JM......................... . .......... . . . . . .
The Baldwin LibraryS*m 9B iu* iOf " "; : >; ": 1 ,* ; : *: ,i t l
S~ -v.' ^- ^ ^THE GOLDEN SECRET.I.,.1
UNCLE AMBROSE.Page 152.
^, L DAN,' 1 1 .,
This page contains no text.
BROTHER REGINALD'SGOLDEN SECRET.z ,.ale for the Ioung.BY THE AUTHOR OF"HOPE ON," "KING JACK OF HAYLANDS," &c.LONDON:T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.1871.____________________-3__________
-^3I. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS ... ... ... ... ... 7II. ARTHUR'S WELCOME, ............ ... ...... 29III. UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION, ... ... ... ... 44IV. "WHO WAS THE ARTIST?" ... ... ... ... ... 57V. HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE, ... ... 75VI. REGINALD'S WORK, ... ... .. ... ... 86VII. "GOOD-WILL TOWARD MEN," .... ....... ... 107III. HOW THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE CAME TO SILAS BALDWIN, 123IX. UNCLE AMBROSE, ... ... ... ...X. "GLAD TIDINGS, ........... .... ... ... 139XI. CHRISTMAS DAY, ......... .. .. ... ... 150
REGINALD'S GOLDEN SECRET.CHAPTER I.HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS I" He is coming! he is coming!To fill his home with glee,With his merry ringing voice,And his laugh, so light and gay.We'll prepare a loving welcome,For the boy comes back to-day.""SAY, driver, that's the rectory,"said a voice from the inside of thecarriage that was driving quicklythrough the village of Enmore, anda curly head, covered with a Scotch cap, waspopped out of the window for a moment." All right, young master " answered thecoachman as he turned in at the gate.
8 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !Meanwhile Ernest Leslie was getting ex-cited; he was just approaching his home, andevery object was so familiar that he couldnot be quiet." I declare, they've cut down the horse-chestnut what a shame! There's oldMaggie with her red cloak; she's been.plaguing papa, I'll engage, for money. Noflowers !-too late, I suppose-yes, chrysan-themums, ugly, ragged things. Here weare! There's Connie at the door! Allright, driver-bother this window!"' andthen Ernest flung himself out of the fly andup the steps before the driver had time todismount and ring the bell." That'll do, Connie-how are you? Well,papa, here I am. Where's mamma ?" andErnest broke from his sister's arms andrushed into those of his mother, returningher kiss with most loving warmth."What luggage, my boy?" said his father."Black trunk, carpet bag, hat-box, fish-ing-rod, walking-stick, and an empty bird-
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 9A LOVING WELCOME.cage with two mouse-traps tied to it-allright ? ""Yes, sir.""Please, papa, pay the man. I've nochange left."So Mr. Leslie was left to settle with thedriver, while Ernest sprang up three steps
10 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !at a time with Connie after him, until hereached the drawing-room floor. Then heturned to a door on the right, and entereda pleasant sitting-room. At the first glancewe should have thought that no one was inthe room, but, on looking more closely, weshould have discovered a young man lyingon the couch, between the window and thefire-place. Ernest's instinct guided himstraight up to the sofa, as he cried,-." Well, Reggie, how are you ?""As well as usual, my dear fellow, anddelighted to see you," answered his brotherReginald, while the bright colour flushedinto his pale cheeks, and he eagerly graspedErnest's two hands." Yes; isn't it jolly that I'm back again ?"said Ernest.Reginald smiled, but answered, in choruswith Constance, who was standing besidetm, " It is--very.""No end of fun to tell you-such a supperlast "ight !-and I've brought a letter for| 1
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 11papa-from Dr. Johnstone-such a goodboy am I !""That entirely depends upon what's inthe letter, old fellow," said Reginald."Of course; but I know it's good, forwhen the doctor shook hands with me, hesaid, 'Good-bye, Ernest; you are yourfather's own son.'""That was information, certainly," re-marked his brother with his own peculiarsmile."Bother you, Reggie, you know wellenough what I mean; and I was so proud,I stood two inches higher."" When you put your boots on," saidReginald." Without them, you old stupid, just forbeing my father's gon-the doctor thinks noend of him."" Of course he does; no one who knowshim could help doing so."" But really, Reggie, how are you ? Howdoes Dr. Stephen say you are getting on?
12 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!A sad smile passed over his brother's face."He thinks I shall do, Ernest.""Yes, but-"" But what ?"" When are you to walk about again, andleave off using these things ?" pointing tosome crutches lying beside the sofa. Connieturned round and ran out of the room, andthe two brothers were left alone." When, Reggie ?"His brother's voice sunk to a low whisper,as he answered, "Never I"Ernest's face changed, the bright colour"faded from it, and he burst forth angrily,-" The fool, what rubbish it is, just becauseyou've had no one but an old country petti-fogger who is cramming you with ever somany lies, and. you go and believe them.Reggie, I didn't think you were sogreen!""Don't speak of our good friend like that,Ernest, it is not only him. Papa has hadthe best advice from London-nothing can
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 13be done for me. I am here for the rest ofmy life."" I don't, I won't believe it " cried Ernest,"they are all-" but the sentence wasfinished with a sob, for the excitement wastoo much for him."Don't, Ernest, don't," said Reginald,throwing his arm round him, "you painme."" 0 Reggie, Reggie, why didn't they tellme ?"" I asked them not to. I wanted to tellyou myself, and I couldn't write it. I amsorry it should just spoil your home-coming ,-but you must help me to bear it bravely,dear Ernest," and Reginald raised hisbrother's tearful face, and pushed the darkcurly-brown hair off his forehead, lookingfondly into his dark eyes as he did so."I'll tell you what, Reggie," said Ernest,"I won't believe it; I'll believe that you aregoing to get well-it's much the jolliest tothink that, so I intend to."
14 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !REGINALD AND ERNEST.Reginald shook his head, and then triedto turn the subject. "Did Maurice go hometo-day ?""Yes; Uncle Walter came to fetch him;and, Reggie, there's a letter coming fromhim to papa,-don't say I told you, it's asecret, and Connie will be so pleased.""Ernest, my darling, aren't you coming
HOME FR THE HOLIDAYS 15down to have some dinner ?" said his mother,entering the room at that moment." I should think so, if it's going, mother.""I hear it coming," said Reginald."Have you been to the nursery, Ernest?there is a general outcry there for you, andif you don't soon appear I expect there willbe a rebellion, and nurse will have to readthe riot act.""That would be a pity," said Ernest,merrily, "seeing that the penalty on therioters used to be weary hours in the corner;it was so, at least, when I was young."Reginald laughed heartily, and Ernest,seeing that he had made himself ratherfoolish, hastily quitted the room and foundhis way to the nursery.There was a general rush upon him, andvery confused sounds reached his ear."There's Ernest.""Ernest, your cat has got two kittens,and one's going to be given away to thelittle sick boy in the village."
16 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!"Ernest, that top you gave me's brokento bits.""Well, Master Ernest, what a big boyyou've grown.""Ernet, 'oo mut tarry me on 'oo bat.""How are you, all of you, I'd like toknow ?" said Ernest; "but don't all speakat once," and the last words were said in atone of the most doleful entreaty that setthem all laughing directly."Master Basil," cried nurse, "you've up-set your broth, you naughty boy, I'll-"" 0 Mrs. Wilton, please don't mention it,"said Ernest; "don't you see it was in hisanxiety to do me welcome ?"A boy of five years, with laughing eyes,and large rosy cheeks, smiled his vquiescencein Ernest's words, and a little girl of fourslipped her hand into his."Well, Clara, how do you find yourselfthis cold weather ?" said her brother, liftingher up in his arms.Clara's only answer was a merry laugh,(286)
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 17and then Ernest went over to the table,where a boy between two and three years ofage was seated in a high chair (which hecould not possibly wriggle out of withouthelp), and deep in a bowl of broth withbread broken into it."Well, Freddy, are you glad to see me ?""'Oo muttn't 'peak to me, till I done mySbrot," said the little boy, lifting his graveeyes from the bowl.Ernest laughed. "When shall I carry"you on my back, Fred ?""When I done my brot.""Come, Ernest, dinner's ready!" saidConstance, putting her head in."All right, so am I. Good-bye, my dears;take care of yourselves," said the school-boybrother, as he closed the door behind him."Well, Ernest," said Constance, drawinga deep breath, and surveying him from headto foot."Well, you'll know me again," said Ernest;"but nevertheless he flung his arm round her(286) 2
18 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !neck, for this sister, who was just one yearhis senior, was very dear to him, and theyhad never been parted before. Constancestopped with one foot on the stairs and gavehim a warm hug. "I've lots to tell you,Con, lots; but I'm hungry."" Of course you are.""Come, Ernest, my boy; I haven't seenyou yet," said his father, taking him by hisshoulders and drawing him to the windowas he entered the dining-room. "Hold upyour head, lad, and let me have a good lookat you."Ernest did as he was desired, and histruthful eyes were raised to meet his father'skeen searching gaze."Have you come back my own straight-forward, true-hearted boy ?""Yes, papa.""As fond of home as when you left it ? ""I believe you.""Have you begun to learn what it takesto make a man ?"
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 19"I think so," said the boy earnestly.Mr. Leslie bent forward and kissed hisforehead, whispering, "God bless you, myErnest! " and then said aloud,-" Come, and sit down. Well, my boy, howgets on the learning; shall you be fit forRugby in another year ?""I hope so, papa."" Have you got any prizes, Ernest ?" askedConstance, eagerly." Only the second for French," said Ernest,reddening suddenly, as if some unpleasantremembrance had crossed his mind."Not the general knowledge that youwere going to try for so hard ? ""No !" said Ernest, impatiently."Why not ?" asked Constance."Because another boy got it;-mother, alittle more gravy, if you please. Papa, howis old Mr. Baldwin ?"" The same as ever," said his father."Who has taken the red brick houseamongst the trees ?"
20 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!"A Mr. and Mrs. Dixon.""Do you know them? ""Very slightly."" 0 Ernest, such horrid people!" ex-claimed his sister, " they look so cross; theycome to church, so I see them; there's themaster and mistress and a tall ugly girl withstraight curls; and a little fair-haired boyused to come with a terrible cough, but hedoesn't now. Poor little fellow, he used tolook so sad, and when the hymns were sung,very often I could see the tears rolling downhis cheeks. One day coming out I smiledat him, and he looked so pleased and smiledso brightly and beautifully; and then Mrs.Dixon seized his hand and said, 'Come on,directly; how dare you smile to people youdon't know ?' and she walked on very quicklybefore I could say one word."" Ernest dear, some more potatoes ? " saidhis mother.Dinner was soon over, for the food wasnot long in vanishing before the hungry boy:
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! ,1THE FAIR-HAIRED BOY.and then he set out on a tour of discoveryto see the servants, the horse, the cow, hisfavourite house-dog, who was chained up inthe yard, and the cat and her kittens. Theorchard and paddock, the garden and stable,were all visited in turn, and then Ernestchallenged his sister to a walk. She soonjoined him, and they set off at a brisk pace,as the air was keen and frosty. As they..
22 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !went through the village, Ernest was con-tinually obliged to stop to speak to hisfriends there, who all welcomed him homewith great delight. But at last they hadleft Enmore behind them, and were walkingquickly in the direction of Willingham, thelarge market-town which was about threemiles from them.It was one of those days in Decemberwhen it is a real pleasure to walk. Theroad lay along a high ridge, overlooking allthe valley below, and the distant range ofhills beyond were covered with the bluehaze which is generally over them at thatseason of the year. The ground beneathwas crisp and hard, the sky above brightand glorious, the hedges red with the haw-thorn berries, and the tall green fir-treesstood up looking grave and stately in groupson the side of the hill." Isn't it a glorious day ? "said Constance,nestling her hands into her muff."Yes; I say, Connie."
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 23"Well ? ""I know a secret, but I must tell it toyou."" Do," said Constance, her eyes sparklingat the thought."Well, Maurice and I, you know, aregreat friends; he was very kind to me whenI first went amongst the boys.""He was your cousin, so of course hewas."There's no of course in the matter, Con-nie, but he was, and I like him very much;you know Uncle Walter gives him lots ofmoney.""Yes, but that's not why you like him,Ernest.""Not for his money, but because he's sojolly about it. Well now, to the point.Maurice wrote home to tell his father thathe wanted me to go back with him to Tre-verton Hall, and when Uncle Walter camehe asked me if papa would let you and mecome for Christmas; they are going to have
24 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !such fun. Albert is coming of age, andthey are to have loads of people, and some-'-thing fresh is to be done every day, so that,as Maurice says, they are to have a realmerry Christmas. 0 Con, won't it befun ?""Yes, but-""Well, what ?""Will papa let us go ?""Uncle Walter said he felt quite sure hewould.""I am afraid Reggie will be dull.""Poor Reggie! I don't think so. Oh,Maurice would be dreadfully disappointed.""When will the letter come ?""Perhaps to-morrow." There was a longpause, and then Constance said,-"Ernest, why didn't you get that prize.?I wanted you to, so much.""I'll tell you, Connie, only a fellowdoesn't like being made a fool of befireevery one. Well, I did try, I tried harderthan I ever tried about anything before,
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 25and I nearly got it; only a boy that I neverthought could get it, a stupid lazy fellowthat we all hate, called Arthur Forrester,answered all of a sudden better than me.It was the queerest thing; we never thoughthe was trying, and one morning he beganto speak up, and every minute afterwardshe was poring over his books. Even thenall the fellows said I was sure of it; butForrester gained ground steadily, and he gotit. Some of the boys said he cheated, andI dare say he did, for I think he'd do Pay-thing. Fancy, he actually refused to joinour cricket club, though I know he hadmoney enough, for I saw him get a post-office order for a pound one day."" Perhaps he wanted to do something elsewith his money.""No, no, Connie; it was nothing butmiserliness, for all he said was, when welooked at his beautiful prize (it was 'Talesof a Grandfather,' bound in green leatherand gold-a stunning book), I wish it had
26 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !Sbeen money, but this is better than nothing;'and Connie, you would have laughed if youhad seen the clumsy way he took it fromthe Doctor; he tried to bow, but it wasmore like a Sunday-school child would do ithere, and then he let the book tumble, andgot just scarlet; and all the other boyshad been cheered, but there was a deadsilence as he walked down the room, for noone wanted him to have it.""Poor boy," said Constance.ANow, what a shame that is, I do believeyou would rather he had it than me, Con-stance; I don't think that's very civil ofyou; but if you could see him I don't be-lieve you would like him, he's such a stupid-looking fellow, and always holds his headdown, and if he's spoken to he starts andsays, What did you say ? I didn't hear you !'He seems always to *l thinking of some-thing else. But, I say, Connie, it's gettinglate; we must turn back."They had nearly reached the village agai"
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 27HOME FOR &HE HOLIDAYS.when they heard the sound of wheels comingclose to them. It was a shabby-lookinggig, and contained a man who was drivingA
28 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !and a boy who sat beside him, with a smalltrunk strapped on in front. As it passedthem, Ernest looked up, and his eyes metthose of Arthur Forrester.He whispered this to Connie, and the boyseeing himself recognized, nodded coldly toErnest, colouring deeply as he did so, andlooking away directly."Well, isn't that odd ? Who would everhave thought of having him in these parts ?Now, Connie, doesn't he look a dolt ?""He looks very cold and miserable, poorfellow; but, Ernest, I couldn't see him longenough to know any more."Ernest began to whistle, and Constancewatched the gig driving on quickly throughthe village, and wondered whether those inArthur's home would be as much delightedat his getting the prize as she should havebeen had Ernest brought it back with him.INb~
CHAPTER II.ARTHUR'S WELCOME."And fall the sounds of mirthSad on thy lonely heart,From all the hopes and charms of earthUntimely called to part."HE shabby gig drove on through thewhole village and along a piece ofSthe road beyond it, until it turnedin at the gates of the red brickhouse amongst the trees.Arthur clambered down from the gig andstood on the door-steps. No loving facewas there to greet him, no kiss of welcomeawaited him.He opened the hall door and went throughthe hall itself, until he reached the sitting-room; but there was no pleasure in his face,
30 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.no quickness in his step, and he turned thehandle as if he knew that he was not wantedinside.A lady was engaged in darning a quantityof gray stockings by the fire, and a girl wasplaying a very noisy waltz on the piano.Arthur walked up to the fire-place." How do you do, Aunt Dixon ?"AUNT DIXON."Quite well, thank you, Arthur. I hopeyou are the same ?""Yes, thank you; how d'ye do, Charlotte ?"
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 31The girl who was playing stopped, andextended two fingers to him."You are too late for dinner, Arthur. Isuppose you can wait until tea-time ?""Yes, aunt; how is my brother ? ""His cough is still rather bad, but notso bad as he makes it out; we have coddledhim too much, haven't we, Charlotte? ""Yes, we have indeed, and get no thanksfor it."Arthur bit his lip, and stretched out hishands towards the fire. "May I go up tohim ? where is he? '"In your room; yes, you may go; butyou mustn't be surprised if you find himfretful, it's his illness makes him so."Arthur did not wait any longer, butbounded up the stairs until he got to thetop of the house, when he softly opened thedoor of one of the rooms. The floor wasonly partially carpeted, and looked drearyand comfortless; two small iron bedsteadsstood side by side; there were a few chairs,
82 ARTHUR'S WELCOME."a deal table, a painted chest of drawers, and"a small fire blazing in the grate. A fewpictures were hung round the walls, whichlooked damp and cold, and some books wereranged on the top of the drawers. This wasArthur's room, and Arthur's brother waspainting at the table. He did not hear thefootstep near him and went on with his occu-pation, only pausing when his cough stoppedhim, and Arthur started when he heard it-it was so deep and hollow."Herbie I" and he laid his hand on. thelittle boy's shoulder. He turned quickly,and flung hi arms round Arthur's neck witha joyful cry."Arthur, my own dear Arthur, oh, I'mso glad I" and Herbie clung to him as if hewould never let him go again." So am I, Herbie; but hold up your head,and let me look at you."I Herbie raised his head-his face was pale,except for a burning red spot on each cheek,his large brown eves were very bright, his*
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 33features all looked as if they were cut inmarble, and his hair had a golden light overit, which made him look like a picture,Arthur thought."How are you, Herbie ?" he whispered."Quite, happy now that you are come;but how cold you are! poor Arthur, comeand warm yourself;" and the little boy drewhim to the fire, and began to chafe his hands,and Arthur noticed how thin he had grown,and how poorly he was clad; but Herbiewas all delight now that he had got hisbrother with him, and so even the poor de-spised Arthur Forrester had a welcome, thatfirst day of the holidays."Did they give you some dinner, Ar-thur? ""No; I'm to wait until tea-time."" I thought so," said Herbie, springing tohis feet, and his face beamed with pleasure,as he went over to the cupboard near thewindow and took a plate out of it and aknife and fork.( C286) 3
84 ARTHUR'S WELCOME."Now, Arthur dear, here's your dinner;I put .ithby that I might give it to you myown self."Arthur was very hungry, and looked withmuch satisfaction at the slices of meat, thecold potatoes, and the piece of bread."You shan't have it cold," said Herbie;"we'll put the potatoes to crisp between thebars, and I'll broil your meat; there, sitdown on this chair, and I'll clear foraction."Arthur saw\how much pleasure it gavehis little brother to make all these prepara-tions for him, so he did not prevent him."What have you been painting, Herbie ?"he said, going over to the table."Nothing but a little picture out of myAkead; 'The Dog's Watch,' I was going to"call it."SArthur took it up; it was a pretty picture, -and skilfully done for so young an artist.There was a shepherd's dog guarding hilmaster's coat, a simple rustic scene, painted"4 ^
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 85with very inferior colours, but still bearingmarks of genius and talent." It's very good, Herbie; your colour israther washy here, and not strong enoughSjust there, but still it is very good. I shallget quite afraid of you soon."Herbert's cheeks glowed with pleasure athis brother's praise, and he said,-"That's the table you sent me the moneyto buy, Arthur, I don't know what I shouldhave done without it; but when aunt sawit she was very angry, and said she wasglad to see we had so much money to waste;and I know she wasn't glad at all, for Iheard her scolding Simon for getting it forme."" Don't you ever go down-stairs, Herbie?""Sometimes," said Herbert, avoiding thequestion." I've brought you something that you'lllike, I think," said his brother. "Guesswhat it is."" "I know what I should have liked you
86 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.best to bring me," said Herbert, lookingbrightly round from the fire."Well, what?""A prize."" And I've got it," said Arthur, his wholeface lighting up with delight; and going tothe chair over which he had thrown hisgreat-coat, he drew a parcel from one of thepockets. " I kept it here that I might getit directly; look, Herbie !" and he undid thepaper.Herbie eagerly watched him, and seizedupon the book with proud delight. If Con-stance had seen his face, she would have beenquite satisfied that the prize was appreciated."Arthur, Arthur, what a beautiful book !I'm so glad; oh, how pleased they wouldhave been!"Arthur's eyes filled with tears, and heturned away." 0 Arthur, dear Arthur, don't cry. I'msorry I said that, I'm always saying stupidthings."
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 37.IITHE PRIZE."No, no, Herbie, boy, it's only that Ican't bear it. I couldn't thank the Doctor
88 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.when I got it, because I was thinking howjoyful it would have been if I could havebrought it home to them, and it was horribleto think there was no one to care whetherI got it."" 0 Arthur, no one to care ?" and Herbertraised his eyes reproachfully."Well, you, of course; but not them.Herbie, I got it for you, I worked for it foryou, I've written your name in it under myown.""Arthur-my name mine!-but I cannottake your prize. No; let me look at it andread it, and be proud of it; but you musthave it for your own."" No, I tell you I got it for you; I shallhave nothing to give you at Christmas, so this"must do. I only wish it was money instead.""Well, then, I'll have it, and love italways, you dear old Arthur, and I shallhave a Christmas box for you; but I won'ttell you what. There, the meat is hot, andeverything is ready."
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 39Arthur was not long in disposing of hisdinner, while Herbie watched him with thegreatest satisfaction."How did they come to let you have mydinner ready for me up here, Herbie ?" hesaid as he finished it.Herbert coloured."Herbie," said Arthur, gravely, "wasthat your own dinner that you kept forme ? "" Don't be angry, Arthur; I wasn'thungry, and I knew you would be, and soI coaxed Simon not to take my plate away."Arthur did not answer, but only lookedstraight before him into the fire. " Comeand sit down here by the fire with me, Her-bie," he said, after a few minutes.The little boy came and knelt down be-sido him, and Arthur put his arm roundhim. They had nothing else in the worldto love except each other, these two poororphan boys; but nevertheless their affec-tion was quite as deep and true as that of
40 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.those whose homes were happy, and whoselives had in them none of the bitternesswhich had been crowded into the few shortyears of Arthur and Herbert Forrester.Their parents were both dead, and theboys were left dependent on their mother'sstep-sister, Mrs. Dixon. Their only otherrelative was an old uncle of their father's,who had been very kind to him in his youth,and had settled to make him- his heir; butwhen he found his nephew determined tobecome a clergyman instead of entering hismercantile house, he had given him up, andsaid that he would never see him again.Arthur and Herbert had never seen this oldgentleman, and did not know where he lived,so that on the death of their father theywere left entirely friendless. Mrs. Dixonwas written to by several people upon theduty of befriending her orphan nephews,and as she had a great eye to appearances,she wrote to offer them a home in her house;but having done this, she thought that she
ARTHUR'S WELCOME.: 41had done all that was necessary on her part,and she felt the two boys a great incum-brance, and made herself appear as a martyron their behalf. Dr. Johnstone, being anold friend of their father's, wrote to Mrs.Dixon offering to educate the eldest boyfor nothing for his father's sake; so Arthurwent to school, and Mrs. Dixon allowedherself to have the credit of sending him.But to return to our story. The eveningwas quite dark by this time, and the twoboys drew as close to the fire as they could."Herbie, how bad your cough is," saidArthur." Yes," answered the little fellow wearily,laying his head down on Arthur's shoulder." Have you seen a doctor, Herbie ?"" Yes, a brother of Mr. Dixon's was stay-ing here, and he heard me cough, and toldaunt that I must keep in one room until itwas well, and that there must be a goodfire kept up. He was very kind, Arthur,and bought me all my drawing-paper, and
42 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.gave me two shillings' worth of stamps thatI might write to you.""What a good man I" said Arthur."He was; 0 Arthur-" and the littleboy's head sunk down again, and he burstinto tears."Herbie, what's the matter? tell me.""Nothing, nothing; I didn't mean to cry,only I thought you'd never, never comeback, the days seemed so long, and I wasso tired.""And so you cry now that you havegot me," said Arthur, laughing. "Why,Herbie, man, I'd better run away again."Herbie's arm tightened round his neck."Oh, if you do, Arthur, I'll run with you;I can't live here without you.""But, Herbie, you know I've only gotholidays until the middle of January, andthen we shall have to part again.""Perhaps before that," said Herbie, doubt-fully."Why ?" said Arthur, starting.
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 43"Only that-don't be vexed, Arthur-only that sometimes I think I shall soonbe with papa and mamma.""And leave me, Herbie; oh, nonsense,no, that shall not be, it cannot; you aren'twell now, but when the bright spring-timecomes you'll be well again."" Perhaps so," said Herbie, quietly."Arthur, there's that horrid bell, and youmust go down to tea.""Yes; but I'll come up early."And when he had left the room littleHerbie knelt down and thanked God forbringing his brother back to him.
CHAPTER III.UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION."Things will be vexing, people will provoke,And all goes wrong;Then comes the cW for help, or else the shameThat frets yof all day long."" ERE are the letters I" cried Ernestthe next morning at bre fst-time, as he ran \n with t lpost-"bag, which had just be*`depo-sited on the hall table. " Quick,papa, do open it 1""Why, Ernest, what- makes you in sucha state of excitemei4 who would havethought of seeingfyvi care about theletters?"Ernest looked over at Constance andlaughed, and then they both watched their* I
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 45father very eagerly, while he with greatdeliberation drew out the little key andfitted it to the lock."Well, Ernest, here's one for you, andtwo for me, and a note for Constance;that's all.""And quite enough too," said Ernest tohimself, for he had caught a glance of UncleWalter's handwriting on one of his father's,and his own letter vas from MauriceTreverton; it ran as follows,-" MY DEAR ERNEST," We arrived here quite safely an houror two ago. Of course everybody arrives safe every-where. I don't believe in railway accidents. We havehad our dinners, and now to say what I've got to say.Papa is just writing to Uncle Leslie about you knowwhat; and you must both come. I want to see Con-stance too, and so does Katharine; and you and I'llhave such fun. I've told Barton that I won't shootanything till you come, and there'll be first-rate skatingif the weather keeps up, and there's to be a ball, andcharades, and fun without end-something to take awaythe taste of all that Greek and Latin, my boy." Yours until you come,"V MAURICE TREVERTON."
46 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION."P. S.-You should have seen the concern that waswaiting for that dolt Forrester at Willingham Station,it certainly was in keeping with his general appearance.I hope he'll have a merry Christmas, but what a wet.blank.t he would be on any fun !"Ernest looked anxiously over 'to hisfather, who was intent on his own twoletters."Well, papa?" said the boy, after watch-ing him for a few minutes."Well, my dear Ernest?""You've heard from Uncle Walter,haven't you ?""Yes, my boy;" and Mr. LesEle foldedup the letter, and put it back in theenvelope."And mayn't we go, papa?"Mr. Leslie did not answer, but lookingover to his wife, said, "My old friend Mr.Barnett is coming to spend Christmas withus.""Is he, poor old gentleman; I'm glad ofit," said Mrs. Leslie.
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 47Ernest looked at Constance dismayed." Please, papa, Uncle Walter ? "" Uncle Walter is quite well, thank you,my boy.""But mayn't we go to Treverton Hall ? "said Constance eagerly."No, my dear."Ernest's colour began to rise, he bent hishead over his plate, and tears gatheredin his eyes; but he would not look upuntil they were gone, and then he said"angrily,-"Papa, what a shame-we must go !""That's as I think, Ernest; you hadbetter finish your breakfast."" I won't have any more," said Ernest,impatiently pushing his plate away fromhim, and looking out of the window.Mr. Leslie finished his own in silence,and then rose. " Ernest, will you and Con-stance come with me to my study ?"They followed him directly; and Mr.Leslie, after poking his fire, and settling
48 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.the books on his table, turned round, andput his, hand on Ernest's shoulder.IN THE STUDY."Do you want very much to go toTreverton Hall, my boy ?""Yes, papa.""Why, my dear Ernest ? "
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 49"Because they're going to have such fun,a real merry Christmas "Mr. Leslie smiled. " Is it necessary thatyou should leave home to have a real merryChristmas ? "Ernest looked down rather ashamed."Answer me, Ernest.""They are going to keep it up in real oldEngland fashion; there are to be all mannerof things done, papa."Mr. Leslie looked gravely into his son'sface. "Ernest, my boy, I am very sorry.""0 papa, you will let us go, say youwill, do.""Do, papa," pleaded Constance."I cannot, my children.""Why not ? " said Ernest passionately."For severaf reasons; your mother and Iwant to have all our children with us atChristmas, both for our own sakes and poorReggie's.""That's not your only reason, papa.""No, dear, I did not say it was. I(286) 4
50 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATfON.would rather also for your own sakes thatyou should spend Christmas here."Ernest stamped his foot impatiently.Mr. Leslie looked grieved, he was sorryfor the disappointment he was inflicting onhis children, but more sorry to see theangry feelings it called forth.None of them spoke for a few minutes,then Constance slipped her arm round hisneck, and said, most entreatingly, "Pleasepapa, let us go, just for this once.""No, love, I cannot," he answeredgravely." Oh, do," said Ernest, determined tomake one more effort."I have said 'No,' my boy ; do not pressme any more, for I cannot change."" It's a horrid shame, and you just do itto provoke me," cried Ernest, and he ran outof the room, banging the door behind him.Mr. Leslie put his hand over his face,and stood leaning against the mantle-piecein deep thought. Constance brushed away
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 51the tears which were running down hercheeks, and tried to keep down the dis-appointment which swelled in her heart.At last Mr. Leslie spoke, holding out hishand, and drawing her close to him as hedid so-"Do you also think me so unkind, mylittle Connie ?""No, papa; Ernest was disappointed, hedid not mean what he said.""Don't you believe that I love you toowell to deny yof anything that might begood for you ? ""Yes, papa," said Constance, with a greateffort."I want you to learn, dearest child, whatis the true use of this Christmas season."A little half-checked sob burst from Con-stance, at the thought of all the delights ofTreverton Hall which they must give up,and her father stooped down and kissed her."I cannot bear to disappoint you, mychild."
62 UNCJ.E WALTER'S INVITATION."I know that, papa," she answeredgently." God bless you, my own dear Constance;now run away and try to make Ernestthink of it as you do."Ernest had carried all his anger directlyto Reginald, who was always ready to helphim in his troubles. Reginald heard himout patiently while he told of all the plea-sures they had lost, and descanted on whathe considered his father's unkindness; andwhen he had fairly exhasted himself, hisbrother said quietly,-"You told me yesterday that you wereproud of being called your father's son,Ernest."Ernest did not answer." Can you not trust our father's love,Ernest ?"" I don't know," grumbled the boy.Reginald sighed deeply."What is it, Reggie ? "" I'll tell you what I was thinking of,
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 53dear Ernest. You know that my one great"wish in life has been to become my father'scurate here; I have prepared myself for it,and looked forward to it with the greatestdelight. I was nearly old enough to beordained, you know, when my accidenthappened, and now it is my heavenlyFather's will that I should lie here for therest of my life; do you think, Ernest, thatI could bear this trouble if it was sent tome in anger-if I did not know that I couldtrust my Father's love ?" Reginald paused,it was very seldom that he spoke of his owntrouble, and his whole face was workingwith deep emotion."0 Reggie-don't, don't," said Ernest."No, Ernest, I will point you to a higherexample than mine. There is One whosays that he came into this world, not to doHis own will, but the will of the Father whosent Him. Who was that ?""Our Saviour," said Ernest, who wasbeginning to feel that he was wrong.
64 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.At that moment Constance came in. Shewent over to Ernest directly, and said,-"I am so sorry.""" You don't care about it half as much asI do," said Ernest, sulkily."No, because I don't know Maurice aswell; but I am very sorry.""No merry Christmas for us," said Er-nest; mournfully.Reginald smiled. "Don't say that quiteso rqahly, Ernest; I know a secret bywhich you could spend a merrier Christ-mas here than you would have had atTreverton.""Nonsense I" said Ernest, while Con-stance opened her eyes wide with astonish-ment.""I do indeed.""What is it ?" said Ernest." h, I'm not going to tell you for no-thing, this precious, golden secret of mine.""Oh, do tell'us, Reggie l"and Ernestlooked quite brightened up.
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 65"No, no," said Reginald, shaking hishead; "if I tell you, you shall pay me.""I want 'all my money for Christmasboxes," said Ernest."Well, I won't ask for money, but ifyou'll do for me the work that I should doif I was about, I'll tell you the secret thefirst thing on Christmas morning, and Ithink that.you'll have 'a merry Christmasand a happy New Year.'""All right-shake hands on it," saidErnest; "it's a done bargain.""When shall we begin ?" said Constance."This afternoon," said her brother; "andnow, in preparation for it, I advise both ofyou to set off for a walk while this glorioussunshine lasts.""We will," said Ernest; "it's no goodfretting about Treverton any more, and Iwon't; all the same, it's a horrid bore; andif you don't do something wonderful for us,Reggie, I'll never forgive you."Constance had gone to put on her things,
66 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.and Reginald called Ernest back for a mo-ment." Won't you make it up with papa beforeyou go out?" *" Yes," said Ernest; and in anotherminute he was in his father's study, andwithout hesitation went up to him and said,."Forgive me, papa, I was in a rage, I spokewrongly.""All right, my boy, I am quite ready tofbrgive and forget it. I see you spoketruly, Ernest, when you said that you werelearning to be a man, for true manhoodwill never fail to acknowledge itself in thewrong." *"We are going out for a walk now,papa.""That's right.",Constance Vas ready by this time, sothey set out; and the subject of tyir specu-lation dduring the walk was Reginald'sQGlden Secret.
CHAPTER IV." WHO WAS THE ARTIST"The simple are the wise to Him,The gentle are the brave,The weflthe strongest, if they putTheir trust in Him to save."" (4 EFORE we go back, Ernest, wouldyou mind coming to the houseat the corner of the village street?I want to ask how poor MissMatheson is," said Constance,as they were returning home."Isn't that your govermess that comesevery day ?" L"( Yes; bt I got a note from her this morn-ing saying that she was not at all weT.""All right-we'll go, only you mustinstop long."
.68 "WHO WAS THE ARTIST? ""Only five minutes," said Constance."Oh, I know what your five minutesmean, Connie!""Well, it shall really be only five thistime.""Isn't this the house ? ""Yes;" and Constance knocked at thedoor." Can I see Miss Matheson ?""I'll go and see," said the woman whoopened it; and in a moment or two she re-turned, begging that they would walk up-stairs.It was a very homely room that theywere shown into, and yet there was a cer-tain degree of taste displayed in the ar-rangement of its furniture. Books lay onthe table, and a white chrysanthemum wasflowering in a pot on a small stand in thewindow. A few good prints and one ortwo water-colour paintings hung on thewalls.The governess soon entered, pale and care-
"WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? 69worn, with deep shadows under her eyes,telling of pain and suffering.---Z-7THE GOVERNESS."How kind of you to come, Constance,'she said gently; "and is this the brotherwhom you were expecting home ? ""Yes, Miss Matheson, this is .Ernest; butI came to know how you were; I am sorryyou have got that troublesome headacheagain."
60 " WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? "" It is very bad to-day, dear; but I daresay I shall be well to-morrow; and if youwill let me, I will make up my time thenwith a couple of extra hours.""No, no mamma has sent me with amessage to you, to say that my holidaysmay begin from to-day, instead of nextweek, as Christmas is coming on so fast."A sorrowful shade passed over the face ofthe governess as Constance said these words,and the brother and sister both noticed it."How glad you must be when Christmascomes, Miss Matheson," said Ernest."I ought to be, but I fear I am not thisyear," she replied sadly."Why not ?" asked Constance."It will be a very lonely time to me,dear."" Will it ?-won't you go home ? "" This is my home, Constance; I have noother.""But you have a brother, won't he comeand spend it with you ?"
"WHO WAS THE ARTIST ?" 61Miss Matheson's eyes filled with tears asshe shook her head in answer."No, dear Constance; I heard from himthis morning, and he says he cannot come.""Won't his employers let him?" saidConstance, sympathizingly, for she knewthat he was clerk in the bank of a largetown in the north.Miss Matheson coloured, and hesitatedfor a moment, but then said firmly, "It isnot that, Constance; he could get leave, buthe cannot afford to come, nor can I."Constance was sorry that she had pressedthe question, and changed the conversationby taking up a water-colour picture that layon the table." How pretty this is, Miss Matheson!look, Ernest.""The First Ride!" said her brother,reading the name on the back. "Yes,that is a pretty picture, uncommonly so;how well the little chap sticks on !".The scene represented the stable-yard of
62 "WHO WAS THE ARTIST? "an old manor-house; oi the steps of a doorwhich opened into it a lady was standing,.shading her eyes with her hands while shewatched her little son, a boy of about fouryears old, mounted on a shaggy pony, andheld on by an old serving-man, who -wasleading the animal carefully round the yard,while a large Newfoundland dog followedat his heels. The squire was leaning againstthe wall with his arms folded, smiling at hislittle son's delight; and a little girl by his-.side was clapping her hands with glee,she watdhed her brother's progress."What a jolly dog that is !" said Ernest.""Yes, and I like the pony too; I thinkit is something like Mr. Baldwin's old ponyS-and how pretty the little boy's merry faceand golden curls look, in contrast with theold servant's gray locks and wrinkled fore-head. 0 Miss Matheson, did you do this?""No, dear, I didn't. I am glad you likethe painting, it has a strange history."",7 "What is it?" said Ernest.*
"WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? " 6a"Will it make your head worse to tellus? "inquired Constance, more thoughtfully."No. You know I teach Elise Talbotand her sister Jane; well, some time ago,they showed me a little painting done byone of their brothers, representing this scene,and I asked them to lend it to me, and theydid. It lay in my drawer for several weeks,and I thought no more about it, until oneday last summer-I remember'it was veryhot-I was sitting by the open window,when there came a knock at my door, andpresently a boy of about fourteen was shownin. He seemed very shy and nervous whenI asked him what he wanted, and at last hesaid that he had come to ask me to tell himsomething about painting, that he knew that,I taught it, and he should be so thankful ifI would give him some hints about it. Iwillingly said that I would, though I thoughtit rather an odd request; and then he openeda portfolio, and produced several pictures ofhis own; they were wonderfully done, ana4*
64 "WHO WAS THE ARTIST? "I --MISS MATHESON'S VISITOR.I felt that the boy was a genius, and, withsome training, would become a famous artist.
" WHO WAS THE ARTIST? " 65I began to help him as well as I could, and,in turning over my drawer to get out somecopies, I came upon this little sketch: hewas delighted with it, and begged the loanof it. When he was going away, I askedhis name; but he refused to tell it, beggingme not to insist upon it, and so I never foundit out. I liked the boy, though there wassomething very mjnerable in his face, and soI promised not to ask anything more, andI lent him a paint-box which I was not using,and then he went off, very thankful and con-tent.""He might have been a cheat, MissMatheson," said Ernest, shrewdly."So I began to think after I had doneit, but this morning proved my suspicionsfalse, for he brought back my box, and allthe copies, together with this picture; helooked if anything more sad than when hewas here before and said he should be so- thankful if I could sell his pictures forhim in any of the families where I went(286)
66 "WHO WAS THE ARTIST? "to teach, adding that he would take forthem anything I could get. His otherlittle sketches are in this portfolio," sheco4nnued, opening one which lay near her."Oh, that's good!" said Ernest, takingup one of a large St. Bernard dog finding atraveller in the snow. " Constance, wouldn'tReggie like that ? ""I'm sure he would--it's beautiful."" How much should I pay for it ?""Well, say seven and sixpence; wouldthat do ?" said Miss Matheson."Yes, I could give that I" said Ernest,thinking with no small pleasure of thesovereign Uncle Walter had slipped intohis hand at parting."Ernest, we've been here much morethan five minutes; come along," said Con-stance; "I'm sure we're doing no good toMiss Matheson's head.""You have not made it *orse, dear; I amalways glad to see you. Will you thankyour mamma from me for the arrangement4
" WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? " 67she has made; and I hope you will bothhave a very happy Christmas.""Thank you," said Constance; "but wedon't know what to do that it may be amerry Christmas-we don't know how toamuse ourselves."" I do not think that, to any one who re-members the true Christmas blessing, it canfail to be a happy time, whether it is merryor not," said Miss Matheson gravely, as shesaid good-bye to them.When they go.t home, Ernest put hispicture away safely; but while doing so hemade a discovery, for in minute letters inone corner he found the initials A. E. F. .Meanwhile, in the top room of the redhouse amongst the fir-trees, Arthur For-rester was sitting on his little brother's bed,for Herbie's cough had become worse duringthe night, and he was so exhausted in themorning that he could not get up."Well, Herbie, you'll soon have some-thing warmer, I think. Isn't it fine ?"
68 " WHO WAS THE ARTIST? "ARTHUR AND HIS BROTHER." Yes, Arthur; but you must not work sohard for me. I know you were up too early*is morning, mounting that picture, and itwas so cold.""Nonsense, Herbie, man."S"W hat m ade you think of going to her,Arthur ?"" Because I saw her with Charlotte, andknew how kind she was.""Oh, here's Aunt Dixon, Arthur; what"will she say to find me in bed ?".*' :... ,-S MB f^ -^ / .^
" WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? 69There was a hand upon the lock of thedoor, and then Mrs. Dixon entered."Herbert, not up ? are these the goingson up-stairs out of my sight-pray, sir,when do you expect the servants are tomake your bed ? "" He was very ill this morning, and I toldyou so," said Arthur fiercely."He is no worse than he was before youcame home; and if this kind of thing is tooccur, I shall separate you."Herbie shuddered, and got down as farunder the bedclothes as he could."It is a very weakening thing to lie inbed," continued his aunt; "you will get updirectly, Herbert.""Yes, aunt.""And, Arthur, that is much too large afire; it is not such a very cold day;" andMrs. Dixon began taking the topmost coalsoff with the tongs, adding, in a freezingtone, "when you pay for the coals you willbe welcome to waste them, but while I give
70 "WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? "them to you, I expect that you will be moreeconomical.".Arthur clenched his hands tightly, andwould have broken out into a passion had itnot been for a look from Herbie.Mrs. Dixon was taking a survey of theroom meanwhile. " You must not hammernails into the wall, it marks it. I won'thave it done, boys.""Very well, aunt," said Herbie."I'll do it if I choose," muttered Arthur."And, Arthur, I won't have you alwaysup here, it's bad for Herbert; you mustcome down-stairs.""0 aunt, please-" cried little Herbieearnestly."Be quiet, Herbert, and don't dare tospeak in that fretful tone. I really amshocked to see a little boy who has somuch kindness shown towards himso peev-ish and irritable," and then she left theroom.Arthur looked after her for one moment
"WHO WAS THE ARTIST? " 71when she had closed the door, and then threwhimself down by Herbie with a bitter cry."Don't Arthur, don't. I don't mind it.I wish you wouldn't cry so."" 0 Herbie, I cannot bear it for you; ifit was only me I shouldn't mind, but formamma's baby-boy, as she used to call you.Herbie, I hate that woman !"Herbie put his fingers on his lips."I do, I do!" cried Arthur. "I hateevery one but you, Herbie.""No, you don't; you like Miss Matheson,and you like Dr. Johnstone, and old Simon,and that good Mr. Henry Dixon who wagso kind to me."Arthur gave some -kind of a mumbledassent, but still continued muttering to him-self, " I do hate her."Herbie turned his flushed face round onthe pillow, and at last he said, "Arthur,would you mind-I haven't said my prayersthis morning, would you say them for me,while you kneel there ?"
72 " WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? ""What shall I say ?"" The one mamma taught me first of all."" Yes; " and Arthur repeated it, thoughhis voice trembled exceedingly."Now the Lord's Prayer, please," butArthur's voice nearly broke down when hesaid, "Forgive us our trespasses as we for-give them that trespass against us." Therewas a long pause, and then Herbie whis-pered,-"Arthur, say something for Aunt Dixon.""I can't, Herbie.""Yes, do, please."" If I did it would be, 'Please put an endto her,'" he replied, lifting his head with abitter smile on his lips."No, no, Arthur, not that."Arthur buried his face in the clothes again,and neither of them spoke for a few moments,until Herbie said, hesitatingly,-"Arthur, it's getting on for Christmastime, and then don't you know there is tobe 'peace on earth, good-will toward men.'
" WHO WAS THE ARTIST? " 73Have we got 'peace and good-will to AuntDixon ? ""No."Then Herbie clasped his hands, and said,in a low soft voice, "Pray God make usforgive her, and make her a little bit morekind, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen. Now,Arthur, I will get up, and will you help meto dress ? "With as much tenderness as a gentle nursecould have used, Arthur helped his littlebrother, and when he had done he said, "Isuppose I must go down to dinner now;Herbie, what will you do ?""I can't paint to-day, Arthur; I will sitin my little chair by the fire, and read yourprize."Arthur's face brightened, and he drewthe little wicker-chair, which had been hisparting present to Herbie when he wasgoing to school, close to the fire, and seatedhim in it."Are you all snug ? "
74 " WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? "" Yes;" and Herbie looked up at him witha bright sunny smile, which made Arthurleave him with a lighter heart. He did notknow that, when he was gone, large tearsbegan to roll down the little fellow's face,and dimmetl his eyes so that he was unableto read. He was very weary of the painand suffering of his daily life.
ENTER NOT INTO THE C'j P- PATH OFTHE WICKE D. FCHAPTER V.HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE."Thus may the bitter cold and the trying weather of a bitingsnowy Christmas be read. Surely it calls aloud to every one,that now is the moment for clothing the naked, for feeding thehungry, and for comforting the afflicted."-Parables fromNature.do for you?" said Constance, asshe and Ernest came into theirbrother's room after dinner."It's snowing, so we can't goout! " said Ernest."No, I know you can't, so will you wo&for me here?" "They both gave a willing assent."How bitterly cold it is," said Reginald."Ernest, boy, poke the fire, will you ?"
76 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE."Mrs. Wilton and Basil went to bringthe kitten to Jamie White this morning, andhe had got no fire, Reggie; just think of that."" I have been thinking of it, dear Connie,and so I have asked papa to let me give anextra grant of coal; and I want Ernest towrite me some coal tickets in his best roundhand. I wish we had a great deal moremoney to spend on them. Our own brightChristmas fires and warm comforts alwaysmake me think sorrowfully and with pity ofthose who can only dread this season, fromthe want and privation it brings to them.""Yes, I remember Giles Young tellingpapa the other day that he wished Christ-mas-time never came."Reginald sighed. "I suppose we haveno idea what the poor suffer from cold," hesaid thoughtfully."This is an unusually cold winter," saidErnest." Yes, but that does not make it easier tobear."
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 77"Certainly not.""What am I to do, Reggie ?" askedConnie."Will you go and ask Mrs. Wilton togive you one of the little warm frocks shehas cut out this morning, and will you beginto make it ? I will read you a story."Thus the afternoon passed pleasantlyaway, and when twilight came on, and theycould no longer see their work, Ernest andConstance came and seated themselves closeto the fire by' Reggie's side."To-morrow is Sunday, and on Mondaywould you mind taking round these tickets?"he asked."We'll be proud and happy," laughedErnest. -"Reggie, while you've been reading ai,idea came into my head.'"Well, what is it? ""What fun it would be to go and try tomake old Baldwin stand something for crea-ture comforts for the poor around him. He's
78 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.such an old miser, I know, he never givesanything to anybody."Reginald smiled. "Then I don't thinkhe would give anything to you.""It would be a good joke to try; besides,I've a curnosity to see the inside of hishouse; will you come, Connie ?""Yes," said Connie. "0 Reggie, I dowish every one could have a merry Christ-mas.Reginald laid his hand softly on herglossy hair. "Constance," he said earnestly," will you do your best that it shall be so ?"" 0 Reggie, I can't; what can I do-I'maonly thirteen, and Ernest is only twelve-what -can we do to cure all the cold, thewant, and the misery you have been tellingsa of? "Reginald answered,-"'Wherever in the world I am,In whatsoe'er estate,I have a fellowship with heartsTo keep'and cultivate,And a work of lowly love to doFor the Lord on whom I wait.'* 3 ', **
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 79You know how fond I am of those lines,Connie.""Yes, but, Reggie, what could we do ?""Well, you have done something thisafternoon; aid on Monday you are going togive away the coal-tickets, and try to moveMr. Baldwin's feelings."" I believe he freezes up his heart whenthe winter comes," said Ernest."Then you must try to thaw it," saidReginald, merrily."Yes, I will.""And when you go into the cottages, willyou not have a famous opportunity of givingaway kind words and good hearty Christmaswishes; and can you not watch to see ifthere is any little thing you can do toleave a ray of Christmas sunshine behindyou?""Oh yes," said Connie; "there might besome poor little boy or girl who would likea warm frock, or whom we could lend apicture-book to."F a
80 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE."Or some old woman to be corimforted inher rheumatics," said Ernest, slyly."Yes, I begin to see some things wecould do; and then there will be our ownChristmas,boxes, and the little ones, and ourschool-treat coming on: I only wish thathorrid old Mr. Barnett wasn't coming; butnever mind, Ernest, we'll have some fun.""To be sure we will," said Reginald;" and I've been thinking that we might per-.haps have some fun for the little ones.""Oh, capital," said Ernest, who was notat all above this kind of thing; "andthere'll be the putting up of the holly in thechurch.""And let us remember," said Reginald,"in all we do, that Christmas is to remindus of something higher than our ownpleasure; He who came down into this darkdreary world from His home of light, cameto bring 'peace on earth, good-will towardmen;' let us each try how far we can sendthe Christmas message, and how many*
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 81hearts and homes we can brighten with it;for His sake.""Why, Reggie, you talk like a book,"said Ernest, springing to his feet."Well, it is not often I speak to you likethat, Ernest, so you must mind me all themore when I do," replied his brother." Well, I'm off for a romp in the nursery,"cried Ernest." And I must go to mamma," said Connie;so Reginald was left alone.He lay quietly for some minutes watchingthe snow-flakes falling on the trees outsidethe window, which could be only dimly seenthrough the gathering darkness; and as hewatched, mournful thoughts filled his mind."Yes," he said to himself, "they can work,they can do something for Him; but I mustlie here a useless log, I who would haveworked so hard; oh, it is hard, it is hard, I"should not mind if I were not so useless;but it is God's will, and I must not rebel.I must ask to be taught how to bear it(286) 6
82 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.patiently, for the worst part of my trial is tofeel that I am an idler in His vineyard."Was Reginald Leslie a real idler? Ithink not. On his coueh of suffering he wasdoing his MIaster's work quite as effectuallyas if he had been employed actively; his" strength was to sit still," and unconsciouslyhe was the mainspring on which muchmachinery was revolving that would other-wise have been still.The next day was Sunday, always apeaceful and happy time in Enmore Rectory.There was no cold formality, no undueseverity in the way it was kept, whichmade it repulsive. Every one felt that itwas in reality the day of rest ordained byGod; and a spirit of repose and peacebrooded over the house on its Sabbath.Even Ernest felt the difference between itsobservance at home and at school, whereit was so difficult amongst all the boys to"remember the Sabbath day to keep itholy;" and he privately told Constancep
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 88that it "didn't require any goodness tokeep Sunday at home, but that it must bea saint who could do so at school." Onesurprise both the children had, when theywent to church, and that was seeing ArthurForrester in the Dixons' pew, looking asdogged and sullen as ever; and Ernestdeclared it was too bad to see him, for it wasnot at all pleasant to be reminded of the lossof his prize on the first Sunday of the holi-days, by seeing his successful rival sittingjust before him.Reginald had been told all about thedisappointment; and Ernest's wrath wasgreatly raised when, on returning frommorning service, and telling Reggie abouthis seeing Arthur with the Dixons, hisbrother said quietly,-"Poor fellow! why, Ernest, you mightfind him out, and bring him over here; whoknows but we might brighten his Christmasa little ?""Thank you, I would rather not," said
84 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.Ernest, contemptuously. "I've seen quiteenough of him."Reginald looked up sorrowfully, and Con-stance said quickly, " Perhaps that poor littleboy with the bad cough is his brother.""I should think so, it's most likely," saidReginald; but Ernest walked out of theroom."Connie, I don't like Ernest to keep upangry feelings against that poor boy; I daresay he leads an unhappy life with theDixons. I should think he was an orphanfrom what you tell me of the deep blackcrape round his hat; and we might be kindto him.""What can we do?" said Constanceeagerly." Well, I think I will write him a note to-morrow when you are out, and ask him tocome over and see me; shall I ? "" Oh, do, Reggie, that would be capital;and you find out all about him and the otherlittle boy."
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 85"I will try;" and a feeling of pleasurestole into Reginald's heart as he thought,"Perhaps to bring some Christmas happinessto those poor children is to be my work; Iwill not repine any more."
CHAPTER VI.REGINALD'S WORK."Poor indeed thou must be, if around theeThou no ray of light and joy can'st throw;If-no silken cord of love hath bound theeTo some little world through weal or woe."IRTHUR was painting the nextmorning up in his room, when oldSimon the servant, who lookedwith a kindly eye upon the friend-less boys, opened the door andput his head in."Master Arthur, here be a note, and bethere any answer ?""A note for me! Oh, surely not,Simon!"", "Yes, large as life, 'Master Arthur For-rester, Fir-tree Lodge;' bean't that you, sir?"
REGINALD'S WORK. 87A NOTE FOR ARTHUR."I suppose it must be," said Arthur,taking it, while Herbie watched him withwistful eyes. It ran as follows,-" Mr. Reginald Leslie would be glad to see MasterArthur Forrester this afternoon at the rectory, at threeo'clock, if it would be convenient to him to come. Mr.R. Leslie is unable to leave his sofa, so he hopes MasterForrester will excuse his want of ceremony.""How strange " said Arthur. " I won-
88 REGINALD'S WORK.der if that is Ernest Leslie's brother, andwhat he can want with me! However,Herbie, don't you think I had better go ? hemight become a friend, and help us awayfrom this hateful place.""Yes, Arthur, do go," said Herbie in-stantly."Very well, Simon, say I'll be there."Simon nodded and went off with hismessage, leaving the two boys not a littleastonished."I wonder if Ernest has been talkingabout me."" I should think so," was Herbie's reply." But then I can't understand this gentle-man wanting to see me, for Ernest wouldsay nothing good of me, that is verycertain.""He couldn't say anything bad, I'msure," said little Herbie, looking proudlyinto his brother's face."Nonsense, Herbie; every one does notlook at me through rose-coloured spectacles
REGINALD'S WORK. 89as you do, silly fellow. Ernest Leslie hatesme, because I got that prize, and he wanted it.""I am very glad he didn't get it," saidHerbie."So am I. I never thought aboutgetting it till that day when I got yourletter saying how proud you'd be if I gotone, and then I set to work and got it foryou-I've half a mind not to go to see thisgentleman.""You've said you will, and so you mustnow," said Herbie; "and perhaps he'll be afriend and help us, Arthur; who knows ? "So Arthur did go, and found himself onthe steps of the rectory just as the churchclock was chiming the hour of three. Hewas shown up into Reginald's room directly,and he certainly had not expected the kindreception which awaited him.Reginald was lying on the sofa, but heheld out his hand very kindly to welcomeArthur, and asked him to take a chair nearhim, adding,-
90 REGINALD'S WORK."As I am the clergyman's son andErnest's brother, I thought you would notmind my asking you to come and see me.I have so few visitors, and the sight of anew face is such a pleasure to me, in my un-broken confinement up here."Arthur coloured and stammered out some-thing, he knew not what." You are living with the Dixons, are younot ?" said Reginald."Yes.""Are they any relations to you ?""Mrs. Dixon is my aunt.""Have you any brothers or sisters ?""One brother;" and from the bright lookwhich accompanied the words, Reginaldknew that he had touched one chord of hisheart."I suppose your friends were very muchpleased that you got the prize. Ernest toldme how well you answered."A bitter smile crossed Arthur's lips as hereplied, " I have got no friends."
*REGINALD'S WORK. 91Reginald looked at him searchingly;there was something in that pale face,dogged and sullen as it was, which inter-ested him strangely-there was so muchsorrow, anxiety, want, and privation writtenin it, which ill accorded with the lithe boyishfigure; and yet, at the same time, the high,well-formed forehead betokened such con-centrated purposes, calm determination andfirmness, and the gray eyes were so clearand truthful, that Reginald felt that the boywas not what Ernest. had depicted him, andthat some sad history lay behind the sullenexterior." Surely your aunt was pleased with yourprize ? " he went on."I didn't show it to her.""May I ask you why not? or is it animpertinent question for a stranger ?"" No; I was afraid she would keep it toput on her drawing-room table, instead ofletting Herbie have it, and I got it forhim."
92 REGINALD'S WORK." Oh, I see," said Reginald. "How coldit is now; do you skate ?"" No.""Don't you like it?""I don't care about it.""I used to be very fond of it, until I metwith my accident, and now you see I amcompletely prevented from doing anythingof the kind.""Are you very dull ?" said Arthur; andthen thinking, from seeing a smile crossReginald's face, that he had said somethingvery foolish, he coloured more furiously thanever. But Reginald said directly,-"Oh no, I have plenty to do. I read agreat deal, and sometimes I write."Then there ensued a long and pleasantconversation on books and lessons, in thecourse of wmich Reginald made out a greatdeal of Arthur's mind, which was no ordi-nary one, and after a while he skilfullyturned the subject back to Arthur himselfand his little brother.
REGINALD'S WORK. 93"I am afraid from what my sister tellsme that your brother is ill."" Indeed he is," said Arthur; " so ill thatit frightens me to see him. I think thehouse we are living in is too damp and coldfor him.""Very likely," replied Reginald; "couldyou not write to some of your other friendsor relations and tell them so.""We have no others," said Arthur mourn-fully,-" we are quite alone in the world,Herbie and I, and if-if he dies I shall haveno one.""Poor fellow," said Reginald, "yours isindeed a sad story."Arthur rose and said abruptly, "I mustgo now, Herbie will be watching for me.""Would you mind taking him some ofthe oranges that are lying on that plate-from me ?"" Thank you," and Arthur took up one."Please give me the plate," said Regi-nald, stretching out his hand for it; and
94 REGINALD'S WORK.when Arthur gave it to him, he began tofill all the boy's pockets with the fruit."There now, you can carry those, can'tyou?""Yes; but don't let me take them all.""Please do, and come soon to see meagain. I know we shall be famous friends.""You're very kind," said Arthur, holdingout his hand to say good-bye, and thenReginald rang the bell, and Arthur de-scended the stairs.It was twilight, so that Ernest and Con-stance, who were ascending the steps just ashe was leaving the house, did not recognizehim, and he walked quickly towards hishome. The tea-bell was ringing as heentered Fir-tree Lodge-for he called atMiss Matheson's on his way and found theseven and sixpence waiting for him, to hisgreat delight; and never was any boyprouder of his first earnings than ArthurForrester as he carried them home to Her-bert that evening: but a great check was
REGINALD'S WORK. 95put upon his pleasure by his aunt's wrathas he entered the house."Pray, Master Arthur, may I inquirewhere you have been this afternoon ?" washer first question."I have been to the rectory, aunt.""And what business had you to gothere ?""I went on my own business," repliedArthur carelessly, as he seated himself atthe table."Mr. Dixon, may I request your opinionon Arthur's conduct? " said Mrs. Dixon in acold and measured tone. " I tell Arthurthat I wish him to do something for me thisafternoon, and, instead of obeying me, hesteals off to the rectory, without saying oneword to me, and comes back after dark.""Well, my dear, 'I don't suppose he'll getany harm at the rectory."Mrs. Dixon's face grew more wrathfiil asshe answered, " It is well that it cannot lastmuch longer. How are we to know that he
96 REGINALD'S WORK.has been to the rectory at all? he is quitedeceitful enough to bring that forward as anexcuse."Arthur's face flushed crimson, and hesprang to his feet. "How dare you saythat I tell a lie ? How can you even thinksuch a thing of one of my father's sons ? "Charlotte began to titter, as she alwaysdid when Arthur was angry; and Mrs.Dixon's manner became more freezingly coldand sneering."Compose yourself, Arthur; I know no-thing of your father except through his chil-dren, and I cannot say that they present avery charming result of his training." -Arthur was trembling with rage, andcould hardly find words to express it, whenCharlotte said suddenly,-"Arthur, what makes your pocket stickout like that ?""What's that to you ?" he replied."What have you got in it?" said Mrs.Dixon.
REGINALD'S WORK. 97Arthur did not reply." Speak directly, Arthur, and answeryour aunt," said Mr. Dixon, looking at himacross the table." I don't see why I should," muttered theboy, stooping down to pick up his handker-chief, which he had dropped; but as he didso one of the oranges fell from his pocketand rolled across the floor straight to Mrs.Dixon's feet. She took it up and placed iton the table." There, Mr. Dixon, that is all the confir-mation we want of the falsehood he has told-he has been in the village buying these."" Have you, Arthur ?" said her husband."No," replied Arthur proudly."Have you been anywhere else, besidesto the rectory ?""Yes.""Where?""I don't choose to tell.""Answer directly, when I tell you," saidMrs. Dixon.(28M) 7
98 REGINALD'S WORK."And who are you that I should answeryou? " asked Arthur, looking her straight inthe face." One to whom you owe everything," saidMrs. Dixon.A bitter laugh was Arthur's only reply." How dare you, sir, mock at your aunt ?"said Mr. Dixon, rising; and coming roundthe table he boxed his ears.Arthur made a wild spring at him, but sud-denly checked himself and sat down again."Give me those oranges-I won't havethem taken up-stairs," said Mrs. Dixon..He rolled them across the table to her."Now, young master, go straight off toyour bed," said his uncle, taking him bythe shoulders and pushing him out of theroom.Arthur sprang up the stairs and was soonin his own room. Herbie was watching forhim with a joyful face."Well, Arthur, was it nice ?-how longyou've been; have you had tea ?"