/ -A/, ,
2I- e t-a z c'. e
eI "lhIdwm b7 .ra /8 i J.
The Baldwin ib "lrvi
:"t' PrC1""" I ^-
H e k
" How grave you look, uncle !"
SQUIRE BENTLEY'S TREAT
THE CARD ON THE NOSEGAY.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY:
56, PATERNOSTER Row; 65, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD;
AND 164, PICCADILLY.
CO 0 TE NT .
SQUIRE BENTLEY'S TREAT.
1. DIFFERENCES OF OPINION 5
II. NELLIE AND HER UNCLE .
lII. WORDS IN SEASON 27
IV. A DAY TO BE REMEMBERED 36
THE CARD ON THE NOSEGAY:
AN INCIDENT OF THE FLOWER MISSION 7
SQUIRE BENTLEY'S TREAT,
biffiernces of Opinion.
-. TELL you, sir, I give the
'i whole thing up entirely. I
will have nothing more to
do with it," and Squire
Bentley planted himself
firmly on the hearthrug as
he spoke, and looked with fierce deter-
mination at the young man opposite him,
who, hat in hand, had been meekly
attempting a work of conciliation and
compromise, and had signally failed, and
begun to fear he had made things worse
than ever by an untimely interference.
But the tea, sir," he faltered.
"The tea, of course, will be given as
6 Squire Bentley's Treat.
usual. I am not a man to grudge a few
poor children their yearly pleasure, be-
cause some stuck-up people in the parish,
who ought to know better, want to put
a lot of foolish notions in their heads.
The tea will be given as usual, but no
marquees or bands in a meadow of mine.
You are at liberty to arrange things so
if you choose, but you will select another
spot. I forbid anything of the kind in a
meadow of mine. There's no reason in
The young man, who was the super-
intendent of the Sunday-school, looked
thoughtfully at the carpet. He had been
entrusted with this interview with the
squire, and was pondering whether he
had brought forth all his choicest argu-
"We thought in case of wet-the
"A few drops of rain, sir, would not
No, not a few drops; but last year, if
Differences of Opinion. 7
you remember, it was very wet, and was
unpleasant for the children having their
tea out of doors."
Squire Bentley turned impatiently on
his heel. "You are quite at liberty, sir,
to make things more pleasant, only you
will have no meadow of mine to do it in,
that's all. Arrange just as you like; I
wash my hands of the whole matter."
The young man looked again at the
carpet, as though its softly blended colours
proved helpful to his perturbed thoughts.
"Young Clarkson suggested," he began
again after a pause.
The squire's eyes literally flashed at
the inadvertently mentioned name.
There had been a secret feud between
the Clarksons and Bentleys for many
long years. Certainly the squire had
kept the ancient flame vigorously alive.
He waved his hand majestically.
I don't wish to hear any of young
Clarkson's suggestions, sir. I have no
doubt he suggests something valuable."
8 Squire Bentley's Treat.
The superintendent's meekness sud-
denly deserted him. He was a com-
parative stranger in the place, and not
aware of the long-standing feeling of
enmity between the two families. That
the squire should be angry was not
perhaps a thing to be surprised at; that
he should be wholly unreasonable and
refuse to listen to a suggestion when he
had one to make, was quite another
matter, and altogether too much for even
the spirit of humility in which he had
determined to carry out his enterprise.
He plucked up courage for a remark
beyond the simply defensive.
"I am thinking," he said, "to-day is
Saturday, and the treat on Monday,
"there's only Sunday between. I don't
see how we can choose a fresh place and
let them all know. Hadn't you better
have a board, or notice, or something
put up, so that in case any one should
chance to come to your field, they may
find out their mistake at once ?"
Dferences of Opinion. 9
The squire tried to look unutterable
contempt. The young superintendent,
whose conscience gave a guilty flutter at
his audacity-had he not been warned
by those on whose behalf he had been
despatched, to speak with all propriety
and decorum ?-fancied the squire looked
fixedly at the library door; he had better
at least make his exit before he was
ordered to do so.
"I don't think there's anything more
to be said then, sir."
Squire Bentley inclined his head grandly.
"Nothing more, sir; I wish you good
There was nothing for the defeated
superintendent but to retire, and Squire
Bentley stood alone on his hearthrug,
feeling himself the most outraged and
aggrieved of men. And he really had
some cause-he told himself much reason
-for displeasure. The yearly school
treat was a time-honoured institution.
The squire's father had been much in-
10 Squire Bentley's Treat.
terested in the school, and his son had
followed his example, and the annual
treat, towards which the squire always
contributed the principal part, had year
after year been held in the meadow close
by the house. But of late some of the
old standards and supporters of the school
had died off, and young people, with
younger, if not wiser notions, had taken
their places, and by these the yearly
school treat had been voted a dull and
lifeless proceeding. Other Sunday-schools
in the neighbourhood went for a day's
trip to the sea-side, and indulged in
various other modes of entertainment.
They were willing to pay more to-
wards the general expense; but why
could not the squire have a marquee for
the children to have tea in, and a band,
and flags flying, and put a little life into
the otherwise dull proceedings ? These
innovations had been mentioned to the
squire, and the squire had at the first
disapproved. Then there arose spirits
Differences of Opinion. 11
bold enough to suggest, that if Squire
Bentley would not give his consent, they
would carry out their plans without his
leave altogether. But at the last it was
thought well to acquaint him with their
"resolution, and Mr. Wells, the superin-
tendent, had been despatched on an
errand that was to be in part conciliatory
and in part a compromise, for, in case
the squire too violently opposed their
measures, the marquee was to be given
up, and only the band added to the usual
But Squire Bentley had given Mr.
Wells no chance of conciliation or com-
promise either. He had seen his position
at once. In return for all his kindness,
he was to be treated with ingratitude
and contempt by a set of thoughtless
jackanapes-that was the term Mr. Wells
had to stand and hear applied to himself
and his colleagues-no, they should have
their way, do as they liked, but no
meadow of his should be lent for the
12 Squire Bentley's Treat.
occasion. On this point the squire was
Now as he stood reflecting, he felt
quite sore at heart at the insolent treat-
ment he considered he had received. It
wasn't the bare fact of having a band-
he wasn't one, as he had said, to grudge a
few children a little pleasure-it was the
feeling that they meant to do it all with-
out him, in opposition to him, quite
senseless of all past favours, this was the
part that stung the squire's vanity to the
quick. If any man had a right to the
respect and homage of his neighbours,
he, Squire Bentley, had. In everything
connected with the place he had given
liberally, acted generously, and this was
his reward. A party of senseless young
people had set their heads on a drum
and fife performance; and if he did not
like it, he might dislike it, that was
Let them, let them do it," said the
squire, speaking aloud in the heat of his
Differences of Opzition. 3
troubled reflections. "They will have
their drumming and fifeing just where
they can, that's one thing."
And young Clarkson, his enemy's son,
was making suggestions. That young
man was at the bottom of it all, there
was not a doubt of it, he had set it all on
foot on purpose to annoy him. Whether
the squire gathered most sorrow or satis-
faction from this conclusion, it would
have been difficult to determine. And
the superintendent had insulted him by
proposing he should put up a board, a
public notice! The squire's face grew
very angry as he reflected on that part
of the business, then a sudden impulse
stirred within him. The young man
should not make his audacious proposal
for nothing-he would-- At this point
the squire turned hastily, took his hat
and went quickly from the house.
tel0lie and j-rer Jrncle.
N.. about half an hour
.. 4,[. Squire Bentley return-
Sed. At the garden-
R-.. gate a man stepped
suddenly out from the
shadow of the high
S laurel hedge. It was
S the village policeman,
"evidently waiting to
speak with him. Squire Bentley was
not surprised at his appearance. He
had himself set* him watching on a
little business that had proved puzzling
to him. For some time past some one
had been committing petty robberies on
the squire's premises. He had himself
played the spy. He had set his foreman
Nellie and her Uncle. 15
on the track in vain. At last he had one
day reluctantly mentioned the case to
Gripper the policeman. Very quietly
the policeman came forward.
"I think I have 'em, sir," he said.
" I've got a good clue. We shall run
'em to earth, sir, if we're careful,"
"Whom do you suspect ?" asked the
squire, stepping cautiously into the
shadow of the hedge from which the
policeman had just emerged. The
policeman went and stood by his side,
and said a few words in a low voice.
The squire visibly started, and re-
peated a name aloud. Bill Stephens!
You must be mistaken!"
The policeman smiled. "I don't think
there's much mistake, sir!"
The squire stuck his stick angrily into
the ground. I wouldn't have believed
it; if there's a man anywhere I've be-
friended and helped, it's Stephens. I
kept him on all last winter, and didn't
want him either. They'd have been in
16 Squire Belnley's Treat.
the poorhouse, every one of them, if it
hadn't been for me, and this is my
The policeman nodded his head. He
looked only at the professional side of
the matter, the squire's disappointed feel-
ings did not come into his calculations.
If people put any confidence in such men
as Bill Stephens, they were sure to be
disappointed sooner or later.
"And," continued the squire, "there's
Jones, my best man, living next door.
He must know of it, at least, if there's
anything much wrong."
Again the policeman gave his head
an official nod. He did not see fit to
explain that a little careful cross-question-
ing of Jones had led in a large measure
to the knowledge he already possessed.
"You see, they never inform on each
other," he said, philosophically. Then he
proceeded at some length to detail out
his plans; but the squire, to do him
justice, hardly entered into a full un-
Nellie and her Uncle. 17
derstanding of his projects, so predomi-
nating was the feeling of surprised in-
dignation at Stephens' rank ingratitude.
Truly it was a wicked world in which
he lived, the squire felt very assured on
this point as he walked slowly back into
his own grounds, and he was a credulous,
generous-minded, much-abused man. He
stood on the lawn gloomily ruminating,
when suddenly there was a sound of a
pretty, childish voice, and the squire,
despite his miserable reflections, turned
his head in that direction. Children
Squire Bentley had none. Some people
charitably supposed he would have been
altogether a more amiable man had a
few young children of his own been
round him, to expand his nature, and to
smooth away some of the angles and
eccentricities of disposition by which he
had too often made himself notorious.
Anyhow, little Nelly was, among all his
nieces and nephews, his especial favourite.
She had been spending the whole summer
18 Squire Bentley's Treat.
at his house; her health having been
delicate the previous winter, country air
had been advised for her, and ever since
the spring Nellie had been an inmate of
her uncle's house. Health had again
touched her cheek with its soft bloom,
and sparkled brightly in her pretty blue
eyes, but still Squire Bentley put off the
day of her departure. "So she gets
back again to town in time for the
winter," he said; and to this arrangement
Nellie gladly consented.
At sight of her uncle, Nellie ran
quickly towards him. She perched her-
self lightly on a hollow stump of a tree,
in which were blooming some brightly-
flowering plants. Thus elevated her
face was on a level with her uncle's.
She looked fearlessly into his eyes, for
Nellie that face was never clouded or
angry, his pretty niece held a magic
sway over her irascible uncle. Yet even
the child discovered something troublous
on the countenance into which she looked.
Nellie and her Uncle. 19
"How grave you look, uncle," she
said, turning his face towards her with
one of her little hands.
These are grave times, Nellie; and
this is a bad world at best."
"I think it is a very nice world,
So it is, dear, for a good, pretty little
girl like you."
Nellie drew herself up with the sweet
gravity of childhood; her uncle was
speaking to her as though she were a
baby, and Nellie was eight years old.
" Isn't it nice for you too, uncle ? "
It might be, Nellie ; the world itself
is fair enough, but the people who live
in it make it seem bad."
But there are some good people in
"Of course there are, child."
Some very good people."
The squire looked into the grave,
innocent face. What do you mean by
very good ? Tell me one, Nellie."
20 Squire Bentley's Treat.
Miss Croft is very good."
Miss Croft was a lady whom Mrs.
Bentley had engaged during Nellie's
stay, as a kind of daily governess for
her. Not much teaching entered into
the bargain, but Mrs. Bentley knew the
value of even a little pecuniary aid to
a person in Miss Croft's straitened cir-
cumstances; and it was better for the
child, she argued, a little supervision of
some kind, than running wild all day
"Yes, yes," said Squire Bentley, "of
course Miss Croft is very good. Miss
Croft has known a great deal of trouble,
Nellie, and has come out of it all a good
and sensible woman."
"Has she had a very great deal of
trouble, uncle ? "
"Yes ; why do you ask ?"
"Because she always seems very
cheerful and happy."
Nellie, like most quick children, had a
pertinacious way of sifting matters to
Nellie and her Uncle. 21
their foundation. The squire paused a
moment, then he said, You see, she is
very unselfish, my love; that makes her
happy and contented."
Yes," said Nellie, "unselfish means
giving up our will to others. Miss Croft
explained that word to me, and she says
we should always do to people exactly
as we should wish them to do to us."
The squire groaned in soul; the world
in general was owing him a heavy debt
of unpaid gratitude for disinterested con-
duct. "Ah, Nellie, there are not many
people of that way of thinking. Folks
like being treated well as a rule, but they
are in no hurry to return the treatment."
But the squire remembered he was
speaking to an impressible, unsophisti-
cated little child, and he would not for
worlds have put a drop of the gall of
scepticism in the sweet innocence of the
"You are a very little girl now," he
said; "but you will be grown-up one
22 Squire Bentley's Treat.
day, then you will understand what I
"Miss Croft is grown up."
Tut, tut, child; of course she is."
Miss Croft says people are always
very kind to her; and she says if we
love God best of all, and our neighbour
just as ourselves, we shall always find
people good to us."
"Odd if we shouldn't," was the squire's
"We must be unselfish, you know,
"Yes, yes, child; and Miss Croft is a
very good and excellent woman, and you
must mind everything she tells you."
Squire Bentley kissed the child's face,
so close to his own; it was a sign the
argument was at an end. But the con-
versation at that moment received a
more decisive termination.
A man on the other side of the garden-
hedge was reining up his horse, evidently
stopping with the desire to speak. The
Nellie and her Uncle. 23
squire would have got away if he could;
it was his old enemy, Mr. Clarkson.
He was a man about the squire's age,
with a pleasant sensible-looking face.
The squire returned his salutation stiffly.
Mr. Clarkson hesitated a moment, the
squire's manner was not inviting, then
he plunged at once into his subject.
I have just seen the superintendent,
Mr. Wells. He tells me there has been
some unpleasantness about the school
treat. I just stopped to say that if my
son has had anything to do with these
proceedings I will see that he withdraws
from them at once. It is not my wish
he should do anything displeasing or
annoying to you in any way."
The squire felt for once a little taken
by surprise, but in a strictly formal tone
he replied, "Your son may be of a
different opinion, Mr. Clarkson."
Oh, as far as that goes I can trust
my influence over him; my boy will not
do anything contrary to my wishes.
24 Squire Benlley's Treat.
Seeing you in the garden, I thought I
would just stop and say this much to
you. I wish you good-evening, Mr.
The squire stood watching Mr. Clark-
son's retreating form. Having made up
his mind that people were so generally
bad and unthankful, he did not know
whether it was altogether satisfactory to
find one at least turning out better than
he had expected. He had for so long
taken it for granted that Mr. Clarkson
cherished ill-feeling towards him, that he
could not all at once disabuse his mind
of the idea. Yet neither he nor the
present Mr. Clarkson had really had
anything to do with the matter that had
caused the long-existing feud. A fore-
father of Mr. Clarkson had bought a
piece of land which a former Squire
Bentley had set his mind upon possessing.
The land had been bought in a clandes-
tine, unfriendly manner, and the squire
fiercely resented the unneighbourly act;
Nellie and her Uncle. 25
and being a man of choleric and vindic-
tive disposition, he had perpetuated the
quarrel, and instilled his own resentment
into the mind of his son, and a feeling
of dislike and separation had existed
between the families ever since. Squire
Bentley took it for granted that Mr.
Clarkson regarded him with unfavourable
feelings. "He had reasons of his own
for speaking so, I have no doubt," he
muttered as he walked slowly across the
lawn. "All nonsense that, about not
wishing his son to annoy me."
The squire, as was his habit, was
jumping rapidly to a conclusion, yet
hasty judgment of others had been the
rock upon which he had foundered over
and over again. Then as he paused, a
scene rose before him of happy children
assembling on that lawn. It was always
their custom to do so after the treat was
over, and a bun and a small story-book
was presented by the squire to each
child. Then before they left they always
26 Squzre Bentley's Treat.
gave the usual hearty cheers : three for
the squire, then for Mrs. Bentley, then
for the teachers; it seemed sometimes
as if there would be no end to their
joyful cheering. And the sound of their
glad voices always did the squire's heart
good. The thought passed through his
mind that it would not be pleasant to
miss the happy scene that had been
enacted there for so many years, and the
buns and the books were all prepared
ready, and he did not want the children
to miss having them. He could almost
have wished he had not been quite so
rash with the superintendent that after-
noon; but then it was not his fault, the
blame lay with those who had behaved
in so ungrateful, ignorant, and thankless
Words in Season.
HE next day, on his way
to the morning service,
the squire had to pass by
the very meadow which
had become such strictly
forbidden ground. Yet
as he drew near the spot, he was con-
scious of a half-nervous sensation arising
within him. The superintendent had
not made his parting suggestion in vain.
The squire had not erected a board, but
he had taken measures equally effective.
The gate was securely locked, a row of
prickly furze had been inserted in the
top bars, so that no one could think of
vaulting over it in sheer defiance, and
that the public should be in no doubt as
28 Squire Bentley's Treat.
to whether or not they were to enter, he
had ordered the words, No Admission,"
to be painted in white letters on the
middle bar. Yet why these proceedings
should form subject for ridicule to a
group of idle boys loitering round the
spot the squire could not quite compre-
hend. He would have liked to stop and
investigate the cause of their mirth, but
the pride of his heart prevented him, he
would not deign to turn his head in
their direction as he passed, but walked
But'upon his return home, his curiosity
got the better of both his pride and de-
corum ; the idlers had doubled in number;
the squire's gate had evidently a peculiar
attraction, and distinctly he heard one of
them saying something derogatory of his,
the squire's, educational attainments. It
was too much for him; telling his wife
and Nellie to walk on, he stepped hastily
aside. The little group made way for
him, and the squire at once plainly
Words in Season. 29
Sunderstor.d the reason of their merriment.
Instead ol the words that were to have
given such grandly formal notice to the
public generally, an. ignorant hand had
I ,_ -
printed the illiterate announcement, No
Parth." The squire turned quickly away.
Was it ignorance ? He might have
overlooked that. But no, the man at
the little wheelwright's and blacksmith's
30 Squire Bentley's Treat.
shop, to whom he had entrusted the
commission-his children went to the
Sunday-school-the man had doubtless
been annoyed at the meadow being for-
bidden, and he had put this on the gate
purposely to annoy him. The squire
had not a doubt of it. So lowering was
his brow when he rejoined his wife,
that after one glance at his face, she
wisely forebore questioning him. Nellie
thought her uncle must be finding it a
bad world again, and slipped her little
hand into his, by way of childish con-
Being Sunday, nothing could be done
that day to remedy the mistake; but
when evening came, the squire felt he
could not pass a second time by that
gate, so he allowed his wife and Nellie
to go to the evening service alone, and
he himself stayed at home. But after
they had gone, the house seeming irk-
some to him, he set out for a long, soli-
tary ramble. Walking along, absorbed
SWords in Season. 31
in his own thoughts, he did not observe
the densely-gathering clouds, and not till
a few pattering drops of rain, followed
by a vivid flash, and a loud peal of
thunder, roused him from his reverie,
did he become aware of the fast ap-
proaching storm. He was some distance
from home, but Rose Cottage, where
Miss Croft with her invalid mother lived,
was close at hand. The squire made a
hasty advance towards the house. Miss
Croft was at home, and opened the door
herself and bade him welcome. Inside
their little sitting-room, her mother was
reclining on a couch. She also cordially
welcomed the squire. It was fortunate
for him that shelter was so near, for the
storm was a heavy one; but Mrs. Croft,
invalid though she was, proved a pleasant
and intelligent companion, and the time
seemed to pass quickly.
"I'm thinking," said the squire at
length, "if they go home and find that
I am out, they will be almost alarmed
32 Sq2ire Bentley's Treat.
about me. Nellie will soon be asking
what has become of her uncle."
Nellie is a sweet little girl," said
The squire looked at her kindly: any
praise of Nellie was always pleasant to
his ears. As he had glanced round the
room, with its scanty, meagre furniture,
in chivalrous kindness of soul he had
been thinking if he could not devise a
few extra comforts for the invalid woman,
who yet bore her lot so cheerfully.
Perhaps," he said, you would like
Nellie to come across and see you some-
times; she would cheer you up a bit."
I shall be pleased indeed to see her,
whenever you can spare her !"
You must have many a lonely hour
here, I should think," said the squire.
I am often alone; but friends are
very good to me."
Silently Squire Bentley ran over in his
mind the friends likely to be good to a
lonely, ailing woman like Mrs. Croft.
SWords in Season. 33
Humph," he said, some people find
more goodness in the world, I think,
People and things have always two
sides, a good and a bad. A great deal
depends on how we look at them."
I don't know why," said the squire,
"but people always seem to show their
bad side to me. What I mean is this,"
he said, after a moment's pause: Sup-
posing, year after year, you'd been show-
ing kindness to people, and they repaid
you only with ignorance and ingratitude,
just went their own way wholly forgetful
of the hand that had so long helped
them, and treated you with open dis-
respect and thanklessness-you wouldn't
call that finding goodness in people,
would you ?"
"No," said Mrs. Croft; "but, unfor-
tunately, there's a great deal of ingrati-
tude in the world; and so long as we do
our good deeds with a view to the ap-
plause or gratitude of our fellow-creatures,
34 Squire Bentley's Treat.
we shall always find ourselves more or
The words were spoken with such
gentle sweetness, Squire Bentley could
not find fault with them.
"Well, well, that's all very right; but
I'll give you another example. Now,
there was a poor family last year, last
winter; by giving the son constant work,
I fairly kept them out of the poorhouse.
Now, lately, I have known somebody
has been committing petty robberies on
my premises, and who do you think I
find out to be the thief?"
The man you befriended ?"
Exactly so ; and I ask you now, what
do you call that but base ingratitude ?"
Certainly I must call it so; but yet,
Mr. Bentley, I feel sure your deeds of
kindness were not lost. There is One
who will not forget your labour of love;
and remember we are to do good, hoping
for nothing again, and our reward shall
Words in Season. 35
Yes, yes; but that sort of thing does
not come naturally to us."
No, perhaps not; but myself, I have
faith in good deeds; even in this life, in
part, I think they meet their recompense.
If one fails us, another repays us. A
faithful, loving soul even in this world,
more or less meets its reward."
Humph," said the squire, I wish I
had more of your faith." By that time,
the storm abating, he rose to depart.
" I didn't go to hear a sermon to-night,
Mrs. Croft, but I fancy I have heard
one, nevertheless; it has been short and
to the point, and I really believe it has
done me good." He shook her hand
cordially as he spoke. Miss Croft ac-
companied him to the door. If there's
anything your mother would like that's
in our house, or we could procure for
her, you've only to let me know," he
said, as he bade her good-bye.
Miss Croft was about to thank him,
but he broke hastily away. With all his
36 Squire Bentley's Treat.
intense desire for gratitude, the squire
had a distinct aversion to thanks. He
walked briskly home. At the door
Nellie stood looking for him.
"Uncle, where have you been ? I
have felt so frightened about you."
What would you have done if I had
never come back, Nellie ?"
"Oh, uncle!" and the child clung
round him, caressing him fondly.
Squire Bentley had been very good
to Nellie's father and mother, struggling
along with the burden of a large family
upon them, and surely the child's tender,
passionate love for him was at least a
portion of his reward. At the dining-
room door his wife was awaiting him.
Like Nellie, she expressed herself glad
at his safe return.
S Vtai lbo be Romembered.
7j.IIHERE'S a letter for you," said
S : Mrs. Bentley, pointing to
the dining-room table. It
Shas only just been brought.
'I," I fancy it is from the Sun-
Squire Bentley took the
letter and hastily opened it. The super-
intendent and teachers of the Sunday-
school had written to him in a body,
expressing their regret at the unpleasant-
ness that had occurred, and their willing-
ness that the marquee and band should
both be relinquished. The letter con-
cluded with expressions of gratitude for
all the kindness Squire Bentley had
shown through so many former years.
Foremost among the names subscribed,
38 Squire Bentley's Treat.
was his enemy's son, young Clarkson.
The squire stood looking intently at the
letter, as though he did not wholly com-
prehend it. Things were getting a little
reversed, the good side of people was
coming uppermost, and the squire fancied
himself not quite so familiar with that
aspect. His wife glancing over his
shoulder read the contents of the letter.
It is a good thing it has all ended so
well," she said.
"Yes, yes, I suppose so," said the
At that moment a servant appeared.
" If you please, sir, Bill's mother, Mrs.
Stephens, wants to see you."
The squire's face instantly recovered
its usually keen expression. If the
Sunday-school people were coming to
their senses, Bill Stephens at least was
an incorrigible offender. He felt by no
means favourably disposed towards
Tell her to send her message in."
A Day to be Remembered. 39
Please, sir, she says she must speak
to you herself."
Show her in, then."
The next moment Mrs. Stephens
entered. She was agitated and distressed
"Well, my good woman," asked the
squire, "what do you want with me ?"
"Oh, sir, I'm in great trouble, and I
didn't know who to go to but you; you've
always been good and kind to us. It's
my son Bill-he wasn't at work for you
No, I didn't inquire much after him,
He's gone away, sir; he went
yesterday, and to-day I've heard news
of him, and he's just 'listed and gone off,
sir, and I didn't know who to go to for
help but you, sir."
Mrs. Stephens, I must say, if your
son has enlisted for a soldier, it may
possibly be the best thing that could
happen to him."
40 Squire Bentley's Treat.
Mayhap, sir; but I don't know who's
to win bread for us now he's gone."
No, I don't deny it is a hard case
for you, Mrs. Stephens; but what I mean
is this: I think your son is best out of
this neighbourhood. Since he has been
in my employ, from what I have heard,
I am afraid he has not been behaving
well or honestly by me."
Mrs. Stephens shook her head
I fear he hasn't been up to much
good; but if he's been dishonest with
you, sir, it's been without my knowledge,
The squire looked at her keenly. He
did not know then, he never knew after-
wards, whether she spoke the truth; but
at least, in asking his help she had come
to him with grateful acknowledgments
of past kindness. He thought of what
Mrs. Croft had said about one disap-
pointing and another repaying. This
was not much of a repayment certainly
A Day to be Remembered. 41
-a bare acknowledgment-but it was
an acknowledgment, and that was more
than the squire would a little while ago
have supposed could be got out of some
The interview ended by his promising
her what help and assistance lay in his
power. Then the squire stood by the
window thinking intently; and so ab-
sorbed grew his expression, that Nellie
again feared something had vexed or
gone wrong with him.
"Is it a bad world to-night, uncle?"
she said softly in his ear.
I don't know, Nellie, quite what to
think about it."
If it is so very bad, we ought to try
and make it better, ought we not, uncle?"
The squire looked at her with an
attentiye, half-comical expression. Was
he, Squire Bentley, to be taught his
duty by an old invalid woman and a
little child ?
Bring me my desk, and pen and ink,
42 Squire Bentley's Treat.
Nellie," he said, quickly. It isn't my
way to write letters on a Sunday, but I
must write this one."
Nellie did as she was desired. The
squire's letter was speedily concluded.
He had something to say, and he said
it quickly and well. The letter was
directed and duly despatched to the
superintendent, and its effects on that
young man were such that his face grew
quite aglow with satisfaction and pleasure,
as he enthusiastically remarked, The
squire after all was a Briton." The
marquee and the band, they were to have
them all, and the treat was to be held
in his meadow just as usual. In nothing
the children had anticipated were they
to be disappointed. And though, upon
further consideration, it was thought best
still to dispense with the band and
marquee, the order for them having been
already contradicted, yet the heartiness
and warmth of the squire's letter kindled
a glow of kindly feeling, and lifted from
A Day lo be Remembered. 43
the minds of some concerned in the dis-
pute quite a weight of anxiety and ap-
prehension. And when the next day
arrived, brilliant with its unclouded sun-
shine, there certainly seemed no sign of
disappointment for any one. A genial
IN THE MEADOW.
spirit seemed to pervade all the proceed-
ings, and never had the children seemed
so jubilant, or the scene so joyous.
Those who had been most anxious for
the innovation began to think they had
laid undue stress on the matter, and that
after all, simple pleasures were the best.
44 Squire Bentley's Treat.
And somehow, though the squire could
never quite tell how it all happened-Mr.
Clarkson having only, as he was going
past, entered the meadow for a few
minutes just to look at the sports-but
the squire found himself standing side
by side with his life-long foe, and a few
minutes after Mr. Clarkson was saying,
"Whatever happened in the past,
certainly neither you nor I were to blame
in the matter. Suppose we let bygones
be bygones from this time forth ?"
It would hardly have been in human
nature-it was not in the squire's nature
-to resist the frank, friendly appeal;
he cordially grasped the hand held out
to him, and from that memorable day the
old senseless feud died away for ever.
A few minutes after, the squire felt
some one nervously touch his arm. It
was the man from the wheelwright's
shop, an apologetic smile on his face.
Please, sir," he said, I sent my man
to do that little job," pointing over his
A Day to be Remembered. 45
shoulder in the direction of the gate.
" I didn't know till this morning the
stupid blunder he made. I was afraid
you might be angry, sir."
Never mind the gate now," said the
squire. "After all, the meadow was
wanted. I had the words scraped off this
morning; they will soon be forgotten."
Yes, the words might be forgotten;
but that school treat was remembered
for many a long day, and the children
were not the only ones who treasured
up its memory; certain lessons, learned
effectually at last, were associated in the
squire's mind with that memorable day.
At the close of the festivities, the usual
scene took place on the lawn, only that
night it seemed as if the hurrahing and
cheering would surely never come to an
end; and Nellie flitted to and fro in her
white dress, and fairly danced for joy.
When, at length, they were all gone, and
the last sound of their voices had died
away, she slipped into her favourite
46 Squire Bentley's Tr-eat.
place on her uncle's knee, and put her
arm round his neck.
"It's a very good world to-night,
uncle, isn't it ? she said.
Squire Bentley kissed her gravely as
he answered, Yes, dear; for those who
love God and love their neighbours, I
begin to think it is a very good world
THE CARD ON THE NOSEGAY.
,ln Encibrnt of thr flaotcr fftieaiaon.
,-1 I auntie, what can I do ?
'' a Really I wish I was at
School again; one gets quite
tired of doing nothing. I've
practised, and read, and-"
"Idled away the last two
hours !" replied Miss Ben-
ham, with a meaning look.
Ethel Matthews had only just left
school, and was spending the first few
weeks of the holidays with her favourite
aunt, Miss Ellen Benham. Her next
sister was still employed with a gover-
ness; and time was hanging very heavily
on poor Ethel's hands.
"Suppose you fetch your work, while
48 The Card on the Nosegay.
I put away my writing; then we can
have a chat together," said Miss Benham.
"Oh, yes! that will be delightful, auntie.
I'll run and fetch it; and you shall tell
me what you did when you first left
school, and if you ever found the hours
pass as slowly as I do," replied Ethel,
running out of the room. Now, auntie,
you're not going to do any more writing,
are you ?" she continued, as on entering
the apartment, work in hand, she saw
her aunt taking some cards and paper
from a drawer.
No, dear; I'm going to do my texts
for the Flower Mission. Perhaps if you
are not in a hurry to finish your em-
broidery you will help me. I've more
than usual to do this week, as one or
two of our best workers are from home."
"Oh, I'll help you, auntie, though
what good they can possibly do, I never
could see. I don't suppose any of the
people ever take the trouble to read the
texts; they only care for the flowers- "
The Card on the Nosegay. 49
"Stop, Ethel, you are mistaken; many
do read, and to many I believe God's
Word is blessed. At all events we have
our Lord's own promise: 'It shall not
return unto Me void; but it shall accom-
plish that which I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.'"'
"Yes; but, auntie, you can't say you
know any one to whom it really has
done good-now, can you ?"
I can, Ethel; and if you like to cut
out some flower-holders, while I paint
the flowers round, I will tell you of a
case which I know to be true, as it
happened to myself."
"Oh, do, auntie, that will be nice!
Your cases are always interesting; and
at any rate, one knows they're true, which
is an advantage."
"Well, to begin with, I must tell you
that ever since I first sent texts to the
Flower Mission, I have, by the advice
of a friend, always put my initials in one
1 Isaiah Iv. 11.
50 The Card on the Nosegay.
corner, so that should I come across
them again I might know them.
"Some years ago, during the summer
vacation, my parents, as was their custom,
took a house at the seaside for two
months, taking the whole family away
for the change. It had long been my
ambition to teach in the Sunday-school;
but, as my home was in London, and I
was very young, my parents had objected.
"At a small seaside place, however, it
was different; and when the clergyman,
who was an old friend of my father,
asked if I could take a class of little girls,
whose teacher was away ill, he most
willingly gave his consent.
"All the week I was longing for Sun-
day; never did days seem to go so
slowly as those previous to my first in-
itiation into Sunday-school work. But
the longest week comes to an end, and
Sunday came at last. Long before three
o'clock, the appointed hour, I was dressed
and anxious to be off. My dear mother
The Card on the Nosegay. 51
came to me, just as I was leaving the
house, and putting her arm on my shoulder
in her gentle way, said: 'You must not
expect to find it all easy work, my darling,
for even the best of children will some-
times be troublesome, and I should be
sorry for you to get discouraged.'
Indignant at the idea, I turned round,
thinking my mother was certainly mis-
taken, and replied, 'Oh, I am sure I
shall like it; why, mother, it's too bad ot
you to throw cold water on my hopes,
just when I'm feeling so sure and bright
"'I would not do that, my dear Ellen,'
said my mother. 'Only I say, don't
trust too much to your powers; look
higher, to Him who alone can give
success to any of our endeavours. Then,
dearie, I shall not fear your being dis-
couraged, or failing in your work, if done
in His name, for His sake.'
With a hearty kiss, and again answer-
ing my mother that I knew I should like
52 The Card on the Nosegay.
it, and get on well, I hastened to the
Certainly no teacher ever had a more
exemplary set of pupils. Their manners
were perfect, their answers correct; but
they seemed like so many little machines.
In vain I tried first one thing, then
another, but with the same result. To
all I said, they acceded, to all my ques-
tions they replied with the greatest
accuracy; but when it came to the
practical lessons, the only answer to be
obtained was an indifferent 'Yes, teacher,'
or 'No, teacher.' However, I determined
not to be discouraged. After all, they
certainly were wonderfully good, and one
could not expect them to be quite at
their ease at first with a new teacher.
So I argued with myself; and when, on
my return, my mother questioned me a,
to my success, I replied that the children
were dear good little things-no trouble.
I am not sure if those loving eyes did
not see through my attempt at concealing
The Card on the Nosegay. 53
what might trouble her. If they did,
they certainly told no tales, and the only
reply given was one of those hearty
kisses which seem to come from none
but mother's lips.
The week following passed. Sunday
came again, but it only brought fresh
disappointment. Out of my eight little
pupils, only five were in their places,
and they seemed, if possible, even less
'get-at-able' than before.
So passed five Sundays; all my
efforts seemed fruitless; my interest in
the work was gradually dying out, as,
one by one, I saw my little friends drop
off, till, on the fifth Sunday, I found only
one child in my class. That seemed to
bring things to the climax. In my dis-
appointment and mortification, I began
to question whether God did hear or
answer prayer. I had so earnestly
begged Him to bless my efforts that
week, and to let me see that my labour
was making some impression; and now
54 The Card on the Nosegay.
it seemed as if things had got worse than
ever. In my own mind, I determined
to give up trying to do any work for
God. The only things I had attempted
appeared to have been mistakes. To
the best of my knowledge, my Flower
Mission work had done no good, and
certainly my Sunday-school class had
proved an utter failure. Poor little
Bessie (my one pupil) received, I fear,
very little attention that day. At last,
school was over, and, weary and dis-
spirited, I turned to go home.
"Just as I was beginning to climb the
hill, at the summit of which our house
stood, I noticed a poor girl on the opposite
side of the way. She was carrying a
very large parcel, and trying to reach
the top of the hill, though, at every two
or three steps, she stopped, and laying
down her bundle, gasped for breath.
The thin, wan cheeks, with the bright
red spot on each side, together with the
low, hollow cough, told their tale but too
The Card on the Nosegay. 55
plainly. Quickly crossing the road, I
asked her to allow me to carry her bundle
up the hill, adding, 'You must, I fear,
be suffering sadly.' The only reply my
words received was a burst of tears from
the poor girl, so violent that her thin frame
seemed shaken through and through.
"The excess of her sorrow quite
frightened me, and laying my hand on
her shoulder, I said: 'Do tell me your
trouble-I should be so glad if I could
help you. Won't you come and sit down
on the seat under the elm tree, and then
you can rest a little bit ?'
With a great effort the girl walked a
few steps farther, and we sat down to-
gether. She did not speak at first, so
once more I asked if I could be of any
use to her. Again she broke out into
fresh sobs till, at length, seeing how
really distressed I was at her grief, and
her continued silence, she sobbed out:
' You are too good; nobody ever speaks
kindly to me now.'
56 The Card on the Nosegay.
By degrees she became calmer, and
then she told me a sad tale of poverty,
sorrow, and sin. A young country girl,
she had come up to London on her
father's death, having been promised
employment by a widowed aunt, who
kept a small confectioner's shop. The
first news that greeted her arrival was
of her aunt's death. Her mother wrote,
begging her to return at once to their
little country house, but to a giddy young
creature such as she was, our great me-
tropolis offered too many charms. She
obtained a situation, through the influence
of a friend, as barmaid in a large public
house, and disregarding her mother's
earnest entreaties for her return, she lost
the blessing promised to those who
honour and obey their parents. Natur-
ally delicate, and used to a country life,
the confinement, together with the bad
atmosphere, soon affected the poor girl,
and caused the roses to flee from her
cheeks. It would take too long to tell
The Card on the Nosegay. 57
all she told me; suffice it to say, her
health gave way, and she sank lower,
till at last she even meditated committing
suicide. She was in this condition, when,
one day, being sent out for change by
her master, she happened to pass one of
our large hospitals. Several ladies, with
baskets of flowers on their arms, were
just going in, and one of them, noticing
her wistful gaze, offered her a bunch,
saying at the same time a few kind
words. The card attached to that little
nosegay had on it two texts. They
were, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest,'1 and 'I will arise and go to my
These words were read by the poor
young woman, and sank deeply into her
heart. She determined, if possible, to
find her way back to her mother, and
for that purpose asked her master's per-
mission to leave before her month was
1 Matthew xi. 28. 2 Luke xv. 18.
58 The Card on the Nosegay.
up. This he refused to let her do; and
after treating her in the most heartless
manner during the remainder of her stay
under his roof, he turned her adrift with-
out a penny in the world. He alleged,
as a reason for withholding her wages,
that, owing to ill-health, she had never
done a full day's work.
Thrown thus upon the wide world,
the friendless girl resolved to return, if
possible, to the home of her childhood.
"She had not proceeded far, before
her strength entirely gave way, and she
was conveyed by stranger hands to a
neighboring workhouse. There she
lay for some weeks between life and
death. After a time she rallied, and her
longing desire to see her mother again
took possession of her; once more she
set out on her journey. She was within
a few miles of her mother's cottage when
I met with her that Sunday afternoon,
in the way I have described. A home
was found for her that night, and the
The Card on the Nosegay. 59
next day a letter was sent, begging her
mother to come at once.
On her arrival the poor girl was found
too ill to be moved, and a kind boatman
generously gave both mother and child
a shelter in his little hut. Only those
who go amongst the poor can form any
idea of their kindness to each other. In
subsequent visits she told me of the
sympathy that had been shown her
during that long and dreary journey.
How one carrier after another had given
her a lift in his cart; while shelter and
food had many times been provided by
the kind inmates of the villages through
which she passed. I visited her con-
stantly during my stay at L--, and,
on hearing of the case, the kind clergy-
man of St. M- went to see her.
Contrary to all expectations, she lingered
on for nearly two years. His visits and
the study of God's Word were blessed
to her soul. She was led by the teach-
ing of the Holy Spirit, to see how great
60 The Card on the Nosegay.
a sinner she had been, and for some time
she was almostoverwhelmed with distress.
One day, however, on entering the
cottage, I was surprised to see a bright
smile on the usually sad young face.
Before I had time to speak to her, she
greeted me with the words : Oh, miss,
I see it now, and I'm so happy. Jesus
did it all : He died for me, and all I
have to do is just to believe it, and
thank Him; showing my thankfulness
not with my lips only, but in my life.
Oh, it seems too good; I have come
now.' And as she said these words she
drew from under her pillow the soiled,
dirty little card with those blessed words,
'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,'
written on it. Handing it to me, she
added: 'And now, miss, I'm sure He
will find mother too, for she is weary
and heavy laden, and wants finding-oh,
so badly.' I could hardly reply to my
sick friend's words, for, imagine my joy
The Card on tke Nosegay. 61
and thankfulness, when, on looking at
the card, I found in the corner my own
initials. From that time, notwithstand-
ing intense suffering, I never heard a
murmur or complaint. All seemed
changed, and her sweet smile used to
light up that little hut. Her great joy
was in reading her Bible, and being sung
to. One hymn in particular she always
loved, and never would she let me leave
the cottage without singing at least one
verse. It was one beginning as follows:
"'The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks,
The summer morn I've sighed for-
The fair, sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark hath been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.'
"On my return to London, I received
several letters from both mother and
daughter. After the poor girl's death,
her mother sent me, as a little token
of loving remembrance, a present her
62 The Card on the Nosegay.
daughter had, during her long illness,
prepared for me. It was a shell, with
these words tastefully worked on it, I
will arise and go to my Father.' And
now, dear Ethel, tell me, do you still
think that the Flower Mission does no
good, and that no one takes the trouble
to read the texts ?" said Miss Benham,
as she ended her little history.
"Oh, no, auntie! I couldn't have
believed such a wonderful story to have
been true, unless you had told it to me
yourself. How glad it must have made
you But now you've not told me
about your Sunday-school, and how you
"I did not think of it, dear; but as
you ask me, I will tell you. That even-
ing I went to my dear father, and told
him all my trouble. And then he showed
me, how, instead of teaching those little
ones for Jesus' sake, I had been teaching
them for my pleasure and gratification.
He gave me much good advice, ending
The Card on the Nosegay. 63
with a few words of prayer about it.
That week he took me to see the chil-
dren in their own homes, and helped me
to speak to them there. It was hard
work at first; but it bore fruit, as all
work done for His sake does.
"The next Sunday I had four little
ones; and although I did not find them
always easy to get at afterwards, and
sometimes felt discouraged, still I dared
not give them up, for surely God had
sent that poor girl to me to teach me
that no effort made for H-is sake shall
be without its reward; and even though
we may not see the good done, we
know that He will give the blessing,
even though it be after many days.'"
LONDON: KNIGHT, POINTER MIDDLE STREET C.
LONDON: KNIGHT, PRINTER, MIDDLE STREET, E.C.