBY.
"I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro;
That seeks for some great thing to do,
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go."
Miss ELLERBu was seated alone by her bright
blazing fire, in the deep twilight of an autumn
evening. Occasionally the wind swept the
withered leaves against the old-fashioned win-
dows, and made them shake and rattle with
every gust; but, within, all was quiet and
cheerful. The coals were heaped generously
upon the hospitable-looking grate, and the
flames danced and leaped merrily in the wide
mouth of the chimney, throwing long, flickering
shadows on the wall, and shedding a ruddy glow
over the room, and even upon the pale face of
Miss Ellerby herself as she sat there quietly
Rachel Ellerby was not young. Many a
silver thread gleamed in her soft hair. She was
tall and thin. Her face bore the traces of weak-
ness and suffering; and yet it was so illumined
by the gentle, loving spirit within, that it could
not fail to be deemed attractive. A sweet, placid
expression always rested on it, and sometimes a
quiet smile stole over it, as if some happy thought
were passing through her mind. Her room was
small, and quietly furnished. A few book-
shelves, with two or three fine engravings hang-
ing on the wall, were among its chief attractions.
The little clock on the mantelpiece struck
seven; and at the same moment the front-door
was heard to open and shut again heavily. Then
some one came up the long hall, and stopped at
the parlour-door. There was a gentle knock.
Miss Ellerby opened the door, and, with an
exclamation of surprise, threw her arms round
the neck of the young girl who entered, and
"Why, Ada! are you really come back again P"
"Yes, indeed, dear cousin Rachel!" said Ada,
as she threw off ler bonnet and shawl, and sat
down beside the great chair from which Miss
Ellerby had risen. No ; please don't light the
AN EVENING WITH MISS ELLERBY.
lamp. Let me just sit down here by your side,
and talk to you. Oh, how I .have longed to see
you, and how much I have to tell you !"
Miss Ellerby laid down her knitting, and took
Ada's hand kindly in hers. After a little chat
concerning various home-matters, she said,
"So you have quite left school, Ada. I heard
that you were coming home this week, but I had
no idea you were already here. It does me good
to see you back, my love. I think you have
,l grown tall and stout since I saw you." Miss
Ellerby turned and looked earnestly at Ada.
"I wish I had grown as fast in all other
respects," said Ada, with a sigh. "I thought
that when I left school, I should know every-
thing; but I really feel as ignorant, and unfit
for everyday life, as possible. Now that my
time is left at my own disposal, I don't know
what to do with it exactly, for I have so many
things to accomplish that I have no idea which
to take up first."
What things ?" said Miss Ellerby.
"Oh, I want to sew a great deal, and read a
great deal, and write letters, and keep up my
studies, and make myself very useful. How can
I do it all?"
Miss Ellerby smiled. "You can sew when
you have friends with you, and you can read a
little every day when you are by yourself; and
you can write a letter occasionally at spare in-
tervals. By doing a little at a time, you can
get through a good deal. I find it very useful
to fill up the odds and ends of time with reading.'?
"You don't understand me," said Ada, with
an air of dissatisfaction. "I am not going to
read light, useless, trashy books. I'm going to
pursue a regular course of reading. We girls
at school planned one which is excellent, and
will be so improving, if we can only carry it
"What is it ?" said Miss Ellerby.
"Why, we are going to begin with Rollin's
History. Mr. Curtis said that this would lay
an excellent foundation. Then we shall take
Mitford's Greece, and Gibbon's Rome. Then
Hume's History of England, and Michelet's
History of France; and I mean to read Macau-
lay's England, and Miss Freer's works, and
different historical biographies, as a sort of com-
mentary on these; and then Prescott's Mexico
and Peru, and Ferdinand and Isabella, you know,
as a kind of dessert. And then- "
"That's enough," interrupted Miss Ellerby,
laughing. There will be history enough to
last you for some time. What else are you
going to read ?"
"I shall keep up my French and Latin as
well as I can. Perhaps I may go on a little
AN EVENING WITH MISS ELLERBIY,
with Algebra; but I don't care much about
Geometry, or Chemistry, or Natural Philosophy,
and all those scientific matters."
"But what other English reading ?" inquired
"Why, no more, I hope. I am sure what I
have mentioned is enough. I mean to waste
no time over novels, and newspapers, and plays,
and such things. Of course, I shall have some
religious reading; but I mean to lay down this
Course, and let other things alone until I have
finished it. That's my resolution," said Ada,
compressing her lips with an air of heroic and
"A very foolish resolution," said Miss Ellerby,
quietly,--"one which I -know you will never
carry out, and which would do you more harm
than good if you did."
"Why, cousin Rachel!" exclaimed Ada, in
astonishment. "I thought you would consider
me very wise. I am sure my friends are always
crying out against the light reading of young
ladies; and I thought you, especially, would
consider this an excellent plan. I cannot imagine
what would be better or more solid reading than
all this; and, if I give up this plan, what can I
do ?" Ada sighed, and looked hopelessly into the
"My dear child," said Miss Ellerby, "history
A DA BRENTON.
is very well in its place; but almost any good
thing becomes an evil, when it is carried to
excess. If your mind is filled with nothing but
history, your education will be very defective.
There is hardly a more interesting or improving
field of reading than biography; and this you
would lose entirely, except so far as it regards
political characters. Then how many fine essays,
and lectures, and reviews, you would lose; and
all the treasures which come down to us from
the old poets! How cab you be willing to give,
these up ?"
"I love poetry," said Ada; "but then, you
know, it is useless,-a mere waste of time."
"I know no such thing," replied Miss Ellerby.
"Some of the finest and most elevated thoughts
which have ever been given to the world, have
come to us through the poets. There is nothing
more grand or noble than some of the concep-
tions of Milton and Shakspeare. You will enjoy
the beauties of nature a thousand times more
after reading the exquisite descriptions of land-
scapes and forests and gardens, which the poets
have given us; for, with their nicer observation
and quicker perception, they point out a multi-
tude of beauties, even in the most common
things, which we had failed to notice. Then,
too, you should read newspapers, to keep up
with the times. You need not read every one
AX EVENING WITH MISS ELLEBIY. 11
of the articles, nor one half of them; but you
should glance over them, and see what the state
of the country is, and what our government is
doing, and what changes are taking place in our
distant territories and in other lands. It will
not be very useful for you to know all that was
done hundreds of years ago on the other side of
the globe, if you know nothing of what is going
on at home."
"It is strange how people differ!" said Ada.
"There is Maria Cary,-one of the finest scho-
lars I ever knew, and a real, true, warm-hearted
Christian,-who would be shocked by your
advice. We used often to sit in the twilight,
and talk about what we should do when we left
school, and how we could be most useful; and
she said she was sure it was wrong to waste so
much time over poetry, and novels, and news-
papers, and general reading; and we resolved to
be very self-denying on this point, and try to do
all the good we could."
"So you should, my dear child. I desire
nothing for you so much as that you may be
an earnest, faithful believer in your Saviour,
and fitted as perfectly as possible to work for
Him. But I want you to have an enlarged
mind in order to do this; since, the more you
seek to improve yourself, you will be the better
qualified to glorify Him and to benefit others."
I must say," said Ada, "I cannot see how I
am to be more useful to others from reading
poetry and fine writing. It may gratify my
taste, but how can it do me any real good P"
"Why, Ada, did not the apostle Paul turn
his knowledge of the Greek poets to good
account when he was preaching on Mars' Hill
to the men of Athens ? The best-informed
Christian, if he is zealous and prayerful, is likely
to be the most useful Christian. Suppose you
had two friends who were equally devoted
Christians, one of whom was reserved, speaking
very seldom, and then uttering nothing very
interesting,-or, at least, proving that her range
of thought and knowledge was exceedingly
limited;-the other conversing easily, and al-
ways saying delightful, entertaining, instructive
things in the most graceful language, and making
it very evident that, in addition to her lovely
Christian spirit, she possessed cultivation and
refinement; which do you think would attract
and influence you most ?"
"Why, the last, of course."
"And the more influence you have, the more
useful you can be: that's very certain. Now,
there is hardly anything more refining and ele-
vating than pure, noble poetry. As you read it,
you seem to catch something of its spirit. The
very language lingers in your memory, and, when
AN EVENING WITH MISS ELLERBY. 13
it becomes familiar to you, it insensibly infuses
itself into your conversation. The fine ideas
elevate your mind, and improve your taste; and
if the poet points out to you new beauties and
wonders in God's works which you had all your
life overlooked, does he in no way increase the
glory of his Creator? Yet you think poetry
useless, you think it a waste of time to read
it, do you ?" said Miss Ellerby, with a smile.
"I think," replied Ada, laughing, "that I
must abandon my position; and I will attend to
poetry, and the newspapers, and to literature in
general, and let history go."
"No, no, my dear; you must read history
too. Let your mind go out in different direc-
tions, and bring home its treasures from all
quarters. Beware of growing up into a one-
sided character,-of becoming all history, or all
poetry, or all drudge."
How can I keep the balance even ?" ex-
claimed Ada. "How can I see what my mind
needs most at any particular time ? If I had
only some one to read my thoughts perfectly,
and guide me--"
"You have," said Miss Ellerby, gently;-
"you have, Ada. You remember who has said,
'I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way
which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with
mine eye.' There is a deeper meaning in that
14 ADA BBENTON.
promise than we are apt to realize; and if we
believingly seek that guidance, I am sure it will
be given us,-in little things as well as in great.
But I want to know something about your last
term at school. Did you enjoy it ?"
"Oh, yes, indeed! I was almost sorry to
come away, and legve all those dear girls; and
yet I liked the thought of coming home, and
setting to work."
"Then you had no work to do at school ?"
said Miss Ellerby, playfully.
"Why, yes, of course. I had my studies,
and was busy from morning till night; but then
it seemed rather selfish business. It was all for
my own improvement, and I wanted to be where
I could be helping others,-doing them good in
the best way."
I should think, Ada, that if I wanted a very
extensive field of business, I could hardly find
a better one than would be given me in a large
boarding-school. How many young ladies were
brought under your influence there ? I hope
you sought to make it evident to them by your
daily life that you were a Christian."
"Oh, yes; I tried to do right, I'm sure. I
obeyed all the rules, and was punctual in every.
thing, and studied as hard as I could that I
might learn all my lessons perfectly. I meant
to set a good example."
AI EVENING WITH MISS ELLE BY. 15
That was right, my dear; and I hope that,
besides this, you were careful to use your influ-
ence for your Master, showing, by your conver-
sation, and by your gentle, self-denying spirit,
that you were His disciple ;-and that you also
tried to lead others to Him, not only by praying
for them, but by speaking to them of Christ's
love. Did you do this ?"
"Why, no,-not exactly," said Ada, hesita-
tingly. I was always going to try; but, some-
how or other, I have no tact for such things,
you know,-no gift that way. I never seemed
to be able to begin."
Never, Ada P Do you mean that, among all
those girls who knew nothing of Christ's love,
you never made one effort to win them to Him ?"
"Oh, no! I did once; and yet not exactly,
either. I remember, one Sunday evening, Maria
Cary was sick; and so Sarah Morgan walked to
the service with me. The fact is, that Maria
Cary used to be always with me; and so I had
very few opportunities to see the girls alone.
But that evening Sarah and I walked by our-
selves, (I shall never forget what a beautiful
moonlight night it was;) and, as we set out, I
said to myself, 'Sarah is a wild, thoughtless
creature; and I might try to tell her to-night
how much I long to see her steady, and thought-
ful, and pious.' But I thought I would not say
anything of the kind to her at first, lest I should
repel her; and, as we went on, we were talking
about something else, and I thought I would
wait till we were returning. And, when we
were on the way home, I didn't feel so much in
the spirit of it as I did before; and I thought
perhaps I had better wait till another time, lest
she should avoid going with me at all. But we
never went together again."
Miss Ellerby sighed. "I'm sorry, Ada; but
regrets are useless now,-except so far as they
make us more careful and faithful in the future.
It is in these little daily opportunities of influ-
encing others, that half the usefulness of a
woman lies. fhe can make no great noise in
the world, and she ought not to desire to do so;
but she can, in her quiet and sometimes even
obscure position, do a noble work for her Master,
if she is faithful to Him."
"Ah, if I only could be faithful, cousin Rachel!"
"You can be, my dear child. Believe it, and
go to work. Don't sit with folded hands, ex-
cusing yourself on the ground of your inability.
Instead of saying, 'I would be faithful,' say, 'I
will be, God helping me: I will be an earnest,
faithful, watchful Christian.' And if you look
to Him for aid, you will not, cannot fail."
Miss Ellerby's cheek glowed and her eye kin-
dled, as she spoke. "Dear cousin Rachel,"
Ak EVENING WITH MISS ELLERBY. If
thought Ada, as she gazed up admiringly into
her radiant face, "you know that from your own
It was true. In her comparatively lonely
position, Miss Ellerby, with feeble health ane
limited income, was leading a life which coull
not but leave its impress on those around. Her
cheerful words of encouragement, her mild
rebuke, her gentle admonitions and wise coun
sels, were constantly exerting a silent but sur
influence upon all within their reach. And the
quiet beauty of her daily life, in its humility, and
patience, and serene happiness, added tenfold to
the power of her words. Happy Miss Ellerby !
Blessed indeed are all (and are there not many
such, whom the world knows not ?) who thus,
in retirement and comparative obscurity, are
meekly following in the footsteps of their
A MORNING AT HOME.
"The trivial round, the common task
Will furnish all we ought to ask,-
Room to deny ourselves,-a road
To bring us daily nearer God."
As Ada Brenton walked thoughtfully home
that night, she felt within herself an exhilaration
and courage which were new to her. The clear,
cold air, and the crisp crackle of the leaves under
her quick step, seemed to add fresh vigour to the
impulse which Miss Ellerby's last words had given
her. Life was opening before her, with its joys,
its cares, its solemn responsibilities. She had
hitherto taken little part in its active duties.
Her daily life had been arranged by others, each
hour bringing with it its fixed occupation; but
now she expected to be, in a measure, her own
mistress. New and various duties were to be
performed,-duties to herself, to her home.circle,
and to all within her influence; and these duties
she must now go forward to meet with the weak-
ness and inexperience of a child. But she re-
membered her cousin's encouragement; and, as
A MORNING AT HOME.
she thought of the wisdom and strength beyond
her own which she could call to her aid,-as the
" Lo, I am with you always" of her Saviour rang in
her ears,-she grew calm and hopeful. "Yes,"
thought she, "I will be energetic, and firm, and
industrious. I will lay out my plans, giving
every hour its duty, so that I may not waste a
single moment; and I will begin to-morrow."
The morning came, and with the early light
Ada was up, and making her toilet with unusual
despatch. Her thoughts were busy with various
plans for the day; and it seemed easy to arrange
an admirable system, which could hardly fail, if
followed, to make her a better or more useful
"Let me see," said she to herself, as she
threw open the window, and turned her mattress,
" I must not neglect any household duty. I shall
have to dust the knick-knacks in the parlour
every morning, and make my bed, and do a few
little things to help mother. This will occupy
my time till ten o'clock, perhaps. Then I will
dress, and from half-past ten to one I will read
history. Then dinner will come, and in the
afternoon, as I shall be liable to interruptions, I
will sew, and have that time, too, for general
reading, and for exercise; and in the evening I
will read French or Latin, and write letters.
How much I can do by systematizing in this
way!" Thus a secret feeling of self-complacency
came stealing over her heart; and when she
went down to breakfast, it was with the firm
conviction that the duties of the day all lay clear
It was a happy little group that assembled
round that breakfast-table,-Ada's mother, a
gentle, pale, delicate woman; her father, firm,
dignified, and sedate; her laughing, roguish
brother Harry; and her elder sister Kate, a
graceful, beautiful girl, as unlike Ada as she well
What a charming morning!" exclaimed Ada.
"The air is so clear and fresh. How I should
like to take a long walk to-day."
So we will," said Kate, quickly. We must
go over to call on the Duncans, Ada. You have
not called there since you came home, and it is
a long walk, and we may not have such a fine
day again for a long time."
"You had better do so, by all means," said
Mrs. Brenton; "and take the whole afternoon
for it, Kate, for you are not strong enough to
I would go with you," said Harry, "but I've
torn my coat, just under the arm. There never
was such an unlucky fellow as I am."
"Such a careless one, you mean," said Mr.
A MORNING AT HOME.
"Not always, father," said Mrs. Brenton, with
a smile. "We are all liable to accidents. You
know I mended somebody's coat last week, and
it was not Harry's! but Harry's shall be mended
"Let me do it, mamma," said Kate. "It
wiv try your eyes to work at that black cloth."
"No, my dear, I thank you: Ada shall have
the pleasure of doing this for Harry."
"What! me, mamma ?" exclaimed Ada.
("'What! I' would be better grammar, my
young student," said Harry, in an audible
whisper.) "Why, I never mended a coat in my
"Very well, my child: it is time you should
begin. When you have finished your morning's
work, come into my room, and I will initiate
you into the mysteries of mending broadcloth."
"But, mamma- Ada hesitated.
"But what, my dear ?"
"Why, nothing: only I was going to do
something else this morning."
"I suppose we all were; but we cannot let
Harry go with a ragged coat until we find an
hour in which.we have nothing else to do."
But I was planning to sew in the afternoon,
and read history in the morning."
I have no objection, my dear, to your reading
history when you can find leisure; but I shall
expect you to devote a good deal of time this
winter to learning a great many household duties
of which you know nothing. -Kate must teach
you how to make bread, and biscuit, and cake,
and 'pies and puddings, and all such matters; and
Bridget and I will be your teachers in the art of
cooking meat and vegetables. No daughter of
mine shall be ignorant of these things, if I can
"That's right, mother," said Harry. That's
just what I like. Commend me to a woman
that understands such things, and is no blue
stocking. Oh, Ada, if ever you make such a
capital housekeeper as Kate, I'm mistaken!"
And, throwing his arm over Kate's chair, he
patted her cheek, and played with her curls.
"Nonsense, Harry!" said Kate, laughing.
"What a silly boy! Ada will make just as good
a housekeeper as I am, and a much cleverer
woman. Wait a year or so, and see how she
will eclipse me."
Ada will never eclipse you," said Mr. Brenton.
"Don't be too sure, father," interposed the
kind, motherly voice. "My girls must do the
best they can; and we will draw no invidious
comparisons between them."
Ada was silent, and when she withdrew to the
parlour to busy herself in dusting the orna-
ments, her heart was sad and troubled.
A MORNING AT HOME.
"It's of no use," said she despondingly, "to
try to be anything, or to do anything. If I
make plans, I cannot carry them out. All this
morning I shall have to sew at that old coat; and
to-morrow morning, and every other morning,
there will be cooking, or something just as use-
ful to be done !" And Ada's lip curled in lofty
contempt of the pleasures of the palate. Then
this afternoon we must make calls, to say and
hear foolish gossip and nonsense; and this even-
ing I know somebody will come in to interrupt
me in whatever I try to do."
Ada sighed again, and looked sullen and un-
happy. Fresh causes of vexation occurred to
her. Mamma has 'no objection' to my study-
ing history. 'No objection!' That's just the
encouragement that I always get. No; I sup-
pose I never shall be equal to Kate in Harry's
estimation. He and father love her because
she's so pretty,-that's all; just as men always
do." And she glanced indignantly at the unat-
tractive face which frowned upon her from the
Ah! Ada had forgotten the winning gentle-
ness, the soft voice-the tender, loving spirit
which made Kate so dear to all around her.
Could this be the same Ada who a few hours
before was so hopeful and happy ? The sun still
shone just as brightly, she had the same kind
friends, the same pleasant home, the same vigour
of body and mind; yet the present and the
future now seemed alike dark and hopeless.
Her labours in the parlour ended, she took
her .work-basket, and, with a heavy heart, went
to her mother's room. It seemed almost impos-
sible to resist the cheering influences she found
there. The sun streamed in through the waving
leaves, which flung their bright dancing shadows
upon the carpet. A brisk little fire crackled
upon the hearth, and softened the frosty morn-
ing air; and before it sat Mrs. Brenton in her
arm-chair, darning a stocking which displayed
several holes of an alarming size, and with a pile
of stockings upon the work-table beside her
which held out the flattering prospect that she
would have a protracted enjoyment of the occu-
pation. But no shadow of impatience disturbed
the serenity of her tranquil countenance; and
her wasted, toil-worn hands moved cheerfully
and quickly, as they had done for years, in the
service of others.
"Oh, here you are, my love! I was just won-
dering where you could be. Here is the coat
already for you, and the sewing-silk too."
"Oh, what a shame!" exclaimed Ada, looking
ruefully at the complicated rent. Why, mamma,
I never can mend this I will cut it out, and
put in a piece. That will be the shortest way."
"A MORNING AT HOME. 25
"No, my dear: you can darn it neatly and
"But it will be a tremendous piece of work,
Oh no: you can finish it in an hour or two,
if you are industrious. You must rip out a part
of the sleeve, and darn it first this way; then
turn it, like this, and darn it again; then put in
a new lining, damp it a little, press it with a hot
iron, and sew in the sleeve again. You see it's
very simple and easy."
Ada sighed,-turning the coat first one way,
and then another, discovering new defects at
every new examination."
"There's a button off, here. The facing of
that sleeve's wearing out. Oh, what button-
holes! What miserable cloth! It really isn't
worth mending. It's a perfect waste of time.
Harry ought to have a new coat, and give this
away" And, with another sigh, she betook her.
self to the disagreeable task.
"It's a poor kind of generosity to give away
a ragged garment. The poor have less time than
we to patch and mend their clothes; and it is
only reasonable that whatever we give them
should be whole when it goes from our hands."
But, mamma, if you were going to give away
this coat, should you really darn it as nicely as
"if Harry were going to wear it ?"
I should darn it firmly and neatly, my dear,
or I might patch it instead of darning; but it
should be as strong and whole as I could make
it. Then it would be of some value to the person
who received it."
Well, your work never would be appreciated,
I'm sure. It would be all thrown away."
"That is no concern of mine. I must do my
duty, and leave all the rest to God. If I do
something for another person merely to win
praise or gratitude, I act from a low and selfish
motive; but if I do it to please the Lord, my
motive is a pure one."
"But, mamma, it does seem like a waste of
time-doesn't it ?-to be always sewing,-sew-
ing,-sewing How much better it would be to
be improving one's mind by reading and study!"
Not always, by any means. It is not the
great object of life to improve the mind only.:
You may be so selfish in such efforts as to ruin
your better nature. Nothing is a waste of time,
my child, which makes others really more happy
or more comfortable; and every little thing
which we do for others against our own inclina-
tion does us good,-makes us better, more self-
denying, more Christ-like."
Ada was silent and self-condemned; and while
her fingers flew busily, her eyes grew dim with
tears, as she thought of her own unwillingness
A MORNING AT HOME.
to make any sacrifice for others, and contrasted
it with the meek, patient, unselfish example of
The last stitch was at length taken ; and, as
Ada held up the coat triumphantly, Harry came
bounding into the room.
"Your coat's done, Harry!" she exclaimed.
Now, isn't it done nicely ?"
"Oh, just in time!" cried Harry, seizing it
eagerly. Ned's waiting for me. Thank you,
dear. Done admirably. Not much work after
all,-eh, sister ?" And away went the young
gentleman, in a happy unconsciousness of the
time and care which had been expended upon
his coat, and without one glance at the exquisite
little stitches which were set so thickly round
Ada felt a choking in her throat, and agair
the tears started to her eyes. She was disap-
pointed. Harry did not realize how hard she
had been working to please him. No," she said
to herself, "there is no comfort in working for
men! they never appreciate anything !" Sud-
denly her mother's words recurred to her. She
had not been doing this that she might please
her Master: if she had, she would not have lost
her reward. And from the depths of her heart
went up the petition, "Lord, help me to do
everything for Thee!"
Let us bear each other's load;
Faithful to each other prove;
Till we gain the saints' abode,
Till we take our place above."
" ADA," said Kate Brenton, as the sisters sat
together at their work, do you know that our
Dorcas-meeting is to be held to-morrow at Mrs.
Holman's ? We must both go."
I suppose you must go," replied Ada. "I
think I shall stay at home. I never did fancy
such sort of gatherings in old times,-before I
went to school."
But you must remember that you were
younger then. Now, it would be very different.
It is so pleasant to meet the girls, and have a
cosy talk; and then, too, the society certainly
does accomplish a great deal in the course of the
winter. Last spring, we sent away a nice large
box to a home-missionary in the North. I packed
it myself; and you would have been astonished
to see how many things we had ready for it that
we made ourselves."
I'll tell you what I will do, Kate: I'll work
at home for the society. I can sew a great deal
"Oh no, Ada! Now, don't talk in that way.
We want you there with us, for the sake of your
company as well as your help. You don't know
how much it adds to the interest of such a thing
to have the girls enter into it with spirit. It
throws a damper over the whole concern to have
any one holding back. Why, there comes cousin
Rachel!" And Kate hurried to the door to
Oh, Kitty and Ada, you dear girls!" ex-
claimed Miss Ellerby, as she kissed them, and
seated herself by the open window. It's such
a delightful afternoon that I feared you would
be out walking; but I'm rejoiced to find you at
"We were just discussing the Dorcas-meet-
ing," said Kate. Ada is trying to excuse her-
self, and I am using all my authority as an elder
sister to persuade her to go."
"Why, Ada!" exclaimed Miss Ellerby, half
reproachfully. You excusing yourself? I
thought you wanted to be as useful as possible
in every way ?"
"I do, cousin Rachel, but I do not think any
great good results from such meetings."
Why," interrupted Kate, do you think we
should ever have sent away that box last spring,
if there had been no society ?"
Perhaps you might," replied Ada.
"And perhaps not," said Kate. "No, cer-
tainly not. We should never have done all that
sewing at home, I am sure."
We might possibly have done it at home,"
said Miss Ellerby,-" though I doubt it. There
are but few who can keep up interest enough in
any object to work for it perseveringly at home.
Many would soon become weary of such efforts.
But the benevolent feature of a Dorcas-meeting
is not its only advantage. It is an excellent
thing as a social gathering,-an innocent, sensi-
ble, and pleasant way of bringing people to-
"Yes," said Ada, so it may be in theory;
but, in reality, there is generally a great deal of
scandal and gossip, and very little work, at such
That is an accusation that is often brought
against these societies," replied Miss Ellerby,
" and sometimes with reason; but if you see such
a defect in ours, you must do all that you can
to remedy it."
"I?" said Ada. "Yes, indeed! I should
make a fine figure lecturing the girls on their
love of gossip!"
"You need not lecture, my dear, but just set
them a good example. If you are careful to
say nothing against any one,-to excuse as much
as possible the failings of those who are absent,
and to manifest a kind, charitable spirit towards
all,-your influence will be felt. This feeling
of charity is what we very much need at such
gatherings; and a warm-hearted Christian can
do much good to others by meeting them in this
way, and trying as far as possible to counteract
any such evil tendency."
"That is true," said Kate. "How quickly
Lottie Hammond seems to purify the very air
around her! She is always seeing something
good in everybody,-she is always so kind and
gentle, and ready to slip in a word for religion,
too, and yet in such a way that nobody can be
"Oh yes," said Ada; "Lottie has a natural
tact for such things."
"True," said Miss Ellerby. "Yet, if our
hearts were more full of love to our Master and
energy in His service, we should find that we
all have more of this tact than we imagine. Are
you willing, Ada, to come and help us to be
charitable, and lovely, and all that is excellent ?"
"One person can do very little," faltered Ada.
"But society is made up of individuals," re-
sponded Miss Ellerby; "and if each does the
best she can, we shall make a great advance in
this respect. Suppose we three resolve that we
will try to resist this propensity to scandal, and
fault-finding, and foolish gossip ?"
"I will, with all my heart," said Ada, con-
I will try," said Kate, more timidly.
To-morrow, then, we shall be put to the test,"
said Miss Ellerby, smiling.
Hark!" exclaimed Ada. "Is that Harry F"
They listened, and looked eagerly from the
window. The trees, in all their splendour of
crimson and gold, glowed in the warm October
sun, and occasionally a brilliant leaf came flutter-
ing slowly down through the still air, as if reluc-
tant to leave the gorgeous company above for the
withered things below.
"There he is!" cried Ada, as a clear, sweet
whistle broke the silence; and, at the same
moment, Harry ran joyfully into the front court,
waving an open letter in his hand.
"Oh, such good news! Oh, cousin Rachel!
Arthur's coming home next week, and is going
to bring Mr. Manning with him."
"Oh, that's good!" exclaimed Ada. "I must
tell mamma!" And she hurried away with the
"Why, how is it ?" cried Kate. "Harry, it
can't be! He has no vacation in October."
It is so, whether it can be so or not, Miss
A DISCUSSION. 83
Kitty. I don't know how it is; but I suppose
Arthur's got so far in advance of his class, that
he's waiting for them to overtake him, and is
coming up here to rest."
"Who is Mr. Manning?" inquired Miss
Ellerby. "I have never heard of him."
Why, that is strange," said Harry. "He is
Arthur's dearest friend. A fine fellow, they say.
Arthur's been trying to get him here, ever so
"I shall leave you to your delightful anticipa-
tions," said Miss Ellerby, rising. "Kate, I
almost envy you so good and noble a brother as
Arthur, for a brother is a blessing which I never
"Forgive us, Lord, that we so ill
Thy sacred law of lore fulfil;
No more let envy, wrath, and pride,
But Thy blest maxims be our guide."
THE ,next afternoon found Kate and Ada busy
with their needles in Mrs. Holman's pleasant
parlour. One by one the young ladies came
dropping in, until a large company were assem-
bled, whose various faces and characters would
have been an interesting study to a close observer
of human nature. There was Emily Brown,
silent and industrious, hardly venturing to raise
her eyes from her work, occasionally smiling at
the remark of another, but seldom volunteering
one of her own; Lucy Burrall, with her bright
face, and her merry tongue, which flew as swiftly
as her fingers, and sometimes carried as sharp.a
point; Lottie Howard, calm, gentle, talking
quietly in a soft undertone; Miss Burton, an
energetic directress, eager to furnish work to
every one, and sewing with marvellous rapidity
herself. With this little group sat Ada, Kate,
and Miss Ellerby, while the others clustered in
knots of five or six about the room.
Lucy Burrall, seated by the front window
beside Ada, was full of conversation. The time
of Ada's absence seemed to have been remarkably
eventful in the quiet little town, and the various
occurrences lost nothing of their interest in
Lucy's animated rehearsal. A busy hum per-
vaded the room, rising and falling like the waves
of the sea, but seldom subsiding into silence.
As the sun sank lower and lower in the west, all
drew nearer to the window, to improve each
moment of the fading light. But at last the
work was laid aside, and they sat, merrily chat-
ting, in the gathering darkness, while an ominous
clatter of erockery in the next room indicated
the approach of the tea-hour. Just then the
gate swung open, and a young lady, nicely
shawled and hooded, entered the front court.
"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Lucy, whose
quick eyes penetrated the darkness,-" if there
isn't Miss Hill! I think she ought to be ashamed
of coming at this time of day. She is always
too late to work, but just in time for tea."
"Who is Miss Hill ?" said Ada.
"Oh, you know," said Kate. "Her father
bought that beautiful place on the borders of
"Oh yes," added Lucy. "They are very
rich and elegant. She spends her winters in
London, and has all kinds of airs and graces;-
-and she dresses,-oh, so much !"
"I think she is very pretty," said Kate; "and
she is very pleasant, too."
"Yes, she's pleasant enough," replied Lucy,
"She has a beautiful taste in drawing and
painting, too," interrupted Kate, "and delights
in charming scenery."
I hear she dislikes the country, at any rate."
"Oh, well," said Lottie, "it's very lonely for
her here: she lives so far from us all,-and--"
The door opened. Miss Hill entered, and, at
the same time, Mrs. Holman announced that tea
was ready. This matter disposed of, all returned
to the well-lighted parlour, bestowing themselves
variously around sundry tables; and Ada found
herself again in the same circle as before, with
the addition of the last comer, whom, as she sat
next her, she had an excellent opportunity of
observing. Miss Hill had thrown herself into
a large rocking-chair, covering it with a cloud
of rustling flounces which gleamed brilliantly in
the lamp-light; her hair was arranged with ex-
quisite skill in a complication of rich braids and
glossy curls, while her elegant collar and under-
sleeves, and handsomely-trimmed jacket, seemed
THE DORCAS-MEETING. 17
at once to invite and defy criticism. Lucy glanced
at her, and then quickly averted her eyes, as if
vexed that she had noticed her at all. Emily
Brown gazed in timid admiration; Kate and Lot-
tie looked at her kindly; Miss Burton, severely;
Miss Ellerby, sadly; Ada was perplexed; while
Miss Hill, apparently unconscious of their stolen
glances, sat listlessly twirling her hands, which
sparkled with rings, and occasionally responding
to some remark addressed to her.
Miss Burton seemed to be disturbed by her
inactivity, and, fumbling over a large basket, said
half-reprovingly, ""Wouldn't you like some work,
Miss Hill ?"
Oh, certainly," she replied languidly. What
kind of work have you ?"
Here is a sheet,-just a straight seam to be
Oh, excuse me," said Miss Hill, smiling.
"That is altogether too formidable."
"Here are pillow-cases,-or this shirt, all
nicely basted,-or this skirt to be hemmed,-or
these sleeves to be sewed in," continued Miss
Burton, drawing forth one article after another
from an apparently inexhaustible store. It's
very pleasant to sew on this soft unbleached
Have you nothing smaller or finer ?" said
Miss Hill, with an expression of dissatisfaction.
"Here are some nightcaps; but they are all
done; except the strings," replied Miss Burton,
"Oh, let me take those!" exclaimed Miss
Hill, seizing two strips of checked muslin.
Lucy, whose swift fingers were flying down
the long seam of a sheet, looked up contemptu-
ously, caught a reproving glance from Miss
Ellerby, blushed, and dropped her eyes. The
silence which ensued for a few moments, was
broken by her nimble tongue.
"Do you know, Ada, that Fanny Gilbert's
going to be married next week? Dear me!
One would think she was going to India, from
her preparations. Such quantities and qfian-
titles of beautiful clothes, and silk dresses, and
so on! They say Mr. Smith's very rich."
That's what she rharries him for, I dare say,"
said Miss Burton. Money! Money! Money!
That's the great thing now-a-days."
Fanny's a lovely girl," said Lottie Howard.
"I hope she will be happy."
What sort of a man is Mr. Smith ?" inquired
"He's well enough, I believe,-not very at-
tractive, nor half equal to Fanny. But, after
all, it's a capital match for her."
Oh, there's no doubt about that," said Miss
Hill. "He moves in the very best society."
"I hope that is not his only recommendation,"
said Miss Ellerby, quietly.
"No, indeed," said Miss Hill. "I wish you
could see his place. It's like a palace."
"That's what pleases her, I dare say," said
Ada. "Fanny is very different, I should think,
from what she used to be. I hear that she has
grown very dressy and extravagant; and she
has given up going to evening services, and-"
"Ada !" Miss Ellerby's voice startled her, and
recalled her forgotten resolution to refrain from
anything like gossip.
We ought not to believe all that we hear,"
said Kate mildly.
Fanny's health is delicate, so that she cannot
go out in the evening," added Lottie.
"For my part," said Miss Hill, "I do not
see what harm there is in wearing handsome
clothes, if one can get them. I think it's no
worse than to be finding fault with other people;
and yet half of those who cry out so much
against the one, do not scruple to do the other."
And, picking up the nightcap string, which had
been lying neglected on the table, she sewed
away vehemently for several minutes.
Ada was silent, but the colour deepened in
her cheeks. She felt irritated with Miss Hill,
and with Fanny, and with the world in general,
and thoroughly ashamed of herself.
"I have no doubt," said Miss Ellerly-, "that
those of us who are too poor to buy expensive
articles, are often rather uncharitable towards
those who can do so, and that we plume our-
selves unreasonably upon a simplicity in dress,
which, after all, is only a matter of necessity
with us. Yet I do think that it is the duty of
every woman to do all in her power to resist the
strong, tendency to extravagance and display
which we see everywhere; and it is certain that
the example of a person who dresses simply and
unpretendingly, when she can afford to dress
much more richly, has more influence than that
of another who does the same thing because she
cannot help it."
It's a matter of taste," said Miss Hill, coldly.
"I think it is a question of duty rather than
of taste," replied Miss Ellerby. It certainly is
my duty to set an example, which, to say the
least, will not be injurious; and, if my finery
excites the envy and emulation of my poorer
neighbour, I am doing her an injury."
"But do you not think," said Kate, "that
there are different kinds of simplicity ? I am
sure that what would be simplicity for me, would
be elegance for a beggar; and so what would be
monstrous extravagance for me, might be com-
parative simplicity for a duchess."
Certainly," replied Miss Ellerby. "All I
contend for is that each should try to dress in
uch a way as would be regarded simple in her
position. I think we are all in danger of attach-
ing too much importance to trifles, and that we
may sometimes be too nice and critical even in
making up our own common garments."
"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Lucy; "I think so.
There is Mrs. Stone, always making everything
so beautifully, scolloping and working eyelets
wherever she can, and putting in so many ex-
quisite stitches which nobody will ever see; and
yet she is always complaining that she has no
time to read. She calls such work 'duty' and
'economy,' because it saves her the expense of
buying and trimming."
"I must say," said Miss Burton, "I think
there is much more danger now-a-days of making
things too poorly. How many seams come back
to me just run up, and overcast, instead of being
nicely felled! I approve of neat and pretty
trimmings, and I respect a woman who has some
ambition in this respect." So saying, she gave
a side-long frown at Lucy.
I don't think you quite understood Lucy,"
said Kate apologetically. "She did not mean
that our .clothes should not be made nicely and
firmly. Just look at her own stitches." And
she held up one end of the seam which Lucy was
sewing, at the sight of which Miss Burton's face
grew more propitious. "It was only this ex-
cessive trimming which she objected to. It does
seem idle to spend all one's thoughts and time
on things, which so few see, and which wear out
so quickly. Don't you think so ?"'
Well, well," said Miss Burton, with her eyes
fixed on her work, resolutely avoiding one glance
at the sweet, pleading face which was turned
towards her, "we must all judge for ourselves.
Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I am right.
It is no great matter either way."
Miss' Hill sighed,-a sigh which imperfectly
concealed a yawn; and for a moment nothing
was heard but the whistle of the flying thread
and the click of knitting-needles.
Miss Ellerby's voice broke the silence :- "I
hope you enjoy our autumn scenery, Miss Hill ?"
Oh, very much. It's perfectly enchanting !"
What a bright, beautiful month October
is !" exclaimed Kate. So exhilarating and
It is very delightful," said Miss Hill. Yet
it always seems a sad season to me."
Lottie looked up in surprise. "Sad? Oh,
how can you think so ?"
"I think so, I'm sure," said Lucy; "for
everything then is either dead or dying. It
seems to me almost like one great funeral."
"Death is always fearful," said Miss Burton
"I think not," said Miss Ellerby gently.
"To a Christian, I think it ought to be a happy,
Lucy sighed. Kate rose, and, going to a
little table in the corner, brought back a book.
"You remind me of a passage I saw in this
book, which Mrs. Holman was showing me
before tea. Dear cousin Rachel, won't you just
read these few lines aloud ?" she added coax-
ingly, as she found the page.
Miss Ellerby took it with a smile, and read,-
her clear, sweet voice quickly hushing the other
groups into silence:-
"Every green thing loves to die in bright
colours. The vegetable cohorts march glowing
out of the year in flaming dresses, as if to leave
the earth were a triumph, and not a sadness. It
is never Nature that is sad, but only we, that
dare not look back on the past, and that have not
its prophecy of the future in our bosoms.
"But there is as much of life in autumn as of
death, and as much of creation and of growth as
of passing away. Every flower has left its house
full of seeds. No leaf was dropped, until a bud
was born to it. Already another year is hidden
along the boughs,-another summer is secure
among the declining flowers. Along the banks,
the green heart-shaped leaves of the violet tell
me that it is all well at the root; and in turning
the soil, I find these spring beauties that died to
be only sleeping.
Heart, take courage! What the heart has
once owned and had, it shall never lose. There
is resurrection-hope, not alone in the garden-
sepulchre of Christ. Every flower and every
tree and every root are annual prophets sent to
affirm the future, and cheer the way. Thus, as
birds, to teach their little ones to fly, do fly
first themselves and show the way,-and as
guides, that would bring the timid to venture
into the dark-faced ford, do first go back and
forth through it,-so the year and its mighty
multitudes of growths walk in and out before us
to encourage our faith of life by death,-of
decaying for the sake of better growth. Every
seed and every bud whispers to us to secure,
while the leaf is yet green, that germ which shall
live when frosts have destroyed both leaf and
As Miss Ellerby finished, Lottie's eyes met
Lucy's. It was but a look which Lottie gave
her; yet it was full of affection and solicitude,
and Lucy understood its meaning.
"Quiet, Lord, my froward heart:
Make me teachable and mild,
Upright, simple, free from art
Make me as a weaned child,
From distrust and envy free,
Pleased with all that pleases Thee."
THE long-expected day of Arthur's return at
length arrived; and his dear friend Manning,
whom all were impatient to see and know, came
with him. The appearance of the latter at first
somewhat disappointed the family, for his plain
face, unpretending manner, and humble dress,'
were quite unlike the elegant ideal which Ada
had formed in her own mind and had half per-
suaded the others to adopt. The kind welcome
he received, however, soon made him quite at
home, and his evident affection for Arthur en-
deared him very quickly to the whole family. As
for Arthur, the happiness of being once more at
home, and his delight in at last bringing Manning
with him, made him as buoyant and gay as a
Rrd ; and his quick step and cheerful voice
seemed to carry sunshine with him all over the
house. Ada was almost beside herself with joy
at having him back again, for Arthur (she was
sure) loved her, notwithstanding her want of out-
ward charm or grace; and, indeed, no one who
witnessed his kind consideration for her happiness,
and his unceasing efforts to improve, and guide,
and help her, would have doubted it.
Arthur loved Kate perhaps as dearly as Ada;
but Kate had readier access to the heart of every
one, and therefore, although a true, affectionate
sister, she did not lean upon him so entirely as
Ada did. The very defects in Ada which made
Arthur's love for her the more tender, annoyed
her light-hearted, mischievous brother Harry,
whose playful teasing, as well as his almost
":dolatrous affection for his more charming sister,
often irritated and wounded her far more than
he imagined. Thus, a new temptation Ada had
encountered on her return home, was a secret
envy of Kate, which she hardly dared confess to
herself, but for which every hour seemed to give
S"W hy, M anning!" exclaimed Arthur, one
evening, "P declare, we haven't had one note of
music since you came! It's too bad!"
Do you sing, Mr. Manning ?" inquired Mrs.
Sing !" interrupted Arthur. "Why, mother
ARTHUR'S VACATION. 47
Manning leads our choir in the chapel, and
actually surpasses your son himself in that line."
"Take care, Brenton," said Manning, laughing,
as he rose to open the piano. I am sure you
are uttering things incredible to yourself; but I
assure you I am not going to gratify you, as you
anticipate, by returning your compliments,-
though perhaps you might make good music with
your sisters' aid."
Perhaps I spoke only in irony, my dear fel-
low," replied Arthur. Let my mother be un-
deceived by hearing your voice. But come
Kate; come, Harry; let us have one of these
good old tunes." And, opening a volume of
music, he selected one and placed it before Kate,
whh had seated herself at the piano. "There
n.o*, Manning, you take the tenor; Kate, the
treble; Harry, alto; and I will thunder away at
"But, Miss Ada," said Manning, turning
towards her, are you not coming ?"
"Oh, I never sing," replied Ada.
"Indeed I am sorry to hear it," said Man-
ning. "You lose a great pleasure." And,
turning away, they began one of these noble old
anthems which in the present day are so sadly
neglected. Both Manning and Arthur had fine
voices; and with Kate's full, rich notes, and
"rry's soft alto, the harmony was perfect.
Manning was delighted,-as, indeed, all were;
and chants, hymns, and songs followed in quick
"Dear me!" thought Ada; "how I should
hke to be Kate, singing so sweetly, and admired
by everybody! How lovely she looks as she
sings, and how accurately she reads the music!
Yes! she is beautiful and good too; but I should
think it would be easy to be good, if one looked
like Kate!" And she leaned her head upon her
hand, and sighed in spirit.
When the music was over, Arthur came and
stood near her; and, while the others were talk-
ing, he put his arm on the back of her chair, and
whispered, What's the matter, Ada ?"
"Nothing,-nothing. What do you mean,
"Something is the matter," he replied.
"While we were singing, I saw you sitting by
yourself, and looking as disconsolate as if you
had lost all your friends. Something was the
matter. What was it ? Now, be a good girl,
and tell me."
Ada's eyes grew dim. "Oh, Arthur, if I could
only sing like Kate! There I sat silent, while I
felt that the music was in me, if I could only
utter it; and yet I cannot, and never can. It
seems so hard."
"Hard ?" said Arthur. "Hard, Ada? No,
no: it is all right. Our Father knows just what
trials we need; and so He denies you this, to
teach you patience and submission. You will
sing by-and-by, dear. When we are safe in the
home above, we shall all sing together there; and
of what consequence are ten or twenty or thirty
years of silence here, if beyond them comes an
eternity of praise? No, no, my little sister. It
is all right. Whatever is denied us, it is for our
It's all very well for you to say that," Ada
replied, looking up admiringly into his fine face;
"but I should like to know what is denied you ?
You and Kate seem to have everything one could
What is deniedme, Ada ?" Hislip quivered.
"How little you know what I anticipate in the
future! and yet- ." His face, which had been
for a moment clouded, soon recovered its wonted
brightness, God helping me,--But no mat-
ter; this is no place to talk of such things. Be
a patient, contented little woman; and don't
desire powers which are not given you, until
you have made the best use of those which you
"What are you and Arthur doing, Ada?"
cried Harry, from the other side of the room.
"Come, Arthur: let's hear the sermon you have
just been delivering. I am sure it must be worth
hearing. Well, it must be a fine thing to be a
great preacher. I really envy you, Mr. Man.
ning. Now that the hard study is over, you
have only to look up an easy parish, with a large
salary, and then, to one who writes as you do, it's
all plain sailing."
You've mistaken your man, sir," said Arthur,
quickly. Manning's future field, I reckon, will
be far away from us, and from ease, and from a
large salary,-either in India or China, I fear:
no, I don't mean that I fear," he added, as he
caught Manning's reproachful glance; I bid you
God-speed, I am sure, with all my heart."
What's all this ?" exclaimed Mr. Brenton,
laying down his paper, and taking off his specta-
cles. "Do I understand, Mr. Manning, that you
are to be a foreign missionary ?"
"That is my hope, sir," replied Manning,
smiling. "You seem surprised."
I am, sir," replied Mr. Brenton. I am
exceedingly surprised. I am a warm friend of
missions, and ardently desire that many young
men may go forth to carry the Gospel to the
heathen; but I am truly sorry that you are going.
I have no wish to flatter you; but I must say
that I think it unwise for any man, so well
adapted to be useful at home, to exile himself in
this way, and waste his powers upon people who
cannot appreciate them, and who would be as
well cared for by a far inferior man. The good
young men, whose desire to be useful is as great
as their abilities are small, are the men I should
choose for missionaries, with here and there, of
course, a superior mind to guide and direct
Mr. Manning coloured, and, after a moment's
hesitation, replied, If I possessed the rarest
ministerial gifts, sir, I think I could hardly find
a more honourable or useful field for their exer-
cise than on missionary ground. I think that if
fine tact, and wisdom, and skill of adaptation, and
strength of influence, are needed anywhere, they
are needed there. And the more eloquent a man
may be, the more powerfully his words will take
hold of his heathen hearers; for natural eloquence,
I imagine, makes itself felt everywhere. And
certainly the sudden emergencies and perplexities
and wearing cares of a missionary's life, the neces-
sary correspondence and reports, the devising of
new schemes of usefulness, the superintendence
of schools, and the discreet expenditure of his
small allowance,-all this requires no little
ability. No, sir: my only hesitation would be
on the score of inability,-of unworthiness to be
a helper in so great a work."
Manning's cheek glowed as he spoke, and his
plain features lighted up with the ardour of his
spirit into something akin to beauty.
Mr. Brenton seemed puzzled. "Well, well,
perhaps you are right. But you are surely not
going at present."
"Not for a month yet, sir.'
"What! so soon ?" exclaimed Mrs. Brenton.
"There is no reason why I should linger,"
replied he. "Labourers are needed, and if I can
do anything, I long to be at work. It was a hard
struggle for me to decide to go abroad; but it
would be harder now to stay at home, for I feel
that India is the place where I would most gladly
live and die."
"I fear that your course will be a short one,"
said Mr. Brenton, with a sigh. It is a wretched
climate that you have chosen for yourself."
I know it, sir," said Manning cheerfully;
"but others have lived, and why may not I ? At
all events, God will spare my life as long as He
has any work for me to do, and the time of its
termination I can leave to Him."
As he spoke his eye rested upon a little
drawing which lay upon the table, and he ex-
amined it with evident admiration.
"That's native talent," said Arthur playfully.
"It is exquisite, whether foreign or native,"
said Manning. I fancy that this is Miss Ada's
work, and that her gift is in drawing, rather than
"No, sir: it is Kate's work," said Ada,
blushing. I never draw, my eyes are not
That is unfortunate," said Manning, gently.
"Miss Kate, you are certainly an adept with
"This is still finer, I think," said Mr. Bren-
ton, drawing Manning's attention to another
graceful little sketch, which awakened still
Harry's face beamed with pride and delight at
Mr. Manning's appreciation of Kate's skill; but
A moment afterwards she felt a hand upon
her shoulder, and looking up, met Arthur's ten-
der, sympathizing, yet half-reproving glance;
and, with a more hopeful spirit, she recalled his
words, "IT Is ALL RIGHT."
"Thou workest in thine owe weak strength, still greeting
The world's delights beneath a different name,
And in the study, and the social meeting,
Excitement, mental treasure, mortal fame,
Are flowers by that false world before thee thrown
To hold thee for its own."
"ANr so this is our last day here!" exclaimed
Arthur, as he entered the breakfast-room.
"How fast this week has flown away!"
I think you should call it my last day here,"
said Manning gently. "I hope you have many
more happy days to spend here."
And you too, Mr. Manning," said Mrs.
Brenton. I hope we shall see you again before
I am much obliged to you," replied Manning.
"It would be very pleasant to me; but it is quite
impossible, as every moment of my time will be
full of business now."
"But perhaps," said Mr. Brenton, with a
smile, we may see you when you return to your
native land, and that, perhaps, may be--"
"Never, I trust, sir," said Manning quietly.
THE TEST. 55
"But your health may fail," said Harry.
"That is possible," said Manning. "I may
be compelled to come home: but I hope not. I
can hardly think of any greater trial to a
missionary than to be obliged to abandon a field
for which he has become qualified, and where he
knows he is needed."
"You are right, Manning," said Arthur. "I
chink we shall never see you here again. You
may come again, to be sure, but we shall pro-
bably be all scattered by that time." And the
shadow which stole over his bright face seemed
to fall upon all the little group, and to linger
there until, in the sweet hour of family worship,
it was dispelled by the bright anticipations of a
better life. For few moments, life seemed to
Ada sad and dispiriting, with its brief meetings,
and long separations, and uncertain future; and
her heart failed her at the thought of such a pos-
sible breaking up of that dear home as Arthur
had suggested. But when she listened to the
sweet promises of grace and strength which he
read, and when Manning, in his simple child-like
prayer, thanked God for every trial which might
draw them nearer Himself,-for the privilege
granted them of labouring for Him here,-and
f'r the glorious hope of another meeting on the
brighter morning of the resurrection,-a deep,
peaceful happiness came over her spirit.
"The stage will be here at twelve, Manning,"
said Arthur, after breakfast.
My portmanteau is packed," said Manning.
That's more than I can say. Kate, when
are you coming up-stairs to help me ?"
"Not till Ada and I have put in a few more
stitches for you, you troublesome young man,"
said Kate, smiling. Wait a few minutes, while
I finish this cravat."
"Ah! the 'Journal and Letters of Henry
Martyn!'" exclaimed Manning as he took up a
book which lay on the table. "Your copy,
Brenton: I recognize it by its shabby appear-
ance. It brings up, before me most vividly the
remembrance of college-days."
"Poor Martyn!" sighed Mr. Brenton. "It
seems sad that a man of such rare gifts should
have been sacrificed to his work. If he had only
been satisfied to remain in England, he might
have lived to see many years of usefulness,
instead of falling, in the very prime of life, a
martyr to a cause for which he had been able,
comparatively speaking, to do so little."
"I think we sometimes mistake, sir," said
Manning modestly, "in estimating the length of
a man's life by years and days. To my mind,
the work accomplished in it is a truer standard
and certainly, if Martyn's life be measured by
that, it was not such a very short one. I am
sure he lived to do a noble work, not only in his
fine translation of the Testament, but in defend-
ing Christianity, as few men could have defended
it, among keen crafty enemies who would have
easily confounded a man of inferior powers.
There, I think, sir, is one proof of the advantage
of talent-and cultivated talent, too-in a
missionary. When I think of Henry Martyn, I
wonder at my own presumption in venturing to
undertake missionary work."
"Well, I must confess I agree with father,"
said Harry. "I can't imagine how you can
make up your mind to go to India after reading
Mr. Martyn's experience."
"Why, Harry," exclaimed Ada, "how can
you say so ? I am sure nothing could be more
charming than such a life as he led in that quiet
little pagoda by the river, at Mr. Brown's; or*
sailing in his own boat up the Ganges; or living
in that solitary, independent way at Dinapore.
I should think it must have been very pleasant
to be able to preach so well, and to translate so
beautifully, and to be admired so much every-
"Ah! but you forget his yearnings after home,
and his many sicknesses and discouragements,
and the contempt and insults he met with, and
the sickly oppressive heat, and so on," said Arthur
sally. It is very easy to make a bright picture
of it all; but then there are two sides to be
"I know it," replied Ada; "but it seems so
pleasant to think of having made such a sacrifice in
leaving home and everything behind you, and the
world and all its temptations, and going off into
a kind of wilderness, just to do good to others."
But temptations would follow you," said
Arthur; "for you will find a wicked world
around you wherever you are."
"Well, I should like to be a missionary !"
"I shouldn't," cried Harry. "Should you,
"I'm afraid I should make a very poor one,"
replied Kate thoughtfully. "It is a great thing
to be a good missionary."
I think," said Manning, that some of the
missionary ladies have been among the most re-
markable women in the world. How much
patience, and courage, and industry, they have
displayed I wonder more and more how they
can accomplish so much."
Oh, it's because there are so many demands
made upon them," exclaimed Ada. They are
obliged to develop all this energy and ability."
One can't develop what one hasn't got,"
said Kate playfully. "If we have this ability,
what hinders us from showing it ?"
THE TEST. 59.
It's because we are not driven to it," re-
peated Ada eagerly,-" not compelled to do just
as much as we can."
"I declare," said Harry, "I never saw such a
girl! Why, Ada, you are always complaining
of being hurried and driven, and of having no
time for anything; and now one would think
you could find nothing in the world to do at
I think, Miss Ada," said Manning, more
gravely, you can find plenty of work to do even
in this quiet town, if you only look for it,-at
home and abroad, in the cottages of the poor, and
in your Sunday and day-schools. Wherever we
are, there is work of some kind for us to do. It
is our business to find it, and to do it; and if we
are idle, I am sure it will be our own fault."
There, Arthur," said Kate, as she folded the
cravat she had been hemming: "now I'm ready.
Will you come ?"
"With all my heart," said Arthur, springing
up; though I'm sorry to leave you, my friends."
"And so am I," said Harry; but I must go
down to the Lecture-room for an hour."
"And I to my office," said Mr. Brenton, with
"And where must you go, Miss Ada ?" said
Manning, smiling, as one by one the others de-
"Oh, I must finish my work before I go
anywhere, and I have a good deal of it to do
So you think you would like to be a mis-
"Why, yes. If I were a young man, I am
sure I should."
"And if Arthur should think of going abroad,
you would do nothing to oppose it ?"
"Arthur? Oh, Mr. Manning, what do you
mean ?" exclaimed Ada, in alarm. "Does he
think of it ? Oh, we could not possibly spare
him! Don't try to persuade him to leave us !"
"I was afraid it would be so," said Manning
sadly. "Yes, he has thought of it for a long
time; but he dreads the opposition he is sure of
encountering at home. Yet, if he could be more
useful in a foreign land than here, is it right to
try to keep him at home for the sake of your own
"But he could be useful here," said Ada, her
eyes filling with tears; "and we all need him.
One of my dearest hopes for the future has been
that of hearing Arthur preach, and of seeing him
settled among a people who would love and
appreciate him. You will not try to persuade
him to go away, will you ?"
No," replied Manning. I would never urge
any one to go, but I would merely advise him,
before deciding to stay at home, seriously to ask
whether he could be more useful here than
But why cannot Arthur be useful at home ?"
"He can be so, no doubt; but he has some
qualifications for going abroad which few possess.
His fine health, and hopeful spirit, and facility
in acquiring languages, give him an unusual fit-
ness for foreign service. He has thought of being
a home-missionary; but I think others might do
as well at home, who lack his peculiar talents for
a foreign field."
"Arthur, a home-missionary? Oh, Mr. Man-
ning !" exclaimed Ada, with an almost contemp-
Why not ?" asked Manning quietly.
"Because he is cultivated, and refined, and
accustomed to the comforts of life. It would be
absurd for a man like Arthur to go on a home-
mission, of all things. Why, he would have
hardly any salary, and a poor, ignorant flock,
and never could take any stand among other
"That is not-or, at least, it should not be-
a man's object in entering the ministry," said
Manning; His aim should be to do all that he
can in his Master's service,-to go where he is
most needed, and not where the work is easiest."
"But there is something disagreeable in that
very title 'home-missionary,'" said Ada. "A
foreign missionary seems more respectable. A
home-missionary always suggests to me the idea
of a strong, hard-working man,-very good,
perhaps, but without much mind, or cultivation,
"I beg your pardon," exclaimed Manning.
"But I can see no reason why such work should
not be done by men whose minds are as strong
as their hearts are warm. If there is-as there
may be-some little lack of refinement and
polish in some of them, that is only a strong
reason why men who are cultivated and refined
should be united with them in the enterprise.
However, I think Arthur will propose to go
abroad; and here, Miss Ada, is an opportunity
for you to test your missionary spirit. A true
missionary spirit is a spirit of self-sacrifice,-of
willingness to give up the dearest thing for
Christ. This is a hard test, I know. It is
harder sometimes to give up one's friends than
one's self; but 'he that loveth father or mother
more than me-' you know the rest," he added
as he left the room.
My missionary spirit!" thought Ada, as she
resumed the work which had been lying neglected
on her lap. "My missionary spirit! Where is
it? Only an hour ago, I thought I had more
interest in Christ's work than any of the family.
I wondered why Kate didn't express herself
more strongly, and that Arthur should seem so
cold and speak of the obstacles in the way. I
see now what it was that influenced me. It was
the novelty, the excitement and romance of
missionary life, that made it attractive, and not
the thought that it was work done for Jesus.
If I, were willing to suffer for Him abroad, I
should be willing to suffer for Him at home, and
be as willing to let my dearest friends go away
to labour for Him as I fancied I was to go my-
self. Oh, what a missionary I should make!-
I, who cannot give up Arthur, and yet thought
so boastfully that I was ready to give up all!"
As Ada plied her needle, a crowd of humbling
thoughts rushed over her. She felt how much
more ready she always was to say than to do;
how vain she was; how ignorant of her own
heart; how prone to think herself better than
others, and yet how far inferior to many in love
to her Master. She thought of Kate's quiet, un-
assuming life, in which, while so little seemed to
be doing, so much was always found to be done;
-of Arthur's calm, firm determination to count
all things but loss for Jesus, and yet his ready
.relinquishment to Manning of all the credit of
possessing a self-denying spirit. How little did
she possess of that self-sacrifice, which would
lead her as cheerfully to perform a disagreeable
64 ADA BRENTON.
duty known only to herself, as one which others
could see, and appreciate, and admire!
These thoughts grieved and humbled her, and
yet, strange as it may seem, they made her
happy; for, as she saw more clearly her own un-
worthiness, she realized more deeply the infinite
greatness of her Saviour's love, which could still
forgive and own such a weak, sinful disciple.
The words of Keble came sweetly to her mind:
"Thou know'st our bitterness: our joys are Thine;
No stranger Thou to all our wanderings wild;
Nor could we bear to think how every line
Of us, Thy darkened likeness and defiled,
Stands in full sunshine of Thy piercing eye,
But that Thou call'st us brethren: sweet repose
Is in that word. The Lord who dwells on high
Knows all, yet loves us better than He knows."
HELEN FLETCUER'S VISIT. 65
R.ELEN FLETCHER'S VISIT.
"Briers beset onr every path,
Which call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
A constant need for prayer:
But lowly hearts that lean on Thee
Are happy everywhere."
FOB many weeks after the departure of Arthur
and his friend, everything went on very quietly
in Ada's pleasant home. Notwithstanding her
many interruptions, she found time to make
much progress in reading and sewing; and, by
daily struggling to conquer self and to obey
more perfectly the teachings of her divine Mas-
ter, she gradually lost something of the discon-
tent and envious repining which had so often
embittered her happiness and injured her influ-
ence in time past. As she grew more lovable,
Harry became more kind and loving; and she
found that the less she thought about her power
of winning affection, and the more she busied
herself in efforts to make others happy, the
more affectionate and precious all her friends
seemed to become.
Even Ada herself could not but be conscious
that she was improving; and the thought made
her happy, though perhaps it sometimes tempted
her to self-complacency. She began to think
that the habit of discontent was uprooted, and
the demon of envy exorcised. She was ready to
say, "My mountain standeth strong."
Early in the winter, her quiet home was en-
livened by a visit from Helen Fletcher, the
daughter of one of Mr. Brenton's old friends.
She was a bright, pleasant girl, with a pretty
face and graceful figure, as well as much self-
possession and ease of manner. Everything
about her dress was tasteful and elegant, while
yet there was none of that stylish air so extrava-
gantly studied by many young ladies. She was
also skilled in the varied fashionable accomplish-
ments of the day. Mr. Brenton and his wife
welcomed her most warmly; Harry and his
sisters sought in every way to contribute to her
happiness; and, as Helen was ready to enjoy
everything, it was very easy to find entertain-
ment for her. She, on her part, added much to
their pleasure by her exquisite skill on the
piano, and her glowing descriptions of her city
occupations and amusements, and the various
experiences of her summer-excursions.
HELEN FLETCHER'S VISIT.
Your neighbourhood seems delightful in con-
trast with all these bustling scenes," she ex-
claimed, one day, after giving Kate and Ada a
long account of the gaiety and pleasures of the
past season. But isn't it sometimes rather too
quiet for a whole year, Kate ? I should think
you must grow restless, and uneasy, and long for
I was just thinking," said Ada, somewhat
sorrowfully, "how different our life is from
"And I was thinking," said Kate, "what a
happy thing it is to live in this peaceful little
town, away from such distraction and excitement.
How hard it must be to keep one's heart right in
the midst of such a whirl!"
"So it is," said Helen, as a shadow stole over
her face. "Sometimes I think I never was so
happy as I was four or five years ago in a little
school at Derby. The teachers were so good
and gentle, and the girls (there were only a few
of us) all loved each other so much. We seemed
to have time, then, to think of another world,
and to make the most of this; and we had such
sweet, quiet Sundays, and old Mr. G-- was
such a dear, kind, faithful minister. But," she
added, with a sudden effort, as if banishing un-
welcome thoughts, I suppose it wouldn't seem
so to me now. And at home I have no time to
myself, and cannot live as I used to think I
Why not ?" asked Kate, gently.
"Oh, you know mamma is an invalid, and
I have the superintendence of the servants, and
a constant succession of visitors to entertain,
and parties and calls and shopping to attend to.
I assure you, it is impossible. You look in-
"Yes, I am," said Kate. "I believe God
never puts us into a place where we cannot serve
Him faithfully if we are determined to do so."
"I wish you could change places with me,
then: I am sure you would think as I do. If
I could live here, I fancy I should find it very
easy to lead a good Christian life. There are so
few temptations here, in comparison with the
city; and all your friends are such religious
people, while all mine are so different. Father
wishes me to go into society with him; and I
am anxious to do everything to gratify him. I
do not even have my Sundays to myself; for, as
that is the only day when father is at home, we
have a late breakfast, and a nicer dinner than
usual, and almost always some friends with us;
and the evening is often absorbed by callers.
Oh, Sunday with us is very different from what it
used to be at Derby!"
I think it might be as well spent, after all,"
HELEN FLETCHER'S VISIT. 69
said Kate. "If you were to rise early, how
much quiet time you might have in the morning,
before the late breakfast! And if I were house-
keeper I should try whether I could not coax
my father into having it a little earlier. Is it
quite right, do you think, to busy your servants
about the dinner so much more on that day than
any other ?"
"I would not for myself," said Helen, with
a tear starting to her eyes, "but I must for
"It must be difficult to know what it is
exactly right to do," said Kate, "when one's
duty to God seems to conflict with the wish to
gratify a father or mother; yet I am sure He will
help you to know and do what is right, if you ask
Who has lost a pair of gloves ?" interrupted
Harry, who had come bounding into the room.
"Oh, I have!" exclaimed Helen, springing
from her seat to take them; but not these,"
she added, laughing ;-" I could get both my
hands into one of these." And she tossed them
upon the table with pretended indignation.
"Oh, they are mine," said Ada, colouring.
"Is it possible ?" said Helen, with an air of
confusion. "I did not dream of such a thing
Pray, excuse me. Ah, those are mine," she cried,
as Harry displayed another pair. And, quickly
drawing one on, she smilingly held up her little
delicate hand, saying, There, sir! you see that
fits me. There's the proof of my ownership."
Your hand is like Kate's," exclaimed Harry.
"How I do like to see a pretty hand and foot on
a lady !"
That reminds me," said Helen, of a school-
fellow of mine at Derby,-a dear good girl, who
actually wore No. 5 slippers. I used to step into
them sometimes, and shuffle about the room; but
I couldn't manage to tease her. It didn't seem
to trouble her in the least. I did feel sorry for
"Oh, dear!" thought Ada, as she involuntarily
folded her dress more closely about her feet.
" What would Helen say if she knew that I wore
No. 5 ? I wonder why everything should be
given to others, and nothing to me."
"Nothing?" murmured a little voice within.
"Think of your home, with its sweet, sacred
influences, and these dear friends so ready to
help you with their kind counsels! Would you
exchange them for Helen's attractions ?"
There, again!" thought Ada, impatiently.
"I may do the best I can, and after all Helen
would only say, 'Oh, you have so few tempta-
tions; it is easy for you to do right.' Easy,
indeed? I wonder who has to struggle harder!
I am sure I should find it a great deal easier to
HELEN FLETCHER'S VISIT. 71
be good, and amiable, and submissive to my lot,
if I were Helen. I know she wouldn't change
places with me if she could."
The voice within murmured a little sentence
which Ada had learned years before. It was to
this effect:-" Christ Jesus has promised me
faithfully that, if I am His, and if for His sake
I will keep in the path of duty, He will so care
for me that my condition in this world shall be
better for me here than any other condition
whatever, and more to my welfare through all
eternity." Her bitter, rebellious murmurings
were checked; and, during the remainder of
Helen's visit, she was enabled so to act, that
through a blessing on the united example of
herself and her sister, their young visitor left
them with a strong desire in her heart to over-
come all hindrances, and to choose the good part
that cannot be taken away.
"0 Lord, how happy should we be,
If we could cast our care on 'liee;
If we from self could rest;
And feel, at heart, that One above,
In perfect wisdom, perfect love,
Is working for the best."
AFTER Helen's departure, Ada returned with
eagerness to the various occupations which had
been so pleasantly interrupted, and found them
all the more delightful for this interval of rest.
The short winter days and long cheerful evenings
were full of work for her head and hands, and
they glided away far too quickly for the accom-
plishment of half her busy schemes. As spring
advanced, her heart began to sink, when she
compared the plans of the autumn with the
imperfect fulfilment of the winter. How many
books were left unread, how much work if-
mained undone, and how many things had been
neglected and forgotten until too late!
Sadder than all else was the consciousness
that her greatest deficiency had been in her daily
Christian life. Life? Was it life which had
so little outward manifestation, so little quicken-
ing power ? Had not her efforts been mainly
directed to promote her own advantage, to
improve her own character ? had there not been
a selfish forgetfulness of the interests of others?
If every disciple of Christ were like her, what
would become of His Church and of the world?
Yet she longed after a life which should honour
her Master,-which should be filled with love
and zeal in His service, and leave an abiding in-
fluence for good long after she had passed away.
Others have lived such lives," thought she:
"why cannot I? Jesus is as willing to help me
as He was to help them. I will try to imitate
"You have said that a great many times,"
suggested the tempter. Look back on your
old resolutions. Where are they? You have
tried, and you have failed; and you will do so
Still, I will try again," thought Ada. "I
will try in Christ's strength, as long as I live."
As she sat in the stillness of her own room,
she felt heroic and determined. Henceforth she
would be active, firm, fearless, watchful. She
could be; she would be. With determinateness
of purpose, it could not, after all, be so very
Yet Ada found too often that the little trial
of every-day life still possessed the power to
disturb her peace, and sometimes to provoke her
to impatience and anger; while her courage and
energy melted away before them, like mist before
the sun. One day, especially, everything had
seemed to go wrong,-as on some days every-
thing will, in most people's experience. Kate
had gone from home for a few days. Mrs.
Brenton was too feeble to superintend household
matters. Ada's basket was full of work, which
she was in a hurry to accomplish; and Bridget
was remarkably dull and patience-trying. So
for Ada there seemed to be no rest or satisfaction.
If she was in the kitchen, she was needed in the
parlour; if in the parlour, Bridget came knock-
ing at the door to ask her advice in the kitchen.
Harry turned things upside-down as fast as she
could straighten them, scattering his books and
papers and gloves about the house, leaving open
drawers with their contents tossed in confusion,
and altogether behaving himself like the very
genius of disorder. Ada followed in his steps,
weary and annoyed, full of reproaches, and in no
humour to be appeased by the attempts he made
to cover over his transgressions with the merry
apology, Why, you see, sister mine, I was in a
hurry." Her time seemed to be frittered away
by little empty things; and the moment she sat
down to her sewing, she bethought herself of
some important duty which she had forgotten;
so that her needle was hardly in her hand before
she was obliged to lay it aside.
Mr. Knox, the Sunday-school superintendent,
called to propose that Ada, in connexion with a
few other young ladies, should engage in more
vigorous efforts to find out ignorant children,
and gather them into the school. He knew, he
said, that her sister was not strong enough for
such an undertaking; but, as she herself had
the ability and the leisure, he was sure she would
consent. And Ada could not refuse.
Miss Burton came, too, with a few garments
to be finished off for a box which she was just
closing for a home-missionary.
"I would do them myself," said she, "if I
were not so busy with the packing; but I knew
you and Kate had a good deal of time at your
own disposal, and would be ready to help me.
Lucy Burrel is sick, and Lottie Howard out of
town, and Miss Hill is very much hurried."
Miss Burton's lip curled contemptuously. Some
people are always too much hurried with their
own work to do anything for others."
Ada had intended to plead this very excuse in
her own behalf, but she dreaded incurring the
same censure; and, as she looked at Miss Bur-
ton's troubled, anxious face, and remembered how
heavy a load of care always rested upon her, she
felt impelled to do all in her power to lighten it.
She consented to do the work.
Miss Burton's face brightened. Thank you,
my dear. There's not a great deal to be done.
I could do it very easily if it were not for this
perplexing packing. You see it will not take
you long. It is only odds and ends." And she
began to unfold a variety of garments. "A
pair of wristbands to be put on this; button-
holes to be made in these shirts; strings sewed
on here ; that is to be hemmed round the bottom;
and I should like this stitched to make it firmer:
and perhaps you had better just unpick this
horrible sewing, and do it over neatly. You'll
find it very little work, I hope." Away went
Miss Burton, too busy and energetic herself to
dream how great the task might seem to her
It is always so," thought Ada, as she laid
aside her own work and took up one of the
many garments beside her. "Everybody thinks
that I have leisure enough. Helen says I have
no temptations; and Harry never cares how
much trouble he gives me."
Her reverie was suddenly interrupted by the
entrance of Miss Ellerby; and she found no little
satisfaction in unburdening her heart to her, and
detailing all the little cares and annoyances of
the day. Miss Ellerby listened patiently, with a
ready sympathy which alone would have been a
"Did you ever know anything more pro-
voking ?" said Ada, as she finished her com-
plaint. "I do not believe any one could bear it
Miss Ellerby drew out her knitting, and com-
posedly finished one row before replying.
Would you like a life without any discipline,
No, indeed, cousin Rachel. I am willingto
bear discipline,-real discipline; but I cannot
bear to be constantly worried and fretted. No-
"Ah," said Miss Ellerby, there is just where
a great many stumble. When friends die, or
any great calamity overtakes them, they recog-
nise God's hand in it, and endure it with sub-
mission, while these little daily trials provoke
them to impatience, and anger, and a most
unchristian spirit." '
"But there are promises and consolations for
great trials which are not given to little ones,"
replied her cousin. "When Bridget grows
angry and impatient, and answers me imperti-
nently, how can I help being vexed ?"
Is this the way to recommend Christianity
to the world, Ada ? You manage to be amiable
when there is nothing to vex you; but, when
anything provokes you, you cannot help being
angry! Remember your instructions :-' Be not
overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good;'
' Be gentle unto all men ;' Render unto no man
evil for evil, but, contrariwise, blessing.' I
think we are too much in the habit of remem-
bering only the death of Christ, and forgetting
His life-a life, so full of trials and provocations.
He continually met with stupidity and insolence;
and yet he was always patient, and gentle, and
"But you do not know how hard it is for
"For you ?" exclaimed Miss Ellerby. "It is
a hard thing for any one to control the temper,
-to be patient, and gentle, and Christ-like.
That is taken for granted. We ire told to
' endure hardness,' to' watch', to strive,' and to
do it 'always,' as if we had no other work to do,
Half of the discipline of life consists in these
every-day trials; and when you can meet them
all with serenity, you will have gained a blessed
victory over yourself. Depend upon it, Ada,
you can do this. God is faithful, who will not
suffer you to be tempted above that you are able
to bear, but will with the temptation also show
you a way to escape.' You can be patient and
gentle with Bridget. You can show Harry that
a Christian is able to suffer inconvenience and
provocation without an angry word or look. If
you are busy, and cares come thick and fast, you
can remember that God sends everyone of them;
and, if you do all that is in your power with the
desire to please Him, He will be satisfied. If
your plans are unavoidably disarranged, it is
only because God's will differs from your's. He
is wiser than you; and it is a happy, blessed
thing to follow cheerfully where He leads the
Oh, cousin Rachel," exclaimed Ada, "what
a blessing you are to me! What should I do if
you were gone ?" she added, sorrowfully, as she
looked up into Miss Ellerby's pale face. Oh,
there's another thing. I cannot tell you how
troubled I am about mamma: she"is so feeble
and languid, and has such a cough. It makes
me dread the future."
"Let to-morrow take care for the things of
itself," said Miss Ellerby, gently. "If you are
careful to do the work of the present, God
will take care of you in the future. It is a good
rule to live by the day,-to do all you can now,
and to keep yourself from disquieting thoughts
and anxieties about what may possibly come
to you, by remembering that God will send
upon you only just such trials as you need.
You can treat your mother as tenderly as if
you knew you were going to lose her, and
80 ADA BRENTON.
yet be hopeful and keep up good courage as
youlook forward. Indeed," added Miss Ellerby
smiling, as she rolled up her knitting-work;
"you had better take these four watch-words
for your daily life:-Patient, Serene, Hopeful,
"Renew my will from day to day;
Blend it with Thine, and take awa
All that now makes it hard to say,
'Thy will be done!'"
EARLY in the summer, Miss Lois Kingsbury,
a school-companion of Mrs. Brenton's, came to
spend a few weeks with her old acquaintance.
Ada had often heard her mother speak of this
friend with the greatest affection, as one of the
loveliest and best of women; but as Miss
Kingsbury had not been at her house for many
years, none of the children had ever seen her.
They only knew that she was older than their
mother, and she had always been one of her
most valued friends; and they were therefore
very eager to know her themselves. The long-
expected guest was a little elderly woman, with
thin sandy hair; light eyes, imperfectly con-
cealed by spectacles; and the sallow complexion
and stooping figure, which so often indicate fee-
ble health. Her dress, though perfectly neat,
was of cheap material and very simply made;
while ner small rusty old trunk, and faded
umbrella, spoke of hard service and straitened
means. Ada almost wondered at the delight
with which her mother welcomed an unattrac-
tive friend, who responded to her warm greet-
ings in such a high, tremulous, unmusical voice.
"Poor Miss Kingsbury !" she thought; "how
much mortification and sadness her appearance
must cause her!"
On the contrary, their new visitor seemed
very bright and happy; and the pleasant, bene-
volent smile, which played over her homely face,
soon made Ada almost forget its homeliness,
while her simple, artless manner, and her Call
me Aunt Lois, if you please, dear," soon made
her seem like an old acquaintance.
After she had been suitably refreshed, and
had rested from the fatigue of her journey, she
appeared in the parlour, where the family were
sitting in the summer twilight.
Now, Lois," said Mrs. Brenton, "if you are
not too tired, do let me know what you have
been doing in the twenty years of our separa-
tion. I have hardly had half a dozen letters
from you in all that time; and those few told
me very little about yourself."
"There was not much to tell," replied Miss
Lois, with a smile; "and I never was a ready
writer. Yet when one looks back twenty years,
there is a good deal to be told. You have
changed and I have changed, and our old friends
have changed, or--gone,"-and her voice fal-
tered. "You remember brother Thomas ?"
Certainly," replied Mrs. Brenton. "A
bright, lovely boy he was. He went home
with you, when we parted."
"Yes," continued Miss Lois; "and for a
year or two after that, I lived comfortably at
home. Then my home was broken up, and I
went into Devonshire to teach. I stayed there
fifteen years. Then brother Thomas died, and
my health failed, and I came to London. Cousin
Ann was very kind, and gave me a home till I
was stronger. Then I went to the sea-side, and
lived in a very quiet way, until now I am so
much better that I am going to work again, if
the Lord will permit. Ann has very kindly
urged me to live with her; but she does not
need my help, and I wish to go where I can be
of use. So I hope this autumn to be able to
do something,-perhaps to open a little school
"But why do you teach, Lois ?" said Mrs.
Brenton. "I am sure there can be no need of
it in your case."
"I began to do so from choice," replied Miss
Lois, "thinking that I could be more useful in
this way than in any other; but the little pro-
perty we had was badly managed, and we lost
all years ago,-but, thank God, not until poor
Thomas had finished his studies. Then I thought
I would save up a portion of my earnings against
a rainy day, and I put them year after year into
the hands of a cousin of mine,-an excellent
business-man,-where I thought they would be
safe. He failed just at the time when my
brother Thomas died, and when my health com-
pelled me to give up teaching."
Oh, that was hard !" exclaimed Kate, com-
It was rather hard to bear at the time," said
Miss Lois, wiping her eyes; "but the Lord was
with me," she added, cheerfully, "or I should
nave been overwhelmed. When brother Thomas
died, I wondered that he was not spared,-he
seemed to me such an excellent and useful
minister; but when my health and property
were gone, I thought how much distress and
anxiety on my account he had escaped. I
could bear poverty and suffering better, when I
knew he did not share them. So that, after all,
I have had very much to be grateful for; and
every trial has had so many mercies mingled
with it, that I could not complain."
Kate, who sat beside Aunt Lois, stole her
hand lovingly, and clasped it in both her own.
"That was like your mother," said Aunt
Lois, smiling. "You look almost exactly as
she did at your age."
Mr. Brenton sighed. "Time makes sad work
with us, Miss Lois."
"Not sad work," she replied, brightly. I
welcome all these little indications of decay, as
so many assurances that I am drawing nearer
home. But I can remember the time when
it was sad to me to feel that I was growing
"But do you never look forward with dread
to the time when you will be a great deal
older ?" inquired Kate. "It has always seemed
to me a sad thing to think of living to be very
old,-especially without a home or property."
"I have thought it over very often," said
Aunt Lois, "and have come to this conclusion:
The Lord has provided for me very kindly in
the past; and, since whatever is to come to me
will come from Him, and will therefore be
kindly and wisely ordered, I need have no
"Yes," said Mrs. Brenton, "that is one com-
fort, Lois: 'all things work together for good to
them that love God.' "
"Lord, help me to feel this !" thought Ada,
as she listened anxiously to the low, suppressed
cough which was exhausting her mother. One
glance at Aunt Lois reproved her. Poor, and
plain, and old, and desolate, she sat there grate-
ful and happy, her cheerful faith in God and
submission to His will preserving her from de-
spondency or complaint.
It was of no little benefit to Ada to meet with
such a person as Aunt Lois, who could preserve
such a quiet, sunny spirit amid all her trials.
Ada had seen patience under calamities before,
but never such happy, joyful endurance of them.
Aunt Lois could look with delight upon Kate's
loveliness without one shade of envy; she could
congratulate Ada on her health and youthful
vigour without one complaining allusion to her
own debility and daily sufferings; and she could
enjoy her friend's home, without one regret that
for her earth offered neither home, nor husband,
nor children, nor property. It seemed to Ada
that Aunt Lois found in the love and service of
God all that she asked; that she could say from
her heart, "Whom have I in heaven but thee ?
and there is none upon earth that I desire
Aunt Lois and Misis Ellerby had much in
common. The feeble health of the latter greatly
excited the compassion of Aunt Lois, who
always seemed to lose sight of her own infirmi-
ties in her tender solicitude for others; while
their entire sympathy in religious things drew
the hearts of these two Christians very closely
AUNT LOIS. 87
together. Miss Lois hid not, indeed, Miss
Ellerby's cultivation or polish of manner, and
cousin Rachel lacked something of Misg Kings-
bury's unflinching energy and determination;
but each enjoyed the other the more, perhaps,
for this very dissimilarity.
To Mrs. Brenton, the visit of her old friend
was an unspeakable delight, and in her society
she could almost return again to the days of
their youth. The friendship, which had been so
pleasant in early life, seemed even more precious
to them now, as in their declining days they re-
viewed the past, so full of mingled joys and
sorrows, or with calm hope and confidence
looked forward to their future rest.
Yes, all enjoyed and loved dear, kind, good
Aunt Lois, who in her simplicity was quite un-
conscious that her quiet, unpretending life was
of use to Ada, who thus was led to see, by the
force of a living illustration, how a person
destitute of outward charm or remarkable gift
of any description, could, as an humble Chris-
tian, be useful, and beloved, and happy.
A DIFFICULT QUESTION DECIDED.
Shall science distant lands explore,
And trade her wealth convey?
Shall war be heard from shore to shore,
And sin extend its sway?
And shall there not be Christians found,
Who will for Christ appear,
To spread the gospel's joyful sound
And preach redemption there?"
AUNT Lois had been but a few days with her
friend, when Mr. Brenton returned one evening
from his office with a troubled face. He had
received a letter from Arthur, expressing his
desire to enter upon the work of a missionary,
and asking his father's approbation. 'Mr. Bren-
ton read the letter aloud. It produced very
different effects upon his audience. Harry
frowned, and exclaimed, Absurd!" Kate hesi-
tated; Ada sighed; Mrs. Brenton's eyes filled
with tears; and Aunt Lois's face grew radiant
"I must confess," said Mr. Brenton, that I.
think this is going a little too far. It was after
A DIFFICULT QUESTION DECIDED. 89
"a struggle that I consented to Arthur's becoming
"a minister. He was studying for the law, Miss
Lois, and promised to make such an admirable
barrister, that all his friends regretted the change.
But to be a missionary No I never can con-
But Arthur's whole heart seems fixed upon
it, father," said Kate gently, to whom the in-
telligence was by no means a surprise.
Nonsense!" exclaimed Harry. "It is bad
enough to send Mr. Manning away, without
sacrificing such a fellow as Arthur."
It is not so much that Arthur is too goodto
be sent out as a missionary," said Mr Brenton,
his mind recurring to some of Mr. Manning's
suggestions,-" not so much that, as that I can-
not spare him. My life is uncertain, my means
small, and I need Arthur as the prop of my old
age. It has always been my comfort to think
that at my death the girls and their mother
would have a home with him."
"But the Lord can provide for them," said
Miss Kingsbury mildly. Who ever lost by
giving to the Lord ? If you give Arthur to Him,
cannot He make his place more than good to
you? Here is Harry growing up- "
To be a missionary too, perhaps," interrupted
Mr. Brenton gloomily, unheeding Harry's prompt
assertion to the contrary. I cannot think it is
90 ADA BENTON.
right for children to desert their parents in their
"No," said Miss Kingsbury; "but, if Arthur
leaves you with three children around you, you
will not be deserted."
"Such a noble fellow, too," continued 3Mr.
Brenton, as if thinking aloud ; so entirely what
I could wish,-finely educated,-fitted to make
his way in the world."
God's people in old times," persisted Aunt
Lois, were commanded to offer the firstlings of
the flock-the lambs without blemish-to the
I am willing to give Arthur to the Lord, but
not to the heathen. I cannot."
"Where does Arthur wish to go ?" inquired
Wherever those who send him out may see
Et to appoint," replied Mr. Brenton. To Africa,
Sdare say, to be hidden away for ever." He
sighed, and walked up and down the room.
My love," said Mrs. Brenton, (who had been
sitting in silence with her hand over her eyes,)
" do you remember our consecrating Arthur to
God when he was a very little child? We
thought, when Arthur became a Christian, that
the Lord had answered our prayers. He has
done His part, I think. He is calling us now
to do our's. Let us give him up without one
A DIFFICULT QUESTION DECIDED. 91
word of hesitation. If it were a question of
some civil appointment, we should scarcely
have hesitated so long, I fear."
Why, my dear friends," said Miss Kingsbury
in a trembling, eager voice, this is an honour,-
a privilege! I congratulate you, Mr. Brenton,
that the Lord has put it into the heart of one of
your children to count all things but loss for
I wish I could feel it a privilege," said the
"I do," said his wife, smiling through her
Stars. "It will be sweet to have our first-born
a sharer in so great a work. I only wish that
both my sons might share it."
Mr. Brenton rose abruptly, and left the room.
There, now! you'll see, father never will
consent," said Harry impatiently.
He will," said Kate firmly. I hope-I am
"You hope!" exclaimed Harry, in surprise.
"Do you hope so, Ada ?"
As Ada hesitated, Kate threw her arms fondly
around her. "Yes Ada does in her heart, I
know, in spite of all these tears."
Ada looked up at Kate's beaming face with
wonder, as she faltered, I will try to do so,
Harry. I should if I were more like you, Kate.
Yes, I do. I should be sorry to hold him ba
"Well, I can't understand this !" exclaimed
Harry. You all seem infatuated. I thought
Arthur had too much good sense to throw him-
self away; and I really thought you girls loved
him well enough to wish to keep him at home."
And thereupon, lighting his candle, he walked
Poor Harry! As he went to his solitary
chamber, his demeanour changed. Everything
there spoke of Arthur,-of Arthur who was
going away for ever; for, notwithstanding his
assertion, Harry felt that the question was to all
intents and purposes decided. Arthur's words
of expostulation and loving counsel, and Man-
ning's gentle, earnest pleadings, came to his
memory with fresh power. How much happier
they seemed than he,-more secure, more satis-
fied! They looked forward to toils, and hard-
ships, and sufferings, which would dismay him;
and yet he thought he would almost be willing
to undergo their trials, if he could share their
Poor Harry! How many share his experi-
ence,-outwardly scorning and yet inwardly
yearning after the blessedness so freely offered,
which they are not altogether prepared to seek
in earnest for themselves!
In the mean time, Mr. Brenton sat alone in
his quiet room. His wife's words had recalled
A DIFFICULT QUESTION DECIDED. 93
the past to his memory, and many of its long-
forgotten scenes came vividly before him. Yes:
he remembered the time when Arthur, a bright,
lovely little child, was consecrated to the Lord.
He remembered how often, afterwards, he and
his wife renewed that consecration; how they
watched his early development; how they trem-
bled for his life; and how joyfully they saw him
day by day growing up to be their treasure and
their pride. He could never forget how their
highest hopes seemed realized, when Arthur
devoted himself to the service of his Redeemer,
and proved the sincerity of his profession
in his growing conformity to his Lord and
He remembered how willingly he promised to
devote the little child to the Lord. But he also
remembered that he then was young himself.
Old age, and decline, and feebleness, seemed far
away. Now, they pressed close upon him, and
it was quite another thing to utter the same
words with the same meaning. Then, he was
just in the ardour of his own personal conse-
cration to Jesus. Now, amid the engrossing
anxieties and cares of professional life, the warm
glow of his early days had passed away. How
little he could once have thought that when the
Lord called for his child, he should hesitate-
almost refuse-to give him up !
Mr. Brenton began to feel like one awaking
from a dream. 'He compared himself with what
he had once been;-how little, then! how much
less, now! How ungrateful for the blessings
which God had showered upon him! How cold
and unfaithful in His service! He had promised
to count all things but loss for Christ;" but he
found himself in reality thinking his treasure
lost, if given to Christ. He remembered how
Abraham did not withhold his son-his only son
-even from death. His thoughts rose far above
Abraham, to One who "spared not His own Son,"'
and that for him.
It was enough. His heart melted at the re-
membrance. The humility, the earnestness, of
other days came back to him; and on his knees
he besought the Lord to accept his son-yea, all
that he had-to use as He might choose in His
service. He could not atone for the past. He
looked to his Saviour alone for this. But, God
helping him, he would struggle earnestly in
future against the encroaching, hardening, in-
fluences of the cares of life.
Mr. Brenton rose. The decision was made.
He had given Arthur up. He might go to the
heathen,-to Africa,-anywhere. There was no
shrinking now,-no qualification,-no regret.
The serene happiness which filled the father's
heart was a strange contrast to its tumult an
A DIFFICULT QUESTION DECIDED. 95
hour before. It was the happiness of self-sacri-
fice; the happiness of a will resigned to the will
of God; the happiness of a soul that glowed
with renewed love to an ever-living, ever-loving
-Saviour; the happiness of a heart that was under
the teachings of the Spirit. It was a fulfilment
of the promise that they who give up aught
dear to them for Christ's sake, and the *..-1 -,
shall receive an hundredfold now in this time.
It was a sweet foretaste of the bliss of those who
do the will of God perfectly in His kingdom
A NEW TROUBLE.
"Abide with me. fast falls the even-tide:
The darkness thickens: Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me."
IT was now a settled point that Arthur should
go whenever and wherever he chose, so far as the
wishes of his own family were concerned. His
services were readily accepted by the Society to
which he offered them, though his place of des-
tination and time of departure remained some-
what uncertain. But, as it behoved him to be
in readiness to go at short notice, his mother
and sisters were soon busily engaged in the
preparation of his outfit. Kind, good Aunt
Lois was very easily persuaded into prolonging
her visit many weeks by the prospect of being
useful in this emergency; and, with her busy
hands, thoughtful suggestions, and swift needle,
she rendered no little service. Kate and Ada
worked busily and eagerly from morning till
night, and in the excitement of their employment
A NEW TROUBLE.
found a happy relief from the sad anticipation of
the coming event.
One morning, when Ada took up her work, a
grain of sand seemed to be floating in her eye.
It was in vain that she rubbed and bathed it.
The irritating cause could not be removed, and
seemed only to extend its influence to the other
eye, until both refused to do her any service. It
was a trial to her to be laid aside for a single
day at such a busy time; but it was a trifle,-
something which would soon pass away (she
thought), and then she would work more indus-
triously than ever.
But day after day passed, and brought no im-
provement. Her eyes grew more sensitive, and
the light became more and more painful to them,
while reading and sewing were utterly out of the
At last, the doctor's skill was called into
requisition, in the hope that by some slight
remedy all might be set right again. The kind
old physician, with his cheerful face, was soon
in attendance; but after having gently and care-
fully examined Ada's eyes, he shook his head
ominously, pronouncing it such an affection of
the nerves as only long-continued rest could
"My only prescription, therefore," he added,
smiling, "must be rest and patience."