The Project Gutenberg eBook of Christmas at Cedar Hill

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Title: Christmas at Cedar Hill

A holiday story-book

Author: Lucy Ellen Guernsey

Release date: September 21, 2023 [eBook #71698]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1869


Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.









      Christmas at Cedar Hill.         Frontispiece.

"The very first thing I recollect is a dead tiger."
























ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States for the Southern District of New York.












































"ARE you quite sure this is the right train, Frank?"

"Of course it is! Now, Agatha, pray don't be conjuring up dangers so early in the journey, or you will never get to the end. Come, let us get on board! The train will start in a minute!"

The speakers were two of a little party of children who stood on the platform of the little station of Greenbrier, waiting to take the train. Agatha Bower, who had asked the question, was a pretty, pale little girl, about thirteen years old, dressed in deep mourning. She was a peculiar-looking child, with large dark eyes and long eyelashes, while her hair was of a pale yellow, almost too light to be called golden, and curled in close, short curls under her little black hat and crape veil. She was very small and slender, but did not look young for her years. She seemed rather nervous and excited, and kept close to her companions in a way that looked as if she were easily frightened.

She was the only girl of the party. The other three were boys; the eldest, whom Agatha had called Frank, being perhaps fifteen. He was a tall, stout lad of his age, with brown curling hair, blue eyes, and a ruddy complexion. Frank was a very handsome boy, and attractive at first sight; but, when one looked at him again, there was an expression of self-confidence, and a little contemptuous look not altogether pleasing. Herbert, the next younger, had nothing remarkable in his appearance, except a certain thoughtful and earnest expression, which was lighted up with a very pleasant smile when he was spoken to, or addressed anybody. Edward, the youngest, was a pretty rosy boy of nine, with such a remarkable resemblance to Frank as showed a very close relationship between them.

Frank and Edward were brothers. They had been pupils in Doctor Bower's private school—Frank for three years, Edward since the beginning of last term—and were now going home to spend their Christmas holidays, taking with them Herbert and Agatha, the doctor's two children. They were to have been accompanied by Doctor Bower himself, but the day before he had received intelligence which made it necessary for him immediately to travel in an opposite direction.

As the journey was only sixty miles long, he thought the children might be safely trusted to go by themselves, especially as Frank had been over the road so many times in his journey to and from school. The railroad had lately been undergoing some changes and repairs, but they were now all completed. Greenbrier had the advantage of being situated upon two different railroads, which met at the same station, about a mile from the centre of the village.

"Be sure to ask some one if you find yourself in any uncertainty what to do," were the doctor's last words as he left them in the morning: "and write to me directly, that I may know of your safe arrival."

"I do not believe I can write the same evening, father," said Herbert, after a little consideration. "Frank says we shall not arrive till six, and then there will be the party and the Christmas tree."

"I am not so absolutely unreasonable as to expect that, my son," said the doctor, smiling. "I only mean that you should write as soon as possible."

"I will write the first thing next morning," said Herbert, after a little more consideration, and the doctor was satisfied, knowing that nothing short of an impossibility would prevent his son from keeping his word.

"And mind, boys, that you take the best care of Agatha," he added, as he bade them good-bye. "Remember, Frank, I shall hold you responsible if she is not returned safely and in good order."

"Never fear, doctor," replied Frank, confidently, "I will take care of her. It is a pity if I cannot look after one little girl. Only, I hope," he added to himself, "that she will not be afraid of everything and everybody she sees."

Three o'clock on the afternoon of the day before Christmas saw the young travellers on the platform of the station-house, waiting for the train which was to convey them to Riverton, the residence of Mr. Landon. The cars stopped for only three minutes, and some haste was really necessary in securing their places, so that Frank's impatience at Agatha's hanging back was not altogether unreasonable; but still she hesitated, and glanced around as if for some one to ask.

"You silly child!" said Frank. "Haven't I been over the road dozens of times? The Riverton train always comes in on this side of the platform and the New York train on the other. We shall be left altogether if you don't hurry! See, they are just going to start!"

"All aboard!" shouted the conductor, cutting short the debate by swinging first Agatha and then Ned on the platform of the only passenger car. They were not settled in their places when the bell rang, the train started and whirled away at great speed, the sparks flying from the engine and mixing curiously with the snow which had been threatening all day and now began to fall heavily.

There was no difficulty about seats. The one passenger car was not half full. There were three ladies, an elderly and two younger ones, and some half a dozen men in all. Of these one of the women and several men got out at the first two or three country stations, leaving only the young and the old lady and two gentlemen. One of these was an elderly man, with gray hair and spectacles, who looked like a clergyman.

The other sat on the opposite side from our party, with his face turned towards them. He was rather small and slight, with nothing very peculiar about him except his large dark eyes, and a certain abstracted expression. He held a book in his hand, but either he did not find it very interesting or he had exhausted its contents; for he was not reading, but looking now at his fellow-passengers, now out of the window, though the fast-falling snow allowed but little of the landscape to be seen. He looked round as the children entered, and glanced at them once or twice afterwards with an appearance of considerable interest.



Christmas at Cedar Hill.

The train started and whirled away at great speed.


Agatha's eyes were irresistibly attracted to this gentleman's face, and though she felt as if it were rude to stare thus at a stranger, she could not help looking at him again and again. At last, as he rose and walked to the farther end of the car, Agatha whispered to her brother:

"Herbert, did you ever see that gentleman before?"

"No," returned Herbert, after turning round to look at him. "Why do you ask?"

"There is something about him that seems so familiar to me," replied Agatha, after taking another long look. "I cannot say that I remember him, and yet it seems as if I must have known him before."

"You may have seen some one like him," said Herbert. "He is a fine-looking man, but I don't see anything remarkable about him, except that he has a college medal, like my father's."

He looked round again, and his eyes encountered those of the gentleman they were discussing, who was returning to his seat.

"Did you speak to me, my boy?" asked the stranger.

"No, sir," replied Herbert, blushing at being caught in his scrutiny. "I only remarked that you wore a college medal like my father's, which made me think that you might have been at the same college."

"Was your father at Dartmouth?" asked the stranger, whom we shall for the present call the scholar.

"Yes, sir," replied Herbert; "and I am going there when I am old enough."

He colored a little when he finished the sentence, as if he feared he had been too forward. The scholar, however, did not seem to think so. He turned over a seat, so as to place himself opposite to Herbert and Agatha, and began questioning Herbert about his studies, not as people sometimes speak to boys about such things, in a condescending or patronizing tone, but as if he felt a real interest in the matter. His face, which was rather sad when at rest, brightened up with a beautiful smile; and the more Agatha looked at him and listened to him, the more she felt as if she must have known him before.

"Tickets!" called out the conductor, who had been invisible for some time. It was with no small importance that Frank produced the tickets for the whole party from his pocket, saying, as he did so, "How soon shall we arrive at Riverton?"

"At Riverton!" repeated the conductor, as if surprised at the question. He looked at the tickets, and added, "You are on the wrong road, my boy! This is the New York train, and you have already come thirty miles out of your way!"

The boys looked at each other for a moment as if perfectly confounded; and then Edward exclaimed:

"There, Frank! So much for not asking any one!"

"Did not the station-master tell you which train to take?" asked the conductor.

Frank colored up to the roots of his hair. "I did not ask him," he replied, with a little effort. "I was sure I knew which side the trains came in."

"But they have been changing the tracks," said the conductor. "Didn't you know that?"

"I forgot it at first, and then I was quite sure—"

"Yes, you are always quite sure you know everything!" interrupted Ned, in an angry tone. "Why didn't you ask? But you are so wonderfully wise nobody can ever tell you anything!"

"There is no good in talking so, Ned," said Herbert, who had not before spoken. "I ought to have asked myself, I suppose, but I thought Frank knew the road. But there is no use in crying for spilled milk, or fretting about it, either. What had we better do, sir?" he asked, turning to the conductor.

"The best way will be to go on to E— and stay there all night," replied the conductor. "Then in the morning you can take the cross road, which will bring you to Riverton about five in the afternoon."

"And so miss the party, and the Christmas tree, and all the rest of the fun," exclaimed Ned, who was the youngest of the party, and never much disposed to repress his feelings, of whatever sort they might be. "I don't care, it is a real shame! And it is all your fault, Frank! The next time I travel I will look out for myself!"

Frank's eyes flashed, and an angry retort seemed trembling on his lips, but with a great effort, he repressed it and remained silent.

Edward was proceeding with some further remarks in the same strain, when Herbert again interfered, and this time so decidedly that Edward was silenced, and contented himself with muttering between his teeth that he did hope some time Frank would find out that he did not know everything in the world.

"Never mind, Frank," said Herbert, consolingly. "It was unlucky, but it cannot be helped now, and we shall know better how to manage another time. I dare say we shall do very well, after all. You know we were wishing for some adventures on the way."

"I was not," said Agatha. "I don't like adventures."

"I don't wonder at that," replied Herbert. "You have had more than your share of them already. But don't be troubled, Aggy. I don't see how anything worse can happen to us than losing the party. How shall we manage when we get to E—?" he asked, turning to the conductor.

"I shall stop in E—," replied the conductor, "and I will go with you to the hotel and ask the landlord to make you comfortable. It is an excellent house, and I think you will have no sort of trouble."

"Now, I have another plan to propose," said the clergyman, who, with the rest of the passengers, had been interested in the discussion. "Let these young folks go home with me and spend the night. My good lady will make them very welcome, and we will see what we can do to make up for the loss of the party. That will be pleasanter than spending the night at a strange hotel, won't it, my little girl?"

"Yes indeed, sir!" replied Agatha, recovering a little from her consternation.

Herbert hesitated. "I am afraid we shall give you a great deal of trouble," said he.

"Not at all, not at all!" replied the clergyman, heartily. "We are used to the sudden arrival of any number of grandchildren, and our house is a large one."

"I think you had better accept of the doctor's offer, since he is so kind as to make it," said the conductor, addressing himself to Herbert, "although I will make you as comfortable as I can at the hotel."

"What do you say?" asked Herbert of the other boys.

"Just as you think best," replied Frank, who had recovered his voice, after a severe struggle with his temper. "I am sure the gentleman is very kind."

"I don't care what we do if we can't get home," said Ned, ungraciously. "I suppose it will be just as stupid in one place as another!"

"Do behave yourself, Ned!" said Herbert, in an undertone. "You make me perfectly ashamed of you!" Then turning to the clergyman, he accepted the invitation with many thanks, feeling that it would indeed be pleasanter for Agatha than spending the night at a hotel. But as it turned out, they were to spend it neither at the hotel nor at the doctor's.

The afternoon wore away, and still the snow fell thicker and faster every moment. The wind rose and whirled it in clouds over the fields or piled it up in fantastic drifts along the fences, and the track became sensibly obstructed. The conductor's usually imperturbable face wore a look of anxiety, and he seemed to spend much of his time in conference with the engineer. As he came in towards dark, the doctor remarked to him:

"We do not seem to make very rapid progress?"

"No, sir; the snow is growing very deep and drifts badly. I am almost afraid we shall not get through to E— to-night."

Agatha was absorbed in her story-book and did not hear, but the boys did, and exchanged glances. Frank rose from his seat and followed the conductor to the other end of the car.

"Do you really think we shall not get through to-night?" he asked, in a tone of anxiety.

"I can't say," replied the conductor, rather shortly; but, looking up and seeing Frank's disturbed face, he kindly made room for him on the seat, saying, as he did so, "You need not be frightened, my boy. The worst that can happen to us is to be snowed up at some country station all night."

"I am not frightened," said Frank, in a much more humble tone than he would have used in replying to such an imputation twelve hours before. "I don't mind for myself, I was thinking about Agatha."

"Is Agatha your sister?" asked the conductor.

"No, she is Herbert's; that is, he calls her his sister, but she is an adopted child. Mrs. Bower took her from a poor woman who does washing for the school, and the doctor thinks all the world of her, especially since his wife died. He put her under my care particularly, and if anything should happen to her—" Frank's eyes filled with tears. He turned away to hide them, but the sobs would come in spite of him.

"I do not think that any harm will come to Agatha," said the conductor, kindly; "but I do not think the less of you for being anxious about her. We will do the best we can for her."

He rose as he spoke, and going into the saloon, he brought out a beautiful fur robe. Then, asking Agatha to rise for a moment, he spread the robe over the seat, and wrapped it carefully around her. Agatha was very grateful for the kindness, as her feet had begun to grow very cold. The conductor then returned to Frank's side.

"How did you come to make such a blunder about the cars?" he asked.

"I am sure I do not know," replied Frank. "I have been backward and forward several times, and supposed I knew all about it. I never thought of their changing the tracks."

"You should have asked, if there was any doubt about the matter," observed the conductor. "Never be too proud to ask a question, or to follow the directions of people older than yourself. I expect your friends are feeling rather uneasy about you by this time."

"I am afraid so," said Frank. "If they only knew about us, and Agatha were safe, I should not care what became of me."

"I hope we may reach the Cedar Hill station, and then you can telegraph—that is, if the wires are not all down. I do not suppose we shall go any further than that to-night, even if we are lucky enough to get as far. But I must go outside and see how matters are now."

"Suppose we cannot reach Cedar Hill, what shall we do then?" asked Frank, as the conductor rose to leave the car.

"I hardly know," said the conductor; "but don't borrow trouble about it. I dare say we shall get through in safety, sooner or later."

Frank returned to his companions with his heart not much lightened by the news that they might very probably be snowed up on the road and detained for an indefinite length of time, even if nothing worse happened to them. To do him justice, he cared very little for his own share of the disappointment. True, he regretted missing the party, the Christmas tree, and the presents, but he thought much more of the discomfort of his companions, the anxiety of his parents, and above all the possible danger to Agatha's health by the exposure, for Agatha was rather a delicate child, and especially apt to take cold. Added to this was the reflection that it was all owing to him—the consequence of a fault against which he had been often warned and which he had lately striven to overcome.

Frank's great defect was a certain pride and self-conceit, which made him very impatient of reproof or advice, especially when they came from those whom he considered as equals or inferiors. This disposition often brought him into disgrace and caused him many annoyances, both at home and at school, besides bringing failure and disappointment to many of his undertakings. Bought wit may be best, but it is often very expensive. Many a drawing and exercise, many a bit of carpentry and gardening had Frank spoiled, because he would accept of no assistance or advice from those better acquainted with the business than himself.

For example, he once put up a set of shelves in his room at Doctor Bower's to hold his books, his papers, and the endless varieties of curiosities which he was always collecting. Herbert warned him that his supports were not strong enough to bear the weight he intended to put upon them; but Frank had a theory of his own, and demonstrated, to his own satisfaction at least, that shelves supported in the manner he intended, could not possibly fall.

"All this sounds very fine in theory," said Herbert, quietly, when the lecture was concluded, "but it won't work! You may depend upon it that, if you put up your shelves in that way, sooner or later they will fall!"

"We shall see!" said Frank, not descending to argue the point further, and putting on the superior and contemptuous smile he was apt to wear when any one disagreed with him.

"We shall see!" said Claude; "but when your birds eggs and shells are all smashed, it will be too late to alter the arrangement."

The shelves were finished and neatly painted, and their contents arranged to their owner's great satisfaction. Frank's room was directly over the school-room where family worship was held, and in the middle of the prayers a crash was heard overhead. Frank's heart told him what had happened, but he strove to stifle the misgiving, and by the time prayers were over he had almost persuaded himself that it could not be the shelves—a window must have fallen, or a blind slammed with the wind. All this, however, did not hinder hint from rushing upstairs the moment he was released.

Several of the boys followed him, but Herbert was not among the number. He knew very well what had happened, but he had no desire to triumph in the fulfilment of his prediction. There lay books, shells, and minerals in one confused heap upon the floor, in company with a bottle of ink and one of varnish, both broken, while of Frank's beloved and really valuable collection of birds' eggs, which he had been years in getting together, hardly one remained entire. The boys were loud in their condolences and sympathy, but Frank said not a word till Doctor Bower, who had followed to learn the cause of the disaster, remarked, after examining the supports of the shelves:

"It is a wonder they did not fall by their own weight. I thought you were more of a carpenter, Frank. You should have consulted Herbert. He would have told you in a moment that shelves put up in that manner could not be safe."

This was the last drop in the cup Of mortification. Frank burst into tears. The doctor, who knew every one of his pupils like a book, as the boys had it, guessed at once what had been the true state of the case. Thinking, however, that Frank had been sufficiently punished, he said no more, but began to assist in rescuing what was still uninjured from the inky streams which threatened destruction to all in their way. In the course of two or three hours, the room was restored to its usual state of neatness, but nothing could restore the crushed eggs and shells or take out the ink-stains from books and furniture. This lesson did Frank good for some time.

Something else was doing him good. When Frank came to Doctor Bower's to live, he knew nothing of religion as a personal matter. He had been to church and Sunday-school ever since he could remember. He knew his Catechism perfectly, and had learned many lessons in the Bible. He could give a clear account of the principal doctrines of the Church, and had read many good books, but still Christianity was to Frank a thing outside of him, a good thing—something for which he had a great respect and even reverence, but still no particular concern of his. By degrees, however, under the influence of the good doctor's instruction, and perhaps still more under that of the thoroughly Christian spirit which pervaded the family, a power was growing up in his heart which promised to work a reformation in the hitherto conceited and headstrong boy.

Frank was learning that the love of his heavenly Father, manifested in His sending His only Son to die for us miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death, was love for him. He began to have some sense of his own sinfulness and inability to make himself better, and to feel his need of that atonement of which he had always heard. He began to long for holiness—to hunger and thirst after righteousness—to strive against his besetting sins. He was looking forward to Easter with trembling joy, as the time when he should be confirmed and admitted to the Holy Communion; and though often stumbling and sometimes falling in his course, he was on the whole, advancing in the Christian life.

Herbert had observed with great satisfaction Frank's success in his struggle with the anger aroused by Ned's reproaches. He had always been fond of Frank, though they were so very unlike, and maintained a good deal of influence over him—an influence which was all the stronger because he never paraded or presumed upon it, or injured its power by offering unnecessary advice and interference. He was willing that Frank should take his own way, even when that way did not seem to him the very best, and rarely gave an opinion unasked. This forbearance on Herbert's part made Frank all the more willing to listen to him when he did speak.

It was this feeling—this desire to avoid unnecessary interference, which had caused Herbert to leave the arrangement of the journey to Frank. He saw that Frank was ambitious of managing the whole affair himself, and as he supposed him to understand all about it, Herbert was content to be "only a passenger." Neither Herbert nor Agatha had uttered one word of annoyance or reproach, and Frank felt this forbearance more keenly than a thousand angry words.

"What does the conductor say?" asked Herbert, as Frank returned to his seat.

"He thinks we shall not get further than the next station," was the reply. "The snow grows deeper every minute, and drifts very badly."

"It is almost dark, and we have gone very slowly for the last hour," observed Herbert, trying to look out of the window. "I wish we had set out yesterday. But, after all, we acted for the best. We wanted to see father off, and no one could foresee this storm."

"I wish you had never come with me at all!" exclaimed Frank, in a half-choked voice. "I guess you will think twice before you do it again!"

"Herbert always thinks twice before he does anything," replied Agatha. "But really, Frank, I wish you would not feel so bad about it! It was a mistake, and everybody makes mistakes sometimes, even Herbert. Don't you remember how he emptied the ink bottle instead of the cologne over Miss Barker the day she fell down-stairs?"

"And an excellent remedy it proved," said Herbert, laughing at the remembrance of an exploit of which he had never heard the last. "It brought her to her senses and the use of her tongue in a moment. But indeed, Frank, you are too much cast down about this matter. It is unfortunate, of course, but I do not see that any greater harm is likely to come of it than losing the Christmas party, and some anxiety to your father and mother. By the way, I wonder what has become of our trunks?"

"They were checked to Riverton, I know, and I presume they were put on the right train," said Frank. "Father will wonder more than ever when he sees them come without us."

"I don't believe the trunks will stop at Riverton," said Ned, who seemed bent upon taking the most desponding view of everything. "I don't believe we shall ever see them again!"

"What a croaker you are, Ned!" returned Herbert. "What is the use of making the worst of everything? Matters are bad enough without making them worse by grumbling. I wonder if you are the boy who was always wishing for adventures?"

"I think it is much pleasanter to read about adventures than to be in them," observed Agatha, in her simple, grave way.

The scholar, who was still sitting opposite to the children, smiled at the remark. "I think you are quite right," said he. "Adventures, in general, are pleasanter in the reading than in the experience."

"I don't call this an adventure!" said Ned, sulkily.

"What is your idea of an adventure?" asked the scholar.

"An adventure is—why, when something very unexpected and strange happens to people," replied Ned, rather at a loss for a definition.

"Then I am sure this answers the description exactly," said Herbert, "for nothing could have been more unexpected than finding ourselves snowed up on the New York railroad on Christmas eve."

"I was once caught in a terrible storm on the Mediterranean," said the scholar. "Three of us were travelling together and had hired a boat for a cruise among the Greek Islands. We were enjoying ourselves very much, despite the discomforts of our boat, when one of those sudden storms called white squalls came up. For many hours we were in the greatest peril. The Greek sailors gave themselves up for lost, and, after their usual fashion in danger, they left the vessel to take care of itself, while they wept and swore by turns, and prayed to all the saints I ever heard of and a great many more."

"Most fortunately—I should rather say providentially—my two companions were excellent sailors, and the boat was a good one; so after some hours of terrible uncertainty we succeeded in obtaining shelter."

"There, now, that was an adventure worth having!" exclaimed Ned, with enthusiasm. "I should have liked that!"

"Suppose you had been sea-sick?" said the scholar, gravely.

Ned looked blank. "I did not think of that," said he, rather slowly. "But were you sea-sick?"

"As much so as I could possibly be, and remain alive, I should think," replied the scholar. "I assure you, there was nothing at all romantic in the sensation."

"But were the others sick?"

"No; but they were wet to the skin for hours together, and one of them caught a fever in consequence which detained us for three weeks in a dirty little Greek town, where we were eaten up with fleas and could obtain none of the comforts of life for ourselves or our sick friend. I think you would have found that rather worse than being snowed up on the railroad."

Ned admitted that it could not have been pleasant, and, a little ashamed of his ill-humor, he made a brave attempt to overcome it, and began to ask the scholar all sorts of questions about his travels.

Meantime the progress of the train became more and more difficult. It was now dark, and when the brakeman came in to light the lamps and make up the fires, he did not give a very encouraging account of the situation. They were still some distance from the next station, which was a mile from the nearest village. They were running through a wild country where no help could be had. There were still two deep cuttings to be passed, and the storm was increasing every moment.

The gentleman began to look a little grave, and the party drew closer together around the stove. The elderly lady opened her basket and produced some biscuits and cakes and part of a cold chicken. The young lady also brought out some sandwiches, and these refreshments were distributed among the passengers, to the great satisfaction of little Ned, whose appetite was always vigorous. The party grew very social over their refreshments, and the old lady took special notice of Agatha, telling her that she had two granddaughters just about her age, whom she expected to meet that evening, if they were so fortunate as to reach the Cedar Hill station. Frank could neither eat nor join in the conversation. His heart was heavy with anxiety and self-reproach, and he felt as if he should not be able to care for anything till he could see Agatha once more in a place of safety.

The first cutting was passed without much trouble, although the snow came in at the windows and doors, and it seemed for a moment as if they should be buried. But the next was a more serious matter. Three several times the engine attempted it, and came to a stand. The great machine, which seemed capable of driving all before it, was baffled by the innumerable little soft snow-flakes, any one of which singly would have melted and disappeared in an instant before its hot breath.

The fire went out in the stove and was not renewed, for the wood was getting low, and the flue was so stopped with snow that there seemed danger of their being smothered with smoke. The party in the car were very silent. The old lady and the young one drew close together. Ned could not help crying, but put down his head and tried to hide his tears. Frank and Herbert put each an arm round Agatha, as if to protect her, whatever might happen, and the scholar wrapped the fur robe closer round her feet and limbs. The action seemed somehow to bring back to Agatha's mind a dim recollection of very different scenes—of early morning, with strange foreign trees and plants, and some one putting her on a pony—and she wondered more and more.

The engine now seemed to gather up its forces for a last attempt and to attack its foe with a fierce snort of defiance. There was desperate struggle—how long it lasted none of the children could tell, but it seemed a long time.

Inch by inch the locomotive fought its way, now relaxing for a moment, now gathering itself up for a still greater effort. At last, after what seemed a desperate attempt, its struggles suddenly ceased, and after a moment's stillness they went on, slowly indeed, but comparatively smoothly. The deep cutting was passed in safety. At the end of half an hour the train stopped, and the conductor entered, with his rough coat, his board and hair so covered with snow that he looked like a Polar bear.

"Here we are at last!" said he, addressing the passengers, "and here, it seems, we must stay to-night. The worst part of the road is before us, and it would be perfect madness for us to try to go any further. All we can do is to make ourselves as comfortable as possible till morning."











"AS comfortable as possible" did not seem likely to be very comfortable. The station was a small one, in an out of the way place. There was a dwelling-house attached to it, but it had only just been completed and was quite unfurnished. The waiting-room of the station contained a large stove, and there was plenty of wood—that was one comfort—but they had neither beds nor provisions.

"What are we to do now?" asked Herbert.

"Don't be discouraged!" said the old lady. "My people are expecting me, and I presume some of them will be down before long. We will see what can be done."

At that moment a great jingling of bells was heard, and Ned rushed in to say that some one had come with a big lumber sleigh. He was closely followed by an elderly gentleman well wrapped up and well covered with snow, who, after shaking himself well, and looking round, took possession of the old lady, saluting her with the title of "Mother."

"So you did get here!" said he, giving her a hearty kiss. "We have been in a thousand worries about you, end John drove down once before to-day. I came myself this time, for the road is drifted as badly as ever I saw it. How have you got through?"

"Pretty well, pretty well, considering!" replied the old lady. "But just step this way, father, I want to speak to you."

A whispered consultation went on for two or three minutes, during which time the rest of the party, clustered round the stove, were trying to get warm. Presently the old gentleman spoke:

"Now, ladies and gentlemen, as soon as you are warmed a little, we will all pile into the lumber sleigh and go over to Cedar Hill to supper. Now, I will take no excuses!" he added, as the gentlemen looked at each other. "It is two miles to the nearest village, and the roads are nearly impassable; but the track to Cedar Hill is not so bad, and besides it, is only half as long. We have got a big house, plenty of beds, and no end of mince pies and chickens; and if we can't make you comfortable, at least we will do our best—and that will be better than camping out in this place all night."

"It will, indeed!" said the clergyman. "You are very kind indeed, sir, and I advise my young friends here to accept your invitation at once. But I fear if we all go, we shall put you to great inconvenience."

"Not a bit, not a bit!" returned the old gentlemen. "Mrs. Hardy is not easily put out—are you, mother?"

"No, indeed!" replied the old lady. "It is what I have been calculating upon ever since the conductor said we could not get through, but I thought I would not say anything, till I saw whether our folks came to meet me or not."

"Now, that is mother, all over!" said Squire Hardy. "Always thinks of everything. But come, I shall take no denial! The longer we wait the worse the road will be. Come, conductor, nobody will run away with your train to-night, I will engage!"

The conductor, however, declared that he must remain on his post. There might be important telegrams to attend to, and he expected the express train was in the same scrape, not far off. He had been a soldier, he said, and was used to roughing it in worse places than this. But he strongly advised the rest of the party to accept Hardy's invitation, saying he would send them word at the first prospect of their being able to continue their journey.

So all was settled, and our young friends, well wrapped in buffalo skins, were packed in among the elders, wherever there was a chink, as Herbert said. They had but a rough ride, for the road was up and down hill at the best, and was now heavily drifted. Two or three times, they seemed on the point of turning over, and for the last part of the way, the gentlemen got out and walked.

"Are you cold, Agatha?" asked Herbert.

"Not very, only my feet," said Agatha.

"O dear!" said Frank, with a sigh that almost a groan. "If I only get you into a place of safety once more, I don't care what happens to me!"

"We shall soon be in a place of safety, and of comfort, too," said Mrs. Hardy, kindly. "See, there is our house!"

In a few minutes more, the lane turned into a gate, and they drew up at the door of a large Louse. The door was thrown open, letting out a flood of ruddy light, and in a few minutes, the whole party had shaken off the loose snow and were ushered into a spacious parlor, attended by their host and hostess, several boys and girls, and two or three dogs, all, as it seemed, anxious to welcome the unexpected guests.

It was not long before all were warmed, and washed, and brushed, and seated at a long supper-table, loaded with all sorts of good things.

The two little girls of the family, May and Annie, had taken possession of Agatha as their rightful property, and she had already learned, while brushing her hair and arranging her dress in their room, that Annie was an orphan, and always lived with her grandparents, but May had only come on a visit; that May was nine and Annie ten, and that they loved each other dearly. She had seen the cushion May had worked for grandmamma, and the scarf Annie had knitted for grandpapa, and had faithfully promised not to tell—the presents being a great secret, not to be revealed till the next morning, when they were to be placed on the breakfast table. Agatha was fond of children and always got on nicely with them.

The boys were rather shyer, as is apt to be the case with boys; but Harry Hardy had presently discovered that the boys went to Doctor Bower's school, and informed them that he was to go there next term; after which they got on pretty well.

Frank did not feel much like talking. His heart was full of deep thankfulness that things had turned out so much better than he had any right to expect, and he made some resolutions and offered some prayers that night for which his whole life was likely to be the better.

When supper was over, the whole party assembled in the parlor, where there was a famous blazing fire in the grate.

"What a beautiful fire!" remarked Agatha. "I do love coal that blazes so."

"Yes, in that we have the advantage of being near the mines," said Mr. Hardy. "Coal is plenty and cheap, and I do love to see the fire. But now, what shall we do to make the evening pass pleasantly, and repay these young folks for the loss of their Christmas games at home?"

"Oh, grandfather!" exclaimed May, "don't you remember you promised to tell us the story of the longest Christmas eve you ever spent? I am sure Agatha would like to hear, wouldn't you?" she added, turning to Agatha.

"Yes," replied Agatha. "I love stories."

"And so do I," said Ned, "especially when there are wild beasts in them."

"Then this will suit you exactly, for there are plenty of wild beasts in it," said Harry Hardy, who had heard the story before, but was quite ready to hear it again. "Please do tell it, grandfather!"

The other guests joined their entreaties to those of the children.

"Well, I consent," said Squire Hardy; "but only on condition that grandmamma shall tell hers, and the rest shall follow."

This was agreed to by all. The party drew their chairs round the fire. Ned, who was never troubled with bashfulness, squeezed his stool in close to the fire, and all prepared to listen to the tale of:




"I was born in Massachusetts. My father was a cabinet-maker, an excellent workman, as I have heard, and, having a great turn for mechanics, he was always poring over some new invention or other—some labor-saving machine or new device for warming. They say necessity is the mother of invention. I am disposed to think that invention is often the mother of necessity. At least it was so in my father's case, for, though a perfectly steady, sober man and a good workman, we were always poor. And when my father died, my dear mother was left with six children and very little else."

"I was the eldest, and when I was about fifteen, she determined to send me out to my grandfather, who had removed to Michigan some years before, and now lived upon a fine farm in one of the earliest settled counties of that State. I was delighted with the idea, partly because I liked the notion of seeing life in a new country, partly because I was very desirous of doing something to help my mother. I thought that by working a few years with my grandfather, I should learn how to manage a farm, so that in time, I could take a piece of land of my own, and make a home for my mother and the other children."

"I shall say nothing of the journey, though a journey in those days was a very different matter from what it is now. A stage-coach was then the most expeditious mode of travelling, and people thought ten miles an hour was wonderful speed. But the roads were very bad in the spring and fall, and often the heavy coach swept along at a snail's pace, happy if it could get through without being overturned or stuck fast in the mud. But a stage-coach was far beyond my means. My mother heard of a family who were removing to the West, and who agreed to take me as far as Detroit, and board me on the way, in consideration of my help in driving, etc."

"We travelled with two great covered wagons and carried our own provisions for the most part—sometimes camping out when the weather was fine, sometimes staying at one of the taverns, which then abounded upon the east and west roads. The people were reasonably kind to me, but travelling in this way was tedious, toilsome work, and right glad was I when I reached Detroit and found my grandfather waiting for me."

"Detroit was something of a city as long ago as that, but it certainly was not a very splendid one, and I thought in all my travels, I had never seen anything equal to the mud in the streets. At that time, and for a long time afterwards, the ladies used to go to parties in carts—regular carts, and very strongly built at that."

"We reached my grandfather's house in safety, and I found him very comfortably situated in a new farm-house, with plenty of room and abundance of comforts about him. Like all his neighbors, he had taken up new land, but, having a good cash capital to begin with, he was able to go on with his improvements more rapidly than most of them, and was now by far the richest and most important man in the county."

"He owned a grist-mill and saw-mill on the river, and as everybody in the neighborhood brought their corn to him to be ground, he had plenty both of custom and company. My grandmother was a very charitable woman, and when the poor people came with a bag of corn to be made into meal, she would often give them a few apples, a loaf of wheat bread, or a crust of gingerbread to take home to their children."

"People were beginning to make improvements pretty fast, and our mill being in a convenient and healthy situation, a little village was fast springing up around us."

"So there was a great demand for lumber, and the mill was kept very busy. I was always fond of machinery, and my grandfather seeing, after a while, how my taste turned, took me in to help him 'tend saw-mill. Though very strict in requiring obedience and attention to business, he was as kind a man as ever lived, and I was as happy with him as I have ever been in my life. I loved to help him haul the big logs and get them on the carriage, and then see the gang of sharp saws eat through them from end to end. I liked to talk to the teamsters who came to the mill for lumber or hauled the logs out of the woods. And above all I liked to ride or drive round to the shingle camps, to see what the men were about there, and sometimes to carry them a great pie or a basket of hard gingerbread which my grandmother had baked for them. There were many Indians about the country at that time, and we used often to have our barns full of them for days together."

"Were you not afraid of them?" asked Agatha.

"O no; they were very friendly and well-behaved, unless when they got drunk, though we had to keep a sharp lookout to prevent their stealing. I learned a great deal from them about shooting and trapping, and by degrees I got to be a capital shot and a good deal of a woodsman."

"There was one thing which I missed very much, and that was the church. I was not particularly serious at that time, but I had been used to go to church and Sunday-school every Sunday since I could remember. My grandfather always read the service in his own family every Sunday, and frequently two or three of the neighbors would drop in at these times. We had a schoolhouse, of course, and now and then some minister would give us a Sunday, but there was no regular church, and, as I said, I missed it very much."

"The next fall, after I came to the mills, my grandfather went to Detroit, a few weeks before Christmas, and when he came back, besides quantities of groceries and dry goods, he brought home a very unexpected guest—neither more nor less than a very pretty young lady. Her name was Caroline Merton. She was a niece of my grandmother's, and, being a little out of health, her parents had sent her out into the country for change of air and scene."

"At first I thought it would be a great nuisance to have a young lady in the family, but when I became acquainted with Carry I changed my mind. Though a little bit of a body, and very nice and dainty in her dress, she was as nimble as a squirrel and as fearless as any boy. I soon found out that she could ride and drive, make snowballs, slide, and skate, and that she was no more afraid of a gun than I was. Besides, she was a capital cook, and could learn any sort of work directly, so she was a great help to my grandmother."

"My grandfather had given me a fine young horse of his own raising. Of course I felt very grand at owning a horse, and my grandfather, having a nice light cutter, I took great delight in driving Carry about the country whenever I could be spared from the mill."

"Well, the day before Christmas came a welcome guest—a clergyman, who had been an old friend of my grandfather's, and who had been sent by the Bishop on a sort of tour of inspection through the country to visit the new settlements, especially those where there were no churches. He had written to give notice of his coming, but the mails were not very reliable, and, as it happened, the letter arrived about two hours after the writer. Mr. Burgess proposed to spend Christmas and the Sunday after at the mills, and it was decided to hold a Christmas service in the schoolhouse, and to send word to as many people as possible meantime. There were a good many church people settled in a neighborhood about ten miles away, and it, was decided that I should ride over and carry them notice of the services, calling at as many of the outlying houses as I could take in my route."

"The weather was pleasant, though cold, and the sleighing as fine as possible, and my grandmother suggested that Carry should go along with me. Nothing could have pleased either of us better, for Carry was always ready for a sleigh-ride, and I felt quite grand and manly at being intrusted with the care of her. I always felt ten inches taller when I had her on my arm or by my side, and I used to wish sometimes that we could be thrown into danger, that I might have the pleasure of protecting her. Well, we took an early dinner, and set off about one o'clock, provided with abundance of blankets and buffalo skins, and having in the bottom of the cutter a large basket filled with tea, sugar, rice, and other good things, which we were to leave at the house of a poor sick woman on the way."

"It was not long before we arrived at the house of the sick woman, and as Carry said she was not cold, and would rather not get out, I left her to hold the horse while I took the basket into the house. There was no one in the house but the man and his wife, who was a poor, feeble, sickly creature, but very good and industrious. I had often carried them provisions before, and knew them very well. Indeed, the man worked for my grandfather, but he had not been down for three or four days, and we supposed his wife must be worse."

"'She has been very bad for two or three days,' said John, in answer to my question, 'and I think she is out of her head. She has got the notion that the Cedar swamp is full of wolves, and nothing can drive it out of her. I am afraid to leave her for fear she should go into fits.'"

"'Poor thing!' said I. 'What a pity she should have taken such a fancy!' I spoke in a low tone, but the sick woman heard me."

"'It is no fancy!' said she, raising herself upon her elbow and looking earnestly at me. 'I tell you I have heard them for two nights, coming nearer and nearer—nearer and nearer—through the swamp. I know what they want, well enough—they smell a death in the house.'"

"'Well, well, Huldah, don't you worry about it,' said John, tenderly. 'We have got plenty of firewood, and powder and ball, and I won't leave you a moment till you feel better. You see how it is,' he added, in a low voice, following me to the door. 'I can't possibly leave her, till there is a change somehow. I wish, if it isn't too much, you would ask the old lady to ride up and see her. I am afraid she isn't long for this world.'"

"'I am sure grandmother will come,' said I. 'She talked of doing so to-day, but we have company. But you don't really think Huldah hears the wolves, do you?'"

"'O no! It is just possible she might, though. The snow is very deep up north, and the wolves may have driven down the deer. But we have had no wolves to signify in this neighborhood since the hard winter five years ago.'"

"'But I should think you would have heard them if she did,' I remarked.

"'Well, I don't know. Sick people's ears are apt to be sharp, and I am rather hard of hearing. I expect, however, that what she takes for the noise of wolves is the sighing of the wind through the trees.'"

"I repeated my promise of bringing my grandmother up as soon as possible, and went back to the cutter. I did not myself believe the sick woman had heard the wolves, and I did not mention the matter to Carry at all. She had a kind of superstitious horror of wolves; they seemed to be almost the only thing she was afraid of, and I feared the mere thought of them would spoil her ride. So we chatted on about all sorts of things as we rode from one house to another, and by the time we reached the Jones' settlement, as it was called, I had forgotten all about the matter myself."

"We stopped at the house of Captain Jones, and, as Carry was rather cold and tired, I left her with Mrs. Jones while I went round to call upon the neighbors and invite them to come down to the mills next day. By the time I had finished my rounds, it was growing dark. Meantime, good Mrs. Jones had got a famous supper ready for us, and nothing would do but we must stay and eat it. I knew that the moon was full and the night would be almost as light as day, and we both felt that it would be much pleasanter riding home after supper than before. So the horse was put into the barn to take his refreshment, and we sat down, prepared to do full justice to the good things before us. Two or three neighbors stepped in, and, to make a long story short, it was almost eight o'clock before we started for home."

"'Which road shall you take?' asked Mr. Jones, as we went out to get up the horse."

"'Oh, the swamp road, of course!'"

"'Well, I don't know,' said Mr. Jones, slowly. 'I think, if I were you, I would go round by the Buck tavern.'"

"'But why?' I asked, in surprise. 'It is three miles further, and the road is badly drifted, while that through the swamp is as smooth as a floor.'"

"'It is a kind of lonesome road through the swamp, though,' observed my companion. 'There isn't a house after you leave John's till you reach the mills.'"

"'Oh, I don't mind that,' I replied. 'I have good company, you know.'"

"'Yes, I know. She is a first-rate girl, that's a fact. But talking about the roads, I heard say that there were wolves heard up Concord way last night, and they are not exactly the customers one likes to meet in a lonely place, especially with a young lady in company.'"

"I started a little as these words brought poor Huldah and her fears to my mind, but a moment's thought reassured ma."

"'But Concord is ten miles off' I replied. 'I dare say you might find a few wolves within ten miles almost any time of year. I hate to go round by the Buck, it will make us so late home.'"

"'More haste, worse speed,' said Mr. Jones. 'I always think it best to be on the safe side, especially when there are women folks along. I thought I would not speak before your cousin; as it might make her scary about riding at all, but if you will take my advice you will go home by the Buck.'"

"I thanked Mr. Jones for his advice, though I had very little idea of following it, and drove round by the door to take in Carry. Mrs. Jones followed us to the door with a great block of hard wood which she had heated through before the fire, to keep Carry's feet warm during the ride."

"The two roads divided about half a mile from the village; and, being very much interested in some story Carry was telling me, I turned into the swamp road without thinking what I was doing. I debated for a minute or two whether I should not turn back, but I thought if I did I should have to tell Carry the reason, and thus perhaps spoil her ride. Besides, I thought it would look as if I were afraid, and, like most other boys of my age, I would rather run any risk than let a girl think I was a coward. Then, I had very little idea that there were any number of wolves in the neighborhood, though, as I said, a few might be found in the swamps at all times of the year."

"Finally, I had at that time a very serious fault, and one of which my grandfather had not yet succeeded in breaking me, probably because I had not myself learned to look upon it as a fault. I had a great objection to being advised or directed—dictated to, as I said, and I frequently took the opposite course to that which was suggested to me, out of sheer obstinacy and determination to have my own way."

Ned glanced at Frank, and Frank on his part looked steadfastly at the fire.

"So I kept on my way," continued the squire, "and we soon entered the swamp. The road was sufficiently wide, and very smooth and even. The moon shone gloriously, making the trees and bushes appear as if covered with diamonds, and checkered the road with light and shade, as some great tree now and then threw its branches over the track."

"John's house was situated nearly in the middle of the long swamp, in a little open space, where there was a rise of ground and few acres of excellent land, which he had cleared and got under some kind of cultivation. As we drove by, we saw by the dancing, flickering light in the window that he had got a great fire. It shone through the uncurtained glass clear across the road, and as we passed, John himself came to the door. I pulled up for a moment, and asked him how his wife was."

"'She is very bad,' he answered, shaking his head. 'Nothing will persuade her that she does not hear the wolves, and I had to make up a great roaring fire to satisfy her. I just came to the door to see if there was any sound to be heard, but I can't make out anything more than common.'"

"I felt Carry give a little start at the mention of wolves. As we drove on, the dog began to bark furiously, now and thou breaking into a long, doleful howl. We heard him for a long time as we drove through the swamp."

"'The old dog means to have the last word,' said I. 'He makes more noise than a dozen wolves. I don't believe he thinks us very respectable characters, Carry.'"

"Carry did not answer. Her flow of conversation seemed to have been suddenly stopped by John's words, and as she put back her veil I could see that she was listening. I confess I heartily wished that we had gone by the other road, though nothing would have made me acknowledge it. Nevertheless, I grew more and more uncomfortable every moment, and I drove as fast as I could. To add to my annoyance, the horse began to prick up his ears and show signs of restiveness, and finally broke into a gallop."

"'What ails the brute!' I exclaimed, using, I am afraid, rather a hard word. But Carry laid her hand on my arm."

"'Hush, Harry! For mercy's sake, don't swear! Listen!'"

"I listened, and the cold sweat broke out on my forehead, for I heard the howling of the wolves as plainly as I now hear the roaring of the wind."

"What was it like?" asked Agatha, drawing somewhat nearer to Frank.

"Like no sound you ever heard. Perhaps a little like the long-drawn howl of a hound, but a great deal more wild and doleful. At first I could not tell whether the sound was behind or before us; but by listening a moment, I satisfied myself that our enemies at present were all in the rear, though evidently in hot pursuit, as the sounds grew louder every moment. Our lives depended upon our being able to reach the edge of the swamp before they came up with us, or, failing that, to attain some place of comparative safety near at hand. I could think of but two. One was an old log-house which stood by the side of the road in an abandoned clearing. I had once been in it, and I know that the walls were in tolerably good repair, if there were only doors and windows but how that was I could not remember. The other was a strong, low growing oak tree, which stood a little beyond the clearing."

"I whipped up Charley and he flew like the wind. I think if he had been fresh we should have kept our distance without much trouble. But he had already been driven a good way, and after a little, he began to be distressed. Still I pushed on, for it was our only hope. In a few moments—it could have been but a few, though it seemed an age—we reached the house, and I saw, to my horror, that the windows and a part of the roof were gone, end the door was off its hinges and lay flat on the ground."

"I believe I gave a little groan on seeing this, for Carry said, in a low voice—she had not said a word before:"

"'We are lost, then! Oh, my poor mother!'"

"'No, no!' I cried. 'There is the oak tree a little further on. Courage, Carry, we will cheat them yet!' I shouted to Charley to encourage him, and the noble fellow made a new effort. I could see our pursuers coming on behind us, and evidently gaining ground."

"At last we made a little turn, and there was the great oak, stretching its low short branches over the road. It was but an instant's work to spring from the cutter."

"'Up, up, Carry, for your life!' I said. 'They are upon us!'"

"Carry, as I said, was small and wonderfully active. Dropping her heavy cloak, she sprang from the ground like a cat, and caught the limb. I pushed her from below, and she raised herself to the bough, where she clung securely. I followed her only just in time, for before I was fairly in the tree the head of the nearest wolf appeared round the turn in the road. Charley, relieved from our weight, bounded forward like a deer, and, as I looked after him, I saw with delight that he had freed himself from the cutter. The wolves were close upon him, and one of them actually sprang upon his flunk, but a well-directed kick sent him howling backwards with a broken leg."

"The instant the other wolves saw that their comrade was disabled, they set upon him after their fashion, which gave both Charley and ourselves a respite. I was not without hope that he would reach home in safety, and I knew that if he did, he would give the alarm. Grandfather would perceive that some accident had happened, and come out at once to see what was the matter. I proposed to Carry that we should climb higher in the tree, and thus place ourselves in e position at once more comfortable and more secure. I could see by the moonlight that she was pale as death, but no old hunter could be cooler or more collected. She managed her movements so well that in a few moments she was seated in perfect safety among the upper branches of the tree, where the trunk served at once to shelter her from the wind and support her arm and shoulder."

"'Now, Carry,' said I, 'we are safe, so far as the wolves are concerned. The only danger now is from the cold. You must make up your mind that you will not go to sleep.'"

"'Sleep!' said she, shuddering. 'I don't feel as though I should ever sleep again, much less here!'"

"'You don't know how you will feel when you are chilled through,' I replied. 'If we can only stand it till daylight, we shall be safe, at any rate. What time is it now?'"

"Carry looked at her watch. It was half-past nine. 'A long, long night is before us!' said she, sighing. 'I fear we shall never be able to stand it through, but I will do my best to keep awake. May God have mercy on us!'"

"'Amen!' said I, fervently, and that amen was the first real prayer I ever said in my life."

"Many another first prayer has been made under like circumstances," remarked the clergyman; "and, alas! Many a last one also. But go on with your story, sir."

"The wolves still hung over the remains of their dead comrade at some little distance," continued the squire, "and I thought I might venture down to secure one of the buffalo robes and Carry's cloak, which lay on the ground. Without telling Carry what I was about to do, I bade her sit still and make no noise, while I carefully descended from branch to branch and dropped softly upon the ground. I threw the skin and the cloak up on the branch."

"But the snow was cold and creaked under my feet. One of the wolves looked round, and in a moment the whole pack were upon me. I was too quick for them, however. As I swung myself upon the branch, I had the satisfaction of dealing the nearest wolf a kick with my heavy cowhide boot which would not have disgraced a mule. In another moment I was safe at Carry's side with my prize, which was worth more than its weight in gold to us at that moment, for the weather was growing very cold. I wrapped Carry in her cloak, and would have given her the whole of the skin; but she insisted upon my sharing it, and finding, upon examination, that the bough was strong enough to bear a dozen men safely, I drew close to her side and put my arm round her waist."

"More than a dozen wolves were now assembled round the foot of the tree, howling and yelling as they looked up at us. Every now and then one of them would give a leap upward, as if to secure his supper at any rate. How thankful I felt when I remembered that wolves cannot climb!"

"Cannot they climb?" asked Ned.

"No, no more than a dog. If they could climb as well as run, few creatures could escape from them. The wind had now risen a little, and it was very cold, so that in spite of the buffalo skin, we shivered from head to foot. I looked at Carry, and I perceived that her eyes closed every now and then."

"'Carry,' said I; 'you are growing sleepy!"

"'I know it,' she replied, rousing herself. 'It seems very strange, but I believe, if I were sure of not falling, I should go to sleep in a moment.'"

"'And never wake again in this world!' said I. 'Don't you know that the sleep which comes from cold ends only in death? You must keep awake, whatever happens!'"

"'I will,' said she. And in a moment she began to sing the 'Gloria in Excelsis.' I had often admired her singing before, and since then I have heard that magnificent old chant in grand churches and cathedrals at home and abroad, but I never heard it sound so wonderfully and gloriously pathetic as it did that night, ringing among the trees of the swamp as she sang: 'Thou who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us!'"

The squire paused for a moment and wiped his spectacles.

"It made me cry at first; for I thought she might be singing the angels' song in another world before Christmas morning shone upon this. But presently I recovered myself a little and joined my voice to hers. For more than two hours we sat there in the tree, singing chants and hymns and repeating parts of the Church service. We knew plenty of songs, but we did not feel like singing them then."

"'This is Christmas Eve,' said Carry, at last. 'Can you realize it, Harry?'"

"I did realize it, bitterly enough. 'Yes,' said I; 'and all our folks—yours and mine—are enjoying it at home, never thinking of us!'"

"'Perhaps they do think of us,' said Carry softly. 'And at any rate, Harry, God thinks of us.'"

"'Why don't He help us, then?' I thought, rebelliously enough, and then the thought crossed me that I had never in my life asked Him honestly to help me—never, in fact, felt the need of His help. I had always felt sufficient to myself, and it was this very self-sufficiency which had brought us into all this trouble."

"'Carry,' said I, half-choking, 'do say that you forgive me for bringing you into this scrape.'"

"'There is nothing to forgive,' replied Carry. 'It was not your fault. You did not know anything about the wolves.'"

"'I did! I did!' I cried. 'Mr. Jones warned me not to come by this road, but I thought I knew best. Oh, Carry, can you forgive me?'"

"Carry was silent for a moment. 'I forgive you,' said she; 'but, Harry, let this be a lesson to you!'"

"Notwithstanding all our exertions to keep warm and wakeful, we began to be very much overcome with the cold. I tried to say my prayers, to confess my sins, and to pray for my poor mother and sisters, but my head was growing confused, and I could think of nothing distinctly. Carry was now quite silent, but I could see that her lips moved. Suddenly she gave such a violent start that I thought she was going to fall."

"'Take care!' said I. 'Sit still!'"

"'Harry!' said she, whispering, as if afraid the wolves would overhear her, 'Harry, I heard a shot!'"

"'Some tree cracking with the frost,' said I."

"'It was a rifle shot!' said she, positively. 'There, again!'"

"I heard it this time—the unmistakable sharp crack of a rifle—and then a distant shout."

"'Safe! Safe!' I cried, exultingly. 'They have taken the alarm and have come out to look for us!'"

"I put my two fingers in my mouth and gave a loud, shrill whistle—a peculiar whistle, which my grandfather and I had agreed upon as a signal when he was needed at the mill. It was answered by another shout, and presently I saw through the trees the red light of torches and lanterns. The wolves took to flight as they approached, and we were saved."

"It had turned out as I had hoped. Once free from incumbrance, Charley had gained on his pursuers and reached the open country where they dared not follow him. He took the straight road home as a matter of course, and came clattering round to the back door."

"'There are the children, at last!' remarked my grandfather, rising; but, just as he was about opening the door, Peter, the black man, came in, looking decidedly startled, and as pale, my grandfather said afterwards, as could possibly be expected of as black as his hat."

"'I'se afraid something has happened to the young folks, boss,' said he. 'Charley has come home by hisself without the cutter, and a great bite on his flank. I'se dreadful afraid something bad has happened.'"

"'You are right, Peter, something bad has happened!' said my grandfather, examining the home. 'I am afraid this means wolves! We must raise the neighbors at once and go out to look for the poor children. Run and ring the mill bell as hard as you can, while I saddle the horses.'"

"The jingling bell soon called together all the men of the settlement. Horses were brought out, guns loaded, and torches lighted, and they set out to look for us with but little hope of finding us alive."

"Trembling and exhausted, we were helped down from our perch. But we were both too weak to sit on horseback, and the men were obliged to construct litters to carry us home. Seeing Carry laid upon hers was the last thing I remembered for many days."

"The Christmas service took place, and was well attended, but neither Carry nor myself were among the congregation. I was laid up with a fever and as crazy as a loon, as they say, for three weeks. When I recovered, they told me that I had acted over again all the scenes I had passed through, sometimes whipping the horse, and then encouraging Carry or singing hymns and chants. I was very weak and unwell all the rest of the winter, and quite unable to work, so I had plenty of time to think; and, I trust, my thinking was to good purpose."

"From that time forward we had service and preaching every two weeks in the schoolhouse. The next spring my grandfather built a neat little church, and the Bishop paid us a visit. Carry and I were among the persons confirmed, and I trust we have been able to lead the rest of our lives according to that beginning. Carry had a terrible cold and lost her voice, so that she was never able to sing afterwards. And that, children, was the very longest Christmas eve I ever spent in my life."











"BUT you had a pretty good Christmas tree, sir, after all," remarked Herbert.

The squire laughed. "Why, yes, my son, we could hardly have had a better, under the circumstances."

"How would you have liked that for an adventure, Ned?" asked Herbert, turning to Edward. "That was strange and unexpected enough to suit you!"

"I shouldn't like it at all," replied Ned, decidedly. "I like pleasant adventures."

"Unluckily, my dear, it is not easy to find adventures which are pleasant and dangerous at the same time," remarked the clergyman. "One is seldom able to enjoy the sublime and beautiful when one is cold, hungry, and in danger of breaking one's neck or being eaten up alive."

"But come, grandmother, it is your turn," said the squire. "Turn and turn-about, you know."

"O yes, do please, grandmamma!" chimed in May and Annie. "Your stories are so nice!"

"Very well, I will tell you a story," said the old lady, smiling; "but I must inform you beforehand that there are no adventures in it, though the incidents which I am about to relate occurred at an early date in the settlement of New York State. We will call it, if you please:




"I must begin by telling you that all the main incidents of my story are quite true."

"That is nice," whispered Agatha. "I love true stories."

The old lady smiled, and went on as follows:

"My great-aunt married Mr. James Dean, and moved out to Westmoreland, Oneida county, when that part of the country was quite new. Mr. Dean had been the United States agent for the Oneida and Stockbridge Indians during the Revolutionary war, and it was mainly by his influence that those tribes were kept faithful to the American interests, while most of the tribes making up the great Iroquois nation went over to the British."

"Mr. Dean grew up among the Indians. When he was ten years old, his father took him into New York State and left him with the Oneidas, that he might acquire a thorough knowledge of their manners and language. It was a severe ordeal for the little white boy at first, as all the Indian lads maltreated him and he had no one to take his part. But after a time he was adopted by an old squaw, who gave him such efficient protection that he was quite secure from his persecutors. After a time a missionary, the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, represented to them the great advantage they would reap from having with them an educated white man who should be firmly attached to their interests, and this induced them to send young James to school at Dartmouth, where he received an admirable education."

"My uncle met with abundance of adventures among the Indians, but I will only relate one, which will illustrate Mr. Dean's firmness and presence of mind. At one time during the Revolution—I do not know the exact date—a deputation was sent from the Oneida Indians to their friends in Canada to try to induce them to espouse the American interests, or rather remain neutral, which was all that any one asked of them."

"Why was it that so many Indians went over to the side of the British during the war?" asked Frank.

"The reason was a very simple one," replied the scholar. "The British authorities offered a liberal bounty for scalps, and were in no wise particular as to the age or sex of the person from whom the scalp was taken. In a rare and very interesting book, called the 'Annals of Tryon County,' is given a full account of the matter, with a list or invoice of scalps, showing the number of infants' scalps, scalps of mothers, &c. These facts excited great indignation in England, and were spoken of in the House of Commons as they deserved; all of which did not prevent the same savage allies being employed again in the war of 1812."

"It was thought necessary," continued the old lady, "that James, or, as he was familiarly called, Jemmy Dean, should accompany the deputation, and he consented to do so, though at the imminent risk of his life; for there was not one of the hostile Indians who would not have given his best horse and ride to have the scalp of Jemmy Dean hanging at his belt, so much was he feared and hated by them. His hair and skin, however, were as dark as an Oneida's. He had a perfect acquaintance with their language and all their customs; and, disguised with paint and blanket, he accompanied his friends on their expedition, passing for a half-breed, of which there were a great many among the Indians. The ambassadors reached their destination in safety, and Jemmy, as one of the principal personages of the company, was admitted to share the lodge and blanket of the hostile chief."

"In the course of the night the chief entered into conversation with his guest, endeavoring to persuade him to employ his influence with the Oneidas in bringing them over to the British. He ascribed their backwardness to Jemmy Dean, that white villain, as he called him, who persuaded them into acting contrary to their true interests; and, becoming violently excited as he went on, he started up from his couch, drew his knife, and showed, by various significant gestures, what he would do to the said Jemmy, if he caught him. Little did he imagine that that very Jemmy Dean was lying by his side, with his hand on the haft of his knife, that he might be ready to defend his life if it became necessary. By degrees, the chief calmed down and went to sleep, but my uncle, as may be imagined, got very little rest. He had no fears of betraying himself, but the Canada Indians, in the true spirit of savage hospitality, had made their guests as drunk as possible; and he feared that some of his companions, under the influence of whiskey, might let out the secret, in which case his life would not have been worth an hour's purchase. However, the secret was kept, and Jemmy Dean and his companions next morning took their departure in safety."

"My uncle had many adventures during the war, but he passed through them all in safety. At the close of the struggle, he married my aunt, Miss Lydia Camp, and settled in the midst of his large landed property in Westmoreland, Oneida county. As it was his object to draw settlers round him, he disposed of a great deal of his land at a very cheap rate, and the consequence was that he had many neighbors so poor as often to be in want of the actual necessaries of life."

"My aunt Dean was a very beautiful woman, of remarkably decided character and strong intellect. She had received a fine education, and had a great fondness for books and study, while she cared little for fashion or display of any kind. Above all, she was a most diligent student of her Bible, and was given to interpreting the practical precepts of the Gospel more literally than is altogether the fashion nowadays. She was apt to give to him that asked of her, and from him that would borrow she turned not away. To do good and to distribute, she forgot not; and it may easily be guessed that, living in the midst of such a population, she had abundant opportunities of reducing her principles to practice."

"She was surgeon, physician, apothecary, and nurse to all the poor people for many miles round, and neither white man nor Indian ever appealed to her in vain. But it was not only to the body that she ministered. Many a sorrowful soul had been comforted by her, many an ignorant one enlightened, many a wanderer led into the way of peace. There was not a man, woman, or child in Westmoreland that did not love and revere Madam Dean, or that would not have done her any service in their power."

"My uncle's business as member of the Assembly and Indian Agent took him often to Albany, New York, and Philadelphia. On one occasion, as he was going down to New York, he proposed to his wife that, as their new house was completed and they could well afford the expense, he should purchase a carpet for the parlor and bring it home with him."

"'Well,' said my aunt, 'I should be very glad to have one. A carpet does more towards furnishing a parlor than anything else one can put into it, so far as comfort is concerned. It will make our room seem much more cosy and homelike when cold weather comes.'"

"My aunt glanced round with some complacency at the neatly finished and well-furnished apartment, and in her mind's eye saw the white boards already covered with a warm-colored carpet."

"It was thus settled that my uncle should bring home a carpet, and the color and quality were agreed upon. My uncle considered the matter as disposed of, but the next night, as they were seated by the fire (for it was at a time of year when a bright blaze was comfortable in the evening), my aunt adverted to the carpet again."

"'Mr. Dean,' said she, laying down her knitting for a moment, 'I have been thinking about that carpet again.'"

"'Well,' said my uncle, rather absently, and without looking up, for he had got hold of his favorite newspaper, only ten days old, and was absorbed in its perusal."

"'And I rather think I have changed my mind about it,' continued Madam Dean, altering a little the position of her knitting sheath."

"'Indeed!' said her husband, looking a little surprised, for my aunt was not apt to change her mind upon slight grounds. 'But perhaps you would prefer something else than the carpet?'"

"'I do not care anything about a carpet as a matter of display,' said my aunt, resuming her work. 'It is only as a matter of comfort that I want one at all.'"

"'Well, my dear, what then?'"

"'And a carpet spun and woven at home would be quite as comfortable, though not as handsome, as one brought from New York.'"

"'And not as expensive,' remarked my uncle; 'but you need not deny yourself on that account.'"

"'I was not considering the expense,' replied my aunt. 'What I thought was this: that by having my carpet spun and woven at home I could give employment and a means of subsistence to some of the poor women about us, whose families, I fear, will have hard work to get through the winter with any degree of comfort.'"

"'I thought there was some such idea at the bottom of the matter,' said my uncle, smiling in his turn. 'But please yourself, my dear. For my own part, I shall be as well satisfied with the homespun carpet as with the handsomest one over imported; and I fully agree with you as to the desirableness of finding employment for our poor neighbors. But how will you manage the matter?'"

"'I shall call them together and give out the wool,' replied Madam Dean. 'They can take it to their own homes, and spin and double and twist it, and when they bring it home, I can pay them either in money or anything else they may happen to want.'"

"Mr. Dean agreed with his wife that the plan was an excellent one, and, some days after his departure for New York, she proceeded to put it into execution. She prepared her stores of wool, and, calling her neighbors together, she explained to them that she wanted it spun, requesting each woman to take home such an amount of the wool as she thought she could manufacture within the appointed time."

"'What in the world are you going to do with so much yarn, madam Dean?' asked Bethiah Coffin, who had three little children, and a husband bed-ridden with rheumatism. 'I shouldn't think you could ever use it in your own family!'"

"It is not for cloth, but for a carpet,' explained my aunt. 'I am going to have a carpet made for the floor of my new parlor, which, you see, is quite large. I do not think there will be too much wool for the purpose.'"

"'A carpet! You don't say so!' said old Mrs. Davis. 'I haven't seen a carpeted floor since I came to York State. Old Madam Childs, in Pittsfield, where I came from, had carpets on her best rooms, but they were boughten ones, brought from England before the war.'"

"'All this nice wool for a carpet, just to cover the floor and be walked on!' said Bethiah, holding up her hands. 'What a waste!'"

"'Do you think so?' asked my aunt, smiling.

"'Well, it ain't my business, I know,' replied Bethiah, blushing; 'but if your blankets were as thin as mine, Madam Dean, you might think so too. You see, they were not new when I had 'em. They were some that my mother-in-law gave me—my own folks were all killed down to Wyoming and our house burned—and he has been sick so much that they have come to a great deal of wear. I'm afraid they won't be of much use this winter, for our house is dreadful cold!'"

"'My blankets are good enough,' said Mrs. Givens. 'I had three pairs of new ones when I was married. But I haven't a yard of flannel in the house except what this baby has on, and that is none of the thickest. How the others are to keep warm I don't know, unless I keep them in bed night and day.'"

"'I thought you had some sheep, Mrs. Givens,' observed my aunt."

"'We did have about a dozen that we drove all the way from Massachusetts, but the painters * killed them all but two last spring, and two sheep don't go far towards clothing such a family as mine!'"

"'Very true,' said my aunt. 'You have a large family, Mrs. Givens.'"

* Panthers, or cougars.

"'Seven boys, and all fir—s—t-rate ones, though I say it that shouldn't,' replied Mrs. Givens, with motherly pride and a look of mingled love and admiration at number seven—a stout, rosy little tow-head of ten months old, who sat on the floor contentedly sucking his thumb."

"'That is a good capital with which to begin a new country,' remarked my aunt."

"'That's a fact, Madam Dean. It was our boys more than anything else that brought us out here. But Jacob, the eldest, is only twelve this fall, and he has been having the ague pretty badly. But I don't feel to complain, for it is the first sickness of any account we have ever had among them.'"

"'I am sure you ought to be thankful, Mrs. Givens,' said poor Bethiah, with a sigh. 'I know one ought not to murmur, but I do feel like it, when I look at my poor husband, helpless on his back, and no one but me to do anything. If it wasn't for Madam Dean and the neighbors, I don't know what would become of us. And when I think how we are to get through this winter, I feel as if I should like to curl up in a hollow log like the bears, and not come out till spring.'"

"'Oh, you mustn't be downhearted, Bethiah!' said old Mrs. Davis, kindly. 'My sons, David and Jonathan, calculate to clear that lower piece of land for you this winter, and get it into corn in the spring. It is one great comfort of a new country that nobody need want for firewood.'"

"And my husband said only last night that he had laid out to kill your pigs and ft up your house a little before winter,' said Mrs. Barker. 'He's a master hand at such jobs. But about the wool, Madam Dean?'"

"'I have been thinking,' said my aunt, who had been standing over the bundles of wool apparently in deep meditation while this conversation was going on—'I have been thinking that I would about as soon have a rag-carpet, after all.'"

"'A rag-carpet is very comfortable,' remarked Mrs. Davis; 'and if you have real nice rags, I don't know but it is as handsome as any other, unless you come to a regular English or Turkey carpet.'"

"'I have abundance of rags, if they were only ready,' continued Mrs. Dean. 'There are all Mr. Dean's old coats and cloaks, and a great deal more besides. Suppose, instead of the wool, you take home the old clothes, and cut and sew them into carpet-rags for me. Then when you bring them home, I will let you have the wool, and you can make it into blankets or whatever else you want.'"

"The proposal was received with great approbation, and my aunt felt fully rewarded for any sacrifice she might have made when she marked the glances of satisfaction which the poor women cast at the piles of wool, each probably calculating how many yards of cloth or flannel would come to her share."

"'When shall we come for the rags?' asked Bethiah Coffin."

"'Why, let me see. This is Friday. You may come for the rags on Monday next, and I hope you will all make your calculations to stay to supper.'"

"The company departed, and Madam Dean betook herself to her store-room to see if she could find a pair of thick blankets and a coverlet for Bethiah Coffin; and, having succeeded in her search, she repaired to her garret and other repositories of cast-off garments to get together the materials for her carpet-rags. She soon collected a large pile of old coats, military and civil, cloaks, waistcoats, petticoats, and other articles of wearing apparel, enough to clothe a regiment, besides a scarlet cloak and riding-habit of her own, which she calculated would serve to variegate and enliven her carpet very nicely.

"Monday came, and with it all the neighboring matrons, some with babies and some without, but all dressed in their best, to do honor to Madam Dean's tea-party. Mrs. Barker wore an English print gown which had been her mother's very best before the Revolution, and from the amplitude of skirts in those days was easily made over into some resemblance to the prevailing fashion. But old Mrs. Davis quite eclipsed her with a purple damask gown and a real thread lace on the border of her cap. Poor Bethiah had nothing better for the occasion than a home-made pressed flannel, which, though far from new, was perfectly neat and whole, and looked very respectable along with her nice homespun lawn kerchief and apron."

"My aunt possessed that happy style of manner which sets all sorts of people at their ease at once and draws out to view the best side of everybody. Though highly cultivated herself, she found no difficulty in entering cordially and easily into conversation with her simple neighbors, merely because she took a sincere interest in them. The afternoon passed away pleasantly in lively and social chat, and tea was served at an early hour, that the visitors might be able to return home in time to attend to the milk and do other necessary 'chores' about house. After tea was over, the visitors were conducted into my aunt's bedroom, where were deposited the old clothes which had been destined for conversion into a new carpet."

"'What a beautiful habit!' said Bethiah Coffin, taking up the scarlet riding-habit before mentioned. 'I guess, Madam Dean, you used to wear this when you were slimmer than you are now.'"

"'You are right,' replied my aunt, smiling, and perhaps sighing a little. 'I used to wear that habit when I was quite a young girl.'"

"'It seems almost a pity to cut it into rags,' continued Bethiah, holding the skirt up to the light. 'There is not a hole in it, and these stains might easily be cut out in making it over. If you had a little girl, you might make it over into a nice frock and cloak for her.'"

"'True,' said my aunt; 'but I have no children, you know.'"

"'I rather guess you were thinking of your own little girls, Bethiah,' said plain-spoken old Mrs. Davis."

"Bethiah blushed almost as red as the cloth she hold, but made no reply."

"'I can't blame her if she was,' said Mrs. Givens. 'I was just thinking of about the same thing—how nicely I could make over these breeches for my Jacob. The poor boy's knees have been out so long that he is ashamed to show himself. By the way, Madam Dean, is it really true what the children say, that we are to have a minister at last?'"

"'I am happy to say it is quite true,' replied my aunt. 'Mr. Dean has found an excellent young gentleman who is willing to come among us and preach the Gospel. We shall have service next Sunday in the schoolhouse, and I hope you will all come and bring your children.'"

"'I can't bring mine till they are fixed up a little,' replied Mrs. Givens. 'There is not one of them fit to be seen.'"

"Nor I!' said Bethiah. 'I don't know but it is wrong, but I can't bear the thought of having my girls go to church in rags.'"

"Two or three others excused themselves on the same ground. My aunt knew well that these were not mere empty apologies, for she was in the habit of going about among her neighbors a great deal, and was well acquainted with their circumstances. She excused herself for a few minutes and slipped into the next room, from which she could overhear the conversation which went on over the cast-off garments, as they were taken up and examined one by one."

"'Just see this flannel petticoat!' said Bethiah, holding up the article in question. 'It is worn a little round the bottom and broken in the plaits, but by cutting it off and binding it would be as good as new and keep my Polly warm all winter.'"

"'And look at this cloak!' said another. 'I could cut it into a real nice suit of clothes for my Sam, as good as new. Well, I hope I shall not be guilty of breaking the tenth commandment, but I'm pretty sure I shall, if I have to cut such a cloak as that into carpet-rags while my boy has hardly clothes to cover him!'"

"'I wouldn't care so much about it if it wasn't for the minister's coming,' said Mrs. Givens; 'but I always felt it would be a privilege to go to church and take my children once more. I've felt since we moved out here as if I hadn't valued the means of grace half enough when I had them.'"

"'I guess it is pretty much so with all sorts of privileges,' said Bethiah Coffin. 'I am sure it has been so with me. I never hardly thought in old times of being thankful that I was warm and well, and had plenty to eat and wear. All such things seemed to come of themselves, as a matter of course.' She took up the riding-habit as she spoke, and after another examination, she laid it down and turned away with her eyes full of tears."

"'Don't be downhearted, Bethiah! There's a good time coming!' said old Mrs. Davis, kindly.

"'In heaven! I hope there is, for I'm tired of waiting for it in this world, that's a fact!' sobbed poor Bethiah. 'Things seem to grow worse and worse, and I don't feel as if I could stand it much longer.'"

"By this time my aunt had quite made up her mind as to her course of action, and after waiting a few moments for Bethiah to compose herself, she returned to the room once more."

"'I think I have found out the best way of managing the matter,' said she, perhaps with a tremor in her voice. 'You shall take these clothes home and make them up for your own children. Then you shall take their old clothes, wash them clean, cut and sew them into carpet-rags, and I will exchange the wool for them, as I proposed at first.'"

"The women looked at one another without speaking for a minute or so. Then Mrs. Givens broke the silence:"

"'I declare, Madam Dean, I never did see any one like you in all my born days!' said she. 'I guess, if anybody in this world has treasure laid up in heaven, you will come into a fortune by-and-by. But it is a shame to let you rob yourself so. Our old rags will not make nearly so nice a carpet as these. I am afraid it will be all in lumps and bunches.'"

"'Never mind,' said my aunt. 'I shall only have to sweep the cleaner. But remember,' she added, smiling, 'I shall expect to see all these clothes at the schoolhouse when the minister comes.'"

"The next Sunday after the minister's arrival divine service was held in the school-room, and Madam Dean had the satisfaction of seeing all the children, except such as were kept at home to tend baby or for some other necessary service, in their places; all, no doubt, fully sensible of their new clothes. Bethiah's little girls made quite a smart appearance in their new red cloaks, and the poor woman herself looked more cheerful than she had done for many a long day."

"In due process of time, the carpet was made and sent home. It was rather lumpy, that could not be denied, and the colors were neither greatly varied nor very brilliant; though Mrs. Davis had taken pains to color an old woollen sheet of her own to make some red stripes. But it served the purpose of keeping my aunt's feet warm remarkably well; nor was my uncle ever heard to complain of it, though he looked rather surprised when he first saw it on the floor."

"In the course of time, as matters improved in the country, the rag-carpet was exchanged for one of foreign manufacture, but my uncle always took great delight in relating the story of his wife's rag-carpet."









"THANK you, madam," said the clergyman, bowing. "I am sure we are very much obliged to you for your charming story. I am inclined to think that your aunt must have belonged to a talented family."

This sly little compliment brought a slight blush to the cheek of the old lady and a smile to the faces of the rest of the company.

"I do love to hear stories about the times when the country was new," remarked Frank. "I should have liked to live in those days."

"I suspect they are pleasanter in the hearing than they were in the actual experience," remarked the scholar. "As Agatha says, it is generally more agreeable to read about adventures than to be in them. But if you like a new country, Frank, you should go West."

"That is exactly what I mean to do," replied Frank.

"You can hardly go to any western country which is as new as this State was when the first settlers came here," said the clergyman.

"That is true," assented the squire. "You see, the people out West have the advantage of all our improvements of every sort. When the Genesee country was first settled, for instance, it was a three weeks' journey from Rochester to Albany, in the best of weather, for a team of horses, and that was the only way of transporting goods or produce. There was no nearer market except that of Canada, which was closed during the winter. Even after the making of the Erie canal, which was an unspeakable advantage to all that part of the country, it was a very slow business getting goods up and produce down. Now the people in Iowa can bring their grain and cattle down to New York in less than two weeks, and the merchants get their goods up in a few days by express. All that makes a great difference."

"Still," said Frank, "there must be a vast difference between life there and here."

"Of course, and I do not at all wonder at young men for liking to go West. There are many pleasant things about it, not the least of which is the delight of seeing all things round you improving, and making every stroke of work tell, as I may say, instead of being obliged to labor with all your might to keep matters from going to ruin. It is amazing to see how a new country gets on. That very swamp through which the wolves chased Carry and me that Christmas eve is now as fine a piece of farming land as you would wish to see. The old oak in which we sat so long, has a nice schoolhouse beside it, with little children playing under the branches instead of hungry, howling wolves."

"I mean to go out on the Pacific railroad, somewhere," said Frank "As soon as I learn my profession, I mean to settle in some of those new towns and practise medicine."

"And so do I mean to go out on the Pacific railroad when I have learned my Profession," murmured Herbert; "but not to practise medicine."

"You don't mean to be a lawyer, do you? I wouldn't!" said Ned. "I think it is awful to have to write so much and read all those big leather-covered books!"

Herbert and Frank both smiled.

"It is not the reading and writing I am afraid of," said Herbert. "A minister has as much reading to do as a lawyer, and a good deal more writing."

"And so you mean to be a minister, and go out on the Pacific railroad?" said the clergyman, smiling and turning to Herbert. "You could not set before you a nobler aim, my son, than that of being a missionary to a new country. I trust you may be sustained and assisted in your work."

"Herbert is just the one for a minister," said Ned. "He is cut out for it!"

"How so?" asked the clergyman.

"Oh, he is so steady and sober. He never gets into any scrapes, as the other boys do, and he always has his compositions ready to the day. He is a regular old fogy."

"Well, I declare, Ned, you are polite!" said Agatha.

"Herbert is not a bit of an old fogy!" said Frank, indignantly. "He is the best base-ball player and the best swimmer in the school, as some of us have reason to know. I wonder who it was, Ned, that went in just above the mill-dam and pulled you out when you fell off the foot-bridge? I wouldn't talk much about old fogies, if I were you!"

Edward colored and looked a good deal ashamed. "I didn't mean any harm," said he. "I only meant that he was a steady sort of fellow—a sort of fellow that one always knows where to have him!"

"I don't think any of us would object to be called old fogies, if that is the meaning of the name," said the squire, laughing. "The sort of fellow that one always knows where to have is the kind of fellow I like above all others. But come, doctor," he added, addressing himself to the clergyman, "I think it is your turn next after the old lady."

"Very well," replied the doctor. "I am quite willing to do my share towards entertaining the good company. What story would you like, young people?"

"About the times when you were young, please," said Herbert. "I love to hear such stories."

"Then I will relate to you some adventures of my young days, from which you may, perhaps, learn a useful lesson," replied the clergyman. "I will call my story:"




"My mother died when I was about ten years old, and about two years afterwards my father took for his second wife a lady who had always lived in our neighborhood, and who had been a great friend of my own dear mother's. I do not think upon reflection that I ever had the least cause of complaint against this lady, to whom I finally became much attached; but at the time I so bitterly resented her appearance in the family that I refused to give her the title of mother, kept myself and my little sister out of her way as much as possible, and, when Ella finally went over to the enemy, as I chose to say, almost refused to speak to the child. In short, I made myself as contrary as it is possible for a spoiled child of twelve years old to do."

"My new mother did her best to overcome my prejudices by kindness and gentleness, but I was proof against all her endearments; and my father, finding that I did not incline to behave myself properly at home, determined to send me to school, hoping that a few months of boarding-school life would teach me to appreciate the comforts of home. I believe my step-mother was rather doubtful of the wisdom of this step, though she finally gave way to my father's judgment; but I chose to attribute it all to her influence. However, to school I went, where a couple of months of Latin and Greek, brown sugar to my coffee, and salt butter to my bread, disgusted me to that degree that I made up my mind to run away."

"I determined, however, that I would not go home. I had brooded over my fancied wrongs till I had persuaded myself that a more abused and persecuted child did not exist and I was confirmed in this idea by certain possibly well-meaning but certainly very injudicious people among my own mother's relatives, who chose to bestow a vast deal of pity upon me because I was so unfortunate as to have a step-mother."

"The second Mrs. Stanton was not very young, though she was very handsome. She read a great deal, did little visiting, and bought expensive books instead of expensive dresses. She stood convicted of knowing a good deal of Greek and Latin, besides several modern languages, and was more than suspected of learning Hebrew. What was to be expected of such a parson except that she should disdain family cares, neglect her husband, and ill-treat his motherless boy? They did not wait to see whether she really did so: nor did I."

"I took it for granted that I was an abused orphan, and that nothing remained for me but to take my destiny into my own hands and provide for myself. I had cherished some such notions before I left home; and the salt butter, to which I had a great dislike, and the Greek verb, which I found still more distasteful, confirmed me in my determination. I had a cousin in Buffalo with whom I had some acquaintance, and to him I thought I would work my way somehow or other, tell him my doleful story, and beg him to take my part and find me some employment at which I could support myself. As soon as this was accomplished, and not before, I determined to write to my father, relieve his anxiety on my account, and inform him of my unalterable determination never to return home so long as Miss Rowe—so I determined beforehand to call her—remained mistress of his house. This letter, which I resolved to make a model of respectful but indignant eloquence, I rehearsed many times beforehand, picturing to myself the confusion and remorse of my father and his wife when they should read it. But it never was read or even written, for reasons which will appear hereafter."

"Well, the Greek verb is hard!" remarked Frank, emphatically.

"So I thought," continued the clergyman; "but before I reached my journey's end, I found a good many things that were harder. I had not decided upon my plan of operations, when our village was enlivened by the appearance of a travelling menagerie—a much more rare and stirring event in those days than at present—which all the boys were allowed to visit. Some tight-rope dancing and other displays of strength and agility were connected with the show, and of course the boys were all impatient for the spectacle."

"I was returning home from the post-office, the night before the exhibition, and stopped to spell over the large bills with which the fences were decorated. There was a boy of my own age connected with the company, and the thought flashed across me, 'Why should I not join myself to them, and thus work my way westward to Buffalo?'"

"The more I thought of my plan, the more feasible it appeared. I was very small of my age, but strong, light, and active, and trained to gymnastics, and I imagined that I should have little difficulty in learning any of the feats which they performed. When we went to the show next day, I made some excuse for lagging behind my companions, saying that I was not sure I should go to the caravan. I had a headache, and thought I should perhaps go in swimming instead. There was no danger of the boys waiting for me, since no one ever heard of any boy's being willingly late at any kind of show; so I remained behind, and, when I entered, I mingled with the crowd, which was very great, and kept apart from my companions all the afternoon. My object in this was to prevent my being known as a schoolboy. I lingered behind near the tent when the exhibition was closed, and presently fell into conversation with one of the men, asking him many questions about the nature of his employment, the wages he earned, &c."

"'What makes you so curious?' he asked, at length. 'You don't want a place yourself, do you?'"

"'Suppose I did, could I get one?' I asked."

"'Why, yes, I shouldn't wonder if you might!' was the reply. 'The captain wants a boy, and perhaps you might do as well as another, if you are not too old. How old are you?'"

"'Ten years old,' I replied, blushing a little, for I was not much used to lying."

"'I would rather have you eight than ten,' said my new acquaintance. 'However, you are small of your age, and you look as if you could be spry enough.'"

"'Try me!' said I, confidently."

"Mr. Bangs proceeded to put me through my paces, as he was pleased to call it, and expressed himself satisfied with my activity. He then asked me how I came to be in want of such employment, and I replied by the tale I had invented beforehand, saying that my father was dead, and I had nobody to depend upon but a step-mother, who treated me cruelly, and that I had made up my mind to work my own way in the world. Mr. Bangs pitied me, applauded my resolution, and finally took me to the captain, as he called him, to whom I repeated my story. The end of the matter was that the captain engaged me to work for my board and clothes at first, though I was to have a salary in money as soon as I was skilful enough to appear in public."

"I did not go home to supper, but took my meal at a little tavern on the edge of the village, where none of the schoolboys were allowed to go upon any pretense, and which was now thronged with country people who had come in to see the show. About nine o'clock I stepped into my boarding-house and went to bed, greatly elated by my success, at the same time that my conscience tormented me grievously for the lies I had told and the disobedience I was meditating."

"I was to join my new friends the next morning as early as four o'clock, at which time they took their departure from the village. It happened at that time that a part of the school-building was undergoing repairs, so that a number of the boys, myself included, boarded in the village. I lodged at the house of a woman who had a large family of children and a sick husband, so that her time was pretty well occupied. We generally went up to the school for our meals, unless the weather was stormy, in which case we were excused and took them at our lodgings. My landlady's table, though plain enough, was more to my taste than that at the school, and I remained with her as often as I could."

"The clouds which had been gathering all day began to pour before I reached home. At four o'clock in the morning I was stirring. I gathered together such little matters as I meant to take with me, and, leaving everything in good order, and my bed made, that no suspicion might be excited, I slipped quietly out at the front door. It was raining hard, but that was all the better for my purpose, and by six o'clock I was some miles from the village, riding by the side of my friend Mr. Bangs on the driver's box of the lion's cage, not without some secret fears lest the lion might break through his bars and devour me as a judgment for my disobedience."

"I was missed at breakfast-time, but my hostess, who had not seen me since dinner the day before, supposed I had gone up to the school and staid with some of my mates, while the school authorities supposed me to be at my lodgings. It was Saturday, and a holiday, so that my absence from the schoolhouse excited no suspicion. When I made my appearance neither at dinner nor tea, nor yet at bed-time, Mrs. Leo was a little surprised, but she still imagined that I was with some of my school-mates, and, having abundance of business on her hands, she did not trouble herself about the matter. In fine, it was not till Monday that I was really missed, and by that time I was fifty miles away."

"At first it was naturally supposed that I had gone home, and Mr. Burton, the schoolmaster, wrote to my father on the subject. There were no telegraphs in those days, and the mail communication was far from rapid, so that it was a week and more before he received an answer. When it was found that I had not been home at all, the alarm became serious. The whole vicinity of the town was searched and advertisements put into all the papers."

"At last a handkerchief and knife of mine were found upon the river-bank not far from the village, where the boys were accustomed to bathe. The handkerchief was one which I often wore around my neck, and several of the boys were quite sure I had it on the last time they saw me. It was remembered that I had expressed my intention to go in swimming instead of going to the show, where none of my mates remembered to have seen me. The conclusion arrived at was that I had stolen away by myself to bathe, and, as none of my other clothes were found, it was supposed that they had been carried off by some of the vagabond Indians who hung about the place in summer."

"The river was searched for my body, and of course without success; but then there were many deep holes and some quicksands. Suspicion fell upon the Indians, who played at that time the same part in American nursery legends that the gypsies do in England, but nothing was found to justify the imputation. Somehow the notion that I could have gone away with the Indians never entered into anybody's head, perhaps because I had taken no clothes with me but those I actually had on."

"All this I heard long afterwards. Meantime I was learning my new profession, if such it may be called, and hard work it was. For two or three hours of every day, and longer if there was time, I was exercised with turning somersaults, standing on one foot and raising the other to the level of my ears, and many other like performances, comforted, when I complained, by the assurance that they were nothing to what I should have to do by-and-by. You smile, young gentlemen, at the idea of my occupying, myself in such exercises, but you must remember that I was neither so old nor so stout as I am now. I believe I made tolerable progress in my education, but I found it dreadfully fatiguing. All my muscles seemed strained."

"I got many bad falls, and at night my bones ached so that often I could not go to sleep till it was nearly time to set out in the morning. Then I must jump up, water and clean my animals, and be ready for a fresh start. My master was in general tolerably kind to me, and would often give me a shilling or two when I acquitted myself to his satisfaction; but he was a terrible reprobate, and, if I were awkward or careless, he would swear at me till it made my blood run cold to hear him. In this respect he was neither better nor worse than his men, who all seemed to take a pride in venting the most blasphemous expressions upon every occasion."

"Little Tom Green was as bad as the rest, and it was frightful to hear such words from a child of eight years old. The captain drank pretty hard, and none of the men refused his glass when offered. Nevertheless, they all treated me kindly enough, especially when they found me disposed to be obliging, and Mr. Bangs in particular was my friend and protector on all occasions."

"I was dreadfully afraid of the lions and tigers at first, and used to dream of them at night; but I soon got over my terrors, and grew to be upon quite intimate terms with some of them, especially a lion and lioness, into whose cage Mr. Bangs used to enter at our public exhibitions. They were great, fat, good-natured beasts, and, having been brought up in captivity and always well fed, they were as tame as any household cats. Bob, the lion, was very fond of fresh bread and cake. After I discovered this taste of his, I used to save him a slice from my supper every night, so that we soon became good friends."

"Bob would let me do anything with him; and, seeing one day how fond the creatures were of me, Mr. Bangs proposed that I should enter the cage with him. This part of the performance really belonged to Tom Green, but he was a very imp of mischief, and had tormented all the animals till they hated the sight of him. Even good-natured old Polly had one day put her claws into his jacket, as he passed within reach, with such a good will that she had stripped it from his back. Notwithstanding my regard for Bob and Polly, it was a fearful moment for me when I found myself, rouged and whitened in a fine fancy dress, ready to enter the cage with Mr. Bangs. I knew that my companion was as strong as a giant, and that he had pistols and a knife in his bosom, but I could hardly control my terror as the grate shut behind me; and right glad was I to find myself once more on the outside of the den, with my head still safe on my shoulders. My mates praised my boldness, and the captain gave me five dollars; and after two or three times I went through the performance as coolly as Mr. Bangs himself."

"I suppose there must always be some danger in such feats?" observed the squire.

"Of course, but I think not as much as is generally imagined. The animal knows and loves his master, who punishes him when he misbehaves and rewards him when he does well. He is well fed and has never learned his own strength. Still, there is undoubtedly danger, and every now and then one of the performers pays for his boldness with his life. Attached as the animals often are to their keepers, they are not to be trusted. Some little incident, when it is least expected, arouses all the latent ferocity of their natures, and then the man falls a victim."

"It is fearful to see a man put his life in jeopardy even in a good cause, where he may be entitled to ask the protection of God without presumption and with confidence that it will be granted—and surely it should be much more so when the danger is undergone merely for the sake of gaining money and affording amusement to thoughtless people."

"It was about three months after my escape from school that, one evening after our entertainment was concluded, I walked into the barroom of the little village tavern, where our captain was already seated, looking over a file of newspapers. A great screen covered with advertising bills stood before the door, and I stopped behind it to tie my shoe. As I entered, the landlord was questioning the captain as to the places he passed through. He asked, in an indifferent tone:"

"Did you happen to hear whether they ever found the boy who was lost out of the school there?'"

"'I never heard anything about the matter,' replied the captain. 'What was it?'"

"'Why, a little boy was missed out of the school last spring. Some thought he had run away, some that he was drowned, and others that he had been carried on by Indians. He was advertised both by his father and the schoolmaster, and a great reward offered for any news of him. The bill is posted up somewhere round the room now.'"

"Not a word of this dialogue was lost upon me, as I stood behind the screen; and, as the captain rose to search for the advertisement, slipped out and fled. I had had some idea, of going home before now when the captain was hard upon me or I was tired of practising my tasks; but to be restored like a stray dog for a reward—the idea was too humiliating. I determined to run away once more, and lost no time in putting my project into execution. The men were all at their suppers or in the stable with their horses: I slipped down to the tent, hoping to find Mr. Bangs, to whom I was in the habit of confiding my little savings for safe-keeping; but he was not there, and I dared not risk inquiring for him at the tavern. There was no one in the tent but old Black, whose watch it was, and he was fast asleep and snoring between the legs of the elephant, to which he trusted to awaken him if any stranger entered. Old Sultan know me too well to disturb himself at my approach, so I contented myself with giving old Bob and Polly a parting caress and bidding them farewell."



      Christmas at Cedar Hill.

"I hailed the man at the Stern."


"We had crossed the canal about two miles back, and I now turned my footsteps towards it. I ran for quite a distance, till, finding myself unpursued, I slackened my steps and gained the bridge unperceived. I descended to the tow-path, and walked along through the gathering darkness, beginning to be aware that I was both tired and hungry, for I had eaten nothing since noon. I hoped I might encounter a boat before long, in which case, I meant to beg a ride and some supper."

"About nine o'clock, and just as I was beginning to think that I could walk no further, I saw before me a slowly moving light. I quickened my lagging steps, and, after nearly half an hour's walking, I came up with the light. The boat proved to be what was called a lake-boat, and I hailed the man at the stern and asked for a ride. He made no answer at first, but presently brought the boat alongside the tow-path, and took me aboard."

"'What are you doing on the tow-path at this time of night?' was his first not unnatural question."

"I made up some story which I do not now remember to account for myself, and told him I was anxious to get to Buffalo, where my friends lived."

"'Can you drive?' was the next question. 'Do you know anything about horses?'"

"'I should think so!' was my reply. And indeed I had learned to be very skilful and bold both as a rider and driver."

"'Then you had better take hold with me and work your way through,' said the boat captain. 'I want a driver. My last boy contrived to fall off his horse and break his clumsy neck a while ago; but you look as if you would have more sense. I will give you his place and his wages, if you choose to try.'"

"I had heard plenty of hard stories about canal boys and their captains, but my case seemed desperate, and I agreed to his terms, only stipulating that I should have some supper at once. A sufficiently plentiful and good meal was served up to me, and I went to bed, congratulating myself on my good luck. I little guessed into what a trap I had fallen. At three o'clock in the morning I was called, and told to turn out and relieve the man who had been driving, and, more asleep than awake, I obeyed. The morning air was damp and raw, and I had nothing to keep me warm but my thin summer clothes, for I had forgotten to take my overcoat. I shivered to my very bones. I was desperately sleepy too, and came near tumbling off my horse a dozen times before daylight."

"That was the very longest day that I ever spent in my life. As the sun came up it grew very hot, and there was no shade upon my path. The two old horses plodded along at a snail's pace, with their heads banging down, after the fashion of canal horses; so different from the beautiful grays I had been used to driving for the last few weeks. We were passing through one of the long marshes on the Erie canal, and the mosquitoes were so thick that I could hardly breathe for them. Long before night my head ached as though it would split, but it was not till nearly midnight that the boat was tied up and I got a chance to rest."

"It was now that my real troubles began. My companions in the menagerie, though a hard and graceless set enough, had always treated me with a degree of rough kindness, and indeed I was rather a favorite with them. I had my fair share of rest, food, and amusement, and the captain, though he would swear at me and abuse me terribly in words when he got angry, never ill-treated me in any other way, and would often give me a reward when I had performed particularly well. The men were honest in their dealings with each other, and, if one were sick or injured, his mates were ready to take care of him to the best of their ability. But now I found myself exposed to every sort of abuse. I was worked till I was ready to drop from fatigue, and allowed only such food as my companions did not want; and if I ventured to complain, a curse or a blow was all I gained by it. More than once I got a box in the ear which made me deaf for half a day, and once the captain struck me such a blow with a handspike that I lay senseless for half an hour, and they all thought I was dead."

"But even the abuse I received was not so distressing to me as the appalling wickedness of my companions. Every species of vice prevailed among them. Gambling was the amusement of every spare hour, and the game hardly ever concluded without a fight. Our table was almost entirely supplied from the spoils of the gardens and hen-roosts of the farms and villages by which we passed. Sunday brought me no rest, for we travelled all day long, and the hours were passed away in more than usually shameless vice."

"I do not mean to say that this is a true picture of all the boats' crews upon the canal by any means, but I know that it applied to far too many of them at that time. This state of things had just begun to excite the attention of Christian people, and some missionaries had been sent among the boatmen. After I heard of this, I began to hope I might encounter one of these good men, but our captain swore that he would duck within an inch of his life any parson who dared to set a foot on his boat."

"All this made me sick at heart, and I began to look back with regret and remorse to the advantages and comforts I had so recklessly cast away. On Sundays especially, as we passed within hearing of the bells of some country village calling the people to come up to the house of the Lord, I pictured to myself my father and his wife, with my little sister, walking slowly up the street to church, perhaps dressed in mourning for the graceless son they believed to be dead, and the bitter tears would flow in spite of myself. I began to think of things at home in a very different light."

"I reviewed the conduct of my step-mother from beginning to end without finding anything of which to complain. True, she had sometimes checked me, but never without just cause, and her reproofs were always tempered with kindness. My father had been most indulgent ever since I could remember, and had provided me not only with all the necessaries and comforts of life, but with every luxury which was proper for me and which his means could procure."

"I remembered my pretty, pleasant room, with its white bed and curtains, its book-shelves filled with pretty little volumes which made me the envy of half the boys and girls in the village; and the writing-table, whose pretty braided cloth had been made for my birthday by my step-mother. I thought of my beautiful dog, and my cat which slept on the foot of any bed every night. Such were some of the remembrances which passed through my mind as I drove on, past farm and village, all in their Sunday stillness, till the daylight faded and I was called in to eat my supper and take a little rest. Even in the menagerie we had always rested on the Sabbath-day, generally at some country village, and some of our number would now and then take a fancy to go to church, where I am bound to say, they always behaved with perfect propriety, if they were not much the better for their attendance; but with us Sunday was the worst day of the whole week."

"I suppose a more home-sick boy than myself at this time never lived in the world. I should certainly have tried to run away, but the captain suspected my design and watched me closely. He declared he would kill me in an instant if he found me trying to escape, and I fully believed him to be capable of that or any other wickedness. I would have written to my father, but I had no paper and no time. In short, I could see no way of escape from my tormentor but in death, and so desperate did I become that I had serious thoughts of drowning myself. I hated my captain with a perfect hatred, and I sometimes felt as though I would willingly die if I could only kill him first."

"But after a while better thoughts began to prevail. I had been religiously brought up, and had learned many chapters of Holy Scripture by heart, and, though I had neither opened a Bible nor said my prayers since I ran away from school, what I had learned staid by me in spite of myself. I was riding along, one moonlight night, trying to keep myself awake, that I should not fall off my horse. I was more than usually miserable. An accident had occurred at a lock that morning by which one of the horses had been thrown into the water and nearly drowned; and though I was entirely innocent in the matter, the captain chose to throw all the blame upon my shoulders. He beat me till some of the men interfered to save my life, and I had had nothing to eat since but an apple, which the cook, who sometimes stood my friend, had slipped into my pocket. I could hardly sit up, and every movement gave me pain; but my tormentor seemed determined to give me no rest, though it was long past the time when I should have been relieved."

"As we plodded along we passed another boat. The man at the helm was singing a hymn which had been a great favorite of my dear mother—'The Voice of Free Grace.' It was the first time I had ever heard such a sound on board a canal-boat. It seemed at once to bring home and all the blessings and privileges I had so wantonly cast away before my eyes in one view, and I burst into tears and cried bitterly."

"I had not gone much further when someone clapped his hand upon my knee, and a man's voice said, kindly enough:

"'Hallo, my boy, you seem to be in a good deal of trouble. What's the matter you?'"

"I turned round, and recognized the red shirt and black, bushy whiskers of the man I had heard singing a little while before. I could not answer directly, and he walked along by the side of the horse, still keeping his hand on my knee. It was so long since I had had a hand laid on me in kindness that the very pressure seemed somehow to comfort me."

"'I like to jump ashore and walk ahead sometimes, and so get a little time to myself,' said he, presently. 'You seem in great trouble, and I should like to help you. Are you sick or hungry?'"

"'Both,' I answered, 'and a great deal more than that!'"

"My companion put his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a handful of cakes and crackers. They were rather strongly scented with tobacco, but I was too hungry to mind trifles, and I thought nothing had ever tasted so good."

"'You don't look as though you had been brought up to such business as this,' said my new friend, scrutinizing me closely by the bright moonlight which shone in our faces. 'Are you sure now you didn't run away from home?'"

"'I did! I did!' I exclaimed, with a fresh burst of tears. 'And now I would give all the world to get home again!'"

"'Why don't you go, then?' was the natural question."

"'I have no money, and they watch me so closely that I have no chance to run away. They treat me dreadfully. I have not had anything to eat before, to-day.'"

"'What is your captain's name?' asked the stranger."

"I told him, and he shook his head."

"'You have got into a bad box, my lad. There is not a more desperate set on the whole canal.'"

"'Hallo, George!' shouted my tormentor from the boat. 'What are you about! Stop talking and mind your business!'"

"This admonition was accompanied with more threats and oaths than I care to repeat."

"'I dare not say any more now,' said I; 'but if you wish to save my life, write to Mr. George Stanton at H—, Massachusetts, and tell him that his son George is on the canal-boat Diamond, and cannot get away. Tell him I told you to say so; and oh! Do write at once, or it will be too late to do any good.'"

"'I will do it before I sleep,' said my companion. 'You may depend upon me. And one word more, my boy, before I leave you. You have done very wrong, but do not despair. Remember the Prodigal Son. Return to God, and He will return to you. He can hear you as well from your horse's back as anywhere else, and He will, too, if you truly seek Him.'"

"He jumped aboard his boat, which now came up, and I started up my horses. When I was released at last, the captain called me, and asked me what I had been talking about. I told him only that the man had asked me if I was hungry, and, when I said yes, he had given me some cakes and crackers."

"And you told him a fine parcel of lies about the way you were treated, I dare say. I'll teach you to go gossiping along and letting your horses get drowned, you young dog!'"

"He seized me by the collar as he spoke, and I verily thought my last hour was come, but one of the men interfered."

"'Let the boy alone!' said he. 'Do you mean to kill him?' Haven't you got enough on your hands already?'"

"'What is that to you?' asked the captain, fiercely."

"'It is so much to me that I won't stand by and see a child murdered. Come now, captain, there is no use in bullying. I know enough to hang you, and by— I'll do it, too, if you don't behave yourself better. Get away, George, and go to bed.'"

"I was only too glad to obey, and crept to my miserable bed. My new friend's words seemed to have thrown a little light on my dark path. He had promised to write to my father, and I believed he would keep his word; but that was not all. He had turned my thoughts to my Father in heaven—a Father forgotten, sinned against, outraged, but still my Father, pitying and caring for me through all. I repeated to myself the parable of the Prodigal Son, which I had learned by heart long ago. 'And while I was yet a great way oft; my Father saw me, and had compassion on me.'"

The clergyman stopped and cleared his throat.

"All the next day my head and limbs ached terribly, and I could hardly sit up, but I was happier than I had been for many day. I confessed my sins and sought earnestly for forgiveness, and it seemed to me as if I found it, for a wonderful peace and quietness appeared to descend on my heart. I believed that I was going to be very sick, and I thought I should probably die. Oh! How earnestly I did pray that I might be spared to see my dear father once more, if it were only for long enough to beg his forgiveness for all my undutiful conduct."

"My forebodings proved true, so far as the sickness was concerned. We were not far from Rochester, which was not then the busy little city it has since become, but only a pretty, thriving village. By the time we arrived at its outskirts, I was very ill indeed. I tried hard to sit up and drive, but it was impossible, and just as we reached the aqueduct, I fell from my horse and rolled into the water. A man who saw me fall, instantly jumped in after me and brought me to shore."

"'Let him alone, you fool!' shouted the captain. 'He is only shamming. He can help himself well enough.'"

"'Shamming!' said my preserver. 'He don't look much like it. There, take him on board and use him well, for he seems to need it.'"

"'Oh, don't let him take me!' I pleaded, feebly clinging to his arm as the captain approached. 'He will kill me, I know he will. He has almost done so already. Let me die in peace.'"

"'What does all this mean?' said an elderly, well-dressed man, approaching the spot, where quite a little crowd had gathered round me. 'What is the matter, my little fellow? Don't be afraid, no one shall hurt you. Tell me the whole story.'"

"'He has beaten and starved me,' I tried to explain. 'I know he means to kill me! He said he would. Oh, do please send me home to my father!'"

"My head again turned giddy as I spoke, and I should have fallen but for the supporting arm of my new friend, who sat down on step and took me on his knee."

"'Just look here, sir,' said he, turning down the collar of my shirt. 'Is that the way to treat a little child like this?'"

"I dimly remember the looks and tones of pity and indignation as the men gathered around me. I recollect the old gentleman's assuring me that I should be taken care of, and then putting me into a wagon, the motion of which distressed me exceedingly. After that, the time is really a blank. I knew sometimes that I was in a comfortable bed and kindly treated, and I have a dim remembrance of some ladies who came often to see me; but I could not speak clearly or give any distinct account of myself."

"But one night, after what seemed a very long and sound sleep, I woke, and found that I was better. I lay perfectly still, not moving a finger, but letting my eyes rove idly round the room. I looked at the whitewashed walls and the uncarpeted floor, and I guessed that I was in some almshouse or hospital. Presently my eyes fell upon a lady who was sitting by the foot of the bed. I looked at her a long time, as she sat reading by the light of the shaded lamp, and I seemed to remember that it was not the first time I had seen her near me. The tall figure and erect carriage seemed familiar, and carried my thoughts back to home. So did the somewhat large but noble and regular features, the clear, brown skin, and the abundant dark hair, a little streaked with gray."

"'Mother!' said I, at last, 'Is that you?' It was the first time that I had ever called her 'mother.' She did not start, but quietly laid down her book and came to my side."

"'You feel better, do you not, my dear boy?' said she, laying her hand on my forehead.

"Yes, mother, but very weak and faint.'"

"She gave me a little wine and then some nice broth, which seemed to refresh me, but she would not allow me to talk."

"'Is my father here?' I asked, after lying still a little longer."

"'He is here. He has been watching by you for two or three nights, and I persuaded him to lie down.'"

"I still felt very low and weak and it tired me to talk; so I lay still, and looked at my mother with a kind of peaceful enjoyment of her presence, till I fell asleep once more. The next morning I saw my father, but I was not allowed to speak to him, for my strength was so reduced that my recovery was considered a very doubtful matter. I well remember the pain it gave me to see how old he had grown, and how careworn and sad he looked. He assured me of his entire forgiveness, and bade me give all my thoughts to getting well, that I might go home once more."

"It was only by the best of nursing that I finally regained so much strength as to allow of my being removed from the asylum whither I had been carried by those who had rescued me from my tyrant, and it was more than two months before I was considered well enough to set out for home. During all this time my step-mother was unwearied in her kindness and attention to me, and I began to wonder how I could ever have disliked her. I do not think I should ever have done so, had not my mind been prejudiced against her beforehand by some of those unlucky people who are afflicted with an utter inability to mind their own business. I found out, too, that it is possible for a woman to understand Latin and Greek and yet be a good nurse, an excellent housekeeper, and the kindest of mothers."

"I learned after a while how my parents had finally found me. When Captain Stokes and Mr. Bangs came to read the advertisement at the tavern, they were convinced that I was the child described, and they were confirmed in their belief by my running away as I did. Captain Stokes immediately wrote to my father, saying that a boy answering in all respects to his description had joined the company at P—, and had been with them some months, but had suddenly disappeared, without leaving any trace of his whereabouts. He believed, however, that I might have taken to the canal. Advertisements were sent to all the towns upon the canal, and persons employed to look out for me among the drivers; but no news was obtained till my father received a letter from the man who had accosted me on the night I have mentioned, saying that I was on the canal-boat Diamond, and, the writer believed, very badly off. My incoherent talk had made the people who took charge of me think that I must be the child who had been so extensively advertised, and they wrote to my father immediately, but with little hope of his arriving in time to see me alive."

"Railroads, there were none in those days, and I made my journey homeward in a packet-boat on the canal. I seemed to recognize every stone and stump on the way, and I showed my mother the very spot where the steersman of the other boat jumped off and spoke to me. Many were the resolutions I made during that long journey, one of which was that if I was once spared to get well, I would devote my life to preaching that Gospel of repentance and salvation which had been so effectually preached to me by the kind Christian boatman. I kept my word; and the very first sermon that I ever preached was upon the Parable of the Prodigal Son. However, I am anticipating my story."

"I did not return to school that winter, but studied at home with my mother; and I must say I found her a more able and interesting teacher than my tutor at P—. Perhaps, however, my rapid progress was owing in part to the fact that I had now a motive for all I did. Be that as it might, when I returned to school in the spring, I was placed two classes in advance of that in which I had been before. I worked hard and gained great credit, and before the end of my stay I had established as good a character as any boy in the school."

"The menagerie to which I had been attached, visited our village the very next summer, and I went to see my old friends the lions and carry them some bread and cake. My mates received me with great kindness and congratulated me on my return home. Captain Stokes told me that he had some idea at the time that my story was not true, and had therefore kept his eye upon me, meaning, if his suspicions were justified, to return me safely to my friends."

"He looked worn and sickly, and Mr. Bangs told me privately that he was killing himself with drink. Bob and Polly knew me again directly, even without the aid of the cakes I had brought them, and showed as much pleasure at seeing me as a couple of dogs would have done. Captain Stokes gave me a beautiful parrot as a parting present, and I never saw him again. He died the next year, and the company was broken up. Mr. Bangs went to New York and set up a riding school, which he taught for many years, till he grew wealthy and retired from business. I was told afterwards that he became a member of the church in his old age, and lived and died a consistent Christian. I was glad to hear it, for he certainly had a great deal of good about him."

"Did you ever hear of the cruel captain again?" asked Agatha.

"Never. He may be living now, but it is not likely. The man who befriended me is now alive, though a very old man, and is a member of my congregation. He would accept of no reward for what he did for me, and my father sent him as a present a fine gold watch and chain, which he still wears."









"I AM sure we are very much obliged to you, sir," said Herbert.

"Boys don't very often turn out well who run away from home," observed the squire. "You were very fortunate to escape as you did. Many a lad who has run away and gone on the canal has either been heard of no more, or, still worse, has grown-up into a ruffian and drunkard."

"If I were going to run away, I would not go on the canal," observed Harry. "I would go to sea."

"You might not fare very much better for that," returned the scholar, "and you would be still more powerless to help yourself if you chanced to fall into the hands of a brutal captain. Any resistance to the will of the captain on board ship is a mutiny, and liable to be punished with death. A seafaring life is hard enough, especially in the beginning, if begun under the most favorable circumstances; and the inevitable hardships of the position would not be lightened by an accusing conscience."

"There is no great danger of Harry's running away," said May, laughing. "Harry, do you remember when you and Tommy Baker set out to go to Bengal to hunt tigers?"

Harry blushed and laughed at the same time.

"What was that?" asked Ned.

"Shall I tell, Harry?" asked May.

"O yes, I don't care," replied Harry. "I was only eight years old, anyhow."

"When Harry was eight years old," May began, "he and Tommy Baker, a little friend of his, was visiting at the house of a lady who had a great many beautiful books, and among others one which had in it a great many pictures and stories about tiger hunting. It had beautiful colored plates, and the stories were very interesting. So we always asked for the tiger book whenever we went to see the lady."

"What was her name?" asked Ned, who always wanted all the particulars.

"Her name was Mrs. G—, but we always called her 'the lady.' All the children did. Well, Harry and Tommy got the tiger book, and looked at the pictures and read the stories, till they thought they would like to go and hunt tigers too. So after supper, instead of coming straight home, they set out to walk to Bengal. They had each for provisions an apple and a nice frosted cake, which the lady had given them. When it grew late and they did not come, mamma sent for them, but the lady said they had set out some time before. Of course, every one was alarmed, and papa and Uncle Henry went out to look for them. Before long Uncle Henry found them a long way from home, but trudging along back as fast as they could and looking very crestfallen."

"'Why, boys, where have you been?' asked Uncle Henry."

"'Almost to the toll-gate,' answered Harry."

"'To the toll-gate! And what took you there?'"

"'We wanted to go to India and hunt tigers,' said Harry, beginning to cry."

"'Well!' said Uncle Henry, laughing. 'What made you turn back?'"

"'Because there was a great big pig in the road,' sobbed Harry, 'and we were afraid to go past him.'"

Harry joined heartily in the laugh which followed, to the surprise of Edward, who never could see any fun in a joke against himself.

"Don't you hate to have such stories told about you?" he said to Harry, in a low tone.

"O no! I don't care! I have often laughed at it myself. I mean to go to India some time or other, for all that."

"Who else is going to tell a story?" asked Frank.

"I think it is this gentleman's turn next," said the squire, turning to the scholar, who sat looking at Agatha in an absent-minded way, as if he were thinking of something very far off. He started as the squire spoke, and expressed his willingness to contribute his share to the amusement of the evening.

"We have had two stories of early times-one in Michigan and one in New York State," said he. "I will tell you a story of early times in Vermont. It was related to me by the lady to whom the incident occurred, but as I cannot pretend to repeat her words, I will put the story in words of my own."




"It would be hard to find any place where people dwell at all lonelier than Bolt's Hill. You turn up the public road, broad and well-travelled, which leads from Whitehall to Rockville, and go up, and up, and up, till it seems as if you were going to the clouds. On one side of the road is a perpendicular wall of rock, from twenty to sixty feet high, covered with grim, black spruce-trees. On the other side, the land descends rapidly to a deep ravine, at the bottom of which runs a brawling stream, which in wet weather is increased to a roaring torrent."

"There is not a house or a sign of habitation for several miles, but after a while the precipice and the road turn away from the stream, and the ravine widens out into a valley, at the bottom of which is a little, bright green meadow. The traveller comes to an old mossy apple-orchard, and then to an old red house. The house is low and needs painting, and the roof, the stone walls which surround the yard and garden, and all the little buildings about the door are covered with green moss and whitish lichens, showing how long they have been standing. The view in front of the house is bounded by a narrow grove of spruce and other trees, and behind that rises again the gray wall of rocks. Back of the house, pale green rocky pasture-land runs down to the brook, with here and there a tree growing in the scanty soil and rooting itself deep in the rifts of the rock."

"In summer, Bolt's Hill is a pleasant place enough. But the autumnal and winter gales sweep over it with a sound which may be heard for miles away, and which seems like the roar of the sea on a sandy beach."

"But if Bolt's Hill be rather a dreary spot, the little girl who lived there did not think so. It would be hard to find anywhere a more cheerful, placid little maiden than Fanny Bolt, or one who enjoyed life any more. Though she was the only child at home, she did not want for playmates. She had the dog, the cat and kittens, the cosset lambs, of which there were every summer one or two, and she was on terms of intimacy with every horse, cow, and sheep about the place. In summer, she went across lots to the district school, about three-quarters of a mile away, and there she had plenty of friends, for all the school children were fond of the bright, good-natured little girl."

"Fanny had not a great many books of her own. She possessed two or three which had been her mother's. One called 'Examples for Young Ladies,' and containing histories of various girls, good and bad. The good girls invariably made happy marriages, and the bad ones always caught cold and died, or were thrown out of carriages and became cripples ever afterwards; the history always ending with the epitaph of the young lady in question. Then she had a large 'Book of Trades,' with a great many pictures, in which she took great delight. But her chief treasures were the 'Parents' Assistant' and four big volumes of Mrs. Sherwood's works, which her sailor brother had brought her from England the last time he came home. These tales took her into a different world from her own—a world over which Fanny pondered and dreamed as she rambled over the pastures or sat with her sewing or knitting on the flat stone before the kitchen door."

"Besides these peculiar treasures, Fanny, by the time she was twelve years old, had read nearly all the books in the house. There was quite a collection of voyages and travels in the corner cupboard, which she knew almost by heart, and she had read a great deal of English and American history. But the book she loved best of all was the Bible—the great Bible with pictures, which lay on a stand in the corner, and which she was allowed to look over and study as much as she pleased, on the single condition that she should always have clean hands when she touched it."

"Mrs. Bolt had family prayers every morning, and Fanny read her two verses in turn with the rest, looking over her father as she sat by his side. Then Fanny, ever since she could remember, had learned every day first one, then two, then three verses in the New Testament, which she repeated to her mother before she went to bed; so that she was very familiar with the sacred text."

"Fanny did not often go to Sunday-school. Her parents were 'Church people,' and there was no Episcopal church nearer than that at Rockville, twelve miles away. On the first Sunday of every month, Mr. and Mrs. Bolt drove over to Rockville to church, and these were Fanny's great holidays. Then she met her special friends, the rector's two little daughters. Then she went to Sunday-school, and in consideration of her living so far away, the teacher allowed her to take home two or three books at a time. One day, one of the other little girls in the class objected to this indulgence."

"'We can only have one book at a time, and she has three. I don't think it is fair.'"

"'Fanny can only come once in a month,' replied the teacher; 'and when she comes she has learned the lessons for the whole month. She never misses a lesson, and it is only fair that she should have the same privileges as you who are more favored.'"

"Fanny had not always been an only child. She had once had two brothers. The elder had gone to sea before Fanny was born. He had come home two or three times since she could remember, and had always brought her and her mother beautiful presents; but he had not been home now for five years. The ship in which he sailed had been lost, and though some of the sailors were saved, David Bolt was not among them. Every one but Fanny believed that he was drowned; but Fanny could not think so. She never talked about David now, because it seemed to grieve her mother, but she thought of him a great deal, and always prayed for him when she said her prayers."

"The other brother, John, had been injured by the fall of a tree he was cutting down, and after lingering some months, he too died, and was buried near the little church in Rockville. Fanny always went to see his grave when she went to church. She loved to think of John, too, and remember the talks she used to have with him as he lay on his bed in the little room opening out of the kitchen. But she felt very differently about John from what she did about David. John was safe in heaven, never to suffer any more. Fanny was sure of that."

"But poor David might be cast ashore on some desert island, or a slave among the savage Arabs, like the Captain Riley whose narrative was among the books in the corner cupboard; and most earnestly did the little girl pray that God would care for him and bring him safely home again."

"One November—the one in which our story begins—the winter had set in early, and very cold and stormy. There had been snowstorms already, and the sleighing was good, though the road between Bolt's Hill and Rockville was somewhat drifted. Fanny did not go to school now. She learned her lessons at home, and recited them to her father in the evening. She could not run about the fields any more, but she did not want either for work or amusement. She had her lessons to learn and her daily task of spinning to do, for Fanny had already learned to spin both on the great and little wheel. Then for amusement, she had the footstool she was working in worsted for a present to Mr. Henderson, the rector of the church at Rockville: she had her swing in the garret, her dolls and playhouse, and her books, which she loved the more the oftener she read them over."

"The day before Thanksgiving—that is to say, on the twenty-seventh day of November, Mrs. Bolt said to Fanny at the breakfast table:"

"'Now, Fanny, you are to be housekeeper to-day. Your father and myself are going to Rockville to do some business, and we want you to stay at home, keep up the fire, and have a comfortable house and a good supper for us when we come home.'"

"Fanny looked a little grave and disappointed when she heard that her parents were going to Rockville without her, but her face soon cleared up again. And she began to please herself with thinking of all the work she should do, and the nice supper she would have for her mother at night; for Fanny was already quite a good cook."

"'You will not be lonely,' continued Mrs. Bolt. 'Your father stopped at Mrs. Morrell's last evening, and invited Miss Gibson to come up and spend two or three weeks with us, and she is coming this morning.'"

"Fanny clapped her hands with joy. Miss Gibson was the lady who had taught the district school for the last two summers. She was very young, only eighteen; and though she well knew how to command obedience in school, out of school she was the best playfellow in the world. She knew heaps of stories and more plays than were ever heard of in the Bolt Hill district before, and all the children loved her. Miss Gibson was an orphan, and had no home of her own, but she was a welcome guest at every house in the district. Fanny loved her dearly, and nothing could please her more than the news that she was to have her darling Miss Gibson to herself for a whole day."

"'It looks like snow,' said Captain Bolt, as he came in after bringing the horse round to the door; 'but then it has looked so for two or three days. Mind and keep up good fires, Fanny. There is plenty of dry wood and pine-knots in the shed. I shall be home in time to milk.'"

"'Oh, father, let me milk!' said Fanny. 'I can do it just as well as not.'"

"'Very well, do as you please. And if anything should happen—mind, I don't see how anything can—but if anything should happen to prevent our coming home to-night, don't you be scared, but put your trust in God and go to bed in peace.'"

"'But, father, what could happen?' asked Fanny."

"Nothing that I know of, child, but it is way of mine to look at all sorts of possibilities. Come now, mother, if you are ready.'"

"Fanny stood at the door of the farm-house with her skirt thrown over her head, and watched the sleigh down the hill, till a turn in the road hid it from her eyes. Then, she turned the other way to see if Miss Gibson was coming, though it was rather early to expect her. Mr. Morrell lived five miles away by the road, but by the path, ''cross lots,' along which Fanny used to go to school and by which Miss Gibson would come, it was only about a mile. This path was almost always kept open in winter, for it was much the nearest way to the little village called Rockville Four Corners."

"As I said, it was early for Fanny to expect her friend, but Miss Gibson had said she should come as early as she could get away. Fanny gazed for some time across the pasture but saw nothing, and finally she went in, made up a bright fire, and occupied herself in washing up the breakfast dishes and putting the kitchen in nice order. She had done all this, got out her spinning wheel, and learned her Scripture verses, and still Miss Gibson did not make her appearance."

"'There is no use in this,' said Fanny, decidedly. 'The more I look for her the more she won't come. "A watched pot never boils," as father says. I will just set about my spinning and not go to the door again till she comes.'"

"As Fanny turned to go into the house, a few snow-flakes came drifting downwards through the air."

"'There!' said Fanny. 'It is going to snow, after all. I hope father and mother will not get caught in the storm.'"

"Fanny drew her wheel—her own pretty wheel, made expressly for her and given her on her last birthday—into its usual place, and applied herself sedulously to her task, stepping busily backwards and forwards and singing to herself. She was spinning some uncommonly fine stocking yarn, and she took great pride in making a smooth, even thread."

"'I will not even look out of the window,' said she to herself, 'till I have spun all these rolls.'"

"This was a very good plan of Fanny's. Nothing makes the time pass more quickly than setting oneself a certain task, and sticking to it steadily till it is finished. Fanny went on with her spinning, and soon became interested in her work, which she tried to do as well as she possibly could. As she took up the last roll, a fierce gust of wind shook the window so strongly that she turned, without thinking, and looked out. The air was full of snow-flakes whirling in all directions, as they were driven by the wind. Fanny went to the window. She could not even see the barn."

"'It is only a squall,' thought Fanny. 'It will be over presently. I only hope Miss Gibson has not got caught in it. I do wonder why she does not come. She told father she would be here directly after breakfast.'"

"Fanny was destined to wonder a great many times before the day closed, for Miss Gibson did not come at all, because she did not even set out. The truth of the matter was this. When Miss Gibson rose in the morning, she found she had a bad sore throat. She had taken cold in some way, and her throat was very much swollen and so sore that she could hardly swallow her breakfast."

"'You will never be able to go up to Bolt's Hill this morning,' said Mrs. Morrell."

"'I don't like to disappoint Fanny,' said Miss Gibson, 'especially as she is to be alone to-day. Perhaps I will feel better when I have had my breakfast.'"

"'We shall see,' returned Mrs. Morrell, shaking her head. 'I am much mistaken if you get out of the house this day, or to-morrow either.'"

"It turned out that Mrs. Morrell was right. Miss Gibson's cold grew worse very fast, and before breakfast was over she was obliged to lie down on the sofa."

"'It is too bad that you should be disappointed, and Fanny too,' said good-natured Mrs. Morrell. 'I'll tell you what I'll do, Eunice.' (Miss Gibson's name was Eunice.) 'I will send Jake up to Bolt's Hill with the sled to bring Fanny down here to spend the day. She will enjoy that, and so shall I; for there is not a nicer girl than Fanny in the whole district.'"

"Jake set out on his errand with no good will. He was Mr. Morrell's nephew, and 'bound' to him; that is, he was to live in his uncle's house and work for him till he was grown-up; at which time he was to have a suit of clothes, a horse, and some other matters to start him in the world. Mr. Morrell had one son, who was in college studying to be a minister. Jake chose to feel himself very much injured that he could not go to college, too, though, as his aunt said, it was hard to tell what he would have done there, since he was the dunce of the village school, was always at the bottom of the spelling and parsing classes, and had never yet succeeded in learning the multiplication table. The only thing to which Jake really applied himself, and in which he showed any ingenuity, was in shirking work; and it seemed us if he sometimes took more pains to avoid work than would have been necessary to do it. In short, Jake was thoroughly and entirely lazy, and being so, he was almost, as a matter of course, thoroughly selfish and very much given to lying."

"Jake had finished his chores before breakfast, for a wonder, and he felt very virtuous in consequence, and very much disposed to spend the rest of the day in lounging in the chimney-corner. It was therefore with no good will that he found himself required to go up to Bolt's Hill and drag Fanny down to his aunt's."

"'I don't believe she will come,' said he, sulkily, 'and, besides, I don't see why I am to be bothered with her. However, I suppose I can go.'"

"I suppose you can, and pretty quick, too!' returned Mrs. Morrell, sharply."

"Jake knew by experience that to quarrel with his aunt was no way to secure his dearly beloved ease, and that he must at least pretend to obey her. But he had no sort of notion of going clear up to Bolt's Hill. He took his sled and went out, indeed, but only as far as the grocery at the corner by the blacksmiths shop, where he lounged away a couple of hours enjoying the society of two or three village loafers. Then he returned home."

"'Where is Fanny?' asked his aunt, meeting him at the door."

"Oh, I met Captain Bolt just up at the corner, and he had Fanny with him. They were coming round this way to tell Miss Gibson that she need not come up, because they were all going to Rockville for the day.'"

"'So you see, Eunice, it was well you did not go up there,' said Mrs. Morrell. 'It is queer too—not a bit like the Bolts.'"

"'Something new might have happened, you know,' said Miss Gibson. In her heart, she felt hurt that her friends should have treated her so unceremoniously—inviting her for a visit, and then going away from home on the very day she was expected. But she had abundance of that charity which thinketh no evil. She presently made up her mind that something unforeseen must have happened which made it necessary for Fanny to go with her parents to Rockville, and wisely resolved to think no more of the matter till she saw her friends again. That Jake had made up the whole story was an idea which never entered her mind."

"Meantime Fanny, in the old red house on the hill, found the time pass rather slowly. The storm did not abate as she expected; on the contrary, the snow seemed to fall faster mid faster all the time, and the wind, catching it up, spun it in whirls and eddies round the house, and then piled it up in great drifts under the windows and along the fences. There was no use in looking out of the window, for nothing was to be seen. Long before noon, Fanny had given up all idea of Miss Gibson's arriving that day. It was clear she could not come out in such a storm. Fanny could not help crying a little over her disappointment; but she soon wiped her eyes."

"'There is no use in crying,' said she to herself, briskly and cheerfully. 'I must just make the best of it, that's all. I mean to work at my cushion till it is time for dinner, and then make myself some batter slap-jacks. Mother said I might get anything I liked, and I mean to have slap-jacks and maple molasses.'"

"Fanny got out her work-basket, sorted her worsteds—crewels she called them, and went industriously to work. She was embroidering a pretty pattern, and she soon fell to singing cheerfully over her work. By-and-by old Bose, the dog, came to the door and scratched to come in. As Fanny opened the door, the wind pulled it out of her hand and slammed it back against the wall, while what seemed a whole snow-drift came whirling in at the door."

"'Whew!' exclaimed Fanny. 'This rather beats all I ever saw, even on Bolt's Hill! Come in, Bose, you good old dog! You shall have your dinner with me. I declare!' said Fanny, struck with a sudden thought, 'I mean to have a dinner party.'"

"No sooner said than done. Fanny ran upstairs to the garret, and presently came down carefully carrying a large basket, and followed by a very large and beautiful yellowish-white cat, with long hair and a long, bushy tail. She set the basket down in a warm corner by the fire. It contained a bunch of yellowish-white fur, which presently began to move and showed itself to be composed of three plump kittens, about four weeks old, which stretched themselves, crept out of the basket, and began playing about the floor. The old cat was evidently greatly pleased, and showed her satisfaction in cat fashion by purring, making pretty little coaxing noises, rubbing her head, and finally mounting in Fanny's lap and sitting on her shoulder. She was a foreigner, a Japanese, and had been brought home by David Bolt on his last visit as a present to his little sister. She was only a kitten then, but she was now growing old. She was still lively and playful and an excellent mouser. None of her kittens were ever killed. All the children in the village were glad to have them, and two or three of them had been carried as far as Rockville and Whitehall. When she had no kittens, the cat generally slept on Fanny's bed."

"Fanny made her slap-jacks and cooked some ham for her own dinner. Old Bose sat by her side, wagging his tail, and now and then giving a short bark. Puss sat up in a chair by the table, and behaved as well as possible, purring loudly, and now and then speaking to her kittens which capered about the room. Fanny said grace as her father did, and eat her dinner, now and then giving her companions a morsel. Then she washed up all her dishes, swept the hearth, and sat down to read."

"Meantime the storm kept on increasing in force, if that were possible, and the short November day drew towards a close. When Fanny finished her story and looked out, she found it was growing dark."

"'I must go out and milk, if I am to do it at all,' said she; 'though I don't exactly see how I am to get to the barn. However, I can try, and if I cannot make it out I can come back.'"

"She wrapped herself in her shawl, tying it round her that it might not be in her way, put on her hood, and pulled on a pair of old woollen stockings over her shoes. Thus equipped, she set out for the barn."

"She found the task rather easier than she expected. The wind had blown away the snow so as to form a sort of path for a part of the way; and though there was a drift before the barn-door, she made her way through it the first time without much trouble, aided by Bose, who flounced backwards and forwards through the snow and helped to break a path. There were only two cows in the shed. Fanny milked them both, and pulled down hay for them from the rack above. There was a pump in the corner of the shed, and Fanny pumped water for the cows, and carried a pailful to the old mare in the stable. She was obliged to make two journeys to the house with her pails, and she came in from the last looking very serious indeed. When she had taken off her wraps and put away her milk, she stood at the window for a long time, and when she turned away there were tears in her eyes."

"'I don't believe father and mother can get home to-night,' said she, sorrowfully. 'I am afraid they will be smothered in the drifts. And what shall I do if I have to stay here all night alone?'"

"These thoughts were too much to bear quietly. Fanny threw herself down on the floor, with her head in a chair, and cried bitterly. The cat and the dog came round her as if to ask what was the matter. Fanny put her arm round the dog's neck."

"'Oh, poor old Bose!' she sobbed. 'Where do you think your master and mistress are now?'"

"Bose looked wistfully at her and licked her face, but he could give her no other comfort. Presently Fanny grew more quiet, and she might have been heard murmuring softly to herself. Fanny was praying—begging her Father in heaven to watch over her father and mother and bring them safe home, and to take care of her while she was there alone, so far from neighbors. As she prayed, she grew more composed and her sobs ceased; and when she rose her face was quiet and even cheerful. She made up the fire and lighted a candle. Then bringing the Prayer-book from the corner-stand, she read aloud the psalms for the day, both morning and evening, finding great comfort in the repeated declaration that 'His mercy endureth forever!' Then she began to think what she had better do next."

"'I will bring in plenty of wood from the shed, so that I need not have to go out in the cold any more.'"

"This was soon done. Fanny brought in plenty of light wood such as she could manage. The fire had been made up in the morning with a mighty back-log, back-stick, and fore-stick, all as large as good-sized trees. Fanny piled up the fuel, putting in plenty of pine-knots to make a cheerful blaze, and swept up the hearth clean. Then she brought in more wood, enough to last all night."

"'I suppose I had better get the supper,' said she, sighing; 'though I am afraid they will not be here to eat it.'"

"There was at least some comfort to be found in keeping busy, and Fanny almost forgot her trouble in setting the table neatly, frying a chicken, which she found all prepared for cooking in the pantry, and getting ready a nice hot supper. When everything was done, she covered up all her dishes warmly on the hearth, set the light on a little stand in the chimney-corner, propped up her favorite volume of Bishop Heber's Journal, and set resolutely to knit and read till her father and mother should come. The clock struck the hours and half-hours—six—seven—eight—nine—ten—and still nobody came, and no sound was heard outside but the shrill howling and deep roar of the wind, and the click of the snow as it was blown against the glass. At last Fanny laid down her knitting, and closed her book."

"'There is no use in my sitting up any longer,' said she to herself. 'I remember what father said to me the last thing: "If anything happens that we do not come home, put your trust in God, and go to bed in peace." I will just go over the house to see that all is right, and then say my prayers and go to bed.'"

"She accordingly took up her candle, and calling Bose to go with her—not that she was afraid, but because she liked his company—she went into every room in the house, seeing that the windows and doors were fast and all things in order. As she came down and went into the front room—the keeping room, as it was usually called, she was startled to see how high the snow was piled against the front windows of the house."

"'It must be drifting in between the house and the ledge, as it did once when I was a little girl,' thought Fanny. 'Father will have a fine time shovelling it away.'"

"Seeing that all was safe, she arranged the fire so as to insure its keeping, set everything in order for the night, eat a little supper herself, and fed the cat and dog. Then she lighted a small oil-lamp which her mother used when she wished to keep a light all night, and set it in a safe place. She had made up her mind to sleep down-stairs in the small room which opened out of the kitchen—John's room, as it was still called—instead of going upstairs. By the time she had finished all her preparations, it was eleven o'clock—later than she had ever sat up in her life before."

"'How nice and comfortable it all looks!' she thought, surveying the large kitchen. 'Now, if I only knew that dear father and mother were safe, I would not much mind having to stay alone. The Rockville road is not like this; there are a great many houses on it, so that if they were stopped by the drifts they would have some place to stay all night. But very likely they did not leave Rockville at all.'"

"Fanny said her prayers as usual, asking earnestly that her father and mother might be taken care of and brought safely home. As she prayed she seemed to feel as though her Saviour was very near her in her solitude. She remembered all those precious words: I will never leave thee nor forsake thee; 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;' 'I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you;' and God gave her grace to believe in His promises and to lean upon His mercy, which endureth forever. When she rose up, she felt herself no longer alone."

"Fanny had thought she should lie awake all night, but instead of that her head had hardly touched the pillow before she fell asleep. She slept long and soundly, but when she awoke there was no sign of daylight. All was dark and still. She did not even hear the roaring of the wind, and she thought the storm must be over. Presently the clock begun to strike, and she counted the strokes: one-two-three-four-five—six—seven—eight—and there it stopped. What could it mean? Was the clock wrong? Had it run down? It struck eleven before she went to bed, she was quite sure. She jumped up and ran out into the kitchen. There was no light outside, but the lamp was still burning. Fanny caught it up and looked at the clock. Eight o'clock, sure enough. The sun ought to be up and shining, and here it was still dark night! What could have happened?"

"Fanny went to the window and put up the curtain. She could not see anything till she held the lamp close to the glass. Then the truth flashed upon her all at once. She was snowed up. The house was buried in snow. She went into the front room, and then upstairs. All the same. A solid wall of snow was banked up against the panes. Not even from the upper windows could she see a ray of light. She was buried alive."

"Fanny stood for a few minutes as if stunned by the greatness of the calamity which had overtaken her. What was she to do? What would become of her? Would she be left to starve to death there in the snow? Would some one come before it was too late?"

"What would become of the cattle—the cows and sheep in their sheds, the mare in the barn? She could think of nothing at first, and she returned to the kitchen, and threw herself on the settee in a kind of stunned and stupid despair."

"But Fanny did not lie there long. She had naturally a hopeful and resolute disposition, and she had been trained in habits of thoughtfulness and presence of mind. She roused herself, and began to consider what she had better do."

"'There is no sort of use in my trying to get out, even to the barn,' she reflected. 'I should be smothered in the snow. So the cattle and the chickens must take their chance. I am glad I pulled down plenty of hay for them last night. But now about myself. I suppose it may be two or three days before any one can get up here, and I had better look round and see what I have to live upon. Oh, if Miss Gibson had only come up as she promised! But after all, it would be only one more in trouble. The first thing to do is to bring in plenty of wood. No, that is not the first thing, either.'"

"Fanny knelt down and said her prayers. Then she quickly dressed herself, and, going out into the shed, she soon brought in plenty of wood, enough to last the whole day through, and piled it up in one corner out of the way. As she went out the third time, she heard a cracking sound in the roof of the shed; and looking up, she saw that some of the boards were bent down so that the snow came in between them."

"'If the shed should fall in, I would be rather badly off,' said she. 'I think I had better bring in all the wood I am likely to want.'"

"This was very sensible in Fanny. Fuel is generally the first thing to be looked to in such cases. She brought in nearly all the cut wood in the shed, and a great store of pine-knots. Then she began to look into the state of her provisions. No fear there. She had enough of flour, meal, and butter to last six weeks, besides the barrels of beef and pork in the cellar, and the chickens and turkey which had been got ready for the Thanksgiving dinner. As she looked at them she realized for the first time that this was Thanksgiving day—the day on which all New England bred or descended folks gather together as many of their families as are within reach, that they may rejoice together before the Lord, they, their sons and daughters, in all the good which the Lord has done unto them. Thanksgiving day!—And here she was alone and buried in the snow, while her father and mother were she did not know where."



      Christmas at Cedar Hill.

"But I am not going to cry."


"'But I am not going to cry,' said Fanny aloud, resolutely brushing the tears from her eyes. 'If I once begin, I shall never know when to stop. I shall make my head ache, and then I shall be good for nothing.'"

"Determinedly she wiped her eyes and choked down her sobs. She looked into the candle box. It was half full of nice mould candles, and there was, besides, a jug of oil."

"'Well,' said Fanny, as she concluded her survey, 'I don't see that I need be extra careful of anything but wood, and I don't think I shall get out of that very soon. If father and mother are alive, they will be coming to look for me before long. Then they must know down at Mr. Morrell's that I am here alone, because father told Miss Gibson, and I should think they would see that I don't suffer. At any rate there is One who knows all about it, and while He cares for me, no real harm can come to me. Oh, I never knew before how good it was to trust in Him!'"

"Fanny got her breakfast and washed all her dishes nicely. When the necessary work was done, she began to consider how she should spend the day. It was Thanksgiving day—a time set apart by the Church and the State is which to praise the Lord and rejoice before Him for all His goodness during the year. Fanny know what her duty was. She loved the services of the Church dearly, and she had always been taught that it was not only her duty, but a precious privilege, to join with heart and voice in the prayers and praises of God's people; and she felt comforted at the thought that she could still join with them, though she was alone on the snowy hill-top."

"When church time came, she got out the great Bible and Prayer-book and laid them on the table. Then she took down one volume of a set of sermons, out of which her father often read when they did not go either to Rockville or to the Corners on a Sunday. She selected a discourse which seemed to her suitable to the occasion, and put in a mark."

"Then, as the clock struck the hour of church time, she opened her Prayer-book and slowly and reverently read the service. She had never prayed more earnestly in all her life than she did at this time; and she realized more than she had ever done the meaning of those words in the Creed, 'The Communion of Saints.' She felt herself a member of the Church, and she found great comfort in the feeling. She was but a little girl twelve years; she had never taken up much room in the world, and if she died hardly any one besides her father and mother would miss her very much; and yet she was, by her baptism, 'A member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.' She was, in some mysterious way, one with Christ, and through Him with all his faithful people. How then could she ever be really alone?"

"Fanny read the sermon she had selected, and though she did not understand all of it, she found many things both pleasant and profitable. When she had finished her services, she sat for some time singing the psalms and hymns in the Prayer-book, and others which she had learned down in the village. She had a sweet voice, and always took great pleasure in singing. If anything happened to make her angry or sad, she would run away by herself and sing; and she seldom failed to regain her tranquillity in this way."

"'I must get a nice dinner,' said Fanny, when noon came. 'It would not be like Thanksgiving unless I did.'"

"After dinner, Fanny began to think what she should do next. She did not feel quite so cheerful as she had done in the morning. The darkness and the loneliness began to tell upon her spirits. Then, too, it was so terribly still. Fanny felt as though even the roaring of the wind would be a relief; but she could not hear a breath. There was only the ticking of the clock, the burning of the fire, and the noises made by the kittens in playing about the floor. Every now and then Fanny would feel sure that she heard people digging in the snow, and she would strain her ears to the utmost, only to be disappointed again. The time wore on very slowly, and at last the clock struck four."

"'I cannot stand this,' said Fanny, throwing down the book she was in vain trying to read. 'I must have something to do. I believe I will get out my spinning wheel. I hope it will not be doing wrong. I feel as if I should be crazy unless I did something.'"

"This again was wise in the little girl. There is nothing so good as strenuous employment to keep the mind healthy under circumstances of excitement and suspense. Fanny worked hard at her spinning, taking the greatest pains with her thread, till eight o'clock, when she took her supper, fed the dog and cat, and then went to bed."

"Fanny's danger was much more serious than she had any notion of. A great weight of snow had by this time gathered on the house, which was what is called gambrel-roofed—that is to say, it was two stories high in front and sloped down to one behind. A modern-built house would most likely have been crushed at once, but the old red farm-house was solidly framed with stout oak timbers, three times as thick as any we think of using nowadays, and it stood out bravely as yet."

"Fanny did not rest as soundly this night as the night before. She was troubled with bad dreams, from which she started affright, calling for her mother, and crying when she remembered that that mother was far away, if indeed she were alive. It was dreadful to wake in the morning from a dream of summer and green trees, and David walking with her to school, and then to realize it all—the snow above and around, the loneliness and uncertainty. Fanny would have been glad to sleep till noon, but that was impossible."

"So she got up, and after she had finished her breakfast she set to spinning with all her might. She now kept two candles lighted, the place seemed so dismal. Bose was growing very uneasy. He whined and cried to go out, and behaved so strangely that Fanny was half afraid of him."

"The day wore on slowly, and night came again, and yet she was alone."

"For three whole days, she had not seen the face of a human being. Her firewood was getting low, too. She hardly dared to go into the shed for more, and yet she was afraid her fire would go out unless she got a larger stick. At last she determined to venture. She found her sled in one corner, and, getting a pretty good-sized log on it, she managed to drag it into the kitchen. She had done this three times and was going out again, when Bose sprang between her and the door, and would not allow her to pass, even growling and taking hold of her dress with his teeth when she tried to push him out of the way. At that moment, the shed fell in with a great crash. But for the dog, Fanny would have been buried in its ruins."

"As it was, the fall of the shed was both alarming and inconvenient. She could get no more wood and no more well-water; and what if the roof to the home should fall in as that of the shed had done! She went up into the garret to see if she could see any signs of its yielding, but all stood firm as yet."

"And now Fanny made a great discovery. There was a little projecting window, such as is sometimes called a dormer window, high in the roof, looking towards the east, and through this window Fanny could see a little glimpse of daylight. She stood looking at it in a kind of ecstasy, and as she gazed a ray of clear sunshine shot through it and glanced upon the great old chimney and the blackened beams and boards of the roof. It seemed to the poor little girl like a visible angel messenger from her Father in heaven. She clasped her hands and burst into joyful tears, while she fell upon her knees and thanked God that at least the dreadful storm was over."

"It was long before she could tear herself from the sight of that blessed light; but at last, finding herself growing chilly, she descended to the kitchen, and, having carefully made up her fire, she began to spin once more, singing as she drew out her long threads and speaking cheerfully now and then to the cat and dog."

"Presently she stopped her wheel, and went to get the reel on which to wind the yarn she had spun. As she set it down, Bose sprang up, and began to bark and howl furiously, at the same time scratching violently at the door. With some trouble, Fanny quieted him for a moment, and listened as well as her beating heart would let her. There was certainly something moving outside—a muffled sound of digging. Fanny even thought she could distinguish voices. She flew to the garret, and piled one box on another, lifting easily in her excitement a chest she could hardly have moved at another time. A tall, slender pole stood in the corner. She pulled off her pink apron and tied it on the pole for a flag. Then finding that she could not move the window, she broke the glass, and, thrusting the pole through it, she waved it about. Oh, joyful sound! Her signal was answered by a shout. She was saved!"

"We must now go back to Mr. Morrell's house at the Corners. After the storm came on, Jake began to be rather uneasy about the consequences of his falsehood. He tried to comfort himself by thinking that after all Fanny very likely had gone with her father and mother, and was safe in Rockville all the time; but still the thought would haunt him that Fanny was alone in the house on the hill, and that if anything happened to her he would be answerable."

"'Bolt's folks will hardly get home to-night,' remarked Mrs. Morrell, as her husband came in with Jake from foddering the cattle and milking the cows."

"'If they have any sense at all, they won't try!' replied Mr. Morrell. 'It is quite providential, as it turns out that Fanny went with them, and that Eunice did not go up there. How is she?'"

"'Pretty considerable sick,' replied Mrs. Morrell. 'She has got a real bad cold. Did Captain Bolt say anything about what time he should be back, Jake?'"

"'No,' replied Jake."

"'It must have been a real sudden start, taking Fanny,' continued Mrs. Morrell. 'He didn't know anything about it when he stopped here on his way to the post-office. Maybe there is something going on in their church.'"

"'I shouldn't wonder; and Bolt might have got notice of it when he went to the post-office. Where did you see them, Jake?'"

"'Right up here by the Corners,' answered Jake, keeping as much out of sight as he could."

"'They must have taken an early start to get down to the Corners by that time.'"

"'Like enough they did start early just on purpose to let Eunice know, and calculated to take her up on the way back,' remarked Mrs. Morrell. 'Didn't they say anything about it, Jake?'"

"'I didn't hear it, if they did,' replied Jake. 'Bolt said something just as he was driving off, but I didn't understand what it was.'"

"'I dare say you forgot half your message,' said his aunt. 'Some one must try and get up the hill early in the morning, and see what becomes of the critters. The cows will be spoiled.'"

"But the next morning and the whole of the next day there was no stirring out. The storm raged so fiercely that it was not thought worth while to open the meeting-house, as no one could come who did not live close by. Many a family in the village sat down three or four in number to the dinner which had been prepared for twelve or fifteen. It was the dullest Thanksgiving ever known."

"The family at Mr. Morrell's were round the fire at early twilight, when a knock came at the door. Mr. Morrell opened it, and there stood a man covered from head to foot with snow."

"'Come in, stranger, come in to the fire,' said Mr. Morrell."

"The stranger walked in, after shaking off as much as possible of the clinging snow."

"'So you don't know me, Mr. Morrell,' said he, with a kind of sad smile."

"'I ought to, I dare say, and your voice sounds kind of natural too,' said Mr. Morrell, looking closely him."

"'Good gracious, husband, don't you see!' exclaimed Mrs. Morrell, springing forward. 'It's David—David Bolt. My goodness sakes alive, man, where did you come from?'"

"'From Whitehall, this time,' said David, submitting to be kissed by the good woman as if he had been still the little boy who used to sit on her lap. 'I started from there early this morning, and got a ride as far as Daucey's. I have footed it from there, and tough work it has been. But I felt somehow as if I must get home to-night after I heard from Daucey that the old folks were alive and well. But coming by and seeing your windows so bright, I thought I would drop in and rest before I went up the hill. I expect it will be a tough pull, though.'"

"'You wont stir another peg this night,' said Mr. Morrell, positively. 'Your folks all went to Rockville yesterday before the storm began, and they can't have got home yet. You just stay here to-night, and in the morning early, if it clears off, we will go up and see what has become of the cattle.'"

"With some difficulty David was persuaded to stay all night at the Corners. The next morning, the storm was as bad as ever, and there was no possibility of stirring. But on Saturday morning, the snow had ceased falling, the wind went down, and the sun shone bright and clear. In every direction the roads were blocked up, and it took two hours' work of all the horses and ox teams in the village to clear a path from the store to the meeting-house. David Bolt was enthusiastically welcomed by all his old friends in the village, and invited to more dinners than he could have eaten in two weeks. Just as the long train of teams reached the post-office, two men on horseback came plunging through the drifts from the direction of Rockville."

"'Hurrah! Here's Captain Bolt! Here's your father, David!' shouted the men and boys."

"But Captain Bolt did not seem to heed their words. He rode into the midst of the group, and, throwing himself from his horse, exclaimed:"

"'For the Lord's sake, neighbors, do any of you know anything about my Fanny?'"

"'Fanny!' exclaimed Mr. Morrell, in wonder. 'Why, didn't Fanny go with you? Jake said she did.'"

"'No, no, I never thought of taking her. I thought Miss Gibson was going up there, and we should be home by night. Oh, what has become of those poor girls all this time!'"

"'Eunice is at our house. She is sick with a cold,' said Mr. Morrell. 'Then that poor dear girl has been there alone! Jake, you villain, did not you tell me that you saw Fanny with her father?'"

"But Jake had shrunk away from the crowd and disappeared at the first sight of Captain Bolt."

"'Cheer up, captain,' said Mr. Morrell, kindly. 'I hope all will be well. And see here, who is this waiting to speak to you?'"

"'David—no! Yes, it is! The Lord bless you, my son! Praised be His name who has brought you again from the dead! But oh, David, your poor little sister!'"

"Mr. Lee, the Congregational minister, had been helping his parishioners to break the roads, and he now sprang upon his horse and waved his hat, the wind blowing his white locks about his face."

"'Neighbors and friends,' he said, in a voice that all could hear, 'Captain Bolt's little daughter has been left entirely alone in their house for three days and nights. Let us leave our own concerns and go at once to her rescue!'"

"'Hurrah for Bolt's Hill!' shouted the big blacksmith; and then with a sudden break in his voice: 'Poor dear little young one, all alone in that lonesome place! Hurry up, neighbors. Just think if it was your own child, and work with a will.'"

"It took an hour to reach the turn in the road where the path branched off ''cross lots' to Bolt's Hill. As they reached it and looked up, a universal groan burst from the party. Nothing could be seen of the red house. It was one long unbroken sweep of snow from the top of the ledge almost down to the brook."

"'The Lord have mercy on her!' said Mr. Morrell. 'I'm afraid the house has fallen in, and it is all over.'"

"'No, no! Keep up courage, father,' exclaimed David."

"A tall tree stood just at the turn. The active sailor was at the top in a moment, looking with eager eyes towards the place where the house should have been. There was a moment's silence and suspense."

"'Hurrah, father, I see a smoke!' exclaimed David. 'I see the top of the old chimney, and there is a fire!'"

"'Hurrah!' burst from the crowd. And in a moment they were all pushing with frantic haste towards the hill. They had succeeded in breaking a path as far as the bars which led from the barn-yard into the pasture, and were digging their way towards the house, when they saw the pole with Fanny's red flag thrust out of the garret window. This gave them new courage, and in twenty minutes' time, Fanny was in the arms of her father."

"'Where is mother?' were Fanny's first words."

"'Safe and sound, my dear. We got as far as the White Tavern on our way home, and there we have been ever since. You may guess we have been uneasy enough about you, even when we thought you had Miss Gibson with you. We never guessed that you would be here alone. But, Fanny, you do not speak to David?'"

"'David!' said Fanny, starting."

"'Yes, David! I have hardly spoken to him myself: I have been so troubled about you. But here he is once more, safe and sound, thank God!'"

"Fanny started back, looked for a moment with wild, wide open eyes at the bearded figure which approached her, and put out her hand with an uncertain motion as if to keep him off. Then sight and sense failed her. The next she knew she was lying on the settee, and a kind motherly voice said:"

"'She is coming to herself. Why, Fanny! Look up, dear.'"

"She opened her eyes, and there was good Mrs. Morrell bending over her, and David kneeling by her side. Mrs. Morrell, thinking that Fanny might very likely be ill, had borrowed the minister's cutter, and she and Mrs. Lee had driven up in the wake of the road-breakers."

"That evening Thanksgiving day was kept in earnest, if rather late, at Bolt's Hill. Some one had ridden off at once to the White Tavern to relieve the anxiety of Mrs. Bolt; and by sunset the whole family were assembled in the red house, together with the minister's family and the doctor's, Mr. and Mrs. Morrell, and Eunice Gibson, who had come up, bringing with them a great supply of cakes, pies, biscuits, and all sorts of good things. Fanny, looking pale and feeble with the excitement and fatigue she had gone through, was bolstered up in one corner of the sofa; while between her and his mother sat David, holding a hand of each and relating his adventures."

"He had indeed gone down with the unlucky ship, but had risen again and obtained possession of a part of the wreck. On this, he had floated for a week, until, when almost starved, he had been taken up by a canoe full of savages. Knowing how many of the islanders in the Pacific are cannibals, David expected nothing but that he should be killed and eaten, or at least reduced to the condition of a slave. What, then, was his surprise and delight to find himself among Christian men, some of whom could even speak a few words of English. They had been converted by some of the missionaries which the Christianized islanders are constantly sending out at the risk of their lives to preach the glad tidings of the Gospel among the heathen."

"With these good-natured people David lived five years in great comfort and consideration, his chief trouble being home-sickness. He had the satisfaction of teaching the islanders many useful arts, and of giving them instruction in the truths of the Gospel. At the end of that time, an English ship touched at the island for water, and in her David obtained a passage to Liverpool, from which place he had no difficulty in working his way home."

"'And now you are home, I hope you will stay,' said Mr. Morrell. 'I should think you had had enough of the sea.'"

"'I don't say anything about that,' said David. 'Salt water comes pretty natural to us Bolts. I believe, if father would confess it, he would like to find himself on blue water once more.'"

"'I won't deny but I do have a hankering after it now and then,' said Captain Bolt, laughing; 'but I am pretty well contented to sit in the chimney-corner to-night.'"

"In the course of two or three days Fanny was quite well again. The cows and the old mare suffered somewhat from their long fast, but with care they soon recovered. Nobody was very long the worse for 'the great drift on Bolt's Hill' but Jake Penniman. Mr. Morrell was an upright man, who hated lies in every shape, and had some old-fashioned notions of discipline. The first misfortune which befell Jake was a sound horse-whipping. But a still sorer punishment was the universal contempt and coldness with which he was treated. Not one of the village boys would speak to him or play with him; the girls turned up their noses, and talked about cowards and about poor dear Fanny Bolt whenever he made his appearance. Even Jake's dull nature was roused by this treatment. He found himself more miserable than he had ever been in his life, and he thought seriously of running away."

"'I really don't know what to do with Jake,' said Mr. Morrell to Captain Bolt one day. 'He does have a hard time in the village, that's a fact. I don't think I know how to make any one work. I am no hand to drive. It is so much easier to take hold and do things myself than it is to follow Jake round and make him do them. Wife says I am to blame for a good deal of the boy's laziness, and I don't know but she is right.'"

"'Suppose you let Jake come to me for the rest of the winter,' said Captain Bolt, after a little consideration. 'I believe I am a pretty good hand to drive, at least my boys always thought so; and I will see if I can do anything for Jake.'"

"'Well, Captain Bolt, if you ain't a Christian man, I wouldn't say so,' said Mr. Morrell. 'I shouldn't suppose you could bear the sight of the boy.'"

"'Forgive and forget, neighbor. I should be ashamed to bear malice against a boy like that; and if I can do him any good, I am sure I am very willing to try. I am an old sea captain, you know, and used to having my own way, and maybe Jake will be the better for a change. I will talk with my wife and let you know.'"

"At first Jake did not very well like the notion of going up to Bolt's Hill; but his admiration of David, the returned sailor, and his desire to get away from the village, prevailed. For a while he found his life very irksome. Captain Bolt did not do after him what he left half-finished. He simply made Jake do it over again—twenty times, if necessary. So with his lessons. Jake had never perfectly learned the multiplication table. He now learned it in a day, simply because he was informed that he would have no supper till he did. He learned more in four months than he had done before in all his life, and really turned out quite an average sort of man."











"IT is growing late," remarked the squire. "Miss Hope, will you tell us a story?"

"I think I must be excused," said Miss Hope, smiling. "I am no story-teller; but I will, if you please, sing you a song instead."

"Oh, how nice!" exclaimed Annie, hastening to open the piano. "I do love music, and our piano hardly ever gets used nowadays."

"Don't you play?" asked Agatha.

"No; only a little by ear. I am going to take lessons as soon as grandfather can find a lady to live in the house and teach me. Hush, Miss Hope is ready to begin."

Miss Hope sang two or three songs which pleased every one, for her voice was very sweet and her pronunciation clear and distinct. Then she played some lively waltzes and marches for the children.

"Oh, how charming!" said Annie, who had hardly dared to breathe while the music was going on. "I wish Miss Hope would live here and give me lessons."

"Perhaps Miss Hope would not care to give lessons," said the old lady, seeing that she colored a little.

"I should be very glad to do so," replied Miss Hope, gently and modestly. "I have lately lost my only earthly dependence, and shall be obliged henceforth to work for my living in some way."

"I should say you were well qualified both to teach music and to sing in a church choir," remarked the clergyman. "Your voice and style are admirable."

"I have always sung in church," said Miss Hope; "but I never once thought of being paid for it. I was glad to give my services; since I had little else to give."

The clergyman smiled approvingly. "You are quite right, my dear Miss Hope. I wish more people were moved by the same spirit. I have no doubt you will succeed in whatever you undertake."

The squire and the old lady exchanged meaning glances.

"It wears late," said the squire once more, "and we have not yet heard from any of these young people. I suggest that they should draw lots, and the one upon whom the lot falls shall relate the story of his or her own life."

This proposal met with universal approbation. Half a dozen colored marbles and one white one were put into the old lady's knitting bag, and the children drew in turn. On examination it was found that Agatha held the white marble.

"I am glad Agatha has drawn it," said Edward. "She has had more adventures than any of us."

"I am not sure that I can make the story very interesting," said Agatha, modestly; "but I will try to do my best. You may call my story, if you please:"




"I was born in the East Indies, though at what place I do not now remember, and the very first thing I recollect is a dead tiger."

The scholar started as he heard these words, and turned his chair so as to bring him a great deal nearer to Agatha. He looked at her earnestly as she proceeded, and seemed deeply interested.

"I do not know how the tiger came to be dead, or how he came there at all," continued Agatha; "but he lay upon the ground in front of my father's house, and my mamma was persuading me to go near and look at him, telling me that he was quite dead and would never kill anybody again. I was dreadfully afraid at first, especially when my brother, who was a great deal older than I, got astride of the tiger's back and sat down; but after a while I let him take me on his knee. He made me look at the tiger's teeth and claws, and stroke the fur on his head, which was very soft and glossy; and I asked him to get me a little tiger to play with. By-and-by they took him away, and his skin was afterwards spread out on our floor."

"I remember having a Persian kitten with a bushy tail, and a beautiful black bird which could talk and whistle, and would swear dreadfully sometimes in spite of everything we could do to him; and I remember a great lizard which lived on a tree planted in a tub and covered with net-work. There were a good many colored servants about the house, but lighter and having straight hair, who dressed very neatly in white muslin. One of these belonged to me particularly. I used to call him my bearer. He was very good to me. He used to carry me about and do all sorts of things to amuse me, and I loved him dearly. But it is very curious that, try as I will, I never can remember his name, though I am sure I should know it in a minute, if I heard it spoken."

"Was it Cashirim?" asked the scholar.

"That was it! That was it!" exclaimed Agatha. "How did you know it?"

"Never mind now. Go on with your story."

All the rest of the party looked at the scholar in surprise, for he was very pale, and his eyes were fixed upon Agatha as if he would look her through. He took no notice of them, however, and again begged Agatha to go on with her story.

"I do not remember my father so very distinctly," continued Agatha, "and I think he must have been away from home a great deal; but I seem to see my mamma's face whenever I try to think of her. I never saw any one who looked the least like her. She had rather delicate health, and did not go out a great deal when my father was away. She used to teach me my lessons every morning. I was very happy in those days, and the first trouble I remember came from my brother's going away. He was quite a grown-up young man then, and he was always very kind to me, telling me stories and letting me ride out with him, for I could ride on my pony when I was a very little girl."

"A gentleman came to our house about that time, whom I was told was my mamma's brother, who had come all the way from America to see her. He was very lively and pleasant, and I liked him very much till he went away, and took Charley with him. Mamma told me that Charley had gone to America to be educated, and would come back to us after a while, but I never saw him again."

"Not a great while after my brother went away—I do not know exactly how long—came a very sad time. My father was an officer, and I used dearly to love to see him on horseback and dressed in his uniform. His men were Indians—irregular horse, I know they were called—and splendid, fine-looking men some of them were; but they were all very good to me, and much pleased when I chattered to them in their own language, of which I know a good deal."

"One day my father came home looking very much excited, and called my mother aside. What he said to her I don't know, but she gave a little scream and threw her arms round his neck. He kissed her, and I heard him say: 'Try to be calm, dear Julia, for my sake.'"

"After that she was very quiet, and went about giving orders, and seeing papa's things packed, as if he were only going away for a day's shooting. When he had kissed us and bade us good-by, and we could not see him any longer from the veranda, mamma led me into her room and took me on her lap, where she cried and sobbed over me for a long time. Then she told me that papa was going to battle, and that we must pray to God to send him safe home again; and so we did, but he never came back any more. Two or three days after he went away, my father's orderly came galloping up to the house. He dismounted, and spoke two or three words to the servants as he passed through the veranda, at which they all broke out into loud lamentations. I knew what he said, for, as I told you, I had learned a good deal of the language. He said, 'Your master is killed!'"

"Mamma was lying on the couch in the inner room, with the blinds all drawn down, for it was very hot, and she was not well. I ran in to her, crying: 'Oh, mamma, my papa is killed!'"

"'What do you mean, Agatha?' she asked, rising and looking very pale. 'Have you been dreaming? Who has heard anything of Papa?'"

"At that moment Jones came to the door, and as soon as mamma saw him she guessed what had happened."

"'Is my husband dead, Jones?' she asked, as quietly as though it had been an ordinary question."

"'I am sorry to say it is too true, ma'am,' he replied; and then he gave her some letters to read, and turned away, brushing the tears from his eyes, for all my papa's men loved him. My mamma read the letters quite calmly, and then calling Jones' wife, who waited on her, and giving me into her charge, she went away into her own room, and shut the door. By that time the news was known all through the cantonment, and several of the ladies came to see my mother, but they could not do her any good. She just sat still in her chair, and did not speak or seem to hear one word that was said to her."

"'This will never do,' said the doctor, who had come with the rest. 'She must be made to weep, or she will die.'"

"'Go to your mamma and talk to her about papa, my dear Agatha,' said the chaplain's wife to me. I did as I was told, though I felt rather afraid. At first she did not seem to notice me, but by-and-by she burst into tears and cried bitterly for a long time. All the ladies seemed glad, and I thought this very strange. It seemed cruel to me that they should want my mamma to cry, but the chaplain's wife explained to me that they thought she would feel better after it. She was better, especially after the chaplain himself came and read to her and prayed with her. He was a kind, good man, and that night, he took me on his knee and talked to me a long time about dear papa. He told me what a brave soldier and what a good man he had been, and that he had no doubt of his being in heaven, where I should some time see him if I loved my Saviour as he had done. All this comforted me very much, and I have always remembered it."

"After this there was a great confusion, packing up, and selling off all our things. I was told we were going to England to see my father's relations, about whom I had never heard a great deal, for, when mamma talked about my uncle, she always meant my uncle in America, who had taken Charley."

"'Cannot we go to America, where Charley is?' I asked."

"'I hope we shall do so by-and-by,' she replied; 'but we must go to England first.'"

"We went a long, long journey in palanquins and on horseback, and down the river to Calcutta, where a great many people were very kind to us, for papa had distinguished himself very much in the battle where he was killed. Before long we set sail for England, leaving behind us all the servants except Jones, who was going home to see her relations. Oh, how I cried at parting with my poor bearer! I do not remember much about the voyage, except that it seemed very long. I thought only of mamma, who was very ill all the time, and grew worse and worse, till just a week before we reached England she died, and was buried in the sea. How dreadful it was to see my dear, dear mamma's body thrown into the deep water! It seemed so much worse than seeing her buried in the ground. I knew that she was in heaven just the same, but still it has always been a grief to me that I could never know exactly where my father and mother lay, for papa was buried on the battle-field, and mamma lies in the ocean. They were all very kind to me on the ship, but I was very sad, and cried all the time; and Jones thought I would die too."

"Well, we arrived in London at last, and Jones took me to my uncle's house, which was a very fine one in a grand square."

"The drawing-room in which my aunt sat was the handsomest I had ever seen, but somehow it never looked pleasant to me. My aunt received me very kindly, kissing me a great many times, and telling me that she hoped I would be happy with her, but I could not help thinking that she did not look very happy herself. I grieved sadly at parting from Jones, but I was a little comforted by her promising to come and see me as often as she could. When she was gone, my aunt took me on her lap, called me her dear little girl, and asked me a great many questions about papa and mamma, and my brother Charles. It made me cry to talk of them, and before I had got over my tears my uncle came home. He was a big man with a red face and grizzled features, and I noticed that my aunt seemed frightened when she heard his step, and hastily wiped her eyes."

"'Hallo. What does all this mean?' he asked, as he entered the room and saw me sitting there."

"'This is my brother's little girl, from India, my dear,' she answered, in a timid, submissive tone."

"'Umph! And what is she crying for? We want no cry babies here, little miss. Quite enough of that sort of thing already.'"

"This was all the welcome he gave me. I felt as though I should choke, and heartily wished myself back in the ship. By-and-by we were called to dinner, which was splendidly set out in a beautiful dining room, hung with pictures. My uncle did not speak a word all through dinner, except to give an order or find fault about something; and my aunt hardly spoke except to ask what I would have. Even then my uncle contradicted her, and said I was to take what was given me and not to choose for myself. It was plain even to me that he was in very bad humor about something. Presently my uncle said it was time for me to go to bed. So we left him drinking his wine all alone, and my aunt took me up to my room, where I was to sleep."

"It was small, but very pleasant, and there was a picture of a pretty little boy over the mantel-piece, which she told me was a portrait of my father, painted when he was young. Aunt undressed me herself, and heard me say my prayers, and after I was in bed, she sat down and talked to me in a very affectionate manner for some time. She told me she had no children of her own, and she would try to be a mother to me. She told me also that I must be very good, and try to please my uncle, who was very particular; and I promised to do my best."

"Try as I might, I never could succeed. He never had a kind word for me, end it seemed as if he were angry at my being in the house at all. My aunt petted me a great deal when he was away, but if she did so before him, he scolded her, and told her that she made a fool of me—that I should have to work for my bread when I grew up, and she was not to make me into a useless fine lady, like herself. Fool was his favorite word, and he applied it to my aunt oftener than to any one else. What made his conduct seem worse, was that before company, he treated us both with the greatest kindness and politeness; so that many people thought him the best of men. Indeed I heard a lady say as she went away from one of our dinner parties—my uncle often gave dinner parties—'What a pity it is that Mr. Morley has such a dull, cross-looking wife! He seems such an admirable man!'"

"I knew my aunt loved me, or I really believe I should have died of a broken heart. But she could show her love to me only when we were alone together. I had never seen Jones but once since she left me, when she had come to tell me of the loss of her husband, who died within a week of her leaving him. We were crying together over this sad news—for I loved all my dear father's men, and Jones had been a special favorite—when my uncle happened to come in, and seeing me in tears, he ordered the servants never to admit that woman again, declaring that she made me a worse baby than I was without her. I tried to tell him what we were crying about, but it was of no use—he never would listen to any explanation. My aunt taught me my lessons, and I took great pains to please her, but I could hardly help hating my uncle, and I dreaded to see him come into the house."

"One day, however, he actually came home in a good humor, and eat his dinner without finding fault with anything. He spoke to me quite kindly several times, helped me plentifully to sweetmeats, and after he came into the drawing-room, he called me to him and made me sit on his knee, a thing which he had never done before since I came into the house. My aunt looked surprised and almost frightened, but presently she ventured to say:"

"'Agatha has been a very good girl to-day.'"

"'Has she?' said my uncle, 'I am glad to hear it;' and he actually put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a guinea."

"'Keep that and show it to your Yankee relations,' said he."

"'What do you menu, Mr. Morley?' said my aunt, turning pale."

"'I mean that I am going to send the child to her father's relations in America,' he replied. 'That woman Jones, of whom she is so fond, is going out to her daughter in New York, and she will take charge of her. So you have nothing to do but to get her ready as fast as you can. Let her have good clothes and plenty of them. I don't want the Yankees to think that she has been neglected: and mind, madam, I will have no whimpering about the matter. You can see plainly that the child is glad enough to go.'"

"I believe I was pleased at the prospect of going to America, for I thought I should see my kind uncle Hamblin and Charley again. But I began to moderate my joy when I saw how unhappy my aunt was at the thought of parting with me. She kissed me and cried over me that night, calling me her only comfort; but when I said I would stay with her if she wished it, she told me that there was no use in talking about it—my uncle had made up his mind and would have his own way. Jones came to see us the next day, and had a long private conversation with my aunt, and so the matter was settled. All my old clothes were laid aside, and I had a complete outfit of new ones; and my aunt gave me five guineas in a little purse and bade me take good care of it. My uncle paid my passage and gave Jones money for my travelling expenses, after I should get to America; and my aunt made her promise not to leave me till I was in my uncle's hands."

"It seemed as though I was always to be unfortunate in my sea-voyages, for before we were half-way across, the cholera broke out in the ship. We were in the steerage. My uncle had told my aunt that he had paid for a cabin passage for Jones and me, but it was not true. The surgeon as well as the captain and other officers did all in their power for the poor passengers, but many of them died, and among the number my poor dear nurse."

"There was a poor widow, named Mrs. Mix, who had been very kind to us all the way over, and Jones gave me into her charge, together with the money my uncle had given her, begging her to put me in the way of getting to my friends, which she promised to do. But it seemed as though I were to have nothing but trouble in my travels. In the bustle and confusion of our arrival in New York, my trunk was lost or stolen, and I never saw it again. This was all the worse, because all my money and my uncle's direction were in it. Mrs. Mix had the direction from my nurse, but she had forgotten it, and I did not know it at all. Mrs. Mix had expected her friends to meet her in Now York, but they did not come, and after a few days, she received a letter from them, telling her how to find them. They lived in Greenbriar, and thither she went, taking me with her."

"The surgeon offered to get me into an asylum in New York, but this she would not hear of: so I went with her into her little house, and used to help her carry home the washing which she took from the school. We thus became acquainted with Dr. and Mrs. Bower and told them my story; and Mrs. Bower adopted me for her own daughter. I have lived with them for three years, and been very happy all the time. That is the end of my story."


The scholar had been listening silently, never taking his eyes from Agatha's face for the whole time, As she closed her narrative, he took from his breast a miniature case, opened it, and handed it to Agatha without a word.

"My papa and mamma! My own dear papa, and mamma!" almost screamed Agatha. "Oh, where did you get them? Did you know my mamma? Do you know my brother?"

"Agatha!" said the scholar. "Do you remember that not very long before Charles went away, he was thrown from his horse and got a scar on his forehead?"

"Yes!" answered Agatha, breathlessly. "Why?"

The scholar pushed back his thick hair, and showed her a scar upon the right side of his forehead, asking, "Do you remember me now?"

"Charley! Oh, Charley!"

In another moment, Agatha was in her brother's arms. I will not undertake to describe the scene which followed. Presently the scholar rose, and taking Agatha by the hand, led her into the room and closed the door behind them.

"How strange!" said the old lady. "It seems as though there was a Providence in it; your coming out of the way as you did, and even in your being snowed up, since if it had not been for your stopping here and our telling stories, they might not have found each other out after all."

"There is a Providence in all things," observed the doctor, taking off his spectacles and wiping them; "'All things work together for good to them that love God,' though we do not always see the working so plainly as in this particular instance."

"Agatha noticed her brother when we first came on the cars," remarked Herbert. "She said she was sure she remembered him, though she could not tell where she had seen him: and I observed that he took a great deal of notice of her. He kept looking at her all the time he kept talking to me. I hope he won't want to take her away from us! I don't know what my father would do without her, especially now, that—" Herbert stopped abruptly and turned away his head.

"I would not worry about that, my dear," said the old lady, kindly. "I dare say the matter will be managed, somehow. I guessed something when he asked her if that was not the servant's name."

"And so Agatha has really found her brother, that she talks so much about," said Frank. "What a fine-looking man he is! I wonder if he is rich?"

"I hope not, and then he won't want to take Agatha away," said Edward.

"O Ned, that would be selfish!" replied Herbert. "Her brother has the best right to her, of course; though—but we won't borrow trouble about that. How glad I am, Frank, that we came this way. Only for your mistake, Agatha might not have found her brother at all."

"No thanks to me, though!" said Frank, laughing.

The conversation was now interrupted by the return of the scholar and Agatha. They had both shed some tears, but they looked as though they were perfectly happy in each other. The scholar sat down, still keeping his arm round Agatha, as though afraid of losing her again.

"You will be glad, no doubt, to hear a little farther explanation of my sister's story," said he, after they had received the congratulations of the party.

"I should!" said Edward. "I want to hear who your father was, and how you came to leave him, and all about it."

The scholar smiled. "My father was an English officer," said he. "When he was very young man, and in Canada, with his regiment, he married a young lady, the daughter of an American sea captain. I have understood that his family were very much displeased with the match, and, his father dying soon after, left the whole of his property to his step-daughter, a lady much older than my father, who had married a London merchant. My father was very fond of this sister, but her husband, as well as my grandfather, professed great displeasure at the match my father had made, and would not allow my aunt to see her brother, though they were permitted occasionally to correspond."

"Captain Goldwin accompanied his regiment to India when I was fourteen years old, and there Agatha was born. My father had no income but his pay, and his expenses being necessarily great, he found himself unable to send me to England for education, so I grew up without any except what he was able to give me in the intervals of military duty, and what I got from the resident chaplain. Still I had a great fondness for study, and employed my time to pretty good purpose."

"I was eighteen years old when my uncle came to India, partly on business and partly to visit his sister. He proposed to my father that I should return with him to America, finish my studies at one of the colleges in New England, and then, if it were thought desirable, return to India. The offer was a very advantageous one to me, and my father allowed me to accept it. Before I left, my mother gave me the miniatures I have just showed Agatha, and I have never parted from them."

"In the course of two or three years, I heard of the death of my father, who fell in battle, as Agatha told us, and learned that my mother had set out for England, intending to come to her friends in America. Hearing nothing more for a long time, I wrote to my aunt in London. Her husband answered the letter, saying that my mother died before reaching England; that he had sent the child—meaning Agatha—to her friends in America, under such and such an escort, and supposed she had reached her destination."

"I went at once to New York and made every inquiry, but my efforts resulted only in disappointment. At last I learned that the cholera had broken out in the ship and that a great many of the passengers had died,—among them a woman named Jones and her little girl. This account seemed to render the matter hopeless, and I gave up all further inquiries. Agatha's face interested me at once from her resemblance to my mother, but supposing, as I did, that my sister was dead long ago, I should not have pursued the matter had not her story awakened my long dead hopes."

"The mention of the dead tiger struck me like an electric shock, for I remembered the incident directly and how hard I had begged to be allowed to go with the party that killed him. He was a famous man-eater, as they are called—that is to say a tiger which, having acquired an appetite for human flesh, will eat no other. Such animals are frequently found in the neighborhood of East Indian villages, a great terror and pest to the inhabitants, and, in this case, the officers stationed near had made a hunting party to kill him. As Agatha went on, I felt certain that she must be my lost sister, and her instant recognition of the miniatures would have confirmed me, had I by that time entertained any doubt. My great desire is now to see Dr. Bower and thank him for his kind care of my little darling."

"It grows late," remarked the squire, after a little pause, and looking at his watch. "We have had a very pleasant evening and it has come to a most happy conclusion. We will now have prayers, if the good doctor will be so kind as to read them."











EARLY the next morning the whole household was astir at Cedar Hill. The children were up and dressed before daylight, wishing everybody "Merry Christmas," and running all over the house, except into the dining room, where the old lady allowed no one to set foot but herself. By-and-by they had prayers in the parlor and the children sung two or three Christmas carols, accompanied by Miss Hope on the piano.

Then the dining room door was opened and they marched in procession to the table. It was set out in great state, and there, before every one's place, was a mysterious pile, carefully covered by a white napkin. Grace was said, and then the piles were all uncovered.

What wonders were disclosed! Books and toys for the children, all sorts of pretty and useful things for everybody. Not one of the strangers was forgotten, but each received a nice present, all the nicer from being wholly unexpected. Abundance of presents had been provided for the grandchildren of the family, besides those which the doctor had in his trunk for his own little flock; and Harry, May and Annie were only too glad to divide with their new friends.

A man had been sent over to the railroad station early in the morning. He returned with the news that no train could possibly get through before next morning. So it was decided that the big lumber sleigh should be got out once more to take the whole party to church in the village, about a mile off. Before church time, there were several private conversations held in the house. Agatha, with Herbert and her brother, sat in a corner of the parlor talking of their family affairs. Miss Hope was closeted with the old lady in her room, and Frank, with some embarrassment, requested to speak with the doctor in the library.

"I wanted to ask you, sir," said he, looking down, "if you thought it would be wrong for me to go to the communion this morning? I am to be confirmed at Easter, at any rate, and—I am so thankful for the way everything has turned out—and—I know I am not good enough, doctor, but I want to be a better boy, and I do love Him!"

"You know, Frank, what is said in the Prayer-book," said the doctor, kindly. "I say nothing of the Rubric, because you have just told me that you are 'ready and desirous to be confirmed;' but here is the invitation. Examine yourself by it. Do you truly and earnestly repent you of your sins?"

"Yes sir, I hope so."

"And are you in love and charity with your neighbors?"

"I believe so," said Frank. "I hav'n't any enemies that I know of, so I hav'n't anything to forgive, and I should be very wicked indeed if I did not feel kindly towards every one this morning, after God has been so good to me."

"And do you intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His holy ways? Think well before you speak."

"I have been trying to do so this long time, doctor," said Frank. "I get discouraged a great many times, but I have not left off trying."

The doctor asked Frank a good many more questions, tending to test his knowledge of Christian doctrine and of his own heart. Frank had been carefully instructed, especially since his residence with Doctor Bower, and the doctor, who was accustomed to dealing with young people, was quite satisfied with his answers.

"Well, my son," said he, at last, "from all that you tell me I can see no reason why you should not draw near with faith and take your part in the feast of love. In the sense of sin-lessness no one is worthy, but any one who repents and believes, placing all his hopes of salvation upon the great atoning sacrifice of Christ our Lord, may safely take this holy sacrament, to his comfort. But how is it with your companions?"

"Oh, Herbert has been a communicant these two years, and Agatha since last Easter. She was so little and looked so young that the bishop was in doubt about her; but he examined her himself and was quite satisfied."

"I am glad to hear it," said the doctor. "I advise you, Frank, to spend the hour between this and church time in prayer and rending."

The doctor marked certain chapters for him, and Frank remained alone in the library till all were called to go to church.

"Isn't it nice?" said Annie to Agatha, as they sat together in the sleigh, coming home. "Grandmamma has been talking with Miss Hope, and she is to stay and be my governess! You see, it is too far for me to go to school in the village, especially in winter, and there is no one to teach me music or French. But grandmamma has found out that she used to know Miss Hope's mother at school, and—oh, I can't tell you all about it, only Miss Hope has no home now, and no money, and she was going to try for a place in a public school. But now she is going to live with us. That will be a great deal nicer for her, won't it?"

"Yes, indeed!" said Agatha, hastily; "and nicer for you, too. Miss Hope seems such a pleasant young lady. I liked her the very first minute I saw her."

"And she will be company for grandmamma too, you know," continued Annie. "Oh, how glad I am you got snowed up and came to our house!"

"And so am I," replied Agatha, smiling.

In the evening the sleigh was again put in requisition, and all the young party went down to the village to attend the Sunday-school festival. Agatha's story had already become known, and she received a great deal of attention, almost enough to turn the head of a little girl of thirteen: but her brother, who watched her closely, was delighted to see that she preserved through all the quiet and lady-like demeanor which had so pleased him from the first.

Herbert could not but feel sad at even the distant and uncertain prospect of losing the sister he had learned to love so much; but he, tried hard not to be selfish, and to rejoice in her joy. As for Frank and Ned, they were ready to be pleased with everything. Ned found a congenial playmate in the clergyman's son, a frank, manly boy of his own age, who was expecting to go to Doctor Bower's school after the Christmas holidays. Frank was graver than usual, but his face wore a look of subdued happiness very pleasant to see.

The next morning early came a message from the station-master that the train had been telegraphed and would be through in less than an hour. All was bustle directly. The old lady filled a famous basket with cakes, cold chicken and other good things, lest the children should be hungry on the road. All the children from Cedar Hill accompanied the guests to the station, and bidding good-by to their kind entertainers, the children and the doctor were soon in the cars and on their way to their homes.

At J—, Agatha expected to separate from her brother for a little while. Mr. Goldwin intended to follow Doctor Bower to New York, and Herbert gave him a letter of introduction to his father, with some account of their meeting. It was hard for Agatha to separate from her brother even for a few days, but she tried to submit cheerfully, exacting from him a promise to write to her directly, and somewhat comforted by the miniatures of her father and mother which were left in her care.

To the joyful surprise of Frank and Edward, the very first person they met on stopping from the train at J— was their father. The non-arrival of the children, together with the appearance of their trunks, caused great surprise at home, and Judge Landon telegraphed at once to Greenbrier to find out the cause of their delay. Ascertaining, after considerable trouble, that they had taken the wrong train and were probably snowed up somewhere on the road, he came over to J— in hope of further intelligence, and arrived half an hour before the train came in. Of course the whole story of the mistake had to be gone over, and I am happy to say that Frank bore the laughter of his friends with perfect good humor. Indeed, as it turned out, he could afford to do so, though, as he justly observed, there were no thanks due to him.

Herbert and Agatha passed their Christmas holidays very pleasantly at Judge Landon's, and towards the end of them they were agreeably surprised by the appearance of Doctor Bower and Mr. Goldwin.

Agatha was perfectly happy at seeing her father and brother together. She had made up her mind, as she said, "they would suit each other exactly," nor was she disappointed in her expectation. Her mind had nevertheless been a good deal disturbed by the thought that she must be separated from one or the other of them. She felt that she could not live apart from her brother, and yet she did not know how to leave the kind doctor, who had been a father to her when she was left alone in a strange land. This consideration had caused her a good deal of anxiety, which was destined soon to be set at rest.

"Good news, Agatha!" cried Herbert, one morning, after the doctor and Mr. Goldwin had been closeted together for some hours. "It is all settled! Father has just told me all about it. You are not to go away from us, and yet you are to live with your brother, too. Isn't that splendid?"

"But how, Herbert?" asked Agatha. "I don't understand."

"Why, you know my father has been wanting a partner."

"I did not know it. But never mind. What then?"

"He says the entire charge of the school is rather too much for him," continued Herbert. "He is not so young as he has been, and he wants time to study and to work at the big book he is writing. It was partly that which took him to New York. He wished to see a gentleman who was recommended to him. But when he came to see the gentleman, he found that they could not agree at all, and he was just considering what to do when your brother arrived. You know, I told you that they had been at the same college, and when they came to compare notes, they found that they knew a great many of the same people. Father wrote to some of the professors about your brother, and they all agreed in saying that he was exactly the man he wanted for the place. So they have been talking the matter over again this morning, and it is all settled."

"But, Herbert, I don't quite understand yet."

"Why, Mr. Goldwin goes into partnership with my father in the school, and will take most of his classes off his hands. So, of course, he will have to live with us."

"I see!" said Agatha. "How glad I am! You don't know how I have been worrying about it all these holidays."

"Yes, I do," returned Herbert. "I have seen it all, and I felt just so, but I could not help hoping it would all come right, somehow. I am so glad! You know mamma wanted father to have a partner."

"Oh, I do wish she was here to see Charley!" said Agatha. "Would she not be glad, if she knew?"

"Perhaps she does," replied Herbert, in a low voice. "At any rate she will know, some day."

When our young friends returned home Mr. Goldwin accompanied them. Doctor Bower found his labors greatly lightened by his new assistant, who fell in with all his plans and methods for the improvement of his pupils, and the boys were delighted with their new master, who, though sufficiently dignified and strict in school, was a famous ball player and gymnast, and was a perfect magazine of stories and plays for rainy days.

Miss Hope remained at Cedar Hill as governess to little Annie and companion to her grandmother, and enjoyed the double pleasure of finding a happy home in her loneliness and making herself useful to the dear old lady, who was much alone, now that all her daughters were married.

The doctor is well, and is at present looking forward to the pleasure of having all his young friends together at his own house for the next Christmas.

Hoping that these same holidays may prove as pleasant to my young readers as they are likely to do to the children of whom I have been writing, I wish them a merry Christmas and a happy New-Year, and bid them a kindly farewell.