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A FRIEND IN NEED,
THE OISOBEUIENT BOY
E. 11 1 N L 1 1
A FRIEND IN NEED,
A. L. 0. E.,
AUTHOR OF TIIE SILVER CASKET,"' CROWN OF SUCCESS,'
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
A FRIEND IN NEED, ... ... ... ... ... 7
THE GREAT FLAG UE, ... ... ... .. ... 32
GOOD-BYE, ... ... ... .. ... ... 45
TRY AGAIN, ... ... ... ... ... ... 61
HOLD FAST, ... ... .. ... 77
THE WAGES OF SIN, ... ... ... ... 93
THE WONDERFUL PLATE, ... .. ... ... .. 110
THROUGH THE SNOW, ... ... ... ... 116
.- 4 ,- ,
K =- ^ rS2iKW j '-
', i." / .
A FRIEND IN NEED.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not."
Pnov. xxvii. 10.
X I I I H 'E was not a happier mother in
,~' i rl,. village than Mrs. Peters, nor a
'. il-tter son than her Robin. She
1i I.Itrained up her child in the way
he should go, and it was now his delight to
walk in it; she had not shrunk from cor-
recting his faults, and he loved her the
better for the correction; she had taught
him from the Bible his duty towards his
God, and from the same pages he had
learned his duty towards his mother. It
was a pleasant sight on the Sabbath morn-
A FRIEND IN NEED.
ing, to see them walking up the little path-
way which led to the church-the feeble
parent leaning on the strong, healthy son,
who carried her Bible and prayer-book for
her. Mrs. Peters never had the slightest
feeling of envy towards those who appeared
above her in the world-she would not
have changed places with any one. "They
may have riches, fine houses, broad lands,"
she would say; "but who has a son like
On the Sunday afternoon, however, Robin
did not accompany his mother to church.
Perhaps you may suppose that, after his
hard work all the week, he thought that he
needed a little rest or amusement; that you
might have found him at "the idle corner"
of the village, joining in the sports of
younger companions; and that he considered,
like too many, alas that having given the
Sabbath morning to religion, he might do
what he pleased with the rest of the day.
Let us follow Robin Peters in his Sunday
A FRIEND IN NEED.
1P:d I i 1-- --.1 -
GOING TO UHURCIIH.
pursuits, and see where, after partaking of
dinner with his mother, he bends his willing
A FRIEND IN NEED.
Over the common, through the wood, up
the steep hill-side! It matters not to him
that the way is long; that in winter part of
the road scarcely deserves the name of one
at all, being almost impassable from slough
and snow. Cheerfully he hastens along,
with a light springing step; sometimes
shortening the way with a hymn, or gazing
around on the endless variety of nature, and
lifting up his heart to nature's God! There
is surely something very pleasant that awaits
Robin Peters at the end of his walk, that
he always should take it in this one direc-
tion-should never give it up, fair weather
or foul, and look so happy while pursuing
his way !
He stops at last at the door of a poor
little hovel, built partly of mud, and thatched
with straw. The broken panes in the single
window have been patched with paper by
Robin's hand, instead of being, as formerly,
stuffed up with rags; but either way they
speak of poverty and want. By the miser-
A FRIEND IN NEED.
able little fire-which could scarcely be kept
up at all, but for the sticks which Robin has
supplied-sits a poor old man, almost bent
double by time, the long hair falling on his
wrinkled brow, his hand trembling, his eye
dim with age. But there is a kindling
pleasure even in that dim eye, as he hears a
well-known rap at the door; and warm is
the press of that thin, trembling hand, as it
returns the kindly grasp of Robin !
5-;-~; --- ---:--~-sl
A FRIEND IN NEED.
First there are inquiries for the old man's
health, and these take some time to answer;
for it is a relief to the suffering to pour out
long complaints-it is a comfort to them if
one kindly ear will listen with interest and
patience. Then the contents of Robin's
pockets are emptied upon the broken deal
box, which serves at once as chest of drawers
and table to the old man, and a seat to the
visitors, "few and far between," who find
their way to the hovel on the hill. The
present brought by the youth varies from
week to week. He has little to give, but
he always brings something to eke out old
Will Aylmer's parish allowance: sometimes
it is a little tea from his mother; perhaps a
pair of warm socks, knitted by herself; or
a part of his own dinner, if he has nothing
else to bring to the poor and aged friend of
After the depths of the pockets had been
duly explored, Robin, seated on the box,
very close to the old man-for Aylmer was
A FRIEND IN NEED.
extremely hard of hearing-repeated to him,
in a loud tone of voice, as much of the
morning's sermon as he could remember.
He whom age and infirmities kept from the
house of God, thus, from the kindness of a
youth, every week received some portion of
spiritual food. But most did he enjoy when
Robin opened the Bible-for, poor as Ayl-
mer was, he was provided with that-and
in the same loud, distinct voice read the
blessed words which the dim eyes of his
friend could no longer see.
After the Holy Book was closed, it was
long before Robin found that he was able
to depart, Aylmer liked so much to hear all
about his friends and his neighbours-every-
thing which passed in the village in which
the old man had once lived. It was some-
thing for him to think over during the long,
lonely week, to prevent his feeling himself
quite shut out from the living world. And
Robin had not only to speak, but to listen;
and this, notwithstanding the deafness of old
A FRIEND IN NEED.
Aylmer, was perhaps the harder task of the
two. Not only the poor man's sight, but
his memory also was failing; his mind was
growing weak and childish with age; and
his tedious and oft-repeated tales would
have wearied out any patience that was not
grounded on Christian love. And so the
after _. of the Sabbath passed with Robin
Peters, and he returned weary but happy to
his home, to enjoy a quiet holy evening with
his mother. He had poured sweetness into
a bitter cup; he had followed the footsteps
of his compassionate Lord; and he had
obeyed the precept given in the Scriptures,
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend,
After what has been written, it is scarcely
necessary to add that the life of Robin was
a happy one. At peace with God, and at
peace with man, earning his bread by honest
industry, in debt to none, in enmity with
none, blessed with friends, cheerful spirits,
and excellent health, he was far happier
A FRIEND IN NEED.
than many who wear a crown. But though
religion can support the Lord's people under
trials, it does not prevent their having to
undergo them like others; and after several
years had been spent in comfort and peace,
a cloud was gathering over the home of
One Saturday evening he returned from
his work complaining of headache and a
pain in his throat. Mrs. Peters concluded
that he had taken a chill, and, advising him
to go early to rest, prepared for him some
simple remedy, which she trusted would
"set all to rights." Robin took what she
gave him with thanks, but he seemed
strangely silent that evening, and sat with
his brow resting upon his hand, as though
oppressed by a weight in his head. The
fond mother grew anxious;-who can help
being so whose earthly happiness rests upon
one? She felt her son's hand feverish and
hot; she was alarmed by the burning flush
on his cheek, and proposed begging the
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doctor to call. At first Robin objected to
this: he had hardly ever known sickness in
his life. The medical man lived at some
distance, and the night was closing in. In
the maladies of the body--but oh! how
much more in those of the soul!-how
foolish and dangerous a thing is delay !
Another hour passed, and the fever and
pain of the sufferer appeared to increase.
Again the mother anxiously proposed to
send for the doctor; and this time Robin
made no opposition. "Perhaps it might be
as well," he -faintly said. "I did not like
making you uneasy by saying it before, but
there has been a case of scarlet fever up at
The words struck like a knife into the
mother's heart! There was not another
moment of delay; she hastily ran out to
the door of a neighbour, and easily found a
friend-for it was often remarked that Mrs.
Peters and her son never wanted friends-
who would hasten off for the medical man.
A FRIEND IN NEED.
Robin in the meantime retired to his bed,
feeling unable to sit up longer. The symp-
toms of his disorder soon became more alarm-
ing-a scarlet glow spread over his frame,
hi.; pulse beat high, his temples throbbed;
and lis mother, in an agony of fear which
she could only calm by prayer, sat watching
for the arrival of the doctor.
Dr. Merton had just sat down to a very
late dinner with two old school-fellows of
his, whom he had not met for years; and
they promised themselves a very pleasant
evening together. "Nothing like old friend-
ships, and old friends! he said gaily, as the
covers were removed from the steaming
dishes, and they saw before them a comfort-
able repast, which the late hour and a twenty
miles' ride had given all a hearty appetite
to enjoy. "Nothing like old friends, old
stories, old recollections !-we shall seem to
live our school-days over again, and feel
ourselves boys once more."
There was a ring at the door-bell, a very
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loud ring-there was impatience and haste
in the sound of it. "I hope that's nothing
to disturb our sociable evening," said Dr.
Merton, who, having filled the plates of both
his friends, was just placing a slice of roast-
beef on his own. He paused, with the
carving knife and fork still in his hand, as
his servant entered the room.
"Please, sir, here's Tom Grange come in
haste from Redburn, and he says that Robin
Peters is taken very ill, and his mother begs
to see you directly."
The knife and fork were laid down, per-
haps a little unwillingly, and the doctor
arose from his chair.
"Why, Merton, you're not going now !" 4
cried one of his companions.
"Just wait till after dinner," said the
"Excuse me; Mrs. Peters is not the
woman to send me such a message without
sufficient cause. I have known her, and
her son too, for many a long year, and
A FRIEND IN NEED.
they shall not find me fail them in their
So the doctor put on his greatcoat, took
down his hat, begged his friends to do jus-
tice to the good cheer provided, and left
them, if I must own it, with no small regret,
to sally forth in that cold, wintry night,
tired and hungry as he was. He walked
fast, both to save time and to keep himself
warm; but his pace would have been even
more rapid had he known the agonizing
anxiety, increasing every minute, with which
his arrival was expected. The door, as he
reached it, was opened by the widow, who
looked upon him with the breathless earnest-
ness of one who expects to hear a sentence
of life or death.
A very short examination of the sufferer
enabled the doctor to pronounce that his
case was one of decided scarlet fever. Some
one must sit up with him and watch him
that night; a messenger should instantly
be sent with the remedies required; the
A FRIEND IN NEED.
doctor would himself call the first thing the
You do not think my boy--very ill,
sir ? faltered the mother, folding her hands
and fixing her eyes upon Dr. Merton with
an expression of much grief, which touched
the kind man to the heart.
He is ill, I cannot deny that; but keep
a good heart, he has youth and a fine con-
stitution in his favour; and I need not
remind you, my friend, to apply for help
to Him in whose hands are the issues of life
and of death."
Oh, how often that night, that long, fearful
night, did prayer arise from the widow's low-
roofed cottage It seemed as though the
darkness would never be past. At the end
of every weary hour the night-breeze brought
the sound of the church-clock to the watcher's
car, while the stars still trembled in the sky.
The wick of the candle burned long and low,
the last spark in the grate had died out, and
there lay the sufferer, so helpless, so still,
A FRIEND IN NEED.
that it seemed as though his soul were in
like manner silently, surely passing from its
dwelling of clay.
But with the return of morning's light
the fever rose, and the malady took its more
terrible form. Robin knew nothing of what
was passing around him,-even his much-
loved mother he recognized no more; his
mind became full of strange wild fancies,
the delirious dreams of fever. His mother
listened in anguish to his ravings; but a
deeper grief was spared her-even when
reason no longer guided his lips, those lips
uttered not a word that could raise a blush
on the cheek of his mother. Robin's con-
versation had been pure in the days of his
health-he had kept his mouth as with a
bridle; and the habit of a life was seen
even now when he lay at the gates of
death! His mother heard his unconscious
prayers-words from Scripture instinctively
spoken; and while her hot tears gushed
more freely forth, she was thankful from
A FRIEND IN NEED.
the depths of her soul. There was no
death-bed repentance here for a life devoted
to sin; Robin had not left the work of
faith and love for the dregs of age or the
languor of a sick-bed. She felt that if
Heaven were pleased to take him from her
now, he was safe, safe in the care of One
who loved him better than even she did;
though consciousness might never return
to him, though he might never again breathe
on earth one connected prayer, he was safe,
in time and in eternity, through the merits
of the Saviour whom he had loved.
"Oh, sir, I am so thankful to see you!"
exclaimed Mrs. Peters, as, pale and worn
with watching, she received the doctor at
an early hour of the morning. My poor
boy is very feverish and restless indeed-
he does not know me !"-the tears rolled
down her cheek as she spoke; "I am
scarcely able to make him keep in his bed."
You must have assistance," said Dr.
Merton, walking up to his patient. Words
A FRIEND IN NEED.
broke from Robin's lips as he approached
him-words rather gasped forth than spoken:
" I must go-he expects me; indeed, I must
go-my own friend and my father's friend."
He made an effort to rise, but sank back
exhausted on the pillow.
"There is something on his mind," ob-
served the doctor.
It is that he is accustomed to visit a
poor old friend, Will Aylmer, who lives in
the hovel on the hill."
"Will Aylmer !" repeated the doctor, as
though the name were familiar to him.
And well might it be so, for the feeble old
man had in years long past served as gar-
dener to his father; and many a time had
the little Merton received flowers from his
hand, or been carried in his arms, which
then were sturdy and strong.
Dr. Merton now examined his patient,
and the poor mother read from the doctor's
looks rather than from his words that he
entertained little hope of her son's recovery.
A FRIEND IX NEED.
As he quitted that home of sorrow, Dr,
Merton sighed from mingling feelings.
I fear that poor Robin is near his last
home," thought he; "and yet, why should
I fear, since I believe that for him it will
be but an earlier enjoyment of bliss ? He
has shamed me, that poor peasant boy!
Even in his delirium he is thinking of
another; he is struggling to rise from the
bed of death to go on his wonted visit of
kindness to his own and his father's friend;
and I, blessed with means so much larger
than his, have for thirty long years neglected,
nay, forgotten, the old faithful servant of my
family I shall look upon poor Will Ayl-
mer as a legacy from Robin. He has done
what he could for his friend during life;
and by his dying words,-if it please God
that he should die,-he shall have done yet
more for the old man."
For three days Robin continued in an
alan iing state, and his mother never closed
an eye in sleep. Love and fear seemed to
A FRIEND IN NEED.
give her weak frame strength to support
any amount of fatigue; or, as she said, it
was the goodness of the Almighty that
held her up through her bitter trial. On
the fourth morning Robin sank into a deep
sleep. She gazed on his features, pale and
death-like as they were; for the red flush
of fever had all passed away, and he lay
motionless, silent, but with that peaceful
look which often remains when the spirit
has departed. A terrible doubt flashed
upon the mother's mind -a doubt whether
all were not over! She approaches her
son with a step noiseless as the dew, the
light feather of a bird in her hand. She
holds it near to his lips,-his breath has
moved it!-no, that was but the trembling
of her fingers She lays it on the pillow,
her heart throbbing fast;-is that the morn-
ing breeze that so lightly stirs the down ?
No; thank God, he still breathes !-he still
Mrs. Peters sank upon her knees, buried
A FRIEND IN NEED.
her face in her hands, and once more im-
plored Him who had compassion on the
desolate widow of Nain to save her beloved
son; "But, 0 Lord," she added, with an
almost bursting heart, "if it be Thy will
to remove him to a happier world, give me
grace not to murmur beneath the rod, but
to say humbly, 'Thy will be done.'"
As she rose from her knees she turned
her eyes towards her son, and they met
his, calmly, lovingly fixed upon her, with
an expression, oh! how different from that
which they had worn during the feverish
excitement of delirium "You were pray-
ing for me," he said, very faintly; "and
the Lord has answered your prayer." The
deep joy of that moment would have over-
powered the mother, had it not been tem-
pered by a fear that this improvement
might be but as the last flash of a dying
lamp, and that the danger was not yet
But from that hour Robin's recovery
A FRIEND IN NEED.
rapidly progressed, and the fever never
returned. He was weak, indeed, for many
a long day; his vigorous arm had lost all
its powers; he had to be fed and supported
like a child. But it was a delight to Mrs.
Peters to do everything for him, and to
watch his gradual improvement in strength.
Nor, poor as she was, did she ever know
want while her son was unable to work.
All the neighbourhood seemed pleased to
do something for Robin-to help him who
had been so ready to help others. The
squire's lady sent wine and meat from her
own table; the clergyman's wife brought
him strong broth; the farmer, his master,
supplied him with bacon and eggs; and
many a neighbour who had little to give,
yet joyfully gave of that little.
"How good every one is to me !" ex
claimed Robin, as a parcel from the grocer's
was opened before him on the first day that
he was able to quit his bed. I only wish
that I could send some of this to Will Ayl-
A FRIEND IN NEED.
mer; I am afraid that he has missed me
while I was ill."
"Oh, he has been looked after," replied
Mrs. Peters with a smile: her care-worn
face was becoming quite bright again.
"Who has taken care of him ?" inquired
"I must not tell you, my son; you are
to hear all from the old man's own
"I'm afraid that it will be very long
before I am strong enough to visit him.
How glad I shall be to see him again !"
Two or three days after this, a bright
warm sun tempted the invalid to take ad-
vantage of the doctor's permission, and try
a little walk in the open air. Leaning on
the arm of his thankful, happy mother,
Robin again crossed that threshold which it
once seemed so likely that he would only
pass in his coffin. It was a sweet morning
in the early spring, and, oh! how delightful
to him who had been confined on the couch
A FRIEND IN NEED.
of fever was the sunshine that lighted up
the face of nature, the sight of the woods
with their light mantle of green, the blue
sky dappled with fleecy clouds; even the
crocus and the snowdrop in his mother's
little garden seemed to speak of joy and
hope; and pleasant was the feeling of the
balmy breeze that played upon his pale,
The common air, the earth, the skies,
To him were opening paradise "
Robin lifted up his heart in silent thanks-
giving, and in prayer that the life which
the Almighty had preserved might be al-
ways devoted to His service.
"Do you feel strong enough, my son,
to walk as far as that cottage yonder ?"
inquired Mrs. Peters.
"I think that, with your arm, I might
reach even the tree beyond."
"Then suppose that we pay a visit to old
Robin laughed aloud at the idea. Why,
A FRIEND IN NEED.
my dear mother, neither you nor I have
strength to go one quarter of the distance.
I fear that I must delay that visit for some
time to come."
"There is nothing like trying," replied
Mrs. Peters gaily; and they proceeded a
little way together.
"Is it not strange ?-I am weary al-
ready," said the youth.
"Then we will rest in this cottage for a
It was empty before my illness; if there
is any one in it now, a patient just recovered
from the scarlet fever might not be made
"Oh, you will be made welcome here, I
can answer for that," cried Mrs. Peters;
and at that moment who should come tot-
tering from the door, joy overspreading his
aged face, his eyes glistening with tears of
pleasure and affection, but Robin's poor old
friend. He grasped the youth's hand in
both his own, and blessed God fervently for
A FRIEND IN NEED.
letting him see the face of his "dear boy"
"But how is this ?" exclaimed Robin,
with joyful surprise.
The deaf man rather read the question
in Robin's eyes than caught the sense of it
from words which he scarcely could hear.
"Dr. Merton-bless him !-has brought me
here, and has promised to care for the poor
old man: and he bade me tell you,"-Ayl-
mer paused, and pressed his hand upon his
wrinkled forehead, for his powers of memory
were almost gone--"he bade me tell you
that these comforts I owed to you. I can't
recollect all that he said, but I know very
well that he ended with the words,-' Thine
own friend, and t1hy father's friend, forsake
.' -L L;
Zhe rc,.it a lq u c.
''Fools make a mock at sin."-Pnov. xiv. 9.
If AT a violent storm is raging!"
said Thorn, the teacher, to his
scholars, as, after having dis-
;4 missed them at the close of the
school hours, he found them clus-
tering together in the porch, afraid of ven-
turing forth into the pelting rain, pouring
down in large, heavy drops, mingled with
hail, which danced on the wet brown pave-
ment. Come back into the room, my chil-
dren; it is better than standing there in the
cold. Amuse yourselves as you like until
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
the weather clears up, while I occupy my-
self with reading."
The boys gladly availed themselves of the
permission, and began to play together in
one part of the room; while the weary
teacher sat down in another, rested his pale
brow on his hand, and tried, as far as the
noise and talking would let him, to forget
his fatigue in a book.
He soon, however, found it impossible not
to hear what was passing; his eye rested,
indeed, on the page, but his mind could
not take in the sense of it. He loved his
pupils too well to think that his care of
them should end with the hours of study : he
looked on the immortal beings committed
to his charge as those for whom he must one
day render an account to his God and theirs.
"No, we're all tired of that!" cried the
voice of Bat Nayland, as some well-known
game was proposed. I know something
that will give us a deal more fun. Let's
play at the highwayman and the judge !"
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
"What's that ? what's that?" cried a
dozen young voices.
"Oh! it's what I saw at the penny
theatre, about a clever thief robbing a
judge; only think-robbing a judge The
last words were repeated around the room in
various tones of amusement and surprise.
Oh you shall know all about it; but
first we must arrange the parts. You, Pat,
shall be the thief, and I will be the judge-
no, you shall be the judge, and I the thief!"
He was interrupted by a burst of laughter.
"Be quiet, will you?-W-ho'll be the
"I! I!" cried several of the children,
eager to join in the proposed play.
"Now, Sam, you shall be the fat land-
lady,"-there was another roar of merriment
louder than before,-" for you must know
that the thief is to get drunk; that's how
he is to be taken by the policeman; and he
staggers here and there,"-Bat began to
imitate the unsteady movements of an in-
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
toxicated man, amid the renewed mirth of
the children,--" and when they seize him
he calls out a great oath-you shall hear it
all just as I heard it."
"I hope not," said Thorn, very quietly,
raising his eyes from his book. The boys
were quiet in a moment; they had almost
forgotten the presence of their teacher.
Why, sir, do you think that there is any
harm?" said Bat Nayland; "it does not
make us thieves to have a little fun about
It lessens your horror for their crime.
And remember the words in the Bible: Fools
make a mock at sin. Can you imagine any
true child of God laughing at theft, drunken-
ness, and swearing ?"
There was profound silence in the room.
"This is one cause, I believe, why penny
theatres are one of the most fruitful sources
of vice and ruin to those who attend them.
Wickedness, instead of appearing hateful as
it does in God's Word, is made amusing, and
TH E GREAT PLAGUE.
even sometimes attractive; and those who
willingly place themselves in the way of be-
ing corrupted by such sights, only mock the
Holy One when they pray, Lead us not into
But," continued the teacher, in a more
cheerful tone, "if I have stopped your
amusement in one way, it is but fair that I
should contribute to it in another. I hear
the rain still pattering without,-what would
you say to my telling you a story ?"
"A story, a story !" repeated the scholars,
forming in a little circle around their teacher;
for where are the children to be found upon
earth on whom that word does not act like
a spell ?
It is now long, long ago," commenced
Thorn, "nearly two hundred years, since the
fearful plague raged in London. Nothing
which we have witnessed in these happier
days can give an idea of the horrors of that
time. It is said that nearly seventy thou-
sand people perished of this awful malady;
TIHE GRElliT PLAGUlE.
THE TEACHER'S STORY.
some authors make the number even ninety
thousand. The nearest relatives were afraid
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
of each other. When an unfortunate being
showed symptoms that the disease had
seized him-the swelling under the arms,
the pain in the throat, the black spots,
which were signs of the plague-his very
servants fled from him in terror; and unless
some one was found to help the sufferer,
from love even stronger than fear of death,
he was left to perish alone; for the plague
was fearfully infectious. When a door was
marked with a cross, the sign that the fear-
ful scourge had entered the house, it was
shunned by all but the driver of the dead-
cart,-that gloomy conveyance which moved
slowly through the silent streets to carry
away the bodies of those who had sunk
beneath the terrible disease "
"Was London ever in such a horrible
state ? cried Bat Nayland; it must have
been a thousand times worse than the
What I have told you about it I believe
to be strictly true; I leave you all, however,
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
to judge whether what I am about to relate
can be so.
REMOVING THE DEAD.
In a small house, at the time when the
plague was raging, dwelt a widow with five
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
young children. She loved them with the
fondest, truest love; they were all that were
left her in the world. From the first ap-
pearance of the plague in London her heart
had been full of painful anxiety-far less for
herself than for them. Determined to take
every human precaution to guard her little
ones from danger, she forbade them to quit
the house, which she only left herself in
order to procure food, holding a handker-
chief steeped in vinegar before her face, as
far as possible to keep out infection. Her
anxiety became yet more distressing when
she saw one morning on the door of the very
opposite house the fatal sign marked, and
below it chalked the heart-touching words,
'Lord, have mercy upon us !'
"That day the mother was compelled to
go out for bread. She left her home with a
very heavy heart, first looking earnestly
upon all and each of her children, to see if
they yet appeared healthy and well, repeat-
ing her command that none should stir out,
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
and inwardly breathing a prayer that the
Almighty would preserve them during her
"As she returned with hurried steps
towards her home, shuddering at the recol-
lection of the sights of horror which she had
seen in the course of her walk, with terror
she observed her eldest son playing upon the
very threshold of the infected house, and try-
ing to imitate with a piece of chalk the
dreadful signs upon the door."
"The little idiot! "-" He must have been
without his senses "--"What did the poor
mother do?" were the exclamations that
burst from Thorn's listeners.
She could not speak, in the transport of
her anger and grief; she seized him by the
arm, and dragged him into her own house,
with feelings which only a mother can under-
stand. She found her four other children
assembled in her little parlour, amusing
themselves by-would you believe it ?-
playing at catching the plague "
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
"Oh no, no!" cried the children at once.
"You told us that we should judge whether
the story were true, and we are sure that
this cannot be true."
"And why not ? inquired the teacher.
Because," answered Bat, replying for
the rest, "the plague was too horrible a
thing to make a joke of. Just at the time
when their mother was so anxious, when
thousands were suffering so much around
them-no, no; that would have been too
bad; they could never have made game of
the plague !"
And yet, what were my pupils doing ten
minutes ago but making game of a far worse
disease than the plague-the fatal disease of
sin ? Its spots are blacker, the pain it gives
more terrible; often has it caused the death
of the body, and, except where repented of
and forsaken, the death, the endless death
of the soul. Oh, my children! it may be
your lot, as it was that mother's, to be
obliged to go out and meet the danger, for
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
the Almighty may have seen good to place
you in situations of great temptation; but,
if so, take every means of guarding your
own hearts by faith, watchfulness, and
prayer. But, oh! never wilfully throw
yourselves into temptation,-do not play
upon the threshold of the infected house-do
not trifle with the danger which it is possible
to avoid; and when inclined to think lightly
or speak lightly of that which brought ruin
and death into the world, remember that
fools make a mock at sin, but that to free us
from its terrible disease, and the fatal con-
sequences which it brings, cost the Eternal
Son of the Most High tears, blood, and
even life itself! "
Fools make a mock at sin; but, oh !
God's wiser children do not so:
They know too well the strife with sin,
How hard the battle is to win;
They laugh not at the wound within,
For they its danger know.
Oh, guide thy mirth by wisdom's rules,
For sorrow ends the laugh of fools !
Fools make a mock at sin; but, oh !
Lost, guilty spirits do not so:
THE GREAT PLAGUE.
They know too well the price it cost;
They know through it that heaven was lost.
No drowning seaman, tempest-tost,
Jests as he sinks below !
Oh, guide thy mirth by wisdom's rules,
For sorrow ends the laugh of fools !
Fools make a mock at sin; but, oh!
God's holy angels do not so:
For they upon the Cross have gazed, -
The Cross which sin, our sin, had raised,-
And viewed, all wondering and amazed,
A Saviour's life-blood flow !
Then write these words thy heart within :
Fools, and fools only, mock at sin !
I'm sorry that we're not to see you
again till the summer. You've
always been ready with a good
word, ay, and a helping hand too,
" < OOD-BYE to you, Mr. Aylmer;
-:'*,(i| (,, 1m sorry that we're not to see you
? again till the summer. You've
-_/'..'i always been ready with a good
word, ay, and a helping hand too,
for the poor. I'll miss your pleasant smile
in those dull, dark, wintry days, as have
little enough to light 'em. And little Emmy
-she'll miss you, too; won't you, my lamb ?"
said the Widow Cowell, as she lifted up in
her arms a pretty blue-eyed child of about
four years of age, to bid good-bye to the
Scripture-reader who was going to a distant
part of the country.
"Good-bye, Mary Cowell," said Aylmer,
shaking with kindness the thin hand which
the widow held out; "and good-bye to you,
dear little one," he added, as bending for-
ward he kissed the brow of the child, be-
tween the clustering locks of gold. It's a
solemn word 'good-bye,' when we think of
the meaning that's in it."
I did not know that it had any particu-
lar meaning," said Mary; "it's a word that
we're always a-saying, and sometimes with
a heavy heart."
Good-bye, is God be with you' short-
ened to a single word. It is a blessing to
the one who departs echoed back to the one
who remains. God be with you, Mary
Cowell; may you feel His presence in the
street-in the shop-by your board-by
your bed-in your heart! You'll have
many a temptation to struggle against,-
God be with you in the hour of temptation !
you'll have many a trial to bear,-God be
with you then, and He will turn all these
trials into blessings You've a little one
there, dear to your heart; remember that
like as a father pitieth his children, so the
Lord pitieth them that fear Him "
"Ay, bless her heart I love her!"
thought Mary, as she led her little girl back
into the small room which she hired by the
week, in one of the back streets of London.
"But if God pities me, like as a father
pitieth his children, why does He so often
leave me to want-why does He make my
lot so hard ? I'm sure I'd keep my darling
from every trouble if I could, and if I had
the means, she should sleep as soft and fare
as well as any little lady in the land !"
And in truth Mary Cowell was a kind
and tender mother. The child had ever the
largest share of the scanty meal ; and while
the mother's shawl was threadbare, soft and
warm was the knitted tippet that wrapped the
little girl. Mary took a pride in her Emmy;
she 'never suffered her to run about the
streets dirty and barefoot like many of the
children of her neighbours. Emmy's face
was washed and her yellow curls smoothed
out every morning, and proudly did the fond
mother look at her little darling. The
greatest sorrow which poverty brought to
Mary Cowell, was that it hindered her from
giving every comfort and pleasure to her
"Mother," said Emmy on the following
day, as she watched the widow preparing to
go out, putting on her rusty black bonnet
and thin patched shawl; mother, you
won't take the basket; it's Sunday--I hears
the bells a-ringing."
I must go," said Mary, with a sigh.
But didn't the good man tell us it was
bad to go out a-sellin' on the Sunday ? "
asked the child, with a grave look of inquiry
in her innocent eyes.
Poor folk must eat," said the widow
sadly; "God will not be hard upon us if
want drives us to do what we never should
do if we'd only enough to live on."
"May Emmy go wid you, mother ? "
"No, my lamb," answered Mary; "not to
stand at the corner of the street in this bitter
sharp wind, and just catch your death of
cold. It chills one to the bones," added the
widow, stirring up in her little grate the
fire which burned brightly and briskly, for
the weather was frosty and keen. Mary
then took the remains of the morning's
meal, the half-loaf and small jug of milk,
and put them on the mantelpiece, out of
reach of the child. Her last care was to
place a wire-guard before the fire. Having
often to leave her little girl alone in the
room, Mary dreaded her falling into danger,
and had, by self-denial, scraped up a sufficient
number of pence to buy an old wire fire-guard.
"Now remain quiet there, my jewel! don't
get into mischief," said Mary. "Look at
the pretty prints on the wall; mother won't
be long afore she comes back with something
nice for her darling !" So saying, the widow
kissed the child, took up her basket, and
went to the door.
Good-bye, mother cried Emmy. The
last sound which Mary heard as she went
down the old creaking stair was the "good-
bye" from the sweet little voice whose tones
she loved so well.
She's a-blessing me without knowing it,"
thought Mary, recalling the words of the
Scripture-reader; "she's a-saying 'God be
with you !' I'm afraid all's not right with
me, for it seems as if I couldn't take any
comfort from the thought of God being with
me. It makes my conscience uneasy to
know that He is watching me now that I'm
a-going to break His law, and sell on His
0 reader, if ever the thought of the pre-
sence of your heavenly Father give you a
feeling of fear, rather than a feeling of com-
fort, be sure that you are wandering from
the right way, and-whatever excuse you
may make for yourself-that you are doing
or thinking something that puts your soul in
As Mary slowly made her way with her
heavy basket to the corner of the street
where she usually stood to sell, a friend of
hers passed her on the way, but stopped and
turned round to ask after Emmy, who had
not been well. A few words were exchanged
between the two women, and then the friend,
who had a prayer-book in her hand, said, I
can't stop longer now; I don't like to be late
for church. Good-bye, Mrs. Cowell."
Good-bye," repeated poor Mary. "Ah,"
she said, with a sigh, as she watched her
friend hastening on, "God will be with her,
to bless her, for I know that Martha serves
Him. Ofttimes I've heard her say,' The
Lord is my Slhepherd, I shall not cant ;' and
though she's no better off than myself, it's
wonderful-it is-how she has always had
friends raised up for her in her troubles;
and when trials came the thickest, how some-
how or other a clear way out was always
opened afore her. Martha says the best
thing is to trust God and obey Him, and that
we don't obey because we don't trust. May-
be there's truth in that word; for if I really
believed what Aylmer told me, that God
cares for me as I care for my Emmy, I
should do even just as He bids me, and keep
the Sabbath-day holy. But it's hard to be
hindered getting my bread honestly on one
day out of seven; I don't see the harm in a
poor widow woman selling a little on Sun-
And yet Mary's mind was not easy; she
had learned enough of God's Word to know
that by selling her oranges and nuts upon
the day which the Lord hath set apart for
Himself, she was not only sinning herself,
but leading others into sin. When little
children thronged round her basket, eager to
buy her fruit, Mary could not forget-she
wished that she could-the solemn warning
of the Lord: TWhoso shall offend (cause to
sin) one of these little ones which believe in
iMe, it were better for him that a millstone
were hanged about his neck, and that he were
drowned in the depth of the sea. There was
a struggle in the mind of Mary between
faith and distrust-between duty and inclina-
tion-between the desire to follow her own
will and the knowledge that in all things
we ought to follow the will of God. Which
side in the end won the victory, will appear
in the end of my story. We will leave the
widow doubting and hesitating at the corner
of the street, and return to little Emmy,
whom her mother had left carefully shut up
in her lodging.
The child amused herself for some minutes,
as the widow had desired her to do, by look-
ing at the coarse prints which were stuck
with pins on the white-washed wall. But
Emmy soon tired of this,-she had seen them
so often before. Then she sat down in front
of the fire, and warmed her little red hands
at the kindly blaze, and wished that that
tiresome wire-guard were away, that kept so
much of the glow out.
Why should mother not let me get all
the good of the fire ?" said the little mur-
muring girl. I'm sure there's no use in that
thing that puts the fire in a cage, and keeps
me from doing what I like, and making it
blaze up high !" The child did not consider
that one much older and wiser than herself
was likely to have good reasons for putting
on the guard. Emmy was no better judge
of these reasons than the widow herself was
of the wisdom which had fenced round the
Sabbath with the command, In it thou shalt
do no manner of work. All that either
mother or child had to do was simply to
trust and obey. But Emmy had a wilful
temper, and could not bear anything like
Presently, from looking at the fire, the
child cast her eyes on the mantelpiece above
it, and the bread and white jug upon it.
"Why did mother put them up there,
when she knew that Emmy might be hungry,
and want to eat before she comes home !"
And impatiently the child stretched out her
hand, and rose on her tip-toes, trying to reach
the food. She could not touch the lower
part of the shelf, and well was it for Emmy
that the guard, so wisely placed over the fire,
prevented her little frock from catching the
flame as she did so.
"Emmy will pull the chair to the place
and climb up, and get at the loaf! cried
the child, determined by some means to have
her own way, and procure what she thought
that she needed. She ran off to a chair
placed in a corner, which was almost the
only article of furniture, besides the bed, to
be found in that bare little room. But the
chair was of clumsy and heavy make, and
had several articles heaped upon it: all the
efforts of Emmy were of no avail to drag it
out of its place.
The difficulty which she found in getting
what she desired only served to increase the
eagerness of the child and her determination
to have the loaf which had been purposely
placed out of her reach. Eummy was ready
to cry, and accuse her tender mother of un-
kindness. And was she not in this but too
much like many who doubt the love of their
Heavenly Father because He has not placed
in their hands what they think to be needful
for their comfort ?
At last a thought came into the mind of
little Emmy, as she gazed, through her tears,
at the fire. She had not strength to move
the big chair; in vain she had struggled to
do so; but might she not manage to move
the guard, and would it not serve her for a
footstool to reach the loaf on the mantel-
piece ? But then mother had told her so
often not to meddle with the guard, Why
should mother forbid her to touch it ? The
voice of discontent and distrust in the bosom
of the little child was much the same as
that whose whisperings had led Mary Cowell
to go out selling on Sunday. With both
parent and daughter it proved to be stronger
than conscience. Emmy laid hold of the
guard and shook it; but old as it was, she
had not the power to pull it from its place.
Presently, however, the child felt that though
she could not pull she could lift it. With
eager pleasure Emmy raised the guard high
enough to release its iron hooks from the
bars, and then there was nothing to prevent
her from removing the fence altogether.
Emmy's first pleasure was to poke up the
fire with the little rusty bit of a poker which
she had seen her mother use for the purpose,
but which she herself had never been per-
mitted to touch. Then, eager to get at the
loaf, she put down the guard in front of the
fire, so that she might be able to step upon
it. Wretched, disobedient little child !-
with one foot on that trembling, yielding
wire-work, one hand stretched up to- take
food not lawfully her own, her dress so close
to the flame that in another moment it must
be wrapped in a roaring blaze, what can now
save her from destruction ?
Suddenly the door opened, and with a cry
of terror Mary Cowell sprang forward in
2 ...... .
EMMY IN DANGER.
time-but just in time-to snatch her only
child away from a terrible death!
"Oh, thank Goad-thank God--that I
came home, that He made me turn back !"
exclaimed the widow, bursting into tears.
Little Emmy was punished, as she well
deserved to be, for breaking her mother's
c.. iiiini-, i. and doing what she knew that she
ought not to have done. But Mary Cowell,
with a contrite heart, owned to herself, and
confessed to God, that she had deserved
sharper punishment than her child. There
had been doubt and disobedience in both;
but the older sinner was the greater, for she
had most cause to trust the providence of a
Father who is almighty as well as all-good.
If the child had removed a guard carefully
and wisely placed before that which, while
kept to its proper use, is one of our greatest
blessings, but which, to those who misuse it,
may prove the cause of burning and death,
what had the mother done ? She had tried
on the Sabbath to earn bread by treading
her duty under foot-by putting aside, as far
as she could, that law by -which the great
God has fenced round His holy day, TF,..,-
shalt do no manner of work.
Grateful for the warning given her, never
again did Mary carry forth her basket on
the Sabbath. Henceforth, by example as
well as by precept, she brought up her little
one in the fear and love of God. And when,
after many years, the widow was called home
to her Heavenly Father, she could with
peaceful hope thus bid her daughter farewell:
"Good-bye, my loved one! God be with
you in your trouble; He has never failed me
in mine. Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be
fed. Good-bye, until we meet again, through
the Saviour's merits--the Saviour's love-
in His kingdom of glory !"
S '. (' ~' \
..* .. L,-
ZVI)3 ag in.
I try again, father, try again!"
'-. -. What a sad, pleading voice uttered
-' the words, what a pale little face was
turned towards Peter Parsons, as he
sat, his elbows resting on the beer-stained
table, with haggard cheek and blood-shot
eyes, which told too well the tale of how the
last night had been spent.
It's no use trying to give it up, I have
tried and I can't do it," was the father's
dogged, despairing reply; I know the drink
will be my ruin, but if it were poison, I must
have it! There's Mr. Barker, my employer,
he gave me warning yesterday; he said he
couldn't stand my habits longer, that he was
sorry to give me up, but could have none
but steady men to serve him. There's the
S i_ ___ -
"OII TRY AGAIN, FATIIER, TRY AGAIN!"
third place I've lost in the same way. I
know the road I'm treading; I know what
lies at the end on't; I'm going to, ruin with
my eyes wide open;-but I can't help it, I
must have the drink And Peter Parsons
let his chin sink on his breast, and looked
the picture of a wretched, degraded sinner.
No wonder that he shrunk from looking
around him at what had once been a com-
fortable home! Where was the clock that
had ticked so cheerily, given as a wedding-
present to his wife ? Where was the neat
mahogany press, in which he had taken such
pride, bought with the savings of months of
toil? Where was the valued old Family
Bible, which his father and grandfather had
used before him ? All at the pawnbroker's,
pledged for drink !
And if it pained the wretched drunkard to
look at bare walls and fireless grates, yet
more it pained him to see the effects of his sin
in the pale sad face of his sweet little Esther,
her clothes so patched and threadbare, the
tearful eyes that, but for him, would have
been bright with the sunshine of childhood.
I have tried," Peter muttered to himself,
without raising his drooping head; "the
teetotallers, they spoke to me, and urged me,
and they made it as clear as day that half
the misery in the city came all along of the
drink; that with every penny which I threw
down at the bar of the public, I was paying
my fare to the workhouse, or buying the
nails for my coffin They got me to take
the pledge, and I thought that the danger
was over. I'd given my word, and I'd keep
it. And for weeks all went on straight
enough; money came in, comfort came back,
and my poor wife looked happy again!
But then I fell into sore temptation, and it
seemed as if I'd no more strength than a
babe in the claws of a lion. I woke one
morning-one wretched morning-to find
my pledge broken, my character disgraced,
and the habit of hard drinking fifty times
stronger on me than ever.
And I tried again,"-thus the miserable
man continued muttering to himself, scarcely
conscious of the presence of the poor little
girl at his side-" 'twas when my Sarah lay
a-dying, and I couldn't a-bear to drink away
the comfort she needed so much. Two days
I abstained, but on the third-" Memory
was like a barbed arrow in the heart of the
miserable widower, his words were choked
in his throat, and instead of finishing his
sentence he uttered a heavy groan.
Esther did not venture for several moments
to speak; tears were fast flowing down her
pale cheeks. She, like her unhappy parent,
was tempted to give way to despair; but the
child had learned in her Bible always to
pray and never to faint; and though her
prayers had as yet seemed unanswered, faith
whispered to her, "Try again."
Child said Peter, suddenly raising his
head, and fixing his bleared eyes on his
daughter, "when once a man has got into
the regular habit of drinking, there's nothing
as can keep him from it. It's like a fever,
like a madness Interest can't do it, resolves
can't do it, even care for a family can't do it;
for no one on earth loved a wife or child
better than I have done "
Can't God's grace do it ?" faltered Esther,
almost afraid to speak out the words.
Don't talk to me of such matters cried
Peter, starting from his seat and pacing up
and down the room, like one who is restless
from pain. "I used to think on God once,
but I dare not think on Him now; it's like
going to judgment before the time, to think
on the anger of God !"
But mayn't we think on the love of God?"
murmured Esther, with trembling earnest-
ness in her tone. "0 father! dear, dear
father let me say one verse-only one little
verse that the teacher gave me yesterday to
learn,-I can do all things through Christ
which strengtheneth me. She said we could
overcome temptations through Him; have
our sins forgiven through Him; and that if
He give us His Spirit, we shall be more than
conquerors through Him "
"Go to your school, child; go to your
school! cried Peter, half in anger and half
in sorrow. "Such words may do well
enough for such as ye; I'm too old to be
learning them now !" And seeing that his
little girl paused, he motioned impatiently
for her to leave him.
Esther dared speak no more to her father,
but she could pray for him still to her God.
As she slipped on her rusty black bonnet
and shabby cloak, preparing to go to the
school, her whole heart was full of prayer.
" 0 God for the sake of Thy blessed Son,
help my poor father, save my poor father,
don't let the enemy tempt him away;" and
before Esther quitted the house, with a
trembling hand she placed her little Testa-
ment on the table. Esther had often done
so before, in hopes that her father might
read it, as he once used to read the great
Bible. Esther had always found her Testa-
ment lying exactly where she had put it,
unopened and untouched; but in a spirit of
faith and hope she determined to "try
And this time Peter Parsons took up the
book; he could scarcely have said why he
did so. Perhaps it was because he found
any kind of employment more tolerable than
thinking; perhaps he was scarcely conscious
of what he was doing, as he carelessly turned
,over the leaves. His eye was first attracted
by a name like his own; it rested on the
account of the Lord appearing to Peter and
,other disciples, walking on thewaves of the sea.
"Ah, he was a different Peter, indeed,
who saw that sight! thought the man; "he
was a great apostle, and a holy martyr be-
sides; and yet, if I mind me right of his
story, 'twas more than once that he failed
-and fell. I'll just look again at what is said
in the Bible about it." And seating himself
at the table, Peter read out, half aloud,
making his comments as he proceeded:--
"Jesus sjpake unto them, ,iyil;,i. Be of good
cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
"And Peter answered Him and said,
Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee
on the water. And He said, Come. And
when Peter was come down out of the ship,
he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
"Ay," observed the reader, half closing
the book, "he was a bold man Peter He
could walk on the sea, just as I've known
some men go on straight and steady over
temptations, never stumbling nor sinking,
firm as a rock amid all! I've known them
as have taken the pledge and never broken
it once ; nothing would tempt them to drink.
But it isn't every man as can walk on a sea
of temptation like that,-it ain't in human
nature And again the poor victim of in-
temperance turned to the Holy Book.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he
was afraid; and bl.;,,,;ry to sink, he cried,
saying, Lord, save me! "
Parsons stopped for some moments, and
remained with his eyes resting on the last
sentence, and his mind buried in thought.
"What!" he muttered to himself, "Peter
began to sink; he had not strength to stand
by himself, he-a saint-an apostle-had to
cry out aloud, Lord, save me! It seems
that, full of faith and zeal as he was, he was
but flesh and blood after all. I'll read on;
I'll see if the Lord came at once to the
drowning man's help.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth His
hand, and caught him, and said unto him,
0 thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou
doubt ? "
Parsons closed the book, rose from his
seat, and again paced up and down the room.
He did not utter a word aloud; but if the
thoughts of his heart could have been read,
they would have been something like this:-
The Lord heard him, the Lord cared for
him, the Lord stretched out His hand to
save him when he had no strength to save
himself. There was mighty love shown, and
mighty power! Is not the same Saviour
able still to save to the uttermost ? I don't
know where to turn to these words, but I'm
sure that I read them long ago in my Bible.
Able to save; ay, but is He willing? What
was it that the Lord said to Peter: Thou of
little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
What if I went to Him straight, and asked
Him to save me from sinking; going lower
and lower down in the depths of sin Would
the Lord stretch out His hand to me, to me
whom all the world despises, to me whom
every one else gives up?" Again Peter
went to the table, and opened the little
Testament left by his praying child. The
first verse on which his glance fell seemed to
him almost like a message sent to him direct
from God: "There hath no temptation taken
you but such as is common to man: but God
is faithful, who will not .-'f; -' you to be tempted
above that ye are able; but will with the
temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it.
I'll hold by this promise!" exclaimed
Parsons, grasping the little book as he spoke;
"I've tried to go right, but I've failed; I've
wished to give up sin, but the habit was too
strong for me; now I'll cast myself, just as
Peter did, on the mercy and strength of my
Lord, and hoping for the help of His grace,
I'll try again-I'll try yet again "
While Parsons' pale little girl, as she
walked along the gloomy streets, was silently
praying all the way for her father, another
little girl, in a comfortable home, was plead-
ing the cause of poor Peter. Mr. Barker,
his late employer, sat in his large red-leather
arm-chair, with his feet on the fender, before
a blazing fire, with Clara, his youngest
daughter, seated upon his knee.
Oh, papa, I wish that you would try
him again, only once !" said the gentle little
lady, holding her father's hand fast im-
prisoned between both of her own.
And why should I try him again?" said
Mr. Barker, amused at the earnest tone of
the little pleader.
Oh, because of his poor little girl-the
best girl, mamma says, in the school. She
looks so pale, and thin, and sad; and I've
heard that when her mother was dying,
Esther watched and nursed her so fondly.
It is not her fault that her father drinks;
it is enough to break her heart."
"We will look after her," said Mr. Bar-
ker; "the man may ruin himself, but he
shall not ruin his child. I should think that
she is almost old enough to go out into ser-
vice, if mamma could find her a nice easy
"But she would not be happy, papa;
how could she be happy in any place when
she knew that her own father was going
down-down-down to ruin ? Oh, try him
again, papa just give him one other chance;
if he knows that it is his very last, perhaps
he may turn and repent."
Clara pleaded, urged, and entreated, and
at length won her parent to consent to over-
look for this once the offence of Parsons.
Mr. Barker was a kind-hearted master, and
he was himself unwilling by severity to
drive an unhappy man to despair. Though
shaking his head doubtfully, and expressing
his belief that no good would result from the
trial, he agreed to send word to Parsons to
call at his office on the following morning.
Thus, at the same hour, Faith bade a
wanderer "try again" to wrestle with his
besetting sin, believing that a gracious God
was willing and able to help him ; Hope bade
poor Esther "try again to bring down by
earnest prayer a blessing upon her father;
and Charity bade the Barkers "try again"
to aid an erring fellow-creature by giving
him an opportunity of winning back the good
name which he had lost.
I will not describe all the inward struggles
of Parsons, nor the difficulties which he en-
countered from the power of an evil habit.
Often was he tempted, often discouraged,
often did he almost give up in despair. But
he now used the Word of God as his weapon,
and faith in God as his shield; and he found in
the end that he who resists the devil will
make him turn and flee !
When the long bright summer days had
returned, again the old clock ticked cheerily
in its place behind the door, and once more
upon the table lay the valued Family Bible.
Peter Parsons sat with his child, as he had
done on the morning on which my story
opened; but how changed was the appearance
of each from what it then had been Par-
sons no longer hung down his head, as if
ashamed to look his fellow-man in the face:
his eye was clear and steady; his dress
decent and clean ; and instead of bitter tears,
there were roses on Esther's cheek !
Oh, father, are we not happy ? she ex-
claimed, as the bright glow of the setting
sun bathed the room in light.
If I be happy here," said Parsons, look-
ing with earnest thought into the golden
clouds above, "or if I've a hope of being
happy in the better world that's to come, I
think, my Esther, that under God I owe it
all to you. I was going fast on the down-
hill road, I was giving up all effort to stop,
when your prayers-and your words-and
your tears-and the blessed Book which you
put in my way, made me see that there was
hope even for me They led me to 'try
again' to get back to the straight, safe path,
to be a good father to you, my child, and a
faithful servant to my God !"
' .AY, my child, I've nothing else to
t hold by, either in life or death, but
',- the great truth, that Christ died
for sinners. It's a joyful thing to
hold fast the blessed hope of ever-
lasting life which God hath given us through
our Lord Jesus Christ! "
The speaker was Peter Ross, a blind and
aged man, with bald head and silvery beard,
who, clad in a pauper's dress, had come, as
he was allowed once a fortnight to do, to visit
the house of his son. The listener was a rosy-
cheeked girl, about nine years of age, who,
seated at his feet, and resting her little arms
on his knee, looked up lovingly into his face.
mo I B A a.15t.
Ah, grandfather," said Rose, "if you
did not hope to go to heaven, I don't know
who else could! You are so good, so
patient, so kind; you have served God all
your life long; you have never been given
to drinking and swearing, like the wicked
men in our court, and I really think that
you know nearly half of the Bible by heart!
I'm certain that you deserve heaven "
Rose, Rose," cried the old man earnestly,
" my only plea for heaven is this,
'I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all;
But Jesus Christ is my all in all!' "
"I can't tell how it is," said Rose, looking
into his face with a puzzled expression, "the
best people seem to think themselves the
worst. If I was half as good as you are, grand-
father, I'd be quite sure of getting to heaven."
By your good works, my child ? "
Yes, by my good works," repeated Rose.
"I can see why bad people hope to be saved
only by the Lord; but it must be so very
different with pious people like you! "
"Rose," said the blind old man, "do you
think that I ever pass one day without sin?"
I'm sure that you do," replied Rose; I
never knew you do anything wrong."
"If my salvation were to depend upon my
passing one waking hour without sin, Rose,
my poor soul would be lost! Remember
that God looks at the heart. His pure eyes
read the evil thought; He knows not only the
sinful things that we do, but the duties which
we leave undone. All our righteousnesses are
as filthy rags: that truth is written in the
But I can't see," persisted the little girl,
" that you need to be saved by the Lord
just in the same way as Luke Dobson did,
who was run over by a cart when he was.
drunk. He lay ill for months and months ;
and father says that he repented, and hoped
to go to heaven at last, because the Lord
died for sinners. Now there must be a very
great difference between his case and yours,
for he was once a very bad man, and treated
his wife very cruelly when he had been at
My dear child," said the aged Christian,
laying his thin hand on the curly head of
Rose, "I have no more power to reach
heaven by my works than poor Luke Dob-
son had by his. The blood of Jesus Christ,
which cleansethfrom all sin, is just as much
needed to wash away mine as it was to wash
.away his. He depended on the mercy of
the Saviour, and I have nought else to de-
I can't understand that," said Rose.
I'll tell you what happened to me in my
youth, Rose, nigh threescore years ago,
when I was not much older than you are.
It seems to me a sort of picture, as it were,
of the way in which sinners are saved, and
how there's nothing that we have to trust to
but God's mercy in Christ."
I should like to hear what happened to
you, grandfather ; but I want to ask just one
question first. If the wicked and the steady
all need mercy alike, where's the use of do-
ing good, and trying to put away our sins ?
Why should we not live as we choose, and
trust that all will come right in the end ?"
Old Peter looked grave as he replied,-
"Because no one who really belongs to the
Saviour can bear to continue in wickedness.
The Lord died not only to save His people
from hell, but from sin; and they hate and
dread the one, as they hate and dread the
other. I'll try and show you what I mean
by my story.
It's nigh sixty years ago, as I said, when
I was a young, strong, active lad, that I
lived for some months by the sea-shore. Our
dwelling was near the beach, in a place
where the cliffs were rugged and high-
so high, that when we looked from the
top of one of them, men walking on the
sands beneath seemed little bigger than
I set out one day to gather shells; for
that was a wonderful place for shells, and
the gentry as came to the village hard by
used often to buy them from us. I wasn't.
going alone. I took with me my brother,
poor Sam. He and I went together, each
with a bag to hold the shells, which was
hung by a long string round our necks, so as
to leave our hands quite free. The last thing
our mother said to us afore we started was
this : 'Mind, lads, and don't go too far; for
the tide is on the turn, and the waves be
running high, and if ye go as far as High-
cliff, there's danger that ye both may be
drowned.' No fear, mother,' said I; 'even
if the tide should come in upon us, I reckon
that I'm active and strong enough to climb
to the top of the cliff. But I cannot say
as much for Sam, with his weak arms and
the swelling on his ankle; I know he has no
chance of climbing, so I'll keep out of harm's
way for his sake.'
"'And for your own too, Peter,' said
Sam, as we walked along the beach together;
'you are strong and active, to be sure, but
you are no more able than I be to climb up
such a mighty high cliff.'
"'There may be two opinions as to that,'
said I; for I had a great notion of my own
powers, and prided myself on being agile as a
goat on the rocks. Well," pursued the blind
pauper, "we had plenty of luck that day in
finding shells on the shore; both of us filled
our bags, and we were so eager and pleased
with our success, that we wandered on fur-
ther and further, and scarce gave a thought
to the tide, till we saw the white creamy
foam tossed on the sand from the waves
that came rolling and tumbling in-shore,
and we looked up and saw the great white
cliff rising high and bluff before us !
"' I say, Sam,' cried I, 'just see how the
tide's coming in 'tis time for us to make the
best of our way back to mother !'
"My brother turned white as a sheet.
''Tis too late for that!' said he, giving a
wildered gaze at the waste of heaving bil-
lows. For the coast just there made a bend
like a crescent, and though we stood upon
dry land still, the white-topped waves, both
afore and ahind us, were rolling right up to
the cliff! Where we had walked dry-shod
not an hour before, there was nothing to be
seen but the waters, which soon would cover
the place where we were !
"' What's to be done ?' cried my brother,
as he looked up at the great rocky wall be-
"'Keep a good heart!' said I. 'I'll climb
up to the top o' the cliff, and then I'll get
help and a rope, and we'll draw you up to
So I put down my bag, and I pulled off
my jacket, for it was clear enough that I
could not climb with them. I knew well,
though I didn't choose to say it, that it
would be hard work to get to the top of so
high and steep a cliff; but I did not know,
I would not believe, that it was impossible
for me to do so. By dint of straining every
muscle, clasping, clutching at every jutting
HOLD FAST. 85
crag or little rock-plant that offered a hold, I
managed to struggle up a few yards. But
the way grew steeper and harder. I could
scarcely find place for my foot, or hold for
my hand; the earth was slipping beneath
me. I panted- I gasped-I strained;-feel-
ing myself falling, I tried, with a violent
effort, to catch hold of a little stump that
seemed to be just beyond my reach. I
caught it, but lost my footing-hung for a
moment by one hand-then the stump gave
way, and with a cry of fear I fell heavily
down the rock."
0 grandfather were you much hurt ?"
exclaimed Rose, who had listened with
breathless interest to Peter's account of his
"Not badly hurt," said the blind man;
"but enough bruised and shaken to be
kept from the folly of trying the climbing
"Then you were just in the same case as
your brother, though you had fancied your-
self so much better able to get to the top
"That's it; that's what I wished you to
see!" cried Peter. It is for that I tell you
the story. We were alike helpless, my child;
the strong and the weak, the active and the
maimed, neither could reach the top; both
were just in the same danger of being
drowned by the coming tide. And so it is
with the matters of the soul. One man
seems wiser, another better, another bolder
than his fellows; but the wisest, the boldest,
the best can never reach heaven by their
efforts. The way is too high, too steep, to
be climbed Their good deeds break away;
they can't support them; they can't hold
them up from destruction "
But how were you saved ? exclaimed
Rose, more eager to hear the story than to
gather its moral.
My brother and I felt that there was
but one thing which we could do,--we must
loudly call out for assistance. We cried
aloud again and again; we lifted up our
voices with all our might, and as God in
His mercy ordered, the sound of our cries was
heard from the top of the cliff. And so it is
with the sinner, my child, when he feels that
he is in danger of eternal death, when he
finds that he has no power in himself to help
himself, and that unless God comes to his
aid, he is lost and ruined for ever. The cry,
God be merciful to me a sinner! is heard even
above the heavens, and mercy comes to the
"Was a rope let down from the top of the
cliff? asked the impatient Rose.
"A rope was let down," replied Peter,
"and it was long enough and strong enough
to save us. It was let down not a minute
too soon, for already the sand on which we
stood was washed by every advancing wave!
Sam, who was terribly frightened, at once
caught hold of the rope, and clung to it as
for his life. Nay, if I remember right, he
fastened it round his body. But my courage,
or rather presumption, had risen once more,
as soon as I found that means were provided
to draw us up safely beyond the reach of
danger. I put on my jacket again, and
passed the string of my bag of shells round
my neck. 'Since I have not to climb,' cried
I, 'there's no use in leaving them behind;
I've no mind to part with one of 'em!' Now,
mark my words, Rose, my child: I was think-
ing in an earthly matter as you thought just
now when you said, 'If the wicked and the
steady all need mercy alike, what's the use
of doing good, and putting away our sins ?'
I believed that the rope was enough to save
me. And so in truth it was; but how could
I hold fast by the rope, when I carried a
weight round my neck? "
I see-I see !" exclaimed Rose; "you
must leave your heavy bag behind you; for
though the rope might not break, you could
not keep your hold on it, while the weight
was dragging you down!"
"No more than any man who wilfully
keeps one sin can continue safely to hold fast
the blessed hope of everlasting life. He but
deceives himself, if he ever tries to do so. I
soon found out, as I was drawn upwards,
what a fearful mistake I had made. I had
not risen many feet above the sands when a
horrible dread arose in my mind that I should
never be able to hold on till I had reached
the top of the cliff. The muscles of my arms
ached terribly, my fingers could scarcely keep
their grasp, and the string round my neck
seemed to choke me, like the gripe of an
"'Make haste!' I gasped out in agony,
scarce able to bring out the words. 'Oh
be quick-be quick-or I shall be forced to
"'Hold fast, brother, hold fast!' shouted
poor Sam, in mortal terror at my danger.
The men above were straining every nerve
to pull us up before my strength should fail
me; but oh, how fearfully slow we seemed
HOLD PAST, BOTHER, HOLD FAST
"The strain on my arms now was torture.
My brain grew dizzy. I could scarcely
breathe. I had but one thought-one mad-
dening wish-to get rid of the fatal bag!
It seemed to grow heavier every moment;
it was as if some barbarous foe were pulling
me down to destruction. I felt that unless
I could be relieved of the weight, I must let
go, and be dashed to pieces. I dared not
attempt to cling by one weary hand, so as
to use the other to untie the fatal string. I
cried in despairing agony to God, for I was
beyond all help from man. I know not to
this day how His mercy wrought,-whether
the weight on it snapped the string, or
whether in my struggles the knot was un-
tied; but never till my dying hour shall I
forget the sense of relief, when suddenly
something gave way, and I felt the weight
was gone; I heard a splash in the waters
below, and, in another minute was firmly
grasped by a hand stretched out from
0 grandfather, what a mercy!" ex-
claimed Rose, drawing a long breath. Her
heart had beat fast at the account of such
"A mercy, indeed!" said the old man
solemnly, clasping his hands together, as
memory recalled the awful scene. Had
that bag, instead of shells, contained all the
wealth of the world, how thankful should I
have been to have dropped it into the sea
for ever. As that weight was to my body,
so is sin to the soul. In vain do we grasp
the hope of salvation, in vain do we seem
to be raised from a state of danger by the
mercy of Christ, if we resolve not to try to
cast from us every sin that our God con-
demns. Without holiness, no man shall see the
Lord. We must cast away every weight, and
the sin that doth so easily beset us; not in our
own poor strength, but in the power of prayer,
looking to God, trusting to God, ready to
give up everything for God. Then will His
love never fail us ; He will never leave us to
perish. By His grace shall we hold fast to
the end, and rejoice for ever in His pre-
ZFhe Riajc,, df Sill.
"The foolishness of man perverteth his way; and his heart frettetli
against the Lord."-PRov. xix. 3.
T is very, very hard in one's old age to
Sbe driven to poverty, to be neglected
Sby one's friends, forsaken by one's
Children, left to wear out a weary
life in a hateful place like this !"
Such were the words of a miserable old
man, who, bed-ridden and helpless, was pour-
ing out his complaint to a humane visitor at
"But, my friend," replied the lady, "we
must remember that these trials are sent by
a gracious and merciful God, who does not
THE WAGES OF SIN.
qflict willingly, nor grieve the children of
"It's all very well for those to talk who
don't know what trouble means," said old
Sam Butler, in a tone of peevish irritability.
"Where is the mercy shown to me ? I was
once a strong, hearty young man,-none
better at cricket or at football; and now I
can't so much as creep across this hateful
room I had once my own well-stocked
shop, with the customers thronging in and
out like bees; and now, but for the work-
house, I shouldn't have a roof over my
head! I was once surrounded by wife and
children,--a thriving, goodly family; and
now my wife's in her grave, and the chil-
dren scattered over the world, and there's
not one of them that so much as cares to
inquire whether the old man's dead or
alive! Oh, it's very hard it's very, very
"But there are some comforts and hopes
of which neither old age nor sickness, neither
THE WAGES OF SIN.
man's neglect nor poverty, can ever deprive
Don't talk to me!" cried the old pauper,
angrily. I know all that you're going to
say, but there's neither comfort nor hope to
me in these things. I never found any in
my better days, and I am not likely to find
any now !"
The visitor looked shocked and distressed.
She felt anxious to speak a message of peace
to the wretched old man; but his bitterness
of spirit and rebellion of will made her find
it difficult to address him. Thinking that
to reflect on the trials of others might divert
his mind from his own, or give him an in-
direct lesson on resignation under them, she
said, after a few moments' hesitation, I have
recently been visiting one who has known
much affliction,-a poor man of the name of
"Charles Hayes interrupted the pauper;
"as if I did not know him !-my school-
fellow when I was a boy, and my neighbour
THE WAGES OF SIN.
for twenty long years! I always said he
would come to the workhouse,-what with
his bad health and his silly scruples about
turning an honest penny; thinking every-
thing wrong which did not square with his
odd notions, and helping others when he bad
scarcely enough for himself! I always said
he would come to the workhouse. And yet,
see what a world this is continued Butler
with a burst of indignation; "no sooner is
he quite laid on the shelf than the gentry
take to petting and pampering him as if he
were one of themselves! The squire puts
him into a nice cottage, the ladies send him
blankets and broth, the parson takes a plea-
sure in visiting him, and he is watched day
and night with as much care as if he were
one of the lords of the land !"
"Watched by an orphan whom he had
generously brought up."
Other people have brought up children,"
cried the pauper, with something like a groan,
" and have had no comfort in them. Charles
THE WAGES OF SIN.
Hayes had never a child of his own, but he
finds one like a daughter by his sick-bed; he
has always been poor, but now in his age I
don't believe that he wants for anything,-
a friend -seems to meet him wherever he
turns; and they say that in spite of his weak-
ness and pain he calls himself contented and
happy Oh, this is a bad world !-a miser-
able world Why should his lot be so differ-
ent from mine ? Why should he have peace,
and I have nothing but trouble ? Why
should his friends stick by him, and all mine
forsake me ? Why, when I am wearing out
my days in a workhouse, should he rest in
a home of his own ?"
An answer was on the visitor's lips, but
consideration for the feelings of the pauper
prevented her from uttering it aloud-" Be-
cause the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich,
and he addeth no sorrow therewith." There
would have been no use in attempting to
point out to the repining old man how godli-
ness, even in this world, brings its reward;
TIE WAGES OF SIN.
nor did the lady know enough of the events
of Butler's life to be aware how completely
his present miseries were the natural conse-
quences of his own conduct. Self had ever
been his first object; to gratify self had been
the business of his life. He had not served'
God in the time of his health; he could not
look to God in the hour of his helplessness
and need. He had done nothing to benefit
man, and man cared nothing for him now,
though compassion might bring a few, like
the visitor at the workhouse, to spend some
minutes beside him as a disagreeable duty.
Yet Sam Butler had set out in life with
no bad prospects. Blessed with cheerful
spirits, buoyant health, a fair education, and
good name, and settled in a comfortable
situation, he seemed likely to do well in the
world, and spend a very prosperous life.
The first great mistake which Butler made
was that of marrying for money. His master
was old and infirm, and willing to give up
his business whenever his only daughter