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Title: The Story of a Needle
Author: A. L. O. E.
Language: English
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                           STORY OF A NEEDLE



  A black stream was flowing down on the carpet.
  _Page 32._



 ❧  BY   A. L. O. E.






                 _I._ _My Education_                     9

                _II._ _My First Adventure_              14

               _III._ _Conversation in a Work-box_      21

                _IV._ _A Mother’s Delights_             26

                 _V._ _A Perfect Metal_                 35

                _VI._ _A Piece of Mischief_             40

               _VII._ _The Lively Metal_                48

              _VIII._ _Packing the Box_                 54

                _IX._ _Gold on a Dark Ground_           63

                 _X._ _The School-boy’s Return_         72

                _XI._ _Home Hints_                      79

               _XII._ _The Story of a Needle and a      90

              _XIII._ _Gold brought to the Proof_      100

               _XIV._ _Conclusion_                     111


                      _GLORY_                          120

                      _THE VICTORY_                    130

                      _BEARING BURDENS_                147


                        _LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS_

          _A black stream was flowing down on the       _Frontispiece_

          _“Mamma, please, will you lay down the hem       27
            for me?” said Lily_

          _Eddy was delighted with his teacher_            80

          _Eddy tells his story_                          116


                         THE STORY OF A NEEDLE.


                               CHAPTER I.

                             MY EDUCATION.

I REALLY can say nothing of my earliest days except from report. I have
heard, but I can hardly believe it, that I was once part of a rough mass
of iron ore, that had lain for ages in a dark mine in Cornwall; that I
was dug out, and put into a huge furnace, and heated till I became
red-hot, and melted; that I was made into part of an iron bar, and when
in a fiery glow was suddenly plunged into cold water, which changed my
whole constitution and name, for iron was thenceforth called steel. I
can just fancy how the water fizzed and hissed, and how my fiery flush
faded suddenly away, and I became again quite black in the face! I can
fancy all this, as I said, but I really remember nothing about it.

Nor have I any recollection of being drawn out into wire, forced to push
myself through little holes, smaller and smaller, till I was long enough
and slim enough for the purpose for which the manufacturer designed me.
My very earliest remembrance is of finding myself lying on an anvil,
along with thousands of others of my species. But you must not fancy me
then, gentle reader, in the least like the neat, trim, bright little
article that now has the pleasure of addressing you. I fancy that I
looked uncommonly like a bit of steel wire, neither useful nor

While I lay quietly reflecting in a kind of dull, sleepy doze, for at
that time I was not sharp at all, a violent blow on one end of me
startled me not a little—I had been hit on that side as flat as a

“What next?” thought I. I had little time for thinking. I was popped
into the fire in a minute, but taken out again before I had time to
melt. Then down came another blow upon me, which had quite a different
effect from the first. It pierced out a little hole in my flat head, and
I received the advantage of having an eye. No sooner did I possess it
than I began to use it. I peered around me with much curiosity, now on
the long brick building in which I found myself; now on the rough
care-worn faces of the workmen, reddened by the glow of the fire-light;
now on the multitude of baby needles around me, all looking up with
their little round eyes.

I was now placed upon a block of lead, and my eye was punched to bring
out the little bit of steel, which was neither tidy nor convenient.
Then, to improve the shape of my flat head, it was filed a little on
both sides.

I felt now tolerably well satisfied with myself—something like a child
(for I have since seen a good deal of the world) when it has mastered
the first difficulties of learning, and begins to fancy itself a genius.
But there was a good deal more of filing, and heating, and polishing
before me; education is a slow and troublesome matter, whether to
children or needles!

I am afraid that I should tire you, dear reader, were I to give you the
whole story of how I was filed into a point; how I thought the file
hard, disagreeable, and rough, as many young folk have thought their
teachers; how I was then heated in a fire till I grew as red as naughty
boys who have been caned by their master; then left to cool in a basin
of cold water, like the same boys shut up to think over the matter.

Then I and a number of my companions were held in a shovel over the
fire, and stirred about, and then straightened with blows of the hammer.
I thought that I must now be quite perfect; but never was needle more
mistaken. How could I go through linen, cloth, and silk—how could young
gentlemen and ladies go through the world—without a proper degree of
polish! Thousands of us were put on a piece of buckram sprinkled with
emery dust; more emery dust was thrown over us, and then a small
quantity of oil; for I wish that every teacher would remember that
though the emery of discipline is necessary enough, it works best when
laid on with the sweet oil of kindness.

Oh, if I could only describe the rolling backwards and forwards, the
rubbing and scrubbing again and again, the washing, the wiping, the
smoothing on a stone, thought necessary to complete a good needle!
Depend upon it, dear reader, your reading and writing, your sums and
your tables, nay, even the terrible dog’s-eared grammar, are nothing to
what the smallest needle must go through before it is fit to appear in
the world!


                              CHAPTER II.

                          MY FIRST ADVENTURE.

OUR education being now finished, two hundred and fifty of us were
packed up together, and remained in darkness and seclusion for some
time. We were then removed, separated, and in smaller numbers placed in
neat little dark-coloured papers, and kept in a box in a shop. Of all
the tiresome parts of my life, this was the most tiresome by far. I
longed for the moment when I should be taken from the prison, and see a
little of the world. I was quite discontented with my state.

“Why was I made, if not to be used?” thought I. “Why have I undergone
all this heating, hitting, and polishing? why am I so sharp, so neat, so
bright, if not to make some figure in the world?” I was only a young
needle, you see, and impatience is natural to youth: I am not the only
one who has found it hard to stay contentedly in the position in which
he has been placed.

At length I felt myself moved (you know that I could see nothing out of
my paper). I believe that I had been bought and sold; and though not at
once released from my confinement, I felt reasonable hopes that I soon
should be so. Nor were my expectations disappointed.

“Oh, mamma! dear mamma! what a sweet little work-box—and all fitted up
so nicely!” exclaimed a childish voice near me. I longed to have a peep
at the speaker.

“I hope that it may assist my Lily to be a tidy, useful little girl,
such as her mother would wish to see her.”

“What a pretty silver thimble! and it fits me exactly; just see! You’ve
left a place for my scissors, as I have a nice pair already. What neat,
tiny reels!—and what’s this? a yard measure—ah! and here is wax to make
my thread strong! Thank you, dear mamma, again and again!”

I confess that I was rather in a state of irritation. Nobody seemed to
be thinking in the least about me; after all my finished education, it
was not thought worth while even to give me a look. At length my paper
was moved, very roughly torn open, light flashed upon its contents, and
I and my companions were scattered in every direction, I alighting on
the Holland pinafore of a fair, chubby-faced boy, who had been the
author of the mischief.

“Oh, Eddy! you tiresome child! if you would only leave my box alone—just
see what you’ve done with my needles!”

I seized the opportunity of looking around me, in no hurry for my
resting-place to be discovered. I found myself in a very comfortable
room, full of so many things to excite my curiosity, that I felt as
though I could have gazed for ever! But perhaps what interested me most
was my first sight of the human beings who occupied the apartment. They
were so unlike the workmen to whom I had been accustomed, that I
examined them just as a philosopher might examine some newly-discovered

In the first place, there was a gentle, blue-eyed lady, who sat near the
table on which the work-box was placed; while on her knee rested a very
plump little child, calmly engaged in sucking her thumb. A girl of about
ten years of age (I knew nothing of ages then, and had not a notion of
anything growing, but I have since learned much from observation) was on
her knees, searching for her needles. She was evidently to be my future
mistress, and I anxiously glanced into her face to read what sort of a
child she might be. I scarcely knew whether her countenance pleased me
or not. She had light eyes, like her mamma; rather a turned-up little
nose, which gave her a somewhat saucy expression; and I am sorry to say
that, just at that moment, I saw on her brow sundry creases, which did
not give me an idea of good temper. I know that it is a foolish feeling
of mine, but whenever I see those ugly creases rising on the brow of a
little boy or girl, I always feel inclined to bestow on them a little
prick, just by way of good counsel, you understand! I have seen lines,
and very deep lines, made on the forehead by care; I could just faintly
trace some on that of Mrs. Ellerslie; they became only too distinct in
the course of time, but they never for a moment altered the gentle
expression of her face.

I think now that I hear her soft voice as she said,—

“Oh, Lily, do not be so much vexed with your brother. You know that he
is only a little boy. Come, my Eddy, let us help to look for the
needles; you must not touch the papers again!”

I cannot say much for Eddy’s skill or industry in the search; he was
much more intent on making baby laugh by snapping his fingers and
grinning at her, turning his head knowingly first on one side, then on
the other, till he succeeded in drawing from her a merry crow, and a
smile showed her little toothless gums.

Such success elated Eddy, and, determined to press a good kiss on that
sweet little mouth, he came close—too close to her, alas! for he caused
me to inflict, I am sorry to confess it, a very tiny scratch on the
baby’s plump white arm.

You should have heard what a scream she set up! I really felt quite
embarrassed: was this to be the commencement of my career, was I to
begin my services by mischief? You must consider also, gentle reader,
that my astonishment was very great at the effect produced by my head
simply rubbing against a child’s arm! I myself, though not a thousandth
part of the size of the baby, had borne hammering, bruising, and
battering, not only in silence, but with little inconvenience; and here
the smallest touch seemed to excite terror and pain such as had never
even entered into my fancy. Ah! I soon found how very different the
human species is from ours; how easily their tender flesh is wounded,
and—what I thought still more strange—how easily their feelings are
pained! It has seemed to me, from what I have observed in life, and from
what I have heard from companions of my own, possessing greater
experience, that there are some human beings whose great business seems
to be, pricking and paining the hearts of those around them; as if life
were not full enough of sorrows without our wilfully bringing them upon
our neighbours.

Eddy seemed much more penitent for having hurt baby than for having
overthrown Lily’s paper of needles, though the latter action had been
the cause of the former. He joined his mother and sister in trying to
soothe little Rosey, and assured her so often that he was “very, very
sorry,” and called her by so many sweet names, “little pet, darling, and
duck,” and kissed the scratched arm so often, that she soon appeared
quite pacified. I was not so well pleased at the titles which he gave
me, throwing all the blame on “the naughty, ugly needle,” that had been
the innocent cause of her pain. I was rather in ill humour when Lily
hastily replaced me in the work-box, not dreaming of putting me back in
my paper, but sticking me unceremoniously into the red silk which lined
the top of the box. And there I was to remain, in company with other
articles of metal, with which I soon entered into acquaintance; for all
the metals are naturally related to each other, and I was able to make
myself understood by everything bearing the nature of a mineral.


                              CHAPTER III.

                      CONVERSATION IN A WORK-BOX.

“WELL, what do you think of your new life?” said the Scissors, as soon
as we were left quietly in the box. Perhaps I had better pause for a
moment to describe my new companion, before I record our conversation.

The pair of Scissors, with which I had now to make acquaintance, had
rather an old-fashioned air. One end was rounded, the other had been
sharp, but a little piece had been broken off the point. I fancy that I
detected on one of the handles something reddish, like a little speck of
rust, and the brightness of the whole article was dimmed. This was
doubtless a mark of antiquity, and it was in the patronizing manner of
one who was aware of her own superiority, that Mrs. Scissors repeated
her question, “Pray, what do you think of your new life?”

“I have hardly had time to judge,” was my reply; “but I am rather hurt
at the way in which that little boy laid the whole blame of his own
fault upon me.”

“Oh, that is what you must always expect,” laughed the Scissors; “a bad
shearer never has good shears. I’ve been these ten years in the family,
and I’ve always found it the same. When Miss Lily took it into her head
to imitate the hairdresser, and practise upon Eddy’s flaxen poll, when I
glanced aside, and snipped his little ear, whose fault was that but ‘the
stupid Scissors’!’ And when I was seized upon to open a nailed box,
whose contents the young lady was impatient to see, whose fault was it
when my poor point suddenly snapped? why, ‘the good-for-nothing
Scissors’,’ to be sure.”

“I hope that I shall not be treated in such a way,” said I, rather
alarmed at her words; “it would be too bad, after the trouble that has
been taken to form me, after having had to pass to perfection through so
many hands, to be snapped by a careless child.”

“You would have nothing but the dust-hole before you,” said the
Scissors. I thought the remark very unpleasant.

“I almost wish that I had remained in my mine,” sighed I.

“Oh no,” said a soft voice beside me, and I remarked a beautiful little
Thimble, of a metal unknown to me before, so bright, and white, and
shining, that I felt at once that it was of superior nature.

“Would you wish,” she continued, “to lie useless, to be of no benefit to
any? Has not man refined, formed, polished, improved you, and exerted
the powers of his reason to render you an instrument of good?”

“What has man’s reason to do with us?” said I.

“I know not whether I can explain myself clearly,” replied the Thimble,
“but I will endeavour to show you what I mean. Man has been gifted with
a power called reason; by this he governs the world, by this he subdues
creatures stronger than himself, and makes all things combine to serve
him. He has discovered that iron possesses a strength which he may turn
to valuable account. It would be endless labour to plough the fields, if
the ground had to be torn up by the hand; it would be terrible work to
reap the corn, if each blade had to be pulled off by the fingers. Man
determined to aid his own weakness by the wonderful strength of iron. He
made the ploughshare, and the furrows are turned up; he made the sickle,
and the sheaves are gathered; huge trees, which he would never have had
force to pull down, are laid low by a few strokes of his axe.”

“There is no doubt but that ours is the most useful metal by far,” said
the Scissors, with something of a sneer. “Who would use ploughshares, or
sickles, or axes of silver? Precious little work they would do!”

“I grant it,” said the Thimble, with perfect good-humour; “but we all
have our place in the world, we all have some good purpose to fulfil.
Zinc, lead, tin, arsenic, platina, nickel—”

“Stop, stop,” I exclaimed, overwhelmed with such a list; “I never knew
there were so many metals before.”


  “Mamma, please, will you lay down the hem for me?” said Lily.
  _Page 27._

“Nay,” replied the Thimble gaily, “I have not numbered one half of

                  “Manganese, cobalt, rhodium,
                   Copper, potassium, sodium—”

                  “Who ever such names bestowed on ’em?
                   Such long names I hold in odium!”

cried I.

“There’s rhyme, but not reason,” laughed the Thimble.

“If it is hard to number up the metals,” I observed, “how impossible
must it be to count all the uses to which they are put!”

“Impossible indeed,” said the Thimble. “Man avails himself every day,
every hour, of the treasures which he has won from the mine—for

                “Ploughing, digging, and hoeing;
                 Cooking, ironing, mowing;
                 Cutting, sawing, and sewing;
                 Holding the embers glowing;
                 Speeding the vessel’s going;
                 Music, when horns are blowing;
                 Money, when debts are owing;
                 Bridges, where streams are flowing,
                 Lace, where finery’s showing;
                 Greenhouse, where plants are growing—”

                “In short, there’s no counting or knowing
                 All that man to metals is owing!”

cried I.


                              CHAPTER IV.

                          A MOTHER’S DELIGHTS.

“SEWING! how I hate sewing! I wonder what use there is in my learning to
sew,” exclaimed Lily, in rather a fretful tone, as she took me out of
the box.

“I wonder what’s the use of learning to spell!” yawned little Eddy over
a dog’s-eared book, as he sat on a stool close by his mother.

Mrs. Ellerslie was busy at her desk, examining her monthly accounts,
with a grave and anxious expression. She was interrupted, in the midst
of summing up a long bill, by her little girl bringing her work to her.


“Yes, my dear,” said Mrs. Ellerslie, without raising her eyes, and
continued murmuring half aloud, “Thirteen pounds and a half at
seven-pence three-farthings—I thought there must be an error somewhere.”

“Mamma, please will you lay down the hem for me?”

“Really, my love, I am very busy at present. I think that, after all the
trouble which I have taken to teach you, you might manage to do that for
yourself;” and again she went on with her accounts; while Lily, looking
rather discontented, slowly returned to her seat.

“Mamma,” said Eddy, rising, and laying his book on her knee, “I know my

“Wait a minute, my boy; I will hear you almost directly.”

So Eddy waited cheerfully enough, and, to amuse himself in the meantime,
began trying to mend his mother’s pen, to the no small damage of the
pen, and the imminent risk of his own fingers.

“Oh, Eddy, put that knife down!” exclaimed the harassed lady, when she
had raised her head for a moment to see the nature of his occupation.
“Come, you had better say your lesson at once,” she continued,
hopelessly laying down the bill, and taking up the spelling book. She
was too gentle, too loving, to be irritable or peevish; but petty cares
and petty troubles were wearing out her strength, and damping the
spirits which had once been so light. I saw that though Mrs. Ellerslie
fondly loved her children, she could not help feeling them a weariness
to her; and though they had much affection for their mother, they had
little consideration for her comfort.

“Now, Eddy,” said Mrs. Ellerslie, as the little gentleman stood with his
arms pressed down to his sides before her, “how do you spell the word

“B-o-y,” replied Eddy, with emphasis.

“Oh, fie! that’s not knowing your lesson. You had better look it over
again,” she continued, as a servant brought in a note with the words,
“The messenger is waiting for an answer.”

In the meantime, I was making my first essay in sewing; and though, I
assure you, it was from no fault of mine, a lamentably bungling essay it
was. The hem laid down by my little mistress was in some parts twice as
broad as in others, while in one place the edge was scarcely turned in
at all. I was quite hurt at the crooked stitches which Lily forced me to
make, and I wondered to myself whether she worked thus from stupidity or
a wilful temper.

While the lady read and answered the note in haste, Eddy sat demurely on
his stool, leaning his elbows on his knees, and his chin on the palm of
his hands, as if buried in profound study. As soon as the servant had
left the room, he came again to his mother with,—

“Mamma, I know my lesson now.”

“What do p-i-n make?” said the lady.

“_Pin_,” replied Eddy; for which correct answer he received a smile and
a quiet “That’s right.”

“And what do p-i-n-e make?” continued his mother.

“_Needle!_” shouted out the child with decision. Mrs. Ellerslie laid the
book down on her knee. “I’m afraid that I must turn you again, Eddy.”

Eddy pouted as he took back his lesson, and before Mrs. Ellerslie
resumed her accounts, she said to Lily, “Let me see how you are getting
on with your work.”

Lily brought it reluctantly to her mother.

“Oh fie! this will never do! Are you not ashamed of such hemming?”

“I couldn’t lay down the hem right,” said Lily very dolefully.

“Could not, or would not, Lily? I am sure that you can work more neatly
than that. Just take it back and unpick it nicely.”

Lily coloured, and as she bent over me again, I saw a big tear fall
close beside me.

“Three and eight, nine and four,” murmured Mrs. Ellerslie over her
accounts. “Lily, hold up your head; you must not stoop so my child.
Eddy, do not pull off your buttons.” She leaned her head upon her hand.
I believe that it was aching, and so Lily would have suspected had she
looked at that pale face; but the young lady was gloomily proceeding
with her work, and perhaps grumbling in her heart at the little task
which she might so easily have performed.

It was clear to me that the poor mother was to have no peace, for again
she was interrupted to pay the washerwoman, and had scarcely finished
that small piece of business, rendered troublesome by not having enough
of change, when there was a sound of crying from the room above.

“Is not that baby’s voice?” exclaimed Mrs. Ellerslie, half rising from
her seat. She glanced at Lily, probably intending to send her on a
message—at least it appeared so from the movement of her head; but Lily
had no idea of reading the wishes of her mother, and kept sullenly
pricking me in and out, sitting as if fastened to her seat. Mrs.
Ellerslie, therefore, took the shortest way of settling the matter, and
herself ran upstairs to the baby.

Master Eddy took advantage of her absence to clamber up her vacant
chair, and make himself acquainted with the contents of her desk. A very
little care on the part of Lily might have prevented him from doing any
mischief; but, whether from ill-temper or inattention, she took no
notice whatever of his pranks. When Mrs. Ellerslie re-entered the room,
she found her ink-bottle overturned on the table, and a black stream
flowing down on the carpet, which her little boy was attempting to stop
with a handful of bills.

“Oh, Eddy, Eddy, what have you done!” cried the poor lady. “Lily, run
quickly and call down the housemaid. I cannot leave the room for a
minute,” she added, provoked beyond even her powers of endurance, “but
some mischief is sure to occur.”

“Mamma, I didn’t know there was ink in the bottle—I only turned it up to
see if there was any; but I’m trying to wipe it all up.”

“Oh dear! the bills!—and your hands and pinafore; just see what a state
they are in! You must run up to Sarah directly!”

“I’ll never do so any more!” cried Eddy, looking at his blackened
fingers, and beginning to whimper.

When the housemaid had performed her office, and the children had been
sent up to prepare for their walk—happily the weather was not rainy—the
weary, delicate mother again took her place before the table, and
pushing aside the blackened heaps of bills, which she had now hardly a
hope of being able to make out, she leaned back upon her chair and

“The children are too much for me!” she murmured to herself; “I really
have not the strength to do them justice. I must ask Edward to let me
have a governess. But no; how could I think of such a thing, after the
hint which he gave me about expense, after his parting with his own
horse and gig, and giving up the trip into Wales? He spoke, too, of the
expense of keeping George at school! I am sure that there is something
weighing upon his mind; shall I add to it the burden of my petty cares?
No, no; whatever my dear husband finds to annoy him in the busy,
bustling world, he must find his own home a quiet haven of rest. I must
manage as well as I can, and always have a cheerful smile for him! One
comfort is, that George’s holidays are so near;—my own boy, what a
welcome he shall have!” and her lips parted with a pleasant smile, and
the lines upon her pale brow quite disappeared, as if smoothed down by
an invisible hand.

“This is odd enough!” thought I, as I lay half out of the work-box,
sticking in my unfortunate hem; “three children are more than this poor
lady can manage. I should have thought that a fourth would have driven
her wild!”


                               CHAPTER V.

                            A PERFECT METAL.

“I AM not very sorry,” observed I to the Thimble, “that careless Miss
Lily has forgotten to replace our companion, Mrs. Scissors, in the box.
Her manners are so sharp, her remarks so cutting, that I take little
pleasure in her society.”

“She has a little speck of rust on her, I own,” quietly replied my
philosophic friend; “but we must all learn to bear patiently with the
weaknesses of others, and see that we keep our own metal bright.”

“You have no difficulty about that,” I observed.

“Pardon me,” answered the Thimble; “silver is not subject to rust, but
it tarnishes, especially if exposed to impure, smoky air.”

“And was your origin as low as mine?” I inquired; “were you also dug
from the earth?”

“I was dug out of a mine in Norway; I have been, like you, purified in a
furnace, and exposed to heavy blows of the hammer.”

“I wonder how long it is,” exclaimed I, “since man first found out the
use of metals, and employed them in making whatever he requires!”

“The use of metals was known before the time of the Flood, more than
four thousand years ago. Tubal-Cain is the name of the first man who is
recorded to have worked in metals.”

“Oh!” cried I, “how much I should like to know who it was who first
invented needles!”

“I dare say that the invention is of early date,” replied the Thimble,
“though the needles of ancient times were probably far inferior to the
polished, delicate articles of which I see so fine a specimen before me.
I have heard that needles were first manufactured in England by an
Indian, in the reign of stout Harry the Eighth, upwards of three hundred
years ago.”

“Well,” I exclaimed in admiration, “what it is to have a thimbleful of
information! I shall always couple silver and knowledge together, the
best metal and the best thing in the world!”

“Ah, there you are wrong!” said my bright companion; “there is a metal
far more precious than silver, and a possession even more valuable than
knowledge. What is learning compared to virtue! what is silver compared
to gold!”

“Gold! what is that?” said I. You must remember that I was but a young
needle, with little information, but eager to obtain more.

“Gold is what is called a perfect metal,” replied the Thimble; “it is
injured by neither fire nor water, and it is reckoned of great value in
the world. It is found chiefly in South America, California, and lately
in the immense island of Australia.”

“And has it to submit to the hammer as well as we?” I inquired.

“It has much more wonderful power of enduring it than either silver or
steel,” replied the Thimble. “It never breaks beneath the heaviest
stroke, but it spreads itself out beneath it, and that to such an
amazing extent that I have heard that a bit of gold not so large as a
halfpenny can be beaten out into a wire a thousand miles long.”

I was not a little astonished to hear this, and I was still more so as
the Thimble proceeded.

“Look around you, and, even in this room, you will see wonderful proofs
of the malleability of gold—that is the name given to this curious
property which it possesses. See the picture-frames glittering in the
light, the shining pattern on the paper on the wall, the edge of all
those gaily bound books; they owe their beauty to a layer of gold so
thin that, though that metal is one of the heaviest known, the gentlest
sigh would have blown the leaves away.”

“And is gold useful for anything but gilding?” said I.

“It is much used in various ways,” she replied; “amongst others, it was
formerly much employed in medicine, and is now used in giving a fine red
colour to glass.”

“And is this beautiful and wonderful metal also dug out of the earth?”

“It is procured in some places,” answered the Thimble, “by washing
carefully sand drawn from the beds of some rivers, which is mixed with
particles of gold; but it is chiefly found by digging.”

“Well, then,” cried I, rather triumphantly, “though silver and gold be
both esteemed more perfect and more precious than iron and steel, man
would have very little chance of gaining either of them without the help
of a humbler metal! If silver be like knowledge, and virtue like gold,
to what shall iron be compared.”

“To firm resolution,” said the Thimble thoughtfully, “without which man
would acquire little of either.”


                              CHAPTER VI.

                          A PIECE OF MISCHIEF.

THE next day I found that the lesson of work was to be omitted. Little
Miss Lizzie Baker came to spend the day with my young mistress, who was,
therefore, excused from performing her tasks; which, I could not help
imagining, would be felt quite as great a relief by the teacher as by
the pupil.

I was not, however, to be left in complete idleness. Mrs. Ellerslie
entered the sitting-room in which the work-box of her daughter was kept.
She was dressed in her bonnet and shawl; and seeing me close at hand,
sticking in Lily’s piece of work, she threaded me with a piece of dark
silk, and mended a small hole in her glove. There was a great sound over
head, as of little feet running about, and now and then a fretful cry
from the baby. The lady rose and opened the door, and then I could
plainly distinguish a voice speaking from an upper room in the house.

“Indeed, Miss Lily, I shall never get the child to sleep if you make
such a constant noise. You’ve woke her up these three times already!”

“Lily! Lily!” called her mother at the foot of the stairs. Whether her
call was heard by the little lady I know not, it certainly was not
answered, and Mrs. Ellerslie had walked half-way up to the nursery
before I heard the servant exclaiming in a sharp tone, “Now do you be
quiet, Miss Lily; don’t you hear that mistress is calling you?”

“You had better come to the drawing-room, my darlings,” called the
gentle mother, “and then nurse can put poor baby to sleep. I am obliged
to go out to make purchases, and to execute commissions for my sister;
but I am sure that you will be good and happy while I am away; and do
not be too noisy, my pets.”

So Lily and Lizzie Baker, a plump, dark-eyed little girl, came into the
room, and seated themselves on an ottoman, near the table on which my
work-box was placed. Eddy followed, jumping step by step down the
stairs, and trotting up to his sister, said, “Lily, won’t you let me
play with you?”

“Oh, we don’t want you here,” was the reply; “we are going to have a
quiet chat together. Just you amuse yourself, and don’t trouble us.”

The little fellow turned dolefully away, went up to the window, and
flattened his nose against the pane, looking after his mother as she
crossed the street; soiled his finger by drawing lines across the glass
which he had dimmed with his breath; then, tired of that diversion,
tried to pull off the little twists of wool which formed the fringe of
the curtain; and then suddenly making up to the table, laid his
exploring hand on the work-box.

“There now, Eddy, you tormenting boy, just take your hands off,” cried
Lily, turning round just in time to prevent its contents being scattered
on the floor. She roughly snatched the box from the child, and giving
him something very much like a shake, sent him half crying to another
end of the room.

“He is the most mischievous little monkey,” she said to her companion;
“would you believe it, he pulled off the wig of my new doll!”

“I think that brothers are great torments,” observed Lizzie.

“Oh, not such brothers as George,” replied Lily; “he is always like
sunshine in the house. I am so glad that he is coming from school. I
have been counting the days to the holidays.”

“Well, that’s odd,” said Lizzie; “I always dread them. In the morning of
the day when our boys return, I always think as soon as I awake, ‘Dear,
dear, we’ll have no more peace in the house!’ They are so noisy, so
rude, so troublesome, so fond of worrying and teasing us girls, I’m sure
that it’s a happy day for us when the coach comes to take them back to

“They must be very different from George. I always am happier when he is
with me; and it seems as if he made me better too.”

“But he cannot amuse himself with you. Does he not like hocky, and
cricket, and football, and despise the diversions of girls?”

“He does like cricket, and that sort of thing, and is a capital hand at
it too, but he does not despise playing with us. I do not think that he
despises anything but what is mean or wrong. You don’t know how fond
little baby is of him; and as for Eddy, he is never so merry as when he
is at romps with Georgie, or listening to one of his stories. I don’t
know how it is, but every one seems more happy, and everything looks
brighter, when Georgie is at home.”

A funny fancy came into my head at this moment. I could not help
recollecting what the Thimble had told me about gold—how that metal,
which is so weighty and precious, yet can be spread into leaves so thin
as to brighten the paper on the wall and adorn the leaves of the book. I
wondered if there were anything like this to be found in human life; if
the precious thing called virtue, which my companion had likened to
gold, could also be found to extend to trifles, and in the smaller
occurrences of life show its power to brighten and adorn. It was an odd
idea, but it arose from what I heard Lily say that morning of her
brother; and when I had an opportunity of watching George myself, it
recurred to me again and again.

So the young ladies sat there chatting and diverting themselves for an
hour or more, playing at cat’s-cradle, comparing their dolls, telling
stories of the past, and building castles in the air for the future.
Eddy more than once broke in on their _tête-à-tête_, but was told to go
away, and not disturb them. Driven to his own resources, the child rode
round the room on a footstool; but this amusement was stopped, as being
too noisy. He then kicked his heels for some time on the sofa, till,
finding the occupation tiresome, he made the discovery of a little hole
in a cushion, from which he managed to abstract several tiny feathers,
which amused him for a quarter of an hour. Then I watched him—for no eye
seemed to watch him but mine—when he wearily sauntered to the other side
of the room, and fixed his round eyes upon an instrument which, as I
have since learned, is called a thermometer. He stared up at this, till
his curiosity grew strong. He dragged, with some labour, a chair to the
spot, and scrambling up upon the seat, brought his face to a level with
the glass. He put out his hand and touched the round ball at the bottom
of the instrument, examining it like any little philosopher; he then
pressed it a little harder, I suppose, for I saw the child give a slight
start, as if some mischief had been done, and then scramble from the
chair faster than he had got up, and throw himself down on the floor.

Glancing up at the thermometer, I could see that the little silver ball
had disappeared; but I was at a loss to account for Eddy’s movements
now, as, half-stretched on the carpet, leaning on one elbow, he seemed
to be attempting to pick up something which eluded his grasp, pouncing
down his hand now here, now there, and laughing to himself merrily all
the while.

“I think it’s alive,” he said softly; “how funnily it runs about when I
try to get hold of it!” and opening his mouth, he stooped closer to the
ground, as though to draw up with his lips the something which always
slipped from his fingers. He was startled by a frightened exclamation
from his mother, who at this moment entered the room.

“Eddy, my child! oh, don’t touch that! it’s quicksilver—poison—it might
kill you! Oh, what a mercy that I came just in time!” and weary,
agitated, and alarmed, the poor lady drew him close to her bosom and

“Mamma!” exclaimed the child, frightened at her tears, “I didn’t mean—I
didn’t know—it looked so funny; I never will do so any more!”

“Oh, Lily, Lily!” cried Mrs. Ellerslie, with something of bitterness in
her tone, as both the little girls hurried to her side, “could you not
have looked a little after your brother? If I had returned but one
minute later your carelessness might have cost the life of my child!”


                              CHAPTER VII.

                           THE LIVELY METAL.

“WHAT was that extraordinary metal,” cried I, “which I took for a ball
of silver, till I saw the drops running about on the carpet?”

“Ha! ha!” laughed the spiteful old Scissors, which, speck of rust and
all, had been replaced in the box, “you never saw the solemn
philosopher, Mrs. Thimble, ever cutting a dance like that!”

“The lady called it quicksilver,” I observed. “Was it, then, no relation
of my friend?”

“Relation!” again exclaimed the Scissors; “a relation that would eat
her, rim, top, and all; make holes for her knowledge to run out of!
Quicksilver is a dangerous neighbour.”

“Dangerous both to metal and to man,” quietly rejoined my learned
companion. “Its power can dissolve both silver and gold; and to the
human species it acts as a powerful poison.”

“I wonder that they do not leave it alone, if it does such mischief,”
said I.

“Do you not know,” replied my friend, “that reason and knowledge can
find valuable uses even in those things which at first sight appear only
hurtful? From quicksilver, also called mercury, a medicine is prepared,
which, under the name of calomel, has helped to preserve many a life.”

“How strange!” I exclaimed; “medicine and poison, safety and danger,
both from the same curious metal! But is it always a liquid like that?”

“Oh no!” replied the Thimble; “mixed with other metals, it becomes staid
and quiet enough. Look at that beautiful mirror in the gilded frame,
which reflects every object in the room. To what, think you, does it owe
its beauty? To an amalgam (that is the title given to the mixture)—an
amalgam of mercury and tin, which lines the glass at the back.”

“And makes it a pretty aid to vanity and folly,” said the broken-pointed
Scissors, with bitterness. “If there is one thing which silly mortals
like better than another, it is to look at their own faces in a glass.”

“If mercury has often ministered to vanity and folly,” said the Thimble,
“I remember hearing of one curious instance where it served to mortify
them both. A dashing lady, who was absurd enough to try to increase her
beauty by covering her yellow complexion with a delicate coating of
white paint, once visited a quicksilver mine. She must have felt it
strange to find herself in that gloomy place, where the sickly miners,
by the glare of torch-light, pursue their unwholesome occupation.”

“Why should it be unwholesome?” I asked.

“Because mercury is of that poisonous nature, that it is said that those
employed to procure it seldom live longer than two years in the mine.”

“I should think that after learning that,” observed I, “the dashing lady
would have a feeling of pain when next she looked in a mirror.”

“Probably she had,” replied the Thimble, “but from a different cause.
While she had been examining the mine, she little thought of the strange
effect which the mercury would have on the paint which covered her face.
She entered the place white like a lily; she left it black like a

The idea of the poor lady with her black face mightily tickled the fancy
of the Scissors, who wished that she had been there to see her. But my
curiosity about the strange metal mercury was not quite satisfied yet.

“What was the use of that instrument hung on the wall, where the
quicksilver lay in its little glass ball, till Master Eddy broke its
prison and set it free?”

“That instrument is called a thermometer. It is employed to measure the
heat of the weather.”

“I cannot imagine how it can do that.”

“It is the nature of mercury to expand—that is, grow bigger—whenever it
is exposed to heat. At the top of the glass ball there is a slender
glass tube. When the weather is warm, the mercury swells; and the ball
being too small to hold it, it is forced up the tube to a greater or
less height, according to the amount of the heat.”

“Then, if plunged into boiling water, the mercury would rise very high

“And plunged into ice it would sink very low.”

“Would it ever squeeze itself down into a solid?” said I.

“You mean, would it freeze as water does? It requires very, very intense
cold to freeze mercury; but it is not impossible to do it. I have heard
the master of the shop in which I lay unsold for years, who was himself
something of a philosopher, and from whose conversation with others I
have learned the little that I know,—I have heard him say that he has
seen quicksilver frozen quite hard, so that even a medal was made of it;
but it was not from the mere effect of winter weather.”

“And, of course, if any one had put the medal into his warm pocket, it
would have begun to run about again directly. The best way to keep it
quiet seems to be to make an am—— What did you call its mixture with
some other metal?”

“Amalgam,” replied the Thimble.

“Ah, yes! behind the mirror is an amalgam of quicksilver and tin.”

“Like energy united with common sense.”

“And taught to _reflect_,” added the Scissors.


                             CHAPTER VIII.

                            PACKING THE BOX.

THE next day’s lessons passed over with the usual amount of weariness on
the part of the teacher, dulness on that of little Eddy, and
carelessness on that of his sister. It was with great difficulty that
Mrs. Ellerslie could keep the attention of Lily to the tasks which she
had to learn. The thoughts of the little girl were constantly wandering,
now to her brother, now to her play, now to some project in her mind,
while she tried the patience of her mother almost as much by the
numerous little bad habits which seemed to spring up like weeds in
neglected ground.

“Lily, do hold up your head!—My child, you must not stand upon one
foot!—Little girls ought not to bite their lips!—What! you have been at
your nails again!” Such were the sentences which, from the lips of the
anxious parent, constantly interrupted the course of the studies. I
began to wonder whether little girls could find any peculiar enjoyment
in biting their finger-ends—whether they thought it becoming to look
hunchbacked, or merely delighted in teasing their teachers, and
defeating the efforts of those who love them to make them lady-like and
agreeable. As I am a needle, and not a little girl, I cannot tell which
of these three motives it was that influenced the conduct of Lily. If
any of my young readers ever follow her example, I beg them to decide
the question.

At length lessons were finished, and the tired teacher was free, but not
to rest. Oh no! but to pack up a box for her sister in India, which must
be despatched before one o’clock.

“Now, my darlings, run up and get ready for your walk.”

Lily sauntered slowly up to the window. “Oh, I’m so glad! it’s raining
fast!” said she. “I have something that I particularly want to do. See,
mamma, what Lizzie gave me yesterday!” And she drew, from a little
pocket in her dress, a very small parcel, and opening it, displayed to
view a reel of bright, glittering gold thread.

“Very pretty; and what will you make of it, my dear?” said Mrs.
Ellerslie, kindly pausing in her occupation of clearing away
school-books and slates, Lily never dreaming of offering her assistance.

“I’m going to ornament a pen-wiper for George,” replied the child;
“don’t you think that it will please him very much? May I stay here and
work it beside you?”

Mrs. Ellerslie nodded her head in assent, but looked a little grave;
perhaps she would have preferred being left for an hour in quiet, and
had some idea what the permission would cost her.

“And may I stay here too, mamma?” inquired Eddy. “I want to look at you
packing all these things. Do let me stay, darling mamma!”

She could not resist his entreaty; so there he pretty quietly stood,
watching his mother as she hastily spread the table with various
parcels, brown paper, oil-skin, a tin box, and string.

“Mamma,” said Lily, standing on one foot, with the golden thread
dangling from her hand, “don’t you think that this will look well upon a
dark ground?”

“Yes, my love,” answered Mrs. Ellerslie, her voice half drowned in the
rustling of paper.

“Mamma, do you think blue or green would look best?”

“I really cannot think about it at all just now. My box must be ready
before one. Now, my Eddy, you must not open the parcels.”

“I was just peeping in a little, mamma.”

“Don’t come to the table, my sweet boy! Mamma is very busy indeed.”

Eddy trotted off without saying another word.

“Mamma,” began Lily again, “do you think that you have a bit of
dark-blue cloth or velvet, whichever you please, to give me for the
sides of my pen-wiper?”

“I dare say I have some upstairs in my wardrobe.”

“Could I go and get it, mamma?”

“No; you know that I never allow you to search there,” said the lady,
who, having lined the bright tin box with paper, was trying every
possible position in which an awkward shaped parcel could take up least

Lily remained silent for a few minutes, but without occupying herself
with anything but the thought how she could persuade her mother to give
her at once what she had set her heart upon obtaining. At length she
cautiously commenced with, “I am rather in a hurry to begin.”

“I will look out the piece for you when next I go upstairs.”

Lily gave a very audible sigh.

“This would be just the time for working,” murmured she.

“I shall have no peace till I get it for the child,” exclaimed Mrs.
Ellerslie, half to herself; and the too indulgent mother left her
parcels and her box, to commence a search for some small remnants of
cloth, which, to judge by the length of her absence, she had a good deal
of trouble in finding.

“Now, do not interrupt me any more,” she said, as she placed them in the
eager hand of Lily, and turned, by more active exertions, to make up for
the time which she had lost.

The girl bore them off in triumph to her work-box; but here a new
difficulty arose. She snipped off this corner and that corner, by the
aid of Mrs. Scissors, but could not satisfy herself with the shape.
Again she approached her mother at the table: “Please to make me a good
round, mamma. I have tried, but I cannot do it myself.”

“You can wait a little, my dear.” Mrs. Ellerslie was pressing down the
lid of the box, which seemed evidently determined not to close, and she
looked certainly heated and tired.

Again I heard that naughty, impatient sigh; again the tender mother
yielded to importunity; the round was cut out, and a minute’s peace

“Where’s the string?” said Mrs. Ellerslie quickly, moving the box,
lifting paper, glancing under the table. The lines on her forehead were
plain enough now.

Lily was busily employed trying to force the bright golden thread though
my little eye. I saw plainly that she could never succeed, and I felt
exceedingly mortified; for what could be a higher object of ambition to
a needle than to be threaded with gold? Lily saw that her mother was
hunting and searching for the lost piece of string, but she never
stirred to assist her.

“Where can it be? I’m sure that I brought some down! Where can I have
laid the string?”

“Here it is!” cried Eddy, suddenly becoming aware that his mother wanted
something which he had himself carried off. He had been quietly amusing
himself in his corner, tying chairs, stool, sofa, and bell-rope
together, with a liberal expenditure of string and a very large
allowance of tight knots.

It was Mrs. Ellerslie’s turn to be impatient, as, hastily endeavouring
to undo the child’s work, she exclaimed, “How on earth shall I unfasten
all this?”

“It’s my harness, mamma, and these are my horses! Oh, are you vexed?” he
added, looking up in her face, and reading, from her harassed
expression, that he had again been guilty of causing her trouble. “I’m
very sorry, mamma; I’ll never do so any more.”

Even in the midst of her hurry, the gentle mother stooped down to give
him a kiss. She had another hurried run upstairs to bring more string,
for she had not the spare time to undo all his knots; but no angry word
passed her lips. She let Eddy stand beside her at the table, even
trusted him to hold a match which she had lighted, and employed him to
ring the bell.

“I am so glad that it is done at last!” cried the lady, sinking wearily
on the sofa, as the box—it was barely packed in time—was carried by a
servant from the room.

“And I helped you, mamma!” said Eddy proudly.

“I shall never manage this!” cried Lily impatiently. “Oh, the tiresome
needle!—stupid thread!”

“I am at leisure now,” said her mother; “bring your work to me, my dear

“One would need a bodkin to hold such great coarse cord,” exclaimed

What a name to give to the most delicate flexible thread which had ever
employed the ingenuity of man to beat out from a single grain of gold!

“If you had waited a little, I should have shown you what to do. The
gold thread must not be passed through the thick cloth at all, but be
fastened down to it with a little fine cotton. Thread your needle, and I
will show you the way.”

Oh, the patience and love of a mother! Alas, that it should often be
met, if not with actual ingratitude, yet with that selfish want of
consideration which receives every kindness as a matter of course, and
never makes the smallest sacrifice in return!


                              CHAPTER IX.

                         GOLD ON A DARK GROUND.

“OF what a fine bright metal that box is made,” said I; “I should almost
have taken it for silver.”

“Your learned friend here would be shocked to be mentioned in the same
breath with tin!” observed the Scissors.

“Far from it,” said the bright silver Thimble. “If usefulness to man
gives value to metal, few can rank more highly than tin. England owes to
it her earliest fame; for long before her flag waved o’er distant
seas—long before her conquering armies trod foreign shores, while her
fields were wild forests, and her people barbarians, the Phœnicians
sought her coasts for tin, for which her mines in Cornwall are yet

“Ah! I remember,” I observed, “that it is when mixed with tin that
mercury forms the amalgam used for the backs of mirrors.”

“Mercury is not the only metal which unites in a friendly manner with
tin. Joined to copper, it becomes bronze, of which those pretty
chimney-piece ornaments are made; and pewter, so useful to the poor,
comes from tin united with lead. It is also very commonly used to line
copper pots and pans, which, without such a coating of tin, might poison
the food which they contain.”

“Poison!” I exclaimed in surprise.

“Yes; many serious accidents have arisen from the tin lining wearing
away from cooking vessels made of copper. The rust of copper is called
verdigris; it is of a bright green colour, and of a most poisonous

“Ah!” said the Scissors, “that accounts for our good lady’s alarm, when
she found one morning, about two years ago, Master Eddy sucking a copper
halfpenny! A precious deal of trouble that young gentleman has given
her. He’s as active as quicksilver, and as mischievous.”

“Pity that we can’t make an amalgam of him,” laughed I, “and teach the
little rogue to reflect.”

“He, Miss Lily, and the baby are killing their mother by inches between
them,” said the Scissors.

I felt rather afraid that she spoke truth, when I saw how faint and
exhausted the poor lady appeared, when at length she found a few minutes
for repose. She looked so very thin and so pale, as she stretched
herself on the sofa, when the light of day began to grow dim. She opened
a book with gilt edges, which I had observed to be her favourite
companion, and which my friend had told me was, as she believed, a great
mine from which man drew all the virtue which he possessed. She read a
little, until her worn, anxious face assumed a peaceful expression. She
raised her eyes, and looked upwards; I thought that they were moistened
with tears; and her pale lips silently moved, as if she were speaking to
some unseen friend. Then she shut the book, and placed it beside her,
and her blue eyes languidly closed; and she lay so still, so very still,
that she looked as though she never would move again.

The sound of the opening of the outer door seemed to awaken her in a
moment. She started up with quite a changed look, so bright, so
animated, so cheerful; passed her hand hastily over her hair to smooth
it, and then ran out of the room: and I heard her voice below in lively
tones giving a fond welcome to her husband.

It must have been difficult, however, for the poor lady to keep up a
cheerful manner in his presence. I never saw so gloomy a man. It was in
vain that she troubled him not with a single care of her own,—that she
spoke not a word of her failing health, her difficulties with servants,
her troubles about the bills, her ceaseless anxieties with the children.
I watched him where I lay beside my thread of gold; for Lily’s habit of
filling her box so full that she never even attempted to close it, gave
me constant opportunities of looking about me, and seeing what passed in
the room. When the children were called down to see their father, the
stern gloom in his face never changed. Even when his wife placed little
Rosey in his arms, he kissed her soft cheek with an air so sad, that the
babe, half frightened, held out her hands to be taken back to her
mother. Lily could not win his attention at all, and left the room
mortified and vexed; and Eddy received no answer when he said, “Are you
not glad that Georgie is coming home to-morrow?”

“I’m sure that there’s something the matter with that man,” said the
Thimble, when the sound of the dinner-bell had cleared the room.

“There’s something weighing on his heart, you may be sure,” observed the
Scissors, “for he used to be as merry as a child. I’ve seen him
galloping up and down this very room, with Master Eddy perched upon his
shoulders, and Lily scampering at his heels; and it would have puzzled
even our sharp friend the Needle to say which was the liveliest of the

“He’s in trouble, then,” said the Thimble: “I’ve seen enough of life to
know that mortals have their trials, which are to them as the hammer and
the furnace to us.”

The opinion of our philosophic friend was confirmed that evening, as,
when the lamp was lighted, and the curtains drawn, and the children all
quiet in bed, the husband and wife sat together in deep, earnest

“You will hide nothing from me, my beloved,” said the lady, laying her
hand fondly on his, and looking anxiously into his face. “I have felt
for a long time that something was wrong; suspense is worse than the
truth could be. I can bear all, all but to see you unhappy, and not be
able to lighten, or at least share your trials!”

He drew her closer to him. I could not see his face; it was turned from
the place where I lay; and he spoke so low, in a hoarse, agitated voice,
that I could catch but few of his words. They were such as “ruin,”
“bankruptcy,” “poverty;” the meaning of which I could scarcely
comprehend; but I saw the lady’s cheek grow very pale, though her manner
was quiet and composed.

“Well, dearest,” she said softly at length, “there are far greater
trials than poverty. It will only draw us closer together. I can be
happy in a very small abode—a cabin, a hut—so that my dear husband and
children are with me. I will be Rosey’s nurse myself. We can manage on
little; so little, you shall see what a housewife I shall be!”

“Ah!” thought I, as I looked on that sweet loving face, “the gold indeed
looks brightest on the dark ground, and virtue most lovely in

“It may not come to that; all may yet be well,” said the husband, rising
and pacing up and down the room. “If I only could meet the present
difficulty! A loan at this time would keep us all afloat; one good
friend at this crisis might save us.”

“George Hardcastle,” suggested the lady.

“I have thought of him a thousand times,” replied her husband, stopping
in his agitated walk. “He is rolling in wealth; he is generous; he is
our cousin; our boy was named after him. But then—” He paused, and
looked at his wife.

“We have quarrelled with him.”

“_I_ have quarrelled with him. We have not met for months. I could not
stoop to write to him now.”

“Not for your children’s sake?” said the mother, rising and laying her
hand on his arm. “Oh, Edward, we must think of our helpless babes! Even
if he refused to lend money to you, he might, I think that he would, do
something for our George.”

Mr. Ellerslie uttered a sigh that was almost a groan, and threw himself
down on his chair.

“It seems to me as though we should lose no time,” continued his anxious
wife; “so much is at stake! Let’s see: this is Wednesday,” she
continued, pressing her hand on her forehead. “I think there are two
posts to Bristol; if we wrote at once, we might have an answer on
Friday. Edward, when all depends on it, why should there be one hour’s

I could see that it went sorely against the will of Mr. Ellerslie to
yield to the persuasions of his wife. It seemed to me, from words that
dropped from him, that he was conscious of having behaved ill towards
his cousin; that he regarded Mr. Hardcastle with a feeling of dislike,
and almost preferred remaining in difficulties to asking assistance from
him. I saw, though no mortal ever saw it, that Mrs. Ellerslie had a good
deal to endure from her husband, however dear she might be to his heart.
What patience she required, what earnest persuasion, to induce his proud
spirit to bend so far as to write at all to his offended relative! And
then, when the desk was opened, what a painful task was hers to make him
write what would not offend, to alter sentences and soften expressions,
and stoop to explain the greatness of his need. Often the ink dried on
the pen, twice was the half-written sheet pushed angrily away, and
bitter things were uttered, even to her whose every look and every tone
was love. I scarcely believed that the letter would ever be finished.
But finished it was at last; and Mr. Ellerslie hastily quitted the room,
impatient with his wife, with himself, with all the world!

The lady took the sealed letter in her tremulous grasp, folded her
hands, and again looked upwards: again her lips moved; and this time the
big tears rolled slowly down her cheeks.

“We must do all that we can,” she faintly murmured to herself. “The
hearts of men are in His hands. We must leave no proper means untried,
and then commit all to a higher Power.”


                               CHAPTER X.

                        THE SCHOOL-BOY’S RETURN.

CONSIDERING the heavy weight of care which I knew lay on the heart of
the lady, it was wonderful to me how quietly she went through the
ceaseless petty trials of her life.

Lily and Eddy came as usual to their lessons next morning, the former
with her dress a good deal torn.

“Please, mamma, nurse says that I want a new frock.”

“It is not long since I purchased this, Lily. You must have treated it
very carelessly indeed,” replied the mother, looking somewhat grave.

“Oh, it’s poor stuff!” cried Lily, giving a little pull, which confirmed
her assertion, by making the rent a good deal wider.

“There is no use in making it worse, Lily. I cannot afford to be buying
new clothes. We must do the best we can with the old.”

“Nurse says that she has no time for mending.”

“I think that these lazy little fingers might make themselves useful,”
said Mrs. Ellerslie, with a gentle smile; “those who mar things ought at
least to mend them.”

“I cannot mend such a frock!”

“Then _I_ must,” said the lady.

Lily glanced at her mother’s face for a moment; perhaps she saw
something there that pricked her conscience a little, for she said in an
altered tone, “Dear mamma, I should like to be useful, but I do not like
mending at all!”

“Nor do I, my love,” answered her mother.

There was nothing more said on the subject at that time. The lessons
proceeded as usual. Lily, whose thoughts were very full of the expected
arrival of her brother, broke off several times in the midst of her
tasks, when she heard the sound of a carriage, and rushed to the window,
whither she always was followed by Eddy, though assured each time that
it was impossible that George could arrive till after early dinner.

If Lily had known all that I knew, I cannot but think that for once she
would have shown some consideration for the teacher, whose mind was so
full of troubles and cares; I cannot but think that she would have known
her verse correctly, held up her head, and kept her finger-ends still;
but, as it was, the old story was repeated again, and when lesson-time
was over, the child did not even seem conscious that she had been doing
anything wrong!

But oh! the bustle and commotion that there were when a cab, with a
black trunk on the coachman’s box, did at length actually drive up to
the door! The whole house resounded with the cry, “It is George! it is
George! he has come!” I heard little Eddy swinging himself downstairs so
fast, that it must have been at the peril of his neck; I believe the
coachman had not even time to ring, so eagerly the door was opened; and
there was such a medley of eager voices in the hall, that all the
neighbourhood must have known of the arrival! I soon saw Mrs. Ellerslie
enter the drawing-room, with a colour on her cheek and a sparkle in her
eye; her arm was round the neck of her son, and she surveyed him with
mingled pride and joy!

I shall not attempt to repeat the conversation which passed; every one
seemed so eager to ask questions, that there was scarcely a possibility
of reply; but I noticed that whenever his mother spoke, George was
instantly silent and attentive; and that though he laughed, played, and
chatted merrily with all, his eye most frequently rested on her. Then he
had to go upstairs to see the baby, followed, of course, by Lily and
Eddy, who pursued him like his shadow; and it was not till an hour or
two afterwards that he re-entered the drawing-room with them.

“And now, Georgie, you must show us your prize!” cried Lily, with eager

They sat down on the ottoman together, just as Lizzie and Lily had sat,
and Eddy crept up close to his brother. This time no one sent him away.

“A book! what a beauty!” cried Lily; but on turning over some of the
pages, she added, with a look of disappointment, “But what a stupid book
it must be! all about metals, and things no one cares for!”

“Well, I’ve been reading a little in the train, and I do not find it
stupid at all. It tells one so much that is curious and new. Did you
ever hear, Eddy, of metal spoons that would melt in hot tea like sugar?”

Eddy opened his eyes very wide.

“Well, men really make such spoons—I mean, that they would, if they
thought that any one would buy them—of a mixture of bismuth, lead, and

“I never heard of bismuth before,” cried Lily.

“It is a white metal, of a reddish-yellow tinge, used with others in
making solder for the plumbers. There’s the beauty of my book, Lily; it
tells one so much that one never heard of before. Did you know that
there was a wine made of steel?”

“Steel wine? Oh yes! that is what mamma has to take every day, to make
her strong. But it is not at all nice; it does not taste in the least
like other wine.”

“Then there’s sugar of lead.”

“I’d like that!” cried Eddy, smacking his lips at the idea of a

“Would you, my little man? But it would not like you. Sugar of lead is
that metal dissolved in spirit of vinegar; and that, you must know,
makes it a poison.”

“Well,” said Lily, “I always considered lead as a dull, heavy metal, fit
for nothing but making water-pipes.”

“My book would tell you a different tale. Why, you forget black lead
pencils, and the types used in printing. It is employed also in making
clear glass, the varnish on china, and beautiful white paint, for all
that it looks so dull! Then, it’s so odd to think that from mixing some
metals together you can get quite a new one! Look at the bright brass
rods upon which the curtains are hung; brass is a mixture of copper and

“They look like gold!” cried Eddy, looking up. “What do people mix to
make gold?”

“You funny little philosopher,” said George, playfully tapping his
brother on the cheek, “that’s the very question which for ages puzzled
the brains of the learned. They wanted to discover some way to mix up
metals and make gold. Even the wonderful Sir Isaac Newton was very
anxious to find it out! Men were always searching and searching for what
they called ‘the philosopher’s stone;’ and they read old books, and
looked at the stars, as if they could see the secret written there; and
they kept up fires for years and years, and mixed together all sorts of
things; and some spent all their money, and some all their lives, in
trying to find out how to make gold!”

“And never found out at last?” inquired Lily.

“It was like running after a rainbow, that searching for the
philosopher’s stone. But look at Eddy; he is yawning. He is not quite a
Sir Isaac Newton yet; so I think, Lily, that we had best shut the book,
and be off for a game at hide-and-seek!”


                              CHAPTER XI.

                              HOME HINTS.

“YOU won’t do any lessons, George, during the holidays, I suppose?” said
Lily, as she slowly and reluctantly brought her lesson-books to her
mother the next day.

“That’s as mamma likes,” answered George.

“I think,” said Mrs. Ellerslie, replying to his glance, “that as you
have been working so hard, my boy, you might indulge in a few days’
complete rest.”

“I must not be quite idle,” said George cheerfully; “will you not let me
teach Eddy while I am at home?”

“I think that you would be soon tired of the business,” replied Mrs.
Ellerslie, with a smile.

“I’ll try my skill as a tutor, at least;” and there was a bright look
about the boy, which seemed to say, “I am determined _not_ to be tired.”

So George set about the task of tuition with wondrous good-humour and
patience; and Eddy was delighted with his teacher, who really succeeded
in persuading him at last that twice two does _not_ make three. I must
own that Eddy persisted to the end in calling _no_—_on_, and _of_—_for_;
but then he was but a little boy, and George said that he would do
better in time. It was certainly a relief to Mrs. Ellerslie not to have
her attention diverted from Lily; but I could not but fancy, from the
anxious, abstracted expression of the poor lady’s face, that her own
thoughts were often wandering from the lessons to the difficulties of
her husband and the expected letter from Bristol.

As soon as the studies were over she quitted the room, doubtless glad
that the drudgery was ended for the day; and merry as a bird from a
cage, Lily flew to the side of her brother.


  Eddy was delighted with his teacher.
  _Page 80._

“It’s raining, so we need not go out. Oh, what a delightful chat we
shall have! Just sit down beside me, Georgie, and tell me how you feel
now that you are at home.”

“I should feel very happy indeed, but that I think mother is looking
very ill.”

“Do you?” exclaimed Lily, with a look of alarm. “Well, I hoped that she
was better, for she never complains. The doctor saw her about a month
ago; he gave her something to strengthen her, and said that she must be
taken care of, and then there would be nothing to fear.”

“And is she taken care of?” said George.

“Well, I don’t know—I don’t see what we can do,” replied Lily, looking
perplexed; “I would gladly sit up all night, if it could do her any

“She does not want any one to sit up with her all night,” said George;
“but I cannot help thinking that we could do more for her, Lily, than
the cleverest doctor could. The lessons are a great fatigue to her, I

“Well, I’m sure that I should be delighted to leave them off, every one
of them!” exclaimed his sister.

“That would not do,” answered George; “they must be learned; and I am
afraid that I could not teach you as well as Eddy. But it does seem to
me, Lily,” he continued, speaking more slowly and looking on the ground,
“that you might save mother just half the trouble that you give her at
your lessons.”

“I! what do you mean?” said Lily quickly.

“Well, dear, I don’t wish to vex you; but you know that I could not help
hearing what went on all the time that you were at your tasks. Mother
had to tell you this thing and that—just what, I suppose, she had told
you a hundred times before: and you were watching the butterfly
fluttering about while she was explaining the rule of three; so of
course you did not understand it one bit, and she had to begin from the
beginning again. Mother is so kind and gentle—it seems as though her
goodness made you careless. I am sure that you would learn your lessons
much better if she had taught you with a rod in her hand.”

“George, I never expected this from you!” cried Lily, her eyes filling
with tears.

“Forgive me, dear, for speaking so plainly; but when I look at mother,
and see her so thin and so pale, I can’t help telling you a little what
I think. Now, it’s just like this,” continued George, searching in his
mind for a simile. “Suppose that you were lame, and that it was my duty
to lift you into the baby’s little carriage, and give you a turn round
the square.”

“You could manage it, I dare say,” said Lily.

“Ah! but suppose that, as I was drawing you along, you caught at every
bush, and clung to the palings, and held the wheels, so that they could
not be turned round.”

Lily could not refrain from laughing. “You would have hard work,
Georgie, dragging me along! But I should never make you so unkind a
return, if you were so good as to draw me round the square!”

“And yet, when dear mother gives her time and her strength to getting
you on with your learning, you act just as if you wished to make her
pull in vain; and I am sure that she is just as much tired as I should
be after giving such a drive. Now, Lily, I am certain that you love dear

“I love her—I dote on her—I would do anything for her!” exclaimed the
little girl, fairly bursting into tears, for she was much wounded by the
words of her brother.

George kissed her again and again, as if angry with himself for having
vexed her; but as soon as Lily was more calm, he resumed the subject
once more.

“Now, dear, suppose that you and I resolve in future to do our very best
to make mother strong and well. There are three things which I think
will do her more good than all the steel wine in the world. First, let
her never say anything _twice_—what a saving of her strength that would
be! Then let us always determine to think of her pleasure before our
own. And lastly, in every little thing, let us save her all the trouble
that we can. Oh, Lily, let us only consider what a blessing God has
given us in such a parent; we cannot love her too much, nor care for her
too much, nor too earnestly try to obey that commandment, ‘_Honour thy
father and thy mother_.’ And now, will you forgive me for what I have
said?” George added, gently laying his hand upon his sister’s.

Lily threw her arms around his neck. “George, you are a darling!” she

“And so we will be merry again! Come, dry up those eyes, dear Lily; I
cannot bear to see you cry.”

Lily smiled through her tears, dried her eyes, and then, taking her
work-box from the table, she drew out her beautiful pen-wiper. “Can you
guess for whom this is?” said she; “do you think that it will be pretty
when it is done?”

“Very pretty indeed,” answered George; “how beautiful the gold looks on
the dark blue!”

“It is for a certain brother of mine,” said Lily, with an arch, pleasant

“For a brother who will value it very much—I think that I can answer for
that,” replied George.

“I’m going to work it now,” said the little girl, as she passed a thread
through my eye.

“Have you nothing else that you wish to do first, dear Lily?”

“No, nothing;—oh, you are looking at that hole in my dress; but I never
mend my own clothes.”

“I thought that I heard mother say something about that very hole
to-day,” observed George, with a little hesitation.

“Well, I suppose that I ought to run it up; but I do so detest mending.”

“I wish that I could help you, Lily; but I fear that my fingers are too
clumsy. Here is an opportunity for you to begin to follow up your good
resolutions. Here is something which you dislike to do; but then your
doing it will give pleasure to mother. What is trouble to you will save
trouble to her, and you will be so glad when the effort is made.”

“Must I put this by?” said Lily, looking sadly at her pen-wiper.

“For a while, dear—only for a while. I shall always look with more
pleasure at my beautiful present when I remember that my Lily would not
let her own will come before her duty and her love to her mother.”

The pen-wiper was replaced in the box, and I felt myself hastily run
into the dress.

“I will sit beside you while you work,” said George, “and tell you a
story to amuse you.”

“A story! a story!” exclaimed Eddy, running up to his brother in high
glee at the word.

“Oh, Eddy! what have you been about?—pulling the horse-hair out of the

“He is always at some mischief,” said Lily.

“I think,” observed George, “that it must be because he is idle, and
cannot keep those little fingers still. Now, Eddy, would you not rather
be a comfort to mamma, and help her?”

“I do help mamma!” exclaimed the little boy, with a look of injured
innocence; “I helped her a great deal to pack her box; I wish mamma had
a box to pack every day.”

“Perhaps mamma would not join in that wish. But if there is not a box to
pack, here is a great skein of wool to wind. Will you hold it on your
hands, little man, while I try to find out the knot?”

“He’ll let it slip off to a certainty!” cried Lily; “you had much better
put it over a chair.”

“Will you let it slip off, Eddy,” said his brother, “and spoil all the
skein for mamma?”

“I’ll hold it as tight—as tight as a drum!” cried the child, indignant
at his carefulness being doubted. “I will be useful—I will help mamma!”
his face quite flushed as he spoke.

“You’ll be her comfort, Eddy; I’m sure of it,” said George. “Now,
softly; you need not stretch it so hard; just hold your hands a little
nearer to the light; I can wind all the time that I am telling the

“Oh, how nice it will be! how happy we are! What shall the story be
about?” cried Eddy.

“Let me see,” said George, shaking out a knot. “Why, Lily, how famously
you are getting on with your hole! We shall be puzzled to find out the
place where it was. I think that, in compliment to your work, I will
tell you a story of a needle and a compass.”

“Of a needle!—oh, what fun!” cried little Eddy. A jovial little fellow
he was, and very merry sounded his laugh; but it was not merrier than
mine, if the children could have heard it; for never had it entered my
thoughts for a moment that any one would ever make a story about me; and
I felt amazingly complimented by the idea.

“What sort of needle?” asked Eddy; “a big needle—a darning needle—a

“Oh no!” replied George, with a smile; “we need nothing so grand as
that. We’ll have a story of a nice little needle, just like that with
which Lily is sewing.”

With eager curiosity I listened, and the Scissors and the Thimble were
all full of attention, as George commenced his story.


                              CHAPTER XII.


“ONCE upon a time, in the days of fairies—”

“How long ago?” inquired Eddy.

“Well, you must not ask too particularly about that,” laughed George;
“but I suppose that, as there is a compass in my story, it must have
been after the compass was invented—about the thirteenth century, that
is to say, though some believe that the Chinese had it more than two
thousand years before.”

“But what is a compass?” said Eddy, looking up.

“Oh, Eddy,” cried Lily with impatience, “you must not interrupt us every

“Poor little fellow! it is very natural that he should like to
understand,” observed George “I’ll try to explain it to you, Eddy. There
is a strange substance, called loadstone, dug out of the ground, for
which iron has a wonderful fancy. If a lump of it were placed in Lily’s
work-box, all her needles and scissors, and her keys, if she had any,
would jump to it, and cling to it in a minute, just as you would jump
into mother’s arms.”

“Oh, I wish that I had a lump as big as my head! I should like to see
the poker and the tongs and the shovel all jumping!” exclaimed Eddy,
full of merriment at the thought.

“And the odd thing is,” continued George, “that when iron is well rubbed
with this loadstone, it seems as though it grew just like it, for it
gets the very same curious property of attracting other bits of iron.
One of the boys at my school had a large steel magnet—that is, steel
that had been rubbed with the loadstone—and it was the funniest thing in
the world to see a dozen needles sticking to it at once, like so many
quills upon a porcupine.”

“But what has this to do with the compass?” inquired Lily.

“It has a great deal to do with the compass. It has been discovered that
magnets, when put in such a position that they can freely move in any
direction, are sure always to turn towards the north: so little
instruments are formed, holding a small piece of steel made into a
magnet, not fixed, but left to tremble and tremble, till, like a tiny
finger, it points towards the North Pole.”

“What is the use of that?” said Eddy.

“It is of wonderful use,” answered George. “Why, only think of poor
sailors at sea; when there is nothing but water, wide water, around
them, and when the clouds hide the sun or the stars, how can they tell
which way to steer?”

“I don’t know,” said Eddy, quite puzzled.

“They look at their clever little compass—they see in what direction it
points—they know from it where the north and south lie; and the tiny
magnet serves as a guide.”

“What a clever little compass!” cried Eddy; “now, please go on with your

“Well, as I said, once upon a time, in a beautiful garden, near a
beautiful palace, there sported two beautiful children. They were the
little son and daughter of a king; and they were brought up with such
foolish indulgence, that in all things they had their own way. They did
not like spelling, so they never learned to spell; they did not know
their tables; they never looked at maps; they could not so much as count
their fingers!”

“Oh!” exclaimed Eddy, “the stupid little things!”

“They were not naturally more stupid than others,” replied George; “but
then they were terribly idle. They were of no use to any one in the
world. They did nothing but gather fruit and eat it, and make garlands
of pretty flowers, and sing aloud their foolish little song—

             ‘I love to be idle, I love to be gay,
              I’ll throw my books and my work away;
              From morning till night—all play, all play!’”

There was a twinkle in Eddy’s merry eye that seemed to say that he felt
no surprise at the idle taste of the children.

“Well,” continued George, winding rapidly all the time that he spoke,
“one day they were playing together in the garden, when they were
surprised to hear a low, soft sound, which came from a bed of flowers.
They ran eagerly to the spot, and, standing in the cup of a tulip, a
fine tulip, all streaked with crimson and white, what do you think they

Eddy suspected a wasp, or a dragon-fly.

“No; a lovely little fairy, with gossamer wings, all spangled with
silver and gold; and she held in her hand a fine glittering wand, not
half so big as the tiniest needle!

“‘Oh, foolish children!’ she cried, in a soft, sweet voice, which
sounded like the tinkling of a bell, ‘do you think life was made only
for a plaything, and time given to be thrown away in folly! There is
work in this world for every one to do, and everything is created for
some use. As you have never, with your wills, done any service to
mankind, it is your doom to do service without them. Your eyes, your
ears, your hands, your tongues, have been given you to no purpose; their
powers shall now be taken quite away; for seven long years you shall
toil in humble estate, till you have learned how great is the value of
time, and opportunity to do some good to others!’

“While the little prince was wondering what the fairy could mean, she
stretched her gossamer wings, and flying towards him, she touched him on
the face with her wand. A very odd feeling came over him at once. He
seemed to be contracting like an india-rubber ball, when some one has
let out the air. Feet and legs, hands and arms, appeared drawn into his
body; and the body itself became smaller, and rounder, and harder, every
minute, till nothing was left of the poor little prince but a mariner’s
compass in a neat brass case, with its slender finger trembling,
trembling, till it found its resting-place towards the north!”

Eddy opened his blue eyes very wide at the idea of such a strange
transformation, and nearly let the skein of wool slip over his fingers.

“The little girl stood amazed, as you may suppose, at the singular
change in her brother. In her surprise to see him shrink into so curious
a shape, she was uttering a cry of dismay, when her tongue, all on a
sudden, ceased to move, her fingers appeared fastened to her sides, her
feet joined together and grew into a point—she shrank, shrank, as if
going to disappear altogether—till, where the little princess had stood,
there only lay on the ground a small needle!”

“Oh, George, what a comical story!” cried Lily, smoothing down the
dress, which she now had finished mending.

“Please, go on,” exclaimed Eddy; “what did the fairy do next?”

“Turning towards the mariner’s compass, and waving her wand to the sound
of strange wild music in the air, she sang the following words:—

                         ‘Upon the stormy tide
                          The weary seaman guide,
             And point to the North across the ocean wide!’

Then bending over the needle, she continued the lay—

                     ‘What is marred, make right;
                      What is severed, unite;
         And leave where’er you pass a golden thread of light!’

Then in what manner they were conveyed away I know not, but suddenly the
compass found itself on the deck of a ship, and the needle in the
work-box of a young lady.”

“That was Lily,” suggested Eddy.

“Oh! as if we lived in the time of the fairies!” exclaimed his sister,
now busy again with her pen-wiper.

“Well, we may call industry and affection good fairies,” said George,
“for what wonderful changes they make! But to go on with my little

“For seven long years the compass and the needle were as clever and
useful, and did as much work, as compass and needle could do. The one
was tossed on the stormy sea, was nearly lost in a shipwrecked vessel,
and when it was deserted by its crew, and almost everything else left
behind, they took it with them, as something more precious than gold,
and by it were guided to safety! It were endless to tell all the good
deeds of the tiny needle in its quiet little home; how many holes it
mended, how many poor it clothed, what beautiful pen-wipers it made,”
George added, glancing playfully at his sister, “till at last—”

“Well, what happened at last?” said Eddy.

“At last, one lovely summer morn, when all the birds were singing, and
the flowers smelling sweet, and the trees waving softly in the air, in
the beautiful garden of a beautiful palace the two beautiful children
found themselves again, with their arms closely twined around each

“Had they not grown in all that time?” inquired Lily.

“They had grown wiser, dear; but the years that had passed seemed to
them like nothing but a dream; and a dream they would have thought them,
so exactly did everything appear as it had done before, had not the same
silvery voice come from the centre of a rose, and the same fairy form
appeared with spangled wings, and tiny glittering wand!

“‘Let not the lessons which you have learned be forgotten!’ she cried.
‘Follow the same path of usefulness now with your wills as you have
lately been doing without them. Let not lifeless brass and steel do more
than beings with reason, judgment, and affection. Let the heart still
point to the pole-star of duty in every danger and trouble; and your
home be cheered by the quiet virtues which adorn the peace-maker, the
comforter, the friend!’ Then bursting into song as she vanished into
air, the fairy’s musical voice was heard:—

                  ‘On life’s ocean wide
                   Your fellow-creatures guide,
      And point to a shore beyond the stormy tide!
                   What is marred, make right;
                   What is severed, unite;
      And leave where’er you pass love’s golden thread of light!’”

“That’s a pretty little story!” said Eddy, as his brother wound off the
end of his skein. “You must teach me the tiny fairy’s song—

                     ‘_What is marred, make right._’

Just say it over again once or twice, Georgie.”

“What do you think of it?” said I to Mrs. Scissors.

“Oh, you know very well that it is not in my line,” she replied, in a
snappish manner; “I sever what is united, and cut right and left! I
would not stoop to the office of a needle!”


                             CHAPTER XIII.

                       GOLD BROUGHT TO THE PROOF.

THE story told by George, however gratifying to my feelings as a needle,
did not prevent me from dwelling a good deal on the troubles of his
parents, and wondering if any letter had arrived from Bristol. I seldom
saw Mr. Ellerslie in the drawing-room, where I was kept, till he
returned from business late in the afternoon. This day, when he entered
the apartment with his wife, he looked gloomy and anxious as ever.

“There is a late post; we may hear to-night,” the lady said. He muttered
something, I could not make out what.

Mr. Ellerslie was very irritable that evening; he could scarcely bear
the children near him at all. Eddy made a vain attempt to repeat to him
the fairy’s song, of which the rhyme had caught the child’s fancy. He
and his sister were soon sent up to the nursery; but George, as being
older and more quiet, was suffered to remain behind.

Mrs. Ellerslie, with forced cheerfulness, did all that she could to make
the heavy time pass pleasantly. She carefully avoided rousing her
husband’s temper, and when, without reason, his peevishness broke forth,
she bore it without a murmur or complaint, and kept down the tears which
struggled to rise. I saw plainly that iron is not the only thing liable
to a speck of rust, nor broken-pointed scissors the only articles formed
to cut and divide.

Mrs. Ellerslie took up a book, a very amusing volume it was, and read
till her voice grew hoarse and faint.

“May I read a little, mother?” said George; “it is good practice for me,
you know.”

She placed the book in his hand; but it soon became evident that George
was not accustomed to read aloud. He never varied his tone, missed the
short words and mispronounced the long, and certainly made a very poor
figure as a reader.

“How you drawl! it is a penance to hear you!” cried his father.

“Shall I take the book now?” said Mrs. Ellerslie faintly.

George was flushed. I could see that he felt his father’s taunt. I
believe that he would gladly have given up the reading; but his mother’s
feeble tone seemed to touch his heart, and still retaining his hold of
the volume, he said, “If you please, I would rather try a little longer;
I will try to read better, if you will let me.”

“There’s the post!” exclaimed Mrs. Ellerslie, with a start, as the
double rap was suddenly heard.

George saw that his mother was anxious: he sprang out of the room in a

Mr. Ellerslie rose, as if too impatient to be able to sit still; his
wife clasped her trembling hands; but neither of them uttered a word
till George returned with a letter.

“The Bristol post-mark!” muttered Mr. Ellerslie, as he broke the seal.

“George, my son,” said the lady, “go to the dining-room for a few
minutes. You can take the book with you, if you like.”

George instantly obeyed, without speaking; and Mrs. Ellerslie fixed her
blue eyes, with a look of intense anxiety, on the changing countenance
of her husband.

“There—read it,” he exclaimed, when he had finished perusing the letter;
“what do you say, Eliza, to that?” and he threw himself again on his

“He writes kindly of George,” said the mother, after looking over the
first page of the letter,—“‘_I was much pleased with what I saw of your
boy last year,—I don’t forget that he is my namesake._’” The poor
mother’s face brightened up.

“Read on,” said her husband abruptly.

“It does not seem that he declines to assist you,” said the lady, still
anxiously endeavouring to make out the crabbed handwriting before her;
“on the contrary,” he writes, ‘_I shall have a large sum at your
disposal, such as I think will remove every difficulty._’”

“There’s an _if_ to that. Read on a little farther.”

“Oh, Edward!” exclaimed the lady, almost dropping the letter, “can he
ask us to give up our boy—our dear son?”

“He offers to adopt him as his own.”

“My George! oh! no, no, no!—we can never, never consent to that!”

“Why, you see, Eliza,” said her husband, speaking rapidly, “if I have
not assistance now, all will be ruin—I shall have no means of supporting
my family. Perhaps this is the best thing for George himself—”

“I can hardly think it,” said the mother, with a look of intense pain.
“Hardcastle gives us to understand that the separation from our boy must
be ‘_complete—final_’—these are his very words—that ‘_George must not
look to two fathers or two homes_—’”

“Hardcastle dislikes me,” muttered Mr. Ellerslie to himself.

“And even if we could bear to part,” continued his wife, with something
like a stifled sob, “Hardcastle is not one to whom our boy could look up
with the affection—the reverence—” she stopped for a moment, as if to
swallow down her tears. “Hardcastle has temper, he is strange,
eccentric. Our George would be wretched with him. Oh no! it cannot be!”
she added with energy; “it would be like sacrificing—selling our child!”

“If we refuse Hardcastle’s offer,” said her husband, “we offend him for
ever; and you know the consequences, Eliza.”

She sat with her hand pressed over her eyes, while Mr. Ellerslie
continued to speak,

“He can afford George advantages, comforts, which it would not be in our
power to bestow. I am not certain whether, all selfish motives set
aside, the boy would not be happier at Bristol than here.”

“Let us consult George himself,” said the unhappy mother. “On a question
which concerns the welfare of his whole life, we at least should know
what are the poor child’s feelings.”

“I have no objection,” replied the father, walking to the door; “but you
must command yourself, Eliza. This is weak, foolish—not what I expected
from you. We must think calmly, and decide firmly, and not give way to
emotions which injure ourselves and can do good to none.—George!” he
called out, after opening the door, while his wife, after one look of
anguish, such as I never can forget, sat quiet and submissive on the
sofa, like one whose spirit is broken and crushed.

“Did you call me, father?” said George, as he entered with his light
step and cheerful glance.

“Yes; I wish to speak to you, my boy. You remember your visit to Bristol
last summer?”

“That I do!” replied the school-boy with a meaning smile; “I know that I
was precious glad when it was over!”

“You had nothing to complain of—Mr. Hardcastle was kind?”

“Well, kind after his fashion,” said George, with a little hesitation.
“I did not mean to say anything against him. But what with the smoke and
the dirt, and the noise of the great manufactory close by, and the ways
of the house—not one bit like ours—I know that I felt like a bird in a
cage, and was heartily glad when I was set free!”

“I knew it!” murmured the mother; but I believe that no one overheard
her but myself.

Mr. Ellerslie knitted his brow. “Hardcastle wishes you to go to him,” he

“Not another visit, I hope?” exclaimed George with animation; “you do
not know how much I should hate it.”

“Not for a visit—he would have you for good and all.”

“But he won’t get me!” cried the school-boy with playful confidence. “I
would not change my own dear home for that smoky prison, no, not for all
England—and Ireland to boot!”

“He shall not go!—oh, Edward, he cannot go!” exclaimed the mother,
rising and throwing her arms round her son, and pressing him
convulsively to her heart. “I would sooner starve than send him away!”

George was startled and alarmed at the sight of her agitation, and
looked anxiously at his father for an explanation of an emotion which he
could not understand.

“It is as well that he should know all,” said Mr. Ellerslie; “let the
boy decide for himself.—George, driven by circumstances which I need not
explain, I have asked a favour of Mr. Hardcastle, on which the comfort,
the independence, I may say the very living, of this family depend. This
is his answer; read it.” He pushed the letter across the table to

All the healthy glow in the boy’s cheek faded away as he slowly made out
the closely-written scrawl. His father folded his arms, and fixed his
gaze sternly on the carpet; but his mother watched him with glistening
eyes. George stopped more than once as he read, as if to make sure that
he rightly understood, and repeated the words “_final and complete
separation_” as he might have done a sentence of death. When he had
finished he laid down the letter, and turning towards the sofa, said, in
a low, agitated tone, “Mother, what would you wish me to do?”

She buried her face in her hands.

“Do not further distress your mother,” said Mr. Ellerslie, rising with
emotion. “I leave the question in your own hands, George; I will never
dispose of you without your own consent:” and as he spoke I thought that
the hand which he laid on the shoulder of his first-born trembled.

George had evident difficulty in speaking. He could scarcely command his
voice. I expected him to break down every moment; but he manfully
struggled with his feelings.

“I should like one night, dear father, to think over it, before I make
up my mind. Mr. Hardcastle says in his postscript”—he took up the letter
and read—“‘_As business takes me to London, I shall arrive almost as
soon as my letter, and will see you on Saturday morning_;’ so,
doubtless, he will be here to-morrow. May I wait till the morning before
I give you my answer?”

“Certainly,” replied Mr. Ellerslie, with a heavy sigh. “You had better
retire to rest now; it is late. I shall wait at home to-morrow to see
Hardcastle when he calls. You will tell me your wishes in the morning.
George, my dear boy, good-night.”

He pressed his son for a moment closely to his breast, and then himself
rapidly quitted the room. George sprang to the side of his mother.

“Mother—darling mother!” his arms were around her, his head buried on
her bosom.

“Oh, George, my heart will break—will break! I cannot part with you!—I
can never consent!”

“We will think, we will reflect over it, mother.”

“And pray—oh, my child! we will pray!”


                              CHAPTER XIV


“THAT’S right, Lily, place the books ready; get everything right for
dear mother,” said George, as, with a step and manner, oh, how changed!
he entered the drawing-room the next morning.

“I want you to see that I do not forget your advice. I am going to be a
real comfort to mamma.”

“And so am I!” cried Eddy, with glee.

                   “My healthy arm shall be her stay,
                    And I will wipe her tears away!”

He stopped short, and stared in wonder at his brother. “Are you going to
cry, Georgie?” he exclaimed.

“What is the matter, George, dear George?” cried Lily, looking alarmed.

“Sit down beside me, dear Lily and Eddy,” said George, when he had
recovered his voice. “I want to speak with you quietly and seriously—I
want to speak to you about our dear parents.”

“But is anything the matter?” repeated Lily.

“I am going to leave you—I am going to Bristol—I—”

He was interrupted by a passionate exclamation from Lily, and something
like a howl from Eddy.

“I wish you to take my place—to be to those dear parents all that I once
hoped to be; to obey them cheerfully, without a murmur; to try and find
out their wishes, even before they can speak them; to—”

“But you shan’t go, Georgie; I won’t let you go!” cried Eddy, seizing
his brother’s arm with both his hands, as if to detain him by force.

At that moment there was a knock at the door, and George turned very
pale at the sound. The next minute Mrs. Ellerslie entered the
drawing-room to receive the expected visitor. The lady’s eyes looked
swollen and red, and her form drooped like a withering flower. Eddy
popped a cushion on her chair, and Lily drew a footstool before it.

Mr. Ellerslie, whose voice had been heard on the stairs in conversation
with some one whose cracked, peculiar tones grated harshly on the ear,
now threw open the door and followed into the apartment a little
shrunken figure, dressed in a snuff-coloured coat, considerably the
worse for wear. I could not wonder, when I looked at the visitor, at
poor George’s reluctance to exchange the society of all whom he loved so
well for that of his cousin at Bristol. There was something shabby,
mean, even dirty, in his appearance, which gave the impression that he
was out of place in a gentleman’s house; while a terrible squint in his
left eye, and a strange twitch in his face, which set Eddy laughing,
made his countenance the reverse of agreeable.

Mr. Hardcastle, in an uncouth, awkward manner, shook hands with Mrs.
Ellerslie, nodded to Lily, and chucked Eddy good-humouredly under the
chin; then, clapping George heartily on the back, he said, “So, my man,
you are going back with me to Bristol! That’s right. See that your trunk
is packed by Monday; we’ll be off by the early train.”

“I shall be ready, sir,” answered the boy.

Mr. Hardcastle sat down, pulled out his snuff-box, took a pinch of its
contents, part of which he bestowed on the carpet, then held out the box
to Eddy, who examined with interest the picture on the lid.

“I’ll arrange it with you, Ellerslie, to-day,” said the old gentleman;
“we’ll go to the city together, make all right, set all smooth.” He
passed his fingers through his hair, and stretched out his legs with an
air of satisfaction, in marvellous good-humour with himself.

“I am very sensible how much I am indebted to you,” began Mr. Ellerslie,
making an effort to speak.

“Say nothing about it, say nothing about it—it’s all settled and done.
When a man comes half-way to meet me, why it’s my way to go the other
half to meet him. Eh, George?” he added, as if appealing to the boy, who
stood silently and sadly leaning against the arm of the sofa.

George’s answer was a half-suppressed sigh.

“You look glumpish,” said the old gentleman, fixing the eye which did
not squint on the boy. “You don’t wish to go with me, eh?”—the cracked
voice had impatience in its tone.

“I wish to do—whatever is best for my parents.”

“But you don’t like going, eh?” said Mr. Hardcastle, resting his bony
hands on his knees, and leaning forward with a look of peevish

“I cannot like—leaving my home for another,” answered George gravely;
“but I am ready to do it—I do not complain.”

Mr. Hardcastle continued his sharp scrutiny of the boy’s countenance, as
if he would read him through and through. There was a painful moment of
silence—it was broken by little Eddy.

“You shan’t take away George,” said he, going close to the old man, and
looking earnestly up into his face.

“I shan’t! shall I not? and why not, my little man?” said Mr.
Hardcastle, lifting the child on his knee.

“Because—because—Georgie must not be sent far away like the compass, but
stay here at home like the needle.”

“Like what?” exclaimed Mr. Hardcastle, laughing.

“It’s a story Georgie told us,” said the child, pulling the buttons on
the coat of the old gentleman.

“Let’s hear his story, by all means, my dear.”

Poor Eddy looked exceedingly puzzled, for he had very little command of
language, and did not know how to put his thoughts into words. At last
he said, “Georgie told it to make us good, and busy, and kind, and a
comfort to papa and mamma.”

“Ah! that must have been a capital story; I should like to hear you tell
me all about it.”

“Eddy,” said his father, “how can you plague Mr. Hardcastle with your

“I beg your pardon, he does not plague me at all. It amuses me to hear
what the little fellow has to say. So out with your improving story,
Master Eddy!”


  Eddy tells his story.
  _Page 120._

Poor Eddy turned round and looked at his brother; but George seemed
disposed to render him no assistance. He glanced at Lily—she would not
utter a word. He was left to his own resources.

“Well, once upon a time,” he began, but stopped short. “I can’t tell a
story,” said the child; “it is too hard—I can only remember a bit of the
fairy’s pretty song.”

“A little is better than nothing,” cried the old gentleman, much amused
at the perplexed look of the child. “Let’s hear what the fairy sang.”

“It was something about what we all should do, Georgie said. It made me
think I should like to do it too. This was it;” and keeping time with
his fore-finger, he slowly repeated—

                     “What is marred, make right;
                      What is severed, unite;
       And leave where’er you pass love’s golden thread of light!”

The hard features of the old man softened as he listened to the lisping
child. “That’s the song, is it?” said he, stroking Eddy’s locks in
rather an abstracted manner. “What is severed, unite,” he repeated to
himself;—“here it is, _What is united, sever!_” and he glanced at George
and his mother.

“That won’t do at all,” said Eddy, overhearing him; “that sounds
bad—shocking bad!”

“Does it?” said Mr. Hardcastle, laughing. “Well, I really believe that
it does. So George teaches you to be busy, and obedient, and kind, and
makes you all happy; does he, eh?”

“Oh yes!” cried Eddy, jumping down and running up to his brother.

“It would be a shame to part you, then, it would be a shame!” said the
old man, rising. “No, no; I am not so bad as that! George, stay with
your parents; you are an honour to them, my boy! stay and be a comfort
and blessing in your home!—And now, Ellerslie, shall we start for the

I shall not attempt to describe the deep, intense joy which followed the
utterance of these few words, the delight which sparkled in the eyes of
George, or the fervent exclamation of thankfulness from his mother!—but
none looked merrier than the kindhearted old man himself, unless it were
our little friend Eddy.

I have often thought of that scene since, and talked it over with the
Thimble. She has become too small for Lily’s finger now, but occupies a
quiet corner in the box. The broken-pointed Scissors I have lost sight
of for years. Lily has grown into a sweet, gentle young maiden, ever
watchful to show kindness to those who need it, ever thoughtful of the
feelings of others. Her mother speaks of her now as her “right hand;”
and the bloom has returned to the lady’s pale cheek, and her brow is
calm and serene. George has entered the Church, I understand; and Eddy,
like the compass in the story, is pursuing his way on the wide ocean.
But I have reason to believe that, in their different paths, both are
pressing forward to the same happy goal, and in their intercourse with
the world, as well as in their peaceful home, are living in the spirit
of the song—

                     “On life’s ocean wide,
                      Your fellow-creatures guide,
       And point to a shore beyond the stormy tide!
                      What is marred, make right;
                      What is severed, unite;
       And leave where’er you pass love’s golden thread of light!”



“WHAT a proud, happy young fellow that Prince Imperial must be!”
exclaimed Harry Lance, as he glanced up from the newspaper which he had
been reading by the light of a lamp, on the evening of the 4th of
August. “Why, here is this young Louis, not a year older than myself,
and already there is a telegram about him darting all over Europe, and
the world will soon know how calm and brave he was the first time that
he ever saw fighting, how he picked up the Prussian ball which had
fallen near his feet, and how old soldiers had tears in their eyes to
see their boy Prince so firm in the moment of danger. I dare say that he
will live to cover himself with glory, and be as famous as was his
great-uncle, Napoleon the First. I only wish that I were the son of the
Emperor of the French!”

“I should not care to change places with the Prince Imperial,” observed
Arthur Lance, who was seated by the open window, to enjoy the fresh
evening air, and watch the stars gleaming out one by one in the sky.

“What! not to have his chance of winning glory, and of being talked
of—like his great-uncle—years and years after his death?”

Arthur smiled at the question. “I don’t think that would do him much
good,” observed he.

“You’ve not a spark of spirit in you Arthur!” cried Harry; “at least not
a spark of the spirit of a hero. I do believe that you would rather have
been that missionary who went to teach woolly-haired niggers, and died
of yellow fever, than the glorious Napoleon Buonaparte himself!”

Arthur was silent; but his mother, who had just joined him by the
window, observed, “I believe that the missionary’s was the nobler life,
the happier death, and the more lasting glory.”



“Oh, not _glory_, mother!” exclaimed Harry. “There was no glory in the
humdrum life which he led, and ten years hence no one will so much as
remember his name. Napoleon had glory indeed! From his very boyhood he
was a leader of others. If his schoolfellows had a mimic fight, it was
Napoleon who directed the battle, and taught future soldiers to pelt
each other with snow-balls, as they would one day pelt their foes with
something more deadly. What power Napoleon had over his men! How his
words could rouse them to rush to battle as if to a feast! How grand and
glorious he must have looked on a field of battle, as he glanced down
the columns of armed men eager to follow him to victory, and heard their
shouts of _Vive l’Empereur_, as they pressed forward to glory! One such
hour of Napoleon’s life must have been worth ten years of the life of a
drudging teacher of niggers!” The boy’s eyes sparkled with animation as
he spoke.

“There was one hour of Napoleon’s life when he is said to have himself
played the teacher, and I think that he appeared greater then than on
the battle-field,” said Mrs. Lance. “I will show you a large print which
I have representing the scene. It describes an incident which is said to
have occurred on the deck of a vessel in which Napoleon, then a young
officer, was making his voyage to Egypt. A group of French officers had
been conversing together, speaking like the fool of whom we read in the
Bible, who says that _there is no God_. The glittering stars were
spangling the sky above them, shining down as they have shone for
thousands of years, and bearing witness to the power of their great
Creator. _The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament
sheweth his handywork._ Napoleon approached the unbelievers, lifted up
his hand towards the stars, and said, ‘Gentlemen, who made _these_?’ The
officers could not reply; even their blinded souls could see the awful
truth taught by the stars—that there is, that there must be, a great and
glorious Creator!”

“But was Napoleon himself a religious man?” inquired Arthur.

“I fear that he was far from being so,” was the reply. “No real
Christian could for his own wild ambition plunge nations into war, and
sacrifice the lives of hundreds of thousands of men. If Napoleon
Buonaparte’s name is written in history, it is written in blood, and
fire, and tears. I have often wished that the stars, which preached one
text to Napoleon, could have preached one other to his heart; then the
conqueror would have felt that there is a glory greater and more lasting
than that which earthly triumphs can give.”

“I cannot think what text you mean,” said Arthur.

“Nor can I,” added his brother.

Their mother left them to find it out, and continued her observations.
“The same stars on which Napoleon had looked from the deck of the ship,
must often have met his gaze in the distant lands to which he led his
hosts—those lands in which so many gallant soldiers were to find their

“Ah! how fearfully the French suffered in Russia,” interrupted Harry;
“certainly there Napoleon’s history was written in blood, and fire, and
tears. I’ve read how the Russians burned their own beautiful city of
Moscow, that it might not give shelter to the invaders.”

“The Russians showed themselves to be ready to make any sacrifice in
order to drive the French out of their land,” observed Mrs. Lance. “The
Russians fought bravely, but it was the rigour of their wintry clime,
the icy wind, the falling snow, that proved more deadly to the French
than even the swords of their foes. Multitudes of gallant men, who had
entered Russia full of hope and courage, perished miserably under the
snow. And who can tell the grief in thousands and thousands of homes in
France, where widows and orphans wept for fathers, brothers, sons, whom
they never should see again?”

“I own that Napoleon bought his glory too dear,” said Harry gravely.

“No doubt he thought so himself,” observed Arthur, “when, as a prisoner
in St. Helena, he had plenty of time to remember all these terrible

“Yes,” said Mrs. Lance; “on that dreary rocky isle bitterly must the
mighty conqueror have recalled the past. There, unchanged in their calm
brightness, the quiet stars shone over him still, and they may have
reminded the exile—”



“Ha! what’s that?” interrupted Harry, suddenly starting from his seat
and rushing to the window, as, with a rushing, whizzing noise, a rocket
shot up into the deep blue sky.

“Oh! don’t you remember that we heard that there were to be fireworks
to-night in the Earl’s grounds?” said Arthur. “I am so glad that we
shall be able to see the rockets over the trees. Look—oh! look—there’s
another! it rises higher than the first!”

“How beautiful—how grand—how glorious it is!” exclaimed Harry, clapping
his hands with delight. “It darts aloft like a conqueror rising upwards
and upwards; and there—see how it bursts into a shower of stars—much
brighter than stars—filling the sky with its spangles of light! There is
nothing so glorious to look upon as a rocket!”

For nearly an hour the mother and her sons watched the beautiful
fireworks over the trees, the rockets bursting on high into showers of
many-coloured sparks which entirely hid the stars from view. Then, after
the grandest display of all, the sight concluded; all was over, the
beauty and the glory. Quiet night reigned around, and the stars which
had gemmed the sky since the days of Adam, glimmered again in their
silent beauty on high.

“The rockets were very fine, but their glory was soon over,” observed
Harry, as he turned from the window. “They have gone, and have left
nothing behind.”

“They are types of worldly glory,” said his mother.

“And the stars are like—oh, mother,” exclaimed Arthur, interrupting
himself in the midst of his sentence, “I have just remembered the text
which you wished that the stars had preached to the heart of Napoleon—it
makes me think of the young missionary who died amongst the Africans
whom he had led to the Lord: _They that be wise shall shine as the
brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as
the stars for ever and ever!_” (Dan. xii 3.)


                              THE VICTORY.

FRITZ ARNT was the son of a poor widow, who dwelt near the shore of the
Rhine. He had been her chief comfort and helper since the day when Carl
Gesner, the hard-hearted farmer, had turned her and her three children
out of their cottage the very afternoon on which the funeral of her
husband had taken place. In the middle of winter the sobbing widow had
to go forth from her home; carrying little with her, for Carl had seized
on most of her goods for the rent, which during her husband’s long
illness had fallen into arrears. Yes! he had kept the very bed upon
which her husband had breathed his last; and but for the kindness of
neighbours, Frau Arnt and her children would have had to sleep on straw.

Fritz had been but a young boy then; but he had never forgotten the
bitterness of that moment when his mother, sad, sick, and desolate, had
pleaded with clasped hands to her hard-hearted landlord for a little
delay, and had pleaded in vain. Fritz had helped to nurse her through a
dangerous illness which followed. The boy had never forgiven the farmer,
but had often said in his heart that a time would come when he should
make Carl Gesner bitterly repent having nearly caused the death of a
sorrowing widow.

Since that sad winter Fritz had worked hard to help to support the
family, and with increasing success. His wages for field labour eked out
what Frau Arnt earned at the lace-pillow; and something like comfort was
beginning to be enjoyed in his humble home, when the sound of the
war-bugle was heard in his native valley, and the news spread far and
wide that a fierce and terrible foe was on the march to invade the
German’s Fatherland. Fritz was under the age for military service which
all Prussians are bound to give; but he had a strong arm, and his
country needed strong arms. He was eager to serve his king, and be one
of the throngs that from every hamlet were hasting to join the ranks of
the army.

But Fritz was too good a son to go without his widowed mother’s consent.
He had not only learned, but kept, that divine commandment, HONOUR THY
FATHER AND THY MOTHER. The lad would not quit his home without obtaining
that leave which he was almost afraid to ask.

Frau Arnt was sitting with her lace-pillow on her knee, the glow of the
evening sun shining on her thin, worn face, when Fritz drew near. He
watched for some moments her busy fingers plying the threads, before he

“My brother Wilhelm is a strong boy now, and older than I was when we
first came here.”

He paused: there was no reply. The widow guessed what was coming, and
her fingers moved faster than before.

“Farmer Schwartz says that he would give Wilhelm my place, mother, and
make his wages the same as mine, if—”

Fritz stopped again, and glanced anxiously into the face of his mother.
She suddenly paused in her work; her hands were trembling too much to
guide the threads, and her eyes were swimming in tears, so that she
could not see the pattern. Fritz knew then that his mother read his
thoughts, and that there was a struggle in her mind between her love for
him and a sense of duty. It was some time before, in a very low voice,
he spoke again:—

“Mother, men are needed to guard your home and other homes. You have two
sons; will you not spare _one_ to your Fatherland?”

The widow suddenly rose; her pillow dropped from her knee; her arms were
thrown around the neck of her son, and her face was buried on his
shoulder, as she sobbed forth,—

“Go, and the Lord be with thee, my son!”



Very little time was spent in preparation by Fritz. The very next day he
set out for the army. But before doing so, Fritz, accompanied by Wilhelm
and their sister, went round the hamlet to bid good-bye to his friends.
There was but one house which Fritz would not enter: it was that at
whose door stood Carl Gesner and his wife, watching him as he bade
farewell to friends on the opposite side of the road. At that time of
excitement all Prussians were ready to show kindness to the brave
defenders of their land; and Fritz knew that even Carl might be willing
to make friends with a young soldier then, for the farmer had such
patriotic zeal as to talk of joining the army himself. But Fritz would
have nothing to do with Carl Gesner. “I will never cross the threshold
nor grasp the hand of a man who turned us all out of doors, and nearly
killed my mother,” muttered Fritz to himself, as he strode past the
house of the farmer.

I will not dwell upon the bitter parting. Frau Arnt felt as if her heart
would break; for she had heard so much of the power of France, that she
deemed that her country was entering on a desperate struggle indeed, and
that there was small chance that she would ever again behold her gallant
young son. But the frau was a pious woman: she committed her boy to the
care of a heavenly Father; and her last words to Fritz as they parted
were, “Remember that it is God that giveth the victory.”

Often these encouraging words came back to the young soldier’s mind, as
he marched with his comrades singing the soul-stirring song,—

               “Dear Fatherland! no fear be thine;
                Firm hearts and true watch by the Rhine!”

The regiment to which Fritz was attached was not engaged in the first
battles. Several weeks passed before the youth was brought face to face
with strife and death. The time was not spent idly. Fritz learned much
that a soldier must know: he learned not only his drill exercise, but
also how to endure hardship and toil.

At last Fritz’s regiment joined one of the army corps on the eve of a
great battle. At the end of a long march Fritz reached the Prussian
camp, and from a hill-side looked for the first time on the enemy’s
hosts ranged on the opposite slopes. They were near enough for Fritz to
catch the faint sound of their trumpet-call as the sun went down—near
enough for him to distinguish the colour of their flags, before night
shut out all but camp-fires from his view. And Fritz heard and saw what
made his heart beat fast—the booming of French cannon, and the puffs of
white smoke which rose above them; for a few shots were exchanged on
that evening between the two armies that were so soon to close in deadly

The eve of a first battle is a solemn time even to the bravest of men.
“One of these cannon may bring _my_ death-summons to-morrow,” thought
Fritz, as he stood leaning on his gun, with his eyes turned towards the
enemy’s quarters, which darkness was now shrouding from his sight. Then
from the lad’s lips rose the German battle-prayer—that noble hymn
composed by the poet Körner, who fell defending his country against the
First Napoleon:—

                 “Father, I call on Thee!
           Through the dense smoke the war-thunder is pealing;
           Over my head the fierce lightning is wheeling:
                  Ruler of armies, I call on thee;
                  Father, O guide Thou me!

                 “Father, now lead me on!
           Lead me to slaughter, or lead me to glory;
           Since Thou ordainest whatever is before me,
                  Whate’er Thou willest, Thy will be done
                  To Thee I bow alone!

                 “Father, O bless and guide!
           Thine is my life, and to Thee I commend it;
           Thou didst bestow it, and Thou canst defend it:
                  In life, in death, with me abide,
                  And be Thou glorified!”

“And can I thus calmly commend my spirit to my heavenly Father?” thought
Fritz. “If, as is likely enough, I am to be one of those who will lie
stiff and stark in yon valley before the setting of to-morrow’s sun, am
I sure that I have made my peace with God so that death need have no
terrors for me?”—In how many brave souls must such thoughts arise on the
eve of battle!

“My mother has often told me that we are saved by _faith_”—thus Fritz
went on with his musings—“and I can say from my heart that I do believe.
Yes! I believe in Him through whom is forgiveness of sins; I believe in
His mercy, His merits, His Word”—Fritz almost started, for at that
moment one sentence spoken by the Holy One flashed across his memory,
and by that sentence he stood condemned:—“IF YE FORGIVE NOT MEN THEIR
Arnt thought of Carl Gesner.

“Have I not nourished hatred and malice in my heart for years?” thought
the young soldier. “Then have my very prayers been a mockery; then am I
still UNFORGIVEN. I dare face an earthly foe, but how dare I face a
heavenly Judge? But how can I conquer these feelings of dislike and
revenge—these enemies in my heart? They seem to be part of my very

Then the night breeze seemed to whisper to the young soldier the words
last heard from the lips of his mother,—“_It is God that giveth the
victory_.” Fritz sank on his knees and prayed, not now for help in the
coming strife with the enemies of his country, but for help in the
present struggle with the enemies of his soul.

Very fearful was the battle on the following day. Let us pass over the
fearful details, nor describe how God’s creatures destroyed each other
by thousands, till the Germans fought their way to victory over heaps of
the slain. Their triumph was dearly purchased indeed; numbers of their
bravest fell beneath the deadly fire of the French. Fritz rushed
forward, with a few soldiers of his own and of another regiment, to
seize a French gun which had made terrible havoc in the Prussian lines.
Almost before the smoke from the last discharge of that gun had cleared
away, there was a hand-to-hand struggle around it. In the confusion of
that struggle Fritz saw a Prussian fall under a blow from a Frenchman’s
sword. Even as he fell, Fritz caught a glimpse of his face: begrimed as
it was with smoke and dust, the young soldier recognized the features of
Carl Gesner! The Frenchman’s sword was raised again to kill the
prostrate Prussian; but Fritz sprang forward, warded the blow, and at
the same moment himself fell to the earth, struck in the thigh by a
musket ball from another quarter.

Sudden darkness seemed to come over the wounded youth. A rushing noise
in his ears drowned even the roar of cannon and the sound of tumult and
shouting. Fritz Arnt swooned, and lay for many hours senseless under the
muzzle of the gun which he had helped to capture.

When Fritz again opened his eyes, the tumult had died away; the battle
was over; the calm stars were looking down from the midnight sky upon
heaps of dead and dying. Fritz was in severe pain, but gradually quite
recovered his senses, and could think again on his mother, and silently
lift up his heart in the battle-prayer.

“Oh for one drop of water! I am dying of thirst!” groaned a wounded
Prussian beside him.

The voice was that of Carl Gesner, who lay within a yard’s length of the
youth who had saved his life from the Frenchman’s sword. Fritz made no
reply. His lips too were parched and dry, and the fever thirst was upon
him. Oh, how he longed for one draught of the pure fresh spring which
gushed forth near the home of his widowed mother!

Presently lights were seen moving over the dark field: helpers of the
wounded were going about on their errand of mercy. But there were too
few of them to do the work quickly; for so many poor soldiers lay low
that it was impossible in one night to relieve the terrible wants of
all. With keen anxiety Fritz watched the distant lights, while Carl
Gesner lay groaning beside him. At last a torch-bearer drew near, with a
companion who bore a red cross on his arm and a large water-flask in his

“I must go back to refill the flask; there are but a few drops of water
left in it,” observed one of the men.

Fritz half raised himself on his elbow with a desperate effort.

“Help! help!” he cried out; for the very name of water made his thirst
more intense.

“Here, my poor fellow! would that I had more with me!” said the bearer
of the flask, stooping down to pour its last contents into the mouth of
the wounded young soldier.

There was again a faint groan from Carl Gesner. He was then too faint to
speak, but his groan fell on the ear of Fritz Arnt. “IF THINE ENEMY
THIRST, GIVE HIM TO DRINK.” Fritz in the midst of his pain and want
remembered the Lord’s command.

“Give it to that man instead,” he murmured; “he is more badly wounded
than I am.” And with the generous request on his lips the brave soldier
fainted again.

There lay Fritz, twice a conqueror—over the foe, and over himself. God
had given him the victory.

                  *       *       *       *       *

When Fritz awoke again from what had seemed the slumber of death, he
found himself in an hospital, to which the helpers of the wounded had
borne him. There he lay for many weeks, during the latter part of the
time nursed by his own dear mother. During his slow recovery, Fritz was
cheered by the knowledge that he had been enabled to do his duty, and by
tidings of one triumph after another gained by the arms of Prussia.

Fritz was at length able to leave the hospital, but he was too lame to
rejoin the army. He had to go back with his mother to their poor home,
which would be poorer, Fritz thought, than ever; for he was too weak for
labour, and while his mother had been nursing him, she could not earn
money by work.

On a morning in September, Frau Arnt and her wounded son returned to
their native village. Fritz, weak and lame, had to lean on his mother’s
arm for support, as the two walked the short distance from the railway

“Strange that Wilhelm should not have been here to welcome us!” observed
the widow. “He cannot have received my note to tell of our coming.”

“Don’t let us pass our old cottage, mother,” said Fritz faintly. “I have
never liked to go near it since Carl Gesner turned us out of it.”

“Nay, my son; we must take the shortest path home,” said the widow. “And
as for Carl Gesner, have you not told me how freely you have forgiven

Turning a corner of the road as she spoke, the old cottage lay straight
before her.

“Why, there is Carl Gesner himself,” exclaimed Fritz, “nailing something
to the wall!”

“And Wilhelm helping him in his work!” cried the widow, in great

At the sound of his mother’s voice, Wilhelm turned suddenly round, and,
at the sight of her and his brother, uttered a loud exclamation. The boy
then bounded towards them, his eyes sparkling with joy at Fritz’s
return, and with another joy the cause of which he had yet to keep a

It was not a secret long. The glad exclamation uttered by Wilhelm drew
the attention of Carl Gesner, whose back had been turned. The moment
that he saw Fritz Arnt he hastened towards him.

“My brother-soldier, my brave young preserver, welcome!” cried Carl,
holding out his hand; and Fritz would not now refuse to exchange a
cordial grasp with the man whom he once had hated. “I joined the army
soon after you did,” continued Carl Gesner. “Like yourself, I have had
to leave it on account of my wounds, though my recovery has been more
rapid than yours. You look weary, but rest is at hand. Here is your
home; it is put into perfect repair. Let us enter it now together.”

“_Our_ home!” exclaimed Fritz and his mother in a breath.

“Yes, yours to the end of your days,” said Carl Gesner. “Frau Arnt, I
owe to your noble boy my life; and more than my life. I do not attempt
to repay my debt by the gift of his father’s cottage, which I would that
you had never left. I but show that I acknowledge that debt. You will
find the place improved,” he added, more cheerfully. “We have been
planting creepers to train up the wall; and I have had a board painted,
to be hung up just below the lattice, to serve as a memorial of the
battle in which Fritz and I fought side by side.”

Carl Gesner took up the board as he spoke, and turned it so that all
could see the gilded letters upon it. Fritz glanced at the inscription,
then at his mother, and smiled. Was it not strange that Carl Gesner
should have happened to choose for the motto on the wall of the cottage
the very words which had had such a deep effect on the heart of Fritz?
There they were, to shine brightly from henceforth on his happy home,
the parting words of his mother,—

                    It is God who giveth the Victory.


                            BEARING BURDENS.

“_BEAR ye one another’s burdens_,” said David Jones to himself,
repeating the text as he walked home from church. “Our pastor has made
it very plain. In this world, he says, every soul has some burden of
sorrow or trial to bear, and every one who loves God must try to help
his neighbour to bear it. Now it is clear enough that the squire does
this when he gives blankets and coals to the poor at Christmas; and our
parson does this, for every one in trouble is sure to go straight to
him; but I can’t see how a boy like me is to do it. I can’t give like
the squire, or talk like the parson; yet I should like to help to bear
some one’s burden; for, as it was said in the sermon, it is a blessed
thing to do anything for the Lord who has done everything for us; and
when we help a poor neighbour for His sake, He counts it as done to
Himself. I’ll pray God to show me some way of bearing another’s

So before David went to rest that night, he made a little simple prayer
that God would give him some work, however small, to do for Him, and let
him be useful to others.

The first thought of David, when the bright rays of the sun awoke him on
Monday morning, was,—“Here is another day; I hope that it will not pass
over without my helping some one to bear his burden;” and again he
turned the thought into a prayer. While David was putting on his
clothes, an idea came into his mind,—

“Poor old Mrs. Crane, she is almost bent double with age, and hard work
it is for her to draw up water from her well. She is a good old woman,
Mrs. Crane, and was always ready to help others before she grew so
feeble. I’ll have time, before I set out for school, to draw up a pail
of water and carry it to her door. Won’t it be a nice surprise to her,
when she comes out to draw, to find the water all ready! Old age is her
burden—I can help her a little to bear it.”

David was soon off to the well. He let down the bucket and filled it;
and as he turned the windlass to raise it again, a very sweet thought
came into the mind of the boy. “Our Lord asked the woman of Samaria to
draw water for Him, and she did not do it; yet what an honour it would
have been to her—had she been a queen—to have drawn water for the Son of
God! Now the Lord said, _Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these
my brethren, ye did it unto Me_;” so I really am doing what the woman
would not do,—I am drawing water for the blessed Saviour; for I am sure
that Mrs. Crane is His servant, and so, working for her, I am working
for Him.”

The boy cheerfully placed the pail of water at the door of Mrs. Crane,
and soon after set out for school, carrying with him his dinner of bread
and cheese, wrapped up in a bit of brown paper. “I am glad that I have
done one little kind act to-day,” thought David; “but it does not seem
very likely that I shall be able to do any other.”

He very soon found that he was wrong. There are so many burdens, great
and small, in the world, that even a child who is on the look-out for an
opportunity of doing good, will not wait long before he find one.

David overtook on the road little Steeney Clark, who was slowly walking
towards school.

“Good morning, Steeney,” cried David. “Why do you look so dull and sad?”

“’Cause I’m sure Mr. Day will punish me again,” answered the poor dull
boy, who was always getting into trouble with the master at his school.
“I didn’t know my lesson yesterday, I don’t know it to-day, I don’t
think as I ever shall know it!” and the boy rubbed his forehead hard, as
if he fancied that he could make his wits brighter by rubbing.

“Let’s see what you have to learn,” said David. “Maybe if you and I go
over it together as we walk along, you may understand it a bit better.
Pluck up a brave heart, Steeney. You know ‘perseverance conquers
difficulties,’ and ‘slow and steady wins the race.’”

It was very cheering to poor Steeney to have some one to help and
encourage him, instead of laughing at his natural dulness. David was one
of the sharpest boys in the school, but he did not despise his poor
young companion for not being so clever as himself. As the two walked on
together, David explained all the difficulties of the lesson so clearly
to Steeney, that the dull face of the boy brightened. He was able at
last to master the task—he would not be set down as a hopeless dunce by
his master. David entered the school-room feeling very happy. He had
helped a fellow-creature again to bear a burden.

“How pale Mr. Day looks,” thought David, as the schoolmaster stood up
behind his desk and rapped with the ruler to command silence. Mr. Day
was not a great favourite with the boys, for he was sometimes severe,
and easily put out of temper. The truth was that his work was too much
for him, as any one might have seen by looking at his thin worn face
with its deep furrow between the brows. Mr. Day would have liked David
for his quickness in learning, but for the trouble which he gave by his
love of frolic and fun; for David was a very merry boy, and could
scarcely keep quiet in school-time. He would drum on a desk, or kick on
the floor, and set the other boys laughing. David had never seen much
harm in this, though it had often brought him into a scrape with the
master; but it struck him this day for the first time that it was not
fair to a tired hard-worked master to add to the labour of teaching.

“Mr. Day looks as if he’d a mighty heavy burden to bear, and I’m afraid
I’ve often helped to make it heavier. I’ll try and be quiet and steady
to-day, and set a good example to the boys about me,” thought David.

He kept his resolution; and glad indeed would he have been that he had
done so, had he known with what an aching heart and aching head the poor
master had begun his day’s work. Mr. Day had private griefs, about which
his pupils knew nothing, which sorely imbittered his life. He was also
subject to racking headaches, which the noise of a school-room increased
to such a painful degree, that he would long before have given up his
office, had he not had a wife and children to support.

“I fear that I cannot stand this work much longer,” poor Mr. Day had
said to himself that morning. He was like a weary pack-horse dragging a
weight beyond its strength up a steep hill; and, from mere
thoughtlessness, his pupils had often acted like boys dragging on
behind. But things went on better on this Monday; and Mr. Day told his
wife as they sat down to dinner that he had had much less worry than
usual with the boys. He did not guess the cause of the relief—that one
of his best scholars had been on that day helping to bear his burden.

David Jones, as I have said, had brought with him his dinner of bread
and cheese, as his home was at some distance from the school. He sat
down under a hedge with a good appetite to enjoy his simple meal.
Scarcely had David begun it, when, chancing to raise his eyes, he saw a
ragged half-starved-looking child, wistfully watching him as he ate.

“I dare say that poor little creature has had no breakfast to-day,”
thought David, “and maybe no supper last night. Should I not be doing a
little thing to please my Lord if I shared my dinner with her?”

He broke off a piece of bread, and, smiling, held it out to the girl,
who eagerly ran forward to get it, and ate it as if she were famished.

“And there’s a bit of the cheese too,” said David kindly, watching the
hungry girl’s enjoyment with a pleasure which made his own scanty meal
appear like a feast. David knew well that our best works _deserve no
reward from God_, yet he could not but recall with joy the gracious
promise to those who feed the poor: _They cannot recompense thee; for
thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just_.

When afternoon lessons were over, David, whistling as he went, set out
on his homeward way. “It is a strange thing,” thought he, “but whenever
we try to bear other people’s burdens, it seems as if our own hearts
grew lighter and lighter!”

As David passed by an orchard, divided from the road by a rough stone
wall, he heard a voice calling to him, and came up to Owen Pell—a boy of
about his own age—who was looking up at the fine ripe fruit hanging
almost over the wall.

“I say, Davy; lend me a hand. I think I can climb over here.” He was
already mounting the wall. “Let’s fill our pockets with apples. Don’t
they look tempting and nice?”

“Nice or not, they’re not ours,” replied David, who remembered that
God’s commandment, _Thou shalt not steal_, is broken not only by robbers
who take a man’s purse, but by boys who take his apples.

“We’ll soon make ’em ours,” laughed Owen. “If you don’t choose to climb
yourself—though I know you’re active as a kitten—just lend me your
stick, and I’ll knock some fruit off from that bough.”

“No, no, Owen,” said David; “leave the apples alone. Farmer Ford does
not grow them for you or for me. I’ll neither pluck nor help you to
pluck them.”

“Oh, indeed!” cried the angry Owen. “You’re afeard of a thrashing from
the farmer, are you?”

“It’s not that I’m afraid of,” said David, turning quickly away; for he
felt his passion rising, and was much inclined to use his stick in a
very different way from that which the insolent boy had requested, by
knocking him down instead of the apples.

“I can’t bear that Owen,” muttered David to himself. “How he is yelling
after me, calling me all sorts of bad names, just because I won’t join
him in theft!”

Before David reached his home, he came on a wide tract of common, and
noticed a number of ducks splashing about in a pool half hidden by

“Why, these are Mrs. Pell’s ducks, that her boy Owen ought to be
watching on the common, instead of hunting after apples. I heard her
scolding him yesterday for leaving them out so late, and promising him a
sound beating if any should stray and get lost. There’s Brown’s big dog
coming this way; he has had a mind to a duckling for supper before now.
If Owen does not keep a better look-out, it’s not many of the brood that
he’ll ever drive home. What a scrape he’ll be in! When Mrs. Pell
promises a beating, she is certain to keep her word. Well, let Owen be
beaten,—what do I care!”

That was David’s first thought; but a more generous one succeeded. “I
might drive home these ducks for Owen, and keep them and him out of
trouble. To be sure, he deserves nothing from me; but are we not told to
be kind even to the unthankful and the evil? I should think that God is
pleased when we bear the burdens of our friends; more pleased when we
bear the burdens of strangers; but most pleased of all when, for His
sake, we show kindness to those who have done us a wrong.”

In the meantime, Owen Pell had had cause to regret that he had neglected
his mother’s ducks to go after the farmer’s apples. Owen was not an
active boy. In struggling to climb up the wall, he missed his footing,
and came down with a heavy bang on the back of his head. He had just
scrambled on his feet again, bruised and crying with pain, when who
should ride up to the spot but Farmer Ford, with a great horse-whip in
his hand!

“What are you crying for?” called out the farmer.

“I’ve had a tumble,” whined the frightened boy.

“Climbing my wall to get at my apples! I’ll give you something to cry
for!” and the rough farmer bestowed two or three sharp cuts with his
lash on poor Owen, which made him yell with the smart, and sent him
running home in such haste to escape from the farmer’s whip, that he
never once thought of the ducks, till he saw his mother—a tall, bony
woman—standing with a broom in her hand at the gate of her little

“Where are the ducks?” shouted she.

Owen stopped, breathless and gasping, and looked around in dismay.
Evening was closing in; his ducks had wandered he knew not whither. Mrs.
Pell came angrily towards him. “I told you yesterday,” she exclaimed,
raising the broomstick, “that if one of them ducks was lost—”

“None are lost!—none are lost!” called out a cheerful voice near; and
from behind a knoll covered with furze, which had hidden him from view,
appeared David Jones, driving home the ducks for Owen.

“Well, Davy, you’re a good-natured boy if ever there was one!” cried
Mrs. Pell, her hard features relaxing into a kindly look. “Owen has
escaped a beating this once, but next time he shall not be so easily let
off. You look tired and heated, Davy,” she added. “Just step into my
cottage and rest; and if you’d like a sup of new milk and a slice of
plum-bread, you’ll be heartily welcome to both. There’s none for you,”
she said sharply to Owen. “Go and shut up those ducks.”

David glanced at the boy as he slunk away. “I’m glad,” he thought, “that
I did a good turn to that poor fellow, and saved him a beating.”

“You’ll always get on well in the world, Davy,” observed Mrs. Pell, as
she cut for him a large slice of her home-made plum-bread. “You always
keep steady to your duty, and you make friends wherever you go.”

Mrs. Pell was right. David passed through boyhood, youth, and manhood,
prospering in what he undertook, till he became a wealthy farmer. Always
ready to help others, he found others ready to help him. He made many
friends on earth, but it was through earnestly seeking to please an
Almighty Friend above. David had grown rich; and a noble use he made of
his riches. The more he gained, the more he gave; and truly it appeared
that the more he gave, the more he had. When David Jones had built the
new aisle to the church, and set up a village lending-library, sent
twenty pounds at once to the Bible Society, pensioned several poor
widows, and feasted a hundred school children,—he might smile at the
remembrance of the day when he had begun his work for God by such things
as filling an old woman’s pail, feeding a hungry little girl, and
driving home ducks from the common. But perhaps the kind acts of the
penniless boy were as pleasing in the sight of God as the great gifts of
the rich farmer; for they both sprang from the same motive,—a desire to
show grateful love to his Lord by bearing the burdens of others.



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

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