The Baldw n La"ryI
I'i 1 i L
I ~ ii
THE GOLDEN SECRET.
BY THE AUTHOR CF "SUSY'S FLOWERS," &o.
^ -- ^ ^ ^^ -'
I. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! ... ..... ... 7
II. ARTHUR'S WELCOME ... ... .. 27
III. UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION .. ... 41
IV. WHO WAS THE ARTIST I" ... ... ... 64
V. HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE ... 70
VI. REGINALD'S WORK ... ... ... 81
VIL GOOD-WILL TOWARD MEN" ... ... 102
VIII. HOW THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE CAME TO SILAS
BALDWIN ... ... ... ... 117
IX. UNCLE AMBROSE ... ... ... ... 123
X. GLAD TIDINGS" ... .. .. .. 132
XI. CHRISTMAS DAY ... ... ... ... 113
fonm for ot 0o0libth s I
"He is comlngi he Is coming I
To fill his home with glee,
With his merry ringing voice,
And his laugh, so light and gay.
We'll prepare a loving welcome,
For the boy comes back to-day."
" SAY, driver, that's the rectory,"
Said a voice from the inside of
the carriage that was driving
quickly through the village of
Enmore, and a curly head, covered
with a Scotch cap, was popped
out of the window for a moment.
8 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
"All right, young master!" answered
the coachman as he turned in at the
Meanwhile Ernest Leslie was getting
excited, he was just approaching his home,
and every object was so familiar that he
could not be quiet.
"I declare they've cut down the horse-
chestnut, what a shame There's old
Maggie with her red cloak, she's been
plaguing papa, I'll engage, for money.
No flowers l-too late, I suppose-yes,
chrysanthemums, ugly, ragged things.
Here we are There's Connie at the door!
All right, driver-bother this window!"
and then Ernest flung himself out of the
fly and up the steps, before the driver had
time to dismount and ring the bell.
That'll do, Connie-how are you ?
"Well, papa, here I am. Where's mamma ?"
and Ernest broke from his sister's arms
and rushed into those of his mother, re-
turning her kiss with most loving warmth.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 9
"What luggage, my boy said his
"Black trunk, carpet bag, hat-box, fish-
ing-rod, walking-stick, and an empty bird-
cage with two mouse-traps tied to it-all
"Please, papa, pay the man. I've no
So Mr. Leslie was left to settle with the
driver, while Ernest sprang up three steps
at a time with Connie after him, until he
reached the drawing-room floor. Then he
turned to a door on the right, and entered
a pleasant sitting-room. At the first
glance we should have thought that no one
was in the room, but, on looking more
closely, we should have discovered a young
man lying on the couch, between the win-
dow and the fire-place. Ernest's instinct
guided him straight up to the sofa, as he
Well, Reggie, how are you ?"
10 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
"As well as usual, my dear fellow, and
delighted to see you," answered his brother
Reginald, while the bright colour flushed
into his pale cheeks, and he eagerly grasped
Ernest's two hands.
Yes, isn't it jolly that I'm back again ?"
Reginald smiled, but answered, in chorus
with Constance who was standing beside
him, It is-very."
"No end of fun to tell you-such a
supper last night !-and I've brought a
letter for papa-from Dr. Johnstone-such
a good boy am I "
"That entirely depends upon what's in
the letter, old fellow," said Reginald.
"Of course, but I know it's good, for
when the doctor shook hands with me, he
said, 'Good-bye, Ernest, you are your
father's own son.' "
"That was information, certainly," re-
marked his brother with his own peculiar
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 11
"Bother you, Reggie, you know well
enough what I mean ; and I was so proud,
I stood two inches higher."
"When you put your boots on," said
Without them, you old stupid, just for
being my father's son-the doctor thinks
no end of him."
"Of course he does, no one who knows
him could help doing so."
"But really, Reggie, how are you?
How does Dr. Stephen say you are get-
A sad smile passed over his brother's
face. He thinks I shall do, Ernest."
"But what "
When are you to walk about again,
and leave off using these things ?" pointing
to some crutches lying beside the sofa.
Connie turned round and ran out of the
room, and the two brothers were left alone.
When, Reggie ?"
12 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
His brother's voice sunk to a low
whisper, as he answered "Never!"
Ernest's face changed, the bright colour
faded from it, and he burst forth angrily-
"The fool, what rubbish it is, just because
you've had no one but an old country
pettifogger who is cramming you with ever
so many lies, and you go and believe them.
Reggie, I didn't think you were so green!"
"Don't speak of our good friend like
that, Ernest, it is not only him. Papa
has had the best advice from London-
nothing can be done for me. I am here
for the rest of my life."
"I don't, I won't believe it cried
Ernest, "they are all-" but the sentence
was finished with a sob, for the excitement
was too much for him.
"Don't, Ernest, don't," said Reginald,
throwing his arm round him, "you pain
0 Reggie, Reggie, why didn't they tell
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 13
"I asked them not to. I wanted to
tell you myself, and I couldn't write it. I
am sorry it should just sp6il your home-
coming; but you must help me to bear it
bravely, dear Ernest," and Reginald raised
his brother's tearful face, and pushed the
dark curly-brown hair off his forehead, look-
ing fondly into his dark eyes as he did so.
I'll tell you what, Reggie," said Ernest,
"I won't believe it, I'll believe that you
are going to get well-it's much the
jolliest to think that, so I intend to."
Reginald shook his head, aud then tried
to turn the subject. "Did Maurice go
home to-day ?"
"Yes ; Uncle Walter came to fetch him,
and, Reggie, there's a letter coming from
him to papa, don't say I told you, it's a
secret, and Connie will be so pleased."
Ernest, my darling, aren't you
coming down to have some dinner ?" said
his mother, entering the room at that
14 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
"I should think so, if it's going,
"I hear it coming," said Reginald.
"Have you been to the nursery, Ernest?
there is a general outcry there for you, and
if you don't soon appear I expect there will
be a rebellion, and nurse will have to read
the riot act."
"That would be a pity," said Ernest,
merrily, "seeing that the penalty on the
rioters used to be weary hours in the
corner; it was so, at least when I was
Reginald laughed heartily, and Ernest
seeing that he had made himself rather
foolish, hastily quitted the room and found
his way to the nursery.
There was a general rush upon him, and
very confused sounds reached his ear.
"Ernest, your cat has got two kittens,
and one's going to be given away to the
little sick boy in the village."
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 15
Ernest, that top you gave me's broken
"Well, Master Ernest, what a big boy
Ernet, 'oo mut tarry me on 'oo bat."
"How are you, all of you, I'd like to
know;" said Ernest, "but don't all speak
at once," and the last words were said in a
tone of the most doleful entreaty that set
them all laughing directly.
"Master Basil," cried nurse, "you've
upset your broth, you naughty boy, I'll-"
0 Mrs. Wilton, please don't mention
it," said Ernest, "don't you see it was in
his anxiety to do me welcome?"
A boy of five years, with laughing eyes,
and large rosycheeks, smiled his acquiescence
in Ernest's words, and a little girl of four
slipped her hand into his.
"Well, Clara, how do you find yourself
this cold weather," said her brother, lifting
her up in his arms.
SClara's only answer was a merry laugh,
16 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
and then Ernest went over to the table,
where a boy between two and three years of
age was seated in a high chair, (which he
could not possibly wriggle out of without
help), and deep in a bowl of broth with
bread broken into it.
Well, Freddy, are you glad to see me?"
"'Oo muttn't 'peak to me, till I done my
brot," said the little boy, lifting his grave
eyes from the bowl.
Ernest laughed. "When shall I carry
you on my back, Fred?"
"When I done my brot."
"Come, Ernest, dinner's ready!" said
Constance, putting her head in.
"All right, so am I, good-bye, my dears;
take care of yourselves," said the school-
boy brother, as he closed the door behind
Well, Ernest," said Constance, drawing
a deep breath, and surveying him from
head to foot.
"Well, you'll know me again," said
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 17
Ernest, but nevertheless, he flung his arm
round her neck, for this sister who was just
one year his senior was very dear to him,
and they had never been parted before.
Constance stopped with one foot on the
stairs and gave him a warm hug. "I've
lots to tell you, Con, lots; but I'm hungry."
Of course you are."
Come, Ernest, my boy; I haven't seen
you yet," said his father, taking him by his
shoulders and drawing him to the window
as he entered the dining-room. Hold up
your head, lad, and let me have a good
look at you."
Ernest did as he was desired, and his
truthful eyes were raised to meet his
father's keen searching gaze.
"Have you come back, my own straight-
forward, true hearted boy?"
"As fond of home as when you left
"I believe you."
18 ROME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
Have you begun to learn what it takes
to make a man?" 4
"I think so," said the boy earnestly
Mr. Leslie bent forward and kissed his
forehead, whispering, "God bless you, my
Ernest," and then said aloud,-
"Come, and sit down; well, my boy,
how gets on the learning, shall you be fit
for Rugby in another year?"
"I hope so, papa."
Have you got any prizes, Ernest,"
asked Constance, eagerly.
Only the second for French," said
Ernest, reddening suddenly, as if some un-
pleasant remembrance had crossed his mind.
"Not the general knowledge that you
were going to try for so hard?"
"No!" said Ernest, impatiently.
Why not?" asked Constance.
Because another boy got it,-mother,
a little more gravy, if you please. Papa,
how is old Mr. Baldwin?"
The same as ever," said his father.
HOME FOr THE HOLIDAYS 19
"Who has taken the red brick house
amongst the trees?"
"A Mr. and Mrs. Dixon."
"Do you know them?"
"0 Ernest! such horrid people," exclaimed
his sister, they look so cross; they come to
church, so I see them, there's the Mr. apd
Mrs. and a tall ugly girl with straight curls,
and a little fair-haired boy used to come
with a terrible cough, but he doesn't now.
Poor little fellow, he used to look so sad,
and when the hymns were sung, very often
I could see the tears rolling down his cheeks.
One day coming out, I smiled at him and
he looked so pleased and smiled so brightly
and beautifully, and then Mrs. Dixon seized
his hand and said, Come on, directly, how
dare you smile to people you don't know?'
"and she walked on very quickly before I
could say one word."
Ernest, dear, some more potatoes," said
20 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
Dinner was soon over, for the food was
not long in vanishing before the hungry
boy, and then he set out on a tour of
discovery to see the servants, the horse, the
cow, his favourite house-dog, who was
chained up in the yard, and the cat and
her kittens. The orchard and paddock, the
garden and stable were all visited in turn,
and then Ernest challenged his sister to a
walk. She soon joined him, and they set
off at a brisk pace, as the air was keen and
frosty. As they went through the village,
Ernest was continually obliged to stop to
speak to his friends there, who all welcomed
him home with great delight. But at last
they had left Enmore behind them, and
were walking quickly in the direction of
Willingham, the large market-town which
was about three miles from them.
It was one of those days in December
when it is a real pleasure to walk. The
road lay along a high ridge, overlooking
all the valley below, and the distant range
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 21
of hills beyond were covered with the blue
haze which is generally over them at that
season of the year. The ground beneath
was crisp and hard, the sky above bright
and glorious, the hedges red with the
hawthorn berries, and the tall green fir-
trees stood up looking grave and stately in
groups on the side of the hill.
"Isn't it a glorious day?" said Constance,
nestling her hands into her muff.
"Yes; I say, Connie."
"I know a secret, but I must tell it to
"Do," said Constance, her eyes spark-
ling at the thought.
"Well, Maurice and I, you know, are
great friends, he was very kind to me when
I first went amongst the boys."
"He was your cousin, so of course he
T "here's no of course in the matter,
ne, but he was, and I like him very
22 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS !
much; you know Uncle Walter gives him
lots of money."
"Yes, but that's not why you like him,
"Not for his money, but because he's
so jolly about it. Well, now, to the point.
Maurice wrote home to tell his father that
he wanted me to go back with him to
Treverton Hall, and when Uncle Walter
came he asked me if papa would let you
and me come for Christmas; they are
going to have such fun. Albert is coming
of age, and they are to have loads of people,
and something fresh is to be done every
day, so that, as Maurice says, they are to
have a real merry Christmas. 0 Con,
won't it be fun?"
"Well, what "
Will papa let us go?"
"Uncle Walter said he felt quite sure
"I am afraid Reggie will be dull."
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 23
"Poor Reggie! I don't think so. Oh,
Maurice would be dreadfully disappointed."
"When will the letter come?"
"Perhaps to-morrow." There was a
long pause, and then Constance said,-
Ernest, why didn't you get that prize?
I wanted you to, so much."
"I'll tell you, Connie, only a fellow
doesn't like being made a fool of before
every one. Well, I did try, I tried harder
than I ever tried about anything before,
and I nearly got it; only a boy that I
never thought could get it, a stupid lazy
fellow that we all hate, called Arthur
Forrester, answered all of a sudden better
than me. It was the queerest thing, we
never thought he was trying, and one
morning he began to speak up, and every
minute afterwards he was poring over his
books. Even then, all the fellows said I
was sure of it; but Forrester gained ground
steadily and he got it. Some of the boys
.said he cheated, and I daresay he did, for
24 HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
I think he'd do anything. Fancy, heactually
refused to join our cricket club, though I
know he had money enough, for I saw him
get a post-office order for a pound one
"Perhaps he wanted to do something
else with his money."
"No, no, Connie; it was nothing but
miserliness, for all he said was, when we
looked at his beautiful prize, (it was Tales
of a Grandfather,' bound in green leather
and gold, a stunning bo6k), "I wish it
had been money, but this is better than
nothing," and Connie, you would have
laughed if you had seen the clumsy way
he took it from the Doctor; he tried to
bow, but it was more like a Sunday-school
child would do it here, and then he let the
book tumble, and got just scarlet; and all
the other boys had been cheered, but there
was a dead silence as he walked down the
room, for no one wanted him to have it.
"Poor boy," said Constance.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! 25
"Now, what a shame that is, I do believe
you would rather he had it than me, Con-
stance; I don't think that's very civil of
you; but if you could see him I don't
believe you would like him, he's 'such a
stupid-looking fellow, and always holds his
head down, and if he's spoken to he starts
and says, What did you say, I didn't hear
you?' He seems always to be thinking of
something else. But, I say, Connie; it's
getting late, we must turn back."
They had nearly reached the village
again, when they heard the sound of wheels
coming close to them. It was a shabby-
looking gig, and contained a man who was
driving and a boy who sat beside him,
with a small trunk strapped on in front.
As it passed them, Ernest looked up, and
his eyes met those of Arthur Forrester.
He whispered this to Connie, and the
boy seeing himself recognized, nodded coldly
to Ernest, colouring deeply as he did so,
"and looking away directly.
C HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
"Well, isn't that odd. Who would ever
have thought of having him in these parts.
Now, Connie, doesn't he look a dolt?"
He looks very cold and miserable, poor
fellow; but Ernest, I couldn't see him long
enough to know any more."
Ernest began to whistle, and Constance
watched the gig driving on quickly through
the village, and wondered whether those in
Arthur's home would be as much delighted
at his getting the prize as she should have
been, had Ernest brought it back with
And fall the sounds of mirth,
Sad on thy lonely heart,
From all the hopes and charms of ealth
Untimely called to part."
HE shabby gig drove on through
the whole village and along a
piece of the road beyond it, until
it turned in at the gates of the
Sred brick house amongst the
Arthur clambered down from the gig
and stood on the door-steps. No loving
face was there to greet him, no kiss of
welcome awaited him.
He opened the hall door and went through
the hall itself, until he reached the sitting-
"room, but, there was no pleasure in his face,
no quickness in his step, and he turned
28 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
the handle as if he knew that he was not
A lady was engaged in darning a quan-
tity of grey stockings by the fire, and a girl
was playing a very noisy waltz on the
Arthur walked up to the fire-place.
"How do you do, Aunt Dixon ? "
Quite well, thank you, Arthur. I hope
you are the same."
"Yes, thank you-how d'ye do, Char-
The girl who was playing stopped, and
extended two fingers to him.
"You are too late for dinner, Arthur.
I suppose you can wait until tea-time."
"Yes, aunt ; how is my brother ?"
"His cough is still rather bad; but not
so bad as he makes it out; we have coddled
him too much, haven't we, Charlotte?"
Yes, we have indeed, and get no thanks
Arthur bit his lip, and stretched out his
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 29
hands towards the fire, May I go up to
him, where is he ?"
"In your room, yes, you may go; but
you mustn't be surprised if you find him
fretful, it's his illness makes him so."
Arthur did not wait any longer, but
bounded up the stairs, until he got to the
top of the house, when he softly opened the
door of one of the rooms. The floor was
only partially carpeted and looked dreary
and comfortless; two small iron bedsteadn
stood side by side, there were a few chairs ;
"a deal table, a painted chest of drawers; and
"a small fire blazing in the grate. A few
pictures were hung round the walls, which
looked damp and cold, and some books were
ranged on the top of the drawers ; this was
Arthur's room, and Arthur's brother was
painting at the table. He did not hear the
footstep near him and went on with his occu-
pation, onlypausing when his cough stopped
him, and Arthur started when he heard it
"-it was so deep and hollow.
30 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
Herbie and he laid his hand on the
little boy's shoulder. He turned quicklyand
flung his arms round Arthur's neck with a
"Arthur, my own dear Arthur, oh, I'm
so glad," and Herbie clung to him as if he
would never let him go again.
So am I, Herbie, but hold up your
head, and let me look at you."
Herbie raised his head-his face was
pale, except for a burning red spot on each
cheek, his large brown eyes were very
bright, his features all looked as if they
were cut in marble, and his hair had a
golden light over it, which made him look
like a picture, Arthur thought.
How are you, Herbie ? he whispered.
"Quite happy now that you are come;
but how cold you are, poor Arthur, come
and warm yourself," and the little boy drew
him to the fire, and began to chafe his
hands, and Arthur noticed how thin he had
grown, and how poorly he was clad ; but
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 31
Herbie was all delight now that he had got
his brother with him, and so even the poor
despised Arthur Forrester had a welcome,
that first day of the holidays.
Did they give you some dinner, Ar-
"No; I'm to wait until tea-time."
"I thought so," said Herbie springing
to his feet, and his face beamed with plea-
sure, as he went over to the cupboard near
the window and took a plate out of it, and
a knife and fork.
"Now, Arthur, dear, here's your dinner,
I put it by that I might give it to you my
Arthur was veryhungry, and looked with
much satisfaction at the slices of meat, the
cold potatoes and the piece of bread.
"You shan't have it cold," said Herbie,
"we'll put the potatoes to crisp between
the bars, and I'll broil your meat; there,
sit down on this chair, and I'll clear for
32 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
Arthur saw how much pleasure it gave
his little brother to make all these prepara-
tions for him, so he did not prevent him.
What have you been painting, Herbie ?"
he said, going over to the table.
"Nothing but a little picture out of my
head ; 'The Dog's Watch' I was going to
Arthur took it up; it was a pretty pic-
ture, and skilfully done for so young an
artist. There was a shepherd's dog guard-
ing his master's coat, a simple rustic scene,
painted with very inferior colours, but still
bearing marks of genius and talent.
"It's very good, Herbie, your colour is
rather washy here, and not strong enough
just there, but still it is very good. I shall
get quite afraid of you soon."
Herbert's cheeks glowed with pleasure
at his brother's praise, and he said,-
That's the table you sent me the money
to buy, Arthur, I don't know what I should
have dune without it; but when aunt saw
ARTBUR'S WELCOME. 33
it she was very angry, and said she was
glad to see we had so much money to waste,
and I know she wasn't glad at all, for I
heard her scolding Simon for getting it for
Don't you ever go down stairs, Herbie?"
Sometimes," said Herbert, avoiding the
I've brought you something that you'll
like, I think," said his brother. Guess
what it is."
"I know what I should have liked you
best to bring me," said Herbert, looking
brightly round from the fire.
"Well, what ?"
And I've got it," said Arthur, his whole
face lighting up with delight, and going
to the chair over which he had thrown his
great-coat, he drew a parcel from one of the
pockets. I kept it here that I might get
it directly; look, Herbie," and he undid the
34 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
Herbie eagerly watched him, and seized
"upon the book with proud delight. If
Constance had seen his face, she would have
been quite satisfied that the prize was ap-
"Arthur, Arthur, what a beautiful book,
I'm so glad; oh, how pleased they would
Arthur's eyes filled with tears, and he
0 Arthur, dear Arthur, don't cry.
I'm sorry I said that, I'm always saying
"No no, Herbie, boy, it's only that I
can't bear it. I couldn't thank the doctor
when I got it, because I was thinking how
joyful it would have been, if I could have
brought it home to them, and it was horrible
to think there was no one to care whether
I got it."
0 Arthur, no one to care ?" and Her-
bert raised his eyes reproachfully.
"Well, you, of course; but not them.
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 35
Herbie, I got it for you, I worked for it
for you, I've written your name in it under
Arthur-my name ? mine, but I can-
not take your prize, no; let me look at it
and read it, and be proud of it; but you
must have it for.your own."
"No, I tell you I got it for you, I shall
have nothing to give you at Christmas, so
this must do. I only wish it was money
"Well, then, I'll have it, and love it,
always, you dear old Arthur, and I shall
have a Christmas box for you; but I won't
tell you what. There, the meat is hot, and
everything is ready."
Arthur was not long in disposing of his
dinner, while Ierbie watched him with the
"How did they come to let you have my
dinner ready for me up here, Herbie ? he
said as he finished it.
36 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
Herbie," said Arthur gravely, was
that your own dinner that you kept for
me ? "
"Don't be angry, Arthur, I wasn'thungry,
and I knew you would be, and so I coaxed
Simon not to take my plate away."
Arthur did not answer, but only looked
straight before him into the fire. "Come
and sit down here by the fire with me, Her-
bie," he said after a few minutes.
The little boy came and knelt down be-
side him, and Arthur put his arm round
him. They had nothing else in the world
to love except each other, these two poor
orphan boys; but nevertheless their affec-
tion was quite as deep and true as that of
those whose homes were happy, and whose
lives had in them none of the bitterness
which had been crowded into the few short
years of Arthur and Herbert Forrester.
Their parents were both dead, and the
boys were left dependent on their mother's
step-sister Mrs. Dixon. Their only other re-
A RTnUR'S WELCOME. 37
lative was an old uncle of their father's,
who had been very kind to him in his
youth and had settled to make him his heir,
but when he found his nephew determined
to become a clergyman instead of entering
his mercantile house, he had given him up,
.and said that he would never see him again.
Arthur and Herbert had never seen this old
gentleman and did not know where he lived,
so that on the death of their father they
were left entirely friendless. Mrs. Dixon
was written to by several people upon the
duty of befriending her orphan nephews,
and as she had a great eye to appearances,
she wrote to offer them a home in her house;
but having done this, she thought that she
had done all that was necessary on her part,
and she felt the two boys a great incum-
brance, and made herself appear as a martyr
on their behalf. Dr. Johnstone, being an
old friend of their father's, wrote to Mrs.
Dixon offering to educate the eldest boy
for nothing, for his father's sake, so Arthur
38 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
went to school, and Mrs. Dixon allowed
herself to have the credit of sending him.
But to return to our story. The evening
was quite dark by this time, and the two
boys drew as close to the fire as they could.
"Herbie, how bad your cough is," said
"Yes," answered the little fellow wearily,
laying his head down on Arthur's shoulder.
Have you seen a doctor, Herbie ? "
Yes, a brother of Mr. Dixon's was stay-
ing here, and he heard me cough and told
aunt that I must keep in one room until it
was well, and that there must be a good
fire kept up. He was very kind, Arthur,
and bought me all my drawing-paper, and
gave me two shillings' worth of stamps that
I might write to you.".
"What a good man," said Arthur.
He was; oh, Arthur-" and the little
boy's head sunk down again, and he burst
Herbie, what's the matter? tell me."
ARTHUR'S WELCOME. 39
"Nothing, nothing, I didn't mean to cry,
only I thought you'd never, never come
back, the days seemed so long, and I was
"And so you cry now that you have
got me," said Arthur laughing. "Why,
Herbie, man, I'd better run away again."
Herbie's arm tightened round his neck.
"Oh, if you do, Arthur, I'll run with you,
I can't live here without you."
"But, Herbie, you know I've only got
holidays until the middle of January, and
then we shall have to part again."
"Perhaps before that," said Herbie doubt-
"Why ?" said Arthur starting.
Only that-don't be vexed, Arthur,-
only that sometimes I think I shall soon
be with papa and mamma."
"And leave me, Herbie; oh, nonsense,
no, that shall not be, it cannot; you aren't
well now, but when the bright spring time
comes, you'll be well again."
40 ARTHUR'S WELCOME.
"Perhaps so," said Herbie, quietly.
" Arthur, there's that horrid bell, and you
must go down to tea."
"Yes; but Ill come up early."
And when he had left the room little
Herbie knelt down and thanked God for
bringing his brother back to him.
Utne Malin's nbifation.
Things will be vexing, people will provoke,
And all goes wrong;
Then comes the cry for help, or else the shame
That frets you all day long."
" lR ERE are the letters!" cried Ernest,
> the next morning at breakfast-
S time, as he ran in with the post-
&t' P bag, which had just been depo-
sited on the hall table. "Quick,
papa, do open it!"
"Why, Ernest, what makes you in such
a state of excitement? who would have
thought of seeing you care about the
Ernest looked over at Constance and
laughed, and then they both watched their
father very eagerly, while lie with great
42 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.
deliberation drew out the little key and
fitted it to the lock.
"Well, Ernest, here's one for you, and
two for me, and a note for Constance, that's
"And quite enough too," said Ernest to
himself, for he had caught a glance of Uncle
Walter's handwriting on one of his father's;
and his own letter was from Maurice
Treverton, it ran as follows,-
MI DEAR ERNEST,
"We arrived here quite safely an hour or
two ago. Of course everybody arrives safe everywhere.
I don't believe in railway accidents. We have had our
dinners, and now to say what I've got to say. Papa is
just writing to Uncle Leslie about you know what; and
you must both come. I want to see Constance too,
and so does Katharine ; and you and I'll have such fun.
I've told Barton that I won't shoot anything till you
come, and there'll be first-rate skating if the weather
keeps up, and there's to be a ball, and charades, and fun
without end,-something to take away the taste of all
that Greek and Latin, my boy.
Yours until you come,
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 43
"P. S.-You should have seen the concern that was
waiting for that dolt Forrester at Willingham Station,
it certainly was in keeping with his general appearance.
I hope he'll have a merry Christmas, but what a wet
blanket he would be on any fun!"
Ernest looked anxiously over to his
father, who was intent on his own two
Well, papa," said the boy, after watch-
ing him for a few minutes.
"Well, my dear Ernest ?"
"You've heard from Uncle Walter,
"Yes, my boy," and Mr. Leslie folded
up the letter, and put it back in the
"And mayn't we go, papa ?"
Mr. Leslie did not answer, but looking
over to his wife, said, "My old friend Mr.
Barnett is coming to spend Christmas with
"Is he, poor old gentleman, I'm glad of
it," said Mrs. Leslie.
44 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.
Ernest looked at Constance dismayed.
"Please, papa, Uncle Walter?"
Uncle Walter is quite well, thank you,
"But mayn't we go to Treverton Hall?"
said Constance, eagerly.
"No, my dear."
Ernest's colour began to rise, he bent his
head over his plate, and tears gathered in
his eyes; but he would not look up until
they were gone, and then he said an-
Papa, what a shame-we must go!"
That's as I think, Ernest, you had
better finish your breakfast."
"I won't have any more," said Ernest,
impatiently pushing his plate away from
him, and looking out of the window.
Mr. Leslie finished his own in silence,
and then rose, Ernest, will you and Con-
stance come with me to my study."
They followed him directly, and Mr.
Leslie, after poking his fire, and settling
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 45
the books on his table, turned round, and
put his hand on Ernest's shoulder.
"Do you want very much to go to
Treverton Hall, my boy?"
"Why, my dear Ernest ?"
Because they're going to have such fun,
a real merry Christmas !"
Mr. Leslie smiled, Is it necessary that
you should leave home to have a real
merry Christmas ?"
Ernest looked down rather ashamed.
Answer me, Ernest.'
"They are going to keep it up in real
old England fashion; there are to be all
manner of things done, papa."
Mr. Leslie looked gravely into his son's
face. "Ernest, my boy, I am very sorry."
"Oh, papa! you will let us go, say you
"Do, papa," pleaded Constance.
"I cannot, my children."
"Why, not?" said Ernest, passionately."
46 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.
For several reasons; your mother and I
want to have all our children with us at
Christmas, both for our own sakes and poor
"That's not your only reason, papa."
"No, dear, I did not say it was. I
would rather also for your own sakes that
you should spend Christmas here."
Ernest stamped his foot impatiently.
Mr. Leslie looked grieved, he was sorry
for the disappointment he was inflicting on
his children, but more sorry to see the
angry feelings it called forth.
None of them spoke for a few minutes,
then Constance slipped her arm round his
neck, and said most entreatingly. Please,
papa, let us go, just for this once."
"No, love, I cannot," he answered
Oh, do," said Ernest, determined to
make one more effort.
I have said 'no,' my boy, do not press
me any more, for I cannot change."
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 47
It's a horrid shame, and you just do it
to provoke me," cried Ernest, and he ran
out of the room banging the door behind
Mr. Leslie put his hand over his face,
t; and stood leaning against the mantle-piece
in deep thought. Constance brushed away
the tears which were running down her
cheeks, and tried to keep down the dis-
appointment which swelled in her heart.
At last Mr. Leslie spoke, holding out his
hand, and drawing her close to him as he
"Do you also think me so unkind, my
"No, papa, Ernest was disappointed, he
did not mean what he said."
"Don't you believe that I love you too
well, to deny you anything that might be
good for you?"
"Yes, papa," said Constance, with a
"I want you to learn, dearest child,
48 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.
what is the true use of this Christmas
A little half-checked sob burst from
Constance, at the thought of all the delights
of Treverton Hall which they must give
up, and her father stooped down and kissed
I cannot bear to disappoint you, my
"I know that, papa," she answered
God bless you, my own dear Constance,
now run away and try to make Ernest
think of it as you do."
Ernest had carried all his anger directly
to Reginald, who was always ready to help
him in his troubles. Reginald heard him out
patiently, while he told of all the pleasures
they had lost, and descanted on what he
considered his father's unkindness, and
when he had fairly exhausted. himself, his
brother said quietly,-
"You told me yesterday, that you were
INCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 49
proud of being called your father's son,
Ernest did not answer.
"Can you not trust our father's love,
"I don't know," grumbled the boy.
Reginald sighed deeply.
"What is it, Reggie?"
I'll tell you what I was thinking of,
dear Ernest. You know that my one great
wish in life has been to become my father's
curate here; I have prepared myself for it,
and looked forward to it with the greatest
delight. I was nearly old enough to be
ordained, you know, when my accident
happened, and now it is my heavenly
Father's will that I should lie here for the
rest of my life; do you think, Ernest,
that I could bear this trouble, if it
was sent to me in anger,-if I did not
know that I could trust my Father's
love?" Reginald paused, it was very
seldom that he spoke of his own trouble,
50 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.
and his whole face was working with deep
0 Reggie, don't, don't," said Ernest.
No, Ernest, I will point you to a higher
example than mine. There is One, who
says, that He came into this world, not to
do His own will, but the will of the Father
who sent Him. Who was that ?"
"Our Saviour," said Ernest, who was
beginning to feel that he was wrong.
At this moment Constance came in. She
went over to Ernest directly, and said,-
I am so sorry."
"You don't care about it half as much
as I do," said Ernest, sulkily.
"No, because I don't know Maurice as
well, but I am very sorry."
"No merry Christmas for us," said
Reginald smiled. Don't say that quite
so rashly, Ernest, I know a secret by which
you could spend a merrier Christmas here
than you would have had at Treverton."
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 51
"Nonsense!" said Ernest, while Con-
stance opened her eyes wide with astonish-
"I do indeed."
"What is it?" said Ernest.
"Oh, I'm not going to tell you for
nothing, this precious, golden secret of
"Oh, do tell us, Reggie!" and Ernest
looked quite brightened up.
"No, nol" said Reginald, shaking his
head; "if I tell you, you shall pay me."
"I want all my money for Christmas
boxes," said Ernest.
"Well, I won't ask for money, but if
you'll do for me the work, that I should do
if I was about, I'll tell you the secret the
first thing on Christmas morning, and I
think that you'll have 'a merry Christmas
and a happy New Year.'"
"All right, shake hands on it," said
Ernest, it's a done bargain."
"When shall we begin?" said Constance.
52 UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION.
This afternoon," said her brother, and
now, in preparation for it, I advise both of
you to set off for a walk while this glorious
"We will," said Ernest, "it's no good
fretting about Treverton any more, and I
won't; all the same, it's a horrid bore; and
if you don't do something wonderful for us,
Reggie, I'll never forgive you."
Constance had gone to put on her things,
and Reginald called Ernest back for a
"Won't you make it up with papa
before you go out ?"
"Yes," said Ernest, and in another
minute he was in his father's study, and
without hesitation went up to him and
said, "Forgive me, papa, I was in a rage, I
All right, my boy, I am quite ready to
forgive and forget it. I see you spoke
truly, Ernest, when you said that you were
learning to be a man, for true manhood
UNCLE WALTER'S INVITATION. 63
will never fail to acknowledge itself in the
"We are going out for a walk now,
Constance was ready by this time, so
they set out; and the subject of their
speculation during the walk was Reginald's
"01120 Was tBe artist?"
"The simple are the wise to Him,
The gentle are the brave;
The weak the strongest, if they put
Their trust in Him to save."
" E' EFORE we go back, Ernest,
0 would you mind coming to the
house at the corner of the village
street. I want to ask how poor
l Miss Matheson is?" said Con-
stance as they were returning
Isn't that your governess that comes
"Yes, but I got a note from her this
morning saying that she was not at all
All right-we'll go, only you mustn't
WHO WAS THE ARTIST 1" 55
"Only five minutes," said Constance.
"Oh, I know what your five minutes
"Well, it shall really be only five this
Isn't this the house ?"
"Yes," and Constance knocked at the
Can I see Miss Matheson ?"
"I'll go and see," said the woman who
opened it, and in a moment or two she re-
turned, begging that they would walk up
It was a very homely room that they
were shown into, and yet there was a cer-
tain degree of taste displayed in the
arrangement of its furniture. Books lay
on the table, and a white chrysanthemum
was flowering in a pot on a small stand in
the window. A few good prints and one
or two water-colour paintings hung on the
The governess soon entered, pale and
56 WHO WAS THE ARTIST"V
care-worn, with deep shadows under her
eyes, telling of pain and suffering.
"How kind of you to come, Constance,"
she said gently, "and is this the brother
whom you were expecting home?"
Yes, Miss Matheson, this is Ernest, but
I came to know how you were, I am sorry
you have got that troublesome headache
"It is very bad to-day, dear, but I dare-
say I shall be well to-morrow, and if you
will let me, I will make up my time then
with a couple of extra hours."
"No, no! mamma has sent me with a
message to you, to say that my holidays
may begin from to-day, instead of next
week, as Christmas is coming on so
A sorrowful shade passed over the face
of the governess as Constance said these
words, and the brother and sister both
"How glad you must be when Christ-
WHO WAS THE ARTIST?" 57
mas comes, Miss Matheson," said Er-
"I ought to be, but I fear I am not this
year," she replied sadly.
"Why not?" asked Constance.
It will be a very lonely time to me,
Will it?-won't you go home ?"
"This is my home, Constance, I have no
"But you have a brother, won't he
come and spend it with you ?"
Miss Matheson's eyes filled with tears as
she shook her head in answer.
No, dear Constance, I heard from him
this morning, and he says he cannot
Won't his employers let him ?" said
Constance sympathizingly, for she knew
that he was clerk in the bank of a large
town in the north.
Miss Matheson coloured, and hesitated
for a moment, but then said firmly, "It is
56 WHO WAS THE ARTIST?"
not that, Constance, he could get leave, but
he cannot afford to come, nor can I."
Constance was sorry that she had pressed
the question, and changed the conversation,
by taking up -a water-colour picture that
lay on the table.
How pretty this is, Miss Matheson;
The First Ride !" said her brother,
reading the name on the back. "Yes,
that is a pretty picture, uncommonly so,
how well the little chap sticks on!"
The scene represented the stable-yard of
an old manor-house, on the steps of a door
which opened into it, a lady was standing,
shading her eyes with her hands while she
watched her little son, a boy of about four
years old, mounted on a shaggy pony, and
held on by an old serving man, who was
leading the animal carefully round the
yard, while a large Newfoundland dog fol-
lowed at his heels. The squire was leaning
against the wall with his arms folded, smil-
WHO WAS THE ARTIST?" 59
ing at his little son's delight; and a little
girl by his side was clapping her hands with
glee, as she watched her brother's progress.
What a jolly dog that is !" said Ernest.
"Yes, and I like the pony too, I think
it is something like Mr. Baldwin's old
pony-and how pretty the little boy's
merry face and golden curls look, in con-
trast with the old servant's grey locks and
wrinkled forehead. Oh, Miss Matheson,
did you do this ?"
"No, dear, I didn't. I am glad you
like the painting, it has a strange history."
What is it said Ernest.
"Will it make your head worse to tell
"us?" inquired Constance more thoughtfully.
"No. You know I teach Elise Talbot
and her sister Jane ; well, some time ago,
they showed me a little painting done by
one of their brothers, representing this
scene, and I asked them to lend it to me,
and they did. It lay in my drawer for
several weeks, and I thought no more
60 WHO WAS THE ARTIST?"
about it, until one day last summer-I re-
member it was very hot-I was sitting by
the open window, when there came a knock
at my door, and presently a boy of about
fourteen was shown in. He seemed very
shy and nervous when I asked him what
he wanted, and at last he said that he had
come to ask me to tell him something
about painting, that he knew that I taught
it, and he should be so thankful if I would
give him some hints about it. I willingly
said that I would, though I thought it
rather an odd request, and then he opened
a portfolio, and produced several pictures
of his own ; they were wonderfully done,
and I felt that the boy was a genius, and,
with some training, would become a famous
artist. I began to help him as well as I
could, and, in turning over my drawer to
get out some copies, I came upon this little
sketch: he was delighted with it, and
begged the loan of it. When he was going
away, I asked his name, but he refused to
,',.. I ,
^ ^ :^: 111:-----
WHO WAS THE ARTIST
WHO WAS THE ARTIST?' (1
tell it, begging me not to insist upon it, and
so I never found it out. I liked the boy,
though there was something very miserable
in his face, and so I promised not to ask
anything more, and I lent him a paint-box
which I was not using, and then he went
off, very thankful and content."
"He might have been a cheat, Miss
Matheson," said Ernest, shrewdly.
"So I began to think after I had done
it, but this morning proved my suspicions
false, for he brought back my box, and all
the copies, together with this picture ; he
looked if anything more sad than when he
was-here before, and said he should be so
thankful if I could sell his pictures for
him in any of the families where I went
to teach, adding that he would take for
them anything I could get. His other
little sketches are in this portfolio," she
continued, opening one which lay near
Oh, that's good !" said Ernest, taking
62 WHO WAS THE ARTIST "'
up one of a large St. Bernard dog finding
Sa traveller in the snow. "Constance,
wouldn't Reggie like that ?"
"I'm sure he would-it's beautiful."
How much should I pay for it ?"
Well, say seven and sixpence, would
that do ?" said Miss Matheson.
"Yes, I could give that!" said Ernest,
thinking with no small pleasure of the
sovereign Uncle Walter had slipped into
his hand at parting.
Ernest, we've been here much more
than five minutes, come along," said Con-
stance, "I'm sure we're doing no good to
Miss Matheson's head."
"You have not made it worse, dear, I
am always glad to see you. Will you
thank your mamma from me, for the
arrangement she has made, and I hope
you will both have a very happy Christ-
Thank you," said Constance, "but we
don't know what to do that it may be a
WHO WAS THE ARTIST ? 63
merry Christmas-we don't know how to
I do not think that, to any one who
remembers the true Christmas blessing, it
can fail to be a happy time whether it is
merry or not," said Miss Matheson gravely,
as she said good-bye to them.
When they got home, Ernest put his
picture away safely, but while doing so he
made a discovery, for in minute letters in
one corner, he found the initials A. W. F.
Meanwhile, in the top room of the red
house amongst the fir-trees, Arthur For-
rester was sitting on his little brother's
bed, for Herbie's cough had become worse
during the night, and he was so exhausted
in the morning that he could not get up.
"Well, Herbie, you'll soon have some-
thing warmer, I think. Isn't it fine ?"
"Yes, Arthur, but you must not work
so hard for me. I know you were up too
early this morning, mounting that picture,
and it was so cold."
C4 WHO WAS THE ARTIST '
Nonsense, Herbie, man."
What made you think of going to her,
"Because I saw her with Charlotte, and
knew how kind she was."
Oh, here's Aunt Dixon, Arthur, what
will she say to find me in bed ?"
There was a hand upon the lock of the
door, and then Mrs. Dixon entered.
Herbert, not up? are these the goings on
up-stairs out of my sight-pray, sir, when
do you expect the servants are to make
your bed ?"
He was very ill this morning, and I
told you so," said Arthur fiercely.
He is no worse than he was before you
came home, and if this kind of thing is to
occur, I shall separate you."
Herbie shuddered, and got down as far
under the bedclothes as he could.
It is a very weakening thing to lie in
bed," continued his aunt, you will get up
WHO WAS THE ARTIST?" 65
And, Arthur, that is much too large a
fire; it is not such a very cold day," and
Mrs. Dixon began taking the topmost coals
off with the tongs, adding, in a freezing tone,
" when you pay for the coals you will be
welcome to waste them, but while I give
them to you, I expect that you will be
Arthur clenched his hands tightly, and
would have broken out into a passion had
it not been for a look from Herbie.
Mrs. Dixon was taking a survey of the
room meanwhile. You nmist not hammer
nails into the wall, it marks them. I
won't have it done, boys."
Very well, aunt," said Herbie.
I'll do it if I choose," muttered Arthur.
And, Arthur, I won't have you always
up here, it's bad for Herbert, you must
come down stairs."
0 aunt, please-" cried little Herlie
C, WHO WAS THE ARTIST ?"
Be quiet, Herbert, and don't dare to
speak in that fretful tone. I really am
shocked to see a little boy who has so
much kindness shown towards him, so
peevish and irritable," and then she left the
Arthur looked after her for one moment
when she had closed the door, and then
threw himself down by Herbie with a
"Don't, Arthur, don't. I don't mind it.
I wish you wouldn't cry so."
0 Herbie, I cannot bear it for you, if
it was only me I shouldn't mind, but for
mamma's baby-boy as she used to call you.
Herbie, I hate that woman."
Herbie put his fingers on his lips.
"I do, I do!" cried Arthur. "I hate
every one but you, Herbie."
No, you don't, you like Miss Matheson,
and you like Dr. Johnstone, and old Simon,
and that good Mr. Henry Dixon who was
so kind to me."
WHO WAS THE ARTIST 1" 67
Arthur gave some kind of a mumbled
assent, but still continued muttering to
himself, "I do hate her."
Herbie turned his flushed face round on
the pillow, and at last he said, Arthur,
would you mind-I haven't said my
prayers this morning, would you say them
for me, while you kneel there ?"
"What shall I say?"
The one mamma taught me first of all."
"Yes," and Arthur repeated it, though
'his voice trembled exceedingly.
"Now the Lord's Prayer, please," but
Arthur's voice nearly broke down when he
said, Forgive us our trespasses as we for-
give them that trespass against us." There
was a long pause, and then Herbie whis-
"Arthur, say something for Aunt
I can't, Herbie."
"Yes, do, please."
If I did it would be, 'Please put an
6S "' WHO WAS THE ARTIST I"
end to her,' he replied, lifting his head
with a bitter smile on his lips.
"No, no, Arthur, not that."
Arthur buried his face in the clothes
again, and neither of them spoke for a few
moments, until Herbie said hesitatingly-
"Arthur, it's getting on for Christmas
time, and then don't you know there is to
be 'peace on earth, good-will toward men.'
Have we got 'peace and good-will' to
Aunt Dixon ?"
Then Herbie clasped his hands, and said,
in a low soft voice, Pray God make us
forgive her, and make her a little bit more
kind, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.' Now,
Arthur, I will get up, and will you help
me to dress ?"
With as much tenderness as a gentle
nurse could have used, Arthur helped his
little brother, and when he had done he
said, "I suppose I must go down to
dinner now; Herbie, what will you do ?"
WHO WAS THE ARTIST?" 69
"I can't paint to-day, Arthur, I will sit
in my little chair by the fire, and read
Arthur's face brightened, and he drew
the little wicker-chair, which had been his
parting present to Herbie when he was
going to school, close to the fire, and seated
him in it.
Are you all snug ?"
"Yes," and Herbie looked up at him
with a bright sunny smile, which made
Arthur leave him with a lighter heart; he
did not know, that, when he was gone, large
tears began to roll down the little fellow's
face, and dimmed his eyes so that *he was
unable to read. He was very weary of the
pain and suffering of his daily life.
lotu w o spreab txe Mristmas t Lssage.
" Thus, may the bitter cold, and the trying weather of a biting
snowy Christmas be read. Surely, it calls aloud to every one,
that now is the moment for clothing the naked, for feeding the
hungry, and for comforting the afflicted."-Parables from
!'"ELL, Reggie, what have we got
to do for you?" said Constance,
as she and Ernest came into
their brother's room after
It's snowing, so we can't
go out!" said Ernest..
"No, I know you can't, so will you work
for me here ?"
They both gave a willing assent.
"How bitterly cold it is," said Regi-
Ernest, boy, poke the fire, will you?"
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 71
"Mrs. Wilton and Basil went to bring
the kitten to Jamie White this morning,
and he had got no fire, Reggie, just think
I have been thinking of it, dear Connie,
and so I have asked papa to let me give
an extra grant of coal; and I want Ernest
to write me some coal tickets in his best
round hand. I wish we had a great deal
more money to spend on them. Our own
bright Christmas fires and warm comforts
always make me think sorrowfully and
with pity of those who can only dread this
season, from the want and privation it
brings to them."
"Yes, I remember Giles Young telling
papa the other day that he wished Christmas-
time never came."
Reginald sighed. "I suppose we have
no idea what the poor suffer from cold," he
This is an unusually cold winter," said
72 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.
Yes, but that does not make it easier
"What am I to do, Reggie?" asked
Will you go and ask Mrs. Wilton to
give you one of the little warm frocks she
has cut out this morning, and will you begin
to make it. I will read you a story."
Thus the afternoon passed pleasantly
away, and when the twilight came on, and
they could no longer see their work, Ernest
and Constance came and seated themselves
close to the fire by Reggie's side.
To-morrow is Sunday, and on Monday
would you mind taking round these tickets ?"
"We'll be proud and happy," laughed
Reggie, while you've been reading an
idea came into my head.'
"Well, what is it?"
What fun it would be to go and try to
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 73
make old Baldwin stand something for
creature comforts for the poor around him.
He's such an old miser, I know, he never
gives anything to anybody."
Reginald smiled. "Then I don't think
he would give anything to you."
"It would be a good joke to try, besides
I've a curiosity to see the inside of his
house; will you come, Connie?"
"Yes," said Connie, "O P.- : e I do
wish every one could have a merry Christ-
Reginald laid his hand softly on her
glossy hair. Constance," he said earnestly,
"will you do your best that it shall be so? "
0 R. -_ ;., I can't; what can I do, I'm
only thirteen, and Ernest is only twelve,
what can we do to cure all the cold, the
want, and the misery you have been telling
us of? "
'Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoe'er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
74 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.
To keep and cultivate,
And a work of lowly love to do
For the Lord on whom I wait'
" You know how fond I am of those lines,
"Yes, but, Reggie, what could we do?"
"Well, you have done something this
afternoon; and on Monday you are going
to give away the coal-tickets, and try to
move Mr. Baldwin's feelings."
I believe he freezes up his heart when
the winter comes," said Ernest.
Then you must try to thaw it," said
"Yes, I will."
"And when you go into the cottages, will
you not have a famous opportunity of giving
away kind words and good hearty Christmas
wishes; and can you not watch to see if
there is any little thing you can do to
leave a ray of Christmas sunshine behind
Oh, yes," said Connie, there might be
some poor little boy or girl who would like
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 75
a warm frock, or whom we could lend a
Or some old woman to be comforted
in her rheumatics," said Ernest, slyly.
"Yes, I begin to see some things we
could do, and then there will be our own
Christmas boxes, and the little ones, and
our school-treat coming on; I only wish
that horrid old Mr. Barnett wasn't coming,
but never mind, Ernest, we'll have some
"To be sure we will," said Reginald,
"and I've been thinking that we might
perhaps have some fun for the little ones."
"Oh, capital," said Ernest, who was not
at all above this kind of thing; "and
there'll be the putting up of the holly in
"And let us remember," said Reginald,
"in all we do, that Christmas is to remind
us of something higher than our own
pleasure; He who came down into this
dark dreary world from His home of light,
76 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.
came to bring 'peace on earth, goodwill
toward men;' let us each try how far we
can send the Christmas message, and how
many hearts and homes we can brighten
with it, for His sake."
Why, Reggie, you talk like a book,"
said Ernest, springing to his feet.
"Well, it is not often I speak to you
like that, Ernest, so you must mind me all
the more when I do," replied his brother.
Well, I'm off for a romp in the nursery,"
And I must go to mamma," said
Connie, so Reginald was left alone.
He lay quietly for some minutes watch-
ing the snow-flakes falling on the trees
outside the window, which could be only
dimly seen through the gathering darkness;
and as he watched, mournful thoughts filled
his mind. "Yes," he said to himself, they
can work, they can do something for Him;
but I must lie here a useless log, I who
would have worked so hard; oh, it is hard,
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 77
it is hard, I should not mind if I were not
so useless; but it is God's will, and I must
not rebel. I must ask to be taught how
to bear it patiently, for the worst part of
my trial is to feel that I am an idler in His
Was Reginald Leslie a real idler? I
think not. On his couch of suffering he was
doing his Master's work, quite as effectually
as if he had been employed actively; his
"strength was to sit still," and unconsciously
he was the mainspring on which much
machinery was revolving that would other-
wise have been still.
The next day was Sunday, always a
Peaceful and happy time in Enmore Rectory.
There was no cold formality, no undue
severity in the way it wos kept, which
made it repulsive. Every one felt that it
was in reality the day of rest ordained by
God; and a spirit of repose and peace
brooded over the house on its Sabbath.
Even Ernest felt the difference between its
78 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.
observance at home and at school, where
it was so difficult amongst all the boys to
"remember the Sabbath-day to keep it
holy;" and he privately told Constance
that it "didn't require any goodness to
keep Sunday at home, but that it must be
a saint who could do so at school." One
surprise both the children had, when they
went to church, and that was seeing
Arthur Forester in the Dixons' pew, look-
ing as dogged and sullen as ever; and
Ernest declared it was too bad to see him,
for it was not at all pleasant to be reminded
of the loss of his prize on the first Sunday
of the holidays, by seeing his successful
rival sitting just before him.
Reginald had been told all about the
disappointment; and Ernest's wrath was
greatly raised when, on returning from
morning service, and telling Reggie about
his seeing Arthur with the Dixons, his
brother said quietly,-
"Poor fellow! why, Ernest, you might
HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. 79
find him out, and bring him over here;
who knows but we might brighten his
Christmas a little?"
"Thank you, I would rather not," said
Ernest, contemptuously. I've seen quite
enough of him."
Reginald looked up sorrowfully, and
Constance said quickly, "Perhaps that
poor little boy with the bad cough is his
"I should think so, it's most likely,"
said Reginald, but Ernest walked out of
Connie, I don't like Ernest to keep up
angry feelings against that poor boy, I
daresay he leads an unhappy life with the
Dixons. I should think he was an orphan
from what you tell me of the deep black
crape round his hat; and we might be
kind to him."
"What can we do?" said Constance
Well, I think I will write him a note
80 HOW TO SPREAD THE CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.
to-morrow when you are out, and ask him
to come over and see me; shall I?"
"Oh, do, Reggie, that would be capital,
and you find out all about him and the
other little boy."
I will try," and a feeling of pleasure
stole into Reginald's heart as he thought,
"Perhaps to bring some Christmas happi-
ness to those poor children is to be my
work ; I will not repine any more."
"Poor indeed thou must be, if around thee
Thou no ray of light and joy can't throw;
If no silken cord of love hath bound thee
To some little world through weal or woe,"
UT, HUR was painting the next
iii:mrning up in his room, when
Sold Simon, the servant, who
(I: looked with a kindly eye upon
S the fi-iendless boys, opened the
door and put his head in.
Master Arthur, here be a note, and be
there any answer "
"A note for me! Oh, surely not,
Yes, large as life, Master Arthur For-
rester, Fir-tree Lodge,' bean't that you,
82 REGINALD'S WORK.
"I suppose it must be," said Arthur,
taking it, while Herbie watched him with
wistful eyes. It ran as follows-
Mr. Reginald Leslie would be glad to see Master
Arthur Forrester this afternoon at the rectory-at three
o'clock, if it would be convenient to him to come. Mr.
R. Leslie is unable to leave his sofa, so he hopes Master
Forrester will excuse his want of ceremony."
How strange!" said Arthur. "I wonder
if that is Ernest Leslie's brother, and what
he can want with me However, Herbie,
don't you think I had better go; he might
become a friend and help us away from
this hateful place."
"Yes, Arthur, do go," said Herbie
Very well, Simon, say I'll be there."
Simon nodded and went off with his
message, leaving the two boys not a little
"I wonder if Ernest has been talking
"I should think so," was ITerbie's reply.
REGINALD'S WORK. 83
"But then I can't understand this
gentleman wanting to see me, for Ernest
would say nothing good of me, that is very
He couldn't say anything bad, I'm
sure," said little Herbie, looking proudly
into his brother's face.
Nonsense, Herbie, every one does
not look at me through rose-coloured
spectacles as you do, silly fellow. Ernest
Leslie hates me, because I got that prize,
and he wanted it."
I am very glad he didn't get it," said
"So am I. I never thought about
getting it till that day when I got your
letter saying how proud you'd be if I got
one, and then I set to work, and got it for
you,-I've half a mind not to go to see
"You've said you will, and so you must
now," said Herbie, "and, perhaps, he'll be a
friend and help us, Arthur; who knows?"
84 REGINALD'S WORK.
So Arthur did go, and found himself on
the steps of the rectory just as the church
clock was chiming the hour of three. He
was shown up into Reginald's room
directly, and he certainly had not expected
the kind reception which awaited him.
Reginald was lying on the sofa, but he
held out his hand very kindly to welcome
Arthur, and asked him to take a chair
near him, adding-
"As I am the clergyman's son and
Ernest's brother, I thought you would
not mind my asking you to come and
see me. I have so few visitors, and
the sight of a new face is such a pleasure
to me, in my unbroken confinement up
Arthur coloured and stammered out
something, he knew not what.
"You are living with the Dixons, are
you not?" said Reginald.
"Are they any relations to you ? "
REGINALD'S WORK. 85
"Mrs. Dixon is my aunt."
"Have you any brothers or sisters?"
One brother," and from the bright look
which accompanied the words, Reginald
knew that he had touched one chord of his
I suppose your friends were very much
pleased that you got the prize. Ernest
told me how well you answered."
A bitter smile crossed Arthur's lips as
he replied, I have got no friends."
Reginald looked at him searchingly;
there was something in that pale face,
dogged and sullen as it was, which inter-
ested him strangely-there was so much
sorrow, anxiety, want, and privation
written in it, which ill accorded with the
lithe boyish figure, and yet, at the same
time, the high well-formed forehead be-
tokened such concentrated purpose, calm
determination and firmness, and the grey
eyes were so clear and truthful that Regi-
nald felt that the boy was not what Ernest
88 REGINALD'S WORK.
had depicted him, and that some sad his-
tory lay behind the sullen exterior.
Surely your aunt was pleased with
your prize ?'" he went on.
I didn't show it to her."
"May I ask you why not ? or is it an
impertinent question for a stranger ?"
"No ; I was afraid she would keep it to
put on her drawing-room table, instead of
letting Herbie have it, and I got it for
"Oh, I see," said Reginald. "How cold
it is now; do you skate ?"
Don't you like it ?"
"I don't care about it."
I used to be very fond of it, until I
met with my accident, and now you see I
am completely prevented from doing any-
thing of the kind."
"Are you very dull?" said Arthur;
and then thinking, from seeing a smile
cross Reginald's face, that he had said
REGINALD'S \ORK. 87
something very foolish, he coloured more
furiously than ever. But Reginald said
"Oh, no, I have plenty to do. I read
a great deal, and sometimes I write."
Then there ensued a long and pleasant
conversation on books and lessons, in the
course of which Reginald made out a great
deal of Arthur's mind, which was no ordi-
nary one, and after a while he skilfully
turned the subject back to Arthur himself,
and his little brother.
"I am afraid from what my sister tells
me, that your brother is ill."
"Indeed he is," said Arthur, "so ill
that it frightens me to see him. I think
the house we are living in is too damp and
cold for him."
"Very likely," replied Reginald; "could
you not write to some of your other friends
or relations and tell them so."
"We have no others," said Arthur
mournfully, we are quite alone in the
88 REGINALD'S WORK.
world, Herbie and I, and if-if he dies I
shall have no one."
Poor fellow," said Reginald, yours is
indeed a sad story."
Arthur rose and said abruptly, "I must
go now, Herbie will be watching for me."
"Would you mind taking him some of
the oranges that are lying on that plate-
"Thank you," and Arthur took up one.
"Please give me the plate," said Regi-
nald, stretching out his hand for it; and
when Arthur gave it to him, he began to
fill all the boy's pockets with the fruit.
There now, you can carry those, can't
"Yes; but don't let me take them
"Please do, and come soon to see me
again. I know we shall be famous
You're very kind," said Arthur, holding
out his hand to say good-bye, and then
REGINALD'S WORK. F9
Reginald rang the bell, and Arthur de-
scended the stairs.
It was twilight, so that Ernest and
Constance, who were ascending the steps
just as he was leaving the house, did not
recognize him, and he walked quickly to-
wards his home. The tea-bell was ringing
as he entered Fir-tree Lodge-for he called
at Miss Matheson's on his way and found
the seven and sixpence waiting for him, to
his great delight; and never was any boy
prouder of his first earnings than Arthur
Forrester as he carried them home to
Herbeit that evening-but a great check
was put upon his pleasure by his aunt's
Swrath as he entered the house.
Pray, Master Arthur, may I inquire
where you have been this afternoon ?" was
her first question.
I have been to the rectory, aunt."
And what business had you to go
I went on my own business," replied
.40 REGINALD'S WORK.
Arthur carelessly, as he seated himself at
Mr. Dixon, may I request your opinion
on Arthur's conduct," said Mrs. Dixon in
a cold and measured tone. "I tell Arthur
that I wish him to do something for me
this afternoon, and, instead of obeying me,
he steals off to the rectory, without saying
one word to me, and comes back' after
"Well, my dear, I don't suppose he'll
get any harm at the rectory."
Mrs. Dixon's face grew more wrathful as
she answered, "It is well that it cannot
last much longer-how are we to know
that he has been to the rectory at all ? he
is quite deceitful enough to bring that for-
ward as an excuse."
Arthur's face flushed crimson, and he
sprang to his feet. "How dare you say
that I tell a lie. How can you even think
such a thing of one of my father's sons ?"
Charlotte began to titter, as she always
REGINALD'S WORK. 91
did when Arthur was angry; and Mrs.
Dixon's manner became more freezingly
cold and sneering.
"Compose yourself, Arthur, I knew
nothing of your father except through his
children, and I cannot say that they pre-
sent a very charming result of his training."
Arthur was trembling with rage, and
could hardly find words to express it, when
Charlotte said suddenly-.
Arthur, what makes your pocket stick
out like that ?"
"What's that to you?" he replied.
What have you got in it ?" said Mrs.
Arthur did not reply.
Speak directly, Arthur, and answer
your aunt," said Mr. Dixon, looking at him
across the table.
I don't see why I should," muttered
the boy, stooping down to pick up his
handkerchief which he had dropped, but as
he did so one of the oranges fell from his
92 REGINALD'S WORK.
pocket and rolled across the floor straight
to Mrs. Dixon's feet. She took it up and
placed it on the table.
"There, Mr. Dixon, that is all the con-
firmation we want of the falsehood he has
told-he has been in the village buying
"Have you, Arthur ?" said her husband.
"No !" replied Arthur proudly.
Have you been anywhere else, besides
to the rectory ?"
I don't choose to tell."
Answer directly, when I tell you," said
"And who are you that I should an-
swer you ?" asked Arthur, looking her
straight in the face.
"One to whom you owe everything,"
said Mrs. Dixon.
A bitter laugh was Arthur's only reply.
How dare you, sir, mock at your
REGINALD'S WORK. 93
aunt 1" said Mr. Dixon rising, and coming
round the table he boxed his ears.
Arthur made a wild spring at him, but
suddenly checked himself and sat down
Give me those oranges-I won't have
them taken up-stairs," said Mrs. Dixon.
He rolled them across the table to
"Now, young master, go straight off to
your bed," said his uncle, taking him by
the shoulders and pushing him out of the
Arthur sprang up the stairs and was
soon in his own room. Herbie was watch-
ing for him with a joyful face.
"Well, Arthur, was it nice ?-how long
you've been, have you had tea l"
But Arthur did not answer, he only
threw himself on to a chair near the fire,
and covered his face with his hands.
Arthur, Arthur !-what is it ?-has
any one been hurting you?" said the little
94 REGINALD'S WORK.
"boy lovingly, as he crept to his brother's
"Nothing," muttered Arthur.
Please tell me. I know something has
"Do leave me alone," said Arthur
Herbie shrunk away directly. Arthur
had never spoken roughly to him since
their father's death, and the poor little boy
felt that, if his brother began to be cross
with him now, the finishing stroke would
be put to his troubles.
He sat down quietly and was silent, and
Arthur went on looking moodily into the
Hire. About ten minutes passed, and then
Arthur said suddenly-
I've been a brute to you, come here."
Herbie went to him and knelt down be-
Make it up, Herbie ?"
REGINALD'S WORK. 95
Of course," said the little boy, squeez-
ing his hand.
"Do you care to hear what put me
So Arthur told him all about it.
Herbie was quite silent when he had
done, only he held his brother's hand very
tightly and laid his head down on it.
Well, Herbie ?"
"Arthur, I think it's very hard, that 1
should have such a quiet life up here, while
you are worried and tormented down stairs."
"I'm stronger than you, Herbie."
I wish-but no. I won't say it."
But why not; I don't mind what you
say to me ?"
I wish you hadn't said all that to Aunt
"So do I now; but she ':2,"r-i' -i. me
Couldn't you tell her you are sorry."
"I'll see about it, Herbie. I say, little
96 REGINALD'S WORK.
man, would you mind it very much if I was
missing some fine day?"
O Arthur," and Herbie looked into his
face to see how much he meant of what he
Do you think I don't mean it?" said
I know you don't," said Herbie, "it's
the only thing that helps us on, that we are
together, Arthur, promise you won't go away
until you are obliged to go to school,
oh, promise," and he clung round his
Yes, Herbie, but you mustn't be like a
girl about it. No, silly boy, I won't leave
you; and I'll get some money by my pic-
The next morning when Arthur went
down to breakfast he walked straight up
to his aunt, and said,-
I am sorry if I was rude to you last
Mrs. Dixon looked at him for a moment,
REGINALD'S WORK. 97
and then said in her most icy and con-
"I am glad to hear it, but it is too late
Arthur could not understand why these
words sent such a cold shiver through him,
but he was soon to know.
After breakfast his uncle told him that
he wanted him at ten o'clock in the library.
Arthur's heart beat very fast as the hour
approached, and as the clock struck he
entered the room.
Mr. Dixon was seated at the table. Mrs.
Dixon was standing by the fire, drawn up
to her full height, and looking a complete
Arthur," said Mr. Dixon, taking off his
spectacles, and rubbing them, I think-
that is to say, your aunt thinks-I mean
we both think-that it's high time you
should do something for yourself. I was
at work long before I was your age."
"Yes, sir," said Arthur, while his heart