QLES oWjONG G0
,fA or/iagies 3 Pic/avs' etc.
.4'J-RCUSRD S Co LO.VDOox.
& ROYAL ULSTER IVORKS. BELFASF.
TALES OF LONG AGO
AUTHOR OF "MAGGIE'S PICTURES," ETC.
MARCUS WARD & CO., 67, 68, CHANDOS STREET
AND ROYAL ULSTER WORKS, BELFAST
I.-THE CONTRAST 7
II.--THE BEGINNING 21
III.-JOHN'S TROUBLES 34
IV.-THE STORY OF THE RAINBOW 49
VI.-ABRAHAM'S SACRIFICE 75
VII.-ISAAC'S BLESSING 8
VIII.-JOSEPH AND EIS BRETHREN .99
IX.-THE JOURNEY THROUGH THE WILDERNESS Io8
X.-A WONDERFUL DISCOVERY 118
CHAP. I.-THE CONTRAST.
OHN and Stephen Wright stoQd side
Sby side, looking at each other.
Nobody would have taken them for
brothers; Valentine and Orson in the fairy
tale were not more unlike, and perhaps that
is what these boys were thinking as they
stood looking into each other's face. They
felt shy and strange, for they could not re-
member ever having met before; and they
were silent, not knowing how to begin speak-
ing. Their meeting had taken place at a
railway station-not exactly the place for
two people to stand still and think and look
at each other. And so the boys began to
find out, when two trucks, a porter, and half-
a-dozen passengers had run up against them
"Is that your box, Stephen?" John asked
at last, and Stephen nodded.
"Then we had better take it away," said
the other. There's the carrier outside; he'll
take it down to aunt's for you."
John was nine years old and Stephen eight,
both tall strong boys for their age; and the
box was small enough; they found no diffi-
culty in carrying it through the station to
the cart, which was standing outside in the
little country road, under the trees.
"I've met my brother, Mr. Brown," John
said to the carrier. "And here's his box, if
you'll be kind enough to take it to aunt's."
The carrier a stout countryman, with
big blue eyes-stared with all his might at
"What! is he your brother?" he asked,
surprised; for John's rosy cheeks and blue
eyes and rings of yellow hair formed the
strangest contrast to his brother's face, which
was dark as a gipsy's. Still more unlike was
John's neat look to Stephen's neglected ap-
pearance and shabby dress; John's springing
step to Stephen's slouching tread; John's
frank gaze to Stephen's timid, furtive glances.
John crimsoned as the carrier spoke, and
took hold of Stephen's hand.
Yes," he cried stoutly. He is my brother,
and he is coming to live with aunt and me
Stephen stood hanging his head and taking
"Well, to be sure!" said Mr. Brown, and
he drove off without any more words, looking
back, however, more than once at the boys, who
were walking soberly along the road, until a
turning was passed and he lost sight of them.
By-and-by he came to a pretty little farm-
house like a nest among the trees, just then
unfolding their new spring leaves. Here he
stopped and lifted out Stephen's box, while a
woman in a widow's dress, with a sweet, sad
face, came hastily down the little garden path
and opened the gate to him.
"Has my nephew come, Mr. Brown?" she
"That he has, Mrs. Baynes; and a fine
rough one he looks-not a bit like your
"Poor little fellow! he has been brought
up very differently," she answered. "They
were left orphans when they were quite little
things. I took Johnnie, but poor Stephen
IO The Brothers.
went to some rough relations of his father
in a mining district, where I fear he has not
been kindly treated. Often enough I have
fretted to have both my dear sister's children
with me, especially as I had none of my own,
but my dear husband was afraid of the charge.
Now that I am alone, it's different."
Her voice failed her a little, and she helped
Mr. Brown to carry in the box without more
"The boys are not far behind me, Mrs.
Baynes," said the carrier, as he drove away.
She smiled and nodded as she went back to
the gate and stood for some time watching,
her eyes shaded with her hand.
At length the two little figures were to be
seen coming quietly along under the trees.
As Johnnie caught sight of her, he took hold
of his brother's hand and set off running; but
Stephen pulled his hand away, and let him
run on alone.
"Here he is, auntie !" cried John triumph-
antly. "But I think he's tired; he won't
"Hush!" Mrs. Baynes said; and she came
out into the road and walked a few steps to
meet her nephew.
"Dear Stephen, I am so glad to see you,"
she said gently, and put her arm round him
and kissed him.
He only hung his head, making no reply;
and his aunt, holding his hand, led him into
"I expect you have been a long time on
your journey, my dear," she said.
"And you must be very tired and hungry.
Johnnie shall take you to your bedroom to
wash your hands and face, and then we will
hAve some tea."
"Come along, Stephen; you've to sleep
with me, you know; and we have a jolly
room, looking over the hay-field."
Still no answer; and John ran upstairs, and
waited at the top, while Stephen slowly fol-
A bullfinch was whistling in his cage; soft
spring air was coming in; and the sunshine,
that had got too low in the sky to look in at
the window, might still be seen sparkling
through the trees. The room was very neat
and pretty too, and John looked for some
sign of pleasure from his brother at finding
himself in such a pleasant place. But Stephen
said nothing, and neither smiled nor took any
12 The Brothers.
"Isn't he a beauty?" said Johnnie, pointing
to the bird. "I've had him these two years,
and he's as tame as a dog. When I let him
out of the cage he'll follow me all round the
Then he waited in vain for an answer.
"Don't you like birds, Stephen ?"
"I don't know."
The voice certainly sounded sulky, but
Johnnie felt sure he was only tired, and has-
tened to pour him out some water, and to
suggest the preparations for tea. Stephen
silently obeyed, and never said another word
till he was seated in Mrs. Baynes' comfortable
kitchen, with his tea before him. He seemed
very hungry, said "Yes, please," to everything
his aunt and brother offered him, and ate it
Afterwards he seemed so sleepy that his
aunt sent him at once to bed, Johnnie going
too, "for company's sake," he said.
Stephen was asleep almost as soon as his
head touched the pillow; but his poor brother
was awake a long time, thinking over a cir-
cumstance which distressed him very much.
Stephen had got into bed without saying any
The bright sunshine woke Johnnie very
early next morning; they were always early
risers at the farm, having a good deal to
attend to before breakfast; but he would
not wake his brother, who was still sleeping
soundly, and presently ran downstairs and
out to his work, whistling like one of the
blackbirds that were about.
Mrs. Baynes was already up, and busy with
a woman who came in to help her with her
dairy-work; and John had no opportunity,
even if he had the wish, to tell her of his
trouble last night. About seven o'clock he
ran up to waken Stephen, and tell him that
breakfast would be ready in half-an-hour.
"Yes," said Stephen, and rose slowly and
"I wonder when he will seem happy and
talk," thought Johnnie to himself, as he
handily set out the breakfast things and made
the room ready for their morning meal.
He repeated his wonder to his aunt, who
came in just then with a jug of new milk in
"Poor Stephen! He has been unhappy
and frightened, I believe; he will be all right
by-and-by, if you are good to him."
"Will he come to school with me this
14 The Brothers.
"Not just yet, while he seems so strange,
and has not anything very tidy to go in.
There's your last year's things, that you've
grown out of; I must have them done up for
So John went off to school by himself that
day; and when Stephen was told he might
amuse himself as he pleased, he went out into
the garden, and stood leaning over the gate.
He looked so dull that by-and-by his aunt
called him and asked him to help her with
her flowers. She was a great gardener, and
she talked away pleasantly to the boy, ex-
plaining her work to him, and telling him
the names of the plants. Stephen seemed
pleased, though he hardly said anything; and
the morning was passing pleasantly enough,
when poor Stephen managed to upset a fine
geranium in a pot. It was a beautiful flower,
and had only been set out for a little while to
enjoy the sunshine; and now it was snapped
right in two, and the blossoms fell like a
heavy head upon the ground!
Mrs. Baynes was fond of her flowers, but
she was much more distressed at the effect of
the accident upon Stephen than upon the
geranium. For the poor child had shrank
back with such a look of terror, and put up
The Contrast. 15
his arms as if expecting a blow. The move-
ment, the expression of his face, told a sad
tale of what his childish experiences had
"Never mind," she said, putting her arm
round him tenderly; "it was only an acci-
dent. Let us pick up the blossoms, Stephen,
and put them in water; they'll last a long
time so, and make the room quite gay."
He looked very much astonished, but fol-
lowed her into the house, and watched her
putting the flowers in water with the greatest
After that morning he followed his aunt
everywhere, watching all her work, and smil-
ing silently whenever she found some little
business for him to do.
She soon found that Stephen had a true
and earnest nature, and that he had at least
learned a horror of falsehood and dishonesty.
For the rest he was sadly untaught, though
very anxious to learn. He seemed delighted
to repeat the easy prayers she taught him,
and listened eagerly when she spoke to him
about our Saviour, and how we ought to love
and serve Him.
So matters went on very quietly all the
week, till Sunday morning came, and Ste-
16 The Brothers.
phen, tidy and clean, looked far more like
Johnnie's brother than when he first came.
However, he was very silent still, and only
coloured when Mrs. Baynes said at breakfast,
" Stephen will begin going to Sunday school
John had ceased to expect answers from
his brother, so he talked on describing the
school, and trying to cheer Stephen up and
make him laugh, but it was all in vain.
Mrs. Baynes walked with them to the gate
when school-time approached, and sighed as
she felt the tight clasp of Stephen on her
hand, as if he feared to let her go.
"Good-bye, my dear," she said, kissing him
when they reached the end of the garden.
"Be a good boy."
Then she was obliged to pull away her
hand, and John led his brother off; she
watched them for a while along the road, and
then went indoors and sat down to read.
How pleasant the stillness was, after her
Outside, only the birds' songs and the
wind among the trees moving ever so softly;
within, the clock ticking, the purring of the
cat. This was all she heard. She opened
her Bible at some words she loved.
The Contrast. 17
"There remaineth therefore a rest unto the
people of God."
That was indeed a verse for Sunday, she
thought, as she bent over her Bible. It was a
large, handsome book, with pictures in it, just
such beautiful pictures as you see here. Mrs.
Baynes had many loving recollections belong-
ing to that book. How often her husband
had read to her from it! How often she had
shown Johnnie the pictures on quiet Sunday
afternoons, and taught him Bible lessons from
I think she had lost herself in some such
remembrances, when she was suddenly roused
by hasty footsteps; the door was pushed
open hurriedly, and Stephen ran in. He was
sobbing as if his heart would break; and Mrs.
Baynes, in some alarm, took him on her lap
and begged him to tell her what was the
"I won't go to school any more!" he
gasped. "I won't go! I won't go!"
"Why, Stephen? What has happened ?"
Stephen only sobbed; but presently he put
his arms round her neck and began to im-
"Don't send me there again! don't send
"But tell me why, dear child! Johnnie
always likes going."
"Johnnie! He can read; I can't. He can
write; I can't. He knows all about what
they ask at the school, and I don't. And
they put me in among the little ones; and
they laughed at me. And I heard some of
the others whisper, Fancy Johnnie Wright's
brother being such a dunce! He's not a
bit like Johnnie," they said; "and then- "
And coming to the bitterest part of his story,
the child's voice failed altogether.
Mrs. Baynes kissed him, and told him not
"Is that all?" she asked.
"Oh no! oh no!"
"What else did they say? I am afraid
they are very naughty boys."
They said that-that Johnnie was ashamed
of his brother."
"Then you know they said what is not
true. Johnnie ashamed of his brother! If
he was ashamed of his brother, I am sure I
should be ashamed of him."
And then she soothed and petted him as if
he had been a baby. Poor child! He re-
membered no such caresses in his earlier
years; his memory could recall little but hard
blows and harder words; and just now the
love seemed too much for him, and made it
all the harder to stop crying.
Indeed the church bells were ringing before
Stephen could be persuaded to hold up his
head, and he had only time to wash his face
and make himself presentable before his aunt
took him with her to church.
There all was strange; he could not re-
member ever going to church before, and the
service was quite incomprehensible to him.
But his morning's trouble seemed to have
loosed his tongue; he asked various questions
as he went home, and showed his aunt how
much she would have to teach him.
Then when Johnnie begged to know what
had made him run away from school, Stephen
found words to tell him all about it.
"What a shame !" he cried in great wrath.
"You show me to-morrow who said it, and
see if I won't knock him down for his impu-
"Johnnie !" cried his aunt so severely that
Stephen quite started.
"I beg your pardon, aunt; but really he
"Deserves! Oh, Johnnie, I hope we shall
20 The Brothers.
none of us get all we deserve. That would be
Johnnie said no more, and they sat down
to dinner in silence.
"And you are not coming to school this
afternoon?" John asked of his brother, as
two o'clock approached.
Stephen looked beseechingly at his aunt.
You had better make his excuses this
afternoon, Johnnie. He is coming to school
The boys laughed.
"And remember, Johnnie, I shall be seri-
ously displeased if you make any quarrels out
of this matter."
John's face looked a little gloomy as he
walked away, but Mrs. Baynes took no notice;
and as soon as she had finished "washing up
the dinner things," she took out her big Bible
again, and invited Stephen to come and look
at the pictures.
CHAP. II.-THE BEGINNING.
,," HEY are nice pictures," said Stephen.
A But I don't know what they mean."
"They are pictures belonging to the story
of the world, the true story, as we find it in
the Bible. And I want you to learn what
they mean very much. Will you listen and
try to remember, if I tell you ?"
Stephen was quite ready to promise that
he would; he turned back to the first picture,
and fixed his eyes upon it as his aunt began.
"You can tell me, Stephen, who is the
Maker of all things in heaven and earth ?"
"You told me that God Almighty made us."
Yes. Our Father in heaven, the great and
merciful God, whom we cannot see, but who
always sees us, called us into being, as well as
the earth, the trees, the flowers, the sun and
stars, and all creatures that you see. We
read in the Bible that 'in the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth.' And at
first the earth was dark and empty, with the
waves of the sea roaring all over it, until God
said, 'Let there be light, and there was light.'
Then God caused the sea to gather together
in its place, and let the dry land appear; and
when there was dry land for the plants to
grow upon, God made them grow, and cover
the earth with grass and trees. And He
made the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Afterwards He caused live things to come
into the world-fishes in the sea and birds in
the air; then other animals. At last, when
all the earth was ready for a man to live in,
God made a man to live there. We read,
'And the Lord God formed man of the dust
of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life; so man became a living
Had the first man a home to live in ?"
"We read that God placed him in a gar-
den-a beautiful place, full of lovely trees and
Fruits and flowers, and with a great bright
river flowing through it to water the garden;
and all kinds of gentle and pretty animals
and birds were there; it was a happy place."
"And did the man have it for his own?"
"Yes, it was all his own-the Lord God
gave it to him; all the trees and the animals
T1he B,. ,' 1'1 i. 23
were to be his. The first man, Adam, might
walk about the garden, and have everything
"He must have been very happy."
"Yes; but he wanted something else. Can
you guess what it was? What would you
have wished for in his place, I wonder?"
Stephen thought of the lovely garden, the
shining river, and the birds with their pleasant
"I should not have wanted anything," he
said, "except for you and Johnnie to come
and be in my garden with me."
"And that is what Adam found; he was
very lonely in his beautiful garden-he wanted
a friend. Man is not meant to be happy all
alone; we can only be really happy when we
have some one near us to share our happiness
with. It leaves off being real happiness as
soon as we get selfish, and want it all to our-
selves. So as Adam could not be happy all
by himself, the Lord God made a woman,
called Eve, who was to be Adam's wife,
and live with him in the garden. Adam was
asleep when the Lord God made Eve; but
we can fancy how pleased he felt when he
woke up and saw her coming towards him
under the trees. And how pleased she must
24 The Brothers.
have been to find herself with Adam in that
There were all manner of beautiful things
for her to see, as I told you; pleasant shady
trees, sweet and gay flowers, roses and lilies
perhaps; all sorts of fruit trees, orange trees
with their dark leaves and golden fruit, vines
with their clusters of purple grapes. The
air was full of sweet sounds as the song-
birds sang to their mates; beautiful animals
bounded across the soft grass, or drank of
the clear water of the streams which flowed
murmuring through the garden."
"She must have been pleased," said Ste-
"Yes; altogether it was the most beautiful
place you can imagine. But you must not
think that Adam and Eve had nothing else
to do than to enjoy all those beautiful things.
In some respects they were like grown-up
people, but in other ways they were more like
children. They had a man's and a woman's
power of learning, but they had to learn like
children. Yes; God had put them into that
beautiful garden that they might learn. Per-
haps you will ask what sort of things they
had to learn.
"I fancy they were intended to learn all
about the trees and flowers, the birds and
beasts that were about them."
"And how would they learn all that ?"
"Well, by observation-by using their eyes
and other senses.
"But I think God intended them to learn
much more important things than those.
They were not only God's creatures, they
were God's children; so it was necessary for
them to learn about their Father in heaven."
"And how could they learn that ?"
"Perhaps God sent some of His holy angels
to talk with them."
"What were they?" Stephen asked.
"This man and woman were not the first
creatures the Lord God had made to love
and serve Him. He had some other servants
(who did not live in this world), called His
'angels'- that means 'messengers.' They
were something like men, the Bible says; but
they could fly, and do other things that men
cannot do, because men are meant to serve
God in one way and the angels in another.
Perhaps, as I said, some of these holy mes-
sengers were sent to talk to Adam and Eve.
But I rather think, from what the Bible says,
that they had a higher and better teacher
than even the angels.
"Who could so well teach them about the
Father as the Son of God, whose good plea-
sure it has always been to reveal the Father
to us ?
"But you cannot so well understand that
yet; we will go on to the great lesson which
Adam and Eve would have to learn about
that heavenly Father, and of the duty they
owed to Him. This was the great lesson we
all have to learn, the lesson which God has
placed us on this earth to learn, the great
lesson of obedience. You know what that
"Doing what we are told to do," Stephen
"Yes; and the remembrance of that great
lesson brings us to a very difficult and very
sad part of this story. I have told you that
Adam and Eve had to learn-above all, that
they had to learn obedience. Now they
could only learn obedience by having some
rule to obey, and by being able to disobey
it if they wanted to do so. Of course the
Almighty God could have made of them
creatures who could not disobey if they had
tried, or who could never have felt a wish to
disobey Him. But such obedience as that-
forced obedience, that they could not help-
The Beginning. 27
would not have been pleasing to God. He
had given them all good things; and, best of
all, He gave them the power of pleasing Him
by obeying Him, if they liked. He left their
choice free; they could obey if they liked,
they could disobey if they liked. That is
the only way in which their obedience could
really show that they loved God and wanted
to serve Him; therefore it was the only way
in which their obedience could be pleasing to
Him. And so it is with us; God wishes us
to serve Him because we love Him and wish
to serve Him, not because we must. It is so
with ourselves, in a way. I should not care
for you to do things for me only because you
could not help it. If I thought you liked to
do them, then I should be pleased.
"So you see there was no help for it. If
man had to learn to please God by his
obedience, he must run the risk of disc-
bedience. And there must be some trial to
show whether he would obey or not. It
mattered very little what the trial was, so
that it was a trial; and God appointed one for
Adam and Eve that was suited to their way
of life and the place in which they lived.
It was this. In the beautiful garden there
was a tree, which was called the Tree of
28 The Brothers.
Knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of
this tree God strictly forbade them to eat.
They might take the fruit of every tree but
this one, but of this the Lord God told them
that in the day they ate of it they should die.
Here was their trial. This would show what
was in their hearts, whether they would obey
God or no. But this was not the whole of
their trial. This was only the shell, as it
were, of their trial; the kernel of it was very
different, and far more serious. However
beautiful the tree might be, however tempting
was its fruit, its merely being there in the
midst of the garden was not a sufficiently
searching test of obedience. The tree could
not speak and ask them to take of its fruit,
and the very idea of doing so might never
"Now in order that Adam and Eve should
reach their highest good-that is, pleasing
God by choosing to obey Him-it was needful
for some one to put the idea of taking the
forbidden fruit into their head, and that they
should refuse to disobey when they were free
to choose their own course. This test was at
"There was an enemy preparing to try and
lead them wrong; and perhaps, if you think
over what I have said, you will see a little
why he was allowed by God to do it. There
is a wicked angel who has rebelled against
God, and who is always striving to displease
Him as much as the holy angels try to serve
Him; and this wicked angel made his way
into the beautiful garden to tempt Adam and
Eve to rebel against God, even as he had
"In some way he contrived to speak to
Eve without frightening her too much, and
then he began to talk about the tree of know-
ledge, trying to make her believe that God
was not good to her in keeping back from
her this fruit, which the wicked angel said
was best of all. It would do more for her
than any other fruit, he told her, and that
was why God had told her not to eat it, and
that she should die if she did so. She would
not die because of eating it, he said. Eve
had never heard a lie before; but she knew
enough of God's goodness and truth not to
believe the wicked angel's words, if she had
thought properly about it all.
But instead of turning away from the tree
and the voice of the tempter, to remember
the goodness and wisdom of God, and assure
herself that it must be right to obey Him, she
30 The Brothers.
let her eyes rest upon the tempting fruit, and
listened to the wicked words, till she began
to long to disobey. She saw that the fruit
was 'pleasant to the eye' and 'good for food,'
and 'a tree to be desired to make one wise;'
and at last she stretched out her hand and
picked the fruit and ate of it, and then she
gave some to her husband, and he ate of it
This beginning of sin in the world is what
we call 'The Fall of Man,' because Adam
and Eve fell from a state in which they knew
no harm, and became sinners, who must know
sorrow and die. Though they did not die at
once, though the Lord gave them time to
repent, yet they knew now death was coming.
This is partly what the words mean-' Thou
shalt die;' and partly they refer to sin itself,
which is called in the Bible 'death,' because
it kills goodness in the soul; it is, to use a
hard word for it, 'spiritual death.'
"This was the Fall; they had disobeyed,
and now they knew how to be wicked, while
before they had only known goodness. Every-
thing was changed to them; they began to
feel unhappy and frightened for the first time.
The evening came, and then they heard the
voice of the Lord God calling to them, and
they were afraid, and hid themselves among
the trees of the garden.
"But we cannot hide from God; He sees
us always, and knows all we do, all we think,
every moment of our lives. He saw them
among the trees, as He had seen them all
day long, and he called to Adam, 'Where art
thou ?' And Adam said, 'I heard Thy voice
in the garden, and I was afraid.' And the
Lord God asked him what he had done.
"' Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I
commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?'
"Then Adam, like every one who does
.wrong, felt inclined to excuse himself and
throw the blame upon somebody else, and he
"'The woman, whom thou gavest to be
with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did
"And the Lord God asked Eve-
"' What is this that thou hast done?'
"And Eve had her excuse too; she said it
was the bad angel who had persuaded her to
take the fruit.
"But of what use were excuses? They
had done the wrong; they were no longer
sinless creatures; and therefore they could
no longer be allowed to stay in the garden of
32 The Brothers.
Eden. The Lord God banished them from
their beautiful home; they were driven forth
by an angel into the great wide world."
"How unhappy they must have been,"
They must indeed, especially when they
came to know that their children, and all
mankind who came after them, would follow
their bad example, and be sinners too. But
the Lord God was merciful to them, and did
not leave them without hope. He promised
(though in words that they could not quite
understand then) that mankind should have a
Deliverer, who should some day help them
out of their sad state of sin, and make them
good and happy again. This Deliverer was
our Saviour, about whom I have been telling
you lately; the Son of God, who became man
to help us.
'There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heaven and let us in.'
You know I have told you how He died to
save us all; He died for all mankind-for
Adam and Eve, and all who lived before He
came into this world, as much as for us who
We must never read this sad story without
thinking of Him who is called in the Bible
the Second Adam, because He showed us in
His perfect life all that the first Adam should
have been, and was not. He fulfilled exactly
all that God meant man to be; He was per-
fect in obedience; He overcame the tempta-
tions of the bad angel.
'He died that we might be forgiven;
He died to make us good;
That we might go at last to heaven,
Saved by His precious blood.'
If we will but trust in Him, and do His will,
He will give us back more than all that Adam
lost. He will bring us to a better paradise,
and make us happy there for ever."
A" ^ .
-^ $'^ ^ ^ "
CHAP. III.-JOHN'S TROUBLES.
STEPHEN was sitting thinking over what
he had heard, and looking at the Bible
pictures, when the click of the garden gate
disturbed him, and he looked up to see his
brother appearing; not, as usual, with a light
step and laughing face; indeed he looked so
gloomy that Stephen ran to him and asked
what was the matter.
It was an improvement that the younger
brother could look up at him frankly now, and
speak easily; that day's trouble and sympathy
seemed suddenly to have carried him over the
barriers of shyness and restraint. Yesterday,
Johnnie would have been full of delight at
his brother's show of friendship; but now his
brow did not clear-no smile came to his
lips. He only put his arm round Stephen,
and began to walk up and down the garden
"What is the matter, Johnnie ?"
The other did not answer.
John's Troubles. 35
"Is anything the matter?"
"Yes; I'm in a scrape-such a scrape as I
never was in before at school;" and Johnnie
looked still more put out.
"Tell me about it, do!"
It's no good telling. But I've been treated
unjustly; and I don't care what they say. If
they don't treat me fairly, I won't behave
myself, and so I tell them."
John's voice had a sound of rebellion in it,
and his eyes flashed; Stephen looked very
much awe-struck, but he made no answer, for
at the moment Mrs. Baynes had come up to
them, and was looking surprised and dis-
tressed at John's loud voice and excited
"My dear boy, you have not been getting
into trouble at school?"
"Yes, I have," he said, rather sullenly.
"But what was it? I am sure you did not
wish to give your teacher trouble, Johnnie."
"Mr. Moore said he should come and tell
you all about it," said John bitterly.
Mr. Moore was the rector of the parish,
and the idea that he should come to com-
plain of her boy, whom she loved to think
one of the pattern boys at the school, quite
frightened Mrs. Baynes.
36 The Brothers.
"Oh, Johnnie! surely Mr. Moore is not
displeased with you ?"
He said he was, aunt."
"But do tell me what it is all about; you
do not know how anxious and unhappy you
are making me."
"They were unjust to me," said Johnnie
sturdily; and then, catching sight of a figure
coming along the road, he exclaimed, "There
now! there's Mr. Moore. He'll tell you;"
and, turning from therri'rastily, he ran into
the house. Stephen followed him, and Mrs.
Baynes turned to meet a kind-faced old gen-
tleman who entered the garden a moment
afterwards and shook hands with her in
I do hope, sir," she began anxiously, that
my Johnnie has not been giving you trouble.
He's not like himself this afternoon."
"Well, so I thought. I never remember
hearing a complaint of John before. But this
afternoon his teacher come to me quite dis-
turbed about him. 'I told him to look over
the hymn-book with Ned Rice,' he said. 'And
some sort of a whisper passed between them,
and John got into such a rage he knocked
Ned off the form, threw down the book, and
all I can say will not make him pick it up
John's Troubles. 37
again, or go on with his lesson.' So I had
to go and see what I could do, Mrs. Baynes.
I desired John myself to pick up the book
and go on with his lesson; but finding him
stubborn, I would not contend with him, but
put him at the bottom of the class, in dis-
grace. After school I spoke to him privately,
and tried to persuade him to beg his teacher's
pardon; but he was as obstinate as possible.
You must mind you do not spoil him, Mrs.
Baynes; he has no father to correct him. If
I were you I would send him off to bed at
once, to show him you are displeased."
"But perhaps, sir, Ned teased him. His
brother has been much neglected, and the
Other boys mocked at him this morning, and
Johnnie could not bear that."
"My dear Mrs. Baynes, could a silly speech
from a school-fellow justify all that display of
temper and disobedience to his teacher and
myself? Forgive me if I say, do not let your
kind heart blind your good sense, for I know
you have the best of good sense of your own.
Do not let it be misled into spoiling the boy.
He is a very nice boy, but all children may be
"I will do my best, sir, indeed," she an-
swered so humbly and earnestly that Mr.
38 The Brothers.
Moore's wish to scold her passed away, and
he only talked a little while pleasantly about
her flowers, and then bade her good-bye.
Mrs. Baynes walked slowly into the house;
called Stephen downstairs, and asked him to
get out the tea things; then went up to John,
who had taken refuge in his own room.
He was sitting on the edge of his bed
looking down gloomily, and he did not stir
as she came in, nor even when she sat
down beside him and put her hand on his
"My dear child, what is it all about? Did
Ned Rice say anything about Stephen ?"
"He'd made a picture of him, with a fool's
cap on, in his hymn-book, and I wasn't going
to look over it with him after that. I just
shoved him one way and the book the other.
And they never asked what I did it for,
but ordered me to pick it up and go on.
I wasn't going to pick up Ned's old book for
him, I know. They might have asked me my
reasons; but if they like to be unfair, I'm not
going to behave myself."
Mrs. Baynes sat silent for a few moments;
then she said suddenly-
"How long is it that you have been to
Sunday school, Johnnie?"
John's Troubles. 39
"These four or five years-since I was ever
"And Mr. Mason has been so kind to you
all the time before you got into his class.
How often he has played with you and noticed
you. I remember his letting you ride home
on his shoulder once, and then another time
his bringing you that big coloured ball you
used to be so proud of. And when you had
the fever a year ago, how he used to come
and see you. When you were getting better,
it was always, 'When is Mr. Mason coming
again?' and you had a drawer full of the
pictures he brought you. And you had the
Bible he gave you at Christmas with you this
afternoon. How soon all that kindness is for-
gotten, because one day he did not understand
how another boy had put you in a passion !"
John got very red, but said nothing.
"And Mr. Moore! I should have thought
there was no friend you could respect like
him, who was so good to us when your dear
uncle was dying, who has been so kind to
you all your life. Oh, Johnnie is it possible
that you can have unkind, ungrateful feelings
to him ?"
"I don't know," returned Johnnie, in a
rather unsteady voice.
40 The Brothers.
"My dear child, think about it, try to
know. I cannot help hoping you do not feel
ungrateful; but indeed what you did was un-
grateful-disrespectful too. If you think it
over, I am sure you will be ashamed of your-
self, and scold yourself, which will be far
more useful than my scolding you."
Johnnie felt ashamed enough already, and
sorry enough too; it seemed "babyish" to
cry, he thought; but when he was left alone
he could help it no longer, the tears would
have their way. Yes, he had behaved very
badly. He could feel it now that the wave of
passion had retreated and left the truth bare.
He was very miserable for perhaps half-an-
hour; that was a long time for Johnnie to be
unhappy; his troubles generally cleared away
in half that time. He was only beginning to
recover himself when Stephen came in softly
and timidly. He had some vague idea that
his brother's trouble was connected with him-
self; but he dared not ask, and the idea only
made him shy.
"Won't you have your tea, Johnnie?" he
said with an effort.
Johnnie jumped up and ran to wash his
"I want to go out again," he said, trying to
John's Troubles. 41
steady his voice. "It was too bad of me this
afternoon, and I'll just go and say so to Mr.
Mason, and to Mr. Moore too."
Stephen's heart sank. What dreadful thing
was this that his brother was going to do?
He trembled to think of it.
But Johnnie rushed downstairs as if his
spirits had returned to him, and darted into
the kitchen to his aunt.
"I am very sorry," he said eagerly. "I
want to go and tell them."
Mrs. Baynes quite understood what he
meant, and smiled with pleasure as she an-
swered, "You are right, my boy;" but there
was a depth of satisfaction in her tone that
made Stephen glad of his brother's deci-
sion, terrible as it appeared to him. Johnnie
was out of the house and speeding away on
his errand before any more could be said,
though as he came near the Rectory his pace
slackened a little, and a certain shyness made
his cheeks burn again. But he was fortunate
in the moment of his arrival, for the rector
was walking in his garden, and the very Mr.
Mason himself at his side.
They were talking very earnestly, and did
not notice the approaching footsteps till John
stood close beside them; then they turned
and perceived the little fellow, looking up
with a flushed face and a very much ashamed
"Well, Johnnie, have you come to your
senses ?" asked Mr. Moore quite kindly.
I'm very sorry, sir. If you'll try me again,
I shall behave better, I hope. I'm very sorry,
sir." This second apology was addressed to
That is well," said Mr. Moore. You have
been a very good boy in general, Johnnie, and
I hope you mean to try for the future to keep
up that character. I've no doubt your teacher
will be quite willing to overlook what hap-
Mr. Mason signified his willingness, and
then, perhaps pitying his pupil's confusion,
said they must not keep the rector any longer
now; it would soon be church-time, and so
went off with the boy. They were great
friends really, and Mr. Mason had heard the
whole story before they reached Mrs. Baynes'
"I don't wonder that it tried your temper,
Johnnie," he said kindly. "I wish I had seen
it at the time."
They shook hands and parted better friends
John's Troubles. 43
How could Johnnie look so bright after all
that trouble ? Stephen wondered, as the three
went off very quietly to church together. He
felt unhappy for his brother and for himself;
he could not forget what he had suffered that
But people who cannot get over their
troubles quickly perhaps learn the more from
them; so Stephen had some advantage over
It was a lovely evening when they came
out of church; the sun had set, but had left
a great deal of light behind him in the sky-
a soft, low light that made everything look
It had not been a very happy day, Stephen
thought; but the evening seemed so pleasant
and still, as if it would make up for all that
had gone wrong. He would have felt almost
happy again, as the three walked along to-
gether, but for the thought of to-morrow.
Had not his aunt said that he must begin
going to day-school to-morrow? And how
dreadful that would be, if the Sunday-school
had been so bad!
Stephen's dreams that night were disturbed
with visions of troubles in school; sometimes
the boys were teasing, sometimes the rector
was scolding him for being so great a dunce;
so that it was a relief to wake and find the
morning had come, and that Johnnie was
already up and whistling gaily.
Only, as he recollected in a moment, the
real troubles were coming now, and the
thought made him sink back on his pillow
with a deep sigh.
"What's the matter?" said Johnnie, stop-
ping suddenly in the middle of "Rule, Bri-
"Johnnie," Stephen began, then he stopped
again, but brought out at last-" I'm afraid of
going to school."
"Afraid! Why, our master, Mr. Willis, is
as kind as can be. You needn't be afraid."
"It's-it's-I wouldn't mind the master
beating me. I've been beaten often enough."
"Mr. Willis won't beat you, Stephen."
"No; it's the boys I'm afraid of."
"Oh, they aren't say a word in school
when Mr. Willis is there. It's different on
Sunday; they take liberties then."
"Are they so frightened for Mr. Willis,
"Frightened! No; but he makes them
afraid of doing anything wrong."
A little consoled by these assurances, Ste-
phen found spirit to rise and follow Johnnie
out of doors, to help in his various tasks.
But he was very silent and sober again, and
so he showed himself at breakfast, and during
their walk to school.
Oh, Johnnie!" he said in a whisper as they
reached it, "how I wish I was not going in!"
Johnnie laughed, and told him not to mind.
The bell was ringing loudly; a number of
boys were running in; the brothers joined
them; and what with the clatter of feet, the
buzz of voices, and the clanging of the bell,
Stephen felt quite bewildered, but his brother
pulled him by the sleeve, and led him up
the school. "There's Mr. Willis," whispered
Johnnie, and Stephen scarcely found courage
to look up at a gentleman who was standing
by a desk at the upper end of the room-a
gentleman with a bald head and a beard, a
kind, thoughtful face, with grave quick eyes
that seemed to see every part of the room at
once. This was Mr. Willis.
"This is my brother, sir," said Johnnie,
"Your brother," the master returned, in a
low, clear voice. "A younger brother, I
"Yes, sir; and he has not been to school
before, so he has to begin at the beginning."
"Well, every one must do that some time
or other, I suppose. What is your name, my
"Stephen Wright, sir."
"You have not learned to read yet, Ste-
It was not nearly so difficult to say "No"
as Stephen had feared; somehow the master
did not seem at all as if he were going to be
"No? Then you shall begin this morning.
Be very attentive. Come this way;" and
Stephen found himself placed at the bottom
of a form full of very little boys; but nobody
seemed to notice him, or made any remark.
The big bell stopped ringing at the moment
the master walked to his desk and touched a
little bell which stood there. It was the
signal that all noise should cease; at the
sound every voice was hushed, every boy sat
down quietly in his own place. The whole
school became still as a frozen river.
"Stand!" All the boys stood up as straight
as soldiers and sang a hymn ; afterwards came
some prayers; then all set to work.
Puuil teachers began to instruct the younger
classes; but Mr. Willis' eyes seemed on every
one at the slightest disturbance; his low"hush"
was enough to bring back perfect order.
Indeed it was soon easy for even Stephen
to see how difficult it would be to disobey the
gentle determination of the master's manner,
or to elude his all-seeing observation.
But there was the young pupil teacher
pointing out the letters on the board, and
making the children repeat them after him.
Stephen set to work with all his might to
learn the looks of these strange black things,
which meant so much.
How hard it seemed at first! But there
were these little, tiny children learning them,
and he would-he would!
Mr. Willis noticed the eager earnestness of
Stephen's dark eyes, and said to Johnnie
when school was over-
You might try and get your brother on at
home. I am sure he wants to learn."
"Yes, I will, sir, thank you, if he likes."
And the boys went out with the stream.
"There now! You did not mind it much,
did you ?" asked Johnnie, quite triumphantly,
as he met his brother's smile.
"No, it was not half so bad as I thought;
and Mr. Willis does seem kind."
48 The Brothers.
"Ah! and he is kind too," said Johnnie.
"But what is he like when he's angry?"
said Stephen. "I suppose, if they will not
behave themselves, he is angry sometimes ?"
"Yes. I'm sure I hope, Stephen, he will
never be angry with us. It's enough to
frighten you; he's so quiet, and yet his voice
is like thunder; and he looks- but I hope
you'll not see it, Stephen ; that's all."
Certainly Stephen hoped so too.
<- q,',:-.," .-'..A- -. r-. fc. .-'1 ."-'. -. ,
CHAP. IV.-THE STORY OF THE RAINBOW.
TEPHEN had made up his mind that he
would soon cease to be a dunce; when
afternoon school was over, Johnnie must find
a little time to teach him the letters. In the
evening, when his aunt was sitting at her
needlework, he begged her to let him have
the Bible with the pictures again, and to tell
him another story out of it.
"I was thinking yesterday I never should
learn anything," he said. "But to-day seems
like beginning again; and I hope I shall learn
as much as Johnnie some day."
"That beginning again every new day that
comes is a great blessing to us," said his
aunt. "We go to bed at night tired, or dis-
appointed, or sorry because the day has gone
by and we seem not to have done all we
meant in it; then we have a good rest, and
we wake up and find everything new again-
a new day to work in and hope in-new
50 The Brothers.
strength and spirits to begin all over again,
just as if we were fresh labourers come to a
piece of work of which others had got tired
out. We ought to thank God for our new
beginnings every morning."
"It was a big 'new beginning' my coming
here," said Stephen gravely; and in his own
heart he said to himself, "I am sure I ought
to thank God for that."
"It is about the great 'new beginning' of
the world that I was going to tell you to-
night, Stephen," his aunt went on. "You
know you heard about the first beginning of
"Yes-and how soon people left off being
"After those days they seem to have gone
on getting worse, instead of better; the more
men there were living together, the more
harm was done, till there was no peace in the
world because of their violence and of their
wickedness; and at last they grew to be so
dreadfully bad that the Lord God saw that it
was better they should not live on the earth
any more, for the longer they lived the worse
they grew; it was better that their bodies
should return to the earth, and their souls
should be called to God.
The Story of the Rainbow. 51
"But in the midst of all those wicked
people there lived one good man, whose
name was Noah. The Lord God saw that,
in spite of all the dreadful things that were
going on around him, Noah lived a good,
quiet life, and did all he could to serve God,
and teach his sons to be good men. He had
three sons, whose names were Shem, Ham,
and Japhet. Now in those days people used
to live for a very great number of years,
and when Noah was more than four hundred
years old, it pleased the Lord God to speak
to him, and tell him that an end was coming
to all the terrible wickedness that was filling
the earth. Every one was going on boldly
with his bad deeds, just as if there was no one
to punish them; but all the time the end was
coming nearer and nearer. And the Lord
God said to Noah that a great danger was
hanging over all the world, and that he was
to begin at once and build for himself a great
ship, called an 'ark;' it was rather more like
a house than a ship perhaps, but it was all to
be made of wood, that it might float upon the
waters. It was to have a window and a door,
and to be three stories high; and it was to
be very large. 'And,' the Lord God said,
'behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters
52 The Brothers.
upon the earth to destroy all flesh wherein is
the breath of life from under heaven, and
everything that is in the earth shall die.'
"But Noah and his wife, and his, sons and
their wives, were to go into the ark and be
safe; and they were to take two of every kind
of animals into the ark too, to keep them
alive; and birds as well, two of every kind."
"And that was why the ark had to be so
big?" Stephen asked.
That was the reason; and when Noah had
heard the words of the Lord God, he set to
work and began to build the ark directly."
"Did the people know that the flood was
"I believe that all the many years Noah
was building the ark he kept on telling them
why he was making it, and warning them
of the danger that was coming upon them.
But they would not heed him. Noah went
on working and working; year by year the
ark grew larger. Perhaps many came and
watched his work; perhaps they laughed at
him for taking so much trouble for nothing.
At any rate, they did not believe in the
dreadful flood that was coming, but went on
with their business and their pleasure and
their wickedness, until at last the ark was
The Story of the Rainbow.
finished, and Noah took into it all the crea-
tures that the Lord God had told him to
take, and then went in himself with his wife
"Very likely the wicked men mocked the
more at that, when they saw Noah and his
family enter into their ship on dry land; and
a week went by, and nothing happened. And
then, in the midst of the feasting and merri-
ment and wickedness, came the terrible end
of it all; there came on a wonderful deluge
of rain, and the sea rolled in great waves
upon the land, farther and farther, till all the
cities and fields and mountains were covered
with water, and all living creatures that lived
upon the land perished in the waves.
"But over the flood the ark went floating,
quite safely, though it must have been terrible
for those inside to hear the rush of waters
above and the dashing of the sea below, and
to know that underneath those waves a whole
world lay buried.
"For forty days the rushing torrents of
rain went on, never stopping day and night;
then that sound ceased, and all was still.
There was a great silence outside the ark, for
all voices were hushed in death, and every-
where spread a great endless sea. And for a
hundred and fifty days the ark floated upon
the waters of the flood. Then the waters
began to. dry up again, and the tops of the
mountains appeared first of all, looking like
little islands in the great sea. And it was on
the top of one of these mountains that the
ark rested at last. Noah waited quietly for
forty days more; then he opened the window
of the ark and looked out. No doubt he saw
nothing but the mountain tops and the great
sea; but he thought he would try if there
was any dry land near him, so he let out two
of the birds he had brought with him into the
ark-a raven and a dove. The birds flew
about, and found no place to rest upon. The
raven did not mind; it kept flying about till
the waters went down; but the dove soon got
tired, and went back to the ark, and Noah put
out his hand and pulled her in again.
"Then he waited for another week, and
after that let out the dove again; and she
flew about all day, and came back to him in
the evening with an olive leaf in her beak.
So then Noah knew that the waters must
have gone down a great deal; but he waited
patiently another week, and then he sent out
the dove again, and it never came back to
him any more."
___ __ ^ ___ ^______________________^ ____ _________________^
The Story of the Rainbow. 55
"It must have been very lonely, out by
itself in the world," said Stephen.
"Noah and his family and the other crea-
tures soon came out afterwards. For when
Noah saw that his bird did not come back,
he lifted the covering from off the ark and
looked out, and there was the land again, all
fresh and green, and the great waves of water
had rolled back to the sea. And the Lord
God spoke to Noah again, and said to him,
'Go forth of the ark, thou and thy wife, and
thy sons' wives with thee. Bring forth with
thee every living thing that is with thee of all
flesh, both of fowl and of cattle, and of every
creeping thing that creepeth on the earth.'
So Noah did as he was told, and he came
out of the ark with his family and all his
creatures, and so the world had a new be-
ginning. Then the Lord God promised that
there should never be another great flood
to kill all living things. 'While the earth
remaineth,' the Lord said, 'seed-time and
harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and
winter shall not cease.' And the Lord blessed
Noah and his sons, and said that all the world
and all the creatures in it should be given
them. They might kill the animals they
needed for their food; but if any man shed
56 The Brothers.
man's blood, by man should his blood be
"And then the Lord God was so merciful
that He gave Noah and his sons a sign that
there should be no more floods to destroy the
earth. This sign was the beautiful rainbow
that we see in the clouds. When rain had
fallen, and they began to be afraid, the sun
would shine upon the clouds, and they should
see the lovely coloured arch, and remember
God's promise, and all His mercy and love."
How glad they must have been to see it!
And oh! how pleased they must have been
to get out upon the land again after all that
time in the ark !"
"Yes, indeed And the sight of the rain-
bow might remind us often of Noah's long,
patient waiting, till in God's good time he
was allowed to begin his life again. The
rainbow might preach us a little sermon
every time it comes, and say, 'Be patient, and
trust in God. He will keep you safely in the
midst of troubles. You will not get good all
at once, or wise all at once; you will have to
wait as Noah waited till the waters went
down, but in God's good time your patience
shall have its reward. Begin again. Begin
The Story of the Rainbow.
That is a nice easy sermon," said Stephen;
"and short too."
"You know the rainbow does not stay very
long at a time," said his aunt, smiling. But
the shorter the sermon the easier it ought to
be remembered, so I hope you will remember
"I will try," said Stephen in a low voice;
and presently he asked, "Did Noah and his
sons ever feel afraid of another flood after
they had seen the rainbow?"
"I should think not; but not very long
after their days the message of the rainbow
was forgotten. There were a great many
people living in the world by that time, and
as they were all descended from Noah's
family, they all talked one language-not as
we do now-a-days, each nation speaking its
own kind of speech. Now these people
began to be afraid that something dreadful
would happen to them, in spite of the Lord's
promise, and that they should be scattered
all over the earth. So they agreed to build a
city and a great tower, so high that the top
of it should reach up to heaven.
"But no doubt it was wrong of the people
to determine thus to show they did not trust
in God, or remember what He had promised.
And when they had set to work to make
their tower, and to build and to carry out their
plan, the Lord God showed it to be His will
that their buildings should never be com-
"Instead of letting them go on speaking
the same language, God caused them to begin
to speak with different tongues, so that they
might not understand each other; and this
caused such a confusion that they gave up
their plan altogether.
"They separated, and went some one way,
some another; I suppose they divided them-
selves into parties speaking the same tongue.
And in this way they came to be scattered
all over the earth, as they had determined
not to be.
"See, Stephen, their story only teaches
some more of the same lesson we have had
before-' Do not be in too great a hurry to
arrange things for yourselves, and to get your
own way. Have patience, and see what is
God's will for you. Begin again. Begin
Once more the message of the rainbow."
TEPHEN learned his letters quickly enough
to surprise himself as well as his teacher;
he had soon risen from the lowest place in
the school. His eyes grew brighter and his
tongue more ready; indeed he felt those
days to be sunshiny outside and in. But an
interruption was coming only too soon, and
one morning, as they sat at breakfast, Johnnie
"Why, there's the postman !"
This was quite an event, so few letters
came to Mrs. Baynes' house, and both boys
rushed out to see what had come.
It was a letter for their aunt, and Johnnie
darted back with it to her.
"A letter from Uncle John!" she said,
examining the postmark.
The boys stood, looking up at her, sur-
prised; they had never heard of "Uncle
60 The Brothers.
"No, it's not from himself," went on Mrs.
Baynes, as she read. "He got some one to
write for him. He was too ill to write him-
She finished the letter in silence, and then
sat holding it in her lap, thinking and looking
troubled. The boys gazed with a dozen ques-
tions in their eyes, till at last John could wait
"What is it, aunt? Who's ill? What's
"My uncle, dear your grandmother's
brother-is very ill, and wants me to come
and see him. He lives twenty miles off, and
I was thinking how I could manage, and who
could take care of you and the house and all
if I went away for a few days."
"Must you go, aunt?" asked Stephen in
rather an alarmed voice.
"I think so, my dear. Besides, I wish to
go. Uncle John was always very kind to me,
and I should like to go to him if he wants
me. But you must be off to school now. We
can talk about it more when you come back."
They went rather reluctantly, talking over
what they should do with their aunt away.
"I know what she'll do," said Johnnie, with
an air of superior wisdom. "She'll do as she
did once before when she had to go away;
she had old Mrs. Hardy to come and sleep in
the house and see to everything. Don't you
know that nice old lady that lives with her
daughter at the shop ?"
There being only one shop in the village,
Stephen had the less difficulty in bringing
Mrs. Hardy to his mind.
Certainly she was a pleasant-faced old lady,
but it would be very sad to see her in his
aunt's place. If Mrs. Hardy could only go to
Uncle John instead !
It is to be feared that Stephen was not
quite so attentive as usual at school that
morning. Certainly John was not, and he
drew upon himself one of Mr. Willis' stern,
quiet questions, "What are you thinking of,
Wright?" which alarmed him very much.
And no wonder; Mr. Willis had a way of
asking those questions that was enough to
frighten any one.
You may be sure that Johnnie was much
more attentive for the rest of th- morning;
but he was still glad when the clock struck
twelve, and all were free to run out of doors
"I wonder what aunt will do?" said Ste-
phen as soon as he joined his brother.
62 The Brothers.
"And that's what I've been wondering
about all the morning," said Johnnie, laugh-
ing; "and Mr. Willis saw it. I do believe he
sees one's thoughts."
Stephen said he hoped not, and then they
had a race home-a race which Johnnie won
of course, but as he was kind enough to wait
for his brother at the garden gate, that did
not much matter.
Mrs. Baynes, who was putting dinner on
the table, looked up smiling as they ran in.
"Have you settled what you are going to
do, aunt ?" cried Johnnie, while Stephen only
looked the question.
"Yes, my dear; I think I ought to go as
soon as possible. So I shall try and get off
to-morrow morning as soon as I have finished
churning; and Mrs. Hardy has kindly pro-
mised to come here and look after you and
the rest of my goods."
I thought you would," said Johnnie rather
"Well, I hope it will not be for long, and
you must try how good you can be, and how
much you can help Mrs. Hardy. But now
come and have your dinner."
Stephen looked more disconsolate than
Johnnie even, and all the afternoon and
evening he went about with quite a long
"What shall we do to-morrow?" was the
last thing he said to his brother as they lay
down in bed.
"Do!" Johnnie laughed a little. "Do our
best, and leave the rest; aunt always says
that's a good motto to have."
And Stephen sighed, but said no more.
They had to say good-bye to their aunt
Next morning before they went to school, for
her train started at eleven o'clock.
"Won't the house seem strange when we
come back?" said Johnnie; but his brother
made no answer.
His teacher found Stephen rather inatten-
tive again that morning, and when the clock
struck eleven it was all the boy could do to
avoid bursting into tears.
As to Johnnie, he seemed to have some-
thing else on his mind besides Mrs. Baynes'
departure. He told Stephen to "go on"
when they came out of school, and darted back
himself to have a talk with a school-fellow.
Stephen looked round, and saw it was with
Ned Rice he was talking, the boy with whom
he had quarrelled on Sunday. But Johnnie
soon forgot quarrels, and was friends again.
64 The Brothers.
"What can he want to say?" thought Ste-
phen, who did not forget so easily. He
walked on slowly, for he did not care about
getting home now; but he reached the gate
and went in before John came in sight.
"Good morning, Mrs. Hardy," he said to
the neat, quick old lady who was getting
dinner ready. "Is aunt gone?"
"Yes, my dear, that she is; I saw her off
myself. And she was sorry to go and leave
you, and the chickens and the cows were very
much on her mind. But I promised her to
do my best for you all. I've had a large
farm, and family too, of my own in my day.
Where's Johnnie ?"
"He's coming," said Stephen, as he went
upstairs. "Begin again," he thought to him-
self, remembering his aunt's words. "This is
another beginning with Mrs. Hardy. We
must try and begin well."
His thoughts were interrupted by Johnnie,
who rushed upstairs laughing and rosy.
"Well, Stephen, so you got home first!"
"What did you want to say to Ned Rice ?"
"Gunpowder treason and plot," returned
the other, laughing. Ah, Stephen! wouldn't
you like to know?"
It was evident he was not going to be
told, and he felt a little vexed at the idea of
his brother having a secret with Ned Rice,
away from him. So he wisely said no more
The afternoon and evening went by quietly,
and much as usual, though it seemed strange
to see Mrs. Hardy working in their aunt's
place, and Stephen had not spirits to take
down the Picture Bible, now that Mrs. Baynes
was not there to explain it to him.
"How I wish aunt would come back!" he
said next morning, and Johnnie said-
"All in good time."
But this morning it was easier to attend
to the lessons; and when he had read his
"a-b, ab; e-b, eb," &c., with infinite pains,
he found that Mr. Willis was behind him
"Very good, Wright," said the master,
patting his head. "You have made a very
great progress in three weeks."
Was it possible those words were said to
him, the dunce of the school ?
Stephen's cheeks glowed, his eyes sparkled;
he had never been so proud and pleased in his
Now he would really take courage to attend
the Sunday school again, as his aunt wished.
"Boys," said Mr. Willis that morning, just
before he dismissed the school, I have lost a
new knife that was given me by a friend the
other day. I fancy I dropped it when walking
on Saturday from here to Maverly Woods.
It was in a green case, with my initials upon
it in gold letters, 'H. W.' If any one can find
it, or hear of it, I shall be very much obliged
by his letting me know."
There was a chorus of "Yes, sirs;" but
Johnnie got very red, and, as soon as they
were out of school, ran up to Ned again and
seemed to be questioning him eagerly. What
could it be? Stephen thought. The knife ?
No; if Johnnie had known anything about
that, he would have told the master at once,
Stephen was sure.
Then what could it be ? He wished Johnnie
would not have secrets with Ned Rice; he
did not like it. And with a little cloud of
sullenness settling over him, he turned and
plodded slowly homewards. Yet when his
brother overtook him, merry and full of kind-
ness, the sulky words soon changed to pleasant
ones, and they were friends again. Stephen
felt happy, and forgot all about Ned Rice.
But that night-Stephen never forgot the
misery of it, not even when he was a grown
man-that night he was to be reminded of
the secret, indeed.
Stephen had been in bed a few minutes;
Johnnie was still moving about in the room,
but rather as if he were lingering idly than
doing anything in particular. By-and-by he
looked round at his brother, who was just
going off to sleep; but thinking Johnnie was
going to speak to him, he roused himself and
opened his eyes.
Johnnie, however, did not speak; he thought
his brother was sleeping already. Softly
he opened a little drawer, and drew out a
A large handsome knife, with a great white
handle. He opened one blade after another,
looked at them, flashed them backwards and
forwards in the candle-light, then shut them,
and put the knife softly back into the drawer.
Why had he hidden it there? What had
the master said to-day? What was Johnnie's
secret with Ned Rice ?
No; it was impossible. His brother-his
brave, kind, good, clever brother-a- Ste-
phen could not end the sentence in his
own mind even. It was too terrible; it was
impossible. And yet what-what did it all
Long, long hours after Johnnie was in bed
and asleep, the younger brother lay, cold with
horror and fright, thinking and thinking.
The blind was up, and the soft white moon-
light was falling in great streaks across the
room. Stephen raised himself on his elbow,
and looked at his brother.
Sleeping, so softly, with his head upon his
hand, the curls falling over his forehead, a
smile upon his lips. Johnnie-dear Johnnie-
you could not be a thief!
Stephen almost cried aloud with the terror
and misery of his thoughts: hour after hour
he could hear sounding from the church clock,
and still he had thought of no relief-no ex-
At last, when the dawn was coming pink
and bright over the sky, he fell asleep and
dreamed that he was happy-a dream that
made his awaking all the more sad.
John could not think what was the matter
with him. Distress had brought back all his
half-sullen shyness, and he was as silent as
when he first came to the farm. He could
not ask his brother for an explanation; he
knew he could not, and yet he longed so to tell
You can't be well. You eat no breakfast,
my dear," said Mrs. Hardy; but she could get
"What's the matter?" said Johnnie, as they
walked off to school. "Is it aunt's being
away that puts you out, Stephen ?"
The tone was so very unpromising, that
John shrugged his shoulders and took to
Oh! how could he be so jolly if- Stephen
trembled at the idea. The lessons were all
hard that day; the teacher scolded him, and
he did try to do better, but his head was full
of nothing but his dread.
At last a thought came to him; perhaps it
was Ned's doing. He had only asked Johnnie
to take care of the knife and not tell, and
Johnnie did not know whose it was. Or
perhaps it was another knife after all.
He went straight up to Ned when they
came out of school, and said in a low,
Ned, do you know anything about Mr.
Ned started at first, and turned very red;
then, recovering himself, he said rudely-
"What are you prying about now?"
Stephen repeated his question.
70 The Brothers.
I expect I know as much as you know,"
returned Ned. Perhaps Johnnie knows the
most about it of any one."
"Johnnie! Then-he "- Stephen's voice
Ah you know all about it, I see," sneered
Ned. "You'd better take care what you say
to me, or I'll just let Mr. Willis know what
He turned and ran off, leaving Stephen
white and speechless with distress.
Mrs. Hardy and his brother thought him
very rude and sulky all that day, and his
teacher made him stand out of the class in
disgrace for his inattention in the afternoon.
It was the first time such a misfortune had
come to him, but he did not seem to mind,
not even when Mr. Willis looked down upon
"Why, Wright, I expected better things of
That would have seemed very terrible
indeed yesterday, but now nothing mattered
-nothing could matter any more if Johnnie
"I think you must be ill, Stephen," his
brother said next morning.
They had had a letter from Mrs. Baynes,
telling them her uncle was better, and she
hoped they would see her back on Saturday.
Would they pick the strawberries to-morrow
(Friday), and send them in to the market by
Stephen did not seem to care about the
letter at all, and hence his brother's remark.
But it brought no answer, and things went on
as badly that day as the day before.
Very early on Friday morning Stephen got
up. His distress would not let him sleep, and
his brother drowsily told him to go and
gather the strawberries.
He took the basket and went to the beds,
where the red berries were making a fine show
the previous night. But what was his indig-
nation to find Ned Rice there already, eating
as fast as he could, trampling over the plants,
all the fruit devoured and destroyed.
"Ned!" he exclaimed angrily.
"Ay, it's Ned," retorted the other, grin-
ning, with his mouth full, and his face stained
with juice. I'm enjoying myself, I am."
"You thief, you!" cried Stephen, pas-
"Oh! I'm a thief, am I ? Look out if there
isn't a thief nearer home. You just look here,
Stephen Wright; you go and say one word of
your catching me here, and I'll tell the master
who's got his knife. There's plain speaking
for you; do you understand ?" and Ned, who
was two years older than Stephen, took hold
of him fiercely. You haven't said a word to
Johnnie about the knife?"
You hold your tongue then, and don't say
a word about me to him, or about being here
to-day, or I'll just tell the master what the
good boy's got of his; you may trust to
that;" and, releasing his hold, Ned dashed off
across the beds, jumped the garden fence, and
Stephen stood looking at the beds, spoilt-
all spoilt; not a strawberry to send, and what
was he to say? How was he to join in this
deceit? How could he answer all the ques-
tions they would put to him? Oh! how
miserable he was! What should he do? He
was sitting on the door-step, moodily enough,
when Johnnie came singing downstairs.
"Well, Stephen, have you gathered my
"Hullo! you have been lazy. Here, give
me the basket; I'll go and get them."
"There are none."
None! why, whatever do you mean ? There
were plenty last night-there must be some ;"
and off he ran, but returned in a moment full
Why, Stephen, somebody's been in and
taken almost all, and trampled down the seed.
What a shame! There must be thieves
"There must be," repeated the other in a
I wonder who ever it could have been. I
wish I'd been a little earlier to catch him, the
rascal! I never knew a thief to come into the
Stephen, with his elbows on his knees and
his face buried in his hands, neither answered
Did you see any one about, Stephen?"
I say, did you see any one? Do just say
Still no answer, and Johnnie's patience gave
I do declare it's a shame to be so sulky,"
he exclaimed. One might as well have no
brother at all, as one that won't speak to you;"
and he rushed into the house.
Poor Stephen! they thought him very sulky
at school too; his teacher kept him back as
the others went out, and when they were gone
took him up to Mr. Willis.
I am sorry to complain, sir, but nearly all
the week Stephen Wright has been very sulky
and idle, there is no doing anything with him,
and he was getting on so well before."
Whereupon the teacher retreated, and left
Stephen alone with the master.
How is this, Stephen? Why don't you
behave yourself better ?"
I can't," muttered the boy, huskily.
"But you were doing so well till the last
few days. Begin again, Stephen; try to get
on. There's no worse motto than' I can't' for
any one. Say I can, and make it true. Don't
let me hear these complaints again; you
mean to be a good boy, I'm sure. There! be
off with you, and come in a better temper this
Stephen went away, choking down the sob
that was rising in his throat, and found
Johnnie waiting for him.
Never mind," he said kindly; "you'll be
all right when aunt comes back;" then they
walked home in silence.
CHAP. VI.-ABRAHAM'S SACRIFICE.
WHEN Mrs. Baynes came home on Saturday,
she was a good deal surprised at the
change in Stephen, and took an opportunity
of asking Johnnie what was the matter; but
she could hear nothing, and the boy himself
seemed resolved not to speak.
He quietly went back to the Sunday school
when Sunday morning came, and when there
was time in the afternoon he seemed glad to
hear some more about the Bible pictures, but
he was strangely silent all the time.
"There was once," said Mrs. Baynes, "a
good man, whose name was Abraham, and
the Lord God called him to leave the country
in which he was living, and where all his
friends were, and go into another land which
was quite strange to him. Abraham was very
full of faith-that is, he knew so well that
God knew best, and would love him and take
care of him, that he trusted in God altogether,
and was not afraid of leaving everything to
the mercy and holy will of his Father in
heaven.. In this we ought all to try and
follow Abraham's example; we should re-
member that our Father is so wise He knows
exactly what is best for us, and so good and
merciful He wills exactly what is best for us,
so that whatever happens to us is just the
very best thing for us. If we can remember
this, and leave ourselves altogether to God's
will, we have faith, as Abraham had faith.
There is a hymn that says-
'All is right that seems most wrong,
If it be Thy good will;'
and it would be well for us to remember that
whenever we are troubled.
It seemed hard to Abraham, I dare say, to
leave his country and all his relations to go
into the strange land. But he did it at once,
and the Lord promised him that some day all
that land should belong to his family, and
that he should be the father of a great nation,
as many as the stars in the sky. This seemed
very strange, as Abraham and his wife Sarah
had no children; but he knew that the Lord
was almighty, and left it all to him. At last
Sarah had a child, a little boy, and they
called his name Isaac, which in their language
meant 'Laughter,' because they were so
pleased to have him; and they loved him very
dearly, and only thought of bringing him up
well, thinking often, no doubt, of the great
people that should descend from him and
possess the land in which they were living as
strangers. And now, when Isaac had grown
to be a big boy, it pleased the Lord to give
Abraham a great opportunity of showing his
faith, and leaving a good example to all who
know his story.
One night, when Abraham had laid down
to rest, he heard the voice of the Lord God
calling to him, and saying, 'Abraham !'
And Abraham answered-
Behold, here I am.'
"And then the Lord spoke again, and said-
"' Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac,
whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land
of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-
offering upon one of the mountains that I
will tell thee of.'
What terrible words for Abraham to hear,
as he listened for God's voice in the darkness !
His son, his dear child that he loved so, and
from whom he hoped so much-to be com-
manded to kill him!
78 The Brothers.
Surely no one ever heard such a terrible
command as this, and we might expect to
hear it answered with a prayer to the Lord
to take anything but this-any sacrifice but
"But Abraham made no answer; he knew
the Lord knew best; he would leave it all-
just all-to Him.
"And he did not wait; the Lord had
spoken, His servant should obey at once, and
when the morning light returned he rose up
very early and prepared for his journey. The
land of Moriah was many miles from the part
where Abraham lived, and he saddled his ass,
called two of his servants and his son Isaac to
go with him, and cut up some wood and took
it with him to be ready for the burnt-offering.
"Then he started on his strange, dreadful
journey, travelled for nearly three days, till on
the third day Abraham looked up and saw the
mountain of which the Lord had told him
lying before him.
All this time Abraham had said nothing to
his child of the object of his journey; perhaps
he felt as if he could not tell him-perhaps he
thought to spare Isaac the terror of such news.
"At any rate nothing was said, and when
the mountain was in sight, Abraham told his
Abraham's Sacrifice. 79
servants to stay below with the ass, while he
and his son went up the mountain to make
their offering; and he took the wood he had
prepared, and gave it to Isaac to carry, and
he himself took fire in something like a lamp,
and a knife.
Isaac understood quite well that there
were preparations for offering a sacrifice, but
he could not think what his father was going
to offer, and as they went away together he
said to Abraham-
"' My father!'
"And Abraham answered-
"' Here am I, my son.'
And Isaac went on-
"' Behold the fire and the wood, but where
is the lamb for a burnt-offering?'
Still Abraham would not tell him the
dreadful thing that was to be done, and he
"' My son, God will provide Himself a lamb
for a burnt-offering.'
And so they went on and on till they had
climbed all up the mountain, and then they
made an altar, and put the wood in its place
upon it; and then there was no help for it-
Abraham was obliged to tell Isaac all. We
are not told what Isaac said-whether he had
8o The Brothers.
learned from his father to be quite sure that
all must be right that was God's will; we
only hear what Abraham did-that he bound
Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon
the wood, and then he stretched out his hand
and took the knife to slay his son.
The trial was over, Abraham had showed
his faith to the last, and now the help was
coming. Through the great stillness of the
mountain-top came a strange sound-a voice
that called from heaven-
"' Abraham! Abraham!'
"It was the angel of the Lord who was
calling, and who brought this message from
"' Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither
do thou anything unto him, for now I know
thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not with-
held thy son, thine only son, from me.'
"And as Abraham looked round, he saw
that the words he had spoken in his trouble
had come true in his joy; the Lord had pro-
vided a sacrifice, for behind him was a ram
caught in the thicket by his horns, sent by
God's mercy to take the place of Isaac.
Then Abraham released his son, and went
and took the ram, and offered it up for a
burnt-offering in the stead of his child.
And again the angel of the Lord called to
Abraham out of heaven, and said to him-
Because thou hast done this thing, and
hast not withheld thy son, thine only son : that
in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying
I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven,
and as the sand that is upon the sea shore;
and thy seed shall possess the gate of his
enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations
of the earth be blessed; because thou hast
obeyed my voice.'
This meant that from Abraham's family
should come a great nation, stronger than
their enemies, and that when our Saviour
came into the world it should be as one of the
descendants of Abraham.
After hearing this message, so full of joyful
promise, Abraham and his son went down the
mountain again, back to the place where they
had left the servants. We can fancy what a
happy journey that must have been home
again-how every stone and tree they passed
must have reminded Abraham of the time
when he passed them in so much distress, to
return in such great joy.
Now that is a beautiful story of faithful
Abraham, and, like all the Bible stories, it has
many lessons to teach us.
82 The Brothers.
One thing we see in it is, that it seems to
show beforehand what the mercy of God was
to do for man some day. As Abraham pre-
pared to offer up his son, so it pleased God
after many, many years to give up His son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ, to die for the sin of
the world. Abraham showed his love to God
by what he prepared to do, and the Lord God
showed His love to man by what He did.
Isaac carried the wood for the offering up the
mountain, not knowing why he did it; but our
Saviour went forth, bearing His Cross to the
mountain where he was to suffer, well know-
ing what He did, desiring to die, that so He
might save us. Of Abraham we read-' Thou
hast not withheld thy son, thine only son.'
Of the Lord God Himself it is said, 'So God
loved the world that He gave His only begot-
ten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
"And there is another lesson in this story
that concerns ourselves, our own conduct
especially. Dearly as Abraham loved his
son, he loved his God better; he was ready
rather to slay Isaac than to disobey the Lord.
This is a very important lesson for us. Dearly
as we love our friends, we must never let our
love lead us to do wrong for their sakes."
Stephen, who had been sitting very quietly
with his eyes on the book, suddenly reddened
at these words, and asked eagerly-
How could we do wrong for their sakes ?"
If we did what we knew we ought not to
do to please them, or left off doing right
because our friends did not like it; or if we
allowed ourselves to be deceitful, to say what
was not true in order to hide the faults of
those who were dear to us, should we not be
doing wrong for their sakes ?"
Mrs. Baynes had no suspicion that Stephen
was in any particular nied of this warning;
she spoke only in general; but it seemed to
the boy as if the words were addressed to the
troubled thoughts of his heart.
That very morning there had been some
discussion about the strawberry business, and
Johnnie had been declaring in the innocence
of his heart that never had anything been so
"Stephen went down in the morning to
look, and then they had all vanished. He saw
Really, Stephen, that was very odd," said
Mrs. Baynes, unsuspectingly. How early did
you go down, my dear?"
I don't know."
"And you did not hear any one run away,
or see any sign of the thieves ?"
Stephen hesitated, he did not say a word
very distinctly, but yet he felt somehow that
he had consented to a lie.
It had been heavy on his heart all day; he
had never lied before, not even in his dark and
terrified days, and now that he knew better!
But he dared not speak for fear of betraying
Johnnie; and now what was this that he
heard ?-what warning about preferring the
friend to the right? Could this have been the
sacrifice that was asked of him, and had he
refused it? But then how could he sacrifice
The idea troubled him so much that his
aunt could not help noticing the agitation of
"My dear, what is it ?" she asked gently.
"Tell me what makes you look so unhappy?"
No; I've nothing to tell," said he, almost
crossly; and then, to his great relief, his aunt
saw a neighbour coming down the garden,
and went away. Afterwards Johnnie came
in singing and smiling; Stephen watched him
sadly, and wondered more and more.
CHAP. VII.-ISAAC'S BLESSING.
THE quiet Sunday passed away, but it
seemed to bring none of its peace to
Stephen ; the thoughts that had troubled him
were with him all day. Sometimes he thought
of telling all to his aunt; sometimes of speak-
ing to Johnnie himself, and imploring him to
give back the knife.
But he could not betray his brother, he told
himself; and then how angry John would be-
how horrified at Stephen's discovering him!
No, he could not; and while he felt he dared
not do what he knew to be right, conscience
left him no peace in doing wrong.
So much the better for him, and yet it
made him very miserable.
At last bed-time came, and he went slowly
and sorrowfully upstairs, sat down at the side
of the bed, and thought.
Johnnie looked at him for a while, walking
about the room, whistling the evening hymn
to himself. At last he began to sing it.
"Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed."
His brother's dark eyes were raised and
fixed upon him.
"Being wicked," said Stephen suddenly,
"would make you dread them both, I sup-
Stephen had been so silent lately, that John
was quite delighted to hear him speak of his
own accord; but as he had not been thinking
much of the words he sang, he did not under-
stand the observation.
Dread what, Stephen ?"
Stephen repeated the lines slowly.
I suppose you would be afraid of going to
bed, because you would have no peace there;
and afraid of dying, because you would have
to be judged then, and get no peace."
"Well, I suppose so," returned the other,
who was more given to singing hymns than
to considering what they meant.
It would be dreadful to lie down in bed in
the dark, and remember some very bad thing
you had done. I should think it would go over
and over in your head and let you get no rest."
I'm sure I hope we are not going to try,"
said John, in his offhand way. We don't
mean to be thieves and murderers, do we,
And then he stared with all his might, for
his brother pressed his hands together, and
cried out, Oh, Johnnie!" as if something had
John was by his side in a moment, putting
his arm round him, and begging to know what
was the matter.
I've seen you weren't all right the last day
or two," he said, in his most loving voice.
"Do tell me, Stephen! If anything was on
my mind, I'm sure I'd tell you. If you are in
any scrape, do tell me; you know that must be
Oh, how Stephen longed to bring out the
truth! But no, the words seemed to choke
him, he could not speak.
What is it, Stephen, dear?"
But the poor boy was too miserable to
"Let me alone!" that was all he could
utter, in a rough, sullen tone; and his brother,
who could not guess at all the love and sorrow
that were keeping him silent, grew vexed and
"As you like," he said, and went off again
I will try and forget it all," said Stephen
to himself next day, and he tried to talk and
laugh, to work hard at school, and wait on
his aunt at home, and be too busy to remember;
but he was remembering all the time.
In the evening, as his aunt was at work, he
begged her to go on explaining the pictures
to him; for he dreaded nothing so much as
sitting still to think. Mrs. Baynes could see
through all his busy ways that he was not
happy, and she was glad to give him some-
thing good to think about. So she complied
at once, and went on with the Bible story.
When Isaac grew up, his mother died, and
Abraham, having no one left to care for but
his son, grew very anxious to see him com-
fortably married before he himself died.
"The women in the country to which God
had called Abraham were not very good
people, and Abraham wished Isaac to marry
one of his own relations, who lived in those
parts where Abraham was born. So one day
he called a faithful old servant that he had to
him, and told him that Isaac must not go back
to the old home, for the Lord had called him
from it. 'But,' he said, 'thou shalt go unto
my country, and to my kindred, and take a
wife unto my son Isaac.'
So the servant promised to do as his master
wished, and took ten camels to carry presents
for Abraham's friends, and the other things
required, and started on his journey. And he
travelled on and on till he came to the city
where Abraham's relations lived. It was one
evening that he reached it, and he rested a
little while just outside the city, by a well
that was there. Now the wells in those parts
were places where many women would meet
at this time in the day, for it was the custom
to drive all the flocks down to the well about
sunset, and give them water there, and draw
water besides for themselves. So Abraham's
servant thought he would wait here and see if
he could find some woman amongst them who
might become Isaac's wife. And while he
waited, he prayed to God and said, '0 Lord
God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send
me good speed this day, and show kindness
unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand
here by the well of water; and the daughters
of the men of the city come out to draw water :
and let it come to pass, that the damsel to
whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray
thee, that I may drink; and she shall say,
90 The Brothers.
Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let
the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy
servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that
thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.'
The servant had not finished his prayer,
before he saw a young girl coming towards
him out of the city, with her pitcher on her
shoulder, to draw water from the well. As
she came nearer, he saw that she was beautiful,
and he watched her go down to the well and
fill her pitcher and come up again. Then he
came forward and asked her for water, as he
had said he would do in his prayer, and she
answered, just as he had prayed that the right
wife for Isaac might answer, 'Drink, my
lord,' and she gave him some water out of her
pitcher, and went on, 'and I will draw water
for thy camels also, until they have done
And the servant did not answer, but stood
wondering whether this was indeed the answer
to his prayer.
But when she had given the camels all the
water they wanted, in a trough that was put
for cattle by the well, he took out some of
the presents he had brought with him-a
golden earring and bracelets-and gave them
to her, saying-
Isaac's Blessing. 91
Whose daughter art thou ?'
"And she told him her father's name, and
then the servant knew that she was one of
Abraham's own relations. She begged him
also to come with her, for they had straw and
food enough for the camels, she said, and
room to put them in. And the man bowed
down his head, and thanked God for having
so far prospered his journey, while the girl
ran home to show her presents, and tell all
about the stranger she had met by the
Hearing this, her brother, whose name was
Laban, now came out, and found the servant
standing by his camels, and Laban said to
"' Come in, thou blessed of the Lord;
wherefore standest thou without ? for I have
prepared the house, and room for the camels.'
Then the man followed Laban home,
taking with him the camels and the other
men that were with him, and they were all
most kindly received, and the animals were
attended to, and a meal prepared for the men
at once. But before Abraham's messenger
tasted anything, he said-
"'I will not eat, until I have told mine
"And then he told them all his story, and
what he had come for, and who his master
was, and how Laban's sister Rebekah had
seemed to come to the well in answer to his
prayer. This made them think it was God's
will that Rebekah should become the wife of
Isaac, so she consented to go back with the
servant to the land where Abraham lived.
One evening, Isaac,who was very unhappy
at having lost his mother not long before,
went out into the fields to walk about and
think, when, happening to look up, he saw a
party of camels coming towards him. They
were his father's camels travelling with
Rebekah. She, too, caught sight of him as
she came nearer, and asked the servant who
he was. And the servant told her.
Then she got off her camel, and walked
forward to meet him, and Isaac took her into
his mother Sarah's tent, and she became his
wife; and he loved her, and was comforted
after his mother's death.
Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, called
Esau and Jacob. Esau, the eldest, was a
rough sort of youth, fond of hunting and
going out with his father; Jacob was quieter,
and more content to stop at home with his
mother. So it happened that Isaac thought
Isaac's Blessing. 93
the most of Esau, and Rebekah's favourite
One day, when they were grown up to be
men, Esau had been out hunting, and coming
home very hungry, he saw that Jacob had
just got some dinner ready. So the elder
"' Feed me, I pray thee, for I am faint.'
"And Jacob said he would, if Esau would
give up to him his rights as eldest son. Esau
was very careless and impatient, so he said in
a moment that he would give up all his rights
to Jacob. Then the younger brother gave
him the food he wanted, and Esau ate and
drank, and went out again, forgetting all
about this promise. But it was a very serious
thing, as he ought to have remembered, for
the eldest son, in those days, received a special
blessing from his father, when the time of the
father's death drew near; and in Esau's
family this blessing would have included the
promise that the Redeemer of the world should
be one of his descendants. But this rough,
impatient man did not think about it at all;
the Bible says, He despised his birthright.'
This is what made him wrong. Jacob was
also wrong, but in another way; he valued
the birthright so much, that he was selfish for
its sake. So time went on; Esau married
two wives (for people were allowed in those
days to take more than one wife), and his
wives were not good people, and caused his
father and mother great grief. At last Isaac
had become quite an old man, and his eyes
were dim so that he could not see, and he
thought the time had come for him to give
his eldest son the precious blessing before his
These blessings were not like ours, only
prayers for our children's happiness; but
whatever the fathers foretold in those bless-
ings, the Lord gave to their sons.
"Isaac did not seem to know anything
about the bargain Esau and .Jacob had made
together; he only called Esau, and said,
'Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of
my death: now therefore take, I pray thee, thy
weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to
the field, and take me some venison ; and make
me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it
to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless
thee before I die.'
So Esau went out to hunt the deer for his
father, while Rebekah, who had overheard
them, called her son Jacob, and told him what
they were going to do.
Isaac's Blessing. 95
"'Go now,' she said, 'to the flock, and
fetch me from thence two good kids of the
goats; and I will make them savoury meat
for thy father, such as he loveth: and thou
shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat,
and that he may bless thee before his death.'
"Then she dressed Jacob in Esau's clothes,
and put the skins of the kids upon his hands,
that his poor blind father might not feel the
difference between Esau's rough hands and
Jacob's smooth ones; and she got the meat
ready, and Jacob went in to deceive his father,
and pretend he was Esau come back from
"Isaac was surprised at first at his coming
so quickly, and he called him near and felt
him, saying, 'The voice is Jacob's voice, but
the hands are the hands of Esau.'
"So poor old Isaac was deceived; he ate
the meat that Jacob brought, and blessed him,
God give thee of the dew of heaven, and
the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn
and wine : let people serve thee, and nations
bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren,
and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee:
cursed be every one that curseth thee, and
blessed be he that blesseth thee.'
Then Jacob went away, and had barely
got out before Esau came in from hunting,
and hurried to his father, saying that he had
brought the venison, and begged for the
Then Isaac trembled very much, and said,
'Who art thou? Where is he that hath
taken venison, and brought it me, and I have
eaten of all before thou camest, and have
blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed ?'
And Esau cried with a loud bitter cry,
'Bless me, even me also, O my father.'
And he complained of his brother, and said,
' He hath taken away my birthright, and now
he hath taken away my blessing;' and he went
on imploring his father, and saying-
"' Hast thou but one blessing, my father?
'Bless me, even me also, O my father.' And
at last Isaac blessed him too, and said-
"' Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness
of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from
above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and
shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to
pass when thou shalt have the dominion,
that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy
Esau could get no better promise. Jacob
seemed to have prospered in his deceit, but