"We do not any of us love Professor JBcntley over-much, but we all respect him as a teacher. . . . There is my vote for the best skater in our school, Professor Bentley.' "-Page 423.
LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY,
AND OTHER TALES,
ILL USTRATING THE BEA TITUDES.
3Y THE AUT19OR OF
NETTLE'SS MISSION," LITTLEE KATY AND JOLLY JIM,"
& CO., 21
PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
WHOSE BRAVE, SWEET LIFE AND BEAUTIFUL DEATH HAVI:
TAUGHT HIS CHILDREN WITH WHAT FULNESAS OF
BLESSING OUR MASTER WILL REWARD
HIS FAITHFUL SERVANTS,
I DEDICATE THESE LITTLE BOOKS.
LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE UNCLE ETHAN THE DECISION PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY VICTORY . OLD CHRISTY AUSTIN9S VISIT THE BRIDGE MR SEMMONS
JEMMY FORD A NEW FRIEND MR B4,RNES' WOOD-SHED TRYING TO DO RIGHT JEM'S PARTY CHRISTY'S HOME
* 95 106
III. IV. V.
44 53 59 65
CHAP. VII. VIII. IX. X.
JESUS ONLY JEWM'S DONKEY OLD MATTY
JEM 9 S HOME-COMING
DRAYTON BOYS CHURCHILL MANOR-HOUSE EAGLE CRAG AS MEEK AS MOSES THE PARODY TRUST AND SUSPICION PATIENT WAITING BEN THOMPSON
REPARATION THE ''STARRY NIGHT
199 206 217 227 236
FRANK AUSTIN'S DIAMOND.
THE" PICNIC MOUNTAIN LAKE THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH MILWARD'S CORNER MARY ALLEN *
IN THE OLD BARN JOE MILWARD'S VISIT A FLI SH OF THE DIAMOND HIDDEN MANNA
293 303 313
* 364 373
PAGE 159 167 178 188
VII. VIII. Ix. X.
II. II1. IV.
VI. VII. VIII. IX.
III. IV. V.
VII. VIII. IX. Xï¿½
UNCLE HENRY NED'S FRIENDS A FRUITLESS SEARCH THE SKATING CLUB ARTHUR BENTLEY ON THE CRAG A PERILOUS WALK IN THE CABIN MAKING FOR PEACE BRIGHTENED PATHS
TO HIS FLAG.
FATHER AND SON. WILL SEATON WILL'S "FIRST AND BEST , "HE THAT LOVETH FATHER OR MOTHER NOT WORTHY OF ME" THE DECISION ï¿½ .
OFF FOR ST WILFRID'S SEEKING FOR REFUGE THE THANK-OFFERING
520 529 539
PAGE . 387
. 416 . 424 . 433
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS,
" WELLI home?"
how are you, and
all at sleigh
Laurence Bronson, springing into the
which had just drawn up before the main gate of Drayton Hall, and proceeding to enwrap himself in the heavy robes
with which it was well-nigh filled.
"I'm well, sir, thank you:; and the family's All right and comfortable now, Mr Laurence,?"
"Yes : IT take the reins. Good-bye, boys,
noodled merrily to a, group of his, schoolfellows who stood near. " I hope you'll all have a jolly good. time. Merry Christmas ! "
Good-bye! happy voices ;
shouted, back a
Laurence - drove away cwr the hard,
smooth road toward home,
Has my father returned, Stevens? " he asked, af ter tb e
" Mrs Bronson wrote me
York on business.'
that he had gone to New
he 's, back
He's, not looking
well either, I think,. since his jour-ney."
Perhaps he tired himself too much,"
" That may.
had left the Hall
4 LAURENCE BRONSON 19 S VICTORY,
looks heavy and quiet like. I dare say- he'll be more like himself when he's rested."
cc Oh, yes; he always does come home from New York tired out. He rushes through with his business so, in order to be home the sooner."
There was no.room in his glad, joyous heart for a thought of apprehension or anxiety. The sun threw such a flood of light over the snow-covered fields and roads, and - sparkled with such beauty in the diamond particles of ice which covered every tree and shrub, that it was no wonder that his heart should catch its reflection", and be so filled with ligbt and joy that it could not harbour a dark thought. And the fresb, cold wind came singing through the leafless branches, not in wild, sharp notes, but softly and caressingly, yet with a bracing strength in its touch which brought a glow to his cheek, and kindled his eye with a brighter light,
" It seems like spring to-day," ne said, after enjoying in silence for a while the perfect loveliness of the day. " By afternoon those old oaks will have lost some of the diamonds with which they have bedizened themselves."
"I think it'll not be so mild for long, Mr Laurence. The- wind is turning to the north, and it is colder now than when I left Glencoe.",
11 All the better," replied Laurence, who seemed deter. mined to be pleased, whatever happened. " We couldn't quarrel with such a glorious day as this, but I was a little afraid the skating would be spoiled. There's the church spire. How pretty the village looks, all covered with snow 1 "
He was so full of enjoyment, this light-hearted, happy schoolboy, that everything looked lovely in his eyes that beautiful morning; and when he reached his home, throw. ing the reins to Stevens, and springing out of the sleigh to greet the five little sisters who stood at the lodge-gates
ROME FOR THE HOLIDAYS,
waiting for him. he did not see that the eldest of the. group, despite her joy in meeting him, had a troubled look which micPht have warned him that the hearts at home were not as light as his,
" Now bundle into the sleigh, every mother's child of you, and we will drive up to the house *in gay style," he said, keeping in his arms the lasf one who had claimed a kiss, a little blue-eyed, fair-haired maiden, who clung about his neck and called him 11 Lally," with a musical little tongue wbich refused to give him his rightful name,
So they all sprang in, crowding together like the children of the unfortunate " old woman who lived in a shoe;" and even Jessie's sober face lost its serious look, and was radiant with laughter and fun, when the mother came out upon the piazza to welcome her boy.
11 Merry Christmas, mother darling! I shall have to wait one minute for my kiss, for my family cares are very heavy just now," he said, glancing merrily up at her, as he jumped one little sister after another out of the crowded sleigh. 11 Come, Minnie, you're the last;-" and he lifted the youngest in, his arms again, and turned to place her on the piazza steps.,
But the little one stoutly resisted her dethronement, and insisted upon being carried. into the house. The piazza reached,, however, her claims were ignored; for there stood the mother; and less than two clasping arms could not tell her how glad he was to be I with her again.
But, mother," and he held her off from him after the first long kiss, and looked anxiously into her face, you look so tired aild pale,"
No ; I am not tired," she answered, smiling ; for she, could not bear that his gladness should be dimmed so soon,
I am often pale, you know. But how well and bright and happy you seem, my b6y;" and she pushed back the'eurls from his forehead, looking fondly into his handsome face.-
61 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY,
"I am well and happy, and I try to be bright," he answered. "But somehow I generally manage to prove rather stupid than bright as far as study is concerned," he added, with a laugh. "Never mind though, mother ; I '11 battle through, and come out a student yet; you shall see if I don't."
Again that pained expression, which he had noticed be. fore, flitted over his mother's face; but the next moment it was gone ; and, turning to Jessie, she said"gNow, order luncheon, dear. Laurence must be famished after his cold drive.")
"Where is father 1 " asked Laurence, as he followed his mother into the house, the children all hanging about him, as if determined not to lose sight of him for a moment.
"1He had to drive over to Mr Cuyler 's on business. He expected to -be back before you reached home, but charged me if he were detained to tell you how sorry he was to be called away just at this time. He will be back soon."
"1Here he is now," said little Minnie, who had run to the window at the sound of sleigh-bells. -11 But only just look at him," she said, in a troubled little voice. "He f eels real bad about something. See, Lally, doesn't he ~
Laurence sprang up quickly, but hi~s mother was before him.
" Father is very tired," she said, drawing Laurence's arm within her own. "He has had too much to do lately. Come, we will go out to meet him. Here 's your boy home again, father," she called -in a pleasant voice, as they went out upon the piazza again.
The weary, spiritless look in Mr Bronson's face changed to one of pleasure, and he came quickly forward.
"W'elcome home, my son," he said, grasping both Laurence's outstretched hands. " I need not ask if you are well with such a face as that beaming before me."
Laurence wished that he could say as much for him, forl
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, 7
all his father's attempted cheerfulness could not hide the furrows in his face, nor the gray lines scattered through his dark hair; but he fell in at once with his assumed happiness.
"I should answer the question just as you would expect it to be answered. Isn't it a grand morning for a sleighride, father ?"
"Yes, it is indeed a perfect dlay. How did you leave all your schoolfellows at the Hall'?"'
And so half a dozen indifferent questions and answers passed between them, until lunch was announced. But Laurence went into the dining-roomn with the full determination to find out, as soon as theI meal was over, what was the cloud whose shadow had been so carefully kept from. his own path, only, as it seemed, to darken the more heavily upon those whom he most loved.
Luncheon was scarcely over when Mr Bronson rose froin his seat, and saying that he had some writing which it was necessary for him to attend to immediately, went ou~t of the room.
"Can 1 help you, father'? " Laurence had asked.
"No," had been the answer; and the boy could not fail to notice the heavy tone in which the words were spoken. "No; I have only to affix my signature to two or three papers. But they must be sent to Mr Cuyler at once. Stevens is waiting for them. I will be back directly."
The papers had been signed and sent to the lawyer, Mr Cuyler; and now Mir Bronson pushed back his chair from his writing-table, and leaned his head upon his hand in deep thought. But the next moment there came to him the sound of a. quick, elastic step in the hall'. then a knock upon the door; and he lifted his head and smiled as Laurence came in.
"CWell, my boy?" he said, as if to ask what had brought him there. Laurence crossed the room ; and, tall, manly,
8 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
looking fellow as he was, sat down upon his father's knee, and -put his two strong arms about his father's neck.'
"Now, father ?"
"What will you have,' my son?
He knew what he woulId have;- but he asked the question to gain a moment's time, in which he might try to measure his son's power of endurance, and also -to seek for tender words in which to break the truth to him.
"1You know what I want," said Laurence. "There is a heavy load on your heart and on mother's. I want to know what it is, that I may lift it, if such a thing is possible : if not,, that I may share it, and so at least ease the burden."
His father took the earnest face between his hands, and looked long into the depths of "the clear hazel eyes. At length, he said"Can you bear a sore trial patiently and bravely, Laurence ?
~I can," said the boy.
"It is a very heavy burden; so heavy, that it must press upon everyI joy and pleasure of your life,-so heavy, that it inay crush out all your hopes and glad anticipations. Can you bear it F'
"cThen you shall know it, and we will try to strengthen one another. Laurence, I am a ruined man."
"Your property is all gone?"
"Everythingr. I have just signed the last paper yielding all-to my creditors."
"How came it about, father? May I know' ?"
The question 'Was asked in- a low, almost whisperin g voice; he was awe-struck with the weight of this great calamity.
"Partly through my own fault, Laurence ; for -Ishould have been more cautious; and,'yet I was only doing for"afriend, in need what he had once done for me. I indorsed1heavily-heavily, at least, for a mnan in my circumstances.
110ME FOR THE HOLIDAYS*
for Henry Lee. You know him, and you know what a friend he was to me in my younger days, when I was a stranger in a strange city. His partner has proved himself a villain. Lee is bankrupt, and I am
" Still a young man,'with a strong right arm of your own, and another which can at least do something to aid you;" and the boy held up his hand before his-father's face, as if to show him how broad and sinewy it was. Keep
up a good heart, father-we'll do well yet."
" My brave boy," said his father, fondly, you have lifted a great load from my heart, for I dreaded to tell you of this trial, lest it should overwhelm you. It has come so suddenly upon us, that I scarcely knew how to prepare you for it by letter. But, Laurence, do you know that it entails upon you a great disappointment? I cannot afford to send you back to school,"
It was a terrible disappointment, and one of which* in his desire to comfort his father, he bad not thought. He was not a quick nor a showy student ; but he loved study for its own sake, and would plod for hours over a problem upon which many of his classmates would spend but half the time, and yet rise from the laborious task as -fresh and vigorous as if it had been but recreation to him. The dream of his life had been to become a scholar; to spend his years in researches and discoveries ; and now it -must all end just here. "A great disappointment!" "' It was something more than that: it was a blow which almost staggered him; and, for the moment, his own sorrow blotted out the thought of his father's grief, His.sudden start and look of blank dismay told Mr Bronson how sharply the stroke had fallen upon him ; and his voice was very tremulous as he tried in his turn to be the comforter,
I told you, my boy," he said, laying*his hand tende rly upon Laurence's bowed head-bowed lest his father should see the pain which he knew must be manifest in his face,-
10 LAURENCE BRONSON'yS VICTORY,
"I told you that we would need to strengthen one another, for I knew how bitter this change would be to you. But Dr Drayton's charges are very heavy; and, although I have been most fortunate in obtaining a position which will be open to me next week, my salary will not be sufficient to maintain us all. I must try to find a place for you as well, and we shall have to work together for the mother and the little sisters."
He, could not have drawn the dark picture in better colours. " The mother and the little sisters " were the joy of Laurence's life ; and the thought of his father, cheerfully descending from the high position he had held, and thankfully accepting a situation which might at least keep his wife and children from want, brought a glow of enthusiasm in the work to his own heart. The bowed head was lifted; and the boy stood up manfully to accept the burden which had been laid upon his young shoulders.
"Well, father," he said, "we will do our best. With two of us to shield them, they ought not to suffer. As soon as I can find a clerkship, I am ready to do my share."
" God bless you, Laurence! you have borne this nobly," said Mr Bronson. "1If you knew how much easier you have made my share of the cross, you would feel that you could thank Him also for having given you strength to take up your portion so courage ously."
For a long while they sat together, talking over the change in their prospects; and then Laurence went to seek his mother. He was glad to think that she would be spared the recital of the -sad story; and he lost no time in telling her that he knew all, and was ready cheerf ully to do his part in the new life which awaited him. They bad scarcely had time to say more than -half of what was in -their hearts, when the children came in to plead for a sleigh-ride. Jessie, guessing rightly that Laurence wanted to be alone with hii mrnother, had done her best to keep the'little ones in the
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.,1
nursery; but all her wiles were of no avail. Laurence must come,-he had talked long enough with father and mother; and, finally, they all rushed in, pell-mell, to carry' himi off a prisoner. He yielded, and went with them; for he had promised them this ride on their way up from the lodge-gates, and he was not sorry that he had done so when once they had started.
The children were -wild with delight, and their merry laughter echoed gaily in the clear frosty air,-excited by anything or by nothing, as the case might be,-that made but little difference ; for their hearts were so light -that they overflowed with joy at their own sweet will,-it needed nothing to call it forth. And, by and by, he began to enter into the spirit of the frolic himself. His counterfeited mirth changed to enjoyment almost as hearty and unrestrained as that of his little sisters, who knew nothing of the cloud which hung over their home.
And when they had returned, there -was the long winter eveingto be gone through with somehow, and Christmas Eve too. So he set them at a game of romps, which lasted till they went to bed-; and then he began to look forward to the hour when he might shut himself up in his own room, and think it all over. By and by it came; and when prayers were over, he went up-stairs for a quiet time before he should go to rest. Even here, however, an interruption came between him and his wishes. The door was scarcely closed behind him, when he heard a gentle -knock; and, opening it, saw Jessie standling_,there.
"1May I come in, just for a minute or two, Larry? IL want you to talk to me."
She had always been his pet sister-this gentle, matronly little Jessie; and now, when he met those glistening eyes, heavy with the weight of -tears which she had so struggled to keep out of sight, he -could not resist her, itch as he wished to be alone,
12 LAURENCE BRONSON P S VICTORY,
Come in," he said, drawing her to him, and keeping his arm still around her as he led her to a chair, and lifted her on- his knee. ".L7ou are full of this trouble, aren't you, little woman
For answer she laid her head down upon his shoulder, and cried. as if her'heart would break.
"I've wanted you so, Larry," she sobbed, as soon as she could speak. 11 The children don't know about - it, and I couldn't talk to mother because I couldn't keep back the tear's when I said anything, and I didn't want her to see me cry. You won't mind very much, will you ? "
Cc No, indeed, I won't ; "' and the tender hand, passing caressingly over her hair, soothed and calmed her, while it left her free to cry herself into quiet.
By and by he began to; talk in his bright, pleasant way of the change before them; and while he did not attempt to disguise from her that he thought it hard to bear, he found so manysunny spots in the dark road, and showed them to her so clearly, that she began to wonder that she had not seen them herself.
11 Why, it won't be so very bad after all, Larry, will it?
she said, at length; 11 except for youwand father. I am so very sorry that you cannot go back to school ' "
Oh, don't worry yourself about that," he said, cheerily. "I shall manage to have some time for- study at home. And now don't you think you had better go to bed? It is after eleven o'clock."
So she kissed him good-night and went away, thinking that in all the wide world there was not a dearer, more loving brother than her own Laurence.
When she was gone, he sat down before the fire again, and gave himself up to his thoughts. Sad enough they were. The crushing of all his hopes of a life of study was but one grief,-.among many. The dear old home in which he had lived from his babyhood must be sold! It was not a splen-
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE. 13
did home, but it was one of perfect comfort and ease; and he could scarcely bear to think of the sad change for his mother and the girls, from the entire immunity from, all unwelcome care to the drudgery and toil which must be
theirs so soon.
There was another thing, too, which weighed heavily upon
him. He was a proud boy,-a very proud boy; and he shrank from- the thought of all the slights which fall upon the poor. His cheek burned when he thought of the remarks of his schoolmates when they should hear that he could no longer afford to take his place among'them, but o must earn his own'living. With some he knew this would
make no difference, many of them would love him as well and respect. him quite as much as before ; but, with others, he knew that'his poverty would be the signal for sneers and -if they dared so far-insults. Poor fellow! It was not a happy face which looked into the dying fire for hours after Jessie left him, and when at last he threw himself upon his bed, his sleep was broken with dark, troubled dreams, from which he woke restless and uneasy, until, at length fairly tired out, he fell into a slumber too deep to be disturbed by
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOQE.
THaE bright morning sun did a great deal toward driving away dark thoughts and anticipations; and by the time Laurence was dressed and ready to go down-stairs, his brow, was as unruffled and his eye as clear as ever. Besides, it was Christmas morning, and Laurence was a Christian. To him the sweet 'Christmas morning dawned with a brighter
14i LAURENCE BRONSON'9S VICTORY,
light than that which shone on common days; and his heart was full of the warm, soft glow, which it had caught as he stood at his window, 8in ging an old Christmaea carol. A " Merry Christmas " it could scarcely be to the elder members of the family, but a happyy " one it should be so far as hie could render it so.
The day was not to be spent as every other Christmas of his life had been spent. Even the younger children understood that the time-honoured tree was not to delight their eyes this year, and that presents were to be dispensed with, Laurence himself, although he had known nothing of the state of affairs, was. unprepared with gifts; for his father had written him, telling him that his month's allowance would have to lie over until the last of the month, as it was not convenient to send it to him at that time, and he had expected to receive it on his return home for the holidays. But before the last of the month, the blow which had threatened Mr Bronson at the time he wrote had fallen, and poor Laurence 's allowance was-among the things of the past.
But still the day was not to be permitted to pass unnoticed. The little children were to have a tea-party, to which all the family were to be invited; and no one, not even the father or mother, was to be excused from atten dance. The time was fixed for three o'clock in the afternoon, but in the morning Mr Bronson said that it would be necessary for him to drive to Glencoe in the afternoon; and so the preparations were hurried, and the tea-party took place at eleven o'clock. .
"1You can play .we had early tea," said Lily, who was th6 hostess on the occasion. So the order of the meals, was a little transposed, and tea was announced a short time before lunch;. but the merry party enjoyed. it none the less. Even Mr Bronson' s careworn face lightened into pleasure as he heard the peals of laughter that rang around the table, andI watched the delight, of his little children in 'their play,
'"HE DRIVE TO GLENCOE,
Laurence and Jessie threw themselves into the frolic with their whole souls, having determined, after a long talk on the subject, not to let the day -pass gloomily ; and the tender, grateful love which shone upon them from their mother's eyes was quite reward enough for the effort which they had made.
There was no small amount of objection raised when it was found that Laurence intended to drive his father over to Glencoe ; but a well-timed proposal from Jessie, that the children should occupy the time of their absence in making a gay pen-wiper for each of them, so took their fancy, that, instead of attempting to detain them further their only concern seemed to be that they should start as soon as possible, in order that the work might be done in secret.
" The little ones don't seem inclined to give you much rest, Laurence," said his father, as they drove off, with a promise to return as quickly as they could.
44 Oh, the novelty will wear off when I have been at home a clay or two," said Laurence. " I am always a lion at the first of my vacations. They will not hang about me so when they grow more accustomed to see me going in and out every day."
His father glanced quickly toward him, but the face into which he looked returned his gaze with a smile which told nothing of the boy's disappointment.
Their drive was not a pleasant one, the bright morning having darkened into a dull, gray afternoon 3 and before they reached Glencoe a drizzling, sleety rain began to fall, freezing as it touched the ground, and making the roads very dangerous for travelling.,
Kitty is sharp-shod of course, father, is she not ? " asked Laurence, as, for the third time, the horse slipped on the icy road.
Yes 3 she will bardlv fall, I think; but hold her in well. I want to stop a inoment at Dr Wells's, so we will drive
16 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY,
right over there. I shall be more. sure to find him than oii any other day."
"II shall not be here more than a moment or two," said Mr Bronson, as he 'stepped out of the sleigh; but I have another errand to attend to;: and you might drive up to Mr Cuyler's with these papers, which I promised to let him have this afternoon, and then meet me at the foot of Gray's Hill."
Laurence drove off quite -pleased with his errand. Mr Cuyler, his father's lawyer, was a great favourite with all the family, and the boy was always glad to be sent to him with any message. The old gentleman received him very kindly, greeting him even more cordially than was his wont, and talked so pleasantly and encouragringly of his father's affairs, that Laurence left him at last almost persuaded that things were not so bad with them, after all; and that, with industry and effort on his own part, he might yet, though it would perhaps be retarded for a year or two, pass through the course of study which he had mapped out for himself.
" Well, good-bye, and success to you," said Mr Cuyler, as Laurence bundled himself up in the robes once more.
" Good-bye, sir, and thank you for your encouragement," said Laurence; and he drove off with a lighter heart thar. he had carried' in his breast for the last twenty-four hours.
At the foot of Gray's Hill there stood. a small well-kept hotel, where Mr Bronson always stopped to water his horses when he had been out for a long drive ; and it was here that he had appointed to meet his son. As Laurence neared the hotel, he noticed a group of men moving slowly up toward the house; and as his eye fell upon them, one figure separated itself from the rest and came running swiftly up the road.
"What is wrong?" asked Laurence, as the man neared him, for it was easy to perceive that something unusual had occurred.
"There 's a man killed. He fell on the ice coming down
WHE DRIVE TO GLENCOE. 17
the hill, and they think he's broke his neck. I'm *ff for the doctor;" and he rushed on toward Dr Wells's house, which was close at hand. What was it that made the boy seize the whip and strike Kitty such a cutting blow that she reared until she stood almost erect on her bind feet-then springing forward, dashed furiously, up the road, until Laurence drew her suddenly up at the door of the hotel, into which the crowd of men were bearing some heavy burden? Something within him, he knew not what, had told him that the burden they bore was his father.
I I Killed! killed! killed! "
The word seemed to be burning itself into his soul; and flinging the reins upon Kitty's neck, he sprang out of the sleigh and rushed into the house, his white, terrified face startling all who met him as be fiercel elbowed his wav through the throng which had followed the bearers into the parlour.
11 Let me pass," he said, roughly grasping the shoulder of a large man who stood in his path, and putting him aside as if he had been a child. The man turned round sharply, with a threat on his lips 3 but one glance at that blanched face stilled him, and the crowd fell silently apart to let the boy pass. On and on, up through the long room, at the very end of which, stretched on a sofa, lay the object of his search. Two men stood leaning over it, biding the face from his sight. In a moment a hand was upon each of them 3 they were thrust aside; and Laurence was kneeling beside the pallid face upon the pillow.
11 My father! Oh, my father! " The cry rang through the room, bringing tears to eyes which had been long unused to weep 3 but the leaden lips did not move in response to the appeal.
"Is he dead? Tell me, is he dead? " cried Laurence, springing to his feet again, and facing suddenly rOUMI Upon the two men whom he had just pushed aside.
18 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY*
"list, lad, list, said the elder of the two, laying his hand gently upon the boy's shoulder. "He 's not dead, I '2m thinkin'; but terrible stunned, just. Mike 's run for the doctor, and Mike 's very fleet of foot. He '11 not be long gone."
"They are coming now," said a voice which Laurence seemed to know, and looking up, he saw that the other person who had been watching his father so closely was Mr Braisted, the hotel-keeper,
"I think that there is life," he saidP in response to Laurence'ts look. "But here is the doctor; he can tell us."
Dr Wells passed through the crowd, bidding them to stand bac k and give the injured man air; hurriedly grasped Laurence's hand; and bent over the unconscious figure upon the couch.
"I would like to have this room cleared."
The words seemed a suggestion, but they were obeyed as a command ; for there was a power in Dr Wells's gentleness that no one ever thought of resisting.
"lle- is not dead, my son," he said, in answer to the hungry eyes which were watching his every movement with such terrible interest; " he isin a deep faint-we can bring him to. "
Even as he spoke, Mr Bronson' s head stirred upon the pillow, his eyes opened and met Laurence's frightened face. He tried to smile, but a spasm of pain crossed his lips, and he sank back into unconspiousness.
" Is he very badly hurt?"U asked Laurence, when, after a long and thorough examination of his patient, the doctor lifted his head, and turned a very serious face on the boy.
"Yes, he is badly hurt. I think you had better drive over for your mother and bring her here."~
"Then I cannot take him home? "
"No; the long drive would kill him in his present state. I will remain with him until you return; you had better, gyo at once. Make as light of it as you can to your mother."
THE DRIVE TO GLENCOE, '19
31ake as light of it as he would, his face bore too 'much cf the impress of the fright and suffering through which he, had passed for Mrs Bronson to be greatly deceived; and although she said but little at home before the children, they had not passed over a quarter of the road to Glencoe before she had drawn from her son all that he knew. That was little enough. He had heard from a man who had seen the accident that his father, in descending the hill, had slipped and pitched violently backward; but that wa's all that the bystanders could tell; for When they ran to his aid he was unconscious, and had so remained up to the moment of Laurence's departure, except for that one gleam of recognition. The doctor had purposely told him but
little, fully expecting that his mother would win from him all that he could tell.
When they reached the hotel, Mr Braisted came out to ineet them, stopping Laurence as he was about to help his mother from the sleigh,
11 Your father is not here," he said. Dr Wells has had bim carried to his own house. He told me to tell you to go over there, as he thought it best to remove him before he became conscious,"
He Was watching for tbem, the good old man, when- they drove up to his door, and came out to welcome them,
11 You have made. good speed," he said, cheerily, " and I am glad to say that my patient seems a little easier, and is quite himself. I had bim, brought here lest he might not like being in that noisy hotel; and, besides, I can watch him more closely when he is under my own roof."
Then he is seriously injured Mrs Bronson asked, her hand trembling in the doctor's firm grasp.
11 Yes; I will tell you the truth, he is seriously hurt
you must keep a brave heart and a cheerful face. Now come up-stairs, for he has asked for you."
Her own loving h"ond could not have arranged him more
20 LIALURENCE BRONSON 9 8 VICTORY,
easily in the white bed on which he lay ; but the heavy eyes were turned to the door as she entered, with a look which showed that, after all said and done, he needed her, and could not rest content without her. Mrs Wells, who had been sitting beside him, left them together ; but Mrs Bronson soon followed her, leaving Laurence with his father.
Is the doctor in his office? " she asked, wheu she had thanked Mrs Wells most warmly for her -kindness,
Yes ; he is coming right up."
But I would like to see him before he comes up. May I go down to him?"
"Certainly; you will find him alone., You know the ways of the house, I believe."
I ought to know them," said Mrs Bronson, looking into the pleasant face with a world of gratitude in her own. 11 This is not the first time that I have tasted of its hospitality,"
The doctor opened the office-door before- she reached it, and met her in the hall.
was on my way to your room," he said; 11 am I needed?" and he looked anxiously at her.
"No; my husband seems to be falling asleep, but I wanted to speak -to you. Doctor, I want you to tell me the whole truth. Is he fatally injured?"
"I will tell you the whole truth. No ; he is not."
I I What,' then ? " she asked, with a sudden, quick breath of deep relief .
11 His spine is badly 'injured. There, my child, try to be calm -" and he drew her to a chair. The tender nursing which your love will give him will bring him through. In the meantime, he is in a good home with friends who will do their best for him.
" But, doctor"-her lips faltered; the words were hard) so very hard, to say,
Wait one moment, if you please. I want to tell you a
UNCLE ETH.,kN, 21
'ittle story. his
Twenty years ago, a physician ' settled in
place. For five years his practice was insufficient to maintain his family ; and, at the end of that time, on the very brink of insolvency, he sold his house and prepared to leave Glencoe. Did you ever hear who bought that house and gave it for two years, rent free, to the almost bankrupt doctor I am not a rich man, Mrs Bronson, or I would do for him what he has done for me;. but while my little rooftree covers my head, there is a home in Glencoe forGeorge Bronson."
" But that debt was paid, long, since, Dr Wells."
" In bank-notes, yes ; but not in that more precious currency in which your husband loves to deal. Not another word, my child. I know just how things stand with you, for George told me all; and I thank God that now, when you are in trouble, He has put it in my power to return some of the kindness which I have received at your husband's hands, , Now let us go up to him."
ALL night long the snowhadbeen falling silently upon the sleeping city, waking no one among the thousands of slumbering people, but softly covering everything with a sheet of spotless white. The dusty ' streets had, during those few quiet hours, been paved with pure marble, the church spires had been wreathed with orange blossoms, and the Teaffess trees hung with garlands of white chrysanthemums. Even the very heaps of ashes in the Poorer streets had been
22 LAURENCE BRONSON I S VICTORY,
transformed into fair little hillocks, which, for all that any one could now see, might have been brought by some loving fairy from the snow-covered fields on the farther side of the river, to blossom into greenness when their pretty mantles should slip from their shoulders,
But in the early morning the wind changed suddenly to the south-east-a fine mist, which speedily resolved itself into a heavy rain, took the place of the beautiful snowflakes; and before the great world had fairly taken up the burdens of the day, almost every trace of beauty had faded from the scene. The pure marble changed to a grayish hue, slipping from beneath the feet of the vexed pedestrians with a treacherous slide that betrayed many a trusting foot ; orange-blossoms and chrysanthemums melted away into heavy drops of moisture, which dripped, dripped upon the passers-by in merciless showers. The little hillocks lost their beautiful cloaks, and stood revealed, not as grassy mounds, but as heaps of rubbish and filth,, reeking in the all-prevailing damp and wet. Oh, how quickly that unsparing rain did take the romance out of the thing 1 Laurence Bronson, stepping from the train as it whistled and screamed into the depot, certainly saw nothing to admire in it.
Turning up his coat collar to protect his throat-for an umbrella, served but half its purpose in the saturated atmosphere-he set out courageously for his destination. To reach it, he must cross the city, for be was on his way to the house of his uncle, Mr Ethan Bronson. It was a long walk and a hard one, but it was accomplished in good time; and, taking an omnibus at the avenue, he was soon depo,. sited at his uncle's door.
His errand there was not an' enviable one, his uncle never having been much of a favourite in the family; for Etha.4 Bronson waa, strangely unlike his brother George, hard an6 cold a6 he was gentle anO warm-hearted, and wholly'wante
ing in that sympathetinL kindliness which made his brother a welcome visitor even where he was a stranger.
"Good morning, Laurence," he said, turning from his seat by the glowing fire, as the servant opened the door for his nephew's entrance. "Rather a wet day, isn't it? How is your father?"
"I have come to see you on father's account, Uncle Ethan. He has had a terrible fall."
"1He has !" exclaimed Mr Bronson. "Is he much hurt-P"
" Yes, sir, very badly hurt; he has injured his spine. The doctor says it will be months before he can move."
The alarm expressed in Mr Bronson's face was not all occasioned by the thought of his brother's suffering. Not that he was regardless of that ; but at the same moment there came to his mind the thought of a family of eight persons, one of them a helpless invalid, to be provided for; and from whence was the provision to come_?
"1Of course, he will have to resign his post with Mr Englis F'
" 4Yes, sir. I am to go to Mr Englis when I lea ve here, and tell him that father is not able to fulfil his engagement."
" Then you have absolutely nothing to depend upon. What are you going to do ?"
Not one question had he asked as to whether his brother's life were endangered, or whether he were likely to be crippled by his injury. That last inquiry had struggled to his lips as if he were so overwhelmed by the idea of their poverty that he had no thought to give to any other view of the case. Laurence's spirit rose. He had feared this; and now he lifted his head as he answered proudly"I do not know, as yet. God will open some path to me."2
" To you," said his uncle, laying great stress upon the pronoun. "4Do you expect to be able to maintain. the famfiily ? "
24 LAURENCE BRONSON S VICTORY&
expect to do all I can toward it," said Laurence, quietly,
" But to do anything, in -that way you will have to ledve your studies; and Dr Drayton, whom I. met in the street the other day, told me you would make a first-rate engineer in the course of three years, young as you are. He says that your talent for mathematics and engineering is something quite wonderful."
Laurence's cheek flushed with pleasure, but the next moment it paled again as he said.,
" I know that Dr Draytoil thinks me a good mathematician, for he has told me so, and it is a great disappointment to me to have to give up my studies; but as my father is helpless, the care of my mother and sisters, as well as of himself, devolves upon me."
No wonder that this hard, close man, grudging a few hundreds out of, his many thousands, looked away from that generous young face, glowing with the light of an earnest, self-sacrificing purpose. For a few moments Mr Bronson sat gazing into the fire ; Ahen he rose to his feet, saying,
11 1 suppose some of the rest of us must see what can be done. Some of the rest of us I say, but I don't see but that it must all come upon me. There is no one else to whom you can apply,"
11 Uncle Ethan, "-Laurence wondered at the sound of his own voice, it was so cold and hard; and yet such a tempest of outraged pride, of grief and shame, was raging within him,-" Uncle Ethan, I certainly had no intention of I applying,' as you term it, to you. My only business here this morning was to obey my father's request that I should ask you to go up to Glencoe to-morrow, if it is possible for you to do so. If it should turn out that he thinks it best to ask you for a loan, you may rest assured that the money shall- be returned to the uttermost farthing, if I have to giva up every moment of my life to the task of earning it."
"The face looking down upon Laurence was not altogether an attractive
one, and yet its expression was not unkindly. "-Page 25.
*UNCLE ETHAN, 25
"Stop there, boy," said his uncl ' e, gruffly; 11 you' have said enough. You are too proud, too proud by half, for a poor man's son. You may tell your father I will be up, by the ten o'clock train."
Laurence took up his hat, and rose at once.
Very well, sir," was his response.
But you had better wait for lunch," said Mr Bronson.,. as he laid his hand upon the door.
Thank you, I cannot wait," he, answered. Good
morning;" and with, a bitter sense of shame and degradation, he went out into the storm-,, feeling as if he would rather face it for a week, than remain for another moment in his uncle's house.
Hailing an omnibus) he seated himself in a, co-Tner, think., ing sadly enough of the difficulties of his position. If therb were only some means by which he might see his way clear to reject all aid from his uncle ! Deeply and seriously he pondered the question, but no light came to him; and he sat looking out on the pitiless storm in a mood which accorded well with the dreary prospect, If he had not been so buried in his disagreeable thoughts, he might have noticed that a gentleman, at- whose side he had seated hi mself, was regarding him with'close attention, The face looking down upon him was not altogether an attractive one, and yet its expression was not unkindly. The smile on the lips was somewhat grim, hovering uncertainly there as if it were not quite - sure that it was well to appear at all; and the deep-set eyes.looked out from beneath their bushy brows with a keen and piercing glance which seemed to be reading one through and through. But there was a something in that face which told you that you might trust the man; that, how0 0
ever stern and uncompromising he might prove, he would be true and faithful, even at the. expense of his own interests.
" How long are we to sit side by side without speakiDg to one another F'
26 LAURENCE BRONSON ) S VICTORY*
Laurence, looking up with a start as the slow, measured tones fell on his ear, saw Dr Drayton, the principal of the school which he had attended for the past five years,
Dr Drayton 1 1 beg your pardon, sin Have you been sitting here ever since I came in ? "
11 Yes. You do not seem to enjoy the storm. You look as if you were engrossed in meditating upon this evil world."
I have some reason to look grave," said Laurence.
You have not heard, I suppose, of my father's accident?
" No, indeed ! what has befallen him ? "
The passionless face was not wholly unmoved by the boy's story; and when it was ended, Dr Drayton said kindly
" I am grieved, deeply grieved, to hear this. I am afraid, from what I hear," he added, lowering his voice, " that it is especially trying to him to be laid aside just now."
11 Yes, sir; that is true. As long as you have spoken of it, doctor, I may as well tell you at once that, through the failure of another house, my father's affairs are greatly embarrassed; and it will be necessary for me to leave school at once."
Dr Drayton looked at him in blank dismay,
11 Leave school I " he repeated, slowly. 11 Bronson, that would be a shame. The Ioss to yourself would be incalculable."
11 1 know that, sir; but it.must be done. My father is utterly helpless, and likely to be so for the rest of his life ; and I have a mother and five little sisters. What can I do except obtain a situation, and earn what I can for their support ? - I -cannot look .at my own wishes or interest in this case."
11 But it is their interest as well as yours," insisted the doctor. You know very well, Bronson, that I am not in
the habit ' of complimenting my pupils; and you will therefore understand that I am in thorough earnest when I tell you that I never met with another boy of your acre, and
UNCLE ETHAN, 27
have seen but few men, who could compete with you in mathematics and engineering. Your talents in that line are wonderful; and it will be throwing away the greatest gift which God has given you if you lay your studies aside, Three years of steady application will fit you for some high and lucrative position. If you could be spared from home for that time, you would then be able to do more for your family in six months than you could do as a clerk in a mercantile house in years. You were never meant for a business man, Laurence; but you will make one of the first engineers of the age."
Never had Laurence heard that measured voice quicken into so.much life and animation. It was no wonder that his own eyes kindled, and his heart beat quick. But it was of no use to listen to the doctor's unusual enthusiasm. It could not be: he must work, and work at once. Even if those at home could be provided for in any other way, where was the money to pay for his education? Uncle Ethan's heavy purse could easily bear the drain; but no earthly power could compel him to ask a favour at his hands.
You are very kind to say so," he answered slowly, after a little pause and I can never tell you what a trial it is to me to give up all my hopes, and devote myself to an entirely different life. But it must be, Dr Drayton; I can only, take things as they stand. And now I must say good-bye, for I leave tb:e omnibus here."
So do I.; I want to stop at number seventy."'
Laurence, "-they had reached the sidewalk, and Laurence had shaken hands with him and was turning away, when the doctor's voice recalled him,- " if you find that any arrangement can -be made, either with your uncle or any one else, by which the family can be taken care of without your aid, the question with regard to funds for your own use need not embarrass you : your studies'shall be no
28 LAURENCE BRONSON 9 S VICTORY,
expense to you, No, don't say a word," he added, li"1ting his hands in deprecation of the thanks which he saw were breaking from Laurence's lips. " You can aid me in many little ways- in the school, if' you prefer to do so; and I shoidd be so sorry to lose you, that the proposition is quite
selfish one on my part. Tell your father all that I have said before you decide, on your future course, and then let me know your final determination. I advise you most-earnestly to consider the matter with an eye to the future as well as the present need. Good-morning;" and before Laurence had time for a single word in response, he was gone.
The errand to Mr Englis- was soon accomplished; and then Laurence gladly- turned his face toward home. The long ride, would have been tedious enough with nothing to look at but " water, water everywhere," if he had not had so much to think of; but for some time his brain was too busy with, plans a-lid. contrivances for any loneliness or ennui. Nothing could have done more to convince him of the magnitude of the sacrifice which it seemed necessary for him to make, than the fact that its announcement had so roused this constrained, immovable man. If ever ' v - ' professor and teacher in the school had thrown their influence i to the scale, urging him to continue his course, their combined voices would. not have affected him so much as those few words from Dr'Drayton, coupled with a demeanour so different'from his usual manner. He had known him for so long, and seen him maintain that cold indifference under such a variety of circumstances, both in school and out of it, that the feeling be had manifested had astonished him beyond measure; and had doubled, and trebl ed his own pain and disappointment,,
Plan after plan, expedient after expedient, all equally fruitless and impracticable, floated through his mind, and were impatiently thrown out again; until at last, fairly wearied out he laid his head against the back of the seat
UNCLE ETHAN. 29
and tried to f orget his perplexity in sleep. That also proved a futile attempt, and finally he gave it up, and began to count the passengers in the car ; then the drops of blackish water which dripped in through the roof, falling on the seat bef ore him, and forming a little dark pool on the shabby cushion; but by and by, with a shrill whistle of defiance, the engine dashed up to the depot, and there he was at Glencoe, with only a few rapid steps between him and his mother. There was comfort in that thought at least; and with a lightened brow he jumped from the car, and walked swiftly up the village street.
She was there to open the door for him as he ran up the piazza steps, having seen him from the window.
"What a terrific day it has been," she said. "I am afraid that you are worn out, my boy."
11 Oh no," he answered, cheered already by the sight of tier dear face. 11 1 shall do very well.- How is father? "
' I He has been suffering very much all day, but now he has fallen asleep. What did Uncle Ethan say?"
It was not of the slightest use for him to try to answer lightly, for she read his face as if it had been an open book.
11 Was he unkind, Laurence? Tell me all the truth. I did not expect any great amount of sympathy from him."
"Nor did I, and I received even less than I expected. I did not mean to tell you, mother; but since you have guessed it, I need not try to hide it. Uncle Ethan's only concern seemed to be in the question of our support. If father does as I would wish, he will not accept the first penny from him. But I do not want to pain you, mother,"' he added, seeing the troubled look which came into her' face. 11 1 did not mean to say one word about it, but, it slipped out. He is to be here to-morrow, and father will do as he thinks best. But, mother dear, if we must have help from Uncle Ethan, let it be' as a loan ; don't let him give us anything."
30 LAURENCE BRONSON 9 S'VICTORYO
He spoke impetuously and earnestly ; but his mother only smiled; a sad, patient smile it was, and said quie ' tly---.
11 1 would rather have asked any one for aid than your uncle; but we have no claim on any one else, and the trial must be borne. Let us try submissively to take up the cross which our Master has seen it best for us to carry, remembering that He has promised, the I kingdom of heaven' to the I poor in spirit.' We must try to bear our burden humbly, Laurence, that so the promised blessing may be given to us by our wise and tender Father. I know that is hard, very hard for you. It will be a struggle for
all of us, but perhaps you will find the battle most difficult to win; yet your Captain is ever in the advance, and surely you need not fear defeat while fighting beneath His banner."
But Laurence's proud heart could not submit patiently just then. The recollection of his uncle's cold reception of his sad story was still fresh upon him ; and his spirit chafed at the thought of takiiig any favours from that grudging hand. He would not, however, tell his mother all he felt ; he could not add this to what she -already bore; and her long anxious day in the sick-room had left its traces so plainly written on her face, that he felt that he must do all he could to strengthen her. So he looked up at -her, trying to throw into his face something of its usual bright expression, and said
We'11 we'll see how things turn out for us, -mother. Perhaps tJncle Ethan was in a gruff humour this morning; he may be very pleasant to-morrow. Now, will you see if father is awake? If he is, I will run up and speak to him for a moment before I go back to the children,"
But Mr Bronson, was still sleeping when his wife stole up to his room and peeped in at the door; so Laurence prepared to start at once on his homeward journey. The horse which he had driven down in the morning was stand.
inop in the doctor's stable -waiting for him ; and he was bidding his mother good-bye, and receiving all kinds of loving messages for the little girls, when Dr Wells's voice stopped him.
11 Laurence Bronson,, 'is that you out there in the hall I he called from the office.
11 Yes sir, it is I ; " and the boy stepped toward the office door, but the d octor met him half way.
"Just go back, and take off your overcoat. Do you mean to say that you have come up from the city, and are starting off for that long ride home without taking anything to eat? Come into the dining-room, and have your dinner with me, I was not home at dinner time, and they are bringing something up for me now,"
But I cannot wait, doctor. The girls have been alone all day, and they must be very anxious to hear from father again,"
" They heard from him this morning, and at noon also: Stevens came over to ask how he was. But if they had not heard since daybreak, you should not go out in this storm without your dinner. How many meals have you eaten to-day? Nothing since breakfast, unless I am greatly mistaken,"
I have not felt hungry, sir; and indeed, I think that I had better return home at once."
The doctor wasted no more words, but, taking him by the shoulders, turned him face about, marched him before him intothe dining-room, and seated him at the table, before he released his grasp. Laurence had not felt in the least hungry: but the hot dishes looked very tempting, and
-in fact, his dinner did him good. When be rose from the table, though the storm was beating as pitilessly as ever, he had more courage and strength to meet it; and the world in general appeared far less black and., hard than it had done when be had looked out at it two hours bef ore.
"Did you meet any one you knew in" the city, to-day I"
32 - tAURENCE BRONSON 9 S VICTORY,
asked the doctor, -as.Laurence once more buttoned his over. coat and muffled his throat, preparatory to starting on his wet drive,
Only Dr Drayton, sir. It was not a very good day for meeting friends out of doors,"
" No, not very. What had the doctor to say?"
" More than I know how to thank him for," replied Laur. ence, quickly. "'Of course you will let the story travel no farther, doctor; but Dr Drayton has offered me the rest of my course free of charge. I cannot accept his offer, but that makes it none the less noble."
And why can yo u not accept it? It is not possible, Laurence, that you will throw away such an opportunity. You surely are not so proud that you will not take the good gift which God offers you?"
44 No, sir, indeed I am -not. But, Dr Wells, if I return to my studies who will takecare of my family?"
The doctor could scarcely help smiling, but his companion ,looked most seriously i n earnest-.
- Ic Your Uncle Ethan must do that," he answered: he is perfectly able."
"Never," said Laurence, quickly; but the next moment he checked himself. "I beg your pardon: 1 should not have said that. It must all be left, until I can talk with father. Now I must go home to the children."
"Well, well, don't fret about Uncle Ethan, or anything else; for it will all work out right in time. Only Laurence, my boy," and the old man laid his hand gently on the boy's shoulder, 11 don't let angry pride blind your eyes to the blessings with which God would lighten a dark path. I would think deeply and prayerfully over your friend's kind offer before refusing it. Present submission to what seems an almost insupportable cross, may bring you to see by and by that '-all t4inys work together for good to them that love Godel)p
Laurence, clasping the ol done me real good, doctor. when I came in."
"That is well. There i
again; and as I suppose she has some last messages for YOU, I will let you go."
But he remembered after the boy had 1;ing over his answer to his appeal, that he no answer at all.
left him, in thinks. had in truth given
THE Christmas holidays were over, the dlay had come return to school, and Laurence Bronson stood in the
for a door-
way of the
little cottage to which
the family had removed,
ready for his drive to iDrayton Hall. The hard fight had been fought, the victory won;' and he was starting out upon his new life as half scholar, half teacher in the school in
which hitherto he had ranked with the. foremost.
full well what lay before him.
He had seen enough of
life of one who had for the past two years filled that same position at the Hall, to know that vexations and annoyances awaited him at every turn; but these seemed but secondary considerations, as he looked back to the struggle through
which he had passed before
he had been able to accept his
uncle's'assistance. If there had been one voice to encourage him, he would have refused Dr Drayton's offer, for he rebelled, heart and soul, against receiving at his uncle's hand a single dollar which his own labour might earn; but alit
.ie true friend, at ary rate," saidl I wrinkled hand. "You have
I feel ever so much better than
s your mother's step on the stairs
6)4 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
though the final decision was left to himself, every one steadily counselled his return to school. Dr Drayton was almost peremptory ; Dr Wells had something to add to his persuasion every time he saw him; and his father and mother, although they said but little, were plainly on the same side. Finally, as a forlorn hope, he went over to Mill Creek, a little village adjoining Glencoe, to see Frank Austin, his schoolfellow and most intimate friend, to ask his advice.
"Austin, he said, as they sat together over an impromptu lunch, "-tell me honestly what you would do in this case," and he proceeded to give him his story.
"Well," exclaimed Frank, our old Professor is -a jolly fellow after all, if he is pretty stiff' sometimes. We '11 set him up two or three pegs higher for that, Larry."
"That 's so, Frank; but now comes the question, what am I to do? You know my uncle almost as well as I do. Put you rself in my place, and decide for me. Honestly now, Austin."
Frank Austin rose from his -seat and took two or three turns up and down the room with his hands thrust into his pockets, and his head bent forward as if he were very deep in thought over this hard problem. By and by he stopped beside Laurence, and, leaning on his chair., said"cBronson, I know you won't want to hear what I have to say; but you 'ye put me on my honour, old fellow, and-1 think you ought to go back."
So Laurence came home ; and shutting himself into his eoom, he -fought the battle which every soul must fight in the course of its Christian warfare. His proud spirit had
-refused to bear the yoke with which the Master's wise hand saw best to curb it; and now the conflict was hard and long. But he was thoroughly in earnest; and little by little the strong will yielded to the still, small voice, which had been striving with it ever since that weary day which followed his father's' accident; until ht last he left his room, and with
a firm step went to find house.
who was then
"Uncle Ethan," he said, walking directly up to him, and taking his stand before him, "I think that I have been in
the wrong, and I have concluded to go back to school.
you will consent to take care of the family in the meantime,
I promise to spare no study
and no pains to fit myself as
speedily as possible to relieve you of the pledge myself also to return to you, at as may be, all that you find it necessary to father."
charge; early a
advance to my
Mr Ethan Bronson'looked up with a
glowing young face.
" Humph !" he said, dryly.
your high pedestal, have you?
grim smile into the
"You have come down from
I am glad
to hear it ;
Drayton tells me that, if you live, you are sure to make a splendid. engineer, and that the investment will certainly pay. I am glad that you bind yourself to return the funds which I must advance ; it will give you a sense of responsibility, which will be an additional spur to study."
Laurence had not expected anything better than thi3 cold, mean response to his acknowledgment of his error; and yet his cheeks fairly tingled with anger and mortification He was almost tempted to recall his words; and he stood,
an instant, irresolute, his eyes flashing
and his lips
trembling with the feelings which were burning within him.
But the next moment he had conquered
himself again, and,
turning abruptly away, he left the room.
The dear old home had been sold., with its familiar furni-
ture, excepting a few articles which Bronson by her mother. The purci
had been given to Mrs haser had wished to have
immediate possession; but,
arranged to take a little cottage in the
village of Glencoe,
as part of the purchase money, and so they were not left houseless and homeless in this great emergency. Happily,
686 LAUrZENCE BRONSON 9 S VICTORY,
too, their nQw abode was but a stone's throw from Dr Wells's house.
Laurence was greatly disappointed in his hope of being able to see his father and mother settled in their new home efore he left, the doctor, having peremptorily refused to allow his patient to be removed, even that short distance, PA least, for some days to come ; but Janet, the nurse, who had lived in the family for the last, five years, and who had been retained as the one servant when the others were dismissed, was fully competent for the care of the five little girls, especially with their mother so close at hand, and the doctor dropping in for a moment, two or three times a day, for a merry word or two with his young friends.
What a busy, strange time it had been to Laurence, these two, weeks, in which, as it seemed, the whole current of his life had been changed 1 He had come from school, a careless, happy boy; fond of study, but equally fond of play and fun : he was returning to it, almost a man, and a grave, anxious man at that. He was bearing his first heavy cross; and he had yet to learn that only they who, with childlike trust, lay their burthen in the strong Hand wbich is stretched out for their help, find the true joy of dependence upon the Master. Well might He, who knew what joy He could pour into a humble heart, which, doubting its own strength, comes to Him for help, liken that j oy to the kingdom of heaven.
Frank Austin, standing at the foot of the steps waiting for him, having stopped, according to a previous arrangement, to take him up to school in his sleigh, noticed the change in him at once; and when, having waved his last good-bye to the 'group on the piazza, Laurence turned his face toward him, he broke out in abrupt, school-boy fashion.
Don't try to get up any of those smiles for my benefit, Bronson, Why, what is the matter with you? 'You look fifty years old."
THE DECISION. 87
Hardly that yet, Frank," said Laurence, smiling in earnest now, at his friend's startled manner.
"But you look blue," said Frank. I I Your mother says your father is better. Is anything else wrong-?"
The question gave Laurence a feeling of shame. Surely' he had no right to look " blue," when the doctor had assured him that his father's life was no longer in danger ; and the colour niounted to his cheeks, as he answered'4 No, Frank, nothing but what you already know of. But never mind all that. Let us talk of something else. Do you know that Dr Drayton means to give us ' more liberty ? He says that those of us whose parents or friends choose to send for us, may spend Saturday at home."
That piece of information changed the course of the con. version at once ; and it ran upon school, schoolfellows, and holidays, until they had nearly reached the Hall, when Frank suddenly broke out with- .
Look here, Larry! " and stopped as abru-Ptlv as he had commenced,
Well, what am I to look at ? " asked Laurence, in surprise, I don't exactly know how to begin what I wanted to say," Frank went on, after a moment's pause, 11 for I'm not much used to preaching, as you know ; but the fact is, Larry, I don't quite understand you fellows-you Christians, I mean. You profess to believe that God is your Father, and that He is able and ready to carry you through any sort of trouble, and that everything will come out all right for you, don't you ? "
Yes, " said Laurence, slowly and thoughtfully.
Well, then, wbat bothers me is, that you should let things worry you, just as other people, who don't look to anybody stronger than themselves for help, Iet troubles worry them. That 's a queer sort of sermon for me to preach, isn't it ? " he added, with a somewhat embarrassed laugh but it was in my mind so I just spoke it out."
LAURENCE BRONSON I S VICTORY,
It was a curious sermon for him to preach, but the most talented sermoniser could not have clone better. Sharp, concise, and to the point, it went right home to Laurence's heart.
" I am-, ashamed of myself, Frank," he said, as they sprang from the sleigh at the Hall gates. " I have thought too much of myself,.and too little of my Master. But-Frank Austin
" Well? " said Austin, turning toward him.
" Why are you not a Christian ? You ought to be."
"I know that, but there"s something wanting: I don't know what. Come along; there's a lot of the boys coming clown to meet us ; " and, slipping his arm through Laurence's, be drew him on up the hill on whose summit Drayton Hall stood sentinel over the surrounding country.
The Hall was an old institution, and had been governed by Draytons-father, son, and grandson-until now it seemed as if the rioht of succession to the office of instructor to the young minds of the rising generation was vested in that family, beyond all dispute. For sixty years the Hall had overlooked the village from its high point of observation. Not that it had, from the beginning boasted the lofty title of "I Drayton Hall." There were some white heads in the little village of Graydon that could remember the day when the time-honoured institution went by the simple name of " Master Drayton's school-house ; " when, a rough building of unhewn lo s, its one apartment had answered all the needs of its twenty or thirty inmates. But, year by year, the scholars had increased- in numbers; the log-cabin for it was no more,' had been replaced by a small brick building, capable of accommodating some -five or six boarders, bo'- ys from the surrounding villages, whom the fame of Master Drayton's success as a teacher, had drawn from the schools of their' own districts.
Mr Drayton, the second, on his accession to office, as his
THE DECISION. 39
father's successor, had torn down the brick edifice, to make room for one much larger and more commodious ; and this had, in its turn, been enlarged by Dr Drayton, the present incumbent, until it now presented quite an imposing front, and was capable of accommodating some three hundrecl scholars.
11 Here are Austin and Bronson," shouted a stentoriai.t voice,' as the boys entered the gates; and the cry was reechoed with welcomes and huzzas, which told very plainly that the two friends were favourites among their comrades. A troop of boys came rushing down the hill to meet them, foremost of all, Will Seaton, the owner of -the voice which had rung out so gladly the news of the arrival; the roughest, loudest, rudest boy in the school, and yet the boy whom every one Eked, whom every one trusted, whom every one really loved,-an honest, true heart, untutored and ungoverned, but faithful unto death, if need were.
Dashing down upon Frank and Laurence, he thrust himself between them; and, seizing each by the arm exclaimedHurry up, you slow coaches. You need a tug to tow you up the hill;" and forthwith he began to puff and pant after the manner of a small steam-tug, enlivening the per formance with an occasional shrill scream, in such exact imitation of those apparently unhappy and exhausted craft, that his captives fairly shouted with laughter.
" There, let go now, Seaton, till we speak to the rest of the fellows," said Austin, as the other boys gathered round them, attempting to release them from Seaton's grasp.
But his captor had no such idea. He tightened his grip at once, and still steamed on as remorselessly as an actual tug, apparently unmoved by the fact that the two boys, entering into the frolic, neither resisted nor aided him, but simply allowed themselves to be towed on, letting their Vvhole weight fall upon his arms. But Seaton was not to
40 LAURENCE BRONSON y S VICTORY@
be overcome : on he puffed and panted, until at last, reaching the top of the hill, he suddenly released his hold, ex. pecting to see his two prizes slip as suddenly backward, They knew him too well for that, however, and were quite prepared for his quick movement. The useless limbs,'which had dragged so helplessly over the snow, were instantly endued with strength;. and the two boys, after a retrograde step or two, stood triumphantly beside their propeller.
" There's nothing like letting a fellow have his own way, Will2 7) said Frank, as Seaton, feigning utter exhaustion, threw himself back upon the snow. Would you like to
try it over again ? "
" Not this term, thank you," said Seaton; 11 1 had no idea that you were so heavy. I thought your bodies matched your heads."
Laurence made a grasp at him, but he was too quick to be caught; and springing nimbly aside, he burst into a roar of laughter, in which none joined more merrily than the two victims of his jokes,
'There was no time for any serious thought during the remainder of the afternoon, for the boys all seemed determined to make the most of the little time which intervened between their reunion and the sound of the five o'clock studybell which would call them in to resume the labours which had been laid aside for a full fortnight. But even in the midst of all the fun and frolic which were going on around him, and in which he joined very heartily, the remembrance of Frank's little sermon would thrust itself in upon Laurence's mind now and then; and when bedtime came, and the long dormitory was silent except for . the heavy breath. ing of the many sleepers, that same troublesome sermon kept him wakeful and uneasy.
Had Frank spoken truly? He knew that he had, yet he could -not bear to admit to himself that he had so dis. honouredhis Master; that professing to love and trust Him
THE DECISION, 41.
completely, be had yet shown himself so wanting in submission and faith, that his dearest friend could see no difference between his conduct and that of those who to use Frank" own words, 11 don't look to any one stronger than themselves for help." And there lay all the difficulty. He had not looked up to Him who is so ready with strength wherewith to uphold His children. Determining in the pride of his spirit to force his way through all the difficulties which surrounded him, he had forgotten that we not only can but must " do all things through Christ which strengtheneth " us; and he had begun this new and trying life, asking perhaps in his morning and evening prayers for help, yet utterly failing to lay his burden upon Him who was so able and willing to bear it. And so he bad found no peace and rest even in giving up his own will to the advice of his father and mother ; for that too had been done as a necessity, not because it was his heavenly Father's will.
As he lay there, thinking it all over, there came to him the memory of his mother's words on the day of his visit to his uncle. 11 We must try to bear our burden humbly, that so the promised blessing may be given to us." How far from humble and lowly had been his bearing of his heavy cross; no wonder that he had failed of the promised comfort and blessing. The soft light which shone in his mother's eyes as she bade him good-bye, the gentle, restful face which had watched him from the window, told him that the promised peace from Heaven had come to her.
By and by he rose quietly from the side of his companion, and knelt down by the bed. For a long, long while he knelt there, his face hidden in the bedclothes, forgetting the cold forgetting his weariness, forgetting all save that he-- had by his own pride and folly dishonoured his Lord, and brought a heavy weight of pain and anxious care on his own heart. But even then and there the blessing came to him. He had only to whisper his repentance and his sor.
AURENOE BRONSON 'S YICTOiPY.
row, and the mighty God
the heavens and camre
down " to dwell with a contrite'and humble spirit.
the dormitory, waking upon the bed again.
Led the usher, who was sleeping in suddenly as Laurence threw himself
" Are you ill'
What makes you toss about so? "
11I shall not toss any more," said
Laurence, with a smile
which the darkness hid from his questioner;
"I shall go to
"l1am done with tossing and fretting," he said to himself, as he laid his head upon the pillow, " thank God for that ! " And in a few moments he was sleeping quietly beside Frank, who had lain all this while close to him, but perfectly igno. rant of the good which his few wondering words had done his friend.
" Phew, this is as cold as Greenland ! exclaimed Cuthbert Grey, as he hurried on his clothes the next morning, shivering and shakingp in the cold atmosphere of the dormitory.
"You have to make something of a jump from your cosy room at home into this cold barn; don't you, Bertie ? But never mind : we '11 have time for a coast down hill before breakfast, and that will warm us up."
Frank Austin looked round to see whether his ears had deceived him; but the bright face he saw matched the pleasant voice which had spoken to the petted, spoiled boy, whose life at home in the holidays always seemed to unfit him for the sterner routine of school.
"1Holloa, old4 since last night,
it seems to me you are
That sounds like old times.
come to you?"
"It. was your voice that waked. me," said Laurence, drawing closer to him, and speaking in a low voice, " and You don't know how much IL thank you."
THE DECISION. 43
"6Thank you for nothing, I should say," said Austin, in the same' tone. "1But at anyrate, I am glad the shadow has gone off your face."
"I have lost one shadow in finding another, the shadow of a great Rock," said Laurence, with a smile. "1Frank, 31 only wish that you knew what it is to sit down under this shadow with great delight."
"1Look here, you fellows, what mischief are you brewing over there ?" broke in Will Seaton' s voice. "1They 're planning some sort of a dodge, boys, I '11 be bound. What now, Larry? "
"1Nothing in the dodge line, Will. Are you all ready? Come, Bertie, we '11 warm 'you up into a fine glow before breakfast time; " and the boys all sallied out together into the clear frosty air of the winter's morning.
It was a glorious day for a snow frolic, whether it were coasting, snow-balling, or fort-building ; into all of which the boys threw themselves with the energy and enjoyment with which such a sparkling morning always inspires a healthful, active, frame. Even Cuthbert, poor, shivering, little mortal, fresh from the home in which an over-careful love shielded hinm from every cold breath of wind, glowed with the active work at which Laurence set him ; and shouted with the loudest, as he toiled up the steep ascent with his sled, or packed a hard snowball with which to return some of the heavy missiles which were flying hither and thither in such quick succession that no one escaped the crystal shower.
The fun was at its height when the breakfast-bell rang out its summons ; and there were none who resisted that call after their morningY's hungry. work. Then followed an hour for study; and after that, another clang, clang, clang, -this time from the deep-toned bell in the western turret, called all the young fort-builders and coasters into the long school rooms for the serious, earnest work of the day. And serious work study was at Drayton Hall, Not that the, boys'
LAURENCE BRONSON S VICTORY*
brains were strained beyond their power,-Dr Drayton was far too wise a teacher for that, and play and work were well balanced in the old Hall; but school was school, and study was study in his eyes, and woe. to the boy who dared to'look at it in any other light. Even Will Seaton, wild, ungovernable spirit as he was, sat quietly conning, or pretending to con, his books when the doctor's-tall form stood in the master's desk, or when he marched through the schoolroom, seeming to pierce through every face, and to read the very thoughts of one's heart with that eagle eye of his.
There was perhaps not one of those young hearts which loved the man, and yet there was not one which did not trust him, not indeed with their joys and sorrows,-of these they never spoke to the head master; but they knew him to be strictly just and true, and even though the might rebel against what they considered a severe sentence, no Drayton boy bad ever had occasion to charge the doctor with partiality or unfair dealing.
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY,
IT was no easy matter for a boy like Laurence Bronson to take up in all its details the new position which he had assumed. Nlany of his companions, with ready sym. pathy for his trial, did all that they could to render his post as little disagreeable as possible ; but some of the smaller boys, over whom he had been placed as assistant teacher, rebelled against his authority, took advantage of his youth and inexperience, and led on by two or three of the older
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY. 045
scholars who disliked Laurence, vented their displeasure when he was forced to give them less than their full quota of marks, by taunting him with " earning his schooling," as they termed it. But with all these difficulties Laurence battled bravely ; and although he often left the class-room with flushed face and aching head, be went steadily on *111 his work, striving to throw his whole burden upon Him who was able to bear it. He had had enough of fighting the battle in his own strength ; his proud self reliance had been rebuked; and he was astonished at himself when he found how easily he could bear the annoyances of his lot, now that he had taken hold upon a higher power.
There was one boy in his own class who seemed constantly on the watch for opportunities to vex and mortify him. Albert Semmons had never liked Laurence Bronson; for more than once the latter had found him out in acts of 11
meanness and roguery which he had supposed too well conceived and carried out to be detected by any one, but which proved unable to stand the test of Laurence's straight-. forward and clear-sighted manner of looking into things, It had so happened that they had come into collision quite often, both in the schoolroom and on the playground, for Laurence never would overlook any underhand or treacherous dealing, even in a game ; and his scathing scorn had so often fallen upon Albert's devoted head, that the boy both hated and feared him. Now he seemed to think that the hour of his vengeance had come ; and every petty annoyance and slight which he could invent was used to its utmost capacity for Bronson's discon-ifiture. As he was far from beinff a dull or stupid boy, his fertile imagination was at no loss for material f or his work; and many an arrow shot from his bow struck deep down into the wound which was so often touched that it had no chance to heal. For in determining to throw aside all self-trust and confidence, Laurence had by no means conquered entirely his natural -Pride,-it
LAURENCE DRONSON y S VICTORY,
w I as only In abeyance ; and although it was held down and kept under by his resolute will, it lay like a chained lion, ready to seize upon the first opportunity for a spring.
But as week after week passed on, the quiet force of Laurence's firmness and determination made itself felt in his classes. There was less and less of insubordination and disorder as the little fellows began to learn that resistance was useless, and to find out also that, however decided and inexorable their young teacher might show himself as to the obedience which they owed him in the class-room, in playhours he was quite as decided in his resolve that they should not be tyrannised over by the older and stronger boys. And so by and by this source of trouble almost ceased to yield him any vexation ; for as his scholars learned to look up to him as their champion, they also began to discover that those who incited them to rebellion against his autha-rity were the very ones who, when opportunity offered, were the most ready to abuse and victimise them.
With the older classes the case was different; and as time went on, he felt a greater and greater shrinking from the performance of any duty which brought him in contact, in any position of authority, with those nearer his own acfe.
'Bronson," said Dr Drayton, meeting him in the Hall one morning as he was on his way to a recitation, 11 you will have to take Mr Upton's place at your table to-day, He is unwell, and 'cannot come down."
He - was passing on, without waiting for any reply, when Laurence's voice checked him.
Dr -Drayton, would you object to, my asking one of the older teachers to change places with me I think our fellows would like it better," he said, colouring deeply as he spoke.
11 1 . should decidedly object," said the doctor, somewhat curtly. ".I am perfectly aware, Bronson, that some of the
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY,
young gentlemen do -not see fit to acknowledge those whom I choose to set over them; but as I consider myself quali. fled to select my assistants, I intend to show all malcontents
that their resistance is quite useless. report all-cases of insubordination."
You will please to,/
Off went the
reply, and the dinner-' the close of the lesson.
-bell would ring
chance for a minutes after
There was no remedy; and so, with
his heart sinking within him, he joined his class.
" IWhat's up now, Larry?3" asked Frank Austin, as Laur-
ence took a vacant seat beside
" No', but I 'in in a royal tor"-
can tell you.
" Silence, struck."
The hour has already
So the story was deferred while the lesson went on ; and Laurence construed Greek verbs with his lips, but all the while was sitting at the head of the long dining-table, the butt of all the jokes of over forty laughing schoolfellows, s+ome of them good-natured jokes, perhaps, but others sharp and cutting as malice and ill-feeling could make them.
" Well, Larry, let "s -have it," said Austin, as soon as they were released.
"1Mr Upton is unwell, and the take his seat at the table."
doctor has ordered me to
"1Phew 1 " The whistle was prolonged until Frank nearly choked for breath. Thenu he said laconically," That 's bad.'"
" Isn't it? Some of the fellows are cross enough already,
and I don't know that I can blame whben they see me at the head of flb
them if they do cut up
I 'd rather the
doctor would have given me a hundred lines."
of them will be
wnadder than hornets, I suppose, but the rest of us
" I 'll settle it,"
LAURENCE BRONSON 9 S VICTORY,
you through. ments."
you are a few mo. Le hill for the fifteen)
-; and, Frank rushed
where upon th . dinner
The boys had all gone out -u minutes' recess which preceded out to join them, swinging his hurrah,
cap into the air with a loud
"Come on, Austin: we want you," shouted two or three
voices in concert,
" Let's have a game of ball."
" Wait a moment," said Frank.
I've something to tell What do you think the
Bronson is as mad as can be.
Professor's been up to ? "
I I I don't
know "- I I Hurry
have it "-were
some of the responses from an eager crowd of listeners ; and Austin, finding their curiosity quite sufficiently excited, told his story,
"Upton is unwell, and
the doctor has ordered Larry to to do it, and I don't wonder. I
take his seat. would not be stand by him,
He hates i
in his plac boys, and
We'll have to
help him through by behaving de-
11 WbY couldn't some one else come to our table?" a voice in the crowd, in a somewhat surly tone.
The doctor wouldn't allow it,
Larry asked him to make
some other arrangement ; but we all know that
made up, his
to a thing, he'll walk through fire and
water but he'll carry it, out, and he wouldn't listen to Bronson.
There was much laughing, many jokes, and some sulky remarks passing through the crowd as the boys stood about, waiting for the dinner-bell. - Austin looked on for a moment or two; then, calling a few of his own and Laurence's friends about him, be prevailed on the little group to pledge themselves to sustain Bronson in his disagreeable position.
More than one pair
of eyes were turned even from the
other tables toward that of the senior class, where the young
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY, 49
teacher stood at the head, erect and firm, but rather paler than usual, waiting for the entrance, of his class. Austin's clique led the way. They took their seats quietly, with a slight bow to the ]Ifaster, as was customary, one or two of them congratulating him half-laughingly on his promotion; then came Will Seaton. He walked straight up to the head of the table, bowed until his forehead almost touched the carpet ; and, raising himself, said with mock deference"Please,, sir, shall I wait behind your chair ?"
"No, I had rather have you under my eye," said Laurence, good-humouredly returning his deep inclination. "You may take your usual seat, if you please." But far different from teasing but good-natured Will Seaton's entry was that of Albert Semmons. Without a glance at Bronson, he walked to his seat;3 and looking carelessly around, said" Are we to have no teacher at our table ?"
" Mr Upton is unwell," replied Laurence, quietly, "1and I am to fill his place for the day. Will you please to take your seats ? "
Two or three boys who had come in with Semmons, and had agreed with him in his plan of resistance, sat down; they were not quite prepared for Laurence's air of command. But'Seinmons stood his ground.
" I believe it is against the rules for us to take our seats before the Master appears," he answered, with a sneer.
11I fill- that post, Mr Semmons, for the present," replied Laurence, with such an evident effort at self-restraint that even Semmons's promised supporters went over in heart to the enemy at once. "As I have been ordered to report all cases of insubordination, it will perhaps be for your own interest to take your place as usual."
Manifestly it would be so;3 for that Laurence was fully determined to maintain his delegated authority, disagree. able as it wa's to himself, no one who looked into his
LAURENCE BRONSON f'S VICTORY,
face could doubt. But Semmons had no idea of owningp his defeat.
"1Well, if no one is coming, I suppose we need not let our dinner grow cold, waiting," he said, throwing himself into his chair.
No notice was taken of these words, and the flow of talk went on much as usual;3 until suddenly Bronson, who was answering some banter of Will Seaton's, was interrupted by Albert Semmons.,
"1By the way, Bronson, I should think that might do for you," he said, with a disagreeable laugh.
" What is that I" asked Laurence, who had not heard the conversation going on at the lower end of the table.
" I was saying that my uncle, who is an architect, wants something new in the way of plans for bridges, gateways, &c. ; you are a pretty fair draugyhtsrnan, I believe, and you seem so anxious to make a penny when a chance comes in your path, that I thought, maybe, you would like to earn your bread in that way.f,
A low murmur ran round the table; but it was hushed in, the next moment by Laurence' s voice.
11I should think it might be quite a pleasant way of making money," he said, very coolly. " I will think of it."
Semmons's eye fell before his steady gaze : if it had not, he might have seen that Laurence was less calmn than he seemed. His lips were far. more firmly compressed than was consistent with an easy frame of temper; and his eyes were lit with a flame which told that a fire of indignant feeling was burning within him. But Semmons did not see all this; and, totally ignorant of the depth to which his words had cut into that proud young heart, felt himself foiled, and tried to hide his confusion by turning to his neighbour with another sneering allusion to Bronson. But he received only a rough reply ; for even his own clique of friends were delighted with Laurence's cool response to his
PRIDE VERSUS HUMILITY*
insolence, and were somewhat ashamed to- appear lon his side. Glad enough he was when the head-master gave the signal to rise, and he could escape from the table, and the smiles and jokes which were passing around it at his expense.
"1Well, Larry," said Frank Austin, slipping his hand through his friend's arm, as they left the dining-room, "1how soon do you expect to commence operations as draughtsman for the house of Semmons & Driggs? " and he looked into Laurence's face with a roguish twinkle in his eyes.
"I don't know. Perhaps as soon as I have proved my ability to satisfy their wants."
Austin faced round upon him with such a look of utter bewilderment that Laurence laughed outright.
"You don't mean to say," exclaimed Austin, thatt you intend to do anything toward accepting that impudent offer of Semmons. Why, Bronson, what are you made Of ?"1
"1Of something which fights like a Trojan against all such work, and especially against taking it from Semmons or any one belonging to him. But, Frank, and he threw his arm caressingly over Austin's shoulder, "it was whispered in my ear the other day that all this fighting was wrong; that 1 was doing battle in my own strength, and in my own way, when I was at the same time professing to follow my chosen Captain. I have determined to do' so no longer, but to follow His guidance, and leave the end in His hands; and it seems to me that Ile has opened this way for me. It may result in nothing, for I do not know how such things pay, brit "-he hesitated for a moment; then went on, speaking rapidly, but resolutely"If I have manhood and courage enough to win this battle against myself, I shall write to Mr Semmons."
"When!3" asked Austin,
" To-morrow.,1I don't want to decide too quickly; but
5~2 LAUItENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
-when once my mind is1 made up, the sooner it is done the better. "
"Do you know how to direct a letter to him?"
"No, I shall have to ask Albert."
"You needn't do that, Larry. I '11 see to it for you. You can write confidentially to Mr Semmons, and Albert need know nothing about it."
Laurence laughed. "1And so escape a little chaffing, eh"
hie said. "1No, no, Austin, that wouldn't do. If I do it at all, I shall be open and above-board about it. You shouldn't be the one to discourage me, old fellow, when it was your own words which set me thinking what an addle-brained stupid I had been, to worry -and vex myself so about things that were beyond my control. I have determined now to leave all in God's hands, and to walk right on in the path where He seems -to l ead. If I know His hand, it is pointing out -this way of aiding my father ; and I think I shall use it. If I do, I shall speak to Semmons first. I can't do any underhand work, Frank; and you wouldn't be the one to advise it if you thought a minute, would you?"
Perhaps not," said Austin, slowly." I can't tell what to say about the matter, for I- never thought of such a thing as your accepting any such task. When will you find time for it?"
"In play-hours. Drawing is no labour for me, I enjoy it so -much. It will be as good recreation as anything else."
"1Then all the school will find it out, and you would so hate that."
"I must learn not to hate it," returned Laurence. "Come, come, Frank, it won't do for you to spoil your own work in this fashion."
11I don't know why you will persist in calling this my work," replied Frank, in a somewhat vexed tone: I had nothing to do with it."
" Nothing except to show me 'the folly of leaning on per.
fect weakness when perfect strength was offered me. That was all you did, Austin ; but wasn't that something?
Austin made no answer. He sauntered slowly along by Laurence's side for a few moments, then,, turning away with an abrupt 11 1 want to find Seaton," left hi& friend to- his meditations.
But if Laurence had followed him, he would bave.found that he did not seek Seaton's company. On the contrary, lie betook himself to the empty schoolroom, where he wandered up and down in no apparently easy frame of mind, if his impatient kicking aside of every scrap of paper or other bit of rubbish in his path, and the contraction of his usually smooth forehead, were any indication. of his mood.
DURING the next two clays but little, was seen either of Laurence Bronson or Frank Austin,. outside of the schoolroom. Every spare moment was occupied by Laurence in drawing small models for the inspection of Messrs Semmons & Driggs ; and as to Austin, he seemed to, prefer wandering off by himself in solitary places to taking part in the general round of games and frolics. Once in a while, however, he would join his comrades, and then he was the wildest and the loudest of them all. The boys wondered at his alter. nate fits of moodiness and gaiety; and even Laurence, absorbed as he was in his new occupation, noticed a restlessness of manner and a sort of instability which was strangely different from Frank's ordinary demeanour. But when he spoke of it, Austin laughed. it off, and would give him no reason for the change which every one noticed'.
LAURE2NCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
Since the day of Albert Semmons 's proposition, Laurence had been steadily busying himself in his preparations for its acceptance; but he had not yet obtained from Semmons his uncle's address. The asking for it seemed now the hardest part of his self-imposed task, and he had put it off from time to time on one excuse or another, until finally the clay came, when-his models drawn and the letter itself written-he had no further pretext for delay. Then came the struggle, and it was both hard and long; but the proud spirit, once so unbroken, had been humbled before, and again the hardfought battle was won. He had been writing his letter in oie of the study halls; and, having finished it, and growing, restless and uneasy with the thought of the disagreeable task which lay before him, was walking slowly up and down through the long room, when from the window he saw, Sem'" mons leaning against a tree on the lawn, talking with Will Seaton,
"1There 's a good chance, and I won't lose it this time," be said;- and without giving himself an opportunity for second thought, he sprang out of the window upon the hard, crisp snow. The two boys had not noticed him, and as he reached the ground, they turned from the house and walked quite brrskly down the hill, keeping for a few moments in company; but before Laure 'nce reached them, some new object had caught the attention of volatile Will, and, with a whoop, he had rushed off in an opposite direction from tht which they had at first taken, while Semmons walked on toward a group of boys who had gathered at the foot of the hill.
At the sound of a quick, brisk footstep crackling the snow behind him, Semnions turned his head; but seeing that the new corner was Laurence, to whom he had not spoken since the day of the difficulty at the dinner-table, he resumed his walk, without waiting- for him to come up with hima. But B3ronson's voice checked him again,
"Hallo, Semmons, wait a minute. You 're the' very f ellow I 'm looking for."
" What now?3" asked Albert, ungraciously enough to have deterred any one less bent on his purpose.
"I want to ask you for your uncle's address."
"1You don't mean to say," said Semmons, drawing back, and looking at his companion with the most unmistakable amazement written on every feature of his face,-" you don't mean to say that you have been attempting those designs 3"
I"II have attempted them," said Laurence, smiling; "1and now I would like to know where I am to send them."
" And is it possible that you expect your drawings to suit my uncle ?" asked Semmons, with the faintest imaginable sneer in his tone.
" I hope they will answer, of course, else I should not have spent my time on them. As for my expectations, I can scarcely answer that question, having very little idea of what Mr Semmons requires. They will at least give him a specimen of my work. Will you tell me how to direct my letter? "
" 71 Romer Street. But I 'd no idea of your having the face to take me in earnest, Bronson. If you expect to get up anything that such architects as Semmons & Driggs have never seen, you must have an amazing amount of selfconceit."
"Perhaips I have," replied Laurence; btit as that isn't to the Point, we won't discuss it. Thank you for your information. I shall send my letter off at once."
"That 's pretty plucky," said a voice just behind them; and turningy towards it, the boys met Will Seaton's merry face. "1So you 'ye been and gone and done it, have you That 's the tallest joke this term, any way.' To think of the Duke of Glencoe descending to the ranks of the labouring classes. Fellow- citizens, attention 1 "
66 LAURENCE BRONSON'9 S VICTORY.
At the shout, a crowd of schoolboys came rushing pell. meli up the hill, all ready for any fun into which mischievous Will might see fit to lead them. "1Duke of Glencoec" was a sobriquet with which Will had long ago nicknamed Bronson. Laurence had borne it good-humouredly enough, comforting himself perhaps with the reflection that if his manner were somewhat too restrained and statelyly" as- Will termed it, for his years, it did not suffer by comparison with that of his teasing schoolfellow. But this morning the blood mounted angrily to his -face. He had been chafed and fretted already by Semmons's contemptuous manner, and he felt in no humour to stand one of Will's mocking tirades. For Will's fun was apt to be more personal than pleasant, when he set out to make a stump speech, as he evidently intended to do at present.
An eager, laughing crowd had gathered around the three, cheering Seaton on to do his best, with cries of "1Let 's have i t 1 " " Go it, Will ! " &c.) his orations being bits of fun that all were loath to lose. But mischievous as Seaton was, he had a good heart and a quick eye;3 and that same quick eye had caught the expression of Bronson's face as he turned it slightly aside, and had sent a telegram down to the merry, kindly heart. He cast a roguish glance at Bronson, which Laurence met with a shrug of his shoulders, and a lifting of the head, which seemed to say,"1Go on: youmay do your worst without harming me."
But Will had changed his mind; he did not mean to do his worst. Lookingr from Laurence back to his enthusiastic audience with an expression of comical despair, he clasped both hands across his breast, and gasped out, as if panting for breath,"1Gentlemen and friends,-I rose to my feet with the intention of electrifying this audience with such a speech as you have never heard,, even from the eloquent lips of W. B. Seaton, Esq. The subject of my oration was the Duke of
Glencoe But-but-the Duke is here He gave me one
look, and it was done. I had soared to the seventh heaven of eloquence, when lo !-one piercing glance from his eagle eye, and-I was knocked as flat as a pumpkin seed."
The orator's arms fluttered wildly for a moment ; then, staggering backward, he fell at full length upon the snow, and lay motionless, with closed eyes and parted lips. Apparently tender nursing was not considered the proper treat3hent -for his exhausted state, for a dozen strong arms seized the prostrate form, and swung it up upon six or eight pairs of broad shoulders, upon which it was borne, amid shouts , ancI laughter, up the hill and around the Hall. But just as the noisy crowd turned an angle of the great house, the bearers came full upon Dr Drayton and dropping their load, rushed away, one and all, leaving the fallen hero to his fate.
"Why, Seaton, what is this?" asked the doctor. "I thought that you had Leen hurt."
11 1 was riding, sir, "and met with an accident. Perhaps the horses saw something which startled them;" and touching his cap with the gravest of salutes, Seaton leisurely followed his comrades. The doctor looked after him with a grim smile.
11 Always ready with an answer except in. his class," he said to himself; 11 what can be made of him?" And with even a graver look than usual on his brow, Dr Drayton passed on,
What could be made of him ? That was a question which more than one anxious heart had asked itself as it watched this wild, ungovernable boy. There was so much to- make or to mar in him, such a w ' ealth of force and energy and will, with no fixed principles to serve as ballast for the rich freight ; with nothing indeed to steady it but an affecUonate loving heart, of which, strange as it may seem, he was ashamed, striving to cover it with a rough and bolster.
58 LAURENCE BRONSON 9 S VICTORY.
ous manner, which served to veil it sometimes, but only from those who did not know him well. It would peep out, as it had done to-day, in spite- of all his efforts to hide it,
11 You're a right good fellow, Will," said Laurence, as Seaton rejoined the boys after his encounter with Dr Drayton; 11 and I am more than half ashamed of myself for being so vexed at a trifle.
What's up now?" asked Will. You aren't going into
the humble-pie business, are you, Bronson V)
"No, not yet," said Laurence, with a smile; 'cat least not in to the buying and selling department. It is as much as I can do to make what I need for my own use just now. But you did turn that off splendidly."
I turned what off ? What are you talking about ? asked Seaton, with affected surprise,
11 You needn't pretend to misunderstand, Will. I know what you were up to, and why you did not carry out your joke ; and I will thank you, and love you for -it too, old fellow, in spite of you."
11 1 was up to fun, and I had it," replied Seaton, carelessly. Ic If that is anything to thank me for, I'm willing. And as to love, why in that you only reciprocate my abounding attachment to yourself, Duke. Why, my dear friend, you have no conception of the ecstatic, the perfectly frantic affection with which I regard your Highness. Come to my bosom, friend of my heart;" and, flinging his arms around Laurence's neck, he proceeded to express his affec. tion in such bear-like hugs and embraces, that Bronson, crying out for mercy, flung him off, telling him that he would take his love in smaller doses at less rare intervals.
The two boys had been standing slightly apart, unnoticed at first by the rest of the party; but Will's attack had drawn all eyes toward them,
11 Oh! -stop your tomfoolery and come along, Will," called
a voice from the group below. "We're going down to Christy's, Bronson. Will you come?"
"Yes. Where is Austin? Is he with you?"
"No; he went off by himself a while ago."
"Anything wrong, Tom ? " asked Laurence, as he reached the side of the boy who had spoken.
"No ; unless he is in another fit of the dumps. What ails him; do you know?"
"I did not know anything ailed him," said Laurence, "It has not struck me that he was mopy."
"Well, perhaps not so very mopy as quiet and sober. He acts as if his mind were all the time full of something different from what he is doing. Haven't you seen it?"
"1 Yes, I have; but I did not think of it when you spoke. He is rather unlike himself lately. By the way, I wish that he. were with us. He always likes to go down to Christy's. Holloa, Austin ! Frank!"
There was no answer to the loud call, though it was twice repeated.
" Come, Bronson, come," said Tom Morrison, impatiently. "The fellows are half-way down there already. He's away off somewhere; and if he comes back soon, some of those little chaps will tell him where we are."
CHRISTOPHER DUNN was a fisherman, whose little cabin,on the shore had been a favourite resort for all the Drayton boys for twoscore years and more. I he genial, quaint old man was always ready with a hearty welcome for his young
60 LAURENCE BRONSON 'Y S VICTORY.
visitors, even when they came down upon him, as they had done to-day, in numbers entirely disproportioned to the size of his small domicile.'
Well well, and here you are aoain, young gentlemen
be said, turning his wrinkled face, with its crown of snowwhite hair, toward the opening door. 11 Come in, come in, There's always room for one more, you know, in Christy's little place. I was just reading a verse or two to comfort me a bit when one of your mates came in ; and I laid my glasses within the good book while I talked with him, so you'll not shut it up quite tight, sir, if- Well, now, if it isn't Master Laurence 1 "
He interrupted himself in the midst of his flow of talk to grasp the hand which had been extended to lift the Bible from the chair on which he had placed it ; and the fine old face flushed with pleasure as he greeted his favourite,
Ay, but it's a long while since you came to see me. Not since Christmas, boy."
Now it was Laurence's turn to colour, but not with pleasure, for the secret of his long absence lay in the fact that the Christmas gift which Christy had for years received from him on his return to school had not been his to bestow ; and it was a foolish pride-he felt it so now-which had kept him away from the cabin for so many weeks.
" But it's full glad I am to see you anyways ; for when Master Austin came in and you wasn't with him, thinks I there's some reason why the boy doesn't come, for the one of you has. never been here without the other before. But when 1 asked Mr Frank for you, he didn't know your whereabouts at all.7)
46 Where is he now? " asked Laurence looking round in search of his friend.
11 Over there by the Why the boy's gone! Well, he'll be back, no doubt;" and Old Christy nodded his head at Laurence, with a knowing look which the latter failed to
OLD CHRISTY, 61
comprehend. "No matter" he added,- seeinor that 'Laur. ence had not understood him. It will all come right in time. The Lord can do his own work : we needn't fear,"
"And now if there's a pair of legs here that's younger than mine," said Christy, turning to his visitors, who filled the tiny room to overflowing, " they must just run up the ladder and fetch a bag of nuts that lies up in the loft, and we'll have a chat over them."
Half a dozen sprang up to fulfil the welcome commission; and in a twinkling the bag was in the midst of the circle, and a score of busy hands were diving into its depths.
"Give us a yarn, Christy," said 'Tom Morrison. "A regular sea-talk, " I
Oh yes, a yarn-a yarn! " was repeated from all sides.
Well, I was just thinking of a bit of a yarn, and wondering in my mind if you would like to hear it. I don't know whether you'd like it or no ; but I can tell it to you, and then you can say if it pleases you.l
He was standing with his back to the fire, his hands clasped behind him, looking from one to another of the bright young faces about him, with a tender lingering look which rested on each as if with an unspoken blessing,
11 Is it about yourself, Christy 2. " asked Will Seaton. Those are the stories we like best,"
No, it 's not about myself, Master Seaton."
About some of your mates, then ? "
No, nor my mates, sir. But the men were in a manner friends, by hearsay at least, for I knew a good deal of them, and loved them for what I knew. And then, though we've never set eyes on one another in this world, there 's a strong rope to bring us together, for they've sailed under my Captain, and served Him true and faithful. A good Captain He is; and if ever any of -us meet, as I hope we may one day, it's a long story we'll have to tell one another afore we'll tire talking of Him."
02 LAURENCE PRONSON'S VICTORY.
Who was He? 11 as, ked Morrison; for the o Id face had so brightened and -glowed that his interest was excited in this unknown Commander whom Christy evidently looked up to with love and admiration.
" I'll tell you the tale, and then you can see if you know aught of Him."
" Is it a shipwreck, Christy? asked a voice - from the outer edge of the circle, which had closed around the chair in which the fisherman had seated himself.
" And is that you, Charles, away off there? Let him in, boys. He's such a small little chap that he can scarce see or hear back there. No, sonny," he went on, as, the boys making way for him, little Charlie Grant came forward and was placed between the old inan's knees. " No, sonny, it wasn't a shipwreck; but that's what it would have been most likely but for the Captain. It was in a small ship they were, on a sea far away on the other side of the world, It had been a fair day and a bright ; but it was a treacherous water, that you could never count on, for the squalls would fly up just in a flash like, and, almost afore you knew, the sun was darkened, the wind would break upon you in a tempest, and. if every man wasn't at bis post and minding his work the craft would never see shore again,
"Well, they were sailing along placid, enough, when, of sudden a hu(ye black cloud swept up over the sky; the wind came rusl-Ang across the sea, beating it into foam ; and the big waves rose higher and higher, clashing like thunder against the side of the ship, until she quivered and moaned like some poor dumb beast in agony. The crew spranop to t-he ropes, and the helmsman clung for dear life to the helm; but what could they do when the masts bent and groaned in the tempest, which howled -and shrieked through them like some monster determined to dash them into eternity, and the fierce waves rushed over the deck, sweeping it clear at every burst I
OLD CHRISTY, 63
"And all this while, when the crew vvere struggling and battling for their lives, the Captain was not at His post. For days past He had been that pressed and overborne with work that He was clear exhausted and worn out, and a while back He had thrown Himself down for a little rest.))
Charlie Grant raised his eyes with a quick, intelligent look, and putting his lips close to Christy's face, whispered19 Was He in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow?, "
The sailor answered him by a nod, and a closer clasp of the arm which encircled him, '
" And that wearied was He that all the fury of the storm, the cries of the sailors, and the beating of the waves, even the very starting and cracking of the timbers beneath Him, had failed to waken Him. The crew, knowing all He had gone through, had hoped to weather the storm without His help ; and the brave, loving hearts fought it hard afore they called Him to their aid. But the breakers rolled higher and higher the wind screamed madder and madder, beating against them until they could scarce hold on even by the masts ; and the poor ship pitched and tossed about like a toy in the wild waters. I said they were brave bears, that little crew, and so they were, but htiman strength could stand it no longer; and brave though. they were, it was with their rough faces pale with f ear that they shouted to the Captain,- waking Him in a moment with their cry of fright. He had lain sleeping through all the fury of the storm; but the voices of His men roused Him in a moment. He sprang up to meet a dozen white faces, wild with fear ; to hear the cries of the mariners mingling with the howling of the blast,and to see His craft, water-soaked, with bending masts and useless helm, rolling helplessly in the trough of the sea."
" What did He do 7" asked one of the eager listeners, as Christy paused,
64 LAURENCE BRONSON P S VICTORY.
What did He do ? He stood up and looked out on the awful scene before Him, then stretched out His hand, and said, I Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."'
A great calm had fallen also on that little room; a quiet, broken, after a moment, by Christy's voice.
" He's the very best Captain we can sail under--t-as strong and as faithful and as true now as He was then. God grant that you may all take your orders from Him ; and that in every storm which threatens you, you may hear His voice, saying, I Peace, be still.' Never fear, my boys, even if He does seem to be in the 'hinder part of the ship, asleep.' You've only to speak His name, and you will see the storm sink in a moment before the arm which He will stretch out to save you."
44 One, two, three, four, five, six,,2 spoke out the tall clock on the mantel-shelf, with a sharp ring which brought every boy in the room to his feet.
11 That's the supper-gong, I see," said Christy. W ell, good-night, and come again soon. So you knew my Cap. tain, eh, Charlie?" and he laid his hand lovingly on the child's head,
Yes, I was sure you meant the Lord Jesus," whispered the boy. You made a beautiful story out of it, Christy,,
y was ready to my hand, little
The beaut one. Goodnight. Good-night, and God bless you, one and all."
Good-night, Christy. Thank you for your story, We'll come again soon, came back to him on the clear, frosty air, as he stood in his doorway, looking after his departing guests,
And after they had passed beyond his sight, lie still stood there, but looking upward now toward the starlit sky; and on the head of every one who had listened to his story there came a blessing, called -down upon it by that yearn-% ing look,
AUSTIN S VISIT,
AUSTIN 9 S VISIT
CHRISTY Paused in the doorway as he re-entered his cot.4 tage, and, with a puzzled look on his face, stood listening. Surel he had heard a sound like a step in the loft, he thought. Who could it be?
"Any one up-stairs he called i to the foot of the ladder, wbich served as a stairway to the upper regions.
Yes, I'm here, Christy-" and, to the old man's. utter amazement, Frank Austin sprang lightly down the ladder. Your penny has come back, you see. Haven't you heard that it is very hard. to get rid of a bad coin ? "
He asked the question with a short laugh; and, passing Christy, seated himself before the fire, leaning his head down upon his hand.
" But how came you here, Mr -Austin? I thought you had gone to the Hall long ago."
" No ; I have been up there all the time. I didn't feel like seeing all those fellows when they came in, so I just ran up the lad der and sat down in the garret. When they came up after the nuts, I went behind that old sea-chest, and they never saw me; but I've been sitting there all this while. When you were telling that story, I was lying at the stair-head listening to you."
" But -it's long past six, sir, and the young gentlemen are all gone up to supper."
Never mind, I don't want any supper."
But won't you be called up for not being on hand?"
Oh, maybe I'll have soine lines set me, but I don't care for that. I don't want my supper, and I don't feel like seeing any one, or speaking to any one. Fact is, Christy, I 'd like to get miles away from everybody, and most of all
-from, myself and with an impatient thrust of his foot, he
66 LAURENCE BRONSON 'S VICTORY,
dislodged a huge log which was burning in the great fire. place, whose fall sent thousands of sparks flying lip the broad chimney,
"1You need to follow them sparks, Mr Austin," said the old. man, quietly pointing as he -spoke to the brilliant shower,
"Up into the dark, eh ?" said Frank, almost roughly, arnd concluding with the same sharp laugh which had before grated on Christy's ear,
"Not into the dark, sir; through it, it may be, but into the light. The sparks will lose themselves in that bright moonlight, Mr Austin ; and you need to lose yourself in the brighter light of the Sun of Righteousness. You'll get away from yourself, sure enough, when you find that, for you '11 be all overshadowed and enwrapped in its glory. May you find it full soon, my son, for you 're wearying for it, I know, poor boy."
He might have borne the gentle words without flinching9; he might even have withstood, in his irritable, impatient mood, the pathos of the tremulous, pitying voice; but thetouch- of the hand which was laid on his bent head unmanned him; and in another moment the flood-gates bad burst, and he was. sobbing like a little child, with his face hidden on Christy's arm.
But it was only for a moment. Christy had not even had time to choose the words in which to strive to answer this speechless cry for help, when Austin raised his head; and, dashing off the tears, said, with attempted carelessness"The re, Christy, you have seen what no one else in Graydon ever saw-Frank Austin fairly crying like a two-yearold baby. The very king of the Blues has had me in hi's grasp for the last week. I suppose he '11 let me go now, after putting me through that performance." And rising frtom his seat, he took up his hat as if to leave; but Christy, rising also, laid a detaining hand upon his shoulder,
AUSTIN 9 S VISIT. G_ 7.
It's no such king as him you spoke of, boy," he' said,' solemnly, 11 but the very King of kings, and Lord of lords that has had you in the grasp of His hand this past week, and I warn you not to fling aside that mighty Hand. 'Tis pressing you bard, I know, and. in the pride of your young heart you are striving to escape it-but you cannot. It is rJutstretched for your help ; only clasp it, and it will lead you into eternal life."
They stood toluether for a moment in silence ; the old wrinkled weather-beaten face almost touching that of the
boy, so fresh and, fair, yet working now in every feature with his determined effort at self-control.
Believe, only believe."
The words broke the silence so softly that it seemed to Austin as if he felt rather than hea rcl them; and in the same low, whispered tone, he answered
I would, Christy, if I could; but -I cannot."
And do you not know why you cannot? " asked Christy, drawing him toward a low settle, and. seating himself close beside him there. " I can just tell you in a minute what it is. You're trying in your poor, forlorn human weakn ' ess to do the work which only God can do. It takes the power and, might of a God to save one human soul, and you're striving to save yours without His help,,,"
Cc No, no, 2 said Austin that isn't so, Christy. I know I need His help."
" Aye, aye; you know it well en-ough in your mind, perhaps, but-you don't feel it in your heart. Or if the feeling is in your heart at all, there's a big mountain of pride there' that's crushing it to bits. But you'll never do it, never. You may try your very best ; but you'll never weather the storm and bring your vessel into port, unless you take the Lord Christ, aboard as both Captain and Pilot. There's hope for you now, for you see the breakers ahead, and you're wanting to steer clear of them if you can ; but did
LA&UIENCE BRONSON 9S VICTOR~Y.
you -ever hear of a skipper so mad as to try to steer his own vessel into a strange harbour, which he knew was full of rocks and reefs ? That 's what you 're doing ; and I tell you solemnly, my boy, as one should speak wbo himself has been nigh shipwreck, -that your vessel will be dashed to splinters in the doing of it.
"1But we needn't
shipwrec~k," be went_ on, more
"For the craft is sound in all her ti mbers yet; and the breakers are just ahead, there's the lighthouse
on the point, and the Pilot stands ready, call. 0 Mr Austin! you '11 not rush on tI Pilot close at hand-for sure you '11 not?"
he reefs, with the
cannot see either
even a glimmer of light that I can find. "
"Because you don't
look in the right
Frank. You're looking straight down into your own dark heart, when you should be lifting your eyes to the clear shining of His face who has said, I'Look unto me, and be ye
There 's no needle at all for you to be wandering in
the shadow of the night ; to the brightness of His
for the Lord Christ has called you rising, Turn your face to the
light, Mr Austin, turn your face to the light."
Frank rose slowly from door.
"Ican't stay any longcer," he said.,"It will be studyhour in fifteen minutes, so I must go. I know it 's all, as you say, Christy, I know the light is shining somewhere; but. that is just the trouble,-that it should shine, and that I should not be able to find it."
God of truth," said Christy.
" Oh ! I know all ti "but I 'ye been seeking
what I need,
and seeking, and I haven't
I 'm sorry to be so snappish,
AUSTIN P S VISIT. 69
added, in a quieter tone, but the truth is, I don't feel as if I could stand it any longer. I've always, as long as I can remember, thought I would be a- Christian-- some time; but lately it has seemed as if I must do something at once ; and for the last week, especially, I haven't had a minute's rest. It seems as if I could not possibly stand another night like the last three or four that I've spent, tumbling and tossing, with the fellows around me all snoring like mad, or else sleeping as quietly as babies with nothing to vex them, while I couldn't get a moment's rest for this miserable worrying and fussing . Now don't goand quote, 'Come unto me, and I will give you, rest.' I know it's there as well as you, do ; but it don't seem to come- home to me. It's better for a hungry man not to see food at all, than to have it lying right before his eyes, and not be able to stretch out his hand to take it."
"But if one stands ready to reach it to him, A,- Ir Austin. lf a gracious Hand is willing to lift the Bread of Life to his famished lips, will lie not take it ? Don't try even to put out your own weak hand, dear boy. Just open those poor, hungering lips, and let the Master fill them."
Perhaps He may some day, when I am a different fellow' from what I am now," said Austin, with a sigh. 11 But I thank you, Christy, with all my heart ; for you hav& tried your best with me, I know. Good-bye."
" Good-bye. Don't grope in the dark, Mr Austin, trying to be a I -different fellow,' as you say, before you take the Lord at His word. Just believe what He says, and sit you right down in the light of His- love., and let Him work the change in you."
Austin smiled-a sad, tired, smile it was, to be seen- on such a youthful face; and, giving the old man's band a parting grasp, went out, without attempting to answer his last words.
TO (C sit down in the light -of His love," That was just
what he longed to do ; not do. If there had c or hard duty to be pe
just what he could
only been some great act of self-denial
whole soul into the performance of it ;
ting at Jesus' feet to learn of
He had gone down to CI fioping that something that hE
peace and comfort.
He had sc
but this simple sit-
Him was quite another thing,,
might say would bring hin) 3arcely begun his talk with
the old man, when they had been interrupted by the sudden irruption of the noisy crowd who had followed him there
ii I nl
but even when the boys were gone, and they were alone together once more, Christy had done nothing to help him.
"I can't go on in this way any longer," he said to himself, pausing suddenly in his rapid walk up the hill, and sitting
down on the trunk of
a huge tree, i
sing the summer previous, had fallen now lay there, covered with snow.
which, struck by lightby the road-side, and
As he sat with
his head bent, and his
restlessly to and fro, the glimmer of something bright caught his attention. A little beyond where he had placed himself, there was a cleft in the side of the tree, riven perhaps in its fall; and the rays of the moon struck on something bright which lay within the aperture. Scarcely thinking what he did, he left his seat, and bent down over the cleft. There, in that little spot, surrounded on every side by cold and wind and darkness, yet sheltered in perfect safety beneath the huge old trunk, a tiny dandelion lifted its bright head.
For a moment Frank stood and gazed at it in silent won.
der; then he knelt down on the ground looked at the little child of summer, as i
never weary of the sight. expression of his face chang lender, and a tremulous quivE
f his eyes would
Gradually, the hard, strained ed. It grew softer and more
passed over his lips.
a while, he put his hand into the cleft,-how warm it was! The little flower was quite safe in its strange abiding-place I
LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
AUSTIN yS VISIT.,7
He touched it very tenderly, put his fingers beneath'it, and turned its golden face more fully to the moonlight ; and then, very suddenly and quickly, he bent his own face closely down, and kissed it.
What if it were but a simple field-flower, and he almost aman! It had taught him a lesson of lowly trust and confidence; and even as his lips touched the tiny blossom which the mighty hand of God had planted in that strange spot, that the finding of it might lead- that troubled soul to Him, even then the humbled heart yielded, and "1sat down under His shadow with great delight," to find that "His banner over him was love.",
"What is the meaning of this, Austin ?" asked the sharp voice of Mr Acton, one of the masters, as Frank entered the Hall. ".Absent from supper, absent from study-hall, and out until nine o'clock !"
" Nine o'clock ! " repeated Austin, in astonishment.,"Is it so late ? I suppose it must be, though," he added, as if to himself. "The moon is so high, and it rose about six, I have been reported to the Doctor, Mr Acton P"
" Yes : I have just given in the day's report. I am sorry, Austin. How did it happen?~ This is something very unusual for you."
"1Yes," replied Frank, "1it is. Perhaps I had better go to Dr Drayton at once with my apology ;" and he turned away, leaving Mr Acton to look after him wonderingly for a moment, and then to go on his way with the feeling that the delinquent would probably be able to satisfy the principal.
" He certainly does not look as if he had been in mischief," he said to himself, as hie returned to the study-hall.
He certainly did not. Mischief in any form never brought that quiet, restful look on any human face.
Entering, in answer to the short "1Come in," which had been the response to his knock at the door of Dr Drayton ',
LAURENCE BRONSON I S VICTORY,
study, he saw at once that the
)ort of nis misdoing had the question which was
been read ; and scarcely needed steml. addressed to him-
"How do you account for this, sir without permission."
Three hours' absence
"My absence was quite unintentional, sir; at least my absence from the study-hall. I must confess that I bad not intended to be at home for supper," replied Austin, respectf ully.
"Where have you been?" and the searching eyes scanned his face narrowly, but saw no signs of guilt there.
"At old Christy's cabin."
I I Until this time of night I
9c No, sir;
I left there at a quarter before
seven, but- I
think I must have been lost in thought," he went on, after a moment's hesitation for I suddenly found myself quite a distance beyond the Hall, upon the precipice road, and the moon was so high'that I think I must have been walkiDg for some time."
The gray eyes bent
themselves even more sharply than
before on the boy's
beneath their scrutiny." Of what were you thinking so deeply, may I ask?"
Then indeed his face glowed with a sudden, quick colour, which dyed it crimson; but he answered, steadily
11 Of myself, sir."
A suspicion of the truth flashed across Dr Drayton's mind; but absence from the Hall at such an hour was a grave offence, and he was determined so sift the matter thoroughly.
11 You say that you were intentionally away from supper, and that you spent the time at Christopher Dunn's cabin. What led you there at that time?"
Was he ready to confess Christ before
all men ; to 11 stand up for Jesus " so soon ?
Yes, he was,
Like the little dandelion, he
had found a hiding-place from
THE BRIDGE. 73the wind and cold and storm ; and now he was, ready to bear testimony to the love which had so blessed him.
" I wanted to talk with him," he said, looking straight into Dr Drayton's face with fearless eyes, yet with a strange gentleness of expression ; 11 and I did not wish to be interrupted by any of the other boys. The truth is, Dr Drayton," and the strong young voice trembled slightly, 11 1 wanted Christ, and Christy seems to me more Christ-like than any one I know. I did not know when I went to him that that was what led me there, but I know it now."
" And you have found what you sought ? " The Doctor's voice was husky. He rose and came toward Frank, and laid his hand upon his shoulder.
" Yes, I found Him," said Austin, quietly, looking up into the master's face with a smile. "I have been very proud and self-willed, determined to fight my own way to heaven 3 but, after all, a flower led me into the kingdom, and somehow I feel like a little child to-night."
" Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," said Dr Drayton. " May God keep you a learner at the Saviour's feet for ever. Good-night, my son, and God bless you."
And Austin left the study with a glow at his heart such as he had never felt before, in thinking of, the grave, stern master,,
AuSTIN, I want you to come down to Dai'sy Creek with me this afternoon, Don't make any plans with the other fellows; will you "
you some new
notion in your head, Larry ?"
"Not quite a new one.
my counsel, and
my last effort
in the bridge line," said Bronson,
"I want your opinion of it."
"I '11 be quiet as a mouse.
were time for the
show now ; for you look as if it were a great success."
'I think it is a success. If it had been a failure, I don't much believe that even you would have seen it."
"I'd trust you for that, you bury every failure in the bottom growling before the door if eve:
proud old mastiff.
n of your kennel, and stand
Isn't that so ?."
"Yes, more so than it ought to be.
mistakes if they ar
and blunders are a terrible cross to me, especially ,e seen. But I'm trying to keep that old spirit
under, Frank: I really am."
" I know that.
I can see that you are trying for it, and
it is hard work, too;" and Austin threw his arm around his
friend's neck with almost girlish tenderness.
11 Don't think
I meant to twit you unkindly; I think you are doing bravely. But then the old fellow will show his colours once in a while, you know, and I was only chaffing."
"I know, I know," said Laurence.
"Now we must go
in. Don't forget to keep yourself for me this afternoon."
It was a month since the day on which Bronson had sent
to Messrs Semmons &
yet heard nothing from them. In the meantime, no one, not even Austin, had seen anything of him out of "Hall hours," as the Drayton boys denominated the time given to recita-
- - - - - --il - - - - /
More than once Frank
where he had hidden
the question was always
parried; and he was as much in the dark as any of Laurence's less intimate companions.
But little as they had seen of one another, the two friends
LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
had drawn more closely
On the night of Austin's visit to Christy, Laurence
had gone to bed, worried and anxious. No suspicion'of the truth had entered his mind, and he began to fear that Frank would bring himself into serious trouble : first by the neglect
of his studies, a fault very unusual with him;
and now by
this apparently wilful breaking of a most strenuous rule. But spite of his uneasiness, being very thoroughly tired, he
fell asleep before Austin came up into the dormitory.
was wakened by hearing his name very softly spoken, and roused himself to find Frank's head lying on the pillow close to his own.
old fellow !
Frank's warning voice, as he started up.
" But what is the matter, Austin ? Are you in trouble ?"
" No, not now."
It broke upon Laurence all at once; and, rising in the bed, he caught Austin's hands in both his c
looked into his face.
quickly )wn, and
The room was almost as light as if it
The bright moonbeams falling in at the window
struck on Frank's
calm, happy face;
and Laurence did not
need to ask him any questions.
" 0 Frank !" he said. And
then Frank caught him close,
and hid his face on his neck, and clung to him like a child.
"Don't think me a baby," he said at length, lifting
self up with a little joyous laugh. wretched., and now I am so him
" But I have been awfully
- . .-- -.LrJ'. . --II
And then they lay down again with their hea same pillow, and Laurence heard the whole story.
"Frank," he said, after they had lain
still a while, "the
boys are all wild to hear about your 'scrape,' as they call it. I 'm afraid that you '11 be set upon the very first thing in the morning. What shall you do?"
"Tell them the truth," replied Austin, unhesitatingly.
"Will you have the strength ?"
LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY,
but Christ will,
You don't need
CC No, Frank
to be told that im at Hisword
do', believe you took Hi
more than I did, even before you were a Christian. you lost yourself in Him already ? "
"I don't know -
but somehow I clon't
seem to think
much about myself to-nigbt.
Frank Austin, with
whom I was so well satisfied, has
slipped away and left no
one behind him but a poor, despairing fellow -whom Christ has lifted into peace and joy. That's all I know about it, Larry."
Laurence had not been mistaken in
storm of questions which would beset Frank the next morning. Scarcely had the gong struck the hour for rising, when a score- of heads were lifted from their pillows, and as many
voices began eager inquiries for him.
" Hallo, Frank ! 11 11 Is Austin there ?
" Did he
in last niuht
&c., were some of
the questions, which he
answered with a cheery-
" All right.
I'm on hand as he sprang up, and beyan
to dress somewhat hastily.
And then a host of new queries rushed in upon him.
" Where say?" "I which he ,
have you been?" Vere you reported ?
did the Professor
and a multitude more,
at first attempted to parry
or laugh off;
finally some one asked. the direct question, in, a moment's, IU14
let's have it,
The room was still, f or all were interested in the answer,
Laurence watched him closely.
It was no slight ordeal for
a boy of sixteen to stand up before twenty-five merry school. fellows, and tell them that be had chosen Christ Jesus as
But Laurence saw that he would do
said tell them the truth;
f or though
his face was as
as he had
white as the linen which his nervous fingers were successs. fully trying to button at his throat, it was set and determined. The silence had lasted but a moment, when Frank broke it, speaking very deliberately" I don't want to make any secret of it," he said. If you wish to know what I was doing last night, it was just this : I was looking for a hiding-place, and I found it in the Rock of Ages."
What a small thing it seemed, after all, when it was done. Perhaps the simple, natural way in -which the words were spoken; Frank's unconstrained manner; and, above all, the change in his expression from the worried, troubled look'his face bad worn for some days,-had their effect. At any rate, the sneers and laughter which Laurence had feared for him. were not heard, Every one of the expectant faces watching Frank expressed utter astonishment and wonder; but the only word spoken was a prolonged 11 Holloa from Will Seaton.
The room was unusually quiet during the few moments which passed before the second bell rang - but no one spoke to Austin, until just as they left the room, when Ned Churchill, a frank, open-hearted, but very careless young fellow of about his own aore stretched out his hand as Frank was passing him, and saidI don7t think much about these things myself, Austin but I respect you for showing your colours at once."
Even if Frank had not at the outset 11 shown his colours," as Ned had termed it, the change in him would very soon bave been noticed, by all his companions, even the least observant among them; for it had struck with the greatest force one of the most prominent points in his character his self-esteem. He was not a foolishly vain or conceited boy, but he was talented, quick, and very well read for one of his years; and he had been so much praised and flattered that he, had come to think that Frank Austin's opinions and
78 LAURENCE BRONSON y S VICTORY.
decisions were quite equal to those of any man he knew, and far superior to those of his own friends. And the place he had chosen for himself as umpire of the school was yielded to him with scarce a murmur. To be sure, the boys sometimes called him " The great Mogul," and. other nicknames of the same signification; but they all consulted with and deferred to him, and he held his position with the air of a man who kn -ew his own worth. The little boys looked up to him as a prince among their elders; and even those of his own clique, although they joked among themselves sometimes over his self-confidence, always ended their little railleries with" Well, if he does think Frank Austin is a pretty good fellow, he don't stand alone in his opinion."
And just here it was that the change in him showed itself most plainly. Those wretched days when lie had so vainly sought to help himself out of his misery had shown him how little after all he knew, and how little strength he possessed; and the knowledge gave him a humility and gentleness of manner which no one had ever seen before in him. Not that he was the less able or ready to speak his mind on any point; but the thing was done in a way so different from his former dictatorial manner, that no one could fail to notice it.
" That is what I think, but perhaps you all know as much about it as I do," or some such disclaimer, was now always the conclusion to any expression of opinion in a discussion ; and the alteration in his manner and whole bearing was as marked as in his speech.
Laurence gave Austin no chance to forget his eng agement with him " after hours ;" for no sooner were they set at liberty, than Frank found him at his side.
"6Are you ready? " he asked, eagerly, linking his arm in that of his friend.
"Yes, more than ready; for I 'm wild to know what has
V, -&A_;t my cool old iceberg on fire. Why, Laurence, I -never saw you look so much excited in my life, What is it all about? 1)
Come, and, I will show. you, We must go through Merriman's Woods; and he t-urned out of the road in
which they were standing, into a narrow footpath, which, after ten minutes' fast walking, brought them into a dense forest of trees -dense, at least, when in leaf ; even now, when just budding out, they grew so close that two could scarcely walk abreast between them.
No pleasanter place could be chosen for a ramble, on a bright afternoon in the earlyspring, than Merriman's Woods. The air was laden with the sweet, fresh smell of the bursting buds the busy birds, nest-building in the branches, paused every little while in their work- to pour out a gush of happy song and the ground was covered with a carpet of purple violets and delicate white anem ones, with here and there a golden crocus scattered through them.
But the boys bad no time for more than a passing glance, at all this loveliness. They hurried on; for they bad quite a long walk before them, and their time was short. On through the woods they walked for three miles and more, until they came at length to a break,-an open clearing,beyond which the woods grew up again thicker and closer than on the other side. But they were now almost at their journey's end; for just within this second forest, a little brook crept out from beneath a huge rock, and ran its merry, rippling course over a bed of stones and moss. ' A. pretty, tiny thing it was,-so tiny that it seemed almost as if it had been made to show how perfect so small a stream could be in its beauty. Its edges, fringed with feathery ferns and drooping grasses, were hollowed here and, there by miniature bays, where the water ran in with a soft little gurgle, to run out again, the next moment, and a little farther on dash itself down over some obstructing stone in a mimic water-
80, LAURENCE BRO'NSON'S VICTORY.
fall. Beyondl, again, the water lay in a still pool, clear a3 crystal; and still farther, rippled and danced over small, white pebbles, running in and out among them, seeming fairly to laugh aloud in very glee.
It was to this brook that Laurence led his companion. Just beyond the spot where the laughing little wavelets stopped to kiss the pure white pebbles, the stream- suddenly narrowed, and ran quietly beneath the shade of an overhanging willow, whose branches fell almost into the water, and reached quite to the farther side. It was perhaps a yard across at this point ; and here, to his utter astonishment, as Bronson sprang before him, and threw aside the boughs, Frank saw that a miniature bridge had been thrown across the brook. And such a bridge! Light, graceful, perfect in all its tiny proportions It looked to him like a bit of work which the fairies, who were reported to haunt these woods, might have Performed with their own deft little fingers.
No words that he could have spoken would have so gratified Bronson as the perfect silence in which he stood gazing at the pretty thing. For full five minutes he stood and looked at it. Then he turned to Laurence, and, holdings Dut both his hands, said heartily"1Bronson, I give you joy; with all my heart, I do !
And Bronson-well, who could blame him for it? He just threw himself down upon the grass and hid his face on his arms, for he did not want even Frank to see it just then. That bridge had been the one thought of his mind, and of his heart as -well, for a full month. Every spare moment had been given to it. Through wind and storm and rain he had traversed those four weary miles every day, to work with all his strength for its completion. He had given up rest, recreation, companionship, -every enjoyment,-to devote himself to it; and now, when his reward came in that long gaze of delight and admiration given to his work by his
1 , 8 1
dearest friend, the lips with which he strove to answ* er hi3 congratulations would quiver and tremble, in spite of him, When at length he raised his head, it -was to find Frank sitting at his side, with his eyes still intently fixed on his bridge.
" Bronson," he said, turning towards him, thatt thing is
perfectly beautiful it seems to me,
The more I look at it
j, the more perfect
I can't imagine how you ever made time to
do so much. Did Morgan help you? "
" No : I[ could not pay him for his work.
to keep my secret, and wanted to give me all his time after
but I would not hear of it,
of course, for the
man's time is his money.
It is only lightly thrown together,
and one can do a good deal in a month, Austin, when one is
' trying to make a penny,' as Semmons says. Look, whole thing over, can you suggest any alterations ?"
" Not one. If I had made it, I should have like(
darker wood ;
but that is a mere matter of taste.'
"Not with me. It was a matter of dollars and cents, and I had not the dollars."1
" And you did not come to me ? 1
said Frank, reproach-
fully. "You would not ask me to help you in such a way? You might at least have borrowed what you needed."
"IWith no present prospect of paying my debts ? No, no, Frank : I cannot ask such help, even from you. I had rather ten thousand tim es build my poor little bridge of common
pine, as I 'have done.
"cNo, Larry. I tb best in the matter,
,Do you call that false pride? " link you are right to do just as you like
I should have been glad to have
in it. "
And as Austin watched
flushed face, he could not but feel how tremendous must have
been the effort which
this boy, who was too proud to take
such a favour from his bosom friend, must have been making
through the past three months.
And yet he knew, for Lauri
had told him as much,
82 LAURENCE DRONSOW'S VICTORY,
that those very months had been the happiest of his life. A few weeks ago, he would not have understood it; but now he knew the secret. He had learned what it was to " humble himself as a little child;" and he had learned, also, that to such littlee children " God gives a peace and strength and joy which those who trust in their own strength can never know.
"I wish, said Frank, after they had been sitting silent for some moments, "I wish that Mr Semmions could see that bridge. It is strange that you don't hear from him, Lauren ce."
"Yes, it is. I should think that he would write me a line, even if he does not fancy my designs. He would at least return them."
" Oh! of course he would do that; but perhaps there has been some delay in the post. Wait another week, and then write again, asking if he received them. How does Albert behave ?"
"About as usual. He asks me every day regularly if I have heard from Messrs Semmons & Driggs. I don't trouble myself on his account much ; though, I confess, I shoulJ, have been glad if those designs had been accepted, and hs,: had known of it. No matter: it would not have done either of us any good, perhaps; and Laurence heaved a sigh, which said very plainly that he would have liked to try it, at any rate.
"1But come," he went on, more cheerily, " I must take my precious baby home: it has never been out so long before. Mrs Morgan gives it house-room for me, unt?.L L want to take it up to the Hall. Wait a moment until I go over to the other side. There now; " and he sprang across the brook. "1Take out that tie beneath there, Frank, and take your end down as she parts in the middle. There she is, all safe; and he sprang back again, with one half of the bridge held fast in his arms, as tenderly as if i t had been a
MR SEMMONS. 83
veritable baby, and he its young mother, while Frank carried the other portion almost as lovingly.
Their errand to the carpenter's house was soon accom. plished, the treasure hidden securely away, and then they Etarted off on their walk back to the Hall,
"THAT gentleman is in the parlour, waiting to see you, Mir Bronson," said Briggs, the head-waiter at the Hall, laying a card on the table before Bronson, as he sat in one of the study-halls, busily engaged at his books. Laurence took up the card, and after studying it a moment, threw it across the table to Austin, who sat opposite.
"Mr Semmons!" was all he said.
" So he is one of the ceremonious sort, ehV said Austin. "It looks encouraging, any way, his coming here, doesn't it? I wish you success, old fellow. Good-bye; " and he gave Bronson' s hand a hearty grip, as he passed out of the room to go down to meet his visitor.
When he entered the parlour, he found no one there but an elderly gentleman, who looked up as he entered the room, and merely returning his bow with a slight nod, turned again toward the window at which he was sitting. Laurence glanced round the room to see if there were any one else there; but finding no one, stepped toward the window, and asked"Is this Mr Semmons ?
"it is,") said the gentleman. "I called to see Mr Bronsont The man has gone to tell him.",
84 LAURENCE BRONSON'S VICTORY.
" He told me that you were here. My name is Bron'. son."1
"I beg your pardon," said the gentleman, rising. "I am sorry that you were disturbed; but it is Mr Laurence Bronson whom I wished to see. There has been some mistake."
"There is no mistake, sir. I am Laurence Bronson. I suppose that you have called to answer in person -a letter I sent you some weeks ago."
"This is very curious," said Mr Semmons, looking much perplexed. " I had supposed that my correspondent was one of the teachers in this establishment. What I want, young gentleman, is to see the originator of the designs which that letter enclosed. Perhaps you acted as his scribe."
"1The designs were my own, sir, as well as the letter. I heard that you wanted something of the sort, and so sent them to you. Did they suit your purpose ?"
"1And you mean to tell me," exclaimed the astonished old gentleman, thatt those designs were the work of your own brain, and your own unaided hand ?"
"I do, sir," said Laurence, Smiling.
"Then I have only to say that you. are a very smart fellow," was the somewhat abrupt response.
"1For which I thank you, sir," said Laurence, looking exceedingly pleased.
"1Well, then, we may as well sit down and settle the thixig at once, since we understand one another now," said Mir Semmons, who was evidently accustomed to doing things in a very business-like manner. "What did you expect to receive for those drawings ?"
11I had no expectations whatever, sir; for I have no idea what they are worth. In fact, I did not even know that it was customary for architects to buy designs. I supposed that they did all that part of their business themselves."
"We do, as a general thing; but just now we happen to
MR SEMMONS. 85
have an immense number of orders to fill, and our house prides itself on the' variety of the patterns it sends out. So I determined to call in some outside aid, if I could find what pleased me. Your designs are peculiarly graceful and pretty. If you conclude to let us have them, I shall use them in a new park which is being laid out by private enterprise, not many miles from here. Suppose I offer you for them ? I want to do the fair thing by you, especially since I find that you are beginning, so young to try to make your own way ; and I think that is what they are worth. Does that satisfy you? "
" Yes, sir: I had not supposed them worth so much," said Laurence, frankly. " I am very glad."
"So am IV" said Mr Semmons, -heartily. "But I must say I was never so surprised in my life as when I found that they were the work of a mere boy. Are you as smart at all your studies as you are at drawing? "
"cNo, sir; I am not smart at anything else. The truth is, Mr Semmons, that I am exceedingly stupid,"~ said Bronson, 'with such honest earnestness that his visitor laughed outright,
"1It is so," persisted Laurence. "I love study, but I am very dull ; and I am often three hours in learning a lesson which almost every fellow in the class will master in an hour."
" But I warrant that what once goes into your head never strays out-again," said Mr Semmons.
"cNo, it generally stays there. It has such hard work to find its way in, that I suppose it never attempts any farther journeys;" and the boy laughed merrily.
He hardly knew what to make of himself, chatting so gaily and unreservedly with a perfect stranger : it was quite a new experience for him ; but even, while wondering at his own freedom, he found himself telling Mr Semmons why he had spent all his leisure moments in steady work,