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OTHER STORI ES.
REV. J. D. STRONG,
AUTHOR OF "CHILD LIFE IN MANY LANDS," ETC.
D. LOTHROP AND COMPANY,
38 & 40 CORNHILL.
.. a green,
S open field
: ,v covered
over in spots with bushes; and
though Bertie's papa had a large
6 BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND.
garden, she liked best to play in
Oh, it was a nice large play-
ground, and such a pleasant place !
I suppose the lark thought so too,
for he was always singing over it.
The air was so fresh it seemed to
do one good ; and underneath, the
moss was so thick and soft that
little Bertie might tumble down
ever so many times a day, and nev-
er hurt herself.
These bushes, too what a fa-
mous help they were to hide-and-
seek! Many a merry game had
Bertie and her brothers, when they
BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND. 7
were at home, amongst them;
and while they were at school nurse
was so kind she used to play in-
stead. She was not quite so nim-
ble as they were, but she did her
best, and Bertie was quite satisfied.
One day little Bertie had got lost
behind the bushes. She was out
in the field with some ladies, and
had wandered away by herself
amongst them till at last she did
not know where she was. She ran
in and out, and round, but could
not find her way out. So what do
you think she did ? She sat down
and cried.. Poor little Bertie But,
8 BE1TIE'S PLAY-GROUND.
however, her troubles did not last
long, for her friends missed her,
and then they soon found her, and
a kind lady wiped her tears away,
and it was all right again. She
was only six years old, so you
must excuse her.
On the highest part of the field
there was a clump of beech-trees,
and here, on the hot summer days,
nurse used to sit with her work,
while Bertie played about.
Nurse liked it, because it was so
cool and shady there, and because
the wood-pigeon cooed so sweetly
overhead, forgetting anybody was
BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND. 9
there; only sometimes Bertie's
merry little voice would make him
remember it, and then he would
There was such a nice, cosey
seat, too, between the roots of one
of the beech-trees. Bertie always
called it nurse's arm-chair.
It was September now, and not
so hot; but nurse was sitting as
usual in her arm-chair under the
beeches. Little Bertie had gath-
ered as many harebells as her small
hands could hold, and had asked
nurse to take care of them for her
till they went in. Then she began
10 BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND.
hopping round one of those green
circles in the grass which are called
fairy-rings; only she always for-
got where she started from, and
had to begin again.
Then she noticed the little heads
of thistle-down which kept floating
past her, and she ran after them;
but there was so much wind she
could not catch any.
"Nurse," she said, at last,
"what are these funny things?
Are they butterflies ?"
"Oh, no, Miss Bertie," replied
nurse, "they are not alive at all;
they are only thistle-down."
BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND. 11
"But what is thistle-down,
nurse ? And what is it doing, and
where is it going, And when will
"Stay, stay, Miss Bertie; you
take my breath away with so many
questions at once," said nurse,
quite frightened. "Well, I don't
know; thistle-down is thistle-
down, I suppose; and it goes where
God Almighty sends it. But you
had better ask your mamma, for I
Don't understand such things."
And soon after it was time to go
in to tea.
After her tea little Bertie usually
12 BERTIE'S PLAY-GROVNID.
spent a short time with her mamma
before she went to bed.
"Mamma," she said, as soon as
she got into the drawing-room,
"when we were out on the field
this afternoon I saw such odd
things dancing about in the air;
and nurse said it was thistle-down,
and that it was going where God
sent it. Will you please, mamma,
tell me about it?"
I think nurse was quite right,
my love," replied mamma, "in
calling the thistle-down one of
God's little messengers."
Bertie looked as if she was try-
BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND. 15
ing to understand, and so her
mamma went on :-
"You know I often send you tp
carry a message for me; sometimes
to tell Sarah to light the fire, or
open the window; sometimes to
knock at papa's door, and ask him
for a book, and then I call you 'my
little messenger.' That means one
who carries a message, or goes upon
an errand, for somebody else.
Well, the thistle-down has an er-
rand to do, and I will tell you what
it is. The thistle-down is the seed
of the rough-looking prickly plant
we call the thistle "
16 BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUNUD.
"But, mamma," said Bertie,
"you told me, I remember, when
we had peas for dinner; that they
were the seeds of a plant, and they
were not a bit like the thistle-
"True, my dear; but every dif-
ferent kind of plant has a different
kind of seed, just as their flowers
are all different, and just as peo-
ple's faces are all different. God
means the thistle-down to grow
almost everywhere, and so he has
made the seed very light, and he
has put on to it something like
little wings. Then when the first
BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND. 17
puff of wind blows, away it goes,
and it sails on, on, till it gets to
just the little spot of earth it was
intended for, and there it sinks
down, and next spring comes up a
fresh young thistle-plant.
"So every one of those feathery
little things," continued mamma,
"is God's little messenger, speed-
ing to the place which he has pre-
pared for it, going on his errand,
and carrying out his will. Now,
kiss me, and say good-night."
"Dear mamma," said little Bertie,
looking back as she reached- the
door, "I should like to be. God's
18 BERTIE'S PLAY-GROUND.
little messenger as well as the
thistle-down. Do you think I am
Bertie did not wait for an answer,
but she knew by the bright smile
on mamma's face that it was a
good and right wish for her to
THE FALL OF SNOW.
S S ep-
and Bertie's pleasant play-ground
had grown too cold for her. The
20 LITTLE BERTIE. -
field was bleak and wintry now;
you could not see a harebell any-
where ; the last bit of thistle-down
had sunk into its own quiet resting-
place; the seeds of all the flowers
had fallen into the moist ground,
some to spring up next year into
a new summer's flowers, some to
feed the little birds through the
winter as they pecked about look-
ing for their dinners. In each
way they were useful, and doing
the work given them to do.
The wood-pigeon had flown
away, we do not kifow where-
Underneath the beech-trees, and
THE FALL OF SNOW. 21
in a. ring all round, there was a
bright, warm glow like the sun-
shine; but it was only the fallen
golden leaves, beautiful still.
They had been falling thickly over
nurse's arm-chair, so that little
Bertie, as she passed by, said there
was a cushion in it all ready for
her; but nurse thought it was
rather damp, and she would rather
sit by the nursery fire.
And there nurse did sit, in an
easy, warm seat enough; while
little Bertie built houses with her
bricks, or took her doll for a
make-believe walk, or listened
22 LITTLE BERTIE.
while nurse talked about the snow
that was coming. There had been
no snow last winter; and the win-
ter before that Bertie could not
remember, so she knew nothing
about it; and though nurse said it
was like little bits of white paper
tumbling out of the sky, that did
not help her much to fancy it.
The days had been getting
colder and colder, and at last the
snow came. When little Bertie
went to bed the world outside was
looking just the same as usual, but
while nurse was dressing her the
next morning she said, Now,
!-' -e ;.
-. 1 ,*
THE FALL OF SNOW. 25
Miss Bertie, dear, there's a sur-
prise for you when you go to the
Bertie liked a surprise, and she
ran eagerly to the window. Oh,
how white it all was! The lawn
was white, and the roof of the
stables was white, and the laurels
seemed to Idok whiter still for the
little patches of green which
showed between. It was snowing
fast still, coming down so softly,
so silently, .in such tiny little
flakes, yet making altogether such
a beautiful white robe for the earth
20 LITTLE BERTIE.
Bertie gazed for a minute or two
without speaking; then she cried
out, 0 nurse, I like the snow;
but you said it would be like little
bits of paper, and I think it looks
as if it were little bits of feathers
off the angel's beautiful wings,
"Maybe, Miss Bertie, maybe,"
said nurse; "but such-like fancies
don't get into my old head."
Little Bertie now ran downstairs
to breakfast, and after breakfast
papa opened the window, and
caught a few flakes on his hat that
she might see them better. They
THE FALL OF SNOW. 27
were not all alike, but of differ-
ent size, and of a great vari-
ety of shapes. Bertie looked at
them till her warm breath made
them all melt away. Then she
stood at the window with a grave
look on her little face, as if some-
thing was puzzling her. But,
mamma," she said at last, "these
flakes are so little."
"Yes, my little Bertie," replied
mamma, "they are; but a great
number of these little flakes lying
all together make the ground look
white instead of green. Your
frock is made up of very little
28 LITTLE BERTIE.
threads ; and in the same way each
little snow-flake makes its own little
piece of this beautiful carpet which
God has spread over the earth.
Do you know how useful it is? It
is like a soft, warm blanket laid
over the flower-roots while the
flowers are asleep, just as mamma
might wrap up her little Bertie in
her little crib. Then when the
snow melts away it sinks into the
earth as water, and helps to
nourish them, ready to put forth
new flowers in the spring as beau-
tiful as before.
"Mamma," said Bertie, after a
1'1.','* '1 11;-
I **I I I II
fr'III II' ~ I I '
THE FALL OF SNOW. 31
pause, don't you think the snow-
flakes are some of God's little mes-,
I think they are, my dear ; and
I am glad that you have not for-
gotten our talk about the thistle-
down in the autumn. Yes, by
each little flake God seems to send
a loving message to every plant,
and root, and green thing, to tell
Them that he has not forgotten
them; and that he is providing for
their wants by giving them a soft,
warm covering to keep out the
cold; and by and by they will
all spring up again and lift their
S32 LITTLE BERTIE.
heads as though in thanks to him.
But I can tell you, too, how
once the snow was a messenger of
mercy to save an old woman's life,
and that is better still.
"It was a very cold country,
and it was the winter time.
Worse than that, it was a time of
war, and people were fighting with
each other. A poor old woman
lived in a.cottage close to the high
road, and along this road a great
many soldiers were expected to
pass. The old woman was sadly
afraid they would take all she had.
and burn the cottage, and perhaps
THE FALL OF SNOW. 33
kill her. This was what they had
done to others. So she prayed
every day this short prayer, Lord
God, be thou a wall to me;' and
as she knew and loved God, she
felt quite sure her prayer would be
heard. The snow was lying very
deep upon the ground. Well, one
night the wind rose and the snow
-drifted, so that when she got up in
the morning it stood in a heap
just like a wall between her cottage
afid the high road. And do you
know that that very night the
soldiers had passed along, and the
wall of snow had hidden the little
34 LITTLE BERTIE.
cottage, so that though they were
close to it they had not seen it.
"So, you see, each little flake
of that snow wall was God's little
messenger, sent with an answer,
to the good old woman's prayer."
But to Bertie the pleasantest
thing of all about the snow was the
sleigh-rides. Wrapped up warm
in a nice buffalo robe, she loved
dearly to go flying over the smooth
road, while the merry bells kept
time to the happy music of her own
heart. Then she never failed to
thank God for the snow that made
such a happy time for her, and to
THE FALL OF SNOW. 35
feel that, though cold and bleak,
it was as truly his messenger to
her as the flowers and the green
leaves in the spring-time and sum-
ONG since, the
snow had melt-
ed away. The
earth was look-
ing green once
". more instead
of white, for it
was now the
The birds were as busy as busy
could be, and the little lambs were
38 LITTLE BERTIE.
at play in the field beyond the gar-
The flowers had had their sleep
out, and were wide awake now,
lifting up their heads, as Bertie's
mamma had said, as if to thank
God for the snow that had kept
them warm, and the rain which had
kept them moist, and now for the
bright sunshine which had peeped
in at their doors and made them
open to let it in.
The garden beds were full of gay-
colored anemones and double prim-
roses, and the lawn was white, not
with snow, but with daisies. The
SPRING-TIME AGAIN. 41
flowers really seemed as if they en-
joyed life that bright April morn-
ing; and if they did not, the little
birds did, and so did the lambs, and
so did little Bertie.
Her bricks were lying idly in
the nursery cupboard; and I do
not think her doll had moved from
her cradle for at least a week,
because Bertie was out all day long.
She liked to watch the lambs frisk-
ing about; she was never tired of
making daisy chains; and, oh,
greatest delight of all, nurse had
found a robin's nest in the rockwork
behind the greenhouse !
4' LITTLE BERTIE.
It was in such a snug corner, she
would never have seen it had not
Mrs. Robin flown out at her door
just as she was passing. Who
would ever have thought anybody
could want last year's dead leaves
in this fresh green spring-time?
But the robins did want them; and
they had gathered some up, and
somehow or other stuck them to-
gether to make their house walls,
and then lined the inside with
feathers to make it comfortable.
Nurse let Bertie come and look
at it. She screamed with delight
when she saw how snugly five
SPRING-TIM'E AGAIN. 43
brown mottled eggs lay in a bed of
Bertie asked her mamma where
the other birds built their nests;
and mamma said, mostly on tall
trees or in thick bushes,.where she
could not see them. And Bertie
Thought it was very kind of the
robins to make their nest low
enough for her to put her hand in.
Then mamma called Bertie to come
and sit beside her on the garden
seat, and watch the birds hopping
about on the lawn. They were
busy indeed First one came for
a bit of moss, then another; and
44 LITTLE BERTIE.
they seemed to have no time to
stay; they were off again in a
"Mamma," said Bertie, "what
are the birds doing? Are they
carrying messages ?"
"Well, Bertie, they are doing
the work they are sent to do, cer-
tainly," replied mamma; and
that is, they are building their
nests, and making them soft and
warm for their little birdies to lie
in. They are so weak and help-
less, and then they are so hungry !
But the kind father and mother
birds feed their little mouths, and
SPRING-TIME AGAIN. 45
spread their wings over them to
keep them safe and snug, till they
grow large and strong, and able to
take care of themselves."
But do the birds do any good
p besides, mamma?" Bertie asked.
"Oh, yes. The caterpillars and
other insects increase so fast, we
Should lose all the nice things in
our kitchen garden; they would
eat them all up before us, if the
birds did not eat them."
"Then there are their songs,
mamma; when I am out of doors
these sunny mornings I feel so
happy! And then the birds sing
46 LITTLE BERTIE.
and they seem to say it all out for
"Better still than all, Bertie, I
think they are little messengers of
good to our hearts. 'If God feeds
us,' they say, 'don't you think he
will take care of you That is
one of God's messages which they
bring us. And when they sing
because, like you, they are so hap-
py, it is as much as to remind us,
'We can't help praising God, we
are so full of gladness; we hope
you do not forget to do it, you
who can thank him so much bet-
ter;' that is another of his mes-
SPRING-TIME AGAIN. 47
sages. But before you go in,"
mamma went on to say, "I should
like to tell you a short story about
"Once there was a poor man
and his wife and their little child.
They were very poor, but they
knew God would give them all
they really needed. But the poor
man got out of work, and then he
had no money coming in, so that
he could not pay the rent of his
cottage. The landlord said that
unless they paid before a certain
day he must turn them out. They
were in great trouble, and they
48 LITTLE BFRTIE.
asked God to help them; so they
did every day; but the day ar-
rived on which they would have to
leave their home, and no help had
come. Now, in their garden they
had a tame raven. A raven is a
large black bird, yery clever, and
apt to do very odd things. And
this very morning the raven came
tapping at their window, as if he
wanted something; they opened it,
and in his beak he held a ring, a
costly ring of gold and diamonds.
The poor man and his wife looked
at each other; the ring was not
theirs, they knew, but they must
SPRING-TIME AGAIN. 49
try and find the rightful owner.
So they went into the town, and
took a great deal of trouble. At
last they found out the gentleman
who had dropped it on the road
near their cottage. He was very
glad to get it back again, and he
gave them so much money, that it
not only paid the rent, but what
was left was enough to last
them till the poor man got work
again. Was not that a good ra-
But it was not his own doing
mamma, was it?" said Bertie. "It
was God who sent the raven to
50 LITTLE BERTIE.
help the poor man. What a nice,
good messenger! And little Bertie
thanked her mamma for her story,
and then ran in to her-dinner.
'* it;': -- -S ''
A SUNDAY TALK.
o Bertie, as
"Oh, I'm so glad I like Sunday."
So many nice things took place
on Sunday, I do not wonder Bertie
52 LITTLE BERTIE.
liked it. First of all, it was so nice
to go to the house of God, just as
grown-up people did; and though,
as she could not read, she was not
able to follow the service, yet some-
times there was a little bit in the
sermon she could understand, and
which she thought had been put into
it. on purpose for her. Then her
papa was always at home all day
Sunday, which he was not on other
days, and she dined downstairs
instead of in the nursery. And
mamma's Sunday pictures were so
pretty, and her Sunday stories
were so delightful! She also liked
A SUNDAY TALK. 55
singing hymns in the evening so
much. Oh it was a day of treats,
and the comfort was to think it
always came one day in seven.
Mamma was not very well this
Sunday, and did not go out.
Little Bertie walked home with her
papa, holding his hand, and every
now and then she gave it a little
squeeze to tell him she loved him.
The flowers all seemed dressed in
their Sunday best, the birds seemed
singing their Sunday songs, and
little Bertie's heart, too, was as
happy as Sunday could make it.
Papa," she said, as she walked
56 LITTLE BERTIE.
along, I know I must not talk
about my dolls and playthings to-
day, but it will not be wrong, will
it, to tell you what mamma was
telling me yesterday? She says
the birds are God's little messen-
gers, doing what God tells them to
do, and so are the snow-flakes in
the winter, and so is the thistle-
down, and so is everything almost.
Papa, I do wish I was a little bird,
and then I could be a little messen-
Do you know what an angel is,
Bertie ? asked papa, which did not
A SUNDAY TALK. 57
seem a bit like answering what
Bertie said, did it?
"An angel, papa?" repeated
Bertie; oh, the angels are beauti-
ful creatures who live in heaven,
and they never do anything
"But I want to tell you the real
meaning of the word, Bertie,"
continued papa. "It means one
who is sent; and we call those
happy beings who live in heaven
angels, because God sends them
on his holy errands. The angels
are God's first and best messengers,
but they are not the only ones.
58 LITTLE BERTIE.
All the beautiful things in the
world which he has made work for
him, as mamma says, do his will.
The birds and the beasts go where
he sends them. So does the sun-
shine; so do the snow and the rain,
the wind and the storm. The
grass and the flowers speak his
messages, if we only would listen
to them. But better still than
these, men and women, and even
little children, may be messengers
"You have what the birds have
not: you have a little heart to love
God with, and little feet to run his
A SUNDAY TALK. 61
errands, and little hands to render
him service. We read in the
Bible how the angels were sent by
God to help his people and com-
fort them; and though we cannot
see them, we believe they are
doing just the same now. So this
is what we must try to do also."
"I should like to do the same
work as the angels, papa," said
"Then, my child, you must try
and look out for little ways in
which to help others. If anybody
you love is in trouble, go and kiss
them, and tell them you love them.
6 2 LITTLE BERTIE.
Love always does good to peo-
ple's hearts. If they are ill, you
can be their hands and feet to get
them what they want. Mamma is
often ill. God sends you as his
little messenger, to cheer and
comfort her. And there is one
more thing I should like to say:
we must not forget that One
higher than the angels was a mes-
senger. God sent his Son, our
Lord Jesus Christ, into the world,
a messenger of mercy to us sin-
ners. He tells us, over and over
again, that' he was sent; and all
his weary life on earth the thought
A SUNDAY TALK. 63
seemed constantly before him that
he was sent. He went about doing
good, and at last he died on the
cross, that through his death our
sins might be forgiven. And now
he sends his Holy Spirit to make
us holy and to guide us to heaven.
If we want to be like Jesus, we
must ask him to send us to do
good to others."
When they got home, Bertie
ran to put mamma a stool for her
feet. Mamma kissed her, and
thanked her; but she did hot
know why she had done it.
And when papa had left his
64 LITTLE BERTIE.
book upstairs, Bertie was off in a
minute to get it without waiting
to be asked. And I do think little
Bertie is trying to be really one of
God's happy little messengers.
Mamma sometimes says her lit-
tle Bertie is like the sunshine;
and what little messengers are
ever so bright or so welcome as