True heroism

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









Armed only with a stick, he went straight up to the bear

and commenced belabouring her.








A. L. O. E.








London:                        Edinburgh:


































"TIRESOME—how tiresome! another rainy day!" cried Tom Gore, turning impatiently from the window.

"Pretty sort of holidays these are, truly," muttered Louis. "One cannot get out for five minutes for a walk, but back one is driven by a shower! Here's the last day of our Easter holidays, and not one—no, not one fair day have we enjoyed."

"Except Sunday," suggested Jessy.

"Oh! Sunday—I did not count Sunday. But what are we to make of ourselves all this long morning?"

"Let's have games," suggested merry little Julia.

"What games? We're tired of all."

"And we must have nothing that is noisy, on account of old Mrs. Presgrave! No fun! I shall almost be glad to get back to school again," cried Louis, "we are so moped up here!"

For want of something better to do, Willy, quietly seated in the corner, was cutting a round hole in his drum; a box of paints lay on the table, with which Bella had been daubing, certainly not adorning, the plates in the last book which her uncle had given her. There was a broken draughts-board under the table, but half of the draughtsmen were lost, and Tom and Louis, who had taken to chess, were beginning to quarrel over the game.

"I'll move there—check!" cried the former, putting down his queen with an air of triumph.

In a moment an ambushed red knight pounced down upon the square, and the white queen was in the hand of Louis.

"I'll take back that move. I did not see."

"Oh! But your hand was off!" shouted Louis. "That's not fair!"

"It's all fair!" cried the boy, reddening with excitement, and holding his trophy behind him. In a moment sport would have been exchanged for anger—perhaps for blows—when the door was gently opened, and an aged gentleman with silvery hair, and a stoop which told of years and weakness, but a bright cheerful smile, like sunshine in winter, entered the room and joined the party. In a moment the angry voices were stilled, young Willy pushed aside his drum, Bella sprang from the table, and all joyfully welcomed the old man.

"What are you all doing? How are you all amusing yourselves, my young friends?" he said, after a short pause, without appearing to notice the sounds of strife which had attracted him to the room.

"Doing, uncle? Why, nothing," said little Julia, running to him, and gently leading him to his armchair. It may be remarked, by the way, that all the children addressed Mr. Presgrave as uncle, though Tom and Willy alone were his nephews, the rest of the young people now at Ivy Lodge being on a visit to the family.

Perhaps my young reader would like to be introduced to the little party now assembled in the play-room together. That tall boy with the dark eyes, and nut-brown complexion, and large heavy frame, is Tom; and there is his more lithe and active brother Willy, with his great earnest eyes now open wide with attention, now sparkling with merriment and fun. Julia Merton is their cousin, an only child, but one who finds brothers and sisters in every boy and girl who knows her. Her smile tells of a light and joyous spirit, a cheerfulness not readily to be damped, a temper not easily provoked—she is the darling and plaything of all.

Bella, the young poetess, who writes sonnets on Leonidas; the fiery Louis; and quicksilver Amy, to whom the worst penance is to have to sit still—these, with blue-eyed, kind-hearted, dull-headed Jessy, delighted to escape from a schoolroom in London, had come to Ivy Lodge in the beginning of the week, for change of air and the pleasures of the country. There remains but one of the party to be mentioned, Percy Manners, a schoolfellow and companion of the Gores—a sickly youth, stunted in his growth, and supported on crutches, whose chief pleasure appeared to be a quiet corner and a book. He was buried in the recess of one of the windows, with the curtain drawn before him to screen him from view, till the entrance of Mr. Presgrave drew him from his retirement, and he gathered with the others around the old man.

Mr. Presgrave was the uncle of Tom and Willy's mother. He had been as a parent to her in the days of her youth, and now, in his old age, he and his invalid wife were the beloved inmates of her home. Mr. Presgrave had passed through a long pilgrimage in this world, with his eyes steadily fixed upon a better. Religion to him was a thing of reality, not confined to the Sabbath or the hour of prayer, but a living principle that governed his life, that was seen in his actions and known by his words—nay, that left its calm imprint even on his countenance, which few could behold without loving.

"Doing nothing!" exclaimed the old gentleman, slowly seating himself, and looking round upon the party. "Why, that is the most tedious occupation that I know of!"

"Why, uncle, we've nothing to do," replied Louis. "We had expected to have got out, and to have had cricket, and trap-ball, and kite-flying; but this horrible weather—"

"Hush! my boy," said Mr. Presgrave gently. "I never like to hear any one abuse the weather; it is the Almighty's sending, and of what He sends, man has no right to complain. But," added he in a more lively tone, "I find you all in a difficulty from which I am bound to try to relieve you, for if 'idleness is the mother of mischief,' she is also the parent of a large family of other evils. Can you name to me any of her sons and daughters?"

"Gossip," said Bella.

"Discontent," added Willy.

"Fighting and quarrelling," whispered little Julia.

"Now, knowing the evil, let us find out the remedy."

"O uncle! Do tell us one of your long stories!" At these words of Julia's there rose a little storm of entreaties, for Uncle Presgrave was famous for his tales and adventures.

He waved his hand to command silence, and replied: "By all means let us have stories, but you would not have me begin one now at ten o'clock in the morning! We will have them in the evening, and in the meanwhile, as a cure for idleness, why should you not each prepare one yourselves? You shall be given a common subject, and each shall collect an anecdote or a tale, to add to the amusement of the rest."

"A capital plan!" cried Bella and Louis, clapping their hands; the rest of the party had a more doubtful expression on their countenances, except poor Percy, who smiled at the idea of an amusement in which his infirmity would not prevent his joining.

"I should not mind trying," said Louis, "if I might have the choosing of the subject. I know a capital story of heroism—suppose that we fix upon that."

"That may suit you, Louis, as you wish to be a soldier, but what have we girls to do with it?" said Amy, who had often been laughed at for her want of the quality in question.

"I see no objection to the subject," observed Mr. Presgrave cheerfully, "if the rest of the party agree. So little is fighting a necessary mark of heroism, that we may banish it from our stories altogether, and yet have no difficulty in selecting examples. I should not be much surprised either," added he, smiling at Amy, "if some of these examples should be afforded by women."

"Are our stories to be true ones?" asked Jessy.

"Oh! I hope they are to be true!" cried Julia, "for I never could make anything out of my own head!"

"True let them be, my little lamb," said Mr. Presgrave, patting her rosy cheek. "I like everything better for being true."

"Shall we give real names? Perhaps our heroes might not like it," observed Willy thoughtfully.

"Well considered, my boy. I know few things so odious as spreading tales and reports of others; but as in this case the anecdotes will all be favourable to their heroes, I think that, without scruple, we may give their real names."

"But," said Julia, "must we keep so very close to truth in our stories, and not alter them in the very least bit? Perhaps we have heard them but once ourselves, and do not remember them quite exactly."

"Or we wish to make our story more striking, by dressing it up a little," added Bella. "We may want to say that our hero wore a purple cloak, when we do not know whether it was purple or black, or whether he wore a cloak at all."

"Oh! My poetical young lady, since you have given us fair warning, you may dress up your heroes in any way that you please, only let your facts be correct. But oh! Remember," he added very earnestly, "that when you profess to repeat exact truth, no changing should ever be permitted. The exaggerated description to heighten effect, words put into mouths that never have spoken them, these are all wanderings from the straight line of truth, and lead the mind insensibly to error and falsehood."

"Will you be present at the reading of our stories, Uncle Presgrave?" said Julia, looking up in his face.

"I will read them myself, if you will permit me, and make my observations upon them as we go along."

"Then we are sure to have profit as well as amusement," murmured Percy. They were the first words that the lame boy had uttered since breakfast, and now, seeming half-ashamed at having let his voice be heard, he retired to his recess in the window, to meditate upon the story that he was to write.









IT was a busy day to the children at Ivy Lodge; not one felt the time pass wearily. Even quicksilver Amy had been quiet for awhile, as she sat with knitted brows biting the end of her pencil.

Old Mrs. Presgrave had not been startled once by the sound of a sudden shout or a heavy fall, and volumes were drawn from their corners in the bookcase by hands that seldom had opened books but from necessity. Mrs. Gore had found it difficult to proceed in her needle-work, so numerous were the interruptions from the literary juveniles. Thrice had she to rise to search for books, and ten times to stop to mend a pen, innumerable were the applications for aid in spelling; and when at last the young party assembled after dinner, Willy's story was written on cream-tinted paper, in the hand of his indulgent mother.

Jessy needed a copy-book—Julia ruled lines—every inkstand in the house was in requisition, and Louis and Tom, disputing over theirs, managed to upset it between them. At length, however, the last page was written, poor Jessy bringing up the rear; and, some neat, some blotted, some long, some short, the stories were placed in the hand of Mr. Presgrave.

Little Julia had drawn a footstool for his feet, had patted up his cushion with her plump little hands, and picked up the spectacle-case thrown down by Tom. Then slowly the "silver eyes" were adjusted in their proper place—quiet succeeded to the hum of voices, a smile of expectation was in every face, and as Julia seated herself at the old man's feet, in a clear, distinct voice he began:


Jessy's Tale.



"JAMES MAXWELL, a native of Stirlingshire, was pilot of a fine steam-vessel called the 'Clydesdale,' sailing between the Clyde and the west coast of Ireland. And one evening, after setting out on the voyage across the Channel, with between seventy and eighty passengers, Maxwell became sensible, at intervals, of the smell of fire, and wont about anxiously endeavouring to discover whence it originated. On communicating with the master, he found that he too had perceived it; but neither of them could form the least conjecture as to where it arose. A gentleman passenger also observed this alarming vapour, which alternately rose and passed away, leaving them in doubt of its being a reality. About eleven o'clock at night this gentleman went to bed, confident of safety; but while Maxwell was at the helm, the master ceased not an instant to search from place to place, as the air became more and more impregnated with the odour of burning timber."

"At last he sprung up on deck, exclaiming, 'Maxwell, the flames have burst out at the paddle-box!'"

"James calmly inquired, 'Then shall I put about?'"

"Turner's order was to proceed. Maxwell struck one hand upon his heart, as he flung the other above his head, and with uplifted eyes uttered, 'O God Almighty! enable me to do my duty! and O God! Provide for my wife, my mother, and my child!'"

"Whether it was the thoughts of the dreadful nature of the Galloway coast, girded as it is with perpendicular masses of rock, which influenced the master in his decision to press forwards, we cannot tell. But as there was only the wide ocean before and around them, the pilot did not long persist in this hopeless course. He put the boat about, sternly subduing every expression of emotion, and standing with his eyes fixed on the point for which he wished to steer. The fire, which the exertions of all the men could not keep under, soon raged with ungovernable fury, and keeping the engine in violent action, the vessel, at the time one of the fleetest that had ever been built, flew through the water with incredible speed. All the passengers were gathered to the bow, the rapid flight of the vessel keeping that part clear of the flames, while it carried the fire, flames, and smoke backwards to the quarter-gallery, where the self-devoted pilot stood like a martyr at the stake. Everything possible was done by the master and crew to keep the place on which he stood deluged with water; but this became every moment more difficult and more hopeless; for, in spite of all that could be done, the devouring fire seized the cabin under him, and the spot on which he stood immovable became intensely heated. Still, still the hero never flinched!"

"At intervals, the motion of the wind threw aside the intervening mass of flame and smoke for a moment, and then might be heard exclamations of hope and gratitude as the multitude on the prow got a glimpse of the brave man standing calm and fixed on his dreadful watch!"

"The blazing vessel, glaring through the darkness of night, had been observed by the people on shore, and they had assembled on the heights adjoining an opening in the rocks about twelve yards wide; and there, by waving torches and other signals, did their best to direct the crew to the spot. The signals were not misunderstood by Maxwell, whose feet were already roasted on the deck! The fierce fire still kept the engine in furious action, impelling the vessel onwards; but this could not have lasted above another minute; and during the interval, he ran her into the open space, and alongside a ledge of rock, upon which every creature got safe on shore—all unscathed, except the self-devoted one, to whom all owed their lives! Had he flinched for a minute they must all have perished."

"What would not any or all of them have given, when driving over the wide sea in their flaming prison, to the man who would have promised them safety? But when this heroic man had accomplished the desperate undertaking, did the gratitude of this multitude continue beyond the minute of deliverance? We believe it did not! One man exclaimed, 'There is my trunk—I am ruined without it: five pounds to whoever will save it!' Maxwell could not hesitate in relieving any species of distress. He snatched the burning handle of the trunk, and swung it on shore, but left the skin of his hand and fingers sticking upon it—a memorial which might have roused the gratitude of the most torpid savage! But he who offered the reward forgot to pay it to one who could not and would not ask of any one on earth."

"As might have been expected, Maxwell's constitution, though very powerful, never recovered the effects of that dreadful burning. Indeed, it required all the skill and enthusiasm of an eminent physician under whose care he placed himself to save his life. Though the flames had not actually closed round him as he stood on his awful watch, yet such was the heat under him and around him, that not only, as we have said, were his feet severely burnt, but his hair, a large hair-cap, and huge dreadnought watch-coat, which he wore, were all in such a state from the intense heat, that they crumbled into powder on the least touch. His handsome athletic form was reduced to the extremest emaciation; his young face became ten years older during that appalling night, and his hair changed to gray."

"A subscription for the unfortunate pilot was set on foot among the gentlemen of Glasgow some time after the burning. On this occasion the sum of a hundred pounds was raised, of which sixty pounds were divided between the master and pilot, and the remainder given to the sailors."

"Notwithstanding his disabilities, James was fortunately able, after an interval, to pursue his occupation as a pilot; but owing to a weakness in his feet, caused by the injuries they had received, he fell, and endured a severe fracture of the ribs. The value, however, in which he was held by his employers, on account of his steady and upright character, caused them, on this occasion, to continue his ordinary pay during the period of his recovery."

"After this event, James entered the service of another company (Messrs. Thomson and McConnell), conducting a steam-shipping communication between Glasgow and Liverpool, by whom, notwithstanding the enfeebled state of his body and broken health, he was (as how could such a man be otherwise!) esteemed as a valuable servant."

"In the year 1833 the case of this hero in humble life was noticed in 'Chambers's Edinburgh Journal,' and roused a very general sympathy in his favour. The subscriptions in his behalf were at this time of material service in enabling him to support his family; but misfortunes, arising out of his enfeebled condition, afterwards pressed upon him, and another subscription was made for his relief in 1840. James did not live to reap the full benefit of this fresh act of public benevolence and respect; and shortly after his decease his wife also died. Enough of money was realised to aid in rearing and educating the younger children of this excellent individual, who deserved so well of his country."


"A very interesting story! Well done, Jessy!" cried the children.

"Oh! I deserve no credit at all," said she, colouring. "I confess that I copied every line almost out of 'Chambers's Journal.'"

"You have the credit of having chosen well," observed Willy.

"Might I suggest," said Mr. Presgrave, "that in reading our stories we should abstain from either praise or blame? The one might discourage, the other foster vanity, to which we are all but too prone."

"There is one thing in the story which I can hardly think true," exclaimed Amy; "and that is, that those whom the pilot had saved could ever be ungrateful to him!"

"Oh no!" cried Julia, clasping her hands, "after all that he had done, after all that he had suffered, when they sprang one by one on the safe firm shore, and felt the cool wind, and saw the vessel flaming upon the water, and knew themselves saved—saved! Oh! I should have thought that they would have poured out their whole hearts in thankfulness, and never have stopped showing their gratitude to their deliverer!"

"God grant that none of us may be equally ungrateful!" said Mr. Presgrave in a solemn tone of voice.

"O sir! O uncle!" exclaimed all the children at once.

"May not the burning vessel be considered as a type, an image of a world lost by sin, speeding on to death and destruction? The first spark that kindled the flames may have appeared small, but the evil spread, until the whole ship seemed destined to become a prey to the devouring element. What mattered it that the sky was clear above, what mattered it that no rocks opposed her course, how fearful was the fate of that doomed vessel, that carried the destroyer within herself with her!"

"I do not quite understand," said Julia timidly.

"Are there any here who have understood and can explain my meaning?" said the old man, glancing round him.

"I think so, sir," said Percy, after a pause. "The first spark was like the sin of Eve in the garden, which spread to all those who followed after her. The whole world, and all that were in it, were doomed to destruction, none could escape, for all had sinned, and 'the soul that sinneth it shall die;' but when nothing but ruin and death seemed before us—"

"Then," said Mr. Presgrave, "Mercy found a way for our escape! Sufferings beyond what mere man ever endured were borne for us, and for our salvation; and now the bright shore of heaven is before us, safety and bliss freely offered to all, to all who do not wilfully choose death rather than life, and remain in the burning vessel!"

"Are there any who would do that?" asked Jessy in surprise.

"I ask my young companions for a reply," said Mr. Presgrave. "Who are those who madly choose to remain behind and perish, when deliverance and safety are offered to them?"

"The covetous, the unforgiving, thieves, liars, Sabbath-breakers," were echoed on every side.

"And what should we have said to a man in that vessel who should have lingered when all else were leaving the ship, and while flames gained upon him every moment, resisted all entreaties with the careless reply, 'There is time enough yet to escape?'"

"I should have feared that he might grow giddy and unable to escape," replied Willy.

"Oh! my dear children, while yet there is time, seek the means of escape so mercifully provided for us! Remember that the straightest course to our haven is the only secure one; and oh! Never forget our deep debt of thankfulness to Him who gave life itself to redeem us from destruction!"







Bella's Tale.



"'THEY have not discovered him! Heaven be praised!' exclaimed the Queen of Scotland, as, after vainly searching the apartment in which she stood trembling, surrounded by her ladies, Robert Graham and his ruthless band hurried away to examine other parts of the palace."

"'Oh! how my heart throbbed,' cried the youngest of the maidens, 'when the murderer had his foot on the very plank which we had raised to let the king * down to his place of concealment!'"

"'Are they gone?' murmured a low voice which seemed to come from beneath them."

"'Oh! hush, my liege lord! Rest in safety and in silence—they are not distant—they may return—they—'"

"'Hark!' cried Catherine Douglas, with her finger on her lips, and there was a stillness like that of death in the circle. Then sounds wore heard in the distance, the heavy tread of many feet, the clanking of armour, and the terrified ladies caught the words, 'The vault! we have not searched the vault!'"

* James I., King of Scotland.

"The queen stood like a monument of terror, her quivering lips apart, her eyes wildly fixed, every drop of blood banished from her agonised face. 'They come!' she gasped forth."

"Catherine sprang to the door, and closed it in a moment against the approaching murderers."

"'Fix the iron bar across!' cried the Lady Margaret. 'Ere they can force its massive strength, assistance may arrive!'"

"'The bar!' exclaimed the ladies. 'The bar!'"

"'It is gone! We are lost!' cried Catherine. The tread of the murderers was at the door, a hand rudely grasped the lock without—stay, traitors, stay! There is yet a bar—a weak woman's arm is thrust across—Catherine Douglas has sacrificed herself for her king!

"O ruthless men! Can ye force a bloody entry. Should not devotion like hers form a firmer defence than bar of iron or brass! Who shall tell the terrors of that moment—that brief awful moment of unutterable agony? It yields—it breaks—the weak barrier of love—and the murderers force their way to their victim, over the senseless form of Catherine Douglas!"


"Did they kill the king?" inquired Willy.

"He died by the daggers of the traitors!" replied Bella. "You may read the whole account in the History of Scotland."

"And did the brave lady live with her poor broken arm?" inquired Julia, with tears in her eyes.

"I do not know—the history did not tell. If she lived, it must always have been a comfort to her to think that she had done all that she could!"

"This reminds me," said Mr. Presgrave, "of an incident in English history, perhaps equally touching, and not so well known. The life of Edwin, one of the most illustrious of our Saxon kings, was endangered by an assassin, who, armed with a poisoned dagger, gained admittance to his presence. This man began to deliver a fictitious message; in the midst of it, he clenched his dagger, and rushed upon the king. Lilla, the favourite minister of Edwin, perceived the danger, but had no shield to ward off the blow. The king was off his guard—the dagger was raised; with self-devoted loyalty, Lilla threw himself between his sovereign and the assassin, received the descending blow, and expired!"

"There is something noble and glorious in dying for one's king!" exclaimed Louis. "I could half envy such a death!"

"I have that feeling, too," said Bella. "But one has no chance in these days of doing anything that is wonderful or glorious!"

"But think of the danger and the pain," suggested Amy. "It is easy to talk of sacrifices, but difficult to make them."

"I believe that I could sacrifice life in a glorious cause!" replied the enthusiastic girl; and she said no more than she thought. "And if the eye of a king were upon me—think of that! What courage and strength it would give one!"

"It seems to me," observed Mr. Presgrave, "that in these days, as well as in times gone by, each true subject has not only a chance, but a necessity of doing something noble and glorious! There is no light struggle before us all—hate, selfishness, worldliness are at the door of each, but Faith must hold its firm bar across, and the eye of our King is upon us!"

"But what happens to children like us seems so small," replied Bella. "We know what is right, but we seem to want a motive for exertion to the utmost of our power."

"How can we want a motive, my dear child? The weakest child has an enemy to struggle with, more formidable than any power of man—his own traitorous heart. Angels witness the conflict—Heaven sends aid, and victory is—glory eternal!"

"Oh! When earth's hopes are brightest,
   Arm for the inward strife!
 With more than mortal foes thou fightest,
   And for more than life!"

Percy murmured, but so softly that only Jessy caught the words—"'He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.'"









"THIS, I think, must be my little Julia's story," said Mr. Presgrave, taking up a sheet of foolscap, neatly ruled, and covered with large round text.

"O uncle!" cried the child, laughing and blushing. "I am almost ashamed to give it in. I cannot write like the others—I never wrote anything so long before, and yet it will seem very short."

"You have done your best, my darling!" replied Mr. Presgrave, fondly passing his hand over her curly locks, "And no one can do any more. A short story may have a long moral, and so—let us proceed to your tale."

With good-natured smiles, and some little curiosity, the party listened to the story of the youngest in their circle, while Julia hid her merry little face on the knee of her Uncle Presgrave.


Julia's Tale.



"THERE was a fight between the English and the Russians. Cannons were roaring and bullets were flying, but the brave men on board the English ship 'Hecla' fought on, and were not afraid. All on a sudden, down fell a great bomb on the deck, all ready to blow up, and kill every one near it. A young seaman, called Lucas, caught hold of the bomb, lifted it, and flung it into the sea!"


"You see," said Julia, raising her head, "mine was a very short story. It took me a long time to write it, but you have read it all through in a minute!"

"It was a very nice little story, jewel—a very nice story!" cried the children, to not one of whom was it new.

"I think that we may draw a most valuable lesson from it," said Mr. Presgrave.

"Yes, to do what ought to be done at once, without stopping to hesitate or to doubt," observed Percy.

"True!" cried Louis. "For if Lucas had delayed but one minute, he would probably have been blown to pieces the next."

"Can any of you mention to me examples from Scripture of the danger of delay and hesitation?"

After a little pause, Percy replied, "I remember the example of Felix, the Roman governor, who trembled when St. Paul spoke to him of the judgment to come, but put off his repentance to a convenient season, and died, I fear, in his sins."

"And Lot's wife," said Willy, "who paused to look behind her, and was changed into a pillar of salt!"

"Was it not wrong in Eve to stop to listen to the serpent?" added little Julia, in an inquiring tone.

"You have all mentioned striking examples, my children. I believe that one of the most fatal errors of man is that of putting off till to-morrow the duty of to-day. I was much impressed by what I read in this valuable little book," he continued, laying his hand on a small work on the table entitled "COME TO JESUS." "I cannot refrain from giving you a short extract, as it bears upon the subject upon which we are conversing."

"On the narrow ledges of the steep cliffs of the Yorkshire coast, multitudes of sea-fowl lay their eggs, by gathering which some persons obtain a perilous livelihood. It once happened that a man, having fixed in the ground his iron bar, and having lowered himself down by the rope which was fastened to it, found that, in consequence of the edge of the cliff bending over the part below, he could not reach the narrow ledge where the eggs were deposited without swinging himself backwards and forwards. By this means, he, at last, placed his foot upon the rock, but in so doing, he lost his hold of the rope! His situation was most dreadful!"

"The sea roared hundreds of feet below! It was impossible to climb either up or down; he must soon perish from want, or be dashed to pieces on the rocks! The rope was his only way of escape. It was still swinging to and fro, but when it settled it would be out of his reach! Every time it approached him it was farther off than before. Every moment that he waited his danger increased! He made up his mind. The next time the rope swung towards him he sprang forwards, seized it, and reached the top in safety!"

"Sinner! Your salvation is farther off every moment you wait! Death will soon cast you down, but Jesus is near to save you! He invites you to lay hold on Him. It is your only hope. Grasp Him by Faith; you cannot miss your hold. He will hold you, and draw you up to heaven. But the difficulty and danger are greater every moment that you delay. Come to Jesus now!"





Amy's Tale.



"A LADY, named Miss Bird, on entering her bathroom one night during her residence in India, happened to place her foot on the head of a serpent. She did not yield to the natural impulse of fear, and start back, and so release the dangerous reptile. Firmly she pressed down her foot upon it. It coiled round her ankle, but she remained immovable! When the servants came with lights they found the heroic lady with a cobra capella lying dead at her feet!"


"Oh! What firmness she showed!" exclaimed Jessy. "I am sure that I should have started back and screamed the moment that I felt the slimy creature under my foot!"

"Then if the lesson taught by the last story was decision, the lesson taught by this must be perseverance," said Mr. Presgrave. "There are many who act upon prompt and noble impulse, who trample, as it were, on the sin that besets them, but fail when their trial is lengthened and tedious, when their courage has time to cool and their hope to flag. And we all need the apostle's exhortation—'Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.'"

"Ours must be a lifelong keeping down of the serpent," said Percy, rather as if thinking aloud than as if addressing himself to his companions. There was silence for a few moments in all the circle, and an expression of grave thought even on Julia's little face. Then Louis exclaimed—

"That story of persevering courage was such a short one, that I am sure that uncle ought to give us another; why, it was not any longer than Julia's."

"Oh! Give us another! Give us another!" cried the little people eagerly.

"That may not be so easy to do at a moment's notice," replied Mr. Presgrave, taking off his spectacles, however, which the children thought a sign that their request would be granted. He slowly rapped the table for a few moments with his fingers, passed his hand over his smooth forehead, and then, es if a thought had struck him, leaned back in his chair, and began.


Mr. Presgrave's Tale.



"It must now be forty years ago—yes, it was in the year 1814, when I was on a visit to some friends at St. Andrews—that, on one fearful wintry day, intelligence circulated through the place that a vessel had been driven on a sandbank in the bay to the east of the town. I remember that the news reached us as we sat round the table, by a blazing fire, enjoying a comfortable meal. In a minute the room was empty—cloaks and hats were snatched from their pegs, and we all hurried down to the beach."

"A crowd of sailors, citizens, and students were already assembled there; and what a sight presented itself to our view! The vessel had been cast ashore but a few hundred yards from the dry land, and she lay so near that, though the air was darkened by the driving sleet, we could see at intervals the fingers of the crew clinging to the ropes and spars as each billow broke over her side! What was to be done? How could aid be afforded? Must the sufferers perish before our eyes! The hardiest fishermen drew back, and dared not face the fearful surge. For myself, I knew not how to swim. I could only attempt to urge on others to do that which I yet feared was but throwing away life, and adding another victim to those before us!"

"At length I heard a murmur through the excited crowd: 'He will go—he has offered;' and pressing forwards I beheld John Honey, a young student of divinity, preparing to venture into the raging sea. Remember his name, and honour it, my children, though his reward is above the praise of man! Tying a rope round his waist, holding a knife between his teeth, and struggling through the surf, he threw himself into the waves! I, among others, grasped that rope, and watched with sickening anxiety the swimmer making his way through the sea! Each giant billow seemed as though it would dash him to destruction; his progress became more slow, he was growing faint we feared."

"'He will never reach the vessel!' we cried, and began to draw him back by the rope! But not so easily was his humanity foiled, or his perseverance baffled. Judge of our astonishment, our terror, when we felt the rope lightened of its weight, and pulled it on shore without resistance! The determined young hero had cut it away, and so severed his connection with the shore!"

"At last the joyful cry of 'He has reached it!' burst from the crowd, and I could myself distinguish the form of young Honey standing on the deck of the stranded vessel. It was but for a few minutes, then again we saw him spring into the billows, one larger than the rest soon landed him at our feet, and many hands grasped him, and many voices welcomed, as we aided his cold dripping fingers to unfasten a rope which he had borne with him from the ship."

"But the unhappy crew were too much exhausted to avail themselves of this slender bridge through the foaming waters. They had been four days without food, as we afterwards learned, and though the rope was firmly secured on shore, in vain we watched in hopes to see one of the sufferers venture upon it. Again young Honey plunged among the breakers, aiding himself by the rope. Again, he gained the vessel, and returned, pale, panting, but not alone! I will not lengthen my tale too much, nor describe how the crew, consisting of six men, were, one by one, safely landed on the beach—a shout of joy welcomed each arrival."

"There now remained but one human being on the sea-washed deck, and to him the student made his way. He was a boy, so helpless that we feared that he never could reach the shore alive! Loud shrieked the wind, and the roaring billow swept over the heads of the two, as they attempted to gain the land! Ha! There is now but one head visible, the exhausted child has been swept from his hold, he has let go the rope—'He is lost! He is lost!' we exclaimed."

"No, for a preserver was near him. Honey, whose philanthropy seemed to endow him with strength superhuman, dived for the boy, and with joy we again beheld them both clinging to the rope! Another tremendous wave—once more the feeble hands have been unable to retain their grasp, once more the student dives, rallying his exhausted powers for one last effort—then what shouts of joy and triumph ring along the shore, as the boy and his deliverer lie gasping on the strand!"


"O uncle! How glorious!" exclaimed Bella, clasping her hands.

"Is Honey living yet?—May we not see him one day?—Is he living?" cried the children.

"Yes, living, but not on earth. God grant that you may see him where there is no more danger, or suffering, or death! Though Honey survived that terrible day, we have reason to believe that in saving the lives of others, he had sacrificed his own. The seeds of a wasting, fatal malady had been sown in his breast by severe exposure and extreme exertion, and he passed from this world in the prime of his days, a martyr to humanity."

"But come," resumed Mr. Presgrave, after looking around him, and then glancing at his watch. "We must not go to the ladies with weeping eyes, and I see that we may soon expect a summons to the tea-table. We have concluded the stories of our dear little girls, and they have given us much food for reflection. The boys' we will reserve till after tea, when, perhaps, we may be joined by my dear niece and Mrs. Presgrave. But before we leave off, my young friends, let me ask—I would have you ask yourselves—what truths will you carry away with you from these tales, and our conversations over them? What is the honey that you have gathered from the flowers, the profit more enduring than the amusement of an hour?"

The sound of the tea-bell interrupted the old gentleman; his question we will leave to our readers to answer.









"YOURS looks a very long story, Tom," whispered Jessy, as, after tea, they all adjourned to the drawing-room again.

"Copied—all copied; I took that hint from you. It is much easier to write other people's words, and one is more certain to give the story all right."

"Who was your hero?"

"A brewer."

"A brewer! That is strange!"

"Oh! A brewer on a grand scale, and a member of Parliament. He was one who struggled hard to get justice done to poor slaves. You should read his life—the Life of Fowell Buxton; it is very interesting, at least the parts that I have read of it. I have only dipped into it here and there, but Percy has read it right through, I believe."

"Poor Percy! He cannot amuse himself like other boys, so he is doubly fond of his book."

Mrs. Gore opened her Tunbridge-ware box, and resumed her much interrupted work. Little Willy crept to his mother's side, and looked his thanks for all the trouble that she had taken for him, for he had dictated, not written his tale. Old Mrs. Presgrave was comfortably placed on the sofa, and the lamp carefully screened from her eyes; again the packet of papers was produced, and Mr. Presgrave read as follows, Fowell's own account of a perilous adventure:


Tom's Tale.



"As you must hear the story of our dog Prince, may as well tell it you."

"On Thursday morning, when I got on my horse at S. Hoare's, David told me that there was something the matter with Prince, that he had killed the cat, and almost killed the new dog, and had bit at him and Elizabeth. I ordered him to be tied up, and taken care of, and then rode off to town. When I got into Hampstead I saw Prince covered with mud, and running furiously, and biting at everything. I saw him bite at least a dozen dogs, two boys, and a man."

"Of course, I was exceedingly alarmed, being persuaded he was mad. I tried every effort to stop or kill him, or to drive him into some outhouse, but in vain. At last he sprang up at a boy, and seized him by the breast. Happily I was near him, and knocked him off with my whip. He then set off towards London, and I rode by his side, waiting for some opportunity of stopping him. I constantly spoke to him, but he paid no regard to coaxing or scolding. You may suppose I was seriously alarmed, dreading the immense mischief he might do, having seen him do so much in the few preceding minutes. I was terrified at the idea of his getting into Camden Town and London, and at length considering that if ever there was an occasion that justified a risk of life, this was it, I determined to catch him myself. Happily, he ran up to Pryor's gate, and I threw myself from my horse upon him, and caught him by the neck; he bit at me and struggled, but without effect ..."

"His struggles were so desperate that it seemed at first impossible to hold him, till I lifted him up in the air, when he was more easily managed, and I contrived to ring the bell. I was afraid that the foam which was pouring from his mouth, in his furious efforts to bite me, might get into some scratch and do me injury; so, with great difficulty, I held him with one hand, while I put the other into my pocket and forced on my glove; then I did the same with my other hand."

"And at last the gardener opened the door, saying, 'What do you want?'"

"'I've brought you a mad dog,' replied I, and telling him to get a strong chain, I walked into the yard, carrying the dog by his neck. I determined not to kill him, as I thought if he should prove not to be mad, it would be such a satisfaction to the three persons whom he had bitten."

"I made the gardener (who was in a terrible fright) secure the collar round his neck, and fix the other end of the chain to a tree, and then walking to its farthest range, with all my force, which was nearly exhausted by his frantic struggles, I flung him away from me, and sprang back. He made a desperate bound after me, but finding himself foiled, he uttered the most fearful yell I ever heard ..."

"The next day when I went to see him, I thought that the chain seemed worn, so I pinned him to the ground between the prongs of a pitchfork, and then fixed a much larger chain round his neck. When I pulled off the fork, he sprang up, and made a dash at me, which snapped the old chain in two. He died in forty-eight hours from the time he went mad."


"Well, what I admire in that man's conduct," said Jessy, "was his thought all along for others. He could easily have escaped himself from the dog."

"And when he seized it, it would have been far easier to kill than to keep it," subjoined Tom.

"Sir Fowell Buxton was one who carried religion into everyday life," observed Mrs. Gore, "and devoted his time and his talents to the service of his God. It was remarked of him that he went through the world like a man passing through the wards of an hospital, and stooping down on all sides to administer help where it was needed."

"I should like to grow up to be such a man," observed Willy.

"Tom's story of an act of generous self-exposure to danger for the sake of others reminds me," said Mr. Presgrave, "of an account which I read to-day of two little boys' adventure with a bear. If my dear Julia will hand me that large green book, and open it at the place where I have left my paper-knife, I think that you all will listen with interest to an extract from Lloyd's 'Scandinavian Adventures.'"


"Two boys, cousins, one of ten, the other twelve years of age," so we read in a Swedish journal of the 13th November, 1851, "were, on the 1st of last October, tending their parents' cows and sheep on the outskirts of the forest in the parish of Evje, in Norway. Towards evening a bear, followed by two cubs, suddenly rushed towards the herd."

"'The bear is here!' exclaimed the elder of the lads to the younger, who was at some little distance—'Pass opp! Pass opp!' That is, look out! Look out!"

"At this time, the beast was in the act of chasing one of the sheep; and though the boy was provided only with a stick, he instantly ran to the rescue, and held up his frail weapon in a menacing way towards the bear. But the odds were too unequal; for on his near approach, she rose on her hind legs, and laid the gallant little fellow prostrate."

"The younger boy, on hearing the cries of the elder, made forthwith to the spot, where he found the bear lying over his cousin, and the fangs of the beast in contact with his head. In that part of the country, even the smallest lad wears a knife, suspended by a belt, about the waist. Such was the case with our little hero, who forthwith attempted to draw the weapon; but owing to rain that had fallen in the morning, the wooden handle of the knife stuck fast in the scabbard, and his efforts to disengage it proved unsuccessful. Nothing daunted, however, and armed only with a stick, he went straight up to the bear, and commenced belabouring her hind quarters. Thus unceremoniously attacked, the beast, uttering a deep growl, sprang to her feet, and, strange to say, moved sullenly off, without offering him any kind of molestation."

"As soon as she had left her victim, and while making a second dash at the identical sheep previously chased (which, owing to the rest of the flock having run-off in an opposite direction, stood stock still, as if bewildered), the little fellow drew his knife—the attempt having in this instance proved successful—and brandishing the shining blade, he, with menacing gestures, thus addressed the bear: 'Be off with you! make yourself scarce, or you shall see how I will serve you!' A form of words, coupled with a display of bright steel, of which that beast, according to the superstitious notions of the peasantry, is mortally afraid."

"The wounded boy having by this time risen to his feet, presently joined his comrade; and whilst the two little fellows thus battled with the bear, the hunted sheep, benefiting by the opportune diversion in its favour, succeeded in effecting its escape."

"The bears now retreated, when the lads hastened home with the cattle, leaving the beasts no other trophy than the cap of the elder, that they had carried off, and which, riven nearly in pieces, was afterwards found at some distance from the scene of conflict."

"The clothes of the wounded boy were torn to rags, and he himself sorely bitten; but he is, nevertheless, now so far recovered as to herd cattle as before."

"'What would you have done had the bear carried off your cousin?' was the question put to the younger lad after the occurrence. 'Then I myself should never have returned home,' was his reply; 'we should have shared alike!'"


"Brave boy!" exclaimed Louis.

"Faithful friend!" murmured Percy.

"I wonder if any one of us would have done so much for a companion!" said Willy in a musing tone.

"I am half afraid not," replied Julia.

"And why so, jewel?" cried the boys.

"Because—because—" said she, hesitating—"it is not very likely that we should be ready to give up our lives for another—when we are so very seldom ready to—to—"

"To give up our wills," added Mr. Presgrave, smiling. "Our selfishness is the bear that we fear to fight—our evil temper the mad dog that we must chain down and subdue."







Louis's Tale.



"AMIDST the horrors of the first French Revolution, when the palace of the monarch was sacked, and the guillotine ran with blood; when to be rich was treated as a crime, and the highest rank brought the deepest fall—a merciless mob of Jacobins were hurrying a citizen to his death. In vain, might he plead ignorance of his offence. In vain, might he claim justice, or cry for mercy. He saw but the fierce sans-culottes around him, dragging him forwards to the terrible guillotine!"

"In this fearful hour, who could save him? Who dare interpose to rescue the citizen from death? One man did dare, and that man was an Englishman! I never heard if he were impelled by feelings of friendship, or only a generous desire to help the defenceless, but with a courage that defied all danger, Nesham, a young officer of the British navy, who then happened to be near the spot, arrested the Jacobins in their murderous course, declared that their victim should not die without a trial, and that if they proceeded it should be over his body!"

"Even the fierce Revolutionists were struck with admiration at the heroism of the stranger. The French are peculiarly alive to such sentiments, and Nesham had not only the glory of having rescued an innocent man from destruction, but was voted a civic crown by the Jacobins themselves, for having preserved the life of a citizen."


"That is a very extraordinary instance of courage," observed Mr. Presgrave, as he laid down the paper. "Had you it upon good authority, Louis?"

"Nesham's own sister told it to my dear grandfather."

"It is one of the most remarkable examples of success in opposing the torrent of evil that I have ever heard," said Mrs. Gore. "Had the furious Jacobins torn Nesham to pieces, or dragged him to the guillotine to share the citizen's fate (which seemed the most probable result of his interference), every one would have called his attempt to save the Frenchman an act of perfect madness."

"It is never an easy matter to swim against the torrent," quietly observed the old lady on the sofa. "If it is hard not to follow the multitude to do wrong, it is harder still to oppose them."

"We know something of that at school," said Willy.

"Ah! Often things happen that will remind me of Nesham," cried Louis. "Depend upon it, when he was a schoolboy, he never suffered a little chap to be bullied."

"Nor was afraid to say his prayers," subjoined Percy.

"It's so easy to speak about being brave," said Tom; "to talk of dashing amongst cannon and bullets, but to go one way when all the world goes another."

"To stand up for the right when every one else is hunting it down."

"This needs a desperate deal of courage," said Louis.

"It is often difficult even to reprove sin by example," remarked Mr. Presgrave. "I know a young civilian in the Indian service, one of the finest specimens of a pure-minded, noble-hearted man that I ever had the pleasure of meeting with."

"When a boy he had refused to join his schoolfellows in robbing the fruit of their master; and threatened to report their conduct if they persisted in it. When quite a young man, he was invited to the mess-table of a regiment in India, where the conversation after dinner became so improper, that the civilian, feeling it his duty to show his disapprobation, calmly rose from the table and left the place."

"I dare say that the officers jeered at him," said Bella.

"I dare say that they did, but they could not but respect him, and when they met him in future, they were more guarded in their language."

"One of the most distinguished generals in the Indian army," said Mrs. Gore, "who returned to Old England covered with laurels, told me himself that when a very young officer he had fairly run-off from a mess-table, where his comrades were endeavouring to induce him to drink. And it has always seemed to me that that run-off from temptation, when almost a boy, did him as much credit as the proudest of his victories when a man."

"I dare say that it required more courage," observed Willy.

"I wonder," exclaimed Bella, "that even Nesham's heroism could have roused any generous feelings in those horrible Jacobins! Those who could guillotine their own gentle king—" *

"And their beautiful queen," † added Julia.

"And carry the head of a young princess ‡ on a pole, with her fair hair floating around it."

"Oh! I would have had no mercy on such murderers!" exclaimed Louis, striking his fist upon the table. "If I had been a general at the head of twenty thousand men, I'd soon have cleared Paris of them! I'd have rode them down, and cut them to pieces!"

"O Louis!" exclaimed Jessy and Julia; while Bella whispered to Willy, "It would have been no more than they deserved!"

Mrs. Gore looked shocked, the old lady sighed; but Mr. Presgrave, who had been glancing over Willy's tale, quietly raised his hand for silence, and commenced his reading without an observation.

* Louis XVI., a prince of mild and amiable disposition,
was guillotined, after a mock trial, by his own subjects in 1792.

† Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI.

‡ The Princess de Lamballe.







Willy's Tale.



"ABOUT thirty years ago, in the mountains of Candeish dwelt a terrible race of robbers, called Bheels. They lived by plunder, thought nothing of murder, and by their cruelty, their wickedness, and their numbers they were the terror of the whole country round. Sometimes when every one had quietly gone to rest in a poor Indian village, there would be a cry of 'The Bheels! The Bheels!' and soon by the light of their blazing huts, wives would see their husbands killed at their doors, and their children running shrieking from the murderers!"

"The Governor of Bombay, * whose care it was to see that all that country was kept quiet and in order, always looked grave and stern when he thought of the Bheels, and determined to punish and subdue them."

"So he sent his brave troops into the mountains of Candeish, to hunt out the robber tribes. Sometimes they killed a few Bheels, but the rest kept out of their way, for it was as hard to catch them as monkeys. Then the place was so hot, and so very unhealthy, that the soldiers began to droop. One man fell ill and another fell ill, till ever so many fell sick, and the doctors were worked from morning till night, and grave after grave was dug for the dead; and the pale, sickly officers reviewing their troops thought, 'We never shall subdue the Bheels!'"

* Bombay is one of the great divisions of India, and is ruled by a
Governor sent out from England.

"Then the Governor of Bombay was more angry than ever, and it seemed to his mind that there was no better way than to kill every one of this murderous tribe!"

"Another governor * succeeded him, mild and gentle, who loved better to save than to destroy. He thought of a plan to subdue the Bheels; but whom could he find to carry it out?"

* Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone.

"The Bheels hated the soldiers, and hated the English, and hated the Governor of Bombay. They looked at their own wild hills, and they shook their own sharp swords, and resolved that they never would yield!"

"There was one young officer among the English, named James Outram, distinguished for his dauntless courage. He had fought the Bheels and gained successes over them; and if they had taken him in fight, oh! How they would have exulted to have cut him in pieces, or to have hurled him down one of their precipices!"

"How astonished were they when, one sultry day, they saw Outram himself mounting a hill, and fearlessly coming towards them! Do you think that he came at the head of his men, on a fiery steed, with a gun in his hand, and pistols at his saddle-bow? No, he came alone, not a soldier near him, alone in the midst of his bloody foes. He placed himself in the hands of the Bheels, the fierce robbers whom our troops were hunting down, with no defence but his own calm spirit, and God's Providence watching over him!"

"Even savage hearts are touched by a proof of generous and undeserved confidence. Outram lived among the Bheels, and they harmed him not; they began by admiring, they ended in loving him. He hunted with them, and they wondered to see a courage yet more daring than their own. He cared for their wounds, he told them tales, he won the hearts of the robber tribe. Then he asked them if they would enlist as troops, and earn their bread in an honest way. Under such a leader they gladly enlisted, they became as faithful as they were brave—they defended the country they had loved to attack, and shed their blood freely in the cause of order and peace!"


"What a fine fellow that Outram must have been!" exclaimed Louis. "I wonder if he is living still?"

"Oh yes! He is living—and long may he live! I used often to see him when he was in England."

"Did he tell you of his adventures with the Bheels?" asked little Julia.

"Oh no! I never could get him to speak of his adventures, though I longed to hear about them, especially of one famous hunting story, of his rolling upon the ground with a panther."

"Is it not he who is called the modern Bayard," said Percy, "the Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche?"

"What does that mean?" whispered Julia.

"Without fear and without reproach," replied Percy.

"Without fear for his enemies, or reproach for the way in which he treats them!" said the little girl, glancing archly at Louis.

"I am thinking," observed Willy, "that your way with the Jacobins was not much like Colonel Outram's way with the Bheels. There may be a better mode of subduing our enemies than riding them down or cutting them to pieces."

Louis coloured and looked at Mr. Presgrave, who smiled. "How much better to win one foe by kindness, than to slay ten thousand with the sword! How different would the feelings of Outram have been, had he stood as a conqueror on the hills of Candeish, with his victorious sword red with blood, and his enemies dead and dying around him, to what they must have been when he glanced along their ranks, and thought from what he had raised them by his courage and his mercy!"

"And I have heard mamma say that he narrowly escaped a death by poison," said Tom.

"How was that? How was that?" cried the rest.

"An injured, helpless widow had been falsely accused and thrown into prison, that her cruel enemy might take possession of the property that was her right. There was but one thing in the way of the bad man's success—the justice and generous spirit of a Briton, and that Briton was Colonel Outram! The widow's oppressor hated the man who stood between him and his prey; twice was the life of her protector attempted, but—"

"God watched over the safety of the brave and just man," said Mrs. Gore.

"Well, I do not wish to be a conqueror," observed little Willy, "but I should like to feel, when I left the earth, that some one was the happier for my having been in it!"









THE hand of Mr. Presgrave was on the last sheet of paper, neatly folded, and tied with red tape. Percy looked uneasy, and edged back his chair till he was almost hidden in the shadow of the screen. Mr. Presgrave then proceeded as follows:


Percy's Tale.



"'Has she confessed nothing?'"

"'Nothing, my lord.'"

"'And recanted nothing!'"


"'There is no doubt but that she could give information to implicate the Queen,* whose influence with King Henry is tottering now, and ready to fall with a breath. We must try sterner means; bring the prisoner before us; she can speak, she must, and she shall.'"

* Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII.
This Queen favoured the Reformation, and had many enemies, who hoped,
by torturing Anne Ascue, to induce her to confess something that might
ruin her royal mistress, and perhaps even bring her to the block.

"Thus spake stern Wriothesley, Chancellor of Henry VIII., leaning back in his massive chair, and folding his arms with an air of gloomy determination. On what are his dark eyes sternly fixed?—a long, fearful-looking machine, beside which stands a dark executioner. Do you ask its name and its use? Mercy shudders, and is silent.

"And now there is a light step in the hall, a slight female form is led before the judge, and Anne Ascue stands so near to the instrument of torture, that her white robe touches its iron wheel, and unconsciously she half leans upon the frame."

"Wriothesley beckons to his secretary, a hard-featured man in the garb of a monk, who at the sign takes a seat at a small table near, and placing a blank sheet of paper before him, remains ready to take down the confession of the prisoner."

"'Woman,' said the Chancellor, 'for the last time mercy is offered to thee; thou mayest earn it by a full confession and a free recantation.'"

"How silvery were the tones of the tremulous voice that replied: 'Recant!—that I cannot, or deny the truth. Confess!—I can confess my sins, and I can confess my faith, and I know that I shall find mercy, but not from man!'"

"'This is trifling. Look behind you!' spake Wriothesley."

"Then, indeed, all colour faded from the cheek of the young Lollard,* an expression of intense horror passed over her features, she clasped her hands and looked wildly round, as though seeking a protector in that stern company. But none stood forwards to help the oppressed; those whose hearts felt pity shunned meeting her gaze; slowly she raised it towards heaven, and her lips moved in silent, fervent prayer."

* A name given to the Reformers (we now call them Protestants)
in early times.

"' Once more, prisoner, I demand, wilt thou recant?'"

"With a violent effort Anne gasped forth, 'Never!'"

"Wriothesley made a sign to the executioner, and the stern man silently obeyed.

"And who was she who was stretched upon the rack, and what was the crime for which she suffered? A young, tender lady, whose home had been a court, whose companion the wife of her king! And her crime was love for Gospel-truth, a devotion which led her freely to exchange a palace for a dungeon, and pleasures for the rack!

"Thought dare not dwell on the terrible scene; pain could wring forth only cries to Heaven, and prayers to the Saviour for whom she suffered."

"And He was with her in that fiery trial, as His presence was with the young men in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar; in weakness He was her strength, in anguish her comfort. He could breathe into the soul of the tortured martyr, 'Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven!'"

"The heart of the stern executioner was touched; he paused, he could not proceed. Impatiently Wriothesley sprang from his seat, with his own hand turned the fatal wheel—a shriek burst from the lips of his victim!"

"'Retract!—confess!' These words rung in her ears. Oh! What mortal courage is sufficient for this hour;—God, God alone can support and strengthen! And God did strengthen—God did support. Anne's half-lifeless form was raised from the rack; the secretary's page was yet a blank. She had neither betrayed her faith nor her Queen!"

"Anne Ascue was carried to the stake the next day; she had no longer power to walk; but the bitterness of death to her was past! Calmly she gazed on the dreadful preparations, and saw in the heaped but 'the prophet's fire to bear her to a Father!' Soon all was over; cruelty had done its worst, it had sent its victim sooner to her eternal home. The soft breezes scattered the ashes of the martyr, and her spirit was rejoicing in the realms of light."


"Can such a terrible story really be true?" cried Julia.

"Too true," replied Mr. Presgrave. "Anne was but one of many martyrs who suffered for the truth in the reigns of Henry VIII and Queen Mary."

"Ah!" said his wife. "When we read our precious Bibles, we little think how much blood has flowed, and what agonies have been endured, to secure to us a privilege which we often value too lightly!"

"Will such times ever come again?" asked Willy.

"The future, my boy, is known only to God—our duties lie in the present. May the Almighty give us grace, both now and always, to deeply prize His sacred Word, and whether in prosperity or in adversity, through good report or evil report, to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering!"









"How beautiful is constancy under intense suffering!" observed Mrs. Gore. "And Christianity has its heroes still! I believe," added she, glancing at the invalid on the sofa, "that when the trial of sickness and pain is borne with meekness, cheerfulness, and perfect resignation, God beholds the martyr's spirit in His servant, and prepares the martyr's crown!"

"It would be a comfort to think that," said poor Percy, and sighed.

"I knew a poor woman," resumed Mrs. Gore, "the wife of a gamekeeper in B— shire. For months, I believe years, an agonising malady had been gradually drawing her towards the grave. Her cottage was a solitary one; no one lived very near; her husband went to his work early in the morning—and lonely, very lonely must her days often have been, when pain was the only companion left with her. But religion cheered her couch of suffering, and her feeble voice would be raised in hymns to Him who was her hope and her salvation. I shall not soon forget one occasion, when I was driving her home to her cottage, after a visit to a doctor who had put her to exquisite pain. The glorious sun was setting in the west; I pointed it out to the suffering woman, and reminded her of the lines in which a dying Christian is compared to the declining orb of day—"

"'And when he draws nearer to finish his race,
  Like a fine setting-sun, he grows richer in grace,
  And gives a sure hope at the end of his days
  Of rising in brighter array!'"

"The expression of pain on the invalid's face was exchanged for a look of pleasure and peace—she could do more than suffer and be still, she could suffer and rejoice. And was not this woman Christian heroine?"

"This glory may belong even to a child," said Mr. Presgrave. "A dear little boy not ten years of age, in a moment of danger and pain, could say to his agonised mother, 'Mamma, do not cry; I am not afraid to die!' That child, amid intense sufferings, glorified his God; not a murmur escaped his expiring lips, and he showed how, even in childhood, a Christian may die!"

"Were our souls really full of the love of God," said Mrs. Presgrave, "we should ever be listening to that voice which says, 'Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.'"

"I am not afraid to die!" exclaimed Percy. "Oh! That is the secret of true courage, I believe."

"We can imagine nothing," replied Mr. Presgrave, "more calculated to give firmness and heroism us circumstances of danger, than the blessed belief that God is with us, that He orders all things for our good; and that death itself, to the humble Christian, is but the gate, the entrance to glory! For what said the holy David, persecuted, hunted, surrounded by perils: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, FOR THOU ART WITH ME!'"







The next day the young party assembled at Ivy Lodge dispersed to their various destinations. Amy, like a restless butterfly, fluttered through the house in the bustle of preparation all the morning, conveying packet after packet, to be heaped up, one upon another, on one of the old-fashioned oak chairs in the hall. Her brother's heavy portmanteau she placed on her own band-box, some books lent by Willy, a paint-box given by Mr. Presgrave, a portfolio of prints crowning the pile. What wonder if, the first time that Tom passed the heap, books, portfolio, and portmanteau fell crashing upon the floor, and the edge of the paint-box made its way through the band-box! Good-natured Jessy and merry little Julia came in a moment to their companion's assistance. Bella was too busy with "The Lord of the Isles" to give heed either to crash or exclamation.

At length the Clarence rolled to the door. There was shaking of hands, and oft-repeated good-byes, as Louis and his sisters, one by one, left the house. Mr. Presgrave stood on the threshold to see them depart; the bright sunlight shone on his venerable bald head, surrounded as by a crown of silvery hair, as he gave each child his parting blessing, and inwardly prayed for the welfare of all.

Just as the carriage was about to move off, trunks and parcels without, smiling faces within, Julia came running with a large nosegay which she had just gathered for Jessy. "You will like to have flowers in London," said she, "and they will remind you of dear Ivy Lodge."

Next appeared an invalid chair, drawn by a donkey, to take Percy to his less distant home. A joyless home it was, and the poor lame lad could scarcely force a smile to his lips as he bade adieu to his friends. His uncle was an attorney in the village of Meade, a man cold in manner and habits, who, never having had his heart softened by domestic ties, had little sympathy or kindliness for the sickly boy. Mr. Presgrave marked the expression of Percy's pale face, the moistening of the eye, which he in vain tried to hide.

"God be with you, my son!" he gently whispered. "Remember that Christianity has its heroes in suffering as well as in acting; 'endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.'"

Then her mother's carriage arrived for Julia, the darling and plaything of the house. Mrs. Gore kissed her as tenderly as though she had been her own daughter, and Mr. Presgrave's manner was that of a parent, as he led the little girl to the door. Tom and Willy waved their caps again and again, till the carriage had rolled away down the lane.

On the following morning they themselves departed for school. On their sojourn there I am not about to dwell, but, taking advantage of the privilege of an author to skip over time and space as I please, I beg my young reader to imagine himself beside them on the day when school breaks up for the midsummer holidays.

A school on the eve of dispersion is like a hive on the point of swarming—all bustle, noise, hope, merriment, and confusion; to those who have seen, I need not describe it. Amongst the light-hearted boys now leaving Dr. Paynter's, by omnibus, carriage, or railway train, none were more light-hearted than Tom and Willy. As they drove towards Ivy Lodge, and began to recognise the land-marks around them, what joyous exclamations burst from their lips!

"Tom, I say, there's the old mill; don't you see it on that hill far away?"

Tom looked doubtful for a moment, then joyfully cried, "Yes, yes! And there's the gate over which we saw Sir Hugh leap on his coal-black hunter; and there's the little inn where he watered his horse, with the red lion swinging in the wind."

"I wonder how Duke is, our own frisky little pony."

"Ah! How glad I shall be," cried Tom, "to mount him again!"

"Indeed," said Willy, laughing, "the last time that you mounted you came down a good deal faster than you got up! I thought that you might be a little afraid."

"Afraid!" exclaimed Tom. "That's a fine word for an Englishman! Do you think I've forgotten all those famous stories that we read in the Easter holidays? I tell you what, Willy, I've a mind to be a hero like Outram or Nesham, and I'll never be afraid of anything or anybody!"

"I should rather like an adventure myself," said Willy, "if it all ended well, and was not at night, and had nothing to do with tortures or fire."

"I long to have my courage tried!" cried Tom, throwing himself back in the carriage with an air of great firmness and determination. "I want to have it brought to the proof!"

"But if it should fail?" suggested Willy. "Do you know that I have often thought over those stories, and I'm half afraid."

"That word again!" cried Tom impatiently.

"I'm dubitating, then, as Dr. Paynter would say, whether in any one of the cases I should have acted as the heroes did! Think of Maxwell now, how he stood the fire, and never flinched from his post for a moment, though—"

"There's Ivy Lodge itself!" cried Tom, springing up to the window. "And the roses out already, and Duke grazing in the field."

"Mamma! Can you see mamma?" cried Willy. "There is some one at the door—no! 'Tis Uncle Presgrave—I thought he would be there."

The carriage stopped at the entrance to Ivy Lodge.









THE joyous feelings of the boys were damped by their first sight of their uncle's face. It was kind as ever, but so grave, so pale, they felt at once that something serious must have happened.

"Do not leave the carriage, my dear boys," said Mr. Presgrave. "I cannot suffer you at present to enter the house."

"Mamma! Where is she? What is the matter?" exclaimed Tom and Willy, with a vague sense of fear.

"She is well, my children, quite well, thank God! The anxiety and sorrow are mine. Your poor aunt is now lying in a critical state—" his lips quivered as he spoke—"from an attack of malignant fever; and as the doctor cannot yet positively declare that the malady is not infectious in its nature, we have thankfully accepted the offer of Sir Hugh Moncton to receive you for a few days till the issue is known."

The poor boys looked at each other with mingled surprise and sorrow. Willy asked if he might not see his mother, but this was not thought advisable. After sending many a message of love, the boys were driven slowly away.

"How little we know what a day may bring forth!" sighed Willy, after some moments of silence. "We were so happy, and all seemed so bright!"

"Oh! I hope that aunt soon will recover," said Tom, "and then all will be right again. If it were not the cause of our going, I should rather like to visit at Sir Hugh's; they say he has the finest place in the county, with dogs and horses, and everything grand, and Ned Moncton's a splendid young fellow!"

With a faltering step and a heavy heart Mr. Presgrave re-entered the house. Seldom through the course of a long life had clouds gathered so darkly around him! Mrs. Gore had never hitherto permitted her children to visit her neighbour, and now only a sudden and pressing emergency induced her to expose her young sons to the dangerous society of Anderdon Hall. Perhaps anxiety on their account weighed upon Mr. Presgrave as heavily as upon their mother. The feebleness and infirmities of age rendered him less able to struggle against care, whilst the heaviest, to him, of all earthly afflictions, the loss of the wife whom he deeply loved, seemed hanging over his head like a thundercloud ready to burst. Much need had the aged man of the sustaining power of his faith—again and again, he repeated to himself as he feebly and slowly mounted the stairs, "'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.'"

With noiseless step, he reached the sick-room—with trembling hand, he unclosed the door, and listened for a moment ere he ventured to enter. After the clear sunshine which he had left, how dark and gloomy appeared that chamber! Drawn curtains shut out the cheerful day, the air felt heavy and oppressive, cooling drinks and lotions lay on a table by the bedside, no sound was heard but the ticking of a watch, which seemed numbering the few moments of departing life.

Mrs. Gore glided silently to the door with her finger upon her lips. "She sleeps still," she whispered, and gently drew her uncle to a corner of the room which opened into the sick-chamber, that they might converse in low tones without disturbing the sufferer.

"Have you seen my poor boys?" inquired the mother.

The old gentleman, in a few brief words, recounted all that had passed.

"O uncle!" said the lady, with a deep-drawn sigh, "I feel as though I had sent my sons into a furnace of temptation! But how could I avoid it? I could not safely have then here—there was no time to form other arrangements—and yet, there is a burden on my soul."

"'Cast thy burden on the Lord, He will sustain thee'!" replied her uncle, taking her hand into both of his own.

"O dear uncle! You are ever ready to comfort others, even when you must most need comfort yourself. I know, too well I know, what you must be suffering now; but you are so firm, so full of Christian courage!"

"No, my daughter," faltered the old man, while tears fast coursed each other down his pale cheek. "I am like a poor, storm-tossed, helpless wanderer, ready to sink in these waves of trouble; but I yet hear my Saviour's voice in the storm—'It is I, be not afraid'!"

Mrs. Gore was one of those gentle beings, who, like creeping plants, so closely, fondly cling round the objects of their tender affection, that existence itself appears wrapped up in theirs. Quiet, retiring, even to timidity, her husband and her children had formed her little world, and on earth she sought nothing beyond. Her delicate features, her gentle, sweet smile, bore impress of goodness which even strangers could not mistake; but those who knew her best were alone aware of the firmness, the self-devotion, in the character of one whom religious principle, like a guiding star, directed in the path of life. Gentle in manner, timid in nature, duty or affection could nerve her to courage; and afraid of infection as she from childhood had been, and eager as she felt to welcome home her boys, without a murmur she was ready to forego the joy and meet the danger, for she felt that God had marked out the course she should pursue.

But to a spirit like hers, the illness of a loved one was a trial peculiarly severe; while her tenderness of conscience and dread of evil rendered her painfully anxious for her sons. "One may bear personal trials firmly," said the tender mother, sitting down and resting her head on her hand, "but to see those whom we love suffer, and not be able to relieve them—to see them in peril, and not be able to succour them."

"We must trust them," said Mr. Presgrave more hopefully and firmly, "to Him who loves them yet better than we do. We can aid them still by fervent prayer to Him who orders all things in heaven and earth; and, like the friends of the paralytic man, lay our loved ones 'at the feet of Jesus'!"







AFTER a drive of less than two miles, the boys arrived at Anderdon Hull, and received a kindly welcome from Sir Hugh. They looked with some awe and reverence on his tall, commanding figure; there was something in his quick, decisive manner which impressed the minds of his young guests, who, though they had often seen him before, had not hitherto had an opportunity of conversing with him. His fine hall was hung with banners, and adorned with old weapons and armour; and when Sir Hugh pointed out arquebus and halberd, and talked of his ancestors, and the battles in which they had fought, Willy silently decided in his own mind that, Cœur de Lion must have looked like Sir Hugh.

A good deal of fear was, however, mixed with his admiration; he had too frequent occasion to remark at dinner how his host's good-humoured expression could in a moment change; the knight was domineering with the servants, impatient and irritable, while the least opposition made his dark eye flash, and the colour mount up even to his forehead. Tom was more attracted by Ned Moncton, the son of Sir Hugh, a slight, elegant youth, with less fire than his father, but a dry, sarcastic manner about him, which made the smile of the one almost as much to be feared as the frown of the other.

The conversation at table astonished the young Gores, and yet they could not help feeling amused by it. Stories of hunting, steeple-chases, betting, and gambling followed one another in rapid succession. Sir Hugh talked loud, and filled his glass so often, that Willy looked in wonder at the emptied bottle. When a story from the knight concluded with an oath, Willy felt startled and looked at his brother; but Tom was laughing aloud at the fun of the adventure, and the young boy dared not show that he felt shocked.

When the meal was almost concluded, the boys were surprised by hearing the heavy sound of a railway train, and then to see the long line of carriages hurried on by the puffing engine, so near to the knight's house, that they fancied that the windows rattled with the vibration. Tom wondered that the line should pass so near, and thus a subject was touched which roused all the fire in the spirit of their host. He struck his fist on the table, upsetting a glass, and entered into a loud excited account of all that he had done, and all that he had wished to do, to prevent such an unheard-of annoyance—concluding, in language with which I shall not soil my pages, by declaring that all might have been well if it had not been for that fellow Manners, a mean, sneaking attorney, who, added the knight with an oath, "shall live to repent it yet!"

"Has Mr. Manners a nephew?" whispered Willy to Ned.

"Yes," replied Ned, with a contemptuous smile. "A poor apology for a boy, a pitiful creature who drives about the lanes in a chaise drawn by a donkey. As he has neither strength nor spirit to beat the beast, it walks quietly along, cropping the thistles as it goes. I tried one day with my dogs to improve the pace, and see if I could rouse the miserable little fellow, who is as timid as a hare, to try a good blow with one of his crutches. 'Twas lucky for him that he was near his home; I never had such fun in my life."

Ned's laugh was but faintly echoed by Tom. Willy felt the blood mount to his temples, but was silent.

"Now come, let us be off to the billiard-table," cried Ned, and the boys quitted the dining-room. They both enjoyed the amusement exceedingly, and Tom made one or two fortunate hits, which put him into very high spirits. Then Ned showed them the curiosities of the house, and amongst others some very old manuscripts, of the time of the war of the Roses.

"How faint and brown the letters have become," observed Willy. "They look like writing in milk!"

"In milk," exclaimed Ned. "Why, you could not see that at all, it would be just the same colour as the paper."

"So it is," replied Willy. "You could not know that anything was written, until you hold the paper to the fire."

"That's curious. I never heard of that before. It would be a capital thing for a secret correspondence. Let's try it. I will ask Mrs. Simmons for some milk, and see if you can make out what I write."

"Where are we to find a fire in midsummer?" observed Willy.

"Oh I go into the study there—there is wood ready laid, and matches you will find on the mantelpiece."

"And paper?"

"There are plenty of old envelopes and scraps lying about; there—make haste, I will be back before you can get up a blaze."

"Can you not find another piece of paper, Tom?" said Willy, as upon his knees he was trying to coax up a flame. "This wood must be damp, it will not burn."

"Here!" cried Tom, flinging him a handful. "How Sir Hugh throws his papers about!"

"Have you looked into the envelopes to see that they are all empty?"

"Oh! They're empty enough," replied Tom carelessly. "There, that funny green one has done the business. We shall have a brisk fire in a moment!"

Ned now returned with a sheet of apparently blank paper, and with a smile of curiosity spread it before the now flaming wood. Gradually brown letters appeared on the surface, and Tom spelt out the words:

"Why is Percy Manners like a deal table?
 He stands upon four legs, a heavy look wears,
 And all that is put on him quietly bears."

"I say, Tom," cried Ned, after a hearty laugh—at his own poor wit, "I think that your brother is so stupid that he does not see the joke!"

"No, I don't," muttered Willy, turning towards the window; then he suddenly added, "I understand it, if you mean that, but—but—"

"Oh! I did not call for an explanation," cried Ned, with a little of the temper of his father. "Maybe you had better keep your thoughts to yourself. Tom, let us visit the kennel, you have not been there." And flinging the paper into the fire, the youth quitted the apartment with his companions.









"Tom, I feel in such bad humour with myself," said Willy, as the two brothers prepared to go to rest in the chamber provided for them.

"Well, I feel uncommonly merry; we've fine fun, capital games, comfortable quarters, and a pleasant companion, I am sure. Are you not contented with them?"

"I am not contented with myself," said Willy. "I say, Tom, I think that we two are little better than cowards."

"What do you mean?" cried his brother angrily.

"Why, things made us laugh that should have made us blush, though that verse was sounding in my ears, 'Fools make a mock of sin;' and we quietly heard our poor lame friend abused, called a pitiful creature, a miserable little fellow, when, if we had had the spirit of a Nesham—if we had had any spirit at all—we would have stood up for poor Percy when he was not here to stand up for himself."

Tom looked annoyed, but made no reply.

"You know," continued Willy, "even the little boy in the tale went to the rescue of his cousin who was under the claws of the bear."

"Ah! If Percy were attacked by a bear!"

"There's no use in saying that, Tom; he is not likely to be so. We cannot choose our opportunities of showing our courage; if it is in us it will shine out on any occasion! I don't believe that either you or I said grace, because we were afraid of Sir Hugh and his son; and if we had been at home with mamma and dear old uncle, we should have been just as much afraid to have left off saying it."

"I wish that you would leave off this nonsense. I'm no coward, whatever you may be; I'm afraid of nothing and nobody!"

With these words, Tom threw himself upon his bed, tired, and, notwithstanding his words, not altogether pleased with himself. Willy knelt down, and after praying for pardon for the past, asked for strength to withstand temptation more firmly in future, and concluded with an earnest prayer for his suffering aunt, and the anxious ones watching beside her.

The next morning was Sunday, and the bright, glad sun seemed to welcome the day of rest. No one at the breakfast-table of Sir Hugh would have guessed that the day was holy to the Lord. Merry Jests and plans for diversion were varied but with details of business; the only books on the drawing-room table were the "Sporting Magazine" and Thackeray's last novel.

The boys, however, were at length desired by Sir Hugh to get ready for church. He was too much engaged himself, he said, but he liked his pew to be filled in the morning.

Tom and Willy had been accustomed to a quiet-walk to the house of God, a time for serious thought and preparation for the service; but serious thought was now out of the question. Ned was full of the description of a pony-race as he walked, swinging his cane with an independent air, and now and then whistling to his dog. Presently down a lane which ran into the road which they were pursuing, slowly rolled a little donkey-chaise.

"There's Percy Manners!" exclaimed Tom suddenly.

"Don't shout out his name in that way," said Ned impatiently, "to make people think that we have anything to say to a mean, despicable shrimp like that!"

Poor Percy had caught sight of his former companions. A flush of pleasure rose to his pale brow, as he gave an eager look of recognition; but that flush soon faded away, and his smile changed to an expression of deep mortification, as he saw those whom he had known as equals and friends pass on without noticing the poor lame youth!

"This is another bitter drop in my cup," thought he. "They are ashamed to acknowledge me now!" He gazed wistfully after the three; the next moment one of them separated from the others, and Willy ran back to the side of the chaise.

"Oh! I am so glad to meet you—to see the face of an old friend!" exclaimed Percy, wringing his hand.

"I cannot stop now," said Willy hurriedly, "but—"

"Oh! You will come and see me; you do not know how much I need some one to feel for me. Our house is the first tall one in the village on the left-hand side, with my uncle's name on a brass plate—you cannot mistake it. Say you will come."

"I will, indeed," said Willy, pressing the thin hand which still grasped his own. "I am two miles nearer you now, quite within a walk, for I am staying at Anderdon Hall; but it is possible that I may go home to-morrow."

"Oh I come, then, to-day, after service. It is a good deed to visit the sick, even your uncle—"

"Hilloa! Willy!" shouted Ned, looking angrily back.

"You will promise me?" said Percy in a tone of entreaty.

"Willy! What on earth are you stopping for?"

"I will come and see you, Percy, if I possibly can," said Willy, gently disengaging his hand. He ran back to his companions with a lighter heart; and when he thought on Percy's earnest eyes, and thin features, worn by care and pain, he could well endure to meet the frown on the countenance of Ned Moncton.

Two other boys, sons of a neighbour, shared their pew in the church, which they now entered—rough, thoughtless boys, who without one feeling of reverence or awe, attended, but did not join in the service of the Almighty. The Gores were accustomed to repeat in a low tone the supplications offered up to God: a glance, a whisper, from one of the Murchisons effectually silenced Tom, he was afraid to appear devout where devotion might be a subject for ridicule. Very low was Willy's murmured prayer—the fear of man was still strong upon him, he was not constitutionally bold—the soldier of Christ was weak, but he struggled to maintain his ground, remembering that awful sentence spoken by the Saviour—"' Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and with the holy angels.'"

The Murchisons returned to luncheon with the party, and added not a little to the merriment and noise. It was no small relief to Willy that Sir Hugh was absent, for he dreaded the knight's burst of anger on hearing of his young guest's meeting with the nephew of the hated attorney.

After the meal was concluded, Ned proposed a game of billiards.

"Billiards! Oh yes by all means!" said the Murchisons.

Tom's conscience was startled at length. He knew so well the opinion of his mother on reverencing the Lord's-day, and her image rose so visibly before him, that he resolved, if possible, net to break at once her commands and those of his Maker.

"I don't feel inclined to play," said he, as Ned turned to ask his assent.

"Not inclined!" cried Ned impatiently. "No nonsensical scruples, I hope?"

"I played so much yesterday," replied Tom, evading the question.

"That's no reason why you should not play to-day."

"But I think I—I should prefer a walk over your beautiful grounds," stammered the boy.

"You shall have the walk presently; play first, business afterwards, as my tutor used to observe."

"Here's Willy all ready for a game."

"No," said Willy briefly.

"What a couple of unsociable young puppies!" exclaimed Jack Murchison.

"Now, I should just like to know your reasons," said Ned, coming close up to the little boy in a bullying manner. "I suppose that you will say that you are tired of the game, and think a walk in our grounds much more charming?"

"No," again replied Willy, who was flushing up to the temples.

"Then, why won't you play at billiards?"

"My mother would not like it."

This announcement was received with a roar of laughter from the three other boys, which made Tom feel uneasy, and Willy's cheeks grew hotter and hotter.

"Oh! The dear little manikin! Him would not vex his mammy—him would not play with naughty boys!" cried Ned in a jeering tone. "But mammy shan't know, dear; you're not just tied by her apron-strings; you're out of reach of a blow from her bodkin!" There was another vociferous roar.

"I wonder that you ventured to eat your dinner on Sunday," laughed Ned.

Poor Willy looked at his brother, but his brother did not come to his aid.

"Now, Willy, I say, you must just put aside all this absurd nonsense while you are here, and do at Rome as the Romans do," said Ned more gravely. "We don't want to hear any more of your mother's fancies."

"But I am sure that my mother is right," exclaimed Willy with an effort, moving towards the door to make his escape.

"You are, are you? And you are going to sneak away, little puling coward."

Willy turned suddenly round, with his hand on the door-handle. "I should be a coward if I feared you, but it is not cowardice to fear God;" and with these words he hastily quitted the room.

"Pursue him! catch him!" cried the Murchisons.

"No, let him go. We are better without him," said Ned sullenly. "The shorter time he stays here the better. I'd send him back to his mammy. Come, Tom, you are a boy of a braver spirit; you are not afraid to do what you like; come, and be my partner at the billiard-table."

In a few minutes Tom was standing with the cue in his hand, hitting with unsteady aim at the balls, and wishing that he had never crossed the threshold of Anderdon Hall.









NEVER, perhaps, in the course of his life had Willy felt happier than when he had fairly got beyond the lodge-gate, and found himself upon the dusty high road.

There was pleasure in escaping from present annoyance; there was pleasure in the thought of a quiet interview with a friend; there was pleasure in bringing comfort to a sufferer who needed it; and there was pleasure—oh! what pleasure!—in the sense of victory over his fears. He had been helped; he had not disgraced his Christian profession; he had acted as his mother would have wished him to act; and the eye of his King was upon him. Even the feeling of his own weakness and proneness to fall was not sufficient to damp this joy; he had found that strength may be given to the weak—that it will be given to those who seek it from above.

Yes, it was with a light step and a bounding heart that Willy passed on his way. How bright and gay the sunshine looked! How green and fair the face of nature, the aspect of all things around disposed the heart of the young boy to hope and gladness!

"I shall doubtless soon hear from mamma," thought he, "and good tidings, I trust, of my poor dear aunt. I shall soon be locked in my mother's arms, and only doubly enjoy my home for this disagreeable beginning to my holidays. I dare say that it is well that I came here; if we had never difficulties to overcome—if we were always sailing in smooth water, where would be 'the trial to our faith?' But I shall be heartily glad to quit this place—heartily glad to see Ivy Lodge, and the face of my own dear mother!"

In a few minutes more Willy was briskly pulling the bell-handle which shone below the brass plate on the attorney's door. The summons was quick and loud, but it needed to be repeated before it was answered by an old, slip-shod woman, who, bent with age and infirmities, bore evidence on her wrinkled face that they had not tended to sweeten her temper.

"Is Master Percy at home?"

"What?" said the old woman, putting her hand to the back of her ear.

"Is Master Percy within?" repeated Willy, raising his voice.

In reply she opened the door a little wider, and pointed towards a room on the ground-floor at the back part of the house. Without waiting to be announced, Willy unclosed the door, and the next moment was shaking Percy's hand.

"I heard you ring. I thought that it was you. I am afraid that you have been kept waiting; but old Deborah is so deaf!"

"Oh I never mind," said Willy, glancing round the low apartment, which looked into a tanner's yard.

"A dull prospect, is it not?" said Percy, with a faint smile, reading the expression of his companion's eye. "I think that there is nothing but dull prospects for me," and he looked sadly down at his swathed foot.

"Oh no! You will get all right again," replied Willy cheerfully.

"Never, never! O Willy! You do not know what a terrible trial is hanging over me. The surgeon examined this poor foot yesterday. He said that the mischief was increasing; that there was but one remedy left—that I must submit to amputation."

"What is that?" inquired Willy anxiously.

"That my foot must be cut off! Is it not dreadful?" continued Percy, observing Willy's look of horror.

"Most dreadful! But is it really necessary is there no other way of curing you?"

"Alas! No other way. The surgeon is coming to-morrow. O Willy!" exclaimed Percy, with a sudden passionate burst of grief, "I am so wretched, so wretched—and you are the only one to whom I can speak freely—who will understand me, feel for me! My uncle I see little of, and he is so firm himself, he would only despise me if I poured out my heart to him and told him that I was afraid—but I am afraid, Willy, horribly afraid, my whole soul revolts from what is before me. I would give worlds to escape it!" And he buried his pale face in his hands.

Willy looked at him with silent sympathy, he could only feel for him, he knew not how to console. As he was trying to think of some words of comfort, Percy raised his head, and rapidly proceeded: "My uncle has just left me displeased. O Willy! He is not like your dear old uncle!—displeased because I had ventured to church to-day. He said that it was absurd and imprudent in a boy who had to undergo such an operation to-morrow to wear out his strength to-day—and perhaps he was right. But, Willy, I could not stay, I could not spend the long morning here alone in this gloomy room, with nothing to think of but the agony before me! I thought that if I were to find comfort anywhere it must be in church—and when I saw you and Tom it seemed a little gleam of joy. Oh! You cannot think how my heart sank when I fancied that you had forgotten me!"

"It seemed as if the sermon had been made expressly for you," observed Willy.

"I have been repeating the text over and over to myself, 'Wait on the Lord, be of good courage; wait, I say, on the Lord!' But, Willy, I seem to have no strength at all—pain and want of sleep have taken it all away. I cannot endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. I am ashamed of my own weakness, but I cannot help it."

"You must remember your own story of Anne Ascue and her tortures. How firmly she bore them for the sake of the truth."

"Ah if I were to suffer for the sake of the truth."

"But did not mamma say that a martyr's spirit might be shown even under the common pains of life? God knows how terrified you feel. He sees all your trouble and your fear; and if He see also that you fight with your fear—that you call upon Him in the time of trouble, He will be pleased with your submission and faith; as the clergyman said this morning, 'We may glorify God in the fires.'"

Though Percy was several years older than Willy, it was a great relief to his weary spirit to lean upon the firmer mind of his companion. The difference of age was forgotten—he only saw the Christian comforter and the sympathising friend in the boy. So drawing Willy closer to his side, Percy replied in a sorrowful tone, without raising his eyes, "I fear that I do not glorify God in the fires, and that is one of my worst troubles. After all that I had heard from dear Uncle Presgrave, I seemed to feel some love of what is holy, some desire to serve my Lord. But oh! Willy, all good and happy thoughts wither in the air of this place! I have no one to help me on the way to heaven, no one who cares whether I am in it or not; I am very, very lonely on earth!" Tears rolled fast down his cheeks as he spoke.

"But the Lord loves, and is always watching over you."

"Yes," replied Percy very gravely, "but He must see in me so much to displease and offend Him. Remember, Willy, that He is a just and a terrible God!"

"All of us do wrong often; but, Percy, I should think that few offended so seldom as you do."

"Ah! You do not know," replied the boy, rocking himself backwards and forwards us if in pain. "I have plenty of time to look at my own heart, as I lie day after day, and night after night, with nothing to amuse or to distract my attention. All sorts of faults rise up to my view—you would not believe what I am!"

Willy only replied by a look of surprise. Percy continued to pour out the fulness of his burdened heart. "I hardly ever speak with a being but my uncle and Deborah; and my conscience is always reproaching me with my conduct to them. Towards my uncle I am ungrateful, positively ungrateful. I eat his bread, I sleep under his roof, and yet I cannot love him! O Willy! There must be something very wrong in this heart of mine!"

Willy knew not what answer to make.

"Then poor old Deborah, to whom I gave so much trouble, I am so impatient, so irritable with her! Her infirmities, instead of exciting my pity, only stir up my temper. When I want for something, and can by no means procure it, when I am feverish and thirsty, and ring and ring in vain, I quite lose the patience and gentleness that I should show, and perhaps say words which I so regret afterwards! The very sound of her slow heavy step above my head seems sometimes to put me into a fever!"

"That is your illness, dear Percy."

"Perhaps that may be some excuse," sighed the invalid. "But, Willy, I could tell you worse things than these."

"No, no," said his companion. "You must not excite yourself."

"But it eases me to speak out what weighs on my mind. Such wicked thoughts sometimes come into my heart, I feel impatient under the trial which the Almighty sends me. I rebel against suffering; I think it hard to lie tortured here while other boys are bounding over the meadows—the very sunshine streaming into my room raises repining feelings in my breast! Willy, is not this very sinful?"

"It may not be—it is not right," replied the boy, after a little hesitation.

"But what can I do?" cried Percy bitterly.

"Confess all your sins to the merciful Lord, ask Him to forgive you and to help your weakness. Do you not remember how the poor leper came to our Saviour and knelt down and prayed, 'Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean!' The Holy One is as truly now before you as He was before that poor man. He hears your prayer just as He heard that of the leper; and I am sure that He is as ready to grant it. The Lord Jesus will send no poor humble sinner disappointed away!"

"I cannot come to have my foot healed as the lame did then," said Percy sadly.

"No, but you can come to have your heart comforted and refreshed. You can be taught to think differently even of your pain. As I once heard Uncle Presgrave say, we should remember what is told us of the multitudes in white robes singing before God's glorious throne. They are those who came out of great tribulation; but their tribulation had ended in joy! David will not be sorry now that he was hunted and pursued, nor Job that he suffered so much sorrow and pain. Only try to think now as you will think in heaven, and you may thank the Lord even for the trials that He sends you! Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth. Oh! Think what it is to be loved by the Lord!"

Percy pressed Willy's hand within both his own; for a short time his heart was too full for speaking. "You will pray for me," he then murmured. "Pray that I may have courage to bear manfully whatever my Lord sees fit to inflict, without one impatient word or even a thought of repining. Pray that I may glorify God in the fires!"

Willy nodded assent, but his voice was choked.

"And Willy," pursued the poor youth, "I have another favour to ask, will you grant it?" and he looked earnestly into the face of his friend.

"I do not think that I could refuse you anything, Percy, at such a time as this."

"Will you be with me—to-morrow? The surgeon comes at two—"

"Oh no!" exclaimed Willy, half rising from his chair, and turning pale. "I am afraid—I don't think—I'm sure I could not bear—"

"If you could not bear to look upon it, what must it be to suffer it!"

"Poor Percy! I would do anything for you!"

"I shall perhaps have no one beside me but the hard rough surgeon and his attendant—I doubt whether Deborah would stay in the room. It is weak, and foolish, and selfish in me, I know; but it would be such a comfort to feel that a friend was near me!"

"I will be with you, Percy, whatever it may cost me—if I am not prevented by news from home. And now, is there anything else that I can do?"

"You can read me a chapter from the Bible—some chapter of comfort, dear Willy."

"I will read you of the sufferings of our blessed Lord. Oh what are our pains compared to His! And He can feel for us, Percy—what a comfort that is—for He so well knows what it is to suffer! His soul was sorrowful even unto death, yet He said, 'The cup that my Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?'"









WITH mingled feelings of pleasure and pain, Willy quitted the house of the attorney. He was thankful that he had been enabled to strew some flowers in a path hedged up with so many thorns. The glow of his own warm kindly feelings was a source of rich enjoyment; but there was another side to the picture. He had promised, if not prevented, to return the next day, to be present at an operation from the thought of which he recoiled; he doubted his own firmness, his own strength of mind, and felt that he should suffer almost as much as Percy.

Then with the sight of the white lodge of Anderdon Hall came recollections of no agreeable nature. Willy remembered how he had parted from Ned and his companions, and anticipated an unpleasant meeting. Then perhaps the formidable Sir Hugh might question him as to where he had been, and he could not but offend by his answer. Poor Willy felt as he might have done if marching up to a battery, and instinctively slackened his pace as he approached the house through the shrubbery.

"I seem beset with difficulties wherever I turn," thought he, "and there is no one to help me out of them. I only hope that the storm has blown over with Ned, and that the name of poor Percy may never be mentioned. I really feel very uneasy about it. Why, what a coward I am!" he exclaimed half-aloud. "If I am doing what is right, and obeying my Heavenly Master, why should I fear what man can do or say unto me?"

There was a sound of loud, angry talking in the hall—a bustle, and hum of many voices. Willy heard it, and if I must confess the truth, the uppermost thought in the mind of the boy was, "I hope that it is something that will draw off attention from me!"

All the boys and servants were collected in the hall; Sir Hugh stood with his back to the door, but the movement of his hand and foot were expressive of passion, and its effect was seen in the frightened countenances of the domestics.

"Indeed, sir—indeed, I never saw it in my life?" whimpered the housemaid, fumbling her apron uneasily.

"Such a thing never happened in the house before," cried Mrs. Simmons. "I never knew of such a thing in all my born days!"

Even the boys looked grave and anxious. Willy wondered what could be the matter.

"I had them—I had them safe yesterday before dinner—I could take my affidavit upon it!" exclaimed the angry Sir Hugh. "This is a matter for the police. I'll not keep a pack of thieves in my house—"

"O sir! Oh! Your worship—I'm sure I never touched them!" sobbed the housemaid.

"You know that it's you, and you only, as cleans out that room," said Mrs. Simmons.

"But I had not even been in it since the morning. Oh dear! Oh my poor mother!" and the girl wept aloud.

"I'll examine every box in the house, not a trunk or a parcel shall be unsearched," cried Sir Hugh. "I'll have the constables in at once, and the offender shall be punished with all the rigour of the law, should he die in jail," added the knight with an oath, as he glanced fiercely round upon the household.

"What has happened?" whispered Willy softly to his brother.

"Sir Hugh has lost two ten-pound bank-notes."

"That is a great loss indeed," said Willy, to whom such a sum appeared a fortune.

"I'll come to the truth, depend upon it," cried Sir Hugh, "and the thief shall rue the day that he touched my property! I received the notes but yesterday, in a registered letter, I laid them on the table in their own green envelope—"

Tom and Willy started as if they had been shot.

"That envelope and its contents must be found, and shall be found! The thief shall be punished, though I should turn every servant out of doors!"

Willy trembled and became quite cold with the inward struggle between conscience and fear. Was he to turn that fiery gaze on himself—to draw down on his own head that torrent of passion? For a moment he lingered irresolute from the fear of wan, that bringeth a snare; then the fear of God triumphed.

"Sir," said he with a nervous voice, coming one step forwards, "I think that I know what has become of the bank-notes."

"You do, do you?" exclaimed Sir Hugh, turning suddenly round, while all present became silent as death, and every eye was fixed upon Willy. "And what has become of them, pray?"

"I burnt them, by accident, making a fire."

"Burnt them!" shouted the knight, in a voice that made the roof ring again; then striding fiercely up to the trembling boy, he repeated, "Burnt them! I'll teach you—"

"How the generous forgive," said a voice which made even Sir Hugh pause and look round, and his fierce angry eye fell beneath the gaze of a mild, gray-haired old man.

"O Uncle Presgrave!" exclaimed Willy, springing to his side.

The knight felt ashamed of the passion which he had shown towards a young guest, beneath his own roof. He was annoyed to think that Mr. Presgrave, while approaching the open door, must have heard all that passed between him and the boy. With a much altered tone, yet one not altogether free from traces of anger, he said, "Why, sir, this boy of yours has been confessing that he made a bonfire of two of my ten-pound notes!"

"He has kept what is better than gold," replied Mr. Presgrave, laying his hand on the shoulder of his nephew. "The bank-notes shall be replaced."

"Oh it is not the paltry money!" cried the knight impatiently. "I would not take it—it is not worth a thought! What are you all standing here for!" he exclaimed, angrily addressing the servants, who instantly retired, too glad to escape from his presence.

"Is my aunt better?" whispered Willy to his uncle.

"Ah! How is your good lady?" exclaimed Sir Hugh, glad of any change of conversation. "I hope that your coming here is a good sign of her improvement. Has her fever turned out to be typhus?"

"No, thanks be to God, it is not typhus fever; I trust that the crisis is past, that all danger is over; and as there now is no risk in the boys coming home, I shall relieve you from the trouble which you kindly undertook, and—"

"You will not take them back this evening!" cried Sir Hugh.

Mr. Presgrave glanced at the boys, and that glance was enough. "Their mother is longing to see them," he replied. "They had better, I think, walk back with me now; I will send for their boxes to-morrow."

Sir Hugh soon yielded a not very reluctant consent, and the old gentleman bade him courteously adieu. The boys shook hands with the knight and his son, but few words passed between them, and, with a feeling of unutterable relief, the young Gores found themselves on the outside of Anderdon Hall.

"Not one hour longer than necessary could I have left them in that furnace," thought their Uncle to himself as they passed through the shrubbery; but not a word was uttered until they were beyond the white lodge.

Poor Tom walked on with a heavy heart, which not even the thought of home could cheer. He felt himself lowered in the eyes of his brother, and sunk—oh how much sunk—in his own! In the hour of trial he had fallen away; he had not kept his post as a Christian soldier; he had suffered one younger, and not more implicated than himself, to stand forth alone to confess the truth, and never again could he utter the vain boast—"I am afraid of nothing and of nobody."

Mrs. Gore welcomed her sons with joy to their home; but she was soon struck by the expression of thought and care on the countenances of both, deepening into dejection on that of poor Tom. Willy's gravity was soon accounted for, but why was his brother so sad?

There was a weight on the poor boy's conscience, and he needed the relief of confession. He had not dared to tell the angry knight what was the truth, that he himself had placed the envelope in the hand of Willy, and, without examination, assured him that it was empty. But in the quiet of night, when his mother visited his room, and sat beside his bed, Tom felt that he could and must tell all. There were still more painful confessions to make. He had to own how, when absent from his mother, he had broken her commands, had borne to hear her principles called fancies, and Willy's filial love ridiculed and mocked—it was painful to confess, and painful to hear, but Tom felt happier when he had told all.

"And now, mother," he concluded, "can you forgive me?"

"It is not my forgiveness alone that is needed, my child; it is less against your mother than against Heaven that you have offended. What caused you to break the Fifth Commandment—to neglect your friend, to forsake your brother, to profane the holy day of the Lord? Not want of affection, of that I am sure—not want of reverence for the things of God—but 'the fear of man, that bringeth a snare,' overcoming the fear of the Lord. And why did your courage fail in the trial? Because, my son, your faith was weak; you went confiding in your own feeble strength, and when the waves of temptation arose, immediately you began to sink. The Saviour's words might have been spoken to you—'Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?'"

"And now, what can I do?" sighed the boy.

"Ask for strength and it shall be given you; seek for pardon, it shall be found; keep a strict watch over your heart and your actions, my son; and when, like St. Peter, you have fallen through fear, repent truly like him, and like him you may receive grace to fight manfully under Christ's banner in the future!"









AFTER a night of broken, uneasy sleep, poor Percy awoke at daybreak with a terrible consciousness that something dreadful was about to happen. The curtains of his window had been left unclosed, and the light had doubtlessly awoke him. His first feeling was one of anger and impatience at the carelessness of Deborah, which had thus shortened his only time of forgetfulness; but Percy repressed the angry emotion, and, raising himself a little on his bed, gazed forth on the scene before him.

It was not on the tanner's yard that he looked, though he knew that it lay beneath. The height of this room raised him above the sights and the sounds that annoyed him below. A wide, beautiful prospect lay before him: green meadows, surrounded by hedgerows, where cattle quietly pastured; fields of corn gently bending to the breeze of morn, and lovely wooded hills in the distance, yet lovelier from the white mist resting above them. The blue sky was dotted with rosy clouds, golden streaks illumined the east, where bright widening rays streamed up the sky, harbingers of the sun about to rise. Nature preached her sweet lesson to the heart of Percy.

"Oh! Faith should raise my soul," thought he, "above the sorrows and fears of this passing life! How fair a prospect lies before me, weak and unworthy as I am! The trials of earth will soon be exchanged for the endless glories of heaven; the Word of Truth, like those rays in the east, tell of the coming of the Sun of Righteousness, the Saviour whom, not seeing, yet I love! Lord! Strengthen, comfort, bless Thy child—I would lie still in Thy merciful hands—do unto me even as Thou wilt!" The heavy eyes of the sufferer closed, and gentle sleep came to him again.

It was not a sleep undisturbed by dreams; pain and fear seemed to haunt him still! He dreamt that, like Anne Ascue, he was stretched upon the rack, called to glorify God in the fires! Familiar objects mixed strangely in the scene—in the stern executioner, he recognised his surgeon, even the rack took the shape of the low couch upon which he had suffered so long. "Confess—retract!" rung in his ears, a feeling of terror oppressed his spirit, he struggled, he cried out in an agony of fear. When suddenly a light seemed to stream upon him from above—he raised his eyes and beheld a bright angel form, with white glittering wings folded behind him; a wreath of many-coloured beams encircled his brow, shedding additional lustre on the heavenly countenance, radiant with the glories of immortality! The deep calm gaze of those eyes that had never been dimmed by mortal sorrow or fear infused secret rapture and strength in the soul. With one hand the angel held forth a palm, with the other he pointed upwards to the skies! Percy awoke from that strange dream, praise on his lips, and peace in his heart.

Percy's uncle came to see him before leaving the house, and was struck by finding his nephew less depressed than usual.

"Percy, you are bearing up bravely," said he, in a kinder manner than was usual with him. "I shall make a point of being back before two—keep a good heart, my boy!"

A warmer glow of gratitude than he had ever felt before towards his uncle arose in the bosom of Percy. Deborah seemed to lay the table for breakfast with a more kindly air, and brought him the foot-rest without being asked. Even these trifles gave a feeling of solace to the sufferer; for the love of God shed abroad in our hearts sweetens all our relations with our fellow-creatures.

Hour passed after hour in that quiet house; and though tried by a feeling of sickening expectation, and rehearsing a hundred times in his mind the terrible scene of the operation—with his Bible in his hand, Percy was not wretched. His uncle returned earlier than he had expected; and long before two o'clock had struck, Willy Gore entered the room. Nor did he enter alone—with his mild blue eye and his silvery hair, Uncle Presgrave was close behind him.

"How kind, how very kind you are, to gather round me thus!" cried Percy. "One never feels the value of friends so much as in times of sickness and trial."

"That, like every other blessing, is from above," said Mr. Presgrave, seating himself by the couch of Percy. "I did not know that you were such a sufferer; and sickness at home and my own infirmities have long prevented me from paying distant visits, or I should not have allowed so much time to pass without coming to see my young friend."

In quiet converse the time rolled on; a stranger would not have guessed that a trial so severe was impending over one of the party. Percy, indeed, turned pale when the clock struck two, and often uneasily glanced at the door; from his room being situated at the back of the house, he could not hear the surgeon's carriage arrive. Conversation became difficult and forced, Willy constantly caught himself watching the clock, and the long black hand stole from number to number, till a single stroke told the half-hour.

"I wonder," said Mr. Manners, with a somewhat indignant air, "that Dr. Graves keeps the poor boy waiting so long. The expectation is worse than the thing itself."

At this moment the sound of a loud ring was heard; and as Deborah was waiting in the hall, it was instantly succeeded by that of a quick, firm step, and the door of the sitting-room was thrown open.

Percy turned very cold, but had hardly time to lift up his heart in the brief prayer, "Lord I help me!" when he heard his uncle exclaim, "Why, it is not Dr. Graves, after all!"

The respite brought the blood again to the boy's cheek, and Willy felt relief almost equal to his own.

"It is our good Dr. Prince," he whispered to Percy, "who is now attending my aunt."

"I regret the occasion of my coming here," said the doctor, after bowing to the two gentlemen, "but I received a letter not an hour ago, informing me of the sudden illness of Dr. Graves, which renders it quite impossible for him to keep his appointment here, and has induced him—" here the medical man handed a letter to the attorney—"to request me to call and see his patient!"

Mr. Manners looked annoyed and a little perplexed. "Dr. Graves was to have performed a serious operation, and I am afraid of the effects of delay."

"Would it not be well," suggested Mr. Presgrave, "for Dr. Prince, of whose skill I have long had reason to entertain the highest opinion, to look at the foot of my young friend?"

"Certainly, there cannot be the slightest objection to that," replied Mr. Manners; so poor Percy's bandages were carefully removed, and the doctor examined the injured place, asking various questions as he did so.

"Did Dr. Graves consider amputation necessary here?" said he at last, in a tone which made hope suddenly spring up in Percy's heart.

"Indispensable," Mr. Manners briefly replied.

"I should wait a little longer myself," observed the doctor. "Try stronger nourishment, and a little change of air—this house lies low," he added, glancing at the tanner's yard. "I think that time and care might work wonders for him. I have known worse cases than this where the cure was complete."

Percy could not speak—Willy was breathless with delight—both looked at the attorney, and their hearts beat fast.

"If such is your decided opinion," replied Mr. Manners, "why, let no step be taken at present."

"And might I suggest," said Mr. Presgrave, with benevolent eagerness, "that if change of air be recommended for Percy, most welcome would he be to Ivy Lodge. I know that I speak the sentiments of my niece; indeed, it was but this morning that she expressed a wish to have him with her. I need not say we would watch over him as though he were our own."

Willy clapped his hands with delight at the idea.

"Would such an arrangement be advisable, Dr. Prince?" said the attorney. "I must place him in your hands."

"Nothing could be better," the doctor replied. "I could attend him at the Lodge with far greater convenience, and the air there is peculiarly favourable to his recovery. My carriage is waiting at the door—should you wish it, I would carry him there at once. It is all in my way."

Percy had borne up firmly under fear and pain, but this joy was too much for him to bear. Tears, which would not be restrained, overflowed his eyes, and while arrangements were made, he poured out thanksgivings to his God from the very depths of his soul. "'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song wilt I praise Him.'"


Once again I will pass over an interval of some months, and my reader and I find ourselves once more at Ivy Lodge. A white mantle of snow is over the ground, the air is sharp and keen, and the trees wave their bare branches in the cold blast. But from the house comes the sound of merry voices and of laughter, and the red light from the windows tells of the warm cheering blaze within! We may enter without knocking, and find ourselves unseen spectators of a Christmas feast.

There sits Mrs. Gore at the head of her low, table, her gentle features lighted up with a mother's joy, as she looks down on the lines of young bright faces.

All appears cheerful, contented, and happy, even sickly Mrs. Presgrave wears a Christmas smile. But amongst those present none had a lighter, a more joyous heart than Percy, who, his crutches now laid for ever aside, feels more deeply the blessing of health than those who have never known its loss!

And now there is a general hush in the conversation; the merry faces assume a grave expression, as Mr. Presgrave rises to return thanks. He pauses a moment to look round on the dear circle before him; his eye is moist with feeling, and deep and earnest is the tone of his voice as he utters the words of mingled praise and prayer—"'For these and all Thy other mercies, O Lord! Make us truly thankful! Amen!"