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, --,--------.-.,-- ,,lm----,.-', ----7- ---- -UNDER THE MICROSCOPE;OR,hoan halt call me fli father.BY THE AUTHOR OF"COPSLEY ANNALS;" " VILLAGE MISSIONARIES," &c.&c. de." -7'.LONDON:T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;EDINBURGH; AND NEW YOIK.1873.
fo it .tents.I. WELDON WOODS, ... ... .. ... ... ... 7II. STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS, ... ... ... ... 47III. THE LENS OF AFFLICTION, ... ... ... ... ... 80IV. STEVIE'S FRIENDS, ... .... ... ... ... ... 103V. WELDON WOODS AGAIN. ... ... ... ... ... 126
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UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.CHAPTER I.WELDON WOODS.T was on a warm July morning thata large throng of boys and girls wasassembled on the railway platformof one of our great manufacturingtowns. That it was a gala day was evidencedby the holiday appearance of the children,by the many-coloured banners which theydisplayed, and by the hurrahs which soundedfrom the vans into which they were closelypacked. The porters hurried hither and
8 WELDON WOODS.thither, hardly knowing whether to beannoyed by the trouble involved in thelaunching of an excursion train, or whetherto give in to the festive feelings of the occa-sion, while they finally compromised thematter by sternly admonishing the boys whodisplayed tendencies to friskiness, and bygently caring for some little infants, whomthey deposited in corners where they wouldbe least shaken on the way. Anxiousteachers, with written lists of the divisionsin their charge, called over the names toassure themselves that none of their numberwas missing; two or three more super-intended the stowage in a luggage van oflarge baskets of provisions; while over all,and in every part of the train, presided Mr.Vaughan, the clergyman of the church towhich these schools belonged. Here hesupported the authority of a monitor whowas endeavouring to maintain the order of
WELDON WOODS.departure; there he encouraged some littlefaint-hearted girls who were beginning toanticipate the tunnels of which they hadbeen told; and finally, having adopted everynecessary and unnecessary precaution againstconfusion and disarrangement of plans, hefound his place with some of the teachers ina van crowded with boys, and, having ascer-tained the safety of a box over which hekept strict watch and ward, and respectingthe contents of which many guesses hadbeen adventured, took out his watch, andcongratulated himself that his six hundredchildren had been marshalled, classified, andsettled in their places, exactly by the speci-fied hour of half-past nine A.M.A shrill whistle from the guard, an echo-ing, and still shriller, whistle from theengine, a loud, long hurrah from the chil-dren, and the closely packed train glidesfrom the platform, and, at first slowly, then
40 WELDON WOODS.more rapidly, threads its way above smoky,chimneys, by tall warehouses, over dark,muddy canals, among red-tiled roofs, andthrough hot-looking brick-fields into the,country. Into .the fresh, green country!Oh, what a pleasant sound was that to the,children, who, month after month, and yearafter year, inhaled the offensive atmosphereof crowded alleys and confined courts; who,month after month, and year after year,heard no sounds but those of the thronged,city, and of the whirring factory-mills, andwho might sigh in vain for the sight of clear"blue skies, green trees, and the sweetsummer sights and sounds which, for thisone day, it was theirs to enjoy.And it was not to a field in the suburbs,,or into trim tea-gardens, which make apretence of being rural but which are not soin reality, that Mr. Vaughan had arrangedto convey his schools. The train contemp-
WELDON WOODS. 11tuously passed by all the outlying railwayplatforms, and did not slacken speed until,after more than an hour's run, a retired,shady station-house, covered with creepers,and surrounded by trees, appeared in sight.And then it drew up to the platform, andthe doors were opened, and a shout of exul-tation from the boys announced their arrivalat their journey's end.The owner of Weldon Woods was acousin of Mr. Vaughan's, and had givenpermission for the celebration on his groundsof the school festival. So it happened thatat the secluded Weldon Station, where fewtrains stopped, and where passengers seldomalighted, six hundred children, with theirmonitors and teachers, were marshalled inorderly bands, and, headed by Mr. Vaughan,defiled under his guidance through a longascending shady lane,. with banks of fox-glove and honeysuckle which the little ones
12 WELDON WOODS.THE PROCESSION.eagerly surveyed; while the choir-boys inthe foremost ranks struck up a marchingchorus in which all joined in sweet swellingharmony. In two waggons, which had beenin waiting at the station, the youngest children and provision-hampers were deposited;"and these brought up the rear of the proces-sion, which, after a march of twenty minutes,at every step of which the trees becameat every step of which the trees became
WELDON WOODS. 13thicker and the way more straggling, finallyentered a large open space in the midst ofthe green wood which covered the slope ofthe South Weldon Hill. It was a cool,shady spot. Here and there masses of rockwere strewn about, as if giants had selectedthe place for their bowling-ground; and aview of the country for many miles roundcaused the children to clap their hands withdelight.A halt was proclaimed; and while theystood for a minute all round the grassyspace, Mr. Vaughan issued the orders forthe day. It was eleven o'clock now, andwithin the limits of the wood, and of thefield below, they might all disperse with theirteachers. At twelve, dinner would be readyin this their new dining-room; and the bellwould summon first the girls, and, after fiveminutes, the boys. He expected the elderchildren to help him in maintaining perfect
14 WELDON WOODS.order, and finally told them that at thesound of the bell, whenever it might ring,all were to assemble at the gathering-place.After dinner, the boys would be providedwith bats and balls for cricket and foot-ball,while the girls would have other amuse-ments in readiness. The teachers would re-main with their respective divisions, andMr. Vaughan added that he trusted thatthis bright day might be spent in perfectpeace and harmony, and that with thankfulhearts the children would remember Himwho had made the earth so fair and green,and who had prospered them so far in theirundertaking.Joyfully the children dispersed into thecool green woods-into the new worldwhich for this one day was opened to them.The boys climbed the trees, scrambled upand down the banks, swung on the boughs,and made parties for games at the foot of
WELDON WOODS. 15the hill; while the girls made friends withthe wild-flowers, and formed them into nose-tangled pathway, and wondering at thegays and wreaths; now sitting down to.enjoy perfectly the cool shade and the beau-tiful view; and now restlessly and de-lightedly exploring this little glen, thattangled pathway, and wondering at theloveliness which rendered this a very fairy-land in their eyes. Deep, deep in ournature has God implanted the love and theyearning for the beauties of his creation,
16 W'ELDON WOODS.which the poor children of the factory andthe artisan -at his loom experience-oftenmore ardently than the rich, who can at alltimes command the luxury of hours anddays in the country; and it was touching tosee these young ones, gathered out from themiserable courts and dense alleys of a greatcity, drinking in at every breath a pleasureso pure, so deep, and to many of them sohitherto unknown. It seemed as if mo-ments only and not an hour had passed,when the first bell summoned the girls to theplace of meeting, where some of the teachersand elder children had laid out the cups andplates in neat and orderly array. All satin divisions, and every child had a numberto its name corresponding to a similarnumber previously affixed to its plate andmug; and, after five minutes, during whichthe monitors of the divisions arranged thechildren in exact order with little loss of(291)
WELDON WOODS. 17time or confusion, the boys swarmed in likebees, and were speedily marshalled in likemanner. Then they all stood up, and verysoftly the grace of thanksgiving was sung inchorus:--Glory be to God on high;Glory be to Christ our King;Holy Spirit, ever nigh,Thine eternal praise we sing:All the saints, below, above,Celebrate redeeming love!And as all partook of the food providedfor them on the slope of the green hill, eachclass watched over and cared for, each childsupplied with water from the spring close athand, each furnished with bread and meatplentifully in store, to many a teacher'sheart recurred the memory of a day when,as the people sat on the grass by fifties in acompany, a command was issued to thedisciples of the Lord, " Give ye them to eat;"and many a prayer ascended that the soulsof these children might be found hungering(291) 2
38 W)ELDON WOODS.and thirsting after righteousness, and that itmight be theirs to feed on the hidden mannaprovided by Him who filleth the hungrywith good things, who satisfieth the longingsoul, and filleth the hungry soul with good-ness.We may not stay to describe the merri-ment and the incidents of that dinner on thegrass-how some of the boys proposed Mr.Vaughan's health, which was drunk in water-how others accomplished feats in the con-sumption of provisions, worthy of note evenamongst the astonishing performances of thisdescription already on record-or how someof the little girls were discovered in the actof bestowing a part of the water in theirmugs on the wild-flowers which grew besidethem, as if they, too, were to be sharers inthe feast. It will be sufficient to say, thatnever did bread, meat, and cake give moreample satisfaction ; never was festivity more
WELDON WOODS. 19orderly; and never, certainly, did teachersand monitors watch more effectively overtheir charges.At a quarter-past one the space wascleared. The plates and mugs, with num-bers conspicuous, were tied up and ranged inrows ready for tea; the boys were busilyengaged in cricket and rounders at the footof the hill-the girls, joined by some oftheir teachers, in other games, whilst theeldest class and the remaining monitorsgathered round Mr. Vaughan, who had dur-ing the morning been busily occupied ingetting ready for exhibition a powerfulmicroscope contained in the box alreadymentioned, and which he now announcedhimself prepared to display to them.It was pleasant to see the wonder, almostawe, mixed with delight with which themarvels of the microscope were surveyed by- his audience; how as the fly's wing appeared
20 WELDON WOODS.under the magic glass in rainbow hues-thespider's claw with all its wondrous mechan-ism-the beetle wing in gorgeous colouring,and other objects, each one more astonishingthan the last-the excitement and surprisebecame greater, until, finally, the young onesheld their breath with amazement andgratification.Before dismissing his first auditors, whowere to give place to others, Mr. Vaughantook from his object-box a little glass plate,and handing it to one of the teachers, askedwhat she saw upon it." Nothing but a tiny speck like a grainof sand," was the reply.It was handed round, but no furtheranswer was elicted. Then Mr. Vaughan,putting it under the lens, repeated his in-quiry." I see letters," said Annie Morris, theyoung girl who was first invited to look
WELDON WOODS. 21through; " but they are so small that I canhardly read them."A higher magnifier was placed in themicroscope, and another of the party sum-moned was to examine the object. Withan exclamation of surprise, she read out thewords, "Our Father which art in heaven,"assuring others who were eager to take herplace, that in very small letters she coulddistinctly decipher the Lord's Prayer. Alens of yet higher power was applied, andone by one they all looked with astonish-ment at what had at first appeared an almostimperceptible little speck, but which nowproved to be a clearly written photographiccopy of the sacred form of words so familiarto them all."And now," inquired Mr. Vaughan, "whocan tell me by what pen this came to bewritten in characters so small as to be com-pletely indistinguishable to the naked eye?"
22 WELDON WOODS.The girls looked inquiringly, but did notanswer."The pen which wrote these invisiblewords," he continued, "came from heaven-the photograph is the writing of the sun-beam. No human hand could trace wordsand letters needing the microscope to displaythem ; but modern discovery has shown that,by means of these rays of pencil light, theminutest and most truthful representationsare executed; and remember, that the samelight which was made to write these wordsis that which, by acting on different lenses,enables our eyes to discern them in all theirdistinctness and beauty. To some of youwho are teachers," he added, looking at hiswatch, and observing that it was late, "thiswill suggest a striking lesson. I cannotenter upon it now, but in the course of aSunday or two shall endeavour to do somore fully. Meantime, I hope that I may
w7*. ,- ~' ~, ,-d. ... __
WELDON WOODS. 25have the satisfaction of believing that thisnew and minute view of God's wondrousworks, has been to many of you a source ofreal gratification and profit, one of the plea-sures of what will, I trust, prove to havebeen to all of you a thoroughly happyday."It was about half an hour after the ex-hibition of the microscope that one of theteachers, in exploring the most secluded ofthe many woodland paths on the slope ofthe hill, suddenly came upon a young girl,who, seated on the grass, was weepingbitterly. She looked up hastily on hearingthe approaching footsteps; but on perceiv-ing the new comer, did not attempt to checkthe tears which flowed unrestrainedly downher cheeks."Annie! Annie Morris !" exclaimedRachel Clarke, the young teacher, whom wenow introduce to our readers, "tell me-
26 WELDON WOODS.what has happened ?-all should be brightto-day."h'1B/ ". -." '7, :, ..i'.' "ANNIE MIORRIS AND RACHEL CLARKE.They were a contrast, as, taking her seatby her friend, Rachel bent over her sooth-ingly and inquiringly. The elder of the twowas in reality about twenty-five years of age,but a look of care and anxiety made herappear several years older. Already silverhairs, prematurely whitened as if by early
WELDON WOODS. 27days of trial, mingled with the pale brownof the braids neatly folded back from herbrow. Hers were homely features; butthey were lit up by such an expression ofresignation and sincerity, that you wouldhave trusted Rachel Clarke as a friend, withno other recommendation of her than thecalm, loving glance of the full gray eye,which told, as by a signal-light from within,of peace and tranquillity in her heart.Very different was the countenance ofAnnie Morris. She had thrown her bonneton the grass, and clustering black hair butpartially concealed a face flushed with ex-citement and emotion, and a dark, passionateeye, half sorrowful, half defiant in its ex-pression.For some minutes she continued silent, re-gardless of Rachel's entreaties that she woulddisclose the cause of her grief. At last itburst forth impetuously:-
28 WELDON WOODS." 0 Rachel! it's coming here, I think, hasmade me feel like this. It'll all look asbeautiful to-morrow, and the next day, andthe next; and we shall know how the birdsare singing here, and how the flowers look,and how the sun lights up the hill, while weshall hear nothing but the whirr of the mills,and see nothing but the work-rooms, and thedark courts, and miserable homes.""But, Annie, dear, remember-""Oh, let me speak, Rachel; I know whatyou're going to say-that it's ordered, andbest for us, and all that-that's what youalways say; but why is it that we're neverto have what every child in the country has.to enjoy ? We don't know what fresh air is-we don't see the flowers grow-we shallall go home to-night and dream of thisbeautiful place, and of the wood, and of themeadows, and the shadows on the grass; andthen we shall wake up to work, work, work,I
WELDON WOODS. 29".weary or not, heart-sick or not, and there'llbe the roar of the city, and everything willseem darker and harder after to-day.""It's very sad for you to feel so, Annie;Sbut you must say all. Doesn't our Fatherknow how to place his children better thanthey know how to order things for them-"selves?""Don't speak so, Rachel-it doesn't dome good. If I lived here, and could come.out and pray in the fields, and saw all thisbeautiful world every day, I could feel as ifGod was my Father. But it's no use tryingin the town. I sometimes kneel down topray, but I feel as if he couldn't hear downin that noisy court-as if my prayer wouldnever get through all the smoke that keepsit from going up to the blue sky; and so Igive over. I'd like just to die here, andnever, .never go back again." And withthese words Annie threw back the heavy
30 WELDON WOODS.hair from off her face, and gazed once moreat the fair scenery spread out beneath herfeet.SRachel remained silent for a minute, pon-dering how to calm the excited girl. Thenshe said softly, "' Like as a father pitieth hischildren, so the Lord pitieth them that fearhim.' ""That may do for you to say, Rachel,"was the reply. "You're his child, I suppose,and can believe it all; but it's different withme. The children were singing, 'Home,sweet Home,' as we came along, and Iwondered what sort of a home I had to singof: it's the place I hate most of all; andfather's worse and worse. There's Stevie,now-""What of Stevie? Annie, I hope nothing'swrong with him ? ""It's just this, that he'll be knocked upin a little while. After mother died, father
WELDON WOODS. 31made me go out to work at the mills, al-though she used to say she wouldn't haveme a mill-girl for all the world. Well, Ididn't mind that so much-I always walkboth ways with Harry, and it's better thanbeing left alone with father; and Steviewent to school, and Harry and I put byenough for his schooling and clothes everyweek where father couldn't get it to drinkaway. But a month ago father said hemustn't be lazy any longer, and took himaway and sent him to the factory-work, andhe's getting thinner and weaker every day,and we can't prevent his going. I'd haveworked night and day, and so would Harry,to save Stevie; but it's no use. I sometimesthink, What would mother have said ? Shealways told us he wasn't fit for rough worklike us two strong ones-he was so pale anddelicate. And now he can't sleep rightly atnights for the whirr and the noise that seems
82 WELDON WOODS.to go on in his ears; and he starts up fright-ened-like, for fear he should be late; and hegoes about so sad and quiet it nearly breaksmy heart." And here followed a fresh burstof grief.* Rachel had listened anxiously and sorrow-fully. "But, Annie," she interposed, "Stevienever told me this. He's always in theSunday school, and so good and attentive.He's the best boy in my class.""He wouldn't give up Sunday school forall the world," replied Annie. "Fathersaid there wasn't any use in his going ; butStevie loves you so much, and besides he'sso good-different quite from other children-that he'd rather give up his dinner thanleave off.""Poor little boy!" said Rachel softly;"yes, Annie, it's a hard trial for you-allthe harder because you can't feel that'there'slove behind the sending it."
WELDON WOODS. 83"I wonder whether you would feel thelove if you was me," replied the young girl,bitterly. "Mother's gone, and I'd havedied to save her; and father doesn't care ifwe were to starve; and now, there's Stevie-perhaps I could bear it all if I lived outhere under the blue sky, and with every-thing so beautiful-but there, in that miser-able court, it's no use trying. I've a mindto give up everything good-I would, longago, if it hadn't been for what mother said.I've kept on going to Sunday school for hersake; but the girls laugh at me, and say I'mtoo big, so that I often think I'll give thatover too.""Annie," said Rachel, with tears in her.eyes, "do you ever say, 'Our Father whichart in heaven' ? ""Yes, I suppose I do," was the answer."I don't feel it.""I think God is wanting you to feel it,(291) 3
34 WELDON WOODS.Annie; what Mr. Vaughan showed us inthe microscope reminded me of how he hadtaught me to feel it. Shall I tell you whatI mean ?"" Yes, you can-I don't mind your talk-ing, Rachel; some people would make mefeel worse."" It seems to me, Annie, that thosewords, 'Our Father,' have been written fromheaven, just as Mr. Vaughan said the photo-graph was; and that we can't understandthem or read them right by ourselves, orwithout the same light of God's Spirit whichwrote them for us. And so we just go onblindly, never feeling them, thinking nomore of them than you did of what lookedlike a grain of sand, until he opens our eyesby putting them under the microscope.Didn't you notice how Mr. Vaughan putthem first under one magnifier, then undera stronger one, then under the strongest ofI
WELDON WOODS. 35all ? So some are taught to read God astheir Father through a lens of worldly pros-perity, or of the beauties of Nature, whenthe Holy Spirit shows them whose lovegives them all things richly to enjoy. Butthere is often need of a higher magnifyingpower, and maybe God teaches us to readthe same words through the glass of afflic-tion, or of sickness, or of bereavement; andthat's what he wants you to do, poor Annie-as he says, Whom the Lord loveth hechasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom hereceiveth.' But there is a higher magnify-ing power yet-a stronger than all; and wecan't read God to be our Father in the clear-est, most beautiful letters, until he gives usthe light of his Spirit to read through thatlens; and often he only bids us look throughThat, without showing us the others. Canyou guess what I mean, Annie? "Annie shook her head in reply.
36 WELDON WOODS." 0 dear Annie, it's the love of Christ.We can't say, Our Father which art inheaven' right, until we have come to seehow like a father he pitied us in sending hisown dear Son to die for us, and to think,'He that spared not his own Son, but de-livered him up for us all, how shall he notuith him freely also give us all things ?' It'snot till we see God to be our Father bylooking at him as revealed in the love ofJesus Christ our Saviour, that we under-stand the whole meaning of what is said in.his Word, 'Thou shalt call me My Father ;'and, Ye have received the spirit of adoption,whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' Then 'TheSpirit itself beareth witness with our spiritthat we are the children of God.' Annie, Ican't bear that you should go on sayingthat these words are not for you. I wantyou to see them under the microscope. Iwant you to find what it is to put every sin,
WELDON WOODS. 87and trial, and care upon Christ; to feel thatGod has showed his love for you in givingChrist for your soul; and to be able throughall hours of sorrow to trace the fatherly loveand power, which is most chiefly declared inshowing mercy and pity.""It sounds very nice, Rachel; I daresayyou feel it all. I could feel it out here, butit's different with me.""I couldn't live on without feeling it,Annie. I get weary enough of the close,confined work-room, and of living with noearthly friend to care for me, and of theweary pain in my head which has so oftencome on during the last few years. If Icouldn't lean on my Father, and tell himall, and think of Jesus Christ's words, 'Iascend unto my Father and your Father,unto my God and your God,' I should giveup in despair. But sometimes in my littleSunday class, or in my close garret at night,
88 WELDON WOODS.I've seemed almost in heaven, his armshave felt so near round me." And as shespoke, her eyes beamed with a brightnesswhich contrasted strangely with the homelyfeatures which their glance irradiated.Annie made no reply, and they sat forsome time side by side, while the afternoonlights and shadows fell on the hill and onthe meadows, and the breeze carried totheir ears the shouts and merriment of theboys and girls at)play. They had remainedquiet for many minutes when the bushesparted, and a pale, slight boy stood besidethem, with hat and hands full of wild-flowers.No family-likeness would have told that hewas Annie's brother, unless it were thelarge, dark eye, which, however, in his casewas soft-almost feminine in its expression."Stevie!" exclaimed Rachel, "how didyou find us ? ""I was getting flowers by myself," he
SWELDON WOODS. 39STEVIE AND THE FLOWERS.answered, "and I heard your voice, andwanted to come to you.""But why don't you play with theothers, Stevie?" inquired his sister, gently;"they've all been having fun down in themeadow.""I'm tired," he answered wearily. " Iliked better being alone amongst the flowers."0 teacher," he continued, as, drawing the
40 WELDON WOODS.boy to her side, Rachel pushed the hairfrom off his pale forehead, and let himnestle in with her arm round him,-"teacher this must be just like heaven,it's so lovely here "" Do you like it so much, Stevie ? ""Oh, it's more beautiful than anything Iever thought of! I didn't know the worldcould be like this anywhere "The little factory-boy's vision of heaven!It was touching to hear the child of toil andpoverty disclose the deep, intense enjoymentof his few hours in-the country. They allthree sat quietly together for some time,Stevie lovingly arranging, almost convers-ing with his flowers, until he had madethem up into nosegays. Then Rachel-began softly to sing:-"There is a land of pure delight,Where saints immortal reign;Infinite day excludes the night,And pleasures banish pain.
WELDON WOODS. 41"There everlasting spring abides,And never-with'ring flowers;-Death like a narrow stream dividesThat heavenly land from ours." Sweet fields beyond the swelling floodStand dressed in living green;-So to the Jews old Canaan stood,While Jordan rolled between."She did not finish the hymn, for the tiredchild, whose face had lit up as she began theverses so forcibly suggested by the summerscene before their eyes, leaned his head moreheavily on her arm, and as she bent overhim, she saw that the weary eyelids hadclosed, and knew, by his gentle, regularbreathing, that he had fallen fast asleep.When the bell again sounded, late in theafternoon, it was to summon the children totea. Mr. Vaughan had been a militaryman in the earlier part of his life, and hadcarried the method and habits of orderlyarrangement acquired in the army into all
42 WELDON WOODS.parochial administrations. Of his exacti-tude in these particulars this day's festivitywas an example. Nothing seemed to havebeen forgotten-nothing overlooked. Theyoung ones exclaimed with delight as theybeheld their teachers encamped gipsy-fashionby the side of fires, lit by the boys, whoentered zealously into the fun, on whichsteaming tea-kettles gave promise of en-tertainment to the thirsty throng whichspeedily surrounded -them. Upon fewteachers were more loving looks bestowedthan upon Rachel Clarke. The little ones,to whose wants she ministered, followedher with eager eyes, and needed only hergentle presence to maintain perfect orderamongst them. The second meal was, ifpossible, more popular than the dinner.It was such a treat to keep up the fires,to laugh at tie tea-makers' difficulties, andto talk of the spacious tea-room in which
WELDON WOODS. 43they were, with its green carpet and brightblue ceiling, and beautiful view from windowsbetween the trees. Then the cake and buns,and bread and butter, were very acceptableamongst the children, who were plentifullysupplied with all they needed, so that no-thing was wanting to complete the enjoy-ment of the day. After tea, while theteachers and monitors packed up the dishesand prepared for departure, choruses weresung by the elder boys and girls, and sweethymns in which all joined. Then the nameswere called over in the different divisions,and the schools were arranged in the orderof departure. Before the sign for marchingwas given, however, Mr. Vaughan rang forsilence, and once more addressed the children.The day, he said, had come to a close,and it had been one of great enjoyment.He trusted that those amongst them whohad obtained the holiday from their em-
44 WELDON WOODS.players would show their sense of obligationby increased diligence and good-will; andthat the attendance in the week-day andSunday schools would prove that the en-couragement had not been given in vain.But further than this, they must rememberHis love who had graciously watched overthem through the day;-they must go homewith hearts more determined to glorify him,not only with their lips, but in their lives.Should it be permitted, Mr. Vaughan con-tinued, he hoped that they wouTd haveanother treat in Weldon Woods; but whichof the children would be missing before thenext year? Who could tell where somewould be ere that period of time shouldhave passed away? With a few earnestwords of entreaty he concluded his address,-entreaty that they would come to Christ-that they would take of the water of lifefreely-that they would seek the Friend
WELDON WOODS. 45ot sinners for their friend now and forever.Then all the children knelt on the grass,and joined in repeating the Lord's Prayer.It was touching to hear the six hundredvoices which, carried upwards by the even-ing breeze, joined in the sacred words ofsupplication given by Christ to his people.It was wonderful to believe that in himeach one of those little ones, lowly in sta-tion and feeble in prayer, might, if he would,confidently lift up his hand to heaven, and,while surveying the beauties of the fairscene outspread before him, might "smil-ing say, 'My Father made them all.'"Rachel's eye fell on Annie Morris as sheknelt among her companions. She hardlyjoined in the prayer, while a flush of careand pain still remained on her brow, tellingof unquiet within. Not far off knelt Stevie."With clasped hands, in which some flowers
46 WELDON WOODS.were yet retained, he repeated the familiarwords as if from his inmost soul; while itseemed to Rachel that a bright gleam oflight, which fell from among the shadowytrees upon his face, came as a messengerfrom the declining sun to guide his prayerheavenward; and that as by the celestialSfire which in past ages descended upon thealtar, so his prayer was accepted as incense,and the lifting up of his hands as the eveningsacrifice.
r11 1: L!J1 11^ ,- T', -"". j .' " ...CHAPTER IISTEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.HE holiday in the Weldon Woodswas a bright spot, upon which manylooked back lovingly through thehot summer and autumn monthswhich made the close atmosphere andcrowded thoroughfares of the city moretrying than usual. It had been a day, asHarry Morris told Annie, on hearing fromher the report of its proceedings, "to hangup in one's memory, framed and glazed; " yetto her it had only been as a gleam of lightto make the darkness of her daily life morevisible; while to Rachel and to Stephen theremembrance of the green, beautiful world
48 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.into which they had been transportedlit up many a weary hour of toil andtrial.Rachel Clarke was the daughter of a re-spectable tradesman, who had been enabledto give her a good education, but to whomlatterly trouble had come; so that when hedied, his widow and orphan found them-selves reduced to the greatest poverty. Formore than a year Rachel had been engagedto be married to a young cabinet-maker ingood business; but he proved unworthy ofher choice when tried by the change in hercircumstances, and with a sad, sorrowingheart, she gave up what had been to her acherished vision of domestic happiness, andbegan with earnest endeavours to supporther aged mother by dress-making. In theschool of affliction she was being taught toseek Him who, as the God of all comfort,manifests himself to the weary and heavy-
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 49laden; and after her mother's death, whichsucceeded that of her father at an intervalof two years, she was able to feel confidentin the assurances of His word who is indeedthe Father of the fatherless, and to cast herburden on the Lord, trusting to his promisesof support and consolation. Alone in theworld, she was not, however, without thecomfort of earthly love. In many a poverty-stricken home Rachel Clarke was a welcomevisitor; by many a sick-bed it was her chosenvocation to soothe and tend the suffering;no opportunity was lost of silently andhumbly treading in His footsteps "whocame not to be ministered unto, but tominister, and to give his life a ransom formany." In the Sunday school she wasamongst the most punctual and earnest ofthe teachers-following up her instructionsby visits paid during her few spare hoursto the homes of her children. And these(291) 4
50 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.homes she never quitted without leavingbehind her a ray of that sunshine of lovewhich, a reflection of the light of the Sunof Righteousness, it may be the privilege ofthe humblest of his followers to shed uponthe world without.From her childhood Rachel had beenknown to Annie Morris's mother, and hadtherefore grown up as an intimate acquaint-ance of the family. Of all the childrenunder her care, Stevie was the one fromwhom she received the most encouragement.He had never been the same since hismother's death, which had left him exposedto the neglect and harshness of his father,whom he feared; and his teacher's heartyearned over the little motherless boy, who,often pale and weary after a week ofexertion for which he was totally unfit, yetlooked up so wistfully, Sunday after Sunday,as she told of the love of Christ which
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 61i ,I IJill'AT THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.passeth knowledge-never absent from hisplace, never weary of the theme.And to his sister Annie, love to Steviewas the wedge that kept her heart fromquite closing up; and especially since hermother's death, the strong affection of herimpulsive nature had flowed out to him
52 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.when it found no other channels of outlet.It was a sad truth, that, as the months passedby, she became less careful to fulfil homeduties, more showy in her dress, and moreregardless of her father. She had allowedherself to be laughed out of attendance atthe Sunday school; and though, after avisit of earnest entreaty from her teacher,she resumed her seat in the class for a littlewhile, she again began to absent herself,and finally withdrew altogether. RachelClarke had two or three times endeavouredto influence Annie for good, and by kindand earnest remonstrances had tried to leadher into better things; but she grieved toobserve that though she always received herkindly, no permanent impression remained,and matters went on as before. So themonths passed away, and the Morrises' homeseemed as if a cloud hung over it; and whileAnnie gloomily felt this, she did not realize
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 58to herself that she might do much to dispelthat cloud. If, instead of preserving amoody silence, or launching forth hot, angrywords, when her father came home in theevening in an irritable temper, she hadendeavoured to soothe and please him, shemight often have succeeded. Her step-brother Harry was seldom with them, as hehad been advanced to a higher situationwhich kept him out late; but when he didmake one of the party, he felt the drearinessof his home very sensitively, and sometimesasked Annie why she didn't have thingsbrighter. Stevie alone seemed to know thepreciousness of a stronghold to which hemight always resort; and from his bedsidewent up continual childish prayers that theFather in heaven, whom he found so nearand kind, might disclose himself to thosewho as yet knew him not.One secret source of happiness to Stevie
64 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.was the endeavour which he had quietlybegun to make as a working member ofChrist's missionary band. Though so young-only eleven years of age-his characterhad been early formed by trial, and by thenecessity for thinking and judging forhimself; and the Holy Spirit's teaching,which had at first led him to Christ as hisSaviour, was leading him more and more tofollow him as his Example, and to tread inhis footsteps of meekness, submission, andloving service for others. At first he hadfound it very hard to raise his voice againsta remark made by an elder boy in the work-room, who used language in which religionwas lightly brought forward, and it neededmuch grace to bear patiently the manytaunts and unkind remarks which his re-monstrance drew forth from others in theroom. But when it was found that StephenMorris was always ready to give help when
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 65needed, always answered gently whenroughly spoken to, and "never bore malice,"he was gradually admitted to the good-willof almost all the children in his work-room.And the long, hot days, when the whirringmills seemed more noisy, and when the mono-tony of his employment seemed more tryingand irksome than ever, were often lit up bylittle sunshiny rays of hope and peace, as thepale, thoughtful factory-child felt the love ofChrist especially present to him, and byhumble acts of ministry was enabled to bearlowly testimony to its reality.For one boy, of about his own age, RobbieMartin by name, he had conceived a warmfriendship, which friendship had originatedin the fact of the latter having ratherspiritedly taken up Stevie's defence on theoccasion already alluded to. Robbie was agood-natured, open-faced boy, whose fatrosy cheeks and vigorous limbs presented a
56 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.strong contrast to his friend's pale, earnestface, and delicate appearance ; while in mindhe seemed equally dissimilar, being asthoughtless and apparently unimpressible asStevie was the reverse. As if, however,drawn together by their very dissimilarity,they seemed to prefer each other's society tothat of the other children, and walked homein the evenings, hand in hand, to the streetin which they both lived, and which was inone of the most crowded districts of thetown."Stevie," said his friend to him, as onone damp evening in October they left thefactory together, "don't you get tired ofeverything very often?""I am almost always tired," was thereply." But don't you feel sometimes as if you'dlike to be nothing at all for a little while,so that there shouldn't be any wrong that
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 57could get at you, and no work to bedone ? ""Well, no-not exactly," replied Stevie,meditatively, as if weighing the proposition;"no; I can't say I do."There was a minute's silence, and Robbiecontinued,-You haven't got a baby now, have you?""No," said Stevie."And never had one ?""No, never. I believe there was oneafter me, but it died after it was born. I'dhave liked to remember it; but I was toolittle.""Then what do you do when you gohome, if you haven't a baby ?" persistedRobbie."I've got a bird that teacher gave me,and I feed it; and then there's two or threeplants in pots, and I garden with them; andthen I've got some boats made of walnut
58 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.shells, which I float in the basin, and Harryshows me how to mast them when he comeshome; and then I read most always, if Idon't go to sleep, till he and Annie come,and we have tea; and sometimes father comesin.""And what do you read ?" continued hiscompanion."Oh, books that my teacher-she's sogood to me-lends me, and often the Bible.It's such a quiet time for that; and I learnmy Sunday lessons.""Have they got pictures in them-thebooks, I mean?""Some of them have," replied Stevie."There's one beauty of Adam naming allthe animals in the garden of Eden. Lions,and tigers, and horses, and stags, andlambs-""Are there crocodiles ?" inquired Robbie,with interest.
FSTEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 59"I don't remember; I should think so,though. I'll look when I go home.""Crocodiles eat babies, don't they ?" con-tinued Robbie, after a moment's pause." I've heard so," replied Stevie. " Indiancrocodiles do. There weren't babies at firstin the garden of Eden, you know; and Ishould think Eve took care of her childrenwhen they were little.""It seems to me there's always babiesgoing," sighed his friend; "there alwayshave been since I can remember.""I like little babies," answered Stevie;"they're heavy to carry, I suppose, but Ifeel always to love them."" You wouldn't, if you was me," burst outRobbie, whose confession of grievances wascalled forth by the remark: " I'm tired todeath with them. I've had a baby to mindever since I was five years old, and the lastwas twins. It wasn't so bad when they
60 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.were asleep in the cradle, and when theywas very little, mother had a girl to lookafter them; but now as soon as I comehome I'm left to see to them while she goesout to buy the things for the house, and Ithink it's very hard."" Can they walk ?" inquired Stevie, in thetone of some one asking a question in naturalhistory."No; they crawl," answered Robbie."They're always crawling contrary ways;and while I keep one from going to the fire,the other's off to the door, and is sure to getknocked over by somebody coming in. Iwouldn't mind going to Sunday school," con-tinued Robbie, mournfully, " if it wasn't forthem; but it's no use trying to learn anylessons, when I have to see to them till I goto bed, and I don't like going with nothingto say."Now it must be known that Stevie had
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 61been making assiduous efforts to gain overhis friend to attend the Sunday school, andby his representations had succeeded inpossessing him with a desire to do so. Butthe babies presented an obstacle, as far aspreparation went, and how to obviate it wasa consideration. It came into Stevie'smind that he might offer to help Robbie;but then this would involve the giving upof the quiet hour which, when he camewearily home from his work, seemed tocontain so much to comfort him. He hada new book in hand, too, which was a greatattraction to him; and besides all this, hewas a shy, nervous boy, and could not butentertain doubts as to his capabilities in thenursing line.But then came other thoughts. Here wasan opportunity of doing something for Jesus.He might be made the means of winningBobbie to the Sunday school, instead of
62 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.seeing him play about during the Sabbath,and at school he would learn the way ofsalvation. Then, Stevie further reflected, ifRobbie was able to learn from the Bibleduring part of the time, there was noknowing how much good might result fromit; at all events, it would be his duty to tryand help him forward. So the two walkedside by side without speaking, until at last,after a pause of a few minutes, the silencewas broken."Robbie," he began, "if I were to helpyou with the babies, would you come alongwith me to Sunday school ?"His friend's face brightened considerably."Indeed I'd try," he replied; "it'd be sucha comfort; and then perhaps if we each hadone, we might get them to sleep. But then,Stevie," he continued, more thoughtfully,"you're always more tired than I am, andyou like to get home quiet after work. I
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 63feel as if wouldd be hard to let you comeand help me."But a verse had just come into Stevie'smind, which his teacher had repeated onlythe Sunday before : "For even Christ pleasednot himself;" and he remained steadfast inhis offer to take upon himself the office ofassistant in Robbie's charge of his twinsisters.Mrs. Martin was standing at the door ofher house, and was looking out for her boy,as the two came up the street. She was atall, brisk-looking woman, with an anxiousexpression of countenance, and with a quick,bustling manner, which made Stevie feel hisshyness afresh."Make haste, child," she exclaimed, asthey came within hearing; "I've been thatdriven all day I haven't been able to get out;and there's nothing in the house for suppertill I go to buy it. Now go in, there's a
64 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.good boy, and mind the children till I comeback."Stevie smiled as Robbie gave him a look,which said, "Now, didn't I describe matterstruly ?" and shrunk shyly back as his friendexplained their arrangement to his mother."Well, I don't know about Sundayschool," she replied to his statement of theiragreement; "I don't see what good you'dget there, and I want you to mind thebabies.""Oh, please, ma'am-please, Mrs. Martin,"interposed Stevie, coming from behindRobbie, "do let him go. Indeed we getgood-indeed it's very happy, and I wanthim to hear all about-about--what I likebest to hear; and I'll come and -help himvery often, if only you'll let him go with meon Sundays"Mrs. Martin looked quite surprised at hiseagerness. "Well, you've set your minds
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 651 ISTEVIE'S INTERCESSION.on it, I suppose," she said hastily, "but Ican't stay talking now. I don't much mindhis going if he can find time for learning hislesson, but I don't want him to be set downfor a bad scholar; and if he's wanted athome, why, then he must stay where he'smost use."(291) 5
66 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.So saying, Mrs. Martin, who had notthought it necessary to thank Stevie for hisoffered help, went up-stairs, and coming downin her bonnet and shawl, gave the boys awarning charge respecting the care of thetwins, and went out, shutting the door afterher.After listening to her retreating footsteps,Stevie's lesson in nursing began. He lookedwith surprise at the facility and fearlessnesswith which Robbie managed the babies, andfor a few minutes contented himself withguarding the fire-place and large water-canalternately, while his friend found a bookand began to learn the lesson from whichStevie would not let him off. But at last,when little Jessie began to cry, he gentlytook her up in his arms, and seating himselfon a low stool, rocked her to and fro, whilehe softly sang some of his school hymns.It was wonderful how soon the little fretful
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 67child was quieted, and how pleased he feltas he found that she nestled closely into hisarms, while the twin sister stayed soberly onMINDING THE TWINS.her brother's knee, listening too, and allow-ing him to go on with his lesson." I couldn't get them off quiet like that !"exclaimed Robbie; " I can't sing like you."" What do you do, then, when they cry ?"answered his friend.
68 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS."Why, I dance about before them, andmake a noise to make them leave off," wasthe reply; "they're so surprised, that theyforget to go on.""I like them," said Stevie, "for a time;but I didn't think a baby was so heavy,Robbie.""They're heavy, and no mistake. I shallnever forget how heavy poor little Tommywas that died-I've had two little brothersdie when they were quite small. I wascarrying him one day, and let him fall intothe water-can, and then was so frightened,that I could only get him out just in time.Look at Bessie, how she's listening to you!0 Stevie, it is so kind of you to come andhelp me !"It was an hour later than usual whenStevie came home that night, and he wasvery tired. But every evening he remainedtrue to his promise, and Mrs. Martin and
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 69Robbie became so accustomed to his help,that they often said they could not do with-out him now; and little Jessie and Bessielearned to know him, and were always quietedby his singing. And when, Sunday afterSunday, the two boys went to school to-gether with well-prepared lessons, and when,one afternoon, Stevie saw the big tears inRobbie's round eyes, while his teacher toldof the great love of Christ, and heard himsay afterwards, "0 Stevie, I never knewhow bad I was before !-I mean to try andgive my heart to Jesus to keep always," heknew that his quiet self-denial had not beenin vain.And so winter came, and still the littleboy worked at the mills, and though nevercomplaining, worked, Annie knew, beyondhis strength. And Christmas came-Christ-mas with its holy associations and sacredremembrances, but with little joy for the
70 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.toiling factory-workers, unless they drank ofthe true fountain of great joy from on high,which on the first Christmas-day was openedunto "all people."On Christmas-eve, indeed-Stevie's birth-day-Annie and Harry planned a little treatfor him. The latter brought a large boughof pine, and some oranges, and this waspropped up in an old flower-pot, and lightedwith some bits of candle. Then Stevie's birdin its cage was placed among the green atthe bottom; and Rachel came, and gavesome little books with bright covers, whichlooked very pretty hung about on theboughs; and Annie provided some applesand sugar-plums, for she did not like herlittle brother's birth-day to pass unnoticed.Robbie came too, and was delighted; andthe twins came, for the simple reason thatthey could not be left behind; and Steviewas quietly pleased for a little while, but
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 71afterwards was found fast asleep in a cornerby Harry, who, saying that he was tired out,carried him to bed, and undressed him sogently that he never woke. Robbie andthe twins were safely conveyed home by thetime Mr. Morris returned, and inquired, onseeing the remains of the humble entertain-ment, "What foolery had been going on ? "Annie only replied by a proud silence; andHarry, a kind-hearted but rather reservedlad, told his father what they had been doing.Then followed some remarks-all the morecutting because Annie felt they were true-respecting the difference of her care for herfather and for her brother; and instead ofremaining silent, or of employing the softanswer which turneth away wrath, sheuttered angry and sullen retorts; and so anevening of trouble succeeded; and if it hadnot been that Harry coolly interposed, herfather's hand would have been upon her
72 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.more than once; for, sad to say, he was notperfectly sober, and his naturally violenttemper was roused by the proud, unfilialbearing of his daughter.Stevie was dreaming of Christmas thatnight, and of the story of the angels and theshepherds; and, strange to say, he thoughtthat one of the same angels that appearedat Bethlehem was standing over him, andsaying to him, "Behold, I bring you goodtidings of great joy;" and that the face of theangel was like that of his mother. It waswith a cry of "Mother, mother !" that heawoke, startled by sounds close to his ear;and on opening his eyes, saw with astonish-ment that Annie was kneeling by his bed-side-her face hid in the coverlid, while herwhole frame shook with suppressed sobs." Annie, Annie, what is it ?" he inquired,in a frightened tone of voice. " 0 Annie,do tell me what is the matter !"
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 73She lifted her head as he spoke, while'her black hair half concealed the burningcheeks and flushed forehead, but she did notanswer him.Poor little Stevie, who hardly ever saw hissister cry-for generally she was too proudto give way to her feelings in the presenceof others-became quite frightened. Jump-ing out of bed, he threw his arms round herneck, and used every effort to soothe andcomfort her. She gently laid him downagain, covering him carefully from the cold." I'm sorry I disturbed you, Stevie dear,"she said; "I came here that father andHarry mightn't hear me." She might haveadded, " And because the sight of your facedoes me good;" for often, when Stevie wasasleep, his sister silently sat by his bed-side,wishing she had the peace which dwelt inhis breast and was visible in his features ashe slumbered.
74 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS." I'm very unhappy, Stevie," she con-tinued; "perhaps I'm worse now for think-ing how much happiness Christmas bringsto most people, while it makes no differenceto us. I wonder what folks mean by wish-ing me a happy Christmas and a happy NewYear. It's work, work all day, and fathermakes me hate to come home; and if itwasn't for leaving you, Stevie, and Harry,I'd like to die-only I'm not fit." AndAnnie drew her shawl round her, andshivered with cold.Stevie's hand was stretched out, and hegently stroked hers, trying to think of whathe should say to comfort her. It was strangethat she should seek consolation and sym-pathy from a brother so much younger thanherself-that she should be humble with himwhen she was proud with every one else; butso it was. Annie felt instinctively that,child as he was, Stevie was far above her in
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 75the possession of a real happiness-of thatpeace which passeth understanding; and,almost unconsciously, she deferred to himfor help and even advice, since she saw thathis whole life bore silent testimony to hisbeing in truth what many others only pro-fessed to be." It makes me feel worse when I think ofyou, Stevie-you that I'd like to save fromeverything. You're not fit for mill-work-we could manage without the money, andit's cruel of father to keep you to it.""Hush, Annie," replied Stephen, gently;"don't say so. I don't think I'm weakerthan I used to be, and I often felt before asif I oughtn't to be using up your wages andHarry's, and doing nothing for myself. Andthen, Annie, I've so manymercies-I couldn'tcount them all; and you and Harry are sokind to me. I'm often very happy-only Iwant you to be happy too."
76 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS."You're different to me, Stevie. No oneloves me besides you, and I work on, day byday, and don't see what's to be the end of it-living to work, working to live-and that'sto be year after year, from Christmas toChristmas, and on through all the 'happyNew Years' to the end."Stevie could not bear the bitter, despair-ing tone in which his sister spoke. "Nannie,"he began, " I'm only a little child, and you'reever so much older and wiser than me; butyet I feel as if I'd long for you to be ashappy as I am. I think you would be ifyou felt what a loving Father we have inheaven-how he cares for us. This Christ-mas time makes one feel it so much, and it'sso good to think that he that gave his dearSon for us all will with him freely also giveus all things.""That's what your teacher says, Stevie.It's all very well for you and her, but I'm
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 77too bad to belong to Him. O Stevie, Stevie,I'm very unhappy-I can't pray-I can'tbelieve-I hate everything here-my life-my work-the foggy, close streets, the hotwork-room-everything but you." And thesobs came afresh."Nannie," interposed the boy, earnestly,"do try to get to Jesus-it'll be all rightthen. He'll comfort you. Listen! there-the midnight bells are ringing in Christmas-day. Mr. Vaughan told us that if we wokeup when they were rung, we were to hearthem say, 'For unto us a child is born. Forunto us a Son is given;'-and that's a comfortfor you, Nannie; He was born to save usfrom our sins, and oh, he's such a Saviour-if only you'd try him for yourself!"He had hardly said these words when thecandle, which had burned low in the socket,suddenly went out. Annie did not answerhim, but sat for a minute silently by his bed-
78 STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS.side. And the Christmas bells rang outthrough the midnight air, to remind all whoheard of the great love which, many, manyyears ago, brought life and immortality tolight by the gift-the unspeakable gift-ofthe Saviour at Bethlehem. And in Stevie'sheart they found an echo of praise and loveas he thought of the manger and the cross,and offered a prayer of thanksgiving which,humble and lowly as it was, might be num-bered with those aspirations which have beencalled " Church-bells that sound above thestars."And Annie listened too, and crept silentlyto her bed with a heart rendered yet sadderby the chimes; for as they sounded in herears, they seemed to remind her more forciblythan ever that she had as yet no part in thejoy of which they sang-that Christmas was,indeed, nothing to her.And did no other sounds ring in her ears?
STEVIE, ROBBIE, AND THE TWINS. 79It was strange that when she woke thenext morning the words still seemed presentwith her which were the last she had heardthe night before :-" 0 Nannie, Nannie, he's such a Saviour-if only you'd try him for yourself! "
H ,f --1 -ECHAPTER III.THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.T was a cold, ungenial February even-ing. Fog in the streets, and fog inthe courts-a cold, raw fog, whichgot down people's throats and causedthem to speak thickly and gruffly, and whichmade it requisite to burn gas in the city allday long. Snow had fallen, and on the faceof the country still lay white and pure, thethaw not having entirely melted it. But inthe great city the snow went into mourningas it fell, Harry Morris said, and only madethe streets dirtier and the pavement moreslushy than before.Harry was a quiet lad, as we have said;
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 81but that did not prevent his having a greatdeal of thought within. And, indeed, he hadbeen obliged to make use of all his resourcesduring the last few weeks; for at the begin-ning of the year his father, without any pre-vious notice, had deserted his family, andhad emigrated to Australia, tempted by themany wonderful stories he had heard of goldto be had for the picking up and of fortunesmade in a day. A letter had come to Harry,written by his father just before sailing, andwhich bid him look after his sister andbrother, promising him to come home atsome future time, and to make them all richwithout any trouble.Poor little tender-hearted Stevie, who hadbeen wondering how Harry came by a letter,little thinking that this was its purport, criedbitterly on hearing its contents. Harry didnot cry, but he was very, very grave; andAnnie was silent too, but the look of her(291) 6
82 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.)DESERTED.eyes was a fixed, indignant one, and shewalked proudly away, nourishing thoughtsof anger which towards any one would havebeen sinful, but which were doubly so to-wards her father. And had conscience novoice for Annie then ? Did she not feelthat, had she endeavoured to make home
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 85different, he would not so easily have aban-doned it ? As if with a lightning glance,there came before her remembrances of proud,sullen looks, irritating words, silent coldness.Had they only been exchanged for gentle,Loving actions and manners, she might havebeen the means of winning him from thepublic-house and from idleness, to a humble"- yet happy home.If such, however, were Annie's thoughts,she confessed them to no one. Mr. Vaughancame to offer his counsel and help to herselfand her brothers; and when, the eveningthat he called and took Stevie on his knee.the boy burst into tears at the sad thoughtof his father's neglect, he reminded himgently of the promise, " When my father andmy mother forsake me, then the Lord will takeme up ;" and bade him trust in One whoselove never fails, but who is the same "yester-day, to-day, and for ever." Kind Mr.
84 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.Vaughan! Before he went he put half asovereign into Annie's hand to help her on,and he advised her to have as her object thelearning of the lesson which God intendedher to learn, of entire dependence on him;for he did not know that, as far as the sup-port of his family went, the amount whichMorris brought home was very small, andthat Harry's wages and Annie's were thechief support of the three young ones.They settled together that Stevie shouldonly remain at the mills long enough tofinish up his month's work, for he had beenailing more than usual; and that after theexpiration of that time he should go toschool on week-days as well as Sundays.Harry said that his sister should give up thefactory too, as he received high wages, andcould support them all; but Annie said theycould not afford this at present.And so we have come .back again to
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 85the foggy evening with which this chapteropened.Rachel Clarke had set the last stitch insome work which she had undertaken at herown lodging, and after carefully adjustingthe small supply of fuel in the narrow grateso as to obtain the largest amount of heatat the least possible expenditure of coal, waspreparing to set on the kettle for her cup ofcoffee, when she was startled by the clatterof feet running hastily up the door-steps,followed by an irregular knocking at thedoor, as of a child jumping up to reach theknocker, and making the most of his oppor-tunity when succeeding in doing so.Hearing her name on the door beingopened, she hurried down. Outside in thefog, his round eyes rounder and larger thanever, his cheeks flushed by running, stoodRobbie Martin, out of breath, and almostunable to speak.
86 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION." 0 teacher!" he exclaimed on seeingRachel, "come-come quickly! They'vesent me to tell you Stevie Morris has beenand got hurt in the mills, and his sisterwants you to come as soon as you can."Not a moment did she delay to ask anyquestions. With a load on her heart, shehurried up-stairs, and in the shortest possiblespace of time was on her way to York Street,with Robbie's hand in hers, while from himshe gathered all that he knew of what hadpassed. "We was close together in thework-room," he said, "and Stevie told methat he was very tired-tireder than usual.'I can't go to help you to-night,' he says,'Robbie; I must go straight home and rest.'I says to him that I was all perfect for Sun-day-you know, teacher, he's so good, hecomes to help me with the babies and tolearn my Sunday lessons often and often-and that he mustn't trouble about it. After
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 87RACHEL SENT FOR.that my back was nearly turned to him forabout half an hour, and I heard some on6give a cry, and then I was almost toofrightened to see; but he'd fainted quiteaway as white as a sheet, and had caught, Ididn't see how, but by his clothes at first, inone of the rollers. They stopped it almostdirectly, but not before he'd got hurt; and
88 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.the doctor was sent for and put vinegar tohis temples, and after a long time got himto open his eyes. Then they took him home,and I couldn't get in to know how he wasfor near an hour-not till his brother cameout and says to me to run off and say hissister and he begged you to come."Rachel made no answer, for while Robbie'sloud sobs attracted the notice of passers-by,her tears were falling fast under her veil,and she was praying for what she hardlyknew, but with the instinctive prayer withwhich children come to their Helper in everyhour of distress and care.Annie met them at the door of the house."Hush!" she said, holding up her finger," he's better now, and the doctor's given himsomething strong to make him sleep." Thentaking Rachel into the front room, andthrowing her arms round her neck, shesobbed, 'It's so kind of you to come "
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 89"My poor Annie," Rachel replied gently,"it's a great blow to you-you love him so.Tell me, does he know you ? "" Yes, now he does. Harry's sitting withhim, and he called him by his name. It'shis arm that was most hurt, and the doctor'sset that, and says if that's all he'll comeround. But oh, Rachel, I doubt his evergetting well again;-he was to have leftwork to-morrow.""He's in better hands than ours, Annie dear;we know whose he is, and maybe 'the Lordhas need of him.' But we'll do all we can,"she continued hopefully. "You know I'vebeen a sick-nurse for years, and I don't mindsitting up nights; and Dr. Gray was poormother's doctor, and he'll trust me, and he'llhave all that care and love can do for him."" Thank you, Rachel, you're kinder thanI deserve; but you mustn't be giving yourtime to us too much-we're all poor."
90 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION."Do you think I could leave Stevie?"replied Rachel. "No, Annie, I'm here foras long as I'm any use."They were interrupted by a gentle tap atthe door. Robbie had disappeared directlyon Rachel's arrival, but now he stood out-side with an apple and some gingerbread inhis hand. He stretched them out to her asshe softly opened the door, saying, " Fatherbrought me these home, and I couldn't eatthem to-night; and would you please togive them to Stevie with my love, and sayhow sorry I am-and I hope he'll likethem." Poor Robbie broke down again,and Rachel thanked him in a whisper, andpromised that they should be given toStevie when he was able to eat them, andtold the boy that she was sure his messageand care for his friend would be a comfortto hiin. It was almost impossible to repressa smile at the singularity of the gift at such
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 91a time; but Rachel well knew that Robbiewould be hurt if he thought that it was notof use, and she loved the little boy for hiswarm, grateful feeling. He went conscien-tiously back to the twins on being promisedthat he should hear a report of Stevie beforehe started to work in the morning; and thenhis teacher crept into the sick-room to whichAnnie had preceded her.It was the same little room to which wehave already introduced our readers, andwas only large enough to hold the lowtressel bed and a chair, upon which theshaded candle was placed. Stevie lay quitestill and very white, breathing so faintlythat Harry sometimes put a glass to his lipsto assure himself that life was there still.The opiates had taken effect, but the openbrow from which Annie was wont to pushback the clustering hair was contracted withpain; and every now and then a low moan-
92 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.ing sound brought hope and fear at thesame time to the watchers-hope, since itshowed that life was not extinct, and thegreat fear that Stevie's delicate frame wouldnot bear up under the shock.Dr. Gray came again that night. Hesaid that they must keep the little boyquiet, and send for him at once if anychange was manifest. He was glad to seeRachel there, he said, for she might betrusted; and he spoke kindly to Harry andAnnie, and assured them that everythingthat care could do for Stevie should bedone. "And remember," he said in part-ing, "that he is in the hands of the GoodPhysician, and the Lord will order all as itpleases him." Good Dr. Gray was a father,and had lost a little boy of Stevie's age onlya few weeks before; and his kind heartwent out in sympathy for the sorrowfullittle group in this time of trouble, so that
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 93it seemed as if he were a friend sent to themin special need.That was a long, anxious night. Annieand Rachel sat by the bed-side in turns, sothat Harry might go away and take somerest, as he would have to work the nextday; for they could not afford to lose hiswages. Stevie woke up in great pain in themiddle of the night, but seemed not clearlyto know them. He talked confusedly in alow tone about the mills, and said the noisewas so wearisome, and begged some one tostop them; and when Rachel moistened hislips with orange-juice, talked of his mother,and said she was coming soon. A littlewhile after, on hearing a distant cry, hespoke of Robbie's sisters, and fancied thathe was trying to soothe them, and began, ina low, murmuring voice, one of the hymnswhich he used to sing to them; upon whichpoor Annie had to leave the room silently,
94 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.that she might cry down-stairs as if herheart would break.So the hours sped slowly by until daydawned, and Stevie became quiet again.Rachel left the sick-room, and gave Harryhis breakfast, and made Annie take somehot tea, which revived her, and then waitedanxiously for the doctor. He came, true tohis promise, and cheered them up with theassurance that Stevie was not worse, thathis arm was better, and he might slowlyrecover. Providentially, they had beenable almost instantly to stop the machinerywhen he fainted in the work-room, and itwas hoped that beyond the injury to hisarm-fortunately the left one-no seriousmischief had been done. Before Dr. Grayleft, another visitor came, Mrs. Rush, thewife of the mill-owner. The news of theaccident had reached her, and she had comeearly to inquire what she could do for the
rTHE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 95injured child. She went up herself toStevie's room, and her eyes filled as shebent over the suffering boy. When shecame down she quite won Annie's heart byher kind, gentle manner. She would sendover some wine and jelly, she said,-any-thing the doctor might approve; and thenshe told them that Mr. Rush had offered topay for a nurse, and asked Annie whom shewould like best. Annie pointed to Rachel,and Dr. Gray said there could not be aBetter sick-nurse, as he had good reason toknow; so that was settled. Rachel wouldgladly have come and watched over Steviefor nothing; but then Harry and Anniewould have felt pained had she done so;and she justly reflected that she might helpthem out better by accepting Mrs. Rush'skindness, besides providing little comfortsfor the invalid which she could not other-wise afford. So having assisted in settling
96 THE LENS OF AFFLICTION.matters in-doors, she went to her own lodg-ing, sent home the work she had completed,and putting into a basket what she neededfor herself, returned to the Morrises, herlandlady undertaking to see to the convey-ance of her mattress, which she would laydown at night when she could safely allowherself to sleep. Later in the day arrivedMr. Vaughan. Stevie knew him when hecame up-stairs, and listened with closedeyes to his few sentences of prayer, and tothe words of promise which he gently re-peated by his side. He called Annie andRachel down-stairs, and knelt with them toask God's presence and support for them all;and spoke so tenderly of Stevie, and of hislove for the Saviour, and of all that he hadnoticed of him in school, that Annie foundherself drawn into confidence, not onlyrespecting her brother, but respecting her-self too. She told Mr. Vaughan how she
THE LENS OF AFFLICTION. 97had neglected prayer and the Bible; howcareless she had been; how unmindful ofher father; how regardless of any one butStevie and Harry. She did not feel theleast afraid of him; and though he lookedvery grave, he looked kindly as well, andspoke of this as a fresh reminder-a fresh,call to her to seek Him as her Father inChrist whom Stevie had known and loved.And then he showed her three short words,which Annie never forgot, and which hemarked in her Testament-" Who up-braideth not." Oh! how did they comehome to her heart; what love did theyreveal Could it be that He whom shehad so grievously neglected would receiveher-receive her not coldly, not reproach-fully, but in great love? Yes. Mr.Vaughan said so. The Bible said so."When the sense of sin would make youafraid to come to Christ," Mr. Vaughan,291) 7I I