The Project Gutenberg eBook of Lily's birthday

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Title: Lily's birthday

Author: Madeline Leslie

Release date: May 20, 2024 [eBook #73659]

Language: English

Original publication: Boston: Graves & Young, 1867


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




Lily's Birthday.





"Be kindly affectioned one to another."—PAUL




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of

122 Washington Street.









Shepherd of Israel.













IT was cold weather; but the day was bright and beautiful. Baby Lily in her warm bed rubbed her eyes, and tried to wake herself up. She knew something pleasant was going to happen; but for a minute or two she couldn't recollect what it was, and lay digging into her sleepy eyes with her tiny, dimpled hand, when a soft voice across the chamber, whispered—

"Baby Lily! Baby Lily! Wake up! Wake up! It's your birthday!"

"Oh, yes, Helen!" cried the child, starting up. "So it is!"

Helen rose from her couch and, walking softly across the chamber, kissed her sister four times.

"Aren't you glad, you little darling, that the day has come; and wont we have a splendid time at your birthday party?"

Baby Lily's eyes sparkled,—I wish you could have seen them,—and her cheeks grew such a pretty pink, you would have thought the roses had been kissing them. It was still very early; but Lily was impatient for the pleasures of the day to begin; so she slipped down the side of the bed, saying,—

"Sarah! Sarah! Can't I go downstairs? I want to. Oh, I'm so glad my birthday has come!"

"I'm afraid you'll wake baby brother, pet."

"Oh," exclaimed Helen, "I heard him cooing long ago."

So Sarah reached from the chair at the side of the bed a pair of stockings, and oh, such tiny shoes! And, having arrayed her little charge in them, sent her down to the nursery to be dressed, while she herself took another nap.

Helen caught up her clothes and pattered down after her sister. I suppose if you had caught a glimpse of Helen in her long white nightdress, and her curls floating like a veil about her, you would have thought her smiles were on account of the expected party; but they were not. They were always there. Indeed, I can't imagine how her mouth would have looked without smiles. It was just like a fresh sunbeam to see her come dancing into the room.

The nursery was very warm and pleasant, for there was a bright fire crackling and blazing away in the grate, as if it knew that this was a birthday, and meant to help celebrate it.

Margery sat in a low chair before the fire with Master Berty, a stout urchin of six months, springing and jumping in her arms.

Both Helen and Lily made their first addresses to the family pet, who cooed out his welcome in the very sweetest tones you ever heard. Certainly his little sisters thought no music was ever half so sweet. And there they stood bowing and catchooing, and laughing, while baby, every time Helen came near enough, would make a dive at her curls. It would have done you good to have seen them.

All this while Margery was laughing and enjoying the fun; but now, she tried to hurry them with their dressing.

"Come, Miss Helen," she urged, "if you play with baby any longer, you'll never be in season for breakfast. Baby Lily, bring me your skirt, and let me fasten it."

In one minute there was a dreadful scream. Margery tried to button the waist with her arm around the baby, when he gave a sudden spring, and over he went on to the rug, making a dreadful bump on his forehead, and cheek.

Poor Margery had scarcely time to catch him up before mamma rushed from the chamber adjoining, and grandma from her room, frightened almost out of their senses, for fear he had fallen into the fire.

Baby cried dreadfully, and held his breath; and all the while the bump was growing larger and more red, until at last he was so tired he was glad to lay his poor aching head on his mamma's shoulder to rest. But even here, he couldn't forget, and turned his red, swollen eyes from one to another, with such an expression, that they pitied him very, very much.

Little Lily forgot that it was her birthday, and her eyes were full of tears; and her lip quivered so that she could scarcely speak.

Surely I don't know who dressed the children, for everybody was so confused by the sad accident, and so sorry for Master Berty, that they could think of nothing else; so the sun went on rising higher and higher, until he could peep into the nursery windows; and then Helen laughed softly as she said,—

"O Lily! Aren't you glad it's going to be a pleasant day?"

In a few minutes the room was all quiet; for mamma, who was still weak from her recent illness, had gone back to bed, and papa was trying to obey the doctor's directions, and get all the rest he could. The children were very happy when baby so far forgot his trouble that he could play again. Helen let him pull her curls, exclaiming, "So you shall, darling; you shall pull Helen as much as you want to."

He had just got his little fingers nicely tangled in the closely curling locks, and was cooing out his delight, when there was another surprise; but this time it was a pleasant one, for the door softly opened, and there stood Aunt Hatty.

Helen flew to meet her, followed by Russell, who asked,—

"Where's Frankie,—hasn't he come?"

And then Frankie, who had been hiding behind the door, burst in, and was as warmly welcomed as his mother had been.

The new comers had been travelling all night, and were very tired; but they dearly loved these friends, and they were both glad that they had come in season for the birthday party.



BEFORE I go on to relate what happened on that pleasant day, I must tell you some things about baby Lily and her home.

She did not always live in the city, though her father was Rector of a large and wealthy parish there. In the summer they went a long way into the country, down near the sea-side, where the children could fill their lungs with nice, fresh air, and where the father and mother could gain new strength for the performance of their arduous duties. Some time I may tell you of the delights of their country home; but now I will say that the parsonage or rectory was a large, commodious mansion, joined to the rear end of the church.

The channel, the pulpit, and the reading desk were in a deep, wide recess. There were quaint, old-fashioned rooms in the house, formed out of the space at the side of the chancel. One of these rooms on the lower floor, the pastor occupied for his study. It had a high Gothic window, with small, diamond panes of glass; and the walls were wholly lined with cases containing books. There were large, elegantly bound volumes on the lower shelves; then on the others, the books were smaller and smaller to the very top shelf, which could only be reached by a pair of high steps.

There was one large bust, too, which the children often gazed at, because it looked so peaceful and smiling. This was a bust of their great grandfather, an eminent divine, and teacher of theology.

But I cannot stop to tell you all the wonders of the study, nor to describe the Rector, who sat long hours at the table in the centre of the room, poring over the old-fashioned volumes, and writing the sermons which he prayed God might help to fit his beloved people for heaven. I must go on to tell you about the chamber over the study, which was called the church-room. This was lighted by a continuation of the same window with its funny little panes of glass, through which the sunlight streamed in so gloriously.

The room in the third story over this was devoted to the children, for their toys; and well it was filled with all sorts, from tin horses harnessed in pedlers' carts, to the family of Noah just walking out of the ark.

Besides the pastor and his wife, there belonged to the family four children,—Helen, Russell, Lily, and baby Herbert.

There had been another loved one, the first-born, the dearest treasure known on earth.

"Lovely as an angel's dream,
 Her chestnut locks with sunlight all agleam,
 Her holy eyes with heaven in their beam."
      *    *    *    *    *    *
"But when the elder Shepherd of the fold
 Came, covered with the storm, and pale and cold,
 And begged for one of the sweet lambs to hold,
 The parents knelt to pray! Is it thy will?
 Ah, how they wept at the last word 'farewell!'"

As I told you in the first chapter, the birthday dawned clear and bright. The children had scarcely finished their breakfast when there was a ring at the door; and who should it be, but Miss Norton; with a box for baby Lily.

This little girl now began to realize that birthdays were delightful. Her violet eyes opened wider and wider as Sarah untied the box, and took from it a beautiful plated tea-set, shining like silver.

"Oh," exclaimed Russell, "wont we have nice times now? Mamma, can't we have our tea-party right away?"

Mamma smiled. "Yes, darling," she said, "as soon as Margery has cleared the room."

At this moment Sarah came in, bringing baby brother fresh from his bath, and all the children forgot their play in their eagerness to get a kiss. Baby jumped, and cooed, and laughed such funny little laughs, drawing in his breath, and then stopping to catch Helen's curls, as she pressed closer to him.

"Come, Frankie," cried Russell at last, "let's go and set the table now."

"I think real, live babies are better than all the tea-parties in the world," answered Frank, warmly. "Oh, I love to hear them laugh!"

There was a low table in the nursery, on which the little folks used to take their supper before they were old enough to dine with papa and mamma. This was now covered with wooden horses and sheep; and Frankie helped to pack the animals away in the box where they belonged.

"Please, Sarah," asked Russell, "may we have a table-cover?"

"Certainly, dear," and she gave him one from the drawer.

Before the cups and saucers and plates were arranged in order on the pretty tray, there was another ring, followed by the sound of merry voices in the hall.

"It's Aunt Mary!" was the joyful shout. "It's Aunt Mary, with Ida and Rose."

"Yes, it is," repeated Russell, running to the window, "and there's Pat bringing a great bundle from the carriage."

The door opened, and there stood Aunt Mary with her arms full of parcels, and behind her, Ida and Rose, looking as smiling as the month of June.

"Look, look, see Lily's new tea-set!"

But Aunt Mary could see nothing till she had laid the bundles carefully on the table. Then she stooped to give baby a kiss; after which, she was ready to attend to the children.



"PUT the waiter that side," said Sarah. "Lily must sit there, and pour out the tea, because it's her birthday."

Russell was watching the untying of the parcels Aunt Mary had brought, and clapped his hands when he saw the nice light cakes and the cream-colored candy.

Sarah well understood how to prevent unkindness between the children, and so she superintended the distribution of the feast, while the little girl sat in state behind the tiny tray, mixing sugar, cream, and water in the pretty cups.

At last every one was served; and then what pleasant talk, what shouts of mirth, what merry peals of laughter echoed through the room! Mamma, grandma, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Hatty laughed, and enjoyed the feast almost as well as the children did. Mammas always do enjoy their children's sports, when the little ones are generous, kind, and loving, as these children were.

I wish I were an artist, and could paint the scene as it occurred. I think you would say, as Aunt Hatty did, that there never were brighter, happier faces than surrounded that little table; and there never were friends more sympathizing than those who witnessed the joy of the merry party.

"Sarah," called out Russell at last, "Rose has eaten all her cake. May I give her some of mine?"

"There is plenty more. Why don't you eat your own? Here, Rose, pass me your plate. Helen, what are you and Ida laughing about? Don't you want another piece of cake, Lily?"

Every plate was held up now to be refilled; and then baby Lily had as much as she could do to pour coffee, as she called it, for all her guests. She looked very serious as she set about her task, putting in a little more sugar, a little more milk; then stirring and tasting, to be sure it was right; while Helen and Ida, as the oldest of the company, tried hard to look sober, too, so as not to confuse the anxious miss.

"Hurrah! We've done!" shouted Russell, rising and clapping his hands. "Now let's have some fun!"

"Oh, look at baby?" exclaimed Helen. "See how he wants to play, too. Oh, I wish he had sat at the table with us!"

"I rather think he would have wanted all the cups," said mamma, smiling. "You know he has never been into society, and would not understand how to conduct with propriety at dinner-parties."

"Isn't he a darling?" asked Helen, as baby shouted, and cooed his delight at having her near him.

"I think babies are splendid," rejoined Frankie, coming forward for a share of notice from the pet.

"They are household angels," murmured Aunt Hatty, softly.

Presently there was a great shout of laughter, in the midst of which Russell walked into the room, bowing. "This is the bride of the church," he said, introducing his sister, whom he had arrayed in a long, white skirt. "I hope you will excuse the black on her dress, because her husband has just died."

Baby Lily walked forward with great dignity, bowing and smiling, while her brother, who had once more disappeared, soon returned, and made every one shout again, as he promenaded the room dressed in a black gown, and gave out notice of a service in the church in the evening.

At last the door-bell rung, and Pat sent up word that the carriage was ready to take Aunt Mary and the children home.

"How quick the morning has gone!" exclaimed Ida. "I thought we should have a good deal longer to stay."

"So I did," said Rose, shaking back her heavy curls, and getting ready to go.

Aunt Mary hurried to array her young charge for the ride, Helen and Frank helping to find hats, furs, and gloves.

Lily, as directed by mamma, sent her thanks to Aunt Josephine for letting her cousins come, and for the present of cake, and then the good-by kisses were given, Russell shouting after them as they went downstairs,—

"Haven't we had nice fun?"

"And not one word of unkindness or quarrelling. That is the reason you have all enjoyed yourselves so thoroughly," suggested Aunt Hatty, kissing the merry boy.



IN the afternoon, just as mamma had finished her dinner, a beautiful carriage with two prancing horses drove up to the door. A lady had called to take her out for a drive in the park.

Mamma hesitated. She was timid about riding; and then it was Lily's birthday, and there were so many little ones in the nursery.

But papa came from the study, and ended the matter by saying,—

"You must go, my dear. The bracing air will do you good."

While she was absent, the children had various games. Sometimes they dressed up, and played they were visitors from the country. Helen was the lady of the house, and Frank and Russell made her a call; while Lily sat in a low chair, and rocked her dolly; and then they brought in the rocking-horse, and played go a journey.

By and by they grew tired, and were contented to sit quietly on the sofa, while Aunt Hatty told them a story. She had only just finished, when mamma returned, not refreshed, but pale and weary.

"What has happened?" asked Sarah, eagerly.

"Such a scene as I have witnessed!" exclaimed mamma, falling back in a chair quite exhausted. "I was so glad I didn't take Lily."

"Please, mamma, tell us about it," asked Helen.

"In the first place," began mamma, "Mrs. Groves' horses were perfectly furious, and would not allow anything to pass them. I grew very nervous, when all at once there was a crashing of wheels; and there we were locked in with a great team.

"I imagined Mrs. Groves wished herself anywhere but riding with a nervous woman, and I'm sure I was sorry that I had consented to go. We backed, and the teamster backed, ha'ing and geeing lustily, and at last we were relieved.

"Now, I thought, we shall have a clear space; and I'll try to be brave. But presently we heard a great outcry and shouting behind us.

"'Stop them! Oh, stop them!'

"I looked from the window, and saw everybody running; then they all began to press to the sides of the street, and drivers urged their horses forward at their utmost speed.

"'What is it, James?' screamed Mrs. Groves through the speaking-trumpet.

"'It is horses running away, ma'am,' he answered back.

"'Stop, then; and we'll get out.'

"'You'd be smashed entirely, ma'am, in the crowd.'

"Just at this moment, and when I was trembling all over, a pair of magnificent horses dashed past, in an open barouche; and there, standing in it, with her hands stretched out in supplication, was a dear little girl just about as old as Lily. As they rushed past, I heard her say,—

"'Oh, do stop them! Do please stop them!'

"I couldn't help it; I just put my handkerchief to my face, and had a good cry."

"Did the little girl pray to God to make the horses stop running?" faltered Lily, her lip quivering as she winked back her tears.

"I don't know, darling, but she looked like a child who had been taught to pray."

"I would pray for her, mamma, I would."

"My love, I did pray that the good God might spare her life; and I thanked him that my own darlings were not in such danger."

"Was she killed then?" asked Helen, her eyes growing very large.

"No, dear. Mrs. Groves told James to drive on as fast as he could. I forgot all about my own fright, in my anxiety to find out whether the poor little child was saved."

"Why didn't somebody stop the horses, mamma?"

"They did try again and again, Helen; but with no success. Presently another carriage dashed by, the driver whipping the horse to his utmost speed. I saw a poor man leaning back on the seat, looking very pale, while the blood was oozing from a wound on his head. The crowd screamed out that it was the father of the little girl who had been thrown from the barouche. A gentleman picked him up and wanted to do something for him; but he only pointed up the street, and gasped out,—

"'My child!'"

Poor Lily could keep back her tears no longer, and laying her head in Sarah's lap began to sob.

"Lily," said her mamma, "look up, and hear me finish the story.

"We followed the other carriages until we came to a great crowd of policemen, who were standing about the barouche. The brave little girl had been taken out as soon as the horses were stopped, and there she was in her father's arms. Oh, how he strained her to his breast, as he said,—

"'Thank God! She is spared to me!'"

"Did his head bleed then, mamma?"

"Yes, Helen; but he did not seem to think of himself at all. Tears were running down the cheeks of many who stood by."

"How did they get home, mamma?"

"The gentleman who picked up the father offered to take them to their house, and the policemen took care of the horses till the driver came up."

"I guess the little girl will say a good many prayers to God to-night," exclaimed Lily, looking up with a brightening face.



A FEW DAYS after this, dear little Lily came to dinner with two bright red spots on her cheeks. She did not seem inclined to talk as usual; but sat very quiet, waiting for Maria to pass her plate. With the dessert there was some pineapple, and this Lily thought very nice. I suppose she must have eaten too much, for in an hour or two she grew quite sick, and lay on the sofa, her poor head being very hot and throbbing with pain.

Mamma had gone out to see a sick friend, and Sarah was herself ill in bed; but Aunt Hatty took the dear child in her arms, and tried to soothe her to sleep. She lay very quiet for a time, listening to the lullaby, and Aunt Hatty thought her asleep; but presently she opened her eyes with a pleasant smile, saying,—

"Don't go away! I want you to stay here two-free weeks."

This was the commencement of a long sickness. When the doctor came the next morning, he said Lily had the scarlet fever.

During all the days and nights the little sufferer was in bed, she was very patient; but her feeble moans, as she lay half unconscious, made mamma's heart ache sadly.

When Lily was better, Helen was taken down with a similar attack.

On the whole, it was a trying winter for the family, though from the parish they received a vast amount of sympathy and kindness.


There was one circumstance which was regarded by all as a blessing. This was that dear Cousin Stuart, who had been absent for many years, had returned, and was now settled in business near them.

Stuart was fond of all children, but particularly so of these dear ones. Scarcely a day passed without a call upon his favorites. When his step was heard on the stairs, or his voice speaking to papa in the hall, there was an immediate rush from the nursery and a scream of delight to welcome him.

Even baby Herbert crowed out his pleasure, holding out his dimpled arms to be taken. Indeed, he would willingly stay with no one else while his Cousin Stuart was in sight.

It was amusing to witness the scrambling for places when he took a seat. Helen and Lily were in his lap, Russell leaning on his knee, while Ida and Rose, who were often present, crowded as closely as possible, each clamoring to be heard.

"Please tell us a story."

"We're all ready, Cousin Stuart."

"Please have something funny," said Russell, his eyes twinkling.

Stuart had some funny stories, which he told once in a while; and some funny songs, which he sang; but he loved best to tell of good children in the Bible,—of Joseph, and Samuel, and Ruth, and Esther,—but more than all of the child Jesus, who never had committed a sin.

In all his travels, Stuart sought out children, and tried to do them good. He used to visit Sabbath schools, and when the boys and girls were through with their lessons, he would tell them of the Saviour's love; and urge them to choose him for their Friend.

Perhaps you would like to hear one of Stuart's stories. Well, I will tell you one.

It was a stormy evening during Easter; but the bright fire made the nursery look very pleasant. Margery sat near the grate, with Berty sound asleep on her knees; but Margery liked to hear stories as well as the children; so she sat there very still, with one of baby's feet in her hand.

Just opposite nurse, the lounge was drawn up, and there was Stuart with Lily snuggled down against his breast. Helen sat holding her cousin's hand, her curls floating over his shoulder, while her face was all smiles and expectation. Russell occupied a stool pushed up to Stuart's feet, so that one arm rested lovingly on his cousin's knee.

In the corner close by baby, Grandma Rawson sat in the easy-chair, her pale face, framed in beautiful white curls, looking very sweet and smiling.

Mamma was passing by the door, and stopped to view the pleasant scene within the room. She watched the dear children with their eyes fixed so eagerly on Stuart's face, and a keen pang of sorrow shot for one moment through her heart as she missed one precious lamb from the fold.

"How Stuart would have loved her!" she murmured, and with a sigh she passed on.



"RUSSELL," Stuart began, "do you remember telling Sarah yesterday morning that you didn't want your face washed,—it was no use? I'm going to tell you a true story about a boy who had his face washed, and what happened in consequence.

"Early last fall, on Sabbath morning, one of the teachers of our mission school was walking to St. Mary's Church, when she met a poor boy, who was rubbing his fist into his eyes. He had been crying, and rubbing his tears with his dirty hand had made his face look very badly indeed. But the lady, whose name was Allen, pitied him, and so she resolved to try and make him feel better.

"'Good morning, young friend,' she said, cheerfully. 'Are you taking a walk?'

"He looked at her, but did not answer.

"She held out her hand, smiling. 'Will you come with me to Sunday school?' she asked.

"Billy thought she looked very pleasant, so he nodded his assent, and they walked along. By and by they arrived at St. Mary's. Behind the church is a room for the mission school; and there Miss Allen led her young charge. I don't think you can guess what was the first lesson she gave him."

"About Adam and Eve in the garden," said Helen.

"No, 'bout God making the monkeys," exclaimed Russell.

"I guess she told him about the little baby in the manger," lisped Lily.

"No, none of these. She took him into a bath-room, where there were bowls with water flowing into them, and plenty of soap and clean towels at hand. There was a woman here, with her bonnet off, her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and a wide apron buttoned over her dress.

"She had just finished scrubbing one little fellow, and was waiting for another, as Miss Allen came in.

"'Oh, dear!' she exclaimed, as she saw Billy's face. 'Oh, what a sight!'

"She laughed as she took down from a nail a small mirror, and held it before the wondering boy.

"'Look sharp!' she exclaimed, good-humoredly, 'or you wont know yourself next time.' Then she turned to Miss Allen and said, 'There's one more jacket; shall I put it on him?'

"'Yes, and then send him to my class.'

"Poor Billy stood ready to cry as she left; but he had other things to attend to, for the woman turned a faucet, and the hot water began to pour into the boat-shaped tub; then, from another faucet, cold water, until by thrusting in her finger she found it was just right.

"Before he knew what she was about, Billy found himself stripped of his soiled, ragged clothes, and seated in the bath.

"Then began the scrubbing. It was evident Mrs. Varney was used to the business, and didn't mind a little spitting and spluttering when the soap got into the eyes and mouth. She rubbed on the soap wherever there was need of it, and then scrubbed with a vengeance.

"When his head and face and neck and ears were finished, Billy began to like it. It was a new and delightful feeling to sit there, and have the tepid water all around him. He thought Sunday school a tip-top thing, and wondered he had not heard of it before.

"Mrs. Varney generally talked all the time she was at work. You may be sure, she exclaimed a good deal when she saw a great red ridge across Billy's shoulders, and again when she saw his black feet.

"'Say, Billy,' she cried, 'were you ever washed in your life?'

"'No,' was the meek reply. 'I never know'd how good it felt; and then we don't have these things,' touching the tub, 'where I live.'

"By and by the boy was on his feet again, his face shining, and as clean as soap and water could make it. His eyes had done smarting long before this, and twinkled like two stars. His hair, which had been in one solid mat of tangled curls, was nicely combed, and lay, not smooth indeed, but in fine ringlets all over his head.

"Mrs. Varney was much pleased, and she stooped down and gave him a hearty kiss.

"'There, Billy,' she exclaimed, in a triumphant tone, again holding the mirror before him, 'look there, and tell me who that is, if you can; I guess you never see that boy afore.'

"Billy's eyes opened wider and wider. He looked at the clean white face and sparkling orbs with delight; but he did not feel at all acquainted with those features. Then he gazed down on his new jacket and laughed.

"Mrs. Varney laughed, too; but she knew by this time Miss Allen would be expecting her scholar; so she said, 'Come, I'll show you the way.'"



I CAN'T tell you how surprised Miss Allen was, when she found this was really Billy. She seated him among the scholars, by her side, and then gave him his second lesson.

"This was the story of the Saviour's love to little children. Billy sat with parted lips, and listened as if for his life.

"But I must hasten to tell you how the poor boy, after school was dismissed, found himself near his own home. He lived in what is called a tenement house, and in the one entry where he lodged there were, only think of it, ninety persons!

"On the Sabbath the men, and women too, were mostly out of doors, lounging in the dirty court. Now, as Billy entered it, the boys and girls stared at him in some surprise, thinking, of course, that he was a stranger.

"'Hollo!' at last shouted one fellow, 'it's our Bill! Look at him. What a prig! Oh! Oh!' And he laughed boisterously.

"Billy smiled quietly to himself, and, making his way through the door, started to run upstairs, when a woman called out,—

"'Who are ye after, if I may be so bold?'

"'It's Billy Foster, no mistake,' said another, 'but I can't tell what he's been doing to himself.'

"Billy's mother started to her feet when he entered. She stared at him with open mouth, not daring to speak until he said, laughing,—

"'Don't you know me, mother?'

"'And what has happened ye, Bill? Sure it's like a miracle ye are.'

"The boy eagerly related what had occurred, adding that he had promised to put aside his new jacket for Sunday wear.

"'Wait till I see will yer father know his own son,' she said; eagerly; 'sure I can't believe my own eyes.'

"Mr. Foster agreed with his wife, that it was little short of a miracle; but the next day the mother said,—

"'Feth, if soap and wather can do it for Billy, it can for Jack.' So she set to work, and washed and scrubbed all her children, greatly to the astonishment of the neighbors.

"'Sure and washing is a good thing,' she said to her husband, 'I'll be trying it on myself;' which she did. Then she argued that the room was not clean enough for such tidy looking folks; and when Mr. Foster came home at night from his wood-sawing, he saw her scouring the floor on her knees, the chairs being piled up on the bed.

"First her neighbor on the right, and then the neighbor on her left, imitated her example, until to the astonishment of the landlord, who came weekly for his rent, there was a gradual but thorough renovation of the place.

"It was astonishing how much more these poor people respected themselves, now that their persons and clothes and rooms were clean. Soon they began to ask themselves whether they, too, could not go to the mission school where Billy had been treated so kindly.

"All this was not done at once. It required a good deal of arguing on the part of Mrs. Foster to induce some of her lazy neighbors to commence a reformation, and Billy was called in from his play a great many times to describe the bath-room, the good nature of Mrs. Varney, and the kindness of the pretty lady in the school, before they would consent to follow so good an example.

"Miss Allen had thought often of Billy, and resolved to visit him in his home, not dreaming of all the changes wrought there by the sight of his clean, fresh face.

"She set out early Sunday morning, and was delighted to find Billy's two brothers and one sister ready to accompany her to the school.

"I cannot stop to tell you all the particulars," said Cousin Stuart, smiling, "for Lily is growing very sleepy; but I will say that Billy's clean face was the means of leading thirty persons, men, women, and children, to the mission school, where they learned to love the Saviour."

"That's a nice story," exclaimed Helen, "I wish mamma had heard it."

"I think so, too," said grandma. "I should like to see Billy."



WHEN the buds began to swell, the crocuses to push their bright-colored blossoms out of the ground, and the golden robins to sing, mamma said it was time for the little ones to be in the country. The Rector did not say nay, though he must stay a good many weeks longer to take care of his parish.

The children began to dance and clap their hands at the idea of going to the farm where they always had such a happy time, where there was plenty of nice milk and cream, and, in the summer, fruit and berries in abundance.

Mamma and Sarah were often now in earnest consultation about the packing. There were calls to make, too, and shopping for the summer; so the month of May was a busy time at the rectory, you may be sure.

Early in June, when the roses were in bloom, and the peach trees were garlanded with their beautiful blossoms, the transit was made, and one evening after a very tedious journey of over two hundred miles, our travellers found themselves in their summer home by the sea.

And now the happy days commenced, and life seemed one long dream of innocent enjoyment.

Aunt Josephine, with Ida, Rose, Forrest, and baby, came a few days later, then grandma, Russell, and Aunt Mary, so that there was a large company to be merry with. And then there was the pleasure of expecting the two papas, who came for a day or two now and then.

On the lawn in front of the spacious mansion, there was a game of croquet, which in fine weather occupied both old and young for many an hour; while for the little ones a long, unfinished hall over the shed was the scene of daily frolics.

Russell, who had declared himself a candidate for orders, built a pulpit at one end, which was really quite an ingenious affair. In this, he officiated as minister nearly every day in the week. Here, too, they kept store, played "come and see," or rolled hoop in rainy weather.

Out of doors, the chickens, the lambs, and the pony were unfailing sources of delight. Star, indeed, was a very important character. He was of a light sorrel color, with a white spot in his forehead, from which he received his name. The pony was the especial property of Master Forrest, a lad of twelve, the oldest of all the cousins.

Uncle George, his papa, thought him too old to spend all his summer in play, so he bought a working-cart for Star, and sent the boy out occasionally to labor with the hired men.

There was also a pony carriage, in which four of the cousins rode regularly to church.

I suppose some little girls and boys will inquire whether Helen, Ida, and Forrest studied any in those bright days. To be sure they did, though the lessons were short. When the trunks were packed, Sarah put in Helen's books, "just so that she sha'n't forget all she knows," mamma said.

In the winter she had been studying very hard, and was getting on finely. Now she had a short lesson in geography, history, and French; and Ida recited with her.

Forrest recited, too, to his mamma; but his delight was to get a new book, when he would seat himself in the midst of the children and devour it. They might talk, and laugh, and sing, and shout; but he heard nothing.

Forrest was a manly boy, rather grave and reserved, quite unlike his Cousin Russell, who was always ready for any kind of fun.



I wish my little readers could see Lily and Rose, and how merrily the days passed with them; or that I had time to tell you more of Russell and Berty, at their boyish plays in the hall. But I must hasten to give you an account of an August tree, and the celebration that accompanied it.

The little folks—there were nine in all—had been very good through the long warm days, and the two mammas were quite willing to afford them any reasonable pleasure.

So, when, one morning, Russell said, "Oh, I wish it was Christmas!"

And Helen answered, "We can have an August tree, as well as a Christmas tree."

A ready consent was given to her earnest request.

The plan was at last arranged; a beautiful spruce tree brought from the woods; and then Aunt Josey wrote tiny notes inviting the guests.

There were the farmer and his wife and family, the carpenter and the painter, with their families, all dependents of the great house; each must come to the August tree, have his or her present, and stay to the big supper.

What a busy time that was, and how earnestly the children consulted in regard to suitable gifts, and the decorations of their tree! In the kitchen what a clatter of dishes and of tongues, beating of eggs and sugar! Russell, who seemed to be everywhere, ran at last to announce the fact that the cake had come out of the oven and smelled real good.

The day so long and eagerly anticipated came at last, and at an early hour the children's voices rung through the house.

The guests had all signified their pleasure at the invitation, and their resolution to be "on hand." The celebration was to be in the afternoon; but the little folks had enough to do to keep themselves busy till about eleven. After this, the hours lagged terribly. Russell thought the clock had stopped, and Helen said, earnestly,—

"I do wish two o'clock would come."

Frank Follen, the farmer's boy, came first, dressed in his Sunday suit, with his face scrubbed till it shone. Then Mr. Pratt, the carpenter, made his appearance, followed by his entire family; and after this, not ten minutes elapsed before every guest had been ushered into his or her seat.

The tree having been greatly admired, the company were requested to go downstairs and stand under the window.

This made a good deal of laugh; even the Rector was observed to grow quite red in the face; but, under Master Russell's excellent management, the request was carried out.

Ida and Helen then took the gift from the tree, called out the name of the one to receive it, and began to let it down by a cord tied to a basket.

This part of the entertainment consumed nearly an hour, but was enjoyed amazingly.

Mr. Follen handled the little necktie, which fell to him, as daintily as if it had been china, saying with a laugh,—

"I shall think a heap of this ere, Miss Helen."

When the presentations were over, the guests were invited to the dining-room, where the children waited on them.

Everybody had a good time, and were loud in their praises of the August tree.

At an early hour the children went to bed, weary, it is true, but happy in the consciousness that they had made others so; while the two papas and mammas rejoiced that their children so early showed a disposition to contribute to the comfort of those about them, and especially that in all their plays they remembered the apostle's injunction, "Be kindly affectioned one to another."