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school. It is very interesting. There is no harm in reading it, is there, mother?”
Perhaps you might be more profitably employed,” returned their mother; “ but I can tell you better when I have heard the story.”
“ Well, mother,” said Mary, looking up in her turn, we are almost at the end. Let us finish these two or three pages if you please, and then we will go. We can tell you the story as we go along."
" Very well, girls," said their mother; “I will help Emily dress her doll, for she seems quite delighted with her new playmate." Emily brought her doll to her mother, who, entering with all a parent's sympathy into the feelings of her child, dressed the little image with much taste, and then giving it to Emily, she sat by while she rocked it to sleep in the cradle.
“We are ready now,” said her two elder children, as they laid aside their book ;
we have finished the story, dear mother, and now for our walk, if you please.”
It was a lovely afternoon in the early part of summer, and all nature was full of beauty. Mrs. Maxwell left the house, having Emily by the hand, while Mary and Julia, with their arms around each other, sauntered on before.
Mrs. Maxwell had long been a widow, and her four children were the strong ties which bound her to earth. Dear, both for their own sakes, and for that of their departed parent. She had devoted herself entirely to their education and happiness amply repaid by the blessings which seemed to follow her efforts, and by the fond affection which they ever manifested for her and for each other. Often had they listened while their mother described to them the happiness of heaven, and told them how much of it consisted in kind feelings and affectionate intercourse among its bright inhabitants. Often had they heard her speak of their Creator, and tell them that their God is Love, and if they were His children they must manifest His spirit. And still oftener had their young eyes glistened with mournful, though pleasant tears, as she dwelt upon the love of Christ-in suffering and dying, for the guilty race of man.
With this bright example of love and forgiveness before them, Mrs. Maxwell's children seemed, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, gradually to attain so much of the Christian grace of gentleness; and though they, like all other children, would do wrong too often, yet they generally came to their mother and with tears of penitence confessed their faults, and while with grateful hope Mrs. Maxwell watched these fair promises of improvement, she was encouraged by them to more ardent prayer, and more earnest effort.
Edward, her only son and oldest child, was now about sixteen, and had been for some months at a boarding school near by. His kind and affectionate temper made him beloved by all who knew him, and filled his mother's heart with joy, while his sisters doated upon the dear, kind brother, who never teased them, never was out of patience; but was always ready to help them in every troubleand really seemed to find greater pleasure in making them happy, than in the gratification of any wish of his own. This influence was always exerted for their good, and when Edward spoke to them of the joy of doing what was right, and being able to look to God as their Father, they often breathed in
hearts an earnest prayer, for the help of His Holy Spirit.
Little Emily, who was only six years old, was almost too young to give any token of understanding what her brother said on these subjects. Yet when, upon a Sunday afternoon, he would take the Bible, and showing her the pictures, explain their meaning, Emily would listen with deep interest, and utter a childish promise to “ try and be good." After having thus shown how Edward conducted
himself, I need hardly add, that he himself sought daily, earnestly and perseveringly the help of the Holy Spirit-for true goodness is the fruit of His influence alone. There was nothing he desired so ardently as to do right, nothing which filled his heart with so much bitter regret as doing wrongand every day while he sought for temporal blessings, and asked for protection against temporal evils, his most fervent prayer was always uttered for the
grace of God to keep him from sin, and aid him in knowing the truth and walking in the path of duty.
Mary and Julia when they found the book they had noticed in Edward's trunk, left on the parlour table, had taken it up to look at it, and becoming soon deeply interested, had read on, believing their mother would not be unwilling that they should read any book that Edward might have in his possession. This was not a fair inference, for Edward being several years older than themselves, with a character far more mature and steadfast, and with a taste for useful reading, might well have been trusted with books that his sisters would be unwise to read. They did not know that their brother had borrowed this book merely to take a sketch of the engravings, while he had scarcely glanced at the stories which filled its pages, or they would have followed their usual plan of taking every book to their mother, and asking her permission. What might have been the result in this case I will not undertake to say—but in the present instance they had read the story with the deepest interest, and were talking it eagerly over as they pursued their walk.
They had opened a little gate and entered into the cool thick wood, where the birds were flitting among the boughs, singing their sweet songs. Passing on through the wood, they followed the narrow but well trodden path which led them to the banks of a beautiful pond. Here the trees became somewhat scattered, shading without encumbering a soft verdant lawn, which sloped down to the water's edge. This was the spot where they often passed one or two pleasant hours of a summer's afternoon, and even little Emily knew it well. Quitting her mother's side, with a light heart and smiling face, she ran to pick some flowers which grew wild at the foot of a fine old tree, and was soon busily occupied in chasing a butterfly that flew by her again and again, while all her efforts to catch the bright winged creature were in vain. Mrs. Maxwell seated herself at the foot of a wide-spreading old oak.
“Well, mother," said Mary, “we have been