Little Johnnie, or, God's silver


Material Information

Little Johnnie, or, God's silver
Series Title:
"Star of hope" series
Alternate Title:
God's silver
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : ill. (some col.) ; 16 cm.
Greene, Mrs. ( Louisa Lilias ), 1833-1891 ( Author, Primary )
Gunston, W ( Engraver )
Frederick Warne and Co ( Publisher )
Camden Press ( Publisher )
Frederick Warne and Co.
Place of Publication:
Camden Press
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Laziness -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Grandmothers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Work -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Baldwin -- 1881   ( local )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London


Statement of Responsibility:
by Mrs. Greene ; with coloured frontispiece.
General Note:
Date of publication from inscription.
General Note:
Illustrations engraved by Gunston.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002230787
notis - ALH1152
oclc - 62295556
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text

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". TOHNNIE,"said
S J, old Mrs. Peters
to her grandson,
who was seated
lazily by the fire-
side, rubbing the
rust and mud from
"an old horseshoe
which he had just
", picked up outside
the village forge,
"Johnnie, lad, would
it not be as well to move
yourself a bit, and set
"about something useful?
there is a deal of work to

Little yohnnie.

be done in the house before nightfall, and
very few hands to do it."
"What work is there to be done? I
am sure I can't see nought as wants
doing," replied Johnnie, gazing vacantly
around him; "but it's always the same
cry, 'work, work, work.' I 'm sick -o'
work, so I am I niver have a moment's
rest the livelong day, from the time I
rise o' a morning till I go to sleep at
From the moment you rise in the
morning till you go to bed at night,
Johnnie, is no long day," replied Mrs.
Peters, with a laugh. "If you rose in the
morning with the lark, and went to bed
at night when the stars were twinkling
in the sky, as your father did when he
was a lad like thee, then indeed you
might. talk o' rest; but to creep out of
your bed at nine o' the clock, and to
creep back to it again at sundown, is but
a half-day's work-and a very sorry half-

Lazy yohnnie.

day's work it is at most times," murmured
Mrs. Peters, gloomily, and she looked at
the listless attitude still maintained by
her grandson.
I niver could see the use of getting
out o' one's warm bed at cock-crow,
niver; and I am sure I niver shall," said
Johnnie, throwing the mud and rust he
had been scraping off the horseshoe on
the newly washed cottage floor, and
cleaning his hands on the knees of his
corduroys. It niver puts a penny more
in one's pockets, but makes a fellow as
ravenous as a hawk; and I'm sure
there's little enough to eat nowadays as
it is."
Mrs. Peters did not reply at once to
this foolish and most ungenerous speech
uttered by her lazy grandson; she had
no time just now to enter into a wordy
argument, for the tea-things had to be
washed up, little Abel, Johnnie's younger
brother, had to be put to bed early, as he

Little yohnnie.

was tired out after a long day's gleaning,
and the whole cottage had to be set in
order before nightfall. But Mrs. Peters
was too anxious about Johnnie's future
welfare to allow him to retire to rest
without adding a few words more of
kindly advice and encouragement, and
as she swept the mud and rust from the
tiles, and set the kitchen in order, she
thought over in her mind and prayed
silently to God that He would show her
the best way of getting at her grandson's
heart, and of stirring up within it the
desire of earning an honest livelihood;
for Johnnie, up to this period of his life,
had contributed little or nothing to the
daily expenses of the household. He
spent, as a rule, his whole time loitering
about the precincts of the village forge,
either watching the sparks flying about
the hot iron, or speculating idly on the
machinery of the huge bellows which
puffed and snored in its corner. His

Lazy yohnnie.

grandmother would have willingly ap-
prenticed him to the blacksmith had she
possessed the necessary funds, for it was
the only occupation Johnnie seemed to
have taken the slightest fancy to. But
poor Mrs. Peters, old and infirm as she
was, could barely keep the house going,
much less could she pay the 'prentice fee;
and were it not for poor little Abel's
earnest efforts to assist her, she would
sometimes have given up altogether in
despair, and accepted the quiet home
which had been offered her more than
once in the comfortable almshouse built
on the squire's grounds.
But Mrs. Peters had accepted the
charge of her two little grandsons many
years ago from the hands of their dying
mother, and she was determined not to
relinquish it now without a struggle,
though many a time her heart almost
fainted in the task. Abel was a good
boy, and helped her as best he could;

Little yohnnie.

but he was very young, and not strong
enough for much work. It was Johnnie,
the elder and stronger of the two, that
made her burden almost heavier than she
could bear.
These thoughts kept turning and turn.
ing themselves over in the poor widow's
heart as she swept, and tidied, and dusted,
till at length, the cottage being finally set
in order for the night, she took down
from the book-shelf the old family Bible,
which from its great age was considered
quite a sacred relic.
"Johnnie, lad, come here," she cried
in her kindest voice, as she placed the
large book upon her knee and opened it
at the fly-leaf; "come here and let us
read together the words which your
great-grandfather wrote upon the first
page of this book-words, too, which he
not only wrote, but made the motto of
his life, and he was one of the best men
that ever lived."

Lazy 7ohnnie.

Johnnie came over at this appeal, and
standing behind his grandmother, read
out, it must be confessed in a somewhat
reluctant and sulky voice, the following
words, which were written in a large
round hand upon the fly-leaf of the Bible:
"Those who rise up at break of day,
And prayerfully pursue their way,
Will find, if they but search with care,
God's silver scattered everywhere."
A long pause ensued after the reading
of this proverb, during which Johnnie
seemed to be intently gazing at the words.
"Well, lad, what dost thou think of it
all ?" asked his grandmother, somewhat
encouraged by Johnnie's apparent in-
"What do I think on it? why, I just
think a sillier pack o' words were ne'er
threaded together afore. How do you
think a fellow could believe such stuff
and nonsense at this time o' the world,
eh ?"

Little yohnnie.

"Your great-grandfather who wrote
these words, not only believed in them,
Johnnie, but proved them to be true, so
did your grandfather and your own good
father after them; and if you would only
have faith as they had, you would find
the truth of the proverb for yourself."
"Do you mean to say, granny," burst in
Johnnie, somewhat rudely, "that if I chose
to get up early to-morrow morning, and
took the trouble of looking about me, I
should have nothing to do but just to
grab up as much silver as ever I like ?
Pugh! you could not make me believe
such humbug;" and Johnnie turned
away with a contemptuous shrug of his
I would have you try, at least," urged
Mrs. Peters, with kindly forbearance.
" I am not asking you to do a very great
thing, Johnnie, and if it is any comfort
to you, I can tell you that I have often-
ay, hundreds of times-proved the truth

Lazy yohnnie.

of this proverb myself. Many a morning
I went out empty-handed at sunrise, and
returned home again to breakfast with
my pocket lined with silver."
"You did ?" asked Johnnie, suddenly
aroused to interest by his grandmother's
words, for she had never deceived him
in her life; and this last speech of hers
bore all the stamp and force of truth.
"You went out yourself to look for God's
silver, and you found it ?"
"Ay, did I, lad; and I have no doubt
you will find it too, and plenty of it, if
you only set about looking for it in the
right way."
And what way is that, granny ?"
"Why, just as the proverb tells you:
by rising for it early, seeking for it prayer-
fully, and picking it up with diligence and
care. Careless eyes and idle hands will
never find God's precious silver."
"Oh, dear!" groaned Johnnie, "I
know I shall never find it; I don't even

Little bonnie.

know at what o'clock I ought to get up;
and if I did, how am I to awake at the
right time ?"
"You must rise with the sun-at least,
so the proverb says; and if you do really
wish to be up betimes, I will set the alarum
to-night at the proper hour, and when
you hear it go off in the morning you will
know that it is time to be up and stirring."
"I must rise with the sun," echoed
Johnnie, with a lazy yawn. Well, if so,
here goes for bed; I must manage to get
a good night's rest somehow. Good
night, granny;" and stretching his long
muscleless arms above his head, Johnnie
crawled up the few stairs which led to
his garret bed-room.
"Don't forget to set the alarum,
granny," he shouted presently in a muf-
fled voice, which showed his head was
already buried beneath the blankets.
"All right, Johnnie, I will set it at
once;" and Mrs. Peters rose, put her

Lazy yoknnie.

knitting down on the table, and forthwith
stretching up to the clock, she fixed the
hand of the alarum to the hour of four.
so, how-
ever, she i
shook her
head de-
ly. She
lazy ha-
bits so
well, she -
could not
Lazy 7oknnie.
but mis-
trust his newly-formed resolution--a re-
solution which it was evident he had not
strengthened as yet by prayer.
"Well, the morning will tell whether
he is in earnest or not; I may be judging
him wrongly," she murmured to herself

Little 7ohnnie.

as she resumed her seat-" the morning
will tell;" and with a heavy sigh she took
up her knitting again; and though her
poor back ached after the long day's
stooping in the corn-fields, and her eyes
grew dim and dull, still she worked on
patiently at Johnnie's socks till the clock
struck ten, when, her task being accom-
plished, she also rose, turned down the
kitchen lamp, and retired to rest for the
Well, the morning came at last, which
was to put Johnnie's good intentions to
the test; and what a lovely morning it was,
with a red dawn and violet flush rising
up behind the poplar-trees. Johnnie was
not awake as yet to see how beautiful
everything looked outside, but presently
the alarum ran down with a furious whirr
and screech, and the cuckoo hopped out
of his box with trembling wings, and
sobbed out, "One, two, three, four."
"Good gracious, what a fearful row!

Lazy yohnnie.

Did any one ever hear the like ?" cried
Johnnie, in no amiable voice or mood, as
he started from a sound sleep and counted
the calls of the cuckoo. Four o'clock!
Why, what humbug! Catch me getting
up at four o'clock to go on such a wild,
goose chase. If I get up in two hours'
time, it will be early enough for all the
silver I 'm like to find."
And, closing over the small shutter
which he had left open on purpose the
night before, the lazy boy threw himself
back upon his pillow, and was soon
heavily asleep.
Though the alarum had been set pur-
posely with a view to rousing Johnnie, its
loud metallic screech was heard by other
ears as well, and old Mrs. Peters, startled
from the sleep which had only come
within the last few hours to her relief,
listened with an anxiously beating heart
for the sound of Johnnie's steps.
At first all remained so quiet and still

Little yohnnie.

through the house, she could distinctly
hear the crickets' chirp in the kitchen and
the nibbling of the mice in the bread
cupboard within. But by-and-bye there
was a step to be heard overhead-a quiet,
muffled tread, as of some one moving as
noiselessly as they could, and poor Mrs.
Peters lay back on her pillow with a
grateful heart, for she felt sure that it
was Johnnie who was up and astir, and
who, out of love and consideration for
her, was treading as lightly as he could.
But it was not Johnnie. It was little
Abel Peters, Johnnie's junior by many
years, who was awake and creeping about
so softly overhead. Lying in his bed the
evening before with sired limbs and an
aching head, he had overheard the con-
versation carried on in the kitchen be-
neath between his brother and his grand-
mother, and the lesson which had been
intended for Johnnie's encouragement
and good sank deep into his own heart.

Lazy yohnnie.

Abel had the most unbounded faith
in his grandmother, and every word
which fell from her lips was listened to
by him with a respectful belief. So all
the long night he had lain awake think-
ing over the wonderful mottoes which he
had heard her read from the Bible, and
to the truth of which she had testified so
earnestly; and now, with the quaint
words of the rhyme ringing in his ears,
he had risen with the dawn, and was
dressing in haste and some fear lest he
might be already late; for through the
one cracked pane which formed the
garret window he could see the sunlight
even now burnishing the edges of the
hills beyond.
But though Abel was in such earnest
about his project, and in such anxiety
lest the prize had already slipped from
his grasp, he did not consider it a need-
less form to kneel down and ask God's
blessing on the long day which lay

Little yohznnie.

stretched out before him, nor, in par-
ticular, to crave with simple faith that
He would be with him in his lonely
and assist
him in the
i' i. -search
-i- which he
was about
to under-
S take.

Abel. rose
from his
-- knees, he
Abel fraying. paused a
paused a
moment before going downstairs, for the
thought had come suddenly into his mind
that he ought to make one more effort to
rouse his elder brother, who had, perhaps,
not heard the alarum ring, or having
heard, might unwittingly have fallen
asleep again. So, creeping softly along

Lazy yohnnie.

the narrow passage, he tapped at the door
of Johnnie's room, and called him by his
There was no answer, so Abel pushed
open the door a space, and tried to peer
through the darkness. The room was
so still, and Johnnie's head was buried so
deep between the blankets, no sound of
breathing reached his brother's ears.
Abel almost thought that Johnnie had
got the start of him, and he would have
closed the door again and gone down,
had not a loud snore and a sudden star-
tled movement in the bed shown him
that his brother was still there.
"What do you want ? who's pushing
at my door ?" cried a hoarse, sleepy
voice, as Johnnie, startled from no plea-
sant dreams, sat upright in his bed, and
saw some one standing in the doorway.
".What do you want, I say, and who are
you ?"
It is I, Abel; I thought you would

Little yohnnie.

like me to call you, for the alarum has
rung this some time, and as I did not
hear you stirring, I came to see if you
were up."
"Thank you for nothing," replied
Johnnie, gruffly; I had much rather
you had left me alone. And what o'clock,
may I ask, is it, that I see you up and
dressed, eh ? "
"It is more than a quarter-past four;
and if you do not get up and dress
quickly, all the silver will be gone,"
pleaded Abel, innocently.
Bah! is that what you are up to ?"
sneered Johnnie, with a yawn. "Why,
what a little fool you are, to be sure!
I 'd just as soon get up out of my snug
roost here to look for a mare's nest as
to go out on such a fool's errand. Be-
sides, if I was you, I 'd be afraid, so I
would, to go out wandering over the
fields and lanes at such an hour by my-

Lazy yoohnnie.

"Afraid of what?" asked Abel, simply;
"who would harm me ?"
"How can I tell? But I'd like to
know what way you would look if a
couple of fellows took it into their heads
to run after you and rob you, eh, my lad ?"
"You are only trying to frighten me,
I know that quite well," replied Abel,
with growing indignation, not wholly un-
mixed with fear. "Why should people
run after a poor little chap like me to rob
me ?"
"Why, I thought you were going out
to fill your pockets with silver," retorted
Johnnie, with a hoarse laugh at his own
wit, and his brother's evident discom-
fiture. However, you can do as you
like, old boy, only don't come rattling at
this door again; and shut it after you,
while you are about it, for once granny's
astir in the house, there is no standing
the noise she makes."
Abel shut the door as he was told, nor

Little yohnnie.

did he make any further efforts to induce
his brother to accompany him, though,
to tell the truth, Johnnie's cruel sugges-
tions had filled his heart with an inde-
scribable terror, and the remembrance
of them kept him long and long hesitat-
ing in the dark narrow passage outside
his brother's room.
At length, however, he summoned up
his courage; his natural good sense came
to his aid, and he reasoned with himself
that his grandmother would never have
urged upon Johnnie a course which was
likely to end either in danger or disap-
pointment. Resolutely turning away his
thoughts from Johnnie's dark forebodings,
he crept down the short, creaking stair-
case which led to the kitchen, and having
taken his cap from the peg where it
hung, and lifted the heavy chain from
across the door, he opened it and stepped
out into the cool morning air.

Abel's Search.


HE garden path leading from
the cottage door bp the quiet
road beyond was quite slippery
from an early hoar frost, and Abel had
to walk cautiously down the sloping walk
so as not to fall.
Once out upon the high-road, with the
pretty church filling up the end of the
village street, and amongst all the fami-
liar objects recognizable on either side
of the way, Abel's nervousness quite sub-
sided, and the bright freshness of the
early morning air gave fresh strength to
the desire which had arisen so strongly
in his heart the night before-to look for
God's silver till he should find it.
But where was he to begin his search

Little 7ohnnie.

for this wonderful silver ? Abel knew
not in what direction to bend his steps,
and his
eyes tra-
high and
low, far
and wide.
zinc, glis-
tened sil-
very en-
ough in
Abel searching for "Silver." the morn-
ing sun-
shine to realize his ideas of this precious
metal; but Abel could not carry the
steeple home on his shoulders, and even

Able's Search,

if he could it would not be his own; and
"though Abel's heart was an eager one,
,it was as honest a little heart as ever.
beat, and casting his eyes upon the
ground, he began to search anxiously
amongst the hedgerows, and by the edges
Sof the bright little streamlet which kept
hurrying past him on its way to the vil-
lage fountain.
SAt first Abel snatched at the beautiful
'leaves bound with the white hoar frost,
T which shone brighter than silver itself;
but no! scarcely had he held them in
his grasp for a moment when all the
"brightness and beauty faded away, and
nothing but the leaves, damped and
bruised, remained in his hands.
Once or twice also the shining track
of an early snail, or the bright beads
hanging on the gossamer threads, made
him turn aside with a start of hope; but
again and again he was doomed to dis-
appointment, and exactly as the sun rose

Little yohnnie.

higher and higher in the sky, so little
Abel's bright aspirations sank lower andci
lower in his bosom. -I
Slowly he passed down the silent vil-'
lage street. Very few shutters were
open at this early hour. There was no
sound of life, save where hard by at the
fountain-side a few disconsolate ducks
were performing their morning's ablu-
tions. But as Abel went a little farther'
down the street and passed by the house
of his friend Joe Stephens, he noticed
that the window of his bed-room was
thrown wide open, and that Joe's canary
had already been lifted down from its peg
and placed on the sill outside, where the
little bird, with its throat full of sweet
sounds and its head raised towards the
sky, was pouring forth its morning song.
"Where can Joe be at this early hour?"
thought Abel, as, having whistled a well-
known call" for some minutes outside,
no welcoming face appeared at the win-

Abel's Search.

dow. "Can he be also out searching
for God's silver? if so, perhaps I shall
"Smeet him;" and peering down the long
L3traight road which passed by the church,
-Abel almost fancied that he caught a
glimpse of Joe's blue smock frock and
,buff corduroys.
This was a fresh encouragement to go
-on, for Joe was a bright, intelligent boy,
who read a great deal, and was fond of
'learning; and even supposing he had
never heard of the proverb, he might
"'still be able to make a guess as to what
the "silver" would be like, or where they
-ought to search for it. And Abel only
delayed to consult the face of the old
-village clock before setting off in pursuit
of his friend.
It wanted still twenty minutes to five.
Abel counted the figures twice to make
"sure of the hour; but, short a time as it
took him to ascertain this fact, when he
Looked down the road again it was quite

Little 7oknnie.

empty, and as if by some magic the
figure he had supposed to be that of his
friend Joe had disappeared.
For a moment Abel felt daunted: he''
paused and leaned against the church-,
yard wall, while all Johnnie's dismal
croakings came back upon his ear. Sup-
posing he were to pursue his way down
the long, lonely road, and the figure he
had seen a moment before were to spring
out of some ambush and seize upon him.
Abel looked down the road again, and
hesitated whether to turn back or pro-
ceed; his grandmother could not blame
him, nor indeed feel any disappointment -
at his return, for she had not counselled
him in the matter. But then how de-
lightful it would be to see her kind old
face light up with joy and pride were he
to come home successful and triumphant,
bearing "God's precious silver" in his
hands! And keeping these thoughts
steadily uppermost in his mind, Abel no

Abel's Search.

longer hesitated, but proceeded cheer-
fully on his way.
Perhaps after all Joe had only turned
aside into some of the fields that bor-
dered the lane. He might have gone
out to milk, or to drive the cows from
one pasture to another; and Abel peered
through the hedgerows on either side of
the road until the little gurgling rill which
had followed him all the way from the
village deepened into a stream, and he
could no longer step across it.
Again Abel paused and gazed anx-
iously around him. In his eager pursuit
of his friend Joe, he had almost forgotten
the real object of his walk-namely, to
search for God's silver;" and perhaps,
for all he knew, it might be lurking
somewhere in his very path, if he only
could but tell where to look for it. What
did the proverb say ? it ought to help
him somehow; and Abel repeated the
words to himself-

Little 7oknnie.

"Those who rise up at break of day,
And prayerfully pursue their way,"
-ay, that was just it; ever since he had
set out he had been fighting his fears
and pursuing his search all in his own
strength, and had forgotten to ask for
help, which all can have if they but ask
rightly; and as Abel gazed at the reflec-
tion of the blue sky in the patch of water
at his side, his lips parted, and a very
short but earnest little prayer went up
for future guidance.
He had come to the very deepest part
of the stream now, where the water
scarcely seemed to flow, and the mark of
footsteps showed that it was used occa-
sionally as a well. Here Abel also came
to a sudden standstill, and stooping down
close to the water's edge with a cry of
delight, he began hastily to snatch some-
thing from its surface. Was it the silver
which he had found at length, and whose
bright reflection shone upon his face ? To

Abel's Scar'ch.

all appearance, no; for the treasure which
he held so exultingly clasped in his hand
was nothing after all but a bunch of
fresh green watercress, whose leaves still
glistened brightly with the morning dew.
"Abel, old boy, what are you doing
down there ? cried a cheery voice, which
seemed to the startled child to come
almost out of the sky; and Abel looked
up suddenly, but his face soon broke into
the happiest of smiles as he recognized
the beaming countenance of his dear
friend Joe, grinning at him over the
blackthorn hedge. "What are you doing,
old boy," cried Joe again, "hunting for
birds' nests, eh ?"
"No," replied Abel, with an indignant
toss of the head; "you know well I ain't.
I 'm just a-gathering a handful of water-
cress for granny; she's fonder of it than
of the best white bread out o' the shop."
"Well, if you ain't a good little chap
to get out of your bed at this hour of the

Little 7ohnnie.

morning to look for watercress," said Joe,
half to himself and half to Abel, who still
kept add-
ing to his
"I didn't
get up to
search for
as the
of the pro-
ed sud-
Abel atzering Watercresses. denly
back to
his mind; I came out to look for silver."
"For what?" asked Joe, craning his
neck farther over the hedge.

Abel's Search.

"I came to look for silver. Granny
told Johnnie last night that if he got up
early i' the morn, he would find silver on
the ground."
"Why, did she lose any ?" asked Joe,
eagerly. "If she dropped it here, she
has not much chance of finding it again.
But I '11 get over the hedge and help you
to look for it."
No-no," interrupted Abel quickly:
"she did not lose it. It is 'God's silver'
I am looking for, not hers."
"God's silver!" cried Joe,. with a
scarcely repressed smile and a queer look
into Abel's face, as if he thought the
child were raving; "what on earth do
you mean by 'God's silver,' Abel ? "
I 'm sure I don't know, Joe," replied
poor Abel, blushing up to the roots of
his yellow hair; "it was something
granny read out of the Bible to Johnnie
last night. I was just a-lookin' for you
to ask you what it meant, and now you're

Little yoknnie.

a-laughing at me too;" and the tremble
in Abel's voice betrayed the strong effort
to keep back his tears.
"I 'm not laughing' at you, not I," re-
plied Joe, good-naturedly; it was only
the funny way you said it made me smile
a bit. But I say, old boy, run a yard or
so farther down the road to where you '11
find a piece o' plank thrown across the
stream, and then climb over the gate into
this here field, and I '11 soon show you
how to pick silver off the ground, if I
ain't mistaken."
"You will-will you ? It's no hum-
bug ?" asked Abel, scrutinizing for an
instant the honest rubicund face of his
dear friend Joe; but he saw at a glance
that it was all right, and hurrying down
the road to the spot indicated, he soon,
with the help of his friend's arm, cleared
the five-barred gate, and was inside of
the wide-spreading sheep-field.
Now, see," cried Joe, heartily, as he

Abel's Search.

pointed to a dish filled up with freshly-
gathered mushrooms; "see how I am
picking silver off the ground. I expect to
add not a little money to my store by this
morning's work, and
ifyou choose to set to
work too, there'll be
plenty for us both."
"Who'll buythem
from us ?" asked \
Abel, with kindling
eyes, as he saw a :
splendid crop of .usr oos.
mushrooms peep-
ing out of the grass just at his very feet.
"Why, Farmer Johnston, to be sure,
who lives down by the mill, where I saw
you and your mother gleaning all yester-
day. He '11 buy as many as ever we can
fetch before breakfast, while they are
fresh and small; but don't gather the
great brown ones, for he don't care a
straw for them."

Little yohnnie.

So Abel, laying his bunch of water-
cresses in a cool spot under the hedge,
and gathering two large dock-leaves to
serve as a dish, set to work to hunt for
the mushrooms, which were scattered
here and there over the surface of the
field. Sometimes he found ever so many
growing quite close together, and again
he would walk for yards and yards and
not come across a single one; but Abel
had a quick eye, and an earnest purpose
at heart, and not many escaped his view.
And as he gathered and put them
away in his dock-leaves, the meaning of
his grandmother's proverb seemed to
grow clearer and clearer to his mind, and
he determined when once out upon the
road to open up the subject of it again
to his friend Joe, and to take his opinion
on it.
So when they were walking down the
pretty lane, starred with wild flowers,
which led to Farmer Johnston's house,

Abel's Search.

Abel began once more to speak of God's
silver," and told Joe all his grandmother
had said about it to Johnnie the night
Of course, I see it all now," cried Joe,
with a shrewd sounding whistle, and a
friendly dig of his elbow in Abel's side,
which sent a few of the mushrooms roll-
ing on the ground. "'The early bird
finds the first worm;' ain't that much
about the same tune, eh ? And a truer
pair of proverbs never were. Why, if
you could only get a peep into my early-
bird money-box, you would see what a
fellow could make by just turning out of
his bed an hour or two before others are
astir, and keeping his eyes open and his
hands ready for work. Though it's true
enough what your granny says, and in-
deed I think hers is the better motto of
the two; for, you see, it gives the credit
where credit is due, for it is God who
puts the stuff in the lanes and fields,

Little yohnnie.

which, though it ain't exactly silver at
the moment, turns to silver by-and-bye.
Why, in the spring, I'd gather as many
as a dozen bunches of sweet violets before
breakfast, and get sometimes twopence 2
bunch in the town, and once or twice
they even went as high as sixpence for
the violets."
Thus talking together with eager voices
and bright faces, the two boys reached
Farmer Johnston's gate, and when they
rang the door bell the farmer himself
came to open it.
Good morning, Joe," he cried, in a
hearty tone; "always up with the sun,
eh ? All the more welcome at my door
for coming early. And who is the small
chap you have brought with you ?"
Joe and the good Farmer Johnston
were the best of friends, and the big boy
took a pride in introducing his little chum,
Abel; the result of the introduction being
the purchase, not only of all Abel's mush-

Abel's Search.

rooms, but also the large bunch of water-
cress which the little boy faithfully re-

Farmer 7Johnston's Gate.

trained for his grandmother. Nor, indeed,
would Abel have parted with it now, but
that Joe promised to wait patiently for

Little yohnnie.

him in the lane, on their return home,
while he gathered another bundle.
The farmer knew Abel's grandmother,
old Mrs. Peters, well, and had always
admired her for her active, industrious
habits, and her love of honesty and truth.
He brought the two boys into his kitchen,
and gave each of them a smoking cup of
tea and a slice of good brown bread hot
from the oven; and, while they partook
of this welcome repast, he drew from
simple Abel the story of his grand-
mother's proverb, and of the silver he
had gone out to search for.
Mr. Johnston seemed greatly pleased
both with the quaint saying, and with
little Abel for trying to carry it out, and
when the boys rose to take their leave,
he called after them, Now, boys, mind
you come here every morning at the
same hour, and the more you have to sell
the happier I shall be to buy; and when
the mushrooms and watercresses are all

Abel's Search.

gone, why, you'll be sure to find God's
silver' elsewhere."
With these cheery words in their ears,
and the good hot cake in their mouths,
the two boys stepped out again into the
lane, now flooded
with the yellow
morning sunshine.
All the birds were ':'
singing, and every- i:
thing looked so iri
bright and cheer- 'l
ful; and brighter '
and more cheerful
ohnnie asleep.
than any other ob-
ject in the lane, shone little Abel's face,
as he gazed at the shining silver in his
palm, and looked forward with unalloyed
pleasure to the moment he should see his
grandmother, and place it in her hand.
Could Abel have seen at this moment
the face of his elder brother, still sleeping
heavily and stupidly in the dark garret

Little yohnnie.

room of the little cottage beyond the
church, what a shadow would have come
over his face, and how his joy would
have been clouded but, happily for him,
he forgot all about Johnnie's good inten-
tions of the night before and their
grievous failure in the morning, and
never thought of the share his brother
must have in the home meeting, or of
the shame and remorse the sight of
" God's silver" must bring in its train.

jolJnnie's Repentance.


L. ITwas

the two

the side of the
x- ill e stream to
/ other the water-
cresses Ior Abel's
ra nd mother.
T hey ere
scarcely so cool
and fresh as

Little yohnnie.

those he had plucked in the early morn-
ing, for the sun's rays were much hotter
now, and all the bright cooling dew had
faded from them; but still, by gathering
those in the shade, they succeeded in
obtaining a very dainty bunch, and Abel,
with the green leaves in one hand and
the silver in the other, looked the very
picture of happiness and pride.
Joe bid Abel good bye opposite the
village fountain, and went into his house
whistling, with a joyous heart, while Abel
trudged on in innocent pride and earnest
expectation; nor was his pleasant reverie
broken till he pushed open the cottage
door, and beheld as he did so Johnnie's
shoeless feet coming down the garret
Then it all came back upon him with
a rush-the remembrance of Johnnie's
sleepy taunts and idle threats, and it was
almost with a feeling of remorse that he
met his grandmother's gaze, as she

yohnnie's Repentance.

glanced suddenly away from Johnnie's
shock head and untidy dress to his own
unexpected figure filling up the doorway.
"Why, Abel, is that you ?" and the
poor old grandmother's cheeks flushed
with a surprise which was not unmixed
with pleasure. "Is that you, my little
laddie ? and I was thinking' to myself' you
were in bed and asleep all this time, and
I didn't like to wake you, as I thought
you looked tired like and pale last night.
And where have you been, my sonnie,
with your bright eyes and your rosy
cheeks smelling of the early morning?"
and granny bestowed a hearty kiss on
her grandson, as he threw his arms round
her neck and wished his usual good
"I've been looking for'God's silver!'"
cried Abel, restored to his former joy by
this pleasant welcome; "I 've been look-
ing for 'God's silver!'" he cried, with
such a cheery ring in his voice, and a

Little 7ohnnie.

look of such innocent pride in his face,
that even Johnnie felt startled, and
stopped his wasteful raking of the fire to
listen further.
I've been looking for 'God's silver!'"
he repeated, still breathless from his
rapid walk, while he laid his bunch of
watercresses upon the table, and sought
eagerly in the pocket of his little jerkin.
"Joe Walker and I have been out a-
huntin' for it since nigh four o' the clock,
and now, granny, look what I have
found;" and as Johnnie drew nearer to
the table, under cover of the kitchen
horse, Abel, with an upward glance of
pride into his grandmother's face, laid
two bright sixpences and a fourpenny-
piece on the table. There, granny!
what do you say now ? "
But granny was so surprised and so
delighted, she could scarcely say a word.
She looked at the silver, and then from
the silver into Abel's happy face, in

yohnnie's Repentance.

amazement, till suddenly the lecture she
had given Johnnie the night before, and
the proverb she had read to him from
his father's Bible dawned upon her mind,
and as it did so she caught Abel up in her
arms and gave him a hearty hug, while
tears of the purest joy and honest pride
shone in her eyes.
Meantime a contemptuous smile was
gathering on Johnnie's lips, and as he
drew his chair to the breakfast-table, he
said with a laugh which sounded neither
natural nor pleasant, "If you have picked
up money as don't belong to you, old boy,
you '11 have to return it, that's all; for it
ain't yours, and you've no right to it."
Abel released himself from his grand-
mother's arms as these words spoken by
his elder brother reached his ears, and
for a moment a flush spread over his
cheeks and crimsoned his ears; but this
confusion did not last long, for Abel
knew he had earned the money honestly

Little yohnnie.

and that he could easily prove the fact;
and being questioned by his grand-
mother, he related the whole story, be-
ginning by his accidental overhearing of
the proverb the evening before, his early
rise, and the meeting of Joe in the fields,
Johnnie, though very slow at taking
in an idea, and still slower in carrying it
out, listened, to what Abel had to say;
and when he had heard it all, he remained
silent and brooding, while Abel laughed
and chatted with his grandmother, and
counted up wondrous sums which he
hoped to realize in the future by his early
When breakfast was over and the cot-
tage set in order, poor old granny, as was
her custom, took down her old cloak from
the peg inside the bed-room door, and
bound a yellow cotton handkerchief over
her head and ears. Abel also put on his
cap and shouldered the gleaner's rake.

Yohnnie's Repentance.

while Johnnie sat on the long wooden
bench by the fire, neither stirring hand
or foot, but gazing on the red tiles of the
cottage floor.
"Johnnie, my son, won't you come a-
gleaning with us to-day ? Do, that's a
dearie; we might have doubled our store
yesterday if we had had you to carry
home the sheaves. I walked half the
length of the field with a bundle of them
across my own shoulders, but when I got
so far I could go no farther, and had
to put them down on the ground, and
while my back was turned some one else
came and snatched up the bundle and
made off with it. So come, Johnnie, like
a good soul, and give us a helping' hand."
I can't go to-day-I '11 go to-morrow,"
replied Johnnie, shortly.
Why not to-day ? it's a fine day, dry
and warm, and to-morrow may be wet."
"I can't go to-day, I tell you; I've
summat else to do," and to prevent fur-

Little yohnnie.

their argument Johnnie rose from the
bench and went upstairs.
So Mrs Peters and Abel started for
the gleaning-field, and Johnnie remained

-- -- __-

Mrs. Peters gleaning.

at home. It was a beautiful day for the
gleaners, and Abel and his grandmother
made a fine time of it; for Farmer John-
ston was a liberal-hearted man, and his
men received no orders to hunt the glean-
ers from the field, or to bind each sepa-

yohnnie's Repentance.

rate blade into the sheaves. They were
to bind honestly, that was all that was re-
quired of them, and the gleaners might
gather up what remained.
About midday the sun was so hot over-
head that old Mrs. Peters had to retire
under the shade of a tree to rest, for her
head and back ached, and she was very
weary. There she sat, thinking of her idle
grandson, who had so rudely refused her
the help she had begged of him in the
morning. If it had not been for her ten-
der love and care when Johnnie's father
and mother died, he would not have been
alive now, for he had been as a child
sickly and weak; but now that she had,
by the sweat of her own brow, reared
him up to be a big strong youth, he had
refused in her weakness and old age to
assist her, and she was just wiping away
some bitter tears which had risen to her
eyes at the thought of his ungratefulness,
when she heard the sound of horse's feet

Little yohmzze.

on the sward, and looking up saw Farmer
Johnston reining up his horse in front of
Good afternoon, Mother Peters; don't
stir from where you are sitting," he said
kindly, as the old woman strove to rise
quickly from the ground to curtsey to him.
" You are right to sit in the shade, for
the day is the hottest we have had this
season. I know, my good woman, what
you are fretting about," he added in a
kinder voice, as he dismounted from his
horse and drew the rein through his arm
that he might come closer; "I know
what you are fretting about, and I think
I've done you a good turn, eh ?"
How so, sir ?" asked Mrs. Peters,
much startled and confused by this sud-
den and unexpected sympathy.
"I '1 tell you how. About an hour
ago I was just going into my yard to
fetch my horse from the stables, when I
noticed the figure of a lad skulking be-

7yo/inie's Repentance.

hind the pillar of the gateway, and when
I approached him, instead of coming for-
ward to meet me,'he slunk back quickly
into the carpenter's shed. Well, I fol-
lowed him in, and who should I find him
to be but your grandson John, who had
just come over to my place with a great
bunch of dusty watercresses and a plate
of large, broken, withered mushrooms,
which he wanted me to buy. Now you
must not be angry with me, my good
woman, but as I had my bird in the
net, I was not going to let him out so
easily, so I just made him sit down on
the bench and listen to what I had to
say, and though he did not say much in
return, and looked a bit sulky, yet I think
it was more shame than ill-temper that
I saw.
Well, you must know," continued the
farmer, kindly, I have had my eyes on
that chap for the last year, and have
noticed his idle, careless ways, and it did

Little yohnnie.

my heart good this morning to find the
little one-Abel you call him-was not
following in his steps; so I made the
most of my time, and just pointed out to
him the folly and sin of his present life,
and the misery that lay before him if he
persevered in it. I made him blush for
himself to let a poor old woman like you
go out toiling in the sun, and bending
your back in two, while he played at
chucky-stones in the village street with
a lot of idle chaps like himself; and then
when I had brought him down as low as
I could, I thought I 'd give him a help-
ing hand to lift him out of the mud, and
I've promised him that if he's up in my
yard every morning in the summer at
six, and every morning in the winter at
seven, for a whole year, I '11 pay his
'prentice fee to any trade he likes to
choose for himself, and I think I touched
him on the right nail there, for he sud-
denly lifted up his head and got quite red.

yohnnie's Repentance.

in the face, and said, 'Will you really,
sir ? will you really pay my 'prentice fee
if I'm up betimes in the morning?'
'Ay, will I, lad,' said I, 'to any trade
you like.' 'I 'd rather be bound to a
blacksmith, sir, than to a king,' he cried;
I 'd rather spend my days in the forge
than in the grandest house I ever saw.'
So thereupon we shook hands. I didn't
buy the mushrooms, though, or the dusty
watercress; no-no, I couldn't do that.
I told him they had not the shine of
God's silver,' and that I 'd have nought
to say to them. If he had brought me
them before breakfast, when the stamp
of the true coin was on them, I'd have
taken them, n6 doubt; but for all that
he went off as cheerful as a cricket, and
if I don't mistake I see him coming in at
the gate of the field this minute. Good
morning, Mother Peters: tell Abel I '11
be glad to see him again to-morrow;"
and with a cordial shake of the hands he

Little ohJizic.

bid good bye to the poor widow, whose
heart was too full for speech, and, mount-
ing his nag, galloped across the field to
the spot where the reapers were busy cut-
ting the ripe corn with their sickles.
Mrs. Peters was still following his
retreating figure, with her eyes full of
grateful tears and her heart full of grate-
ful prayers, when Johnnie stood beside
her, and with flushed cheeks and flash-
ing eyes repeated to her the good news
she had already heard from Farmer John-
ston; but there was something the farmer
had left unsaid, and which Johnnie had
now to say for himself-something which
did not come rushing forth with the same
unconstrained glee that had marked his
first communication, but was impeded by
nervousness and hindered by very shame.
"Granny, listen to me," and Johnnie
threw himself down under the tree.
" I've wanted to say something to you
this long time; no, not this long time.

yo/nnie's Repentance.

I 've wanted to tell you what Farmer
Johnston was telling me this morning-
how very good you have been to me
ever since I have been a little bit of a
thing, not higher than his horse's knee.
I know it mysel'-how you never said a
word to vex me; and never never
"- Poor Johnnie's confession as well
as confusion grew more painful every
moment, and Mrs. Peters tried to cut it
short by kindly words of humility and
love; but it was no use, the current,
though broken and rambling, was not to
be turned altogether aside, and presently
the words flowed on, though hoarser than
before. "But he didn't need to tell me
so, he didn't, as how I was idle and good
for nothing, and a shame to the town I
was born in, and to the father and mother
who was a-lyin' cold in their graves, for
I knew all that afore, whenever I took
the mind to think o' it; but it did cut
me a bit to hear as how I was the most

Little yohnnie.

ungratefullest boy to you as ever was
born, and would rather win a game of
chucky-stones in the street than earn
money to put bread in your mouth, even
if you was a-starvin', and-and- "
"They were hard words, laddie, but
they were meant well," murmured Mrs.
Peters, who loved Johnnie too well to
seek to weaken the lesson he had just
been learning; "but they were meant
well, for Mr. Johnston has a kind heart."
"They nearly broke mine," sobbed
Johnnie, hoarsely, "to say I didn't love
"Well-well, the words were a trifle
sore, but you 'll see it will all turn out for
the best, Johnnie, for the farmer has his
one way of saying things and another of
doing things, and though he's rough in
his words, he's awful kind in deeds; and
some day, perhaps, when you're working
in your own little forge, lad, and you
bring down a heavy blow o' a piece of

yohnnie's Repentance.

iron as you want to bend to your will,
you'll think how Farmer Johnston only
struck as it were a bit hard on you to
bring you to your right shape."
This happy allusion to the forge
brought the fire back to Johnnie's eyes,
and dried the tears of wounded pride
which had rushed forth so bitterly. John-
nie began to talk again of his prospects
with hopeful energy, and only desisted
when his grandmother rose to her feet to
continue her work. But this Johnnie
would not allow. He made her sit down
again under the tree while he went on
with the gleaning; and having made for
the spot where little Abel was busily
working, he soon poured the happy in-
telligence into his ears.
Both boys carried home a heavy load
that night on their backs, but the lightest
of hearts within. The evening meal was
very different from the morning one;
they were all of Qne mind to-night, and

Little Y ohnnie.

there were no envious feelings or bitter
jealousies at work to spoil their pleasure
as they talked together over their newly-
formed projects.
Before going to bed that night old Mrs.
Peters read to them again the proverb
written on the fly-leaf of the Bible, and
added many precious promises written
within the sacred book itself: A broken
and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt
not despise." Not slothful in business,
fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Be
thou faithful unto death, and I will give
thee a crown of life."
When Mrs. Peters had finished read-
ing to them, both the boys bid her good
night, kissed her, and then went up arm-
in-arm to their garret bed-room.
Before going to sleep, Johnnie made
Abel promise that he would call him early
in the morning at sunrise; and Abel, full
of peace and hope, no sooner laid his head
on the pillow than he fell fast asleep, and

7ohnnie's Repentance.

dreamed he was picking bright pieces of
silver off the road-side, while Johnnie
within his forge at his anvil was beating
them into crowns of light.



Frederick Warne & Co., Publishers.

With Frontispiece, limp cloth, imp 32mo.

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