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Stories from English History. i} i.I. i. \W Li:i.
LNDON Ii Akrn;:-I.D SON : .NS, 3. PATERNOSTER BLilLDINIGS.
"CHARITY HOPETH ALL THINGS."
MRS. HENRY B. PAULL,
Author of" The Greatest is Charity," Alabel's School Days,"
LONDON: JARROLD AND SONS,
3, PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS.
Dark Days 7
The Young Invalid 19
The Stranger's Gift 31
The Hospital Surgeon 43
Light in Darkness -
Ethel makes an Effort 67
After Three Years 75
The Errand Boy and the Shopwoman; or, Want ot
Consideration in Little Things (by Mrs. Marshall) S9
,' T ._ "A v ,-- --- 'fr '
( hopcthl all things."
PRETTY cottage stood in a country
village, about twenty miles from Lon-
don, and two from a railway station.
The village was in itself picturesque,
situated on the brow of a hill, with farm
houses scattered here and there in the dis-
tance. On the highest spot stood the old
church, its square Norman tower pointing out
the position of Parkham to passengers by
rail, who travelled in the valley beneath.
The bright May morning sun shone on the
rich pasture lands and rising corn fields; all
8 Ethiel Seymour.
nature looked glad: but the face of the mis-
tress of the cottage wore anything but a
Come, boys," she said, not unkindly, but
fretfully, "get off to school; and you must
take baby with you, and Lizzie. Now mind
you take care of them," she added; I expect
there'll be an accident some day, you boys
are so venturesome now your father's away:
and there's the postman gone by, and no
letter for me. Your father promised to send
the money on Saturday, and this is Monday."
"Perhaps the men weren't paid in time,
mother. Oh, I hope he's all right! and the
bright happy face and voice of Polly Brent,
as she spoke, might have cheered the faintest
Hope yes, anybody can hope; but what's
the use? we never get what we hope for in
this world !"
"Mrs. Seymour said last Sunday at the
bible class, that sometimes it's best for us
when we don't have what we hope for."
"Ah! yes; it's all very fine for folks to talk
who don't know what trouble is!"
"Oh, mother when her two little girls died
of the fever, and Miss Ethel is always ill!"
Dark Days. 9
"Ah! well, they've got money to make up
for it, so it can't be so bad;" but as Jane
Brent spoke, she felt that no money could
make amends for such a trial as Mrs.
Seymour's. She prevented her daughter,
however, from replying, by saying, "Go on
with your sweeping, Polly; there's all those
stockings upstairs to mend, and you'll never
be ready!" and then the mother bustled
about to make her home neater and cleaner,
if possible, than it already was.
Jane Brent was a truly good wife and
mother; she had a kind, industrious husband,
who had been under-gardener at the hall for
many years; but at the death of the squire,
which took place a few weeks before our story
commences, several servants were dismissed,
and among them Dick Brent.
He could have obtained another place
quickly enough in the neighbourhood, but
with much less wages; and Jane, who had
been always expecting evils when but few
happened, could not bear to think of having
to provide for her family on less than she had
been accustomed to.
We shall have to go to the parish, Dick,"
10 Ethel Seymour.
she said. How can we live upon a pound a
Hundreds do," was the reply.
"Oh! well, I can't! it's impossible!" and
the reply made the poor man look forward to
a future of misery; for he knew he must
accept the offered wages or starve.
He was on his way to engage himself when
he met the head gardener at the squire's, who
stopped him, and said,
"Dick, would you like to go to London?
You've heard of the new Crystal Palace
they're building at Sydenham ?"
Yes, Dick had heard of it.
"Well, they're laying out the grounds beau-
tiful, and I heard this morning that they want
more hands; you'd get good wages there,
because you know so much about arranging
flowers. Would you like to go ?"
Oh yes," was the reply, for Dick remem-
bered the mournful forebodings of his wife,
"I should be glad to go, indeed, Somers.
How am I to set about it?"
"I'll arrange all that, and give you a refer-
ence; and if you take it to Sydenham, with
a letter from the rector, you're safe to get
Dark Days. 11
And so in a few days Dick Brent had
obtained work at the Palace grounds, with a
promise to his wife that he would take a cot-
tage in the neighbourhood, and send for her
and the children, if he was likely to be kept
on. But here again he met with discourage-
ments. How should she be able to manage
all those children with him away, and then
to have to leave her home and the rectory,
where she had been housemaid before her
marriage ? and other miserable forebodings,
till at last she was silenced by her husband's
proposal to remain and accept the pound a
So Dick went to London, but with a heavy
heart, for his wife's doleful words destroyed
his own hopes, and damped his usually buoy-
Jane Brent could not be called an irreligious
woman; she was a good wife and mother, and
had learnt enough of the doctrines and pre-
cepts of religion, while housemaid at the
rectory, to know its value, and she trained her
children well. But the precepts of their
father had still stronger influence with them,
because they were enforced by example.
Dick was one of those bright and happy
12 Ethel Seymour.
christians who believe, and carry out their
"Religion never was designed
To make our pleasures less."
But to Jane the idea of religion as a soother
and brightener of earth's sorrows was un-
known. She was like one walking along a
road on a dark night, and never looking up
to see the bright stars shining in the sky.
She knew nothing of the christian's star of
Hope, which can light up the darkest hour in
the night of affliction.
Her eldest daughter, Polly, a bright, sunny
girl of thirteen, who seemed to live in the sun-
light of health and her own happy thoughts,
was, unknown to either mother or child, the
earthly star of hope in that cottage, especially
after her father left it.
On the morning with which our story opens,
she had finished and brightened every article
of furniture in the living room which opened
to the road. She had been upstairs to make
the beds and tidy the rooms, and after
smoothing her dark hair and changing her
dress, she took up the basket of stockings
and came singing down the steep staircase,
thinking only of happiness and joy.
Dark Days. 13
The outer door stood open, and a stream
of sunlight shone in upon the floor. May
blossom and laburnum covered the empty
grate; flowers stood in a jug on the bureau
against the wall, and the cleanliness, bright-
ness, and perfume, made the room a little
Polly sat singing at her work joyfully, for
she was old enough to understand the advan-
tage of her father's new engagement; and she
knew also, that after this first week, he would
be able to afford the journey home from
Saturday to Monday. Alas! how soon were
these hopes to be crushed!
A shadow fell across the broad patch of
sunlight on the floor, and a boy in a strange
dress, with a letter in his hand, stood before
"Does Mrs. Brent live here ?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Polly; but her heart sunk
with sudden fear, as she cried out, in a tone
of alarm, "Mother! you're wanted."
The mother rushed forward at the sound.
She knew the dress; she had heard of mes-
sages coming along wires in an unaccountable
manner, and her face turned quite white as
14 Ethel Seymour.
"Boy, what is it ?"
"A telegraph message for Mrs. Brent," he
replied; "there's nothing to pay. Shall I
wait for an answer ?"
Jane Brent sunk into a chair with the fatal
message in her hand, unable to open it. Polly
looked at her with terror.
"You open it," whispered the boy, "per-
haps it isn't so bad as she thinks."
"Mother, may I open.it ?" she asked in a
There was no reply; but the envelope was
held out to the young girl, and she opened it
and read aloud the alarming news that her
father had met with an accident, and her
mother was to come at once.
"Mother will go to father," said Polly, for
Jane sat rocking herself backwards and for-
wards, and with this the boy left; it seemed
impossible to gain any other answer.
Mother, dear mother !" said Polly, "do try
and hope it isn't very bad: mother, you must
get ready to go to poor father! ", but the
poor woman seemed paralysed, and Polly in
her anxiety thought of her friend Margaret
Without a word, she ran across the road,
Dark Days. 15
and bursting into the cottage, where the
dressmaker sat at work, exclaimed,-
"Oh, Margie, come to mother! father's had
an accident, and she's so frightened she can't
speak to me!"
"Go back to her, Polly dear, I'll come in a
few moments," said Margaret, rising to put
away her work and fetch her bonnet and cloak.
But as soon as she had found herself alone,
Jane Brent seemed all at once to realize what
she had to do. When Polly returned, her
mother was upstairs, and trying, with tremb-
ling fingers, to put on her walking dress.
"Where have you been, Polly? come and
help me. Oh! what will become of us all
"Dear mother, do try to hope!" she said,
as she made her mother sit down, while she
fastened her shawl and tied her bonnet; and
she had scarcely done so, when Margaret
That kind face was enough: hitherto Jane
had not shed a tear; but now they burst forth
as she said,-
"Oh, Margie, Margie if he should die!"
"Hush, hush! dear Jane! he is in God's
hands: while there is life there is hope."
16 Ethel Seymour.
"Hope, hope! it's always hope!" she
sobbed; "what's the use of hope to me?"
Margaret did not reply to this; but she
turned poor Jane's thoughts to another sub-
"I suppose Dick is in London," she said.
"Yes, at the Westminster Hospital; they
sent for me from there."
I thought so; well, I've got a time-table,
and if we make haste we can catch the next
train. I'll go with you, Jane dear; Polly can
take care of the house and the children,
and I've locked up my cottage. Have you
got money enough ?" she added, gently.
"There's a few shillings in the drawer,
Polly," she said, with a flush on her pale
"Well, leave them there," said Margaret,
"I've got enough, and your husband will have
his last week's wages when we get there, I
dare say. Come, are you ready ?"
"Yes," she replied, rising and trying to
check her tears; but she was scarcely able to
stand, and Polly was glad that she had
thought of the kind-hearted dressmaker, who
took her mother's arm, and seemed to give
her some of her own energy and strength.
Darkl Days. 7
Polly struggled to hide her tears, as she
kissed her mother; yet in trembling words
"Don't be afraid, mother dear; I'll take
care of everything, and the children too. Oh,
mother! only hope! if it's God's will, father
will soon get well."
After they were gone, Polly sat down and
had a good cry; but it did not last long; the
clock struck twelve, and she knew the children
would be soon coming home to dinner, and
she must prepare it for them. When it was
ready, and she heard their merry voices ap-
proaching, her heart felt sad at the thought of
having to tell them this sorrow, and she tried
to look as bright as usual; but the first ques-
tion from her brother George, a youth of
twelve, when they sat down to dinner, required
"Where's mother ? he said.
"Mother will be home by-and-bye: I'll tell
you presently, George, you and Jack," and
she glanced at the two little ones, a girl of
five and a little one of three, still called
"baby." Mrs. Brent had lost one girl with
the fever, which deprived the rector of two,
and this loss had increased the fretful hope-
18 Ethel Seymour.
lessness of her character. Poor Jane, she had
never been grateful for mercies she possessed,
and now she was to be taught the true nature
of the Christian's hope, by dark days, and
real, not imaginary, sorrow.
The boys were told of their father's acci-
dent; but nothing was said to the little ones.
How thankful Polly felt at hearing her bro-
ther say, as he left for school after dinner,-
"Don't be uneasy, Polly, I'll take care of
Lizzie and baby, and Jack will help me;
won't you, Jack ?"
"Yes; and I'll be good, Polly dear," said
the rather riotous boy of ten, "now poor
Polly kissed them all, and dried her tears;
then after clearing away the dinner, and
making everything neat, she washed her face
and hands, brushed her hair, put on her hat,
and locking up the cottage carefully, she took
her way to the rectory.
THE YOUNG INVALID.
MONG the various country seats which
dotted the pretty landscape round
Parkham village, there were none so
picturesque as the rectory.
It stood at a very little distance from the
church, and though more modern than that
edifice, the style of the former parsonage had
been preserved, and the trees, orchards, and
gardens were unaltered.
The French window of the morning room
stood open on the bright spring day that
brought such sad news to Jane Brent, and
just within it, on an invalid couch, lay a
young girl of fourteen. Her fair, though
delicate face, clear blue eyes, and soft refined
features, wore the expression that denotes
suffering, but not ill-temper or impatience.
She was alone, anid the eyes brightened as
20 Ethel Seymour.
she looked on the sweet spring landscape
spread out before the window, and by slightly
raising her head, Ethel Seymour could see
beyond the sloping fields into the valley
through which the train wound its way, look-
ing in the distance like one of her brother's
toys. A gentle step, and then a lady ap-
proached the window, and looked out also on
"Is it not a delightful morning, mamma?
and how lovely nature looks in its fresh green
leaves and spring blossoms. Mamma, I feel
as if I could run round the garden, if I
Mrs. Seymour sighed. "Not yet, my dar-
ling," she said; "but Dr. May has great hope
that you will be able to walk this summer
if the weather continues fine."
So he said last spring; but his hopes were
not realized, and now we are hoping again.
Oh, mamma, what should we do without
"What, indeed, my dear, not only for the
future life, but for the present as well; and
yet, as St. Paul says, "if in this world only
we have hope, we are of all men the most
The Young Invalid. 21
Mrs. Seymour's eyes had a look of sadness
as she spoke, for hope of her daughter's
recovery had been deferred painfully. For
two years Ethel had suffered from a spinal
weakness, which confined her to a sofa, or an
invalid reclining chair; but while the body
lay inert, the active mind became matured
and thoughtful; and the thoughts, naturally
concentrated on what she saw, heard, or read,
produced bright and original remarks, which
cheered her friends, especially when the sub-
ject was religion. They felt, that if earthly
hope of her recovery should fail, that hope
was sure beyond the grave.
The garden gate, which opened on a drive
leading to the house, fell to with a crash.
"There are the boys, mamma, as noisy as
ever," she said; "let them come in, please;
their fun does me good."
Along the drive they sped, as if to run was
the only legitimate means of locomotion; but
on seeing their sister, they suddenly checked
voice and step, and advanced to the window.
There was an air of patronage in the tall
youth of sixteen, as he stooped to kiss his
sister and ask her how she was, while little
Edwin, a boy of eight, stationed himself by
22 Ethzel Seymour.
her side, and took her hand, as if he thought
that the consciousness of his presence would
make her happy: and yet it was Harold who
gained the brightest smile as he came chat-
tering up to the window, totally indifferent to
a look of caution from his dark-eyed brother
four years older than himself; but his kiss
was as gentle, as he exclaimed,-
"The top of the morning to you, sister
Ethel! wouldn't this be a jolly day for a run
in the fields ? I declare when I met Dr. May
just now, I couldn't help asking him if you
mightn't walk round the garden to-day."
"Well, and what was his answer?" she
"Oh, he laughed and said, 'Not to-day;
but I hope in a few weeks she will be quite
strong enough.' I almost laughed too at the
word 'hope,' your favourite word. Oh, Ethel!
I believe you keep a little anchor in your
pocket, and call it 'Hope;' they always paint
'Hope' with an anchor."
"Well," she said, "if I'm a ship on a stormy
sea of life, don't you think I ought to have an
"Oh, Ethel, you're coming out; that's a
figure of speech! wouldn't Dr. Merton be
The Young Invalid. 23
pleased! he's always bothering us to find
similes and metaphors and all that; you'd be
at the head of our class in no time."
"Come, my boys," said their mother, "I
must send you away now; dinner will be
ready presently, and those ink-stains want
washing out of the fingers, and the heads are
The boys hastened to obey, and presently
Ethel heard them ascending the stairs with
great strides, Harold's voice above them
Ethel's dinner was sent in to her; but after
taking it she suffered for some time from one
of her painful attacks, which, however, she
bore without complaint; and by the time the
boys had returned to school, it passed off, and
she fell into a calm and refreshing sleep. It
was nearly three o'clock when she awoke, and
found herself alone: the window had been
closed, and she knew that her mother's watch-
ful eye had been near her as she slept. Then
she rang the bell for her maid, for the sun
now shone full upon the side window of the
room, and she could not bear the heat.
"Pull down the blind, and open the French
window, please, Davis;" she said; and then
24 Ethel Seymour.
her quick eye saw Polly Brent coming in at
"There's Polly at the gate," she added;
"bring her in here at once, please, Davis; I
want to speak to her." The servants were all
ready to obey the gentle requests of their
young mistress, and presently Polly, with a
shy smile, stood at the open window, looking
in at the delicate girl, who was to her such a
Come in, Polly, I'm so glad to see you;"
and as Polly obeyed, Ethel held out her hand
and looked earnestly at her; there were
traces of tears on that usually bright face.
"What's the matter, Polly?" and Ethel
drew the girl nearer to her, with a gentle
smile. There was but a difference of six
months in the ages of these girls; but six
years might have more correctly described
the mental superiority of Ethel to her com-
panion. Come, tell me all about it."
Polly's answer was a burst of tears and
sobs, till she suddenly remembered the fre-
quent orders she had received not to excite
Miss Ethel; then she checked herself and
"Oh I beg your pardon, Miss Ethel; oh!
The Young Invalid. 25
if I've hurt you by crying, please send me
away; but I couldn't help it, we've got such
sorrow at home; father's had an accident, he's
in the hospital in London, and mother's gone
But Polly's explanation had made matters
worse: a severe pain caused by the sudden
news made Ethel close her eyes and turn so
pale, that Polly rushed to the bell. "No, no!"
she whispered; and Polly, now thoroughly
alarmed, stood by the sofa looking at her
But Ethel, as the pain passed away, did not
forget her friend; her heart arose in prayer
that she might have strength to listen and
wisdom to advise the young girl in her
"Don't be alarmed, Polly," she said, pre-
sently, opening her eyes with a smile, I'm
all right now; get a chair and sit down, and
tell me all about it. I can listen now, you
need not fear."
Polly began cautiously: "You know father
went to a new situation in London last week,
Miss Ethel, and he was to have such good
wages, and mother was expecting a letter
from him this morning with some money, and
26 Ethel Seymour.
it didn't come; that made her so miserable.
But I kept on hoping and hoping it would be
all right; but, instead of that, a boy came
with such a strange letter-he called it a
"Was it a telegraph message, Polly?"
"Yes, that was it! and oh, Miss Ethel, it
was to tell mother of poor father's accident,
and that she was to come and see him
"And is she gone?" asked Ethel, who
feared the worst from this telegram.
"Yes, Miss Ethel, and Margaret Ward is
gone with her. I don't think she could have
gone by herself, she did cry and tremble so."
"Poor thing!" said Ethel to herself; then
she said aloud, "and so, Polly, you came to
"No, Miss, I meant to tell Mrs. Seymour
first, only you sent for me."
"Yes, dear Polly, it's all right; I'm glad I
did now, for I dare say you were beginning
to be afraid that your father might die, and
you lost all hope."
"Yes, Miss Ethel, indeed I did, for I felt so
unhappy, and after the children were gone to
school, I thought I would come and see you.
The Young Invalid. 27
I try to hope father may not die; but if he
does, then it's just what mother said, it's no
use to hope at all."
"Polly," said Ethel, "don't you know there
are two sorts of hope ?"
"Yes, Miss Ethel, you told me once before
about true and false hope."
"And I told you that true hope must have
a foundation, Polly; what is it ?"
"I don't remember, exactly," she replied;
"please tell me again, Miss Ethel, will you?
perhaps mine is a false hope after all, for I
cannot help hoping things will come right,
and I don't know why."
"Ah! yes, Polly, there are many people
in the world who are so hopeful in their
natures, that they never try to make things
better, but let them go on any way, and live
on hope; but that's not the hope spoken of
in the Bible."
Oh, Miss Ethel, I'm afraid I'm like those
people, and mother's just the other way."
"Then, Polly, you are both wrong; now
tell me, when troubles come, what ought we
to do ?"
"Pray to God to help us; but does He
always answer our prayers? I know father
28 Ethel Seymour.
prayed that my little sister mightn't die of
the fever; but you know, Miss Ethel, she did
God does not answer our prayers just as
we wish always," said Ethel, "because He
knows what is best for us; but now, suppose
when you had that message to-day, that your
mother had knelt down and prayed for help
in her trouble, don't you think it would have
given you hope?"
"I think so," Miss Ethel.
"Ah! Polly, then you are not sure! now
I'll tell you what papa taught me one day,
about a verse in the thirteenth chapter of the
First of Corinthians. There is my Bible on
the table; find it, Polly, and read from the
first verse till I stop you."
Polly obeyed her young teacher, and read
till she came to the words, "believeth all
things, hopeth all things."
"That's the verse, Polly; charity, which
means love, believeth all things-that's faith;
hopeth all things-that's hope: therefore the
foundation of true hope is faith, because if we
believe that God can and will help us, we
can't help hoping that He will do so if we
The Young Invalid. 29
"Oh, Miss Ethel, I think I can understand
that, and when I kneel down to-night and
pray that Gpd will make father well, I'm sure
I shall believe that He can do it, and that
will give me hope."
"You must hope that He will do all for the
best, whatever He does," replied Ethel, "even
if not in the way that you wish; and in all
your prayers, you must never omit to say
'Thy will be done.' And then, Polly, this is
only hoping for earthly good; we may be
disappointed in this; but if we have a true
hope through Jesus Christ for the future after
death, that can never fail. And now, dear
Polly, look at the clock; if you do not get
home quickly, the children will be home be-
Polly started up. "Oh, Miss Ethel! I'm
afraid I've let you talk too much; but it's
made me feel so much happier what you've
said, and I'll try to remember it, and I'm so
glad I came."
Ethel held out her hand, and as Polly took
it, she drew her near and kissed the healthy
brown cheek, whispering, And I shall pray
for you all too, Polly, and I'm sure papa and
30 Et/el Seymour.
With what renewed hope did the troubled
girl leave her youthful teacher and run to-
wards the village to meet her brothers and
sister returning from school.
THE STRANGER'S GIFT.
EANWHILE, Jane and her friend
walked hastily on towards the station,
which they reached in time for the
On their way to London, Margaret heard
the whole sad story in broken, despairing
accents, from the troubled woman. She tried
to cheer her with kind and hopeful words, but
all to no use; and when at about two o'clock
they arrived at the Westminster Hospital, she
was in such a state of nervous excitement,
that a composing draught had to be given her
before she could be allowed to see her suffer-
ing husband. Even as it was, the interview
was quickly put an end to, although the bright
and hopeful spirit of Dick Brent made him
try to soothe her in spite of his pain.
Margaret got her away at last, and took an
32 Ethel Seymour.
omnibus to the Victoria Station, for she
seemed quite unable to walk. Besides Jane
and her friend, there were only two passengers,
a lady who sat on the same side as themselves
near the door, and a gentleman in the corner
farthest from it, and nearly opposite the
trembling woman and Margaret.
"Don't be so down-hearted, Jenny," said
the latter; "only think what care and atten-
tion your husband will have .at the hospital,
and all those clever gentlemen to tend him."
"Yes, I know," she sobbed; "but see how
bad he's hurt, and I declare I don't know how
it happened; I couldn't hear a word they
"Oh, poor fellow, it was nobody's fault: he
was passing a pile of boards with a ladder on
his shoulder, and he knocked one out of its
place, and it fell on his leg and crushed it."
"Oh! he'll die! he'll die! I know he will;
and what will become of me and the children!
even if he gets well, he'll never work any
more; and I shall have only a few shillings
left, Margie, after I've paid what we owe for
last week;" and the poor woman buried her
face in her hands, and sobbed bitterly.
The lady near the door could only now and
The Stranger's Gift. 33
then hear a word, for the women spoke in a
low tone, but she could see by the gentleman's
manner that he noticed all they said, although
they were evidently unconscious of it.
At length, as the omnibus neared the sta-
tion, Jane became quieter and checked her
tears, as she leaned her head against the
corner, and tried to restrain her sobs.
"My good woman !" and the voice, though
gentle and kind in its tone, startled the three
passengers; "God forgive you if you are
making up a tale of sorrow; but I will not
suspect you of such deceit. There's some-
thing to pay for your journey, and to help
you in your trouble."
"Oh, sir! sir!" and the excited woman
started up, and threw herself on her knees
before her benefactor. Oh, sir! indeed it's
all true; and God will bless you for this
"There, there," he said, nervously, "that
will do, get up; if this teaches you to re-
member to hope always, I want no further
The omnibus stopped as he spoke, and
moving quickly, he was on the steps and out
of sight before the two women and the lady,
34 Ethel Seymour.
who had seen the occurrence, could recover
from their surprise.*
The May evening was rather chilly, and
Polly Brent, with thoughtful care for her
mother, removed the flowers from the grate,
lit a fire, and prepared tea and supper.
The youngest children were in bed, and
Polly and her two brothers, whom she kept
up for company, sat talking about what had
happened, sadly, yet hopefully.
"Here they come!" said little Jack, and
jumping up, he opened the door for the tra-
vellers. Mrs. Brent, tired with the journey
and the excitement, sunk into a chair, while
Polly quickly removed her bonnet and shawl,
soothing her gently. Then, still talking
pleasantly, she made some tea, boiled the
eggs, and drew her mother's chair near the
fire, for indeed she seemed to have no life left
"I'll go home now," said Margaret, when
she saw her friend in such good hands.
"Won't you stay and have something,
Margie ?" said Polly.
No, no," and she looked mysterious.
"Good night, Jane; keep up your spirits, you
This incident happened in the presence of the writer.
The Stranger's Gift. 35
are safe enough with Polly. God bless you,
and help you all in your trouble. Oh, Jane!
try to trust Him! I'll come in to-morrow,"
she whispered, as Polly let her out; "you
must pray for her."
"Yes, oh, yes, I will," was the reply; and
then the good Samaritan returned to her
lonely home to light a fire, and prepare her
own supper, rather than touch a fraction of
her friend's scanty fare in this hour of trouble.
After her supper, Mrs. Brent was quite
ready to repeat her tale of sorrow to the
three children, who, young as they were,
could understand their mother's great trouble.
"And did you see poor father?" asked
"Ah! yes, indeed I did! and, Polly, the
surgeon says his poor crushed leg must be cut
off, and I'm sure he'll die; and even if he
does not, he can never do any more work.
There, go to bed, boys," she continued, as she
observed George's white face, and Jack's
tears; but George rose, and putting his arms
round his mother, he said,-
"Mother, don't fret; Polly and me will
work for you, and poor father too: we've
been been talking about it to-night."
36 Ethel Seymour.
"You're a good boy," she said, "but you
can't do much. No, I must bear my trouble
alone," and her tears burst out afresh.
Go to bed, George and Jack," whispered
Polly; "leave mother with me now, she'll be
The two boys obeyed; in silence they
kissed their mother, and went upstairs quietly
to bed. But the faith and hope excited in
Polly's heart by Ethel's words seemed crushed
out at first by the account of her father's
danger. It was not till she went and stood
by her mother and heard her say,-
"There's nothing to hope for now, is there,
child ?" that she was able to say, in low
tones, that penetrated to her mother's heart,-
"Mother, I've seen Miss Ethel to-day, and
told her all, and she says, that unless we
believe and pray, it's no use to hope that God
will help us."
"I dare say Miss Ethel would call what
happened to-day a reason for hoping," she
"What happened, mother? "
"Why, look here, child, a gentleman in the
omnibus heard me telling Margie all about
my trouble. I'm sure I was crying so, and
The Stranger's Gift. 37
not speaking at all loud. I hardly saw him
till he spoke so kindly, and gave me a sover-
eign; and there's all this left," and she spread
nineteen shillings on the table.
Oh, mother Oh, how kind! exclaimed
Polly; "now I am sure God will take care of
us; and we must pray, and hope, and leave it
to Him to do what is best for us."
"Your father talked just the same to-day,"
said Jane, "but I wouldn't listen; I ain't
hopeful like him and you."
I wish you could hear Miss Ethel talk
about all these things, mother said Polly.
"Well, perhaps I'll go up to the rectory
again some day; but it makes me so miser-
able to see that sweet young lady lying there
so helpless, and hoping to get well; but she
"Oh, don't say that, mother, you don't
"Ah! well, it's no use talking of other
people's troubles when mine are so bad; and
I'm tired, Polly, so let us put out the fire and
go to bed; I'll try and sleep and forget my
trouble for a little while if I can."
Shall we hear how poor father gets on,
mother ?" asked Polly.
38 Ethel Seymour.
"Oh, yes, they've promised to send me
word if he's worse; but, Polly, dear, don't
make me think of it; I can do no good, and
it will keep me awake all night."
How Polly did long to see her mother
kneel and pray for help and comfort! With-
out prayer she knew there could be no true
hope: but Jane Brent had not yet learnt this
lesson; and she threw off her clothes, and
sunk exhausted with fatigue and excitement
on her pillow without one thought of a pitying
Quietly, in her own little room, with her
sleeping sister and the baby, Polly knelt and
prayed for the help and hope which her
mother forgot to ask for.
To a certain extent Jane was better next
morning; she was one of those women who
revel in neatness and order, and while cleaning
and dusting, almost forgot her sorrow.
Polly had seated herself to work and think,
and her usually bright face looked even pale,
as the rector of Parkham entered the cottage;
she rose, and with a start curtsied to the
visitor, and ran to call her mother. Jane was
at the moment changing her dress, and the
haste she made, and the excitement, caused
The Stranzgei's Gift. 39
her to enter the room looking so pale and
trembling that his deepest compassion was
"Oh, sir! have you heard of my dreadful
"Yes, Jane, and very grieved I am to hear
such news; but sit down, and presently you
shall tell me all about it."
The rector was, perhaps, not so childlike
in his explanations of religious truth as his
daughter; but he had a kind, fatherly way,
which encouraged people to open their hearts
to him, and he would slip in a word of advice,
or a suitable text, now and then, without
seeming to preach.
After listening to the mournful tale, told
in Jane's saddest tone, he took out his tablets,
and writing down one or two particulars, he
said, "I shall be in London to-morrow, Jane,
and I'll go to the hospital and see your hus-
"Oh, sir, thank you if he's well enough,
he'll be so glad to see you; but I don't expect
"Did not the gentleman you have just spo-
ken of, who gave you the sovereign, tell you
to 'hope always ?'" he said, with a smile.
40 Ethel Seymour.
"Yes, sir, he did; but I don't think by the
looks of the doctors that there can be much
hope for poor Dick! and I've made up my
mind that he'll die; and then, what have I
got to hope for ?"
"You have your children, Jane, and God
never forgets the widow and the fatherless;
He has told us that in the Bible."
"Yes, sir!" cried Jane; but these words
realized her fears, and increased her despair;
" How can I work for all these children and
bring them up respectably by myself? Oh,
sir! and the tears burst forth as she spoke,
" I'm sure there's no hope if he dies we shall
have to go to the parish!" and she leaned
back in her chair and sobbed bitterly. The
rector waited-he would not check these
tears; and at last she roused herself, and dry-
ing her eyes, hastily exclaimed, "Oh, sir! I
beg your pardon; but hope seems all dead in
"The Bible calls hope the anchor of the
soul, sure and steadfast;' but that is the
Christian's hope, and its foundation is faith
"Well, sir, I'll try to be hopeful; but it's
The Stranger's Gift. 41
Of course it is, Jane; and we will all pray
for you in your trouble; and may He, who
has sent you this sorrow, lead you to hope in
His mercy and pity."
"Thank you, sir! and I'm glad you're
going to see my poor husband; and you'll
please send me word how he is."
"I'll come myself," he said; "and, Jane, do
you remember reading in the 'Pilgrim's Pro-
gress,' that Christian's strongest weapon, in
the Valley of the Shadow of Death, was
'All prayer,' and that he met Hopeful soon
Polly's eyes brightened as the rector re-
ferred to her favourite book, and after he left
she turned to her mother, and said, "Oh,
mother, let me read to you about that by-
In a day or two, when Mr. Seymour re-
turned from. London, he called and en-
deavoured gently to raise hope in the poor
woman's heart. The limb had been ampu-
tated, and Brent's patient, hopeful spirit was
in his favour ; but nothing could cheer the
desponding woman. There was no occasion
to prepare her for expecting the worst; she
seemed to make up her mind that her hus-
42 -Ettel Seymour.
band would die, and with him all future hope
for her and her children.
I fear," said the rector that evening to his
wife, "that Jane will become utterly reckless
if Brent should die."
"No, papa," said a gentle voice from the
sofa, "God has sent her a real trouble this
time, because she has made troubles of no-
thing, and she has always had her husband to
depend upon; and don't you think this will
teach her to depend upon Him ?"
"I will hope and pray for such a result,"
replied her father.
THE HOSPITAL SURGEON.
ELL, Ethel, my dear, I'm come to see
you at last;" and the speaker re-
strained the heavy footfall of his
boots as he approached her couch.
"Oh, uncle Henry! how glad I am! I
heard Neptune barking, and I wondered
whose arrival he was welcoming so joyously."
"Yes, good old dog, he knows my old phiz
well; but you are better, I can see."
"Indeed she is, uncle," cried Harold, who
had followed the visitor into the room, "and
we wanted her to get up this morning and go
out for a spree!"
"Spree, indeed!" laughed uncle Henry,
who saw the bright look on the pale face at
Harold's fun; "and here comes your mother,
young gentleman; so I advise you, in your
favourite phraseology, to 'make yourself
44 Ethe! Seymour.
"Oh isn't that jolly, Ethel!" cried the boy,
as he turned to go, "uncle Henry talking
slang; I must chalk it up! "
"The rattle of that boy doesn't worry you,
Ethel, I can see that," said her uncle, who
noticed her amused face; "but now we must
be quiet for a while, as I want to make a little
examination of your symptoms ;" and then
he raised her gently in his strong arms, and
made one or two experiments to ascertain
whether the power of muscle was increased
or what amount of pain his touch caused.
He did not, however, wait for a cry to prove
the presence of pain; he knew the power of
endurance in his niece, and he watched her
face for involuntary signs.
After all, his opinion was so favourable
that he proposed a visit to the sea-side and
sea-bathing in the autumn; and cheered her
mother's heart by well-founded hopes of her
"Now, mamma, a glass of wine; and then
I must leave our patient to rest a little while:
we shall meet again after dinner."
Ethel was not sorry, for her uncle's exami-
nation had exhausted her; but her mother
remained and watched her, till she fell into a
The Hospital Surgeon. 45
peaceful sleep. She awoke refreshed; and
after dinner her chair was wheeled into the
drawing-room, where, during dessert, her
brothers rivalled each other in their attentions
Ethel's chair was placed near the window;
yet the view, though extensive, was not so
pleasing to her as that from the morning
room ; but her thoughts were quickly diverted
from the view by her uncle Henry, who came
and seated himself near her, and after a few
enquiries about herself, said,-
"You have a family of the name of Brent
living in the village, I believe!"
"Oh, yes, uncle !" cried Ethel, half rising in
her eagerness ; "do you know them ?"
"I have seen the father, poor fellow! I
was present when his leg was amputated, and
I never saw a more patient, hopeful sufferer
in my life."
Oh, then it must be poor Dick Brent! and
I know his wife and children quite well."
"You do, eh! how do you manage that
while you are lying down all day long?"
Uncle I do not lie here all day long! I
often go into the village in my chair to talk
to Jane Brent; and the eldest girl, Polly, is in
46 Etlel Seymour.
mamma's Bible class. Oh, poor Jane! do
you think her husband will die ?"
"While there is life there is hope, Ethel!
but my hopes for the poor man are not very
If he dies, I'm afraid Jane will die too, for
she is a most desponding woman," replied
"I've seen the wife also," he said presently;
"I met her in an omnibus going from the
Westminster Hospital to the station; she
seemed almost frantic, as she talked to a
woman who was with her; and when I saw
the husband, I remembered what she had
said, and knew it must be the same."
"Yes, uncle," said Ethel, her eyes filling
with tears, "and now I know the name of the
dear good gentleman in the 'bus, who gave
Jane Brent a sovereign, and told her to 'hope
The experienced hospital surgeon, the man
of thirty-five, who wished to follow our
Saviour's rule, "not to let our left hand know
what our right hand doeth," blushed at his
niece's discovery; but he merely said,-
"I am glad to find the woman was no im-
postor ; are they very poor? "
The Hospital Surgeon. 47
"They have never known real poverty,"
said Mrs. Seymour; "Brent has been for
many years under gardener at the Hall, till
the squire died; their cottage is well fur-
nished, and the man has brought up his chil-
dren well: Jane is a most careful wife and
mother, but she has never earned anything
towards their maintenance."
Brent was working at Sydenham, was he
"Yes, poor fellow!" said the rector; "he
had just completed his first week's work : cer-
tainly it is a terrible trial for the wife, and if
he sinks from this accident, I can scarcely tell
what will become of the family, for Jane
seems inclined to be as reckless as she is
"Papa," said Ethel, gently, "God will order
it all for the best, and besides, dear Polly has
hope enough for them all; I depend upon her
to keep the rest from sinking: and we can do
so much for her, even if her mother gives
way, don't you think so, papa? Polly is only
six months younger than I am, and if God
helps those who help themselves, I'm sure He
will help her."
"Hopeful as ever, my darling," said her
48 Ethel Seymour.
father; "well, your uncle is going to see Mrs.
Brent presently, for the Company have pro-
mised to let her have a pound a week for a
few weeks, till we see how matters go with
the poor man."
"Oh, uncle! how kind! that news in itself
must cheer Jane; and I'm sure you will be
able to do anything with her, for she always
speaks of you as that blessed gentleman."
"Well, then, I'll go at once," he said, rising.
"I shall be back before your tea is ready," he
added, looking at his watch; "and it's now or
never, for I must leave early to-morrow."
Mrs. Brent was busy in the kitchen, and
Polly, after putting her little sister and
brother to bed, had gone to fetch the boys
from the village green, when Dr. Huntley
tapped with his stick at the cottage door.
Hastily wiping her hands, Jane went to open
it, and curtsied at the sight of a strange
How do you do, Mrs. Brent ?" he said.
"I saw your husband at the hospital yester-
day, and I thought you would like to hear
how he is."
But while he spoke, memory recalled to
Jane the face and voice of the kind stranger
The Hospital Surgeon. 49
in the omnibus; she scarcely noticed a word
he said, but with a flushed face she exclaimed,
Oh, sir! you are that kind gentleman who
helped me in my trouble. Oh, sir! please to
walk in, I'm so glad to be able to thank you
"I have had thanks enough," he said, as he
entered and took the chair she placed for
him; "sit down, Mrs. Brent, and let me tell
you about your husband."
Poor Jane looked pale now, but he went on
quickly, but gently-
"I am one of the hospital surgeons, and I
saw Brent yesterday; he is not worse, but I
think it is right to tell you that there is
"Oh, sir! is he dying? may I go to him?"
and she rose from her chair in haste.
"No, no, sit still; you shall be sent for im-
mediately if a change for the worse takes
place; I only want to prepare you for what
"There's no occasion, sir," she said, "I've
expected it all along; I believe he'll die; I
have never had a bit of hope about him; and
then I and the children must go to the parish."
That would be a sad result after you have
50 Ethel Seymour.
lived here in such comfort and respectability
for so many years."
"I know, sir, but it can't be helped; it's no
fault of mine; I always took care of my hus-
band's earnings, and saved some for a rainy
day; but if it hadn't been for your help, sir, I
don't know what I should have done, for my
savings won't last long."
"Well, Mrs. Brent, I feared this would be
the case, so I saw one of the Directors of the
Company yesterday, who employed your
husband, and they have agreed to allow you a
pound a week till he gets well." The kind-
hearted surgeon hesitated as he spoke, for
poor Brent's ultimate recovery, as he knew,
was very doubtful. "At all events," he con-
tinued, "you will receive that sum for a few
weeks till we see what can be done; and
there is the first payment," and he laid a
sovereign on the table as he spoke.
"Oh, sir Oh, how can I thank you enough
for your kindness, and the Company too, sir!
I don't know how to show you my gratitude !"
"You must try to prove it by being hopeful
and trustful in Him who has sent this afflic-
tion," he replied, rising. "He has wounded,
and He can heal!"
The Hospilta S ugeon. 51
"I know it, sir, and I wish I could feel it,"
she replied; "but it's very hard."
"Yes, yes, it is," he said, but her despond-
ency sealed his lips; he had not the heart to
tell her the worst, and he wished her good
bye, with a sad foreboding of the future.
At a few steps from the door he met Polly
and the boys; something in the girl's face
reminded him of her father.
"Is your name Brent?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," and Polly curtsied low in sur-
prise at seeing such a visitor leaving her
"Oh, well, ask your mother to spare you
for an hour to-morrow to go up and see Miss
Ethel Seymour, she has something to tell
Polly answered with another curtsey; in-
deed he hardly waited for a reply, as he passed
on with rapid strides, saying to himself, "The
mother is saturated over head and ears with
the mud of the slough of despond, but the
girl looks bright and hopeful like her poor
father, in the midst of his pain; she will be
the one to break the news to her mother."
As he turned out of sight, Polly, with eager
steps, entered the cottage, exclaiming,-
52 Ethel Seymour.
"Mother, what gentleman was that who
came out of the cottage and spoke to me just
now, and told me to go and see Miss Ethel
"Did he tell you that ? then I suppose he
knows the family. It's the gentleman who
gave me the sovereign in the omnibus."
Oh, mother! I wish I'd been at home!
and to think that he should know Miss Ethel!
isn't it wonderful ? "
Well, perhaps it is; but I don't see that
it's any good for us after all; he doesn't give
me much hope about your poor father; but
don't stand there, child, get the supper ready,
and I'll tell you all he said, presently."
Polly obeyed, but her heart beat with ex-
citement and wonder at the thought that this
gentleman, who had helped her mother, should
know all about Miss Ethel, and her father too.
Who could it be ?
When Dr. Huntley entered the drawing-
room at the rectory, Ethel saw at once the
cloud on his brow.
"Uncle," she said, I'm afraid your visit to
Mrs. Brent has not proved satisfactory."
"You little witch!" he replied, laughing;
"where did you learn to read faces so well? "
The Hospital Surgeon. 53
"From daily observation," she replied,
smiling. "I suppose it is because I have no
active employment; for in my rides to the
village, I never meet a face without trying to
read even the thoughts of its owner."
"Upon my word, young lady, you must be
rather dangerous company to associate with;
but I'll own you are right this time, Ethel. I
am not satisfied with my interview with Mrs.
Brent; she is one of those women, who, with-
out energy or hope to support them in diffi-
culties, are destitute of religious principle,
which can alone supply that deficiency."
"You are mistaken on the latter point,
Henry," said the rector; "at least, so far as
knowledge is concerned. Jane Brent's religion
is true and sincere, but she acts with the con-
solation it offers, as a patient of yours might
do. He might hold the remedy in his hand
and say,' This is a wonderful remedy which
Dr. Huntley has offered me; I have heard
those who have tried it say that it relieves
from pain, and very often removes the disease.'
'Well,' says a listener, 'then why don't you
apply it to yourself?' 'Oh, I'm afraid it will
not suit my case; there is no hope for me; I
know I shall die, so I may as well give up
54 Ethel Seynmou.
trying remedies!' and thus believing, as the
patient says he does, in the efficacy of the
medicine, he yet lays it aside, and continues
to suffer and complain, making everybody
"Oh, papa!" said Ethel, "what a good
simile; you have described Mrs. Brent
"And if I may be allowed to illustrate
great things by small," said Dr. Huntley,
" even as I should use physical force to make
my insane patient submit to my remedy, so I
have no doubt our Heavenly Father sends
more severe trials and sorrows to His wayward
children, till they at last find how powerless is
earthly hope to secure comfort or consolation."
"But, uncle," said Ethel, "do you fear
greater trials for Mrs. Brent ?"
"Yes, my dear Ethel, I do fear; a letter was
at the post-office for me, which I called for as
I passed on my way to Mrs. Brent's cottage,
and I find that the hopes of Brent's recovery
are more faint than ever; but I could not tell
his wife. Ethel, my dear, I have left it to
you; I saw she was not in a fit state to bear
even a suspicion of his death, although she
professes to expect it."
The Hospital Surgeon. 55
"Poor Jane! it will be a terrible trial to
her," said Ethel, "for if he dies, she has no
self-reliance. And Uncle Henry, how am I to
tell her ? Oh! I am afraid I cannot."
No, my dear child," said her uncle,
coming over to her side, and laying his hand
gently on the soft, golden hair, "I would not
impose such a task upon you; but when
leaving the cottage, I came upon that bright
girl, Polly Brent, you spoke of, and I've told
her to come and see you to-morrow; and if
you talk to her, and prepare her for the worst,
I expect she is more likely to influence her
mother than anyone."
"But, perhaps poor Brent won't die after
all," said Ethel.
Well, my dear, there is just the old proverb
to fall back upon-' While there is life there is
hope;' but even if the poor man recovers, he
will never be able to work at his trade again,
and that will be even worse for his wife and
Uncle !" said Ethel, after a pause; we are
forgetting papa's simile; don't let us hold the
remedy in our hands and refuse to use it: I
mean to 'hope all things.' Oh, uncle! I
remember so well when I was first taken ill,
56 Ethel Seymour.
and the doctors told me I might never run
about and play any more, how sad and
unhappy I was Then you came to examine
me, and I watched your face, but' you did not
look more hopeful than the rest. But after-
wards you sat by my side and talked to me
about hope, and read me a part of Melville's
Sermon on the Ancestry of Hope, from that
wonderful text in the Epistle to the Romans-
'Tribulation worketh patience, and patience
experience, and experience, hope.' Uncle, you
told me you had heard that sermon, and I
have never forgotten what you said. I used to
feel that God had sent me tribulation, and I
hoped it would make me patient, and then
I should have experience and hope; and I
think I have hope," she added, in a low tone.
Mrs. Seymour rose and went to the window;
her daughter's bright, hopeful character had
taught her not to despond, but her words
brought tears which she strove to hide.
Dr. Huntley pressed the hand of his niece
as it lay by her side, but nobody spoke till
What a lovely sunset! Ah mamma! if
nothing else could make us hopeful, we might
see in Nature how the promise of God is
The Hospital Surgeon. 57
fulfilled when He said, 'While the earth
remaimeth, seed-time and harvest, summer and
winter, cold and heat, day and night, shall not
cease.' If the farmer did not hope for the
spring and summer, how could he bury the
seed in the ground with so much confidence ?
Oh, uncle Henry, I mean to be like Charity,
in the thirteenth of Corinthians, I mean to
hope all things."
"And now, my dear Ethel must not talk
any more," said her uncle, or I shall order my
patient to bed."
"Uncle, I am dumb for the rest of the
evening !" said Ethel, with a smile.
LIGHT IN DARKNESS.
THEL Seymour lay, as usual, the next
morning, in her reclining chair, near
the French window of the morning
room. The June sunshine was softened
by fleecy clouds, and a gentle breeze, from the
open window, fanned the pale cheek of the
young girl, whose eyes were closed to outer
objects ; but her heart was uplifted in prayer,
that she might have suitable words in which
to tell the light-hearted Polly what sorrow
might happen to her. The door of the room
opened, and her mother appeared, bringing the
morning cup of beef tea for her daughter.
"Don't excite yourself too much, dearest,"
said Mrs. Seymour, "in talking to Polly."
"Oh, no, mamma, don't fear! I am not
trusting to my own strength."
Mrs. Seymour stooped and kissed the broad
Light in Darkness. 59
forehead of her daughter; and as she left her
again alone, the words were recalled to her
mind, My strength shall be made perfect in
After her mother left her, Ethel lay with
her eyes fixed on the garden gate nearest the
village, and presently the bright rosy face of
Polly appeared, timidly looking towards the
window as if waiting for the signal to come in.
Ethel beckoned her forward, and as she
entered the room, her bright healthy presence
seemed to bring new life to the invalid.
Are you well enough to see me, Miss
Ethel ?" she said, for the young girl's paleness
startled her ; "the gentleman that came to see
mother yesterday told me to come."
"Oh, yes, Polly, I expected you; that
gentleman, Dr. Huntley, is my uncle Henry,
and mamma's brother."
"Oh, Miss Ethel, how strange! and to
think that he should be a surgeon and see
poor father at the hospital; but that's not all,
Miss Ethel, he's the gentleman that gave
mother a sovereign in the omnibus without
knowing her a bit."
"Uncle Henry does kind things quietly
often, Polly; no one can tell how much good
60 Ethel Seymour.
he does, for he never talks about it; but now
tell me what he said to your mother yesterday
about your father; when did he think he
would get well ?"
Mother says she doesn't think he ever will
be well again," said Polly, with a frightened
look, for Ethel spoke gravely: Does Dr.
Huntley say he will die ? and her eyes were
full of tears as she spoke.
My uncle could not say that, Polly; but I
am afraid he fears it: and even while we hope
for the best, we ought to prepare for the
The roses faded from the girl's cheek and
the light from her eyes; but checking her
tears, she said, "Oh, Miss Ethel! I have
prayed every day that poor father might get
well; and now if he should die! what will
mother and all of us do ?" and then Polly
fairly broke down and sobbed bitterly.
Ethel did not try to check the tears; and
at length, Polly remembering Mrs. Seymour's
injunction, not to excite the invalid, suddenly
subdued her sobs, exclaiming, "Oh, Miss
Ethel I am so sorry! but I couldn't help it !"
No, poor Polly! of course you could not! "
and the thin soft hand was laid on the girl's
Lzight in Darkness. 6r
plump brown one, with a touch of the tenderest
pity; "and now suppose you dry your eyes,
and let us talk of what is best to do."
Polly drew the low stool closer to her
friend's chair, and her face brightened as she
looked up at her young teacher, who still held
the brown hand in her own.
"Polly," said Ethel, "don't you think God
has been very kind to you all your life ? you
have lived for more than thirteen years in the
world with your father and mother and
brothers and sisters, in a happy and respect-
able home, with plenty to eat and drink and
clothes to wear, and when I lost two little
sisters, you only lost one with the fever; and
then, Polly, think how healthy you all are!
Why I have heard your father say, he had
never had the doctor in his house for illness
since he was married, except for the fever."
"Oh, yes, I know that's true, Miss Ethel, and
I believe I've never been thankful at all for
being able to run about as I do, not even
when I've seen you lying here."
Perhaps not, Polly, for when things go well
and straight, we forget to thank God for His
mercies, and now He may be sending sorrow
and trial to your poor mother, to make her
62 Etiel Seymour.
think more of Him. There will be great
trouble for you all, even if your father gets
well, for he will never be able to work again as
a gardener, and perhaps it may be months
before he's able to earn anything. Don't look
so unhappy, dear Polly," said the young lady,
pressing the hand she held, I am only telling
you all this that you may be your mother's
greatest hope and helper; you and George are
old enough to work for yourselves now; and
Polly, however hopeful we are, it ought not to
make us sit idle and fret when troubles come,
or to say things are sure to go wrong."
"I'm sure I'm quite ready to do all I can,
Miss Ethel, if I only knew how, and so will
George, I am sure; he told mother he would
work for her."
"Then, Polly, I've no fear; for if you wish
to work, there will be plenty of friends, beside
uncle and papa, who will show you how."
And then, after a few more kind words, Ethel
said, "And now Polly, go home and try and
cheer up your mother with hope for the
future. I know it's a hard task, dear Polly;
but God will help you if you pray to Him,
and you know there is no real hope without
Light in Darkness. 63
"I'll do all I can, Miss Ethel," said the girl,
rising to go.
"I know you will, Polly, and if you can
cheer your mother, how bright your hope will
be You must not attempt to preach or talk
to her; but if she sees you industrious,
and patient, and hopeful, that will cheer her,
and she will learn to think that the
Christian's hope is worth something after all.
Good bye, dear Polly, and may God give you
all strength and hope to bear up under any
sorrow He pleases to send."
And then with a kiss and a sigh that she
should have so sobered that bright, happy face,
Ethel sent Polly home.
The warning and the preparation came not
an hour too soon. Another telegram sum-
moned Jane Brent to London; a change for
the worse had taken place, and the sufferer
was sinking rapidly; so rapidly, indeed, that
Jane could not reach London in time for her
husband's last words.
Dr. Huntley was with him, however, and
readily promised to deliver to his wife and
children the messages from the dying husband
and father. The surgeon's presence was a
great comfort to poor Brent, and when his
64 Eltel Seymour.
weakness permitted, he would talk about
home, and the future of those he was going to
leave behind. Dr. Huntley mentioned Ethel's
hopes for them.
"Ah! sir," he said, "she's one of God's
angels. I remember how she used to talk to
me when I drew her in her chair on a Saturday
afternoon, and while she made me rest at the
top of the hill. It was Miss Ethel who taught
me the difference between true and false hope,
for I've been a hopeful fellow all my life.
Ah! sir, when this accident happened, I hoped
it would all end well."
"And can you not say that even now, my
poor fellow ?" said the surgeon.
"Yes, sir, it must end well, for it is God's
will ; and I can trust my poor wife and children
to Him now, but at first it was a hard matter.
Sir, how can I help trusting Him, when He
has already sent us such kind friends ? "
And strong in the christian's hope for both
worlds, poor Dick Brent died calmly and
Dr. Huntley was rather apprehensive of a
scene when he found himself called upon to
tell the wife she was a widow; but the woman,
so hopeless and desponding, appeared struck
Ligkt in Darkness. 65
dumb at this realization of her fears. She
listened in silence to the surgeon's consoling
words. She heard him speak of the funeral,
and the intention of the Company to pay the
expenses, without emotion; and received from
him the money for the two weeks they had
promised her without thanks. Only when
they led her to the bed, on which lay the
remains of her husband, did she give way to
grief. But this soon passed off, and she left
the hospital to return home, feeling as if a
blank had fallen upon her life, and all hope
for the future were crushed in her heart.
Dr. Huntley wrote to his sister, Mrs.
"Poor Brent must be buried in his own
village, and I will arrange to send the body
down by rail, and pay the extra expense.
Please ask James to manage a plain funeral,
for which the Company have promised to pay.
I do feel so deeply for that poor hopeless
woman in this terrible sorrow; anything I can
do for the family I will."
But all this kindness failed to cheer the
hopeless widow. The funeral, which created
something of a sensation in the village, only
made her feel her position more acutely; and
66 Ethel Seymour.
she returned home with the determination to
consider the consequences of her husband's
death inevitable, and to make no effort to
ETHEL MAKES AN EFFORT.
" H, dear Miss Ethel! what should I do
Without you in all this trouble?" and
Polly stood in the bright sunshine of
the June morning looking in her neat
black dress, as if years instead of weeks had
been added to her age.
"Come in, Polly, and sit down," said Ethel,
pointing to her old seat on the stool; "but
you must look beyond me for true comfort."
"Yes, I know, Miss Ethel, but it's very hard
to do so when mother's unhappy."
"What does she say about my uncle's pro-
posal for you and George? "
Oh, she seems not to care what becomes
of her! but she says if us two go away, there'll
be no one to take care of the little ones while
she goes out to work."
"Can she get work?"
68 Ethel Seymour.
Oh, yes, up at the hall, and lots of places,
to wash and clean; because everybody knows
how clean and neat our cottage is: but she
says she must give it up if I go away, and
then there'll be no hope for her and the
children but to go to the workhouse."
But she will not stop George from going! "
"I'm afraid she will, Miss Ethel; she says
if he goes to London he'll be in all sorts of
dangers, and perhaps get killed, like poor
father; but it would be a pity for him to lose
twelve shillings a week as a telegraph boy, and
his clothes. Dr. Huntley told mother that's
what he would have, and. he says there are
plenty of people will take care of him for that
"Shall I come and talk to your mother,
Polly? I am going out in my chair pre-
"Oh thank you, Miss Ethel that would be
kind mother will listen to you, I'm sure "
"Well, then, I'll come, Polly; and now you
had better not stay any longer, but run home
and tell her you expect me."
Jane Brent was in a state of great excite-
ment at the thought of Ethel's visit. In some
way the gentle sufferer always made her
Ethel makes an Effort. 69
ashamed of her own despondency; if such a
poor afflicted creature could hope, why should
Jane, with friends all ready to help, be so
"Ah! well," she said to herself, "the poor
child knows nothing of the world !" and yet
as she thought this, conscience told her that it
was a knowledge not belonging to this world
which made Ethel Seymour hopeful.
Jane's cottage, on this June afternoon,
looked the picture of neatness. She had been
a widow for more than a fortnight, and as
Polly said, many residents in the village had
offered her work. Her husband's character as
gardener at the hall for sixteen years, and her
own domestic habits, had caused them both
to be highly respected.
Jane was still in the prime of life; she had
a comfortably-furnished cottage, and no debts,
and yet this discontented woman could
despond and be hopeless because kind friends,
in offering to provide for her two eldest
children, were depriving her of them. Yet
she looked very pleasing and neat in her
widow's dress as she appeared at the door to
welcome Miss Ethel.
"I'm glad I've got a little couch for you,
70 Ethel Seymour.
Miss," she said, "and I've made it as soft as I
can with pillows;" and then she drew back in
surprise, for the young lady, assisted by her
maid and the groom, had alighted from her
carriage, and was now walking into the little
"Why, Miss Ethel, can you walk?" she
"Oh, yes, Mrs. Brent, with help, and for a
short distance; and how tempting those
pillows look! why the cases are as white as
snow!" Then as they laid her gently on the
sofa she said, "Tell Parsons to wait half-an-
hour for me, Davis; but don't you stay,
mamma may want you; Polly will walk home
Davis seeing that her dear young lady was
comfortably placed, left to obey her gently
"Now, Jane," said Ethel, when by a look
she had dismissed Polly, "sit down and tell
me all your troubles."
"Oh, Miss Ethel! hasn't mine been a
dreadful trial, to lose such a good husband so
sudden-like! and now to have to work harder
than ever to keep all these children!"
I know it must be dreadful," said Ethel;
Ethel makes an Effort. 71
" I can understand what dear mamma would
feel if papa were to die !"
"Ah! yes, Miss Ethel; but your mamma
wouldn't be left without money to bring up
her children as I am !"
"And is that all that makes it so dread-
ful to lose a husband, Jane?" said Ethel,
The widow flushed, her conscience told her
plainly that the greater part of her trouble now
was the loss of the bread winner, but she
replied with truth-
"No, miss, it isn't all, for I loved Dick
dearly; but it makes it worse."
Of course it does, Jane, I know, and I'm
very, very sorry for you; but if you could see
the sorrow and misery in London you would
think yourself well off. I've heard my uncle,
Dr. Huntley, say, that there are numbers of
poor women in London, the wives of working
men, who, if their husbands were to die, would
have no one to help them but the clergyman of
the parish, and there are so many that he can't
do much. One of these poor widows may have
seven or eight children, and live in one room;
and if the mother is ill, one by one they part
with their clothes and furniture to buy food
72 Ethel Seymour.
till all is gone, and they have to go to the
"And so it will be with us, Miss Ethel!
how ever shall I earn enough to keep all my
children Oh! my dear young lady, I try to
be hopeful like you, but I can't."
"Jane, do you ever pray to be made hope-
ful and thankful ?"
"What's the use, Miss Ethel? and what
have I got to be thankful for, now ?"
"Oh, Jane!" was the reply, "you have
health and strength, a nicely-furnished cot-
tage, good children, who are ready to work
and help you, and kind friends to advise and
assist you Oh, I'm not surprised at your
having no hope, when you forget God's mercies
in this way !" And the young girl closed her
eyes as she paused, for she felt ashamed of
using such strong words to one old enough to
be her mother. She looked so pale and deli-
cate, as she lay with closed eyes on the little
sofa, that her words touched the desponding
woman with remorse and alarm.
"Oh, my dear young lady !" she said, "I'm
not worth all this anxiety, and I'm afraid it's
making you ill! I know I ought to pray and
trust and be thankful, but I can't; I've no
comfort in the world."
Ethel makes an Effort. 73
"And you never will have comfort, or hope,
or anything," said Ethel, "till you can pray
and trust: however, we must hope for you if
you will not hope for yourself." And then
Ethel changed the subject, and explained the
advantage it would be for Polly to be a pupil
teacher in the next town. "The walk morn-
ing and evening will do her good," she said,
"and she can take her dinner with her."
"But the little ones, Miss Ethel,-I can't
afford to send them to school now, and it's no
use to leave Johnny to take care of them
while I'm out at work."
"Only consent to let Polly go, I'll manage
about the little ones," said Ethel.
"I don't see the use of it, Miss Ethel."
"No, Jane, because you are not hopeful;
but if you will only give up George to go to
London and spare Polly from nine till five, I
shall have hope for the future, because I shall
pray for you and for them every day, and
that will make my hope sure. But I'm getting
tired, Jane; will you let Polly go with me?
and I hear wheels, the chair is coming for
Polly quickly made her appearance; and as
Ethel was assisted to her chair, Jane followed
74 Ethel Seymour.
her, and standing by her just before they
started, she said, "The Lord bless you, Miss
Ethel, and restore you to health very soon!
I'll do all you wish about Polly and George."
Ethel, with tears in her eyes, smiled her
thanks, as she pressed Jane's hand; and then,
fearing to excite the dear young lady any
more, Jane told Parsons Miss Seymour was
But the radiant look of happiness on the
young girl's face remained in the widow's
"She will get well, after all, I do believe,"
she said to herself, "and if there is hope for
one so afflicted as she is, there's hope for
Oh, if those who profess religion would
show its practical effects in their lives and
conduct, and let "their light shine before
men," instead of hiding it under a bushel of
doctrinal belief, what a different world this
AFTER THREE YEARS.
T the gate of a square grass plot, through
which a gravel path led to a pretty
Gothic building, stood a young girl of
about seventeen years of age. The
summer sun shone brightly upon her as she
stood, her neat cotton dress glittering in its
beams, from which her head and eyes were
protected by a large straw hat.
The building behind her had two divisions,
one evidently used for some public purpose;
the other, a neat Gothic cottage, with its oriel
windows and diamond panes, thrown open to
the summer air.
A respectable-looking woman came to the
window and looked out, and presently a boy
of nearly sixteen, in the dress of a telegraph
messenger, came near, and clasping his sister
round the waist, as he stole softly behind her,
exclaimed, "Mother says breakfast is ready.
70 Ethel Seymour.
Why, Polly, are you watching for Dr. Huntley's
carriage already ? they must have been up at
four to get here by this time."
"Nonsense you foolish boy! I'm waiting
to ask John Glover, the guard of the 11.30
train from Victoria, what time it gets to
Welverton, and here he comes; so you run in
and tell mother I'll be in presently."
George willingly complied; but there was a
curious twinkle in the corner of his eye, as he
said, Mother, Polly is waiting to see John
Glover about the train."
Mrs. Brent made no reply; but when pre-
sently her daughter came in, she looked at
her bright handsome face with a mother's
admiration and a wife's memory, for Polly
was truly a softened likeness of her father.
During breakfast, at which Jack, now a boy
of thirteen, Lizzie, and the boy once a baby,
were all seated, Polly said, The carriage will
pass here about one o'clock, and I mean to
have the children all but in a line, with their
flags and banners, to cheer them as they go
"That will be jolly fun said Jack; and
while the chattering voices are loud on the
coming display, and the children, unmindful
After Three Years. 77
of manners, are speaking with their mouths
full of bread and butter, we will take our
stand at the Victoria Station, and meet their
A party, consisting of two ladies, and a
gentleman in a clerical dress, have just
alighted from a fly: we have seen them before
under different aspects. The Rector of Park-
ham and his wife have changed very little;
but leaning on her father's arm, stands a tall,
delicate-looking young lady of eighteen, whose
golden hair, soft blue eyes, and refined fea-
tures, make her well deserve to be styled a
lovely girl. Her face still wore that soft
elevated expression which pain and hope had
stamped there, but the eyes were brighter
and the complexion more healthy.
"Uncle is sure to meet us here, I suppose,
papa? she said.
"Yes, my dear, he told me in his letter that
he had sent the carriage down yesterday, and
that it would meet us at the station, at
Welverton, and he would join us here."
"Mamma, do you think uncle will know
me?" asked Ethel. Mrs. Seymour's eyes
filled with tears, as she smiled in reply: they
were tears of gratitude.
78 Ethel Seymour.
During the two years after poor Brent's
death, Ethel's health improved greatly; she
was able to walk about, and grew very tall.
Then her uncle and the physicians recom-
mended the continent, and she had since
resided with her parents for a year at Baden-
Baden. Now she was returning, full of re-
newed health and strength, to her English
home, changed in appearance, but still the
same gentle, loving, hopeful girl, who in her
hours of weakness had done so much for
"Why, Ethel! is it really you! a tall,
elegant young lady, with positively roses in
her cheeks !" and a fine, manly-looking fellow
of twenty, heedless of lookers on, kissed his
sister with earnest affection.
"What, you here, Cecil ?" said his father,
as he shook hands and smiled at the change
from a boy to a man, which one year had
made in his son; "my children will be all
grown out of knowledge," he added, "if your
brothers are changed as you are."
"I'm going to Parkham with you," said the
youth, as, after a warm tearful reception from
his mother, he offered her his arm proudly.
Perhaps there is no prouder moment to a
After Three Years. 79
loving son than that in which he first feels
himself tall enough and old enough to offer
his arm to his mother, and thus constitute
himself her protector.
"How did you get leave ?" asked his father.
"Oh, uncle managed to find a deputy,"
said the young medical student; "I left him
at Guy's, and he sent me off to meet you;
but he'll follow me in no time, he's got the
steam on full this morning, and here he is,"
he added, as Uncle Henry, at a speed that
confirmed Cecil's figure of speech, entered
the station, and looking eagerly around,
caught sight of Cecil.
"Uncle, do you know this young lady?"
asked her brother, leading the surgeon to-
wards Ethel. For a moment his pleasure as
he recognized Ethel deprived him of speech;
and then the strong man, who had witnessed
so much pain and suffering, could not conceal
his emotion, as he took his niece's hand, and
"Thank God! then our hope has been
"We may as well take our seats," said
Cecil, to divert the emotion which his uncle's
words excited; "and I vote we try to get a
So Ethel Seymour.
carriage to ourselves. You have the tickets,
"Yes, my boy, and John has had the lug-
gage labelled; suppose, mamma, we take
Cecil's advice: we must not tire our tender
flower because she looks so well."
There was a little bustle, and the usual
running to and fro of passengers, but at length
our party, consisting of five, found an empty
first-class carriage, in which they remained
alone the whole journey, and could converse
"And how are matters going on at Park-
ham ? asked the rector. I have heard con-
stantly from Mr. Turner, but I should like
your opinion, Henry."
"Well, the parish has been well attended
to, from all I hear; but I think you will
scarcely know the village. Since the station
was opened at Welverton, I should suppose
nearly a hundred houses and cottages have
been built, and the population has nearly
"I expect so," said the rector; "I was
sorry to leave at such a crisis, but my own
health required change, and it was an oppor-
tunity for Ethel. But how about the Brents ?"
After Three Years. 81
"Well, I am quite satisfied as yet; it
was an excellent plan to propose for the
girl to begin a little day school under her
mother's superintendence, and they are going
on famously still. That was your doing,
"Yes, uncle. When I found how much
Polly had learnt as a pupil teacher, I felt sure
she would succeed. I was well enough to go
to the cottage, after they began the school,
and I used to sit and listen to her with sur-
prise. And, uncle, how does George go on at
the telegraph ?"
"Oh capitally! but little Jack is the sharp
one; I got him a place at an office in the city,
a few months ago, with Layton, and he says
the little chap is going on as cleverly as
S"Oh, papa!" said Ethel, "how much good
can be done for the poor by helping them to
Yes," replied her uncle, that is quite true.
I don't think what I did for that family after
the father's death cost me five pounds. A few
letters, and a little trouble on the rector's part,
obtained the grant to pay for Polly to become
a pupil teacher; and a few words of recom-
82 Ethel Seymour.
mendation from me for the boys, who are
both doing well."
"Ah! but we must remember," said Mrs.
Seymour, "that these young people had been
respectably brought up, and well trained by a
good father; they were just the children to
"And yet," said her brother, "even while
her husband was living, and after his death,
with such bright children, that woman could
despond. I believe she had no hope in her
natural composition ; and as to the christian's
hope, no doubt she required a severe trial to
teach her that such a hope can shine most
brightly in life's darkest hour, and I think she
has learnt it now."
Then they began to talk on other subjects
-of Cecil's future, who was walking the hos-
pitals, and of his two brothers, who would be
at the rectory to receive them. At last, as
they neared the station, Dr. Huntley said,-
"I have often wondered, Seymour, that you
did not try to raise funds and establish a day
school for children in the village, with a certi-
ficated master and mistress."
"I have often thought of it, replied the
rector, "but we had not residents enough of
After Three Years. 83
the better class to subscribe, nor children
to make it necessary ; however, now there is
so much building going on, I must see what
can be done."
Dr. Huntley did not reply, and presently,
in the bustle of arriving at the station at
Welverton, the subject was forgotten. The
carriage awaited them outside, as well as a
cart from the rectory to carry the luggage,
and John remained to attend to it.
Then the five travellers entered the open
carriage for a pleasant drive of two miles
through country lanes to Parkham. The sun
of early June shone brightly, but the May
blossoms and the chestnut were still in bloom,
while the air seemed alive with the song of
"Drive through the village," had been Dr.
Huntley's orders to his coachman, and pre-
sently, as in obedience to these orders, the
open carriage approached Parkham, the rector
"The man is going 'the longest way,
Oh, papa! never mind," said Ethel, "we
can enjoy a longer drive on such a morning as
84 Etlel Seymour.
"It certainly is very pleasant," said -Mrs.
Seymour; "and what a number of new
houses have been built since we left! I am
almost sorry, for it spoils the rural character
of the place."
"Mamma!" said Ethel, who rode facing
the horses, "I can see, at a little distance, the
prettiest of Gothic buildings, and such a
number of people; we are going to pass
Almost as she spoke, the carriage stopped,
and only two of the party were prepared for
the tableau that presented itself; the other
three looked on with astonishment.
In the square which fronted the Gothic
building were ranged about fifty children,
varying in age from two to ten years.
Four of the oldest boys held the poles of
two banners, on one of which, in red letters
on a white ground, appeared the words
" Welcome Home," and on the other, "Infant
Schools, Established 185-. Hope Always."
While Ethel, with tearful eyes and quivering
lips, was trying to take in the meaning of this
scene, a tall, handsome young woman came
forward to the gate, and opening it, ap-
proached the carriage.
After Three Years. 85
"Miss Ethel, don't you know me?" she
"Polly Brent!" exclaimed Ethel, clasping
the hand held out to her; "you here! What
does it all mean ?"
"Dr. Huntley can tell you best, Miss Ethel;
but won't you get out and look at our
school-room and our house, Mr. Seymour?
We are all here-there's mother and the
boys; Dr. Huntley got them a holiday to
Let me come with you, papa," said Ethel,
as her papa alighted; "I know I am strong
enough; and oh, this does make me so
Dr. Huntley sprung out to assist his niece;
but when Jane Brent saw her step easily from
the carriage and walk erect and firmly across
the court to the house, she could scarcely
retain her joy.
Oh, Miss Ethel! thank God that I have
lived to see this day."
But her words were interrupted by the
shouts of hurrah which the tiny voices uttered
with delight at Cecil's word of command.
How has this all come about ?" asked the
rector, as he stood looking with astonishment
85 Ethel Seymour.
at the pretty building, and the happy children
that filled the court.
"Oh, sir!" said Jane, coming forward and
curtseying, "it's all Dr. Huntley's doing; he
came one day to the cottage when Polly had
nearly thirty children in that little parlour,
and said it wouldn't do, it wasn't healthy. So
he got subscriptions, and a builder came from
London, and they got up this place in no
time; and we've been here since Easter.
And oh, sir! we are so happy; and I thank
God when I look at your dear young lady
and see her so well, and able to walk ; it was
she who taught me how to find true hope for
this life, and the life to come."
At this moment a great commotion oc-
curred: two boys, of fourteen and twelve,
rushed into the court.
"N'ow I call this housing a fellow, and no
mistake! Uncle Henry, it's all your doing;
I wanted to be here with Ethel when she first
twigged our new schools; but what a grand
young lady you've grown added the boy,
as Ethel approached to welcome fondly her
"You are grown too, Harold, but you've
not grown out of your love of fun!"
After Three Years. 87
"Of course not; and now you're well, I
mean to take you to no end of places, and
make you rattle about as you used to do."
My darling," said her father, approaching,
"you must not fatigue yourself too much.
Just come and see the school-room laid out
with cakes and milk: your uncle's feast for
the little ones is capital! and then we must
go home. You can come and see the house
Ethel obeyed, and after just one look at the
school-room she took her father's arm to
return to the carriage; they stood for a few
moments to watch the children file into the
room, and then, amidst another peal of
hurrahs, led on by Harold, turned towards the
Polly followed them; and Ethel, before she
entered the carriage, took her hand. As they
thus stood, the contrast between the tall, fair,
gentle girl, and the equally tall and handsome
brunette, was very marked.
"Oh, Miss Ethel!" said Polly, "you've
grown a beautiful young lady, and you are far
above me now; but I shall never forget what
you taught me when you were ill and weak."
"Polly," said Ethel, softly, as she kissed the
88 Ethel SeymoZu.
rosy cheek, that flushed with pleasure and
pride at the act, "whatever may be our differ-
ence of station, we are united in the
'CHARITY THAT HOPETH ALL THINGS."'
fran1r 03 rnfr th'e STjntuman.
THE ERRAND BOY
WANT OF CONSIDERATION IN
SENRY BURNET had the kind of work
to do which falls to the lot of errand
boys all over the kingdom. The family
by whom he was hired was not in any
way different to other families in the same rank
of life, who keep a moderate number of ser-
vants, and find a boy necessary to fill certain
gaps, and pick up certain odd duties, which
are beneath the dignity of the rest of the
Mr. Russel's family were birds of pas-
92 The Errajnd Boy
sage ; by this I mean, they had let their
own house in a distant county, and had taken
a furnished one at Rockford, first for a winter,
then on for the summer, and now for the
winter again. This is a manner of life common
enough in these days, agreeing well with the
roving tendencies of the times, when to go
hither and thither in search of health or
amusement, or "change," is taken as a matter
of course, and becomes the rule where formerly
it was wont to be the exception. The Russels
had two personal servants, a man and a maid,
who travelled with them, while the cook and
housemaid might be said to do the zvork of the
establishment. These were Rockford servants,
and were well up in the duties of their calling.
Harry Burnet was a brisk little lad, and the
array of young ladies' and young gentlemen's
boots which met his gaze the first morning,
did not frighten him. Then came filling
boilers, cleaning knives, supplying coal boxes,
sweeping out the area, and various other small
duties of the like kind. Then came breakfast
-how welcome to the hungry boy, whose
meals at home were getting few and far
between, none could tell. Sometimes, how-
ever, this was indefinitely postponed by
and the Shoplvman. 93
requirements like the following: "A message
must be taken directly to the dressmaker's;
Miss Russel cannot see her till eleven instead
of ten o'clock." Departing and returning
quickly, the boy is met by the man-servant-
" Run with the 'Times' to the reading rooms,
and ask for to-day's Rockford News;' Mr.
Russel wants it; come, look sharp !" Off
trots Harry again. The reading room was
the next door but one to the dressmaker's, so
there were two long journeys where one would
have done. But on his second return, the boy
was just about to attack his crusts of bread
and mug of now cold coffee, set apart from the
servants' breakfast for him, when a sign from
the cook stops him. Mrs. Russel comes
lingering into the kitchen; generally she
summons the cook upstairs for orders, but
to-day a dinner party is pending, and there
are several knotty points to settle about the
bill of fare. Mrs. Russel has changed her
mind about the game; she will not have teal,
but widgeons, to come on with the hare. So
Henry is again despatched to the poulterer's,
to hear if the exchange can be effected; and
this ground has also to be trodden twice, for
the poulterer sends a message to the effect
94 The Errand Boy
that the widgeons can be had, but are not
nearly in such good keeping as the teal-which
will Mrs. Russel decide on? Which indeed!
Several minutes are taken up with this, and
meanwhile Harry stands, twisting his cap in his
hand, and glancing at his breakfast. At last
the casting vote falls on the teal, and poor
Harry sets off once more to settle matters as
they originally stood. He was scarcely gone,
when the maid comes tripping into the
kitchen, with a bit of ribbon in her hand
pinned to a piece of writing paper. "What
is it, Carter?" Mrs. Russel asks abstractedly,
for her mind is running on the side dishes
Oh, I want the boy, ma'am, to go to Field's
directly, and match this ribbon. Miss Alice is
going to have a new trimming to her white
muslin, and says she must wear it to-night;
and if I don't have the ribbon I shall not
finish it in time."
"Henry is just gone," interposed the cook,
" and when the boy comes in he ought to have
his breakfast; he is here by seven o'clock
every morning, and not a bit does he taste
beforehand, I'll be bound."
"And it's now half-past ten!" said Mrs.
and the Shopwoman. 95
Russel; "poor little fellow, he seems a sharp,
Yes, ma'am, that he is, and so obliging and
willing; he is the boy Mr. Heath recom-
mended; his father was that nice civil driver
you always liked, ma'am; his health is quite
broken up, and they say ma'am, they are
nearly starving," the cook went on.
Really, poor little creature! let him have
his breakfast, by all means. But Smith, how
about the souffle, and the ice-pudding?"
And Mrs. Russel returned to the consider-
ation of the dinner party, and Carter tripped
out of the kitchen less good-temperedly than
she had entered it; and poor Harry, returning
from his mission at the poulterer's, had just
five minutes in which to swallow his breakfast,
which had been conveyed into the back
kitchen by the good-natured cook, during a
pause in the dinner discussion. The moment
Mrs. Russel had left the lower regions, Mrs.
Carter reappeared. "The ribbon must be
fetched that moment," she said, "and it was
not likely she was to be put out all day
because the cook meddled with what did not
concern her." So after a little altercation,
Henry was again on the "tramp," as the
96 The Errand Boy
servants called it, and the whole of that
morning, and many, many others, was
literally taken up by messages and counter-
messages of the same kind. The boy was
active, but not strong, and he began to feel
the effects of the strain upon him. Night
after night his mother looked anxiously at him,
as he came home, too weary and worn out to
do anything but creep to bed. He did not
complain; it but dimly struck his childish
mind, what seems so obvious to us as we
write down his daily duties, that their burden
was exactly doubled, or more than doubled,
by the want of consideration in those who
employed him. In the servants, you say."
All, yes, but surely in the mistress also; for
we hold that every employer, in every rank of
life, is bound to coi.sider the needs and the
best interests of the humblest of those he
The poor little errand boy held on his way,
but his step grew less active, his whistle less
jocund; he began to loiter in his missions, and
there was the temptation of being so tired
sometimes, that he was glad to set his basket
down, and take a seat himself on doorsteps, or
other convenient niches. Then followed, as a
and the Sh~opwomlan. 97
matter of course, companionship with, idle
boys, games of pitch and toss, bets of a
halfpenny as to who would win a game of
marbles, and so forth. The servants began to
complain, and the complaints reached the ears
of master and mistress. At last poor Henry
lost a note, with which he was travelling over
two miles of shadeless down, one sultry June
day, to the house of a friend of the Miss Russels.
It was merely to appoint an hour the same
afternoon for croquet-that popular game
which, we will suppose, harmlessly lets off a
little of the extra excitement and roving
tendencies of the times on the many-coloured
balls! "Is it worth sending a note, do you
think ?" Alice, the youngest of the sisters,
had ventured to say. It is a long way this
awfully hot day!" It was indeed, and the
walk had been preceded by a morning of
messages like that which I have described.
But the note was lost! The young ladies
waited in the square opposite their house for
the friends and their brothers, but they waited
in vain! They were obliged to content them-
selves with a tame game amongst their own
home party, and many were the conjectures as
to what could have prevented their friends
98 The Errand Boy
from coming, when they had said any day that
week would suit them-"so provoking, so tire-
some, so stupid."
Several days went on, and then the friends
met, and the secret which had been weighing
on poor little Henry's mind, and which he
lacked the courage to divulge, came out.
"The boy has been getting a dreadful plague
of late," the cook said; "such a nice child as
he was when we first had him ; but boys are
all alike So Harry was dismissed ; and'his
poor father, only able to creep out into the
sun, and sit about on the benches on Rockford
Down, heard the news with a sigh. :Henry
tried to carry it off with his father, but to his
mother he unburdened his grief.
"Why did you not tell them you had lost
it, my dear?" she asked; "it would have
gone better with you-it would, I am sure."
"I was so afraid, mother, I was indeed;
and though I know I have been idle, and
stopped about in the streets, still I was not
idle that day. I had had such a hard
morning's work-out and in, out and in, back-
wards and forwards, and scarcely a minute to
snatch up my breakfast; then my feet are so
blistered, and these old boots hurt them so, I