The Baldwin Librar3
I m raIve,
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UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE,
nOb Otber Zales for Boys.
A LITTLE GIRL.. WITH A BIG BASKET OF WASHING-See 23.
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE,
Anb Otyer Males for 36op.
AUTHOR OF 'ROOKSNEST ABBEY,' ETC., ETC.
T. WOOLMER, 2, CASTLE STREET, CITY ROAD, E.C.;
AND 66, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
HAYMAN, CHRISTY AND LILLY,
HATTON HOUSE, 113, FARRINGDON ROAD
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE 9
A HAPPY MISHAP 25
RONALD'S RECOMPENSE 35
A WELL-EARNED HARVEST .47
TOM BEVERLEY'S FRIEND 56
BERTIE'S FRENCH PENNY 63
FRED GIBSON'S ERROR 73
HOW JAMIE FOUND HIS FATHER 83
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE,
An @olber Sales for 3SUo .
U]GNCLE I1Y' G(JI 6IE.
There is nothing covered, that shall not be reveal ; neither
hid, that shall not be known.'-LUKE xii. 2.
t HE Watkins family were in a state of the
Most pleasurable excitement. A letter had
S been received from Mrs. Watkins' eldest
Brother, Ray, whom she had not seen for
many years, to say that he was coming to
pay them a visit, if agreeable, towards the
close of that same week.
Nor was this all. Mr. Ray Grantham had been
remarkably successful in business, and had become a
very rich man. He was a widower with an only son,
and Mrs. Watkins had once upon a time been his
But even this fact, interesting as the Watkinses
Io UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
would undoubtedly have considered it, might have
been scarcely enough to produce so great and delight-
ful a commotion as that caused by the fast nearing
prospect of his arrival. The truth was, he had said in
his letter that he was meditating taking his son Willie
for a steamboat trip round the entire British coast dur-
ing the lad's approaching holidays, and had more than
hinted that he should probably invite one of the Wat-
kins boys to bear him company.
What wonder, then, that neither of them was able
to sleep on the night preceding the expected advent
of Uncle Ray, and that breakfast time, on the event-
ful day, passed without the slightest approach to a dis-
agreement over the marmalade jar ?
Each was buoyed up by the roseate hope that he
would be the one chosen as Willie's chum' for the
He won't want you, I'11 bet a cake. You're only
a kid!' was George's conviction, uttered as the two
boys got ready for .school. 'Will's fourteen, and
you're only twelve-and-a-half. Uncle Ray is sure to
like a boy of Will's own age, or older.'
George was fifteen all but a few weeks.
You shut up, now !' retorted Bob. How do you
know what he'll like? He won't want a fellow that'll
always be crowing it over his boy, and wanting every-
thing all his own way like you do; and so I warn
'Boys boys !' interrupted their mother, with the
weak protest of a person who dared not expect to be
obeyed, and only spoke to ease her own conscience-;
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE. If
'don't quarrel. You had better not let your uncle
hear either of you showing off temper, or perhaps he
might decline you both.'
She did not believe he would, though, and the
boys laughed at the idea. Watching them down the
street as they hastened to the railway station-for they
attended a grammar school in a large town a few miles
distant-she half dreamed that Uncle Ray would find
them each so attractive that, unable to decide which
would make the best companion for his own son, he
would not refuse, but invite them both!
They were certainly fine-looking lads, if appear-
ance was the chief thing to be studied. Tall, well-
made, good-featured, and bold, they carried themselves
with a sort of swagger, and returned the casual glances
of strangers with an unblushing stare that induced
their fond mother to believe that they would be able,
as she expressed it, to hold their own in the world.'
From infancy they had been encouraged to hotly re-
sent any interference with their rights and liberties;
and though, as was only to be expected in 'two of a
trade,' there were very few subjects upon which these
brothers could agree, they were at least united in con-
sidering that the ninth letter of the alphabet, when
written large, was by far the most important in the
As their father found it impossible to leave busi-
ness at the hour Uncle Ray had named for his arrival,.
and Mrs. Watkins would be busy preparing for him at
home, it had been arranged that George and Bob
should leave school half an hour earlier than usual, so
12 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
as to be at the station when his train should reach
there to meet and conduct him to the paternal roof.
All the boys in the same form knew why the Wat-
kinses were allowed, on the presentation of a note
from their father, to retire at half-past three that after-
noon instead of four, and many envious glances fol-
lowed them as they passed out. Many also were the
conjectures of their companions as to which would be
the fortunate one favoured by Uncle Ray.
They were prepared, in consideration of the bene-
fits at stake, to be more mindful than usual of their
mother's parting injunctions concerning the style of
behaviour which it would be prudent to exhibit in the
presence of their uncle; but as they preferred to be
themselves until the last minute, their fellow-passengers
in the train had not the advantage of profiting by the
They rode third-class, and entered a compartment
near the middle of a long carriage. Here there was
no other occupant but an elderly female-the young
Watkinses would have laughed at the notion of her be-
ing a lady-who sat, muffled in wraps, in the corner
by the door.
George always liked to stand with his head, and as
much as possible of his body, out of the window, when
travelling by rail. So down went the glass with a
bang, and the other passenger, having put up with the
draught as long as she could, was compelled to move
to the other end.
But Bob, too, wished to hang out, and as his brother
declined to make room for him at his window, the
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE. 13
younger boy came to the opposite one, let that, too,
down, and blocked up the aperture with his shoulders..
Then George fancied that there was more to be seen
at Bob's side of the train, so he joined him there, and
a good deal of scuffling and squabbling ensued, much
to the discomfort of the lady above mentioned, whose
dress got trampled and umbrella knocked down in the
At the next station a nervous old gentleman got in.
He had once witnessed an accident caused by the
sudden opening of one of the carriage-doors while the
train was in motion, and sat upon thorns to see those
two boys romping and wrestling and plunging about at
the end of the compartment. Presently he could
bear it no longer, and mildly cautioned them as to the
risk to which he felt their boisterous behaviour was
George, indignant at being interfered with, re-
sponded to this kind warning with his most supercili-
ous stare, while Bob burst out laughing; and the next
minute they were sparring again as heedlessly as before.
The other passengers, to whom their behaviour had
occasioned so much discomfort, were quite glad to see
them get out.
'Hi, porter! When is the next train from Holly-
field?' asked Bob, when they had alighted.
One due in thirteen minutes,' the man replied.
Without dreaming of saying 'Thank you'-how
could a gentleman be expected to thank a porter ?-
Bob turned on his heel and followed George.
14 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'That'll be the one,' he said; 'bu we needn't cross
So they amused themselves for the next ten min-
utes by annoying the boy at the book-stall-chaffing
him, and fingering and disarranging his wares.
When the up-train was signalled they went over the
bridge, and stood on the platform in readiness to greet
Eagerly they scanned the windows of the carriages
that slowed past for a gentleman who should answer
the description their mother had given them of Mr.
Grantham. Several passengers alighted; but while
the boys were watching the front part of the train,
some one was approaching them from the rear, who
placed a hand on the shoulder of each, and said : 'Are
you in search of an Uncle Ray, my lads ?'
The welcome which the stranger received could not
fail, one would have thought, to completely win his
heart-so polite, so attentive and ready were his sister's
sons to do everything they could think of to oblige.
Bob seized his hat-box and George his portman-
teau; then the younger boy, seeing that his was the
lighter load, wanted to take charge of his uncle's
great-coat as well, and George, not to be outdone,
solicitously inquired whether Mr. Grantham had any
other luggage in the van. George dutifully conveyed
his father's regrets and apologies for not meeting the
visitor in person, and Bob added how impatiently his
mother was looking forward to the pleasure of meeting
again the favourite brother from whom she had been
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE. I"
parted so long. Such nice, bright, handsome, taking
boys they seemed; and they always called him 'Sir!'
Before the family separated that night Mr. Grant-
ham had made enormous strides in the confidence
and favour of the young Watkinses. He had heard
from their parents as well as from themselves of their
brilliant career at school, and suitability, either of
them, for the companionship of an intelligent, well-
educated boy. They vied with one another in doing
the guest honour, and their mother said that never
were lads more deserving of reward or more calculated
to repay the bestowal of any unusual advantages than
The question was only, 'Which?'
During that first evening Uncle Ray had not
seemed one hair more pleased with the one boy than
with the other; no one noticed a certain peculiar
twinkle that appeared in his eyes when either of them
said or did anything particularly winning and polite, or
the queer, scarcely perceptible downward turn of the
corners of his mouth when their mother was uttering
her most glowing praise; and the balance seemed
about equally poised in the favour of both George and
Bob. In vain they called their mother into their
room, where they had lain wide awake and excited
from their own bed-time until she passed on her way to
her apartment, To all their eager questioning she
could only say: 'He has given not the slightest clue
at present. I think he likes you both equally well. If
you behave yourselves and kwep the right side of him,
16 UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE.
I shouldn't wonder if he finds it quite impossible to
The boys knew what she meant, and though each
would have rather enjoyed the triumph of being pre-
ferred before his brother, they found their mother's
words pleasantly reassuring, and fell asleep in the cer-
tain hope of unlimited joys in store.
The Watkirises were not early risers; but Uncle
Ray was. So it came about that he made his appear-
ance in the breakfast-room next morning before there
was any sign of the meal being ready, or of any one
else coming down to partake of it. So he strolled out
into the garden, to enjoy a breath of that fresh, health-
giving early air, which comparatively few people prize
as they ought.
Leisurely he sauntered down the path, basking in
the sunshine, and meditating upon what he had seen
and heard of the respective merits of his two nephews,
concerning whom and his own action with regard to
them he was somewhat perplexed.
He fancied himself alone in those still, dewy walks;
but as he neared the end of the garden the sound of
somebody whistling snatches of a popular tune
assured him to the contrary.
The next minute he came upon a lad, apparently
about as old as Bob, busy tending a handsome root of
clove pinks. The boy looked up as Mr. Grantham
approached him, and showed a face of a very different
type from those of the young Watkinses. Fair, but
heavy-featured and freckled, and thatched with
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE. 17
straight, sandy hair, the only redeeming point was a
pair of honest blue eyes; but these were by no means
set off by the short yellow lashes with which they were
fringed, and as the sun shone straight into them, when
the lad glanced up, their expression was quite lost upon
Uncle Ray. He was not prepossessed in their owner's
'Surely there are boys and boys!' he thought.,
This clumsy-looking lout must be, one would think, of
a totally different race from those fine lads of Jane's.
What a contrast! Humph I wonder if it is more
S'Fine morning, my boy!' said he. 'You are at
work early, I see.'
'Yes, sir,' returned the lad, straightening himself
His voice was more pleasant than his face, and
his tone, even as he uttered those two monosyllables,
was not like that of the labouring class generally.
'Do you work here regularly ? asked Mr. Grant-
ham, who liked to form the acquaintance of' all sorts
and conditions of people.
'Every morning, before breakfast,' answered the
boy, looking as if he did not quite understand the
question. 'Uncle has given me this bit of ground,
from th:it post as far as the -currant bushes, for my
own. The things don't thrive unless they are looked
'Who is your uncle?'
'Mr. Watkins. He is my mother's brother. I
18 -UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'In-deed!' Mr. Grantham's eyebrows went up
considerably. What is your name ?'
'Tom Hayward, sir !'
How was it I did not see you yesterday ? Where
'At business, sir. We are very busy just now, and
I did not get home till late.'
You are fond of gardening ?'
0, yes It's so profitable, too.'
'Why, yes, sir. There's a florist in the high
road will give me a halfpenny each for as many clove
pinks as I can bring him. And this one root here
has yielded sixty-four blossoms in less than a fortnight,
and promises as many more.'
Tom looked very proud as he said this.
'I reckon you are getting quite rich, then, eh?'
queried Mr. Grantham quizzically.
Tom laughed a little, but made no reply.
'Do you bank your money, or invest it ?' pursued
'I mostly spend it, sir,' owned Tom, and stooped
down again to his.work as if he did not want anything
more to say on the subject.
'Ah, bad, bad!' ejaculated Uncle Ray, shaking
his head. 'To squander your money as fast as you
get it isn't the way to succeed in the world, my lad !'
He turned away as if he did not care to talk any,
longer with so unpromising a boy, and left poor Tom
bending over his pinks with a face almost as red as
UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE. 19
Before he reached the house, Bob, who had stolen
a march on his still sleeping brother, came bounding
down the path to greet him.
'Good-morning, uncle,' cried he, 'Lovely out
here now, ain't it ?'
'Yes, indeed! I was out half-an-hour ago, and
so was your cousin Tom, I think.'
O, Tom, yes I' answered Bob, with a cloud upon
his brow and contempt as well as vexation in his
voice. Tom, it seemed, intentionally or not, had
stolen a march on him /
'He finds early ri;i,;n a: p: in'i-: business, though,'
said, Uncle Ray. He was telling me what a deal of
money he gets by his clove pinks.'
'0, yes; I know. Tom's as rich as an old Jew,
and as stingy, too. If we had been as jolly mean as
he is, I don't know what would have become of him.'
'I2-deed !' said Uncle Ray again, and his eye-
brows went up as before.
'Yes. Pa's kept and clothed him and paid for
his schooling ever since he was seven years old. He's
an o:rphlarn, you know.'
Ahd! and now he is able to make some return he
is ui.' iill,g to do so, I suppose?'
'O, of coursepa wouldn't r: ke ainvthiinr- o:him. He
gives ma what he gets at the office to find him in
clothes, but that's all. He's making amint of money
by those flowers of his, but not a penny of it will the
old screw spend.'
'Why, what does he do with it, then ?'
Hoards it up, I s'pose. I reckon he's got a
.20 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
"long stocking" somewhere. Tom's a miser, that's
what he is, Uncle Ray.'
'In-deed!' quoth Uncle Ray for the third time;
but now, instead of his eyebrows going up, the corners
of his mouth turned down, and not another question
did he ask.
Nearly a week passed away; still Mr. Grantham
stayed with the Watkinses, and still the Watkins boys
endured the miseries of suspense and sustained the
tremendous moral effort of continually trying to appear
that which, if, uncle or no uncle, they had known
what was best for themselves, they would have as
strenuously endeavoured to be-young gentlemen in
the true sense of the word. Tom Hayward, plodding
backwards and forwards to 'business,' and spending
his happiest hours in the garden before anyone except
Uncle Ray and the servants were up, led, as usual, a
life of dull, uneventful, undisturbed routine Mr.
Grantham's visit had nothing to do with him / But
George and Bob were working themselves into a
nervous fever of anxiety. Which-O, which of them
would be the chosen partner of Co:uliin \\Wi I e's gSi:.ri:.oLs
steamboat trip? Or would that golden dream be
realized by both? Once or twice they.:tried to
pump' Uncle Ray as to his intentions in the inatter,
only to find themselves quietly but firmly 'shut .up;'
so there was nothing for them but to darn up their fast-
fraying company manners, and wait.
On the eighth evening of Mr. Grantham's visit the
entire family, including Tom, being assembled around
the supper-table, Uncle Ray cleared his throat, and
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE. 21
announced his intention of bidding farewell to his
sister's pleasant and hospitable home on the morrow.
Tom looked up with interest; but there is no
word in the English language capable of adequately
expressing the tension of feeling which this piece of
information produced in the minds of George and
Bob. Their hearts were beating so loudly that they
could scarcely hear their uncle's following words.
I came here,' he said, as you know, principally
to see my sister and the boys of whom I had heard so
much; but also in the hope of finding in one of them
a suitable companion for my son in our projected
tour round the British coast. I have a fastidious
fancy for wishing Willie to grow up a gentleman, and
am therefore desirous that he should associate only
with such, and am more particular on this point than
I otherwise might be.'
Here George drew himself up and settled his
cravat with an air of the most pleasurable self-satis-
faction and assurance.
'On the day I came here, I, on changing trains at a
junction some twenty miles away, got into the wrong
one-one, that is, which, though passing your station,
did'not stop at it, but ran right through to the ter-
minus : for the right train I should have had to wait
nearly half-an-hour longer. So there was nothing for
it but to take the next train back. The third class
carriages came handiest, and into one of them I
stepped. A few compartments away were two boys,
who had also got in at the terminus.' (Two throbbing
hearts that were listening nearly ceased with horror).
22 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'I should not have noticed them had they not made
themselves conspicuous by their behaviour, and this it
may be unnecessary just now to describe. When I
alighted and had crossed over to the platform where I
knew my nephews would expect me to arrive, I saw
those same two boys on the other side, comporting
themselves towards the lad who kept the paper-stall in
a manner that I am sorry to be obliged to stigmatise
as "caddish in the extreme. But judge of my surprise
and disappointment when I discovered that these two
boys were actually the nephews to the making of whose
acquaintance I had been looking forward !'
He paused. Profound silence reigned in the
apartment, broken only by the ticking of the clock.
Mr. Watkins scanned the ceiling; his wife's gaze was
bent upon her plate. White-faced George jerked
angrily at the corner of the table-cloth, while crimson
Bob stared at the carpet between his feet. Tom
Hayward, from sympathy, was almost as uncomforta-
ble as any.
'I was indeed disappointed,' continued Uncle
Ray; 'the more so when I found that these boys so
well knew what they ought to be and to do, that
during the whole of my visit they aped it, with only
too great success. But I have, nevertheless, not-
failed utterly in the object of my search.' George
looked up. 'I have found a boy, when I consider
fitted more than any other I ever knew, as permanent
companion for my son,-a boy who works hard not
only during business hours, but in his spare time
also, devoting the extra money thus earned to paying
UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE. 23
for the schooling of a lad worse off than himself.'
(Tom started visibly, and turned red.) 'Doing this,
moreover, with such unostentatious privacy that he
has been branded as "stingy" by those who only
see that he spends little or nothing upon himself. A
boy, too, who only yesterday lent a hand to a little
girl who was staggering along with a big basket of
washing,-the same child whom, strange to say, I had
not two minutes before seen hustled out of the path
by two great lads who were hurrying off to a cricket-
'We-I-that was-' began Bob, excitedly, in
self-defence; but the raised hand of his uncle, and a
stern 'Be silent, sir !' from his father, quenched him
once more into silence.
'Tom, my lad,' resumed Uncle Ray, addressing
the bewildered Hayward; 'I have much pleasure in
inviting you to accompany my son and me on our
forthcoming trip. On our return I hope to be able to
make such arrangements with your uncle as will re-
lieve him of all future expense and responsibility with
regard to you, as I think I can find you a suitable
occupation in my own house of business.'
'It's a shame -that's what it is!' burst from
George's quivering lips.
'I am very sorry to disappoint you, my boys, and
still more to appear unkind to your parents, whom I
truly regard,' said Mr. Grantham. 'At a future time
I hope to feel justified in giving you some pleasure
that will help to make up for the loss of the present
one. But if from this sad experience you learn to be
24 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
what you would wish to appear; and, still further, to
remember that, though not always within, the ken of
those whose good opinion you covet, there, is One
Whose eye and ear are omniscient, and Whose
approval is, out of all comparison, the most important
of all; the present hard lesson will not have been
given in vain.'
71 Jip71PPY JP171PIP.
Freely ye have received, freely give.'-MATTHEW X. 8.
,,Y.'T is not a very pleasant experience to find
j[ oneself lying with a sprained ancle at the
C bottom of a ten-foot steep, alone, and five
C miles or more from one's lodgings. Yet
such was the unfortunate condition of
Arthur Darnley, after a day's sketching in
one of the loveliest and least frequented of the rural
districts of England.
To move was agony; to re-ascend the bank of the
dry river-bed, down which he had slipped, was im-
possible. He had lain thus about half an hour, and
was wondering, with a groan, if he should be com-
pelled to pass the night beneath the uninterrupted
gaze of the stars, when the sound of merry whistling
came to him from the path above.
He shouted for help, and was soon answered by
the appearance of a young, rosy-brown face, welcome
as the rising sun to a watcher for daylight, over the
ridge of furze that topped the bank.
26 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'Here, I say, can you fetch some one to me?'
Arthur asked. 'I've broken my leg or something,
and can't move !'
'Ay, ay, sir! I'll call my father,' responded the
boy. 'He's at work in the long meadow; I'm just
taking his tea. I won't be five minutes, sir, if you
'I'm bound to wait if it's five hours!' said
Darnley, with a grim laugh, as his ancle gave him an
extra sharp twinge.
Harry Barnes, however, ran like a deer, and in a
very short time returned with his father and another
man, who between them got the young gentleman
out of his painful position, and bore him to the cot-
tage of the former, which was the nearest habitation;
Harry collecting the artist's scattered drawing materials
and carrying them with almost reverent care.
One of the first things which attracted Arthur's
attention in the spotlessly clean living-room into
which he was first brought, was a brightly-coloured
text over the fire-place : 'Freely ye have received,
freely give.' 'A hint for the squire's lady, and the
vicar's daughter, and the district visitor, I suppose,'
he inwardly commented, rather cynically.
Harry ran off for the nearest doctor, while Mrs.
Barnes proceeded to treat the injured joint with such
simple remedies as she had been accustomed to em-
ploy in her own family: Both she and her husband
seemed like ordinary working people, but they re-
ceived the young stranger thus thrown upon their
hospitality with all the kindly--I might say graceful-
A HAPPY MISHAP. 27
ease, born of simplicity, :u!Lrility, and a pure desire
The medical man, who by-and-by arrived, found
Arthur's injury much more serious than he himself
had at first supposed, and his verdict was that the
patient ought not to attempt the journey back to his
lodgings unless it was absolutely necessary. He
therefore remained that night at the cottage, and was
so well pleased with the room which the Barneses, by
dint of contrivance, were.able to place at his disposal,
that he resolved, if they would take him, to send for
his belongings, pay up his bill to his former landlady,
and stay with them until able to return to his home in
L.:.nd:'ln.' He accordingly broached the subject next
morning to Mrs. Barnes, who promised to consult her
'.good man,' as to whether or not they could give him
this prolonged accommodation.
Young Darnley had not been many hours beneath
the humble roof of his new acquaintances before he
began to be aware that he was, morally speaking,
breathing an atmosphere altogether new to him.
Possessed of an open, kindly nature, susceptible of
good influence, the lad-he was little more-had
been surrounded all his life with that ordinary class
of persons who believe that to gain and to keep as much
as possible of this world's goods is the first, if not the
whole, duty of man. The only child of a wealthy
father, his own most ambitious dream at present was
to paint pictures and sell them for as much as he
could get. The thought that he would thus be help-
ing to overstock a, market already flooded with the
28 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
work of those whose daily bread depended on their
labour never crossed his mind; even if it had, the
idea of being able to 'make money,' and yet abstain-
ing from doing so, would have seemed to him to
savour of lunacy. Judge of his amazement, then,
when, lying in bed, he overheard Mr. and Mrs. Barnes
discussing his recent proposal in some such a strain
as the following :
'Nay, nay, wife, you're for asking too much. The
young chap hasn't got more than he knows what to
do with, I'll be bound; those artist fellows never
'I'm sure I don't want to make a market of the
lad,' returned the wife's voice. Then followed words
he did not catch. 'There's a plenty of fresh air,
which it looks to me is what he wants; and if he can
do with that little room there, and the sort of fare we
can give him, I don't want to charge him a penny
more than he costs me. Who knows,' continued the
simple woman, 'but that he's one of the Lord's
weakly ones, sent here on purpose for us to house
awhile and send home well and strong?'
The kitchen door closed, and Arthur heard no
more; but he was touched, as well as amused, to find
that his new friends had taken it into their heads that he
was a poor, struggling artist in ill-health, whom it would
be a kindness to befriend. That his somewhat delicate
appearance indicated a degree of physical disability
was correct, and the shabbiness of his attire, unheeded
in the absorption of his pursuit, had probably given
rise to their further surmise. Thinking it would lend
A HAPPY MISHAP. 29
a spice of romance to his adventure to remain incog.,
and give the good folks a pleasant surprise at the last, he
decided not to disabuse their minds of their mistake.
He was, nevertheless, surprised at the small sum
per week which Mrs. Barnes deemed sufficient to
reimburse the extra expenses which his lodgment with
her would cause. 'One would have thought,' he
reflected, that the old lady would have tried to make
as big a harvest as she could while the sun shone.
There's something about this job that I don't quite
Holding a popular opinion concerning the inno-
cence of 'white lies,' Arthur assisted the misconcep-
tion of the Barnes family anent his pecuniary position
by sundry equivocal remarks, and was,' therefore, the
more perplexed by their unreinitting attEntion to him
during the period of his helplessness. Had they known
the truth, he would certainly have attributed this be-
haviour to a hope of substantial reward. As it was, it
was something of a puzzle to him. : But they seemed
the same to everybody when they got the chance.
'What a fellow you are !' he exclaimed to Harry
one evening. 'You are on the go for other people the
whole day long. See, now, how you have been run-
ning about, waiting on your sister and me, ever since
you came home from school. Aren't you almost
The sister mentioned was an invalid, of whom
Harry's brown face brightened with a pleasant
smile as he replied :
30 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'I'm never tired till I get into bed at night. If
there's one thing I've got plenty of, it's health and
strength; and what can it be for, except to give to
them that need-like you and Prissy there-at least,
as far as such things can be given away?'
'Why, don't you think it is for you yourself to en-
I do enjoy it, don't I ? Rather !' laughed Harry.
'I was laid up once with a bad foot, and ever since
then it has seemed jollier than ever to be well. And
see how fine it is to be able to save the dear old
mother's legs, that ain't very strong, by using mine
that are I'm fond of being on the go-I sh'd bust if
I had to ;;t .till '-and I'd better be doing some good
with it, any how, than not.'
Prissy seemed possessed by the same, to Arthur,
extraordinary idea. She was a white-faced girl of six-
teen or seventeen, a cripple from her childhood, and
often confined to her bed by pain. But the quantity
of work she turned out was wonderful. She was occa-
sionally employed by ladies to knit wraps or crochet
lace, and spent the money thus earned on purchasing
worsted, wherewith she manufactured warm stockings
and mittens for the ip:.oor:er children round, three fami-
lies of .whomi Arlur found she kept ri:ulrl. -u r'r'l'cd.
She .,o spent many patient hours in trying to impart
to a little blind girl, who lived near, the same deft use
of her hands which was the source of so much pleasure
'You see,' she observed, to Mr. Darnley, 'it isn't
much I can give away; but everybody has got an
A HAPPY MISHAP. 31
abundance of something to share with others, and
mine is time. If I was as strong as other girls, I
should have to work for my living; I don't know what
I might find to give people then-it wouldn't be
money, I dare say, so few people seem to have got
that; but as it isn't so good as a lot of other things, it
doesn't much matter. Perhaps it would be smiles and
sunshine-I'm afraid I haven't much to spare of that
kind now !' And she broke ..:fT with little sigh.
'0, don't say that !' cried Arthur; I'm sure you
are wonderfully good-tempered and bright-a precious
deal better than I should be in your place. But,' he
continued, I never heard such a notion as yours about
giving away-and you are all alike. Where do you
get it ?'
'I think Harry and me, and perhaps mother, too,.
get it of father, and he gets it from the Bible. That
.text over the chimney-piece is his favourite motto. He
always will have it that it is such a mistake to fancy
that only rich people have anything to give away. He
says we all have something-and so.methi;nr, too,
worth giving-if we will only find out what it- is,. and
not be stingy over it!'
'But money is the best said Arthur.
Prissy smiled, and shook her head.-
'I bet you'd like a little more of it than you've got !
Own up now, Miss Prissy Wouldn't you?'
Well,' answered the girl, her smile. growing very
pitl-ticti. 'Of course, I know that money can do a
Great deal; it could take me to that wonderful doctor
in London, Mr. Jackson, I think his name is,, who is
32 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
so clever at curing diseases like mine, and that -well,
I aren't let myself think about it, Mr. Darnley. God
wouldn't let me lie here a minute longer, if it would be
really better for me to be cured. But some of the
most precious things in life-and the commonest-
can't be bought with money at all.'
This brief conversation gave rise in Arthur's mind
to more thinking than ever he had done at once before.
The ei m',t d.:,y he finished the sketch he had been
engaged upon at the time of his accident, and which
had only required a little touching up to make it com-
plete. This he presented to Prissy.
Her delight was richer payment than the hand-
somest price in hard cash that his work had ever
brought. 'I often feel inclined to fret that I can't go
out,' she said. I love the country so But you have
given me a bit of out-:of-do::,-r to: hb1 ve in my own room.
Whenever I am getting impatient I will look at that,
and fancy I'm in it, and it will help me so, I know.'
'I will paint you a companion picture, directly I
get about again,', returned Arthur, warmly; adding,
with a grce:ter d-: pth of earnestness than on the surface
appeared : 'Why should I not give of my abundance
as well as you?' ,
It was not for long after this that the young man
kept up th.- prl:- n,': of poverty. The air of that cot-
tage was too clear for deceit, and the unexpected influ-
ence of these good people-humble in this world's esti-
mation, great in the kingdom of heaven-had come to
him just at the right period to cause a turning-point in
A HAPPY MISHAP. 33
'I am well able to pay you-I will not say fully--
for your kindness, but much more than you have
asked,' he said. And there is something else which
I hope you will be generous enough to afford me the
pleasure of doing. I am well acquainted with that
Dr. Jackson whom Prissy spoke of the other day-he
is my godfather, in fact-and I feel sure, if I were to
use my interest on your behalf, he would see her-
well, on greatly reduced terms '
In truth, Arthur was meditating paying the invalid's
fees out of his own pocket; but, as it turned out, her
fare to London was the only expense he was called
upon to bear. For Dr. Jackson was so much struck
by what his god-son told him of these poor folks' ideas
about giving that he determined to freely bestow of
the abundance of his surgical knowledge upon Prissy;
he had already made a considerable fortune by his pro-
fession, and could well afford to do so. After seeing
the lame girl, he treated her by correspondence for
many months, and in the end had the gratification of
learning that she was so far improved as to be able to
walk without a crutch. This was the first case he had
ever treated wholly gratis, but it was not to be the
The Barneses were overjoyed at the happy result
of Dr. Jackson's treatment, and full of gratitude both
to him and Arthur Darnley. The friendship between
the latter and themselves became firmer with each
succeeding year, greatly to the benefit of all concerned,
especially of the young gentleman himself, into whose
heart James Barnes's motto, so faithfully lived out by
34 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
all the family, had deeply sunk. The last I heard of
our artist was that though he perseveres in his chosen
pursuit more earnestly and with greater delight than
ever, he has relinquished all thoughts of adding to his
already ample income by its means, and finds sufficient
scope for his ambition in painting pictures for charit-
able sales, and in adorning the walls of hospitals and
asylums with those gems of landscape beauty which he
can with such facility produce. I am specially glad to
be able to add that he is -impelled to this, as some
consider it, eccentric course, not alone by a generous
desire to impart of the pleasure of his talent to those
less favoured than himself, but by a thankful and ador-
ing love for Him Who, having 'spared not His own
Son, but delivered Him up for us all,' will also, with
Him, 'freely give us all things.'
1o^N7ThD'j IEC@OJMPENJSE .
'A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.'
PROVERBS xvii. 17.
HERE is no doubt that among all the one
h hundred and six boys at Whitstone Gram-
". ,' mar School Jack Desmond was, at one time,
Sthe most popular. He possessed every
Quality calculated to make him so; hand-
some, brilliant, witty, with both the ambition
and the ability to excel in everything he undertook;
chivalrous, generous, with a high notion of school-boy
honour; and last, though by no means least, plenty of
money and a mind to spend it as freely upon others as
himself; He also cared to be popular-cared more
for the admiration and affection of his fellows than for
anything else in the world; so it is no small wonder
that at :lhe :,c of fifteen he reigned like a king among
them; most of those older as well as younger than him-
self owning undivided allegiance to his sway.
Ronald Vance was a lad in the same form as Des-
mond, and the only one capable to compete with him
in learning, but in other respects a boy of quite a dif-
ferent type. Pale, quiet, and intellectual; fond of
36 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
reading, but fonder still of thinking about what he read,
he was more or less looked up to by his compeers as
'a fellow with brains,' though a poor hand at gymnas-
tics and games. We may also add that he was a fellow
with a heart, and that heart, tender and guileless as a
girl's, was almost romantically devoted to Desmond.
They had been at school together nearly two years ;
yet Ronald, though considerably attracted towards Jack
from the outset, had 'never told his love.' There
seemed to be no necessity or opening for it. He
admired Desmond intensely, not alone for his buoyant,
adventurous spirit, his inexhaustible fund of humour,.
and skill at every form of athletic sport, but also for
what he knew of his character, and the good influence
which his nobility and love of fair play exercised upon
his associates. Yet, as I have said, he did not seek,
or even desire, to claim his hero as a special friend.
I'm not the stamp for him,' Ronald thought to
himself. And he has such hosts of friends he has no
need of me.' And out of school hours they seldom
'One day something happened. The most casual
observer, on walking through the playground about
ten minutes before the time for opening, must have
suspected as much, though what the 'something'
might be would not have been so easy to guess. The
boys, ignoring the existence of both horizontal bar and
'giant's stride,' were gathered together in knots of three
and four, engaged in earnest discussion, with eager
faces and quick, impatient speech.
Each new-comer as he arrived made straight for
RONALD'S RECOMPENSE. 37
the group that included one or more of his usual com-
panions, and instantly joined in the hum of talking
that arose on every side. But there was no laughter,
no fun; though scarcely could it be said that anything
approaching sadness pervaded the air. Curiosity,
wonder, and a thirst for more news appeared to be the
prevailing sentiments of the crowd.
'Will he come?' was the question on many lips,
and among a certain and, I am glad to say, a very
limited section, bets were even made upon the subject.
Ronald Vance appeared upon the scene only two
or three minutes before school commenced. He alone
seemed disinclined to speak to anybody, and looked
like one who has received a terrible blow. Just as the
boys were surging in at the open schoolroom door
there was a slight instinctive pause among them, and
a backward look. Jack Desmond was coming in at
'Here he is!' 'What brass !' 'Looks jolly down
in the mouth, though !' 'I told you so!' were a few
of the comments, uttered in a lower key than was
common among the boys, which his arrival caused.
Pale, erect, and proud-looking, he approached the
group, who by common consent divided to allow him
to pass, and without word or glance aside marched
straight to his place; then school began-that strange
impression of 'something in the air' lingering all the
As soon as the boys were dismissed Jack Desmond
gathered up his books and made off. When the others
rushed out into the playground he had disappeared.
38 f.. C.E RA Y'S CHOICE.
Then uprose a buzz of talking, louder and less restrained
than it had been before.
'Seems to feel it, don't he?' said one. 'I shouldn't
have had the cheek to show myself if I'd been he.'
SI should think the doctor will turn him out, eh ?
A chap with such a father as that ain't a fit companion
for other fellows,' put in another.
My father says old Desmond's been going to the
bad for years, he believes,' added a third. His income
never could have stood to all the expenses they've
been at. Look at the way Jack has dressed, and the
stunning gold watch he sports-better than the doctor's
own; and all the money the building out of that
billiard room must have cost; it's scandalous, I say !'
'Yes, you say so now, don't you?' interrupted
the seldom-raised voice of Ronald Vance, who sud-
denly appeared among them, his eyes blazing with
honest indignation. 'But who has spelt "toady" to
him through four terms, and been hanging about that
same billiard room night after night, hoping to get
asked in ? How can Jack help what his father has
done ? A week ago there were half of you ready to
kiss his feet; isn't he the same Jack Desmond now
that he was then ? And won't he still be the same
even if all that is said about his father turns out to be
true? I'm ashamed of you, that I am Turncoats !'
And wheeling abruptly round, without another
word Ronald left his comrades to resume their conver-
sation, if they could. But so marked was the effect of
this spirited outburst, and the look of mingled pity and
scorn with which it was accompanied, from a lad gen-
RONALD'S RECOMPENSE. 39
erally reckoned one of the mildest in the school, that
with a sense of general discomfiture they parted, and
went to their respective homes.
Time, however, proved that the serious charges
brought against Desmond, senior, were but too well
founded; he was convicted of fraud and embezzle-
ment on a large scale,, and the bright, handsome
favourite of Whitstone Grammar School awoke one
terrible day to find himself branded as the son of a
To a nature as instinctively noble and honourable
as Jack's, to one, moreover, who had been accustomed
to popularity, and cared as much for the affection of
his companions as he did, the agony of this disgrace
may be imagined; and it was considerably increased
by the fact that his grandfather on his mother's side,
who offered, when the blow fell, to take Jack into
his own office, insisted that he should remain at
school, as if nothing had happened, until the close of
the year. This old gentleman disliked the boy in his
heart, because of the latter's personal resemblance to
his father, and took a malicious pleasure in subjecting
him-to this cruel and unnecessary ordeal; thereby
proving that, in spite of the most rigid rectitude of
moral conduct, he was no more possessed of the
spirit of Christ than the despised convict himself.
And the boys-how virtuously they avoided as far
as possible breathing the same atmosphere as this
tainted sheep Withinthe schoolwalls they were obliged
to meet, but outside they gave him as wide a berth as
possible, .the cold, sideway glance and the turned
40 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
back being in most instances the only sign of recogni-
tion the poor lad received from those who had envied
one another his favour and feasted at his expense so
short a time before; boys, too, who harboured within
their own souls the beginnings of the very crime for
which, though uncommitted by him, they made their
schoolmate suffer; for if they saw a chance to cun-
ningly 'diddle' the old woman at the apple stall, or to
swopp' some article with a verdant companion for
another of much greater value, didn't they do it with
'It makes me boil, that it does !' cried Ronald
Vance, as he slammed his strap of books down
with unusual energy. 'Kicking a fellow when he's
as low as ever he can be And it isn't as if it was
anything he had done himself; he is as honest and
innocent as ever. But they treat him as if their own
precious respectability was contaminated by sitting on
the same form with him. It is enough to send a
fellow to the bad to serve him as they do; and to
think of the way they used to court and flatter
'It is the way of the world, my son,' answered his
father, sadly-' the world from which we are com-
manded to be separate. You will not run with the
stream in this affair, Ronald ?'
I hope not I must say I'm not fond of rowing
in the teeth of the tide-not so fond as I ought to be,
perhaps; but this time I mean to stick to Desmond,
back and edge, and defy them all !'
'And He who was the Friend of publicans and
RONALD'S RECOMPENSE. 41
sinners will be with you both, my-boy!' answered
his father, well pleased with this manly resolution.
That same day Ronald succeeded in overtaking
Desmond just as. the latter passed out of the school
gate, and asked him home to tea.
Jack, who had grown so moody and bitter of late
that it was difficult to realise in him his former self, at
first, suspicious of philanthropic rather than friendly
motives, repelled the invitation with a curt refusal;
but Ronald, determined not to be easily rebuffed,
slipped his arm within Jack's, saying, with unmistaka-
ble heartiness :
Don't be huffed, old fellow, I really want you to
come. I've often thought I'd be glad to know you
better-I've always liked you, Jack, from the first-
only I fancied you wouldn't care to chum with such a
slow chap as I. But now that-that-Jack, old boy,'
he finished, abruptly, for he found himself getting in
a tangle, let's be friends i'
Desmond was much surprised by this frank
advance, and scarcely knew what to make of it.
' You're very kind,' he said, rather awkwardly. 'But I
should be sorry for you to--to fall in people's estima-
tion through associating with me. And I don't want
anybody's friendship as a charity-'
'Now, look here, Desmond,' broke in Vance,
'don't be a ninny I tell you, on my solemn word
of honour, that I've sort of longed to have you for
a friend, only I didn't believe you'd like me. I think
every bit as well of you as ever I did, and if you don't
dis-like me, come home with me now.'
42 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
It was impossible to doubt Ronald's sincerity, arid
with a rush of warmth to his heart, which had felt
frozen since that dreadful day when his father's crime
became the talk of the town, Jack mumbled a thank
you' and complied.
From that hour until Desmond's ordeal ended by
his leaving Whitstone to enter his grandfather's office
in London, the two were inseparable friends, Ronald
sharing willingly in the social ostracism which con-
tinued to be his companion's fate, and growing to love
and honour him more and more.
But time brings many a change. Years passed on.
Ronald married and settled down to business;
Desmond with his mother and broken-down but
penitent father, bade farewell to his native land and
began life afresh on the other side of the world.
Letters grew fewer and farther between, and finally
ceased. Still the years rolled round, and boyhood's
friendship became but a pleasant memory of the
By-and-by came a great trouble to Ronald Vance,
now of the firm of Vance and Dartoni; for his partner
-who, I may remark, had as a boy been one of the
earliest and severest in his condemnation of Desmond
-had, unknown to him, incurred liabilities which, if
not met, must drag them both through the mire of
the Bankruptcy Court. Vance was a man of strictest
honour; nothing would he reserve from the demands
of the creditors, just as they undoubtedly were,
though not brought about by himself. All must go-
his pretty home, built up by years of loving labour
RONALD'S RECOMPENSE. 43
.and beautified by the hands of his gentle wife; the
library bequeathed him-most precious of earthly
treasures -by his sainted father; even the docile old
pony on which his boys, almost from their cradles,
had delighted to ride-everything must be given up,
and he begin life again with seven children and a
fragile, delicately nurtured wife for whom to provide.
It seemed hard indeed; but though he prayed
earnestly that, if possible, this dreaded cup might
pass from him, he could discern no hopeful rift in all
the gloomy sky.
The crash came at a time when his eldest boy, a
lad of about thirteen, was on a visit to a London
friend; and gaily enough-for it was in the spring of
the year -young Harry, unconscious of the grief
at home, went off with his companion to spend a day
at the Colinderies.'
It being Saturday, a good many people were pre-
sent, and the boys were somewhat impatient when,
soon after their arrival, they were hustled by the crowd
into a corner chiefly devoted to sketches of colonial
scenery, in which they did not feel particularly inter-
'This is sickening !' grumbled Harry's companion,
in a tone of disgust, as they vainly endeavoured to
move on'; and Vance, junior, was just going to echo
the strain when something caught and held his eye.
'Look there !' he said. Isn't that view like the
one we've got at home that pa did when he was a boy ?
-that one of a bridge near Whitstone, where he used
44 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'So it is !' responded his friend. If that house
was out of the way, and there was a clump of alders
just there instead of those stones, it would be as like
as two peas. Funny, too !'
A gentleman, tall and bronzed, who had also been
scanning the picture earnestly from over the boys'
heads, now looked curiously from it to the face of
Harry Vance. By an unconscious instinct the latter
looked up and met the stranger's eyes.
He smiled at the lad in frank and friendly style,
'That sketch- does indeed singularly resemble the
old bridge near Whitstone. I knew it well some
twenty odd years ago. A friend of mine made a draw-
ing of it, I remember; his name was Ronald Vance.'
'Why, that's my father!' cried young Harry,
eagerly. 'Did you know him, sir ? '
Of course he did! Equally of course, as the
reader has doubtless guessed, the brown-faced stranger
was Jack Desmond himself, now a successful and hon-
oured New Zealand merchant, and anxious to learn
the condition and whereabouts of his boyhood's faith-
It'was but a sad welcome that Vance was able to
give when Desmond came down upon him unexpect-.
edly in the home which he felt was no longer his own.
He tried to show that cordial hospitality which, a
short time before he would have rejoiced to extend,
but was not able to hide from the keen-eyed colonial
the sorrow that was preying on his heart.
'Come, now, old friend,' urged Desmond, as the
RONALD'S RECOMPENSE. 45
two strolled out into the garden in the mellow June
twilight; 'there's something wrong, I know. 'Don't
hesitate to confide in me-we know too much about
one another for reserve on either side, I think. If
there's anything on earth I can do to help you, believe
me, I will !'
Thus pressed, Vance confessed to his former
schoolmate the terrible straits he was in, and the dan-
ger that threatened him.
'But it must not be-it shall not, while I have
power to prevent it!' cried Desmond, with something
of the impulse of his boyish days. 'How much do
you want, old fellow, to set you on your legs ? Now,
no refusals I'm well able to do it, better, perhaps,
than you may think-in fact, I've just now got a few
thousands in hand that I shall be glad to invest.
Security-your honour, as safe as the Bank of Eng-
land; interest-what you like Come, now, I've owed
you a big debt these twenty years and more. Give me
a chance to pay it '
'I don't know how to thank yo:u. Desmond-I
can't,' murir.Lir..d the other, with choking voice, as he
gripped his :'en d's hia d.
'Let it alone, then !' r.es pqndd Ja: k, bluntly.
Then, irn a graver tone, he added : For what you did
for me in my time of trouble I can never fully recom-
pense you. What would have become of me then,
but for you and your father, God only knows I be-
lieve I should have gone to the dogs as fast as ever I
could; but the knowledge that there were some who
respected and loved me still, kept me from that. I'm
46 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
not one to ri r', ricli.i,:.n ,on the tip of my tongue, but
I'll own up that I know now, and appreciate, what
made you act towards me as you did-you followed
Him Who is not ashamed to call us brethren, miser-
able creatures though we are. I have often thought of
those words: "A friend loveth at all times"; and
"-that was Vance !" said I. God bless him, if I
never see him again in this world But now I have
got a chance to act out the other part of the verse, and
be to you a brother "born for adversity." Why, the
two fit together like the halves of an apple, and I
wouldn't be done out of it for :all the gold mines in
the world '
71 WEIIt-El71LNED 11PYEjT.
'Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.'
GALATIANS Vi. 7.
OTLD your noise, do, and don't make that
row What on earth are you blubbering
.' Such was the not very soothing speech
with which: George Harvey addressed his
five-year-old brother, who was sobbing vio-
lefitly in a corner of the room.
'Don't speak so roughly to the child, George,' ex-
postulated his mother's quiet voice;- 'he is heart-
broken about his garden bed; but, as I tell him, he
will ki-now better another time.'
'What's the matter, then ?'
Why, you remember that in the spring your father
gave little Will and Jessie a plot of ground each, to
cultivate themselves. He promised them that the next
time he went into town he would bring them some
packets of flower-seeds to sow; but just about then
was the time he hurt his knee, and that caused some
48 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'And I wanted to make my garden, I did,' broke
in WilliE hcrt.ccn his sobs.
'Yes; but Jessie waited, like a wise girl. Willie
lost patience, and so anxious was he to put something
in the ground that, finding in his walks one day a fine
dandelion head just ready to puff, he brought the
seeds home, and, without saying a word to anybody
scattered them in the ground.'
'They was pwetty littlee seeds,' said Willie-
'pwettier than Jessie's mini'nette.' But his excuse
was drowned in the loud 'Ha-ha!' with which
George greeted the story.
'So I suppose,' said he, 'that he has got a fine
crop of dandelions for his pains.'
'Yes, and there's no getting rid of them; they
choke and destroy *-v~.r tlhi- else. But, as I say, this
will be a lesson to him, and he won't be so- foolish
'A crop of dandelions Ha-ha what a lark !'
commented the elder lad, who was a tall youth of
about sixteen. 'It just serves the little donkey
At this unfeeling remark Willie's half-dried tears
began to flow afresh, and Mrs. Harvey, as she drew
the tiny man for comfort to her side, said gravely :
'' You need not be so hard upon a little one's mis-
take, George; we have all sown the wrong kind of
seeds in our time, and had to reap their harvest.
Some of us, I'm thinking, have far more weeds than
flowers among our crops, even now.'
George, who had his own reasons for thinking the
A WELL-EARNED HARVEST. 49
last remark.rather personal, turned on his heel and
left. the room without making any reply. A minute
later the front door banged, and he was off.
e went to the house, of his cousin and fellow-
clerk, Tom Bayliss. Coming for a blow on the
downs to-night, Tom?' he asked.
'By-and-by, perhaps-not just yet,' answered Tom,
who came out to speak to. h!im n % irh a pen behind his
ear j rl .1i n air ,f business about him generally;.
'Why not? What have you got to do?.'
'I brought home a bit of c:,pyi~i, .1 i-n promised
Mr. Saunders to let him have it in rlir m,:irinii;_.
'What a fellow v:.ui are !' laughed Ger'..with a
spice of contempt in his tone. 'What do you expect
he'll, give you for it ?'
Nothing beyond a "thank you" ; perhaps not
that if he is very much driven.'
'Why-what?' exclaimed George in surprise.
'Do you mean to say you work for nothing?'
'I don't mind doing a little now and then, to
oblige;' answered Tom, pleasantly. ust now that
Mr. Ward is away ill they are awfully pressed, I know;'
so I said, if I could do a-little extra to help them over
the inconvenience, I would.'
'0, well! every one to his taste,' said George,
turning away. I have a notion that they are getting
quite enough out of me for their paltry eight shillings
a week, without my bringing home more work to do;
in fact, I'm so sick of the sight of pen-and-ink by the
time I've been drudging in that stuffy hole all day I
don't know that I'd undertake anything extra if they'd
50 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
pay me for it. I'll wish you good evening, and joy
with your profitable job !'
'The toadying sneak !' said George, to himself, as
he walked away. 'Trying to curry favour with the
governor But he'll get nothing by it in the end, and
so he'll find. They won't think a bit the better of
him, though they'll make him serve their turn just
now. They get nothing out of me but what they pay
for, and they know it; but they think as much of me
as they do of him-and a trifle more, I'll be bound !
Ah, now, there's a fine horse !' he added, breaking the
thread of his reflections as the young baronet went can-
tering past on his new chestnut mare. Just the sort
I shall have, when I can afford it.'
And this set Master George off on his favourite
train of thought, namely, the fine things, the luxury,
and the grandeur he meant to indulge in when the
wealth. he longed for should be his. For that he
would one day be 'rolling in riches,' as the vulgar
phrase goes, he did not for one moment doubt. He
had been in his present--which was also his first-sit-
uation about three months, and he confidently ex-
pected that promotion after promotion, with corres-
ponding advancement in salary, would naturally ensue.
He frequently got himself laughed at by older people
for the absurd immensity of his ambitions. A certain set
of diamond studs in the jeweller's window, value eighty
guineas, were just the style that would suit him ; he
' couldn't bear trash,' though, by the way, he was just
then wearing a set for which he gave the somewhat
less pretentious sum of twopence The splendid house
A WELL-EARNED HARVEST. 51
that Lord D- was having built on the London
Road also met the young gentleman's approval; and
he didn't care to wear a watch (his own silver one hav-
ing come to hopeless grief) unless he could have a good
one, costing, say, fifty or sixty pounds-' You can get
a very decent one for that !' he pompously observed.
MIeanwhile, the rule of life by which he hoped to
rise in the world was, Respect yourself, and others
will respect you,' twisted about to mean, Hold your
head as high as you can, and people will think what a
fine fellow you are.' In accordance with which
he dressed as swellishly' as his limited means would
allow; anticipated in imagination the longed-for time
when 'ten to four' would comprise his day's work by
arriving at the office later and later every week; and
when spoken to about his unpunctuality, showed off airs
such as were calculated to impress people with the con-
viction that it was no less a personage than a future
partner in a firm whom they were presuming to
reprove; he resented any hint that he might do, to
oblige, this or that not precisely down in his contract,
as an attempted encroachment upon his dignity -or
rights, and regarded his simple-minded, plodding
cousin Tom with a mixture of contempt and dislike
for what he considered a mean-spirited desire to do all
he could to please his employers. He certainly, in
both education and appearance, was Tom's superior,
and often, as the lads went off together by rail, he
mentally pictured the days to come, when, having
stepped far above his present colleague's head, he
should, in virtue of his increased salary, take his seat
52 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
in a second (or first! ) class carriage, and leave Tom
to ride third by himself.
Christmas drew near, and George enjoyed in
advance his prospective rise of position by purchasing
a plated breast-pin, a pair of three-and-elevenpenny
kid gloves, and a silver-topped cane. A few weeks
before the 25th the senior partner died, and though
Mr. G. Harvey-as he wished to be styled-did not
quite expect to be taken in the junior partner's place,
his hopes of spedy and brilliant promotion were
strengthened by hearing that important changes in the
establishment were likely to follow.
On the last Saturday in the old year Tom Bayliss
was somewhat mysteriously summoned to a private
interview with the new head of the firm in the latter's
own room. H, reiiu ricd, after a prolonged absence, with
beaming face and sparkling eyes. He had not time,
however, to communicate the cause to George, for he
was instructed to tell the latter to go into the pr;ni ipil's
office immediately after him. George accordingly
straightened his jacket, settled his tie, pulled his white
cuffs into view, and with elastic step marched confi-
dently into the presence of his employer.
The conference in his case was, however, very
brief. They were making alterations, Mr. Saunders
informed him, in the office arrangements-one junior
clerk only instead of two would in future be kept, and,
in short, Master Harvey's services would not be re-
quired after that day week.
The .blow was as heavy as it was unlocked for;
with white face, and a mortification of spirit that strove
A WELL-EARNED HARVEST. 53
to hide itself under an affection of cold reserve,
George went back to his place, and Tom guessing
from his manner that something was seriously wrong,
considerately forebore telling his own good news.
For Tom had received what to him was a most
agreeable surprise-poor despised Tom, who had
been so patiently and faithfully fulfilling his duties all
the year; he had been offered a considerably better
position in the firm himself, and, what pleased him
even more, his younger brother Bob, who was so
anxiously looking for a situation, was to be taken on
in his place.
George went home in a grand rage. He banged
the doors, flung his feet :n:isily, down the stairs, and
knocked the furniture angrily about. 'Such abomin-
able meanness!' he cried. 'To make use of a
fellow just as long as it suits them, and then cast him
off like an old shoe. It's shameful treatment!'
And he made the house extremely unpleasant for
his family during the remainder of that day.
A few days later his father returned from business
with an unusual air of gravity and displeasure. Every
one knew that something had occurred to. annoy him
very much, and the tone with which he addressed
George was unmistakably stern.
'I have seen Mr. S'., ijide r to-day,' he said. 'We
rode togthcei in the train; and he has-thrown quite a
new light upon your dismissal from his service.'
'They are only going to keep one boy instead of.
two-that's what he told me,' replied George, rather
54 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
'Yes; but why are you not that one ? Why is it
that young Robert has been taken on instead ? Why
has your cousin Tom, who never had half your advan-
tages, received an honourable promotion while you are
turned out ? Simply because he made himself valua-
ble to the firm-tried his very utmost to please his
employers, while you only thought of taking the
money and doing the grand. Young Bayliss," said
Mr. Saunders to me, "seemed to have our interest so
truly at heart-seemed to really care so much to be
of use, and, even. in his humble position, to further
our prosperity as much as in him lay, that we could not
but feel a corresponding interest in him and his welfare.
Whereas, your son, I regret to say "-these are Saun-
ders's own words-" appeared so utterly indifferent as
to the quality of his work, and took remorstrances
with such an ill grace, showing plainly, moreover, that
so long as we would continue to pay him his wages it
mattered nothing to him whether he gave us an ade-
quate return for the money or not, that when we saw
an opportunity of getting a boy likely to suit us better
you cannot wonder that we availed ourselves of it.
George manifested no consideration at any time for
us; he cannot expect us to show consideration for
him." That was the substance of Mr. Saunders's
remarks to me,' concluded Mr. Harvey; 'and from
them I am sorry to gather that your recent disappoint-
ment is but a natural-a deserved-consequence of
your own conduct. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that
shall he also reap." You showed selfishness and
careless indifference to the interests of others;
A WELL-EARNED HARVEST. 55
you reap the same from them. Tom sowed kindliness,
pleasant manners, a readiness to oblige; he reaps
favour and benefit, in which his brother also -shares.
He has every reason to be satisfied with his harvest,
and you cannot justly grumble at yours.'
If George's mother and sister had been no kinder-
hearted than himself, they might now have said, as he
did of little Willie, It just serves him right !' But
they wisely refrained, and their forbearance caused to
sink the more deeply into the boy's mind the lesson
-as true of things spiritual as of those which concern
this world only-which he so sorely needed, and the
benefit of which, we are glad to say, he an:knl;:.'..,d~d
in after days.
TOji BEYH IrEY' LFRIEpND.
'Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace
have kissed each other.-PSALM lxxxv. 10.
Y HAT'S all over, then-! It didn't last long!'
Such was the somewhat enigmatical
announcement with which Guy Rainsford,
Returning one day from school, flung his
books on the table and himself upon a
'0, Guy, what did you do that for? You have
made me spoil such a beautiful line !' cried his sister,
in dismay. She was engaged upon a large pencil
'I'm very sorry, Maud; I didn't mean to. But
I'm so mad I don't know what I'm about.'
'Why? What has happened? What is "all
'My friendship with Beverley.
How was that, then ?' queried Maud, with in-
terest. 'You have never quarrelled ?'
'Not exactly, though it came to that in the end. It
is more serious than a common quarrel, Maud; it is a
TOM BEVERLEY'S FRIEND. 57
matter of principle. When a fellow wants me to be a
party to any kind of fraud or deception, I've done with
him. Look here, Maud;' continued Guy-he was a
bright, noble-looking lad of about twelve, and a bud-
ding hero in his elder sister's eyes-'this is how it was
-it's soon told. Beverley, you know, though clever
enough at some things, is the dullest chap in our form
at arithmetic. Mr. Piers gave us out some tolerably
stiff examples this morning, though I ri.il..bed hr-iough
all right; but I just caught Beverley looking over me,
and slily copying figure for figure off my slate I used
to wonder why he seemed so awfully anxious to get
next me always-now "the-murder's out." He knows
I'm prettywell to be depended on for getting my sums
right, and that's the use he's been making of me.'
What a pity, to be sure I suppose he knew that
you detected him?'
'Rather I looked him straight in the eyes till he
dropped his head and turned as red as fire. It's
against the rules to say a word in class, but I mei-
tioned it to him after school.'
'What did you say ?'
'I gave him a piece of my mind; that's all!'
Maud smiled, but thoughtfully. Guy, she well
knew, was hot-tempered, and nothing roused him more
easily than dishonesty in any shape. But when angry
he was not always as moderate in his choice of expres-
sions as he would be if quite calm.
'And, so you quarrelled ?'
'Yes. He didn't like to hear the truth, though I
58 UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE.
only called his conduct by its right name; and then
he said things to me that I didn't like, because they
were not true-he. said I shouldn't have been so pre-
cious particular if I hadn't wanted to grab the arith-
metic prize myself, which isn't it at all; it's the meanness
I hate And then I said other things to'him-and so
-and so it's all up.'
'Well, I am sorry,' said Maud, 'because he is, in
some respects, so nice, and I don't want to puff you
up, Guy, but I was hoping that being with you would
help to make him nicer still, for I'm afraid the influence
of his own home is.not very good.'
'He thinks I'm the stingiest cad in creation now,'
returned Guy; 'he told me so. But I can't help that,
can I ? I couldn't aid and abet him in deception !'
'It is a pity to get one's good ill spoken of, too,'
observed Maud. 'And I don't like people to think
unjustly of my dear old Guy! Couldn't you, dear,
have managed to let Tom know your principles without
making him so angry, and without letting him go off
with the notion that you grudged him the help of copy-
ing from you ?'
'Don't know I was so wild myself I didn't care
what he thought.'
I wouldn't have you give a moment's countenance
to evil-doing, but I do wish.you could have contrived
to convince Tom that he was wrong; to have won him
to the right would have been so much better than to
cast him off altogether. That is God's way with us,
Guy; good and pure He will have us, through and
TOM BEVERLEY'S FRIEND. 59
through;. but "mercy and truth are met together" in
Him, and He is patient with us even while we are
very, very bad.'
Guy made no reply. He walked across to the
French window, and, opening it with unusually quiet
and gentle movements, went out into the garden.
He began to think that he had blundered stupidly
in his behaviour to Tom Beverley. He liked the boy
more than a little-earlier in the day he would have
said he loved him ; he was so good-natured and sunny,
so full of fun, yet so loth to annoy, that he was a
favourite with most people. What a sad thing that he
should be capable of doing a dishonourable action !
'Poor chap!' thought Guy. 'I think I may have
been a bit hard on him. He certainly hasn't been
brought up to look at these things just as I do. What
a difference between his father and mine! I don't
suppose it ever struck him that copying was really
wrong-a lot of fellows do it-and. I'm afraid I didn't
go the right way to convince him. But. it won't be
exactly jam to have to go and tell him so!'
'Jam' it. certainly wasn't to a high-spirited boy to
own himself in the wrong; but Guy was a. young dis-
ciple of the Righteous One, and knew that to shirk
paying a just debt, even a debt of apology to a school-
fellow, was to turn his back upon his Lord. That he
would never do !
Immediately after tea he set off, without saying a
word to anybody, for the. Beverleys' house.
While he was asking the maid if Master Tom was
at home, that young gentleman himself appeared in the
60 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
passage. He looked rather doubtful on seeing Guy,
but less unfriendly than the latter had thought possi-
ble, his amiable temper being a stranger to long-lived
'Have you got five minutes to spare ?' asked Guy.
'I just wanted a word or two with you about-
about--' and he awkwardly paused.
'Come in,' said Tom. 'There's nobody at home
Guy followed him into the dining-room and plunged
into his subject head first.
'I say, old fellow,' he began, 'I've been thinking I
came down on you rather sharp to-day, and said things
that-that I oughtn't.'
'I s'pose you meant them, anyhow,' returned
Tom, rather sorely.
I thought I did then, but-well, I fancy that if
you saw the thing as I do, you wouldn't have done as
you did; in fact, I'm sure you wouldn't; and calling
names is no argument. I'm sorry I did it '
Tom looked embarrassed and said nothing.
'Give us your hand, Tom, if you will ?' continued
Guy, 'and see here,' he went on, as the other readily
complied, 'I've got a plan. I know the rule we're in
Just now is rli.'ftlly tough; I thought at one time I
never should have got hold of it, but I think I see
through it pretty clearly now. Let's just go over the
examples together, from the beginning-; if you can
once understand the rule, you'll have no more trouble
TOM BEVERLEY'S FRIEND. 61
'0, thanks I've muddled and muddled at it, but
I only seem to get in a thicker fog and Tom fetched
out his arithmetic book and slate with alacrity.
Patiently, for more than an hour, did the boys
work together, Guy explaining, and showing, and work-
ing the sums out again and again; Tom trying his
very hardest to grasp the leading princ ipl-: by which
the correct answers were obtained. At last it seemed
to come to him all at once, and with a radiant face he
cried that he could see it all, and was sure he could
now do every exercise in the rule w it -ho:ut help.
What a stunning good fellow you are, to take so
much trouble !' he gratefully cried. 'But I can't
make out why you should do it, and that's a fact!
You're trying for the arithmetic prize, one wouldn't
think it would pay you to put anybody. else in the way
of doing as well as you can yourself.'
I care more for your being out-and-out honest
than I do about the prize,' said Guy.
'You do !'
I do, indeed! And besides that, I don't want to
have you think it was meanness made me not like you
to look at my slate-it wasn't that at all.'
'Meanness No, I know that now!' exclaimed
Beverley, heartily. 'You're the finest fellow going,
Guy. Show me how to be as honourable as you are;
it never seemed to me that it mattered so in little
Ask God to show you,' answered -Guy, in a low
voice; 'I'm not good enough.'
So saying, he nodded 'Good-night,' and hurried
62 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
out of the house and away home, leaving Tom to
reflect more seriously than ever he had done before on
that amazing importance of perfect honesty in the
small affairs of life of which Guy Rainsford seemed so
deeply convinced. He had been startled and exasper-
ated by the severely condemnatory epithets which his
companion launched at him earlier in the day; then
he had stigmatised him as an 'ill-natured, insulting
prig'; now, however, his view of Guy's conduct was
wholly changed, and he almost worshipped the nobility
of character which his comrade had just displayed.
As for Guy himself, he caught his sister Maud on
the stairs as they were going up to bed, and whispered,
with a happy light in his eyes :
I've done it, Maudie; it's ever so much the better
way. It's all set straight again. I've stood up for the
right and kept my friend as well.'
'Then righteousness and peace, have kissed each
other,"' said Maud, with a smile; 'I am so glad; I
don't believe Tom will offend you in that way any
Neither did he. Guy's protest-or rather, the
amendment to the same-had opened his eyes on a
subject to which he had hitherto been blind, and
made an impression for good upon his mind never to
Guy gained the arithmetic prize with flying colours;
but no one congratulated him more cordially upon his
success than his sworn friend, Tom Beverley.
BEITIE'I FRENCHp PENPY.
'Thou desirest truth in the inward parts:'-PSALM li. 6.
OOK at that poor old man sitting by the rail-
ings there! How cold he must be!'
I He is nearly always there. He is a beg-
y -i_': -gar.'
.' And blind, too, it seems, by his having a
dog at his side. Doyou know h1iin, Bertie?'
'Only by sight, Aunt Dora. I come this way: to
school every day. I believe he gets a lot of money.'
Bertie Downing had been to meet Aunt Dora at
the railway station; she had come to pay his parents
a long-promised visit, and very proud was ten-year-old
Bertie of the honour of escorting her through the town,
and carrying her umbrella and wrap.
'But in such a wind as this it must be dreadful to
have to sit at a street corner!' said tender-hearted
Auntie, compassionately gazing across to where the
aged mendicant was stationed, solitary and patient-
looking, upon the low stone coping of a wall, the bitter
north-east wind fluttering his scanty garments and thin
white locks of hair, and whirling clouds of stinging
64 UNCLE RAY'S CHOldZ.
dust into his sightless face. 'I wish I had a penny,'
she added. 'But I know I spent the last for a bun at
Wadham Junction. I have nothing less now than a
two-shilling piece, and I can't give him that without
making some one else go short for it.'
Bertie's fingers fumbled irresolutely in his pocket.
He felt two pennies there. He very much wanted his
aunt to like him, -artly bec:aue she wasthought of so
highly by everybody that her favour was an honour,
and pitrtl, because he had a EreCt desire t.: be invited
to the 'jolly' farmhouse in Leicestershire, where she
lived. But he didn't quite see that he could arfoiid io
pay a penny for her approval at first starting. I dare
say,' he said to himself, 'she would think it awfully
nice of me if I did give the old chap o:miething buti
I shall be able to do other -things just as good that
won't cost me anything. If I had a half-penny
Suddenly he recollected that one of the pennies he
possessed bore the French stamp, which a boy at
school had told him that very morning would hence-
forth, in accordancewith a new Government regulation,
render all such copper coins very difficult to dispose
of. That same boy had tried to get rid of a French
halfpenny at five different shops, and no one would
take it. 'It's likely to be a loss to me, anyhow,'
thought Bertie, regretfully; 'so I don't know but that
I may as well give it away.'
All this had occupied but a very few seconds in
passing through his mind, and the pair were hardly yet
past the, spot where the blind beggar sat.
BERTIE'S FRENCH PENNY. 6
'Wait half a minute, auntie, please!' said Bertie,
and darted across the road.
Chink l went the French penny into the little tin
box that was tied round the Skye terrier's neck. Poor
trustful doggie looked up with brown eyes of gratitude
shining through his shaggy hair, and thumped his
muddy tail upon the pavement. That was bad
enough. But when the old man's feeble voice added,
with a tremble of real pathos (for this was the first coin
that had dropped into his box for a weary long while):
'Thank you kindly, and may God bless you !' Bertie
felt so mean he would have liked to run away from
With crimson cheeks he rejoined his aunt.
' Dear boy !' she thought. 'How he blushes to do a
kind action! And yet he did not allow a foolish
modesty to hold him back. This shows a lovely dis-
position indeed !'
And the smile was very tender with which she
looked down at the fair-faced boy who walked by her
side. Bertie could somehow feel it, though he dared
not raise his eyes, and he began to talk very fast about
what his father had said he would do, and all the
sights they had planned to see during Aunt Dora's
But a cloud hung over his spirit for the rest of
that day. For not many minutes at a time was he
able to forget what he had done, and when he went to
bed he could not sleep for thinking of it.
He had meanly deceived a poor old man and a
66 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
faithful dog who believed in him. He had taken three
precious things that did not belong to him-a look of
gratitude, a blessing, and a loving smile, with no one
knows how many kind thoughts beside He felt he
would willingly have given sixpence now to have made
all these honestly his own. But the idea of the blind
man's possible disappointment when he came to turn
out his little store, and his friends told him that one
penny was a French one, now of no more value than a
bit of lead, was the sorest point in all the boy's regret.
Perhaps the poor fellow had been counting each coin
that fell in the box, and reckoning what he could buy
with it! 'He shall have a good one, anyhow,' to-
morrow,' resolved Bertie, 'if it is the last I've got '
And resting on this determination he at length glided
into the land of dreams.
But when the morning came, and Bertie, hastened
to the familiar spot, neither man nor dog was there.
He was quite sorry, but made up his mind at all costs
to keep that penny for the beggar till he should see
him again. This was hard work, for the days passed
on, and still the well-known, pitiful figures of the white-
haired, stooping blind man and. patient, shaggy dog
were absent from their accustomed station; but I am
glad to say that neither butterscotch nor bull's eyes,
peg-tops nor pencils-not even Jubilee jumbles four a
penny !-succeeded in coaxing that sacred coin from
Bertie's pocket until Saturday brought him a fresh
supply of money from the hand of his liberal father.
The sermon on Sunday was in aid of a charity
BERTIE'S FRENCH PENNY. 67
but a word or two the minister said brought Bertie's
uneasiness to a crisis. He spoke about those little
unnoticed acts of generosity which no one sees but
God, and which, printed in neither subscription list
nor official report, are yet recorded in heaven-the cup
of cold water to a wayfarer, the two mites cast into
the temple treasury. And Aunt Dora softly squeezed
Bertie's hand, which happened to be near her own,
and he knew she was thinking of that French penny !
'Auntie,' he said, when they were alone together
for a few minutes in the afternoon, 'if you had- done
something horrid, and wanted to do something good to
make up for it, what would you do ?'
Aunt Dora was so loving and sweet that they had
grown quite confidential even during the short time
they had been in each other's society.
I never could make up for any wrong I did,' she
answered; no one could, Bertie. That isn't the way
the world is to be saved. Every right action belongs
just to its own time and no other; we can never
accumulate the smallest surplus to go towards the pay-
ing of back debts.'
'What can we do, then ? '
Ask for God's forgiveness and for His Spirit to
help us to keep from doing the wrong again,' replied
auntie. And if the sin was against any fellow-
creatures, it must be confessed to them, too, so as to
be quite put away from between us. Of course,' she
added, although we can never make up for any trans-
gression of God's law, we may and should do anything
68 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
possible to give reparation to anybody we have
wronged. But won't you tell me the actual circum-
stances of the case you are imagining, Bertie ? I might
be able to advise you better if I knew more about it.'
It was dreadful to have to confess his deceitful and
dishonourable trick to the aunt for whose good opinion
he cared so much; but Bertie felt that to do so, and
thus forfeit, in a way, that smile of approval and pres-
sure of the hand which he had not deserved, was the
first step towards'regaining the right path; so he owned
to her exactly how it was.
'I'm so glad you have been unhappy about it, dear,'
she said, very kindly; 'for that shows that your worst
self is not yet quite so powerful as your. best, and I do
believe that you are trying to keep the ugly thing down.
Give it another good hard knock, Bertie, by telling the
poor blind man how you cheated him, and putting as
many good pennies into his box as yofiu an spare.'
'That's just what I wanted to, auntie,' said Bertie,
'or something rather like it, only not so out-and-out!'
he added, conscientiously, afraid to take again more
approbation than was his due. 'But the man has
never been there since. I think he must have gone
'That is a pity,' remarked Aunt Dora. If I were
you, I would ask some of the shopkeepers about there
if they know what has become of him.'
This Bertie did, but without obtaining any informa-
tion. He, however, kept a bright new threepenny
piece which about that time came into his possession
BERTIE'S FRENCH PENNY. 69
always in his pocket, folded in several papers for safety,
that he might have it ready to give the blind man
should he, at any time, chance to see him in the street.
Another week, however, and part of the next, passed
away without affording Bertie an opportunity of making
this restitution for his wrong; but he was so honestly
anxious to do so that he daily prayed that the chance
might be given him.
One afternoon-it was the Thursday after Easter,
and the holidays not yet over-Bertie, taking a short
cut to the cricket-ground, came upon a couple of his
schoolfellows teasing a little girl. It, was in a rather
narrow path with posts across it, and the boys kept
dodging from side to side to hinder her from passing.
They only did it 'for fun,' and did not think them-
selves unkind; but the poor little thing-a shabbily
dressed child of about eight years old-was crying, and
seemed to be in great distress of mind.
Without pausing to think how he would probably
get twitted for it by his companions, Bertie ran forward,
and, seizing the little girl's hand, made a rush at one of
the openings, pushed the boy who blocked it suddenly
aside, and dragged her through.
S' O, thank you !' she said gratefully. They've
been a-stopping me ever so long, and gran'fa'r's so
bad, and I want to find the parish doctor, and I don't
know where he lives.'
'I'll show you,' answered Bertie; 'I know him
So hand in hand they hastened off together, and
70 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
little Nannie, chattering all the .time, told her new
friend how poor 'gran'fa'r' had been ill with a bad
pain in his side for many days, and could not go out to
get any money at all, and was now grown so much
worse that they were all frightened; and how his faith-
ful dog Punch lay cuddling close to his breast all day
long to keep him warm. 'Gran'fa'r's blind, quite
blind, you know,' she said.
'What does he work at, then, to get money?'
'He can't work at all,' answered the little maid.
'He sits with Punch at a corner near the railway
station, and kind people are sorry for him, and give
'Why !-0, I never Is that your grandfather?'
exclaimed Bettie. '0, I am so sorry he is ill! Please
give him this for me' (pulling out the much-folded
threepenny piece), 'and say it is from the boy who put
a French penny in his box about a fortnight ago, and
I wish awfully much I hadn't done it, and I hope he'll
soon get well.'
Nannie .was considerably astonished at this out-
burst, but she thanked Bertie again, with pink-flushing
cheeks, and promised she would say all that he asked.
Bertie did not omit to find out where the blind
man lived, and, on leaving Nannie at the doctor's door,
raced away home as fast as he could, to report his
adventure to Aunt Dora, and beg of her to visit the old
man and find out if she could do anything for him.
Aunt Dora, who was blessed with both the desire
BERTIE'S FRENCH PENNY. 71
and the means to help many suffering ones who came
under her notice, needed not much persuasion, and
started off that same afternoon to seek out the tiny room,
in a narrow court, where the blind beggar, his widowed
daughter, and several small grandchildren were living.
She found them on the verge of starvation, because,
not able to endure the idea of separation, they had
hitherto refused to go into the house.' I don't know
what poor father would do without me, you see, miss,'
said Nannie's mother. 'He's eighty-five come June,
miss; and I do understand his ways better nor
Aunt Dora made inquiries among the neighbours as
to the character of this family, and on all sides received
assurances of their honesty, sobriety, and general good
claims to assistance. It was misfortune alone that had
reduced them to their present sad condition.
Your father shall want no more for any comfort
as long as he lives,' said she to Mrs. Timms, the blind
man's daughter. I think I can safely answer for that.
I have several friends who I know will be glad to help.'
O, thank you, miss, a thousand times-thank you
and bless you!' said the poor women, brokenly, and
wiping her eyes, while from the low pallet where the
blind man lay came a weak echo of 'Lord love you,
miss, and bless the dear boy !'
So, after all, Aunt Dora,' said Bertie, as they went
home, it seems as if good instead of harm is coming
through my giving him that French penny. I can't be
72 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
No good ever comes because of evil, though some-
times in spite of it,' replied auntie. 'Say, rather,
Bertie dear, that God mercifully accepted your repent-
ance, and, in token of his approval, gave you a fuller
opportunity than even you had asked of helping him
whom in a thoughtless moment you had wronged.'
V^%''^ 'i i11'3 ~~''?c
L-" *.~ -1 'I'fl, :^ ^,^L
RRED GIB$ON'5 El O6R.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.'-MATTHEW vi. 24.
T must be awfully jolly to be rich, there's no
K- doubt about that !'
c, z.' Fred Gibson quite started to hear his chum
t-*, '- utter these words-the very ones that were
passing through his own brain at the same
'If I had said such a thing as that, now,' he
returned, 'you would have treated me to a mile of
virtuous expostulation. But I'm -glad to find we are
so much of a mind, in spite of all your wise remarks
on the subject.'
I was thinking about The Children's Home,' said
Phil Brereton. 'And how splendid it must be to have
a heap of money to send in handsome donations to
'I never thought much about it until Mr. Speirs
talked so earnestly to-day, and told us such a lot about
74 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
the poor little chaps in the streets. I feel as if I could
give a whole fortune to that duvctor, all of a lump, and
be real glad to do it !'
'O, of course, if one has got a lot of money,
that's all very well! But it's a jolly nuisance to be
told that there's to be a collection for 'em next Sun-
day, and Mr. Speirs hopes we shall all come prepared.
I shan't come at all.'
'Why not ?"'
'Because I'm just stumped for eash-haven't a
penny, and I know father won't advance me any. I
asked him for a shilling yesterday, that I wanted most
particularly for something, but he was cross that I
should have spent the last so quick, and said, "No,
he wouldn't." And when once father has said No,"
you might as well try to move the Monument. And I
do like Speirs, and hate to refuse him, so I shan't
show up at all.'
But, perhaps, if you told your father what the
money was for--' began Phil.
'It wouldn't be a scrap of use. He'd only say he
hoped it 'ud be a lesson to me in the future, or some-
thing of that kind. Sickening, I call it!'
It was not often that merry Fred Gibson was so
much out of temper as he seemed to be to-day. But
his impecunious state and his father's decision had
proved unusually galling. Thompson's, the large toy
shop, was selling off,' and offering 'positively for a
few days only,' their two-and-sixpenny boxes of con-
juring apparatus at a shilling each. This was a chance
FRED GIBSON'S ERROR. 75
that would probably never occur again, but, intensely
as Fred longed to avail himself of it, he might only
.linger at the tempting window, and look and covet,
and see the limited number of 'Wizard's Cabinets'
growing smaller day by day.. Now his Bible-class
teacher's appeal for Dr. Stephenson's Home added
another element of annoyance to his penniless condi-
Moodily, after wishing Phil 'Good-bye' at the
latter's door, he turned with downcast eyes and drag-
ging steps in the direction of his own home.
He had to pass his uncle's house, and a little boy,
several years his junior, came running excitedly out of
the gate to meet him, holding something up in his
hand to show.
What have you got there ? asked Fred, smiling
back involuntarily at his cousin's radiant little face.
'Half-a-crown-look Grandpa gave it to me
'cause mother told him I hadn't been late at school
once all the winter. That's mine I'
And with a look of the utmost satisfaction the little
fellow slipped the coin into his knickerbockers' pocket,
and affectionately patted the spot where it lay. But it
was out again in less than a minute, for the happy
possessor could not do without the sight and feel of it
in his hand.
'What are you going to do with. such a lot of
money?' asked Fred. 'Why, you are richer than I
am-I haven't a farthing !'
S' I'm going to buy a ship,' answered Charlie, with-
76 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
out a moment's hesitation. 'Mother says I may.
Only, she says I must.wait till father can take me to a
big shop he knows of, in the City. I don't like wait-
Well, there is sure to be plenty of ships to be had
any time,' said Fred, consolingly. "Tisn't as if they'd
be all gone if you didn't get one quick !'
And bidding his little cousin a merry good-bye, he
ran off home.
Yes, he ran now; for a bright thought, or, rather,
the glimpse of something that might turn to a bright
thought, lent wings to his feet.
Although it was Sunday, and his conscience gave
him an uneasy twinge, his impatience would not be
restrained, but carried him straight to a cupboard in his
own room where his 'traps,' all and sundry, were stowed
From among a medley of bats, balls, boxes, fish-
ing-tackle, &c., &c., he dragged out a model sailing-
boat, his own workmanship, and, kneeling with it in
his hand, a soliloquy, of which the following is the
substance, took place :
Don't see why I shouldn't! Conjuring things
would be a deal more use to me than this; it always
will flop over so on one side when it gets in the water,
and I don't know how to prevent it. But that wouldn't
matter for Charlie-ke'll never sail it anywhere but on
the carpet !-he'd never find out that it wasn't first
rate. He'd buy it quick enough if I advised him to.
And, of course, it will be doing it for a charity, like
FRED GIBSON'S ERROR. 77
because I shall be sure to have some over for the col-
lection, so it must be all right. I do want to give Mr.
Speirs something for the Home, really and truly,' he
concluded with himself, 'and this will do every bit as
well for Charlie as a shop boat.'
That evening, during service, Fred's thoughts ran
very much on the subject of conjuring; but every time-
he caught himself at it he tried to cover them over
(from whom 7) with after reflections on the subject of
the Home, which he tried to persuade himself was the
chief thing he cared about; and somehow he nearly
always wound up with the assurance: 'Charlie will
never want to sail it in the water-his mother won't let
him. So it don't matter a bit!'
Next day, as soon as he returned from school, he
started off to his uncle's with the ship under his arm.
'Look here, Charlie,' he said, 'I'll let you have this
sailing-boat I made for two shillings, if you like to take
it. It's bigger than you'd get at a shop for half-a-crown.
See what a nice one it is !'
Little Charlie, captivated by the smart appearance
of the boat, never thought to ask if it would sail well;
and though something in Fred's heart wanted dread-
fully to tell about the one fatal defect, something else
wouldn't let it. Charlie, moreover, eager to possess the
longed-for ship at once, instead of waiting till his
father could take him up to town, ran off to beg his
mother to allow him to conclude the purchase at
I want the money, badly,' Fred explained to his
78 UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE.
aunt. I have nothing to give to the school collection
for Dr. Stephenson next Sunday unless I canget it by
He turned very red while he was saying this, and
wondered why he should feel so much as though he
had been telling a story. 'So I do want money for
that,' he said to himself. Only I want some for my-
His aunt was touched. 'Dear boy!' she thought;
'I dare say it is a great sacrifice to him to part with
his ship.' And not liking to disappoint his good in-
tention, she said Charlie might buy the boat, though
in her heart she fancied it did not look quite worth the
Straight from his cousin to Thompson's toyshop
rushed Fred. Only one of the 'Wizard's Cabinets'
was left, and he eagerly paid down his shilling and bore
it off in triumph. All that evening he was busy, and,
as he tried to persuade himself, delightfully happy,
trying the experiments for which it gave directions.
Yet something was lacking to make his satisfaction
He expected that he should feel all right when the
other shilling had been given into the charge of Mr.
Speirs; but he didn't. Boys in stories always felt
awfully nice and good when they had made a sacrifice
for the sake of giving something away, and it had been
a sacrifice to part with his ship, and Phil Brereton said
he was a brick to do it; and as to Charlie, he was 'as
pleased as Punch' with the thing: so why shouldn't
FRED GIBSQN'S ERROR. 79
he be glad and comfortable when he thought about it ?
Certainly, he had 'killed two birds with one stone,' and
got the conjuring box he had wanted; but where was
the harm in that?
Three days later, Fred, returning from a cricket
match, noticed an unusually large crowd round the
biggest of the three ponds (as they were called) near
which his road lay.
'What's the matter there, I wonder ? said he to
Phil, who walked by his side.
'Mr. Briggs has got his model steam-boat out, I
dare say,' returned Phil. 'Let's go and see!'
They ran towards the ever-thickening group at the
What's up ?' asked Phil, of a lad he knew.
Boy drowned, they say !' was the brief response.
They pushed their way forward, but could see no-
thing for the crowd.
'I saw it all!' Fred heard one say to another.
'The little chap had got a bit of a duffin' boat, that
kept turning over on its side, and he got out on the
end of that old log that lies in the water to try and
keep it straight with a stick, and somehow over-
balanced, and in he went! Say, now!'-to Fred
behind him-' mind who you're shoving !'
Yet at sight of the boy's wild, white face and
starting eyes the speaker and those about him in-
stinctively drew back.
It was an awful moment for Fred, and one which
he will remember to his dying day, when he caught a
So UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
glimpse of the death-like countenance and childish
form which had been drawn from the water. The blue
eyes were closed, the fair hair dank and dripping, the
little hands relaxed and cold. O God, have mercy !
was Charlie dead
0, mother,' he cried, again and again, through the
terrible hours that followed, 'if Charlie dies, I shall
have killed him !'
'You must not feel like that, dear,' she said, con-
solingly. The accident might as well have happened
with any other boat as the one you made.'
'But I knew it wouldn't sail straight-I knew it!
That's why I didn't want to keep it myself. But O, I
never thought it would matter for a little chap like
him Mother, if Charlie dies I shall go mad.'
'We will pray,' answered Mrs. Gibson, in a choking
voice. It was all she was able to say; and, side by
side, they knelt in silence, in an agony of pleading too
great for speech.
Charlie did not die, but his life was saved'as by a
hair's breadth; for rheumatic fever supervened in
consequence of the chill he had received, and he was
a long time ill.
Fred told the whole truth to his uncle and aunt,
and endeavoured to make to his little cousin what
reparation he might by devoting himself to his amuse-
ment during a weary time of convalescence, and spend-
ing the whole of his next month's pocket-money in
buying him a fine new box of paints.
FRED GIBSON'S ERROR. 8I
'I can't think,' said Phil Brereton to Mr. Speirs,
when they were talking the matter over-for, of course,
everybody came to hear about it-' I can't think how
it was that an honourable fellow like Fred always
seemed could have acted as he did about the boat.
He must have known it was not honest. And as to
Charlie being little-well, if I was going to cheat any-
body, I believe I'd rather it should be a chap of my
own size. What's the good, anyhow, of a sailing-boat
that won't sail ?'
'I can only account for it by supposing that the
god of this world, Mammon-which is as much Mam-
mon in a matter of a shilling as of ten thousand pounds,
if it comes between us and God-had blinded his eyes
to the right. As he says himself, he wanted to give to
the collection, but he wanted muck more to get those
conjuring tricks, and it was the much more that led
But if he hadn't sold the ship, he would not have
had any money for either,' said Phil.
Better so God cares infinitely more about having
us right in our hearts than getting us to subscribe to
the noblest of charities. Indeed, He only cares for
our giving as an evidence of our feeling towards Him
and our fellow-creatures; for all the money in the
world is His, and He might easily do without any help
of ours. No, Phil,' concluded Mr. Speirs; 'where
our dear Fred was wrong, and where you and I are
just as likely to get wrong any day of our lives, was
that he tried to serve God and Mammon. Had he
82 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
sought first the kingdom of God and His righteous-
ness, he would have seen clearly that not for the sake
of the best object in the world would the Lord have us
do a thing that is the least bit underhanded or unfair.
When we put right in one eye and self in the other-
and "the world" and "self" and "Mammon" are only
different phases of the same great temptation-we walk
in the dark, and see not whither we are going. Let us
pray, dear boy, for Fred, and for ourselves, and for all
who call themselves Christians, that we may never
attempt a double service, but, single-eyed and single-
hearted, may be on the Lord's side only.'
HoW J71JAII FOUND J11 R7IT!IpE.
SIs any among you afflicted ? let him pray.'-JAMES V. 13.
HE benediction had been said and the school
was dismissed. Good-byes were lingered
-J over by the girls, and caps scrambled for by
Sthe boys; then out into the bright open air
_'_t they swarmed, their youthful spirits, which
Shad been more or less pent up for the last
hour or two, bubbling up in laughter and frolic before
even the gates of the schoolhouse yard were passed.
All but one. Jamie Travers walked slowly and
alone, his hands in the pockets of his overcoat, his
feet dragging heavily along the gravelled path.
Well, Jamie 1' said his teacher, in a sympathetic
voice, as she came up behind him and laid her hand
on his shoulder.
But Jamie made no reply. He did not even look
up, for his eyes were full of tears, and he thought it
would not seem manly in a boy of eight years old to
Miss Ellis, however, saw the forced compression of
84 UNCLE RAY'S CHOICE.
the little fellow's quivering lips; she knew that the
black band on his sleeve was not yet very old; and
with her gentle hand creeping round his neck she
'God knows, Jamie. He remembers all about it.'
It-it isn't only that !' sobbed the child, break-
ing down beneath his teacher's sympathy. 'But it's
that story Mr. Williams told about-about that kind
father. If father only loved me a bit, I shouldn't so
much mind !'
'I think he does love you, Jamie,' Miss Ellis felt
compelled to say, though he does not show it.'
'I'm sure he doesn't,' returned the little boy. 'He
never sees me hardly, and when he does he don't
speak to me. He's worse nor ever, he is! He's
never kissed me-not once-since-since- and
here his words were choked in a flood of tears.
Miss Ellis knew that Jamie's testimony was borne
out by the evidence of neighbours. There was a vein
of singular hardness in the nature of the elder Travers.
Never a fond father, but always holding that unbend-
ing sternness was indispensable to the maintenance of
authority, he had treated the child with even greater
coldness since the death of his mother than before, and
was latterly growing to regard him with something re-
sembling aversion, as a tiresome encumbrance.
Poor little man This is indeed a grief,' said
Miss Ellis, with her own eyes moist. 'But you know,
dear, there is nothing that God cannot do, no trouble
that He cannot turn to joy. Have you prayed to Him
about it, Jamie ?
HOW JAMIE FOUND HIS FATHER. 85
'No,' faltered Jamie; 'I didn't like. I thought
He'd be sure to side with father, 'cos He's a? Father
'Ah, but so different, so tender and good His
heart is full of love to all His children-little ones and
grown up ones, too; and He can put His love into
your father's heart, Jamie, and make him care for his
Will He, do you think, if I ask Him ?'
The child spoke with trembling eagerness, his blue
eyes raised wistfully to his teacher's face.
I am sure he will-yes, I'm sure,' answered Miss
Ellis. We will both pray, Jamie, you and I, and you
must try all the time to be just such a little boy as
father can love. Only we must have patience and
wait God's time. The Bible says: "Is any among
you afflicted? let him pray." So, of course, if we do,
God will hear and answer us.'
Jamie was a true child-he believed what he was
told; and from that day forward was added to the
prayer which his mother had taught him, the simple
petition: '0, dear God, please speak to father and
make him love me.'
He halt expected that the next morning after his
first utterance of this request his father would meet him
with a kiss and a smile; but he remembered how Miss
Ellis had said, We must have patience,' and he tried
hard not to be disappointed when the only notice he
received was a peremptory inquiry as to whether he
Shad washed his face !
Days and weeks .passed on; still the daily prayer
86 UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE.
went up from that little lonely soul, Do make father
love me !' But still sharp fault-finding or cold indif-
ference was all that Jamie found in him whose heart
should have been a refuge from every ill. Travers was
cherishing a bitter rebellion against the Power Who had
taken from him the wife whom, though in a selfish
fashion, he had truly loved; and from the useless
child that was left his affections the more perversely
One noontide Jamie, on coming from school, was
told by the person in whose house they lodged that
his father had gone to London, where he had obtained
a good job of work.
'How long will he be gone ?' asked the child, with
a sore ache at the thought that there had been no
He doesn't know. But I'm to look after you till
he comes back.'
This didn't look much like an answer to Jamie's
prayer His father hadn't begun to love him yet, he
thought, or he could not have gone and left him like
that. The little fellow was too much discouraged to
keep on with his prayer, till the next Sunday's lesson,
which was all about the compassionate, prayer-hearing
Christ, set him going again. God would never have
told us to pray about our troubles,' his teacher again
nad said, 'if He was not sure to hear. He always
answers the moment the best time for it has come.'
But although trying to keep on hoping, Jamie did
not thrive. His little face grew thin and sad, and his
smile flickered faintly like winter sunshine; the rosy
HOW JA MIE FOUND HIS FA THEIR. 87
cheeks that his mother had loved to kiss had faded to
a sort of transparent white.
'I don't know what to do for him, I'm sure,' said
Mrs. Jones, the woman in whose care he was left. 'I
reckon he wants beef tea and eggs and things of
that kind. But it's hard enough to get bread for my
own children to eat, and that scamp of a father of his
hasn't sent me a penny for his keep these six weeks.
My man, he wrote to him about it; but the letter
came back marked "Gone away," so it's let in for a
nice thing we are !'
Jamie overheard this, and it was 'the last straw.'
'I won't-I won't-I won't pray another word!' he
sobbed, hidden away in a corner of the woodshed.
' God doesn't care one bit. He's let father run right
away from me, and I shall never see him again.'
He did not think-as how should he, when we
older ones so easily forget ?-that what looks like a
blank denial to our desires is often the very way which
God is taking the more surely to hasten their fulfil-
That same evening Mrs. Jones sent Jamie to the
village general shop for a candle. Being fond of
reading, he frequently pored over the wrappers of
parcels as he brought them back. This time the
purchase was rolled up in a piece of old newspaper-
how old Jamie did not know-and the first thing his
eye fell upon was an account of how a man named
Travers had been knocked down in the streets of
London by a van, and taken, badly injured, to the
88 UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE.
Strange to say, his heart gave a throb of joy. That,
he felt sure, was the reason no money had been
sent perhaps his father had not forgotten him after
He showed the paper to Mrs. Jones, but although
she paid small heed to it, Jamie's conviction remained
unshaken that the man alluded to was his father.
Moreover, the idea of that father being ill and suffer-
ing touched even his uncared-for little heart with
tenderness. He knew what his mother would have
done had she heard such news; he would do the
same. He would steal away in the early morning,
before the Joneses were awake, and walk to London,
and find his father, and stay with him till he got well.
Then perhaps father would like him at last!
The foggy autumn evening was fast closing in over
a town some twenty miles from the village where
missing Jamie Travers was being anxiously sought,
when a man in working dress walked leisurely from
the scene of his daily labour to the lodging where
his supper was awaiting him. He was alone; it was
rarely that moody, taciturn George Travers might be
seen with a companion, for he was no favourite among
his mates, but to-night was the first time he had
actually felt his isolation.
It was a little thing that had crept between the
joints of his armour-that armour of dogged stoicism
with which he resisted the chastising hand of God;
just a woman's voice crooning a song with which his
lost wife had many a time sung her baby-boy to sleep
HOW A MIE FOUND HIS FA THEIR. 89
in the days that were past. But the hour had come
whither all the Divine ordering of things had been
tending ever since Jamie's lonely heart had sent up
its first faltering cry to the Great Helper. He thought
of the child of whose dependence he had so meanly
tried to rid himself; remembered him as a golden-
haired babe upon his mother's breast, the only period
of the little fellow's life when he had felt anything
approaching fatherly affection for him. The desolation
of the scene-a muddy country lane between ploughed
fields, gloomy in the leaden dusk-seemed even to
lend its aid towards the softening of his stony heart;
but the mood might have passed fruitlessly away,
leaving him harder than before, had not he just then
espied, lying on the dark grass by the wayside, what
looked like a small bundle of clothes.
At any other moment George Travers ivould have
muttered: 'Young tramp Somebody's hen-roost will
be robbed before morning,' and passed on. Now an
impulse prompted him to step aside, to touch the boy,
to turn him over, and see in those childish features,
sharp and wan, so striking a resemblance to those of
his wife in her long, last illness that there burst from
his lips a startled cry, and he raised the boy in his
'Please God, make father love me-just a teeny
bit,' murmured the little pleading voice, unconsciously,
though the child's eyes remained closed-' and I'll be
.so good-I will, true !'
For days Jamie lay between life and death;
90 UNCLE RA Y'S CHOICE.
loneliness and fretting, weariness and hunger and cold
had well-nigh worn through the frail house of flesh,
and let the soul away. His father watched beside
him night and day, his frozen heart awaking with the
agony of the long-benumbed, whose first sensation is
intensest pain. The sorrow with which he had
listened to his wife's dying breath was almost bliss
compared with the sensations aroused by that inces-
sant, pitiful prayer of the delirious child: 'Make
father love me-O, do-O, do !' But he needed it,
and God knew it was the only way.
The first object Jamie's conscious gaze rested upon
was his father's face. Perhaps an angel had prepared
him for it in his sleep, for he did not seem at all
surprised. He just smiled a smile of infinite content,
and opened wide his tiny arms to take him in. The next
minute he was locked in a big, fatherly embrace. At
last he has found the prize he sought, and will lose it
nAYMAN, CRISIS AND LILlY,
HATIoN ROUSE, 113, FARRINODON IOAD
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