TITLE: Herman, or, The little preacher
Herman; or, the Little Preacher. Chapter I
Little Threads; or, Tangle Thread, Silver Thread, and Golden Thread.
Little Threads. Chapter I
The Story Lizzie Told.
The Baldwin Library
THE LITTLE PREACHER.
Or, The Kittle Preacher.
THE STORY LIZZIE TOLD.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
â€œTue FLOWER oF THE Famizy,â€ â€œStepping HeaveNwarp,â€ â€œ LItTLe
Susyâ€™s Six Birtu-Days,â€ BTC, ETC. .
THOMASâ€™ NELSON AND SONS,
: EDINBURGH AND NEW YORK,
HERMAN; OR, THE LITTLE PREACHER.
Y a little village of the Black Forest there
sat, one Sunday afternoon, on a bench before
i] a cottage-door, two persons, engaged in con-
versation, a man and a woman. Both were tall and
well made; both ruddy and fair; and the striking
likeness they bore each other made it seem probable
that they were sisterand brother. In reality they were
mother and son.
â€œTam getting on in the world vastly well without
your blessed father,â€ she was saying. â€˜â€˜ People tell me
I have no sooner touched a bit of land than it begins
to bear gold.â€
â€œT hope I have inherited that faculty,â€ he returned,
laughing, â€œ for to tell the truth, mother, I came up to-
day to invite you to my wedding.â€
â€œYour wedding! And when did I give you leave
to take a wife, Max Steiner ?â€
Max moved uneasily in his seat,
2 Herman ;
â€œYou seem to forget that I am no longer a boy,â€ he
â€œThere is no danger,â€ she retorted, â€œ while you act
Max rose to his feet. a
â€˜Good-bye, mother,â€ he said.
â€œSit down, you foolish child. And when is this
famous wedding to come off?â€
â€œNext week. Doris saidâ€”â€
â€œDoris! What Doris?â€ :
â€œ Ah! mother, you know; the old school-masterâ€™s
â€œ And what does she bring you?â€ .
â€œ Not much besides herself and her mother.â€
â€œHer mother! That shall never be !â€
â€œ'Thereâ€™s no use arguing about it,â€ said Max ;'â€œ1
canâ€™t have one without the other.â€
â€œThen I forbid the marriage.â€
â€œ Mother,â€ said Max, â€œI am a full-grown man. I
am able to manage my own affairs, and mean to do it.
It is true we shall have to begin in a small way, and
if I could help it I would not have the expense or
bother of a mother-in-law in the house; but I
canâ€™t help it.â€
â€œNow, there is the millerâ€™s Lore will have a dowry:
worth looking: after; take her Max, and Iâ€™ say no
more against your marrying. A mother-in-law in the
house is like a crackling thorn ; meddling and ordering
will be her only business. And you are one to be
master in your own house.â€
â€œT rather think I am,â€ said Max, setting his teeth
together ; â€œand that is one reason why I have fixed
Or, the. Little Preacher. 3
upon Doris. She is as quiet as a little mouse, and will
oppose me in nothing.â€
â€œâ€˜T hate your little mice !â€ she cried.
â€˜Well, mother, thereâ€™s just where we differ. TI like
â€œYou know very well that Dorisâ€™s mother has never
let her say that her soul was her own. She has kept
her always pinned to her side, singing hymns and
saying prayers ; otherwise she would have goneflaunting
and giggling about, like all the other girls.â€
â€œ At any rate, you canâ€™t deny that she is the prettiest
girl in the village,â€ said Max.
â€œ Humph !â€
â€œ And when a man once gets to loving a girlâ€”â€
â€œHe loves her, does he? â€˜To think of that, now!
Ha! ha! And perhaps he is in love with the girlâ€™s
mother also !â€
â€œWell, then, if it comes to that, I do love her!â€
cried Max, rising angrily from his seat. â€˜I donâ€™t pre-
tend to say prayers or to sing hymns myself, but I
should like a wife none the less for doing both, if she
took care not to do it in a canting way. And, at all
events, the thing is settled; I shall marry Doris, and
nobody else !â€
He seized his cap, and with rapid strides proceeded
homeward, down the mountain-path that led to his own
â€œThank Heaven, one does not have to marry oneâ€™s
mother!â€ he said to himself. â€œIshall get on better
with Doris. Two red-haired people in one house is too
much. Iam thankful she is not quick-tempered as my
mother is and as I am.â€
4 flerman ;
Doris was the daughter of the school-master, and had
been brought up in great poverty and to much hard
work. Her father had taught her all he knew himself,
which, to be sure, was not much ; and had been dead some
years. Her mother had been trained in the hard school
of sorrow ; all she had left was this one child, out of a
home once full of sons and daughters, But, in reality,
she possessed a character disciplined and tempered to the
last degree of sweetness and cheerfulness ; she was rich
in faith, rich in love to God and man, rich in foretastes
of a life to come, in which there should never be felt
the sting of poverty, where even the shadow of death
could never fall.
â€œDear mother,â€ said Doris, â€œI am asking a great
deal of you when I ask you to leave our native village,
and go with me to a new home.â€
â€œ Nay, my Doris, but it is I who ask a great deal
in going there. It is true, I do not gladly leave
our dear Herr Pastor, who has taught me so much;
and our good neighbours we shall miss likewise! But
that will pass, and I shall try to make Maxâ€™s home
â€œThere's no doubt of that !â€ said Doris, smiling ; â€œ but
I know you always hoped to die where you have lived
so long, and I know it is going to be hard for you to
make this change. But Max says he cannot and will
not live here, so near his mother. She vexes and
frets him so.â€ |
The marriage took place, and Max established his
wife as comfortably as he could in the house adjoining
the little shed where he carried on his businessâ€”for he
was a carpenter. The lessons of economy, instilled
Or, the Little Preacher. 5
into him by his mother, bore their fruit in his new
home, where even the necessaries of life were dealt out
with a careful hand.
Doris entered with docility into all his wishes ; she
ordered her household discreetly, wasted nothing,
and knew no idle-moment. Her mother helped her
in all the tasks â€˜suited to her strength; she was no
crackling thorn, but left Max full liberty to be master
in his own house. Though she was never gay, as
Doris was in moments of exuberant health and happi-
ness, she was so uniformly cheerful that the very sun-
shine itself hardly did so much to give light within the
As for Max, he was upright and industrious ; he
wasted neither time nor money at the ale-house, and
worked early and late, indoors and out.
Twice every Sunday they all put on their holiday
clothes, locked the house door, and went to. church.
When at night Max put off these garments, he put off,
with them, all thought of religion, and gave himself up
to toil and worldly care, and making and saving. Doris
never owned, even to herself, that he had his faults ;
that he was too proud to be affectionate and demon-
strative, and that the hard race to make money was
sharpening and fevering a temper not naturally good.
She took care not to run against his peculiarities â€”
as far, at least, as she knew how; and, above all,
she loved him with the truc-hearted loyalty of a
faithful woman. Let anyone dare to say aught
against her Max, and this â€œquiet mouseâ€ of his
had fire and passion enough in reserve to consume
6 Herman ;
In less than a year after their marriage she had spun
linen enough to purchase a cow ; accordingly, Max went
to market in a neighbouring village to choose one for
Here he met his mother stalking about as with seven-
leagued boots, buying and eee
â€˜â€œ And what are you doing here ?â€ cried she,
â€œMy Doris has sent me to buy a cow,â€ he returned ;
â€œthe money she has earned herself.â€
â€œ So you are already her errand-boy! And how is
the dear mother-in-law ?â€
â€œShe is never very strong; but we get on wonder-
â€œThat sounds very well, But with oneâ€™s mother
one may safely speak out. Now letâ€™s have the truth,
Max. She meddles and makes, does she? Ah! but
did not I warn you in season ?â€
â€œ Mother, why will you try to exasperate me every
time we meet? There is nothing to be said against
â€œAnd the millerâ€™s Lore has married the baker's Â©
Franz, and has gone to live near you, they say. Think,
whenever you see her, what you have lost.â€
Max turned away full of disgust, and bought the
cow with a ruffled spirit.. The poor creature could not
imagine what she had done that she should be driven
to her new home with so many needless blows.
Doris came out to admire the purchase, and did not
trouble herself with the thought that all the creature
ate was to be sought for and carried to her by her
own hands. She cut grass by the wayside, and
brought home bundles of clover on her head. The
Or, the Little Preacher. 7
cow cost them nothing but this labour, and her
milk was a great comfort to them. The neighbours
whispered among themselves that Doris gave away
milk that had not been skimmed, now and then, and
wondered if Max knew of this extravagance. If Max
did not know it, it was because her right hand never
knew what was done by the left when a case of real
Thus things went on, till one day there came a new
joy and a new care into the house.
â€œHeâ€™s a beautiful boy, dear Max,â€ said Doris, look-
ing fondly down upon her first-born son. â€œ He is such
a funny little likeness of you that I canâ€™t help laughing
every time I look at him!â€
â€œHe has the red hair of the Steiners, and will have
their hot blood,â€ said Max.
â€œRed!â€ cried Doris. â€œNow, Max!â€
â€œThereâ€™s a tinge of red in it, I am sure,â€ persisted
Max. â€œAnd a fiery young colt you will have in
â€œ Donâ€™t you like him, then?â€ asked Doris.
â€œThe child is well enough,â€ replied Max.
â€œT daresay you will laugh at me, Max, but I must
tell you what a strange dream I had last night. 1
thought we were in the church, and that it was beauti-
fully lighted up, and everybody had on a new holiday
suit. You had:silver buttons to your scarlet vest, and
silver buckles at the knees, and looked as you did on
our wedding-day. And when the Herr Pastor rose in
the pulpit, who should he be but our son, our little
Herman here, grown to be a man, and actually become
a clergyman !â€
8 : Herman;
â€œA very silly dream,â€ returned Max. â€œI donâ€™t
look much like silver buckles, nor doze that little lump
of dough look much like a parson.â€
Having now said and done all that.the occasion
seemed to require, Max resumed his pipe, and â€˜cut
short the interview with his first-born. Doris soon
heard, through the open window, the sound of chop-
ping and sawing.
â€œAh!â€ she said joyfully to herself, â€œdear Max is
making the bench under the linden-tree that he has
promised so long. Yes, my-Herman, a nice seat for us
in summer evenings, when you and your sisters and
brothers will be playing about us. For brothers and
sisters you must have, my little man, otherwise you
will pine for lack of playfellows.â€
Meanwhile Max worked steadily at the bench, and
he, too, had visions of children to come. But they
were not â€œplaying about.â€ They were collecting fuel,
and cutting grass and clover; they were gathering
berries and hunting for eggs ; they were taking care of
the cattle and feeding the hens; they were making
amends, by every shift and turn, for all the money
and all the trouble they cost.
Little Herman grew up to boyhood, and the other
children followed at intervals. During his early years,
when his mother had always a baby on hand, he was
the especial charge of his grandmother. Though the
red hair rather existed in Maxâ€™s imagination, Herman
had inherited the quick, passionate temper of the
Steiners; he was morbidly sensitive, morbidly excit-
able and enthusiastic, and in his affections was a little
Or, the Little Preacher. 9
Pride, however, made him conceal what he felt, as
much as possible ; but volcanoes will have their erup-
tions ; and there were times when he poured out his
love upon his mother and his grandmother in a way
that almost frightened them. Otherwise he was truth-
fulness personified, and conscientious to the last degree.
Max did not understand or know how to manage
him. He found him awkward with his hands, unlucky
with his footsteps, and dull with his brain. For Her-
man did nothing he was taught to do in the right way;
was continually falling down and stumbling about, and
could not learn the clock, even under the persuasive
influence of the rod. There did not seem to be much
promise that the child would ever make a successful car-
penter, and Max was dissatisfied with him accordingly.
Doris, on the other hand, loved him for the very
eagerness and enthusiasm that made him so. often get
into trouble; she was sorry for him that his temper
was so passionate, because she saw the shame and pain
it caused him. She would not believe he was dull,
but she could not give any reason for her opinion, save
that he looked as bright as other children. And she
always wound up with the mental conclusion :
â€œAt any rate, he loves me so !â€
The grandmother took advantage of his ardent tem.-
perament, and trained him to be a most religious child.
Ske talked to him about his dear Lord and Master till
he caught the glow and fervour of her affections; she
made him feel that nothing is too much to do or to
suffer for Christ Jesus our Saviour; so that if he had
lived in the days of persecution, he would have gone, a
radiant little martyr, straight to the stake.
10 Herman ;
Maxâ€™s nearest neighbourâ€™s, the GÃ©schens, had a son
not far from Hermanâ€™s age. He was a good-natured,
roguish fellow, and the two boys were naturally
thrown together at schoolâ€”and, by the way, Max
made Herman shrink from Kurt with a. certain aver-
sion, by continually holding him up to him as the
model by which he would have him shape his life.
â€œ Donâ€™t get into such a passion! Neighbourâ€™s Kurt
â€œChop the wood faster! Neighbourâ€™s Kurt does it
twice as fast.â€
â€œWhat will you make of our Herman?â€ Doris one
night asked Max, when, after displaying more than
usual inaptitude for what his father wished him to do,
the boy had gone, with flushed cheeks and tearful eyes,
â€œT really donâ€™t know,â€ said Max, â€œI never saw such
a boy in my life. But of course I must teach him my
â€œ But will he ever learn it ?â€
* He must learn.â€
â€œOur Minna is very different from Herman,â€ said
Doris; â€œalready she is of great use to me. And
Bernhard will perhaps be less troublesome than Her-
â€œAs to that, he is coming on in much the â€œsame
â€œPeople say he is so handsome,â€ said Doris.
The words carried Max back to the days of his
courtship and marriage, when he had regarded Doris
as such a pretty girl.
â€œT will own that he looks like you,â€ he vouchsafed.
Or, the Little Preacher. Il
â€œDo you know, Doris, I have been looking over my
account-book, and find things look very well? There
is Hans Godschen drinking himself to death and spend-
ing as fast as he earns. Think, now, you came near
marrying that fellow.â€
â€œIndeed, that is not true!â€ cried Doris.
â€œ Well, he came near marrying you, then, only you
had your abiesuons. As to Herman, a carpenter he
surely shall be.â€
â€œTf there was anything else he could learn. easicr,â€
â€œYes; you would make a regular gitl of him if I
would permit,â€ said Max. â€œ But I will not permit it ;
the moment he is old enough to be of use to me, I
shall take him from school and set him to work. He
shall clean the stableâ€”on that you may depend. He
shall cut short fodder for the cattle, morning and
night. He shall collect our fuel, and make our fires.
Yes, my BORE shall do as did their fathers before
Doris dared say no more. She went silently on
with her spinning, oppressed with anxiety, yet not
knowing what better could be done for Herman than
all his father proposed to do.
After a time she ventured to ask :
â€œ Shall you buy more cattle at the market to-
â€œWhy not?â€ returned Max.
There was no more said that night, and long before
daybreak Max was up and away.
The children studied their lessons as usual from four
o'clock till six, and then each had their own business
12 Ferman ;
to attend to. Herman must look after the cattle, and
cut short fodder for them, and put fresh water into the
drinking-trough. Little Minna helped her mother to
sweep the house, to arrange the breakfast-table, and 6
wash the dishes. She was a fair-haired, veritable little
woman, always composed and quiet, and, young as she
was, a real helper within doors and without. Bernhard
was to look after the hens and the geese and little
Adolph, and his office was one of no small life and stir.
By the time they should set off for school, every
thing was in perfect order, and Doris was ready to sit
down to spin, and the old grandmother to take her
knitting and go to her beloved seat under the linden-
tree. Herman and Minna were to knit all the way to
school, for the walk was long. Each carried a little
basket on the arm, to hold the ball of yarn, and the
slice of bread and the baked apple which were to serve
â€œDo you know, Herman,â€ said Minna, â€œthat last
night, after we were in bed, the dear grandmother
wound our yarn on a bit of money? Yes, really and
truly on a silver-piece !â€
â€œNo!â€ said Herman, incredulously.
â€œYes, really and truly. Mother was saying that our
stockings grew so slowly, and grandmother laughed,
and said that winding the yarn on a bit of money made
the stocking grow faster.â€
â€œHow could it?â€ asked Herman. .
â€œWhy, donâ€™t you see that we shall be in such a
hurry to get at our money that we shall knit day
â€œPooh! J shanâ€™t,â€ said Herman. â€œTI hate to knit.
Or, the Little Preacher. 13
I wish I, lived in a country where only women and
girls knit the stockings.â€ ef
â€œTs there such a country?â€ asked Minna.
â€œTo be sure there is. Look here, Minna. Isnâ€™t
this flower pretty 1â€
â€œYes, I suppose so,â€ said Minna, indifferently.
â€˜Here are some more, quite different. Look, this
â€œDonâ€™t keep asking me to look,â€ said Minna. â€œI
am setting the heel of my stocking, and counting the
â€œHow nice it is to have father gone all day
â€œTtâ€™s very naughty to say that,â€ Minna felt con-
strained to say, though it obliged her to recount her
_ Herman wondered if it was really naughty, and one
thought leading to another, he was silent until they
reached the door of the school.
ERE the children acquitted themselves as
they usually did. Minna repÃ©ated her
lessons with perfect accuracy, word for
aad Her cool and quiet mind applied itself with-
out let or hindrance to the task before it, and all her
sums came right, and all her work was well done.
Herman, if allowed â€˜to repeat his lessons in his own
words, would have done well also. But the teacher
required the exact words of the text, and it was next
to impossible to the child to commit words to memory.
He was sent back to his seat in disgrace, feeling guilty
~ and ashamed, aware that all the other children were
laughing at him, and puzzled to know how he hap-
pened to be so stupid and all the other children so
clever. When it came to the writing lesson, things
were no better. He got the ink all over his hands
and blotted every page; the teacher took him by the
shoulder, shook him soundly, and declared that he
never would learn to write. Neighbourâ€™s Kurt pinched
him slyly, and made him start suddenly and upset his
inkstand ; another shaking from the teacher followed
speedily. Herman cried with shame and anger, and
wiped away his tears with his inky hands till he made
Herman ; or, the Little Preacher. 5
a perfect fright of himself. But he was used to being
miserable, and to getting over it; so when school was
done, and they all went scampering homeward, he
recovered his spirits, and laughed and ran and shouted
as gaily as the rest, though with less of their thought-
less light-heartedness. The sufferings of children are
as real as those of their elders; but how much more
easily they are supplanted by passing joys!
Doris was sitting under the linden-tree, with her
mother, when the boys reached home.
â€œHas father come?â€ was the first question ; and on
learning that he had not, they threw themselves and
their satchels on the ground at their motherâ€™s feet, with
a sense of rest and comfort that the long walk and the
fatigue of school made very pleasant.
â€œâ€˜ Mother,â€ said Herman, â€œI wish I had something
alive to love. I haven't anything but Minchen, and
she isnâ€™t my own cat, but Minnaâ€™s.â€
â€œ Am I, then, not alive?â€ asked Doris, laughing.
Herman jumped up and threw his arms around her
neck for answer.
* You hurt me, Herman,â€ she said. â€œIs it neces-
sary to choke people because you love thera?â€
Herman â€˜coloured, and darted away. It was many a
day before his mother got another such embrace.
He threw himself upon the ground again, and lay
a long time silent. The scene on which he gazed with
some latent sense of its majesty and beauty was made
up of snow-capped mountains, green valleys, pine
forests, and quaint little cottages almost hidden by the
fruit-trees with which they were encompassed. No-
thing wes wanting to its porfection but the peaceful
16 Herman ;
groups of cattle grazing on hill-side and plain, which
with us are one of the elements in every rural scene.
What would one of our cows think had happened to
her, should she suddenly find herself shut out from
the free air of heaven, to pass her life in seclusion, like
a pet bird in its cage, as do her foreign relatives ?
â€œMother,â€ said Herman when he had recovered
from her little rebuke, â€œwhat makes people feel like
' erying when they look at mountains and such things?â€
â€œ Asif they ever did!â€ returned his mother absently.
â€œWell, but they do, mother,â€ persisted Herman.
â€˜Then I suppose theyâ€™re homesick,â€ she said.
â€œHow can they be homesick when theyâ€™re always
at home?â€ urged Herman.
â€œJ canâ€™t imagine what you are talking about,â€ said
Doris. â€œ But let me ask you one question. Have you
cut the short fodder for the cow?â€
Herman started up, looking alarmed and guilty.
â€œWill father soon be here?â€ he asked anxiously.
At that moment a boy not much older than himself
appeared, leading a white calf by a cord.
â€œHere comes neighbour's Kurt,â€ said Doris. â€œHe
has been to meet his father. They must be close at
hand. Run, Herman; get to the stable at once.â€
Herman ran; but the white calf was too much for
him. He stopped to pat it, and begged the privilege
of leading it a little way.
â€œTt is my own,â€ said Kurt. â€œ Bought with my own
money. Isn't it a big, strong fellow?â€
â€œIts a beauty,â€ said Herman; and he knelt down
and pressed his cheek to its pure white face.
Never had the word money meant anything to him
Or, the Little Preacher. 17
before. But now it meant a beautiful, soft, live crea-
ture to feed, to caress, to love; to live in a little stable
built by his own hands! That stocking must be
_ finished, and grandmother must wind him another ball
He felt such delight when he saw the docile creature
follow him, that he could not find for it enough endear-
â€œYou are a regular bossy-calf yourself,â€ said Kurt,
laughing. â€œI should think you were talking to your
. Herman coloured, and took care to say no more.
Suddenly it flashed across his mind that he had not yet
attended to the cow. He darted off once more in the
direction of. the stable, where his father received him
with a box on the ear that would have knocked him
down, had not another on the opposite ear restored the
balance. He resented the blow, yet dared not show -
his anger. ye
â€œT did not mean to disobey, father,â€ he said ; â€œbut I
just stopped to look at neighbowâ€™s Kurt, who has a
white calf of his own.â€
â€œYou're a white calf yourself,â€ was the answer.
â€œ All you are fit for is to have a rope tied round your
neck, and to be led through the village for people to
â€œYes, father,â€ said Herman, now thoroughly hum-
bled. He felt that he must indeed be a calf who had
been called so twice within ten minutes. He fell to
cutting the fodder as fast as he could; but his eyes
were full of tears, and he cut his fingers again and
again. His father had brought home another cow, and
18 Herman ;
Doris and her mother and all the children came out to
see it. Little Adolph was made to pat the new-comer
with his fat hand, and to bid her welcome. He held
in his arms a remarkable wooden horse, which Max
had brought from the fair. It possessed a rampant tail
of an uncompromising character, and was adorned with
a henâ€™s feather in its head, to give it a martial air.
They were soon seated around the supper-table, where
Max appeared in unusual spirits, and had much to tell
about the sayings and doings of the fair. Lvidently
it had been a prosperous day with him, for instead of
working all the evening, he wrote in his account-book
with an air of satisfaction.
â€œT shall buy a bit more land to-morrow,â€ he said to
Doris. â€œThings are looking very well. We shall
have more fruit than we shall know what to do with in
the autumn, and I have arranged to exchange a part of
it for meal. And you will soon finish your fifty yards
- of linen ; and linen, in these times, is pure gold.â€,
All he had in his head Max had now outspoken.
Making money and sparing money was to his mind the
chief end of man. As for his harsh ways with his
children, he never dreamed of their not being the per-
fection of good management.
Poor Herman! He who might literally have been
led by the silken thread of love and kindness, was
driven by brute force well-nigh to desperation.
â€œThere were no cones for lighting the fire this morn-
ing,â€ said Doris.
â€œThe children must bring some, then,â€ said Max.
â€œ Send them before school.â€
aman and Bernhard exchanged clanees of dismay.
Or, the Little Preacher, 19
â€œThen may we learn our lessons to-night, father ?â€
â€œNo,â€ said Max. â€œYou should not have let your
mother get out of cones.â€
â€œTt was my fault,â€ said Doris ; â€œI did not observe
that the supply was so low.â€
The boys therefore worked at toy-making, under
their fatherâ€™s eye, all the evening. Their ee were
heavy, and their hands awkward, and Doris sat pain-
-fully at her wheel, listening to all that went, on, and
wondering why her children were so slow to learn,
when in many things they seemed so bright and full of
life and energy.
The next morning she whispered to the children to take
their books with them when they went to the forest.
â€œOnce there,â€ said she, â€œgather the cones with
might and main; then sit down and study in the same
way. I cannot bear to think of you all being chas-
tised at school.â€
The children set off with lght aes and under
the stimulus of the excitement of studying in such hot
haste, Herman learned his lessons well, and for once
received a gracious word from the master.
On their return from school they were all set to
gathering fruit. They had quantities of plums which
they helped their mother to spread in the sun to dry.
â€œTt is almost time for the long vacation,â€ said Minna.
â€œThen we shall not have to go to school, and can help
mother so much.â€
The long autumnal vacation was Hermanâ€™s special
aversion. The object of it was to give the children
of the peasantry time to help in the harvest-time,
20 Flerman ;
The lower classes had to glean in the fields of more
prosperous neighbours, with bags suspended from their
necks; and there was every variety of work to do in
preparation for the winter.
Herman was thus brought into contact with his
father almost constantly, and had ample opportunity to
display his unpractical character to the utmost extent.
â€œWhat are you idling here for?â€ cried Max, coming
suddenly upon the child, as with book in hand, he sat
under the linden-tree on the first day of vacation.
â€œJT was not idling, father; I was reading,â€ he
â€œAnd what's the use of reading? Does it bring
cows into the stable, or meal into the sack ?â€
As Herman could not maintain that either of these
results naturally flowed from books, he remained
The look of distress and perplexity in the boyâ€™s face
somewhat touched his fatherâ€™s heart, and he said in a
milder tone :
â€œBooks are for the rich, not for the poor. We must
have moss collected for the cowsâ€™ bedding. Go and ask.
your mother for the bags, and set off at once.â€
â€œTs Bernhard to go too?â€ asked Herman.
The boys set off on a brisk trot, like two young
ponies, and soon had to stop to take breath.
â€œDo you know what Iâ€™m going to do?â€ asked Her-
man. â€˜Iâ€™ve got a book at the bottom of the bag, and
you shall collect the moss while I read to you.â€
â€œBut that will make us get home late, and then
what will father say ?â€
Or, the Little Preacher. 21
â€œT suppose he'll box our ears. I donâ€™t know how
yours are, but mine have got quite used to it.â€
â€œ But what will you do about it when you say your
â€œWell, I donâ€™t know. Do you suppose the dear
Lord isnâ€™t willing we should read a little bit?â€
â€œ But father thinks we are at work, and it would be
cheating for one of us to be reading.â€
â€œYes, I suppose it would. So here goes!â€ And
Herman threw himself down, and began to scramble
up the moss and to tumble it into the bag with ner-
vous haste and energy.
â€˜We'll work fast, and save a little time for our
book,â€ said Herman. â€˜â€œ But look here, Bernhard.
Some of this moss is so pretty. Do you suppose all
the dear Lord made it for was for old cows to sleep
â€œT donâ€™t know,â€ said Bernhard. â€œIf we could get
time, we might find cut in some book. But we never
shall get time.â€
â€œTl tell you what I read somewhere, once. There
are some large cities, not very far from here, where men
sit in their houses all day, reading. They get so that
they know almost everything. Now, if I was rich, I
could do the same. Then I should not be for ever
tumbling about, and hurting myself, and tearing and
wearing my clothes, and father wouldnâ€™t be scolding ;
and, Bernhard, you should do the same. For next
to me, father scolds you.â€
â€œYes,â€ said Bernhard, sighing. â€œTake care, Her-
But the warning came too late. In the ardour of
22 Herman ;
his talk, Herman had left his work and climbed a high
rock which was covered with moss and slippery ; and
climbing with him always ended in a fall. He lay
now upon the ground, bruised and sore.
â€œOh dear!â€ he cried. â€œHow am I ever to get
â€œAre you hurt so dreadfully?â€ asked Bernhard,
beginuing to cry. ;
â€œTt isnâ€™t the hurt I mind,â€ answered Herman,
sharply. â€œBut donâ€™t you see my clothes, how they
have split to pieces? You neednâ€™t go to talking as if
I minded getting hurt, when you know all I care for is
fatherâ€™s scolding so !â€
But in an instant, seeing Bernhardâ€™s colour change,
he was ashamed of having spoken so impatiently.
â€œT didnâ€™t mean to say anything to plague you,â€ he
said; â€œonly when I think how angry father will be,
I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m about.â€
â€œTtâ€™s no matter,â€ said Bernhard. â€œ Perhaps mother
won't tell father.â€
â€œShe'll have to tell him. Else how am I to get
Dragging their bags of moss after them, the boys
walked sadly homeward.
On seeing the plight he was in, Doris laid down the
potato she was peeling, in order to clasp her hands with
â€œ What will the dear father say?â€ she cried. â€œ And
it is such an unlucky moment, too, for he is just a
little out of humour. And he is so seldom out of
humour! Oh, Herman!â€ she added, with tears in her
eyes, â€œhow can you give me so much trouble? Donâ€™t
Or, the Little Preacher. 23
you know that it hurts me more to have you punished
than it would to be punished myself?â€
This was a new view of things to Herman. He
rushed out to the little shed at the end of the house
where his father was at work.
â€œFather !â€ he cried, â€œyou may do anything to me
you've a mind, only donâ€™t let dear mother know. You
may beat me, or knock me down and kick meâ€”I donâ€™t
care how much it hurtsâ€”only please, father, please
donâ€™t let mother know !â€
Alas for the child born and bred among the coarse
natures nurtured in the rough wilds of the Black
What punishment Max, in his anger, inflicted on the
generous child was never known save by the father
who dealt the blows and the boy who bore them in
silence, lest his mother should hear.
When it was all over, and Herman went back to the
house, he instinctively crept to his grandmother for
refuge. He did not think, but he felt, that she would
have more courage to bear the sight of him than his
mother could; not because she loved him less, but
because she always bore up so in times of trouble.
â€œDo you think I might put on my Sunday clothes i.
he whispered, stealing to her side. :
â€œWho tore these?â€
â€œJT did, partly.â€
Â« And who else ?â€
â€œFather did, a little,â€ replied Herman. _
His grandmother rose and sought for the Sunday
* T know 9 hoy who has more reason at this moment
24 flerman ;
to feel unhappy than even you, dear Herman,â€ she
said, â€˜Do you know our neighbour Gischen has just
been carried past the house, dead? And the last words
his Kurt spoke to him were angry words.â€
Herman shuddered. He resolved never to speak an
angry word to anyone he loved, as long as he lived.
â€œTd rather father would live, and whip me,â€ he
â€œEspecially if the whipping is for your good,â€ said
his grandmother. â€œAnd now go out to your father,
and tell him what has happened.â€
Max was greatly shocked to hear what had befallen
his neighbour. He hurried out to learn the particulars
of this sudden death, and when he came back was so
quict and subdued, that Doris ventured to tell him
that Herman must have new clothes,
For a time there was a lull in the tempest. Max
was less severe, and the children more attentive ; among
them all, incredible deeds were done by way of pre-
paration for the winter; and the long vacation, when
it came to a close, found them surrounded with many
comforts. Doris felt concerned for Babele Goschen,
for whom she had a certain friendship, growing out of
the fact that they had always been neighbours, rather
than from any point of sympathy with her.
Bibele, however, boasted that she was no sooner down
than she was upon her feet again; it was truly a sad
thing to lose oneâ€™s husband; but luckily there were
only two children to feed, and they were even now be-
ginning to spare and to earn. She came, a few weeks
affer the death of Hans, to spend the evening with
Doris. Max sat ona bench, and appeared to be asleep ;
Or, the Little Preacher. 25
his ears were open, however, though his eyes were
â€˜Well, neighbour,â€ Babele began, â€œhave you got
quite ready for the winter? They say itis to be a very
â€œWe have yet a pig to kill and to care for,â€ said
Doris. â€œAnd my Herman has yet some fuel to
â€œYou should see my winter stores,â€ said Babele.
â€œThere is no reason we should starve because the father
is not here to eat with us. He never could wish such
a piece of folly as that. I have laid in plenty of fuel ;
and of plums and other dried fruit, and of meal, we
shall have no lack. We have hay for the cattle, and
corn forthe hens and the geese. My Kurt makes me
almost forget that I have no husband; he thinks of
everything and attends to everything like aman. Next
news, he will be sitting at the tavern, and drinking his
beer on holidays as his father did before him.â€
â€œ My Herman is a good, kind boy,â€ said Doris.
â€œMy Kurt,â€ continued Babele, â€œis born with a
natural gift at a bargain. Imust tell you how he has
managed to get off potatoes and plums for a big, likely
calf. Ha! ha! He'll make his way in the world !â€
â€œMy Bernhard takes the whole care of little
Adolph,â€ said Doris. â€˜â€œ When the child is with Bern-
hard, I need never give him a thought.â€
â€œAnd thereâ€™s my Lizette,â€ pursued Babele, â€œshe
already beats me at spinning. You must see her chest
of linen. Upon my word, whoever gets her to wife
will find her well clothed, to say the least of it. Not
to speak of the four silver spoons inherited by her from
26 Herman ;
our relative the Baumeisterin. For we have high-bred
people to our kin.â€
â€œYes,â€ said Doris, pursuing also the thread of her
discourse, â€œand my Minna is a discreet little maiden,
who never gives me acare. If you will believe it, sho
has to-day made a pie almost entirely with her own
hands. You shall see it with your own eyes.â€ And
Doris displayed a pie a foot and a half wide, filled with
plums, split open, the open side being uppermost, and
presenting an attractive aspect.
â€œ The question is, is the pie fit to eat?â€ cried neigh-
bour Godschen. â€œWho could believe that such a child
could make a pie one could tolerate?â€
This crafty speech had its desired effect. Doris ran
for a knife and a plate, and cut the pie in eager haste,
even forgetting to look at Max to see if he were really
The complaisant neighbour devoured a generous
â€œT canâ€™t exactly say what was left out in the mak-
ing,â€ she said. â€œSpice, I think. I can tell better
after trying another piece. Nay, I believe it is the
sugar the child has forgotten. â€˜Well, to oblige you I
will force down yet a third morsel, though I could not
do it for a stranger ; let me see, it is not the sugar after
all, it is actually too sweet; yes, the pie, for a beginner,
will do extremely well. The crust being tough, and
there not being enough sugar, I mean there being too
â€˜ much sugar, are things of no great consequence after
all. But if one really wants to see pie that is abso-
lutely a miracle, one should see my Lizetteâ€™s.â€
At this juncture Max saw fit to awake, and to
Or, the Little Preacher. 27
look with displeasure at the enormous hole neighbour
Goschen had made in the pie intended for his supper.
â€œWe shall drop in and get a taste of Lizetteâ€™s pie,â€
he said dryly.
â€œDo, neighbour. And at the same time you shall
see our pig. "The very finest in all the Black Forest,
_ you may depend. Doris, Pll try yet another morsel
of your Minnaâ€™s pie, just to give the child a pleasure.
And if you will some day send her to my house, Lizette
shall teach her how to make one that is really eatable.â€
By this time Doris was subdued to that degree that
she had no more to say about her children, and Bibele
Goschen thenceforth pursued her discourse without
As soon as she had gone, Max was magnanimous
enough to say to Doris, while he bestowed upon her
his highest mark of friendship, namely, a good slap
upon her shoulders :
â€œThank Heaven that I married you instead of that
â€œ But think how much she gets out of her children,â€
â€œThat is true. But one canâ€™t have everything in a
wife,â€ said Max, regretfully.
The vacation being over, the children went back to
school, and little Adolph was thrown now entirely on
his motherâ€™s hands.. His grandmother was very feeble
at this time, and suffering greatly with rheumatism.
While Doris was busy with her household affairs,
therefore, Adolph.was equally busy in getting into
every conceivable kind of mischief.
On coming home from school the first day, and
28 Herman ;
inquiring for his little charge, Bernhard was informed
that Adolph had been missing for more than half an
â€œ He has not gone out of doors, has he, mother?â€
â€œOh no,â€ replied Doris. â€˜He is safe somewhere,
and if he knew I was about to make kneepfles for
supper, I am sure he would come out from his hiding-
And sure enough, there immediately emerged from
beneath the bed a little figure on all-fours, with tangled
hair, adorned with five krtting-needles, and arms, legs,
and body involved in a maze of blue yarn.
â€œTf Adolph hasnâ€™t becu and ravelled out my stock-
ing!â€ cried Herman. â€œMy very stocking that was
almost done! And Minna said grandmother wound
my ball on a piece of money! Adolph! what have
you done with the money?â€
Adolph cast his eyes downward, and looked stead-
fastly at his left hand, which was doubled firmly over
the little silver piece.
At this moment Max entered. Adolph knew enough,
on seeing his father, to behave with Â«propriety on the
instant, and dropped the money forthwith.
â€œWhere did the child get that money?â€ asked Max
The children all began to explain together.
As soon as he fairly understood the case, Max tossed
the money into the grandmother's lap.
â€œTt is quite enough for Doris to spoil the children,â€
he said, â€œwithout getting others to help her.â€
No one dared to say a word. Minna patiently dis-
entangled Adolph from his net, and wound the yarn
Or, the Little Preacher, â€” 29
onâ€™a bit of paper. Herman had now all his work to do
over again, without the agreeable prospect of finding
his labour rewarded when his task was done. He felt
reckless and disgusted. All the evening he showed
that he felt so, and Max at last sent him to bed in
Thus everything fell back into the old way, each
successive day alienating the boy more and more from
his father,.and making Max more and more severe and
The winter was one of unusual rigour, and it was
necessary to use more fuel than ever,
PyeqNE night after the children were in bed,
@, Max sat looking over his account-book in
ISSA] =a morose way, and at length he said :
â€œTl tell you what it is, Doris, it is time that boy
left school and came to help me in my work. I have
more orders than I can fill. The Herr Pastor has
already waited for his new table three weeks, and there
are also many other persons clamouring for work that
must be done. I need help, and help I must have.â€
â€œ He is very young to leave school,â€ said Doris.
â€œThat is of no consequence. He can read and
write, and add and divide; what else is there to
learn? And, at any rate, he never would make a
scholar, for the school-master says he is a dull boyâ€”
the very dullest in school. I wonder what I have
done that I must be the father of such a. good-for-
Doris dared make no answer. To hide her tears,
she went to see if the children were well covered in
their little beds.
Herman was wide awake, and his glittering eyes
showed that he had heard what had passed.
â€œOh, mother!â€ he whispered, throwing his arms
Ferman; ov, the Little Preacher. 31
about her, â€œ why did our dear Lord make such a good-
_ â€œHush, dear Herman, I canâ€™t talk to you now. Go
to sleep like a good boy.â€
â€œTam not a good boy, and I canâ€™t get to sleep,â€ he
â€œWhat's all that noise when Iâ€™m casting up
accounts ?â€ cried Max. â€œHa! I wish I had been taught
the addition table when I was a boy. Thereâ€™s no great
fun in counting on oneâ€™s fingers with half a dozen
people talking, and putting you out.â€
â€œTJ donâ€™t think Herman has learned it yet,â€ said
Doris, catching eagerly at this straw. â€œYou surely
will not take him from school until he has done so,
seeing how bad it is not to know it?â€
â€œHe shall learn it at home,â€ said Max; â€œTâ€™ll begin
with him to-morrow. Or no, to-morrow I must go up
the mountain after fuel. Seems to me you burn a
great deal more than you need, Doris.â€
â€œJ will try to be more careful,â€ she said. â€œAnd
Max, wonâ€™t you let me teach Herman his tables? You
know how hard it is for him'to commit to memory,
and how he tries your patience ; and, dear Max, donâ€™t
be angry with me, but perhaps you donâ€™t notice how
afraid he is of you, and how many blunders he makes
because he is in such terror.â€
â€œThereâ€™s no use in arguing with me,â€ replied Max.
â€œThe: boy is the plague of my life, and always will be ;
but I cannot leave him to you to be petted and spoiled.
If anybody can beat a thing into his head, I can, and
if worst comes to worst, I will set him to watch the
32 Hlerman ;
â€œNay, you never will degrade him to that extent!â€
â€œ Yes, a goose-boy he shall be, unless he improves !â€
cried Max, â€œAnd to-morrow, at any rate, he shall not
go to school. I must have him and Bernhard help me
on the mountain to-morrow.â€
â€œ Would you let me go in their place ?â€
â€œÂ¢ No,â€ he answered, â€œand twice over, noI say! It
will do for the Herr Pastor to tell me once that I let
my wife work too hard for one in her station. I don't
care to hear the same tune twice.â€
There was no more to be said. And Doris could not
help feeling a little relieved, since it must be so, that
Herman was to leave schoolâ€”learning his lessons was
such a painful, laborious process to him. And then if
he was so dull, as the teacher declared he was, what
was the use of trying to make him learn?
But with her true motherly instincts she felt that he
was not dull, and her heart yearned over him with
fresh love and sympathy.
Herman slept little that night, for he now felt
thoroughly degraded and heart-broken. Neither could
he force down the breakfast he needed before encounter-
ing the cold and fatigue before him. .
Doris watched for a moment in which to speak a
tender word to him.
â€œDonâ€™t be cast down, dear child,â€ she said; â€œ per-
haps our dear Lord knows of something you can do
well, and when the time comes will let you know what
itis. Meanwhile try to be a good boy, and vex the dear
father as little as possible; you know he is so seldom
Or, the Little Preacher. Bo
â€œOh! I do wish we were not so poor,â€ said Herman.
â€œPoor! who says we are poor?â€ cried Doris, clasp-
ing her hands in amazement, â€œ who says we are poor?â€
â€œ But do rich people go out to collect fuel ?â€
â€œ Herman !â€ said Doris, trying now to be severe, â€œis
it possible that you are a lazy boy ?â€
â€œTm afraid Iam,â€ said Herman. â€œ But are people
who sit all day, reading and writing, lazy?â€™ Because I
have read of wise men who did nothing else; and I
should like to be a wise man.â€
â€œ Never let the dear father hear such wild words fall
from your lips!â€ cried Doris. â€œThe dear father places
economy before all things.â€
There was silence for a time, and Herman chopped
the fagots on which he was at work with a vague desire
to unburden himself to his mother, yet not knowing |
â€œ As soon as I get old enough Iâ€™ll go away some-
where,â€ he said desperately.
Little Minna, washing the breakfast cups, would gladly
have clasped her hands at this audacious speech, but they
were too full; she therefore suppressed her emotions and
washed faithfully on,
Doris shook her head in silence, but she said to
â€œTf Max drives my children away from me, I had
better die than live.â€
â€œCome, boys, it is time to go,â€ said Max, hurry-
â€œ Have you our dinner ready, Doris? for we shall
not be back till night.â€
* Yes, here is coffee, and here are bread and potatoes.
34 Herman ;
You will roast the potatoes and warm the coffee?â€
â€œYes, never fear. Bring along the cords, children.â€
Doris had just time to thrust a bit of cake into
Hermanâ€™s pocket, and they were off. The village
was soon left behind them; then the little river that
traversed it was crossed on a foot-bridge, and presently
a narrow, winding path began to lead them up the
side of the mountain. They walked on in single file,
without a word, the only variety to the silent progress
being an occasional fall, the path being slippery at this
season of the year. Hermanâ€™s heart felt like lead ; it
seemed to him that even his mother was beginning to
lose sympathy with him. The thought of being taken
from school and made into a mere goose-boy tortured
him ; if possible, it seemed. worse to him now that he
was bounding up the mountain side, invigorated by the
breeze, than it did when he lay weary and discouraged
on his little bed the previous night.
Besides, the anguish then suppressed lest his father
should hear, must have vent; he lingered a little
behind the rest, then darting in among the leafless
bushes that skirted the path, he threw himself upon
the ground and burst into passionate tears and groans.
â€œTm a good-for-nothing!. A good-for-nothing!â€ he
said to himself over and over again. And then, when
he had spent himself with crying, he looked up to the
blue sky above him, and it had for him an air of
friendliness, and there seemed to be a certain peace
in the very silence and repose of nature. He folded
his hands, and said, out of the very depths of his
Or, the Little Preacher, 35
â€œOQ dear Lord! canâ€™t you help me not to be a good-
And then he remembered that it was wrong to idle
away the time when he ought to be at work, and he
started to his feet and began to ascend the mountain
with hasty steps. As he pressed on, he wondered that
he did not overtake his father, nor hear his voice; was
it possible that he had taken the wrong path? He
stopped, and shouted with all his might, but there was
no answer, and the silence that just now seemed so
soothing appalled and oppressed him. The truth was
that, worn out by the sleepless and sorrowful night he
had passed, and relieved by the tears he had shed, the
child had actually fallen asleep for a few moments, thus
giving the others time to get out of sight and hearing.
Then, in his. haste, and only too much in accordance
with his past habits, he had chosen the wrong path,
and was every moment going further and further astray.
Unconscious of having slept, he felt sure of soon over-
taking his father, and of making up for lost time by
unusual diligence. But after a while he began to feel
some misgivings. He knew that to get lost in the
mountains was the easiest thing in the world. He
knew he should begin to suffer with hunger, and, as
night came on, with cold; but, above all, he knew
that his father would be angryâ€”oh ! how angry ! and,
if he should perish and never be heard of more, would
perhaps feel it a mercy to be rid of him. But then his
mother! Wouldnâ€™t she mourn for her poor lost boy?
Wouldnâ€™t Bernhard, who loved him so, cry himself to
sleep that night? Wouldnâ€™t even Minna, whom nothing
ever seemed to trouble, be sorry if he never came back?
36 flerman ;
He was not a timid boy, and after a few moments
of perplexity, he resolved to retrace his steps, and see
if he could not find another path. He ate half the
cake his mother had given him, as soon as he began to
feel hungry, but saved half for Bernhard.
Meanwhile Max was venting his anger at the dis-
appearance of the boy, by slashing at the trees right
and left. As fast as boughs and branches fell, Bern-
hard made them up into large bundles, and tied them
together with cords. It was hard work for such a little
fellow, but he dared not complain. Max had no doubt
that Herman was hiding somewhere to escape this
task ; Bernhard did not know what to think, but never
for one moment suspected his brother of so disgraceful
an act. As the day advanced, Max stopped his work
for a time and made a little fire, when the coffee was
warmed and the potatoes were roasted. As Bern-
hard sat dipping his bread into his coffee, he thought
anxiously of Herman, and ventured, for the first time,
to break the silence that had prevailed for so long.
â€œFather,â€ he said, â€˜â€œâ€˜may I go down the path a little
way, and see if I can find Herman? Perhaps he has
had a fall, and canâ€™t get up.â€
â€œ No,â€ replied Max sternly.
Bernhard dared say no more ; but he worked thence-
forth with a distracted mind, listening every few mo-
ments in hope of hearing Hermanâ€™s voice, and doing
what he had to do wearily and without heart. When,
at last, it was time to go, Max placed a bundle of fagots
upon Bernhardâ€™s head, took a second on his own,
and the remaining ones were sent rolling and bounding
down the pathway that led homeward, They reached
Or, the Little Preacher. 37
the house just at nightfall, and everybody came out to
meet and to relieve them.
â€œWhy, whereâ€™s Herman?â€ cried Doris.
Max wasâ€˜in too sullen a mood to answer.
â€œÂ«Havenâ€™t you seen him, mother?â€ asked Bernhard.
â€˜Oh, mother! then heâ€™s lost! heâ€™s lost!â€ And Bern-
hard. threw himself into her arms with a cry of anguish
that went even to his fatherâ€™s heart.
â€œDo you mean to tell me that you have left my
Herman to perish on the mountain?â€ said Doris in a
hoarse voice, and confronting Max, who recoiled before
her and was still speechless.
But when he found his voice that was hoarse too.
â€œ Get the lantern,â€ he said.
Everybody was bewildered, and ran everywhere
looking for it. Max found it himself, lighted it, and
plunged out into the darkness. After a moment, hear-
ing sobs and footsteps behind him, he turned and saw
Doris and Bernhard following him.
â€œGo back, both of you!â€ he said. â€œThe neigh-
bours will help me, but you will be in the way. Go
back, I say !â€
"Tf they had withstood him, he Fond have felled
them to the earth, They went back, and Bernhard
told over and over again all there was to tell, till at
last, worn out with crying, he was made to go to bed
with the other children.
â€œ You must go too, mother,â€ said Doris.
â€œT cannot, dear.â€
So they sat, these two, through the long hours; the
grandmother weeping silently, and with hands folded
in prayer; Doris with fevered cheeks and parched lips,
38 Flerman ;
and hands and feet of ice. There had been friction
on the wheels of her domestic life; she had had her
little cares, and vexations, and trials, but a real sorrow
she had never known. And now, in the twinkling of
an eye, this awful calamity had come upon her! Her
mind travelled back over the whole history of her
child ; she recalled all his infantine graces, all the
pretty ways of his childhood, all the intense and pas-
sionate love his boyhood had lavished on her. And
all this was gone for ever !
She walked to and fro in the room, and asked herself
if a good God could let such things be.
â€œMother!â€ she cried at last, â€œI am getting be-
wildered. Tell me, is God good when He does such
terrible things to us?â€
â€œ All my children, save you, dear, lie in Godâ€™s acre.
And your fatherâ€”you know he was snatched from me
in one awful moment, when I was but young, as you
are now, my Doris. But what then? God never was
anything but good.â€
Doris shook her head, and walked yet once more up
and down the room.
â€œYou are too tired to find comfort even in Him,â€
said her mother. â€œIf you could only sleep, if but for
a moment !â€
â€œT wish you would go to bed, mother. You know
I cannot. Tell me once more, mother, are you sure
God is good?â€
Again thus solemnly adjured, the poor feeble mother
burst into tears. She held out her arms, and Doris
ran into their shelter, just as she had done when a
Or, the Little Preacher. 39
â€œ Whatever He does, He is good,â€ said the mother.
â€œ But I believe He means to save Herman.â€
â€œOh, mother! He must save him! Have you told
Him so? Have you asked Him?â€
â€œ Nay, my Doris, we may not say â€˜ mustâ€™ to our dear
Lord. Surely we can trust Herman to Him?â€
In her distress, Doris withdrew herself from her
motherâ€™s arms, and went and knelt down by the side
of her bed, and tried to pray. But her tongue seemed
â€˜to cling to the roof of her mouth. Yet the unuttered
- prayer was heard and answered, and she rose from her
knees, comforted and cheered.
â€œT will make coffee for dear mother,â€ she said to
herself, â€œand have some ready for Max when he
comes. Poor Max! he must be so tired !â€
She prepared the coffee, and made soup.. Yet she
dared not say to herself that either was for Herman.
These little womanly tasks beguiled her of a portion
of the weary time, and then she saw that her mother
had, at last, fallen asleep in her chair. She wrapped a
shawl carefully about her, and sitting down on the
bench by the table, laid her aching head upon it. God
gave her, as she sat there, a few momentsâ€™ sleep, though
she never knew it. How manifold are the gifts of His
opulent hand which we receive in like unconsciousness,
and for which we never thank Him !
At day-break she was startled by a footstep, and,
with a beating heart, sprang to her feet. It was Babele
Goschen, come on a visit of condolence.
â€œThey havenâ€™t found him?â€ she asked. â€˜ Well, I
didnâ€™t expect they had. Bless me, you look as if you
had a burning fever! And the dear old mother looks
40 Flerman ;
pale and tired. Ah! you should not have made her
sit up with you. You should have made her go to
bed. You remember the time my Kurt got so dread-
fully burned? I was young then, and couldnâ€™t keep
awake, and my mother sat up with him night after
night. And she never held up her head from that
time. Weill! the old must die, and a few years more
or less canâ€™t make much difference to themâ€
â€œTt would make a great deal of difference to me if
I should lose my mother,â€ said Doris. â€˜ But oh,
neighbour ! what do you think? â€˜Will they find my.
Herman ?â€ L
â€œWell, as I was saying to my children, these boys
that are always wool-gathering are sure to come to
harm. Your Herman never seemed quite to have his
wits about him. Such a child needs a sound beat-
ing every night at bed-time. I cannot imagine how he
went to work to get lost. My children never get lost.
What makes yours, do you suppose ?â€
â€œNot one of them was ever lost before,â€ said Doris.
â€œOh, Babele ! canâ€™t you say something to comfort me?â€
â€œ Of course. . Thatâ€™s what I came for. But it does
puzzle me to see children so different from mine.â€
_â€œ But oh, do you think they will find him?â€ re-
â€œTt depends on where he is,â€ replied Babele. â€œIf
the child keeps wandering on, he will very likely be
getting further and further away. And besides, grop-
ing about in the dark, he would be likely to get dreadful
falls. If he should fall into one of those crevices, or
down one of those deep chasms, there wouldnâ€™t be
enough of him left to be worth bringing home, And
Or, the Little Preacher. 41
then again, if he does keep still, heâ€™d perish with the
cold. Last night was bitterly cold; even our cows
were restless, and so were our pigs; and my Kurt had
to get up and pacify his white calf, it was so uneasy.
Besides, the child would soon begin to suffer with
hunger. I donâ€™t know exactly how long it takes to
starve to death, but they say itâ€™s an awful way to dic.
And then againâ€”but what are you doing? You are
not listening in the least! I was going to say that
sometimes the wolvesâ€”â€
Doris had risen in a frantic way, and arrayed herself
in her outer garments. She had brought forth blankets
and placed them in a â€˜basket, with coffee and soup and
wine. She now proceeded to waken Minna, who still
â€œKeep up the fire,â€ she whispered, â€œand if the
dear father comes home, see that his breakfast is
â€œWhy, where are you going?â€ cried Babele, rising
and looking with amazement at Doris.
â€œWhere should I go, if the motherâ€™s heart in me
can ever beat avain after the terrible things you have
been saying?â€ cried Doris, turning fiercely upon her
guest. And in another moment she was gone. Babele
lifted wp her hands and slowly followed her.
â€œWell!â€ she said to herself, with a long breath,
â€œT never was faced by a tigress or a she-wolf, but I
rather think I know now how it would seem. And
this is what one gets for leaving oneâ€™s warm bed to
speak a word of comfort to a fellow-creature !â€
She moved slowly homeward, while Doris sped
panting on her way. She was crossing the foot-bridge,
42 Herman ;
when she was confronted by Max. He looked jaded
â€œ Where are you going, Doris?â€ he cried.
â€œTo find my Herman!â€ she answered, trying to
â€œYou must not go,â€ he answered. â€œI am only
returning to seek more help, and shall conginue the
search as long as there is any hope.â€
â€œ And how long will that be?â€
Max turned away from her searching look.
â€œGod only knows!â€ he said solemnly. â€œ But
now, Doris, go home. All that can be done, I will
â€œTl not go home,â€ said Doris quietly. â€œ Let me
â€œT cannot. You must go home.â€
â€œJ will not. See, Max, I never in my life disobey ed
you before, but now I must.â€
He made no answer, but turned back toward the
mountain, and Doris followed him.
â€œHere is coffee, Max,â€ she said, as they reached the
path by which they were to ascend.
He shook his head and pushed onward ; then turn-
ing, he performed the first act of gallantry that had
adorned their married life, by transferring the basket -
from her head to his own. They went on in silenceâ€”
Max leading the way, Doris followingâ€”till noon-day,
when both were exhausted.
â€œYou must take some coffee, Max,â€ said Doris.
â€œThere is no use in wasting your strength by fasting.
Make a little fire and let me warm some for you. And
here is soup, too.â€
Or, the Little Preacher. 43
Max threw himself wearily upon the ground and
lighted the fire.
Doris warmed the soup and made him take some,
and to please him drank some of the coffee herself.
Then they sat a moment, each trying to read some
hope and comfort in the face of the other. Suddenly
Doris uttered a cry of joy.
â€œHe has been here !â€ she cried. â€œLook, Max, here
is a crumb of the cake I gave him yesterday. Come,
let us take courage. Call to him, Max.â€
â€˜Max shouted, but in vain.
* â€œWe shall find him,â€ said Doris, eagerly. â€˜ Let us
go on; I feel fresh courage now I know that he has
been here. Oh, my Herman! If you could only
know that we are near you |â€
And she lifted up her voice and called him. For an
instant there was the same awful silence as before ;
then came a faint cry, like the wail of a little child.
â€œDo you hear, Max?â€ said Doris, catching him by
the arm. â€˜ Where does the sound come from?â€
â€œ Call again,â€ said Max.
She called, and once more they heard the faint cry
in answer. i
Max listened as one bewildered.
â€œT cannot tell where the sound comes from,â€ he said.
â€œTt comes from some place a good way off, and
below us,â€ said Doris. â€œCan it be from this crevice ?
Oh, Max! if he is there we never can get him out
Max threw himself at full length upon the ground,
and cautiously looked over the edge. On a narrow
ledge of projecting rock he saw the child lying motion-
44 LfTerman ;
less; that he was alive seemed little short of a miracle.
He withdrew, still with caution, and blew a loud blast
upon the horn that hung at his side.
â€œThe men will soon come to help us now,â€ he said
to Doris, â€œ a ropes I think we may be able to -
draw him up.â€
â€œBut why doesnâ€™t he climb up ?â€ cried Doris.
â€œHe must be hurt,â€ said Max. â€œI will go down
and see. As soon as the men come up with ropes,
throw the end of one of them down to me.â€
â€œBut isnâ€™t it dangerous?â€ asked Doris, shuddering.
â€œT suppose so, And, Doris, if I make a false step,
and never come back, you will forgive me that I have
been such a surly, ill-natured fellow ?â€
They clasped each otherâ€™s hands silently, and without
Doris sat down and hid her face in her hands.
Dearly as she loved Herman, she felt now that Max
was even clearer.
It seemed as if the men would never come. When
they did, one of them, a stranger to Doris, volunteered
to descend into the crevice; the others shrugged their
shoulders and did not meta
Meanwhile, Max crept carefully down, asin that
one false step would be certain destruction. But when
he at last reached Herman, and found him lying on
such a mere projection of the rock that the slightest
motion would hurl him into the depths below, he could
hardly suppress a cry of horror.
â€œ How are you, my poor boy ?â€ he asked, as soon as
he caught Hermanâ€™s eye.
â€œT didnâ€™t mean to do it, father,â€ said Herman, â€œ but
Or, the Little Preacher. 45
â€˜Iâ€™ve broken my leg. Are you angry with me, father?â€
he added, not knowing how to interpret the expression
of the face that was bending over him.
â€œNot I!â€ said Max. â€œ But, Herman, if your leg is
broken, I must have help in getting you out of this
placa, Do you think I can trust you not to move
hand or foot while I go to fetch what I want? Or
stay ; I think I can put you where you will be safer, if
_ you are willing to bear the pain.â€
Max spoke with love and tenderness, and Herman
looked up at him with mute surprise.
â€œOh, father !â€ he said, with a sigh of relief, â€œI donâ€™t
mind the pain when you talk like that !â€
Just then a cheerful voice was heard, and a pair of
legs came into view, speedily followed by the arms and
head of the young stranger who had offered his services
â€œT am come to help you,â€ he said; â€œis the child
hurt? Ah! yes, I see!â€ he added, glancing at the
pale face, so full of suppressed agony. â€œKeep up a
good heart, my little fellow ; we'll soon devise some
way to get you to your mother. or mothers are the
right thing when one gets hurt, arenâ€™t they ?â€
' Herman tried to smile in answer, but he was in great
pain and shivering with cold. Observing it, the young
man climbed the ascent like a squirrel, and soon re-
turned with one of the blankets. Of this they made
a sort of hammock, and under the intelligent direc-
tion of their new friend, poor Herman was at last
hoisted to the spot where his mother sat awaiting
â€œ A little of the warm soup would refresh the poor
46 flerman ;
fellow,â€ said one of the men, glancing at the contents
of the basket.
â€œ Yes,â€ cried Doris, â€œand thereâ€™s coffee for all of
you. How could I forget it, when you had been
seeking my boy all night !â€
She knelt down by Herman and fed him with the
soup, but he was in too much pain to speak to her.
Now that he felt himself safe, he was more conscious
of his sufferings, and longed to get home and to his
own little bed. But it was a painful journey there,
and he fainted more than once before he reached it.
Then it was long before the doctor could be found,
end when he came he found the limb so swollen, that
it was impossible to seb it at once. Thus the childâ€™s
sufferings were prolonged ; he was exhausted, too, by
exposure and hunger, and his case, for some days, was
And now Max came out in a way that astonished
everybody but himself, and became the most tender,
the most faithful of nurses,
His perfect health enabled him to sit night after
night by Hermanâ€™s side, when even Doris was driven
to bed by sheer exhaustion; and the tones of his
rough voice became almost womanly in their tender-
ness as he tried too soothe the childâ€™s sufferings.
â€œ Donâ€™t be so good to me, father,â€ said Herman, â€œ it
makes me cry.â€
The young man who had been of such service to
them on the mountain proved to be the new school-
master, who had come to supply the place of the old
one, now too old for his position. He came every day
to see Herman, at first from mere benevolence, but
Or, the Little Preacher. 47
very soon he began to feel a peculiar interest in the
patient little fellow.
' â€œYou bear the pain like a young hero,â€ he said one
day, when he was present at one of the doctor's visits.
â€œTt worries mother if I cry out,â€ said Herman.
â€œ And you donâ€™t like to worry mother? Thatâ€™s a
good boy,â€ said the doctor.
â€œT ought to be good,â€ said Herman timidly, â€œ be-
cause I have not got so much sense as the other boys.â€
â€œWhat other boys?â€ asked the school-master, with
no little surprise.
_ â€œ All the boys,â€ said Herman,
â€œWe shall see about that,â€ said the school-master,
. much amused, â€œas soon as you get well and come back
to school. And now, suppose I read to you from a very
entertaining book I have brought with me?â€
Doris could hardly believe the master would be so
. kind, and Herman was almost too much overwhelmed
by the condescension to really enjoy it. But im a few
moments he forgot his pain and everything else in the
charm of the book. His eye kindled, his face flushed,
and he felt like springing out of bed in his en-
â€œThis does not look like want of sense,â€ thought
the school-master, as he glanced at the child.
â€œIt wonâ€™t do for me to read any more now,â€ he said,
â€œyou are getting excited. I only wanted to make you
forget the pain the doctor had caused you. To-morrow
I will come again and read a little more.â€
Herman thanked him, and lay back on his pillow,
full of new thoughts, which beguiled him of many
48 fTerman ;
The next day when the school-master came, he
â€œTt will not be long before the doctor will let you
employ your hands in some way, so as to pass away the
time. What do you like to do best?â€
â€œT donâ€™t like to tell,â€ said Herman, â€œbecause it is
â€œAh! but just tell me! I'll never tell, Come!â€
Herman smiled. How different this was from the
old school-master !
â€œ Well,â€ he said, with along sigh, â€œ I like to read the
very best of anything. It must be because I am lazy.
But I do try to learn to saw and plane and help father,
and I do not know what makes meso clumsy. . I never
do anything well.â€
â€œ Donâ€™t you suppose that if some boy should break
his leg, you would know how to speak a cheering word
. tohim? Then there would be one thing you could do
â€œPerhaps thatâ€™s the reason our dear Lord let me
break my leg,â€ suggested Herman eagerly.
â€œ Perhaps so. At any rate, you may be sure He did .
it for some good reason.â€
â€œ Steiner,â€ he said, entering the shed where Max
was at work, â€˜â€œâ€˜ your boy needs encouraging. I cannot
understand how it happens that he thinks so meanly of
Max took off his cap and looked confused.
â€œThe old school-master said he was a dull boy,â€ he
All this time no one had dared to ask Herman to
own how he had happened to get lost. Even his
Or, the Little Preacher. 49
mother understood him so little as to dread hearing
that he had wilfully strayed away. One day, however,
when he seemed strong enough to do so, she begged
him to tell her all about it.
Herman told his story in his usual straightforward
way, though he made as little as possible of what he
â€œThen, mother,â€ he said, â€œas soon as I found I was
not in the right path, I thought I should soon strike
into it; I called and I called to father, but no answer
came, and I kept hurrying on. Then I was hungry
and ate my cake, or at least half of it; the rest I saved
for Bernhard. It is in my pocket now; I did not
want it after I got hurt.
â€œ At last it began to grow dark, and I knew then that
they had gone home, and that I was left there all alone.
It seemed so dismal! I thought if I ever got home
again, I would not mind fatherâ€™s not liking me; it
seemed such a nice home, with the warm fire, and the
supper, and all the faces I loved around the table!
But it kept growing darker and colder, and I tried to
find some sort of a shelter; I was so tired, mother!
When it got to be bed-time, I knew Minna and Bern-
hard were saying their prayers, and so I thought I would
say mine. So I knelt down and prayed to our dear
Lord to take care of me. After that it did not seem so
dark and lonesome, but I had to keep walking and
jumping, it was so cold. At last, the first thing I
knew, I was falling and fallingâ€”ever so far, it seemed ;
and then Iwas sure my leg was broken, it hurt so.
â€œ By-and-by I heard fatherâ€™s voice calling â€˜ Her-
50 Herman ;
â€œ And I was just going to answer, but I remembered
that he would be so angry with me for getting such a
fall, and I knew I couldnâ€™t walk home, and I didnâ€™t
think he could carry meâ€”Oh, mother ! I knew I wasnâ€™t
worth carrying! So I kept still, and pretty soon I
heard the sound of his steps going further and further
off. Then it seemed darker and more lonesome than â€”
ever, and I called â€˜Father /â€™ with all my might. But
he had gone. And after a while I got to thinking that
if they should find me and: carry me home, the doctor
would have to cut off my leg; and then I should be
such a plague to father. He never would want a boy
with only one leg. So I thought perhaps the dear
Lord wouldâ€™nt mind that so much, but would let me
go to heaven just the same, and I asked Him; but I
donâ€™t remember what happened next, only I found the
hole I had fallen intoâ€”for I thought it was a holeâ€”
sheltered me from the cold, and I thought God was very
good to let me fall into such a nice place.â€™ By-and-by
it began to grow light, and that made home seem
nearer; but then I found I was lying on such a
narrow piece of the rock that, if I had moved the very
least bit, I should have rolled off and gone down,
down, ever so far, and been dashed to pieces. Donâ€™t
you remember what a deep place it is, mother ?â€
Yes, Doris remembered only too well.
â€œTt seemed so strange,â€ continued Herman, â€œ that I
should have landed on that piece of rock, instead of
going all the way down. But it seemed yet stranger
that I should have lain so still all night, instead of
rolling over and getting killed. It made me think,
just for a little while, mother, that our dear Lord did
Or, the Little Preacher. 51
not care if I was a good-for-naught, and made me keep
still on purpose.
â€œThen I heard father calling again ; but I could not
get courage to answer him, for of all the bad things I
. ever had done this was the very worst. To fall down
into such a dangerous place, and break my leg! And
I couldnâ€™t think of any way he could get me out, unless
he came down where I was; and that would be dread-
ful. But oh, mother, when I heard your voice, I
couldnâ€™t help crying out, and wanting to see you. And
now, only think, â€™m getting well, and father seems so
kind. "Why, when he saw me down in the crevice he
cried! Yes, I saw him! He eried, mother!â€
By this time Doris had to run away and cry too.
But she soon came back, and made Herman try to get
to sleep, since recalling his sufferings thus had excited
The next time the school-master called to see Herman,
he said to him: â€œHas your brother told you what a
famous scholar he is making?â€
â€œNo, Herr Lehrer,â€ replied Herman. â€œItâ€™s just as
hard for Bernhard to learn as it is for me.â€
i â€œThat does not signify. You will remember what
- you learn all the better. If he were my boy, and I
could afford it, I would have him, by-and-by, go to the
â€œ And after that?â€
â€œTo the University.â€
Â« And then?â€
â€œWhy, then, he could become a clergyman, or a
" professor, or a doctor, and make himself useful.â€
Hermanâ€™s colour went and came,
52 fTerman ;
â€œT would be a clergyman if z were he !â€ he cried.
â€œSo as to preach to ae about our dear Lord.â€
But after a moment his eager face clouded over.
â€œFather would never send him to the Latin school.
He wants us to be carpenters. And we're just as
clumsy as we can be |â€
The school-master smiled.
â€œT should like to be a clergyman myself,â€ he said.
â€œT should ae to be just like Pastor Koffel.â€
â€œAh! yes,â€ cried Herman, â€œmy grandmother isâ€
always talking about him. She says he taught her all
she knows. She loves him dearly. I saw him once,
and he looked so good.â€
â€œYes, he is good. And without goodness all the
Latin schools and all the universities in the world -
would be of little use to him.â€
After the Herr Lehrer had gone, Herman called his
grandmother, and told. her all they had been talking
â€œGrandmother,â€ he said, â€œI long to get well and
get out again, While I lie here, and canâ€™t do anything
but think, think, my thoughts plague me.â€
â€œYes,â€ she said, â€œit is very tedious to lie still so
many weeks. But what sort of thoughts are they that
â€œT want to tell you, but I canâ€™t.â€
â€œDo tell me, dear Herman.â€
â€œWell, I keep thinking of all the bad things I have
done, and the times I have got angry, and then I am
afraid our dear Lord does not love me. Do you think
He does?â€ Â¢
Or, the Little Preacher. 53
â€œT know He does,â€ she answered. â€œAnd He will
help you not to get angry so easily if you ask Him.â€
â€œWhen I can go to school, and run about, and am
busy at work, I donâ€™t have so much time to think.â€
â€œPerhaps that is one reason why our dear Lord has
made you lie here idle so many weeks. But instead of
thinking all the time how bad you are, it would be
better to keep thinking how good He is.â€
Herman smiled with pleasure, as he always did when
he got hold of-a new idea. And then his grandmother
soothed him by singing good old hymns, such as they
used to sing in her younger days, but had left far behind
in the distance, with the good old customs, she said.
And she told him that he must never forget what a
wonderful escape he had had; but often and often ask
our dear Lord why He spared his life on that terrible
night, since surely it was to do something for Him.
And whatever it should turn out to be, she said, it
would be beautiful and blessed, because it would be for
God, and not for man. After such talks, Herman always
folded his hands as soon as he was left alone, and
prayed silently that our dear Lord would take him for
His own loving child, and teach him to do His will
with all his heart; even if it should be, after all, to
turn him into a goose-boy. At last came the joyful
day when he could be taken from his bed and placed
in a chair, and sit once more at the table with the rest.
And then came the awkward attempt to use the crutches
his father had made for him. Nobody laughed at him
now for being clumsy, only he laughed at himself, and
was afraid he never should dare to bear his weight
upon the weak leg again.
INE afternoon when there was no school, the
children were left to amuse themselves as
@ they chose, and as by this time they had all
learned to do whatever Herman pleased, he proposed to
play something that would not oblige him-to hobble
about with his crutches.
â€œLet us play school,â€ be said. â€œI will be the
teacher, and you shall be the scholars.â€
â€œOr else we'll play ey â€ said Bernhard, â€œand
you shall preach-a sermon.â€
Herman smiled, and hesitated a moment.
â€˜â€˜Tâ€™m afraid it would be wrong,â€ he said.
â€œOh! we won't play in fun, we'll play in earnest,â€
said Bernhard, â€œCome, Herman, begin.â€
â€œJT donâ€™t look much like it,â€ said Herman.. â€œI
ought to have a gown and bands.â€
â€œHereâ€™s motherâ€™s apron,â€ said Minna. â€œSee, Her-
man, Iâ€™lt dress you nicely. â€˜There, now you look really
like the Herr Pastor. But the congregation is very
â€œ Never mind,â€ said Herman, and after a minuteâ€™s
thought he chose for his text the words: â€œ Little
children, love one another.â€
Heriman; or, the Little Preacher. 55
earnest. Herman forgot that he was not a real clergy-
man, and the children forgot it too; they sat and
listened to him with wonder, his words sinking into
â€˜their very hearts and leaving there an ever-abiding
impression. .His mother, passing the door, stopped to
look in; she listened with amazement, and went out
to. the shop to tell Max. Poor Max, who had called
his. child a good-for-naught, instinctively took off his
cap, as he stood and heard the simple, untaught
eloquence that held him as it did the children, per-
fectly transfixed. In the midst of his sermon, Herman
suddenly caught a glimpse of his father, as he stood in
the doorway ; the old habit of fear came over him, and
he stopped short.
â€œGo on,â€ said Max, advancing into the room.
â€œT canâ€™t, father,â€ said Herman, colouring, â€˜â€œ We
were only playing make-believe church, and I was just
making believe preach to the children.â€
Max said no more, and went back to his work. But
Minna and Bernhard talked about Hermanâ€™s preaching
at school next day, till half the children were curious
to hear for themselves such wondrous little sermons.
The school-master overheard the talk, too, and the next
time he saw Herman, asked him, playfully, to preach
to him as well as to the children. Herman was con-
fused and. surprised, and hardly knew what answer to
make. But when the teacher saw Max, he received
the impression that something quite uncommon had
occurred for Max did nothing but shake his head, and
call himself a fool and an idiot, and declare that never
again in his life would he trust his own senses.
â€œYou should hear that boy!â€ he cried. â€œTI de-
56 Lferman ;
clare to you that the words flowed out of his mouth
as water flows from a fountain. And the words had
sense in them, too! And all his life I have called
him a good-for-naught !â€
The next holiday afternoon, Borin promised.
neighbour Gischenâ€™s Kurt and Lizette that they
should have the privilege of coming to play church
at their house, for mother hadâ€™ said so, and mother
wouldnâ€™t say so unless it was right.
Kurt shrugged his shoulders and Lizette tossed her
head ; should they really demean themselves to that
degree? Should they permit neighbour's Herman,
who never said his lessons half so well as they said
theirs, to set oe up to preach to them? Pride
said, â€œDonâ€™t go.â€ Curiosity said, â€œ Why, yes, go, and
see what it is as has turned the heads of those child-
ren.â€ So, at last, they decided to drop in for a few
minutes, especially if after the preaching they might
play at something more amusing.
. Bernhard felt rather uneasy at what he had done.
He knew that Herman did not like Kurt or Lizette,
and thought it very likely he would refuse to preach for
their edification. In fact, Herman did, at first, declare
that he was sorry they were coming.
â€œThey'll just go to laughing at us,â€ he said, â€œand I
always get angry when people laugh at.me.â€
â€œYou'll have to get over such ways as that,â€ said
Minna. â€œ Who ever saw the Herr Pastor angry ?â€
â€œAh! but I am not the Herr Pastor,â€ said Herman,
â€œand I hate to be laughed at.â€
â€œBut there won't be anything to laugh at,â€ said
Bernhard. â€˜You preach beautifully.â€
Or, the Little Preacher. 7
â€œDo I?â€ cried Herman, quite astonished. â€œ Then
perhaps that is the reason.our dear Lord did not let me
fall to the bottom of the crevice that night.â€ He became
thoughtful almost to sadness, and though he felt happy,
longed for some solitary place where he could cry
without being seen.
Kurt came in the afternoon adorned with his most
waggish air. He said he and Lizette had made up
their minds that it would be nicer to play school than
to play church. He wanted to be the teacher, and
was sure he should make a vastly better one than the
master they had now. Herman consented at once,
but Minna and Bernhard were disappointed. How-
ever, books and slates were produced, and Kurt
enacted the teacher so well that scarcely one of the
children escaped without a shaking or a blow. He
found this amusement excellent, till Lizette, getting
angry, returned the box on the ear he had just given
her with all her strength; he then became furious,
and there would have been a serious contest, had not
Adolph ran crying to his mother, and told her what
was going on. She soon stopped the affray; and,
after sitting for a time in sullen silence, Kurt and
Lizette condescended to eat an apple or two, and peace
â€œ How odd one must feel, hobbling about with
crutches!â€ cried Kurt. â€œI say, Herman, lend them
to me a moment. I want to see how it feels to have
your leg broken.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t tell by just using crutches,â€ said Her-
man. â€œ My leg is about as good as it ever was, now,
only I am afraid to bear my weight on it.â€
88 Herman ;
Kurt found moving about with the crutches even
more amusing than teaching school, and spent the rest
of the afternoon in frisking around the room with
them. When he and Lizette reached home, and
Babele asked them what sort of preaching they had,
he replied :
â€œPooh ! he canâ€™t preach. He made me keep school
and eat apples, and hop round with his crutches, all
the afternoon, I knew he couldnâ€™t preach.â€
Â«â€œ And even if he could,â€ said Lizette, â€œI donâ€™t sup-
pose he could do it any better than we could. But he
just wants to set himself up above us.â€
â€œ Ah! but if your father were alive, you could hold
up your heads as high as they,â€ said Babele.
Before the snow was off the ground, Herman was
able to gg to school again.. Max said no more about
making him into a goose-boy, but made a little sledge
and drew him to school himself, not daring to trust
him to the guidance of the other children. The
school-master gave him a cordial welcome, and all the
boys and girls came out to look at him with great
These were the beginning of happy days for Herman.
The school-master knew how to encourage him, and at
home his father was much changed. It is true that
the force of habit made him still often rough and
severe, but Herman knew now what a big warm heart
lay hidden under the scarlet vest, and that his father
really loved him; and we can bear almost anything
from those who love us. This was one of Godâ€™s
mercies. Otherwise there would be few happy house-
holds, faulty as most human beings are.
Or, the Little Preacher. 59
Thus things went on through the winter, and spring
found Max and his household all in unusual health
and spirits. Max had had plenty of work all winter,
and in spite of the expense of Hermanâ€™s illness had
managed to lay aside as much as usual against the
rainy day. Doris had spun quantities of fine linen,
and knit an endless number of stockings. The dear
old grandmother had also been able to accomplish more
than usual ; her health was certainly better since Max
left off harassing Doris so perpetually about the children.
Little Adolph was now able to go to school with the
rest, and for many hours of every day she could sit
with her Bible before her, knitting and meditating
and reading by turns, and preparing many a future
benediction for every one of them, by silent, fervent
prayers in their behalf. How many an aged mother
fancies herself â€œin the way,â€ and longs to be gone,
whose prayers are like guardian angels in the house and
It was Easter morning, and Doris let all the children
sleep a little over the usual time, while she and her
mother moved noiselessly about in the garden in a
mysterious way. Doris had lost the anxious look she
used to wear, and was now a perfect picture of a bright
and happy young wife and mother. There was no
need to hold up those short skirts of hers as she tripped
lightly over the grass still wet with the morning dew ;.
all she had to think of was the basket on her arm and
the four children for whom she was preparing a plea-
sure. The basket was filled with eggs, some pure white,
and some red and green and blue. Under every bush,
and here and there among the grass, she hid them
60 Ferman ;
away ; the grandmother did likewise, till all the eggs
were gone. â€˜
And now it was time to call the children and to
remind them that the hens always laid such remarkable
Pasch eggs on this auspicious day. Instantly they
sprang from their beds, and soon were running eagerly
about the garden, gathering in the prize with laughter
â€œHow can the hens know it is Easter?â€ cried
little Adolph. â€œEvery year they lay for us such
beautiful eggs! But they never laid such lots and
lots as they have this time.â€
While they were rejoicing over their treasures, they
saw the school-master coming up the road with a
basket on his arm.
Max, who was leaning on the gate, watching the
children, took off his cap, and invited him to-come in
.to breakfast. Though Doris was-herself the daughter
of a village teacher, the thought of entertaining one at
her table threw her into a perfect flurry of pride and
pleasure. She ran hither and thither to get the best
the house afforded, made pan-cakes, brought out sour-
krout and boiled eggs. Nothing seemed to her good
enough for her guest. She would have given her right
hand for a loaf of white bread to set before him.
After breakfast was over, and the teacher had spoken
a friendly word to each child, he beckoned Max
to follow him out to the bench, beneath the linden
â€œSteiner,â€ he said, â€œI want to ask you what you
mean to make of your boys?â€
â€œMy father was a carpenter,â€ returned Max, â€œ and
Or, the Little Preacher. 61
so was his father before him; and I expected, till
lately, to make my boys follow in the old track.â€
â€œBut you have changed your mind ?â€
â€œWhy, no, not exactly. But since you put it into
my head that my boys were not, after all, dull, as we
used to think them ; and since Iâ€™ve heard my Herman
get up and preach off a regular sermon, all out of his
own head, Iâ€™ve been thinking whether somebody else
couldnâ€™t make more out of them than I could. They
donâ€™t take to the trade, either of them.â€
â€œCould you afford to send them to the Latin
Max rubbed his head and tried to think what to
say. Could he take all those beloved, hardly earned
savings of his, and see them spent before his face and
â€œYou canâ€™t suppose Iâ€™m a rich man,â€ he at last
answered, evasively. â€œI won't deny that Iâ€™ve a little
laid by against a rainy day; but it would cost a great
deal to undertake to make two scholars out of one
â€œThat is true,â€ replied the other; â€œbut I think it
my duty to tell you that these boys are very remark-
able in many ways. As carpenters they may make a
living, and lead comparatively useful and happy lives,
But our dear Lord has seen fit to make them more fit
for different work.â€
Max moved uneasily in his seat, as he was wont to
do when troubled.
â€œWe never had a scholar in our family,â€ he said,
â€œT donâ€™t know that I care to have my boys brought
up to despise their forefathers. It seems to me that
: oe &
62 Herman ;
the trade that was good enough fox me is good enough
â€œBut you say they are unusually awkward at the
â€œYes, but they are slow at their books, too,â€
â€œSlow and sure,â€ said the school-master. â€œ Both
the boys have peculiar minds, I will own; Herman
especially. But I do not think you would regret g giving
them an education if you can afford to do it.â€
â€œJ will think it over, Herr Lehrer,â€ said Max.
â€œPshaw!â€ he said to himself when the school-
master had taken leave, â€œhow should he know what
a pair of boys will turn out? Have not I always
known they were dull at their books? And am I to
spend all I have laid up for my old age in having their
heads filled with Latin and such trash? I was never
taught Latin, and see now, I have a house of my own,
a bit of land, cows, hens, geese, â€œand money laid-up
into the. bargain. To be sure, it would be aâ€™ great
thing to see my Herman in gown and bands, and to
hear people saying: â€˜That is Maaâ€™s Herman!â€™ But
then the money! All my little sayings that it has
taken me years to rake and scrape together! No, a
carpenter I am, and carpenters I will have for my sons.
Ha ! it would be a pretty thing to have a pair of wise-
acres in the house, continually setting the mother and
me right !â€
In this mood he equipped himself in his holiday
suit, and went, with all his household, to church. The
dream of Doris had.so far come true, that Max had
silver buttons in his vest and silver buckles at his
Or, the Little Preacher. 63
knees ; he looked comely in her eyes, as now and then
she glanced at him across the church; there seemed to
be something in his face to-day that had hitherto been
wanting there. This was really the case. New thoughts
and new feelings had been awakened in his mind, and
a mighty struggle was going on within, between love
and pride on the one hand, and avarice and the force
of habit on the other.
â€œ Doris,â€ he said, as they walked home together,
â€œaf we choose, we may one day see our Herman stand
and preach like the Herr Pastor to-day. Only I would
have it understood that he should never preach sermons
one could not comprehend,â€ .
â€œThe Herr Pastor. is a very learned man,â€ replied
Doris. â€œVery likely he understands, himself, all he
says, which must make the preaching agreeable to him,
though dull to us. But what were you saying of our
Max repeated to her all the school-master had said.
In the first flush of her surprise and pleasure Doris
said some foolish things, which she afterwards wished
she had not said.
â€œT knew it would puff you up,â€ said Max.
â€œWell, and no wonder,â€ cried Doris, â€œ after the way
people have behaved about our boys. And I knew
all along that they were not of the common sort,
You should hear Babele GÃ©schen run on about her
â€œTf the Herr Pastor was not so high and mighty,
one might ask his advice,â€ said Max.
â€œYes, if he were but like our blessed Pastor Koffer.
Max ; why donâ€™t you go and consult withâ€˜him? Think
64 LfTerman ;
nowâ€”he baptized us both, when we were little, and
surely he would take interest in our affairs now.â€
â€œBut the money, Doris ! the money!â€ cried Max.
â€œWhat is money good for unless it is used?â€ she
returned. â€œOb, Max! we will work day and night,
and do without this and that, but we will make scholars
of our boys. Ah! I always said they were not dulk
I knew it in my heart of hearts.â€,
â€œ Nay,â€ said Max, â€œbut you must remember that we
shall be old one of these days and not able to work by
day, much less by night. I Yay lose my health and
be disabled, and then what would become of us ?
Think, now, all we have saved and laid by with so
much care must go to those two boys. And there are
Minna and Adolph to consider.â€
â€œYour mother has often said she should leave all
she had to Minna. And as for Adolph, never fear
for him. THe can turn his hand to anything.â€
â€œBut all my savings!â€ said Max. â€œ Everything
going out and nothing coming in. Other boys will be
earning and sparing, and taking wives and settling
down, while ours are eatingâ€”no, studying, I meanâ€”
their heads off. And in our old age we shall be beg-
Doris would not be convinced. She could not ima-
yine Max as ever growing old. There was his mother,
now, as erect and blooming as a young maiden, and
doing more hard work in the open air than many men.
And, at any rate, the dear Lord had made the boys:
just as they were, and it was plainly His will that
they should make uncommon men. Had not they
always abhorred and shunned rude and bad boys?
Or, the Little Preacher. 65
Had not Herman made himself unpopular in the
village by shrinking from all wild games ?
â€œT will go and consult with my mother,â€ said Max
at length. â€œ Herman can go with me to-morrow, when
there will be no school. People say she has more than
silver pennies laid aside. Who knows what she may
choose to do with them 4â€
CCORDINGLY they set off carly next morn-
ing, and as they walked cheerfully along,
Max was struck with the intelligent ques-
tions asked by Herman. He wondered he had not
- observed before what a thoughtful boy he was, and felt
ashamed of the rough answers he had often made to
just such questions.
As they approached The village where his mother
lived, Max felt vÃ©ry much as if he had brought some
strange and rare animal for her inspection. She had
always held Herman in.supreme contempt. His sen-
sibility outraged her undemonstrative nature, and she
never could forgive him for being so much like his
mother in character. Not that she had anything to
say against Dorisâ€”not she; she thanked Heaven she
knew better than to find fault with her sonsâ€™ wives,
But Max might have married a rich wife had he
chosen; and would ead go so far as to pretend Â©
that ers was rich ?
As to Herman, he stood in mortal terror of his
â€œbie erandmother,â€ as he mentally called her, to dis-
tinguish her from the â€œ little grandmotherâ€ at home.
He always appÃ©ared his very worst in her presence ;
Ferman, or, the Little Preacher. 67
was sure to spill his coffee on her table, and to upset
her stocking-basket, and tangle her yarn about his
â€œWell, Max,â€ she said, without stopping her spin-
ning-wheel, â€œso youâ€™ve come at last.â€
â€œYes, mother; and here is our Herman, come also.
You have not seen him since his accident, in the
Herman took off his cap and made his best bow.
â€œA pretty little sum he has cost you!â€ said the big
grandmother, eyeing the boy from head to foot.
â€œYes, but that is now over,â€ said Max, rubbing his â€”
hands. â€œGo out, Herman, and amuse yourself. I
have things of consequence to speak of.â€
â€œ Ay, and so have I,â€ said the mother, as Herman
withdrew. â€œI have -bought the forty acre lot, and
taken a man to work it.â€
â€œThe forty-acre lot !â€ repeated Max slowly.
â€œYes, that I have, And it brings me in a penny
or twoâ€”trust me for that. And if you do not believe
me, you can take a look into my stable and see what I
â€œYes, I have no doubt of it,â€ said Max absently.
â€œ But, mother, I want to consult you about Herman.â€
â€œVery likely. But do you know that I have four
horses in my stable, besides six oxen and seven cows?â€
â€œ Yes, yes, it is truly wonderful,â€ said Max. â€œWhen
I think how my poor father left things! But, mother,
about my Herman ?â€
â€œ You want me to take him as my cow-boy, at last?
Nay, then, but you are too late. I engaged one a week
Ã©8 Flerman ;
â€œ Hang her cow-boy, and her four horses, and her
cattle!â€ said Max irreverently to himself. â€œ We have
found out that our Herman is a most wonderful boy !â€
he said to her.
â€œHumph!â€ said the mother, and began to spin
â€œ And we are thinking of making a scholar of him.â€
â€˜â€œ Humph !â€
â€œHis teacher thinks we ought,â€ said Max, despa-
rately. â€˜Do advise me, mother.â€
â€œThen I advise you to take this bit of wool, which
T present you as a free-will offering, and fill both ears
with it, The boy is dull, I tell you. I saw it from
the outset. A scholar, indeed !â€ .
â€œT shall do what I liâ‚¬e with him!â€ cried Max
â€œOf course. And what you like with your Minna ;
for not a penny.of mine shall she touch if you waste
your savings on that silly boy.â€
â€œYou shall not call him silly twice to my face,â€
cried Max. â€œCome hither, Herman,â€ he called from
the door. :
Herman came panting in, and seeing the passion his
father was in, hesitated on the threshold.
â€œCome in, child,â€ said Max, â€œand stand upon this
chair, and let your grandmother hear you preach.â€
Herman shrank into half his size. 7
â€œOh, father! Donâ€™t make me! I can't! I donâ€™t
know what to say.â€
â€œSay what you said before,â€ said Max, taking him
by the arm and making him mount into the chair.
Poor Herman stood in the chair, a piteous sight,
Or, the Little Preacher. 69
_â€œJ donâ€™t remember what I said before. Oh, father !
please let me get down.â€ ,
â€œSay something new, then. Come, I will have your
grandmother hear you.â€
â€œT canâ€™t think of anything. It came of itself before.
Oh, dear father! please let me get down !â€
' His fatherâ€™s displeasure and disappointment and his
grandmother's cold scorn were more than he could bear.
He covered his face with his hands, and burst into
â€œThen get down and be off with you,â€ said the
grandmother. â€˜You have taken all the polish from
my chair, as usual.â€
Herman flew from the room and from the house ; he
would have been glad to fly from the world.
â€œT see there's no use in trying to convince you
mother,â€ said Max. â€œThe child was frightened, and
no wonder. But I must do him justice whether you
will or not. And I say you will hear from him one of
these days, when he will perhaps interest you as much
as your new man and your horses and your cattle do
Then regretting that he had thus spokenâ€”for, after
all, was she not his mother ?â€”he said :
â€œT hope your man is faithful and industrious?â€
â€œYou may well hope so,â€ she answered.
â€œ And treats you with respect?â€
â€œTet me alone for that, thank Heaven.â€
â€œWho is he? One of the men of the village?â€
â€œ His name his Peter Fiichse.â€
â€œPeter Fiichse! What, he is your hired man?
You are joking, mother.â€
70 Herman 5
â€œNay, I did not say I hired him. I married him
Max started to his feet.
â€œTt is time for me to be gone,â€ he cried. â€œPeter
Fiichse! My fatherâ€™s old enemy! Oh, mother!
May God forgive you, but this is a cruel, wicked
He took his cap and turned to go. Once he looked
sorrowfully back, hoping to see some sign of tenderness,
one look of regret on her large, cold face. He went out
into the fresh air, hardly knowing which way to take.
For the moment, darkness seemed to have fallen on the
face of the whole e@th, and everything real to have left
it for ever. He called Herman, and took him by the
hand in token of forgtveness, and walked homeward
with rapid strides,
â€œ After this you have but one grandmother,â€ he said
at last to Herman. Sk:
â€œWhich one is it?â€ asked Herman. â€œThe little
â€œYes, the little one.â€
As they stepped inside the door, and Doris came
joyfully to meet them, Max stretched out his arms and
held her to his breast; he knew now all she was to
â€œ You are all I have left, now,â€ he said.
â€œWhat has happened, dear Max? Your motherâ€”â€
â€œ Has married Peter Fiichse! Peter Fiichse with his
horses, his cattle, and his cows. Peter Fiichse who
drove my father into his grave! Oh, Doris!â€
Doris was too shocked to speak.. She cried over him
a little, and then ran to get the best supper she could
Or, the Little Preacher. a1
think of. Once she stopped to kiss her mother, and to
say half laughing, half in earnest :
â€œThink, mother! It might have been you!â€
Max ate his supper, which was none the less agrec-
able that his mother had not offered him a dinner, and
was comforted. That Herman should go to the Latin
school was now a settled thing. His motherâ€™s opposi-
tion had done more than the urgency of Doris.
â€œTf it costs me my last penny, and I have to sell the
roof from over our heads, my boys shall be put into
positions where their grandmother shall have to look
up to them, in spite of herself.â€
â€œDear Max,â€ said Dorisâ€™s mother, laying her hand
gently on his shoulder, â€œdonâ€™t talk thus. If you
educate the boys, let it be that they may be more
useful, and because our dear Lord seems to choose to
have it so.â€
Max looked up at her kindly.
â€œWe'll do it for all sorts of reasons,â€ he said;
â€œyours, and mine, and the dear motherâ€™s.â€
It was not. time for Herman to leave the village-
school yet, but it was thought best to tell him that he
was not to be made a carpenter, but to go to the Latin
school in the next village, and learn a great many
things that boys were not usually taught.
â€œAnd is Bernhard to go, too?â€ asked Herman.
â€œ Because the school-master said Bernhard was such a
good scholar; and he did not say I was.â€
â€œWe shall see,â€ replied Max.
Not a little talk went on in the village when it
became known what Max meant to do with his Herman.
Bibele GÃ©schen especially, as their particular friend and
72 flerman s
neighbour, felt called upon to bear the whole burden of
the boyâ€™s schooling, which she said would cost all the
money Max could make for years to come; and why
was Herman, she should like to know, to be set up.
above other boys, and have it put into his head that
he should aim to be a clergyman ?
Max, however, did not disturb himself about what
people said, but worked on with patient industry, saying
little about his plans or his boys, and every week laying
aside something toward the future. His shame and
sorrow about his mother were toning down the asperities
of his character; he saw, too, to what lengths the love
of money might carry one, since it had led her to form
this disgraceful marriage, and had hardened her heart
against her children. Thus the sacrifice he was making
in behalf of Herman had its ennobling effect, and was
elevating him above himself, Then began to arise in
his soul occasional misgivings as to the worldly life he
was leading; the noiseless influence of his wifeâ€™s mother
was doing its unconscious work.
A holiday drew Kurt and Lizette to the house
one afternoon, and of their own accord they pro-
posed to the children to play at church, and have
â€œWell, so we will,â€ said Herman. He threw his
motherâ€™s red apron over the back of a chair and
placed himself on a block of wood behind it. Minna
found another apron to serve as gown. Herman had
cut wood on this block for many a year; it served very
well, however, as a pulpit, and Adolph rang the bell for
church, as soon as everything was arranged.
Minna came to her seat with her doll in her arms, when
Or, the Little Preacher. Wi
everybody cried that playthings were not allowed in
â€œBut mothers take their babies,â€ urged Minna, â€œand
mine never cries.â€
The sermon began. At first with hesitation and
shyness; but after a few moments Herman forgot
everything in his subject, and a torrent of words came
pouring out. that would have astonished even himself if
he would have stopped to think of himself. He uttered
a childâ€™s thoughts in a childâ€™s language, but with such
vivacity and earnestness that every word went to the
heart. Minnaâ€™s head sank lower and lower as he went
on; her doll lay forgotten upon her lap; something
within her seemed to whisper: â€˜ You have always been
called a good child, and no one has found fault with you
as they have with Herman; and yet he loves our dear
Lord better than you do.â€ For Herman spoke from
his own experience; he had been misunderstood, and
solitary, and almost broken-hearted. He had suffered
bodily pain and mental anguish; he had prayed _to
God, and God had heard him ; and. he would have all
these children pray too.
Bernhard, lost in admiration, sat spell-bound in his
chair; he forgot that sore subject, the short sleeves of
his jacket, about which he had been fain to cry, and to
wish his arms would not grow so fast; he saw and
heard nothing but Herman, and his eager face and
It was curious to watch the faces of Kurt and
Lizette. They were determined not to be serious, and
not to admire, yet in spite of themselves they listened
with wonder, almost with incredulity.
74, Herman ;
â€œHe gets it all out of some book,â€ Lizette whispered.
â€œBut he-says it off beautiful. It seems.as if he really
was in earnest, but heâ€™s only making believe.â€
But now the sermon was ended, and Herman jumped
down from his block, flushed and excited. â€œGood-bye,â€
said Kurt, â€œwe must go now. I shouldnâ€™t wonder if
after you'd been to the Latin school you could say
something out of your own head.â€
He went home with Lizette in silence, and with un-
conscious envy in his heart.
Meanwhile another little audience had listened to
the sermonâ€”father and mother and grandmother, with
beating hearts and fingers on their lips. As the con-
gregation within broke up, they retreated from the door
where they had been listening, and the children camo
quietly out. ,
â€œItâ€™s perfectly wenden nie Max. â€œThere never
was anything like it in my family. If that boy is dull
and stupid, I should like to see one who isnâ€™t, thatâ€™s all.
â€œ Tt is very plain what he was meant for,â€ said Doris,
wiping some tears of pride and pleasure from her eyes.
â€œMother, you must tell him. All the good things he
knows you have taught him.â€
That night, after Herman was in bed, his grand-
mother went to him.
â€œYou see now that our dear Lord knew all the time
what you were good for.â€
â€œAm I really good for anything?â€ cried Herman,
â€œ Of course you are. You are good at preaching.â€
â€œOh! that is nothing, I just say the words, that
is all,â€ 3
Or, the Little Preacher. 75
â€œBut when you are a man, it will be different,
Think, now, your dear father is going to spend on you
all he had saved for his old age. One of these days
you will be a learned man, and if you are good, as well
as learned, perhaps you will be a real clergyman, and
can teach the people to love God. But the main thing
will be to love Him ycurself. â€˜Without that, all the
learning in the world would be of no use.â€
â€œOh! I never shall be good enough to be a clergy-
man, grandmother. Think what a temper Iâ€™ve got |â€
â€œYes, know. But you must conquer that.â€
Herman shook his head, yet pleasant thoughts were
in it, and he fell asleep and had yet. pleasanter dreams,
Meanwhile Kurt and Lizette talked not a little, at
school, about Herman and his performances, and before
long he was called, â€˜â€˜ Herr Pastor,â€ and â€œThe Little
Preacher,â€ all over the village.
At first he shrank from these titles, given as they
were in derision, but after a time they ceased annoying
him, under the pressure of new interests. For Max
was resolved to delay no longer placing him in the
Latin school, which, being in the next village, he could
attend every day, coming home at night.
For a few weeks Herman suffered agonies of shyness ,
in his new sphere ; his teachers would have misjudged
and overlooked him, had not rumours from his own
village reached them, which prepared them to do him
justice. His new schoolmates were disposed to laugh
at him and his clothes, and ali he did and said; this
led to some flashes of the Steiner temper, and many
tears of repentance on his part. Every night, when he
went home, he had his dayâ€™s experience to relate; his
76 Herman ;
grandmother watched him with anxiety, knowing to
what varied temptations he was now exposed ; but as
for Max and Doris, they were too proud of him to
doubt that he would turn out well.
The most trying thing he had to contend with was
the frequent meetings with his â€œbig grandmother,â€ the
Latin school being in her village.
Seeing him shrink from her in terror, she took pains
to throw herself in his way, and she found it very
amusing to see the colour â€˜come and go in his cheek, at
her rough salutations. She tortured him to such a
degree that oftentimes he was tempted to beg his father
to let him leave school altogether; but real love of
knowledge held him back. These encounters with her,
and with the boys who took delight in teasing him,
made the getting home at night very pleasant. There
was such a welcome awaiting him from every one, and
the old smoke-stained room looked so pleasant !
Thus a year passed away, when things began to take
another turn. Max, who had never had a pain, or
known a dayâ€™s illness, took one, day a violent cold,
neglected it, and was seized with a fever. â€œWeek after
week passed, and he lay helpless upon his bed, broken
in body and broken in spirit, and suffering fearfully
with pain. At first he would have Herman keep on
with his school, but gradually they had to consent to
his staying at home; there were cattle to attend to,
and cows, and Doris had more than she could do to
take care of Max, while her mother, with Minnaâ€™s help,
did the rest. Herman had not forgotten, and never
could forget, what his father had done for him during
his own illness, and he now devoted his every spare
Or, the Little Preacher. 77
moment to his comfort. During the year he had grown
up tall without losing his strength; he could therefore
help to lift his father, and in many other ways make
. As Max became more and more feeble, he began to
look at Herman with wistful eyes, as if there was some-
thing he wanted to say to him that he had not strength
to say. Everyone observed it, but no one dared ask
what it meant. One day, however, when Herman was
alone with his father, this yearning look went so to his
heart that he was constrained to speak.
â€œ Dear father,â€ he said, â€œyou.-want to say something
to me, and cannot. If it is about my education, donâ€™t
give it another thought. While you are so sick, I
could not study, if I would; and if you never get well,
I will take your place, and learn to be a carpenter, and
mother ana'the children shall not suffer want.â€
An expression of infinite relief spread over the face
of Max, and for a time he seemed to have done with
care, and to have nothing to do but to get well. But
it was not long before his face assumed a yet more
anxious expression, amounting, at times, to horror, so
that Doris and the children shrank from secing him.
The words of Herman, â€œIf you should not get well,â€
had suggested the question whether he was fit to die ;
and in his enfeebled state he could ill afford to grapple
with such a question, In his days of health he had
not troubled himself with such queries. He said to
himself that he did about as well as he knew how,
and far better than some of his neighbours ; that he
had never defrauded any man; and that God was mer-
ciful. And, at all events, there would be plenty of
78 Herman ;
. * ,
time to attend to his soul when sickness or -old age
should lay him aside from the work that now occupied
every moment. And now he had, indeed, plenty of
timeâ€”but what sort of time? He could not fix his
mind on any subject two minutes together; there was
only a vague sense of misery and fearful uncertainty.
In the midst of this illness, there came a message
from his mother, that Peter Fiichse had been kicked by
one of the horses, and lay at the point of death. They
did not trouble him withâ€™ this news, but returned, for
answer, that Max lay, likewise, in a critical state.
Thus week after week dragged slowly on, and then
there came a slight change for the better. The pain
subsided, and Max lay, day after day, night after night,
in profound sleep. They were obliged to awaken him
to give him nourishment and restoratives ; otherwise
he would have slept away his life. The care of him
now was less painful to his friends, but not less serious ;
he needed more tender, judicious nursing than the
And while he lay thus, hovering between life and
- death, another little daughter was born, and as Doris
pressed her to her heart, her faith in God was weak,
and her anguish strong within her, as she asked why
the one must be given, and the other taken?
â€œ Donâ€™t ask why, dear,â€ her mother said, â€œ we never
can be happy till we stop asking why.â€
â€œTI donâ€™t want to be happy,â€ said Doris. â€œTo
think that I am lying here, po when my Max needs
me so much !â€
â€œThe Herr Lehrer sat with int last night, and even
you, Doris, could not be more tender and kind. Her-
Or, the Little Preacher | 79
man slept well, and to-night he will be able to sit up
again. Dear child, canâ€™t you trust Max to our Lord ?â€
â€œNo, mother, I cannot. The doctor says everything
depends-cn nursing, now ; and, oh! with all there is to
think of, some of you will forget to waken him at the
right moment. And I canâ€™t live withoutâ€™Max! Do
you hear, mother? I canâ€™t live without him!â€
â€œ You cannot put yourself in the place of God, my
Doris. You may watch day and night and do every-
thing the doctor directs ; but only our dear Lord can
make what you do to prosper. â€˜Try, dear, not to have
any will of your own. Try, dear. I am an old
woman, and have had my sorrows, and have done
fighting against my Lord.â€
Doris looked at her mother, as she spoke these words
in her gentle, tender way, which yet was so full of con-
viction, and was struck with the heavenly expression of
her countenance. She hid her face in the pillow, and
in broken fragments of prayer tried to say, â€œNot my
will, but Thine, O God.â€ But how hard it was to say
it with faith and holy courage! She was afraid, even
while the words were on her lips, that He would take
her at her word, and snatch away everything she loved
better than she loved Himself.
â€œMother,â€ she said at last, â€œhow came you to feel
so differently from what I do? Did it come all of
itself? When you were as young as I am now, hadnâ€™t
_ you a will of your own?â€
â€œIndeed I had, my Doris; and idols of my own,
also, But our dear Lord took pains with me, and bore
with me, and kept on teaching me as fast as I kept on
forgetting ; and when He found nothing else would do,
80 Hlerman ;
He used the rod; ah! yes, He used the rod. First of
all, he took away my little Herman. He was a brave
boy, and I was proud of him, and so he had to go,
Then I yan straight to my dear Lord, just as little
Adolph runs to you when you chastise him, for I was
very sorry ; and thanked Him for afflicting me.â€
â€œ Thanked Him! Oh no, mother!â€
â€œNay, but what would you have of your child,
my Doris? So then, seeing how sorrowful I was,
and how I really did want to love Him more than
all else besides, He took my Kilian, my little heart's
child, the very one I could least spare. And then
â€” but oh, my Doris! you know it allâ€”one child
after another came and went; it seemed as if all
they came for was to tear me in pieces in the going!
And then, last of all, hardest of all, I had to let go my
~ hold on your dear father, and let him go too.â€
â€œBut mother, while God was doing such dreadful
things to you, did you keep on loving Him ?â€
â€œKeep on! Why, donâ€™t you see, my Doris, that
they made me love Him more than ever? For these
were the answers to my prayers.â€
â€œ Yes, I see. â€˜ But He does not take such dreadful
ways to answer everybodyâ€™s prayers.â€
â€œ He takes the very best way, my Doris.â€
â€œBut, mother, think how many people never have
any trouble. They never lose their children, and every-
thing goes on smoothly. Why should they have such
nice times, and you have such hard times? J donâ€™t
The mother only smiled. But presently she said:
â€œT do not know, and I do not want to know; at least
Or, the Little Preacher. 8I
not now. And then as to the nice times! Ah! God
gives them to those that love Him !â€
â€œâ€˜ Mother, you are a wonderful woman.â€
â€œ No, dear. But we have a wonderful Saviour.â€
Doris said no more. She only clasped her hands,
and looked upward.
At that moment Herman came softly in.
â€œDear father is awake,â€ he said, â€œand knows us all.
He keeps asking for you, mother.â€
**Tn three days I shall be up and about,â€ cried Doris,
eagerly. â€œGo, Herman, and tell him so. Or stay, take
the baby to him, that he may know why I forsake him.â€
â€œ No, dear,â€ said her mother, â€œ but we will tell him
you will soon be there.â€
But the little one, resenting the style in which she
was overlooked, set up a shrill cry that announced to
her father that there was a new voice in the house.
He smiled as he heard it.
â€œ Bring the little thing to me,â€ he said.
But when they brought it, his eyes filled with tears,
and he said : â€œI am just as helpless as that feeble baby.â€
Yet he grew strong faster than the baby did, and
was soon able to sit up in bed and act like himself.
And yet unlike himself, for his long illness had taught
him lessons that were to renovate his life.
â€œT shall be a better husband after this,â€ he said to
Doris, at their first joyful meeting.
â€œ And I shall be a better wife,â€ she answered.
â€œTJ donâ€™t see how that can well be. But, as for
myself, I have thought too much about this world, and
too little about the next.â€
â€œSo have I,â€ said Doris.
82 Herman ;
â€œ But when I came to face death, I saw what a
mistake I had been making all my life long. Ah!
Doris, it is a great thing to die!â€
â€œYes,â€ she answered, â€œand so it is to ive and get
ready to die.â€
After a pause, she added :
â€œSomething very serious has happened while you
were ill. Peter Fiichse was kicked by one of his
horses, and is dead.â€
â€œTt may be the saving of my mother,â€ said Max.
â€œGive me the baby. What a tender, soft little thing
it is! Do you know, dear old Doris, what I want to
call this child?â€
Doris changed colour. Was Max going to give the
little one his motherâ€™s name, now that she was left so
Max saw what she was fearing.
â€œYou need not be afraid of that,â€ he said. â€œNo, I
am going to give my child the name of the best woman
in the world. She shall have your motherâ€™s name, and
be called Magdalena.â€
This was a happy moment for Doris, but she could
not speak a word.
"Vou see, my mother could give florins, but your
mother will give prayers,â€ said Max.
And now came the question, how their affairs were
standing. Herman brought the account-book, and
showed his father what had been spent during his
illness, and what was yet to be paid. There was
enough to pay off every debt, and to keep them all
comfortable until Max should quite recover. But that
was all, Herman must not go back to school,
Or, the Little Preacher. 83
â€œDon't look so distressed, father,â€, he said, at the
close of their discussion, â€œI have known it all along.
And I am not so awkward and clumsy as I used to be.
Yow shall see a book-case I have made for the Herr
Lehrer, while you were ill. Iam sure I can become a
carpenter, and helpâ€™ you to support the family. And
perhaps, by-and-by, we can send Bernhard to school, if
I give up going.â€
All the prayers and tears that enabled Herman
thus cheerfully to renounce the life that had looked
so attractive, were sacred matters between himself
and his God.
Max returned to his shop, and Herman worked
faithfully all day long at his trade.
Babele GÃ©schen was relieved thereby of a great care.
â€œT always said they were throwing away their
money,â€ she declared; â€œand now theyâ€™ve found out
that their Herman was no such wonder, after all.
Folks say he found the lessons too hard,.and was glad
to settle down to work, like other folks. Itâ€™s hard for
them, having the old grandmother to feed. What old
folks are for I canâ€™t imagine. Why, donâ€™t they die off
instead of the young ones ?â€
The first day Max was able to go to his work, he
called his household together, and read a chapter from
the large Bible, and prayed.
â€œT came up, as it were, from death,â€ he said, â€œand it
is fitting I should begin a new life.â€
And this came of having â€œ that old grandmother to
4 AX was not so strong since his illness as he
was before, and could not do so much in a
ws day. He could not help feeling troubled
that ai he made must be spent; the old habit of
pinching and saving had still much power over him.
Tt was necessary for Doris to take a maid to help her
in the household task; she was never herself after the
anxiety and fatigue of Maxâ€™s illness. And there
was this obstacle in the way of her recovering her
strengthâ€”the baby gave her no rest, day or night, but
was a marvel of wakefulness, a regular watch-dog, her
father called her, enough to frighten away all the
robbers in the world. .
Some of the old women said she was crying for
something which, if she could once have, she would for
ever after hold her peace. Various extraordinary articles
of food were accordingly administered, but none of
them proving to be the right one, the baby kept on
crying, and Doris kept on walking the room with her,
in order, if possible, to let Max sleep quietly, at least
through his first sleep. Naturally. enough, as their
cares increased, and their health and strength decreased,
both Max and Doris grew less lively and talkative.
Flerman,; or, the Little Preacher. 85
The neighbours said they were growing old, and some
said they were getting too religious.
Meanwhile there was no communication between
Max and his mother. He had not time or strength
to go to see her, and she could not take one of her six
horses from the field long enough to go to him. She
drove all before her, bought more land and more cattle,
and, the neighbours declared, grew younger and more
blooming every day. Peter Fiichse had left her houses
and land and cattle, his own vile name, and a character
much degenerated by his influence.
Every remembrance of her brought pain to Max.
He felt that it was owing to her precepts and examples
that he had grown up so avaricious and eager for gain.
Then all his harshness to his children, was not that in
imitation of the treatment he had received from her all
his life? Still, she was his mother, and had nourished
and brought him up; yet he had parted from her in
anger, and with bitter hatred in his heart.
â€œT canâ€™t stand it this way much longer,â€ he said to
Doris. â€œI must go to see my mother, and try if there
can be peace between us.â€
â€œT fear she will never forgive us the babyâ€™s name,â€
said Doris. â€œDear Max, is it well to go?â€
â€œYes, it is well. And the sooner it is over the
better. To-morrow, being a holiday, I will go and
have done with it.â€
' The next morning he put on his Sunday suit, and
set forth alone. He still looked pale, and his garments
hung loosely upon his wasted frame, and when he
reached his motherâ€™s house, he was exhausted by the
86 Herman ;
Kiverything looked as it did when, three years ago,
he made what he then meant should be his final visit.
His mother, not a day older, sat erect as ever at her
wheel, and scolded her maids as a pastime.
â€œWell,â€ she said, exactly as before, â€œso youâ€™ve come
â€œYes, mother, I have come. You know I have been
sick, and could not come sooner.â€ â€˜=
She just gave him a glance, and went on with her
â€˜spinning. Yet in that glance she saw the pale face,
the wasted figure, and the loosely fitting garments.
â€œHedwig!â€ she cried through the open door-way.
â€œHedwig, do you mean to spend the whole day in
watering that linen? And you; Marthe, can you find
nothing better to do with your hands than to roll them
in your apron?â€
The frightened maids took speedy flight in confusion.
â€œThey say the storks have brought your Doris
another daughter,â€ she continued in the same tone. â€”
â€œYes,â€ said Max.
â€œÂ« And you have doubtless given it my name, now that
I am become rich,â€ she cried with a boisterous laugh.
â€œâ€˜No, I have not given it your name, mother,â€ he
answered quietly. â€œI call it Magdalena, after its
â€œ Ah! she has so much to give it for its dowry!â€
â€œT will tell you the honest truth, mother. My long
sickness has made me eupibe man.â€
â€œSo I see.â€
â€œNay, but listen, mother, I mean that it has put
new thoughts into my mind. It has shown me that
there are things of more value than houses and lands,â€
Or, the Little Preacher. 87
He waited a moment, but there was no comment,
only the wheel flew faster than ever.
â€œT used to put them first,â€ he added at last, â€œbut
now I put first eternal salvation for me and my house.â€
â€œWave you anything more to say?â€ she asked, and
joined a broken thread with infinite care.
â€œNothing, mother. Only as you are getting old,
and sickness and death must come sooner or laterâ€”â€
â€œGetting old!â€ she cried. â€œHa, ha! Inever was
so young in my life. But now it is my turn to speak.
What have you done with that boy Herman?â€
' â€œFfe is at home, and works at his trade.â€
â€œWorks at his trade, does he? How dare you look
me in the face, Max Steiner? You think, I suppose,
that I have neither eyes nor ears. Let me tell you,
then, that I know quite well what they say of him
in the Latin school, and what they think of you for
taking him out of it. His trade, indeed! When,
with such wits as his, he might one day become Staats-
â€œYou do not understand the case, mother. In the
first place, my illness made it necessary to take him
- from school. In the second place, the idea of making
a great man of him has never crossed my mind.â€
â€œTt has crossed mine, though,â€ she answered
â€œ At any rate, I canâ€™t help it that I am not the man
Iwas; and that I have not now the money necessary
to educate Herman.â€
â€œ And I suppose I have not either?â€ she said; and
round flew the wheel.
â€œYou donâ€™t mean, motherâ€”â€
88 Herman ;
â€œYes, Ido mean. The fact is, I always knew that
all that ailed your Herman was having too much
sense. He inherited it from me. Oh! you needn't
smile. I know all about it, child. Do you suppose
that if I hadnâ€™t more sense than most folks, I should
be the richest woman in the village? People may call
it luck if they choose, but I say it isnâ€™t luck. Itâ€™s
sense. And if I had been a boy instead of a girl, and
been sent to school instead of to work in the field, I
should be one of your learned men this minute. Thank
Heaven, red hair and a fiery temper arenâ€™t the only things
Herman has got from me; he'll make us all proud of
our name, mark my words.â€
â€œNay, let me talk. The boys may come, I say;
there is room enough in this house that I have rebuilt,â€
she added, looking grandly about her. â€œThe Latin
school is but a stoneâ€™s throw hence, and as for the
money, ycu may thank Peter Fiichse that he has left
me a few florins, ha! ha!â€
At the name of Peter Fiichse, Max reddened and
then grew pale.
â€œT cannot have my boys indebted to that man,â€ he
â€œPshaw! Well, then, I have a few florins of my
own, it is just possible. And as I was saying, the boys
may come, but they may not go. I shall henceforth
resume the name of Steiner, and the boys shall bring
honour to it. After all, Peter was a bad, vile man; I
am not sorry to forget him. Yes, let the boys come
and divert my mind.â€ ;
Or, the Little Preacher. 89
â€œNay, it is all settled. Latin school, university,
books, clothes ; I shall pay for all out of my own pocket.
And as to the clothes, let me tell you that your Doris will
not know her own sons when she sees them. I shall not
condemn them to go with eight or ten inches of bare
wrist grown beyond their jacket-sleeves, as she does.â€
â€œYou forget, mother, that we have been forced to be
saving. Besides, have not you boxed my ears more
than once for making an ado about just such jackets?â€
â€œWell, let it pass. Let it pass. Ah! there is one
thing I came near forgetting to say. The boys are to
leave behind them all the canting, solemn ways your
Doris and her mother have taught them. I won't have
such things in my house. I want nothing about me
but what is cheerful and pleasant.â€
â€œBut my boys are like two young birds,â€ said Max.
â€œWhy, mother, do you really imagine that religion
makes them gloomy?â€
â€œNo, I donâ€™t fancy. I know it. Young birds indeed !
Why, your Herman, whenever I met him, when he was
here at the school, was like a solemn little owl.â€
â€œThat is because he is so afraid of you, mother.
And he is really a God-fearing boy.â€
â€œHe must be cured of that. He has sense enough
to make his way in the world if one drives the nonsense
out of him.â€
â€œMother!â€ his voice made her stop spinning and
look at him in dumb amazement. â€˜Mother, my
boys shall never come to you on such terms. Sooner
than trust them to your hands, I would saw the boards
and choose the nails for their coffins: aye, and do it
with tears of joy.â€
90 Flerman ;
â€œVery well, Have it as you like.â€
â€œBut can nothing be said, can nothing be done to
save you? Not for the sake of the boys, but for your
own sake, mother, mark what I say. Life at best is
â€œThere, no more, no more. The thing is settled.
Go your ways and I will go mine. No child of mine
shall ever preach to me or set himself up above me.
My mind is made up, and you know, Max Steiner, that
you might as well try to move all the mountains in the
land, as to move me.â€
Max did know it. He took his cap, cast upon
her a look of unspeakable sorrow, and went out. His
step as he crossed the threshold was the weary step of
an old man; she saw and heard it, and went on
He crossed the fields, and scarcely looking upon
them, yet felt how rich they were. He saw the barns
which the men were filling with hay and with grain,
and passed them also, as if he saw them not, He was
aiming for a grove, whither in his boyhood he had
often fied from his motherâ€™s harsh words, to gnash his
teeth, and vent the passions and hatred he dared not
show. Here he now threw himself upon his knees,
and prayed. For he wanted to be sure that he had
done right in throwing away what she had offered his
boys, and he wanted to quiet the commotion of his
â€œThe dear father is late to-night,â€ said Doris.
â€œ His mother has doubtless made him stay to rest him-
self. It isa pity he did not decide to pass the night
with her, and so escape your cries, my little Lena.
Or, the Little Preacher. gli
Adolph, run out now, and see if your father is in
â€œYes, mother, here he comes,â€ said Adolph, â€œand he
looks dreadfully tired.â€
â€œTm getting old, my Doris,â€ he said, smiling as he
caught her anxious look.
â€œT'll have supper, directly,â€ she said.
As they gathered about the table, Max patted
â€œFather,â€ said the child, â€œI like you alos as well
as mother. You are a great deal nicer than you used
Doris tried to hush him, but Max looked upon him
kindly, and said :
â€œThat ig true, my little man.â€
Tt was a tiresome evening to Doris. Max lay asleep
on the bench till bed-time, and she could not ask what
sort of a visit he had had. Then when he awoke, and
the other children had gone to bed, the baby woke also,
and began to cry.
â€œJT canâ€™t talk when the child is crying,â€ said Max.
â€œ Besides, I am too tired to talk. â€˜Let us go to sleep
â€œTt is easy to say â€˜ Letâ€™s go to sleep,â€™ thought Doris,
â€œbut. it is not so easily done when one has a screaming
baby in oneâ€™s arms. Well, if there was anything good
to tell, Max could not keep it to himself, Iam sure. I
did hope his motherâ€™s hard heart would melt when she
saw how he looked, and that she would even offer to
do something for Herman. Max,â€ she cried, â€œlet me
just ask one thing before you go to sleep. Did your
mother give you a dinner ?â€
92 Fleriman ;
â€œNo, I came away.â€
â€œ But she offered you wine ?â€
ce No. oa
â€œWhat a mean, stingy, wicked thing! I wonder you
did not drop dead on the way !â€
â€œT never can help laughing when you try to get into
a passion,â€ said Max, rousing up. â€œIt is so ridiculous.
You make believe in such a poor way. I wouldnâ€™t try,
if I were you. ~ Now, what will you say when I tell
you that she offered to take both the boys off our hands
and educate them ?â€
Doris replied by laying down her baby and running
to put both her arms around his neck.
â€œâ€˜ Wait till you hear the rest. I refused her offer.â€
â€œYou refused? Oh, Max!â€
â€œ Yes, I refused. She would only take them on one
condition, and that was, that they should live like a
pair of heathen. But I really am too tired to speak
another word, especially when I have to shout so as to
drown that little womanâ€™s voice. To morrow, I'll tell
you everything ; and you will come in the end to think
I did what was best.â€
Doris said no more, and after a time the baby fell
asleep, and she could snatch a few hoursâ€™ rest before
But Max must then go to his work, and defer enlight-
ening her curiosity.
When he reached the shop he found Herman already
there, whistling gaily, and engaged on a dainty bit of
â€œLook, father!â€ he cried, â€œI am carving. I in-
vented the pattern, and have done all this.â€
Or, the Little Preacher. 93
Max took the wood from -Hermanâ€™s hands, and exa-
mined the work with care.
â€œTt is well done,â€ he said.
This was high praise from his lips, and Herman was
satisfied with it.
â€œJT went to see your grandmother yesterday.â€
â€˜And she proposed to take upon herself the whole
- expense of your education. And of Bernhardâ€™s also.â€
â€˜Herman turned pale, and the bit of wood fell from his
â€œTt is too good to be true!â€ he cried.
â€œ But hear the rest. You are to live with her as
long as you are in the Latin school, and promise to live
without the fear of God.â€
Herman stooped to pick up his work from the floor.
It was broken.
â€œDo you think I can fasten this together with glue,
Max was annoyed at this evasion of the subject in
â€œStick to the subject,â€ he said, in somewhat of his
old, hasty way.
â€œOh, father! It came upon me so suddenly.
â€˜When you began, I was so glad and thankful! Not
but that I am contented just as I am. For I really
am. But I was so surprised that grandmother should
think of such a thing; and it seemed as if our dear
Lord really did mean I should have an education.
And then came the disappointment.â€
â€œThe disappointment?â€ said Max. â€œDo you mean
that you will not accept your grandmotherâ€™s offer ?â€
94. fTerman ;
â€œ All her horses could not drag me there?â€ replied
â€œThank God!â€ said Max.
â€œâ€˜ What did you tell my grandmother, dear father ?â€
â€œ Pretty much what you have told me,â€ replied Max,
' Herman went on with his work, but there was no
more whistling that day. Max looked at him now and
then with pride and pleasure.
That night little Lena thought it best to sleep and
give her parents time to discuss family affairs, Max
then gave to Doris the whole history of his visit to his
â€œ But Herman could not have been injured by living
with his grandmother,â€ said Doris, â€œhe is so decided.
and steady. And think of the good he might have
done to her!â€
â€œT knew how you would feel,â€ said Max. â€œBut if
you should ever have to stand face to face with death,
as I have done, you would see as plainly as I do, that
I have chosen well for my boys. And I am thankful
to say that Herman is satisfied with my choice.â€
â€œ What will Bibele GÃ©schen say, I wonder?â€
thought she. â€œ Well, I dare say, dear ies is right.
But such a chance will never come again.â€ Â¢
It was some relief, when she talked it over with â€œher
â€˜mother, to find that she quite justified Max.
Â«But Herman is growing up so tall and straight;
and to see him standing in the pulpit, with gown and
bands like our Herr Pastor, would be a sight, indeed.â€
â€œYet since our dear Lord will net have it so, we
Or, the Little Preacher. 95
must not fret about it,â€ said the grandmother. â€œThe
time has been that we were satisfied to have the boys
become carpenters, and surely they might be in worse
â€œ Yes, there is Babeleâ€™s Kurt begining to idle away
his time at the ale-house,â€ said Doris. â€œIam ashamed
to think how ungrateful I am.â€
The little household now settled down. for the
winter, in peace. Minna had got through the usual
round of studies at the village school, and was now at
home, ready to help her mother in all the household
cares and labours, She had always been a staid and
quaint little damsel, and now she became everybodyâ€™s
right hand. She made the bread, and boiled the soup,
and swept the house; on Sundays she laid out upon
their beds the holiday suits and the clean linen for her
father and brothers, and at night her careful hands
restored everything to its place again. The maid could
now find leisure to help with the spinning, and another
cow was bought that butter might be made for the
market. In all the village there was not so well-
ordered or so happy a household.
Since Herman had developed a taste for carving,
Max allowed him to devote himself to it, as a business ;
it proved to be profitable and agreeable. The long
winter evenings were given him for his own use; and,
as well as he could, he kept on with his studies for the
mere love of them. The Herr Lehrer came occa-
sionally to give him a little help, but it was not much
he could give, for, though himself richly endowed by
nature, he was poor, and his education was limited.
â€˜He had a wife and a child, and little leisure for study.
EAR mother,â€ said Doris, as she sat in the
midst of her family one wintry night, â€œhow
happy and contented we all are! JI am
oled now that Herman lives at home with us, instead
of being off in the world, worrying over books and for-
getting his old home. But after I heard the beautiful
sermons he preached to the children, I truly thought he
was cut out for a preacher.â€
â€œThey still call me the â€˜little clergyman,â€™ in the
village,â€ said Herman, looking up with a smile. â€˜â€œ And
Tam nearly as tall as father. But who can be at the
door this cold night ?â€
He unbolted the door, and there rushed in, like a
tempest, the unexpected apparition of the â€œ big grand-
â€œWell!â€ she cried, â€œso Iâ€™ve come at last!â€
â€œ And you are welcome, mother,â€ said Max, rising.
â€œYou are welcome,â€ said Doris. But she said to
herself: â€œ Goodness ! where are we to put her to sleep?
And what would she fancy for supper ?â€
â€˜Meanwhile the new comer shook herself to rights,
and made everybody help her get off her things.
â€œT have come to stay,â€ cried she, â€œso you must get
flerman ; or, the Little Preacher. 97
me up a bed somewhere. And do you, boys, see to
my horse, this instant.â€
The boys ran out pell-mell ; next to each other they
â€œJs there anything in this house to eat?â€ said
the big grandmother. â€œAh! Dorisâ€™s mother, good
â€œThank â€˜you,â€ said the little: grandmother, and took
upiven less room in her chair than usual.'
Minna brought out everything for supper she could
think of, and Doris, in a distracted way, ran hither and
thither, planning about the beds. The maid, who had
been sitting at her wheel fast asleep, now roused up
and rubbed her eyes, and stumbled over the cat, whose
pardon she begged, and tried to get wide enough awake
to find out where she was.
The big grandmother sat at the table, and made
havoc with everything, right and left. The younger
children never took their eyes from her the while. At
last she pushed back her chair, and burst forth with a
long, hearty, boisterous laugh.
â€œWell?â€ she cried.
â€œThen you haven't heard the news?â€
â€œWe do not take a paper,â€ said Max. â€œ When
there is anything new, I can read it at the
â€œPooh,â€ she cried. â€˜Well, Iâ€™ve taken another
There was an awkward silence. Doris thought Max
ought to say something, and Max hoped Doris
98 Herman ;
â€œ Yes, another man. And I am going to live with
him, instead of taking him to live with me. You shall
see him presently.â€
And stepping to the door, with heavy tread, she
blew a silver whistle that hung at her side.
In a few moments she ushered in her â€œman,â€ and
exhibited him with no little noisy laughter.
â€˜He was made for me to order,â€ she cried. â€œSee!
I am no infant, but he is head and shoulders above me.
And now look in his face! Did you ever see a kinder
or a handsomer in your lives ?â€
Indeed they never had. He was a man of colossal
dimensions, and there beamed from his face a perfect
flood of good humour and friendliness. His dress in-
dicated that he was one of the rich oberland farmers.
He wore a black velvet coat adorned with immense silver
buttons that almost touched each other, a scarlet vest,
fastened in the same style, and the velvet band upon
his wide hat was buckled with a silver buckle as long
as his hand.
â€œ Good evening,â€ he said, smiling upon them like
â€œHa! ha! Now for the news, Max!â€ cried his
* mother. â€œSit down, Conrad. You see, Max, my new
man will not touch with his finger the house and lands
left me by your father, neither will he look at the pro-
perty I gained through Peter Fiichse. He is a rich
man, and has more money than ten horses can draw.
So what do you think he says tome? â€˜Divide your
land and your goods among your children, and come
with me, and live and die in peace.â€™ Ha! ha! What
do you say now, old fellow ?â€
Or, the Little Preacher. 99
Max had not a word to say, but sat bewildered in his
chair ; while Doris put her apron to her eyes, and the
children sat open-mouthed, unable to understand what
was going on.
â€œSo the house will be yours, Max,â€ continued his
mother, â€œâ€˜and the farm and the barn, and everything
just as your father left them. The horses, and the
cattle, and the hay, and the grain, I give you also,
though Heaven knows your blessed father never owned
them. And all that came by Peter Fiichse shall go to
your brother's wife and children, since I am his only
heir, and he left no relations behind him. â€˜You can
take your family to live in your fatherâ€™s house and
send the children to the Latin school all the rest of
their days. Ha! ha! this is the best joke I ever
heard of !â€
â€œA joke indeed !â€ said Max.
â€œT hope it is one you all enjoy,â€ said Conrad.* â€œ For
your mother is not really in earnest in what she says.
It is she who has the large kind heart, not I, as she
would have you believe.â€
â€œ Hold your tongue !â€ cried the grandmother. â€˜Do .
not believe a word he says. I fought for my property
three weeks and a day ; Conrad would have me with-
out, but not with it: he declared he would not enrich
himself with money made by other men, and at last I
had to yield. Ha! ha! And so good luck to you,
Max Steiner, and may your old age be like mine !â€
â€œThere is not a word of truth in what she says,â€
repeated Conrad. â€˜The whole thing was planned and
settled by her.â€
â€œThere, go back to the tavern, and sleep, if you can,
100 Herman ;
with so many falsehoods on your conscience. I declare
it is almost midnight.â€
Little Lena awoke, and was astonished to see the
lights and the strangers. She smiled at the silver
buttons Conrad wore, which, compared with those of
her father, were like so many full moons. Conrad took
the child in his gigantic arms, and she nestled close to
his breast with instinctive friendliness.
â€œT am perfectly bewildered,â€ said Max, â€œnot know-
ing whether this is not, after all, a dream.â€
Â«Tt is a pleasant dream ; nothing more,â€ said Conrad.
â€œBut when you wake up from it, you will find yourself
a rich man, as things go in this region.â€
He gave them each his hand, and bade them good-
night, The children were now got off to bed, and the
big grandmother was at last conducted to hers. She
kept them awake the rest of the night, by quarrelling
with the bed, which she said made it necessary to
divide herself into two halves, and rest them by turns,
and by bursting now and then into one of her boisterous
â€œha! haâ€™s!â€ ;
But she was up.in the morning at the cock-crowing,
as fresh and blooming as ever; gave each child a florix
and a good slap on the shoulders, told them they might
come to her wedding if they had anything fit to wear,
and rode off with her Conrad, with flying colours.
â€œWell! what do you think?â€ asked Max, when
quiet was once more restored to the household.
â€œT donâ€™t know what to think,â€ said Doris. â€˜â€œ What
do you say, dear mother?â€
â€œJT think our dear Lord means to have the boys edu-
cated,â€ she answered.
Or, the Little Preacher. 101
â€œThen you donâ€™t think it isall a joke? And whose
plan is it? Conradâ€™s, or my motherâ€™s?â€ asked Max.
â€œT think they planned it between them. Conrad
may have put it into your motherâ€™s head, but I think
she was quite willing to do as he wished. I always
knew your mother had a good spot in her heart, and
now that love has touched itâ€”â€
â€œLove!â€ cried Max. â€œNow, that is really too
â€œShe loves him, and is as happy as a child. And
you may depend upon it, he will bring out all the good
there is in her.â€
There was a long silence.
At last Max said :
â€œThen we shall all go back to live in my old home.
And you will like that, mother.â€
It was the first time he had ever called her mother. -
She looked at him gratefully.
â€œYes, Max, I shall like it. You cannot think how
pleasant it will be to hear Pastor Koeffel preach.â€
â€œNo, I cannot, for when I was a boy, I never pre-
tended to listen to a word. Well, Doris, little woman,
what do you say ?â€
â€œT say, I donâ€™t care where my home is if you all are
init,â€ she said. â€˜But I daresay it will really seem
like going home to live in our own dear old village once
more. We shall have our old neighbours about usâ€”-
and then, besidesâ€”you will let me give away just as
much milk as I like, wonâ€™t you, Max ?â€.
Max replied by a merry laugh, and then the force of
habit drove him to his workshop, where he spent as
busy a day as usual.
102 Herman ;
It was not so easy for Doris and the children to
settle down to their work; the younger especially
went to school with their heads, for the time,
completely turned, while Herman rushed from one
task to another, in vain efforts to cool his fevered
â€œTo think that I can go back to the Latin school !â€
he said to himself. â€˜And that Bernhard, who has so
much sense, can go too! It seems like something out
of a book; a fairy tale, or a fable; or else as if I had
been asleep and had a beautiful dream !â€-
There was not a little commotion in the village, when
the news of Maxâ€™s good luck flew through it, growing
as it flew. Babele Godschen sighed, and said it wasâ€™
hard that a poor lonely widow, who had never held up
her head since the day of her husbandâ€™s death, couldnâ€™t
have had a little luck of the same sort.
â€œT fear their heads are all turned, poor things !â€ she
cried. â€œThink now! â€˜The old mother is to have a
little room quite to herself, out of the way of the noise
of the house; what with the quiet and the comfort,
sheâ€™ll live for ever, or, at any rate, live till she dies of
old age! As to Max, he was proud enough before, but
now he'll be holding his head as high as the sky. And
Doris will be worn out with care! Maids to see to,
and nobody knows how much milk to look after; and
then that cross old mother of Maxâ€™s flying back every
now and then to find fault and bite all their heads off!
And as for those boys, nothing will be good enough for
them now! Well, well! I saw Herman sitting quite
by himself, yesterday, looking melancholy enough. I
suppose it seems hard to him to have so many ups and
Or, the Little Preacher. 103
downs, and just as he had got to earning an honest
penny, sent off to school again !â€
In the early spring Max and his household took
flight to their new home, which they found awaiting
them in perfect order, and where, with not much trouble,
they settled down in peace and comfort. Even the little
grandmother was thrown somewhat off her balance, when
she saw the flocks and herds to which Max had become
heir, saw his lambs and his cattle and his goods; to her
and to Doris his wealth seemed almost fabulous. They
began at oncÃ© to form plans of usefulness in which they
promised themselves to find the greatest joy. Life
looked attractive, as their old neighbours began to flock
about them ; and then on Sundays there was the dear
old Pastor Koeffel, silvery in hair and loving in face ;
there was the Latin school waiting to welcome the
boys. Nothing seemed wanting to their felicity.
Max had now reached the very highest aim of his
ambition. He had more horses, more cattle, more land,
than any of his neighbours; people looked up to him,
and took counsel of him, and called him Herr Steiner.
With his tendencies, so much sudden prosperity might
have proved fatal to the Christian life which was be-
ginning to soften and sanctify his rugged character.
But he was no longer young, and the discipline through
which he had passed had made a great impression ;
then too, at the moment of temptation, he came under
the influence of Pastor Koeffel, a man of rare piety,
who never let his people forget that all they had
belonged to God.
It is true that the habit of sparing and saving was
not slain ina day. Max had always excused himself,
104, Flerman ;
for his want of liberality on the ground that he had so
little to give; he found it, however, as hard to part
with his money, now that he was a comparatively rich
man, as it had been all his life long. It was only now
and then, by a violent wrench upon his real nature,
that he forced open his heart and gave of his abundance
to the needy, while from Doris there flowed a constant
stream of unnoticed charity which gladdened many a
As to her, like most women, she had but one ambi-
tion. To be a good wife and a good mother, and to be
beloved by her husband and children, was all she asked.
What she was in the old home, that she was in the
new; a busy, affectionate, cheerful little housewife,
whose voice would never be heard in the streets, but
whose memory would always live in a few faithful
The children, however, entered upon their new life
with enthusiasm. The boys rushed hither and thither;
they made the acquaintance of every animal on the
farm ; they ploughed a little and planted a little, and
sowed a little; got in everybody's way; rode and drove
to market, and rioted in all the old haunts of theirâ€
fatherâ€™s boyhood. When Max and Doris wanted to
restrain them, their grandmother counselled that they
should have full liberty, and the result proved her
advice to be good, for after a few weeks they were all
more than satisfied to settle down at school. Herman
and Bernhard went together to the Latin school; Max
had not decided to give them both equal advantages,
but chose to see what the future should bring forth.
Herman made up by perseverance and application for
Or, the Little Preacher. 105
his natural want of readiness; it was a pleasure to see
him engaged with his studies, when all the energies of
his mind concentrated themselves on the work in hand.
What he learned he never forgot, and every now and
then a flash of real genius would reveal to his teachers
what this modest, retiring boy really was. He never
lost the desize and purpose to become a clergyman, and
taking Pastor Koeffel for his model, he fought against
the reserve and shyness which had hitherto made his
life so lonely, and mixed with the other boys, who
learned to know and to love him.
As to Minna, she was in her element, now that she
was full of housewifely cares; she took calm and serious
satisfaction in overseeing the servants, keeping the
accounts, and superintending her fatherâ€™s interests
generally, The younger ones had their pet lambs and
innumerable hens and chickens; they always contrived
to have on hand some lame or feeble animal, on which
they found it expedient to lavish a wealth of love and
tenderness and a depth of sympathy which, if bestowed
on some desolate human heart, would have made it
leap for joy.
As time passed, and the elder boys proved, day by
day, how worthy they were of the education they were
receiving, people said their grandmother Steiner had
been the making of them. And in her distant home
she fondly thought and always said so herself. But
she who gave only her prayers and the sweet influence
of a holy life; whose name, so well known in heaven,
was rarely spoken on earth; who never for a moment
fancied she had aught to do with their trainingâ€”she,
perhaps, will one day hear from the Masterâ€™s lips the
106 . Herman ;
Â«Well done, good and faithful servant!â€ which ushers
into the joy of our Lord.
â€œ Are you sure there is nothing left in the waggon !
Let me see. There is the cheese, and here is the
wheaten bread. The roll of linen is all right; yes, I
believe everything is here. You shanâ€™t say I came
empty-handed, Max !â€
â€œWe are glad to see you, mother, however you
come,â€ replied Max, whose arms were full of packages
of all sorts. â€˜But one would think we had a famine
in the land, to judge by the supplies you have brought
with you.â€ :
â€œPshaw! The linen is for Herman; as to those
other things, they are for your Doris. A better
wheaten loaf she never ate; as for the cheese, the
butter, and the sauerkraut, they will astonish her ; and
well they may. People at my time of life usually sit
with folded hands, while I, thank Heaven, expect to
go on brewing and baking, mending and making, to the
last breath I draw.â€
â€œJT dare say you will, And so you have come to
hear our Herman preach? It is very good of you,
â€œ Nonsense! How can you suppose I made such a
journey to hear that foolish boy? I am very angry
with him for not choosing a profession that would bring
distitiction into the family. However, as he is really
appointed to succeed Pastor Koeffel, and is going to
live in the parsonage, I concluded to bring him a roll
of linen; for I suppose your Doris has none to spare.
Ah! here she comes. How do you do, child? _And
Or, the Little Preacher. 107
how is your little mother? As strong and hearty as
â€œMother is quite feeble,â€ replied Doris. â€œShe
seldom leaves her room now; will you step in to see
her a moment ?â€
â€œT donâ€™t care if Ido. Well!â€ she shouted, as she
entered the room, and saw the little grandmother
reclining in an old-fashioned arm-chair.
â€œYes, it is well,â€ returned the other, looking up
with a smile.
â€œThereâ€™s nothing left of you but your eyes. And
they are as bright as beads. So, you just sit here,
with nothing to do. Tedious enough, I dare say !â€
â€œTJ just sit waiting,â€ was the answer.
â€œWaiting. For whom, pray ?â€
Her days of embarrassment and confusion were over.
She answered, with a simple dignity that almost
overawed her gigantic querist,â€”â€œ For my Master.â€
For once in her life, Maxâ€™s mother felt embarrassed,
and could think of nothing to say. She got out of the
room as quickly as she could, and in a few moments
her loud voice could be heard scolding her former
maidens, Hedwig and Marthe, who, poor things, won-
dered what they had done to deserve such treatment.
Doris lingered behind.
â€œ Dear mother,â€ she said, kissing her, â€œ donâ€™t talk so.
We canâ€™t spare you, indeed we canâ€™t. Is there anything
we can do to make you willing to stay with us?â€
â€œYou do everything, everything, dear child. But
home looks very pleasant. And I shall go soon.â€
Doris wiped her eyes more than onee, as she moved
about the house, attending to the household cares
108 Herman ;
involved in the unexpected visit of Maxâ€™s mother, with
her Conrad. z
â€œ Ah! how much richer is my mother, who has not
a florin in the world, than they are!â€ she thought. â€œTI
wish heaven seemed ag near to me as it does to her!
But oh! I feel bound, as with chains, to Max, to the
children, to this pleasant home !â€
There was no little bustle and confusion in the house
at this time. Herman had passed throvgh his prepara-
tory. course, and was to take the place of Pastor Koef-
fel, who now slept in the churchyard among his
people, like a father with his children around him.
Bernhard had come home to spend the first Sunday of
the new pastorate, prepared to admire his brotherâ€™s
preaching as much as he had done in the days of their
boyhood. Maxâ€™s mother had come on the same errand,
say what she might to the contrary. Max and Doris
hardly knew whether they felt most pride and pleasure,
or most nervous anxiety, at the thought of seeing the
fresh and youthful face of their Herman in the pulpit,
where for so many years Pastor Koeffel had instructed
â€œDear mother,â€ said Doris, lingering behind the
rest, as they set forth for church, â€œyou have looked
forward to this day so long, and now you cannot hear
Herman, after all. Are you very much disappointed ?â€
She never forgot the sweetness and the brightness of
the smile which accompanied the reply :
â€œNo, dear child. I have travelled beyond dis-
As she walked on by Maxâ€™s side, she revolved these
words in her mind, wondering what they signified.
_ Ov, the Little Preacher. 109
â€˜Mother doesnâ€™t mean that sheâ€™s got beyond caring
for things, for she never was so interested in all that
concerns us. She grows more loving every day. I
donâ€™t quite see what she does mean. J haven't tra-
velled beyond disappointments, at any rate; for if
Herman should make a blunder, and leave out part of
the service, or anything of that sort, I know I should
never get over it. How my heart beats! To think,
now, that my Herman, whom everybody used to cail
such a dunce, should really be Herr Pastor after all !â€
â€œT suppose they'll be holding their heads higher
than ever, now that their Herman has actually come to
be Herr Pastor,â€ said Babele Goschen, as she adjusted
her Sunday cap above her withered features. . â€œIâ€™ve
two minds not to go to hear him preach, after all. Itâ€™s
somebodyâ€™s duty to put him down, and keep him down,
â€œT dare say he wouldn't miss us if we did stay
away,â€ returned Lizette. â€œAnd I mean to go, what-
ever you say. Itâ€™s nothing but envy makes you
â€œT wonâ€™t have my own children throwing my faults
in my face,â€ cried Babele. â€œItâ€™s enough to make a
saint envious to see how things have gone on with that
boy, and all of them. And it is hard, and I donâ€™t care
who hears me say it, to do as well by children as Iâ€™ve
done by mine, and then have them turn out as they
have. Kurt getting ready to lie down in a tipplerâ€™s
grave, like his father before him, and you so pert and
so self-willed that thereâ€™s no peace with you.â€
â€œT hope you'll hear something in the sermon that
will be blessed to you,â€ returned Lizette. â€œIf you had
110 Herman ;
gone to church, and brought us up as you ought, we might
have turned out more to your mind. Iâ€™m sure I wish
you had. But come, it is time to go. Itâ€™s an hourand
a half to the village, if itâ€™s a minute. And you get
out of breath if one hurries in the least.â€
Babele made no answer, and the two set forth
together for the long walk which led to the church of
When they entered the church, the service had not
yet begun, and Babele had time to look about her, and
to make remarks at her leisure.
â€œHere come Max and Doris! Look, Lizette! â€˜Doris
looks all in a flutter. There, she has dropped her
prayer-book, and now there goes her handkerchief.
Now Minna is picking them'up. I might wait till I
was grey before you'd do as much for me.â€
â€œDo stop talking, mother,â€ said Lizette. â€˜â€œ Every-
body is so still and solemn. Besides, I want to catch
the first glimpse of Herman when he comes into church.
He'll come in with an air, you may depend.â€
â€œ Thereâ€™s Maxâ€™s mother, I declare!â€ cried Bibele, in
such a loud whisper that Max heard the well-known
voice. He glanced at his old neighbour kindly, and
the colour rose in his face to his forehead.
â€œ Our dear Lord has been too good to mÃ©!â€ he said
to himself, â€œsince the days when Babele used to make
us het visits. And she looks so worn out and so
anxious. We'll have her home to dinner with us, poor
â€œHe needn't turn so red at the sight of me,â€ was
Babeleâ€™s secret thought. â€œIam not going to speak to
him or his, unless they speak to me; and if they are
Or, the Little Preacher. It
ashamed of their old neighbour, why let them be
ashamed, thatâ€™s all.â€
At this moment there was a little stir in the church,
and the young Pastor came in. He had developed into
a full-grown man, of his fatherâ€™s height, but the slight
resemblance he had borne him in his childhood had
â€˜ quite disappeared. Otherwise, to the casual observer,
he looked like an ordinary, good sort of young man,
such as one sees in scores every day.
â€œHe isnâ€™t, handsome, thatâ€™s one comfort,â€ thought
Bibele. â€˜And he hasnâ€™t got much of a voice, thatâ€™s
another thing.â€ Her mind wandered away during the
preliminary services; she counted the buttons on Maxâ€™s
vest, estimated the cost of Minnaâ€™s red petticoat, of
which she could see a fragment, felt a little sleepy, and
was suddenly aroused by the announcement of the
â€œÂ¥orI determined not to know anything among you,
save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with
you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.â€
â€œYou never spoke a truer word,â€ said Babele, nodding
at the young speaker, as if he could hear what she said.
â€œT suppose you're going to preach about yourself, and
tell what a smart man folks say you are, and what fools
we all were not to find you out sooner, Brag away!
Itâ€™s just what Iâ€™ve come to hear.â€
She settled herself comfortably in her seat, gave a
glance at Lizette, and the sermon began. Curiosity
kept her awake, tired as she was with her long walk
from her own village; and, in spite of herself, the
growing eloquence and earnestness of the speaker soon
made her forget where she was, or to whom she listened.
112 Herman ;
When, at last, she bethought herself to look around her,
to see the effect of the sermon, she was almost appalled
by the solemnity of every face. Tven her giddy Lizette
sat motionless, her hands in her lap, her eyes fixed upon
the glowing face now transfigured into something more
beautiful than beauty, while tear after tear rolled down
her unconscious cheek. Doris sat leaning forward a
little; the timid delight with which she listened
at first had given way to absorbing interest in the
â€œ He ainâ€™t preaching about himself, after all,â€ thought
Babele. â€œTo hear him go on, one would think the
Lord Jesus was his best friend, and that heâ€™d rather
praise Him than magnify himself. How his colour
comes and goes! It seems as if everything he said
came out of a deep well, and he wore himself out haul-
ing it up.â€
â€œHumph! Just like him!â€
This irreverent exclamation proceeded from the big
grandmother, and was heard all over the church; for
at this juncture a sweep of Hermanâ€™s sleeve brushed his
sermon from the desk, and the loose leaves went flying
about the church like so many frightened birds.
Max reddened with shame and vexation; Doris rose
from her seat, and â€˜sank back again in despair. For an
instant the youthful speaker faltered, and became pale ;
but before the startled congregation had time to recover
from its surprise, or the nimblest foot to hasten to the
rescue, he went bravely, eloquently on. No longer
fettered by written words, he poured forth a flood of
eloquence which made every man, woman, and child
forget the interruption, or rejoice in it,
Or, the Little Preacher, 113
â€œWell, Lizette, how did you like him?â€ asked
Bibele, when the sermon at last came to an end.
â€œDo be still, mother,â€ was the reply, in an angry
â€œYou cried, at any rate,â€ persisted Babele.
â€œTtâ€™s no such thing !â€
Max and Doris longed to talk over their new ex-
perience together in private, but they both came kindly
to Babele, to invite her to dine with them.
â€œI suppose you are as proud as peacocks, now,â€ said
she. â€œ And to be sure, your Herman looks very well
in gown and bands; they quite set him off. But isnâ€™t
his preaching ee odd, and out of the common a way #
Why, I understood every word of it!â€
Doris, too humble to have an opinion of her own on
the subject, looked anxious and concerned. But before
she had time to answer, Maxâ€™s mother, who had come
striding after them, burst out withâ€”
â€œYou're a fool, Baibele Gdschen! Of course his
preaching is out of the common way. He's got
sense enough to say things out of his own head, and
that nobody ever thought of before. Ha! thatâ€™s just
â€˜the difference between Herman and me, and all the
rest of you; we've got something to say, and we say
it with a vengeance. If he had preached in the
hum-drum way most young fellows do, Iâ€™d have pulled
him down from the pulpit, and pitched him into the
Babele subsided in the presence of this woman, who
dared to speak of ministers as â€œfellows,â€ and who
talked of plunging the successor of the revered Pastor
Koeffel into the Neckar.
II4 flerman ;
â€œT meant no offence,â€ said she; â€œand I hope you'll
â€œT hate apologies. But I can tell you one thing:
you never, in your life, heard such a sermon as you
heard to-day. Even I, who never shed tears, cried like.
vain, And I declare I didnâ€™t know it was such a de-
licious thing to cry. Why, itâ€™s next best to laugh-
Meanwhile, Dorisâ€™s mother lay back peacefully in her
chair, the Bible from which she had been reading open
on a little table by her side. She read nothing now
save the gospel narrative concerning her Saviour, her
increasing love to Him giving to every word that fell
from His lips when He lived on earth a rare precious-
ness such as she had only known of late. Hedwig,
whose duty it was to watch over her in the absence of
the household, looked in every half hour to see that she
wanted nothing; otherwise she was left quite alone, as
-was her wish. In this sweet Sabbath stillness she
prayed silently for each member of the family, but
especially for her beloved Herman, that he might make
full proof of his ministry, and that the word he preached
this day might prove as good seed, sown in good soil,
for the glory of Jesus Christ. Then she prayed for
Max, for Doris, for Minna, Bernhard, and Adolph, each
by name, and with a strange earnestness that made her
quite unconscious of the feeble body that held her
glowing soul; then for Maxâ€™s mother and her Conrad,
that they might see the King in His beauty, as she
herself now saw Him. And it is not saying too much
of these simple prayers, that were almost wordless, that
they were heard and answered while she was yet speak-
Or, the Little Preacher. 115
ing. We cannot remind ourselves too often that no
prayer is poverty-stricken that is offered in His name
who presents our petitions for us to the Father. Her-
man, under the influence of these apparently feeble
-words, was at that moment speaking as one inspired, _
and finding his way to every heart in the congregation.
Even his big grandmother, though she would not own
it to herself, felt herself touched to the quick. She
could not help being convinced that the things of
which he spoke were real; that he had held converse
with the Christ whom he preached ; and that he valued
his own natural gifts chiefly as something to lay at
As they all sat together at dinner, she gave him no
â€œTo think, now, of you flinging your sermon at
the very heads of the people!â€ cried she. | â€œ You are
just as clumsy as when you were a boy.â€ Herman
coloured painfully. He was ashamed of himself that
he could not bear her raillery without wincing under
it ; but his whole heart had been thrown into his
sermon, and he had come down from the heights to
which he had soared to find himself a very common
mortal, vulnerable as ever ; if possible, more so.
Max, seeing his distress, came to the rescue.
â€œNo harm was done!â€ he cried. â€œIt was a fine
thing to see the boy go on preaching as well without
his sermon as with it. And the last half was the best,
â€œHis gestures are positively frightful,â€ pursued the
merciless foe. â€œIf I hadnâ€™t been crying, I should
have laughed at the way he flung his arms about, and
116 . Herman ;
at the grimaces he made. Once or twice I thought ho
was going to beat out his brains.â€
â€œOne is often tempted to wish it no sin to do
that,â€ replied Herman, who was now quite down from
the mount, and felt exceedingly flat.
â€œYour grandmother has an odd way of expressing
her approbation,â€ said Conrad, â€œbut you must know
her el enough by this time not to mind what she
â€œTâ€™m sure he will improve as he grows older,â€ said
Bibele Gischen, in a patronizing tone, which some-
how was more excruciating to Herman than his grand-
motherâ€™s random shots.
â€œCome, mother, itâ€™s time to go,â€ said Lizette, who
had sense enough to see that these words were not
making a very favourable impression.
And as they drove home in Maxâ€™s waggon she
added, crossly enough :
â€œJT wish you knew when to hold your tongue,
mother. The idea of Hermanâ€™s improving, when he :
is as good as an angel now! I donâ€™t believe you
listened to the sermon. If you had you never could
have eaten such an enormous dinner.â€
â€œ What was the dinner for, if not to eat?â€ was the
reply. â€œAnd with such poor pickings as I get at
home, a decent dinner is more to my mind than
your fine preaching; not that Iâ€™ve any fault to find
with that, either.â€
Relieved by the departure of her guests, Doris
flew to her mother, to pour out her morningâ€™s expe-
riences into her loving ear. But suddenly she paused
in the flow of her talk.
Or, the Little Preacher. t17
â€œDo you feel worse than usual, dear mother?â€ she
â€œNo, dear; better than usual. I feel well in body
and well in soul. This has been a blessed day, my
Doris looked at the radiant yet very pallid face.
â€œT think I must stay and be your nurse this after-
noon,â€ she said. â€˜TI can hear Herman instruct the .
children some other time, just as well.â€
â€œYes, and you will have the evening service,â€ said
This tacit consent to her remaining i home alarmed
Doris even more than her motherâ€™s unusual pallor had
done. But she talked on cheerfully, putting away the
unwelcome, vague fears that oppressed her, to be met
at some more convenient moment.
â€œT want to be happy to-day, of all days,â€ thought
she. And she did have a very happy afternoon.
Her mother seemed so like herself, and said so many
things she afterwards recalled with pleasure. She
repeated many little sayings and doings of the chil-
dren in their younger days that Doris had long since
forgotten, and now heard with curious interest. And
then she went back over all the way in which the
Lord had led her, speaking of her Master with a.
tender, personai affection, which made the heart of
Doris glow, while she said to herself, â€œOh! that I
loved Him so !â€
At eventide the rest of the family returned from
church, and after supper they all gathered in their
srandmotherâ€™s room to sing hymns. Maxâ€™s mother,
with her Conrad, held aloof, yet, as the sounds of
118 Herman ;
their cheerful voices reached her in her room, she felt
once more moved even to tears.
â€œ Bah !â€ she cried to Conrad, who looked at her
with surprise. â€œI am not crying. My eyes have
been weak all day.â€
When the singing was over, each one gave their
grandmother the good-night.kiss before leaving her.
Doris lingered a little behind, with some expressions
of endearment ; then followed the rest to supper.
â€œLet me take her supper to grandmother to-night,â€
said Herman. â€œIt is my last chance.â€
â€œOh! no,â€ said Doris quickly, not understanding
that he referred to his own removal to the parsonage.
â€œ Mother has not seemed so bright and like herself for
a long time.â€
Herman made no answer; he had observed and
been alarmed by his grandmotherâ€™s unusual aspect,
for he was already becoming experienced in sick-
rooms. He was hardly gone an instant, when he
returned ; one glance at his face made everybody start
from the table.
Ah! how near heaven is! How little time it takes
to get there! In one brief moment she who had so
long sat waiting for her Lord had heard His voice,
and had gone joyfully to meet Him, The smile with
which she had welcomed Him still lingered on and
illumined her face.
Doris ran and clasped the small, worn figure in her
â€œOh, mother ! mother ! speak to me once more, only
once more !â€ she cried.
Max rushed out for the doctor, He knew it was
Or, the Little Preacher. 11g
too late, but he could not bear the sight of such
â€œOh! what an ending to this happy Sunday !â€
sobbed Doris, â€˜Where is Herman ?â€ :
She instinctively turned to him for sympathy, who
was now her pastor, as well as her son.
â€œTt is a beautiful ending, dear mother!â€ said
Herman. â€œThis is not death; it is a translation !â€
His lips quivered, however ; he had loved his grand-
mother with a peculiar affection, and after a momen-
tary struggle with himself, he burst into tears. God
knows the opportune moment at which to send sorrow
into a house, and it is His goodness and mercy that does
not suffer the cup of earthly felicity to become too full.
It was with a tempered joy, and under the holy shadow
of a real sorrow, that- Herman entered on the work
of the ministry, and settled down among the people to
whom Pastor Koeffel had so long ministered. Minna
went with him to the parsonage, to arrange his house-
hold, and helped him to make it a refuge for the
weary, and the resort of all who suffered in body
Max and Doris devoted themselves less and less
to making money, and more and more to spending it
on those who lacked. They lived many long, useful,
happy years in the home of his childhood, and their
children and childrenâ€™s children rose up to call them
blessed. Bernhard completed his studies at the uni-
versity, where he was in time chosen professor. His
grandmother Steiner took the whole credit of this
event to herself; and, as no one disputed it with her,
it continued to be to her a life-long source of glorifi-
120 =6Herman; or, the Little Preacher.
cation. Though she never tamed into a model woman,
the progress of years and the discipline of life softened
her somewhat, and before her death she said and did
some things that enabled Max to say of her, after she
â€œMy mother had her peculiarities. I never saw
anybody exactly like her, but I believe she died a good
woman at last.â€
As for Adolph and Lena, amid the waywardness of
their youth they still wore some fragments of her
mantle whose saintly memory lingered long in her
â€˜native village. As time passed, they, too, learned to
reverence and to profit by the ministrations of the
â€˜Little Preacher,â€ whose self-distrust had only given
way to an invincible modesty that made both young
and old love to sit at his feet.
LITÂ¢ LE. PHREA DS,
TANGLE THREAD, SILVER THREAD, AND
HERE was once a very beautiful piece of
white satin, which had been woven with
! care and skill. Yet those who saw it went
away shaking their heads, saying, â€œ What a pity!
what a pity!â€ For there ran across this lovely fabric
a tangled thread ; and that one thread spoiled all.
And there was a lady who was very beautiful too.
She had always lived in a pleasant home, with kind
and loving friends about her. She had never, in her
life, known what it was to want anything she could
not have. Indeed she seemed born to be treated gently
and tenderly. People who were ignorant were not
afraid to go to see and talk with her, for they knew she
never laughed at their mistakes; and poor people liked
to go and tell her about their poverty just as if she
were poor too. And those who were sick or in trouble
wanted her to know all about their trials. For those
who went to see her with empty hands, came away not
half so poor as they went in; and the sick and the
sorrowful were comforted by her words of pity. You
124 Little Threads.
will think that this lady who was so good, who could
dress just as she pleased and ride when and where she
pleased, who had friends to love her, and friends to
admire her, must have been very happy indeed. And
so she was, for a time. Her life looked as smooth and
fair as the white satin you have just heard of. But
by-and-by there began to run across it a thread not at
all like the soft and even threads of which it was
made; here came a soiled spot; there were knots and
tangles ; as far as you could see, its beauty was gone.
How did this happen? Why, there came into the
house one day a little baby. A little, soft, tender
baby, that did not look as if it would harm anybody.
Its mother was very glad to see it. She thought her-
self almost too happy with such a treasure. The most
sunshiny, pleasant room in the house was given this
little thing for its own. All sorts of pure white gar-
ments were bought for it, and everything possible was
done to keep it well and make it happy. Before it
came its mother used to lie down to sleep at night as
sweetly as you do, little rosy child, who read this book.
But now she slept, as people say, with one eye and one
ear open! That is, she kept starting up to sce if it
were nicely covered with its soft blankets, or to listen
to its gentle breathing, to know if it were quite well.
If it happened to be restless or unwell, she would sit
up all night to take care of it, or walk with it hour
after hour when anybody but its own dear mother
would have been out of patience, or too tired to keep
And before the baby came there this lady used to
spend a good deal of time at her piano, singing and
Little Threads. 12 5
playing. She used to draw and paint and read and
write. But now she almost forgot she had any piano.
The babyâ€™s cooing was all the music she cared for.
And she left off drawing and painting, and thought
the sweetest picture in the world was that tiny, sleep-
ing creature in its cradle. To be sure, mother and
baby together did make a very lovely picture indeed.
Perhaps you will begin to think that this lady loved
her baby too much. But no, a mother cannot do that,
unless she loves it better than God, and this little
childâ€™s mother loved God best. She loved Him so
dearly that if He had asked her to give it back to
Him, she would have given it without a word; He
would not ask her to do it without tears.
The baby had a name of its own, but it was called
â€œThe Baby,â€ and nothing else, just as if there never
had been one in the world before, and never would be
again, As itâ€™ had nothing to do but to grow, it did
grow, but not very fast. Its mother said she liked a
tiny baby better than she did a big one. When she
showed it to her friends she always said: â€œIt isnâ€™t a
very large child, I know, but you see its bones are very
small, and of course that makes a difference.â€ And.
they would reply: â€œ Certainly, that makes a great dif-
ference. And it has the prettiest little round face, and
wee bits of hands and fect, there ever were |â€
The day on which the nurse who took care of the
baby and its mother at first was obliged to go away,
another young woman came to fill her place. Her
name was Ruth. She was very glad to come, indeed.
For she thought it would be very nice to sit in that
bright, pleasant room, holding that pretty little baby
126 Little Threads.
on her lap, She thought she should never know a
eare ora trouble. But she was quite frightened when
she undertook to wash and dress the pretty little
creature, to find how it screamed. The truth is, if
there was any one thing this baby could not bear, it
was to be touched with water. What was to be done?
Let it go unwashed? Oh no, that would never do!
Its mother really trembled when she saw such a young,
feeble creature cry so. She knelt down by the side of
the nurse and with her soft hands tried to hurry
through the washing and dressing. They never knew
how they got on the little shirt, or how they fastened
the little petticoats, or which of them tied the clean,
white frock. The nurse was red and warm, and the
mother pale and tired when this great task was over.
But they both thought things would go better next
time, and Ruth said so to herself as she walked up and
down trying to quiet the child, and the mother said so
to herself as she lay all worn out on the sofa, watching
Day after day passed, however, and every morning
the baby screamed. As it grew older and stronger, its
mother was less frightened when it cried, but it was
painful to hear such an uproar, and she began to dread
the hour for washing and dressing it.
â€˜â€˜ What can be the reason the baby cries so?â€ she
asked the nurse every morning, till at last, â€˜tired of
saying, â€˜Perhaps she won't cry so, next time,â€ poor
Ruth cried out, â€˜â€œ Why, itâ€™s the temper, maâ€™am !â€
â€œTis temper!â€ said its mother, much astonished.
â€œWhy, I should as soon think of talking about the
temper of one of the cows in your fatherâ€™s farm-yard!â€
Lie Tine a
â€œ And you might well do that, maâ€™am, for cows has
tempers of their own as well as babies and other folks.
There was old White Spot, now. She couldnâ€™t cry
and scream like this baby, but she could kick over a
pail of milk equal to anybody; and did it many a
time when she was put out.â€
The babyâ€™s mother hardly knew what to think.
The baby grew older and grew stronger, but it did
not grow better. The truth is, it had a very strong
will of its own. As long as it could have its own
way, it was good, but the moment other people wanted
their way it began to scream.
As soon as it became old enough to understand what
was said to itâ€”and that was very soonâ€”its mother
resolved never to give it things for which it cried.
She told Ruth so, But one day she went into the
nursery and there lay Miss Baby fast asleep on the
bed, with a china vase on each arm.
â€œWhy, Ruth, what does this mean?â€ she asked.
â€œThe baby cried so for the vases that I could do
nothing with her,â€ replied Ruth. â€œIt was time for
her nap, and I did all I could to get her to sleep, but
she cried herself nearly into fits for the vases. So at
last I had to give them to her. She dropped right off
to sleep then, like a lamb.â€
â€œ Never do so again, Ruth. You may spare yourself
a little trouble for the time by giving a child what it
cries for, But in the end you increase your trouble
tenfold, and strengthen the child in its resolution to
have its own way.â€
When the baby awoke, it did not miss the vases,
which its mother had replaced on the shelf, but when
128 Little Threads.
it was ready to go to bed that night it looked at them,
and stretched out its arms towards them, saying plainly
by its gestures: â€œI am going to sleep with those
pretty things in my arms.â€
â€œNo, baby canâ€™t have them,â€ said Ruth. â€œBaby
must go to sleep.â€
Babyâ€™s answer was a fearful scream, which was heard
in the dining-room where her papa and mamma were
â€œHark!â€ said her papa. â€œI hear the baby. She
has either had a-fall, or there are a dozen pins sticking
â€œNo, that is not a cry of pain,â€ replied her mother.
â€œTt is a cry of anger. And I think I know what it
means. However, I'll go up and see.â€
She ran up-stairs and found poor Ruth walking up
and down with the child, looking hot and tired.
â€œT knew you would think I was hurting her,
maâ€™am,â€ she said. â€œBut itâ€™s those vases she wants.
Wouldnâ€™t it be best to pacify her with them? Sheâ€™s
hoarse with crying.â€
â€œNo, Ruth, no,â€ said her mamma. â€œI do not
wonder you are tired and almost discouraged. But we
must think of the childâ€™s good rather than our own
present comfort.â€ i
She took the angry baby in her arms, and sat down
sadly in a low chair with it.
â€œYou are sure there are no pins about its clothes ?â€
â€œOh yes, maâ€™am! I sewed on its clothes just as
you bid me.â€
â€œVery well. Go down now to your tea.â€
â€œT donâ€™t like to leave you with the child crying so.â€
Little Threads. 129
â€œT prefer you should go. She will certainly stop
erying before long.â€
Ruth went slowly down-stairs.
â€œTwo sticks ainâ€™t crosser than that baby,â€ she said
to herself. â€œI never saw such a child. Why, every
bone in me aches like the toothache.â€
â€œWhat's going on up-stairs?â€ asked the. cook, as
Ruth entered the kitchen.
â€œYou might knock me down with a straw,â€ replied
Ruth. â€œI have been trying for an hour to get the
baby to sleep, and it has screamed the whole time till
I was afraid it would kill itself.â€
Meanwhile the poor mother still sat sadly and
quietly in the low chair, holding the struggling child,
and praying to God to teach her how to subdue it.
She begged Him to give her patience, and to give her
gentleness and firmness. The babyâ€™s cries began to
grow less and less noisy, and at last, ali tired out, it .
fell asleep. Its mother looked down upon it tenderly
and kissed it over and over. But her heart was full
of care and pain.
â€œAh!â€ thought she, â€œ the old saying is true, â€˜ Every
rose has its thorn !â€™â€
Day after day passed on, and the baby grew from a
baby into a little child with busy hands, and active
feet, and a will of its own that seemed to grow with its
growth, and strengthen with its strength. Her father,
seeing how much anxiety and trouble she caused her
mother, began to call her â€œTangle Threadâ€ instead of
â€œ Baby.â€ By degrees everybody in the house fell into
the same habit, and instead of bearing her own sweet
name of â€œ Lilly,â€ this new name was fastened to her.
130 Little Threads.
When she was two years old she could talk. quite
plainly, and when nothing was vexing her, she was
bright and playful. Her mother tried to avoid con-
flicts with her, as much as possible. But if she once
began she did not yield. She knew that no child can
be happy that always has its own way. She knew
that God would be displeased with her if she let her
little daughter grow up self-willed and disobedient.
Early one morning Tangle Thread awoke, smiling
and cheerful. Her little crib was close by her
mammaâ€™s bed, and she saw that neither her father nor
mother was yet awake. She sat up in bed and played
awhile with her pillow. But she was soon tired of
that, so she climbed from -her crib to the bed, and
from the bed slipped down to the floor. Pretty soon
her mother, hearing a slight noise, awoke, and starting
up, she saw Tangle Thread standing in a chair before
her fatherâ€™s dressing-table, with a razor open in her
â€œOh! she has a razor!â€ she said, jumping from the
bed, and hastening towards the child.
Tangle Thread instantly got down from the chair,
and ran across the room with the razor in her hand.
â€œTangle Thread, stop this instant,â€ cried her father,
awakened by the noise. But Tangle Thread only ran
faster, and when she saw her father and mother both
running after her, she became angry.
â€œ Weil have it! will shave!â€ she cried.
â€œ Stop this instant !â€ cried her father once more.
By this time her mother had seized her hand, and
after a struggle the razor was secured. â€˜Tangle Thread
burst into frantic screams, but suddenly stopped short
Little Threads. 131
when she saw that her motherâ€™s hand was covered with
â€œYes, you made your poor mamma cut her hand,â€
said her father.
Tangle Thread was frightened.
â€œT sorry,â€ she said.
But in an instant she was angry with herself for
being sorry. She began to dance up and down, and
to scream out: â€œ No, no, not sorry.â€
Her mother was used .to such scenes. Her father
had never seen her so angry.
â€œWhy, this is dreadful!â€ he cried. â€œI never saw
such a child. If she does not learn to obey, she will
sometime cut herself to pieces or get burned up.â€
â€œYes, I know it,â€ replied her mother. â€œI have
tried, in every possible, way, to teach her obedience.
But nothing seems to have any effect. Not half an
hour after being punished for this offence, she will do
something else just as bad.â€
â€œBut has the child no feeling? It seems so un-
natural for a little thing of her age not to be alarmed
and pained at the sight of blood.. And your fingers are
all cut, I do believe.â€™ Let me see. Yes, each one of
your poor mammaâ€™s fingers is cut and bleeding,â€ he
said, turning to Tangle Thread, who during this time
had not ceased to scream and stamp with all her might.
Her fatherâ€™s address only made her cry more angrily
and loudly. â€˜
Her mamma said to him in a low voice: â€œDo not
notice her. It only â€œirritates her yet more. She has a
great deal of feeling, and I am sure she is distressed at
the sight of my cut fingers.â€
132 Little Threads.
And this was true. Tangle Thread was distressed.
But she did not know herself what was the matter
with her, and she was still angry and excited and kept
on crying. And when she once begun to cry, she was
like a horse that has begun to run, and the more he
runs the more he must run, till he gets almost wild
and quite worn out, and has to stop to take breath.
AHEN Tangle Thread had cried till she could
cry no longer, her mamma sent for Ruth to
beibabed}! come and dress her.
Dunne breakfast, the father and mother were both
silent and thoughtful. At last her father said :
â€œDo not you intend to bring that child to her
senses, my dear?â€
â€œYes, I shall punish her by-and-by. Now, while
she is so oe she would Jet me kill her before she
would give up.â€
â€œ But you intend to make her say she is sorry ?â€
â€œT donâ€™t know.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t know, my dear? Do you mean that
you do not intend to break that childâ€™s will?â€
â€œT used to think I must do that, once for all,â€ she
replied. â€œI have heard great stories of conflicts be-
tween parents and children, that finished up the busi-
ness for ever. Thereâ€™s Mr. Hamilton; he told me
that his little Ellen when she was about a year and a
half old, was standing near him, holding a little doll in
â€œ Â«Tet papa see your dolly,â€™ said he.
134 Little Threads.
â€œThe child put both hands behind her, and made
â€œCome to me, and let me see your dolly,â€™ he
â€œThe child refused. At last, after urging her some
time, he said : ,
â€œÂ¢Then papa will have to make you do it.â€™ He
began by slapping her hands. She changed the doll
from hand to hand, but held it firmly. He then used
a little rod. The child grew more and more violent ;
a regular battle raged between them. He kept repeat-
ing, â€˜I shall punish you, Nelly, till you show me your
dolly ;â€™ but she would not yield. At last she threw it
at him, angrily. Hour after hour passed before the
child would submit; but at last she gave up, and that
was their final conflict. But I have had twenty such
scenes with Tangle Thread. She yields at last, and is
as sweet and gentle and loving, for a time, as need be.
But perhaps the very next day the whole ground will
have to be fought over again.â€
â€œPerhaps Tangle Thread would yield to me more
readily,â€ said her father. â€œAs it was my razor about
which she was so obstinate, perhaps I ought to take
her in hand myself.â€
So after breakfast, he took Tangle Thread into his
dressing room, and said to her :
â€œYou have been a very naughty child; you would
not mind either papa or mamma; and you made poor
mamma cut her fingers very badly. Are not you sorry
you were so naughty ?â€
Tangle Thread held down her head and was silent.
â€œ Answer papa. Are you sorry?â€
"Little Threads. 135
He took her little hand in his. â€˜I shall slap this
little hand very hard, if you do not answer me.â€
Then Tangle Thread burst out into her usual scream.
Her father: struck her hands again and again, but
she only kept on crying.
He began to wish he had not undertaken the task of
conquering such a child.
â€œ After all it is a motherâ€™s work,â€ he said to himself.
He looked at his watch. â€œIt is ten oâ€™clock. I ought
to be in my office,â€ he said, uneasily.
â€œTangle Thread, are you going to obey me, or shall
I have to punish you more severely ?â€
Ten minutes passedâ€”fifteenâ€”Tangle Thread had no
thought of yielding.
At eleven oâ€™clock her father sat in despair, looking
more worn out thanâ€™the angry child did; but the
battle was not yet ended.
At last her poor mother, who had sat looking on in
agony, burst into tears.
â€œOh, my child!â€ she cried, â€œwill you make your
' father strike you yet more?â€
Then Tangle Threadâ€™s stubborn heart seemed to
melt. She cried out:
Am sorry, papa!â€
â€œThen run to your dear mamma, and tell her
Tangle Thread van into her mammaâ€™s arms, who
kissed her and wept over her, but was too tired and
heart-sick to say much.
â€œDo you know, my little child, that your mamma
feels just so when you are naughty, and have to be
136 Little Threads.
punished? She certainly does. Then won't you try to
be good for her sake?â€
Tangle Thread fell asleep in her mamma's arms.
Her papa looked at her sorrowfully.
â€œT am sorry I undertook to govern her,â€ said he.
â€œJT never was so tired in my life. Who would think
that that tiny frame could hold such a will!â€
â€œT never have these conflicts with her now,â€ replied
her mamma. â€œIt has been suggested to me, that when
a child refuses to obey, it is best to punish it for dis-
obedience at once, rather than enter on a contest with
it. And, on the whole, I believe it to be the proper
â€œWell, good-bye, my dear; it is past twelve, and I
ought not to stay another moment. Do go and lie
down. You look quite worn out. Or shall I order
the carriage for you? Ah! your life is very different
now from what it used to be, before this strange child
dropped down upon us !â€
â€œTt may look hard to those who only see the wilful,
wayward ways of the child,â€ said her mother. â€œBut I
love this poor little creature dearly.â€
The father now kissed the pale mother and the
sleeping child, and went out. He soon forgot, in trying
to make up for his lost time, what he had been through.
God means that the work of training little children
should belong chiefly to the mother. She has no
business to call her out ; she can have no business
so important outside her own doors. It is for her to
watch every look and word and tone; to give up all
her time, if necessary, and find her happiness in seeing
her child grow up good and gentle, or her sorrow in
Little Threads. 137
seeing it continue perverse and disobedient. So Tangle
Threadâ€™s mamma could not go out, like her papa, and
forget her troubles. There was only one place in all
the world where she could find comfort.. That was on
her knees, before God. She placed the weary little
sleeper on her own bed, and then with many tears,
gave her away more truly than ever before to Him.
She told Him all her troubles and cares, and besought
Him to look down in love on her poor little lamb, and
to take her in His arms, and carry her in His bosom,
till she should become like Himself.
Perhaps you think that God heard this prayer and
answered it at once, so that Tangle Thread awoke from
her nap quite another child, and never was naughty
again. And no doubt He did hear and answer it.
But fruit does not ripen in one day, nor in two.
Under the care of the skilful gardener it will surely
ripen, but it must have sun and rain not once or twice,
but day after day, week after week; sometimes,. even,
month after month.
Poor little Tangle Thread was only conquered for a
time. The very day after the sad affair with the razor,
she was as naughty as ever. And the next day it was
just the same. No matter what she was refused, she
always cried for it with her whole heart. No matter
how she was punished, she would do, right over again,
the very things she had been forbidden.
Ruth found it hard work to get along with her; for
when her mamma was out, she could cry as much as ~
she pleased, and tease Ruth till her patience was worn,
as she said herself, â€œto tatters.â€
â€œTf you wonâ€™t scream once to-morrow,â€ Ruth said to
138 Litile Threads.
her one day, â€œI'll ask your mamma to let you go home
with me some time. Then you can see all our cows,
and our hens and pniekens, and you can take a basket
and hunt for eggs.â€
â€œWell!â€ said Tangle Thieds
But the next day she cried half a dozen times.
Once it was because her hair was cut; once because
she did not wish to go to walk. Again, because there
was rice-pudding for her dinner, and she said she hated
rice; and so on, through the day.
â€œ Try again to-morrow,â€ urged Ruth.
â€œ Well!â€ said Tangle Thread, â€œif you'll promise not
to wash my face, nor change my dress, nor make me
wear over-shoes when I go out; if you'll go on the
shady side of the street, and walk down to Union
Square, then I wonâ€™t cry. I shanâ€™t have anything to
â€œBut I canâ€™t promise,â€ said Ruth. â€œI must wash
your face and change your dress ; I must put on your
over-shoes; and while this cold weather lasts, I must
walk on the sunny side of the street. Your mamma
has bidden me to do all these things; and as for
Union Square,"you know your mamma wonâ€™t let you
go there, because she is afraid you'll get run over.â€
â€œThen I shall cry,â€ returned Tangle Thread. â€œ Of
course if you and mamma do all you can to plague me,
and won't let me do a thing I want to do, I must cry.
Or at any rate, I must fret.â€
â€œYou think if we let you alone, and you could do
just as you pleased, you would have nothing to cry or
fret about. But you'd go to destruction in the space of
half an hour. You would kill yourself eating cake and
Little Threads. 139
eandy, or you would get run over by some cart or
carriage, or you would catch your death of cold. It
frightens me to think what you would do if it wasnâ€™t
for your poor mamma slaving herself into a consump-
tion to make you a better child. And your mamma is
such a sweet lady, too. Oh, I wish you would be a
good child !â€
But Tangle Thread was much amused at the various
ways in which Ruth said she might go to destruction,
and she liked better to hear that sort of talk than talk
about being good, which was quite an old story. _
â€œTell some more dreadful things I might do,â€ said
â€œTâ€™ve told enough,â€ said Ruth.
â€œYou must tell me some more. Mamma says you
must do all you can to amuse me. Come, make haste!
Suggest something else!â€
â€œWell, you might get choked to death trying to say
a big word.â€
â€œ Now you are laughing at me, And Iâ€™ve a right toâ€
say â€˜suggestâ€™ if Iâ€™ve a mind. Tl tell mamma how
you laugh at me!â€
Ruth answered, good-naturedly : â€œTI didnâ€™t mean to
tease you, at any rate. Come, let me tell you all about
my fatherâ€™s farm.â€
â€œYoure always telling that. You've told me nine.
hundred times. Iâ€™d rather hear about something else.â€
â€œ Then I'll tell you about the Babes in the Wood.â€
â€œNo, I donâ€™t want to hear that, either. Tell me
about a nurse that put a baby in a carriage and made a
poor little lamb draw it all over town. And at last the
poor little lamb fell down dead.â€
140 Little Threads.
â€œ But I donâ€™t know that story.â€
â€œYes, you do, for Iâ€™ve just told it to you.â€
â€œBut if I only tell just what you've told me, you
will get angry and go to erying.â€
â€œJT told you all I know,â€ said Tangle Thread. â€œTI
made it up myself. And you must tell me a lot more
â€œBut I canâ€™t,â€ said Ruth. â€˜TI canâ€™t make up stories.
I never could.â€
â€œYoure a naughty girl. I donâ€™t like you one bit.
Tl tell mamma of you.â€
â€œAnd you are a tiresome, naughty child!â€ Ruth
was tempted to say. But she bit her lips, and was
silent. Then Tangle Thread ran away behind the bed,
and was silent, too. Ruth knew she would sit there
and pout a long time, and then, if not noticed, scream
till attention was paid her. She got up and opened
her drawer, and took from it three little bits of candy.
â€œâ€˜ Here is some candy your mamma said I might give
you,â€ said she. â€œCome, get up from the floor and
Tangle Thread remained lying flat on the floor with
her face hidden in her two hands. Ruth placed the
candy near her and went back to her work. The child
pulled the candy towards her, ate it, still lying on the
floor, and at last fell asleep.
â€œ Was there ever such a child!â€ said Ruth. â€œIf I
take her up, she'll cry and kick and scream till the
walls come down. If I leave her there, she'll get cold.
Well, I can but cover her up with a shawl and let her
SHALL skip over several years of Tangle
Threadâ€™s life now, for I donâ€™t like to write
fi -about naughty children. When she was old
enough to learn to read, her mother was glad, for she
thought. the child would be better and happier if she
could amuse herself with books. She determined to
give her four very short lessons every day, so as never
to let her get tired. So one morning she called Tangle
Thread, and taking her into her lap, she said :
â€œ Here is a nice little book for you, and I am going
to teach you to read. Donâ€™t you want to learn to
â€œ No,â€ said Tangle Thread, â€œI want to play.â€
â€œYes, you shall play very soon, But you must
learn a little bit of a lesson first. And I do not like
you to say â€˜Noâ€™ when you speak to me. I wish you
to bea polite little girl, and it isnâ€™t polite to speak so to
â€œT donâ€™t want to be polite,â€ said Tangle Thread.
Her mamma sighed a little, though she tried not to,
ind smiled as sweetly and pleasantly as ever.
â€œ This letter is great A,â€ said she. â€œSee! one of its
142 Little Threads.
legs goes up so, and the other down so, . What did I
say its name was ?â€
â€œT donâ€™t know,â€ said Tangle Thread, in a sulky
â€œ A,â€ said her mother. â€œ Now say it after meâ€”A.â€
â€œTI donâ€™t want to learn to read,â€ repeated Tangle
â€œBut Iam resolved you shall learn, my child,â€ re-
plied her mothex, â€œ Now say A, after me.â€
Tangle Thread was silent. Her mother looked at
her watch. The time she had set apart for the lesson
â€œMy child,â€ said she, â€œ you have disobeyed me, and
I must punish you. And at twelve oâ€™clock I shall
give you another lesson.â€ â€˜Then, with a heavy heart,
she punished the litile girl, and sent her back to the
At twelve oâ€™clock the nurse brought her home from
her usual morning walk, took off her things, brushed
her hair, and led her to her mother for the second
lesson, as she had been told to do.
Her mother received her with a loving word and a
â€œ Now, can you tell me the name of the letter?â€ she
â€œTJ donâ€™t know, and I said I didnâ€™t know. And I
donâ€™t want to learn to read.â€
â€œJ think you do know, Tangle Thread,â€™ said her
mother. â€œ But I will tell you once more. It is A.â€
â€œT canâ€™t say A,â€ said Tangle Thread. â€œAnd I can't
say B, either. Nor C.â€
â€œWhy, where did you learn your letters?â€ asked
Little Threads. 143
her mother, in great surprise. â€œHow glad I am that
you know them !â€
â€œThey're on my blocks,â€ said Tangle Thread, in a
gracious voice. â€œ And if youll buy me a wax doll as
big as Edith Mayâ€™s, I'll say some more.â€
â€œT canâ€™t promise to pay you for doing what I bid
you,â€ replied her mother. â€˜You have a dozen dolls
now, and if you had one like Edithâ€™s, you would soon
break it. But do not let us talk of that now. Let
me hear you say D.â€ ;
Half-crying, and with pouts and frowns, this second
lesson was finished. Tangle Threadâ€™s mother went on
faithfully to teach her naughty child in spite-of her
behaviour. But when she called her to her lessons,
she felt very much as people do when they go up the
steps of the dentistâ€™s house and ring his bell. Tangle
Thread never came pleasantly ; she almost always cried
before they got through the few minutesâ€™ task; she
would not half listen to what was said, and everything
had to be repeated over and over again. Her book was
blotted with tears, and its leaves were crumpled in her
impatient hands, so that many a new one had to be
bought before the end of the year. And oh! how
many weary, weary hours this work she had looked
forward to with pleasure, cost the poor mother.
HERE was once a piece of coarse black stuif,
anda bright golden thread waved and rippled
through it like a sunbeam.
And there was a poor, solitary woman, who had
known little but trouble since the day she was born.
When she was only eight years old, the parent-birds
pushed her out of the nest to find home and shelter
where she could. Nobody taught her to read or to
write ; nobody cared where she went or what she did.
She wore rags for clothing, ate the coarsest food, and
not enough of that; was knocked about, scolded, and
abused. At last she was married. Her husband lived
with her till what little money she had laid up was
gone, and then ran away. After a time she heard that
he was dead.
But just before he went away, God had pity on the
joyless life of this poor woman, and He wove into it a
golden thread. In other words, he sent a little smiling,
loving child into the dark room that used to be so
lonely. â€˜here wasnâ€™t much in it besides the child.
While the mother lay in bed with the baby by her
side, the drunken husband had broken most of the
furniture to pieces with an axe, The cabinet that she
Little Threads. 145
had been so proud of was only fit to light the fire now ;
and the table and the chairs were not worth much
more. But what if the floor was covered with these
fragmentsâ€”wasnâ€™t there a live baby lying on her arm?
Little Golden Thread grew fat every minute, as
good babies are apt to do. God had provided plenty
of sweet milk for her, and nobody had to go out of the
house to buy it when the baby was hungry. It kept
coming as fast as it was wanted, just as oil kept coming
into the poor woman's cruse in the Bible. But food
for the mother did not come of its own accord, and it
was necessary for her to do something to earn money
to pay her rent with; to buy bread and potatoes and
coal and clothes. She did not know, at first, how to
manage it; for she must stay at home and take care
of her baby, and could not go out to work as she
used to do. There was a poor little seamstress who
was willing to pay half a dollar a week, if she would
let her come and sleep in her bed. And she came
every night, when her dayâ€™s labour was ended, and
crept in far over toward the wall, so as to leave room
for Golden Thread and her mother. Then in the
morning, while the child was taking its nap, the
mother would go out, with an old poker in one hand
and a tin pail in the other, to rake out bits of coal
from rich peopleâ€™s ash-barrels. Her clothes were scanty,
â€˜and of all sorts of odd shapes, so that if you happened
to see her from your bed-room window, half buried in
your barrel of ashes, you would hardly have. been able
to tell whether that queer figure was a manâ€™s or a
womanâ€™s. These bits of coal helped to keep them
warm, and to cook a dinner now and then,
146 Little Threads,
Golden Thread had to lie on an old rug on the
floor, and take care of herself most of the time. Her
mother was afraid to leave her on the bed, lest she
should fall off. But the child was happy on her rug,
and she threw up her arms and hands and legs, and
played with them, or watched her mother moving
about the room, or just lay kicking and laughing and
crowing and cooing. Some of her little clothes.were
always in the wash-tub, or else hanging on a line
behind the stove, drying. This was because she had
so few things that they had to be washed every day.
But she did not know or care anything about that.
She went on enjoying herself just as much as if she
had had a houseful of clothes, and her mother would
stop now and then, look fondly down at the old rug
and the little creature on it, and say halfaloud, half to
herself, â€˜Little comfort ! little blessing !â€ and then go
cheerily on with her work.
When Golden Thread had learned to creep and to
walk it was not so safe to go out and leave her alone, as
it had been. She would get burned or scalded, or pull
the chairs over, and hurt herself, because she did not
know any better than to get into mischief. So her
mother had to wrap her up in an old shawl, and take
her with her when she went out. Golden Thread
used to pat and kiss her as they went along with the
clothes that were to be washed or the coarse needle-
work that was to be done, And this made the way
seem short when it was long. This poor woman had
often to carry a very heavy basket on one arm with
her child on the other, and this was hard, and she
often had to stop to take breath. If Golden Thread
Little Threads. 147
had fallen asleep these sudden halts would wake her
up; then she would smile, put up her lips to be
kissed, and settle down to sleep again. And as soon
as she was strong enough to trot along by her motherâ€™s
side she wanted to help carry the basket, or the pail,
or the bundle that was almost as big as herself, indeed
sometimes much bigger than she was. Now, of course,
she could not help at all, and yet it was very sweet to
see her try, and to watch her bright face when she
fancied herself of some use to her mother. Donâ€™t you
remember how pleased you were when you ran to get
your papaâ€™s boots for him? And how pleased he was,
too? You see you were like Tiotle Golden Thread when
you did that.
When Golden Thread was three years old her
mother thought she must begin to leave her at home,
and go out to work by the day. Ladies who wanted
washing done would let her come and wash for them
all day, give her plenty of good food to eat, and when
she went home at night pay her for her work. So she
asked one of her neighbours to look in now and
then to see how the child was getting along, made up
a fire that would last till her return, put bread where
Golden Thread could reach it, charged her to be a good
girl, and went away. She knew that Golden Thread
would stay where she was bidden, but she did not love
to go and leave her all alone; and she went back
twice to kiss her, and to promise to get home as early
as possible. Golden Thread did not ery or fret, when
her mother had gone, and she heard her lock the door
behind her. She ran and climbed up into a chair to
look out from the window, and watch for her to come
148 Little Threads.
home, just as she always did when her mother went out
on errands: She sat patiently and quietly a long, long
time, thinking every minute she should see her mother
turn the corner, and then hear her step coming up the
stairs. She did not know how long a day is. By-
and-by the neighbour who had promised to look after
her, came up and unlocked the door, and put in her
head. Golden Threadâ€™s mother had given her the key
to keep while she was gone.
â€œOh mother! is that you?â€ cried the lonely little
child, running to the door.
â€œ No, itâ€™s not time for your mother to be back yet.
Suppose you go down and stay with me a bit ?â€
Golden Thread was very glad to go, and for a time
she was quite happy, playing with the neighbour's
children. But by-and-by they began to quarrel, and
to pull each other's hair, and their mother boxed all
the ears in the room, even poor Golden Threadâ€™s,
without stopping to ask who was to blame, and the
poor little thing was very glad to be taken home again
to her own room. â€˜The fire had begun to get low, and
the neighbour put on more coal before she went away.
Golden Thread made believe to iron when she was left
alone, but this made her arms ache, and then she made
houses with the clothes-pins. Then dinner-time came,
and she ate her bread and drank some water, and
climbed up to watch once more for her mother. Dear
me! what a joyful sound it was to hear her come toil-
ing up the stairs! They hugged and kissed each so
many times, and it was so nice!
â€œPoor little soul!â€ said her mother, â€œit was lone
some while its mother was gone !â€
Little Threads. 149
_ â€œBut you've come now !â€ cried Golden Thread ; and
she forgot all the long hours, and was just as happy as
a little bird.
And the tired mother forgot how tired she was, and
she put on the tea-kettle and a saucepan, and began
to get the little oneâ€™s supper. She had had hers, and
now all she thought of was giving something warm to
her child, who had been so sweet and contented with
her bread and water all day.
â€œSee,â€ said she, â€œthis pretty white egg. I am
going to boil it fer you. And you shall have a drop
of milk and a bit of sugar, and a cup of tea to-night.
And mother will make you a slice of toast.â€ What a
feast. after a long, lonely day !
â€œMother, do rich people have such nice suppers ?â€
asked Golden Thread, hopping-round her, and looking
â€œDear me! bless the child !â€ said her mother ; and
she laughed all to herself, and felt a good deal happier
than many rich folks put together.
So Golden Thread sat up to the table, and had her
warm supper. Her tea was make-believe tea, made of
water with a little milk in it ; but she had it in a real
tea-cup, and the egg wasnâ€™t a make-believe egg by any
â€œTm going again to-morrow to the same place,â€ said
her mother. â€œAnd you must be a good child, and not
fret for mother.â€
â€œNo, I wonâ€™t fret one bit,â€ said Golden Thread.
â€œ And when yowâ€™e a big gitl I'll buy you a great big
egg, and cook it for your supper.â€
â€œWhy, Iâ€™m a big girl now,â€ said her mother. Then
150 Little Threads.
they both laughed a good deal, and by-and-by it was
time to go to bed. When Golden Thread had fallen
asleep, her mother put on her hood and shawl, and
went out to spend the money she had earned that day.
She bought a little coal and a loaf of bread, and three
penny-worth of tea, and some meal. Some of the meal
was to be boiled next morning for the childâ€™s break-
fast. And the coal was to keep her from freezing
through the wintry day.
â€œ Wait upon me as soon as you can,â€ she said to the
grocer of whom she bought her tea. â€œ For Iâ€™ve locked
my little girl up alone in the room, and Iâ€™m so afraid
of fires-when it becomes dark.â€
â€œTtâ€™s a pretty risky thing to lock a child up, day or
night,â€ replied the grocer. â€˜â€˜Thereâ€™s no telling how
many come to their death that way, every year. You
see they get lonesome, and they fall to playing with
the fire, or with matches,â€
â€œMy little girl never does such things,â€ said the
â€œ That doesnâ€™t prove she never will do them some
time,â€ persisted the grocer. â€˜Childrenâ€™s all just alike.
And itâ€™s my opinion they all make a point of getting
into all the mischief they can. Donâ€™t lock â€™em up in
rooms by themselves, J say.â€
â€œThatâ€™s my doctrine too,â€ said another man, who
stood by. â€œ Besides, itâ€™s a piece of cruelty. Children
wasnâ€™t made to live alone by the day.â€
â€œT donâ€™t know what else we poor folks are to do,â€
said Golden Threadâ€™s mother. She caught up her
basket and hastened away, to see that her child was
Little Threads. 15]
Golden Thread spent a great many such days as the
one I have told you about. How would you like to
be locked: into the room and left alone all day? Do
you think you should cry?
At last Golden Thread was old enough to go to
school, and then her long, lonely days were over. It
is hard work to learn to read, but it isnâ€™t half so hard
as to stay by yourself all day. So Golden Thread was
very happy to stand by her teacherâ€™s side and be taught
her letters. There were a great many children in the
school, and many of them were naughty, tiresome
children. ThÃ©y teased their teacher and made her a
deal of trouble, so that she often got quite out of
patience, and would speak sharply to them or even
shake them. She even got out of patience with our
good little Golden Thread, because she did not learn
faster, and one day she spoke quite roughly to her, and
â€œ You are as stupid as an owl !â€
The tears came into Golden Threadâ€™s eyes, but she
looked up sweetly into her teacherâ€™s face, and said :
â€œ Why, Miss Bacon, you called me an owl !â€
â€œJ did-not mean to call you so,â€ replied the teacher.
â€œYou must forgive me for speaking so rudely. You
are my best child, and if all the rest were like you, I
should not lose my temper so.â€
When Golden Threadâ€™s mother came home that
night, with her limbs aching and her hands all wrinkled
and puckered with hot water, how pleased she was to
hear her dear child say :
â€œMy teacher says I am her best child !â€
Indeed the poor woman did not creep home to a
â€˜152 Little Threads.
dark and gloomy room in these days as she used to do
before she had any child. As she passed swiftly
through the streets she knew that Golden Thread would
have the fire burning cheerfully, the room nicely swept,
the candle lighted, and the little low chair waiting for
her. And what was more, she knew that the moment
she opened the door, she should hear the joyful cry,
â€œOh! here you come, mother!â€ and that two arms
would be round her neck and twenty kisses on her
cheek before she had time to take off her things. Oh!
it is so pleasant to have somebody glad to see you
when you get home! Sailors on the sea think so, and
soldiers in their tents think so, and so all mothers
think who have little Golden Threads watching and
waiting for them !
â€œT wish I might bring home to you some of the
good things I see wasted every day,â€ said the mother.
â€œOr, that I could go without half my dinner, so that
you could have it.â€
Golden Thread looked quite surprised.
â€œWhy, mother! I have plenty to eat!â€ said she.
â€œSome children have to go a-begging, They are
worse off than I am.â€
â€œWell, you havenâ€™t plenty of clothes, at any rate,
I wish you had. Then you wouldnâ€™t have to lie in
bed while I wash and dry what few old things you
Then Golden Thread laughed, and said: â€œ But it is
s0 nice that Iâ€™ve got some clothes, and donâ€™t have to
lie in bed all the time. And pretty soon I shall be a
big girl, and can help you work, and we shall have
lots of clothes.â€
Little Threads. 153
Yet down in the depths of little Golden Threadâ€™s
heart there lay a good many wants and wishes, that
she never told of. There are always such wishes in
the hearts of those who are poor, or only pretty well
off. Some great agitation throws them to the surface,
and friends see them with astonishment, not dreaming
of their existence until now. Just so, all sorts of
plants are growing down in the depths of the sea.
But it needs.a great wind or storm to tear them loose
from the rocks and toss them to the surface.
Golden Threadâ€™s mother kept on working very hard,
and by degrees she was able to get good warm clothing
for herself and her child. She bought a new chest of
drawers and some chairs and a table, and their room
looked more like a nice pleasant home than ever. But
hard work in all sorts of weather, now in freezing cold,
now in long summer days, requires a good deal of
health and strength, and this poor woman began to
lose hers. Now and then instead of going out to earn
money, she had to stay at home to rest, and then what
she had been saving had to be used up. At last, one
day, she fell from a ladder on which she was standing,
and the pail of whitewash she had been using over-
turned and poured its contents all over her. -Her eyes
were filled, and so was her mouth, and she could hardly
breathe or see. Some of the servants in the house
where she was at work helped her to get up and wipe
the whitewash from her face, but they could not cure
her eyes, which burned like fire. One of them led her
home, where she spent the night in great pain and
anxiety. In the morning Golden Thread could not
run gaily to school, as usual, She must lead her half-
154 Litile Threads.
blind mother to a dispensary. Do you know what a
dispensary is? If not, ask your mother, and she will
tell you. The poor woman was given something with
which to cool her eyes, but it did little good, and she
sat with folded hands, she who had always been so
busy! Golden Thread made the fire and got the
breakfast, and swept the room, and she said every-
thing she could think of to comfort her mother.
But the poor woman needed a great deal of comfort.
She knew that if she lost her eyes she could not work
any more to earn money for herself and her child.
They would be turned out of their pleasant little home,
and have to go to the work-house. "When she said so,
Golden Thread answered :
â€œ But won't they be good to us in the work-house?â€
â€œYou donâ€™t know what you are talking about, poor
thing,â€ said her mother. â€œAnd Iâ€™m glad you donâ€™t.
And to think of my being blind and not able to walk
another step !â€
â€œBut you've got me to lead you, mother,â€ said
Golden Thread. â€œIt isnâ€™t so bad as if you hadnâ€™t any
little girl like me!â€
â€œNo, I know it isnâ€™t. But if I am blind I never
shall see your face again.â€
â€œBut you can feel it with your hands, and thatâ€™s
most as good,â€ said Golden Thread. â€˜And I shall
never leave you; no, not one minute. And pretty
scon I shall be able to read to you. I'll read such
beautiful stories, all about kings and soldiers and
battles and giants. Thereâ€™s lots of stories in the
â€œDear me! the child would bring a dead man to
Little Threads, 155
life!â€ said the mother. â€œAnd I am an ungrateful
creature not to be thinking of my mercies instead of
sitting here groaning. Why, if I had to choose which
I'd lose, this child, or my two eyes, it would come
dreadful hard, but Iâ€™d choose to keep the child.â€
So many days passed, but the injured eyes were no
better, and all the neighbours came in to see the poor
woman and to give their advice. One wanted her to
try this thing and another that, and at last they told
of a woman who knew a great deal about the eye, and
would be sure to cure the worst case. Golden Thread
danced for joy when she heard this, for she believed
all she heard, like other little children. She could
hardly wait till her mother was got ready to set off to
visit this wonderful person who was to cure her eyes.
She led her carefully and tenderly along the street,
just as you would lead your little baby-sister if you
were allowed to take her out. The woman-doctor
looked at the eyes and made great promises, and in
return for her advice she took fourteen shillings from
the widowâ€™s hard-working hands. And she took four-
teen shillings a-good many times after this, till all theâ€™
money the poor woman had was gone. And at the
end of the visits her eyes were almost gone too.
These were hard times. The chest of drawers that
held all their treasures was sold; by-and-by the little
clock that used to tick so cheerfully went where the
chest of drawers did ; then the motherâ€™s warm shawl was
pawned; then Golden Threadâ€™s best frock that she
wore to Sunday-school; then other things, one after
another, till they and their room looked as forlorn as
a room could that had Golden Thread in it, and as
156 Little Threads.
Golden Thread could, while always wearing her sweet,
But winter was coming on; and winter wants many
things that summer can do without. It wants those
blankets that are at the pawnbrokerâ€™s ; those thick
shawls and petticoats, plenty of coal, plenty of warm
â€œâ€˜ Mother,â€ said Golden Thread, â€œif rich people
knew how poor we are, wouldnâ€™t they give us some-
â€œYes, I dare say ; but [ never begged.â€
â€œ But there was a lady said she would give us cold
pieces if we would come for them. Is it begging to
â€œWhy, if I ever get well, I could do something to
pay for them,â€ replied her mother. â€œYou're hungry,
poor thing, I know you are. Come, Pll go with you.
But it comes hard,â€ she added, for her courage failed
her, and she sat down again and pressed both hands
on her eyes to keep back the tears that would have
â€œ Never mind, mother,â€ said Golden Thread, â€œI am
not very hungry. And thereâ€™s my best shoes left ;
may be we could get something for them.â€
â€œWell, we'll try,â€ said her mother. They put on
their scanty shawls, and went out.
Golden Thread held her motherâ€™s hand fast in hers,
and led her carefully along, looking on all sides to see
that she was not run overâ€”picking out the dry places,
and every now and then speaking a word of love and
Walking slowly along in this way, Golden Thread
Little Threads. 157
observed a lady very richly dressed, leading by the
hand a little girl younger than herself. The child was
made on a very tiny scale. Her hands and feet were
so small that you could not help wondering at them ;
and her very red cheeks were on such a cunning little
face, that you would have said they were dollâ€™s cheeks,
if the eyes and the mouth hadnâ€™t such a wise and
knowing way with them. She was pulling very hard
on the hand that held hers, trying to get away. Hear
what she says, and perhaps you will know who she is:
â€œTf I canâ€™t have plum-cake and coffee, I donâ€™t want
any party. Edith has plum-cake, and she drinks two
cups of coffee. When I ama big woman I mean to
have just what Iâ€™ve a mind.â€
â€œDo you see that little girl across the street?â€
asked her mother. â€œSee how miserably she is dressed.
Look at her poor feet. Her shoes are so old that she
can hardly keep them on. And the poor woman she
is leading has a bandage over her eyes. -Do you think
that little girl teases for rich cake and coffee? Do you
think, if I should invite her to come to our house to
lunch, she would ery for things I did not give her?â€
â€œShe would be afraid to cry,â€ replied Tangle Thread,
â€œand I dare say she isa bad girl, and her mother is
only making believe blind. Gertrude says the streets
are full of impostors.â€ â€˜
Tangle Thread was so pleased that she had said a
big word that her ill-humour began to give way.
â€œTill run and ask them if theyâ€™re impostors,â€ said
she; â€œand if they say they're not, I'll give them a
shilling,â€ she added, tossing up her little bit of a
158 Little Threads.
And before her mother had time to answer she ran
towards Golden Thread, who had stopped to pull up
her shoes, that kept slipping from her feet: Many
carriages and heavy carts and stages were passing, and
the child was in the midst of them before her mother
had recovered from her surprise at her flight. A
moment more and she would have been thrown down,
and perhaps killed, But Golden Thread pulled off her
old shoes, ran quickly to the middle of the crossing,
and snatched up the little figure in her own big arms.
â€œPut me down, you old girl, you!â€ cried Tangle
Thread, frightened and angry. â€œPut me down, I
say ! Iâ€™ve got as many feet as you have !â€
By this time her mother had reached them.
â€œ Thank you, little girl,â€ said she, looking at Golden
Threadâ€”â€”â€œ thank you with all my heart. You are a
brave child to run in among the horses and carriages
to save this foolish little thing. But is that thin shawl
warm enough, this cold day? And are not your feet
â€œOh! I donâ€™t mind it,â€ said Golden Thread,
smiling, and slipping her feet into her old shoes.
â€œ And is this your mother?â€ asked the lady, look-
ing with pity at the bandaged eyes.
â€œ Yes, maâ€™am, but I lead her,â€ replied Golden Thread.
â€œSheâ€™s hurt her eyes, and canâ€™t see so well as she
â€œDo you see that house on the corner?â€ asked the
lady. â€œ Well, I live there, and I wish you would come
and see me to-morrow morning. Will you let her
come?â€ she asked in a gentle voice, turning to Golden
Little T hvends, 159
â€œThe childâ€™s hardly decent, maâ€™am,â€ said the poor
â€œ She looks very clean, Iâ€™m sure,â€ said the lady.
â€œVery well, if you're kind enough to think so,
ma/am,â€ replied the woman.
So they bid each other good-bye, and each passed on
their way, only Golden Thread and Tangle Thread
looked back at each other several times.
â€œWhat a nice, pleasant-looking little girl,â€ said
Tangle Threadâ€™s mother. â€œAnd oh, my child! how
thankful we ought to be to God for saving you when
you were in such danger. How could you run across Â»
the street in that reckless way? You know how often
I have told you never to do it. But I won't say any
more about it. Iam too thankful that no harm has
come to you.â€
â€œShould you cry if I should be killed?â€ asked
Tangle Thread. â€œIf I had been killed, you wouldnâ€™t
have had any little girl to tease you.â€
â€œOh, my darling child! how little you know how
your mother loves you. If you only could begin to
know, what a different child you would be?â€
Tangle Threadâ€™s proud little heart melted a little,
and she said in a low voice:
â€œT wonâ€™t tease for plum-cake and coffee again. I'll
have just what you want me to have. And I am going
to invite that little girl to my party. I donâ€™t think
sheâ€™s an impostor.â€
Her mother smiled, and would gladly have caught
her child in her arms, and covered her with kisses, as
they entered the house together. But Tangle Thread
would not have allowed herself to be caressed for
160 Little Threads.
making one civil speech. She was too proud for that.
So they went in together, and were both full of business
Meanwhile Golden Thread and her mother went on
to the pawnbrokerâ€™s, where they pawned the shoes.
With the money thus gained they bought a bit of
bread, and hungry as they were, ate it on the way
â€œWhat do you suppose that rich lady wants me to
come there for, mother?â€ asked Gelden Thread.
â€œ T suppose she wants to give you something because
you picked up her little girl for her.â€
â€œShe must be a very nice lady, then. It only took
me a minute to snatch up the little girl.â€
â€œYes, but you might have got run over and killed
in that one minute. And then what would have
become of your poor old mother ?â€
Golden Thread was silent. But after a while ale
said: â€œI donâ€™t believe God would take away your
eyes and your little girl both at once. And if that
kind lady gives me as much as a shilling, Pl buy a
little piece of beef with it. The doctor you went to
first, said you wasnâ€™t at all strong, and ought to eat
â€œMuch he knows where itâ€™s to come from !â€ said the
mother. â€œ But that lady wonâ€™t give you any money,
child. How should she, not knowing but I would
take it from you and spend it in drink?â€ .
]HE next morning, very early, Golden Thread
washed her face and hands, and combed
steeds} her hair, and was going to set off at once to
ae the promised visit. But her mother said:
â€œYou must not go these three hours. The lady
won't be up this long while, and then thereâ€™s her
breakfast. It will take a good deal longer to eat it
than it takes us to eat our bit of dry bread.â€
Golden Thread tried to wait in patience, but it was
ten oâ€™clock when her mother at last let her set off.
She was taken upstairs, where her new friend sat by a
cheerful fire, with Tangle Thread by her side.
â€œCome in,â€ said the lady; â€œcome to the fire and
warm yourself. Have you had your breakfast ?â€
â€œOh yes, maâ€™am, a good while ago,â€ said Golden
Thread, trying not to look round her at the beautiful
things in the room, but looking in.spite of herself.
â€œTf you had your breakfast long ago, I dare say
you could eat some more by this time. Or would you
rather have something to take home so as to share it
with the rest.?â€
â€œThere isnâ€™t anybody but mother,â€ said Golden
162 Little Threads.
â€œ And she is almost blind, isnâ€™t she ?â€
â€œHer eyes were almost burnt up with whitewash,â€
replied Golden Thread; â€œand since then-she canâ€™t
work as she used. If she could, she wouldnâ€™t let me
go into a ladyâ€™s house with such shoes on,â€ she added,
looking down at her miserable feet. â€˜She says she
hopes you will excuse it.â€
â€œTo be sure, to be sure,â€ said the lady, drawing a
little chair to the fire. â€œSit down, my child, and tell
me what is your name?â€
â€œMother calls me her little Golden Thread. But
that isnâ€™t my realname. My real name is v
â€œ Never mind ; I am sure it isnâ€™t so pretty as the
one by which your mother calls you. And now,
Golden Thread, do you know why I asked you to come
here to-day ?â€
â€œWell, I wanted to ask you, for one thing, if you
were going to have a good many little girls come to see
you, what would you give them to eat?â€
Golden Thread smiled and looked down. At last -
she said : .
â€œWhy, if I had plenty of roasted potatoes, with
butter on them, Iâ€™d give them as many as they liked.
Roasted potatoes are very nice if you have butter with
Â« And nothing else ?â€
â€œ And may be Iâ€™d give every one a piece of cake.
I mean if I had any cake. But I shouldnâ€™t, you
The lady looked at Tangle Thread and smiled, and
Tangle Thread smiled too, for she was thinking, as her
Little Threads. 163
mother was, of the sponge-cake, and macaroons, and
kisses, and candies, and ice-cream that had been ordered
for her party; and which she had pouted about, and
said she wouldnâ€™t have, unless there was wedding-cake
and coffee !
â€œAnd now, Golden Thread,â€ said the lady, â€œI
should like you to tell me what of all things you want
most. For I feel very grateful to you, and it will be a
great pleasure to me to give you something.â€
Golden Thread smiled, and looked thoughtfully into
the fire. * Dear me! she wanted so many things most !
Then the lady said :
â€œTn this deep drawer I keep things to give away.
You would laugh if you could see what queer things I
keep in it. Toys, and books, and clothing, and shoes
â€œOh! is there a pair of shoes there?â€ cried Golden
Thread, jumping up.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t you say a big wax doll ?â€ cried Tangle
Thread. â€œMamma would just as soon give you a doll
â€œThere are no shoes large enough for-you in the
drawer,â€ said the lady. â€œCome, what would you like
next best to shoes ?â€
â€œPerhaps thereâ€™s stockings,â€ suggested the child.
â€œâ€˜ Mother says warm stockings are good for chilblains.â€
â€œOh! there are larger things in the drawer than
stockings. Choose once more.â€
â€œThere never could be a shawl big enough for
The lady rose, opened the drawer, and took thence
a thick woollen shawl.
164 Little Threads.
â€œ Like this?â€ she asked.
â€œOh! how nice,â€ cried Golden Thread. â€˜â€œ Mother
is so cold since she got ill, But have I been begging,
oh! have I been begging ?â€ she cried, looking alarmed.
â€œ Did I ask fora shawl for mother? And I was never
thinking of a big warm shawl like that.â€
â€œPerhaps you were thinking of a little warm one
like this,â€ said the lady, almost crying with pleasure
that she had found out so many of the childâ€™s secret
wishes. â€œBut this is just large enough for you, and
you can give the other to your mother.â€
â€œOh! thank you, maâ€™am, thank you,â€ cried Golden
â€œ And here are more things in the drawer,â€ said
Tangle Thread, climbing into a chair and looking down
into it. â€œSee, books, dolls, reticules, pictures, work-
â€œWhy, how came these things here?â€ asked her
â€œT put them there my own self,â€ replied Tangle
Thread. â€˜ They are for the little girl. And I should
like to have her take off her things and stay here and
play with me.â€
â€œT left mother all alone, and I must go now,â€ said
â€œStop a minute,â€ said the lady. â€œThese thick
night-gowns are for you.â€
â€œWhy, I never had any night-gowns,â€ said Golden
Thread, with great surprise and pleasure. â€œ What z7dl
mother say ?â€
â€œ And in this bundle you will find a good many
other such things.â€
Little Threads. 165
â€œWhy, I had to lie in bed while my things wera
washed! Tl go right home and show all these to
mother. What will she say 1â€
The lady smiled, and Tangle Thread looked almost
as much astonished as Golden Thread. She drew near
and whispered : â€œ But why donâ€™t you ask my mother
for a big doll? And some cake and candy ?â€
Golden Thread was speechless. Was she the sort of
child to ask for dolls and cake and eandy, while her
mother sat half-blind, half-frozen, half-starved at home?
â€œOh!â€ she cried, bursting into tears, â€œ it isnâ€™t nice
things we want. Itâ€™s bread and meat and fire !â€
Tangle Thread rushed out of the room and upstairs
â€œGive me all my money, quick,â€ said she; â€œ thereâ€™s
a little girl downstairs that wants some bread and meat
â€œOh! your mamma wonâ€™t let you give to beggars,â€
â€œShe isnâ€™t a beggar any more than you are !â€ cried
Tangle Thread, angrily. â€˜And I will have my money.
Get it this instant!â€
â€œT am not to give you things unless you ask me in a
â€œT will have my money!â€ said Tangle Thread ; and
she climbed up and opened the upper drawer, and began
to turn over the things there in search of her purse.
â€œDonâ€™t toss over your nice clean collars in that
way,â€ said Ruth. â€˜Your purse is not in that drawer,
and you'll not find it if you look all day.â€
Tangle Thread burst into loud and angry cries. She
took out her nice collars and aprons, and threw them
166 Little Threads.
one by one to the floor, and was trampling them under
her feet when her mamma suddenly entered the room.
The happy moments she had spent with Golden
Thread were over, and she stood in the door with that
sorrowful, grieved look that was now almost always on
her face. She did not say a word, but taking the
angry child by the hand, she led her downstairs to her
own room, and seated herself opposite to her in silence.
Were you ever disappointed in your life? When
you were going into the country to spend the day, and
it began to rain just as you were all ready to set off,
how did you feel? And when you were invited toa
Christmas-tree, and had talked about nothing else for a
week, how did you behave when your mamma said you
had too bad a cold to go, and all the other children
went without you? â€˜You were disappointed, and very
likely cried more or less about it. Well, Tangle
Threadâ€™s mother was disappointed that just as her
child seemed gentler and sweeter than usual, her good-
ness lasted so. little while. You know how she felt as
she sat looking at Tangle Thread sobbing with anger.
Meanwhile Golden Thread had gone home, and one
of the maids went with her, as she was directed to do,
with a basket on her arm and some money. â€œWith
the money she was to buy shoes and stockings, that
Golden Thread was to put right on and wear home.
â€œ But Iâ€™ve a pair of shoes at the pawnbrokerâ€™s,â€ said
â€œÂ¢ Never mind, Iâ€™m to do as Iâ€™m told,â€ said the maid.
â€œTf you ever get your other shoes back, they'll may be
do for Sundays.â€
â€œLook at me, mother!â€ cried Golden Thread, run-
Little Threads. 167
ning in with her stout shoes on and making all the
noise she could. â€œ Lift up your bandage just a minute,
and see what Iâ€™ve got. Shoes and stockings and shawls
and night-gowns and petticoats, and the lady says sheâ€™s
coming to see you. And here are roasted potatoes
right out of the oven, and butter to eat with them!
Oh, mother! I didnâ€™t mean to beg for them.â€
The poor mother looked so bewildered and so ready
to ery, that the maid thought it best to set the basket
on the table and to slip out as quietly as she could.
As soon as she had gone, Golden Thread flew into her
â€œOh! it was such a nice lady!â€ said she. â€˜She is
coming to see you, mother, and says you must go to
her doctor and let him see your eyes. And she told
me to tell you not to be troubled, for you would not
be left to suffer when you were not fit to work.â€
The poor woman shook her head. â€œTI cannot take
all these things,â€ said she. â€œTI never can pay for them,
and I havenâ€™t been used to having things I didnâ€™t
Golden Thread stood silent, for she did not know
what to say.
â€œ At any rate, you'll eat some of the potatoes, won't
you, mother?â€ she asked. And she began taking them
from the basket. â€œWhy, thereâ€™s a piece of roast meat
here!â€ she cried. â€œOh, mother! it will do you so
much good! And thereâ€™s enough to last a week !â€
They sat down, hungry and thankful, to this little
dinner, and then they looked at the shawls, the shoes,
and all the other treasures.
â€œT canâ€™t think of keeping them,â€ said the poor
168 Little Threads.
woman again. â€œ Unless, indeed, the lady will let me
come and work for her whenever I get well.â€
â€œThe lady is very rich,â€ said Golden Thread, looking
down at her shoes. â€œ And she said herself that my
old shoes were not fit to wear.â€
Her mother made no answer, but looked again and
again at the thick shawls, and at last laid everything
carefully away on the bed.
â€œT havenâ€™t got down quite so low as all this comes
to,â€ said she. â€œ Begging is a trade I wasnâ€™t brought
up to. We must not keep these things. Just as soon
as my eyes get well, I shall be able to earn what we
â€œMay be if you'd seen the lady as long as I did,
mother, you wouldnâ€™t mind taking presents from her.
But I'll do just as you say. You are not angry with
me, are you 2â€
â€œ Angry with you? Bless your heart! No indeed.
If Iâ€™m angry with anybody itâ€™s with myself for getting
that fall and spoiling my eyes.â€
While this was going on in the one small room in
which Golden Thread lived, poor little Tangle Thread
sat crying before her mamma. She was crying with
anger, and when spoken to she made no answer, unless
it was by crying more loudly and by kicking against
the chair on which she sat. So at lastâ€™ her mamma rose
quietly and went away into another room. There she
threw herself down upon her knees, hid her face in her
hands and burst into tears. Then she prayed long and
earnestly to God to touch the heart of her child.
When she returned to her room Tangle Thread had
stopped crying, and looked tired. Indeed she was both
Little Threads. 169
tired and ashamed. She wished she hadnâ€™t been so
angry, and that she could tell her mamma so. But it
would have been easier to have a tooth out than to tell
her secret thoughts to anybody.
â€œCome here, my child,â€ said her mother tenderly,
and holding out her hand.
Tangle Thread rose, and walked to her motherâ€™s side.
â€œT am not going to say anything to you about your
behaviour,â€ said her mother. â€œIhave said everything
I had to say, a great many times already. And I am
not going to punish you, either. I am quite tired of
that. I can hardly remember a day in your life that
I have not had to punish you in some way. But I
will tell you to-morrow what I intend to do.â€
She spoke in a gentle, loving, but very sad tone,
and Tangle Thread saw that her eyes were red with
crying. She never had felt so miserable in her life.
What a pity that she did not throw herself into her
mammaâ€™s arms, tell her how sorry she felt, and promise
to try, with Godâ€™s help, to be a better child! But
she did not say a word, and pretty soon the carriage
was ordered, and she saw her mamma drive off. She
went back to the nursery, and tried to play with her
dolls, but they did not comfort her. Then she read
a little here and there in her favourite book.
Meanwhile her mother drove from place to place,
making inquiries about Golden Threadâ€™s mother. She
heard nothing ill of her-anywhere. Everybody said
she was a hard-working, industrious woman, So then
she drove to the house where the poor woman lived.
All the neighbours ran to the windows to look at the
carriage, and some of them directed her to the room.
170 Little Threads.
â€œQh, mother! itâ€™s the nice lady!â€ cried Golden
Thread, as she opened the door, on hearing her knock.
â€œT have come to see you on account of your eyes,â€
said the lady, kindly. â€œI want you to tell me all
about your accident, and what has been done for your
eyes since they were injured.â€ P
Golden Threadâ€™s mother was glad to tell her story to
so kind a listener, and by degrees a good many things
came. out that she did not mean to tell.
â€œT will take you to an oculist, if you are willing to
go,â€ said the lady. â€œIhave the carriage at the door,
on purpose, and there is plenty of time before dark.â€
The poor woman coloured, and was silent. At last
she said: â€œI thank you, maâ€™am, with all my heart. But
Iam not decent to go with a lady, like you. If you
would please to give me a bit of a note to the doctor,
my little girl could lead me to his house.â€
â€œJt is too far. Besides, I want to see him myself.
Your shawl will nearly cover you, and Iâ€™m sure your
dress is clean and tidy.â€
â€œDo go, mother,â€ whispered Golden Thread.
â€œJT was going to say, maâ€™am, speaking of the shawl
and things, that I am grateful for them; but I canâ€™t
think of taking them unless you will let me do some-
thing for you. I can wash and iron, and serub and
scour, and I understand whitewashing.â€
â€œNot now, that you are nearly blind!â€ said the
â€œWhy, no, maâ€™am, I canâ€™t say that I can see to do
much of anything now ; but I hope to get well.â€
â€œThe first thing then is to see what the doctor
says,â€ replied the lady; â€œand I promise to give you
Little Threads. 17I
work as soon as you are able to do it, So get ready,
and we'll go at once. Put on your shawl, too, Golden
Thread,â€ she added, â€œ for of course you are to go.â€
You should have seen Golden Threadâ€™s face, as she
led her mother down the stairs, and helped her into
the carriage! Driving off in a carriage, as if they were
queens! Well, if it was a dream, what a delightful
dream it was !
The doctor said the poor eyes were in a sad state,
what with the whitewash and the quack medicine. |
But he thought they would be well in time. He spoke
kindly and cheerfully to the poor woman, who felt
as if a heavy stone had been lifted off her heart.
â€œ And now,â€ said the lady, as she set her down at
her own door, â€œI have one thing more to say to you.
Suppose I should be very ill several months, not able
to turn myself in bed, and needing constant care day
and night. I should be obliged to have a nurse, and I
_ Should take all her time, and strength, and patience.
Now I should pay her all she asked, and perhaps
more. But could I really pay her with money so as
not to have any reason to feel grateful to her for all she
had done and all she had suffered for me ?â€
â€œWhy, no maam, may be not,â€ said the poor
woman, wondering what was coming next.
â€œWell, if I could never repay her, then I must
always feel under obligation to her. I could, in fact,
only repay her by nursing her through just such ill-
ness. But I should not be unhappy on that account.
T love to feel obliged to people. I love to feel grateful
to God for His goodness to me, and I love to feel
erateful to kind friends for their goodness, And I
172 Little Threads
want you to love to have me do all I can for you in
this time of your trouble. Anybody can refuse a
favour, but it isnâ€™t everybody who knows how to
accept one nobly and freely. But you must try, for
my sake, and for His sake who bids His children
to minister to each other as they would to Him.â€
So saying, the lady allowed Golden Thread and her
mother to alight from the carriage, and the coachman
handed them from under his seat such a big bundle
that they could hardly get it upstairs. And when
they got there they did not know their own room.
There was such a fire burning; and the chest of
drawers had come back, and so had the table and the
chairs, and the clock. And when they opened the
big bundle there were blankets and a warm quilt, and
shoes and stockings for the mother, and flannel petti-
coats, and a woollen dress. And when she tried to put
on a pair of the stockings there was something hard in
each toe, and the hard thing proved to be money, with
which to buy coal and food and medicine.
â€œAre you going to send all these things back,
mother?â€ asked Golden Thread, anxiously, for she
had not understood the ladyâ€™s talk with her mother.
â€œSend them back! No, indeed! I am going to
keep them, and be grateful for them !â€ was the answer.
Then Golden Thread was so glad she did not know
what to do, and she threw herself down on the floor
and rolled, like a ball, across the room. And they put
away their treasures nicely in the drawers, and Golden
Thread went out and bought a candle to eat their
HE next morning Tangle Threadâ€™s mother said
to her: â€œI had a plan in my mind yesterday
Ã© which I do not approve of, now that I have
had more time to think it over. Do you want to know
what it was?â€
â€œTf it was about me, I do,â€ said Tangle Thread.
â€œWell, I had half a mind to send you to spend a
week. with that little girl who was here yesterday.â€
â€œ What, that little golden girl?â€
â€œ Little Golden Thread, yes. I thought it might do
you good to see how poor people live, and to watch
that nice pleasant child at her work. But on the
whole, I cannot get courage to let you go.â€
â€œWhy not, mamma? I want to go. I am tired
of always being in this house.â€
â€œNo, I dare not trust you. You might take cold,
or get into trouble of some sort.â€
It was just like Tangle Thread to begin to ery, and
to want to go because her mamma did not wish it. So
she fancied herself much abused because she could not
have her own way.
â€œT have to play all alone,â€ said she. â€œI never have
anyone to play with.â€
174 Little Threads.
â€œ Not little Gertrude?â€ asked her mother.
â€œGertrude gets all my toys, and she wonâ€™t play any-
thing I like. She just sits and sings to my wax doll
as if it was alive. Do let me go, mamma.â€
Her mother could hardly help smiling.
At this moment her father entered the room.
He looked at Tangle Thread with displeasure, and
said : ;
â€œT shall really have to send you away if you behave
in this manner. You weary your mamma's life out
with such constant teasing.â€
â€œT was just telling her that I had been thinking
of sending her to spend a week with a poor woman
I know of. But instead of being alarmed at the
prospect, she is quite vexed because I will not let
â€œTs the woman trustworthy? â€˜Does she live in a
decent place?â€ asked the father ; â€˜for I am not sure
it would not be a good thing for Tangle Thread to be
sent away among strangers.â€
â€œJT really begin to think so,â€ said her mamma.
Then Tangle Thread suddenly changed her mind,
and began to think she did not want to go.
â€œThey are not nice people,â€ said she, â€œand they
have no meat or bread or fire. I would rather stay at
â€œT was quite in earnest in what I said,â€ urged her
father. â€˜A little girl who will not try to be gentle
and good, and. who, after so many years, continues so
wilful, ought not to be treated like other little girls.
If she makes her home unhappy, she ought not to stay
Little Threads. 175
So saying he took his hat and went out.
â€œT never saw your father so displeased,â€ said Tangle
Threadâ€™s mother. â€œI am afraid that he will really
send you away. We know of a lady in the country
who takes little girls, and she would be quite willing
to take you.â€
â€œJT wasnâ€™t any naughtier than usual,â€ said Tangle
Thread. â€œI donâ€™t see why I should be sent away just
for fretting a little bit.â€
â€œYour father was thinking of all your anlghiy. ways
ever since you were born; and perhaps he thinks that
some one else will manage you better than your mother
can. But oh, my poor child! nobody will love you as
I do, and you will miss the love. Your heart will
ache for it day and night.â€
Tangle Thread sighed. It is easy to be naughty,
but it is hard, too.
â€œT won't tease you any more,â€ said she. â€œIt isnâ€™t
very nice to tease people. I can do anything I have a
mind. I can be good, and I can be naughty.â€
â€œDonâ€™t say so, my dear. Say you can be good if
Jesus will help you; for thereâ€™s no use in trying unless
He helps you.â€
. â€œTfI canâ€™t be good all by myself, I donâ€™t want to
be good at all,â€ said Tangle Thread. â€œYou destroy all
She was so pleased with herself for having made
this great speech, that her little tightly-packed body
almost seemed to swell with the pride it was hardly
big enough to hold. She went to the nursery lost in
â€œT can be good if Iâ€™ve a mind,â€ she said to herself,
176 Little Threads.
â€œTâ€™ve a great mind to begin. Then everybody will be
so astonished. â€˜Theyâ€™ll say they never saw such a
sweet little girl, Thatâ€™s what people say about good
childrenâ€”they say theyâ€™re sweet. And I can be sweet
if â€™'ve a mind.â€
These thoughts were so pleasing that she laughed
â€œ What are you laughing at?â€ asked Ruth.
Tangle Thread blushed, and started. â€œI wasnâ€™t
laughing,â€ said she.
â€œIndeed you were,â€ said the nurse.
â€œI was not. Or if I was, you neednâ€™t be asking
about it! I can laugh if I choose.â€
â€œ Sheâ€™s out of humour, and I won't say anything to
vex her,â€ thought Ruth. â€œI did provoke her yester-
day, and I wish I hadn't.â€
â€œTâ€™ve been looking everywhere for your purse,â€ said
she. â€˜I was sorry that I did not help you look for it.
But I had such a toothache, I could not bear to move.
And yow'll never guess where I found it. Why, in
one of your boots, under the bed.â€
â€œOh! I remember now. I played that my boot
was a ship, and I put my purse on board for cargo. I
am so glad Iâ€™ve found it. Letâ€™s go right out now, and
give some money to that little girl.â€
â€œWe must see what your mamma says, first. And
I doubt if she lets you give so much money to one
â€œYes she will, She likes generous people.â€
â€œBut what will you do when all your money is
â€œOh! papa will give me plenty more.â€
Little Threads. 177
â€œThen I donâ€™t call it generous to give it away. You
wouldnâ€™t do it if you were not sure he would give you
Tangle Thread was silent. But after a minuteâ€™ she
ran down to her mamma. She found her writing.
â€œMamma!â€ said she, â€œmamma!â€
â€œDo not interrupt me now ; I am busy,â€ said her
â€œBut, mamma, I wantâ€”â€™
Her mother put her gently away.
â€œTJ should think you might listen,â€ said Tangle
Her mother looked up. â€œI was making up the
weekâ€™s accounts,â€ said she, â€œand you have disturbed
me so, that I shall have to go all over them again. . Go
away now, and come again in half an hour.â€
â€œ But you've stopped now, andâ€”â€
â€œGo, my child,â€ said her mother. â€œYou must
learn to obey.â€
Tangle Thread went. But it was not a sweet little
girl who ran from the room with a flushed face.
â€œTâ€™ll go up into the attic and stay there till I freeze
to death,â€ she said to herself. â€˜Then mamma will
wish she hadnâ€™t teased me so. Oh! shell be sorry
enough when she sees me lying there cold and
The attic was not a very agreeable place on this
wintry day. Tangle Thread soon became tired of
pouting there alone. So she concluded not to freeze,
but to starve to death; a resolution that she kept till
supper-time, when she put it off till next day.
In half an hour her mother sent for her,
178 Little Threads.
â€œT am at leisure now,â€ said she, â€œwhat were you
going to say?â€
â€œT want to know if I can go to see that little gil,
and give her all my money 2â€
â€œT have given her all she needs for the present,â€
replied her mother. â€œBut I am going to see them
now, and if you wish to go with me, you can run and
Tangle Thread hesitated. At last she went up to be
dressed, and she slipped the purse into her pocket.
They found Golden Thread and her mother quite
cheerful and happy. Their room looked clean and
pleasant; and the two children sat apart while their
mothers conversed together, and had a little chat of
â€œWhere are your toys?â€ asked Tangle Thread.
â€œT have none,â€ said: Golden Thread.
â€œWhat have you done with them, then?â€
â€œOh! I never had any to speak of. When I was a
little girl, mother made me a rag-baby ; but I gave it
away, long ago.â€
â€œBut what do you do all day, if you have no
â€œT help mother. I wash the dishes, and I sweep
the floor; and I can knit. I knit almost a whole
â€œCan you read? Have you any books 2â€
â€œT canâ€™t read very well. I have to stay at home
from school to take care of mother, now.â€
â€œWhy doesnâ€™t sheteach you, then ?â€
â€œOh! sheâ€™s almost blind. Besides, she doesnâ€™t
know how to read. herself.â€
Little Threads. 179
Tangle Thread was speechless with surprise. A
grown-up woman, and not know how to read!
â€œMamma knows everything,â€ said she, â€œand she
teaches me. And one of these days I shall know as
much as she does. But I am afraid she won't go to
heaven unless she gives you more money. She ought
to give you money to buy ever so many toys with.
But Iâ€™ve got some money of my own, and you shall
have it all. You must buy a large doll and a cradle.â€
â€œBut does your mamma know about it?â€ asked
Golden Thread, half-pleased and half-frightened.
â€œNo, she doesnâ€™t. It says in the Bible that you
should not let your left hand know what your right
hand does. So of course I donâ€™t want her to know
about it.â€ And Tangle Thread felt very virtuous
indeed, as she put the purse into Golden Threadâ€™s
By this time her mamma was ready to go; and
when they were in the carriage again, she said:
â€œ How do you feel about spending a week with that
poor blind woman and her child? You know you could
help them to pare potatoes and wash dishes, and make
their bed, and sweep.â€
â€œYou are laughing at me, mamma,â€ said Tangle
â€œAnd you may laugh at me, too, if you like,â€
answered her mamma; â€˜but I have another plan,
now. Golden Thread cannot go to school while her
mother is so helpless, and I have been thinking how
it would answer to let her come every day to our
house to be taught.â€
â€œWho would teach her?â€
" 180 Little Threads.
â€œT thought you would.â€
Tangle Thread could not conceal her smile of pride
and pleasure. She sat up as straight as possible. and
â€œJ should like that dearly.â€
â€œBut you must make up your mind to find it
quite a task. At first it will be pleasant, but after
the novelty wears off you will often find it irksome.
But I want you to feel that you were not placed in
this world just to amuse yourself and have a good .
time. I want you to do some things that are tire-
some, and that require labour and patience.â€
â€œWhen may I begin?â€
â€œTo-morrow or next day. I have already spoken to
the childâ€™s mother about it.â€
Tangle Thread went to bed full of ambitious schemes.
She forgot that it was not Golden Threadâ€™s fault that
though two years older than herself she could not read
well. She forgot who had given her her own great
readiness to learn, and yet what impatience she had
always shown at her tasks.
Next morning at the appointed hour Golden Thread
made her appearance.
â€œMy mother says I ought not to have taken this
money,â€ said she, placing the purse in Tangle Threadâ€™s
hand. â€œShe says I am to say I am very sorry I was
such a foolish child.â€
Tangle Threadâ€™s mother looked at her little daughter
â€œDid you give her your purse, after all?â€ she
â€œYes, mamma,â€ replied Tangle Thread, in a firm
Little Threads. 181
voice. â€œThe Bible says: â€˜ Blessed is he that considereth
â€œBut what does it say about obedience to parents ?
Oh, Tangle Thread! what shall I do with you!â€
She sank back into a chair almost ill, Golden
Thread stood looking on, surprised and troubled, and
was very glad to be told that she might run home, as
there would be no lessons that day.
On hearing her story her mother was greatly shocked.
â€œNo wonder that lady looks so sorrowful,â€ said she.
â€œJ thought she had some trouble on her mind.â€
â€œOh! but her little girl will never do so-again,â€ said
Golden Thread. â€œShe wouldnâ€™t like to make her
mother turn so pale again.â€
â€œAh!â€ thought the poor woman. â€œIâ€™ve had a
sorrowful, hard life; and if I get well, Iâ€™ve got to go
on working just so as long as I live. But what of it?
Iâ€™ve got the best child that ever was. A child that
never crossed me in anything, nor ever spoke a rough
word to me. There isnâ€™t anything God could have
given a poor, lonely creature like me that I should have
been half so pleased with as my little Golden Thread.
â€™ Why, since she came into the â€œworld, it isnâ€™t the same
world it was before, and I ainâ€™t the same woman. But
I have not been so thankful asI ought. Iâ€™ve grumbled
and fretted a good deal because I was so poor. And
yet Iâ€™d rather have my little Golden Thread than all
the money and all the houses and all the good things
there are in the world !â€
While these thoughts lighted up the little obscure
yoom in which the poor woman lived, Tangle Threadâ€™s
mother sat in her beautiful house sad and sorrowful,
182 Little Threads.
What to do next for her child she knew not. But
God saw her grief and pain and heard her prayers. He
put new courage and patience into her heart. She said
to herself: â€œI have a very hard task to perform. I
must teach this child obedience. But I see that this
cannot be done at once. I must go on day after day,
trusting in God to lead me every step of the way. I
must pray more, I must love her more, I must be more
gentle and tender. But I must have her obedience.â€
Tangle Thread stood, meanwhile, with a dark and
gloomy face, near the window. A little bird hung near
her in his cage, and she looked at him as he hopped
about picking up his seeds, and said, half-aloud :
â€œT wish J was a bird! Then I'd fly awayâ€”away
off where there are no houses and no people, and where
I should have nobody to plague me.â€
â€œPoor little unhappy child!â€ said her mother,
â€œdonâ€™t you know who it is that â€˜plaguesâ€™ you?â€
â€œEverybody does!â€ cried Tangle Thread. â€œPapa
does, and you do, and Ruth does. You all seem to
think I am always naughty.â€
â€œ Poor child !â€ repeated her mother, â€œit is you who
torment yourself, But I will not argue with you. I
will tell you once more what I have often told you. I
cannot treat you exactly as God treats me, for I ama
sinful, ignorant creature. I make mistakes, and He
never does. I get out of patience, and He does not.
I know almost nothing, and He knows everything.
But I mean to Â¢ry to treat you,'as nearly as I can, as
He does me. He has had patience with me a great
many times, when I wonder He was willing to wait
for me to be penitent, He has been good to me, and
Little Threads. 183
given me many, many things. And He has never
ceased to put me under the rod since the day I gave
myself away to Him. I donâ€™t know which to thank
Him for most, His goodness or His severity.â€
Tangle Thread did not perfectly understand all this.
But she saw that her mother spoke out of the very
depths of her heart. She saw that she was more than
ever resolved to make her obedient. And what she
did not understand she felt.
She went away sorrowfully to her play-room and
locked herself in. She could not think what made
her feel so sad and unhappy. Her books and her toys
did not seem to be what she wanted.
â€œTJ donâ€™t know what I do want!â€ she said to her-
self; and tears began to roll down her cheeks. .-
Ah ! little Tangle Thread! This is what you want.
To have Jesus touch your heart and make it sorry.
To kneel right down and tell Him how sad and desolate
you feel, and to beg Him to make you His own dear
child, and to help you to love and obey Him. And
then to run and throw yourself right into your dear
motherâ€™s arms, hide your head in her bosom, tell her
how grieved you are for all your wilful, naughty ways,
and how you want to begin now to be like Jesus, and
to love and obey Him!
But the child had not yet learned this sweet lesson.
She could not bear to be sorry, much less to own she
S nothing more was said to Tangle Thread
about her teaching Golden Thread to read,
she saw that her mother did not mean to
give her that pleasure on account of her behaviour
about the purse. Nor was she now invited to go with
her mamma to visit poor people as she had often done.
To march into sick-rooms laden with baskets of fruit
and flowers, her little figure fairly swelling with pride,
had been one of her greatest pleasures. There were
some good and kind feelings mingled with her pride ;
she liked to see a pale face light up with joy on her
entrance, and to see how grateful fruit often was to
â€œThereâ€™s the makings of a good woman in her, bless
her heart!â€ said one of the poor invalids whom she
was often taken to see. This woman had lived in her
motherâ€™s house as cook; she had heard of Tangle
Threadâ€™s behaviour through the other servants, and
knew pretty well what she was.
About this time, Gertrude, Tangle Threadâ€™s little
friend, came to spend the day with her.
Soon after dinner Gertrude complained. of feeling
chilly. Ruth, on hearing this, put more coal on the
Little Threads. 185
' fire and made Gertrude wear one of Tangle Threadâ€™s
flannel sacks. â€˜But in a few hours she was taken quite
sick. Tangle Thread ran quickly for her mother, who
came at once.
â€œShe surely can have eaten nothing at dinner to
make her ill?â€ said she, turning to Ruth.
â€œNo, ma'am. They had nothing but their mutton:
chops, potato and a rice pudding. No, it was tapioca
â€œHer head and her hands are quite hot,â€ said Tangle
â€œWhat a child you are!â€ said her mother, smiling.
But she looked anxiously at little Gertrude.
â€œTt is snowing, and is very cold,â€ said she. â€˜I hardly
like to send Gertrude home in such a storm. Gertrude,
darling, would you feel very badly to stay -here to-
â€œJT want to go home,â€ said Gertrude. â€œI want my
own mamma to make me get well.â€
â€œT will go for your mamma, and if she thinks it
best, she will take you home. But if she thinks it
would not be safe, then you will stay here, just to-night,
â€œOh yes, just as mamma says,â€ replied Gertrude.
And she closed her eyes and fell back fast asleep in
Ruthâ€™s arms. Tangle Thread ran for a shawl, and
covered the sleeping child carefully.
â€œ Thatâ€™s right, dear,â€ said her mother.
â€œThank you, thatâ€™s a good child,â€ said Ruth.
It was just at dusk that Gertrudeâ€™s mother came
hurrying up to the nursery. Gertrude awoke and
stretched her arms towards her dear mamma with a
186 Little Threads.
sigh of relief. Once in her arms, she expected to be
â€œJ dare not touch you yet, dear,â€ said her mother.
â€œT am all covered with snow. Wait till I can shake
it off and get dry. Where do you feel ill, darling?â€
â€œT feel better now. My head aches a little and I
am thirsty. And I am tired a little.â€
â€œTt never would answer to take her home in this
storm,â€ said Tangle Threadâ€™s mother. â€˜She may be
quite relieved by to-morrow, and we might then take
her home safely. I will sleep with her myself, and do
everything I can for her.â€
â€œT donâ€™t know, I feel nervous about illness,â€ replied
Gertrudeâ€™s mother, looking anxiously at the childâ€™s
glowing cheeks. â€œSince I lost my little Mary, I am
frightened at everything. And Gertrude is just one of
those little lovely creatures one is always expecting to
â€œCan't you stay here with Gertrude?â€ asked Tangle
Thread, who had heard every word of this whispered
â€œ Ah noâ€”thereâ€™s the baby to nurse, and where he is
I must be. But I dare not move Gertrude to-night.
Perhaps, after all, itâ€™s only a fit of indigestion. My
darling,â€ said she, now taking the child from Ruth,
â€œyou'll do just what dear mamma wishes. I know you
will. You'll stay here to-night, and early in the morn-
ing I'll come with the carriage and take you home.
Only just to-night, dear.â€
â€œYes, mamma,â€ said Gertrude. â€œIf you want me
to stay, I will.â€ r
They soon had the child undressed and in a warm
Little Threads. 187
bed. She fell asleep again, and though her sleep was
restless, she complained of nothing when she woke,
only once when she tried to take some water, she said :
â€œTt hurts me when I drink; I donâ€™t want any more
water.â€ Her mother, having sat by her side all the
evening, was now preparing to go honie, and did not
hear these words. Tangle Threadâ€™s mother did.
â€˜Can her throat be sore?â€ she said to herself. â€œIs
it possible that scarlet fever has crossed our threshold?â€
Her heart yearned over her own child. â€œOh! if she
should have it and die!â€
â€œTf there are any alarming symptoms during the
night, I had better send for the doctor, had I not?â€
she said, as Gertrudeâ€™s mother took leave.
â€œ Certainly, certainly.. But I hope she will have a
good night and be quite bright to-morrow.â€
But the child did not have a good night. She
tossed to and fro and moaned in her sleep, and often
â€œTt hurts me where my throat is.â€
As soon as daylight began to steal into the room,
it became plain that Gertrude was covered with an
eruption of some sort and was very ill. The doctor
was sent for her; he said at once: â€œ Yes, it is scarlet-
â€œCan I go home to my own mamma?â€ asked
â€œWe'll send for your mamma to come here,â€ said
the doctor. And turning to Tangle Threadâ€™s mother,
he said :
â€œAs to your own child, you will of course see that
she does not enter this room.â€
188 Little Threads.
â€œBut may she not have already taken the disease ?
She and Gertrude were together all day yesterday.â€
â€œT cannot say. We must use the precaution of
keeping them apart a couple of weeks at any rate. As
to little Gertrude, if she lives through it, you will have
her in this room six weeks.â€
â€œTf she lives through it! Is she then so ill?â€
â€œT think her a very weak child. And you know
what scarlet-fever is. But we will do all we can. It
is not necessary to alarm her mother. She will take
the alarm when she hears what the disease is.â€
Gertrudeâ€™s mother soon came in, and a glance at her
child told her the whole story.
â€œ Nobody need tell me what it is!â€ she cried, burst-
ing into tears. â€œIt is scarlet-fever! Oh, my little
Gertrude! My sweetest, my best child! I never
thought she would live to grow up! I knew she
was too good! but I never dreamed it would come so
â€œHush!â€ said Tangle Threadâ€™s mother, â€œshe is
waking ; she will hear you. You must put on a cheer-
ful face when she sees you.â€
â€œQh! how can I look cheerful when my heart is
â€˜Come into the next room till you are more com-
posed. And stay yourself on God, my dear friend.
He will not touch a hair of Gertrudeâ€™s head unless it
is best. And if it 7s best; if He does take her from
youâ€”you will still have Him left. But do not be dis-
couraged. You are not ina state to judge fairly how
she is, You look as if-you had not slept an hour since
you left us last night.â€
Little Threads. 189
â€œT did not close my eyes. Something kept saying,
â€˜ Gertrude is going just where little Mary did.â€™â€
â€œ Little Mary went to a very happy place !â€
â€œYes, yes, I know. Butoh! she left such a great
chasm when she went away. You never lost a child.
You donâ€™t know anything about it. This world never
has seemed the same to me since I lost my little
â€œNor has the next world either. You have often
told me iow much nearer, how much dearer heaven
had been made to you by that affliction. And it will
. become yet nearer and â€˜dearer if your precious little
Gertrude goes there too. But God will not take her
away unless it is best. Let us believe that. Let us
trust her to Him. He never makes mistakes nor
snatches away our treasures a moment too soon.â€
Gertrudeâ€™s mother dried her tears. â€œI will trust
Him,â€ said she. â€œTI thank Him for giving me such a
friend as you to lean on in this time of trouble. But
what am I thinking of?â€ she cried suddenly. â€œHere
is your child, your only child, exposed to this fearful
disease! And I thought only of myself!â€
â€œT must do what I have been urging you todo. I
must trust in God,â€ replied Tangle Threadâ€™s mother.
Little Gertrude remained very ill many weeks. Her
precious life hung, as it were, on a thread. A little
self-will on her part, a want of docility in submitting
to painful remedies, would have broken that thread at
any moment. But she lay, with little meekly folded
hands, on her weary bed, behaving and quieting herself
like a weaned child. There was never a frown, nor an
impatient word. She let the doctor and her mother
190 Little Threads.
and all her friends do what was thought best to do
without in any way resisting their wishes.
Her mother never left her, save now and then to
weep in secret.
â€œShe will not get well,â€ said she. â€œShe is too
patient, too gentle, too lovely for this world.â€
Everybody thought as she did. Tangle Threadâ€™s
mother looked at this little lamb as upon one already
chosen of Christ, and precious. She had never seen
such sweet submission and docility.
â€œT never look at her,â€ she whispered to Gertrudeâ€™s
mother â€œwithout thinking of the lines:
â€˜Sweet to lie passive in Thy hands,
And know no will but Thine.â€™â€
â€œT have learned, at last, to say those blessed words
out of the depths of my own heart,â€ was the answer.
â€œT have no longer any choice about my child. If she
is bound heavenward I will not detain her.â€
Meanwhile Tangle Threadâ€™s restless, wilful soul was
quite subdued by the silence and sadness that reigned
in the house. Nothing now would tempt her to in-
dulge in those angry screams that used to resound
through every room. She spoke in a low voice,
walked softly up and down the stairs, and seemed
quite another child. Indeed, her habit of crying
aloud with rage was now broken up once for all.
â€œDo you think Gertrude will get well?â€ she asked
Ruth, anxiously, every hour ; and Ruth always replied :
â€œYes, I hope so.â€
But at last she could not help saying :
Little Threads. IQl
â€œNo, I do not. Children like her always die. It
is the cross, hateful ones that get well.â€
â€œ Then if I am taken sick I suppose I shall get well,â€
said Tangle Thread. But after a time she started up
and cried out:
â€œBut everybody dies some time or other. Does
everybody get good, first?â€
*â€œT donâ€™t know. And I donâ€™t know as I did right
to say Gertrude wouldnâ€™t get well. The doctor says
her goodness is in her favour. She takes everything
so beautifully, you canâ€™t think. And now theyâ€™re try-
ing to feed her up, and she has. to take brandy and
beef-tea and all sorts of things so often. And if she
was naughty, and would not take them, or if she cried
and fretted about them, then she certainly would
â€˜â€œ But beef-tea is very nice,â€ said Tangle Thread.
â€œ* Nice to people that feel pretty well. But Gertrude
is so weak that she can hardly swallow. It tires her
dreadfully to take anything. Why, I heard of a little
boy who starved to death because he would not take
the nice, nourishing things he needed. His father got
down on his knees and begged him, with tears in his
eyes, to take just a little bit of wine-jelly, and he
wouldnâ€™t. So he died. Itâ€™s a very bad thing for a
child to be self-willed when it is well. But when it is
sick it is perfectly dreadful.â€
â€œâ€˜T mean to be very good when I am sick,â€ replied
Tangle Thread. â€œTI feel a little sick now. I wish
you would look down my throat and see if thereâ€™s any-
thing the matter with it.â€
â€œOh! thereâ€™s nothing the matter with your throat,â€ -
192 Little Threads.
said Ruth, trying to believe what she said. â€œWho
told you Gertrudeâ€™s throat was sore ?â€
â€œWhy, nobody. I didnâ€™t know it was sore. But I
know mine is. And I know my head aches.â€
â€œDear me! I hope youre not going to be ill!â€
- cried Ruth. â€œIâ€™m sure your mamma has her hands
full now. Well, well, what is to be will have to be.
Come here; sit in my lap, and lay your head on my
shoulder. Poor little thing! her head ds hot, I
â€œWhy, Ruth, you seem to love me!â€ said poor
Tangle Thread, bursting into tears,
S\UTH could not help .crying a little when
Tangle Thread said that.
: â€œTâ€™m sure Iâ€™ve always loved you when you
were good,â€ she replied. â€œAnd you have been a very
nice little girl lately. But I suppose I ought to go
and tell your mamma that you donâ€™t feel well. Only
T hate to worry her.â€
â€œTf I am sick and die, then she wonâ€™t have anybody
to tease her,â€ said Tangle Thread. â€œAnd she'll have
plenty of time to read and to paint, and everything.â€
â€œShe'd rather have you than the time,â€ said Ruth.
â€œTt would just break her heart if you should die.
But donâ€™t talk that way. Youre not going to die.
You are going to get well and be the best little girl
that ever lived. And while you're sick we'll take such
good-care of you! And when you get well, I'll ask
your mamma to let me take you home with me, and
you shall drink new milk right from the cow, and
yowll grow strong and fat again.â€
But Tangle Thread had fallen into a heavy sleep,
and did not hear Ruthâ€™s cheerful words.
Ruth placed her on the bed, covered her with a
blanket, and went to tell her mother how ill she
194 Little Threads.
seemed. The doctor happened to come in at that
moment to see little Gertrude, and he went at once to
look at Tangle Thread. There was not much to say or
to do. He promised to come in again in a few hours,
and then returned to Gertrude.
Tangle Threadâ€™s mamma was very quiet, but her
heart felt heavy indeed.
â€œTf Tangle Thread â€˜should be as ill as Gertrude,â€
she said to Ruth, â€œshe cannot live, she is so very
Ruth made some cheering, pleasant answer, and
began to arrange things in the nursery as if she ex-
pected Tangle Thread to remain there during her ill-
â€œOh! I shall have Tangle Thread in my room,â€
said her mother.
â€œI was hoping to keep her here, maâ€™am,â€ said Ruth.
â€œTl take the very best care of her. And you are worn
out now with little Gertrudeâ€™s sickness, and so many
coming and going.â€
â€œThank you, Ruth. You are very kind, but I feel
that I must have Tangle Thread in my own room.
You must remember she is all I have.â€ And then the
thought that she might now be about to lose that all,
made her eyes fill with tears, and she sat down by the
bed, and hid her face in her childâ€™s pillow, and silently
wept and prayed.
Tangle Thread awoke and started up, looking flushed
â€œQh! mamma! is Gertrude dead?â€ she cried.
â€œNo, my darling, Gertrude seems a little better to-
Little Threads. 195
â€œ Then what makes you cry so?â€
â€œQh! Iam not erying much,â€ replied her mother.
â€œT suppose Iâ€™m pretty tired with watching Gertrude ;
and so when I heard you were sick, too, I could not
help shedding a few tears. You see mamma loves you
very much, and it grieves her to see you suffer. But
now you are going into my room to sleep with me in
my bed, and I shall take care of you day and night.
And if you will try to be patient and docile, like Ger-
trude, you will get well before long.â€
â€œT will try,â€ replied Tangle Thread.
She was very glad to be undressed and to lay her
head on the cool pillow in her mamma's own bed.
She passed a weary night, and only slept in snatches.
â€˜When the doctor came the next day he knew, and
they all knew, that she had the fever with which
Gertrude had been so ill.
And now the fruits of her mammaâ€™s long patience
_ showed themselves. Tangle Thread did not submit to
painful remedies as sweetly as Gertrude had done ; and
sometimes she cried, and was peevish and unreasonable.
But she had been learning lessons of obedience all her
life, and now she was humbled and subdued by greater
suffering than she had ever known. So she never abso-
lutely resisted the doctor's wishes nor her mammaâ€™s.
She was not so ill as Gertrude had been, but she had a
long and tedious sickness, and passed many weary hours.
Her mamma seldom left her and did all she could to
make her forget her sufferings,
After a time, little Gertrude, whose room was on the
same floor, was brought in the nurseâ€™s arms, to make
Tangle Thread a visit. The poor little creature was
196 Little Threads.
very feeble. She could not hold up her head, nor
could she amuse herself in any way.
â€œ â€˜Why donâ€™t you tell Gertrude stories, mamma, and
sing to her?â€ asked Tangle Thread.
â€œThe poor little thing cannot hear,â€ replied her
mamma. â€œJt makes my heart ache when I see how
little we can any of us do for her.â€
â€œWhy canâ€™t she hear?â€ asked Tangle Thread in
surprise. â€˜â€˜ She used to hear as well as I did.â€
â€œYes, but she has been very, very ill. And it will
be a long time before she can hear stories, if ever.â€
â€œJ will give her all my toys, then,â€ said Tangle
Thread. â€œ My Paris doll and all its clothes ; its dotted
muslin frock and its pink silk, and its gaiter boots, and
its bracelets, and its watch, and its pocket-handkerchief,
and under-sleeves, and collars.â€
â€œ But Gertrude has a little doll already.â€
â€œSo she hasâ€”I forgot it;â€ and so saying, Tangle
Thread buried her face in the pillow and began to cry
pitifully. Her mamma was afraid she would make
herself very ill by crying so. She told Gertrudeâ€™s nurse
to take her away ; and then leaning over the bed, she
said gently but very firmly :
â€œYou must stop crying, my child.â€
â€œT canâ€™t,â€ sobbed Tangle Thread, â€œIâ€™m so tired!
And I donâ€™t want Gertrude not to hear.â€
â€œTam sorry I let you know that,â€ said her mamma,
kissing her, and stroking back the hair that had fallen
over her face. â€œ But now stop crying, for I have two
things to say to you, and you canâ€™t hear unless you are
Tangle Thread stopped crying and wiped her eyes.
Little Threads. 107
â€œYou must not break your heart about little Ger-
trude,â€ said her mother. â€œThe doctor hopes, and we
all hope, that by-and-by her hearing will return to her.
But if it never does, her dear Saviour, who loves her
so, and who has been with her all through her sickness,
will comfort her and make her happy. Even at the
longest, we do hot stay in this world very long. Little
Gertrude will only have to be patient a few years, and
then God will take her to heaven where she will hear
just as well as you and I. You know we mustn't be
always thinking how we are to get along with the
troubles we have in this world. We must be thinking
how sweet heaven will be when we get there.â€
Tangle Threadâ€™s face began to look a little brighter.
But after a moment she said :
â€œ But Gertrudeâ€™s mamma will feel so sorry !â€
â€œYes, she feels very sorry already. But then Ger-
trudeâ€™s mamma loves Jesus dearly. And she likes to
have Him do just what He thinks best.â€
â€œ But what makes Him think it best to make people
â€œT do not know, I do not expect to. understand
everything He does. When the doctor used suchâ€™ pain-
ful remedies for your throat you did not expect to
understand why he used them. You let him do what
he pleased because you knew he was wise and kind.â€
Tangle Thread smiled. After a time she said :
â€œWhat was the other thing you were going to say,
â€œT was going to say, that on the whole, you have
been very good while you were ill. I expected to have
a hard time with you. I thought you would be un-
198 Little Threads.
willing to take your medicines and to do other things
the doctor desired. But we have had some quite happy
hours together since you were moved into this room.
So you are not to be called Tangle Thread any longer.
You are to be called my little Silver Thread.â€
â€œThat's nice! thatâ€™s real nice! But oh mamma !
what has become of Golden Thread?â€
â€œShe has not been here during your illness, I believe.
I must send someone to see how they are. And, my
darling, donâ€™t you think that before long you will
become a little Golden Thread !â€
â€œT donâ€™t know. Iâ€™m afraid I never shall be so good
as that,â€ replied Silver Thread, whose ideas on the sub-
ject had undergone a great change since the time when
she said â€œI can be whatever I please?â€
During Gertrudeâ€™s illness and Tangle Threadâ€™s, no-
body had bad much time to think of Golden Thread.
For four weeks Gertrudeâ€™s mother had never undressed,
and the whole house had been full of care and anxiety.
But now both children were out of danger, and Ruth
was very glad to run around as before among the poor
and the sick. She was particularly glad to be sent to
inquire after Golden Thread and her mother, for she
liked them both. And they liked her and were thank-
ful to see her pleasant face once more. At least Golden
Thread was. As to her poor mother, her eyes were
worse than ever, so that she could not use them at all,
and she looked pale and thin. She said the doctor
had told her she never would get well while she lived
in that house: there was water in the cellar, and the
whole street was damp and unwholesome. She felt
discouraged and anxious, and thought she never should
Little Threads. 199
be able to see again. But she still had great comfort
in her good loving child, and said the world could not
seem quite dark to her while Golden Thread was in it,
happen what might.
â€œTt comes very hard on poor folks to i: ill,â€ said
she. â€œIt is is many a long day since I earned a penny,
and my strength seems all gone.â€
Then Ruth told her all about the two sick children
at their house ; how lovely little Gertrude had been,
and how she had lain nine days so ill that they thought
she might die at any moment. And how Tangle
Threadâ€™s name had been changed to Silver Thread,
because she had behaved so much better during her
sickness than ever before in her life.
â€œYou see rich folks have their troubles as well as
poor folks,â€ added Ruth. â€œ And our folks make a. good
use of theirs. It seemed as if they were as kind to the
poor and the sick as they well could be, but theyâ€™re
even kinder now. Why, when I go home and tell
how. you're getting on and what the doctor says, â€™m
sure they'll be for moving you into a healthier place.â€
â€œBut rents are higher in better houses,â€ returned the
â€œOf course: And our notions â€˜about goodness has
risen a peg or two higher,â€ said Ruth, laughing. â€œTve
been thinking it over since I camein, and Iâ€™ve made
up my mind to let you have so much a month out of
my wages. |I get good wages and many a present
besides. If you ever get well you can pay me again,
Ruth did not really expect this poor blind woman to
be able to repay her. She only said this to comfort
200 Litile Threads.
her. She went home quite pleased and happy: but
there she found dismal news awaiting her. Her
mother had written to say that all sorts of trouble had
come upon them. The big barn had burned down,
and one of the horses was lame, and father had the
theumatism, and some of their hest milk and butter
customers had fallen off. Poor Ruth had a good cry,
and sat up late that night writing a long, letter in reply.
She said there should be another big barn built out of
her savings; she was going to be very careful and not
waste a penny; then the horse would certainly get well
in time for the spring work, and she knew fatherâ€™s
rheumatism would go off when warm weather came,
especially if he would use the liniment she was going
to send him. And as to the milk and butter, why,
if folks wouldâ€™nt buy it, suppose they got somebody to
come and eat and drink it? That is, suppose they
took in one or two boarders this coming summer.
And just as she said that, a thought came into her head
that made her get up and look at herself in the glass to
see what sort of a body it was that could make such
â€˜â€˜ Mother would like the company, and she wouldnâ€™t
have to put herself out at all for them. Thereâ€™s plenty
of house-room, and plenty to eat and drink. If they
once went there they'd be likely to stay year in and
year out. And Golden Thread is a good, handy child ;
she'd soon save mother some steps. Mother would get
fond of her, I know. Let me see; what was it I pro-
mised to give them? I do believe I said I would pay
the difference in their rent, if they'd move. But, of
course, I canâ€™t do that, and let my own father suffer.
Little Threads. 201
Well I won't worry about it. It will all come out
right in the end, Iâ€™m sure it will!â€
On hearing Ruthâ€™s account of the state in which she
had found the poor blind woman, for she was now
really quite blind, Silver Thread was full of pity.
â€œDo go to see her, mamma,â€ said she. â€œAnd do
carry lots of things to her.â€
Her mamma sat silent and thoughtful, and did not
seem to hear.
â€œMamma! mamma /â€ repeated Silver Thread, im-
The mother was still silent.
â€œYou won't do a thing I want you to,â€ said Silver
Her mamma started. â€œTI was trying to think what I
could do for that poor woman,â€ she answered. â€œ And
I did not think my little Silver Thread would ever
speak to me in that way again.â€
â€œT donâ€™t know how I came to do it,â€ said Silver
Oh! how quickly these few words, this gentle tone
set everything right between them !
But Silver Thread was very feeble, and she now
began to ery bitterly.
â€œDonâ€™t cry, my darling,â€ said her mamma. â€œI
ought not to expect you to cure yourself of your bad
habits at once. But now let me tell you what I have
been planning. I will go to see Dr. A. and find out
just what he thinks of this poor woman. He certainly
seemed to think he could cure her eyes when I took
her to him. But if he says he cannot, then I think a
nice, quiet home somewhere in the country would be
202 Little Threads.
better for her general health, than the best home in
â€œYes, my general â€˜health is better in the country,â€
said Silver Thread, wiping her eyes. â€œ And Golden
Thread would like to go, I know. Do please, mamma,
order the carriage and see about it now. Ruth can
come and tell me stories while you are gone.â€
â€œT thought Ruth was not gifted in story-telling.â€
â€œWell, it isnâ€™t stories exactly. Itâ€™s talk. She talks
about her fatherâ€™s farm, and the horses, chickens, and
â€œHer fatherâ€™s farm! Why, that would be such a
very nice place for our poor blind woman! Ruth's
mother is one of the kindest creatures in the world. I
wonder if she would mind the care? I could make it
quite an object to her.â€
Ruth came in now to say that the carriage was
ready, and Silver Thread was glad when she heard her
mamma, drive off in it.
â€œOnly to think:, Ruth,â€ said she, â€œmamma has gone
to see the doctor ghout Golden Threadâ€™s mother. She
is going to ask him if he thinks it would be good for
her general health to go into the country to live. And
she says she wonders if your mother would let her
come there, because she could make it quite an object
â€œ Well! if I ever!â€ cried Ruth. â€œIfthe very same
idea didnâ€™t come into my head! Only I didnâ€™t mean
to have your mother pay a penny.. I expected to
manage it somehow myself.â€
â€œTt will be splendid!â€ said Silver Thread.
They chatted on awhile, until the clock struck.
Little Threads. 203
â€œTt'g time for you to take your beef-tea,â€ said Ruth.
â€œDo you mind staying alone while I run down for
â€œOh! I donâ€™t believe it is time yet,â€ replied Silver
Thread. â€œYou canâ€™t think howI hate it. I donâ€™t
see what the doctor makes me take it for.â€
â€œYou said once that beef-tea was very nice. And
you know you must take it, whether or no.â€
Silver Thread began to fret and to mutter.
â€œWon't let me have any peace. Keep pouring
down the beef-tea and pouring it down. Won't let
me go to sleep or anything. Say itâ€™s four o'clock
when it-isnâ€™t four oâ€™clock. â€˜Do all they can to plague
- She spent the time of Ruthâ€™s absence in this state of
ill-humour, and swallowed her beef-tea with grimaces.
How many halfstarved children would have been
thankful for every drop!
Ruth quieted and soothed Silver Thread and made
all sorts of excuses for her.
â€œ You are weak and tired,â€ said she. â€œPerhaps I
let you talk too much. Now lie down and I'll sing to
you. Poor little Gertrude canâ€™t hear singing or talking,
and you can. Now shut your eyes and lie still, and
perhaps you'll get a little nap, and then you'll wake up
just in time to hear what your mamma has to say.â€
Silver Thread was very tiredâ€”too tired to fret
any more, She lay still and soon fell asleep, and when
she awoke her mamma had come home. .
â€œHow have you been, my darling?â€ she asked,
sitting down by the bed.
â€œ Rather cross,â€ said Silver Thread.
204 Little Threads.
Her mamma smiled, not expecting just such an
â€œWell, let me tell you what Dr. A. says. I found
him at home and he was very glad to see me, He says
the poor creatureâ€™s eyes are past cure. She was a good
deal worn out with hard work when the accident
happened, and then she has been living in such an
unwholesome place. Otherwise he might, perhaps,
have saved her eyes.â€
Â« And she went to a quack doctor first,â€ said Silver
â€œYes, that was another thing. So now, if she likes
the plan, we'll get her into the country very soon.â€
â€œRuth says her mother will let her come there, she
is almost sure.â€
â€œThat will be very pleasant. Ruth could go with
them and arrange everything. Ruth needs a little
change. I thought this morning she did not look
â€œOh! that is because her fatherâ€™s barn got burned
down, and ever so many other things happened.â€
It was too late to do anything more that night. But
Silver Thread went to sleep in good spirits, with a
great deal that was pleasant to think of. She dreamed
that she saw Golden Thread running about in the
fields gathering buttercups, and as bright and happy as
a bird. She saw her drinking fresh milk, and growing
fat on it. She thought she heard her say: â€œOh! how
glad I am I came here! I never want to go and live
in a big city again, as long as I live.â€
WROM being a very unhappy child, Silver
Thread was becoming a happy one. Do
crctes] you know the reason? It was because God
has so made us, that while we spend our time in
thinking of nobody's comfort but our own, the best
things in the world fail to please us. A child may
have all the beautiful toys it wants, and a pleasant
home and the kindest friends, and yet he restless,
peevish, and uncomfortable. But when it begins to
try to be gentle and patient with everybody ; when it
speaks pleasant words and gives up its own way, then
a black cloud seems to clear away from before its eyes,
and it walks on in sunshine. Poor Silver Thread had
spent her whole life in troubling and grieving her dear
- mother, and her nurse, and all about her, but she did
not know it was that which made her often go away
by herself to be sullen and sad in secret, nor did she
now quite understand what it was that made her,
lying there so feeble on her sick-bed, have so many
hours of sweet peace.
Now if you want to understand how a good child
should conduct herself, just let us suppose your
conduct to be something like the following. You get
206 Little Threads.
up pleasant, and if your little sister is going to be
dressed first, you wait patiently for your turn. If your
nurse pulls your hair when she combs it, you can tell
her so, gently, and ask her to please to be more careful.
You can go downstairs smiling and pleasant, and ready
to say good morning cheerfully to everybody. If your
mamma says you are to have less breakfast than usual
because you had headache yesterday, you will not say
a word, but eat what she gives you and be thankful it
isso much. Ifshe wants you to amuse the baby while
she washes the silver or breakfast-cups, you wonâ€™t
answer, â€œOh! I was just going out to play,â€ but will
give her a sweet smile and a sweet word: If one of the
other children gets your toy, you will not run to snatch
it away; you will say, â€œPlease, Mary, give me my
doll,â€ and having always seen your good example, she
will be likely to give it up without a word. If you
are busy reading, you will lay aside your book plea-
santly when your papa asks you to run to get the
paper for him, and he will kiss you and be thankful
he has such a little girl when you come tripping back
with it. You will lie down â€˜to sleep at night, peaceful
and happy, knowing that you have tried all day long to
do right and to do it in a pleasant way.
Now Silver Thread could not turn all at once into
such ways as these. LEvery now and then her old,
naughty habits would come like armed men and seem
to make her do and say things she did not want to say,
Then she would be quite provoked with herself, and
think there was no use in trying. And sometimes,
after praying to God to make her good, she felt im-
patient with Him for not making her perfect without
Little Threads. 207
giving her the trouble of trying to be so. But thereâ€™s
no use in being discouraged! It is better for a poor
naughty child that wants to do right, but finds it very
hard, to keep right on trying and trying and praying
and praying, hoping on, and hoping ever.
But perhaps you think this sort of talk is too much
like a sermon, and at any rate we had better see what
Golden Thread and her mother have to say about going
into the country. You must remember that except
her own sweet temper, Golden Thread had not much
in this world. She was not yet old enough to do any
sort of work that would help much toward the support
of her mother, and yet her head was quite full of plans
as to what she would do as soon as she grew taller and.
stronger. She thought she could go and live some-
where as little maid, and so earn a trifle; enough to
get a room in a house where the cellar was not damp,
and though it made the tears come into her eyes to
think of it, she was resolved to do so very soon. Her
mother knew it would have to come to that sooner or
later, but it almost broke her heart to think of being
left alone and blind, without her bright Golden
Threadâ€™s cheery words and ways. Ruthâ€™s visits com-
forted them both for atime, but then the poor mother
grew sad again.
â€œTf we are going to live on charity,â€ said she, â€œwe
may ag well go to the workhouse first as last. And I
donâ€™t see much chance of our living on anything else.â€
â€œBut if we could get along a little while longer,
mother, just till I grow a bit taller, I could get a place,
and then you wouldnâ€™t have to live on charity.â€
- Tt will be many a long year before you could earn
208 Little Threads.
money. Nobody would give you more than your
board and clothes.â€
â€œ But that would bea good deal. And I would try
to do everything I could to please them. Donâ€™t cry,
â€œT canâ€™t help crying. When I think that ever
since I was eight years old Iâ€™ve earned my own bread
and no thanks to anybody, and now Iâ€™m helpless-and
have to demean myself to be a beggar !â€
â€œWhy, mother! Are you a beggar?â€ cried Golden
â€œTtâ€™s just the same. I eat other peopleâ€™s bread, and
wear other peopleâ€™s clothes, and use other peopleâ€™s
money. And I canâ€™t do a thing for them that feed
and clothe me.â€
â€œCan't you pray for them, mother? Prayingâ€™s
The poor woman was silent. What little praying
she had ever done in her life had been for herself, in
her misery, and for her child.
â€œ Such prayers as mine wouldnâ€™t do them any good,â€
she said at last.
â€œWell, may be they'll do a little bit of good,â€ urged
Golden Threid. â€œI pray for that kind lady every
night. And for that little girl, too. My teacher said
we ought to pray for everybody that is kind to us.â€
â€œ What do you say 2â€
â€œT say, â€˜Our Father who art in heaven !â€
â€œ What, the Lordâ€™s Prayer? I donâ€™t call that pray-
ing for the lady, or the little girl, either.â€
â€œTsnâ€™t it?â€ said Golden Thread, greatly disappointed
and puzzled. â€œWhy, I meant it, all the same. I
Little Threads. 209
donâ€™t know anything else to say, and so whenever I
think of them, and how good the lady was, I say â€˜ Our
Father.â€™ May be He knows what I mean.â€
The poor woman sighed. â€œAh! my child knows
more than I do, and is better, too,â€ thought she. â€œIâ€™ve
never taught her anything good, and now sheâ€™s teaching
me. Im afraid I ainâ€™t just what I ought to be; but I
donâ€™t know. I never wronged anybody in my life, nor
told a lie, nor took a pinâ€™that wasnâ€™t mine. But I
canâ€™t say whatâ€™s wanting in nie.â€
â€œDo you think, Ruth, that this poor blind woman
and her child would give your mother too much
trouble?â€ asked Silver Threadâ€™s mamma. â€œYou know
I owe them a heavy debt of gratitude, and I am
resolved to place them in some pleasant country place
where the child can learn to do such kinds of work
as she is capable of, and where the mother can rest.â€
â€œâ€œT think my mother would be very glad to take
them, maâ€™am,â€ replied Ruth. â€œGolden Thread is such
a nice, pleasant child, and her mother is so grateful
â€œTY don't know about the humility,â€ said Silver
Threadâ€™s mother, smiling a little. â€œBut I think well
of her, and the child has fairly won my heart.â€
â€œThe only trouble is, to get the poor creature to
consent to go at your expense, maâ€™am. It almost kills
her to live on charity.â€
â€œDid Elijah live on charity when the ravens fed
him ?â€ asked Silver Thread in her wise little way. â€œI
shouldn't think it was charity, I should think it was
God,â€ she added, â€œ Besides, Golden Thread saved my
210 Litile Threads.
life, and mamma would want to give her lots of things
for that, Oh! you neednâ€™t laugh, Ruth. She reaily
did save my life! There were all the stages and carts
and carriages going up and down, and I might have
been run over. And she risked her life for me.â€
â€œYes, yes,â€ said her mother. â€œTI do really owe
them far more than I can ever repay. But this is
nothing to the debt I owe my heavenly Father, and He
intends that those of His children to whom he has
given money shall use it for Him. I am only thankful
that He has thrown this poor woman in my way. And
now how very nice it will be, if we can put her under
your motherâ€™s care. Do write to her by this eveningâ€™s
mail, and see what she will say. Or stayâ€”suppose you
run down and see her and talk with her about it.
You can take the seven oâ€™clock train to-morrow morn-
ing, and come back by the early train the day after.
Then if we decide to send Golden Thread and her
mother, you can go with them and stay a few days
until they feel at home.â€
Ruth felt very grateful for this proposal, and at
twelve oâ€™clock next day she ate dinner with her father
and mother, to their no small delight. Everything was
easily arranged. There was a room aA could be
spared as well as not.
â€œAnd you say she is a nice child 2â€ said Ruthâ€™s
mother. â€œTalways did say a little girl round the house
was a nuisance I couldnâ€™t and wouldnâ€™t bear; but then
some little girls ainâ€™t like all little girls.â€
â€œThis one is the nicest child I ever saw,â€ returned
Ruth. â€œ And you'll teach her your own ways, mother,
won't you? She is not to be brought up a fine lady,
Little Threads. 2il
that I was to make sure of, but to be an industrious
girl, able to do all sorts of work. Why, she'll save
you some steps, now, mother.â€
â€œShe won't save as many as she'll make,â€ replied
the mother, whose opinion of â€œlittle girlsâ€ was not
flattering. â€œBut you may depend I'll do my best for
her and her poor mother too.â€ e
Ruth went back to town quite rÃ©lieved of all
â€œOh mamma !â€ cried Silver Thread eagerly, â€œlet me
tell Golden Thread she is to go to the country. She
will be so glad! Maynâ€™t I tell her?â€
â€œT donâ€™t know, darling. Iam not quite sure that
Golden Thread ought to be exposed to take the fever
by coming here. On the whole, I do not think it
would be safe.â€
â€œTtâ€™s too bad !â€ cried Silver Thread.
â€œTs anything God does â€˜too badâ€™?â€ asked her
mother, gently. â€œYou know it was He who sent you
sickness, and it is He who makes it unsafe for children
to come to see you.â€
â€œTJ didnâ€™t think,â€ said Silver Thread. â€œBut I
should like so much to tell Golden Thread.â€
â€œVery likely you would be disappointed, if you
could see and tell her. She knows nothing about the
country, and cannot go into ecstasies at the thought of
living in it. I will tell you all she does say when I
come home, for I am going now to see them. Perhaps
they will prefer to stay in town. In that case, of
course, I cannot force them to leave it.â€
At first it did seem as if leaving the noisy, dirty,
unwholesome city was going to be a trial instead of a
212 Little Threads.
blessing. The poor woman was so feeble that the
thought of exerting herself to make any change, made
her begin to ery. Then Golden Thread cried too, and
things looked forlorn. ip
â€œTtâ€™s so hard to go among strangers,â€ said the woman.
â€œ And to live on charity! If I could do anything to
pay my way, it would be so different! But I never
lived on charity till now.â€
One needs patience with poor people as well as with
little children. Silver Threadâ€™s mother had to try hard
not to lose hers, now.
â€œWhile you were well and strong,â€ said she, â€œit
was quite right for you to work and not to accept
charity. But now God has laid His hand on you and
set you aside from labour of any kind. And seeing
you so helpless, He has sent me to do for you what you
canâ€™t do for yourself.â€
â€œT never thought as God had anything to do with
it, It was the whitewash and the bad doctoring and
the damp room and all, that broke me down. I donâ€™t
mean any harm. I am a poor, ignorant creature and
canâ€™t reason things out very well. But the workhouse
is good enough for such as we are, and we'd better go
there, if we must go anywhere.â€
â€œGolden Thread, did you ever see any pretty white
hens?â€ asked the lady. â€˜Ruth says her motherâ€™s hens
are all pure white, every one of them. And they have
cows, too; I donâ€™t know how many, and when she was
a little girl she used to drive them home from pasture
every evening. You would like to feed the hens and
chickens, Iâ€™m sure, And you canâ€™t think how sweet
and still it is in the country. Very soon the spring
Litile Threads, 213
will open, then the fields will be grecn and covered
with flowers ; the birds will begin to sing and to build
their nests, and everything will be bright and beautiful.
Then asthe summer comes on, you will go out to pick
berries in the fields and woods. And you will be learn-
ing all sorts of things. You will learn to milk and to
hunt for eggs, and by-and-by to make butter and
Golden Thread smiled. She began to think the
country must be nice, after all. To make butter and
cheese! Why, that must be better than living in
the city! But then she did not want to do anything
mother didnâ€™t, and mother kept crying! .
â€œMy little daughter wanted very much to break
this good news to you,â€ added the lady, smiling. â€œ But
I thought it very likely it wouldnâ€™t seem good news at
first, It is not necessary to decide what you will do at
once. You can think it over, and pray it over, and by-
and-by, you will see just what is best to do.â€
â€˜Shall we say anything besides â€˜Our Fatherâ€™?â€
asked Golden Thread. â€˜I donâ€™t know any prayer but
that, and I donâ€™t think mother does.â€
â€œT would say that, and I would besides, tell God
just how troubled and perplexed you feel. Tell Him
you do not know whether to stay here or go into the
country. Ask Him to make you do whatever is best
and will please Him most.â€. She spoke to the child,
but she hoped the mother would lay her words to heart.
â€œNow good-bye,â€ she added, rising to go. â€œDonâ€™t
feel troubled and unhappy. You will see your way out
of this strait, I have no doubt.â€ She shook hands
with them both, and took leave,
IN hearing the result of her mamma's visit,
Silver Thread was quite vexed with Golden
Thread and her mother.
â€œThey are not nice people at all,â€ said she. â€˜â€œ They
are ungrateful. I hope you never will give them any-
thing again, mamma.â€
â€œ Tt is fortunate that the affairs of this world are not
in the hands of ignorant little children,â€ replied her
mamma, smiling. â€œSo you would have me turn my back
upon them because they do not jump at my offer?â€
â€œ Thatâ€™s what they deserve.â€
â€œ But what do you and I deserve? Suppose God
should give us exactly what we deserve ; what would
He give us, do you think? Oh! my darling! what a
mercy it is that He does not! And we must try to be
long-suffering and patient, as He is, and not be harsh
â€˜with our fellow-creatures.â€
Silver Thread was silent. She was glad when Ruth
came in to see the colour rush into her cheeks when
told that the poor woman did not entirely fancy the
idea of going to live in the country.
â€œTtâ€™s only too good for such as her to be offered the
privilege of going to live with such as my mother !â€ she
Little Threads. 215
said, quickly. â€œTI begin to see now that you were right,
maâ€™am, in saying she was as proud as she could be.â€
â€œT am not aware that I said that, Ruth. You
forget yourself. I barely suggested that she had less
humility than you fancied; and that rather to prepare
you for the disappointment I thought might await you.
As to pride, we all have it in one shape or other.â€
â€œTtâ€™s a very ugly shape when it makes a body so
stuck up,â€ said Ruth, who rarely lost her temper, but
when she did, hardly knew where to look for it.
â€œT never saw it in any shape but an ugly one,â€ was
the answer. â€œIt is certainly very unpleasant to see
people too proud to receive favours. But it is also
unpleasant to see people too proud of their own virtues
to make allowances for the faults of others.â€
â€œT do not mean to be severe with you, Ruth. We
are none of us guiltless in this respect. And do not
feel irritated about this matter. â€˜The next time you
see that poor woman, she will, as likely as not, have
changed her mind.â€
Tt turned out to be exactly so.
â€œ Mother,â€ said Golden Thread, â€œis it nice in the
â€œFolks say itis. Iâ€™ve always thought it must be lone-
some. Now here you see the carriages going up and
down and crowds of people stirring about, and every-
body so wide awake.â€
â€œ But you canâ€™t see them now, mother.â€
â€œNo, thatâ€™s true enough. And the noise in my cars
does tire me some days. May be, too, you'd take a
notion to the country yourself.â€
216 Little Threads.
â€œT should if you did,â€ replied Golden Thread.
The next day, Ruth, a little ashamed of her anger,
asked leave to go and carry Golden Thread a few fresh
eggs which she had brought for her from the farm.
The child and her mother were delighted. A breeze
from the farm-house seemed to come invitingly to
meet them. That unknown land, â€œthe country,â€ did
not seem so strange since it sent those white eggs.
â€œDonâ€™t you think your mother will wish we hadn't
come, after sheâ€™s had us a little while!â€ asked the
woman. â€˜For we shall be a sight of trouble.â€
â€œNo, you won't,â€ answered Ruth. â€œGolden Thread
can take all the care of you, lead you about, and all
that, and by degrees you will grow stronger and can
help more than you'll hinder. And Golden Thread
will wash dishes and set the table, and feed the hens
and chickens. Thereâ€™s my little block that I used to
stand on when I wasnâ€™t high enough to reach up to the
sink ; thereâ€™s my piece of tin on it now that I nailed
on one end of it.â€
â€œ What was the tin for!â€ asked Golden Thread.
â€œWhy, my block was going to split, and I nailed on
a bit of tin to keep it together.â€
â€œTsnâ€™t it lonesome in the country?â€ asked the poor
woman, a little timidly.
â€œJ donâ€™t think itâ€™s lonesome anywhere where my
mother is,â€ said Ruth. â€œ But then she ainâ€™t your mother,
and I ought not to expect you to feel as if she was.â€
â€œHow nice it must be to hunt for eggs!â€ cried
Golden Thread. â€˜And you said we should have as
much milk as we wanted! It doesnâ€™t seem as if there
was as much milk in the world as that |â€
Little Threads. 2
They all laughed, and Golden Threadâ€™s mother began
to think how pleasant it would be for the child to
leave that dirty street and breathe the pure country air.
She began to wonder how she had happened to think so
much of herself and so little of that good patient child
whom she had never yet heard speak one unkind word.
â€œ Oh, Ruth ! if your mother will let us, we'll go!â€ said
she, â€œand we'll try to be as little trouble as we can.â€
Ruth went away well satisfied with this sudden
change. It was then agreed that on the first of May
she should take them to their new home. Meanwhile,
dear little Gertrude wasâ€™ slowly regaining her strength,
and she and Silver Thread spent many happy hours
together with their dolls and other toys.
Silver Thread began to feel as if she had a sweet
little sister of her own, and when she at last heard
that Gertrude was going home, she nearly made herself
ill again with crying. Poor little Gertrude could not
guess what this terrible distress was about, for they
could not make her understand that she was going
away. But she tried to comfort Silver Thread with
kisses and caresses, and after she had gone everybody
tried to divert the poor broken-hearted child. Her
mamma was very gentle and tender with her, and
talked to her about Jesus, who never has to go away
and leave us, happen what will. And she let her
spend the money in her little purse in buying some
things for Golden Threadâ€™s journey. Silver Thread
felt very grateful for this favour because this was the
very money about which she had been so naughty.
She made up her mind how she would have it spent,
and Ruth went out to get the things; which were odd
218 Little Threads.
enough, you may depend. First, there was a basket
to put eggs in, if she should be so happy as to find
any eggs. Next there was a small tin cup which she
was to fill with milk, and drink, as soon as she had
learned how to milk all herself. . Thirdly, there was a
sun-bonnet which Golden Thread was to wear always
except on Sundays. Fourthly, a penny churn, with
which to make butter. Fifthly, some beans and peas,
which were to be planted in whatever little corner might
be allowed her for a garden. Last of all, two buns, lest
she should be hungry on the journey. These things
being all-spread out on her bed, she looked at them
with great satisfaction, and couldnâ€™t help wishing she
was going on a journey too. Golden Thread and her
mother needed a good many other things, which were
supplied them, and at last they set off, with Ruth, in
pretty good spirits. Indeed Golden Thread would
have been as gay as a lark if her mother had not
looked go pale and tired, and very soon her amusement
and astonishment at everything she saw on the road,
quite amused and astonished the poor woman herself, and
inade her giad that her child could be so free from care.
Ruth felt quite proud when she at last ushered its
new guests into the neat and cheerful farm-house, and
saw how they enjoyed her motherâ€™s bread and butter, and
how her mother enjoyed being kind and friendly to them.
Ruth stayed at home four days. She showed Golden
Thread how to do what work she was able to do, and
set up a blue yarn stocking for her mother to knit, so
that she might not be unhappy from idleness. When
she went back to town, she left them in good spirits,
and quite weaned from the city, which they thought
Little Threads. 219
they should never want to see again. The day after
she left was Sunday, and the farmer brought a waggon
to the door with two seats, and took them all to church.
It was many a year since the blind woman had been to
the house of God. She used to think Sunday was only
fit to rest in, especially for poor folks who worked hard
all the week. But now she could not make that ex-
-cuse, for she was resting all the week, not working.
Nor could she say her clothes were not decent, for they
were as neat and tidy as clothes could be. So she and
Golden Thread sat together in the farmerâ€™s big, square
pew, and had a truly blessed Sunday there. After
church Ruthâ€™s father made Golden Thread stand by
his side and learn the First Commandment, and spell
out a few verses in his big Bible, just as he used to do
years before with Ruth herself. Indeed he soon began
to treat the child as if she were his own little Golden
Thread, and to love her dearly; and he and his wife
kept saying how nice it-was to have such a cheerful,
pleasant little thing about the house. This did her
mother as much good as the country air and country
food did. She began to feel that they were not a
burden, and to recover her health and spirits. Every
pleasant day she sat, with her knitting, before the door
of the house, looking as peaceful and happy as if she
had never known a care. Yes, happier and more
peaceful, for God had blessed to her the troubles she
had passed through, and had taught her to love Him-
self. By degrees she left off complaining that she
never expected to live on charity, and grew humble and
thankful, and willing to live just as God would have
her, And aftera time she stopped talking about the loss
220 Little Threads.
of her eyes, and only kept saying how happy she was, in
having such a home, and such friends, and such a child.
This made everybody kind to her, and Ruthâ€™s mother,
as she bustled about her work, often looked with envy
at the pale, placid face, and said to herself :
â€œIâ€™m afraid sheâ€™s on the way to a great deal better
place than this! But it is a pleasure to do what little
one can for her, and to try to make her last days her
best days. And if sheâ€™s going to heaven, Iâ€™m glad she
took us in her way !â€
About two months after Golden Threadâ€™s entrance
into her new home, she and Silver Thread had the
pleasure of meeting again. The doctor wished Silver
Thread to travel about a little this summer, and try
change of air, because she did not grow very strong, or
recover her rosy cheeks. So, for one thing they all came
to this pretty little village, and when Silver Thread
came out to the farm, Golden Thread led her about,
and showed her allits wonders, and they played together
in the hay, and fed the chickens to their heartâ€™s content.
Silver Thread liked being at the farm better than
she did staying at the village, when she had no play-
â€˜mate. Her mamma allowed Ruth to take her home to
spend a week there, thinking that she would spend
more time out of doors, and gain strength faster. â€˜This
was a very pleasant week to both the children, and
thÃ©y were sorry when Saturday came, and it was time
for Silver Thread to go back.
â€œTâ€™ve a good mind not to go,â€ she said to Ruth. â€œTI
like to stay here, and I think this place agrees with me
very well, indeed. Why canâ€™t you go to the village
and tell mainma I want to stay another week ?â€
Little Threads. ~ 221
â€œT should not dare to go without you,â€ replied Ruth.
â€œTf your mamma should not choose to have you stay,
it would then be too late to take you home to-night. I
would go if I were you, and perhaps she will let you
come back next Monday.â€ :
â€œ But I want to be here on Sunday. Golden Thread
says it is such fun to ride to church in a waggon, and I
never rode in a waggon.â€
â€œ But I am to drive you home in the waggon as soon
as we have done supper.â€
Silver Thread became sullen and silent.
â€œJ donâ€™t want to stay where I am not wanted,â€ she
said at last.
â€œWe do want you,â€ cried Ruth. â€˜â€œ Weall want you.
But how dare I disobey yourmamma? Come! be good.
And I dare say she will let you spend another week.â€
Silver Threadâ€™s old bad habits were too strong for
her. She began to cry in a very disagreeable way,
kicking her chair with her feet, and rocking back and
forth as if in great distress. Nobody could do any-
thing with her. Golden Thread was frightened, and
wat and hid in the hay-mow. Supper was ready,
put neither of the children ate any. Golden Thread
was too unhappy, and Silver Thread was too angry.
Ruthâ€™s father brought the waggon to the door, lifted
the crying child into it, and they drove away. Ruth
was thankful to get off; she was ashamed to have her
father and mother see such behaviour. By degrees
Silver Thread stopped crying. Then she began to feel
wofully ashamed. What had she been doing? What
must they all think? And what would God do with
such a child? Ruth drove on in silence. She had
222 Little Threads.
felt much vexed with Silver Thread, but she now
began to pity her.
â€œPoor thing!â€ thought she, â€œsheâ€™s got a hard time
before her with that temper of hers. Sheâ€™s the very
oddest child I ever saw. You never can tell one
minute what humour she will be in the next.â€
After a time, touched by Silver Threadâ€™s tearful
face, and something unusual in its expression, she said :
â€œ Never mind, itâ€™s all over now. You needn't be
afraid I shall tell your mamma of you.â€
â€œT ghall tell her myself,â€ was the answer ; and then
they drove on without another word, till they reached
the house where Silver Threadâ€™s mamma was boarding.
Ruth was to go home with the waggon, and after lift-
ing the child out she hastened away, not caring to see
the meeting between them.
â€œHere is your old Tangle Thread come back,â€ said
the poor little girl, as her mother ran joyfully to meet
her. â€œIâ€™m nof Silver Thread any more. I am worse
than a heathen. Iâ€™m perfectly dreadful.â€
â€œWhy, my dear child, what can you mean?â€ cried
her mother. â€˜What dreadful thing have you been
doing? Donâ€™t go off and sit by yourself in that way.
Come, sit in your own mammaâ€™s lap and tell me all
about it. Donâ€™t you know how dearly I love you, and
how lonely I have been without you?â€ She took the
child in her lap and. soothed her tenderly. After a
time Silver Thread told the whole story.
â€œBut, my dear little girl, do you expect to become
quite good all at once, like a flash of lightning ?â€
â€œJT donâ€™t know. I know Iâ€™m old Tangle Thread,
Little Threads. 223
Her mamma could not help smiling. â€œOld Tangle
Thread, as you call her,â€ she answered, â€œhas gone
away for ever. She has left some of her bad habits
behind her, it is true, and they will be often trying to
you and to me. Why, â€˜old Tangle Threadâ€™ was not
only naughty, but she never tried to be good. This
little Silver Thread does try; and that very hard.
Tangle Thread never would own she did wrong. She
always disputed about it, and was angry when told of
her faults. Silver Thread has faults, and often is
impatient and angry, and likes to have her own way.
But she is sorry when she does wrong and often tells
me so, with tears. Above all, my little Silver Thread
really loves Jesus, and prays to Him to make her like
Himself, and He will.â€
Silver Threadâ€™s little thin hand crept softly into her
motherâ€™s, and her face grew less sorrowful. â€œIt makes
me love Jesus to hear mamma talk as if I loved Him,â€
she said to herself. â€œTI believe I dolove Him. I am
sorry I have been in such a passion, Oh! I wish I
hadnâ€™t! I wish I hadnâ€™t!â€
I shall not tell you anything more now about Tangle
Thread and Golden Thread.
But I want, before I bid you good-bye, to ask you a
question. Are you the little thread in your motherâ€™s
life that spoils it, or are you the little thread that
makes it bright and beautiful? Perhaps you say, â€œI
am not so good as Golden Thread, but I am not, half
so bad as Tangle Thread.â€ And I dare say you are
right. Little children are not often exactly like these.
But on the whole, which are you most like? You
224 Little Threads.
donâ€™t know. Then I beg you to watch yourself one
day, and see. And if you find that you are really
trying to be good, that you are sorry, and say that
youare sorry, when you do wrong; if you sometimes
climb into your mammaâ€™s lap, and kiss her, and -
promise to do all you can to please her, then you may
safely say to yourself, â€œI am my dear motherâ€™s little
Silver or her little Golden Thread. I love her and she
loves me, and she wouldn't give me away or sell me for
all the treasures in the world.â€ .
But if you find that you like to have your own way
a great deal better than you like your mamma to have
hers; if you pout and cry when you cannot do as you
please ; if you never own that you are in the wrong,
and are sorry for it; never, in short, try with all your.
might to be docile and gentle, then your name is
Tangle Thread, Tangle Thread, and you may depend
you cost your mamma many sorrowful hours and many
tears. And the best thing you can do is to go away
by yourself and pray to Jesus to make you see how
naughty you are, and to make you humble and sorry.
Then the old and soiled thread that can be seenâ€™ in
your motherâ€™s life will disappear, and in its place there
will come first a silver, and by-and-by, with time and
patience, and Godâ€™s loving help, a sparkling and
beautiful golden one. And do you know of anything
in this world you should rather be than somebodyâ€™s
Golden Thread? specially the Golden Thread of
your dear mamma who has loved you so many years,
who has prayed for you so many times, and who longs
so to see you gentle and docile like Him of whom it
was said, â€œ Behold the Lamb of God !â€
THE STORY LIZZIE TOLD,
SNâ€™T it lonely lying here all day with
nothing going on?â€
â€œQh no, maam! So many things have
happened to me, you canâ€™t think. If it isnâ€™t too bold
for a poor girl like me to tell it over to a lady like
you, I could begin to tell it now. You would like to
hear all about it Â¢ ;
â€œWell, the first thing that happened to me was
motherâ€™s giving me the baby to hold. I was just
turned of four, and my sister Jenny was going on
two, and the baby was just a baby, not any years old.
You're four years old; and Iâ€™m going to trust the baby
â€œTt was the first thing that happened to me. It
made me feel grown up. I thought I was.a woman,
â€œ After that I nursed the baby, and kept him from
putting things into his mouth, and hushed him when
226 Lizeteâ€™s Story.
he cried, and got him to sleep. He kept growing and
growing ; â€˜and when he was down on the floor, crawl-
ing into everything, another one came, And mother
trusted me more than ever, and I washed and dressed
both of them.
â€œ Did I ever get time to play about?
â€œOh no, maâ€™am. For as fast as one baby got to
crawling another kept coming ; and mother said I was
the oldest, and play was for little children and little
dogs and cats, but not for big girls like me. When I
was ten years old, we had six of them besides me.â€
â€œ Six little dogs and cats?â€ ;
â€œOh no, ma'am ; six little children that had been
â€œAnd then the next thing happened. One day,
when I was carrying Jim upstairsâ€”heâ€™d been crying
to be took out of doors, and Iâ€™d been taking him out,
and heâ€™d seen a monkey with a little red cap on: well,
my two legs just slipped out from under me, and I
tumbled right into the room and bumped his forehead,
dreadful. . 5
â€œÂ¢You bad child,â€™ says mother, and took him away,
and put water on his forehead and kissed him.
â€œT lay there on the floor; if you would be pleased
to look, maâ€™am, you'd see the very place.
â€œAnd says I, â€˜I couldnâ€™t help it, mother. It was
my two legs as went right out, and I canâ€™t get up.â€™
â€œ Mother she looked scared like, but one of the
neighbours was there, and says she,â€”
â€œ<Â¢Tet her be; sheâ€™s only shamming. I know these
â€œSo mother let me be, and I lay flat on the floor, as
Lizzteâ€™s Story. 227
still as a mouse, till father came home and nearly tum-
bled over me.
â€œÂ¢ Hallo !â€™ says he, â€˜whatever is the matter now ?â€™
â€œÂ¢Sheâ€™s been a-lying there doing nothing these two
hours,â€™ says mother, â€˜and Mrs. Jones, she says sheâ€™s
â€œ<Â¢Mrs. Jones,â€™ says father, â€˜thereâ€™s the door; and I
rather think itâ€™s wide enough for you to get out at, but
the next time you want to get in you'll find its grown
â€œSo Mrs. Jones she went away very red in the face,
and father he picked me up and set me up on end.
â€œÂ¢Now, little woman, whatever is it ails you?â€™
so long. My legs have got so shaky that it seemed as
if there wasnâ€™t any bones in â€™em. And the pains in
my back have took me bad between times.â€™
â€œFather didnâ€™t say another word, and he didnâ€™t eat
any supper, and after heâ€™d lighted his pipe, he just sat
thinking. Mother didnâ€™t say anything either. She
undressed me and put me to bed; and then such a
thing happened! I donâ€™t want to talk much about it.
It chokes me in the throat if Ido. You wouldnâ€™t
hardly believe it, ma'am, Iâ€™d been a big girl so long,
but she reached over where I lay close to the wall to
make room for the rest, and she kissed me! Oh, how
T hoped my two legs would get well, so that she neednâ€™t
have a sick child to take care of! But they didnâ€™t, and
I got weaker every day, till I felt like a great long piece
of thread dangling about. So father took me in his
arms to the doctor's.
228 Lizeieâ€™s Story,
â€œT felt so ashamed when the neighbours all came
out and looked at me, and saw Mrs. Jones a-laughing
quite hard !
â€œBut the doctor did not laugh at all when father
carried me in and showed him my legs.
â€œ<Â¢ Yes, theyâ€™re a couple of pipe-stems, and no more,â€™
says he. And then he began to punch me all up and
down my back, and in some places hurt me dreadful.
â€œÂ¢ Well, my little woman,â€™ says he, â€˜what have you
been doing all your life now 2â€™
â€œ Â«Nursing the children, sir,â€™ says I.
â€œÂ¢T thought so,â€™ says he. â€˜ Hating bad food, breath-
ing bad air, and doing the work of a grown person.
Have you any friends in the country you could send
her to, my man !â€™
â€œNo siz,â€™ says father; â€˜ not one.â€™
â€œÂ¢Thereâ€™s little else to be done for her,â€™ says the
doctor. â€˜Plenty of good air, good food, and entire
rest, might arrest the progress of disease.
â€œÂ¢ What kind of food, sir?â€™ says father.
â€œÂ¢ Beef and mutton, beef and mutton,â€™ says the
â€œFather shut his teeth together hard.
needs in that line,â€™ says the doctor, and he wrote some-
thing en a piece of paper.
â€œâ€˜<Â¢ There, take that to the street and number I have
written here, show it to.some of the people there, and
youll get beef tea, and other things of the sort. Keep
up her strength and spirits, and she may come round
â€œTJ believe it was a big kitchen father was to go to,
Lizsteâ€™s Story. 22
where nice things are cooked for poor people when
â€œBut as we were coming away the doctor says,
â€˜Mind, my man, green fields and fresh milk in the
country are worth all the beef teas in the world for a
case like this.â€™
â€œWhen we got home and mother asked â€˜what the
doctor said, father wouldnâ€™t answer at first. At last
says he,â€”He wants her to swallow down some fine
ladyâ€™s diamond necklace.â€™
â€œMercy on us!â€™ says mother, and she dropped into
a chair with the dish-cloth in her hand.
. â€œFather went away to his work, and mother kept
groaning about the diamond necklace.
â€œÂ«Howâ€™s it to be got,â€™ says she, â€˜and how could
swallowing it down bring the bones into your legs, I
should like to know?â€™
â€œÂ¢The doctor says it ainâ€™t my legs as ails me,â€™ says I.
â€˜Itâ€™s the spine of my back.â€™
â€œÂ¢Them doctors, they thinks they know everything,â€™
says mother. â€˜Didnâ€™t-you say as it was your two legs
as went out from under you? And them diamonds,
they do worry me so!â€™
â€œTJ lay still, and thought, and thought. When the
spine of your back aches the worst, you get so sharp!
â€œ And says I at lastâ€”â€˜I know what father meant.
The doctor wanted me to be took off into the country,
to drink milk and smell the green grass; and that
would cost money, ever and everso much money. For
itâ€™s too far for father to carry me, and I should have
to ride in something.â€™
Â«<Â« But itâ€™s the diamonds as worries me,â€™ says mother ;
230 Ligsteâ€™s Story.
and I couldnâ€™t get â€™em out of her head, and the children
they all plagued her, and I wasnâ€™t there to help, and
she looked ready to drop. I got away down into the
bed and cried to think how drove she was.
â€œ And then I brightened up and called the children
to me, and told them stories out of my head about
things father had told me of. I putin green meadows,
and nice, quiet churchyards, where ivy grew all the
year round, and there were pretty little graves for the
good children to go to sleep in. And I says, â€˜ Letâ€™s
make believe that some day, a lady with a gold ring
on her finger and a gold watch hanging round her neck,
will come and take us all into the country and give us
strawberries to eat.â€™
â€œÂ¢ Mother, how does strawberries grow ?â€™ says I.
â€œ Â«Why, on bushes, child!â€™ says she. â€˜How else
should they grow?â€™
â€œWhen father came home he laughed at that, and
asked her if she supposed potatoes grew on trees ?
â€œWhy shouldnâ€™t they?â€™ says she. â€˜And, anyhow,
how should I know? Was I ever out of London in my
â€œTt kept the children quiet to hear me talk, maâ€™am,
only the little ones believed every word, and theyâ€™re
always looking for the lady to come and fetch them
â€œThe next thing that happened was fatherâ€™s bringing
home to me a picture of the country, all green and blue ;
splendid. You can see it nailed up there, opposite my
â€œ But you donâ€™t seem surprised, maâ€™am. Doesn't it
look like the country? Did you say you wanted to
Liggieâ€™s Story. 231
take it down and put up a better one? Oh, please,
maâ€™am, I love it so dearly !
â€œTÃ© took me a good while to get over having such a
splendid present. I lay and looked at it all day, and
when it was dark and I shut my eyes, I could sce it
just the same. And it made me tell the children more
stories, and then they didnâ€™t hang on to mother so.
â€œT wondered what poor little children did who had
something the matter with the spine of their backs, but
never had anything happen to pass away the time.
And I wished I could lend them my picture a week at
a time, turn about and turn about.
â€œT hadn't got used to having it, and was lying so
peaceful and happy thinking bout it, when father
came in one night as mother was just a-going to un-
dress me, and he got a sight of my back when she
was rubbing it.
â€œ He bursted right out crying, loud, and then mother
bursted out, and all the children cried, and I bit my
lips and held my hands together, and at last I bursted
out, too, For I knew then that my father and mother
had got a hunchback for their oldest child. At last
father stopped short off. And then mother and the
children stopped, and I hushed up pretty quick,
â€œ<Â¢Pegey,â€™ says father, â€˜go and tell that woman
Jones to come here.â€™
we set ourselves up above the common, and she laughs
â€œ Mis. Jones came quick,
232 Ligsteâ€™s Story.
â€œÂ¢Took here,â€™ says father; â€˜look at this childâ€™s back,
and put it alongside of the day you said she was
making believe sick. Well, have you seen it? Maybe
the dayâ€™ll come when you'd like to eat them words of
â€œMrs. Jones she felt bad, and I felt bad, and I
called her to me, and says Lâ€”â€˜ Donâ€™t lay it up against
father, and I'll give you my beautiful new picture, full
of green trees, and blue sky, and cows and sheep.
â€œWhat, that little flared-up thing on the wall?â€™
says she ; â€˜thank you, I rather think you can keep it,
and welcome, for all me.â€™
â€œYou see there was always something going on that
passed away the time.
â€œFather used to talk to us about his young sister
Rose, who was at service in a gentlemanâ€™s family, ten
miles from London.
â€œShe got a holiday soon after this, and came to see
us. She told me more about what the country was
like than ever father had, and all about the young ladies
she took care of, and their toys and books.
â€œYou couldnâ€™t believe maâ€™am, how it passed away
the time to hear her talk.
â€œAnd then she asked me if I liked to read, and
what books I had got.
â€œThen I had to tell her that I had never been to
school, and didnâ€™t know how to read.
â€œÂ¢ Poor little soul!â€™ says she, and put on her bonnet
and went and bought a book, out of her own savings,
and wrote my name in it, and taught me great A, and
little a, that very day. And she took me in her arms
and hugged me, and said,â€”-â€˜ Oh, that I could carry this
Lizgieâ€™s Story. 23 3
poor lamb home with me, and give her what my young
ladies waste every day of their lives !â€™
â€œPlease, maâ€™am, did ever anybody hug you and say
such nice things?
â€œ After that, my father taught me all my letters, and,
all of a sudden, I could read!
â€œTt was a big book that my aunt gave me. She
said she got it because it would last me so long, and
amuse me till I got another. It was called the
â€˜Pilgrimâ€™s Progress,â€™ and was full of beautiful stories
and pictures. I could tell it all to you if it wouldnâ€™t
tire you, maâ€™am.
â€œOh, you've got one, too? How nice! Have you
got any other books? But mother looked in just now,
and coughed twice. She thinks I qm talking too much.
â€œYou're not tired, maâ€™am ?
â€œTJ read my book, and read it, and as soon as I got
to the end I began it again ; and I showed the pictures
to the children, and on Sundays I read out of it to
father and mother. Father is tender like, and the tears
would keep rolling down his cheeks when-I read the
prettiest parts, and one day he said,â€”â€˜TU tell you
what itis, Lizzie: Iâ€™ve a good mind to go on a pilgrim-
â€œT felt awful bad when he said that, for I wanted to
go, too; but how could I, with the bones gone out of
my two legs?
â€œ Father sat quiet, thinking and thinking. At last
he got up all of a spring like, and put on his hat and
â€œÂ«Â¢ Where's father gone to now ?â€™ says mother. â€˜ Not
to any of them gin-shops, I hope.â€™
234 Lizeteâ€™s Story.
â€œÂ¢No!â€™ says I, â€˜heâ€™s gone on a pilgrimage, I do
â€œMother laughed, and said that wasnâ€™t so bad as
them gin-shops, any way.
â€œBut I felt bad and lonesome, and as if heâ€™d gone
and left me behind. And I couldnâ€™t get to sleep for
thinking about it, till I heard his step on the stairs.
He wouldnâ€™t tell where heâ€™d been to, and we all went
to sleep. But the next day he said heâ€™d been to hear
the preaching at a big church.
â€œÂ¢T was lifted away up to the third heaven,â€™ says he,
â€˜and I sang hymns, too.â€™
donâ€™t know how to sing. Better own it and done with
it. You was a-singing songs at the gin-shops.
â€œ Â«That I wasnâ€™t, then, says father; â€˜I was at
Westminster Abbey, where they bury the grand folks,
and the hymns hung all round the walls, printed in
letters as big as the top of my thumb, Come, if you
donâ€™t believe it, go with me next Sunday night and
see for yourself.â€™
Abbey indeed ! with a bonnet and shawl like mine !â€™
goes to hear it,â€™ says father.
â€œÂ¢ And ain't you a-going on a pilgrimage, after all?â€
â€œ<Â¢ Veg, my lass, I am,â€™ says he, â€˜I'll learn all about
it at the preaching, you see,â€™
â€œ After he'd gone off to his work, mother says,â€”
â€˜Tl go with him next time, you may depend. Some-
thingâ€™s coming over him,â€™
Lizeie's Story. 235
â€œThe day but one after that father come home all
eager like, and, says he,â€”<â€˜ Lizzie, child, mightnâ€™t it
amuse you if you had a flower a-growing in the
window there? Tor the men talked at their work to-
day about a â€œSociety for the Promotion of Window
Gardening among the Poor,â€ and they say thereâ€™s just
been a flower-show, and prizes given to them as raised
the handsomest ones. Wrayâ€™s girl, Betsy, got a prize
of six shillings for hers.â€™
â€œ*You donâ€™t say so !â€™ says mother.
â€œ<Â¢ Yes,â€™ says father; â€˜and whatâ€™s more, Iâ€™ve got a
beautiful rare plant for Lizzie here: poor soul, it will
be company for her these long days !â€™
â€œÂ« What makes you say â€œpoor soul,â€ father?â€™ says
I, â€˜when Iâ€™ve got a picture, and a â€œ Pilgrimâ€™s Progress,â€
and a plant a-growing ?â€ â€˜
â€œÂ¢Pshaw !â€™ says father, â€˜whatever ails my eyes to
water so easy? See, hereâ€™s the little wee thing.â€™
â€œT almost screamed when I saw it, I was so glad.
It was a-setting out in a little flower-pot, and its leaves
was all green.
â€œWhich of you two is the biggest fool, I wonder?â€™
says mother. â€˜There! now you've slopped water all
over the bed-clothes and everything !â€™
â€˜I was only giving my plant a little drink,â€™ says I.
â€œT called watering it giving it a drink, I was so
â€œ<Â¢Of course, Iâ€™m the biggest fool,â€™ says father, and
he laughed real pleased like.
â€œ<Â«Everything runs to societies nowadays,â€™ says
mother, â€˜I wish theyâ€™d offer prizes to them as has
the most children and the handsomest ones. I'd go in
236 Ligsteâ€™s Story.
for it, that I would! It ainâ€™t gentlemenâ€™s children as
gets all the good looks.â€™
â€œÂ¢ No, nor the sense, either,â€™ says father.
â€œ<Â¢There ainâ€™t many young ones as sets alone the
day theyâ€™re four months old,â€™ says mother. â€˜See
here! This one beats all our babies. And what did
I pay for him at â€˜the shops? La, nothing at all, bless
you; and so he ainâ€™t fit to fetch a prize.â€™
â€œÂ¢T didnâ€™t pay anything for Lizzieâ€™s plant, if thatâ€™s
what vexes you,â€™ says father. â€˜Hicks gave it to me.
He said he got it from his wifeâ€™s second cousin, whose
half-brother was nephew to one of the gardeners at
Osborne, and that itâ€™s something costly and precious.â€™
â€œÂ¢Next news youll say you dug it up in Paradise,â€™
name thatâ€™s wrote on this paper: or, no you canâ€™t read
writing. Perhaps I canâ€™
â€œ So after a deal of time, and spelling of it over, and
scratching his head, he read it out, so :â€”
â€œÂ¢ Calendula officinalis.â€™
â€œÂ¢That sounds splendid!â€™ says I, and was sorry
when it grew dark, because I could not watch it and
see it grow. Father said the next exhibition would
be on June the 19th, 1868, and he was sure it would
be a big, strong plant by that time, thick with leaves
â€œ And if you'll believe it, maâ€™am, after a while it did
have a little mite of a leaf, and it grew up tall and
leaned one side, and then grew some more and leaned
the other side.
â€œOh, it was-such company for me, and I loved it
Ligzie's Story. 237
so! Even mother, with all she had to do, got to
â€œSo it went on all winter long, and in the spring
a little bud came, and it took father and me a week
to get over that. By-and-by, you could see little
streaks of orange colour in the bud, and we talked
about that, and were afraid the flower wouldnâ€™t bloom
out for the tight day, and then we were afraid it
would bloom too soon. Somebody told father to cut.a
little ring out of stiff paper and put it on to keep it
back ; he said they always did so with choice flowers.
Then I laughed and said I was a choice flower too,
for something had kept me back from growing into a
â€œThen father said it was good to hear me laugh,
and that I was a choice flower, ring or no ring. That's
just fatherâ€™s way, please, maâ€™am.,
â€œOh, how pretty my flowÃ©r looked the day before
the show! I was sure it would get the prize, for there
couldnâ€™t possibly be a flower so beautiful as mine.
Father carried it on his way to his work, and promised
to bring it back, prize and all at night.
â€œBut I canâ€™t tell the rest now, maâ€™am. Somethingâ€™s
a squeezing and a crowding at my heart, and I feel
faint-like. Its nothing to be scared about. Iâ€™m often
â€œThere! itâ€™s all gone now. But you say I musnâ€™t
talk any more? You say that you'll come again to
hear the rest? Thank you, maâ€™am.â€
â€œTâ€™m sorry I frightened you so, maâ€™am. I wasnâ€™t
scared myself. It was only one of my turns. Mother
238 Ligsteâ€™s Story.
says she expects Iâ€™ll go off in one of em sometime, but
we donâ€™t tell father that. And I hope I shall live to
go on a pilgrimage, first.
â€œDid my flower take the prize?
â€œT'll tell you all about it, maâ€™am. After father went
away with it in the morning, I thought what a long
day it would be before he would bring it back at night.
But I told stories to the children, and that kept them
out from under motherâ€™s fect, and I read my â€˜ Pilgrimâ€™s
Progress,â€™ and had a good time ; but I was glad when I
heard fatherâ€™s step on the stairs, and to see my dear good
little flower, safe and sound.
â€œDon't take on my lass,â€™ says father, but the
handsome flowers elbowed yours away off into a
corner, and itâ€™s my belief that nobody so much as
looked at it.â€™
â€œÂ¢That must be the reason it did not get the prize,â€™
says I. â€˜Iâ€™m glad it ought to have got it anyhow.â€™
â€œAnd then I said it was late, and time to go to
sleep, and I lay down and cried under the quilt ; but
not aloud; that would have plagued father. My poor
little flower! Nobody had looked at it! Nobody had
told how pretty it was! And it was such a good little
â€˜ thing, to grow here in our crowded room, when other
plants were having such a nice time out 0â€™ doors!
â€œ But after I had cried a pretty long time about it, I
fell asleep, and dreamed a beautiful dream. I thought
I was as well and strong as ever, and that I carried my
flower to the Exhibition myself, and stood a little way
pack to see what the people would say to it. There
was a great crowd, and somebody said there were lords
and ladies mixed all up among us poor folks. But all
Lisgte's Story. 239
I looked at was my flower. There it stood, up in a
corner, all by itself; but nobody noticed it, nobody
said a word about it, except Mrs. Jones; and I heard
her laugh and say, â€˜Do look at that mean, scraggling
little atom of a marigold of Lizzie Grayâ€™s! The idea of
bringing it here, among all these splendid flowers !â€™
â€œ She passed on, and a gentleman and a lady stopped
to look at it.
â€œÂ¢QOh, look at this poor, little, half-starved mari-
gold!â€™ said the lady. â€˜What a pathetic story of its
own it tells. Fancy how the childâ€™s heart will ache,
when it goes home and tells her it has not won a prize
after all! Tuck something down into the pot, dear ;
she will find it to-morrow; and what a surprise and
what a joy that will be to her!â€™
â€œShe was such a lovely lady toâ€œlook at, with a face
that went right down into your heart! And her
husband said, â€˜ Yes, darling, I have.â€™
â€œThen all the people who had brought plants, had
tea and bread and butter, in a tent, and there was a
band that played sweet music; and the children
tumbled about in the green grass. But I did not want
any tea, or any bread and butter, and I had heard that
sweet ladyâ€™s voice, and it was music that nobody else
heard. So I took my little flower-pot in my arms, and .
went home with it; and it kept growing heavier and
heavier, just as Jim used to the last days I nursed
him, and I could hardly get up the stairs; and when
I did, my two legs went from under me, and I fell
right into the room.
â€œThe fright woke me up, and then I knew it was all
a dream, for it wasnâ€™t bedtime, and mother sat at work
240 Ligete's Story.
by the light of the candle, and father sat by her, cut-
ting a bit of stick. So there wasnâ€™t any sweet lady,
and there wasnâ€™t any kind gentleman, after all! The
tears began to come again, and I could hardly help
crying out aloud. But I heard mother sayâ€”
thing. She dropped off to sleep like a lamb as soon as
you got home.â€™
â€œYT hope she did,â€™ says father. â€˜For I never had
my heart so broke but once before.â€™ .
â€œÂ¢ And when was that?â€™ says mother.
â€œ*Tt was the night I got a look at her poor back,â€™
says father. â€˜You'd better let me know it when
it was a-coming on, and not let me find it out all
of a sudden. Why, when I went to my work next
day, the streets and the houses, and the people were
there just the same, and the carriages rattling along
just as usual; and yet they werenâ€™t the same streets,
nor the same houses, nor the same people. Everything
was altered to my eyes, and altered to my ears. My
trouble had struck in, and there wasnâ€™t no cure for it,
Sometimes I think itâ€™s your fault with letting the poor
thing carry the children about ; and sometimes I think
itâ€™s a judgment upon us for living like two heathen, as
we always have.â€™
â€œâ€˜Â¢ As to that,â€™ says mother, â€˜I did the best I could
by the child. Bringing up a family of young ones is a
trade, and I never learnt it. I was a slip of a girl, and
was set to the business with nobody to show me how
to go to work, and without any tools. I wasnâ€™t
brought up myself; I footed it up; and how should
I know our Lizzie was getting beat out? She never
- Ligeteâ€™s Story. 241
said she was tired, and never said her back ached; and
I was so drove from morning till night, that I did not
notice how pale she was getting. I tell you what it is,
Joe. A man has his dayâ€™s work, and thereâ€™s the end
of it. He can go to the beer-shops and gin-shops, and
sit and warm the inside of him every evening, and then
lie down to sleep all night, and wake up strong and
hearty. But his womanâ€™s work goes on, and sheâ€™s up
and down of nights, and she lays and thinks what's to
feed them all next day, and her head isnâ€™t empty
enough to sleep on.â€™
â€œ<Â« Wife,â€™ says father, â€˜donâ€™t mention beer-shops and
gin-shops in the room where that child lays asleep.â€™
â€œT thought, though, I ought not to let them believe
that I was asleep, and I tried to speak, but I couldnâ€™t
for the tears. Did you ever have a lovely dream,
maâ€™am, and wake up and find it was a dream?
husband goes and spends his time, and wastes his
money,â€™ says mother, a little short.
â€œÂ¢My troubleâ€™s struck in,l tell you,â€™ says father.
â€˜And itâ€™s got in so deep that even the drop of drink
canâ€™t reach it. Iâ€™ve done drinking, wife.â€™
â€œÂ¢Then have you took the pledge?â€™ says mother.
â€œ Â«My pledge is a-lying there on that bed,â€™ says father.
â€˜T never drank to hurt me, nor to hurt you nor the
young ones. Iâ€™ve always been a decent, sober, hard-
â€œSo you have,â€™ says mother. â€˜And you're no
heathen, either. You neednâ€™t call yourself names, Joe.â€™
â€œâ€œ< Maybe you've forgot it,â€™ says father, slowly, â€˜ but
I havenâ€™t, for I was brought up to know better; we
242 Lizeieâ€™s Story.
pawned the Good Book, and thatâ€™s why I said we were
â€œT rose right up when I heard that. For I remem-
bered what a big book it was, and how much reading
it had in it.
â€œÂ¢Why, Lizzie, have you woke up?â€™ says mother.
â€˜There, lie down, and go to sleep again. Itâ€™s nigh
apon ten oâ€™clock.â€™
â€œÂ¢ But you were talking about a book,â€™ I said.
leg, when he couldnâ€™t go to his work; dear me, Pâ€™d
forgot all about it. Iâ€™ve got the ticket now.â€™
â€œ Â«Please God we'll have it back again,â€™ says father,
â€˜and Lizzie there shall read to us out of it every night.â€™
â€œThen they blew out the candle, and I lay and
thought about my pretty lady in my dream, and the
room seemed almost light. And the next thing I
knew it was morning, and everybody was getting up.
â€œThat night when father came home, he brought
the man with him that gave him my plant. The man
kept his hat on, and when he looked at me, he said
â€˜ Halloo !â€™ and no more!
â€œThen father reached him the flower-pot, and when
he saw that, he took it in one hand, and held it off as
far as he could, and burst out a-laughing; and he
laughed so hard that he fell back into a chair, and the
tears rolled down his cheeks. He kept trying to say
something, but every time he tried, he laughed harder
than ever. Father looked bewildered at first, but then
he began to laugh too, and then mother and all the
rest of us set in, till we made the room shake, Oh,
how tired I was; but I couldnâ€™t stop.
Ligeieâ€™s Story. 243
â€œAt last he got out what he had to say, and it was
just this, and no more :â€”
â€œÂ« Why, itâ€™s nothing but a marigold,â€™ and then he
went off again.
â€œAt last he sobered down, and says he, â€˜If I donâ€™t
pitch into Bob Higgins, my name isnâ€™t Hicks. He told
me it was such a rare and costly plant, with such a high
and mighty name of itâ€™s own, that I thought your lass
there was sure to win the prize. Never mind, my girl;
we'll do better by you next year, and now let me tell
you how to manage this plant. You've let it run up
too tall, and it looks like a sickly girl thatâ€™s got no life
in her. When this blossom falls off, pinch it here, so,
and pinch it there, so, and it will throw out more
leaves, and bear more flowers in the end; and if it
donâ€™t get prizes, it will help pass away the time, won't
â€œT said â€˜Oh, yes,â€™ and thanked him, and he went
â€œaway; and I was holding the flower-pot while father
showed him out, and one of the children brought me a
little stick, and said I was to put it away down into the
earth, and tie my plant to it, because it kept falling
over, and looking as if it would faint away. It was
the stick father had been working at the night before,
and it wouldnâ€™t go down into the earth ; but when I
pushed it hard, it broke short off.
â€œÂ¢Thereâ€™s a stone in the way,â€™ says father, coming
up to the bed, â€˜and you must dig it up.â€™
â€œ And itâ€™s the truth Iâ€™m telling, and I wouldnâ€™t tell
a lie for all the world ; I dug up the stone, and it wasnâ€™t
a stone ; but it was something bright, and shiny, and
244 Lizgieâ€™s Story.
â€œ And says I, â€˜Oh, my pretty lady did it! My
pretty lady !â€™ and then I turned faint-like, and father
threw water in my face, and mother fanned meâ€™ with
her apron: and when that didnâ€™t bring me to, they
slapped my hands hard. The children thought they
slapped me because I was naughty, and they came and
stared at me; glad some, and sorry some.
â€œ At last I got over it.
â€œSo somebody had loved my poor little flower, and
thought it was pretty, and told it so as well as she
could. And my flower had come and told me, and I
donâ€™t know which of us was the gladdest.
â€œAnd I told my dream to father and mother and
the children, and father said I had seen a vision, and
that it was no man or woman had sent It to me.
â€œ After I had done telling them all about it, and
every one had handled my yellow thing, and at last
given it to me to hold, I felt as if there must be Some-
body else to tell how happy I was, or I should burst.
Did you ever feel so, maâ€™am ?
â€œâ€˜ Whenever I woke up in the night, I felt under the
pillow to see if It was safe ; and then I wanted to show
It once more, but it was all dark and still, and I
couldnâ€™t think who the Somebody was.
â€œThe next day was Sunday, and father dressed him-
self in his clean clothes : and after dinner made mother
put on hers and the childrenâ€™s, and says he, â€˜Now,
Lizzie shall read to us all ;â€™ and he whipped out a book
from under his coat, and it was the pawned book come
home again. There was a mark in it, and he said,
â€œRead there, Lizzie. My old mother read there every
Lizgie's Story. 245
â€œ And I read the twenty-third Psalm ; father holding
the book, it was so heavy.
â€œTt sounded beautiful.
â€œÂ¢ Father,â€™ says I, â€˜who wrote the Bibleâ€™
â€œ<*Mr, John Bunyan wrote my â€œ Pilgrimâ€™s Progress,â€
says I. â€˜It says so on the first page. Maybe he
wrote the Bible, too. I donâ€™t much believe God did.â€™
Â«Â¢Why not? says father.
â€œ<Â¢Why, God wouldnâ€™t say â€œthe Lord is my Shep-
herd.â€ J should think that it was a man said that.
Or else some poor, sick girl.â€™
â€œT looked at the Psalm again, and it said, over the
top, â€˜A Psalm of David.â€™
â€œT read it out loud.
â€œ Â«Who was David, father?â€™
â€œÂ¢ He was aâ€”he was aâ€”well, itâ€™s all mixed up in
my head together ; he was a man that got into a den
of lions, or else he was a man that didnâ€™t, I donâ€™t quite
remember,â€™ says he.
â€œ Â«Maybe it will tell, somewhere in the Bible,â€™ says
I. â€˜Do shepherds love their sheep, father?â€™
â€œÂ¢Of course they do. Folks always love the things
they take care of.â€™
â€œ* Does God ?
â€œ<Â¢Well, now, the questions you put upon one,
child. I oughter bea parson, to answer the half of
â€œ He was going to put the Bible away, but I had just
caught sight of a verse, and read these words, â€˜God so
loved the world, that He gave,â€™ I hadnâ€™t time to see what
He gave, but I knew it was something out of the com-
246 Liggteâ€™s Story.
mon. â€˜Oh, father, just let me see what it was God gave
because He loved us so.â€™
â€œÂ¢ Loved the world, you mean?â€
â€œÂ¢Tsnâ€™t that us?â€™
â€œ* How should He love us, I want to know?â€™ says
father, quite put out like. â€˜Though, to be sure, He
may love you, poor child. I dare say He does.â€™
â€œÂ¢Then, would He like me to show It to Him?â€™
â€œ Father didnâ€™t hear me, I suppose, for he got up and
â€œ And I said to myself, â€˜I know now who the Some-
body was that I wanted to show It to.â€™
â€œ And I held It out on my hand, where He could
see It plain ; and I said, softly, â€˜ Please ! This is mine !
Are you glad ?â€™
â€œ And I thought I heard Him say, â€˜ Yes, I am.â€™ But
when I asked mother if she heard anything, she said
she didnâ€™t. :
â€œ And then I thought it wasnâ€™t likely Heâ€™d say any-
thing to a poor girl like me.
â€œ But the room seemed brimful of Him.
â€œOh, I did wish the Bible wasnâ€™t so big and heavy,
so that I could hold it myself, and read it all day
â€œDid you say, ma'am, that I should have a little
Bible that wasnâ€™t big and heavy? â€˜Two Bibles in one
house? That wouldn't be right. Perhaps father will
give his to Mrs. Jones, and get good friends with her
â€œTn the evening father said he was going to the
preaching, and mother must put the children to bed,
Lizeieâ€™s Story. 247
_and gotoo. She never said a word about her old bonnet
and shawl, but put them all to bed, except the baby,
and took him with her.
â€œTI was wide awake when they got home, and father |
told me a little about the preaching. He said it was
all about Jesus, who loved poor folks so, that He
came down from heaven, and lived among â€™em; and
that they loved Him so that they would hardly give
Him time to Ã©at, but went everywhere He went ; and
He fed the hungry ones, and cured the sick ones,
and was just like their Brother; and if they did
bad things, He forgave them four hundred and ninety
â€œ<Â«Then, father, you'll forgive Mrs. Jones just one
time, won't you ?â€™ says I.
Â«Â¢T will, to please you,â€™ says he.
â€œTell her about the hymns,â€™ says mother.
â€œ<Â¢T can't,â€™ says father: â€˜Next Sunday night, as
Im a living man, Pâ€™ll wrap her up in your shawl, and
take her to hear for herself. It'll be next best to getting
â€œÂ«Then your backâ€™ll be broke next,â€™ says mother.
â€˜Aint it enough that you have to go two miles out of
your way every time you go for her beef-tea and things ?
Must you go and kill yourself a Sundays?â€™
â€œT didnâ€™t say a word.
â€œVd got so used to having things happen to me,
that if two angels had come in and said, â€˜You canâ€™t
go on a pilgrimage, and so we've come to carry you,â€™
I shouldnâ€™t have been surprised. So I held It tight in
my hand, and went fast asleep.
â€œWhen Sunday came round, father began again
248 Ligzieâ€™s Story.
about the preaching. If Iâ€™d aknown how far off it
was, IJ never would have let him carry me. Itâ€™s a
wonder it didnâ€™t kill him.
â€œHow good the air felt blowing in my face, when
we got out into the street! And when I looked up
into the dark night, all the stars looked down at me,
and I thought they winked, and whispered to Ã©ach
other, and saidâ€”
â€œSee that poor girl going to the preaching. When
she was well, she hadnâ€™t time to go; but now sheâ€™s
nothing else to do. She couldnâ€™t go when the bones
was in her legs ; and now theyâ€™re gone, she can.â€™
â€œWhen we first got into that grand place, I was
scared, and thought they would drive us poor folks
out. But when I looked round, most everybody was
poor, too. ,
â€œ At last I saw some of them get down on their
knees, and some shut their eyes, and some took off
their hats and held them over their faces. Father
couldnâ€™t, because he had me in his arms; and so I
took it off, and held it for him.
â€œ<Â¢Whatâ€™s it for?â€™ says I. â€˜Hush!â€™ says father,
â€˜the parsonâ€™s praying.â€™
â€œWhen I showed It to God, the room seemed full
of Him. But then itâ€™s a small room. The church
is a million and a billion times as big, isnâ€™t it, maâ€™am ?
But when the minister prayed, that big church seemed
just as full as it could hold. Then, all of a sudden,
they burst out a singing. Father showed me the card,
with the large letters on it, and says he, â€˜Sing, Lizzie,
Ligeteâ€™s Story, 249
â€œAnd so I did. It was the first time in my life,
The hymn saidâ€”
â€˜ Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly.â€™
and I whispered to father, â€˜Is Jesus God?â€™ â€˜Yes,
yes,â€™ says he. â€˜Sing, Lizzie, sing.â€™
â€œ But I couldn't.
â€œThe hymn made me forget all about my picture
of the country, and my â€˜Pilgrimâ€™s Progress,â€™ and It,
and set mÃ© upon thinking that my father and mother
had got a hunchback for their oldest child, that had
lost the bones out of her legs, and got â€™em a-growing
out in a lump between her shoulders; and how it
broke fatherâ€™s heart, and how it made mother work
_so hard; and I pitied them so, and I pitied myself
go, and the people sang out so strong and heartyâ€”
â€˜Leave, oh-leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!â€™
but I could only whisper it out, and maybe God didnâ€™t
hear it, the rest sang so loud.
. â€œYou say you are sure He did? Then I am sure
a lady like you ought to know, and so I'll think so too.
â€œ After the praying and the singing came the preach-
ing. I heard every word. And you did, too, maâ€™am,
go I needn't tell about that. You say you want to
hear how much I remember? Oh, I remember it all!
Tt was a beautiful story. It told how sorry Jesus was
for us when we did wrong, bad things, and how glad
He was when we were good and happy. It said we
must tell Him all our troubles and all our joys, and
feel sure that He knew just how to pity us, because
250 Lizsteâ€™s Story.
He had been a poor man three and thirty years, on
purpose to see how it seemed.
â€œ And it said we might go and tell Him everything.
I was so glad then that I had showed It to Him!
â€œAnd when it was time to go honte, and I was
beginning to feel awful about poor fatherâ€™s carrying
me all that long, long way, you came and spoke to us,
maâ€™am, and said you would take us in your carriage !
To think of your letting a girl, with such a looking
back, get into your carriage like a lady !
â€œBut it has always been so! Something happening
â€œT was so tired after mother put me to bed that
night, that I couldnâ€™t get to sleep for a good while.
So I lay, and thought over all the hymns, and all
the prayers, and all the preaching. I did not know
what prayers were, before. But I know now that
itâ€™s saying things to God. And I thought I would
say something to Him; and I said, â€˜Please, did You
see me sitting alongside of a real lady in a carriage,
with It in my hand? Did you hear her say she would
often take me to hear the preaching? And oh, please,
have You looked at my back, and felt sorry for father
and mother, that theyâ€™ve got such a child?â€™
_ â€œMy praying did not sound like the ministerâ€™s
praying; but then a poor girl ought not to set herself
up to talk to God like a parson.
â€œAnd now you say, ma'am that you had a little
Lizzie once, that lives in heaven now, and that you
love all sick Lizzies, for her sake? And that you
are going to give me some of her books, and all the
nourishing food she would eat if she lived down here!
Lissie's Story, 251
Then father won't have to go two miles for my beef-
tea, and I shall grow stronger; and may be the bones
in my two legs will come back again (though the
doctor does say itâ€™s not my legs), and I can get so as
to help mother once more.
â€œBut I hope there wonâ€™t anything else happen to
me, for my head is quite turned now, and I canâ€™t think
what makes me have such good times, when there are
so many other people lying sick and sorrowful, and
wishing the days and the nights wasnâ€™t so long, Iâ€™m
sorry Iâ€™ve made you cry, maâ€™am, off and on; and I
suppose itâ€™s because my name is Lizzie, and Til be
more careful next time; and, please maâ€™am, donâ€™t give
me all the things you said you would, but find some
other poor girl, that hasnâ€™t got any â€˜Pilgrimâ€™s Progress,â€™
nor any pictures, and that never saw two folks a-
crying over her marigold, and giving It to her, and
that never heard any singing, and praying, and preach-
ing, and that nobody ever told she might dare to tell
things to God. Father says thereâ€™s plenty of them, up
and down, lonesome, and tired, and hungry, and
â€œmay be it will keep you so busy looking after them,
and speaking such sweet words as youâ€™ve spoke to
me, that the next thing you'll know, the time will
all be slipped away, and you'll see the shining ones
coming to take you where your little Lizzie is.
â€œ Being a poor girl, and ignorant, I canâ€™t quite make
it out how some folks gets to heaven one way, and
some another. The ways it tells, in my â€˜ Pilgrimâ€™s
Progress,â€™ is to go on a great long journey, till you
come to a river; and when you've got across that,
youre right at the door of the city, and all your
252 Ligateâ€™s Story,
troubles is over. But cripples, like me, canâ€™t go ona
pilgrimage, and I spoke to God about that; says I,
â€˜Please how is a girl like me to get there?â€™ And it
came into my mind, â€˜Why, Lizzie, little babies, as
die when theyâ€™re babies, donâ€™t go on a pilgrimage, but
they get to heaven all the same. Angels comes down
and fetches them may be.â€™
â€œAnd may be they fetches up the lame girls, or
helps them along. I should like to have one show
me the way, if he didnâ€™t mind; and another go
behind -me, and cover my back with his wings ; and
Tâ€™d go in on tiptoe, and sit away up against the wall,
where nobody could see me; and I'd sing, softly, with
â€œYou say you think they'll come for me, before long ?
Thank you, maam. But donâ€™t tell father. And if
you ever come here and find Iâ€™ve gone, tell him, please,
that TI be sitting near the door, watching for him ;
he'll know me from all the rest, because theyâ€™ll be
â€œAnd now I humbly ask your pardon for talking
so much, maâ€™am, and wonâ€™t speak another word.â€
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WITH EIGHT TINTED PLATES, AND UPWARDS OF ONE HUNDRED
AND TWENTY WOODCUTS.
Post 8vo, cloth extra. Price 3s. 6d.
The Young Fur-Traders: A Tale of the Far North.
With Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth. Price 3s.
Ungava: A Tale of Esquimaux Land. With Illustra-
tions. Post 8vo, cloth. Price 3s.
The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific. With Illus-
trations. Post 8vo. cloth. Price 3s.
Martin Rattler; or, A Boyâ€™s Adventures in the Forests
of Brazil. With Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth. Price 3s.
The Dog Crusoe and his Master: A Tale of the
Western Prairies. With Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth. Price 3s.
The Gorilla-Hunters: A Tale of Western Africa.
With Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth. Price 3s.
The World of Ice; or, Adventures in the Polar
Regions. With Engravings. Post 8vo, cloth. Price 3s.
T. NELSON AND SONS, LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK.
Pictorial Wertbrary of Herabel and Ldbventure,
PRICE TWO SHILLINGS EACH.
Extra Foolscap, Cloth. Copiously Illustrated.
OR, PICTURES OF LIFE AND SCENERY IN THE WILDS OF CANADA.
BY MRS. TRAILL, AUTHOR OF â€˜â€˜ THE CANADIAN CRUSOES,â€ ETC.
With Coloured Frontispiece and Vignette, and Twenty-two
Engravings on Wood,
Pictures of Travel in Far-off Lands. A Companion
to the Study of Geography.â€”CunrraL America. With Fifty
Pictures of Travel in Far-off Lands.â€”South America.
With Fifty Engravings.
Round the World. A Story of Travel Compiled from
the Narrative of Ida Pfeiffer. By D. Murray Smiru. With
Tinted Frontispiece and Vignette, and Thirty-five Engravings on
1. NELSON AND SONS, LONDON, EDINBURGH, AND NEW YORK.
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