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FRANK AND THE FUCHSIA
* (Sy *Jif-
T- NEISON A ND SONS
iO fON, EDONB 1R AN O NEW YORK
A SCHOOLBOY'S TRIALS AND VICTORIES.
V Cale or thie tl floL11
L ON]) ON:
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
.y44i1A J~ji:~J Jj ) H'~
I. Frank's Schooling begins,
II. Short Steps into great Troubles,
III. In which Prizes are won and lost,
IV. Work in earnest,
V. In which appears a mysterious Messenger,
VI. Frank goes owl-hunting with Mr. Stock.
VII. The Truth, and nothing but the Truth,
VIII. Which proves Honesty is the best Policy,
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
Duty, like a strict preceptor,
Sometimes frowns, or seems to frown;
Choose her thistle for thy sceptre,
While thy brow youth's roses crown."
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
NE; two; three; four.
"There, I told you it was four
o'clock, Eliza ; and you said the long
hand would be pointing downwards
if 'twas time to go-as if I couldn't
tell the clock yet !"
But Eliza was convinced, not because Mary
Ann had whispered it, but because the clock
had spoken, and she thought that she could
trust her ears.
As it turned out, however, both were wrong.
Eliza was wrong, certainly; but as she was
but five years old, we will excuse her mistake.
The clock was most to blame, for it deceived
not only Mary Ann, but the whole school.
"Sit still, children," said the mistress, the
cdock is ten minutes too fast."
But for a schoolroom clock to go wrong
10 FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
is very sad. When I was at school, we did
not mind its being too slow, for then playtime
came before we expected it; but when it
went too fast, under pretence of keeping time
at all, it was cruel.
The mistress's announcement fell on the
hopes of her little scholars as a wet blanket
falls on fire. Ten minutes more school,
and a disappointment, was hard for them to
It was a trial to others besides Frank
Martin; but however deeply they felt it, they
did not show it as he did. For a weary time
he had been sitting up on a form, holding on
with his hands, gazing straight before him,
and scarcely daring to dangle his legs, lest he
should incur the mistress's rebuke. At last
he saw, out of the corner of his eyes, that
his sister had pulled down his woollen com-
forter from the peg, and he knew what that
meant. But when she turned round and
hung it up again, it was too much. His
fingers began to twitch, and his mouth to
work, and suddenly he set up a prolonged and
Why, Frank, what is the matter?" said the
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
mistress, no less startled than the rest of the
"Please, I think he wants to go," said
Martha, his sister.
"Well then, you two can leave at once,"
said the mistress, seeing no other means of
stopping the commotion. So down came the
comforter again, and the hat and the bonnet,
and they were out in the lane in no time.
The next day Frank thought he would set
up another mournful lamentation when he
began to get tired of sitting still; but school
was only half over, and his plan did not
answer. He was sent to stand in the corner
by himself instead, which was another trial for
Being just four years and a half old, school
at that age was dull work. I think his
mother sent him there to keep him out of
mischief for the chief reason, and to teach him
to be quiet. And a very good thing to learn,
I know numbers of children who couldn't
sit for five minutes together, without talking,
or fidgeting, or picking their clothes to pieces,
if you asked them, or even if you gave them
12 FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
something. But if you have a little brother
or sister, who goes to an infant school, and is
about the same age as Frank Martin was when
this story begins, and any one asks what such
a little thing goes to school for, you can say,
"To learn to sit still !"
Can you sit still while you read this
chapter ? Try and don't laugh, or make any
noise, except by turning over the leaves.
Frank Martin's father worked for Mr. Stock
at Cowleas farm, and went with the horses.
Jack, his eldest brother, was an ox-boy, and
went with the oxen; and Sam, the next, was
a donkey-boy, and went with the donkeys.
Then came Martha, the only girl in the family;
and Frank was the youngest.
The Martins had worked on Cowleas farm
before Mr. Stock's family came to live there,
and that was some time ago--many years, I
might say; and so they were well known, and,
what was more, they were respected. For if
Frank's father had not been a sober, trust-
worthy, intelligent man, he would not have
been Mr. Stock's head carter. He had some-
times as many as thirty horses under his
charge, and some of them were very valuable,
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS. 13
and he prided himself on their appearance.
Indeed, it was commonly said that Mr. Stock's
teams were the finest in the neighbourhood;
and people used to stop and look at them, as
they went in and out of the county town on
the market days, gayly dressed with plaited
manes and tails.
Sam, the second boy, accompanied his
father at such times, and though he was tired
enough when he reached home, he liked going
far better than staying with his donkeys.
They gave him, he complained, such a deal of
trouble; he had often to look after five or six
of them by himself, and old Michael, who was
donkey-master-general, was strict and cross,
and never allowed the boys to play or idle
their time, though he did not do much work
himself, Sam used to say.
Part of Cowleas farm lay on the steep hill-
side of the downs near the sea, and there the
donkeys and their panniers were very useful,
as the sure-footed animals could easily go
where no cart or waggon could travel; and
they were employed in various ways-in carry-
ing away the couch-grass to a heap after the
women had picked it, or in gathering in the
14 FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
turnips and mangold, and often in bringing
up the sea-weed from the shore for manure for
Jack, Frank's eldest brother, who was
mostly with the oxen-except in harvest, or
other busy times, when an extra hand was
wanted--was old enough to have lads under
him, and could already plough a furrow
with the best of them.
Now you can fancy what an unbounded
pleasure it was to little Frank, after school
was over, to take his sister's hand, and ramble
down the hill from their cottage, past the
little church, and wait for his father's return
with the horses. And then he would watch
the long string of them, as they passed in
their jingling harness; and sometimes he
would be taken up for a ride; or the two
little ones would peep in through the doors of
the ox-barton, and see the great creatures, with
their beautiful eyes and long horns, panting
and lowing, and snuffing the sweet hay, whilst
their necks were being freed from the heavy
yoke and they sauntered to their stalls.
And when the children had wandered up as
far as the blacksmith's shop on the other side
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS. 15
of the hill, to see if anything was being done
there, it was time to go back to tea.
One reason why they liked the blacksmith's,
besides the attraction of the red-hot iron, and
the ding-dong of the hammer, and the glow-
ing and scattering sparks, and the puffing
bellows, was because there the oxen were shod.
And that was a sight they would not lose for
anything, though it used to make them rather
timid, and their hearts beat fast when they
saw the huge creature lying swung on its back,
with its feet strapped tightly, grunting and
moaning as if its end was come.
"Well, if I was an ox," Martha used to say,
"I would stand like a horse to be shod, and
not be turned up and down that way."
You couldn't," was the usual remark from
another looker-on; whereupon a discussion
would arise, into the particulars of which we
will not enter.
Well, on fine afternoons, when there was
nothing else to be seen, or no game on foot
with the others, this was Martha and Frank's
usual walk, but they did not see an ox shod
every day. But at different times of the year-
for instance at sheep-shearing, or hay-harvest,
16 PRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
or reaping, or leasing, or threshing in the great
barn-there was much to be done, and you
may be sure the children did not throw away
their opportunities of seeing the fun, whatever
Now, before Frank had been many weeks
at school he began to rebel.
It was of no use, as he found, to try to get
away before the clock struck four, for the
nature of Mrs. Sharp the school-mistress was
too much like her name. So it entered into
his little head one bright morning, that he
would not go to school at all that day; and
when Martha was ready to start, Master Frank
was nowhere to be found.
She called him again and again, and looked
here and there for him, and at last went in to
her mother, and said that if she waited any
longer, she herself would be late. So Mrs.
Martin bade her set off, and she would bring
Frank when she found him.
But find him she could not. She asked
her neighbours, but no one had seen the truant,
and she began to be uneasy at the loss of her
child. She ran down to the pond, for Frank
was fond of watching the circles in the water
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS. 17
which the trout made when they jumped; but
a man working there had seen nothing of him.
She sent to the farm-yards and stables, and
spent an hour in running about, asking ques-
tions of every one she met, and at last made
up her mind that he had been stolen by a
gipsy party who had passed through the
village that morning.
In a sad state, she posted off to ask her
husband's advice, who was at work some dis-
tance off with his horses. But while she
was gone, little Luke Collins went in to his
mother, who lived next door to the Martins,
and said, "Mother, I know where Frank
Martin is !"
"Where is he, then ?" said his mother.
"He's in along with old Rover," said the
"What?" cried Mrs. Collins, running out
and looking into Rover's barrel; and sure
enough, there, at the further end, lay the
truant, curled up, on most excellent and com-
fortable terms with his host.
Old Rover was a sheep-dog, now long past
work, who had done good service for Collins
the shepherd in his time, and he was much
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
gratified at the condescension of his visitor in
making himself so much at home in his barrel,
and would have resented Mrs. Collins' inter-
ference with the arrangement had he dared.
You naughty boy," said Mrs. Collins,
"come out directly; your mother has been
looking for you these two hours and more!
Come out at once !"
But Frank did not stir.
Come out this minute. Do you hear what
He heard very well, but chose to remain
where he was, and Rover wagged his tail, and
looked happiness itself. Mrs. Collins next
threatened a whipping, but Frank preferred
There was quite a crowd collected by this
time, and many could not understand it at all,
and asked, "What is it?" "Who is she talk-
ing to?" What is in there?" whilst the rest
were very much amused and interested, and
awaited the result.
But now Mrs. Collins changed her tone, and
began to try coaxing. Come out, then," said
she; there's a good boy, and mother '11 give
you something, I dare say."
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
But Frank was not to be tempted by any
such vague promises.
"Look here, Franky dear," said Mrs. Col-
lins, searching for something, "here's a pretty
thing I've got in my pocket;" but as she only
produced a thimble and a piece of wax, the
children and the neighbours burst out into a
laugh, so that plan also failed of its pur-
At last Mrs. Collins' stock of patience was
at an end, and down she went on her hands
and knees. You bad little piece of disobedi-
ence cried she, if I don't get in and pull
you out myself!" thereupon she put her head
into the barrel and tried to get hold of Frank's
frock, to have him out by main force, whilst
old Rover danced on her back with excite-
SUnfortunately the barrel was too long and
narrow, and the sturdy little fellow held on so
tight, that moving him by this means was out
of the question. When, however, he saw Mrs.
Collins' head and shoulders appear he began to
cry out lustily, but on finding that his position
was so safe and strong, he became as silent as
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
And now, seeing the crowd collected, Mr.
Stock rode up to ask what was the matter
just when Mrs. Collins was backing out of the
barrel, and having laughed very heartily at
the position of things, rode off to tell Mrs.
Martin that her child was found.
But before she reached home Richard Duke
had knocked away the pegs that kept it down,
and had taken the barrel up in his strong
arms, and the culprit had been rolled out on
to the ground without ceremony, amid the
jokes and laughter of the lookers on; and
though Mrs. Martin could not resist joining in
the general amusement, she was grieved that
her son's bad behaviour was the cause.
Frank's father did not come home in the
middle of the day, having taken his dinner
with him to the field; but in the eveninghe
lifted the little fellow on his knee and sai-l
"What I am going to tell you, my lad, it
won't do Jack and Sam any harm to hear."
So they both listened, like good sons, as they
"Would that you, boys," said their father,
"could always mind that God in heaven (and
the old man pointed upwards) looks to us tc
FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
do, first, our duty towards him. Then, we have
to do our duty towards one another; and last,
towards ourselves. Admiral Nelson, at the
Battle of Trafalgar, gave his signal, 'England
expects every man to do his duty,' and that
was not to be done by running away. No;
my lads, never shirk your duty, whatever it is
-if it's hard work, never mind, do it as best
you can. Nelson gave up his life in doing
his. This little fellow ran away from his duty
to-day. Never play truant again, my lad.
Be a brave boy, and ask God for Christ's sake
to help you to do your duty, and afterwards
you'll be ten times happier than if you had
left it undone. Duty sometimes seems to be
a hard mistress, but choose her to serve while
you are young, and she will stand your friend,
a3Wnd a firm friend, too. And now, little
'un, let me hear no more of your hiding away
from school, and make haste and get your
supper, and off to bed; but first say your
prayers, and ask forgiveness for your disobedi-
ence, and pray that God will give you his Holy
Spirit, and a new heart within; for without his
help we can do nothing right." And this
Frank did at his mother's knee.
22 FRANK'S SCHOOLING BEGINS.
After that he heard no more at home of his
adventure, except as a joke; but his school-
fellows did not forget it, you may be sure.
Neither did he himself forget it for a long,
long time; and he never played truant again
all the while he was at school.
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive."
SIR W. SCOTT.
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
Hi r, [AT Frank was a cunning little fellow,
\ve saw in the last chapter. The
affair of the barrel, no great matter
:,". i" itself, affords an insight into
his disposition. And the following
practice of his while yet a child, shows a love
of adventure and self-dependence.
He used to try to persuade Martha, and if
she would not come he would go up alone, to
the top of the high hill on the downs, and there
he would sit and watch for a carriage to pass,
whereupon he would run by the side down the
long steep road which led to the village, and
put on and take off the drag, and open the
gates on the bridge, and so gain some half-
pence very likely for his trouble. But the
difficulty then was to decide how it was to
be spent-I mean in what kind of lollypop. If
20 SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
lie got a penny only, lie spent it; but if more
than a penny his mother put the rest away in
a box to keep for him.
Martha was fond of peppermints, and lie
liked liquorice, and the discussions as to which
was the best of the two were wordy and long,
and generally ended in half of the one and
half of the other. And on Sundays, sometimes,
he got a penny for holding the gates open
when people were going to church.
But on one occasion, having had a penny
given them, the children were led by a com-
panion, unknown of course to their father and
mother, to buy sweets on the Lord's day at an
old woman's, who kept her shutters up but let
the children in by a back way.
They hesitated a good deal before they
would do this, which they both well knew
But, nonsense," said Susy Sparrow; who'll
know?" and "where's the harm? Come along
in," said she, "Mrs. Brown will let you have
some in a minute;" and so they were tempted,
and gave way in the trial.
They entered, looking very much ashamed
of themselves, and Mrs. Brown on her part was
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES. 27
surprised to see the Martins' children there,
but she very soon let them have what they
asked for, and put the penny into her pocket,
saying they were good children, and gave
Frank a bull's eye over. But, as they were
going out, she added, "I only do it as a
favour, you know, my dears, but make haste
and eat 'em before you get home. And you
needn't say anything about it, you know."
For she said to herself, How Mrs. Martin'
would go on if she knew! And there's Miss
Margaret, goodness me! I hope these children
won't go saying I keeps the shop open o'
Sunday, or I shall be in for it from Miss
Ah when we do wrong how we dread being
found out There were in this little matter
of a pennyworth of sweets four individuals
who feared to be found out. Their conscience
made cowards of them all. But was it fear
of man or of God that troubled them most?
Alas! I am afraid that neither Susy Sparrow
nor Mrs. Brown had any fear at all of God
before their eyes. But little Frank said to his
sister before they joined Susy Sparrow, who
was waiting for them,-
28 SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
Martha, will God be very angry?"
And Martha answered sharply to hide her
"Don't be a silly boy; it's only a penny,
just for once."
And the words seemed to soothe them both
as they were spoken ; for that only just for
once" is the easy excuse which Satan prompts
to quiet the pricking conscience at the first be-
ginnings of evil, and the laughter and light
talk of Susy Sparrow did the rest, so the chil-
dren soon nearly forgot all about it, and the
liquorice and peppermint tasted nicer, they
thought, than ever it did before.
But it was time for afternoon Sunday school,
and, as they had the sweeties in their pockets,
they could not keep their fingers off them, but
every now and then popped one into their
mouths, when they thought teacher was not
looking; and when their turn came to read,
there was a good deal of mouthing and mum-
bling, and a great deal of inattention and losing
of their places, neither did they know their
verse nor their hymn when they were called
on to say them.
Now, among its other prominent qualities,
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES. 29
peppermint diffuses a defined aromatic odour,
acceptable to some, offensive to others, but
perfectly recognizable by all, as the reader
may be aware. And Frank and Martha were
aware of it too, and so cunning were they as
to agree to put off their indulgence in the
choice white lozenges, and pungent, many-
coloured drops, and only to eat their liquorice
during the presence of the young lady, their
mistress, as fearing detection and punishment.
But when school-time was nearly over,
Martha, who had finished her share of the
liquorice, could not resist the temptation of
trying one of her favourite peppermints, and,
under cover of stooping to the floor, popped
one into her mouth.
"One of you is eating peppermint," said
Miss Margaret, without raising her eyes from
her book. Please not to eat anything now,
especially peppermint, which makes my head
ache;" and soon after she glanced round the
Martha coloured deeply, and was doubly
sorry, for she loved the young lady, who came
over the hills, in all weathers, from a long dis-
tance to teach them.
30 SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
But it so happened that, when Miss Mar-
garet looked round the class, she caught Master
Frank in the very act of withdrawing from his
mouth, as children will, the delicious lump
which had so much occupied the attention re-
quired for his lessons, and therefore, after
school, she said, "Ah, here is the little fellow
who is so fond of peppermint that he must
eat it even in class."
Please, Miss Margaret," said Frank, fool-
ishly for his own interests, "it wasn't me."
What! hadn't you your mouth full of
"No, Miss Margaret "
"But you had something in your mouth "
"Ah," said his mistress, I am afi-aid you
were trying to make me believe by your
manner, that you were not eating anything.
Be straightforward, Frank, in the smallest
matter. Never try to deceive any one by act
or by word."
Please, 'twas liquorice," said Frank at
"Then who, I wonder, was eating that
other nasty stuff ? "
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
It was me," said Martha humbly.
"So you two, brother and sister, are the
offenders Well, I shall ask your mother not
to give you your sweeties just before school
another day. I want to speak to her now."
So saying, Miss Margaret jumped over the
stile by the school, and went towards Mrs.
Oh, dear, dear!" said Martha, hanging
behind; "whatever shall we do ? What will
mother say ? I do wish we'd never bought
'em It's all that Susy a-telling of us to go
to Mrs. Brown's! and there goes Miss Mar-
garet in to speak to mother Oh, dear,
Ah yes, children, "be sure our sin will
find us out I" It will find us out in our own
consciences, if it be not found out before the
"'Twas you bought 'em," said Frank, trying
to excuse himself.
"There now," returned Martha, "'twas no
more I than you! You knew 'twas wrong,
as well as I did, of a Sunday. Oh, I wish I
had something to say to mother! "
"Won't father be angry:" said Frank
32 SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
"''was all that Susy. We shouldn't have
had 'em but for her."
"Yes, I'm sure it was her fault; I shall
tell mother so. She asked us to go in and
buy'em to-day. I shouldn't have thought-"
Here's mother," said Frank.
Make haste," cried Mrs. Martin; I want
"You must say, 'twas Susy," said Martha
to Frank, as they hastened on to the cottage
"Where did you get the peppermints you
were eating in school, then ? asked their
mother at once.
The children together mumbled something
about Susy Sparrow.
"Did Susy Sparrow gie 'em to you ?"
"Please, mother, she had some," said
"Well, and so she had," was her excuse to
Frank, after Miss Margaret had gone, and
they were alone together. It wasn't a lie
to say she had some, for I gave her some
But this paltry evasion did not relieve the
weight on her conscience in the least.
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES. 33
"Mother's sure to ask her," said Frank.
"Then, I'll tell her, too, to say she had
some, and then mother'll think she gave 'em
Little steps, very easy, one after another,
just suited to little feet and little limbs. So
short that one more can make no difference at
all, and one leads to the next so fast. Having
taken it, you must take another. But turn,
and look how far down you are How near
the deep, dark, bottom seems How hard
the getting up again! What toil! what
labour, to get up the steps that seemed so
easy to go down! So one little fault leads
to another, and then how hard it is to rise
again once more !
Little children had best avoid those down-
ward steps, for they are narrow, dangerous,
slippery steps, and a fall may prove fatal.
See how one yielding to temptation led
Martha and Frank to another. First they
broke the Fourth Commandment, then they
misbehaved in school. They deceived their
teacher, and then their mother, and now have
caused another child to tell a lie to screen
34 ~HORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
But Satan is a bad pay-master. How they
suffered, those two little ones And they did
not confess their fault, and ask God to forgive
them, which was the right and only way of
Though, at first, the weight of all this sin
seemed too heavy for them to bear, and they
were so silent under it that their father asked
whether they were not unwell, and what was
the matter with them; yet, before long, it
wore off, and they were nearly as cheerful as
ever. Now and then, indeed, they talked
about it to one another; but it was not a
We can't tell now," said Martha, one day,
as they were in the road, going down to the
bridge, "and it doesn't matter."
"But we'll never do it again," said Frank.
Just then, Miss Margaret on horseback
cantered through the village and up the hill,
and a white-haired old gentleman rode by her
side, who, as they passed the children at a
slower pace, said,-" Ah there is my little
friend, to whom I gave a penny on Sunday
for holding open the gate."
"Did yon ? said Miss Margaret, who had
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES. 35
not forgotten the occurrence of last Sunday,
and was not quite satisfied then with the
children's behaviour, and, stopping her horse,
she asked Frank what he did with the penny
the gentleman gave him last Sunday.
Frank hung down his head, and could not
"What did he do with it, Martha? Cani
not you say ? "
No, miss," said she, looking very guilty
Frank then burst into sobs, and Martha
followed his example.
Uncle," said Miss Margaret, "I can get
nothing from these children. Would you
mind turning back with me to the village ? I
wish to ask a question."
So back they rode, whilst Martha sobbed
out in a fresh burst of tears, "She's going to
ask Mrs. Brown "
Let's hide," said Frank.
Martha was right; and in answer to Miss
Margaret's questions, Mrs. Brown said,-
"Well, miss, I don't open my little window
of Sunday, of course not. But I was just
a-sitting, and reading of a tract, as I always
36 SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
do of a Sunday-and a beautiful tract it was.
-one you lent, miss; and they little things
came in and asked me for some peppermints
-which they be very nice-and I said, 'Oh
you know, my dears, I never sells of a Sun-
day, because it's wrong, and a breaking of the
command.' But, there, they seemed to long
so, that I gied 'em a few. Though I'm a
poor woman, I'm fond of the childer'; but
I've a hard living to get, miss, I can assure
Mrs. Brown, said Miss Margaret, "I've
a reason for asking; did they not give you a
penny in return for what you gave them ? "
Miss, I never sell of a Sunday, let it be
whoever might, or ever so-"
But here the gray-haired old gentleman
"Be so good as to answer Miss Margaret's
question. Did you take a penny of those
children last Sunday, or did you not ?"
He was an old general officer, an uncle of
Miss Margaret's, and he spoke in a tone not
to be trifled with.
"Well, sir, I ask your pardon; they did
put a penny on the table, as well as I can
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES. 37
remember; but 'twas against my wish, sir.
If you'll believe me, miss, it was, I can assure
"Oh, woman," said the old gentleman,
"why not tell the truth at once, and not add
prevarication to your sin of causing Christ's
little ones to offend. Your years should have
taught you better things. For a few chil-
dren's pence, you put a great occasion of fall-
ing in their way, and you tempt them to sin!
"For shame for shame! Go in and ask
God to work a change by his Spirit in your
heart, where it is greatly needed, before it is
too late; and may your own sin, and the evil
you have caused in others, be forgiven you.
Nay, I will hear no attempt at excuse. There
can be no worthy one. Come, Margaret."
"Did you know of this bad practice of
hers?" asked he, as they rode away.
"Indeed, yes," was the answer; "that is, I
suspected it. And I fear it has been a great
hindrance to any work for good among the
little ones of the place. I think that, now
she has had a lesson from you, she will not
forget. But I want to go to that cottage,"
added Miss Margaret, pointing with her whip
38 SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES.
across some fields to a dwelling at a little dis-
So she went and spoke with Susy Sparrow,
and then with Mrs. Martin; and when Martha
and Frank came home, and their father heard
it all, it was a sad household that night-very
different from what it generally was; and
both Martha and Frank began thus to learn,
by early and valuable experience, that "the
way of transgressors is hard."
This chapter began by saying that Frank
was what people call a "sharp lad," and
doubtless he had his wits about him as he
grew in years and in stature.
But had he not had the blessing of a good
father and mother, and the advantage of going
to a good school in the week, and of teaching
on Sunday, when he was young, there is no
doubt but that he would have proved any-
thing but a credit to his family and parish
when he grew up. And in spite of these
advantages, old self within, and Satan our
enemy, and bad companions, often laid snares,
into which he fell, and only the grace of God
it was that raised him again. His battle,
dear reader, was yours and mine! We,
SHORT STEPS INTO GREAT TROUBLES. 39
too, have entered into the fight to stand or
Are you standing firm, in Christ's strength,
under his banner, and warring in his Spirit;
or are you against him, in the black ranks of
the Evil One, who must yield at last ? What
are your words, your actions, your thoughts ?
Look to it, I pray you, for no man can serve
Oh, rise thou then, and strive, my soul,
To reach the beatific goal!
Thy every nerve and sinew strain,
The crown of glory to obtain!"
C '' ;*< JI
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST,
Sinful thoughts of pride and passion,
Greedy wishes, selfish care,
In our human hearts lie hidden,
Ready to awaken there.
Sill the wrong way will seem pleasant
Still the right way will seem hard;
All our life we shall be tempted--
We must ever be on guard."
-' -* ""' .,--- '- ,-. ,,' .- ,"/:.
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
RANK MARTIN'S parents were wise
and good enough to keep him at
2 school as long as they could possibly
afford to do so, for both of them
knew the value of a good education,
and they tried to do the best for their child-
They knew that when he once went to
work, there would not be then much time for
reading and improving himself; so they judged,
at least from his brothers' example. They
used to come home so tired after their day's
labour, that they were glad to have their sup-
per and go to bed, and get as much rest as
they could before they were roused, almost at
daylight, the next morning.
Frank was able to read well and write
nicely, and do his sums to his master's satisfac-
44 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
tion, and had gained a good deal of useful and
valuable knowledge before he received the
prize to which every scholar was entitled when
leaving the school with credit.
That which Frank obtained after his last
examination at school was a book upon British
Flowering Plants, with coloured pictures. It
was a book which he thought himself most
fortunate to possess; and indeed it was a very
It had been chosen expressly for him, the
master said, after some words of praise for the
good progress he had made of late in his les-
sons, and his general behaviour in school; and
"in losing Frank Martin," he added, I lose one
of my best scholars ; and though I should have.
liked to have had him longer with me, yet I
believe that, for his age, he is well prepared
to enter upon the trials of life--as well prepared,
that is, as a boy can be by a sound Christian edu-
cation and training such as I have endeavoured
to give him. And now it chiefly depends upon
himself, with the assisting grace of God's Spirit,
which is always granted to those who ask for
it faithfully. I would just add these few
words, the advice of a wiser teacher than I am,
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST. 45
before I shake hands with you, Frank, and bid
you good-bye on leaving the school:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.'
"' In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and
He shall direct thy paths.'
"'Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the
Lord, and depart from evil.' "
And then his kind good master shook Frank
by the hand, and wished him many good
wishes for the future, and God's blessing
wherever he went, and in all he undertook
that was right and honourable in the state of
life in which he was placed by the providence
And then Miss Margaret, having said how
pleased she was to hear such a good report,
put the book into Frank's hand with the
words,-"I know that you are fond of flowers;
and as I hear you intend to be a gardener, it
will not only be interesting, but useful, I hope."
Yes; Frank had got a place in Mr. Stock's
garden: he was to be an assistant there, and
to make himself generally useful besides; and
his parents were very much gratified that
Mr. Stock had chosen their Frank, as he would
46 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
not only be able to learn gardening, but a
great many other things. It was a capital
situation, they thought, for so young a lad, and
a good recommendation also in future, if he
kept it for some time.
But how did Miss Margaret know that he
was fond of flowers ? She had found it out in
this way. Among the many good deeds which
she had done for the village, of which any one
thereabouts could give an account, and because
of which she was heartily loved by all, both
young and old, she had established a cottage-
garden show for vegetables, fruit, and flowers,
which was held every summer in a spacious
tent in the park. That show-day was a
holiday for all the parish-for every one at
least who could possibly be spared-and there
was a band of music, and cricket and football
for the young men and boys; and a stroll round
the beautiful pleasure-grounds and gardens,
and a tea in the evening, for the elder folk.
I ought to tell you that Miss Margaret was
the daughter of the owner of the large estate,
a great part of which Mr. Stock farmed, and
that was why she interested herself so much
in the welfare of the people, and why they
IN WHICH PRIZE; ARE WON AND LOST. 47
knew her so well, and honoured her so
But her gentle Christian life and her kind
and charitable heart would have made her be-
loved wherever she was, even though she had
not been the heiress of so many broad acres.
She was like a little queen among her people,
and they esteemed her for her own sake.
Well, at the cottage-garden show there was
a prize offered for the best nosegay of wild-
flowers, and a large one for the best collection
of wild-flowers, laid out with their names on
paper, to be competed for by children of the
village school only.
When the show was first set on foot, and
the bills were printed and sent round to the
cottagers, it was stated that a prize would be
given "for the best bouquet of wild-flowers;"
and what do you think one brought to the
tent on the morning of exhibition, but a clean
new bucket, garlanded with wreaths, and the
handle highly ornamented and decorated with
all the bright blossoms the fields could produce
This caused many a hearty laugh ; but the
next year the schoolmaster wrote qnosegay
instead, a good old English word which every
48 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
one could understand, instead of the fine
French one, which had no business on the
bills of an English cottage-garden show.
But the year before he left school, Frank
had made up his mind that he would try his
best to carry off the wild-flower prizes. He
took a deal of trouble about his nosegay; he
set it up again and again, and time after time
he took it down and kept adding fresh flowers
and changing others, until the colours and the
arrangement suited his taste. And he was
not unrewarded for the care and the pains
that he had taken, for he gained the first
As to the dried collection of wild-flowers
named, he and Martha worked at it hard all
the year previously, and sent it in as their
ioint production; and it obtained an extra
prize for its excellence. But it was more of
Martha's prize than Frank's, as he himself
acknowledged, though his name was sent in
He helped to find the flowers, and re-
membered some of their names; but Martha's
careful, skilful fingers spread them out, as her
mistress had shown her, on the paper, and she
1N WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
had written the names underneath each one;
and to her Miss Margaret handed the unex-
pected reward, with a warm word or two of
praise, at her diligence, and neatness, and care.
But Frank was most of all anxious about a
fuchsia, with which he hoped to take the prize
for window plants.
It was a cutting which his mother had
raised, but which Frank had taken under his
care, and had been nursing most tenderly and
training with all his skill for the show. And
certainly he had managed it remarkably well.
When the day came, the plant was covered
with a profusion of blossom; and success
It had hitherto been standing on the win-
dow-ledge of the cottage at home, and every
passer-by could not but stop to admire it.
With great pride Frank carried it to the tent,
and placed it beside his nosegay.
What a beautiful fuchsia," somebody said;
" it won't get the prize, though "
Frank's heart leaped into his mouth. What
did they mean ? Surely no one had a finer
fuchsia than his--he thought it impossible.
Although it was against the rules, he walked
I11- ) 4
50 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
quickly up the tent among the fruits, and
vegetables, and flowers, which lay in wild
disorder, awaiting arrangement on the tables ;
and, true enough, in a corner of the tent there
stood a fuchsia, with which his own could not
for a moment be compared.
It was trained on wire in the shape of a
cone-a perfect sheet of bloom on every side,
or rather all round the plant. Each separate
blossom, too, was finer than his; of more
brilliant colour and contrast, and in newer and
He glanced at the name on the card-
" Joseph Harris."
Frank set his teeth together, and, pale with
disappointment and rage, took up his fuchsia,
and carrying it outside the tent, and behind
the trunk of a large elm-tree that overshadowed
the spot, dashed it to the ground. And then
he leaned against the trunk of the tree, and
looked at what he had done.
I don't care," he said ; I don't care one
bit!" and he breathed some wicked, angry
words against Joe Harris.
I wish it had been his fuchsia," he said
at last. Not that I care for the prize;
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
I wouldn't have it if they gave it to
And so on. He kept uttering strings of
foolish, wicked thoughts that came into his
mind-things that he did not mean, and words
that he would have shuddered to use at any
other time-for the devil was in his heart
then. He had given place to the spirit of
evil by the indulgence of his passion; and
now he was, as it were, out of his right mind.
Frank was not a passionate fellow in general.
He could at most times curb his temper and
rule his spirit. But the evil was lurking in
him. It was there, although it did not
always come to the surface, and show itself in
such an ugly form as now it did. Ay, and
this is the case with us all!
To have our fond hopes dashed to the
ground-our dearest wishes thwarted-the
work, and labour, and care of many anxious
hours, and the pleasant dreams of reward, alid
success, and praise suddenly destroyed and
dispelled-would be a very severe and painful
trial, dear reader, for you and for me. Our
enemies within us and without are not dead.
The corruption of the old self is not yet purged
52 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
away, and the new man wholly raised up in
us; for even St. Paul was forced to exclaim,
in bitterness of spirit, When I would do
good, evil is present with me."
Al what need have we of fervent and
constant prayer for the converting, renewing,
and strengthening grace of God's Holy Spirit!
The good work had been begun in Frank's
heart, but he was surprised into sin; and "let
him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest
But soon Frank began to see how wrong
and how foolish he had been; and bitter
mental punishment quickly followed. He
looked at the ruin of his favourite plant with
different eyes, and the sight brought him to
"Ah what have I been saying How I
have sinned! God forgive me! I didn't
think that ever I should let such words pass
my lips again! Why, I am as bad as the
worst of them And what a piece of folly to
pitcli the flower down this way "
And then, leaning against the tree, his tears
burst forth. And--ay, but the punishment
was a bitter one I
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
Shame, remorse, the sense of his lost time
and pains, and, not least, penitence and sorrow
for having so lost the command of his angry
passion, and having given Satan the vic-
tory: all this seemed nigh to overwhelm
"Oh! what have I done! what have I
done!" he sobbed ; and certainly, in that
moment, at least, he thought but very little of
Now when, afterwards, Frank called to
mind the events of this show day, yes, years
afterwards-for he was not careless or forgetful
of the experience he gained of the truth of
that Bible proverb, He that trusteth in his
own heart is a fool"-he ever counted it as
one of the greatest providence of his life, or
one of the greatest signs of God's goodness
towards himself, that le was enabled to get
the better of his passion, and to recover his
self-possession when lie did.
And you will think so, too, reader, when I
tell you that all the while poor Frank was
sobbing and leaning with his head upon his
arm against the trunk of the elm-tree, there
stood Joe Harris before him, hardly concealing
54 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
his laughter and exultation at what he took
to be Frank's accident to his fuchsia.
Had Frank but seen him a minute or two
before, with his pointed finger and mocking
face, and who knows what his heated and un-
curbed passion might not have led him to do !
Ah," he used to say, when in after-life he
would repeat the story-"ah, I do not consider
it a small thing, I think it a crowning mercy!
for there was, I shudder to say it, there was
a heavy mallet which the men had used to
knock in the pegs of the tent lying ready to
my hand, as if Satan had placed it there; and
if I could destroy my favourite flower in my
madness, who knows but that I might not
have lifted my hand against him whom I then
hated with all my soul (may God forgive me!)
and who found me out and gibed at me in the
moment of my weakness and distress "
As it was, God being merciful to him,
Frank quickly recovered himself, and spoke
not a word. He lifted up his plant, and
pressed the earth together around the roots,
and placing it in the largest fragment of the
pot, laid it over his arm, and quickly walked
off, with no other feelings than those of dis-
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST. 55
tress and shame at his own sinfulness and
After such a sharp battle as this, of the
evil against the good, of old self against new
self, of Satan against Christ, in the soul of
one of Christ's soldiers serving in the war-
fare of this trial state, you might think he
would be left at peace for a breathing space.
But not so. Our soul's enemies are never-
wearying; they are ceaseless in their attacks
upon our peace: and often when the Christian
soldier is weakest and most faint-hearted, or
is careless and off his guard, or, rejoicing in a
victory, is confident in his own strength, the
trial again presents itself in a more dangerous
form, and the struggle is renewed wherein he
must either stand or fall.
Perhaps you may guess what poor Frank's
trial now was.
It was to avoid telling a lie as to how the
mishap came about.
He bore the broken plant home in his arms
in a very sad and downcast spirit, and in-
stantly his mother caught sight of him, of
course she exclaimed,-
"Why, Frank, what has happened to the
56 IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST.
fuchsia ?"-and, of course, Martha ran out and
overwhelmed him with questions; and how
easy it would have been to have said, I let
it fall and broke it." Then he would have
had sympathy and kind words, and sorrow
for the accident; and he would not only have
got over the difficulty easily, but pleasantly,
in which he found himself, when he came to
explain how his beautiful flower was so de-
It was a difficult thing to say, I threw
the fuchsia down in a rage because Joe Harris
had a better one !"
Ah, yes! it is hard to speak the truth, very
often, especially when it tells against our-
selves. However, Frank did not yield to the
For a long time he was silent, and at last
he said, Well, mother, you cannot be more
sorry than I am! I can't say it was an
accident, for it wasn't. But Joe Harris has a
fuchsia at the show, and it's a better one than
mine, and I got angry and threw it down.
There that's the truth. I've been a foolish
chap, and now I'm sorry for it, and let's say
no more about it."
IN WHICH PRIZES ARE WON AND LOST. 57
And his mother and Martha did say no
more about it, though they were very sorry
too. But by-and-by they made themselves
ready, and all three set out for the show.
And at the end of one of the tables stood
Joe's fuchsia, but no prize-card on it. Why,
how was this ? It was by far the best flower
exhibited by a cottager, and yet it had not the
If you please, sir," asked Frank of one of
the judges, how is it that fuchsia does not
take the prize for window-plants?"
Oh," said he, that is no window-plant.
If you were anything of a gardener, you
would know that plants always turn towards
light; but this is equally good all round. Be-
sides," added he, 1 have reasons for knowing
that this fuchsia was bought of a florist a day
or two ago. No one in our parish has trained
this plant, and this prize has been withheld
for this year, as no bond fide window-plant
has been exhibited worthy of it."
So, without any doubt, Frank's fuchsia
would have taken the prize after all.
WORK IN EARNEST.
li e toils at e'en, he toils at morn,
His work is never through;
A coming life o' weary toil
Is ever in his view;
But on he trudges, keeping aye
A stout heart to the brae,
And proud to be an honest man
tntil his dying day."
WORK IN EARNEST.
SFrank went to Mr. Stock's, and was
"-. "set to work in the garden. And
i very glad was old Ralph Churchill to
'i have a boy under him. He had been
gardener and sexton as long as most
people could remember, and though he was
getting rather past his work, Mr. Stock would
not turn him away, but gave him extra
Ralph had been a hard-working man in his
time, and if now he was somewhat slow and
deliberate in his actions, his breath was short
and his joints were stiff, and he used often to
be saying, "I don't feel so young as I did
years agone." But he was sharp enough upon
Frank, and would not allow him to idle.
Holloa, you there !;' he would say, "what
are you at, cheating the master! He pays,
WORK IN EARNEST.
you for work, don't he, and not for making a
scare-crow of yourself!"
And then Frank would set to again, find-
ing it more trying to his good resolutions of
industry and perseverance than he had ex-
Indeed, he used to look upon it in the light
of a holiday, when old Ralph was occupied by
his other duties in the church-yard, as he
used to take it a little easier then.
But he would recall to mind what his father
had said once when he was laughing at old
Ralph. He's quite right : the master has
bought your time and the labour of your
hands; and if you don't give him his due, but
waste your time and shirk your work, you
cheat your master. Put yourself in the
master's place, and see how you'd like to have
your money thrown away."
"Ay," added his mother, he should do
it to the Lord, and not to please man
And so Frank and old Ralph did not often
fall out, and Ralph used to say "hle was a
pretty good boy; though," of course he added,
" I have known better."
WORK IN EARNEST.
Now, one autumn afternoon Frank was
busily digging potatoes, throwing the bad
ones in a heap, and wheeling off the others to
a shed, and hoping to get the piece finished
before old Ralph came back, when he was
startled by hearing a voice behind him:
" Well, if you ain't working like a nigger !"
It was Bob the stable-boy leaning over the
top of the wall. I heard the bell going,"
said he, and as I knew you'd be lonely, I've
come to keep you company a bit."
But master'll be out in a minute," said
He's just rode off; or I shouldn't be here,"
was the reply: which was very true; for if
ever there was an eye-servant, Bob Partridge
He sat down on the wall and pulled out
some twine out of one pocket, and putting
his hand carefully into another, took out a
young white ferret, to the collar of which lie
tied the twine, and let it run about over hin
and along the wall for his amusement.
Well, I wouldn't be in your shoes," said
he, to be drove about by old Ralph What's
the good of sweating so; let's go and put the
64 WORK IN EARNEST.
ferret into the rick, and see him work the
"'No," said Frank, "I want to finish this
job right away."
What's the odds when 'tis finished ? I
say, pitch us up one of those apples, they are
nice ones, they are."
"How do you know ?" said Frank, who
had missed some from the tree, but thought
his master had gathered them.
How do I know?" said Bob laughing; by
the taste, to be sure. How should I know
else, you ninny ?"
"You don't mean that you've been at
'em ?" said Frank, who stopped digging
for the first time, and stared with oper
Why, dear me, what now ? Gape your
mouth a little wider And suppose I have
been at 'em, master'll only think 'twas
you took 'em. He hain't a-missed 'em yet,
Frank went on with his work, but his
mind was more busy than his hands. He
saw in a minute what Bob meant, that his
master would suspect the new comer; and if
WORK IN EARNEST.
lie told the truth, he thought, there was sure
to be trouble that way, and he might not be
believed into the bargain.
"I say, can't ye just pitch us an apple!
one more or less aint nothing. I'm most
afraid to ask for a peach, as I'm pretty sure
they're counted, and I happen to know one or
two are short already, and it might be un-
pleasant for you, my lad, as they're fond of
'em in the house, I'm told. But the bell is
He stood upon the wall to see whether
Ralph was coming back, when a brick gave
way, and down he slipped into the garden.
Ah there goes the bell again. Well, as
you were uncivil enough not to invite me, I
must help myself," and so saying he picked
an apple, which he put into his pocket.
"Look here," he said, "you're new and
raw, you know. Master don't mind us help-
ing ourselves. Now you've got some rabbits
at home, so I'll leave the corn-bin open, after
Adam has fed the horses, and you can just
fill your pockets, or I don't mind a small bag,
only you must put it in the hedge and fetch
it after dark, dy'o see ?"-but then espying
66 WORK IN EARNEST.
Sally the maid, off he went to idle and romp
But this pilfering and dishonesty, which
Bob seemed to make so light of, was new and
strange to Frank, and to say the truth, his
whole soul seemed to recoil from it with
abhorrence. He remembered being punished
some time ago for dipping his fingers into his
mother's treacle, and again for breaking off the
sweet corners of the new loaves; but he had
no idea that servants ever could do as Bob
did. Ah, those were happy days when we
were innocent of the wickedness we now are
aware of, and which, alas, we hasted to learn.
How little has that gross knowledge added to
our peace of mind ?-nay, rather, of how much
has it deprived us ?
We are not as we once were. The root of
original sin has forced up rank, fast-growing,
suckers, which have drawn away much
strength, if they have not endangered our
spiritual life. Cut them down, root them out
of the soil of the heart, even though it be a
toilsome and painful task.
Christ said, It is profitable" (or expedient)
"for thee that one of thy members should
WORK IN EARNEST.
perish, and not that thy whole body should
be cast into hell." Pray God to create a new
heart and renew a right spirit within, that
the body of sin may be destroyed, that we
may live no longer to ourselves, but to him
who died for our sins, and rose again for our
Beyond a lecture which Ralph administered
upon the evil of picking and stealing, the
former of which expressions Ralph interpreted
solely with reference to garden fruit, Frank
heard nothing further relating to Bob's depre-
dations; indeed, he was led to believe that
Ralph's lecture was only intended as a warn-
ing for his own guidance in future with the
fruit before his eyes, for Ralph believed that,
with boys in general, seeing and tasting is one
and the same thing.
But from that time Frank used to have his
suspicions, which however he kept to himself,
concerning a certain covered basket which
Sally would pass into Bob's hands in the
evening sometimes, and which he would carry
to his home ; and Frank, as much as lie pos-
sibly could, tried to avoid his company. When
he was at Sunday school he had learnt the
WORK IN EARNEST
first psalm by heart; and Miss Margaret had
explained the first verse to him in such a
forcible and descriptive manner that lie never
forgot it. He used to say it over to himself
sometimes, and not unfrequently the whole
psalm, for it seemed to comfort, and strengthen,
and do him good.
But Bob was not long in Mr. Stock's service.
His master very soon had a suspicion that his
character was none of the best; and he was by
no means satisfied by the way in which his
work was done : yet Bob was clever enough so
to deceive Mr. Stock's sharp eye, that le did
not know things were so bad as they were.
But this is how he came to be dismissed at
a day's notice; and you may be sure it was a
warning to Frank, and a lesson that he minded
more than twenty pieces of advice from old
Ralph, or his father even.
Frank," said Mr. Stock one day, coming
into the garden where he was at work, "you
must leave what you are about, and go home
and get your dinner, and then help Bob to carry
a set of harness into town to the saddler's;
and I have told Bob that there is something
to be brought home from Mr. Drench's, the
WORK IN EARNEST. 69
veterinary surgeon ; now mind you don't loiter,
but be back as quick as you can, for I want
the medicine at once."
So Frank got his dinner, and set out with
Bob and the harness to walk about four miles
and a half to the neighboring town.
It was certainly a hot autumn afternoon,
but they could have been well back by five
o'clock, whereas Frank made his appearance
alone, about eight! for before the two had
got far on their road, Bob laid down his share
of their burden by the hedge, and telling Frank
to mind it till he came back, jumped over and
made his way to a wood at some little distance
off, where he remained some time; and when
at length lie returned, he had a companion
with him, and both appeared in the best of
spirits. The newcomer, who was a young
man older than Bob, was smoking a short pipe,
and over his arm were slung some rabbit
nets, and at his heels a lurcher dog followed,
and the pockets of his ragged coat seemed
heavy and laden.
Frank took a dislike to this ill-conditioned
acquaintance of Bob's the moment he set his
eyes on him; and when he heard him speak
WORK IN EARNEST.
his judgment was confirmed, for without an
oath he seemed scarcely able to open his
The three then proceeded on the road
towards the town, while Frank did not add
much to the conversation. Indeed, the chief
part of it le did not understand, as it seemed,
by the mocking laugh they raised, when he
asked why they should choose the night for
an "owl-hunt," about which they were speak-
By-and-by, on nearing the town, Bob and
his companion stopped at a public-house, while
Frank sat outside ; and when Bob came out,
he was more merry than ever. However,
they left the harness at the saddler's, and got
the two bottles of medicine at the veterinary
surgeon's ; and then Bob said he had another
errand to do. So Frank followed him through
street after street, and down a narrow alley,
and into a yard, where was a big fierce dog,
which flew out at them, but which shrunk
back into its kennel when it heard Bob's
voice, as if it knew him. And then a door
was opened, and Bob was hailed by his name,
and told to come up stairs, while Frank was
WORK IN EARNEST.
left sitting in a room below, with the bottles
of medicine in his hands. And there he sat
long enough to remember every article in the
room; whilst from above, such noisy language
reached his ears as he never heard before, and
he hoped he might never hear again.
It was a mason's abode, apparently, in which
he found himself, for trowels, and brushes, and
a bucket were in a corner; whilst a bull-
terrier lay near, eyeing him very suspiciously,
and a gun, and nets, and wires, and a large
cage of rats, seemed to show that the mason
had sporting tastes.
Frank did not know what time it was, but
saw it was getting late; and though anxious
to get home, dared not stir for fear of the bull-
terrier, who pricked up his ears whenever he
made a movement; and then he remembered
the savage brute in the yard.
By-and-by Bob made his appearance, but
with a flushed face and unsteady step, and,
throwing a shilling to Frank, cried, Ha!
ha have ye had a sleep ? There's my name-
sake for ye ; but mind ye say nought where
ye've bin to," he added, in a lower key, while
the man offered him to drink out of a case
WORK IN EARNEST.
bottle. Frank said he didn't want to drink;
but Bob grew so angry, that he put the bottle
to his lips. It was like liquid fire, and he
quickly withdrew it, to the drunken amuse-
ment of Bob and his friend.
By the time they reached the street the
sun was nearly set, and Frank said, "We
ought to have been home by now."
What do I care," was the answer. I'm
going to make a night of it. Look here !"
And he pulled out a handful of silver, some of
which he scattered in the road.
Frank now began to see that his duty was
to get home as soon as possible with the
bottles of medicine, and leave Bob to his own
devices; but he could not manage to slip
away till Bob entered the public-house once
more to find his friend.
And then Frank hurried home, and told
Mr. Stock all about it, where he had been,
and what he had done; and from that day
Bob ceased to be Mr. Stock's stable-boy, as
you may suppose, and Frank had heard and
seen more of the wickedness that is in the
world than ever he had before in his life.
And that night he prayed, and his mother
VORK IN EARNEST.
prayed with him, that he might be kept from
it, although his lot seemed cast in the midst
of evil, and that Christ, who died for sinners,
would pardon those who were given up to it,
and change their hearts, and lead them to
better ways before it was too late.
Events which shortly happened explained
to Frank much that was a mystery to him
that day, and they are detailed in the next
? i>~i:.r.'v" '
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
Al! well do I wot the perils and snares
Of this bad world and its lust;
Temptations and sorrows, vexations and cares,
Grow with the young heart's wheat like tares,
And worry it down to the dust.
Yet better, I know, if the spirit will pray
When trouble is near at hand;
If the heart pleads hard for grace to obey,
Brother, no sin shall lure thee astray;
By faith thou still shalt stand.
For heaven bonds over to help and to bless,
With all a Redeemer's power,
The spirit that strives, when evils oppress,
Its God to serve, and its Lord to confess,
In dark temptation's hour.
l Thou, then, fair brother, go cheerily forth,
And manfully do your best,
In all sincerity's warmth and worth
Go forth-be pure, be happy on earth,
And so evermore be blest."
- .,J^ 1 '.. ', ..
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
HE immediate result of Bob's dismissal
was, that Frank had to do double
work; but then, at the same time,
his wages were increased, and so Ie
did not mind it, especially as it
showed his master had confidence in him, and
was pleased at his efforts to do his duty.
And how tired he was when he got home
in the evenings, sometimes not till late He
often would fall asleep over his supper, and
used to try all sorts of plans to keep in mind
what he was doing when he asked God to
pardon his offences of the day past, for Jesus
Christ's sake, and to bless him, and his father
and mother, and brothers and sisters, and
while he repeated our Lord's prayer before he
tumbled into bed. And when his father
called him in the early gray light of the morn-
78 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
ing, he seemed to have been but a minute or
two asleep; but he soon was ready for his
cup of tea; and then his father asked God's
blessing on the day thus begun, and the
family separated, each one to his appointed
Not much time was there, then, for reading
or writing, or learning anything from a book;
indeed, he scarcely saw one except on Sundays,
and then he was so sleepy and tired, he could
not read much. Besides, what with going to
church and attending to his horses, and a
better dinner than usual, Sunday soon passed
away, and on Monday morning to work again.
And yet, how he rejoiced when Saturday
evening came; for besides that Sunday was a
day of rest, he loved it as the Lord's day, the
best of all the seven : for then le heard of the
kindness and love of God our Saviour towards'
man ; he heard of heaven, and learned the
way;" the soothing tidings of the gospel of
peace and God's good will then cheered and
comforted him; and holy and solemn words
of advice and warning became as a light to
his feet and a lamp to his path.
Andwhen he began to encounter the troubles
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 79
and trials of man's life here, he felt that lie
needed assistance, and a stronger arm than any
of flesh and blood to hold up his goings in the
right paths ; he wanted guidance and comfort
above that which man could give ; and, hap-
pily, he knew where to seek for and obtain it.
And Sunday, therefore, when he could ap-
proach the mercy-seat, in quiet moments of
meditation, and in the congregation of the
faithful, was a glad and happy day to him.
And then, too, he would look back on the
past, and ask God, for his Saviour's sake, to
pardon all that was amiss ; and he would go
forth to meet the future with a manly heart,
in the strength that Christ can give.
His mother liked this hymn which they
used to sing, and Frank liked it too, and would
say afterwards, That's true, that is: and
would add an Amen" at the end:-
"Sad and weary were our way,
Fainting oft beneath our load.
But for thee, thou blessed day-
Resting-place on life's rough load:
Here flow forth the streams of grace;
Strengthened hence we run ounr ace.
"Soon, too soon, the sweet repose
Of this day of G od will cease;
80 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
Soon this glimpse of heaven will close;
Vanish soon the hours of peace:
Soon return the toil, the strife,
All the weariness of life.
'But the rest which yet remains
For thy people, Lord, above,
Knows nor change, nor feats, nor pains-
Endless as their Saviour's love:
Oh may every Sabbath here
Bring us to that rest iml e near."
Now one Monday morning Frank was sent
for, as Mr. Stock wished to speak with him
in the house; and great was his wonder when
he saw the general," and another gentleman,
and Enoch the gamekeeper there. Still higher
did his astonishment rise, when Mr. Stock
ordered him to repeat his account of his doings
in the town on the day when he carried the
harness thither with Bob Partridge.
Frank, having made his bow of course, told
all that occurred to the very best of his
memory; and on being asked if he thought he
should know Bob's friend again on seeing him,
lie answered, "Yes; he would know him any-
where." And the man in the house, who
seemed to be a mason ?" But Frank was not
sure, yet thought he would know him again if
he were dressed the same. Having described
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 81
the appearance of both these persons as well as
he was able, Mr. Stock told him to leave the
room, but to stay in the garden or stables
until further orders, and on no account to men-
tion a word of what had passed to any one.
"What did master want ye for there?"
asked old Ralph, directly Frank got back to
Well, he wanted to speak to me," said
Eh, lad! and what did he say?"
Frank was not going to disobey his master,
but he was afraid of offending Ralph, and a
lie was out of the question.
He's coming out to speak in a minute,'
What did Enoch want in there with him,
I wonder; did ye hear?" next asked the old
"No, I didn't," said Frank shortly. There's
that setter-pup among the chickens again, I
do believe." And off he went, as the wisest
mode of getting out of his difficulty.
Soon afterwards Mr. Stock came into the
garden, and asked Ralph where Frank
82 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
"Did you speak to me, sir ?" said Ralph,
pretending not to hear.
Why, your hearing is worse than usual,
I think," said Mr. Stock. Where is Frank?"
Wouldn't I do instead, sir?" said the old
"Go, then, and open the gate for 'the
general.' And Mr. Stock walked away,
leaving Ralph grumbling to himself in high
disgust at the order; and very sour was his
face when the general" said, Why, Ralph,
you're as nimble as a boy."
He was terribly afraid the general" would
have thrown him a halfpenny, when, I think,
he would have died of vexation, for numbers
of people were about, and they laughed as it
was. But it served him right, did it not?
Mr. Stock fund Frank in the yard, and
said, Again I must caution you, my boy,
to say nothing to anybody about what I am
now going to tell you, or even to talk of what
you did in town that day with Bob Partridge.
Do you understand me ?"
Yes, sir," said Frank ; but I have already
told my father and mother about that day."
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 83
Well," said Mr. Stock, "say no more to
any one even at home, as it might be re-
peated. And what I now tell you, must be
kept a secret also. I have good reason to
suspect that Bob Partridge and his friend
whom you saw, and the man in the house
that looked like a mason, are members of a
gang of poachers, if nothing worse, that has
been disturbing this neighbourhood all this
autumn, and we shall require your assistance
in detecting them. Do you understand ?"
Yes, sir," said Frank. I saw a number
of nets and wires, as I told you; but Bob
spoke of owl-hunting."
Did he ?" asked Mr. Stock; and what
did he say about it "
Well, sir, they both said they had had a
good hunt one night, and they hoped to have
a better in a week or so."
Did you hear where ?"
"I think I heard 'em say Cowleas Copse;
but their talk was so strange I did not under-
And you don't remember anything else,
nor know what they meant by owls ?"
84 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
They meant pheasants," said Mr. Stock.
" And now you run home and tell your mother
that I find it more convenient for you to
sleep in the house and have your meals here,
and so she need not expect you home to-night.
Bring your clothes and all that you want, and
say no more to any one."
So Frank ran home and told his mother,
who was much pleased at his getting his board
atMr. Stock's ; and he quickly put his clothes
in a bundle and returned.
Some evening, Frank," said Mr. Stock to
him, we will go out together and try and
catch a sight of the owl-hunters ? "
So Frank was all excitement in expecta-
tion of some fun. A week passed away, and
Frank heard no more of the matter, and in a
fortnight he had nearly forgotten all about it,
so much was he busied in bustling about his
work. But the worst of it was, that Frank
began to think a great deal of himself.
Being a sharp, handy lad, he was called
here and there; and filling the position of
under-gardener and stable-lad, which he prided
himself on, and earning good wages for his
age, and entrusted with such a secret about
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 85
the poachers, he was puffed up with self-im-
portance, and fancied there never was such a
fellow as he. And of course his fellow-servants
laughed, and played off on him all manner of
tricks, and not unfrequently he brought him-
self into trouble by his forwardness.
For instance, he was told one day to get
Adam the groom, to harness a pony into a
basket-carriage belonging to a visitor at Mr.
Stock's ; but Frank must needs think he him-
self could do it as well as Adam, who had
taken the pony out, and therefore knew how
to put it in again. And the consequence was,
that at the first hill the carriage followed too
fast on the pony's heels, and the pony ran
away, and broke the shafts and the harness to
pieces, and kicked the ladies out, who, very
fortunately, were more frightened than hurt.
At another time he would pull about a
rabbit-gin that Adam had told him not to
touch, and it caught his fingers, and made
them sore for many a day.
But the greatest joke against him was his
adventure in the beer cellar. Mr. Stock sent
him in to order the cook to fill a can with
cider for some labourers; but Frank, not find-
86 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
ing her in the kitchen, thought, "Oh, I can
do it as well as she !" So he opened the
cellar door, which was in a distant passage of
the old rambling house, and, without lighting
a candle, went down the steps, felt his way to
the aider barrel, and soon filled the can, but
could not stop the tap! He turned it this
way and that, but still the cider poured out
upon the stones, and he was in despair. What
should he do ? He clapped his hand on the
mouth of the tap and hallooed with all his
might. Leave the cellar he dared not; for
he knew, in the first place, he had no business
there, and the barrel would empty itself in no
time. So all he could do was to keep his
hand tight to the tap's mouth and shout. And
shout he did; but to no purpose. No one
heard him; and for three long hours Master
Frank paid the penalty for his self-assurance
in the dark, among the black beetles in the
cold cellar, with his hand stuffed against the
cider-tap, till his arm ached as if it would
When the maid at last heard the deplorable
wailing which issued from the darkness below,
she was too frightened to go down alone to
IN WHICB APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 87
poor Frank's rescue. But she called a fellow-
servant, and Adam the groom ; and the three,
having armed themselves with a broomstick,
the kitchen poker, and Mr. Stock's life-pre-
server, with a lighted candle in the other hand,
formed a procession down the cellar stairs-
the cook, with the poker, heading it, and
Adam, with the life-preserver, bringing up the
rear-only to find our hero, very crestfallen
and miserable, with the palm of his hand still
glued fast to the cider-tap. But when the
cook set him free, after a hearty laugh at the
discovery, by two turns of her wrist, the con-
ceit was well out of him, and the joke was not
forgotten for a long time.
And besides all this, he had to bear many
a sneer, and many a jest was made at his
expense, because he was what the other ser-
vants scoffingly termed "religious." He was
called Saint Martin," "Parson Frank," and
many other such nicknames, which are not
worth repeating, but sometimes at the moment
they are very hard to bear.
But Frank in this way, as in others, was
inclined to be a little "set up." He thought
more of himself than he ought to think, for he
88 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
considered himself better than others. He
needed some friendly discipline and chastening;
lie had to be taught how foolish and frail he
was, and to learn that while he was nothing,
Christ was everything. That necessary dis-
cipline came to him in due time. He had his
share of the trials of life, and they brought
him to himself, and by the grace of God they
were made his means of leading him nearer
to the cross of Christ as a humble suppliant,
even as a little child. His self-sufficiency and
self-pride was brought low ; "the world's rude
furnace" refined and purified his blood; and
he learned to say, with hearty sincerity and
thankfulness of spirit, By the grace of God
I am what I am!"
One evening he was in the stable late, and
by the light of a lantern was busily at work
bedding down a horse which Mr. Stock had
just brought in from a drive of some distance,
and was hissing away and thinking that Adam
himself, the crack groom of all the stables
round, could not do it in better style, when he
suddenly became aware of a figure beside him,
which made him start and turn pale, and the
horses stopped feeding and turned their heads
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 89
to look uneasily at the intruder. Frank was
no coward, and he had many a time laughed
with contempt at the superstitious stories that
were told in that country-side, and had volun-
teered to prove their absurdity over and over
again; but now his blood ran chill, and he felt
a tingling about the roots of his hair as he
rubbed his eyes, and stepped back a step or
two, while Tom, the stable cat, arched its back
and swelled its tail to double its natural size,
and fairly bolted up the ladder into the loft.
As Frank afterwards described it to Mr.
Stock, the figure was a foot or two higher than
a man, and was all in white, with a long arm,
and it spoke in a low hollow voice, and said,-
Frank Martin, beware I beware! I am
come to warn thee, that if thou tell to any
mortal creature anything whatever, good or
bad, about the persons to whom that good
fellow Robert Partridge spoke, on the day thou
and he went to town; or if thou tell about or
show the house into which thou entered with
that honest fellow Bob Partridge, thou shalt
suffer horribly, yea, horribly i "-&c. &c. And
then came a vivid and blasphemous description
of what would, without fail, happen to him if
90 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
he breathed a syllable against the stainless
character of that "honest and good fellow
Robert Partridge," or those equally good and
honest fellows his companions; and the solemn
oration being ended, the, long arm knocked
down the lantern, and the figure vanished with
a streak of blue and white light and a strong
smell of sulphur.
But Frank said to Mr. Stock afterwards,
"I thought what was up when I heard tell
about Bob Partridge, but I can't deny but that
it scared me at first !"
Did the dogs bark ?" asked Mr. Stock.
No, sir, they didn't, but the horses were
Then it was Bob Partridge himself," said
Mr. Stock; "the dogs knew him, of course.
He put a white smock over his head, on the
top of a broom most likely, and kept one arm
clear for striking down the light, and he rubbed
a box of matches along the wall as he went
Yes, that was it, sir," said Frank. But
it knocked me all of a heap like, coming so
sudden, and I don't call it a fair thing to
frighten a fellow in that fashion! It's just
IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER. 91
one of Bob's tricks; but he must have thought
me a bigger fool than I am to be taken in
that way !"
"And what did you do when the light was
out?" asked Mr. Stock.
"Well, sir, I waited a minute, and just
quieted the mare a bit, and then I lighted it
again and looked about me, and came right
in to you."
"Well, you're a brave, sensible lad, Frank.
There's always some nonsense at the bottom
of these things. Indeed, it is worse than
nonsense, it is exceedingly wrong to frighten
others; for sometimes very sad and serious
results have followed some such trick as this.
If those that play them had their deserts,
instead of frightening anyone, they should get
a good sound thrashing, and it would serve
them right. I'll go out with you and lock
the stable up, and if I see that scamp Bob
anywhere, I won't let him off very easily."
But Bob was far enough away by the time
Mr. Stock went out.
Say nothing about it, Frank," said his
master. "It will only set people asking
questions, and we shall have the laugh on our
92 IN WHICH APPEARS A MYSTERIOUS MESSENGER.
side by-and-by. But you are a good, brave
boy. Do nothing wrong, Frank, nothing to
be ashamed of, and then you need be afraid of
But Frank would not have minded being
frightened over and over again, if he could in
this way gain such high praise from his master,
for Mr. Stock seldom commended any one that
did not most thoroughly deserve it. And
before Frank went to bed, he looked out the
27th Psalm and read it: "The Lord is my
light and my salvation, whom shall I fear ?
The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom
shall I be afraid ?" And the last verse, espe-
cially, gave him such true comfort that he soon
composed his excited nerves, and laid him
" down in peace and slept, being well assured
that it was the Lord only that made him
" dwell in safety."
FRANK GOES "OWL-HUNTING" WITH MR. STOCK.
Lord, uphold me day by day;
Shed a light upon my way;
Guide me through perplexing snares;
Care for me in all my cares.
All I ask for is. enough;
Only, when the way is rough,
Let thy rod and staff impart
Strength and courage to my heart.
"Should thy wisdom, Lord, decree
Trials long and sharp for me.
Pain or sorrow, care or shame,
Father, glorify thy name.
"Let me neither faint nor fear,
Feeling still that thou art near,
In the course my Saviour trod,
Tending still to thee, my God."
FRANK GOES OWL-HUNTING" WITH MR. STOCK.
CARCELY a week had passed since the
attempt in the stable to frighten Frank
into holding his tongue, when the
affair took place which he had been
It was nearly the middle of the night, and
he had been some time in bed and asleep,
when Mr. Stock woke him up with a shake,
saying, Make haste, and put on your clothes,
and bring your boots down in your hand; the
poachers are at it in the copse."
Frank started up and rubbed his eyes, with
a very confused notion as to where he was
and who was speaking, and what it was that
was at it in the copse." He began to think
at once of two young bulls that he had seen
fighting a few days before, and said, "They
must have a' broke out again, then !"
96 FRANK GOES OWL-HUNTING WITH MR. STOCK.
Yes," said Mr. Stock; "the keepers are
watching; but I want you to see if you know
any of them should they get away."
Why don't keeper drive 'em home ? said
Frank, still rubbing his eyes.
There-jump up at once," said Mr. Stock,
giving him another shake, "and make haste
about it," and putting down the candle he
left the room.
But he waited and waited, and Frank did
not come. Why, what is the boy about ?"
said he, going up again to hasten him, but
there was poor sleepy Frank, with his head
where his heels ought to be, as sound as ever.
"Dear me, what a boy for sleeping! come,
come; get up, get up," said Mr. Stock, shaking
him so as to rouse him thoroughly.
"What! be 'em at it again ?" murmured
Frank ; why don't keeper drive them home?"
I want you to get up and see if you know
them," said Mr. Stock; "so bundle on your
clothes. Come !"
I saw 'em t'other day a tearing of themselves
to pieces, sir," added Frank, when for the first
time he understood who spoke to him.
Who did you see fighting, Frank?"
FRANK GOES OWL-HUNTING WITH MR. STOCK. 97
"They two plaguy bulls, sir. Jem said as
"Nonsense, you sleepyhead It's the
poachers! you've been dreaming: that's right
-get on-get on: "
"Poachers !" said Frank, wide awake now,
and he hurried on his things with excitement,
and, trembling a little, he followed Mr. Stock
down the stairs.
The moon was nearly at the full, but fast-
sailing clouds from over the sea hid her every
now and then from view, and made gray
darkness where, before, all was in cold white
light. Not a breath of wind was passing
over that part of the earth's surface where
Cowleas farm lay, however roughly it was
blowing in the regions above, when Mr. Stock
and Frank stepped out into the damp night
The mist was lying on the meadows by the
stream, and when they got on to the hill and
looked behind them, the cottages -and farm-
buildings were quite hidden by it; and the
valley seemed to be the course of a mighty
river, which nearly surrounded the island on
which they stood.
98 FRANK GOES "OWL-HUNTING" WITH MR. STOCK.
But such fancies as these did not long
occupy Frank's mind, for they were drawing
near the head of the copse which lay on the
slope of the other side of the hill, and ex-
tended for some distance, out of their sight
indeed, in the foggy moonlight. They had
been walking up on the dark side of the
hedge, and now that they came to a gate, Mr.
Stock stopped until a cloud passed over the
moon, and then he stepped across quickly
that they might not be noticed from below.
He listened, but not a sound reached their
ears, except the tinkling of the sheep-bells on
the hills, and now and then the distant hoot
of the white owl as he beat along the hedge-
rows after his prey. There lay the copse still
and motionless before them, and Frank took
leave to whisper to his master, that in his
opinion the alarm was a false one, and that
the poachers were in bed.
There were the rabbits out feeding and
chasing one another in hundreds, and now and
then a hare would scud across the open;-but,
hark! a squealing cry, as if an animal were
wounded, or in pain, or caught' in a snare.
The rabbits sit up and prick their ears, and