The Baldwin Library
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A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN.
THE BLIND GIRL'S MIDNIGHT VIsi TO THE LITTLEI STRANGER.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN.
H. MARY WILSON,
Author of rip;" &c.
BLACKIE & SON, 49 & 50 OLD BAILEY, EC..
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
MY SIMILE, .. . ... 7
I. MISS PATIENCE, . . 8
II. FATHER AND CHILD, . . 21
III. FATHER'S BIRTHDAY, . .... .31
IV. THE RECTOR'S STORY, . .... 48
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN.
"The glittering grass with dew-stars bright
Is all astir with twinkling light.
What pity that such fair array
In one brief hour should melt away I
But God hath given those drops a power
To quench the heat and cheer the flower.
All the day long their grace shall bide,
And fresh return at evening-tide."
TENDER blade of grass grew in the cor-
ner of a sunny garden. Soft moss pressed
against it lovingly; sweet scents of many
flowers refreshed it; a merry hawthorn pelted it
with its white petals; and yet it did not thrive,
but drooped and pined with an unsatisfied longing,
and seemed ready to die. Had this one iota been
forgotten by the All-wise Providence? I wondered
foolishly. But next day there was a change, and
my doubts were set at rest. The slender green
leaf stood proudly erect, with a new strength in its
tiny stalk; for a sparkling drop of water nestled by
its root, and another liquid pearl trembled and
flashed at its blade's point. What were all its
happy surroundings-the moss, the shady trees,
the pleasant odours-to this precious life-giving
gift? The old proverb reminds us that "Ilka blade
o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew." And this dew-
what is the significance that it has for us ? It has
been compared to love, and sympathy, to many
graces, to music and to tears, to sleep, ay! and to
sleep the most profound and restful.
So "I sat and played with similes," and out of
my thoughts there grew a little story.
"The dew, for which grass cannot call,
Drops from above."
T HE shadows were growing long and indistinct;
the fire in the large old drawing-room of
Sten House flickered and danced, sending out
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 9
sudden little flashes of light, as if it was trying to
see what those silly shadows were doing in the
corners and behind the heavy furniture, while the
daylight gave up its struggle with the coming
darkness and crept sadly away from the window.
A deep sigh rose from the big arm-chair drawn
in front of the hearth, and a solemn-looking mastiff,
who had been stretched perfectly flat on the rug,
slowly raised his head and turned his astonished
sleepy eyes to the spot whence the sound came.
The sigh was repeated. This time a little louder
and more plaintively, and Rush lost no time in
bundling his heavy limbs into a less lazy attitude.
Then his cold nose was pushed under the little
hand which hung listless over the arm of the
chair. At his touch a small figure uncurled from
its darkest, softest corner, and a pair of loving
arms were tightly clasped round the dog's neck,
while one tear dropped on his back and glistened
in the firelight.
Let us look at this small specimen of a maiden
from whom came sighs so prodigious! There is not
so very much to see. A mass of sunny hair, a
small white face, keen and intelligent eyes with a
strange unnatural look under the dark lashes, a
shapely little figure, and a pair of long, thin,
black-stockinged legs, which nearly reached the
ground as she balanced herself on the edge of the
chair, and stroked the dog's huge rough head with
her active-looking fingers. This is Patience. Yes;
but about those sighs and that tear ?
Wait one moment while I say that it is with
great unwillingness that I write of unhappy
children. The sight of babies grown old with un-
expressed grief, or with a burden of care too heavy
for their little shoulders, is so painfully unnatural
-such a perversion of that happy childhood which
has received that special touch of blessing from the
Divine Tenderness-that if I could tell you nothing
better of my little Patience I would lay my pen
aside. No! that sigh was not often repeated. Yet
upon this present occasion it had arisen from the
depth of her poor little heart, and carried with it
the burden of a real trouble.
Miss Patience! Miss Patience! Come, dearie!"
called a woman's voice suddenly from somewhere.
The door opened and someone's head. and shoulders
-only indistinctly visible in the gloom-were
thrust into the room.
The little girl was all animation in a moment,
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 11
and though her hand instinctively slipped to Rush's
collar and held on firmly, she slid to the ground
I'm coming, Nursie."
So the head and shoulders disappeared, and the
two friends, side by side, crossed the long room
and reached the door.
"Is it getting dark, Rush, I wonder?" said the
child's voice as they pushed open the door and
passed out into the hall, brightly lighted by a large
"Is it evening, dear old doggie ? Or is it because
we are hungry that I feel the day going?"
Rush vouchsafed no answer; but he gave his
little mistress a gentle and encouraging tap on the
back with his heavy tail.
Have you heard enough to explain-at least in
part-why those sighs came from the depths of
that cosy arm-chair and the still lower depths of a
Patience is blind!
She is motherless, too, poor little maiden; and
her father, having longed hopelessly for a son and
heir, and receiving only the gift of a little blind
girl, is doing his best to bury his sorrow and grief
for his wife's death in entire forgetfulness of the
past, ignoring his child's existence as much as
So, year by year, little Patience grew, with only
old Nurse Grummel and Rush to expend the
affections of a very warm heart upon. An occa-
sional kiss or pitying "poor little one" during his
rare visits to his country house was all that
Patience ever heard of her father, for Mr. Sten
spent his days in scientific research, and often let
months slip by without giving his child a thought.
He knew Nurse was to be trusted, and he stilled
various pricks of conscience with that conviction.
Thus Patience had reached her eleventh year and
no change had come to alter the course of her
monotonous yet luxurious life.
As she crossed the hall and pushed open the
dining-room door, Patience could hear Mrs. Grum-
mel moving about the room in ill-suppressed ex-
citement, and muttering to herself the while.
This was very unlike the usual calm state of
affairs, for the old dame had long been possessed
by two strong ideas. One, that all her natural
emotions should be kept sternly under control, be-
cause she had "symptoms"-of what, no one ever
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 13
knew; the other, that telegrams were an invention
of the Evil One, for the sole purpose of bringing
Christian folk into trouble. How did it come
about then that she was acting in this excitable
manner, unless we can connect it with the fact
that a large orange-coloured envelope lay upon the
table? This last, Patience could not, of course,
see, but the restless movements were very evident
to her alert little ears.
As soon as she appeared the old woman plumped
into a chair, and in breathless sentences said:
"Ah, Miss Patience, to have seen the day when
such like should come to me!-me, as always knew
no good come by 'em! And how's a poor thing
like me to tell what it means-and the symptoms
plainer than ever?"
Here she broke off and rocked herself to and fro,
with her hands pressed to her sides and her breath
coming in little wheezy gasps.
"Oh, what has happened?" cried Patience, more
alarmed by the vague mystery conveyed in the first
words than distressed by the symptoms which were
of everyday occurrence.
"How do I know, my dear? Whose to read it,
I wonder? No lettering had I in my young days!"
She said this with a superior shake of her tall
white cap and as if it was a matter of congratula-
tion. Then, lowering her voice to an awe-struck
whisper, she half groaned out:
"It's a telegrump!"
A telegram! Patience had heard of such things,
but in a fog of fear and superstition of Nurse's
creating. Would it hurt them?
"Couldn't Jane read it and tell us if there's any
harm in it?" she asked after a moment's thought;
and, with many sighs and groans about "strange
inward flutterings," the old dame got up and rang
the bell, which was answered with unusual alacrity
by the bright-faced housemaid.
"Bad news, Mrs. Grummel?" she asked in a
cheerful voice, ill-suiting the question.
Nurse curtly bade her read "what the evil thing
Nothing loth Jane took up the envelope, and
opening it read aloud its contents.
It was curious to watch the fleeting expressions
on the child's face as she listened. Disappoint-
ment, then indifference, but finally a sudden flush
of excitement and surprise and a long-drawn ejacu-
latory "Oh!" speaking volumes.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 15
This was the telegram that was to bring such
sorrow upon them all. "For," as Nurse said,
"did good ever come from they evil-looking yeller
"T. Sten, Mrs. Grummel,
London, TO Sten House,
"Am coming down this evening at nine. Get
my room ready, and another for a child I shall
bring with me. Send carriage to the station."
Nurse's astonishment completely silenced her for
a second or two; but then followed such a flow of
words-such discussions!--such reiterated "Did
you ever's" and "Mark my words," that little
Patience grew weary, and seeing no more surprises
were likely to follow, and having satisfied herself
that it was true-this strange message,-she slipped
out of the room with the dog still by her side.
In the hall she turned towards a tall old-fashioned
clock that stood in a recess under the staircase.
This old time-piece, next to the favoured Rush,
was the little girl's greatest friend. Did she fancy
it was alive as she pressed her face against the old
brown case and listened to its hoarse, asthmatic
"tick! tick !"-a tick-tick which went on day after
day with a sort of weary reluctance, unlike the
energetic sound of a more modern clock? She
always thought that "Mr. Time" was tired and dull;
and now, as she leant her fair head against his
polished side she patted it gently with her hand,
"It is so good! Such nice news! I've half a
mind not to tell you just yet. But it's a shame to
tease you, you dear old thing! If you were younger
we wouldn't mind; would we, Rush Shall we tell
him?" she asked, patting her dog's hard nose.
"You don't have symptoms like Nurse, do you,
'Mr. Time'? Because, if so, I must tell you gently."
Then she whispered softly, while a rush of rosy
gladness lighted her little pale face: "I'm going to
have a little child to play with me. We three
shan't be dull any more-a little child to love!
Oh, my dears!" cried Patience, hugging first the
passive wooden friend and then her warmer and
more reciprocative playfellow, "aren't you both
A few hours later and Patience again stood in
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 17
the hall, this time in a state of restless excitement.
Her old friend had chimed out nine emphatic strokes
some minutes before, and the little girl now broke
the monotony by occasional speeches to Rush, who
sat with nose and eyes turned towards the door-mat.
You know, dear," she was saying, in her wise,
old-fashioned way, "we mustn't expect too much;
and perhaps 'the child' will think it is very stupid
indeed to have to play with somebody who can't
see. If 'the child' is a girl perhaps she will under-
stand. But it might be a boy. Well, then-then
-oh! then, I do think he will take care of me;
Rush, don't you? He would be so strong, you
know; and I would try very hard not to bother him."
There was a pause, but presently she went on
again, "thinking aloud to Rush" in that way she
Now, Rush, there is one thing I want you to
promise me. Please pay attention, and don't in-
terrupt me with that noisy tail. You must pro-
mise me, dear, never, never to get jealous. You
will always be my darling, good old doggie. I
shall always love you just as much as ever, how-
ever nice this 'little child' is. Do you quite under-
"Well, Miss Patience, solo-quolizing as usual?"
and Mrs. Grummel's portly figure emerged from
the darkness of the passage. "Ay, and you've
somewhat to think upon this time. Bless me! if
it's only a little maid as '11 give no more trouble to
my poor suffering body than you do, I'll be thankful
to the Almighty. But it's not to be expected, that
it isn't, coming as it do through they wicked
But here her loquacity received a check, for a
carriage drove rapidly up the drive.
There followed a stream of cold air, sounds of
wheels which suddenly ceased, and voices-one
deep and grave, which caused the eager little girl
to remember her father's presence and to retreat
with shyness a few paces.
Presently Mr. Sten asked for Patience, and turn-
ing, saw her clinging to the old dog, with a face
quivering with excitement.
For the first time he was struck by the fragile
beauty and peculiar intelligence of the wistful little
face; and the first feeling of affection, untouched by
pity, rose in his heart for her as he left his young
companion and sitting on a chair drew his child to
his side and kissed her.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 19
The blood rushed to her cheeks, and she gasped
out, "Oh!" followed by a timid "Father," as if the
word came unnaturally to her lips from scant usage.
"So, my child, you are to have a companion.
How will you like it? Dewdney! come and kiss
your cousin. You must be great friends."
And Patience, for the first time in her life, felt a
child's arms flung round her neck and a warm kiss
upon her cheek. She returned the embrace eagerly,
"Are you a boy?"
"Yes, I think so!" was the saucy answer. "I'm
not a man yet, am I, uncle ?"
"No! by no means, sir!" and an amused smile
played about Mr. Sten's grave, stern lips-instantly
vanishing as he looked at his own child and thought
how much she might have been to him and he to
her all these eleven years, if only- But he
checked the rising tumult of thought, leaving it to
be faced in solitude, and turned to speak a few
friendly words to Mrs. Grummel, the old servant
who, in spite of her peculiarities, had by long and
faithful service, earned her master's respect and
Late that night--long after her father had
thought out those unpleasant but wholesome work-
ings of conscience, and had made some good plans
for future use and development-a slim, little
white-robed figure crept along a passage in the old
house, and pushing open one of the doors, stood in
the moonlight by the bedside of the new comer.
He was asleep, and the quiet, regular breathing
sounded like music to the listening child.
"I don't think it will wake him, and I must
know what he is like," she thought. Then the
long white fingers passed very lightly over the curly
head, and from feature to feature of the placid,
"How soft and smooth you are!" she whispered,
"Not one deep line like Nurse has!"
The fingers suddenly ceased their journey as they
came in contact with a large tear not yet dried
upon the round cheek, and Patience drew her hand
You are sorry, too, sometimes! I wonder why "
and kissing her hand to the unconscious sleeper
she crept away back to her own little room, to lie
awake thinking of the child's face which she had
almost seen with her clever fingers, but more of that
solitary tear and what it meant.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 21
"Dewdney!" she murmured softly to herself as
she turned from side to side. "Dewdney! Cousin
Dewdney, I hope you will be very happy here, and
I hope you will love me! I did want some one
besides Nurse to love me so much !-oh, so much!"
and then the "timely dew of sleep" came and closed
the sightless eyes and soothed the excited brain of
the tired child.
"The least flower with brimming cup, may stand,
And share its dew-drop with another near."
-E. B. Browning.
FROM that day a new life and a happier began
for little Patience.
Before her father returned to bury himself in
his quiet London study he had two or three inter-
views, all of interest and pleasure to those concerned
To Nurse he said:
"I wish to explain to you, Mrs. Grummel, who
your new charge is."
"Yes, sir-thank you, sir," curtseyed the old
woman at regular intervals through the discourse.
"His father, my brother, has gone to India with
his wife for several years, and so the boy has be-
come my care. He is not yet robust enough for a
public school life, they tell me; so I have arranged
for the two children to go to the rectory for in-
struction-Dewdney every morning and Patience
three times a week. You will see to this. And,
Nurse, I wish to know at regular intervals, say
twice a month, how the children get on. Dewdney
can write if you like. Patience is happy, I hope?"
he added, as a sort of after-thought, though, in
truth, something- his conscience perhaps -had
been urging him to ask this for some time.
"Well, sir," curtseyed Mrs. Grummel, "she's
been happy in a way; though at times she's been a
good bit down and peeky. But, if I may make so
bold, I think she will be quite blithe now, seeing
as you've given her just what she's been a-yearning
"And that is?"
Why, sir; its more love as she's needing. Her
old dog and me isn't enough for her big heart-too
big, I says, for her weakly body. But Master
Doodney, being a companionable boy, will do won-
ders, I'm thinking."
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 23
"Thank you, Nurse, that will do. I hope you
yourself are well?"
"Middlin', sir-thank you sir. I may say as
well as I can ever hope to be," and with one more
curtsey-exceedingly low and respectful-the old
woman left him to his thoughts.
They were not very cheerful companions, how-
It always pained him unspeakably-or he thought
so, for few of us can give a correct measure of
either bodily or mental suffering-to come home
like this, back to the scene of two years of such
intense happiness, that the period since then seemed
doubly blank and lonely in comparison. But last
night he had been much impressed by the wistful
sad look on his daughter's face. Perhaps he-had
he been selfish in his sorrow ? Yet how could he
have the courage-and was it necessary ?-to tear
open the closing wound and try to live over again
the old days, with Patience at his side reminding
him constantly, by her strong likeness to his young
wife, of those precious days "hidden in the sacred
treasures of the past."
The door was pushed open without any warning,
and almost as quickly closed again; and the object
of his thoughts, thrust into the room by a vigorous
pair of hands, stood motionless before him.
There was a moment's silence.
A painful flush crept slowly over the little girl's
cheek, and the drooping eyelids quivered.
"Well, Patience!" The tone was not very
gentle, for her father, suppressing with a stern will
his disturbed emotions, rather overhit the mark,
and the greeting sounded cold to the frightened
"I-I-I didn't mean to disturb you," she
stammered; "but Dewdney made me come, and-
and I did want to say it too."
"Wanted to say what, Patience ?"
"Only thank you-I mean, thank you for bring-
ing me a brother," and the happiness of it began
to shine in the child's face.
"Come here, daughter." The tone was quite
gentle now, yet Mr. Sten did not offer to lead her
to his chair near the window, He had a fancy to
see how she managed for herself. Quite fearlessly
she walked round the library table, until she came
in contact with her father's outstretched hand.
Then he drew her to his side and gazed long and
earnestly into the sightless eyes.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 25
"Do you never wish to see, little one?" he asked
presently, though he knew that no power on earth
could give her back her lost sense.
Only-yes-sometimes," was the hesitating
"Oh! when I have been stroking those big books
there and wanting to know what is inside them,
and when-when-you won't be angry, Father?"
"It is when I want to see your face, and know
if it is like your voice."
Her father smiled and sighed.
"My poor child," he said, "I wish I could give
you back your eyes, and for a better use than that
last. But now Dewdney will be eyes to you. He
will read many books to you, and always take care
of you, I know. I am going back to London to-
day. Tell me what you would like best before I
An answer was rather long in coming.
Mr. Sten, leaning back in his chair, watched the
varying expressions on the little face before him.
She had a wish, but she did not know her father
well enough to be sure that she might speak it.
Three times she said "May Il" and paused.
"Patience, are you afraid See, dear, I promise
not to be vexed, whatever you may ask for. There,
will that help you?"
It seemed to, for she put her hand timidly on
his knee and said:
"May I-oh, may I feel your face ?"
He sat up, pushed his hair from his broad fore-
head, and laughing softly drew her on to his knee.
How fast love was growing now, kindled by a main
interest in all she said and did.
"So you keep eyes in the tips of your fingers.
Well, little daughter, I will try and keep still during
the operation. So feel away!"
The light fingers passed rapidly over his face,
pausing in uncertainty among the furrows on his
brow, and finishing by gently stroking his cheek,
as she murmured half to herself, "I won't forget."
"What colour is my hair, Patience?"
"Brown, isn't it, Father?"
"Yes, and this ?" taking a small book from the
"It is red, I think," she answered, after holding
it for a moment.
"Why, you will soon learn many things; your
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 27
fingers are such useful little servants. Now, kiss
me, my child, and go away to your new brother. I
daresay by this time he is sorry he pushed you in
here, you have stayed so long.
When Mr. Sten returned to his lonely life in
the old city he often felt restless and unsettled,
and gradually his visits to Kedsmoor became more
frequent. Human hearts cannot thrive without
love, and it must be love of a reciprocating nature
His camphorated beetles, his pinioned moths
and insects, did not continue to satisfy him. He
found he could no longer gaze with contented ad-
miration at a tiny unique specimen of butterfly life.
And why? He wanted something more. He dis-
covered that instead of irritating his wounded
heart, every sight of his child seemed to brace and
heal it. His thoughts were always reverting to one
bright little face, alert, expressive, and winning;
to a pair of small hands held out with a glad ges-
ture of welcome. His lonely heart seemed to be
drinking in a new existence as it widened and filled
with a father's love.
So he came and went, often sending no message
to tell of his coming, but always sure of a warm
Meanwhile Patience and Dewdney led a happy,
merry life. Three days in the week they walked-
or ran-with a hand resting on each other's
shoulder, down the quiet lanes to the old rectory,
half buried beneath the thick foliage of the over-
hanging trees, and together they studied with the
rector, an eccentric old bachelor, who fascinated
the children by some mysterious power unknown
to himself or others; for his shyness and nervous-
ness had crept into his face and speech, so that the
former was frequently distorted by sudden frowns
quite beyond his control, and in conversation the
latter was either very slow and hesitating, or rapid
and uneasy and full of repetitions.
Dewdney would read histories and travels aloud
-they both repeated lessons learnt together-and
then for the last half hour of the morning, when
the books were closed, the two children sat on the
rug at their tutor's feet, listening with absorbed
attention to his eager flow of words, as-nervous-
ness and shyness alike forgotten-he told them in
simple but striking language some beautiful Bible
story. On the intervening days Patience learnt
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 29
knitting under Nurse's supervision, and puzzled
over the dusty keys of the old piano for her own
amusement, until her cousin came back from his
Latin and arithmetic.
The afternoon hours were all their own; and
they, believing in "the simple creed of childhood,
delight and liberty," would start for a long ramble
together, over the fields and down the lanes, where
"In the warm hedge grew lush eglantine,
Green cow-bind, and the moonlight coloured may
And cherry blossoms and white cups, whose wine
Was the bright dew."
It seemed as if the children would quickly know,
"The light and smell divine,
Of all the flowers that breathe and shine;"
for Dewdney's eyes were ever ready to see some
new blossom and to teach Patience its individu-
ality, and neither child would rest until they had
learnt its name and added it to their long list of
Or, if they could not go out of doors, there was
plenty of happiness to be found in wandering
through the unused, empty rooms of the old house,
making "pretending games" for themselves-aided
by a good deal of imagination--out of any new
idea that happened to suggest itself to their active
And Dewdney here deserves a few words to
himself. He was a manly, good-tempered boy, but
he suffered from a bronchial delicacy which un-
fitted him at present for rough school usage. His
devotion to his little adopted sister was soon very
deep and protecting, and the love between the two
had quickly soothed the pain of the separation
from his parents.
He once confided to Patience that he used to cry
himself to sleep every evening when they first
went away; until one night-the first after he
came to Kedsmoor-he thought that his mother
came and kissed him, and while stroking his cheek
told him that it was not quite manly to cry so
much. She would be better pleased if he gave all
the love he could to Patience until she came
"Oh, Dew!" Patience cried. "Then that is
why there was a tear on your cheek that night.
Perhaps when I touched you I made you dream
that." And then she told him of her visit to his
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 31
Although he was sorry to give up the illusion of
his mother's caressing touch, he said merrily:
"Well, I'm jolly glad you found out what I was
like when I was asleep. If you tried your hand at
feeling my face all over when I was awake you
would tickle me so much that I should be bound
to laugh, and then you would think I had wrinkled
cheeks like Nurse's." And finding how sensitive
and accurate was the touch of her fingers, he used
to amuse himself by trying to puzzle or catch her
at fault with the colours and shapes of different
objects. Thus he unconsciously trained to wonder-
ful acuteness that sense which is often so merci-
fully made a substitute for lost sight.
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew;
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.
And the spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."
"I say, Patience, hurry up! There's old Peter
coming along the road. He's safe to have a letter
for me. I feel a feeling as if he had. Come down
and let's run to meet him."
"All right, Dew, Iwon't be minute. If onlyI could
find my sash. I'm sure its nowhere in my room."
"Hulloa! Your sash? Oh, I know where it is.
It's on the floor in my room. Don't you remem-
ber ? I had it on yesterday when we were playing
at brigands up in the attic."
The golden head disappeared from the bed-
room window, and Dewdney returned to the
merry tune he was whistling, as he strutted up and
down with his hands in his pockets, or kicked his
feet in the loose gravel of the drive. He had not
long to wait, however, for little Patience was soon
by his side; a blue sash in a sad state of crumple
tied round her waist, and attended by her devoted
"That's right, come along. Are you game for a
good run, Patience ? Isn't it a jolly day? "
"Yes, isn't itl It's just the sort of day for a
birthday. I'd have chosen to have mine on a day
like this, if I could. But it's in December, you
know, so it's no good thinking about it."
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 33
"And mine's in January. So I'm no better off
than you are, old girl. But come along, I say. We
shan't get anything of a run if you stop talking."
In the accustomed way, with a hand on each
other's shoulder, they broke into a rapid run, and
reached the gate, panting and breathless and full of
laughter, just as the old postman was opening it.
"How many have you got, Peterl"
"There's three to-day, little Master. One for
Jane, one for Cook, and one for little Miss-bless
"For me? How lovely! I've never, never had a
letter by post before."
"Then may it be a good one as a beginning,
Missie. For it's not all good noos as I carries,
worse luck. Letters is like nuts. There's nothing'
on the outside to give one a hint if the kernel's good
or not, unless it's a black-edged envelope now and
again-just for all like the nibble of the grub."
Peter ranked high in the children estimation as
a man of wise words, who thought profoundly. He
certainly had a quaint way of talking, which is
especially charming to the young, and they would
have liked to keep him for some minutes chatting
through the bars of the gate; but he was the soul
of honour, and would not loiter on his rounds. So
handing over the three letters he went on his
plodding way, leaving Patience and Dewdney
standing in the morning sunshine, the former
feeling her own letter all over, and then slowly,
with much enjoyment in the novelty of the pro-
cess, tearing it open and drawing out its contents.
"Now read it. Quick! How does it begin?"
"' My dear little daughter-'"
"Of course, I thought so. It's from father.
Now, if he will only say he is coming to-day
everything will be perfect," and the little girl,
excited by the bare idea, gave a merry skip into
the air, while her cousin went on reading.
"' I have suddenly remembered that to-morrow'"
[" That's to-day now" interrupted Patience again]
" is my birthday. Old people don't care for these
days very much, but little folk do, I know. So I
advise you and Dewdney to ask for a holiday, and
if it is not very hot you might walk over to meet
the 11.40 train; I may possibly be in it. I think
I can trust my nephew to take proper care of you.
Your loving father,
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 35
"Take care of you! Of course I can; and if I
couldn't, Rush could. Couldn't you, old doggie?
How splendid of Uncle to have thought of coming
to-day. I'm so glad we remembered his birthday
sooner than he did. Won't he be surprised "
"And I hope he'll be pleased too. Nurse says
'gentlemen are 'mazingly particular.' But I think
he can't help liking them. And they're so useful
The tongues of the little couple rattled on at a
fine pace as they dawdled back to the house with
Rush walking between them, wagging his tail
lazily and looking from one to the other as if he
quite entered into the interest of the moment.
Patience's hand held the dog's collar as usual, and
while Dewdney ran off to the kitchen to give the
maids their letters these two crossed the hall and
stopped by the old clock. The little girl put out
her hand to stroke "Mr. Time's" wooden sides.
She always remembered to tell this old friend any
special piece of news, though he had been some-
what neglected since the advent of her cousin.
How much Patience had changed during the last
few months, and under the influence of his con-
genial companionship! Like a flower, she had
"ope'd her heart to hold the dew," and was de-
veloping into a merry, sunny little maiden, to
whom sighs and tears, born of an oppression of
loneliness, were things unknown.
As she stood waiting for Dewdney to join her
she spoke in a tone of mock gravity to the old
"Now, listen to me, sir! There must be no
dawdling this morning. You know you can fly if
you like, 'Mr. Time,' so you may as well hurry along
as fast as you can until you strike eleven. But
after that, remember, we want you to move quite
slowly. We want you to make this day a beauti-
fully long one. Now, don't be cross! You really
won't have the heart to say 'no' when I tell you
that Father's coming!" And the merry little voice
began to sing a nursery song, while her hand beat
a lively accompaniment on "Mr. Time's polished
"This is what the birds are singing,
This is what the bells are ringing,
This is what the bees are humming
In the sunshine-' Father's coming.'"
But Dewdney's thick boots clattering along the
passage soon came as a noisy interruption, and the
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 37
children hurried off to tell the good news to Nurse,
and to discuss the day's programme over their
Evans, the gardener, was despatched with a
queer little twisted note, not over clean, and rather
oddly expressed, which informed the rector that:
Uncle says we may have a whole hollyday, and
he's got a birthday, and we hope you won't mind
very much. We are very glad, but Patience says
we like our lessons too, only it's Father's birthday,
you know.-I am,
"Your loving pupel,
Then Nurse was besieged for paper and string.
"It must be white paper, please; and we should
like blue string, if you've got any. I heard Father
say once that blue was his favourite colour."
"How you remember things, Patience," said
Dewdney, looking admiringly at his little cousin.
"I know! That's because my eyes don't see.
People like me nearly always have good memories.
Father says so."
"Well, then, Master Dooaney, that explains
how it is that you have got a head like a cullender.
I never did see such a young gentleman for letting
things go in at the one ear and out of the other.
No, I never did." And Nurse steered her hands
through the string-box, and looked over her
spectacles at the children with a very severe ex-
pression in her eyes, which was contradicted by the
smile on her lips.
"You mustn't look like that, Nursie. We've
got a holiday, you know, and you mustn't scold
us all day-not once. Besides, it's quite right.
Patience remembers things for me, and I see things
for her. That's quite fair; isn't it, Patience?"
Of course!" and then the little maiden went off
into one of those merry, delicious peals of laughter
such as only come from the light heart of happy
"What's the joke?" asked Dewdney.
"Oh! I was only thinking that you and I are
like the frog who carried the mouse over the
water, that old Peter told us about. Only mind
you never let me tumble off your back, or I shall
be drowned, and then you won't be able to remem-
ber anything any more."
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 39
"Well! I do think you're a little bit like a
mouse. But it's not quite so well to look like a
frog-and if I take to jumping you'll say I startle
you, and you won't like it."
"What nonsense you are talking, Master Dood-
ney! and how you do rattle on. I never did see
such a boy."
"No! Mrs. Grummel. Of course you didn't.
Good people are very scarce now-a-days."
"There! there! take the string and paper, Miss
Patience, and do up the parcels. There's no sense
to be got out of holiday-children, and I might have
known that. Eh, dearie me!" and the old woman
sighed heavily, and returned to her work with a
sudden access of those mysterious symptoms.
As the children and the dog walked through
the lanes, sweet-scented with spring flowers, they
met old Peter returning with his empty letter-
"And, if I may make so bold, where are young
Master and Miss off to now?" he inquired, as they
stopped in front of him.
"Oh, Peter!" Patience exclaimed. "There was
such nice news in the letter you brought me. We
are going to meet Father at the station, and he is
coming to spend a real holiday-birthday with us.
Do you know, he is forty years old to day? Isn't
it a great age?"
The old man smiled.
"Ay! it's a long life to your understanding,
Missie. But to me it seems more like the youth
I left behind many years ago. You see, I'm look-
ing at it from the other end, so to speak Perhaps
you will be so good as to carry old Peter's respects
and good wishes to the Master?"
"Oh! yes, we will! We won't forget. Good-
bye!" And the children, thinking that possibly
too much time had been wasted, took to their heels
and scampered down the lane hand in hand, the
lazy Rush shaking himself into a trot to keep pace
with them, while old Peter stood and watched
them until they were out of sight.
"It's real wonderful to see how gay the dear
little Miss can be without her sight. I'm sure it's
a lesson to us, as our eyes grow dim. No one, to
look at her now, would believe she lived in the
dark. She runs as fearless and as sure-footed as
Master Doodney-bless her!"
And on the platform of the railway station the
two waited for the train.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 41
"I say, Patience, stand still! How you fidget!
It's not coming yet."
"Yes it is. Listen! I can hear it rumbling ever
so far away. It sounds like a fly under a tumbler,"
she added, laughing. "Doesn't it?"
"I don't hear it yet. Oh! now I do. Keep
still, old girl! I'll tell you the very minute I see
Uncle's head sticking out of the window." And
when the train pulled up in the quiet country
station, and the one passenger alighted, he found
two bright eager faces ready to greet him with a
torrent of good wishes and "many happy returns."
It was no longer with the effort of past days that
Mr. Sten "came out of himself," and shared in
the simple pleasures of the two children. The
"shadows of sadness" were fast being driven far
into "the sombre back-ground of memory;" and
to-day he found the light-heartedness of his com-
panions so infectious, that he surpassed himself in
his endeavours to amuse them by relating all he
had seen and done since he was last at Kedsmoor.
But as they walked up the drive to the house the
conversation suddenly flagged, and then Patience
"You won't mind being shut into the drawing-
room all by yourself for a minute, will you, Father?
We want to see if you-I mean, if it's quite ready
first, you know."
"You shall do just what you like with me. But
it sounds very mysterious."
"Yes, doesn't itl But that's what makes it nice.
I like surprises-don't you?"
"That depends upon the surprise, I think. If
someone emptied a pail of water over me, I should
feel very much surprised; but I shouldn't like it,
The children laughed heartily at the notion; and
then Dewdney shut the drawing-room door upon
his uncle with a bang, and dragged Patience off to
see if the preparations were complete.
"He uses one, I particularly noticed," cried the
boy; "and it really is wearing out. So he can't
help liking my present. You see it's all right."
And he laid his cousin's hand upon one end of the
dining-room table, where two parcels lay concealed
under a large white cloth, which on its highest
ridge was adorned by a single dark-red rose.
"Yes, it's all right and tidy. So fetch Father
quickly, please, Dew. You know he's not accus-
tomed to having birthday pies."
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 43
And when Mr. Sten, with much ceremony and
bustle, was seated before his "surprise," if the
sightless eyes of his little daughter were denied
the gratification of watching the pleased expres-
sion of his face, her sensitive hearing could follow
and delight in every movement as he untied the
blue string and unfolded the paper wrappings of
the smaller of the two parcels, disclosing to view
a pair of evenly-knitted dark woollen socks.
"My little girl! did you really knit these all
yourself ? Is it possible? Do you know, Patience,
you could not have given me anything I should
have liked better. Let me look at those small
fingers." He spread open her little soft hand upon
the palm of his own, so strong and sinewy, and he
stroked it tenderly as he went on: "I can't under-
stand how they managed to toil through all those
many stitches. It is wonderful."
These appreciative words and the kiss that Mr.
Sten bestowed upon the child's flushed face were
"But here's another surprise, I do believe! Why,
children, I've almost forgotten what it feels like to
have presents!" And he unwrapped the walking-
stick, for which Dewdney's pocket-money of several
weeks had been set aside, while a shadow of re-
membrance crossed his face. "In the old days,"
he thought, "these anniversaries were very happy
ones;" then with a brave effort of unselfishness:
"and now they shall be happy again-for the chil-
"Do you like it, Uncle?"
"I should think so, my boy! By what magic
did you two think of the very things that I most
wanted ? My old stick shall be put away, and this
capital fellow shall be my daily companion in my
walks. Patience makes my old feet warm with
the work of her little fingers, Dewdney helps them
along life's road with a good substantial friend,
and both make the old father feel young again
with a 'birthday pie.'"
"We are so glad Is it as nice a birthday as all
your other birthdays, Father?"
"A great deal nicer than many of them, Patience."
"You've had-oh, such a great many birthdays
-haven't you ? But Peter says you are not old yet.
And he sent you his 'respects and good wishes.'
We nearly forgot-didn't we, Dewdney ? But are
you old, Father? Forty seems a great many years."
"I think, little woman, when people come to be
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 45
my age, it depends partly upon themselves and
partly upon what they do, whether they are old or
not. To-day I feel young and merry-ready for a
good romping game presently, eh? I feel like a
big grown-up boy, in fact. But sometimes when I
am alone, busy with my papers and my books,
reading and writing until far into the night, and
thinking until my head aches-then I am quite old.
I fancy my hair must be turning white very fast,
and that my walking-stick ought to be changed
for an old man's crutch. Which father do you like
-the old one or the young one?"
His little daughter's hand stole up to his face
and stroked his cheek with a tender touch as she
answered: "But I've never seen you when you
feel old. I would like you to be our young father
And Father promised to try his best.
The rest of the day was as great a success as
the beginning had been. There was a drive with
Father through the pleasant lanes, during which
the children discovered that he possessed a won-
derful supply of anecdotes--funny stories which
began in the nicest way with I remember when I
was a boy."
Driving home again they stopped at the station
once more, not that Father might catch the even-
ing train, as-for one overwhelming moment-
poor little Patience had thought, but to call for a
mysterious and interesting-looking box that was
labelled "T. Sten, Esq., Kedsmoor. To be left
till called for."
Though attacked by a volley of eager and in-
quisitive questions, Father maintained an impres-
sive silence, or smacked his lips occasionally, and
made, it seemed, every effort to mystify the chil-
dren more and more.
After tea the box was carried into the library
and opened. Love had assisted at its packing-
love had presided over the choice of its contents;
what wonder, then, that the children were com-
Two gifts for Patience-a desk fitted with a new
contrivance in a wire frame, which would make it
quite easy for the clever fingers to write letters;
and a child's cooking-stove, stocked with every-
thing that a small cook could possibly require.
Father was not wrong in thinking that Patience
could manage to use this unassisted, and that the
independent enjoyment of making miniature pud-
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 47
dings and pies would be one that she would
For Dewdney there were books such as all boys
love-books of travel and adventure. And, best
of all, a carpenter's box containing chisels that were
sharp and keen; a hammer that did not lose its
head the first time it was wanted; a plane that
could really fulfil its mission, and smooth a rough-
ened surface; and gimlets and bradawls that seemed
to know their way into pieces of wood by instinct.
And then the children began to feel a little tired,
the excitement flagged, two yawns were carefully
"The daylight was gone,
And the heavens wept dew on the flowers."
Father's birthday had come to an end.
Yet the recollection lived long in the minds of
all. Partly because it had taught Mr. Sten what
a power of enjoyment still remained in his worn-
out old heart-partly because it was the first of
many such days.
"Dewdrops are the gems of morning
But the tears of mournful eve."
ONE dull November morning Dewdney came to
breakfast with a heavy, sweeping cold, and
Nurse Grummel said in sententious tones:
"Well, all I can say is that you'll have to bide
at home to-day, Master Doodney-and that's as
clear as starch to my mind."
But Patience, with Rush to guide her, started
off at the usual hour for the rectory, and the
faithful old dog led her steadily and sedately
through the lanes, where each tree
"Waved above them her green leaves
Dewy with nature's tear-drops as they passed,"
and then along the field-paths with a care that was
Arrived at the old house they both marched
unannounced into the quiet study as was their
"Have you come alone, Patience? a-hem-ah!
Where's Dewdney 1 a-hem! How shall we manage
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 49
-a-hem-without him-a-hem-to read to us,
"Nurse says Dew's cold wants a good cossetting
-and she's going to make him such a nice black-
currant tea to sip-and she sent me to say my
lessons alone to-day."
Then the little girl put her arms round the old
man's neck, kissed his yellow wrinkled face, and
took her accustomed seat on the stool at his feet.
"Very awkward er um very awkward!
But we must do the best we can-er-er-the best
we can. Say all you have learnt for me and then
I must-er-read to you. And-um-before you
go we will have our favourite story, eh -er-um."
"About that man in the Bible who was like me?
Oh, yes; I always like that best!"
Half the morning was spent happily over the
lesson-books, while Rush lay snoring before the fire.
And then the old man drew the child to his side,
put his shyness and nervousness away like a
mask, and began the simple history of blind Bar-
"You know, Patience, this is a story of an
opportunity-a golden opportunity too. Perhaps
if the blind man had let it pass it might never
have come to him again. But you know how per-
severing he was in his determination to use God's
golden gift-this opportunity;" and having put
the moral at the beginning of the story instead of
in its usual place, the rector continued:
"A crowd was passing slowly along the road-
out through the gates of Jericho and along the
highway to Jerusalem-' a great number of people'
-and as they moved along their faces ever turned
towards One who walked with them, talking as
"'The Son of Man came not to be ministered
unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ran-
som for many.' This He said as He walked, and
the people wondered. Nay! they knew, and were
very soon to see again His readiness to minister to
the needs of those around Him. But' to give His
life a ransom for many!' What might this mean
"And before them, in the distance, seated by
the road-side, were two men-beggars. We are
told the name of one. It was Bartimeus, and he
it was who seemed to take the lead. As they sat
they could hear the approaching multitude. They
could tell that something unusual came their way.
But they could see nothing. The windows of their
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 51
sight had been closed from their birth. Of the
first man who came within hearing Bartimeus
"' Who is this!'
"The answer filled him at once with trembling
hope, which grew stronger as he cried aloud
'Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!'
His companion joined in the cry. Had they not
heard of the two blind men of Capernaum who had
received their sight through the miraculous touch
of 'this same Jesus?' Had not these men 'spread
abroad His fame in all that country?' Had He
not been heard to say to one blind man 'I am the
Light of the World ?'
"As the crowd grew thicker around them the
beggars were angrily told to hold their peace.
Why should the Master be troubled or hindered
on His way to Jerusalem? But the opposition,
the efforts to silence them, only made Bartimeus
lift up his voice in a more earnest and determined
cry for help. He need not have been afraid. The
Divine Master will never turn a deaf ear to that
prayer, 'Have mercy upon me!'
"Jesus stood still. And then the crowd around
Him changed their tone. Angry only a minute
before! but now they hasten to tell the impor-
tunate beggar in kindly words to 'be of good
courage. Rise. He calleth thee.'
"So, casting away his outer garment that nothing
should hinder him from obeying that call, Bartimeus
came to Jesus. His companion followed him.
And as they heard the gracious question, 'What
will ye that I should do unto you?' how they must
have longed to see Him who spoke so tenderly!
"'So,' we are told, 'Jesus had compassion upon
them.' That hand that had been laid upon so
many sick, sad, and sinful sufferers was once again
put forth to do it's work of ministering. It touched
"And then-then the blind eyes opened 'to the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ.'"
The child and the old man sat silently thinking
for a while. His thoughts were dwelling rather
sadly upon that other blindness, with which it was
his mission to have so much to do-that blindness
of heart where the eye is evil, and the whole body
full of darkness;" but presently rest came with the
recollection of the promise that God "will bring
the blind by a way that they knew not; and
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 53
will make darkness light before them, and crooked
But the child's thoughts ?
Can't you tell me just a little bit what it is like
to see that beautiful face?"
"How can I, dear child? Let me think! What
is the most wonderful sound you ever heard?-
something which made you feel very glad, and yet
solemn too-and as if the Dear Lord was very close
to you. Did anything ever make you feel like
that, little one?"
Patience thought for a long time now; sitting
with her chin resting upon her hands and her sight-
less eyes bent upon the ground.
"I know what you mean," she said at last. "It
was in the summer-and I woke up in the night. I
knew it could not be daylight, because there was
not a bit of sound anywhere, and it felt dark.
Then all at once a bird began to sing. Nurse had
left my window just a little way open, because I
told her I was so hot, and so I could hear quite
plainly. It was such a beautiful song that the bird
sang, and it was such a happy song too. I did not
feel a bit lonely, I only felt very glad. And all at
once I remembered that nobody else was awake to
hear the song except me; and that made me begin
to wonder why the bird sang when everything had
gone to sleep. Then it came into my head that it
must be singing to God-and God seemed to be so
very close to me, and I felt so safe-and I whis-
pered to Him that I did love Him and I should
like to sing to Him too-like the bird. Isn't that
what you mean?"
Yes, little woman, you understand very well.
Notes in silver softness blending,
Dew-like on the ear descending,'
and all the thoughts that they put into your head,
are the best explanation that I can give you of
what it will be like when you "see Him and are
"Will it really be like that ?" There was wonder
and a difficulty of comprehension in the child's
"Like that, but far, far more perfect. The best
of us cannot imagine all the completeness and rest
and beauty of that sight."
"Tell me some more."
"Not now. We have talked longer than usual,
and this small head will begin to ache."
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 55
The old man's hand was laid upon the white fore-
head of the little girl's upturned face, and he kept
it there for a moment as he added the priestly bless-
ing, "The Lord bless you and keep you, little
Patience; the Lord make His face to shine upon
More than an hour later, Miss Grummel, with a
gay woollen shawl thrown grotesquely over her
white cap, was standing in the road outside the
house, gazing anxiously into the thickness of a
November fog, and wondering, "wherever Miss
Patience could be got to!"
It was nearly two o'clock, and the dull gray
morning had gradually developed into a dense fog,
turning mid-day into the gloom of evening. Where
was the child?
Suddenly Nurse started aside with an exclamation
of fear, as a dark object brushed against her leg.
It was Rush. Rush, foaming with the speed of
his run, and with the light-brown hair of his coat
splashed and matted with blood.
With trembling hands Nurse patted his head and
drew him back to the house-terrible foreboding
filling her mind. Why had this trusty, dependable,
time-tried old dog, come back alone What did
the blood-stains mean? Oh! why could he not
speak and put an end to their suspense ?
Poor little Dewdney begged and implored to be
allowed to accompany Jane and the gardner who,
together, were at once despatched to seek the mis-
sing child. But no! Nurse was inexorable. She
would not have an attack of "brown-creeturs" to
make more "worriting," she said.
The dog's restless movements to and fro ceased,
and his plaintive whines subsided as he led the
way down the drive-Jane and Evans following
silently through the thick atmosphere.
Half-way down the last road-a long lane leading
to the village-there was another lane branching off
at right angles, which was in summer a pretty
grass-grown road leading to a wild piece of common.
This waste land had recently been purchased by a
fortune-hunter, who, with visions before him of a
small colony of houses, had already made prepara-
tions for extensive draining.
Down this lane, now lined with trees all black
and frost-tipped, and looking weird and ghostly in
the gloom, Rush turned his limping steps, hasten-
ing to the end, where he suddenly stopped, whining
and scratching with his paws on the edge of a deep
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 57
excavation. Jane clung in terror to the gardener's
arm as they bent over the side, and saw through the
dimness, about six feet below them, the motionless
figure of their dear little mistress.
WTith a muttered exclamation Evans thrust his
companion aside, and jumping fearlessly down,
knelt beside the child.
Her eyes were closed, her head thrown back in an
uneasy attitude, and her breath coming in little
sobbing gasps. With tender care she was lifted up
and given into Jane's strong arms stretched down
to take her. Evans, after examining the sides of
the excavation, where he found more than one
stone stained with good Rush's blood, and more
than one place where he had evidently made futile
efforts to escape, managed himself to climb the
rough sides and join the housemaid.
When Patience had been laid upon her own little
bed and Nurse and Jane, with much fussing and
many tears, had feebly tried various restoratives,
and while Dewdney was vigorously rubbing her
cold stiff hands, she suddenly opened her eyes and
murmured something in eager rapid words, which
they could not understand. Nurse poured a few
drops of wine between the parted lips, but her old
hands trembled pitifully and tears ran down her
"Nurse, what did she sayi" whispered the
"Never mind now, honey; let her bide as still
as may be till the doctor's here. She'll be better
when she's abed, I'm hoping. But I dursn't touch
her till I know as no bones is broken. My precious
lamb!" and with a sob the old woman sank into the
rocking-chair and gave way to her grief.
There was no further sign of consciousness-
nothing but an occasional moan from the suffering
child; and it was an intense relief to the three
watchers when Dr. Melwyn arrived. He was young,
active, and kindly. The children knew him well,
and loved him. His keen eye and steady hand,
his readiness of resource, and his strength of pur-
pose, all inspired the confidence that everyone gave
And things were very different after he had
been in the child's room for a few minutes; for "a
medical man is the good angel of the troubled
house." Soon little Patience was lying in her white
bed, and the wound, large, but not deep, which was
found among the golden curls, skilfully tended.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 59
After a time the doctor took his seat by the bed-
side to watch the child's suffering face, and to hold
one little cold hand in his.
He had sent Jane and Dewdney out of the room;
but presently he felt a touch on his arm, and a sub-
dued voice whispered earnestly:
"Mayn't I stay? I won't make the tiniest
Dr. Melwyn drew the child to his side with a
gesture of pity and nodded a "Yes," but then he
motioned him back again while he moved Patience
into an easier position. It was probably this that
roused her, for she turned on the pillow and began
to feel helplessly about her. Guessing intuitively
what she wanted, the doctor put one of Dewdney's
hands into hers. The long finger's closed over it
eagerly-a look of rest and satisfaction crept into
Father's coming," she said presently. "Father's
Dr. Melwyn thought the little brain wandered;
but Dewdney knew the acuteness of her hearing,
and whispered into his friend's ear:
"I expect he is coming. Patience hears him an
awful long way away."
"Then go down and meet him, my boy, and
bring him up here at once."
What was the doctor afraid of as Dewdney ran
lightly from the room and down to the open front
door, where the cold night air was bringing in the
sound of approaching wheels ?
Mr. Sten-who had come once again as a sur-
prise to "the children"-was quick to see that look
of anxiety in the doctor's face as he entered the
room, followed by Dewdney.
Poor Father! He read that look, and hid his
face in his hands without a word. His heart
seemed to throb to the sound, "no hope! no hope!"
The doctor touched his arm.
She knows you are here. Speak to her."
All Mr. Sten's strength went to steady his
voice as he turned to the bed and said quietly:
"My own dear little girl, get well for Father's
"I would like to-dearly."
Patience said the words dreamily and very
slowly, but they were like music to her father's
What had the thought of death always meant
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 61
They all knew. She had often talked of the gift
it would bring her, and in her quaint way had
"It won't be the same to me as other people,
you know. It will be better, for I shall be able to
use my eyes then. They are dark now, but the
kind angel, Death, is going to carry me into the
And she wished to stay with her father-in spite
Earthly love is very strong; but it could never
close the door to this solemn quest. It is only the
Divine love that is "stronger than the strong man,"
and that can say "Hitherto but no further."
"I would like to-dearly !" said the soft little
And God heard.
All through the night they watched. Rush,
poor old doggie, crept into the room, and sat with
his nose on the counter-pane, and his brown eyes
fixed upon his little mistress's face.
Had all his efforts been in vain? Would he
never again feel the soft fingers holding on to his
collar or pulling his silky ears ?
Down in the hall the old clock chimed the hours
with mournful emphasis.
There was no other sound in the house.
But in the early morning, Patience-who, for
many hours had tossed restlessly from side to side
-suddenly opened her eyes, and lay quite still.
"Father," she said earnestly, "are you there'
I've had such a nice dream! But I'm getting very
sleepy. Shall I tell it to you to-morrow ?"
"Then, good-night. It really was a very nice
dream, about what I shall see some day. Good-
night. I'll tell you to-morrow. You'll remind
"Yes, little one."
The sightless eyes closed again. A little sigh
reached Mr. Sten's strained anxious ears. He
looked into the doctor's face with a terrible fear at
his heart. But Dr. Melwyn's lips shaped the
words, "Hush! This is sleep."
Yes. It was natural life-giving sleep, with no
sound or movement through the room or house,
to break it, only the faint "tick-tick" of old "Mr.
Time," to mark that it extended from minutes into
one-then two hours.
A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN. 63
More softly than the dew is shed
A cloud is floated overhead.
He giveth His beloved sleep."
The "kind angel, Death," paused on the thres-
hold and then turned away, and in his place came
the Angel of Life, filling the air with his sweet
presence, fanning the hot cheeks of the suffering
child, as she lay patiently on her bed of sickness,
bringing renewed vigour to the tired limbs as the
days went by, and teaching many lessons of the
mercy and goodness of God to Mr. Sten as he
watched his little daughter's feeble but steadily
advancing steps from the very brink of the grave
back to a complete recovery.
Through Dr. Melwyn's advice, when Patience
was able to bear the move, her father took the
children and Nurse Grummel to spend the winter
in the South of France.
And would you believe it? Rush was allowed
to go too.
But then the dear old fellow deserved it-did he
No one will forget his cleverness on that terrible
November day, the very thought of which makes
Father tremble at "what might have been."
64 DEW: A SIMPLE STORY FOR CHILDREN.
And now an atmosphere of love surrounds the
blind child. She lives the contented life of one
who, "loving and beloved," seems to draw out all
the good in others, and unconsciously-and in
"such little things" as she would say-to "weave
a noble influence." But "small service is true
service while it lasts."
The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the sun.