The little black hen

Material Information

The little black hen
Warner, Susan, 1819-1885
Warner, Anna Bartlett, 1824-1915 ( Author )
Evans, Edmund, 1826-1905 ( Engraver )
George Routledge and Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
George Routledge and Sons
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
[3], 124 p., [1] leaf of plates : col. ill. ; 16 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Forgiveness -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Theft -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Poverty -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Parent and child -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Human-animal relationships -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Chickens -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1870 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1870
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )


General Note:
Date from prize inscription.
General Note:
Illustrations engraved by E. Evans.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by the authors of "The wide, wide world," etc. etc. ; with coloured frontispiece.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
027010759 ( ALEPH )
ALH9971 ( NOTIS )
57389875 ( OCLC )

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THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.CHAPTER I.LITTLE RUFFLE.THE little black hen came out of alarge white egg, and the egg lay deepdown in a nest of clover. Little didthe butterflies think of the nest asthey flitted over and then stoppedto suck honey out of the clover blos-soms; little notice did the busy beestake of the old hen who covered theeggs night and day with her brownwings; and if any one had told themB

2 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.that she was just as busy as theywere, doubtless the bees would havetaken it for a personal insult. But itwas true for all that. For whereasthe bees never stopped work for fiveminutes through the whole long day,except just to eat their honey meals,so the hen never left her nest exceptat dinner time, and made that mealso short that she nearly starved her-self to death lest her eggs shouldget cold.They say that patience and perse-verance will accomplish all things;and so it came about, that whenthe brown hen had kept her eggswarm for three whole weeks, one dayshe heard something that sounded

LITTLE RUFFLE. 3much like. the breaking of an egg-shell. And then she felt somethingstirring under her wings; and thenshe heard the peep! peep! of a littlechicken. In fact, it was the littleblack hen herself, who in this earlystage of her existence presently thrusther head out from among the oldhen's feathers and looked at the worldwith her bright black eyes. Andthough all the other chicks alsocame forth into the world and thesunshine, we will, if you please, letthem go their own way, and confineour attention to the little black hen.At first she was a dingy, downychicken, fat and round, very fond ofgoing to sleep in the sunshine. AndB2

4 THE LITTLE BLACK the sun shone a great deal at thattime of year, chicky took a greatmany warm naps. But by degreesshe found out that eating was betterthan sleeping, unless at night, andfrom that time it was nothing butrun, run the whole while. In vain theold brown hen in the coop called andcalled (for she lived in a coop now,and not at all in clover), telling thechickens that she was all alone; theynever seemed to hear her, unless shecried out that there was a hawk insight, when they all hid away in thegrass or under a currant-bush. Orif she said she had some meal or anant for them, then they came runningup fast enough. Scamper, scamper! it

LITTLE RUFFLE. 5was a wonder the chicks never gottired, what with hunting grasshop-pers, and running down crickets, andfighting for earth-worms; but theyonly grew fat and strong, and thelittle black one among the rest. Andby degrees she grew feathery insteadof downy, first on her wings and thenon her tail, till by the time summerwas over the dingy, downy chickenhad become a very handsome littleblack hen, with a ruff of yellowfeathers round her throat. She wasso handsome that she was given tolittle Roger Van Dyke for a birth-day present.Roger's father owned all the hensand chickens; and while he lived in

6 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.a pretty white cottage with glasswindows and green blinds, they livedin a brown chicken-house, with twoglass windows in front and a greendoor; but they had no green blinds,because hens and chickens like thesunlight. There all the old cocksand hens were shut up; and thoughthe young chickens were let out torun about the garden for a while, yetso soon as they began to scratch upthe radish seeds and eat the tomatoesthey were shut up with the rest.Foolish chickens! if they had onlynot been mischievous they mighthave staid out all the time. So nowthey could do nothing but look outbetween the rails of the poultry-yard

LITTLE RUFFLE. 7fence and wish themselves outside.And here the little black hen walkedabout, and cackled, and turned herhead, and showed her yellow ruff togreat advantage, much as if sheadmired it, which perhaps she did.Roger was very proud of his hen,and very fond of her too; more thanall, because she was a present to himfor good behaviour, and everybodythat came to the house was sure tobe taken a walk out to the poultry-yard to see "Little Ruffle."* Andso matters went on till Novembercame, and the little black hen madeherself a nest, and laid a little brownegg every day, and Roger was more* See Frontispiece.

8 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.proud of her than ever. As to hereggs, there never was anything quiteso good as they were when boiled forbreakfast.The nights were frosty now, andby and by there was a pretty fall ofsnow, and then the winter set in.The winter nights were long anddark, and all well-disposed peoplewent to bed and to sleep, coveringthemselves up as warm as theycould. You may be sure Roger wasone of these-I don't quite knowwhether he liked sleep or blanketsbest; and he even pulled them bothover his head and eyes and ears tillhe looked as if he were made up ofblankets and sleep. There is no

telling that -wold Iea happened,- e ight, if he had left his headfree, ike ah s...ibl. boy; nobody will..honmow-. But this is what didhappen.Very early in the .or-ing, whenTo. the gmrdenrr get up and ralked.out into the clear, -Io light to seeImt was going .. in the world, hefound that thing, had been going onrathermom than was neaeasarT anhowever ,oundly the people in theh .. a bad slept, it wee quite plainthat same other people had been-.1me. 1. front of the chick-nhera. the a- -wa glittering vvithpiece, of glass, and mne of thewirdo-uframe, -a broken asad not

10 THE LITTLE BLACK two. Tom opened the door, andwent in. There were a good manychickens on the roost yet, but asTom looked about and began tocount them he found that there werenot so many by a dozen or two as hehad shut in last night; and there-were feathers scattered about, and on,one of the boards the feathers werebloody, as if some of the hens mighthave had their heads cut off. Tom peered about a little more(for it was not very light yet) hefound two of the heads themselves.Then Tom thought he had foundenough for once, so he picked up thetwo heads, locked the door again,and went off to milk the ccw.

11 11AfU hil. th. g p, -dsdid Rga, bt ..ith. f th- ttalll -ly. Idued, h- Rgge ..d,M pp, d.- tai. b..akfash-aredy th. I j-t .. -t .a Weth &id- &A, ?" Wd h,dhepauwing at th, bmeafast-m doo,"Curtainly ..t. If Y- -npt tofeed tM 6wk- Wbmbfor b-ekftsy.. -A gpt up maler"sid"Ic. so nod t. gt p -1y",",Aid Roge, -omg to th tabl," Deu -m, h-a h. bmekfast IkOsX...m, I think I Ise my h.. bettn thm -yntbing dwsi. th. -old."

12 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Better than anything that youlove less, I suppose you mean," saidhis mother."Isuppose I do mean that," saidRoger, laughing. "But what do youthink I like better than my hen,mamma?""How is it about Tray ?""Tray? I like him very much,that I do. I suppose I couldn't dowithout either of 'em." And Rogerbegan his breakfast in a very con-tented state of mind. "Tray wasshut up in the cellar last night,mamma, by mistake.""A great mistake, I shouldthink.""Was it, mamma? I thought it

LITTLE RUFFLE. 13was only a little mistake. I daresayTray liked it well enough.""Tray had no business to like it.""Why not, mamma ? The cellaris warm.""Warm! yes; but a faithful littledog wants to be at his post doing hisduty, not shut up in a warm cellar.""Good little Tray," said Roger,"how faithful he is, mamma. Butwhere's papa this morning?"" He went out to speak to Tom.""Roger," said his father, comingin at that moment, "some one brokeinto the chicken-house last night.""Oh!" cried Roger. "What didthey do, papa?""Why, they stole some chickens."

14 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Not my little hen ?""I don't know, my dear; run outand see if you can find her."Away ran Roger, his heart beatingas quick time in his breast as did hislittle feet over the frozen ground.All the hens came down now as hecalled them and scattered corn, butno little black hen appeared. In vainhe watched for the pretty yellowruff; it was not to be seen; andbursting into tears, Roger cut theirbreakfast very short indeed and ranback to the house."Papa, papa! she's gone! they'vestolen her !""Why, my dear boy," said hisfather, "you have not half looked

LITTLE RUFFLE. 15for her. You were not gone morethan a minute and a half, Roger.""0 yes, papa, but she'd come-she always came-right to me andeat her breakfast all about my feet."And Roger threw himself down onthe hearth-rug and watered it withhis tears."Come," said his mother, leavingthe table, "I'll go and help you tolook. Don't you know I can gene-rally find things when you cannot."Roger got up and took hold ofher hand and kissed it, but in a verydismal fashion."Dear mamma, how good you are !But it's no use !" he said, drawing aheavy sigh.

16 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN." We'll look first outside," said hismother gently, and holding the littlehand fast in hers; and round andcround the chicken-house they walk-ed, looking at everything, but sawno signs of the little black hen.There were a few feathers scatteredabout in two or three places, butsome were brown and the otherswere white; and in another spot,where the snow was a little bloodythere was a tuft of gray feathers."Ah! here is something!" criedhis mother at last, with so muchpain in her voice that Roger ran up,expecting to find Little Ruffle insome unheard-of state of torture.But all he could see was the whitesnow.

LITTLE RUFFLE. 17"What, mamma? What is it?"he cried, trembling all over."0 Roger," she said, " look here;look at these steps in the snow! Oneof the thieves must have been achild no bigger than you are !"Roger's tears dried up as ifthey had suddenly passed over hotiron."The little wretch!" he cried."0, if I had him here wouldn't Igive him such a thrashing! Well,papa'll have him put in. prison any-way. I wonder how he'll like that.Wicked little thief!"His mother made no answer. Shelooked steadily at Roger while hewas speaking, and then her eyesC

18 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.went down to that little step in thesnow. It had been made by a barefoot, for every little toe had left itsmark. And Roger's mother drewone long sigh, almost as deep asRoger himself had done. But Rogerdid not hear it; he was stampingabout the walk in a fever of angerand excitement." Here's two of the heads, ma'am,"said Tom, the gardener, whose bootswere now crunching through thesnow as he drew near to where theystood. "Here's two as they cutoff," and Tom chucked the headsup and down in his hand."Let me see! let me see!" cried.Roger. "Oh! oh! oh! it is hers!

LITTLE RUFFLE. 19For while one of the heads was alarge white top-knot, the other wasall black, and showed a pretty yel-low ruff round the neck. This oneRoger took away from Tom, andhugging it up to his breast, dartedoff out of sight. His mother walkedthoughtfully down toward the house.c 2

20 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.CHAPTER II.THE TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS.I DON'T know how long it was be-fore Roger made his appearanceagain, and could not tell; but it wascertainly a long time. However,few fountains play all the while, andso as the morning wore on even thefountain of Roger's tears dried up,and he began to feel very cold andtired, and to wonder what his motherwas doing. Roger always read aloudto her after breakfast, but this morn-ing he had never once thought of it.Now he crept out of the haymow

THE TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS. 21where he had hidden himself, andbrushed off the hay-seeds, and openedthe great barn door and came out.There was nobody to be seen, onlythe sun was high up in the sky, andthe snow lay cold and glittering allaround. Roger crept slowly roundthe barn, past the stable, and therehe heard two of the men talking."I tell you," said Tom, "that'swhat I call being a Christian.""More like it than anything else,"said the other man."Yes," answered Tom. "It's easysheddin' brooks of tears, but when itcomes to heapin' on coals of fire likethat!""Then you're beat," said the other.

22 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Confess I am," said Tom. " Andmaster, he felt pretty much as Idid."Roger went on into the house andinto his mother's sitting-room, andput himself down on the rug in frontof the fire, for there was no one there.And so it was, that when Mrs. VanDyke came in she found him stretchedon the rug fast asleep.I wonder why she sighed over himas she spread her shawl over hisshoulders, so that he might not takecold, or why she stood looking at himso wistfully. Was she thinking ofthose little footprints in the snow,and whether her Roger would everfollow the hard way of transgressors,

THE TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS. 23or be always found in the paths ofrighteousness? But she let him sleepon, and sat at her work, only some-times dropping it and letting her headrest on her hands, and asked him noquestions even when he woke up, butshe said,"Roger, we have had no readingto-day."" No, mamma. Shall I read now ?"" Yes," said his mother. "Comeand sit here by me and eat thesebiscuits first, and then you mayread."Roger was very glad of the bis-cuits, and then he leaned his headagainst his mother's knee and beganto read. And this was the place:

24 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Then came Peter to him and said,Lord, how oft shall my brother sinagainst me and I forgive him ? tillseven times ? Jesus saith unto him, Isay not unto thee, Until seven times;but, Until seventy times seven. There-fore is the kingdom of heaven likenedunto a certain king, which would takeaccount of his servants. And whenhe had begun to reckon, one wasbrought unto him which owed himten thousand talents. But forasmuchas he had not to pay, his lord com-manded him to be sold, and his wife,and children, and all that he had, andpayment to be made. The servanttherefore fell down, and worshippedhim, saying, Lord, have patience with

THE TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS. 25me, and I will pay thee all. Then thelord of that servant was moved withcompassion, and loosed him, and for-gave him the debt. But the sameservant went out, and found one ofhis fellow-servants, which owed him ahundred pence: and he laid hands onhim, and took him by the throat,saying, Pay me that thou owest. Andhis fellow-servant fell down at hisfeet, and besought him, saying, Havepatience with me, and I will pay theeall. And he would not: but wentand cast him into prison, till he shouldpay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, theywere very sorry, and came and toldunto their lord all that was done.

26 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.Then his lord, after that he hadcalled him, said unto him, O thouwvicked servant, I forgave thee allthat debt, because thou desiredst me:stouldest not thou also have hadcompassion on thy fellow-servant,even as I had pity on thee ? And hislord was wroth, and delivered him tothe tormentors, till he should pay allthat was due unto him. So likewiseshall my heavenly Father do also un-to you, if ye from your hearts for-give not every one his brother theirtrespasses." Matt. xviii. 21-35."How should you like to be theservant of such a king, Roger ?" saidhis ,iother when he had finished."I'd like it ever so much," said

THE TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS. 27Roger. "I think he was real good.Only I shouldn't like to have suchfellow-servants."" As which one ? the debtor or thecreditor ?""Which is the creditor?""The debtor is the one that, and the creditor is the oneto whom he owes it.""Well, I shouldn't like that cre-ditor for my fellow-servant," said.Roger, "would you ?""Why not ?" said his mother."He was wicked and cruel," saidRoger. " Why, the king had forgivenhim all that, and then he didn't feelglad enough to forgive the man thatowed him."

28 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Didn't feel glad enough," hismother repeated. "Ah, there is agreat deal in that.""But should you like it, mamma,to have such fellow-servants ?" saidRoger."Why, Roger," she said, "thequestion is whether I do like it.Some of my fellow-servants are justlike that.""Some of your fellow-servants!"cried Roger. " Well, mamma, you arefunny !""Why, yes," said his mother; "Iserve the very King who is spoken ofthere. But now let me tell you howthis King did at another time to someof his own enemies," and she took theBible and read:

THE TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS. 29"There they crucified him and themalefactors; one on the right handand the other on the left. Then saidJesus, Father, forgive them; for theyknow not what they do.""Yes, that was the Saviour; Iknow about that," said Roger. "Butthis other king; does that mean Godtoo ?""Yes, it means the King ofkings. And I owed him ten thou-sand talents, and had nothing to pay,and he freely forgave me all thatdebt.""Mamma," and Roger turnedround and looked up in her facewonderingly, "I don't understandone bit.""Roger," she said, "you know

30 THEI LITTLE BLACK HEN.what it means to owe me love, andduty, and obedience ?"" Yes indeed !" said jeger, nest-ling his cheek against her hand." And sometimes I pay it too.""Very often," said his mother,smiling. "Well, far more than you,owe me I owed my King-love andduty and obedience and service fromthe time I was old enough to knowanything. And I never paid, andthe debt mounted up with compoundinterest."" What's that ?" said Roger." If I lend you a hundred poundsand you pay me five pounds a yearfor the use of it, that five pounds issimple interest. But if you do not

TH? TWO FELLOW-SERVANTS. 31pay the interest, then I should chargeyou other interest upon that. So inmy debt of service to the LordJesus. If always, every day, I hadbeen serving him sowing good seedthen the seed would have sprung upand borne fruit."" Mamma," said Roger, " how longago did he forgive you thatdebt ?"" More than twenty years ago.""Well, you must have done agreat deal since then," said Roger." Ah, child," answered his mother,"every one to whom the Lord haslent life and health and talents mustbe very faithful indeed to begin topay even the interest on the debt.

32 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.If the Lord Jesus did not pay it allfor me I should have no hope.""But did you ever see a fellow-servant like that one ?" said Roger."Yes, not long ago.""He was so mean!" said Roger."Do you think so ?" said hismother. "Well, we will go todinner now, and talk more about itanother time."

83CHAPTER III.A DARK NIGHT.THE long talk with his mother hadraised Roger's spirits a good deal;but after dinner she was busy againfor a while away from him, and asthe sun began to go down, and itcame near his usual time for feedingthe chickens, Roger's heart grewvery heavy. He sat in the cornerof the fireplace, rubbing his eyes andmaking believe very hard that therewere no tears in them, and then heput his head down and had a goodcry.D

34 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."My poor little Roger 1" hismother said when she came in."Suppose you come and sit in mylap, and we will have anothertalk."Roger came gladly; only it felt sogood to cry there, in her arms, thatfor a while he did not talk much."Roger," said his mother, "do youknow I believe that every little thingis done with God's knowledge andpermission ?"" You don't mean -" said Roger;but there he stopped short, for some-thing rose up in his throat andchoked him."Yes, I mean that," said hisanother, gently. "I think God is

A DARK NIGHT. 35teaching you lessons because he cando it so much better than I. Thatis the way he does with his childrenand servants. He has taught me agreat many.""Am I one of your fellow-ser-vants ?" said Roger." What do you think, my child ?Are you? You ought to know.""I don't know," said Roger. "ButI'd like to be. What is God teachingme now, mamma ?""I think, for one thing, he isteaching you how wonderfully goodhe is to forgive people that havesinned against him. Do you re-member, when Joe Allen plungedinto that snow-drift to get your ball,D 2

36 THE LITTLE BLACK said you thought he was thebest boy you ever heard of?""Yes, mamma."" Why did you think so ?""Don't you know?" said Roger,smiling and looking up in her face."I said he was the best boy becauseI thought I was a pretty good boy,and yet I wouldn't have done thatfor anybody. Don't you remember,mamma? and you made me studyfor a lesson what a pretty good boywas."Well, then think how wonder-fully good God must be to forgivepeople. Like the king in that par-able.""Why, mamma ?" said Roger,

A DARK NIGHT. 37looking round at her again; ""don'tyou think I like to forgive people ?You don't think I'm like that wickedservant, do you, mamma ?""I'd rather have you settle thequestion for -yourself," said hismother. "But now I want to tellyou something else. Whom do youthink we've got up stairs ?""Oh, I can't guess!" said Roger."Cousin Will?""'No, not Cousin Will. Do youremember, Roger, when you and Iwent to the chicken-house thismorning I showed you a little, littlefootstep in the snow ?" Rogernodded his head, but he did notspeak, and the tears started again.

38 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Well," said his mother, "thelittle boy who made that mark inthe snow was brought here by hisfather to help to steal our chickens,because he was small enough to creepthrough the window. And I suppose,in climbing about in the dark up tothe roost, he fell and broke his legvery badly. And something pro-bably made his father think thatsome one was coming, for he ran offwith the bag of chickens and leftthe poor little boy to get out as besthe could. But his foot hurt him somuch that he could not get up to thewindow, and when it was broad lightTom went in and found him therehid behind one of the barrels."

A DARK NIGHT. 39Roger was sobbing out by thistime."The wicked, wicked little boy !"he cried; " then he killed mybeauty! Just good for him to breakhis leg! and now papa will send himto prison. What did Tom do tohim, mamma ? did he beat him ?""If he had, Tom should have hada sharper reproof than I ever gavehim before," said his mother, gravely."No, Tom brought him in and he isup stairs. Beat a poor little ignorantboy who was in more pain than youever dreamed of, who had never hadanybody to teach him about Jesus,and yet who was one of the childrenfor whom Jesus died ? Oh, Roger!"

40 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.Shame and anger struggled inRoger's heart for a minute, butanger carried the day."I can't help it," he said; "if hehadn't come there he wouldn't havebeen in pain. My dear little hen!my poor little hen !" and Roger sob-bed and cried and clenched his fistall at once. His mother was verysilent for a while till he was quietagain, and then she repeated in alow, sad voice, so that Roger lookedup to see if she had been crying too,these words:"( Then his lord, after that he hadcalled him, said unto him, 0 thouwicked servant, I forgave thee allthat debt, because thou desiredst

A DARK NIGHT. 41me: shouldest not thou also have hadcompassion on thy fellow-servant,even as I had pity on thee ?"Roger was very silent too afterthat, and his mother sat looking athim. Once in a while he sighed, andthen his face would flush up againtill it was as red as the old turkeycock's cheeks, so she knew thatanger was there yet. At last heslipped down from her lap." I think I'll go to bed," he said."Do you mean to say yourprayers to-night, Roger ?" asked hismother." Why, yes !" said Roger, openinghis eyes. "I always do.""Then read a little to me before

42 THE LITTLE BLACK go," said his mother, "just afew verses," and she found the placefor him. Roger read:"And when ye stand praying for-give, if ye have aught against any:that your Father also which is inheaven may forgive your trespasses.But if ye do not forgive, neither willyour Father which is in heaven for-give your trespasses."Roger shut up the book and, kiss-ing his mother in a great hurry,ran out of the room. But then hebegan to go up stairs very slowly,step by step. What should he do ?He could not go to bed without say-ing his prayers, and he could notforgive the little boy; and, worst of

A DARK NIGHT. 43Vall, if he was one of his mother'sfellow- servants it was only thewicked one! Roger's mind was ina great tumult. However, one getsup stairs at last even step by step,and so in the course of time Rogerreached the last landing-place, andthere he sat down to tie his shoe.One would think it was hardlyworth while to tie it then, when hewas just going to take his shoes offand go to bed, but it was Roger'sthoughts that so much wanted put-ting in order; so there he stayedon the landing-place, pulling hisshoe-strings and playing with hisfoot. The next flight of stairs wasvery short, and at the head of it

44 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.were two doors; one led into hisown little room, but the other wasseldom opened, for nobody sleptwithin. But now under that verydoor shone a light. Roger watchedit, wondering who could be there,and then the door opened and thehousemaid came out."Oh, Kitty," said Roger, "is thatyou? What are you doing in thatroom to-night ?""Mistress told me to stay theretill eight o'clock and then she'dcome," said Kitty; "and now it'seight o'clock, and I'm going down.""But what's in that room ?"asked Roger."Why, don't you know?" said

A DARK NIGHT. 45Kitty. "It's the boy what brokehis leg, and cut your hen's headoff."Roger shivered, but he did notshed any tears then."And were you staying there towatch him, so he couldn't run away,Kitty ?""Bless your heart," said Kitty,"why where have you been all day ?Oh, I forgot; Tom said you was inthe mow down by the barn. Runaway! he wont do that soon, I'mcertain. Why he's broke his legdreadful; and mistress had him tookup here, and the doctor he come andset it; and mistress washed him up,and put clean things on him, and

46 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.sat with him ever so long till I'ddone my work, bathing his head,and giving him drink, and coaxinghim out of his fright, for he wassadly scared. I tell you she's agood one !" added Kitty as she wentdown stairs."She's a good one," Rogerthought to himself; "so Tom said,that's being a Christian." But thenthe parlour door opened, and Rogerhurried into his own little room and.shut the door.He heard his mother come upstairs and go into the poor little boy'sroom, and then everything was verystill. Now and then he could hearher stepping softly about, just as she

A DARK NIGHT. 47used to do in Roger's own roomonce when he was sick; and Rogeralmost wished that he was sick now,so that she might come in and seehim. Sometimes he could just hearher voice speaking or singing to thepoor little boy whom lie had called" a little wretch," and Roger feltabout as bad as he could. Had nothis mother only a few days ago ex-plained to him all about that beauti-ful verse: "Inasmuch as ye did itunto one of the least of these, ye didit unto me ?" Yes, he was just oneof her wicked fellow-servants, therewas no doubt of it, and the thoughtmade Roger so miserable that henearly cried out with sorrow. Yet

48 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.he knew in his heart that he did notreally forgive the little boy. Whenhe thought of his mother the angerseemed gone, but it roused up againwhen he remembered the prettyyellow ruff of his poor little hen.What should he do about saying hisprayers? he did not dare go to bedwithout saying them, and yet Godwould not forgive him if he felt so.Meantime it was very cold, andRoger's teeth began to chatter andhis hands to tremble. So he thoughthe would undress himself and getinto bed and think about it, andthen when he felt better he wouldget right up and say his prayers.And, as you may suppose, the nextthing was that Roger fell fast asleep.

49CHAPTER IV.SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING.THE sun was up, and shining inevery dark place he could find, andin the same way Roger's mother hadbeen at work since very early; butnow she sat in the breakfast-roomwaiting for Roger and the coffee-pot.But when they came the coffee-potlooked much the most comfortableof the two, with its warm cloud ofsteam, for Roger's face was blue andsorrowful. He had had one goodcry over the little black hen alreadythat morning, and felt as if he hadE

50 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.two or three more to give to otherthings." There is a cold little boy that Imust warm up,' said the sun, pour-ing a stream of bright rays upon him."And there is a sorrowful littleheart that I must comfort," thought;Roger's mother to herself. But justthen she only kissed him, and rubbedhis cold hands in hers. Whereupon,first the tears came into Roger's eyes,,and then he dropped right down byhis mother and hid his face in herapron." Well, what now ?" she said,,cheerfully."I feel so very, very bad," sobbedout Roger.

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 51"Poor boy !" said his mother, lay-ing her hand on his head, while herheart sent up one quick prayer to,the Lord Jesus, to whom she tookall her own sorrows and Roger's too."But come to breakfast, my dear-every hungry little boy feels bad Ibelieve-and we'll see about settingthe world straight afterwards."I suppose Roger was hungry, orelse his mother's kind words had awonderful effect, for as breakfastwent on his face brightened up tillhe hardly looked like the same boy.But when breakfast was over and hisfather gone out, his mother wentaway too; and Roger heard her goup stairs, and knew in a minute thatE 2

52 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.she had gone to see the poor littleboy. He sat down on the rug andlooked at the bright fire, sometimesshedding a few tears over thethought of his little black hen,sometimes wondering what hismother would say when he told herthat he had not said his prayers lastnight-nor this morning either, forthat matter. However, when shecame back, and took her work andsat down by her little table, this washis first question:" Mamma, what do you mean bysetting the world straight ?""Why," she said, "suppose youwent into the palour and saw thetable-cover hanging all on one side,

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 5Sand the rug rolled up, and one fire-iron on the hearth while the otherswere in the fireplace, and the tabletwisted round, and one chair lyingon its back in the middle of thefloor, would you know what I meantby setting the parlour straight ?""0 yes," said Roger, smiling;"you would pick up the chair, andpull round the table, and unroll therug, and put the tongs inside thefireplace.""Yes," said his mother, " I shouldput everything in its proper placeand to its proper use. Well, somethings in the world stand about justso: some of the people are not atwork, and some of the money and

54 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.time and opportunity are rolled up,or hanging about in the wrong places.And in that little world which wecall our hearts, Roger, there is oftena great deal to do. I have goneinto my heart in the morning andfound everything at sixes andsevens." You, mamma?" said Roger."I, my dear. Do you supposemy heart is any different from otherpeople's ?""I thought it was a great dealbetter than anybody's," said Roger."Ah, that was a mistake. TheBible says, that 'As in water faceanswereth to face, so the heart ofman to man.' When the Spirit of

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 55God comes and dwells in a heart,then there is indeed a light shiningin a dark place; but if he takesaway the beauty and brightness ofhis presence, everything is dark andin disorder."" Mamma," said Roger, in a lowvoice, "did you ever not say yourprayers one night ?"" Yes, Roger."Roger drew a long breath, as ifthat was a comfort to him."Why did you, mamma ?"" Suppose you were to tell me firstwhy you did," said his mother.Roger coloured and looked down."Mamma," he said, "I didn'tmean to; but you know what I read

56 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.before I went up stairs, and I knewI didn't do that, and I was afraid topray till I did, and it was so cold Igot into bed to think about it, andthen I went to sleep.""And how was it this morning ?"said his mother." I couldn't then either," saidRoger, " because I didn't forgive thelittle boy. I felt angry yet.""Did you ask the Lord Jesus tohelp you to forgive?" said hismother." No, ma'am.""0 foolish boy!" she said, "totry to do such great things withoutthe Lord's help !""Are they great things?" said

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 57Roger; "I thought they were littlethings.""So great, that not the best northe wisest man on earth can dothem in his own strength. See whatthe Bible says: Who can bring aclean thing out of an unclean ? notone.' And forgiveness is a cleanthing-pure and like God; whilethe little heart out of which itshould come is all unclean until theLord has washed it and made it new.'"What do you mean by my ownstrength, mamma?" said Roger."Last summer," said his mother,"when you wanted that little tree,planted in your garden, why didn'tyou bring it to the place yourself?"

58 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN." I couldn't," said Roger; " it wastoo heavy. And then papa cameand helped me.""Was it too heavy for him to*carry all alone?""No, indeed," said Roger."Then why did he bid you takehold too?""Why that's papa's way," saidRoger; "he always makes me try tohelp about anything I want done.He says, 'Try just as hard as if youwere doing it all by yourself."'"Well," said his mother, "whenyou wanted the tree in your garden,and found you could not carry itthere in your own strength, asked papa, and he took hold

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 59"with his strong hands, but bade you"try as hard as you could still. Andso, Roger, God deals with us. If wetry, depending on him, the work willbe done; and the tree of grace notonly be planted in our hearts, butwill grow and flourish there."Roger sat still, looking at thefire." Mamma," he said at last, speak-ing slowly and softly, "you didn'tlove my poor little hen as I did;you can't tell; you don't know howhard it is to forgive.""Yes, dear Roger, I think Iknow. But harder things than thathave been done.""What ?" said Roger.

60 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.His mother gave him the Bibleopen at the twenty-third chapter ofLuke, and told him he might readover to her what she read to himyesterday, from the first verse to thethirty-fourth. Roger read them all,and then he looked at the fire again."But, mamma," he said, "he wasthe Lord.""And we want to be like him, dowe not ?" said his mother. "But nowread the last four verses of theseventh chapter of Acts. Stephenwas only a man.""Then they cried out with a loudvoice, and stopped their ears, andran upon him with one accord, andcast him out of the city, and stoned

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 61him: and the witnesses laid downtheir clothes at a young man's feet,whose name was Saul. And theystoned Stephen, calling upon God,and saying, Lord Jesus, receive myspirit. And he kneeled down andcried with a loud voice, Lord, lay notthis sin to their charge. And whenhe had said this, he fell asleep."As soon as Roger had finishedreading these words his mother fold-ed up her work, and went away."Mamma !" Roger called out,"may I go up some time to thatroom yonder ?""Whenever you like, Roger, ifyou will go there feeling like Ste-phen did."

62 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."How should I feel if I was Ste-phen?" said Roger, pulling himselfround on the rug so as to see hismother."You would remember first thatthis poor little boy has sinned againstGod; and you would be so anxiousthat he should be forgiven this greatsin that you would never think ofwishing that he should be punishedfor the little sin against you. Andyou would pray the Lord Jesus tolet the light of his grace shine inthat little dark heart, and to makethat poor ignorant child one of hisown little servants, washed in hisblood, and full of love and truth."Roger burst into tears.

SUNSHINE IN THE MORNING. 63S"Yes, mamma, that's just how Ishould feel!" he said, "And then Ishould not be a wicked fellow-servant any longer! 0, mamma,pray !""Pray, Roger," she answeredsoftly, and shut the door.

64CHAPTER V.TIM.DID you ever see a dark, gloomymorning, when the sky was coveredwith gray clouds, and everythinglooked stormy and threatening? Andthen have you seen by and by theclouds send down a little shower,and after that the sun break throughand through till it was all blue sky,and not a cloud left? The leavesmight be all wet still, but every dropwas sparkling with sunlight.Something like this was the courseRoger's day; for when, long after

TIM. 65&his mother had left him in thebreakfast-room, he too went out andbegan to mount the stairs, his eye-lashes were wet and his lips trem-bled, but there was not a cloud onhis face. He went straight up tothe little boy's room and softlyopened the door.The poor little boy was asleep, sovRoger stood and looked at him tohis heart's content. He was verypale and thin; and though his hairhad been smoothed more than once-that day it was rough still, for ithad not been brushed nobody knows,when before."I can't do anything for him justnow," said Roger to himself, " onlyF

66 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.keep quiet;" so he looked round theroom to see if anything could bedone for that. But no, it was all inorder, with a nice little fire burning,and a little table, covered with awhite cloth, to hold the pitcher andcup and spoon; and there stood hismother's work-basket, which Rogerfelt as if he could hug right off."It's easy to see she made up thefire," he said to himself again, "it'sso nice; and that's one of her nap-kins on the table; don't I know thelook of 'em! She's just been up"here putting things straight. NowI wonder what I can do ?" SoRoger seated himself down in thechimney..corner and began to study

TIM. 67the matter, keeping a sharp look-outfor the little boy all the while. " Ican't draw the curtains," he beganagain; "no, they're all right.Mamma always says to me, 'Thinkwhat the Lord Jesus would do;but what would that be ? May behe'd cure him; then he don't cureeverybody. I think he'd put hishands on him and bless him, as hedid to all the other children; but Ican't do that. I can ask him to doit, though." So Roger got up andwent softly to the foot of the bed,and knelt down there out of sight.When he rose up again the littleboy's eyes were wide open. His facewas wrinkled up, too, as if he wereF 2

68 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.almost crying; but Roger's suddenappearance clearly frightened him."Go away!" he said, "I don'twant you.""Why, I wont hurt you!" saidRoger, advancing. " I'm only Roger.What were you crying for?""I wasn't crying," said the boy."Go away !""Mamma said I might come,"said Roger, going a step or twonearer, "and she wouldn't like tohave you say you wasn't cryingwhen you were. You mustn't speakanything that is not true."" You'd cry fast enough I know,"said the boy, his face wrinkling upagain, "if your leg was broken upinto twenty pieces."

TIM. 69" Twenty pieces !" cried Roger, forthat was an extent of damage thathad never entered his head. "Oh,I'm as sorry as can be! But whatmade you break it ?""Me break it!" said the boy,"it was one o' your plaguey oldbarrels.""But the barrels wouldn't havebroken it if you hadn't got onthem," said Roger. "What madeyou do that? And kill my dearlittle hen too! Oh, how couldyou?" The boy looked at Rogercuriously."Was one of 'em your'n?" heasked. " Well, what can a feller dowhen a man comes behind and giveshim a push ?"

70' THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."But why did your father makeyou do it ?" said Roger." Didn't say he did.""You needn't be cross," saidRoger; "I'm sorry you broke yourleg, now; but how could you killmy little black hen?" Again theboy looked at Roger, and thenrolled his head up in the blankets.""Somebody made me," he said."And you see, we was all sohungry."Roger looked in dismay. Theidea of anybody's being hungryenough to steal his little black henand then, worse still, to think of herbeing picked and roasted! Therehe stood, with anger and sorrow and

TIM. 71pity all fighting for the possessionof his heart, trying to crowd backthe tears that rushed up into hiseyes, and not feeling very surewhether he was on his head or hisfeet. But again his mother's sweetcounsel, "What would the LordJesus do ?" came into his mind, and,with a heavy sigh, Roger madeanother dash at the tears and con-queredthem. Then he sawthat a littlebright eye was peeping out at himfrom under a corner of the blanket."Boy," said Roger, "what's yourname ?""Tim."" Well, what are you watchingme for ?"

72 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."I aint.""Tim," saidRoger, gravely, "that'snot true, for I saw you. Now, whatdid you do it for ?""If you was agoing to pitch intome I'd just like to know it afore-hand," said the boy."Pitch into you!" said Roger"oh, I'm not going to do that!That would be wicked.""That's the word she said," re-plied the boy. "And she tell'd mewhat it meaned too." And as hespoke the door opened and Roger'smother came in. Little Timunrolled his head at once andwatched her with very differenteyes; but she did not stay.

TIM. 73"Roger," she said, "I cameto tell you that you must notmake Tim talk. You may readto him, but he must be keptquiet."Roger followed her to the doorand spoke low, "Mamma, is his legbroken in twenty pieces ?"" No, only in two." Roger cast aglance of much disgust toward hisnew acquaintance." Mamma, doesn't he ever say any-ihing true ?""He don't know; he has neverbeen taught anything," she whis-pered. And Roger held up his facefor a kiss, and went back somewhatcomforted.

74 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN."Poor Tim!" he said; "shall Iread to you?""I don't care. What was you,sayin' to her ?""You can ask her when she-comes," said Roger. "But don'tyou like books ?""I dunno," said Tim. "What'sin em ?"All sorts of things," said Roger,."about ships, and people, and trees,and wild animals. Don't you like.wild animals ? I can read you afamous story about lions.""I don't care if you do," saidTim. "You can if you've a mindito."Upon the strength of which un-

TIM. 75gracious permission Roger got hislittle Bible out of the next roomand read the story of Daniel. Andlittle Tim listened with all his eyesand ears; but I suppose the painin his leg tired him, for when Rogerstopped reading he went right off tosleep.

CHAPTER VI.R UFFLE S HEAD.As soon as Tim's eyes were fairly.shut, Roger went quietly out of theroom and ran down stairs."Mamma," said he, opening theparlour door, "that boy's asleep,-do you want me to stay there ?""No, dear," she said, and RogerTan off again-this time out of thehouse. For ever since he got overhis first morning trouble, somethingelse had been on his heart; and thatwas: what if the rats should findout where he had hid the pretty

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 77black head of his little hen, andshould eat it up ? for he rememberedthat they had now and then eaten alive chicken for him. To be sure, hehad laid Ruffle's head deep in the hay-mow, and piled the hay on top of it,but still rats were very queer aboutfinding out things; and Roger spedaway to the barn with anything buta quiet heart. The smooth crust ofthe snow crackled and crisped underhis feet, but did not give way, andthe flocks of little birds flutteredand chirped, and took to their wings;and Tray followed close at his mas-ter's heels, but got hardly a word.Then the great barn-door swungslowly back, and Roger went in and

"78 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.began to pull away the hay, withTray helping him. No, the ratshad not been there-or, if they had,they had done no mischief; for therelay Ruffle's head just where Rogerhad left it. And even Tray musthave seen there was something sadthe matter, for he whined andsnuffed about and stood on his hindlegs to ask questions. But Rogerdid not answer them. He sat downin the hay and thought what heshould do; softly stroking the prettyyellow ruff all the while." They'll be sure to get it, sometime, if I leave it here," he said;" and besides, the men will be pullingthe hay down. And I can't keep it

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 79in the house. I shall have to buryit. So he went out of the barnagain, and went for his little spade." In the garden wont do, for that'llbe all dug up in the spring," thoughtRoger,--" and down in the meadowthey'll plough; so I'll bury it hereby the wood-pile, because I come bythis way so often."So choosing a place under a greatapple-tree, Roger fell to work withhis spade. First there was the snow"to clear away, but that was easyenough; for though the snow wasdeep yet it was light, and nobodyhad trodden it down just there."Tray, on his part, thought it wassimply the best fun that could be,

80 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.and dug away with all his might;but as his little paws worked first inone place and then in half a dozenothers, it cannot be said that heaccomplished much. Roger workedon without stopping, till the snowwas quite cleared away in one place,and the brown earth appeared below;but when he struck his spade downupon that-it might just as well havebeen so much rock ; for it was frozenperfectly hard. Roger stopped totake breath, leaning on his spade andstudying the looks of the ground.Then he threw the spade down, anddarted off to the lower barn, wherethe men were at work, with Tray athis heels.

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 81"Tom," he said, "what do you dowhen the ground's frozen ?""Do?" said Tom, stopping hiswork and looking up,-" why, I justlets it freeze."" No, but I mean if you wantedto dig it ?" said Roger."When you can't do what youwant to, you must do what you can,"said Tom; and tMat's to wait till theground thaws, I reckon.""Suppose you can't wait ?" saidRoger." Oh, if I'm bound to get into theground whether or no," said Tom," I takes a pick." But before Tomcould ask why Roger wanted to getinto the ground, Roger was off toG

82 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.the tool-house, and there indeedstood the pickaxe, but it was aboutas much as he could lift."How in the world does Tomthrow it over his shoulder, Iwonder !" thought Roger, as he tookhold of the heavy tool and couldjust raise it a few inches from theground. "I've got to hurry-forit'll be slow work digging withthis." But hurry as he would, ittook a long time even to get backto the tree. Every few steps hehad to drop the pickaxe down in thesnow and take a rest; and by thetime he got back to his clearedplace of brown earth, the sun wasalmost dipping behind the hill.

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 83"Sunset! as sure as I'm a boy !"said Roger, and then he drew a longsigh, thinking how he used to feedRuffle at just that very time of day.But with that thought, he began to.peck at the frozen earth again withhis pickaxe. Yes, it was just likepecking; and the pickaxe mighthave laughed to itself, for certainlyit had never been so used before;and soon Roger's arms got very tired,even of that; then he got down onhis knees and tried to work withone end of the pick. And the lastrays of the sun kissed the top of hishead and went away."My dear boy," said his father's-voice, " what are you about ?"G t

84 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.Roger rose to his feet, veryflushed and warm in spite of the cold."' I'm trying to dig, papa.""So I see,-but for what possiblepurpose ?""Papa," answered Roger, suppres-singa sob, "it's forpoor Ruffle's head."" My dear child," said his father,laying his hand on the boy'sshoulder, "is there no easier placeyou can think of?""There are rats in the hay, papa--and I don't think mamma wouldlike to have me keep it in the house.""Where is it now?""Here, sir,"-and Roger took outof his pocket a little pasteboard box,which he put in his father's hand.

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 85Mr. Van Dyke opened it and lookedin."Roger," he said presently, "supupose you let me take care of it for afew days ?-then if we cannot find abetter place, I'll let Tom use thepick for you."" You, papa ?"-said Roger, somuch astonished that he forgot toask where his father would keep it." Would you, really? I thought,"said poor Roger, faltering again, " Ithought nobody would touch it butme ""I will, if you'll let me," said hisfather, "and take the best care of itI know how."It is impossible to tell how much

86 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.this comforted Roger's heart. Tohave poor Ruffle's head taken careof by his father, when Roger hadfeared that if any one found it itwould be thrown to the pigs, wasgiving the little black hen a dignitywhich was wonderfully soothing.With great relief he saw the littlebox slide into his father's pocket, andthen ran in to tea, and to tell hismother " how good papa was."" Mamma," he said after tea, whenhe was resting on the rug at her feet,with his head against her knee, "Idon't think that Tim's a nice boy atall!""No," she said, "not at all. Butif you and I, Roger, who are so sin-

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 87ful ourselves, if we feel so about him,-think how our hearts must look tothe Lord Jesus-who is perfectlyholy. Think what it must havebeen to him to come down and livein this world, among sinners, and todie for them.""Yes, it was wonderful !" saidRoger, sighing. " Mamma, do youdislike to be up in that boy'sroom?""No, Roger, I like to be there.""Don't he tell stories, and say badthings ?""Yes, sometimes, and they dogive me pain; but they make mewant to be there all the more."Roger twisted his head round

88 THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.toward her, with a flushing look oftears."Ah, mamma! you are like Jesus!I do think that was the way he couldbear to be in this world. Mamma,may I try and help to take care ofthat boy?"She said "Yes;" then stoopeddown and kissed his forehead."Roger," she went on to say,"when I saw that little footstep inthe snow yesterday, my first thoughtwas, what should I do if I everfound your little feet treading in theways of open sin against God,-andI felt that it would break my heart !""Mamma," cried Roger, twistinghimself round again, "you never

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 89shall! don't ever think of it again.Indeed you never shall!""The Lord helping you," said hismother, gravely."Mamma, did you think so, be-cause I was in such a passion ?""I suppose that helped me to'think of it," said his mother."Ah, mamma!"His mother did not say more inanswer to his question, and Rogernestled his head up against her kneeagain, and looked into the fire witheyes so wide qpen that the coalsdid not know what to make of it,but kept winking and glimmeringlike fireflies."Wlrat's 'open sin' mamma"

"9Q THE LITTLE BLACK HEN.", Roger," she said, "you know youdisobey me sometimes.""Yes, mamma," he replied, verysorrowfully."Yet it is not the choice andpleasure of your heart, in general, todo so-is it ?"Roger looked round, exclaiming," Oh no! mamma.""Well, my child, if those whohave chosen the Lord for their por-tion,-who choose obedience to himas their sweetest possible life,-ifthey ever fail, it is a bitter grief andshame to them. But in the case ofthose who disobey his commands,and disregard his will, because they#choose not to be his servants-

RUFFLE'S HEAD. 91loving darkness rather than light,breaking his law in the sight of allmen,-we say they live in opensin.""Does anybody really love dark-ness better than light, mamma?""The Bible says, 'This is thecondemnation, that light is comeinto the world, and men loved dark-ness rather than light, because theirdeeds were evil. "Roger moved so as to lay theother cheek on her lap, and look upin her face."Mamma," he said, "I choose to'serve the Lord,-so your heart needmot ache any more !"

92CHAPTER VII.GOOD BOY.BREAKFAST was over, next morning,and Roger was wiping the tea-cupsfor his mother-a service which heliked very much,-when Kitty camein; and in her hands was a traywith a little bowl of gruel and apiece of toast."Mamma!" cried Roger, "may Itake it up ? I've only got one moresaucer to wipe.""If you can without spilling it,""said his mother. So when thatsaucer was wiped and put away in