!, -1 :---xx .::i
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The Baldwin Library
"'I'M NOT GOING TO GAMBLE,' SAID BEN."-Page 47.
AUTHOR OF DOTTLESS AND CARRIE'; "DICK'S SCHOOLDAYS," ETC.
S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO.
S9 PATERNOSTER Row
I. THE COTTAGE UNDER THE HILL, .
II. THE PICTURE AT THE HALL, 17
III. BEN BEGINS LIFE, 25
IV. HE MAKES AN ENEMY, 36
V. OUR MICHAELMAS FAIR, .44
VI. THE CULPRIT FOUND,. 54
THE COTTAGE UNDER THE HILL.
EN! BEN! Where are you?"
His mother stood on the stone
step at the cottage door, and shad-
ing her eyes from the sun, looked
anxiously up the face of the cliff which almost
overhung their home. She thought once she
could discern white pinafore among the shrubs
high up yonder, and speaking louder still she
called the name of her boy, but at the sound
of her voice a white pigeon fluttered from the
grassy crag, spread out its wings, and made
wide circles in the air. She stepped back
into the cottage disappointed and anxious.
"What has become of Ben ? I do wish the
8 Bright Ben.
lad wouldn't stay away so, it does make my
heart feel that bad with worry about him."
"Oh don't take on about it, mother dear.
Ben's all right; he is a good lad and will take
care of himself. He's a regular mother's
The speaker, lying on a little couch near
the window, was a pale girl, a few years older
than her brother; an invalid, too, who had not
walked for many a day. Though she was
simply but very neatly dressed, the face of
Agnes had a light upon it, brighter than the
beams of that sunshine which poured through
the window, and lit up with an added glory,
the scarlet geranium and scented mignonette.
She loved her brother with all her heart, and
now, although not so anxious as her mother
about him, found herself constantly lifting up
the edge of the muslin curtain to catch the
first glimpse of him directly he came in sight
on his way home. By.her side lay a large old
copy of "Pilgrim's Progress," between the
leaves of which were sprays of choice fern and
pretty wild flowers, which Ben had collected
for her, from time to time, on his rambles.
The Dutch clock in the corner ticked loudly,
as though sensible of the constant attention
of Mrs. Pottle as she paused in getting tea
ready to look up again and again to see how
The Cottage under the Hill.
the time was going. "Nearly half-past five
I declare, and that boy not back yet; he
won't be home before father, I'll be bound.
Oh, dear, I do wish he'd come."
She had guessed rightly, for scarcely had
the words passed her lips, when a step was
heard at the door and the sound of a walking-
stick knocking away some of the leaves which
had fallen in the path. It was "father."
When he had by patient effort managed to
get the garden path tidy once more (and he
prided himself upon being a man of order),
little Mr. Ezra Pottle came in and laid down
his parcel, folded neatly in a black handker-
chief, upon the chair.
Are you very tired, father dear ?"
"No, my dear, not overmuch, but Mister
Langton has a regular fad about his buttons."
"Ay, they say he's a bit hard to please,
"I should think so; why after all the pains
I spent over that braiding and making the
coat look as good as a new garment, he says,
says he, 'Pottle it doesn't seem to button up
properly, my man.' Lord bless you,' I says,
'it's as right as a trivet, sir; I haven't been
tailoring these fifty years, man and boy, for
nothing.' Then he seemed to think I'd taken
offence, for he gave a bit of a laugh and said,
'Never mind, old fellow, how much is it?'
and paid me like a gentleman."
This was rather a long speech for old Mr.
Pottle, taking away all his remaining stock of
breath after climbing the hill. So for a time
he subsided into quietness, broken only by
little grunts and comments to himself about
Ben's not in yet, father; I'm getting a bit
worried about him, dear."
And the mother went to the door again,
shading her eyes and calling once more,
SBen, Ben, are you coming, love ?"
"All right, mother, here I am!"
How her heart jumped at the sound of his
voice, and how her face lost all its look of care
as she caught sight of her boy clambering
down towards the cottage and then scamper-
ing along the narrow white road to her. side.
So sorry, mother, but look what I've got
She kissed her son's brown cheek and
pushed the curls from his brow, looking lov-
ingly into the dark, bright eyes which were
lifted to hers.
"Dear lad, I do get fidgety; you know you
are so very precious to your mother."
Promising better things next time, Ben
disengaged himself, and, rushing into the
BEN'S COTTAGE HOME.
The Cottage under the Hill. 13
cottage, laid a big bunch of primroses before
"Thank you, Ben; what a lot of beautiful
A flush came on the cheek of Agnes as her
eyes brightened at the sight of them.
I've been right to the top this time, Agnes,
by the rabbit path, you know, past that bit of
rock where I cut your name that sunshiny
day when you were with me."
"I remember, Ben, quite well; and don't I
wish that I could climb the hill with you
By this time Ben was sitting by his father
at the table, and doing ample justice to the
thick bread and treacle with which his
thoughtful mother had supplied his plate.
Once more into the willing ear of his son the
little old tailor told the tale of his experiences
with the squire, and explained to Ben the
mysteries of braiding, buttoning, and other
branches of the craft. The boy was too lively
and fond of the fresh air to give much help or
attention to his father's trade. Still every
evening he spent an hour by his side, with
the needle in his hand, doing his best to
follow the directions of the little old man.
The shadows had begun to lengthen before
the tea'was cleared away, and Ben's mother
had reverently put before her husband on the
table the old Bible and hymn-book. Many,
many years had passed since these books were
fresh and new; to some people they had the
appearance of having always been old; from
the edges of the brown leaves little bits of
faded ribbon and old envelopes showed them-
selves. This Bible almost opened, like Peter's
prison gate, of its own accord, and when the
old tailor, putting on his glasses, quietly turned
the leaves they stopped fluttering at the I4th
chapter of St. John. Reading slowly, and with
a quaver in his voice, the old man repeated
those wonderful words of our Lord wherein
He bids us be of good cheer and comfort
because we believe.in Him.
Then Ben got up and fetched from a shelf
near the fire-place his instrument of music, an
accordion with a rather faulty bellows, and
some of the pearl off the keys; but in the
hands of the brown-haired boy, who laid his
cheek on the top while resting it on his knee,
some hymn tunes-played at any rate, to the
best of his ability-were produced therefrom.
"Now, Ben," said his father, as he closed
the Bible, "give us the tune of 428, my boy."
Ben led off as desired, and soon the little
cottage was filled with thankful praise to
The Cottage under the Hill. 15
Glory to thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light,
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thy own Almighty wings."
The hymn over, an earnest prayer was
uttered, as to One very near and able to save,
and to whose loving care each by name,
mother, Agnes, and Ben, were committed in
This was Ben's home, not a very rich one,
but happy and helpful, where love brightened
everything, and made every little service a
When Agnes wished her brother good-
night, she produced a small parcel wrapped in
"Ben, I want you to go somewhere for me
to-morrow, to take this precious bit of lace
I have been making all last week on my
"Isn't it pretty ?" said the boy, holding the
dainty threads in his hand.
"Now, I may as well tell you, Ben, that
this is to go to Captain Clarke's at Babingcote
Hall. Mrs. Clarke told father the other day
that she would like some of my lace."
"All right, Agnes. I'11 go first thing in
.the morning; I hope she is going to give you
a lot of money for it."
16 Bright Ben.
"I don't know, but you must bring back
whatever she gives you, Ben, and I shall try
to do some more soon."
Ben kissed his sister and bade her good-
night, adding as he went away to his little
room: "Some day, Agnes, I shall be a man,
and then you shall not have to work at the
pillow lace any more."
-,l ,# -
THE PICTURE AT THE HALL.
T HE birds were singing in the trees; and
the insects humming among the long
grass and flowers, as Ben started off
to Babingcote Hall next morning.
In his pocket was safely stowed away the
tiny parcel of precious lace, the work of many
weary but industrious days on that couch by
the cottage window. Perhaps it was his
errand and the thought of all the labour
which Agnes had spent on the lace, that
filled Ben's mind with all sorts of ideas about
the future, and what he would do when he
grew up to be a man.
He thought how his father was getting
older every day, and the tailoring was not
what it used to be, for the people liked to
wait until they went inte the town on market
day, and there buy something quite new and
ready-made, with just that bit of fashion about
18 Brzgkzt Ben.
it which poor old Mr. Pottle had not in his
power to supply. Then his mother's face
came up before his mind as he walked across
the fields, the tired, but brave, uncomplaining
look she always wore to him. When she
kissed him at the door that very morning, she
said: "Take care of the money on your way
back, Ben dear; we need it bad enough, the
And Ben did not see how, when she had
seen the last of him at the turning of the
road, she slowly repeated again, "the Lord
knows ;" and as though some whisper of com-
fort and help came into her heart, she smiled
and went about her work with renewed
But chiefest of all was Agnes, in Ben's mind;
she was so ill, and could do little for herself,
"but one day, please God," here the boy
stopped and looked round with earnest inten-
tion, "one day I will work hard and she shall
be so happy, and perhaps the doctor, if I can
afford to pay for a good one, may even make
her well again."
He was in the high road now, a half-dozen
good miles yet to walk, when he heard the
sound of wheels behind him, and presently a
carrier's cart, not very heavily laden, came
up. Silas, a ruddy faced, good-tempered
The Picture at the Hall.
man, who was driving, knew Ben, and
pulling up asked him to take a lift by
"How's father, Ben? I thought him a bit
aged last time I met him along here."
"Thank you, Silas, he's pretty well for
him, but he can't do so much as he used to-
The cart jolted along, the fresh breeze
blowing off the sea, only a mile away, and
although they had finished speaking, both
Silas and Ben were looking to the dim, blue
waste of water stretched as far as they could
see beyond the cliffs. A few white clouds
were slowly sailing across the sky, and here
and there over .the sea the sails of the fishing
smacks could be seen. It was a glorious
morning, and the man and boy in the cart
were enjoying their ride. Presently Silas
said quite abruptly,
Ben, what are you going to do for a living
when you get a man ?"
"I'm going to do something, Silas, but
what it's to be I don't quite know. I wish
I did, I should like to make a beginning as
soon as I can."
"Well, do you know, when I was in Buswell
market to-day, just putting a few things in
my cart, I heard Mr. Morris saying to another
shopkeeper at the door, 'I wish I knew of a
decent lad to go errands for me.'"
Oh Silas, did he really say that? Why,
perhaps, I should do."
"Well, Ben, you'd better go over there this
afternoon and see him, say what I've told
you, lad, and I only hope you may get the
Little Ben's heart was too full to say much
more, already he was counting on the joy
of coming home at the end of the week with
money in his pocket, enough to help them a
little. Wouldn't he get some nice little things
for mother and Agnes, that dear sister of
his!. She should never try her eyes with that
lace-work any more. Thinking of the lace
made him remember his present errand, and
so starting off with a run, having said good-
bye to old Silas, Ben soon reached the gates.
of the Hall.
It was an old-fashioned house, standing
far away from the road, and when the good
woman at the porter's lodge opened the gate,
and let Ben in, she smiled and wished him a
pleasant "good-morning." For Ben was
known as a good boy wherever he went.
"Is the lady at home, Mrs. Briggs ?"
Yes, my boy, go straight up to the front
door, and then ring the bell."
The Picture at the Hall.
This Ben did, and soon found himself in a
beautiful room hung round with pictures, and
carpeted so richly that Ben, although he had
taken great pains to brush his boots on the
mat outside, felt really afraid to walk on what
seemed to him the softest velvet. So he first
sat, cap in.hand, on one of the chairs near the
door, and gazed around with wonder and
admiration. The pictures most took his
fancy, some showing high mountains with a
lovely sunlight upon them, others with groups
of cattle in the green meadows feeding,
and again others pictured the deep, smooth
river gliding past the dark trees as evening
moves on. But one large painting at the end
of the room fixed his attention, and soon he
forgot all others in gazing upon that one.
It showed a door fast shut, and round about
it grew thick ivy and thorns, so that it had
evidently not been opened for a long time.
Outside stood a tall and noble-looking man,
with one hand raised as though he were
knocking loudly, and in the other hung a
lamp burning bright, and casting a beautiful
light upon his white and flowing robe. All
the picture was wonderful to Ben, and the
face most of all, for under his brow, which
was crowned with a circlet of thorns, were
eyes so full of love and tenderness, so bright
22 Bright Ben.
with a sweet light clearer and purer than that
shown by the lamp he held, that Ben could
not take his eyes from that glorious face.
Who he was Ben did not know, and why he
stood there in the dark night, knocking at the
fast-closed door, he could not imagine. But
he was a kind, loving, good man he felt in
his heart, and could not help believing that
in his tender gaze there was regard for him.
He was startled by a voice, close by,
"Well, my boy, I suppose you have never
seen such a picture before? "
Blushing when he saw it was the lady
herself who had come into the room, he
begged pardon for not hearing her before.
"But, oh ma'am, who is that standing
there, with the lamp?"
"That is the Lord Jesus Christ. Come,
Ben, we will go a little nearer, and see what
is written at the bottom of the picture."
Ben could read a little, and, fortunately for
him, they were all simple words. He read
them almost in a solemn voice, "Behold, I
stand at the door and knock."
Then Ben remembered the words in his
New Testament; and seemed more at home
with the picture now he knew it was the
Lord. The lady talked to him awhile, and
The Picture-at the Hall.
then, reminding him of the lace, put some
silver in his hand, and stood at the door, as
she watched him go away.
"Remember, Ben, that He is always
knocking, and we shall never be happy
while He is kept outside."
Ben hurried homewards, as happy as a king,
bursting into the cottage all dusty and out of
breath, bringing all the pink back to the face
of pale Agnes by squeezing into her hand
"Oh, mother, she is a nice lady."
"Yes, Ben, I know she is; I shall never
forget her kindness last winter when I was so
poorly, you remember."
"And I've seen such a beautiful picture.
Oh, Agnes, I wish you would have seen it too.
It was Jesus knocking at the door."
His father looked up from his sewing on a
bench in the corner, with a smile.
"I've seen that picture, too, Ben; the face
is quite beautiful. I well remember one day,
when I was measuring the Captain, he drew
my attention to it. 'That's a fine picture,
Pottle, isn't it?' said he.
"'Yes,' I said, going a bit nearer, and
putting my glasses well on, 'it's a fine
picture, sir, but it's the lesson in it I like.'
"' What's that?' said the Captain.
"'Why, when Jesus knocks at the door of
our hearts, sir, it is that salvation is come to
the house, and He will come in and sup with
us, and make His abode with us, as He pro-
mised in His Blessed Word.'"
It was too late to go over to Buswell that
afternoon, for the sun was fast setting, and
Ben was very tired. But he was full of his
plans for the future, and when he kissed his
mother and said good-night, his face was
bright with hope. The little attic where he
slept had white-washed walls, and before Ben
got into bed that night, he slowly and care-
fully printed on the wall next the window,
with a lead pencil, the words of the picture,
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock."
He went to sleep that night with the picture
of the wonderful face in his mind, committing
himself to the care of One, who would be his
best and truest friend and lead him safely all
life's journey through.
BEN BEGINS LIFE.
BUSTLING little town, with one
good street and an old market-
place was Buswell. Under the
shadow of the old square tower of
St. Peter's Church, was the forge where, at
all hours of the day, a little group of urchins
might be seen looking in at the open door,
and watching the strong arms of the black-
smith swinging the heavy hammer, and beat-
ing the burning red-hot iron into the shoe for
the horse standing waiting.
Not many people were seen in the streets
of Buswell, except on Saturdays, which being
market day brought the country folk from all
parts to sell their butter, fruit, and cattle.
Then was Buswell noisy and bustling, voices
were heard everywhere, men bargaining about
the price of wheat, and the value of fat beasts,
women standing by their baskets upon which
-' -CI-- -- U -I
26 Bright Ben.
the sweet fresh butter was laid upon wet
cabbage leaves, and holding out to the
passers-by knives for them to taste a bit of
On that day, too, the children were released
from school; generally dressed in their best,
they had fine games in the market, and man-
aged to get a penny or two to spend on nuts.
In the midst of the crowd was always to be
found the Punch and Judy show, and although
the nose of Mr. Punch was very much injured
by the repeated knocks of a life-time, and
Mrs. Judy too had dresses rather worse for
wear, the children who looked on enjoyed it
just as much, and laughed again and again
when dog Toby, looking very serious in the
corner, held the little broom.
Perhaps fortunately for Ben, it was not on
one of these busy, noisy days, that he walked
into Buswell, and mustering up all his
courage, entered the shop door of Mr. Morris,
the grocer and postmaster of Buswell town.
Ben had to wait a moment while Mr. Morris
finished serving a customer with a piece of
cheese, noticing with admiration the way in
which he cut just the right quantity from the
big round standing on the counter, and how
neatly he folded it in paper when weighed.
Ben begins Life.
"Well, my boy, what. can I do for you ? "
If you please, sir, I have heard from old
Silas that you want a good lad here, and
I should like, sir, please, to come very
Poor Ben, he had forgotten all the nice
little speech he had been practising all his
way from home, and just blurted out these
words with a red face, and eyes which spoke
even more than the earnest words.
Mr. Morris laid down his cheese-knife and
looked the lad full in the face, then he slowly
undid the tape of his white apron and tied it
up again evidently thinking all the while.
Presently he looked up again, and said, rather
sharply as Ben thought,
"What's your name, boy ?"
Ben Pottle, sir, or Benjamin is my proper
"Oh, your father's the tailor who lives in
the cottage under the hill, isn't he ?"
"Ah, that's in your favour; your father,
Ben, is a good man, and although he's a bit
old-fashioned in his cut of things, he's a
straight, worthy man is your-father."
Ben felt a bit cheered up by the rather long
speech, and began to think he would like Mr.
Morris very much.
30 Brig/t Ben.
You look tired, lad, have you walked all
the way ?"
"Yes, sir, but I don't -mind that a bit so
long as I get the situation."
Well, have you been anywhere before
"No, sir, this is the first time I have ever
had a situation."
"Wait a minute, Ben, you haven't got it
yet. What makes you in such a hurry to
This was a question which Ben could easily
answer, his heart had been so full of the
subject for two days, that it was no wonder
that he quickly told Mr. Morris all about
Agnes having to work so hard with her pillow
lace, and his mother not being very strong
and wanting a bit of rest, and his father
sometimes finding the tailoring rather slack.
"And I'm the only boy, sir, and they've all
been very good to me, and I do want, please
God, to earn a little money to help a bit."
"Well, would half-a-crown a week do for
you, if I let you live here ?"
Oh, yes, I should be very satisfied, indeed."
Very well, Ben, then you may come, and
I hope you will do well and grow up some
day to be a good shopman."
Ben felt so happy that he would have liked
Ben begins Life. 31
to run home at once and tell the glad tidings,
but Mr. Morris had turned round, and was
tapping at a little window in the wall, at which
appeared Mrs. Morris.
"My dear, there's old Pottle's son here,
and I've just engaged him; have you got a
drop of milk and something to eat for him
before he goes back."
"Of course, I have," said the bright little
woman; "send him round to the side door."
In a few minutes he was in the little
parlour behind the shop, and could see
through the window his new master, busy
with some more customers.
"Come, my boy, get on !"
Hungry as he was, Ben had, for the moment,
forgotten the large mug of milk and plate of
bread and cheese which Mrs. Morris had put
"So you are to be our new boy, are you?"
Well, you '11 have to work hard, you know,
there's nothing done in the world without
work, and work hurts nobody."
Everybody in Buswell knew that was the
opinion of Mrs. Morris; two things made her
feel bad,-seeing people with nothing to do,
or doing their work with half a heart. Mrs.
Morris practised what she preached, got up
32 Bright Ben.
early in the morning, looked after the cook-
ing of her husband's bacon, and was not
afraid of anyone finding dust on the parlour
sideboard, or a spot upon the kitchen floor.
But a kinder soul never lived than Mrs. Morris,
as many of the poor people in Buswell would
Ben assured her he was not afraid of work,
he would like to begin now, to show her that
he meant to do his best.
To-morrow morning will be soon enough,
my boy. I daresay you '11 make your way in
the world, if you work.hard and trust in God."
These last words were spoken in a quiet,
reverent tone, and were followed by inquiries
whether Ben had a Bible and was in the habit
of praying regularly, morning and evening.
He soon satisfied her on this head, and she
told him that if he meant to succeed he must
remember his Creator in the days of his
"Be honest, my lad, and speak the truth
always; do your duty as in God's sight, and
He will give you wisdom and strength for all
When Ben left, it was with the promise
that he should begin the-next morning, and
that always on Saturday, when it was possible,
he should go home and spend Sunday. His
Ben begins Life. 33
mother, as usual, was standing at the door,
looking for him, when, breathless with running
down the hill, he rushed to her arms with the
I've got it, mother, I've got it Fancy,
half-a-crown a-week, all my own working for
it, too; that's the nicest part about it."
Agnes laid down her book and listened
earnestly to the account of how he had been
so kindly treated, and smiled as she said,
"I knew they would take to you, Ben, and
be kind, for I was praying for you specially
just about the time you would be going into
That evening they were all very busy, his
mother with her needle mending his clothes,
Agnes making him a new tie out of some bits
of silk she possessed among her treasures, and
the good old father, spectacles on nose, patch-
ing up his boy's jacket and making it look
wonderful with new buttons. -
I well remember, Ben, my first place years
and years ago, when I was apprentice to a
tailor in Manchester; how hard we had to
work, and what a deal I had to bear, but, bless
the Lord, He brought me through it. I might
not have been as clever a worker as some, but
I stuck to it, and asked God to bless me, which
Many prayers went up to heaven from that
cottage, when the darkness came on, prayers
that the boy who was to leave it next morning
should be guided and blessed in this his
starting out in life.
The sun shone gaily through Ben's attic
window, and he was up betimes, and at last,
when all was ready, the brown little face was
held up to his mother for the good-bye kiss,
and tears filled their eyes as Ben was wished
God-speed in his new sphere.
He got to Buswell in good time, and after a
few minutes' rest went down to help another
boy a little bigger than he to take down the
shop shutters. While they were outside, his
"You're the new boy, aren't you?"
Well, look here, he '11 make you work, and
if he don't, why the missus will; she's a regular
good un at keeping people at it."
"Oh, I'm not afraid of work."
"Aren't you, then you'll be happy as a
lark here. I'm not quite of that way of think-
ing, and so I don't think so much of the
Ben swept the shop floor, packed up the
firewood, strung up all the loose bits of paper,
and amongst other things was shown by Mr.
Ben begins Life.
Morris how to weigh and paper up a pound
of sugar. Every now and then he caught the
eye of Mrs. Morris looking through her little
window, and was once called by her into the
parlour, not, however, to be scolded, but to
receive a new white apron, which when he put
it on she declared made him look "every inch
Beside Mr. Morris, who was rather bald and
had a funny habit of winking his eyes while
talking, Ben made acquaintance with Foster,
the principal salesman behind the counter,
a sandy-bearded man who said very little;
Kibble, the short, stout, young man who
looked after the cheese and candle depart-
ment; and Miss Spriggs, the young lady who
sold the stamps and prepared the letters for
the postman when he called. The boy who
spoke to him was Baggs, who went on errands
and did odd jobs; nobody seemed to care
much for him. Happily he did not live there,
and when the day was over, and Ben, very tired
but feeling very happy, went to bed, it was to
find Kibble in the room already, sound asleep.
"God bless my dear mother, father and
Agnes," were the words on Ben's lips as he
blew out the candle and passed into the land
of dreams after his first taste of getting his
HE MAKES AN ENEMY.
D URING the quieter days of the week
the new boy at Mr. Morris's grocery
shop got on very well indeed, but
when Saturday came, with the crowd
of customers, it taxed Ben's wits to the utmost
to keep up with the work. He was not as yet
trusted to serve behind the counter, but found
plenty to do in carrying the baskets with their
different purchases to the covered carts and
traps in which the people had come to Buswell.
The only trouble he had was with Baggs, a
boy he could not like, and of whom he began
to be a bit afraid. He noticed that Baggs
was one thing while his master looked on,
and quite another when his back was turned,
that he avoided Mrs. Morris all he could,
because her eye was too much for him, and
her word, telling him not to be lazy but get
on, was not pleasant to Baggs.
He makes an Enemy.
Ben had often seen him stopping on his
round of errands to put down his basket for a
game of marbles, and, worst of all, had found
out more than once that when he had done
wrong and was scolded for it, he did not
hesitate to tell an untruth to get out of the
scrape somehow. Ben, when he went home
one Saturday evening, told his father about
this boy, and the old tailor gave him some
serious but useful advice on it.
"My boy, do not go out of your way to
offend him, but don't make a friend of him,
he will do you no good, and might bring your
good name into discredit. Remember, Ben,
the words of the Book: 'He that. walketh
with wise men shall be wise, but a companion
of fools shall be destroyed; evil pursueth
sinners, but to the righteous good shall be
"I will be very careful, father, and you will
pray for me that I may be kept out of temp-
He needed not to ask his old father that,
for many times a-day, as he sat bent over his
tailoring in the cottage, his heart was in
Heaven pleading for the blessing of God upon
his absent boy in Buswell.
One day Mr. Morris called Ben to him in
the shop and asked him how he liked his
38 Brigzt Ben.
place, telling him that he was very pleased
with him so far.
"Now, Ben, there's a busy time for us
coming next week, for it is the Michaelmas
Fair at Buswell, the great time that the people
look forward to all through the year. You
will have to look sharp then, for we get a lot
of people in, and we fill that window with
presents for the country folk to buy, and take
home as fairingss' to the children."
Ben was delighted at the prospect, and
promised to do his very best to help when the
rush came. It happened as they were talk-
ing, that they were left alone in the shop, and
Mr. Morris looking earnestly at Ben said:
"Look here, my boy, don't have much to
do with that lad Baggs, he's no good; and if
it wasn't for his poor mother, who is an honest,
good woman, I wouldn't keep him a day."
Perhaps, sir, he '11 be better some day."
I hope so, but I don't see much improve-
ment at present; at anyrate, Ben, don't let him
"Hasn't he got a father, sir ?"
"No, Ben, and when he had, he was not
much advantage to him. His father was a
lazy, drinking man, who used to spend at the
public-house the few shillings his mother
earned by charming and washing."
He makes an Enemy. 39
Just at that moment Baggs came into the
shop with his empty basket, and as usual, he
put it down and got as far out of his master's
way as possible. Mr. Morris, however, was
called away for a moment, and Baggs beck-
oned to Ben to come nearer. He did so, and
met with a frowning, angry look.
"What have you been saying about me to
the governor.?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.
"Nothing at all that I should be ashamed
to repeat before your face, Baggs."
"You've been telling tales, I can see it in
your eyes ; now look here, Ben, if ever I catch
you peaching about me, I'11 give you what
you won't like."
Ben saw what he meant by the clenched
fist, which he shook in his face. He was not,
however, at all frightened, being a brave boy,
and simply said,
"Baggs, I owe you no grudge, and shall
never do you any harm, but whether you hit
me-for it or not, I shall speak the truth what-
This was too much for Baggs, who aimed
a blow at his companion, which might have
caught his face, had not Ben slipped on one
side, and fallen over some empty sacks on
"Now I've caught you, young man, I '11
40 Bright Ben.
teach you to knock my boys about, in my
This was the voice of Mr. Morris. Ben had
no idea he could speak so severely, and saw
him grasping Baggs by the collar, and shaking
him like a cat would shake a mouse.
"Out with you,-go !"
Baggs, once released from the grip of his
angry master, was only too glad to obey this
command, and ran down the street as fast as
his legs could carry him.
"Don't explain, Ben; I heard it all, for I
stood behind this pile of biscuit boxes all the
time. I am very glad you stood to your guns
like a man, I'll take good care that he never
comes into this shop again."
Ben had to shut up all by himself that
night, except that the silent Foster came
forward to give him a hand with the heaviest
shutters, but just before the door was shut, a
pale-faced woman came quickly in.
"Please, can I see Mr. Morris?"
"No, ma'am, he's done for the day, and
having his supper."
Oh, but please tell him Mrs. Baggs is here,
and I am sure he will come, he is always so
Ben, go and tell Mr. Morris."
The master soon appeared, just as he had
He makes an Enemy.
jumped up from the table, a crust of bread in
"Well, Mrs. Baggs, I know what you've
come about, but really it's no use; that boy
of yours will never do for me."
"Oh, sir, I'm so sorry, and I'm sure he is
too; I know he's bad enough, but if he's not
working here I don't know where to find a bit
of money, and beside, he'll go right down
wrong if left to himself."
There was a tearful tremble in the mother's
voice as she spoke, looking from one to the
other for sympathy.
"He's my only lad, and his father, as you
know, sir, gave him a bad bringing up ; what
am I to do?"
"But you know, Mrs. Baggs, the reason I
sent him about his business was, that he
knocked down this boy in the shop, simply
for saying that he meant to speak the
truth. You know, I can't stand that sort
Poor Mrs. Baggs turned to Ben with a look
of entreaty, Won't you forgive him ? Please
do, and I beg your pardon for him; it was so
wrong, so wicked of him to hurt you so."
Oh, he didn't hurt me, Mrs. Baggs, and as
to forgiving him I have done that long ago."
A step was heard at the door and Baggs.
42 Brzgkt Ben.
himself, ashamed and still frightened, was
seen lingering in sight.
Foster noticed him but said nothing, only
when his master looked that way, he raised
his eyebrows in a funny kind of way and
pointed with his thumb to the door.
"'WHAT IS MY TEXT TO-NIGHT?' SAID BEN."
Mr. Foster, bring him in."
A little more conversation followed, and
Ben ventured to put in a plea for Baggs that
he might be taken back, and after he had
acknowledged this by very awkwardly, and
with a bad grace begging Ben's pardon, Mr.
He makes an Enemy. 43
Morris relented and told him he might come
in the morning as usual.
Great joy filled his mother's eyes as she
thanked him, and Mr. Morris went back to,
finish his supper.
What is my text to-night ? said Ben, who
was in the habit of reading his "portion"
every night before going to bed, and as he
turned over the leaves of his Testament by
the light of the candle, his eyes caught these
words, "Take heed to yourselves: if thy
brother trespass against thee, rebuke him,
and if he repent, forgive him. And if he tres-
pass against thee seven times in a day, and
seven times in a day turn again to thee,
saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And
the apostles said unto the Lord, 'Increase
For a minute or two Ben sat silent thinking
over these words, and kneeling at his little bed
he fervently prayed, "0 Lord, help me to be
kind and patient to Baggs. May I be for-
giving and bear him no grudge, but, Lord, do
please help me to always speak the truth
and not be afraid of anything that Baggs or
anybody else may do to me. Lord, help me,
Lord, help me, I am only a poor boy, but if
I have Thy grace and help I shall never fall."
OUR MICHAELMAS FAIR.
FRESH stock of fruits and biscuits,
the incoming of wooden cases, which
on being opened revealed pretty
boxes, ornaments, and all sorts of nice
presents, a broad piece of crimson calico having
words on white paper fixed thereupon, "The
cheapest shop for fairings;" and last, not least,
Miss Spriggs appearing in the post-office
corner of the shop adorned with a new dress,
all told the wonderful news that Buswell
Michaelmas Fair had come round once
Not only at Mr. Morris's grocery store, but
all through the little town active preparations
were going on for the coming festivities.
For several days the market-place had been
in the hands of half-a-dozen carpenters, who
were busily fitting up stands and booths,
pens for sheep, long tin tunnels for shooting
IrrrrY y -V Ivurr-- v----v I-I
Our Michaelmas Fair.
boxes, stalls for sweetmeats and cakes, and
in a waste place apart the usual merry-go-
round. The children gazed at all these things
with expectation, and promised each other
rare treats in store.
One night Ben awoke up with the un-
wonted sound of heavy wheels being slowly
driven along the streets, he crept to the
window and beheld with amazement two or
three large yellow vans drawn by piebald
little horses upon which rode men in strange
apparel. One, otherwise dressed in poor
clothes, had a cocked hat upon his head,
another carried an immense drum, while a
third held in one hand a large sword, while
the other bore a big rolled-up picture. Ben,
amazed, crept to the bedside of Kibble with
an earnest inquiry, "I say, Kibble, I am so
sorry to wake you, but there's such funny
things going past the shop."
Kibble loved his bed, and was loath to be
"Funny things did you say? ay, there's lots
of funny things about this time."
"Well, but there's big covered carts, like,
with men wearing cocked hats sitting on the
P'raps it is a fire-engine." And Ben saw
that sleep was coming on again.
46 Bright Ben.
"But they're big and yellow; what are
This answer puzzled Ben still more, for he
remembered having read in some old books
about the travellers with their camels and mer-
chandise in Egypt being called a caravan.
"But they're only men, English people
Bless you there's lots of camels, and lions,
and cats, and tigers, and snakes, and monkeys,
and all sorts of creepy, cranky things there,
only you can't see them. Now good-night,
Ben, I'm off to sleep."
And off he was without delay, leaving Ben
to get into bed again, wondering much what
these strange visitors could mean.
The following day, however, which was the
first of the fair, explained the caravans and
their contents, for the big picture had been
unfurled in the market-place, and showed a
wild-looking man with a spotted hearthrug
on his shoulders, holding a growling tiger at
arm's length with one hand, while he fought a
lion, a wolf, and a serpent with the other, two
serious-looking camels and an elephant in the
background waiting their turn. No wonder
when the man with the cocked hat and red
coat banged the drum on the little platform
Our Michaelmas Fair.
outside, and told them all this could be seen
from the front seats for a penny, children
half-price, there was no want of customers to
During the earlier part of the fair, Ben was
too busy in the shop to see much of the fun
outside, but occasionally, when he had a parcel
to take to a little distance, he managed to get
a peep at the market-place on his way home.
It was on one of these occasions, when who
should he meet in the midst of the crowd but
Baggs, who had been surly with him ever
since his scolding, but now tapped him on the
shoulder in a familiar style.
"I say, Ben, I'm so glad to have met you
"Why is that, Baggs ?"
"Because I'm going to toss for sixpences."
Oh, I can't wait, master will want me back
soon; you know how busy we are."
"Nonsense, and besides look what a lot of
money I've got; let's go and enjoy ourselves."
Baggs took out of his pocket several
shillings and a half-crown, and before Ben could
get away had drawn him close to where a
group of boys and men were drinking and
gambling in a tent,
"I'm not going to gamble,'" said Ben, and
immediately left the tent.
Baggs next tried hard to get Ben up the steps
by the drum, into the wild-beast show, but in
this he did not succeed, although he promised
to pay for both.
I say, Ben, I want to spend some of this
money; suppose we have a swing-boat and
then you can go home."
Now if there was one thing Ben wished to
have it was a turn in that swing-boat, he
thought it must be so delicious to rush
through the air like that, just like being in a
ship on the sea. So he consented just this
once, and joined in the screams of laughter of
his fellow-passengers as the boat flew high.
Getting out again, he felt dizzy and faint,
and as Baggs helped him through the crowd,
back to the shop did not notice that he who
boasted of having so much money actually
slipped the shining half-crown into his pocket
without his knowing it.
"Why, Ben, what a long time you have
been; surely you have not been stopping in
Yes, sir, I have, and I am very sorry for it.
I hope you will forgive me, but I did just go
into one of those swing-boats."
"Who took you there ? "
It was Baggs, sir, who met me in the fair,
and paid for me too."
Our Michaelmas Fair.
"Did he, though? When he comes I shall
have something to say to him."
"I don't think he meant any harm, but as
he had the money he said he wanted to be
"Ben, my boy, take care, take care, never
allow yourself to go with that boy again, he's
no good, no good at all."
Nothing more was said till nearly shutting-
up time, when Baggs rushed in, with a very
red face, and took up a shutter as though
ashamed of being noticed. Mr. Morris walked
to the door, and while Ben was inside, asked
Baggs sharply where he had been.
"Only into the fair a bit, where I met
some old friends, and we went into the
"How can you afford that, Baggs, you
haven't got any money, have you?"
"No, sir, I ain't," and suiting the action
to the word, he turned his trousers pocket
* Mr. Morris looked very severe, and after
eyeing Baggs closely, told him he did not
believe his excuses, and said he would speak
about it to him again on the morrow.
Ben soon forgot all about the incident,
for he was very tired with his day's work, and
ready for bed. Sitting again by the candle,
50 Bright Ben.
he read the story of Joseph and his brethren,
and how he caused their money to be put in
his brothers' sacks. Thinking of this, and
wondering why they seemed so frightened,
he took off his jacket, and out of its pocket
fell a coin, which he picked off the floor as it
rolled. It was the very half-crown which
Baggs had shown him in the fair! However
did it get there? He scanned it closely,
admiring its brightness, and noticing that
some one had scratched M on the face of
it, near the Queen's head. "What a funny
mark, perhaps somebody once had it and
wanted to keep it, so put his name on it."
How he wished it was all his own! He
would just buy something for mother with it,
and perhaps a trifle for Agnes, too. He care-
fully wrapped it in paper, and put it back in
his pocket, resolving to speak to Baggs about
it on the following morning.
But when morning came, there was no
Baggs. The master was evidently very much
excited about his absence, and had several
earnest little talks with Mrs. Morris in the
She had an opportunity of speaking to Ben
when he came into'the room to get some ink
for his master.
"Ben, my boy, mark my words, there's
Our Michaelmas Fair. I5
something wrong about that lazy lad; it's a
good thing for you that he has gone, for I
always feared that he might do you harm."
"But I don't think he owed me any grudge,
you know; I freely forgave him that time."
"Ah, my dear boy, you don't know how
Spiteful some people are, he would do you an
injury, I know, if he could."
Ben brought the ink, and his master wrote
something on a slip of paper and sealed it up
Ben, now this is very particular, take it to
the police-station up the street, and wait for
Ben obeyed, and watched the face of the
constable-they had two in Buswell-as he
"Tell your master I'11 be down directly."
And now, while for a few minutes no
customers were in the shop, Mr. Morris took
the opportunity of telling his men, Foster,
Kibble, and Ben, that the till had been robbed,
and he suspected Baggs, but should soon be
able to find out. While he was yet speaking,
in walked the policeman, and a little crowd
immediately gathered round the door. In his
sharp business way he asked--
"Have any of you assistants been out
52 Bright Ben.
Foster hadn't and Kibble had been too
busy, certainly Ben was out for a time, and of
course Baggs had been away for the greater
part of the day. A few more questions were
asked, and then the master and the policeman
had a whispered talk in the corner of the
shop. Oh, I feel sure there's no suspicion of
any of them; they are as honest as the day."
True, sir, but if we are going to find this
out, everybody who can get to the till should
show what money he has."
"Very well, as you like."
"I'm sorry to trouble you, but, Foster, will
you please let me examine what money you
have in your pocket?"
"Oh yes, certainly."
The policeman carefully looked at each coin,
and passed them back as all right.
"Kibble, now I must trouble you?"
This was not much trouble, as Kibble
possessed only a single sixpence, two pieces
of string, a pocket-knife and a brass-headed
nail. There was a titter ran round the shop
as these treasures were produced. "Hardly
a time to laugh, young men," said the police-
It was now Ben's turn, and the few pence
he had were soon brought forth.
"Is that all ?"
Our Michaelmas Fair.
Ben was just saying "yes," when his hand
felt the half-crown in his jacket pocket and he
flushed crimson, he didn't know why. The
policeman seeing his look put his own hand
in the pocket and brought out the shining
coin. Holding it up to the light he scanned
it narrowly, and then said,
"Was it 'M,' sir?"
"Humph, it's all right; here, young fellow,
you must come with me; this is the way you
rob a good master is it ?
THE CULPRIT FOUND.
,P ERHAPS it was because he had not
often the treat of catching a thief,
but certainly Police-constable X 123
was a little too quick this time.
Mrs. Morris was tapping the little window
so violently that it was a wonder the glass
did not give way, and her husband as
promptly stepped forward, "Stop'! I won't
give this boy in charge."
"Why not ? Why, here is the money found
in his very pocket, and look how he blushed
up when we made him turn out the
"It doesn't matter; although the case does
look rather against him I can never believe
Ben stole the half-crown."
Mrs. Morris here appeared upon the scene
with a glass of water, which she held to the
lips of Ben.
The Culprit Found.
Be quiet, please, for a minute; don't you
see the boy has fainted."
Yes, he had, poor little Ben; the shock of
being accused of stealing by the policeman
had been too much for him, and with just the
one word "mother" in a whisper, he had
slipped down upon the shop floor. Through
the kind care of Mrs. Morris, and the well-
meant but rather strange attention of Kibble,
who stood in front of him holding a box of figs,
thinking perhaps the sight of them might
cheer him up a bit when he opened his eyes,
Ben at last came round. He cried excitedly,
"Where's Baggs ? where's Baggs? fetch him,
he knows all about it."
Mr. Morris had been talking at the door to
the policeman, assuring him that Ben was
honest as the day, and could not be guilty.
To all of which Police-constable X 123
repeated almost word for word,
But you see, there was the half-crown in
his very pocket, sir."
At the sound of Ben's voice they went back
again, but Mrs. Morris, deeming that the
helmet and plated buttons might upset the boy
again, straightway led him into the parlour and
began to comfort him. But the fact that the
half-crown had been found in his pocket was
as much a trouble to Ben as to the policeman.
I found it there, ma'am, when I went to
bed, and I remember seeing a half-crown like
it in Baggs' hand when .I was going through
the fair. I'm sure, ma'am, I didn't take it, and
yet I don't know how it got into my pocket."
"Never mind, my boy, we will find that
lazy young fellow, who I knew would never
come to any good, for he hated work, and
those who will not work never get on."
Oh but, ma'am, whatever would my mother
say if she knew I had been called a thief?"
"She shall not know, Ben, until you like to
tell her yourself."
A bright thought struck him as he said
"Oh ma'am, do you think master would let
me go and find Baggs and bring him back?"
Much against the advice of X 123, who said
it was only setting a what-you-may-call-it
to catch a what-you-may-call-it, Mr. Morris
decided that Ben should go at once, but lest
he should come to any further harm from
this source of trouble, he despatched the faith-
ful Kibble to go with him.
They started at once for the place where
Baggs lived, but found his mother out, and, of
course, her son not at home either. An old
woman who was hanging out some clothes in
the yard next door asked what they wanted.
The Culprit Found. 57
"Do you know where we can find Jem
She gave a little laugh, and stopped with
the peg in her hand across the line.
S "Well, that's a good un. Find Jem Baggs?
might as well look for a pin in a threshing
barn, as my old father used to say. And who
wants to find a fellow like Jem, why he's
S worth nout to nobody."
"But we want him very much; we come
from his master, Mr. Morris."
"Oh, well, all I can tell you is that Jem must
ha' gone to work rather early this morning,
for at four o'clock, when I got up to light
my copper fire, I see him climbing over the
wall. 'Hallo,' I says,' Jem, I say, where are
you off to ?' Oh, never you mind,' he says;
'you just tell mother I shan't be back again
for a goodish space, I fancy,' and off he goes,"
which way, however, he went they could not
make out from the old woman, so went away
as fast as they could along the high road in
the hope of seeing him.
Poor Ben was full of anxiety; felt, indeed,
innocent as he was, that he must be considered
the thief till the real one was found. He was
for running all the way, but this did not suit
the slower Kibble, who insisted upon not
making a fuss, and reminded Ben for giving
way, by telling him in a rather tragic voice
the story of some dreadful man who stole
three horses and harvest waggon, and went to
prison for years and years. Ben, fortunately
for his peace of mind, hardly listened to this
long drawn-out tale, for his heart beat fast,
"I SAY, MASTER, HAS ANYBODY PASSED THIS WAY?"
and one thought possessed him above all
others, I must find Baggs." After walking
several miles they came upon a caravan, one
of those strange yellow things which had
astonished Ben so much the other night.
The Culprit Found. 59
"Let's ask this man if he has seen Baggs."
"I'11 do it, Ben; you look that guilty and
bad it's better for me to speak, I'm sure."
"I say, master, has anybody passed this
way?" said Kibble.
Ah, but I mean a young fellow about my
size, with a soft cap and heavyish boots on
"Was he as good-looking a chap as you?"
No, he wasn't."
"Was he tall, with a queerish look in his
left eye, and drove a pony and trap?"
"No, I should say not."
"Ah, well, then, I haven't seen him; you'd
better ask next door."
And the man, laughing at his own jokes,
took hold again of his horse's head and began
to hurry on. Ben began to despair, and tears
were already in his eyes because the search
seemed vain. Not so Kibble, however, who
took him aside and assured him that there
was something about that man with the
caravan which made him think he knew
about Baggs, and didn't mean to tell.
What was to be done? Suppose, for
instance, that Baggs was hiding in that very
caravan, how could they get at him. And
see, the man was now whipping up his horse
60 Brigkt Ben.
as though to get out of the road as quickly
Now it so happened that Policeman X 123
feeling dissatisfied with the result of the scene
in the shop, had made up his mind to leave
no stone unturned, and had heard 'that the
two youths had set off in search of Baggs.
They had walked so slowly that he easily
followed without being noticed, and just at
this moment walked by them as if all un-
conscious of their presence.
"Kibble, look, why there's the policeman
Ben was at first for running away, but his
companion held his hand.
"Hi, bobby, hi, hi!"
The policeman turned round and asked
what was wanted.
Then Kibble and Ben between them told
all that the driver of the caravan had said,
and what they thought.
"In that thing! not very likely."
But for all that the policeman told Ben to
follow him across some fields quietly, and
presently they climbed a gate which brought
them into the road just as the caravan was
driving up. The policeman held up his hand.
"Stop! I want you to give us a lift."
Can't, sir, really, horse's tired you see, and
The Culprit Found. 61
the roads is heavy. There'll be some nicer
weickle up soon as'll suit you better."
"No, I like yours best. Here Ben open
this door at the back."
In a moment he did so and the policeman
jumped in, closing the door behind, which
caused Kibble afterwards to say, that for all
the world it made him think most of a cat
shut up in a cupboard to catch a rat. Voices
could be heard inside speaking loudly.
"Who are you a hitting of? You let me
be and I'11 come quiet enough."
"All right, then, let me put these bracelets
The door opened, and the man in blue
descended followed by Baggs, handcuffed.
The driver was full of apologies.
"Beg pardon, sir, sorry this mistake has
happened; you see the young gentleman was
a bit tired I fancy, and of course didn't want
to be disturbed, but o' course if I 'd knowed-"
Here, that's enough, go on."
This he did most cheerfully, without look-
Very few words passed as they returned to
Buswell; Ben wasn't allowed to speak to
Baggs, and Kibble tried in vain to begin that
story again about the dreadful man and the
three horses, &c. Arrived at the shop, Mr.
62 Bright Ben.
Morris taxed Baggs with stealing the half-
crown, and the culprit, seeing that there was
no way of escape, confessed to his offence and
begged for mercy.
"I don't feel inclined to show you any,
haven't I again and again forgiven your mis-
conduct, and especially do you deserve to be
punished this time for trying to ruin an
innocent fellow by your deceitful trick."
"My opinion, sir, is," put in the policeman,
"that six months at the treadmill would do
him a world of good."
While they were talking, there came into
Ben's mind the words he had been reading in
his Testament a few nights before, seventy
times seven." He rushed forward to intercede
"Oh, master, do please forgive him, if only
for my sake; I know he's behaved very bad,
but perhaps, if you give him one more chance,
he might begin again. I forgive him, from
my heart, I do."
And Ben took hold of the fettered hand of
Baggs, and looked into his face with a real
loving forgiveness, which went right to the
sinner's heart. Then, sir, think of his mother,
it will kill her to know that her son has been
taken to prison ; do, for her sake, let him go this
The Culprit Found.
Baggs looked at Ben, and stammered out
with genuine feeling,
"Thank you, Ben, but better let me be
punished; I deserve it, God knows."
It was not until after a long talk that Mr.
Morris at last consented, and the handcuffs
were removed from the repentant Baggs. It
must be said, however, that even the police-
man, who, at first, was very reluctant and
indignant at parting with his prisoner, could
not help admitting that the tears and sorrow
of the lad were sincere.
That night, when Ben walked with him
home, at his request, he quite broke down,
and asked his friend to pray for him.
"I know how shamefully I've treated you,
Ben, and how you have been so very kind;
I don't deserve it, but ask God to forgive me
"Baggs, do you think I can be kinder to
you than He can? He has said,' Whosoever
cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.'
Now, come to Him as a sinner, seek Him
and He will be found by you, and remember
the words which are written inside my little
hymn-book, 'This is a faithful saying, and
worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners.'"
They had reached the corner of the lane,
64 Bright Ben.
where the moon behind the high trees threw
a deep shadow. Here the two boys stood
still, and removed their caps, while Ben
prayed for the poor wanderer, that he might
be saved. And He, whose ears are always
open to our cry, listened to the plea for mercy
which rose from the heart of Baggs, and said
unto him, Go in peace, thy sins are forgiven
From that hour, Jem Baggs and Ben Pottle
were fast friends, and working together behind
the counter, in Mr. Morris's shop, to the satis-
faction of their master. Ben's wages increased,
and more comforts came to the little cottage
under the hill; Agnes had not to tire herself
any mbre with lace-making, and old Pottle,
wherever he went, praised his son. But none
held him in higher regard than he, who could
say, that, under God, he owed everything to
the forgiving love and Christian guidance of
Bright Little Ben.
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