Слике страница
PDF
ePub

It is a delicate question ; it is one which involves the life-long happiness of a woman, and that of nearly twothirds of a man, and I feel that it would be assuming too great a responsibility to do more than make a mere suggestion in the case. How would it do to build to him? If Aurelia can afford the expense, let her furnish her mutilated lover with wooden arms and wooden legs, and a glass eye ind a wig, and give him another show; give him ninety days, without grace, and if he does not break his neck in the meantime, marry him and take the chances. It does not seem to me that there is much risk, any way, Aurelia because if he sticks to his infernal propensity for damaging himself every time he sees a good opportunity, his next experiment is bound to finish him, and then you are all right, you know, married or single. If married, the wooden legs and such other valuables as he may possess revert to The widow, and you see you sustain no actual loss save the cherished fragment of a noble but most unfortunate husband, who honestly strove to do right, but whose extraordi'gary instincts were against him. Try it, Maria! I have thought the matter over carefully and well, and it is the only chance I see for you. It would have been a happy conceit on the part of Caruthers if he had started with his neck and broken that first; but since he has seen fit to choose a different policy, and string himself out as long as possible, I do not think we ought to upbraid him for it if he has enjoyed it. We must do the best we can under the circumstances, and try not to feel exasperated at him.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE.-MARGARET E. SANGSTER.

open wide,

Our darling little Florence, our blessing and our pride,
With dimpled cheeks, and golden hair, and brown eyes
To look at every pretty thing, came flying in to me:
“O please,” she pleaded earnestly, “I want a Christmas

tree.” KWho put that in your head, my dear? There's one at

Sunday-school, And you will see its laden boughs with lovely presents full." "Yes," said the child, “but I would like one of my very own. And I will ask my company to come; myself alone. “I had a dream last night; I seemed out in the woods to be, And growing up right in the snow I saw a splendid tree; Two little angels hovered near, and while I watched they

spread Their fairy wings, and seemed to make a curtain o'er my

head. "The tree was shining like the stars, with tapers burning

bright, And happy faces seemed to glow around it in the night; The little angels talked and talked; they said: “This is the

tree That we've been keeping beautiful for Florence dear to see. "We'll lift it clear, we'll bear it far, we'll take it to her

door, The prettiest, greenest Christmas tree, we'll set it on her

floor, And if she asks the guests she ought we'll linger there and

sing, Our voices blending in with theirs, as cheerily they ring.'” "A lovely dream, indeed," I said ; but whom will you invite? We'll find a tree quite easily, and star its boughs with light; But baby is not old enough to have her playmates come, And yours are all engaged, my love, each in her own bright

home.” "I thought I'd go to Bridget's house, and ask her little

Kate, And that bare-footed boy who sells us matches at the gate, And we will dress them up with shoes and stockings to

begin, And give them presents; I will put all my own money in. “You only ought to see the doll poor Kate thinks so superb, Its dingy face is just as brown as some old bunch of herb, And all the sawdust's pouring out its broken arm, and yet She loves it, and considers it a beauty and a pet. * Poor Johnny has no mother. His feet are bare and blue, And his eyes have such a hungry look when he dares to I think it would be sweet to give a bit of Christmas joy And happiness—don't you-to such a little lonely boy ?” Well, children have their way with me, and Florence has

a way That is so free from selfishness, so gentle and so gay,

look at you,

EEEE

We love to please her; that's the truth. We helped her

all we could, And half a dozen little guests around the tree there stood. Its branches hung with goiden fruit, dolls and dishes and

drums, Elephants, horses, and woolly dogs, and boxes of sugar

plums; A trumpet was given to Johnny that terribly frightened the

cat. And the top of his Christmas was crowned when we gave

him a soldier hat. Our baby was charmed with a rattie, and for Florence's

dainty self Was a music box that played sweet tunes from its niche on

a rosewood shelf; And Katie brooded over her doll in a sort of motherly rap

ture, Holding it close, lest a ruthless hand its form from her grasp

should capture ; And Bridget's joliy, half-moon face beamed over the happy The tree was a tree to be glad about, and Florence felt like

a queen. For somehow, not only for Christmas, but all the long year

through, The joy that you give to others is the joy that comes back And the more you spend in blessing the poor, the lonely:

and sad, The more to your heart's possessing, returns to make you glad.

scene

to you;

ENJOYMENT OF THE PRESENT.-R. C. TRENCH.
We live not in our moments or our years.-
The present we fling from us as the 'rind
Of some sweet future, which we after find
Bitter to taste, or bind that in with fears,
And water it beforehand with our tears-
Vain tears for that which never may arrive;
Meanwhile the joy whereby we ought to live
Neglected or unheeded disappears.
Wiser it were to welcome and make ours
Whate'er of good, though small, the present brings-
Kind greetings, sunshine, song of birds, and flowers,
With a child's pure delight in little things;
And of the griefs unborn to rest secure,
Knowing that mercy ever will endure.

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY LEAVING THE YORKSHIRE

SCHOOL.-CHARLES DICKENS. (AS CONDENSED FOR READING BY THE AUTHOR.) As time passed away, the poor creature Smike paid bitterly for the friendship of Nicholas Nickleby; all the spleen and ill-humor that could not be vented on Nicholas were bestowed on him. Stripes and blows, stripes and blows, stripes and blows, morning, noon, and night, were his penalty for being compassionated by the daring new master. Squeers was jealous of the influence which the said new master soon acquired in the school, and hated him for it; Mrs. Squeers had hated him from the first; and poor Smike paid heavily for all.

One night he was poring hard over a book, vainly en1deavoring to master some task which a child of nine years old could have conquered with ease, but which to the brain of the crushed boy of nineteen was a hopeless mystery.

Nicholas laid his hand upon his shoulder. "I can't do it."

“Do not try. You will do better, poor fellow, when I am gone."

“Gone! Are you going ?” “I cannot say. I was speaking more to my own thoughts 1. han to you. I shall be driven to that at last! The world iy before me, after all.”

"Is the world as bad and disnal as this place ?”

“Heaven forbid! Its hardest, coarsest toil is happiness to this." “Should I ever meet you there ?"

Yes,”—willing to soothe him. “No, no! Should I-should I Say I should be sure to find you.”

" You would, and I would help and aid you, and not bring fresh sorrow on you, as I have done here."

The boy caught both his hands, and uttered a few broken sounds which were unintelligible. Squeers entered at the moment, and he shrunk back into his old corner.

Two days later, the cold, feeble dawn of a January morning was stealing in at the windows of the common sleeping

[ocr errors]

room, when Nicholas, raising himself on his arm, looked among the prostrate forms in search of one.

Now, then,” cried Squeers, from the bottom of the stairs, are you going to sleep all day up there--" “ We shall be down directly, sir.”

“Down directly! Ah! you had better be down directly, or I'll be down upon some of you in less time than directly. Where's that Smike?”

Nicholas looked round again.
“Ile is not here, sir.”
“Don't tell me a lie. He is."
“He is not. Don't tell me one."

Squeers bounced into the dormitory, and swinging his cane In the air ready for a blow, darted into the corner where Smike usually lay at night. The cane descended harmlessly. There was nobody there.

“What does this mean? Where have you hid him ?” “I have seen nothing of him since last night.”

Come, you won't save him this way. Where is he ?" “At the bottom of the nearest pond for anything I know.” “D-n you, what do you mean by that ?”

In a fright, Squeers inquired of the boys whether any one of them knew anything of their missing schoolmate.

There was a general hum of denial, in the midst of which one shrill voice was heard to say (as indeed everybody thought):

“Please, sir, I think Smike's run away, sir." “Ha! who said that ?"

Squeers made a plunge into the crowd, and caught a very little boy, the perplexed expression of whose countenance, as he was brought forward, seemed to intimate that he was uncertain whether he was going to be punished or rewarded for his suggestion. He was not long in doubt. “You think he has run away, do you,

sir?" · Yes, please, sir.”

“And what reason have you to suppose that any boy would want to run away from this establishment? Eh ?"

The child raised a dismal cry by way of answer, and Squeers beat him until he rolled out of his hands. He mercifully allowed him to roll away.

« ПретходнаНастави »