Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 Mabel's white kitten
 A discontented boy
 Back Cover

Group Title: Little Dot Series
Title: Mabel's white kitten
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00085521/00001
 Material Information
Title: Mabel's white kitten and A discontented boy
Series Title: Little Dot Series
Alternate Title: A discontented boy
Physical Description: 64 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 15 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Blyth, F. A
Knight ( Printer )
Religious Tract Society (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Publisher: Religious Tract Society
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Knight
Publication Date: [1896?]
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1896   ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1896   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre: Children's stories
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by F. A. Blyth.
General Note: Date of publication from inscription.
General Note: Frontispiece printed in colors.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00085521
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002222328
notis - ALG2565
oclc - 234194657

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Mabel's white kitten
        Page 5
            Page 5
            Page 6
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
            Page 32
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
    A discontented boy
        Page 39
        On the road to knowledge
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
        A change for the worse
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
            Page 57
        Brighter prospects
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

The Baldwin Library


/ .


AhS&. i~0t.


: itt Ic Dot Serie _.







you are a regular little tell-tale.
S I will never let you know
another secret, never." And
Harry Brett as he spoke,
dexterously wrenched himself
free from the soft clinging
hands of his little sister Mabel,
S a child of nine years of age.
Harry was thirteen, hand-
some and tall for his years. He did not often
speak thus roughly to Mabel; in reality he
loved her deeply, but with Harry an affectionate
nature was often marred by fierce, unruly, re-
sentful passions.
He had good cause, he imagined, for anger
just then. He had confided to Mabel a secret
of school life, and she, in a careless moment, had
spoken .without thinking, and the thing had
become known. The secret concerned others
more than himself, and Harry felt he would be


you are a regular little tell-tale.
S I will never let you know
another secret, never." And
Harry Brett as he spoke,
dexterously wrenched himself
free from the soft clinging
hands of his little sister Mabel,
S a child of nine years of age.
Harry was thirteen, hand-
some and tall for his years. He did not often
speak thus roughly to Mabel; in reality he
loved her deeply, but with Harry an affectionate
nature was often marred by fierce, unruly, re-
sentful passions.
He had good cause, he imagined, for anger
just then. He had confided to Mabel a secret
of school life, and she, in a careless moment, had
spoken .without thinking, and the thing had
become known. The secret concerned others
more than himself, and Harry felt he would be

MAiabel's Wh'tite Kitten.

looked upon as having betrayed trust, and quick
wrath was aroused against Mabel.
She tried to explain, she had forgotten she
must not speak; but Harry would not listen,
hastily he broke away from her with quick,
angry words. He had passed through the hall
out into the garden, was half-way down the
garden path, when he heard a soft voice calling
him, and looking round-he could not help just
looking back-he saw the child standing in the
open hall door, holding out to him beseechingly
her small hands, tears and trouble in her blue
For a moment he looked at her as she stood
there, the bright afternoon sunlight glinting on
her white dress and making a perfect glory of
her golden hair, and for that passing moment he
thought lie would go back and forgive her; but
his heart was yet too hard with anger to quite
relent, and just at that instant he caught sight
of a figure coming along the road, and when
again Mabel's voice said softly, "Harry, Harry,
come back, I want to speak to you," he answered
No; I can't come now; I'm going to spend
the afternoon with Tom Lane, I can see him
coming," and turning, he walked quickly away;
unconscious that as he did so he lost one of
earth's sweetest privileges, the power of forgive-
ness. Alas! when we might forgive and will
not I

Revenge. 7
He did the bitter wrong of wounding a heart
that loved and trusted him. For Mabel's affec-
tion for her brother was of no common order; he
was her ideal of all that was wise and right, and
not unfrequently she saw her own little world
through Harry's eyes. And now he had left
her alone, unforgiven; if only Harry could have
known half the woe of the childish soul he left
heedlessly behind him!
The figure Harry had seen coming down the
road was some distance off; near approach
showed him he had been mistaken, it was not Tom
Lane; after all, there had been no need for his
hurry in leaving Mabel. But he had no thought
of relenting, he would wait, and seating himself
on a stile, he sat whistling softly to himself, and
shading his eyes from the rays of the September
sun, as he strained their sight to catch a first
glance of Tom's expected figure.
Tom Lane was three years older than Harry;
but nearness of home and other circumstances
had led to a friendship between them. The two
went daily together to the same school in the
adjacent town; Harry was manly for his age,
and the two had more in common than some boys
with that disparity of years would have found.
But that afternoon Tom was slow in keeping
his appointment. Harry was thinking of giving
the thing up and returning homewards, when
some one turned the corner of the road-it was
Tom at last.

8 Mabel's White Kitten.
Harry called to him, "I thought you were
never coming," he said. Then, as Tom came
nearer, Harry's resentment changed to sudden
admiration. Tom was carrying a gun. Harry
had heard him boast of receiving one as a
present that September, but he had not yet seen
the envied possession.
"I couldn't come before," said Tom, as he
came up. "I was hindered; and when I found
how late it was, I don't think I should have
come at all, but I've something to square up
with you a little bit. You've been telling tales,
Master Harry."
Harry's face flushed hotly, he knew what Tom
meant-it was the unhappy secret Mabel had
carelessly divulged.
"I didn't tell," he said, quietly.
Tom shook his head-" Come now, that
won't do. Johnson and Bruce heard it last
half-holiday, when they were at your house, so
it must have been you who told."
Harry stood hesitating. He could easily have
thrown all the blame on to Mabel, but a sense
of honour stopped him. He would not have
been wanting in many noble points, save for
that vindictive spirit of his, which even now,
though he kept silence as to Mabel's misdoing,
was yet crying loudly to be avenged. "No," he
said, "I didn't tell; I know how it got out, but
there isn't any good in talking about it."
"You will find you' will have to bear the

blame of it," said Tom, coolly; "when I let you
know, I never thought of you splitting upon us."
There was a tone of superior reproach in
Tom's voice that smote keenly upon Harry. He
had a certain degree of respect for Tom's opinion,
"I'll take the blame then," he said half sullenly.
half repentantly, for he remembered it had been
his indiscretion in telling Mabel anything about
it at all.
"You'll have to," answered Tom, drily; "bat
there-I came partly to show you this as well,"
and he held the gun for Harry's closer inspection
as he spoke. He said the words carelessly, but
Harry's admiration evidently was not a thing to
be despised. Then the two strolled off together.
The afternoon had drawn to a close, and their
ramble having brought them round again to
Mr. Brett's house they were about to separate,
when Tom said suddenly, "I don't quite envy
you your task to-morrow morning; you'll have
to clear yourself somehow."
It was the revealed secret again, the thing
had almost escaped Harry's thoughts, now it
came back with renewed force. "I can take
care of myself," he said, angrily.
Tom did not reply, something else had just
then attracted his attention. They were on the
outskirts of the gardens and grounds leading up
to Mr. Brett's house. The house itself stood
near the road, and the main entrance was ap-
proached by a short carriage drive; but the

Mabel's White Kitten.

gardens and grounds on one hand stretched a
long way down the road, and through these was
a longer drive to the house.
It was at the very entrance of this the boys
were now standing, and Tom making a sudden
halt, was pointing over the hedge to a stump of
a tree artistically covered with ivy and creeping
plants. "Look," he said, "there is a bird on
that stump; I am going to have a hit at it."
Harry stood by silently admiring, when, at
that moment, he caught a glimpse of something
white round the other side of the stump, and
instantly recognized it to be a white Persian
kitten belonging to Mabel, her especial pet and
favourite. He saw the danger: a word would
have stopped Tom-only a word.
The temptation to be avenged, the thought
that Tom was aiming at the bird not at the
kitten, all with the quickness of mental power
passed through his brain in that critical moment.
The next, there was a quick report. The bird
flew safely away; but something white had
sprung forward just at the moment of danger,
and now lay in its last death struggle on the
"I didn't kill the bird, but I've killed some-
thing else," said Tom, stretching out his head;
he could not see so plainly where he stood as
"Yes," said Harry; "it is Mabel's white

Revenge. 11
"I say, though, will she mind ? If she does,
I will get her another the very first chance."
Harry did not reply, he was turning away his
eyes from the little writhing form which gave
one more struggle, and then lay quite still. At
that moment too he realized what had been
done. The kitten itself was of a rare and beau-
tiful kind. It had been sent from a distance as
an especial present to Mabel; and Mabel being
:n some respects rather a solitary little child,
having no brother or sister her own ago as play-
fellows, had found in this little creature unceas-
ing pleasure and delight.
He was thinking how best he could tell her
what had happened; but the next instant a little
figure came running down the drive which led
to the spot, a little child in white dress, her nurse
quietly following her.
"There's Mabel herself," said Tom, laying
his hand on Harry's arm; and Harry, moved by
some silent fascination, looked and felt impelled
to look at what followed.
"Fluff, Fluff!" said the child, running swiftly
towards the spot; but she stopped suddenly, and
the next instant a scream, a cry that had in it
all the bitterness of a heart's first anguish, rang
through the air.
She stooped and took up her dead favourite,
holding it close to her, its still warm life-drops
falling on her white dress. Then, as the truth
came fully upon her mind, she stood motionless

12 Mabel's White Kitten.
with terror-blanched face, dumb sorrow in her
eyes. Harry saw that look, he would see it
again and again for many days to come, the
look on a child's face of its first real grief.
Nurse came up, "Oh, Miss Mabel. Miss
Mabel, your white dress," but the child did
not heed her. "Why, it's poor little Fluff,"
she added; "oh, Miss Mabel dear, it is dead,
it is quite dead; and don't look so, my dear, and
do think of your dress."
Nurse laid a hand on Mabel's dead treasure
as though to gently take it from her, but with a
sudden quick movement the child flung herself
down upon the grass, the dead kitten still tightly
clasped in her arms. She lay there a little
motionless white thing, broken down with the
weight of her first childish woe.
Nurse's efforts seemed in vain to arouse her;
but at that moment Mr. Brett appeared returning
from an afternoon stroll, and nurse called him
to her assistance. Gently Mr. Brett lifted his
little daughter in his arms; at first he thought
she had fainted, but her blue eyes opened and
looked at him with their sorrowful light, then,
with one quick sob, she hid her face on his
Tom and Harry had now made their way from
the road to the spot. Harry was in time to see
that look in Mabel's eyes, and to catch the sound
of the sob with which she hid her face from

Revenge. 13
Tom stepped forward and briefly explained
with sincere regret that the accident had arisen
through his faulty aim. Mr. Brett looked at
him quietly. The Lanes allowed their sons more
licence than he thought good for Harry.
"Till you can aim more truly, I advise you
to be more careful with that gun of yours," he
said, gravely.
I will," said Tom, penitently; "but if I had
caught a glimpse of the kitten I would not have
fired, I would not indeed."
The words smote sharply upon Harry; he
had seen and had not spoken ; he could not speak
now. What would Tom-what would they all
think of him ? to hear him say he saw it and
let Tom fire. Guilt like a heavy hand seemed
to close his lips. He hardly noticed what fol-
He knew that Tom, as he took a somewhat
hasty departure, said in his ear, that he would
get Mabel another pet, and that after all it was
only a little kitten; but that was no longer the
point, it was that guilty thought that oppressed
him, as almost mechanically he followed Mr.
Brett as he carried Mabel to the house. Then
at the doorway, in answer to a few words from
the father, the child sorrowfully resigned her
dead favourite to nurse's hands; and Harry,
with still that dumb weight at his heart, fol-
.owed his father into the house.
SOnly that afternoon .:nd Harry had refused

MJabel's White Kitten.

to forgive his sister; now the tables were turned,
it was he who needed forgiveness. Mabel lay
upon the couch all the evening. Her father
and mother did their best to divert and console
her, and the child with the natural strength of
a loving heart smiled back at them and tried,
for their sakes, to be comforted. But she lay
very still.
Harry half wondered why she did not get up
and run about a little; her face had a tired look
on it, and she raised her head wearily as though
it cost her an effort. He was too honest to at-
tempt himself to offer comfort, still he lingered
near her. He wanted to speak to her, and
could not. Oh! if he could forgive her now;
but that had gone past, it was he now was the
culprit, and he could not even confess his guilt.
Once when Mr. and Mrs. Brett were both
from the room, he thought he would try and
say something, something kind, something that
should bridge over a little the gulf between
them. He went softly to her side. Mabel,"
he said, but she did not heed him, she seemed
to have fallen into a light sleep.
He took one of her hands in his: how hot
the small hand was, its touch seemed to burn
him; but she did not quite arouse herself, she
only looked at him from under heavy eyelids
as though she hardly understood his presence,
and wearily turned her head aside.
Then the door opened and Mrs. Brett entered,

Revenge. 15
and Harry's chance of speaking was gone. Soon
after Mabel went off to bed, not running round
to them all as was her wont for their good-night
kiss; she let her father carry her upstairs in
his arms. Mr. and Mrs. Brett looked gravely
at one another, and Harry wondered in his heart
if Mabel were ill, or angry, too angry perhaps to
notice him-ah, but she did not know really
what she had to forgive.
There was no shaking off that oppressive feel-
ing of wrong-doing, no silencing that inwardly
accusing voice; for the first time in his life,
HILrry went to his bed with a guilty pain and
trouble that for a time kept sleep away. He
had been trained with scrupulous care, lessons
of truth had been especially instilled. He knew
that a truth guiltily suppressed is a lie; he had
never lied in the open sense of the word; he
had high ideas of right and honour; but this
thing which he could not tell, this temptation
that had come upon him so suddenly, lay upon
his soul like a dead weight.
The blind was drawn down a little aside, so
that a part of the night sky was visible. The
night was calm and fair, stars shining brightly
through the transparent blue. A feeling of
awe crept over him, and that sense of loneliness
which more or less comes to even young and
thoughtless minds.
Harry was not wanting in reflective powers,
only he had never thought much before about

16 Mabel's White Kitten.
right or wrong; his faults had been such as had
been confessed, pardoned, and then passed by.
But now there seemed a difference. This was
not a careless error or shortcoming, it had in it
"the weight of actual sin. He had thought
perhaps Tom would kill his sister's favourite,
had thought so, and had let him fire. It was
mean, contemptible sin.
Harry did not fully analyse his feelings; but
he felt as though he could not bear the burden
much longer, and then, in the still silence, he
made a half compromise.
He would make it all up with Mabel-would
that do ? No, ht must tell her, Mabel, the whole
truth, if he would have peace. Could he? It
would be humiliation to have to tell it to any
one but to Mabel. And then he thought he
would see how she was on the morrow. If she
still sorrowed too much he would: yes, he
would. He clasped his hands with the resolu-
tion, and shut his eyes tightly, turning his face
on. the pillow away from the light.
Sleep came softly down, and he lay blissfully
unconscious that a morrow might be coming, and
many morrows, when for his tardy repentance
and confession neither place nor possibility would
be given him.



P;j- HE next morning at break-
I fast Mabel did not appear.
-, Mrs. Brett came to the
table only for a few
minutes; she looked very
anxious, and answered
SHarry's question guard-
After breakfast Mr.
Brett laid his hand on
Harry's arm. "Harry,"
he said, "you had better not start for school at
present. Mabel is ill; she has been very ill all
night; we have sent for the doctor to her."
Shortly after the doctor arrived. Harry
heard him pass up the stairs. Sitting in the
dining-room window, he waited. How long it
seemed till his return. At length he came.
Mr. and Mrs. Brett followed him into the
room. They did not notice Harry's presence
half shaded by the window curtains.
The doctor's words were few, but at the
meaning of them Harry's heart stood still. A
fever had been prevalent in the neighbourhood

18 Macbel's White Kitten.
lately. Mabel was developing the first symp-
toms of that disease. He thought her ill, very
ill; he hardly understood her prostrate con-
dition. A great fear came upon the heart of
the boy listening in the window seat. Never in
long after years would Harry quite forget that
panic of dread. Was it possible, could it be
the shock of yesterday was making Mabel
worse, might be killing her?
The thought was too much for him-the
curtains opened, and Harry suddenly appeared.
For a moment his lips would not speak. He
went to his father's side, and then at length
his faltering tongue framed the question,
"Could what happened yesterday be making
Mabel ill ?" If they said yes, there and then
he would pour out his confession.
But his father laid his hand kindly on his
son's head, he was impressed by Harry's
evident concern. In a few words he told the
doctor of the childish but real trouble that had
befallen Mabel. Then the doctor, looking at
Harry with a half smile on his grave face, said
slowly, "It could not produce the fever, certainly
They misunderstood him. Harry's lips moved
again, but this time failed him. His mother,
too, was asking some question relating to im-
mediate proceedings in the sick room. The
next moment Mr. Brett let Harry into the hall.
I think you had better come out," he said,


"we are all just fresh from Mabel's room; we
must keep you safe, if possible. I am going to
send you at once to your aunt and uncle Dalton.
I sent a note to them early this morning, and
have just heard from them that they are
willing to receive you. I shall drive you there
at once."
To Mr. Brett's surprise, Harry flung himself
passionately from his father's hand. Ile would
not leave the house; he would stay there, he
did not fear the fever, he could not go to his
aunt Dalton, he would remain with Mabel.
Mr. Brett looked for a moment surprised; but
the next moment he was speaking quietly, and
his words had in them distinct command.
Half an hour later, without one look at
Mabel's face, or chance of saying one word in
her ear, Harry was sent hurriedly away from
the house, to his aunt and uncle Dalton.
Mr. and Mrs. Dalton lived about a mile
distant; they had no children of their own,
and were somewhat rigorous in their notions
respecting the young. Some people carry a
breath of spring with them all through life's
changing seasons, even on into the wintry gray,
but Mr. and Mrs. Dalton were not of this order.
They had passed through life as on a
journey, from stage to stage; but of that first
most wondrous stage, when life lies folded in a
rosy glow, and each fresh day brings new
thoughts and joys-if they had retained any

20 Mabel's White Kitten.
memories of that charmed period, they kept
them deep down in their own hearts.
So between Harry and his aunt and uncle
Dalton, there seemed always an impassable
chasm. But they meant kindly by him, and
that morning, on his arrival, did their best to
welcome and to cheer. Harry could have well
contented himself for a while with his lot,
could have been hopeful and brave, but for that
guilty knowledge that oppressed him more and
But Mr. Brett left him, and the days went
by. His uncle thought it unwise for Harry to
have the whole day aimlessly on his hands, and
as under the present circumstances school-life
could not be resumed for a time, he planned
out for his nephew a course of morning study,
of which he himself took supervision.
Harry was docile and submissive, glad rather
than not of the duties which thus in a measure
diverted his thoughts from himself, shut out
for a time the memory of a little grief-stricken
face that haunted him. They did not say
much to him actually concerning Mabel, but
morning and night he heard her life prayed for;
and every day Mr. Brett came over and spoke
to Harry through the window, Harry's face
pressed close against the pane inside to catch
every word. But there was not much to tell,
no real improvement: there could not be tiU the
crisis arrived.

Remorse. 21
So day by day Harry's face grew more weary
with prolonged suspense; and his aunt and
uncle looked at him with grave eyes, and in
their quiet precise way tried to comfort him,
but they could not reach that hidden misery of
Sometimes he used to look at them with
wistful, hungry gaze: the longing came upon
him so to tell some one, but a chill feeling
restrained him; they would not understand him.
Perhaps in this he a little misjudged them, but
he did not male the experiment; he carried his
burden alone, and in those days of remorse and
anxiety, young though he was, he suffered as
only strong passionate natures can suffer.
But there came a day when Mr. Brett walked
very slowly towards the window where his son
was awaiting him, and his face gave no hopeful
He did not say quite in so many words that
all hope was gone, but Harry understood how
little now remained; and when Mr. Brett was
gone, his aunt drew-him towards her and with
sudden tears kissed him, and they tried to show
him sympathy, and looked at him with com-
passionate eyes. From all which Harry felt
the little life was as good as given over, he
would see Mabel's face no more.
He would see Mabel's face no more-he
gave a sudden start at the thought, for a
moment his heart beat loudly, then he grew

Mabel's White Kitten.

suddenly calm, and into the boyish face came a
look of quick resolve, that strong, impetuous
will of his was roused into sudden determina-
tion. Not see her again-ah, but he would !
THe never stopped a moment to consider the
right or the wrong of it; he was scarcely at
that moment a mere child to be ruled or
governed, he had leaped suddenly forward, it
was the decision of the man rather than the
boy actuated him. He took upon himself the
whole responsibility of the thing: but he must
see her, must see Mabel again.
As he left the house, Mr. and Mrs. Dalton
did not question him; he was allowed to go in
and out as he chose. Once free from the
house, he sped hastily on, never pausing to
think, never deviating for a moment from the
fixed impulse goading him on.
He reached his home, he entered the grounds
by the side entrance. That way led him
straight past the spot where Mabel had found
Fluff lying dead. Harry was forced to look at
the exact spot as he passed, then he went on
to the house.
All was very quiet, the large entrance hall
was silent and still, but in a room on one side
of the hall, as he passed along, he heard voices.
He did not know, but they were the doctor and
his parents taking earnest counsel together.
He did not stop to listen. If he recognized
the voices he dared not pause. He was but a

Remorse. 23
child yet; to be seen was to be arrested in his
He went quietly and swiftly up the broad
staircase; he looked eagerly forward; yes-
Mabel's door was open, the next instant he
stood in the doorway. The nurse in atten-
dance, a woman from the parish and well
known to Harry, was just then at the other
side of the room, carefully measuring something
out of a small medicine bottle into a glass.
She had her back to Harry.
With the same hushed swift footstep he
advanced to the bed, his presence still un-
perceived by the nurse; he reached the bed-
side, and looked down upon the little face
lying there. He had never seen much illness,
never real serious sickness in his life, he was
not prepared for what met his gaze. It was
Mabel, and yet it was not Mabel. It was a
face utterly changed; suffering, pain, close
wrestling for life had altered all the childish
countenance; there was scarcely a trace of the
former Mabel with soft round cheeks aglow
with life and health, her shining curls too had
all gone.
Harry gave one quick shocked sob; then, as
he had done that evening before, he stooped
and took one of the small hands lying outside
the coverlet in his, and at his touch the blue
eyes opened, but even these were not the same:
fever had quenched their light.

Mabel's White Kitten.

She looked at him strangely, as a face
might look from beyond the grave, her head
turned slightly. He bent lower, for her lips
parted-no, not his name, her thoughts seemed
dwelling again upon that fatal afternoon, it
was the name of the lost favourite escaped her
lips. Was that still weighing on her mind ?
But at that instant the nurse turned, she gave
a sudden exclamation and violent start that
sent the contents of the glass spilling over on
to the dressing-table.
She set the glass down and came hurriedly
towards Harry. "Oh, Master Harry," she
said, "how ever did you come here?" She
laid a hand upon his shoulder. He shook her
hastily off.
"Oh, you must go out," she said, en
"Wait a minute, is she-does she often talk
about that?"
"Talk about what?"
"About Fluff, the pet kitten that was
"Yes, yes, often; her mind runs on that,
you know; but there, now do go out of the
room, or I shall ring for your father to come."
"Wait," said Harry, quickly, and there was
something imperative in the boy's tone, in his
eyes the kindling of a new idea.
"Tell me one thing, then I will go: do you
think if another kitten could be brought just

Remorse. 25
like the one sle lost; would it do her good,
would it ease her mind?"
"Yes, yes, I think so, perhaps. I have
thought it myself ; but these little creatures are
not so easy to get."
"You think so, tell me, and I will go?" for
nurse was looking ominously at the bell.
"Yes, I think so; now go, you said you
Harry moved quickly aside; before nurse
could stay him, he had stooped over the little
changed face, had given her one kiss- the next
moment he was gone.




1\\ILENTLY, swiftly as he had
come, Harry went back down
the stairs. On one side of
the hall an object attracted
his attention, it was a basket
belonging to him: he had
used it for nutting, black-
berrying and other such
He took it hastily in his
hand, and without meeting
another person went quickly from the house. A
project was in his mind; he set about carrying
it out immediately. The dead Fluff must be
replaced, if he spent the rest of the day upon
the quest: the thing must be done.
He was not altogether without method and
plan. He remembered several weeks back going
a long drive with his father and Mabel, through
the town and out into the country beyond. They
had passed by a cottage, and just outside a little
girl was sitting at work, and a white kitten play-
ing with one end of the girl's work that had
slipped from her lap, and Mabel had clapped

Restoration. 27
her hands and laughed and declared it was
Fluff, it was exactly like Fluff.
The whole thing had passed from Harry's
mind, now all came back again with vivid dis-
tinctness. He remembered the very house;
there was a straight gravel path down to it from
the road, and a wooden bench outside the house
upon which the little girl had sat at work. He
would know that house again he felt sure, the
difficulty was to get there.
The town was a mile distant, but the house
nad been quite through the town and away
beyond, Harry could not say how far. He had
no means of calculating the distance, but worse
difficulties than these would not have deterred
him now his mind was settled and resolved. So
he set off, the basket hanging on his arm. To
the town the way was familiar; at the entrance
was the school he and Tom had attended. It
was school time and none of the scholars were
Harry went hastily by, through the main
street; many people met and passed him, perhaps
some familiar faces, but he did not heed them;
his object lay beyond the town, and its scenes for
once did not interest him. At one corner of
the street was a Punch and Judy show; but
Harry never paused a moment, though judging
by Punch's loud shrill voice, Toby's quick little
bark, and the people's applause, the scene was
one of an unusually striking character, and

28 Mabel's White Kitten.
likely to arrest passers by; but without one
look backward Harry pursued his way.
At length he left the town behind him, but
here real perplexities arose. No knowledge had
he of the way any further, and there seemed no
one at hand to advise. It was not possible to
ask directions to a cottage with a straight gravel
ath to it, a wooden bench outside, and a white
itten. For a moment blank dismay came over
him; he might wander all day and never find
that identical house. But he was a lad of re-
sources, and a fresh idea arose.
That afternoon Mr. Brett had been driving to
a gentleman's house on a business matter. Harry
just remembered the name of that gentleman's
residence; if he asked his way there, he might
pass along the same road. Thus resolved he
went bravely forward.
At length he gained the desired information;
but it was a long way, much longer than he had
thought, but if he walked till nightfall, he would
persevere. On, on, the road grew more dusty:
the rays of the September sun seemed to have
singled him out for their especial mark, even the
light basket on his arm seemed a burden, but
inquiries told him he was still upon the road.
Still at present no house exactly like the one
he remembered came in sight. There were
cottages, plenty of them, some standing back
behind strips of garden,, some with children
playing outside, and in more than one instance


a kitten basking in the sunshine, but no house
that quite reminded him of the one where the
little girl had sat at work : no kitten the exact
counterpart of Fluff.
But he kept on, tired, sometimes afraid of his
memory after all playing him false: still he
must reach his destination, at least the gen-
tleman's house he had driven to before he gave
up the quest. Even then he would inquire. So
with freshly mustered courage he continued his
toilsome way.
Then he came to a turn in the road,-there
were two ways, which should he take? He
glanced down one of them, and his heart gave
a quick bound of joy; for a moment he forgot
his weariness, forgot the long way he had come,
forgot all in the one assured hope-there was
the house only a few paces before him. He
went on hastily; the little girl was not outside
at work to-day, but the cottage door stood open,
and unfastening the little wooden garden gate,
he went straight to the house, and knocked on
the open door.
A woman came instantly forward; she had a
kind, pleasant face, but Harry hardly heeded
her at all, for, on the other side of the room, on
a low chair, sat the little girl he had seen before,
and there asleep lay the white kitten in her lap.
Without further prelude, Harry entered the
room, and looking at the pleasant-faced woman:
" If you please, ma'am, I have come to buy that

Macbel's White Kitten.

white kitten," he said. The little girl stared at
him, and the woman smiled; she looked kindly
down at the tired dusty boy before her, But
we don't want to part with it, my dear."
Oh, if you please," urged Harry.
By the fireplace knitting sat an old woman
with sharp eyes, that shone keenly through her
spectacles. She looked round quickly, and beck-
oned to the younger woman. "What does he
want?" she asked.
He wants the kitten, mother."
"Oh. then he wants what he won't get!" and
the old woman gave Harry a sharp glance over
her spectacles and went back to her knitting.
No, we cannot part with the kitten," said
the pleasant-faced woman. "You see it's not
a common sort."
Harry clenched his hands. Oh, that is just
why I want it; I must-I really must have it! "
The old woman gave another of her keen
glances ; she looked from Harry to her daughter.
"He don't want it for no good," she said.
"Oh, I do; I will tell you what I want it
for," said Harry, suddenly nerving himself to
speak to these strangers of the great trouble of
which they could know nothing, but of which
he must speak, if he would succeed.
He explained that he wanted it for a little
sister who was very ill. In conclusion, he added,
" I will pay you for it, if only you will let me
have it." He drew out his purse as he s;cke,

Restoration. 1l
m it lay a half-crown,-this, excepting a three-
penny piece for which he had a purpose also,
was all the wealth he possessed. He would
have no more for another fortnight, and the
half-crown had been saved up towards a new
cricket bat and ball, but he held it out eagerly.
"I will give you this for it," he said.
There was much entreaty in his eyes and
voice, the kind face looking at him softened.
"But where do you live. Have you come far ?"
she asked.
"I live a long way beyond the other side of
the town."
And you've walked all that way. But how
came you to know anything about us ?"
With ingenuous eyes and speech, Harry ex-
plained how he had passed that way before, and
how now he had been moved to come that way
the second time. Tears came into the eyes of
his listener. She glanced towards the little girl,
her little daughter evidently, then back again to
You must have it," she said.
She went over to the girl, and drew her into
an adjoining room. In a few minutes she re-
turned carrying the kitten in her arms; the girl
followed, standing just on the threshold of the
inner room, looking half inclined to cry, half to
resent. Harry stepped up to the child, and put
the half-crown in her hand. The mother tried
to stop him.

32 Mabel's White Kitten.
"We don't want your money, young sir,"
she said. I would do more than this to help a
sick child, any day."
But Harry drew back. She has given me
her kitten, and I have given her that; it is a
present to her, it is quite fair and right."
The mother did not further oppose, but the
old woman by the fireplace was eyeing the trans-
action keenly. Her daughter crossed over to
her, and speaking in her ear, briefly told Harry's
story through. At mention of the half-crown,
she shot one penetrative glance at him, then
nodding her head, apparently satisfied, returned
to her knitting.
"If you please," said Harry, opening his
basket, I will take it at once."
Yes, so you shall," and the woman return-
ing to Harry put the little creature carefully in
the basket, securing the lid. Then noting the
boy's tired face, "Couldn't I offer you a bit or
sup of something ?" she said.
Harry shook his head; but when the next
moment she brought him a tumbler of refresh-
ing milk, Harry drank it gratefully; he had not
felt till then how really faint and weary he had
Then he set out to retrace his steps. It had
been morning when he had started, but the
afternoon was far advanced by the time he
reached the town again. In passing through this
time, he had one more thing yet to detain him,


the expending of the one solitary threepenny
piece. Fluff had always worn a blue ribbon
round its neck, this must be similarly adorned.
He entered a large draper's shop, and stood
feeling half-ashamed and irresolute,-he had
never had a shopping experience alone in that
line before. A young lady came forward tK
serve him. "Blue ribbon" he wanted-in a
moment a large box of the desired article was
before him: ribbons of all breadths, and tex-
tures, and shades. "Did he want it dark or
light, edged, or plain, or corded Harry set
his basket down on the counter in dismay,
utterly perplexed how to choose, and only that
threepence to spend. The young lady noticed
his perplexity.
"If you will tell me what you want it for, I
can help you choose," she said.
As though to speak for itself the occupant of
the basket set up a pitiful mew.
Dear me," said the girl, why there's a
kitten in that basket, a live white kitten !"
Harry's face grew crimson, he felt inclined to
dash out of the shop, such a feeling of false
shame came over him. He, Harry Brett, buying
a blue ribbon for a kitten.
Surely this was the hardest thing of all he
had done that day for Mabel's sake. But it
was only for a moment: instantly, he recalled
how really important, not trivial to him, was the
matter; and at that instant he caught sight of

34 Mabel's White Kitten.
a ribbon exactly suitable, and Fortune favour-
ing him as to price, he paid for it and hastily
quitted the shop. Outside the town, cautiously
opening the basket, he arranged the ribbon in
satisfactory fashion round the kitten's neck.
The last mile was traversed at length, and his
home reached once more. It was quiet and still
as it had been in the morning, but he went on
bravely, as before, meeting no one.
Passing through the hall, he ascended the
stairs. Mabel's door was slightly ajar; he
pushed it open and entered. She lay as if
sleeping. Her face did not quite so startle him
now, or, it might be fancy, but she seemed to
him to have lost something of her former un-
natural look.
He lifted the kitten gently from the basket ;
then, as he stooped over her, her blue eyes
opened, and looked straight at him, and some-
thing of the light of reason and of former days
shone in their depths. She stretched one arm
towards him, but it fell helplessly on the
Harry did not speak, but laid the kitten just
inside the outstretched arm. The child's hand
clasped round it. She looked at Harry, and
then at the little white creature which timid and
strange cowered down beside her, and a smile,
an actual smile, crept over the pale lips; she
turned her head aside, and with that happy
look, sank again into sleep.


But at that moment a hand was laid on
Harry's shoulder; the next instant he found him-
self led by Mr. Brett outside the room; and
then, as he read the consternation and concern
on his father's face, he realized something of
what his impetuosity of plan and action had
cost-something, not all.
Mr. Brett had heard with sore dismay the
nurse's account of Harry's former visit; but had
believed him safe back at Mr. Dalton's, till that
afternoon a messenger had arrived telling of
Harry's prolonged absence, and to his anxiety
for his sick child had been added alarm on
Harry's account. He had been keeping watch
with Mabel, and had only just left her to fetch
something from an adjoining room when Harry
had entered.
You have caused us great anxiety," said
Mr. Brett, gravely, "and have run a most un-
necessary risk and danger."
Harry looked up, that last feeling had been
almost lost sight of. "I was forced to do it,"
he said; "I thought I was," he added, seeing
his father's still grave look at him. Then over-
come by weakness and bodily fatigue, with a
quick sob, he added, Oh, you would not blame
me, if you knew a:l; but it has been my fault
all along."
Your fault, I don't understand you."
Nurse was then appearing to resume her place
in the sick room. Mr. Brett opened the door of

Alabel's WhIite Killen.

his own bedroom and drew Harry in. Your
fault, my poor child," he said, laying his hand
on the head of the now sobbing boy, what do
you mean?" With that soft touch upon his
head, and that kind voice full of love and pity
speaking to him, Harry poured out a full and
free confession. Mr. Brett heard him through.
He did not say much then, for Harry was
physically exhausted and overdone, and also
when a few days after speaking with Harry upon
the subject, Mr. Brett's words still were few;
he felt events had taught Harry more powerful
lessons than words could convey.
But the real talk came when they met to-
gether once again a united family. Mabel with
the old look of life and health coming back to
her face more and more, day by day. Then they
had the real talk about it all, only Mabel ivould
not hear about being asked for forgiveness.
Her little heart was full of love, she would not
let Harry blame himself so much; and he had
gone all that long way to get her another Fluff,
whose advent had really seemed to do much in
helping on the child's convalescence. So perfect
but deeper love prevailed once more between
brother and sister. But to Mr. Brett Harry
said gently:
"Father, if Tom hadn't killed Fluff, but the
bird instead, I should have been just as guilty,
shouldn't I ? Only I should not have found it
out perhaps."

Restoration. 37
Mr. Brett laid his hand on his son's head,
"Yes, Harry, we often judge ourselves and
others by the amount of actual wrong committed;
but the record of the little evil thoughts, which
sometimes are not either checked or noticed, of
these too there is a record-keeping by One who
looks not alone on our actual doings, good or
bad, but at the motives-the things that come
out of the heart."




SIKE a frail little flower that grows
in a pot, and is carefully
l tended by loving hands in a
.- ';; d dark alley, to which golden
1. beams of sunshine and fresh-
Si ening breezes often come,
wandering through casements
open to receive them, Heber
Letters grew up in his humble
-' home in the cathedral city of
----" The cathedral was in the
heart ot the town, narrow streets, with their
courts and yards, converged towards it like the
spokes of a wheel. Outside much marketing
and trafficking went on. There was the din ot
carts and the scream of street-vendors, the noise




SIKE a frail little flower that grows
in a pot, and is carefully
l tended by loving hands in a
.- ';; d dark alley, to which golden
1. beams of sunshine and fresh-
Si ening breezes often come,
wandering through casements
open to receive them, Heber
Letters grew up in his humble
-' home in the cathedral city of
----" The cathedral was in the
heart ot the town, narrow streets, with their
courts and yards, converged towards it like the
spokes of a wheel. Outside much marketing
and trafficking went on. There was the din ot
carts and the scream of street-vendors, the noise

40 A Discontented Boy.
of buyer and seller within the long, grey shadows
that the cathedral cast.
From the little window of his room upstairs
Heber could see the venerable towers, which
from infancy he had gazed on so often and so
wonderingly, in so many lights that they had
grown into his heart.
He could not have said when he Ioved them
the best; when they were bathed in the warm
sunlight, and the clang and clash of silver bells
could be heard so loudly from them, that fancy
almost saw them rock beneath the mighty vibra-
tions, or when the cold beams flung from the
moon's silver lamp gave them a soft, unearthly
radiance, and the roar of the street was hushed,
as if the busy world had grown suddenly still,
and-was listening to Nature's voice as she said,
"Leave your work and pray."
In the red sunset there were carven figures
near the western door, and an oriel window,
that glowed as if they were set in one of the
gateways of heaven; and at that time Heber
loved to join the little throng of evening wor-
shippers who went inside-some to pray, and
some to hear the singing of the choristers.
I am afraid that Heber's worship was as yet
more of the eye and the car than of the heart;
but only God-not man-could have told the
difference. He was outwardly a very good,
gentle boy; and one of the minor canons,
learning by accident that he had a clear, pure,

On the Iload to Knowledge. 41
though not a strong voice, invited him into the
choir, which increased his delight in the service.
This secured to him musical culture. He had
some other scholastic advantages in return ; but
Heber's education went on in another school, a
very lonely one, which was far more to his
His father was custodian of the cathedral
library, situated in a retired close, where lived
many of the Cathedral dignitaries. This close
was only a short walk from Hebrew's Court,
where Heber lived.
The hush and gravity reigning behind the
large iron gates which opened into it at one end,
and flanked it on the other, proclaimed it to be
in the town but not of it. Reverend gentlemen
came to the library sometimes to read and take
notes, literary men also, and scholars; and
there were a few learned ladies who wandered
into it when they knew they would be the least
This library was said to contain many valuable
manuscripts. Heber knew where they were,
and how to find any of them from the catalogue.
There was also a room kept for coins. These
were displayed in glass cases, as they had been
arranged by his father, who was pronounced
quite capable of the office by the clever gentle-
man -who lectured on "The Stories told by
Coins" when the room was first opened.
Heber often saw him unlock the cases and

42 A Discontented Boy.
tell the history of one and another to grey-headed
students; and when he did so his little son
always drew near and listened unrebuked. Then
there was a long room filled with sculptures.
It had been barely furnished by a rich bequest
from the galleries of a dying nobleman, but
many a choice gift had since been added.
Travellers had shown their gratitude for early
Souchester education and associations by con-
tributing some of the spoils from other countries;
so that the original library had branched into
museum and art gallery, to say nothing of the
lecture-room with its rising tiers of seats.
From a very little boy Heber had haunted
the place, becoming in time so useful that his
father could hardly dispense with him.
At first it was the warmth and comfort, the
quiet seclusion, that attracted the sensitive child,
who was too shy to venture on any mischief, or
to get into any one's way.
Later, the sight of books and prints, scraps of
conversation which he heard, awoke in him an
unquenchable thirst for knowledge ; he began to
ask questions which made the lonely father feel
he had a companion in his son, and from treat-
ing him as a pleasant little plaything, he grew
to regard him seriously as a pupil.
Yet having turned him loose into this world
of literature and art, he let him wander where
he would, giving him only his sympathy and
advice as Heber stood in need of them. So

On the Road to Knowledge. 43
that books were the boy's schoolmasters, as truly
as they were Carlyle's or Hugh Miller's.
Sometimes he was allowed to take the tickets
Df visitors to the lecture-room. When he did
so he was not forbidden a seat within the doors.
Whatever the subject, he listened eagerly,
understanding only in part. Afterwards he
would talk to his father, who, perhaps, had
been a listener also; the effect of such conversa-
tions was to give his ideas a greater clear-
ness, and fix them more permanently on the
In writing he early acquired a beautiful hand.
His father often being engaged in collating
different editions of books, and in. copying
extracts from learned writers for literary men
who wanted them, Heber was eager to assist
him. On bitter, wintry days, when the library
was little frequented, many a quiet hour did the
two pass by the great stove, reading, comparing,
copying, while only the scratching of their pens
could be heard.
Heber had a vague impression that his father,
though self-taught, was a very clever, sensible
man. It never occurred to him to wonder that
he was a poor one, that he had humble duties
to perform, and that, though his merits procured
him occasionally a higher task than the ordinary,
his daily round was commonplace and insignifi-
If he had remarked on this to his father, the

4 4 A Discont nted Boy.
man might have told him with truth 'hat in a
large army there are always many good soldiers
to whom promotion never comes.
Perhaps if Thomas Letters had little ambition
for himself, he indulged in some hopes for his
boy. Tile pale little face betokened acuteness
and expanding mind.
. Visitors to the library often spoke a flattering
word to him about Heber. They were surprised
at the readiness the little fellow showed to assist
them in the search for books and manuscripts,
if his father was not at hand.
Shy though he was, he knew his ground well;
and his acuteness, his premature acquaintance
with authors and their literary remains, showed
that'he was no ordinary child. The refinement
of his manners commended him to gentlefolk,
while his small, delicate features awakened their
sympathy; he looked as if he could not live
without very careful tending.
While, however, he knew something of the
restrictions of poverty, he knew nothing of its
hardships. "The wind was tempered to the
shorn lamb."
Love, peace, and patience dwelt under the
lowly roof which was his home. There was all
of comfort there that cleanliness, and order, and
thrift can secure. The cage-bird sang in the
window to remind his mother of the music that
rose from the hedgerows round the home of her
girlhood; a box of sweet mignonette under

On the Road to Knowledge. 45
Heber's window often filled his room with its
Mrs. Letters was somewhat of an invalid, but
she was very patient. She was not pretty, and
Heber never imagined her to be clever like his
father ; but whatever she did, she did it as well
as she felt it could be done, without fuss or
Her voice was low and gentle, and she moved
about her kitchen almost as quietly as a lady
moves about her drawing-room. The neighbours
called her proud; for her doors were barred
against gossip, and against everything she would
not like her child to hear or see.
Her hand was always open though, to relieve
distress according to her little means. If no
one else loved her, Thomas Letters loved her-
oh, a thousand times better than when he first
wooed her, and called her "white violet," in a
manner less homely than she had been accus-
tomed to; while Heber thought his mother as
much on a piece with what was good and holy,
as even the angels he dreamed about when he
looked out on the minster and the sunset sky.
Outside that dove's nest there was often
drunkenness, profanity and unseemly behaviour;
but these desecrated the street and the town, not
the eyes and the ears that were insulted by them.
Heber loved his little home, but he had a
great affection also for the town where he was
born. He loved it principally for the cathedral

46 A Discontented Boy.
and the library with its museum and art gallery,
and not least the lecture-room.
Unconsciously the home feeling pervaded
these, his favourite haunts, even more than the
hearth and the board at which he sat. He could
not help it that it was so. He was too young
to take account of his own feelings, but he knew
it when he came to be torn; away from all that
he held dear.
Sometimes he beard his father call it an
incongruity that misery and squalor, and evil
passions and lust for gain, should be found so
near the cathedral, but to Heber it did not
appear so. He found it hard also to keep in
mind that the cathedral had been there first,
and that a wilderness of brick and mortar, a
community of toiling, moiling men and women,
had grown up around it. Heber preferred to
think that the beautiful sanctuary had sprung
up among the people, and that the people had
come to it.
He said to his mother once that it was as if
a glorious broad-winged angel had flown down
from heaven among them, and was comforting
them, and admonishing them to be good.
"Dear child," exclaimed his mother, "you
have such churchlike ideas, that perhaps if you
were a gentleman you would be a bishop. If
you were but as good as the bishop your father
had you named after, you might be a great
blessing to the Church and to the world; but

On the Road to KnIowledge. 47
you must not think too much of the temple
made with hands, you know."
Can we think too much of God's house?"
"The virtue wasn't in the garment's hem, it
was in Jesus," his father replied; an answer
Heber did not at the moment understand, but
in years to come he thought of it.
He was a little like the woman of Samaria,
who thought that "in Jerusalem men ought to
worship." He had not as yet pondered over
the truth expressed in the lines,
For Thou within no walls confined,
Inhabitest the humble mind."
He had little perception that when the body
of the poor and contrite man is a temple of the
Holy Ghost, it is worthy of more reverence than
even the most resplendent house of prayer.
There were boys of his acquaintance who
ridiculed hil for what they called his fancy
name; but Heber was proud of it because his
father had given it to him as a tribute to the
memory of a great and good man, the chronicle
of whose life and labours he had been reading
not long before Heber was born.
When he was tempted to be idle, or to do
anything unworthy, he would remember him of
whom he was the namesake and say:
Lives of great men all remind us
We may make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of Time."

48 A Discontented Boy.
I have described Heber in the home of his
childhood-not a discontented boy, you will say;
but a dove's nest may be shaken out of a tree
by a storm, and in some lives terrible changes
occur while youth is in its early morning.


x' fN the little market town of Tar-
'-;--j L borough, sixty miles from Sou-
i!( Ell chester, old customers of James
Letters-who had for his sign
.n the High Street a Wellington
boot of extraordinary length-
were wont to look anxiously at
a "new boy" who sat on the
bench with a leather apron on, drawing his
awl through -the piece in hand awkwardly and
"A nephew of mine that's left an orphan,
and has no one to do for him but me," James
Letters said, condescendingly, by way of ex-
planation to more than one individual of in-
quiring mind. In Tarborough, every man's
business, domestic or social, was looked upon as
public property, and treated accordingly.
Come, Heber," he would say, when the
coast was clear of customers, "don't look as if
you had fallen among thieves, lad. I never
saw such a face in my life. Fretting won't
bring the dead out of their graves; and as we're
treating you like our own, and learning you a
trade to get your living by, you ought to pay

50 A Discontented Boy.
us a better compliment than looking miserable.
Do you hear me, ye young good-for-nothing ?"
Yes, this pale boy of fourteen, the butt of
the work-room, and the speckled bird of a
large, noisy household, was Heber Letters.
One month's experiences had changed the
whole current of life for him.
His father had been killed by the giving way
of a shelf in the library, which had caused him
to be sharply hit on the temple by a falling
bok. The shock was too great for his delicate
mother; so that the father's grave had soon to
be opened to take her in.
Great compassion was felt for Heber; but.
when his Uncle James offered to take him home
and teach him his trade, no one suggested that
anything better could be done.
It was a great pity, no doubt; but then he
was so young, his education had not gone far
enough for any other opening to be found for
him, and being so delicate it was best for him
to live with his own people.
Heber left Souchester with a broken, dis-
appointed heart. The grief he naturally felt
at leaving behind the graves of his parents
was not all. It was no easy matter to him to
resign the chorister's stall for the shoemaker's
bench, the opportunities of the library and the
lecture-room for long hours at the awl, with
little to compensate after it was laid aside.
Oh, the long walks and talks with his father,

A ChGtnge for the Worse. 51
the anthems he had sung in the cathedral, the
choral practice! Nothing to hope for in their
stead. He watched the grey towers of the old
minster disappear with a sense of losing every-
thing that was good and beautiful in life.
At first he believed that everyone meant to
be kind to him, and he choked down his emotion
and did his little best to please. His aunt
was a busy, bustling woman, with a tongue
that went off with a tang when she was vexed,
and a loud laugh and rattling way of talking
when she was in a good humour.
She received Heber with a kiss, told him
she was sorry for him, and that she meant to
do her best by him as long as he was a good
She certainly looked well to his comfort, and
was careful-rather conspicuously careful-to
treat him in nothing less liberally than her own
" children. By the rules of arithmetic she was
very, very kind; but there were many things
which Heber missed, which he had all his life
been used to, and most he yearned for love.
The want of sympathy betwixt him and his
young cousins showed more and more every
day. Had he had more strength and animal
spirits, and been able to enter into their sports,
join heartily in football and cricket, they
might have respected him more.
Heber had had but little opportunity of
overcoming his natural deficiencies by inter-

52i A Discontented Boy.
course with other boys. At the same time the
superiority of his manners and conversation,
his varied information, made his cousins envious
of him.
Sometimes in the course of holiday rambles
he would speak confidingly to them of his
parents and of Souchester. Tell them of
pictures, and plates and books, the carving in
the cathedral, the tombs of knights of the
Crusades; say how, when the sun shone
through the painted windows, the pavement
was flecked with little pools of crimson and
gold, and then try to describe the music, till he
would be silenced by a sneer or a derisive laugh.
"Well done, Bishop Heber. Good luck to
you, popish priest! -Where is your bell and
candle, your hood and your gown ? You're
only fit to live in a cell and sing your prayers.
Your talk may be very fine, but it does not
suit us."
"No, I ought to remember what suits you,
for by this time I know very well," was the
hardest thing poor Heber would say, though
his heart was bursting with shame and pain.
His innocent self-revelations gave every one
a handle against him. His uncle was a keen,
money-making man, who judged of everything
by the price it would bring; and he always
said, as nothing but hard work could take the
Nonsense out of Heber, he should have as much
as his strength would bear.

A Change for the Worse. 53
When his pare sweet voice was heard re-
hearsing the hymns and anthems he had
learned, it was as if a nightingale had put to
silence the thrushes. The most callous heart
could not but recognize that this was higher
art than was possible to the young fellows
around him, who felt quite elated when they
had made a new comic song go, as they called
It must be better, also, to sing such words
as Heber sang, but Mrs. Letters called them
Papistical, not knowing the meaning of the
word; and whenever she could wound Heber by
expressing contempt for the holy things he so
much loved, she did not fail to do so.
He was often hurt to the quick also by un-
kind allusions to his parents. Uncle James
told him that his father had brains, but that he
never knew how to use them, and that he did
neither good to himself nor any one else with
his learning. Such men as he were a caution.
Mrs. James also was not too tender to speak
slightingly of his mother as spiritless and weak,
and too much of a piece with her husband.
These taunts made Heber very sore.
There was no denying that he had a good
home in the material sense of the word. The
unkindness was to his spiritual nature, and
that was it which could suffer most. He knew
a hunger of the heart worse than any animal
craving. He had wounds which burned and

54 A Discontented Boy.
throbbed and stabbed more cruelly than sword
wounds; so the joy and peace passed out of his
life as the music had done, and he came to be
scolded, and spoken of as an ungrateful, dis-
contented boy.
Two years of this kind of oppression, with all
the unsatisfied longing, and the sweet face grew
bitter, the clear gentle voice was heard in
muffled, sullen tones. Heber seemed to be
surrounded by an atmosphere of self-imposed
silence and caution.
The desire of self-improvement was as strong
in him as ever; but he felt as if every one was
against him, as if there was a general conspiracy
against his enjoying either books or leisure.
Mrs. Letters felt that she had a claim upon
him for domestic help, and employed him often
when he was out of the shop in splitting wood
and running errands. It was a nice change for
him, and good for his health, she told him,
which might be true enough; the grievance
of it was that it encroached on his spare time.
The opening of a Mechanic's Institute in
Tarborough was a joyful day for him. Surely
le should be able to get some golden oppor-
tunities by its means. That he was not
disappointed said much for his watchfulness
and perseverance.
At sixteen Heber was much stronger and
taller than he had promised to be a few years
ago. His secret unhappiness had not preyed

A Change for the Worse. 55
upon his health. We might wonder at this, if
we did not remember that it is God who re-
neweth the springs of life, and girds round
about with strength even those who have not
known Him.
Meanwhile the business prospered, and as
Mr. Letters intended to be his own traveller, he
engaged a foreman.
The new foreman was an earnest, pains-
taking young man, who understood his business
thoroughly, and perhaps had a few ideas be-
vond it. Heber felt little interest in him at
the first; but the respect he showed for him-
self, the ease with which he checked any
impertinence, and the consideration with which
he treated the young apprentice when he found
he was made a butt, roused his curiosity, so
that he watched him very narrowly.
He saw that on early closing evenings, Mr.
Southwaite went into the country alone, and
that he generally took a book with him. On
Sunday he was sometimes away all day. Some-
times he was to be seen writing in little books
between paper covers, an open Bible beside
Heber wondered, and a desire to improve
John Southwaite's acquaintance, and to call
him friend, sprung up in his soul. Alas shy-
ness and reserve had become so much a habit
with him that he found it impossible to break
the ice.

56 A Discontented Boy.
To his great surprise, however, one day
before the Bank Holiday, Southwaite asked
him what his plans were. Heber said he had
none; but he should be thankful to have a
little time to read in peace.
"Never mind the reading," added the
other. "I'm going to Singleton Farm, a good
five mile walk from here. I can take a friend
with me; so if you'll join me we shall have
the chance of a bit of talk, and I'm wanting
sorely to know you."
"To know me, Mr. Southwaite?"
"There's no one here a bit like you. I
never felt my heart so drawn to a lad in my
life. It's my belief you could teach me a sight
of things worth knowing; but perhaps God
can help me to teach you some things that
it's given me a great deal of trouble to learn.
Oh, Heber, when I hear you sing it puts me
in mind of some one I cared for once and who
"Did she sing too?" asked Heber, for he
guessed somehow the friend was a woman.
"No; at any rate, not like you. She might
twitter a little to herself sometimes; but when
you sing I think of where she is and the
anthem she's joining in."
" Oh, you wouldn't think much of my sing-
ing if you could hear Ned Maxwell in 'Oh,
that I had the wings of a dove.' Would that
we were not here, but in Souchester," continued

A Change for the Worse. 57
Heber, "that you could hear the Easter music,
and the Christmas, and see the grand cathedral
and the choir. I know by what you have said
that you would know just what I feel. Is it
wrong to be discontented when one has nothing
to please one,-nothing at all?"
"A very good lady in a prison once wrote,
My country, Lord, art Thou alone;'
and there's many can say the same. Wherever
we are, there is God."
Heber sighed, but he looked forward with
glad anticipation to his holiday, because he
had found a friend; and a friend who liked
him for his singing. Oh, it was almost too
good to be true!



HE weather was glorious on the
Bank Holiday. Southwaite
and Heber set off for their
long walk, and their heart-to-
heart communion, after an
early breakfast.
Southwaite's manner to
Heber was like that of a big
brother to a little one, and
yet there was mingled with it
a respect which showed him conscious of his
young companion's intellectual superiority.
And so the long pent-up feelings of the boy
found a vent, as he told him of his sorrows and
his sufferings, his dislike to his trade, and dwelt
on his humble home in Souchester, his father's
wisdom, his mother's piety, the emotions and
aspirations awakened in him by the mere sight
of the old cathedral, and the fountains of earthly
knowledge be had tasted of in the library. And
Southwaite listened with mingled wonder and
awe, and yet with a strange admixture of com-
passion and of brotherly tenderness for him in
his present unhappy surroundings.

Brighter Prospects.

- 59

He told him, however, that he must try to
bear his cross patiently, remembering the cross
that Jesus bore.
It was not only in grand temples where sweet
music sounded that God was to be worshipped.
His home was in the penitent and contrite heart.
He was near to each one of us in the lowest
depths of our misery; and confession of sin and
need, faith in the blood of Jesus would bring
Him so near that we could feel the touch of
His hand, and hear His still, small voice.
"What you feel is a great want, both for
mind and heart," said Southwaite. "Come to
Jesus, and He will satisfyit. I have known like
you what it was to thirst for affection, when the
dear friend I told you of was taken. But I
heard Jesus saying to me, If any man thirst,
let him come unto Me, and drink.' You say
that your mind is being starved. I. don't think
it need be. There's another kind of satisfaction
than that which is to be got out of learning.
Jesus says, 'I am the bread cf life; he that
cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that
believeth on Me shall never thirst."
"I wish I knew how to come, and how to
believe," said poor Heber, to whom the simple
teaching of the Gospel had never come home
with like force before.
They were nearing Singleton's farm, and
Southwaite dropped the subject for the time,
feeling that the few words he had ventured to

60 A Discontented Boy.
speak had already been crowned with more suc-
cess than he had anticipated. He knew, as all
who have found Jesus know, that the moment
we wish to believe, God's Holy Spirit comes into
the heart and fills it with faith and love.
So he was content to leave Heber in God's
The good folks at the farm were all in their
holiday attire, and on the look-out for friends.
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, the host and hostess,
welcomed Mr. Southwaite very warmly, and
seemed sincerely pleased to see Heber. That
was a never-to-be-forgotten day. Spacious and
pleasant as the farmhouse was, it reminded
Heber of the narrow home of his childhood,
because of the atmosphere of peace and purity
that pervaded it.
From the little garden came the familiar scent
of mignonette; and as the guests dispersed, soime
inspecting the farmyard, others betaking theim-
selves to the orchards and fields, with a look
into the dairy by the way, Heber felt that he
had lighted on another abode of earthly happi-
ness, and assured himself that he could have
been good and contented if, when taken away
from Souchester, the lines had fallen to him in
such a place as this.
One of the guests was a little sallow-faced
city missionary, who was lodging some sickly
lambs of his tending in the little cottages that
composed the village. There was going to be tea

Brighter Prospects. 61
in a barn, and after it the missionary had pro-
mised to narrate some of his experiences.
Dinner was served to a goodly company in the
large house-place, and a kind of conversation
went on that was new indeed to Heber. He
was all eye, all ear, all attention. He felt, poor
boy, like the pilgrims in the House Beautiful in
the "Pilgrim's Progress." He could see and
feel a chaste beauty in the homely frankness
of these good people, and the ice that had been
gathering around his heart melted before their
simplicity and truthfulness.
From something that was said he discovered
that his new friend was a local preacher, and he
determined that he would hear him preach.
However plain and unadorned the religion that
these people professed, they appeared to be
very happy in it.
The country walk and fine air had given them
good appetites, and the nicely served produce of
farmyard, dairy, and larder was most delicious.
Then in the golden evening there was the tea
in the barn, the missionary's speech, singing,
prayers, and a collection for the poor in the
East End district, out of which he brought such
thrilling stories; stories of miserable, depraved
men, and of the seeking, sin-subduing, sorrow-
healing Jesus.
Heber saw then, as he had never seen before,
that he who would find Jesus and follow in His
steps, or hold Him by the hem of His garment,

62 A Discontented Boy.
need not depart from the weary thoroughfare
of life, but may be sure of His presence where
souls are to be saved, and the evil one is doing
his best or his worst to ruin men and women.
He had looked forward to the walk home
with Southwaite, for the talk he would have
with him; but he was as still as the balmy
beautiful summer night, and Southwaite did not
intrude on his thoughts, understanding his emo-
tions, and being busy with his own reflections.
It was a month after this, ere Heber found
the opportunity he so much wished of hearing
Southwaite preach. In the time their friendship
had grown, and Southwaite felt sure that the
boy was not very far from the kingdom of God.
He had taken him with him to his own place
of worship, and they had had many an earnest
Now the fields were whitening to harvest, and
they walked through then one Sabbath after-
noon to a rustic little chapel with whitewashed
The singing was very quaint, but Heber
thought the words beautiful. The text had,
during the last month, been often the subject of
his meditation, I am the bread of life."
The sermon was not a very learned one, but
it went straight from the preacher's heart to the
heart of one of his hearers.
On the way home, Heber said, "Oh, tell me
how it was you came to preach like that. I felt

Brighter Prospects. 63
as if every word was for me, and as if you
knew more about my discontent than even I
had told you."
"My dear Heber," I have thought of you so
much; I have prayed for you so much ; and if
God gave me a message for you, He gave me it
also for others."
"Whatever message He gave you it has
reached me, you dear, good Southwaite, and
now I am no longer discontented. I feel as if
I could hunger no more, nor thirst any more,
because I have found Jesus. I feel that my sins
have fallen off just as an old garment might,
and that Jesus has' taken them away from me.
Pray for me, Southwaite, that I may never sin
They rejoiced together; and as a little
leaven leaveneth the whole lump, a gradual
change was to be found in James Letter's work-
room and his home. It was the effect of the
light confronting the darkness and rebuking thi
spirit of evil.

We will take leave of Heber in his native
city. He is paying it a farewell visit before he
embarks for the shores to which he has been
ordered as a missionary. One of his old tor-
mentors is with him, wishing him Godspeed and
applauding his high courage.
They have visited the spot where his parents
lie, the library and the museum. They wander

64 A Discontented Boy.
over the cathedral, and remain in it for service.
Still there are the crowds of noisy traffickers
outside. Heber sees another boy in the stall
where he used to sit and uplift his childish
He remembered his fancy of the great glorious
angel come down to sinful men to point them
upwards. Now he thinks how the cathedral,
with its daily services of praise, had been com-
pared to worshipping Mary, kneeling so meekly
at the feet of her Lord.
He rejoices that it is so; but he feels that it
might not have been the best for him if his life
had been linked permanently with that kind of
devotion. He sees a wise purpose in his removal
from Souchester, and the violence that was
done to his clinging, sensitive nature. He has
learned "to endure hardness." He has been
strengthened for ardent toils; and now he is
called to them he praises God for the past, and
trusts Him for what is to come. The Bread of
Life is his to leed upon wherever he goes; and
if he hungers and thirsts it is for holiness, and
more success in labouring for the Master.



University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs