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Title: The adopted son

or, illustrations of the Lord's prayer

Author: A. L. O. E.

Release date: October 18, 2023 [eBook #71906]

Language: English

Original publication: London: Gall & Inglis, 1877


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









Nelly suddenly exclaimed, "Who is that stranger-boy
coming this way with a bundle hanging by a stick over his shoulder?"









A. L. O. E.



   London:                            Edinburgh:



















"Our Father, which art in heaven."

"Oh! As I said before, it's all a matter of opinion. I think it a man's duty to attend to his business, and get his children well on in the world," observed Goldie, the fruiterer, as the baker's wife handed to him a bag of captain's biscuits from behind her counter. "We must look to our advantage in this life, Mrs. Winter."

"Ay, and in the next also," replied the woman quietly. Then bending over the counter to a little flaxen-haired girl who had just entered the shop, "And what do you want, my dear?" she said.

"Please for twopenny-worth of sweet biscuits, three for a penny," answered the child.

Mrs. Winter slowly plunged her hand into one of the neat glass jars which, carefully labelled with their various contents, adorned the front of her window.

Mrs. Winter was a pattern of neatness, even to precision, her cap was ever of faultless white, her panes were as clean as hands could make them, not a crumb was ever suffered to rest on her counter, and her name over the door shone in bright gilt letters that might have been worthy of a shop in London. Precise and formal as some people deemed her, Mrs. Winter was a kind-hearted woman, too; much warm feeling lay under a stiff, cold manner; combined with a large share of good common sense. She had never been blessed with children, and her husband, though in some respects a worthy, honest man, kept his hands so tightly over his purse strings, as to gain for the couple a character of penuriousness, which was undeserved by his wife. Notwithstanding this, many were the stale loaves which found their way to some poor man's home, and many were the nights which Mrs. Winter had given to watching the sick-bed of a neighbour.

While the baker's wife was drawing forth the biscuits, Goldie entered into conversation with the little girl.

"So you're going to have a treat for once in a way, Nelly Viner. You don't trouble Mrs. Winter often for sweet biscuits, I should say."

"My new brother is coming home to-day," replied the child with a beaming look of pleasure.

"Your new brother! Who's he?"

"I do not exactly know, sir; but he is some one that we are to love, and be kind to. I shall be so glad to have a brother!"

"I should have thought," said Goldie in a careless manner, "that Viner had enough to do to look after his own without adopting the children of other people. Do you know who this boy is, Mrs. Winter?"

"I know that his name is Walter Binning; the son, I suppose, of some friend."

"A friend! Never were you more mistaken in your life. Why, that's the name of the man who almost ruined Viner—a heartless, unprincipled—"

Mrs. Winter glanced at the little girl, and put her finger on her lips. She placed the biscuits before Nelly, but Nelly lingered. "Are those not what you wished?" said the baker's wife, noticing the child's look of hesitation.

"Yes; but you have given me seven, and I have only paid for six," replied the little one, looking artlessly up in her face.

"Now, if that isn't like her father!" exclaimed Goldie, bursting into a loud laugh. "I could have known her for his child all the world over! Don't you know, little simpleton, that seven are better than six?"

"I thought that Mrs. Winter had made a mistake," replied the child, not liking the laugh, though she could not have told why.

"I think that it's you who made the mistake," said Goldie, laughing again. "Tell me, does not your father keep sugar plums as well as cabbages?"

"Yes," replied Nelly, "and very nice ones."

"Very nice; oh! I dare say that you know that pretty well. How many do you eat, my little maid?"

"Father gives me a brandy-ball every Sunday, or sometimes a piece of pink rock," said Nelly, smiling.

"Oh! That's what he gives, but what do you take?" asked the fruiterer, chucking her under the chin.

"I take what he gives. I don't know what you mean," said the little girl, looking bewildered.

"Simpleton!" muttered Goldie, glancing with a knowing smile at Mrs. Winter, but Mrs. Winter did not return the smile. "You never help yourself?" he continued to Nelly. "Never manage to taste a sugar-plum when father's back is turned?"

The child's face flushed crimson, she shrank back from his touch, looked full into his face with her open blue eyes, and seemed to feel it unnecessary to say "No!"

"Nelly is brought up in the fear of God," observed Mrs. Winter, "and knows that it would be better to touch live coals than anything dishonestly gained. Go home with your seven biscuits, my good little girl, and make ready to welcome your new brother."

As soon as Nelly had left the shop, Goldie exclaimed, "Well, I always thought that Viner was a little mad, but I never imagined that ever he would do anything half so wild as this! Is he really going to adopt the son of Walter Binning?"

"What do you know of the man?" inquired Mrs. Winter.

"Know! Why I know that he has been the worst enemy that ever Viner had. He was some distant relation of his, I fancy, and was for ever getting him into one trouble or another. Viner was once, I have heard, in very good business here—that was before I set up my shop opposite—and what first pulled him down, and half ruined the poor man, was becoming security for this Binning. What might have been expected happened—the rogue made off, and left his simple friend to pay, Ha! Ha! Ha! And now, like an honest man, discharges his debt by making him a present of his son!"

"I heard that the boy's father was absent beyond seas," said the baker's wife.

"To be sure, that means 'sent out of his country for his country's good.' I remember it now—Walter Binning was transported for seven years for theft! I wish Viner joy of the hopeful youth that he is going to adopt! He may not find him quite so apt a pupil as little Nelly. The child of a thief is not likely to be a saint. If the father half ruined poor honest Viner, perhaps the son may finish the business!" And so saying, with a nod to the good woman of the shop, Goldie took up his bag and went out.

The village in which our scene is laid was one situated by the sea-side, which had not yet grown into a town, though already a favourite resort of those who wished for sea breezes and quiet. It had, like other watering-places, its boats and its bathing-machines; fishermen spread out their nets on the shingles; donkeys, ready saddled, stood in a row prepared to carry visitors along the white chalky road, or the long line of smooth brown sand which was left wet and shining when the tide went down.

E— boasted a small circulating library consisting of little but old soiled novels, and a reading-room with benches in front, which were often occupied in summer by lady visitors, who, protected from the glare by parasols and broad-brimmed straw-hats, amused themselves with their knitting or their book, while enjoying the fresh air from the sea.

E— at the time at which my story commences, was little more than one narrow street, on each side of which small shops offered the necessaries of life, and in spring, on the upper windows of most of them the words, "Lodgings to let," announced their preparation to receive visitors. Of these small shops, one of the smallest and poorest in appearance was that on which was seen the name of Viner. It had a little wooden gate instead of door, and it seemed that its owner could not entirely depend upon his profits from the rows of onions, bunches of carrots, or baskets of beans which covered his board, for little bottles of sweetmeats as well as of nuts were ranged along a shelf in his shop, with a string of balls of twine hanging from the top, and a small supply of writing-paper in one corner, which was usually sold by the sheet, not the quire.

So small and unpretending was the shop—such a contrast to Goldie's large one opposite—that visitors seldom thought of entering to buy, and it was chiefly frequented by the people of the village, who knew the character of the man who kept it, and who never doubted, when they purchased a basket of fruit from Viner, that the lower ones were as good as those at the top.

In this shop now stood Nelly with her father, awaiting the arrival of their expected guest. Viner was a man still in the prime of life, though care and poverty had made him look older than he really was, and had streaked his hair with many a bright silver line. But the expression of his face was serene, even happy, especially when he looked upon his darling only child, the image of a wife whom he had tenderly loved, and for whom he had mourned—but not as one without hope.

"And now remember one thing, my darling," he said, laying his hand gently upon her head, "you must never speak to Walter about his father."

"But you love to speak about mother, and to take me to her grave, and to show me all the places that she marked in her Bible; if Walter's father has died and gone to heaven, he will like to speak about him too."

"You must not ask my reasons, Nelly, but obey my wishes. Ah!" thought the bereaved husband, as he recalled his own heavy loss, "How much sadder a thing is sin than death!"

Nelly stood thoughtfully for a moment, as if pondering over the words of her parent, then looked up with a grave expression on her usually merry little face as she said, "Oh! I remember now what I heard at Mrs. Winter's."

"What did you hear, my child?"

"Something about Walter's father—something very bad; it was Mr. Goldie who said it; you know when he spoke aloud, I could not help hearing; but Mrs. Winter put her finger to her lips."

"I am very sorry that Mr. Goldie should say anything, or know anything about the matter. You, at any rate, must take no notice of it. It is no fault of poor Walter's that he has been unhappy in his parent."

"Father," said Nelly, her own joyous expression returning, as she laid her little hand upon Viner's arm, and looked up full into his face, "will not you be a father to Walter? He shall be your son, and my brother too, and we shall all be so happy together!"

Viner only replied by a smile, and the child continued—"Mr. Goldie said a word which I thought meant that, something about your ad—I cannot just remember the word."

"Adopting, I suppose."

"Yes, that was it exactly! I think," added Nelly, with a graver air, "that there is some word like that in the Bible."

"There is, my Nelly, and a blessed word it is! All Christians are the adopted children of God; it is from His gracious adoption alone that we dare to address Him as 'Our Father, which art in heaven.'"

"To adopt is to take some other person's child, and call it your own, and love it as your own, end feed it, and care for it, as you will for Walter. Am I not right?" said Nelly.

"Quite right," replied Viner, stroking her fair hair.

"And if God adopts us, He will love us, and watch over us, and take care of us as long as we live, and take us home to Himself when we die! But were we ever any one's children but God's?"

"We were by nature, my Nelly, the children of wrath. Adam, our first father, had offended the Lord, and we are born into the world with a nature like his, bearing his sinful likeness, even as Walter Binning bears the name of his father. Man was not only a stranger to, but a rebel against God—he had no right to expect anything but punishment and pain from the hand of his offended Maker."

"And yet the Lord adopted him, and made him His son!"

"Yes, that mercy beyond all we could ask for or hope, was one of the blessings purchased for us by the death of the Saviour. It was as though the Lord Jesus had laid His pierced hand upon the sinner, and had led him to the feet of His Father, and that the Almighty, for the sake of his crucified Son, had deigned to receive the unworthy sinner, and make him His own child for ever!"

"Then if we are God's children," exclaimed Nelly, "we must all be brothers and sisters to one another."

"It is so," replied Viner earnestly, "though is our selfishness and pride we too often forget it. Those who love their Father in heaven will love His children on earth also, and form one blessed family of love."

"I never thought before," said Nelly, thoughtfully, "when I repeated the Lord's Prayer, why I should say 'Our Father,' instead of 'My Father;' but now I will try to remember every time, that I am one of a great family of love!"

Few more words passed between Viner and his daughter, until Nelly suddenly exclaimed, "Who is that stranger-boy coming this way with a bundle hanging by a stick over his shoulder, who looks up at the name over every shop, and seems so tired and sad? Father, do you think that this can be Walter?"

It was Walter indeed, the convict's son, who now received from Viner such a kindly welcome as the true Christian gives to the unfortunate.

Walter appeared, from his height, to be a boy of about ten years of age, but the expression of his sharpened careworn features made him look much older; it was not the expression of a child. There was at first a restlessness in his manner, as of one ready to take either offence or alarm, which gave Nelly a curious impression that he was like some wild creature that had been hunted. He usually fixed his eyes on the ground, and when he raised them, it was not with the straightforward look of a boy who has nothing to conceal or to fear. Poor outcast! The remembrance of his father's shame hung like a heavy cloud over him; the first fresh flow of youthful feelings had been checked at the spring, he was inclined to suspect others, and to feel himself suspected.

He could not, however, resist the influence of the unaffected kindliness which he met with from Viner and his little daughter. The best food at the simple meal was placed on his plate, there was consideration for his feelings, and attention to his comfort in everything that was said or done. His chilled heart began to warm under the power of kindness, gradually his manner appeared less shy, he became less silent and sad, and before the evening was over, was ready to smile, and even laugh at the playful words of Nelly.

The hour arrived for evening prayer. Everything else was laid aside, and the large Bible, the treasure of many generations, on whose blank page many family names were written—some so pale with age that they could scarcely be read—was reverently placed upon the table. To evening meeting for prayer Walter had, till now, been entirely a stranger. He was not altogether ignorant on the subject of religion; in the strange unsettled life which he had led in London with his father, he had met with a variety of characters, and gathered up knowledge upon many different subjects, but there was nothing clear, nothing defined, nothing holy. Yet it was with no irreverent manner that Walter listened to the Word of God, or the prayer from the lips of his benefactor. The conduct of Viner insensibly connected in his mind kindness and goodness with piety; and gratitude towards man seemed likely to be the first step to raise him towards gratitude to a higher Being.

When Nelly had received her father's evening kiss and blessing, and had bidden a kind good-night to her new brother, Viner led his guest from his parlour into his small shop, and kindly laying his hand on his shoulder, explained to him what his duties would be. Viner had not forgotten that boys are liable to temptation, that a youth brought up as Walter had been, would above all, be likely to yield to temptation—he would neither ask nor expect much.

"I know," said he, smiling, as he pointed to the sweetmeats, "that things such as these are liked by most young people, so you have my free permission to take some—Walter, I have no objection to that. You will remember, at the same time, that you are living with a poor man, with one who cannot afford to give his family all the enjoyments that might be wished, so that I am sure that you will not take too much."

A little colour came to Walter's pale cheek—it was so new a thing to be trusted. But a generous feeling was awakened in his breast, and as he pressed the hand held out to him, he silently resolved that Viner never should have cause to repent having confided in his honour.

"And now, my dear boy, I have but one thing more to add before we part for the night. You will help me in my business, and make yourself useful. No good boy would wish to eat the bread of idleness; but I receive you into my house as one of my family, and as long as you do nothing to forfeit the name, I shall regard you and treat you as my son."

Oh! How many a wanderer would be reclaimed, how many a prodigal led back to his home, if those who call themselves Christians, instead of shrinking from the outcast, and stamping him at once with the character of guilt, would seek to draw out the nobler feelings of a heart not yet seared and hardened! God be praised! There are yet some who, like their Saviour, go forth to seek and save that which was lost, and the child of the thief, and the young thief himself, are taught the path which leads to holiness and to Thee:








"Hallowed be Thy name."

THERE was a good deal of curiosity in the village to see the convict's boy whom Viner had adopted, and to know the result of his dangerous experiment—his romantic benevolence, as it was called. Nowhere was this curiosity stronger than in the home of Goldie, whose large handsome shop, as I before mentioned, stood opposite to the humble dwelling of Viner.

As Goldie and his family will often appear in the course of my tale, I may as well give here at once an introduction to them all.

A finer family than that of Goldie, the fruiterer, was not to be found in the village of E—. His three sons, when young children, constantly attracted the notice of visitors by their uncommon beauty—a painter of eminence had introduced their likeness into one of his pictures as cherubs, and the praises lavished upon them by strangers fostered the pride of their fond mother, who believed that her boys, especially Ned the youngest, were not to be equalled by any children in England.

As they grew older, Aleck, the first-born, displayed so much talent, that Goldie, persuaded that he wanted nothing but a good education to place him in the highway to fortune and fame, made every effort, scraped together all his gains, denied himself and family many comforts, to send him to a school where he might be with gentlemen's sons, and acquire the knowledge necessary for getting on in the world. Getting on in the world was a favourite expression of Goldie's, and to judge both by his conduct and his advice to his children, it appeared that to him it comprised the chief—I had almost said the only object in life. Yet Goldie did not consider himself exactly an irreligious man. He had no objection to piety as long as it did not interfere with profit; spoke very decidedly about upholding the Church, sometimes attended divine service himself when some one else would look after the shop, which he kept open on Sunday as usual, and kept a large handsome Bible in his parlour, which he never read or even opened.

His wife's character was of a different stamp. Mrs. Goldie was not hardened in worldliness—with another husband she might have appeared a religious woman. When God's day was profaned, and His commandments disobeyed, she had a secret suspicion that all was not right. She regularly went to church, and what she heard there often sent her home with an uneasy conscience. She was a delicate woman, too, and in hours of sickness was often visited by scruples and fears. But her husband laughed at them, and she struggled against them, was contented to try to think them foolish and weak; and while, like Agrippa, almost a Christian in conviction, was never ready to step over the border-line and take up the cross in earnest. She had just religion enough to make her uneasy, and that, if constantly resisted or neglected, is not the religion which can bring us to heaven.

Mrs. Goldie loved her sons, she idolised Ned, her whole heart seemed wrapped up in the boy. No wish so unreasonable but it must be granted, no fault so glaring but it must be overlooked; she found an excuse for every error. It is true that Mrs. Goldie would rather that her sons had chosen other companions than such as those whose society she feared did them no good; she had rather that they had sometimes read the Bibles with which she had provided them, instead of the cheap novels that were constantly lying about their rooms; she had rather that Mat and Ned had not sat up gambling till midnight; but she never made a hearty effort to change anything that was amiss. "It was natural that boys should like amusement," she said—and with her, it is natural almost stood instead of it is right. Her sons knew nothing of a mother's gentle training, earnest entreaties, affectionate reproofs. She had not watched over them, prayed for them, sought to win them to God, and any affection that they might bear their mother was unmixed either with obedience or respect.

To such a family as this, it is no wonder that the adoption by Viner of the son of a convict, the son of a man who had greatly wronged him, appeared an act of extraordinary folly. While Walter and his little companion Nelly were engaged in laying out vegetables, preparing the shop, and disposing of beans and potatoes to fishermen's wives, or sweetmeats to bareheaded children who had but one copper piece to lay upon the counter, their neighbours on the opposite side of the street were passing many a joke at his expense.

"That boy there don't know how to shell peas!" said Mat.

"Depend on't, he knows precious well how to eat them," laughed Ned.

"I'd not be a peach or a plum in his way," said the first speaker, "if poor Viner adorned his board with such dainties, but the temptation of raw carrots might be withstood—ha! ha! ha!"

"You forget the pink rock and the lolly-pop!" exclaimed Ned.

"Yes, the good man will find his stock going remarkably cheap—at an alarming sacrifice, as they advertise in the London shops."

"I must just step over and have a fling at the chap before the old Methodist comes back to the rescue; I see him turning the corner with a basket of greens, and somehow or other, I can never crack a good joke before him." Strange as it may appear, notwithstanding his poverty, notwithstanding the ridicule lavished upon him during his absence, there was something about Viner which commanded respect, and even these wilful, unruly lads would have felt ashamed of being impertinent to him.

The shyness of Walter had entirely worn off towards Nelly; her kindness pleased, her prattle amused him, he felt her society like a fresh breeze of spring, it was a delight to him to look on her as a little sister. It was only necessity, however, which had made Viner leave them so long alone together, for he intended carefully to watch the character of his adopted son, and let him have little intercourse with his child, except in his own presence, until he knew that she could learn no evil from her companion. As soon, therefore, as his necessary business was finished, he hastened back to his home.

Full of mischievous fun, Ned, followed by Mat, ran across the road to Viner's little shop.

"I say," cried he, "have you any string?" Walter glanced at Nelly, then following the direction of her eye, jumped upon the counter to reach the balls of twine which were amongst the articles sold in the shop.

"What's the price?" said Ned, with a laughing expression in his eye.

Prompted by the child, Walter answered, "A penny a ball."

"That's too much—hemp's cheap; I thought that you would know the way of getting that without paying for it at all! I say, Nelly," continued the merry boy, without appearing to notice the cloud gathering on Walter's brow, "how long is it since your father has kept forbidden fruit here?"

"Forbidden fruit," replied the child, giving an inquiring glance around her. "I did not know that father kept forbidden fruit. What is it?"

"Such as drops from the gallows tree," cried Ned; and with a loud insulting laugh, the two boys ran off just as Viner entered the place.

"He meant to insult me," exclaimed Walter, with a loud oath.

Nelly was shocked and astonished, and looked at her father.

"Walter," said Viner calmly but firmly, "I never permit an oath under my roof; we have this day uttered the prayer, 'Hallowed be Thy name,' and heavy is our guilt if we profane that name."

"I only spoke thoughtlessly," said Walter, looking rather sullen; "one cannot be always considering one's words."

"And yet the Lord Himself hath declared that by our words we should be justified, and by our words condemned; and that for every idle word that men should speak, 'they should give account in the awful day of judgment!'"

"But some men never open their lips without an oath; not only the poor and ignorant, but the rich and great. It seems to give such force to what a man says, and it grows such a strong habit that one scarcely can break it. Nelly would not have looked so much shocked as she did just now if she had seen a little more of the world, as I have."

"We shall not be judged by what the world does, or by what the world thinks," said Viner, "but by the Word of Him who hath said, 'Swear not at all.' It has always appeared to me," continued Viner, "that swearing is one of the most unaccountable of sins. We can well imagine how the poor man is tempted to steal, the timid to lie, or the self-indulgent to exceed; but for swearing there appears not the shadow of a cause—heaven is risked, and nothing is gained, the Almighty is offended, a crime is committed of which no result remains but its terrible record on the Book which shall be opened and read one day before the angels and archangels of heaven!"

Walter's sullen look had passed away, his better feelings struggled with his pride. "I will try never to utter an oath again—at least before you, whom I respect," said he.

"Whom you respect! A poor sinful creature of dust; and yet you would utter it before the eternal God, who created the lips, who gave the breath which you employ in mocking His command!"

"I will never take God's name in vain," said Walter.

"God bless you, my dear boy, for that good resolution, and give you His Holy Spirit, that you may be enabled to keep it."

"I do not think that I shall find it very difficult," said Walter, who was not accustomed to doubt the power of his own will—who, having struggled but little with his sins, had yet to learn his own weakness.

"More difficult, maybe, than you think," replied Viner. "Perhaps you are not aware how many times this day you may have taken that holy name in vain."

"Never but once!" said Walter quickly.

"Oh!" exclaimed little Nelly involuntarily.

"When?" said Walter, turning towards her; but Nelly did not look inclined to reply. "When?" repeated Walter impatiently, "When did I take God's name in vain?"

The little girl hesitated, afraid of offending, yet accustomed to speak out the truth; then timidly said, looking down on the floor, "You know, Walter, that when you talk with me, you often begin with 'Lord! or God bless my soul!' or you say 'The Lord knows,' when really I do not think, I am afraid, that you are not considering at all what you are saying."

Viner was not yet aware of this habit in Walter, for the boy had been shy and reserved in his presence, and had not spoken out so freely before him as when alone with his gentle little daughter.

Walter coloured, and tried to laugh. "You are very precise," said he.

"I hope that I have not made you vexed with me," whispered Nelly, drawing nearer to him, and laying her small hand on his. "I hope that I have not said anything unkind."

"No, no," replied Walter hastily. "I dare say that you are all right; but these things are so new to me—I never thought at all of them before. You can hardly imagine how different I am from you—you have never taken God's name in vain in all your life."

"Oh! but I have—often," murmured Nelly, again looking down.

"When? I am certain that you never swear."

"When I pray," answered Nelly, speaking very low, so that Walter could scarcely catch the words.

"Surely, if you are ever out of harm's way, it's when you are praying," exclaimed Walter.

"Not if I am thinking of something else all the time. Father has told me that we may say prayers and yet never pray, and that this is taking the Lord's name in vain."

Walter sighed; for the first time he felt how difficult it must be to attain to that "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord." After the wild life that he had led, the wicked scenes that he had witnessed, Viner's dwelling seemed to him the home of purity itself; and Nelly, a little cherub all spotless and holy, who never had known anything of sin.

It was with a feeling to which he had been a stranger before, a sense of weakness, a consciousness of guilt, that he knelt that evening by the little child's side, and repeated after her father the words of the Lord's Prayer:








"Thy kingdom come."

THE next day was Saturday, on the evening of which Viner, as usual, cast up his accounts, and reckoned his gains during the week. It was the amusement of Nelly, seated upon his knee, to arrange pence and half pence into little shilling heaps, and separate the sum always laid aside for the rent, and that required to purchase the next week's stock. The little child felt herself useful in doing this, and aspired to the time when she could manage the big book, and sum up all the figures like father. But this evening there was a cloud over her sunny face, and she looked sadly at the small amount of money that remained, when she had put aside what was wanted for rent and stock.

"We used once to have roast beef for Sunday dinner," she said, with a sigh, "and lately we have always had bacon and beans, but to-morrow we shall have nothing but porridge and potatoes."

"And eat them with thankfulness, I trust, my darling. There are many who have worse fare than that."

Walter was pained to the heart, although he said nothing; he felt himself a burden on one already poor, the little help that he could give was scarcely needed in the shop, food and lodging seemed to him not earned but received from charity.

Viner observed the gloomy expression on the face of his adopted son; and though his own heart was struggling beneath a weight of care, as he put by his insufficient gains, and thought of the approaching winter, when those gains might be expected to be less, he endeavoured to cheer his young companions by diverting their minds from the subject.

"Walter," said he, "I have observed your eye often rest on that curious little book which is kept on our mantelpiece."

"Yes; it looks so strange and ancient, in its old-fashioned covering, of what was once, I suppose, gold and blue; it is not like the small books we see now."

"Has Nelly yet told you the story of that book?"

In a moment the face of the little girl had all its sunniness again. "Oh no!" she exclaimed, "I left that for you—the story of my dear good grandfather! That is my favourite story about the illumination and the barefooted little boy. O father! So tell it to us now! This is just the time, when the shop is shut, and our work is over, and it is getting dark; we shall save a candle, you know, for we don't need light to listen!"

This favourite story was one which Nelly had heard more than once, and had thought over very often, till there was nothing in the possession of her father, his Bible and her mother's wedding-ring excepted, for which she felt half the reverence as for that little old book. Now, seated upon her father's knee, with her arm round his neck, and her head on his shoulder, and Walter listening opposite, Nelly quite forgot all care for the morrow, all fear of approaching want.

"I will tell you the story," said Viner, "partly as I heard it from my good father, who used to mention some of the circumstances of it as amongst the greatest mercies which he had ever experienced, but chiefly as it was often related to me by my grandmother, who was as fond, dear old lady, of telling the story about her son as Nelly is now of hearing it."

"Well, it must now be some seventy years since the day when my grandmother, a poor gardener's widow, who then lived in a cottage not far from this very place—(it has been pulled down long ago, but Nelly can show you where it stood)—bade farewell to her only son. The character of my grandmother was so respectable that, poor as she was, many looked up to her for counsel and example; she had been nurse in the family of a gentleman, and had more knowledge, and knowledge of the best kind, than usually falls to the lot of the poor."

"It was a great matter for her that a good situation had been procured for her only son in London, but still it was a sore trial to the widow to part with him; and when she thought of the temptations before him, her heart trembled and would have sunk within her, but for prayer, her unfailing resource."

"The morning before he left her, my grandmother sat packing the box of her son, for she would do everything for him herself. She had darned his stockings and mended his clothes so neatly, that they looked almost as good as new. I believe that many a tear had dropped over her work, but she tried to look cheerful to my father. Carefully, she placed his Bible in the box, and beside it three very small books in gold and blue, one of which you now see before you."

"'A single copy is enough for me,' said my father; 'they are, I see, exactly alike, what should I do with three?'"

"In those days, Walter, small religious publications were not so easily to be procured as they are at present. Now there is an abundance of works of all sizes and prices in which the pure Gospel is explained and taught, and even poor Christians may help, by the means of such, to spread the knowledge of God; but there was not the same number of them then. Where my grandmother had bought these books I do not know, they were considered old even in her day; they contained a good deal from Scripture, especially the Sermon on the Mount explained by a very holy Divine. I have heard that my grandmother had twelve copies at first, but now only these three remained, for, as she explained to my father, they were intended to be lent or given to others."

"'Always remember, my dear son,' she said, laying her thin hand upon his, 'that God's kingdom of glory may come any day, but God's kingdom of grace is coming every day; and as it is our bounden duty to pray for the first, so is it to work for the spread of the other. We must be like the Jews while building their second temple, the sword in one hand to fight against our sins, the working-tool in the other—and books like these are such—to help to raise a holy building to God. 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.'"

"These words of the widow sank deep into the heart of my father, they made him see his position as a Christian in a new light. It was not enough, he found, to keep unspotted from the world, he should also, as God might give him opportunity, visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction—not only himself faithfully serve his heavenly King, but seek to bring others to that blessed Saviour."

"But my father found all his good resolutions sorely tried when he entered the situation which had been procured for him. His master was a haberdasher in London, one whom the world termed respectable, but his standard of right and wrong was very different from that which the youth had learned from his Bible and his mother. Sharpness and shrewdness were prized above honest dealing. 'All fair in the way of business' was the shopkeeper's favourite motto, and he was not disposed to question too closely the lawfulness of whatever increased his gains. His other shop-boy, whose name was Tim Sands, was also one from whom my father could learn little that was good. Not an ill-disposed lad; had he been in proper hands and under the care of a conscientious master, he might have gone on steadily enough. But Sands was weak-minded and easily led, and though too busy during the week to have much time for mischief, on Sunday, he mixed in all kinds of dissipation, with companions far worse than himself. In society such as this, my poor father felt little comfort or benefit, truly, he stood alone; and but for the power of privately pouring out his heart before God, and thinking of the coming of that happy time when the kingdom of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord, his courage would have failed him entirely, and he might have become like those amongst whom he lived."

"He had a constant fight against sin, I dare say," observed Walter, "but as for the work of which his mother had spoken, I think that he must have left that alone altogether: how could he look after the souls of other people; he had enough to do to take care of his own."

"Oh! You will hear—you will hear," whispered Nelly.

"In the first place," said Viner, "he prayed for others, especially for his master and companion; he asked that God's kingdom might come in their hearts. Such prayers are never in vain, for even if the petition be not granted, the Lord returns it in blessings into the bosom of him who offers it in charity and faith. But my father did not content himself with this. He found out in a street, not very far from his shop, a woman who had once been known to his mother. She had married and fallen into great poverty, and was now living in wretchedness in a small garret, with three children who were dependent upon her. My father had no money to bestow, but he did what he could: he found the family in a state of ignorance, and dirt, almost degraded to the level of the beasts that perish; he roused the mother to exertion by his words; he offered a weekly visit to read the Bible to her, for she was unable herself to read; he undertook on Sundays to teach her young children, looking upon the poor ignorant little ones as lambs whom the Lord had appointed him to feed."

"At first he met with little gratitude, and even some opposition, and the task of teaching, which was new to him, seemed intolerably irksome; much would he have preferred a walk on the bright Sabbath evenings to passing them in that close garret with noisy children. But difficulties gradually were smoothed away before him; even the woman herself became his pupil, children of other lodgers joined his little flock, and gladly shared his instructions; and as my father looked round upon this infant ragged school, he felt how great was the honour, how deep the joy of being permitted thus to labour for the spread of God's kingdom of grace."

"But while he quietly pursued this Christian work, my father had also to endure the Christian fight, and to try the strength of his principles upon an occasion that sorely tested his faith. One day, when he was serving behind the counter, his master overheard him, in reply to a question from a customer, frankly own that he did not believe that the colours of a print which he was showing would bear washing. The presence of the lady prevented anything at the moment but an angry look from the master, but when she had quitted the shop without purchasing anything, the torrent of his anger burst forth. My father had to submit to hear himself called a blockhead and a fool, and submitted in silence; for he thought of his widowed mother, the difficulty which she had in procuring for him this place, and the distress which she would feel if she lost it. But when his master, having exhausted his rage, began to give him a lesson in the ways of the world which went directly against conscience and religion, when he was ordered to be ready to utter a falsehood whenever that falsehood might serve his employer, my father felt that the time had come for him to make a stand, and risk anything rather than his soul."

"'I can only speak what is true,' he said modestly but firmly; how difficult he found it to utter that short sentence, but how thankful was he when he had done so!"

"'You must obey what I order, or march out of my shop!' exclaimed the master, his face reddening with passion."

"It was a great relief to my father that customers entering at the moment broke short the conversation; and he was truly glad that he was able, before they left, without having swerved in the least from truth, to make a considerable addition to the money in the till. It seemed as though Providence were helping him through the difficulties which he had boldly faced in obedience to duty."

"And did he always keep firm?" asked Walter.

"Always; he never even gave an equivocal answer."

"Then I suppose that his master turned him off."

"He threatened to do so more than once, but was too much a man of the world not to know when he had a good servant; and my father was so active and intelligent, so regular in his accounts, so ready on all occasions to oblige, that even his master could not but be aware of his value. As with Joseph, everything seemed to prosper in his hand, and having nothing to find fault with except his religion, even the ungodly man learned to respect his assistant."

"There is an influence, sometimes unknown to ourselves, which we exert either for good or evil amongst those with whom we live. Had my father been austere, proud, or self-righteous, he might, in attempts to convert Tim Sands, have driven him farther from the path of salvation. But my father's kindness and cheerfulness gradually won for him the regard of his fellow-shopman. Sands began by laughing at, but ended by looking up to him. It was not easy, indeed, to draw the youth's attention to anything serious; in vain one of the little counsellors in gold and blue had been purposely placed in his way—he had never got beyond the title page of it, and it was soon thrown aside for a dirty novel."

"One Sunday evening, after a wet, cold day, Sands, who, much against his will, had been kept from his usual diversions by the weather, saw my father preparing to leave the house."

"'I say, Viner,' cried he, 'are you going out for a walk? I see that the sky is clearing up at last. I think that I'll take a turn with you—that is, if you are not going to church again, you'll not draw me in for that!'"

"'I am not going to church, but to pass the evening with some friends.'"

"'Old Methodists, I suppose, grave and solemn.'"

"'No, young and lively,' answered my father."

"'Well, I say, there's no knowing what you good people are after! So you spend your Sunday evenings amid jovial companions! I've half a mind to go with you and see your friends. Had it not rained cats and dogs, I should have been at Greenwich with mine.'"

"'Come, and welcome,' said my father, with a smile."

"So they walked on till they entered a very narrow street, low and dirty, where most of the wretched shops were open, and such of the inhabitants as were loitering about looked as though they had been occupants of the workhouse. My father entered a little shop, and merely wishing good evening to the man who was in it, proceeded at once to the back of it, and, followed by Sands, ascended the steep, dark, dirty stair, where noisy sounds and disagreeable smells annoyed both senses at once."

"'Your company may be choice, but I can't say much for their place of meeting,' observed Sands."

"My father unclosed the door of an attic-room, and was received with a burst of welcome from a dozen young voices within. The room was small, close, and dimly lighted by a single candle; but it was impossible to look without interest on the pale, hungry-looking, but intelligent little beings with whom it was crowded; all poor, some barefoot, yet in their poverty as much the children of God and heirs of eternal life as the nobles and princes of the land. My father asked after the mother of this one, and the sick sister of that, winning the hearts of his scholars by his look of kindly interest; and, after a few minutes spent in this manner, 'Now, let us begin with a hymn,' said he."

"'Jerusalem, my happy home!' How strangely sweet it must have sounded to hear the voices of those ragged children sing of the 'pearly gates' and 'streets of shining gold' of the heavenly dwelling-place above, within the walls of that miserable attic! Sands remained an attentive, perhaps an interested, listener for the two hours during which his companion's labours lasted. When they found themselves again in the street, he remarked:

"'Well, certainly there is some difference between your kind of society and the jolly parties to which I am accustomed at the White Hart, or Saracen's Head.'"

"'But are all the pleasures which you may have enjoyed there worth the hope of meeting one of those little ones in heaven, when the kingdom of God shall have come?'"

"Sands made no reply, and walked back in silence."

"A day of trouble was coming for my father, in which he would need all the comfort which religion and a good conscience could give. He was sent one evening to a customer with a parcel of valuable goods, for which he was to receive payment. Thinking of lending one of his little friends in gold and blue to a widow who kept a stall near the square to which he was going, he opened his pocket-book which he carried with him, and placed one of the copies in it. The woman had, however, left her stand, so this opportunity of doing good was lost for the time. The customer received the goods, and paid for them, and two five-pound notes were carefully placed by my father in the pocket-book beside the little publication."

"The streets were much crowded on his return, for there were preparations for a grand illumination. My father did not loiter on his way, but his attention was naturally attracted by the splendid stars and wreaths, which were beginning to be lighted up as he passed. As he entered his master's shop, he put his hand into his pocket, and his surprise and distress may be readily imagined, when he found it entirely empty. His first impulse was to retrace his steps, which he did, though with scarcely the faintest hope of success; glancing vainly down on every side, asking bystanders the question which always received the same discouraging answer. All the glories of the illumination were lost upon him; he could think of nothing but his lost bank-notes."

"Weary and sad, he returned to his home, where he had to wait for an hour—a most painful hour it was—till his master returned from seeing the illumination. The confession of his loss was frankly made, with every expression of heartfelt regret; but the anger of the haberdasher was beyond all bounds, and he treated my unhappy father as though the money had not been lost but stolen by him. Whether the master had indulged too freely in drink that night, I know not, but I think it more than probable; he abused my father in violent terms, dismissed him from his service, refused to give him even a character, and, for his own convenience alone, allowed him to remain beneath his roof until he could procure some one to supply his place."

"My father retired to his little room with an almost breaking heart. I have often heard him say that this was the bitterest moment of his life. To lose his place was misfortune enough; but his character—that which was dearer than life! He could scarcely restrain his burning tears! But he laid his troubles before his God; he remembered that the Almighty afflicts not in vain, that the Lord would yet make his innocence clear before all, if not in this world, yet in the kingdom which is to come."

"As he was rising from his knees, Sands entered the room, having heard of the misfortune of his companion. Sands was a kind-hearted fellow, and really liked my father, and tried in his rough way to comfort him.

"'I am heartily sorry that you are going,' he said, in conclusion; 'I assure you, Viner, that I would do anything for you.'"

"'Then you will not refuse this little remembrance from a friend,' said my father, placing in his hand one of the books in gold and blue, from which he had just himself been drawing counsel and comfort. 'For my sake, you will read this little work through, and God bless you, Sands, and reward you for the kindness which you have shown to a friend in disgrace!'"

"And did Sands read it?" inquired Walter.

"I believe that he did. I remember seeing him as a gray-headed old man, and he then showed me his little copy in gold and blue, looking very much the worse for wear; and he told me that he thought that if there were any good in him, he owed it to the example and advice of my father."

"And was your father obliged to leave his situation?"

"Some delay occurred in supplying his place; he was, therefore, allowed to remain about ten days longer. He felt very sad and low on the Sunday evening on which he was to pay his last visit to his little school, for as he had as yet been unable to get another situation in London, he intended to return to his mother."

"He found his young pupils ready for him as usual; but a cloud of sorrow was over them, for they know that they were to welcome their kind teacher no more. My father tried to improve to them even the occasion of their mutual distress; he spoke to them of the place where there is no more parting, of the unending joys prepared for God's servants when His kingdom of glory shall come. He concluded by placing before the children his last remaining copy of the book in gold and blue, and offering it as a prize to the most industrious pupil, on condition of his reading it aloud to his companions."

"'Oh! That is just like the book which makes my mother sad!' cried a little barefooted boy from a corner of the room."

"My father started at the words, for he thought of that which he well remembered having placed in his lost pocket-book!"

"'Where did your mother get one like this? How long has she had it?' he cried eagerly."

"'I don't know where she got it,' replied the child, looking down. 'I think that she has had it about a week; she laughed when she began to read it, but, before she had done, she was crying as I never saw her cry before.'"

"After the lesson was over, and my father had received the oft-repeated farewells and good wishes of his pupils, not unmixed with tears, which went warmer to his heart than all the praises of man could have done, he laid his hand on the arm of the barefooted boy, and gently drew him along with him down the steep staircase, until they stood together in the street."

"'I should like to see your mother,' he said to the boy."

"'She lives quite near, just round the corner; I will take you to her if you wish it,' replied the child."

"'Am I foolish to indulge this strange hope?' thought my father, as he followed his little guide. 'But nowhere else have I seen any books like my three, and it may be that the Almighty has granted me a clue by which to find out the lost property of my master, and clear my own character from suspicion.'"

"With a heart beating faster than usual, my father was led by the boy to a neighbouring house, as low and dirty as the one which they had just quitted. They ascended to a room upon the second floor, where a woman sat alone, engaged in reading. At the first glance my father recognised the book which she held in her hand. It is that, Walter, which you now see in the possession of his son."

"The exclamation which he uttered startled the woman; she turned round hastily with an expression of fear on her face—the book dropped from her hand as, gazing wildly on my father, she exclaimed, 'It is he! Oh what strange fortune has brought him here!'"

"'Not fortune,' said my father with emotion, as he raised the little book, 'but, as I believe, a gracious Providence, who will surely bring both guilt and innocence to light.'"

"'I knew it—I knew it!' cried the woman, clasping her hands. 'Since the night when I robbed you I have had no peace; that book has been like a sword in my conscience—I would have restored what I had taken, had I known where to find its owner, and see—see my own child has led him to my door!' Hastening to a corner of her room, with trembling hands she opened a deal box, and frees the very bottom of it, under heaps of rags and rubbish, she drew forth my father's lost pocket-book!"

"Think, only think, how much delighted he must have been to see it!" cried Nelly.

"He could scarcely believe that he was not in a dream when the wretched woman placed it in his hand; and when on opening it he saw the two bank-notes, a feeling of overpowering, thankfulness filled his soul, and made him unable to speak."

"'Take it—it is just as when you lost it—I dared not change the notes,' said the woman; 'and oh I have mercy on a wretched creature; do not give me up to the police! It was my first theft; indeed, indeed it was, and I will never be guilty of one again!'"

"Did your father give her up to punishment?" inquired Walter, with interest.

"No; he was full of compassion for the unhappy woman, and never, as long as she lived, lost sight either of her or her son. He was able to procure for her a little employment from his master—set her thus in the way of honestly earning her living, and had reason to hope that that Sabbath evening was the turning-point of her life."

"And your father, I suppose, kept his situation after all?"

"He kept it for many years, and lived respected even by those who were strangers to the principles by which he was guided during life. He was, indeed, as the faithful servant, ready girded, and watchful for the coming of his Lord. Happy those who thus watch and wait for His appearing, who expect it not with fear, but with hope and joy; God's kingdom has already begun in their hearts, they count no effort great to win souls to His service, and the acts of their lives, as well as the words of their lips, seem to say:








"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

THE Sabbath dawned upon the village of E—, the day which the Lord has appointed for His own, that day which, when kept holy to religion and rest, leaves an especial blessing behind it. About two hours before the time for attending morning service, Viner took his little Bible in his hand, and walked with his daughter to the sea-beach, where, seated on a shelving shingle, with the wide ocean heaving and sparkling before them, they enjoyed together a quiet time for reading and speaking of the things of God.

On their return, to their utmost surprise, they found the shop open, the shutters down, and Walter placing some vegetables on the board.

"O father!" exclaimed Nelly, "Has Walter forgotten what day it is?"

"What are you doing?" said Viner, as he entered. "My shop always is closed upon Sundays; I thought that I had mentioned this to you before."

"Yes," replied the boy, "you did so, but look there!" And he pointed to the tempting display in Goldie's window. "Is he to have all the custom and the cash, he who is ten times richer than you are!"

"What he has—what he does is no excuse for me; it is not for him that I must answer before God. Put up those shutters again, Walter."

Walter obeyed sullenly, with a look which told that he was not at all convinced of the wisdom of the order. Viner then drew him into the shop, and said, "Is not one of the Ten Commandments, given from the mouth of the Lord God Himself amid the flames and thunder of Mount Sinai, 'Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day; in it thou shalt do no manner of work'?"

Walter nodded assent.

"Is there not a blessing for those who obey this command? Look here," said Viner, opening his Bible, and pointing to these words from the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah: "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

"That may have been so once, but I don't believe that it is so now," said Walter.

"God knows no variableness, neither shadow of turning, He is 'the same yesterday, to-day, and forever!'"

"I only know," muttered Walter, "that the way in which you go on is the way to starve."

"Do you believe that our Heavenly Father ever suffers any one to starve for obeying His commandment?"

"I can't tell," replied Walter, still rather surlily.

"Do you believe that He, to whom all the treasures of earth and heaven belong, who created the world and every living thing upon it, is able to provide for our wants?"

"I believe that the Almighty is able."

"But you doubt that He is willing?"

Walter was silent.

"I must speak to you again from His Word, that Word which can never be broken." Viner turned to the thirty-third Psalm and read—"'Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.' Again, in the thirty-seventh Psalm it is written—'Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. A little that the righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.'"

"Oh! Remember the word of the Lord Jesus Christ—'Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed? for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things; but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.' Walter, God will more than make up to us for all that we may lose for His sake!"

"You'll never convince him! You'll never convince him!" cried Goldie, who, passing the shop, had overheard the last words, and now stood leaning his stout person upon Viner's little gate. "You can't persuade him but that I am growing rich, and that you are growing poor; that I am getting on, you going back in the world. All your preaching won't shut his eyes to that. Why, here am I able to send my son to a first-rate school, able (I grant that it's a hard pull on my purse, but yet somehow I can manage it) to place him with an engineer, where, with talents like his, he is pretty sure at last to make his fortune! I shall see him one of these days riding in his own carriage, for I have let no idle fancies, no silly superstition, prevent me from doing the best for my family, and that is the way to grow rich."

"'The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow thereto,'" murmured Nelly.

Viner turned and smiled on his daughter.

"I wonder that you don't think of your child," said Goldie, "if you don't care about starving yourself."

"I do think of her," said the father earnestly, "and in obeying and trusting my God, I feel that I am doing the best thing for her both in this world and the next."

"We shall see," said Goldie as he walked away.

"Yes, we shall see," repeated Viner quietly.

"Do you really think," asked Walter, as soon as the fruiterer was beyond hearing, "that God would be angry with you just for selling upon Sunday when He knows that you are so poor?"

"When a parent gives a command, is he content that it should be disobeyed? When a friend makes a promise, is he content that it should not be believed? When a king passes a law, is he content that it should be broken?"

"Ah! But this law may be easy for the rich, but it is so very, very hard for the poor!"

"Is it hard," replied Viner gently, "that we should give up something for Him who has given us all? Let us remember the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes, He became poor! He was rich, indeed, for the Son of God sat on the throne of heaven; He became poor indeed, for the Son of Man had not where to lay His head! 'He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin; and inasmuch as He suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.' He knows—He feels for our trials!"

"The faith of His early followers was far more severely tried than ours. They had to endure not only want, but tortures, mockings, cruel deaths, for the sake of the Master whom they loved. And do you think that any martyr at the stake then, or any saint on his death-bed now, thought or thinks that he has done or given up too much for the Saviour who gave His life for him?"

"Oh no!" exclaimed Nelly, "Never! Only think of the glory and the crown! It is better to walk barefoot on a thorny way, and know that we will come to a kingdom at the end of our journey, and be happy for ever and ever, than to roll along in a golden carriage, and to feel that every minute brings us nearer and nearer to misery that never will end! We never can be really happy but when we do God's will like the angels!"

"How do the angels do God's will?" said Viner.

The child paused a moment to think, then replied, "Faithfully, readily, joyfully."

"But the angels have not to suffer God's will as well as to do it," observed Walter.

"No," replied Viner, "in this, man alone has the honour of following the steps of his Lord! We only are able, in this our short life, to imitate Him who in agony prayed, 'Not my will but Thine be done!'"

Walter had nothing to answer; he remained silent, though scarcely convinced. The convict's son could not feel the full force of the Scripture:

"What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and
 lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Nor knew he yet how much is comprised in the prayer:








"Give us this day our daily bread."

I WILL now pass over a space of ten years, with all its joys and sorrows, its hopes and fears, and take my reader once more to E—.

The village has grown into a town: tall rows of houses stretch along the coast, on one side a square is commenced, and though "the season" is now nearly over, enough of life and bustle remain to denote a flourishing watering-place. There is, however, little change to be seen in the small humble dwelling of Viner, and almost as little alteration in the appearance of its master, who, save a few more gray hairs, a few more furrows on his cheek, looks much the same as when he appeared before us last. We shall, however, scarcely recognise Nelly in the tall, delicate girl, who has almost grown into the young woman; or the convict's son in the powerful youth, who still serves in the shop of his benefactor.

How has time passed with them during these long years? They seem to have made little progress in the road to fortune—has the promise of the Lord been to them in vain? No; though life has been a struggle with poverty and care, it has been a struggle cheered by love and hope; the bread earned by virtuous industry has been so sweet, the sleep after labour so calm; unkind words, peevish complaints have in that dwelling been unheard, the peace of God rests like sunshine upon it!

I cannot, however, say that Walter's spirit never fretted against poverty, that he never longed to place those whom he loved above all danger of want. He had learned much of religion beneath Viner's roof; he had seen its power to comfort the soul under trials, but he was yet young and impetuous in all his feelings, his faith was weak, his will unsubdued; in life's school he had yet much to learn.

And never had his faith been more tried than now, for Nelly, without any apparent complaint, seemed gradually losing all strength and colour, and looked like a flower fading away. She had for some years taken in needlework, to eke out her father's scanty living; she had worked early and late with cheerful industry, and perhaps overtasked her powers. With deep anxiety, Viner and his adopted son watched her pale cheek and drooping form, and the gentle smile which seemed to belong rather to heaven than to earth.

Viner consulted a doctor for his daughter, who shook his head, said that she had been overworked and under-fed, and prescribed as necessary for her recovery nourishing food and rest. Oh! How Walter longed for riches then—how Viner felt the cross of poverty lies heaviest when those whom we love are in want!

The father laid his trial before his Lord; he earnestly prayed, with a child-like faith, for a sufficiency of daily bread! He rose from his knees submissive and calm; he had placed his sick child at the feet of his Saviour, and while he determined that no lawful means should be left untried to increase her comforts, he rested his hopes upon Him who once said, "According to thy faith be it unto thee."

But to Walter it was more difficult thus to pray and wait, to let patience have its perfect work. Nor was it want of faith in God's promises alone that gave bitterness to the spirit of the young man. One passion that struggled in his breast robbed him entirely of that inward peace which lightened the burden of Viner. It was with feelings of mingled resentment and envy that Walter regarded Ned Goldie, the fruiterer's son. From him, he had received, when he first came to the village, that insult which still rankled in his mind, an insult followed by many others; for Ned was reputed a wit in E—, and the cheapest way of making people merry is by laughing at and ridiculing others. There was no end of Ned's jests upon the convict's son, which amused for a moment, and were then forgotten by all but him at whose expense they were made.

And Ned was in a position to raise some envy amongst those of his own class in life. Singularly favoured by nature—handsome, intelligent, full of health and spirits—Ned was a favourite with all. Often would he drop in to spend a half-hour at Viner's quiet home. Nelly could not but own that he was a very pleasant companion; his playful words (in her presence they were never ill-natured) often brought a smile to her pale face. Viner liked and felt interested in the merry-hearted lad; to Walter alone his society was as wormwood and gall.

Then it was known that Ned was to succeed to his father's prosperous business, as his elder brothers were already provided for. Aleck had risen in the world even beyond his father's hopes. Possessed of uncommon talents, he now shared his master's business; a bridge that he had planned had made his name well-known, and he had just formed a marriage, which had raised him at once to fortune, with the only daughter of a retired coal merchant. The words of Goldie, spoken ten years before, had been verified, he had lived to see his son have a carriage of his own!

Mat had been apprenticed to some business in London. It was noticed in the town that his parents spoke less frequently of him, that inquiries after his prospects were answered shortly by his father, and made his pale, sickly mother look sad. People could not forget his unchecked habit of gambling, his profane language, his love of bad company: it was even rumoured that he had got into some scrape in London, but nothing certain was known upon the subject. This, and Mrs. Goldie's feeble state of health, seemed, however, the only drawbacks upon the prosperity of the fruiterer; his increasing stoutness and the ruddiness of his face told of comfort, good living, and an easy life.

It was at this period, when to win money for Nelly was almost the first desire of Walter's heart, haunted his dreams by night, was his first thought on waking, that a thin old gentleman, in a snuff-coloured coat, that looked a good deal the worse for wear, flourishing in his hand a little carved stick, passed along the street of E—. He stopped opposite Goldie's shop, and looked in, as if studying the prices on the fruit, then turned round and glanced at Viner's humble window, hesitated, twisted his stick round and round, and then chose the poorest and cheapest-looking shop.

He was the first visitor who had come that day, and unpromising a customer as he looked, his entrance was a welcome sight to Walter, who was serving alone in the shop. The youth's patience, however, was not a little tried, as, after a half-hour spent in questioning and bargaining, and trying to beat down the price of what already scarcely yielded any profit, the old gentleman departed with a bag of nuts, leaving one fourpenny piece on the counter.

"He must be either terribly poor or terribly stingy," thought Walter. "His face looked as sharp as the monkey's head carved upon his stick; that's a man, I'll answer for it, who will never let himself be cheated out of a farthing!"

Walter busied himself in rearranging the fruit, which he had displaced to show to his troublesome customer. His mind was full of painful reflections, and it was not for a little time that he perceived that the old gentleman had left his pocket-book behind. It was an old worn-looking article, that might be of the same date as the snuff-coloured coat; Walter went to the gate to look out for its owner, but the gentleman was nowhere to be seen.

"Perhaps his name and address may be written inside," thought Walter; "I had better open it and look."

He unclosed the book, and in the pocket found, indeed, a note directed to Mr. Sharp, Marine Row; but there was something else that Walter found in that pocket, something on which he fixed his gaze with a strange emotion, till his hand trembled and his heart beat fast! It was a bank-note for £50 wrapped round some money! The pocket-book almost fell from the grasp of the youth, a thought of Nelly and her poverty flashed across his mind; here were riches before him, dare he touch them!

When the convict's son first came beneath Viner's roof, he would not have hesitated to grasp the fortune placed within his reach, the strong temptation would at once have mastered conscience! Walter would have rushed on the fatal career of the thief! But the Spirit of God had touched his heart; weak, imperfect as his religion might be, at least it was sincere and true. Walter dared not be guilty of the fatal error of presuming on God's mercy by committing wilful sin; he dared not hazard his immortal soul for gold! Hastily, he thrust the book into his bosom, colouring with shame, all alone as he was, at having harboured for one moment the thought of theft. He unclosed the little door which led to the parlour, asked Nelly to supply his place at the counter, then, without venturing one look at her thin, pale face, lest the sight of it should shake his resolution, he took down his hat from a peg in the wall, and hastened towards the lodging of the owner of the note.

"And is it possible that one who for the last ten years has lived, as it were, under the wing of piety, could have felt—almost acted as a thief!" thought Walter, as he walked on with rapid strides, more pained at having meditated a crime, than he once would have been to have committed it. "And I have blushed for my unhappy father, have been ashamed at bearing his name, have presumed to think that in his place my conduct would have been better, have almost dared to condemn him in my secret soul! Had he had the advantages with which I have been blessed, who can say that I might not have looked up to him now as my guide and example through life! Oh! May God forgive me, forgive my pride and hardness of heart, my foolish reliance on my own feeble strength, my cold forgetfulness of my unhappy parent! And have mercy upon him, O gracious Lord! Watch over him, save him, lead him back to Thyself, and grant that I may meet him, if not here below, yet in the kingdom of our Father in heaven!"

The lodging of the old gentleman was at no great distance; it looked small, uncomfortable, and mean. A slip-shop, untidy girl answered Walter's ring, and was desired by him to tell her master that some one wished to speak with him upon business. While she shuffled up the steep staircase, Walter's eye rested, at first unconsciously, upon the little curved stick which Mr. Sharp had carried, and which was now placed upon nails in the hall.

"I think that I might cut out something like that," he said to himself, "I shall have plenty of time in the long winter evenings; I wonder if an assortment of things carved in wood would be likely to sell well in the season." The idea pleased him; there seemed to be an opening for hope; he might yet, by the work of his hands, be enabled to gain some comforts for Nelly!

From the top of the narrow staircase, the servant-girl called to him to step up. Walter obeyed; and in a small, ill-lighted room, where dust lay thick on the table, and darkened the panes, and the window-curtain looked as though it had never been white, Walter found the sharp-featured old man. His look was restless and uneasy, an expression of mingled hope, fear, and suspicion was in his eye, as he recognised the face of Walter Binning. That expression changed to one of childish delight as the youth drew from his breast the well-known pocket-book; the old man snatched it with feverish impatience from his hand, opened it with fingers that trembled from eagerness, and not till he had examined and re-examined its contents, looked at the note on this side and that, and counted the money again and again, did he appear to have a thought to give to him whose honesty had restored it.

"It's all right—quite right," he muttered at last, "two sovereigns, a half-crown—four and six. You have behaved very well, young man, very well; will you accept—" the miser hesitated, fumbled with money, seemed to find difficulty in making up his mind, and then, as if quite with an effort, held out a sixpence to Walter!

The convict's son stepped back, a half-smile on his face, and, bowing to the miserable old man, left the room with this reflection, "It is better to want money than the heart to spend it."

And had Walter known more of Mr. Sharp, he would have been but strengthened in this opinion.

The miser had begun life without a shilling, but possessed with one strong desire to grow rich. He hoarded his small earnings till they became great, not from an honest wish to be independent in old age, but from that love of money for its own sake which the Bible tells us is the root of all evil. And now he had his desire—he was rich, he had money, he possessed, but he did not enjoy it! Life was to him like the feast given by a queen of ancient time, where not only the dishes, but all their contents, were of gold, and the wondering guests rose unsatisfied and hungry from their magnificent repast!

Mr. Sharp almost grudged himself his necessary food; he could never ask a blessing on his daily bread; his very soul seemed buried in his heaps of treasure. And now he was drawing near to his grave, and that treasure must be left behind! No one loved him, no one would mourn for his loss; he knew but too well that his money would be far more prized than ever he himself had been. God had dealt with him as with the Israelites of old—He gave them their desire, but sent leanness withal into their soul; and the man who possessed wealth without a blessing was poor and miserable indeed!

So Walter gave back the pocket-book and its rich contents, and gained nothing at all by his honesty?

Do you call it nothing to tread earth with a free, fearless step, to dread looking no man in the face? Do you call it nothing to have a character unstained, to hear the voice of an approving conscience, and to be able to ask in prayer for those blessings which we have taken no guilty means to obtain?

The thoughts of Walter were full of new plans of industry, while he more slowly returned to his home. As he approached the little gate of Viner's shop, some one came out of it into the street, bidding a cheerful good-bye to those within. It was with a feeling of annoyance that Walter saw the only being on earth whom he really disliked—Ned Goldie, the fruiterer's son.

The youth nodded to him as they met, with a sort of free-and-easy, patronising air, which was intolerable to Walter Binning.

"I am glad to find Nelly so much better to-day," said Ned.

"She does not look better to my eyes," replied Walter gloomily. "She seems daily weaker, and it is my conviction—"

"Your conviction!" exclaimed Ned, with a loud burst of mirth. "Oh! I did not know that things had come to that pass! I was aware that Viner had kept you ten years on your trial, but never heard of your conviction till now!"

"Insolent boy!" cried Walter, clenching his hand, his blood mounting to his temples, his eye flashing fire! Ned might have had reason to repent his idle jest, had not Viner, who had overheard the words that passed, laid his hand firmly upon the arm of Walter, and drawn him away within the gate.

"Would you be the slave to your passions?" he said in a low voice, "And show the world that a Christian can neither bear nor forbear."

"I could forgive neglect," muttered Walter, "could forgive wrongs; but this contempt, this scorn, this ridicule! I wonder," he exclaimed, almost indignantly, "that you, who value only wisdom and virtue, can endure this trifling, silly, conceited—"

"Yet generous-hearted boy," said Viner, pointing to a fine hare that lay upon the counter. "He has kind thought for others with all his faults, he know that nourishment was ordered for my Nelly."

Walter started, and felt angry with himself that the sight of food so much needed should give him an emotion of pain rather than of pleasure. But to Viner, who, even in the smaller events of life, recognised the hand of an overruling Providence, the timely gift from the kindness of an earthly friend seemed an answer sent to his earnest prayer:








"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them
that trespass against us."

"NELLY, what are you thinking of—you look sad?" inquired Walter on the following morning, which happened to be Sunday.

"I was thinking of you," she replied gravely.

"And was that a thought to give you pain?" said Walter, sitting down at her side, "Tell me, Nelly, what were you thinking of me?"

"I am afraid—perhaps you would be vexed or angry—"

"Vexed I may be, but angry with you, never! Have I done anything to displease you?"

"It is not so much what you do, Walter, as what I fear that you feel. It seems to me—I trust that I am wrong—but it seems to me that you almost hate Ned Goldie."

"It is natural that I should—he is always insulting me!"

"It is natural, Walter; but is it right? Father has so often told us that the adopted children of God must struggle against and overcome their evil nature, must try, with God's help, to gain a likeness to their Father—to be merciful as He is merciful, forgive as He forgives; if we do not try this, with faith and with prayer, we have no right to think ourselves God's children at all."

"Can you prove that from the Bible?" said Walter.

"I think that I can," replied Nelly, after a moment's thought. "It is written, 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.'"

"That last verse has brought another into my mind, Nelly, which has often given me a feeling of uneasiness. It is from the same chapter, I believe. 'Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.'"

"O Walter! You who know so well what is right, can you, in the face of such words, still nourish hatred!"

"Nelly, I have no more power to love that boy than I have to move the cliffs into the sea!" exclaimed Walter.

"Ask for power—ask in faith; remember the Lord's promise, 'By faith ye shall remove mountains,'—'All things are possible to him that believeth.' O Walter!" continued Nelly, speaking rapidly and earnestly, till the blood rose to her pallid cheek, "this is not a work to be set aside or delayed; remember that until you forgive you cannot be forgiven, that as long as you live in hate, you are living in danger, that your very prayer is turned against yourself when you say, 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us!'"

Walter leaned his brow upon his hand, and remained for some moments buried in thought; then raising his head he said, "I believe that I might like Ned Goldie better if you and your father liked him less; but to see you welcome and speak kindly to one who does not even pretend to be religious, who is thoughtless, worldly, vain—"

"O Walter! Only think how he has been brought up! How could you expect him to be otherwise!"

"He is certainly likely to learn little good at home."

"And would you have us drive him away when he comes in a spirit of kindliness to the house of a man like my father, whose words and example may, by little and little, draw him to better things."

"Perhaps you are right, Nelly," said Walter, with a sigh, "and I have not acted the part of a Christian in either feeling or speaking as I have done. When I recall what I myself was—what I am still—I take shame for my own harsh, uncharitable spirit. I will ask for help from above, to struggle against this besetting sin."

"And pray for him too!" said Nelly earnestly. "We never are sure that we have forgiven our enemies till we are able heartily to pray for them."

"I will," answered Walter with an effort.

"And you will forgive me for speaking so plainly to you, brother?" said the girl, holding out her thin, wasted hand.

His reply was a silent press.

It was now time to attend church, and accompanied by Viner, they proceeded on their way towards the house of God. On the road they met Ned, who was going down to the beach, his back turned towards the place of worship. He stopped to wish Viner and his daughter good morning, but took no notice whatever of the convict's son.

"Where are you going, Ned?" said Viner.

"Down to the boat," replied the youth. "I shall take a sail while the sunshine lasts, I have not had one for the last three days."

"I wish that you would come with us to church," said Nelly, in her gentle persuasive tones.

"No, no! The morning service is so long—maybe I shall in the afternoon. Mind, I make no rash promises," laughed the boy; "I am no great churchgoer, you know!"

"I wish that I could persuade you, Ned," said Viner gravely but kindly, "that the only way to real happiness is to fear God and keep His commandments."

"Let me be happy in my own way for a while," cried Ned. "I dare say that I shall think like you one of these days, when I am a sober, gray-headed old man."

"Life is uncertain," interrupted Viner.

"Therefore I'll enjoy it while I can!"

"And death—"

"Oh! I've time enough to think about that!" cried the youth, waving his hand as he sprang down the shingle, so light and agile, so full of health, and strength and spirit, that it seemed as though many years were indeed before him.

Walter fulfilled his promised to Nelly; he prayed fervently and humbly for the Spirit of grace, that Spirit which God has promised to all who ask in faith—that Spirit whose fruits are long-suffering and love. A peace seemed to come into his heart as he prayed, a peace to which his soul had long been a stranger—he could think of his enemy without bitter feeling, and even ask for a blessing upon him.

While the congregation were yet in the church, the violent rattling of the windows told of the sudden coming on of a storm; and as soon as the door was opened at the close of the service, the blast of cold air which swept in was so strong, that but for the help of her father's arm, Nelly could scarcely have stood against it. The whole sky was covered with dark leaden clouds, sweeping on rapidly one after another; the wind had swelled into a gale, while the broad dashes of foam over the whole extent of waters, and the waves that rolled on and broke upon the beach, flinging high in the air their showers of white spray, showed the fury of the raging storm!

"I hope and trust that Ned Goldie is not on the sea!" exclaimed Nelly.

A crowd was collected on the shore, which was now increased by the greater part of the late congregation. Every eye was strained in one direction, where a little boat was seen, tossed like a nut-shell on the foaming waves, and many an exclamation of pity or of fear burst from the anxious lookers-on.

"I'd not for a hundred guineas be in that boat!" said one. "He'll never get her into shore."

"I thought she'd have capsized then!" exclaimed another. "Why on earth does he not take in the sail?"

"Isn't it Ned Goldie?" said Mrs. Winter, who, prayer-book in hand, stood one of the foremost in the crowd. "He'd better have been listening in his place in church than taking his Sunday pleasure, poor fellow!"

"Heaven have mercy upon him!" faltered Nelly, clasping her hands, and looking with terror upon the little boat, which seemed half swallowed up amidst the swelling billows.

"It is he! It is my boy! Oh! Can no one save him?" shrieked the voice of his wretched mother, as she stood with arms extended wildly towards him, the wind blowing back the hair from her pale horror-stricken face—watching the boat that held the idol of her heart.

Another awful gust. The boy was seen in the boat, vainly trying to furl the fluttering, struggling sail; then there was a cry heard even above the roaring storm.

"She's over! She's down! He's lost!" The mother lay senseless on the beach—her son was struggling in the midst of the waves! "God have pity on him! He cannot swim!" cried Mrs. Winter.

Nelly had closed her eyes in horror, a word from her father made her look round in new fear.

"Is it not madness to attempt it?" said Viner.

Walter had stripped off his coat and waistcoat, and was preparing to plunge into the surf.

"O Walter!" exclaimed Nelly, stretching out her hand; but she dared not utter the entreaty that rose to her lips—she dared not stop him in the course of duty.

"Pray for me!" whispered Walter. There was no time to say more—the next moment she saw him battling with the waves.

Motionless as a statue the young girl stood, able to utter no word, but pouring out her whole soul in fervent agonised prayer! Now a head and outspread arms were seen on the waters, then were lost again, as a huge swelling billow rolled on, as though to sweep away the swimmer, or bury him beneath its weight!

Nelly was like one in a terrible dream; she heard nothing of anything that passed around her but the rush of the wind and the roar of the waves; she saw nothing but the wild tossing waters, save when she caught a moment's glimpse of Walter. Happy was it for Ned's wretched mother that she was beyond reach of either hearing or seeing!

When Mrs. Goldie recovered from her swoon, she found herself in the nearest house, which happened to be that of the baker. Her wild passionate inquiries received no reply but looks of sorrow and pity; and unable to endure the terrible suspense, the poor woman sprang from the bed on which she had been laid, and in the strength of her despair, notwithstanding every effort to detain her, rushed back to the spot where the sight of an assembled crowd directed her impetuous steps.

Alas! For the sight that awaited her. Viner was kneeling upon the shingle, supporting on his bosom the head of a youth, into whose colourless lips he was pouring some spirits, and Nelly, at his side, with trembling eagerness, was watching the signs of returning animation. Mrs. Goldie gave one wild, searching look, and passed on—the face was not that of her son. A little farther on lay a corpse, in which life had for some time been extinct. Stiff and cold he was stretched in death, the young, the beautiful, the strong—oh! How changed! In vain every method to restore him had been tried—the heart and the pulse had ceased to beat, the sparkling eye was glazed, the laughing lip silent; in the midst of his pleasures, his follies, his sins, Ned Goldie's spirit had been summoned to appear before his Maker!

We will dwell no longer upon a scene so sad—no words can paint the anguish of the desolate mother! We will rather reflect upon the comfort which it was to Walter, when following the poor youth's remains to the grave, to feel that Heaven had enabled him to triumph over his better feelings, and even to hazard his life for the sake of one whom he had once regarded with hate. His efforts to save Ned had been in vain, he had only succeeded in dragging the body to the shore; but he had done all that it was in his power to do; he had treated an enemy as he would have treated a brother; and he no longer felt self-condemned by his own words when he prayed:








"Lead us not into temptation."

E— was now becoming completely emptied of visitors. Every lodging put up its hopeless label—"To let"—in the reading-room no one thought it worth while to attend; the shore was left to the fishermen, and scarcely a bonnet was seen in the streets!

Walter worked busily and well at his new occupation. He had really a taste for carving, and every article that he made was an improvement upon the last. It was a great pleasure to him to hear Nelly admire his elegant sticks and beautiful boxes, and suggest little alterations and amendments.

But still there could be no sale for anything that he made until the season when visitors should return, and with the long dreary winter and bleak spring before him, Walter began seriously to consider whether he should not leave E—, and seek for employment elsewhere. In vain he tried to persuade himself that he was wanted in the shop; Viner's business was so small that he could well manage it himself. The scanty gains were hardly sufficient for the bare support of three; were Walter in another situation, he might increase the little store.

Very dear had his quiet home become to Villa's adopted son, he could hardly bear to leave it; and as he found by inquiry that there was little hope of obtaining employment near E—, he knew that to seek it, he must go to some distance, and be separated, perhaps for many years, from those whom he most loved upon earth.

The thought of this lay like a weight upon his heart, and often made him sigh heavily as he sat at his work. As yet he had not spoken on the subject either to Viner or Nelly, but he knew that the time was come when it would be necessary for him to do so.

Three days after the funeral of poor Ned, Mrs. Winter entered the little gate; Viner was alone in the shop at the time, but the sound of her voice drew Nelly and Walter from the parlour, where they had both been engaged in their work. "You have just come from our poor neighbour's," said Viner. "How is Mrs. Goldie this morning?"

"Oh! Poor soul, I have scarcely left her since that terrible day! She's breaking, she's breaking fast—she will never hold up her head again!"

"Oh! Hers has been indeed a heavy trial!" murmured Nelly.

"Most heavy," said her neighbour, "and she's quite sinking under it. I've known mothers in sorrow for their children before now, but never in sorrow like hers! There are many who receive deep wounds in the heart, but its sin that puts poison on the edge! This poor creature is always reproaching herself, always weeping over the wrong that she did to her child, though I am sure that she was but too fond a mother."

"'Oh! Had I known that his days were to be so few,' she cries; and then bursts into an agony of grief, and refuses to receive any comfort."

"Oh! Do you not speak to her of the Saviour?" cried Nelly.

"I have spoken, and our worthy clergyman has spoken; for, strange enough, Goldie sent for him. But it seems as if religion rather added to her pain; for when she hears of the mercy and goodness of God, she sobs out, 'Why did my poor boy never know Him!'"

"And Goldie," said Viner, "how does he bear up?"

"He looks much as usual, perhaps a little thinner; but he does not give way like his wife. I think that his heart is hardened by selfishness; and yet it has its warm corner too. He certainly has done a great deal for his children, has given them all that he could, except the best thing of all!"

"I am sure that he must feel this blow," said Nelly.

"He neither speaks about Ned, nor will hear others speak; he cannot bear his wife's grief, so keeps out of her way; he scarcely sees her from morning till night—she'll not trouble him long, poor thing!"

"I had trusted that affliction would have drawn him near to God," said Viner.

Mrs. Winter shook her head. "People may talk about great changes," she said, "but depend upon it, when a man has gone on for sixty years thinking of nothing but getting on in the world, it's as easy to raise the dead as to make him turn to religion! We know that there have been miracles, but we do not dare to expect them; and it would have been a miracle indeed had that man's heart been raised from the world! I fancy that Goldie has more trouble in his family before him, at least if it is true what is said about Mat. After the way in which he has brought up his sons, he must expect to reap as he has sowed."

Viner never encouraged gossip, therefore asked his neighbour no question that might lead her to continue the subject. She turned suddenly towards Walter and said, "I'm forgetting the thing that I came for—I bring you a message from Goldie. I think that he feels grateful—at least as grateful as such a man can feel—for your attempt to save his poor boy. He wishes you to stop over and see him; I hope that he is going to do something good for you, Walter."

The shutters of Goldie's shop, which had been put up before the funeral, had been again taken down, and except that one bright young face was seen there no more, the place looked much as usual. Walter found Goldie in the back parlour—his poor wife had never left her bed. Of how much comfort and ease that parlour told, with its nice furniture, carpet, little mirror above the mantelpiece, and framed portraits of the three sons hung on the wall! Yet to Walter's eye there was something deeply sad in the place, where comfort might be, but happiness was not.

Goldie received the youth kindly. Whatever remembrances the sight of Walter must have brought to the mind of the bereaved father, he showed little emotion on meeting, his voice might be somewhat tremulous, that was all—there were no tears nor signs of deep sorrow.

"I owe you something, Binning," he said, holding out his hand, "and I am not the man to forget it. You must be making a poor thing of it at Viner's, I should say—perhaps you are beginning to look at for something better?"

He stopped, as if for an answer; Walter made no reply, but listened eagerly to what was to follow.

"Mine is a large business," said Goldie, a little proudly, "and besides that, I have a house and lodgings to let, as you know, at the other end of the town. I shall want assistance in the shop, especially now that Mrs. Goldie is ill, and—" he paused, for he would not allude to the son whom he had lost—"and I should be happy, Binning, to take you in, with a handsome salary now, and a prospect of future partnership if we find that we suit one another."

The heart of Walter leaped with delight! The prospect of comfort, independence, without separation from his friends, seemed so much more than he had ever dared to hope, that his first feeling was one of unmixed joy! The second, however, was of difficulty and doubt, and Goldie read it in the changing expression of his face.

"Well, what do you say to it?" cried the fruiterer rather impatiently. "Is not my offer a fair one?"

"Most kind, most generous, and I shall accept it with gratitude, if I may only be assured that in serving the shop I shall never be required to do anything against my conscience."

"Your conscience! Oh! That is some of Viner's cant—that won't do with me," cried Goldie. "If you live with me, you must do as I do, and have none of your nonsense about Sunday. You had better understand that clearly from the first, and put your conscience in your pocket, like a sensible man."

"Then I'm afraid—"

"Don't make a foolish decision in a hurry, that you will be sorry for all your life. There's a customer just come in, I see, I must go to the shop to attend to him. Remain here, and think over the offer that I have made; you'll never have such another chance of getting on well in the world."

Walter sat alone in Goldie's back parlour, buried in deep anxious thought, drawn in opposite directions by two strong powers—duty on one side, inclination on the other. There were so many reasons for accepting Goldie's kindness: he would be independent, he could help his friends, he would see them every day—perhaps he might even do some spiritual good in the house of this irreligious man. But to all this conscience had but one answer. If he who asks the Almighty to lead him not into temptation, wilfully, with his eyes open, throws himself into it, how dare he hope for the protection of Heaven?

Should he deliberately agree to disregard God's commandment, how could he ask or expect that a blessing should attend him? Nelly's favourite text seemed to ring in his ears—"The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow thereto."

When Goldie returned from his customer, he found Walter with his mind quite made up. Gratefully, but firmly, the youth declined his offer, and Viner's adopted son returned to his humble home, not, perhaps, without some feeling of regret, but with a comfortable consciousness in his mind that, however foolish man might think his decision, he had acted wisely in the sight of Heaven.

And let me pause one moment to entreat my reader, before he takes any important step in life, thus to make conscience his first counsellor and friend. Providence may place us in situations of temptation, and then we have every encouragement to struggle on bravely, putting our trust in the promised aid of Him who is able to make us more than conquerors. But let us beware how we place ourselves in such, confiding in our own power to resist evil.

"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" let him avoid the place and the society that may draw him into sin; and never forget that the prayer put into the mouths of all by One who knew our weakness and our proneness to err, was:








"Deliver us from evil."

"THE very sight of his handwriting makes me feel uneasy," thought Goldie, as the postman placed in his hand a letter, bearing the London post-mark. He walked into his parlour, and broke open the seal, and with many an expression of annoyance, and even anger, read the contents of the letter.

"Why, this is worse than I even feared! Evil tidings indeed! That boy seems to have been born to be the torment of my life! What a world this is—full of vexations and troubles! Here am I, who have been labouring all my life for my children, doing all, sparing nothing, making every effort; and just when I hoped that I should have some comfort at last, one of them is taken away, and the other—worse! Well," continued he, violently ringing the bell, "something must be done, and at once. Aleck is prosperous and rich, that is one good thing, he will do something; I must see him directly. There is no use in showing this letter to my wife, she is fretting herself to death already."

The servant-girl hurriedly answered the bell.

"Bring my boots and great-coat," said Goldie, "and tell your mistress that I'm called away on business, and may not be back till to-night or to-morrow morning. I think I'll sleep at Aleck's," he continued, speaking to himself. "The nights are so bitterly cold at this season, and I've no mind to get an attack of rheumatism."

With a heavy heart the fruiterer took his place in the railway train that was about to start for Brighton. It was a bleak November day, and the dull prospect and the chill biting wind seemed quite in harmony with his feelings. When the Christian suffers, he can look to Heaven, and comfort himself with the thought that his portion is not here; but when the worldly man loses earthly joy, he is losing his all, his only treasure, he has nothing to hope for beyond! The only comfort to Goldie's mind in his distress was the prosperity of Aleck, his favourite son; and even in the midst of his sorrow for the two others, it was a proud feeling to the father that he was going for the first time to see him settled in a home of his own, a wealthy man, a distinguished man, one who could help to raise the whole family.

Goldie took a conveyance from the station, he had never yet been to his son's house in Brighton, and, indeed, was a stranger to the whole place, as he had rarely quitted his shop in E—. As he stopped at the door of a comfortable-looking dwelling, a carriage containing a lady drove off; he had but a glimpse of her face in a fine bonnet, whose crape flowers and shining bugles seemed expressly designed to make mourning look as lively as possible; he knew her to be the wife of his son, and not a little proud the fruiterer felt to be able to call such a fine lady his daughter.

Goldie's loud knock at the door was answered by a servant in livery. Even the painful errand upon which the father had come could not prevent his exulting in the idea of grandeur so new to him! He would have passed in at once, as into his own shop, but the footman stood in the doorway, eyeing him saucily from head to foot.

"Is your master at home?" said Goldie, trying to push forwards into the hall.

"Not at home," replied the man, half-closing the door.

"Then I'll wait till he comes in. I must see him. Where has he gone?"

"You can't see him; he sees no one, he's expecting his hairdresser."

"His hairdresser!" exclaimed Goldie. "But I am his father!" And pushing the astonished footman aside, he entered the house, and was at once guided by the sound of a well-known whistled air to the room in which Aleck was seated.

"Is that you, de la Rue? Why—how—can it be!" exclaimed the young man, rising in surprise on the sudden entrance of his father. He had not been him since the death of poor Ned, and scarcely knew in what manner to meet him.

"You did not think to see me here," said Goldie, grasping his hand; "but I have come upon business, urgent business, Aleck. Sit down, my dear boy, I will let you know all. I could not rest till I had consulted with you."

Aleck throw himself down again on his luxurious arm-chair, with an uncomfortable persuasion that something disagreeable was coming, us his father drew from the pocket of his coat a letter, which he knew to be in the handwriting of his brother.

"That will tell its own tale," said Goldie, handing it with a sigh to his son.

Frowning and biting his lip, Aleck read the letter to himself "This is bad indeed—very bad," he said, as he handed it back to his father. "What an unreasonable sum he requires—he shows very little consideration for you."

"And I have not the money!" cried Goldie, earnestly. "I really have not the money, were it to save him from the gallows. My house did not let well this year—the season is over—I have had heavy expenses—poor Ned's funeral—your mother's constant illness—everything seems to go wrong with me now! Your brother's ruined—positively ruined, if he cannot command this large sum, and I've no one to look to—but you."

"Me!" exclaimed Aleck, raising his eyebrows, and pushing back his chair a little. "It is impossible that I can help you, quite impossible; you had better understand that clearly at once; I have a wife to think of, you know."

"He is your only brother now—"

"An extravagant, unprincipled fellow! Are those who have gone on steadily through life to pay for the follies of such!"

"If you would but assist me—"

"I tell you, it's impossible!" cried Aleck, raising his voice.

"You will live in luxury," said Goldie, glancing reproachfully round at the elegant, luxurious apartment of his son, "and leave your brother to be ruined, disgraced—"

"That is his own fault, not mine," replied Aleck.

"If not for his sake," cried Goldie more earnestly, "for mine—for your mother's—your poor afflicted mother's! She is almost broken-hearted already with her loss; a blow like this would bring her to her grave."

"All this is very unpleasant," said Aleck, rising impatiently. "I tell you it's not to be done."

"You forget," said his father, his face flushing with anger, "you forget all the sacrifices made for yourself. How I scraped every pound, every sixpence together to place you at an expensive school, to give you an education without which you could never have risen as you have done; how I was in debt for years to raise the sum required to set you out in life to such advantage; how I—"

"There's the hairdresser!" cried Aleck, with a look of relief. "I'm sorry that I shall be engaged this evening. Won't you take a glass of wine before you go? Shall I order my servant to call a fly? I really am afraid of your delaying your return, for at this time of year, it is dangerous for persons of your age to be out in the cold night-air."

Goldie could not for a minute speak—he was actually choking with mingled passion and grief. Then recovering himself, he went up close to his son, and said in a low, thrilling tone, "If no other motive will touch you, think of yourself. The disgrace of your family must be shared by you; remember that you bear the same name!"

"That decides me upon doing what I have thought of before—changing it for that of my wife."

Goldie rushed from the house, as from the den of a serpent, with a determination never to enter it again. The reed on which he had leaned had pierced him to the heart, all that he had hoped for once had been attained only to make him more wretched. Vanity of vanities was written upon what he had most loved! And yet what right had the worldly man to complain! He had taught his children to break the Fourth Commandment, could he wonder that they disregarded the Fifth: he had lived all his life in rebellion and disobedience to his Heavenly Father and dare he hope to find affection in his own children!

Evils were thickening upon him—troubles unsanctified, and therefore intolerable. The ruin of Mat gave the finishing stroke to the misery of his unhappy mother. She lay on her death-bed, broken-hearted, desponding! Goldie had seen one son cut off in the flower of his days, another was dragging him down to poverty and shame, the third, his darling, the pride of his soul, had inflicted on the heart of his parent perhaps the deepest wound of all.

Sickness, bereavement, and far sharper poverty had visited the home of Viner; but to him every evil had brought forth good, every evil was certain to end in joy. In the words of the suffering apostle, he could say, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" But oh! The bitterness of spirit of him who has lived for the world, and sought nothing beyond, when he finds at last that his idol is but dust and ashes? With regret for the past, disappointment in the present, and no hope to brighten the future—only age, and the grave, and the judgment before him—he, indeed, is tasting of the dregs of life—is reaping a harvest of woe! Poverty may rouse industry, sickness show forth patience, sorrow increase submission—death lead to glory—Sin is the one great evil to be feared. O Lord!—








"For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory."

THE hail was falling fast, drifted by the piercing wind which howled in the chimneys, and seemed to shake the dwelling.

"I wish that my father had come back," said Nelly, as she returned again from the little gate whence she had been anxiously watching for her parent.

"Our good clergyman will keep him under shelter," said Walter, "he will not be back till this hailstorm is over!"

"I almost dread his return," sighed Nelly. "I know that I ought to wish him success in his endeavours to procure that situation for you in London—and yet—"

"You feel, surely, that it is right that I should go?"

"It is right, Walter," replied the girl. "To remain here in E— would be only to suffer with us, not to help us. If it should please Heaven that you should return—if you should over come back—." She could not go on, but turned her head aside to hide the tears that would have their course.

"I will return, Nelly—if I live, I will! It is only to relieve you of a burden that I quit you. I will work hard—save hard for your sake."

At this moment a poor, gray-headed man slowly made his way up the street. He seemed almost beaten back by the pelting hail, and stopping as he reached Viner's little shop, leaned on the gate as if for support.

"Let us ask him to come in to shelter," whispered Nelly—and Walter immediately invited him to step in.

The gray-haired man obeyed in silence—with a step so faltering, a look of such emotion, as though the voice of kindness were strange to him, that the hearts of the young people were touched with compassion. They had not read in vain the injunction in the Bible—"Use hospitality without grudging: be not forgetful to entertain strangers;" but without waiting for any request from the weary man, they brought him dry clothes, asked him into the parlour, and offered him a chair by the fire.

The guest was not yet past the strength of manhood, but all its life and spirit appeared gone. His face was wrinkled, its expression sad, his hand trembled as if with age, and when he at last spoke his voice was faltering and low.

"Here is one who has drunk deep of the cup of sorrow," thought Nelly, and her manner, ever gentle, became more kindly than before.

"Shall I set food before him?" she whispered to Walter.

"By all means—he looks ready to faint."

"But, Walter—we have but a half-loaf left in the house, and our till is to-day quite empty!"

There was a look of meek submission on her pale face, that went to the heart of Walter.

"Yet give to him, Nelly, let him share that loaf—'He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.'"

Nelly smiled, and set the bread upon the table.

"God bless you, and reward you a thousandfold!" said the guest—not touching, however, the proffered food, but looking around the comfortless abode with an expression of interest and sadness.

"Is this house yours?" he at last said to Walter, fixing his dark eyes earnestly upon him.

"Oh no! It belongs to my adopted father, whose name you see over the gate."

"And your name?" said the stranger.

"Is Walter Binning."

The guest remained silent, and the silence lasted so long, that at length it became painful, and Nelly, in order to break it said:

"I fear that you have known much sorrow?"

"Such sorrow as I trust that you may never know!"

"But the Lord can bring light out of darkness," said Walter.

"He can indeed—bless you for the word!" cried the stranger suddenly, clasping his hands, and turning towards the young man with a look of mingled sorrow and joy. "God can bring light out of darkness—good out of evil! He can bring the sinner to His feet, and the rebel to a throne—all things are possible to Him! Were you to know my story," he continued more rapidly, "you would indeed wonder at the power of God, to whom belongs the kingdom over the hearts of men! If ever there was a sinner—I was one; if ever there was a soul stained by guilt—that soul was mine? I had struggled against conscience, I had turned from my God, I was rushing on in the broad way that leadeth to destruction, and yet the hand of mercy could find me even there!"

Walter and Nelly listened with interest and surprise to a confession so frank and so unexpected. The stranger went on, in his rapid, earnest manner, as though he found it a relief to his heart to pour out its fulness.

"It is well, my children, it is well that you should know something of the man whom you have welcomed to your hearth. I once was young, unsuspicious as yourselves; mine was a kind heart, and a free open hand; I neither thought of want nor feared temptation. From how slight a cause men's ruin may spring! At a place of amusement, I once met with a youth. I found him pleasant; we conversed—met again and again; he became my companion—most dangerous companion! He was one who despised religion, and laughed at the word conscience; he gained an influence over my young mind, and made use of it to ruin his so-called friend!"

"As you love your peace—as you love your own soul," continued the stranger, addressing himself earnestly to Walter, "oh! Avoid the society of such! Let my fate be to you like a beacon on a quicksand, to warn you from that which brings destruction!"

"He took me to scenes from which I once would have shrunk; he led me into habits which I should once have blushed to form; I acquired a thirst for amusement and excitement, and where was I to find means to gratify that thirst? I was then a poor apprentice in London; a generous friend had paid the sum required by my master, for I myself was a penniless orphan. I was not only without money, but in debt, and following a career which plunged me deeper and deeper into it. I had but little credit—no means of gaining money. Oh! When conscience is stifled, and religion set aside, how easy is the transition from the debtor to the thief! My companion first taught me to embezzle from my master. My guilt was suspected; I was seized, sent to prison; a day was appointed for my trial. As my character until now had been considered respectable, I was admitted to bail, and the same generous friend, who had helped me before on my setting out in life, became my security now."

"It is better, indeed, to relate what followed; but I wish you to know all—I would have nothing concealed. I felt that my case would not stand a trial. I was visited again by my evil companion, the tempter who had led me to disgrace. Urged by him, or rather by my own guilty fears, I broke faith with my friend, escaped into France, and led there a life the remembrance of which would bow me to the dust had I not learned to hope that even the chief of sinners might find mercy."

"I married, lost my wife in the first year of our union, then returned to my own country under a false name; and in company with men as guilty as myself, supported myself by the gains of dishonesty."

"Why should I tell all this," exclaimed the stranger, "but that you may shun the paths in which I fell—that you may learn from one who speaks from terrible experience, that there is no wretchedness on earth like that of guilt—and flee betimes from the approach of the tempter! There may be the loud laugh, the burst of wild mirth, the feast, the revel, the intoxicating draught; but oh! The bitterness, the sickening joylessness within, where the soul dare not turn its gaze on itself, when it seeks excitement to stifle thought, when solitude is terrible, reflection intolerable."

Walter thought of the miser's fifty-pound bank-note, and lifted his heart in gratitude to Him who had saved him in the hour of temptation.

"At last," resumed the stranger, "what I dreaded happened; the strong hand of the law arrested me in my wretched career of guilt. I was sent to Newgate, tried, condemned. I deserved my sentence—I knew that I deserved it; but my soul rebelled against its just punishment. I was becoming hardened and reckless in misery, hardened in despair."

"And thus might I have sunk lower and lower, till I had perished at last in my sin; but the day before I was sent from my country, leaving, as I believed, not one friend behind, I received a letter from the same benevolent man who had twice before been ready to aid me. At a time when I was brought down, crushed to the dust, when all the rest of the world shunned and despised me, that man came forwards, unwearied in well-doing, and offered to do me an important service, which I dared not have asked of a brother."

"The letter enclosed a little book, 'Baxter's Call to the Unconverted,' with an earnest request from the writer that I would read it once carefully over. At another time, I would have flung it aside with contempt, if not with anger; but my heart was softened by unmerited kindness—I could not refuse the only request made by one to whom I was indebted for so much. Doubtless that book was sent with prayer, and carried a blessing with it."

"I read it. It showed me my own fearful state, even more fearful than I had believed it to be; but it did not leave me to despair. It told of mercy and pardon even for the worst of sinners; it told of the blood that washes away guilt, of the Spirit that can give a new, clean heart; it told of the power of religion over the human soul; and I believed it; for the character of the man who had given it showed forth the reality of that power."

"Oh! That I could see and know that man!" exclaimed Nelly.

"You know him. That man is—your father!" cried the stranger, springing forwards to meet Viner, who entered at that moment, and throwing himself into his arms.

Viner had returned disheartened and sad, for he had been unsuccessful in his efforts to obtain a situation for his adopted son. There are times when even the true Christian feels his faith weak. Viner had found it difficult to strengthen his heart in the Lord; he seemed like Peter when sinking in the waves.

"Lord, help me!" was his silent prayer. He came back in sorrow, he was met by joy. The little seed which, ten years before, he had sown in faith, had sprung up to bear a thousandfold; the voice of thanksgiving was in the dwelling of the righteous; the Almighty had not been trusted in vain.

Oh! What a blessed answer to Walter's prayers! With what joy he looked upon his restored parent, and received the blessing of his long-lost father. It was some time before anything like composure was restored to the circle, or the older Binning could continue his account.

"Let no one presume on the goodness of God, because He has sometimes worked wonders of mercy, and saved him whom man would condemn. Terrible is its awakening to a soul that has long gone on in a course of sin; they who never have wandered so far from the right way know not the difficulty, the anguish of retracing their steps! If any would learn what it is to repent, let him study the fifty-first Psalm of King David; there the sorrows of a broken and contrite heart are expressed by one who himself had felt all the bitterness of deep remorse; how often, my son, have I wept over that Psalm, and applied every verse to myself; praised be God that I could also repeat words from the same inspired writer, and trust that might be written for me—'Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.'"

"After I had had reason humbly to hope that I had received pardon for my sins through the merits of my Saviour, my mind naturally turned to the thought how I could make some amends to man for all the wrongs that I had done him. My debt to Viner, above all, lay heavy on my conscience; and as soon as the term of my punishment was over, I determined never to return to my country till I had earned sufficient to pay it. I worked like a slave in a land where toil brings a far higher reward than it does here. I grudged myself even my necessary comforts; I broke on the hours of my needful rest, till the great object of my efforts was attained. God blessed my labours beyond my hopes; I gathered sufficient to cover my debt, and worked my way home as a common sailor, that I might not encroach on my earnings."

"And now, with what pleasure do I return what I owe," continued Binning, laying bank-note after bank-note on the table—"return what I owe! I can never return it! You helped me in trouble,—you saved me from despair, you have brought up my son to virtue, industry, and religion—were I to pour out my life's blood for you now I could never repay you what I owe!"

"O my God!" exclaimed Viner, looking upwards, while tears of gratitude forced their way down his cheeks. "To Thee be the honour, to Thee be the praise—"








"For ever and ever."

AGAIN nearly ten years have passed, and for the last time we revisit E—, now a thriving, populous town. Where is the little shop with its wooden gate, where Viner so long passed his humble but useful life, and bore the yoke of poverty so meekly? We now look in vain for the spot where it stood—like other earthly things, it has passed away, another building now occupies what was once its site, its place remembers it no more.

But the large shop on the opposite side of the street is standing yet, and looks more flourishing than ever, with its baskets of ripe plums and tempting peaches, decked out with branches of cut flowers in the windows. A young woman is within, engaged in tying up nosegays, herself fresh and blooming as the flowers. Her own little blossom, her first-born child, is perched upon the counter beside her; and often the mother stops in her pleasant employment to imprint a fond kiss on his dimpled cheek, or bid her little one try to call "Father!"

"Ah! Darling, you must not spoil the pretty flowers," she said playfully, as the child seized upon a rose. "Do you not know that this is mother's wedding-day, and when father comes in, he must find everything looking bright and beautiful for him! I must give you over to grandfather's care—if he will look after my troublesome pet! There, is he not a darling—are you not proud of him!" cried Nelly, as she placed her blooming boy in the arms of Viner.

Mrs. Winter at this moment entered the shop. She had grown old, and now wore widow's weeds, but her face was still placid and cheerful as before.

"I have brought you the cake, Nelly," said she, laying an elegant sugared pyramid before her. "Is it not fit for a wedding-day feast? Do you remember just this day twenty years ago, when you were no higher than this counter, your coming to my shop to buy half-a-dozen biscuits as a treat for your expected new brother? Ah! He is more to you now than he was then!"

"How can I remember so far back!" laughed Nelly.

"It seems to me as though it were scarce a day since! There stood Goldie—poor man! Who once owned this shop—a prosperous man he was then! He laughed, I remember, at your childish honesty, laughed at your father's kind adoption of Walter—he thought only of getting on in the world! And what has it all come to at last! There is now another name above his door, there is another face behind his counter—he lies in the churchyard beside his poor wife, and his very name is almost forgotten! And this is the end of his labours and his cares, his rising up early and late taking rest—his flattering, and toiling, and unscrupulous ways! All that is left to him now of his gains is a coffin, and a shroud, and a few feet of earth!"

"Alas! Poor Goldie," said Nelly sadly, "He was unfortunate!"

"Unhappy, if you will, but not unfortunate; fortune had nothing to do with either his lot or your father's. Worldliness, Sabbath-breaking, neglect of religion only brought forth their natural fruits to Goldie—while all Viner's present happiness and prosperity arose from—"

The old man turned towards her with glistening eyes, pressing his little grandchild closer to his heart, while he closed her sentence with Nelly's favourite text—"'The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow thereto.'"

Walter now entered with a springing step and bright eye. His child stretched out his little arms to go to him, and Nelly greeted her husband with a smile.

"You see that I have not forgotten what day it is," he said, laying down on the counter a beautifully carved box, with his wife's name cut on the lid. "That is my wedding present for you, dear Nelly; as it has pleased God to prosper us so well in business, and between my carving and your fruit selling, we now have enough and to spare, I have resolved to keep a poor box from this time, and on the first day of the week, as St. Paul recommends, lay aside of our earnings for the needy."

"Well, Viner," observed Mrs. Winter, as she was leaving the place, and turned to bid farewell to the aged Christian, on whose silvery hair and venerable brow the rich glow of the setting sun was falling, "if I were asked to name a truly happy man, I should not have far to look for one—I should point to you in your arm-chair there, with your loving family around you."

Yes, the bright calm sunset was a beautiful type of the old age of the pious Christian! He looked back on an honest, well-spent life, he looked forwards to a better life to come; the present was full of richest blessings, but the richest of all was the hope of heaven that brightened the thoughts of the future! His adopted son was now his son indeed; his daughter was happy in the love of one whom he himself had trained to industry and piety; and now, honoured and beloved, he was drawing towards his home, at peace with his God, and at peace with mankind—his hoary head a crown of righteousness!

But think not that upon his faith or his good works Viner rested his hope of glory! He would have shrunk from the thought as much as the poor convict who now slumbered beneath the shadow of the church, with a single text inscribed on his tomb—"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin!"

And now, young reader, before you close these pages, pause and consider what was the difference between Viner and Goldie, between the man of the world and the servant of God. As Mrs. Winter had observed, it was no strange chance, no wonderful turn of fortune, that gave happiness to the one or misery to the other. Review their story, and you will see that exactly as they sowed, they reaped—that the portion which each chose, he received—that blessings naturally sprang from the conduct of the one, disappointment from the acts of the other.

And oh! If even in this world, God's children are the happiest, what will it be in the world which is to come! On this earth our harvest is only begun, whether of holy joy or the sorrows of sin. But when ages upon ages have rolled on, when the heavens and the earth have passed away, then still the unrepenting will be suffering, the faithful enjoying in eternity!

From this hour resolve which path you will choose—life or death are now set before you. If you choose the world and its pleasures of a season, oh! Remember that the wages of sin is death. Youth must pass, strength must pass, life itself must pass away, with all that it could give here below; but the Christian shall dwell in the mansions of light—shall rejoice in unchangeable bliss with his God—










Our Father in heaven,
   We hallow Thy name,
May Thy kingdom holy
   On earth be the same;
Oh! Give to us daily
   Our portion of bread;
It is from Thy bounty
   That all must be fed.

Forgive our transgression,
   And teach us to know
That humble compassion
   Which pardons each foe.
Keep us from temptation,
   From weakness, and sin;
And Thine be the glory,
   For ever, Amen.