Page images
PDF
EPUB

them up

a

truly he glitters like gold; his back shines with scales of green and silver, his fins are of yellow gold, and round his eyes are circles of gold, like a frightful pair of spectacles.

The little flying-fishes saw him coming, and they darted off as fast as they could swim; but the dorado soon caught

Their little bodies could not move half so fast as he, with that great tail urging him on like the screw of a steamboat. The flying-fishes were overtaken, and snap went his sharp jaws upon the hindermost of the shoal.

Poor little fishes ! in their alarm they sprang quite out of the sea. They had long and graceful fins, which would serve as wings for a little way; so they sprang boldly into the air, and fluttered along for a few dozen yards—not far, for they had no real wings, but only fins, you see; and they soon fell back into the waves.

“We are safe now," they gasped ; “our persecutor could not see us in the air; he does not know where we are.”

: But scarcely had they recovered their breath before, with a rush and a flash, the dorado was upon them.

Again they swam away, again they were obliged to try their

powers of flight, and it was at this moment that the shell, floating calmly and securely by, called them “ giddy” and “unbecoming.” It was certainly rather hard.

That great dorado chased them until he had eaten fully half the shoal; then, satisfied with his dinner, he turned aside for a nap, and left the remnant of the poor flyingfishes at peace.

They found themselves close to the floating shell.

“So you are tired of amusing yourselves at last, are you ?" said the shell.

Amusing themselves ! The little flying-fishes had no strength left to explain matters, or to defend themselves; they went slowly on without a word. And the shell turned over on its soft couch of weed, murmuring: “They have at least the grace to be ashamed of themselves.”

How falsely some folks judge !

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mrs. White was busy washing. The whole house was in a vapour of steam; a large pot was spluttering and bubbling on the fire ; baby was lying in its cradle, crying fretfully now and then ; little Jack had bad chilblains on his feet, and could not go to school, and was amusing himself by lifting handsful of the snowy soap-suds and letting them drop in soft masses on the floor, where they soon melted into pools of dirty water.

A lady knocked at the door. “I have called with the tract, Mrs. White," she said. “ Thank you, ma'am. Would you please lay it down on

, the table? I can't take hold of it with my wet hands. The house, too, is in such a mess I can scarcely ask you to take a seat.”

“I should think not,” said the district visitor to herself, when she had closed the door again and retreated down the garden. “ It is a marvel to me how people can live in such houses; I would not have sat down in that atmosphere for anything. What an untidy woman Mrs. White is! Her husband, I dare say, spends his earnings and his evenings in the public-house; who can wonder that the men learn to drink when their wives are so careless of their comfort?"

John White came home at five o'clock. The fire was burning brightly; the kettle singing cheerily on the hob, the cups and saucers were on the table, and little Jack, with a clean face, very red about the cheeks, was busy making a bit of toast. Baby was on its mother's knee, staring round with solemn eyes. No tubs were in sight, only a suspicious moisture on the floor gave a hint as to what had lately been going on.

“Tired, my girl ?” said John White, laying his hand kindly on his wife's shoulder.

“Not so tired as you are, I'll be bound," was the cheery reply. “A cup of tea will do us both good."

“So it will,” said John ; and then he added to himself, as he went into the back-room to lay down his tools, “there's

a

not many a man has a wife that can meet him with a smile on washing-day.”

If only the lady could have heard that, perhaps she would have thought more justly of her poor neighbour ; perhaps she would have confessed that Mrs. White was not only an industrious woman, but cleanly, loving, ay, and heroic, too.

*

*

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Always think the best of people," old Benjamin Grainger used to say. Benjamin was the keeper of the Westhampton toll-bar, a kind old man, with pleasant words and pleasant looks for any who would stop to have a talk with him as they passed the gate.

“ But some folks are so bad there's not any 'best' to be got about them,” Farmer Dean said one day.

“I reckon you're wrong there, farmer," Benjamin answered. “I never met a man who was bad right through and through. But, letting that question alone, it is better for yourself to make the best of others."

“How so?” said Farmer Dean, flicking a fly from his horse's ear with an artful touch of his whip.

“ Because if we are always thinking evil of people, the hard thoughts leave a slimy track behind in our own hearts."

“And do pleasant thoughts leave pleasant tracks, eh, Benjamin ? Well, now I've found out why you're always such good company; for I don't believe you think evil of anybody," said Farmer Dean.

“But I used to, though," returned the old toll-keeper, shaking his head, And it is fairly wonderful how easy it comes to give bad motives to people when once you begin with the habit. And then everybody and everything are sure to be wrong. I mind when I was a boy reading about a creature they called a scorpion; it lives among the roseseats the roses, for all I know to the contrary—but 'tis the most poisonous beast that lives on earth.

Seems to me some folks get to be just like scorpions; be they ever so close to the roses, they can get nothing from them but poison. They have their uses, and their good points, those folks, I suppose, same as the scorpions; but they're uncommonly disagreeable customers to come across in life.”

“So they are," said Farmer Dean, preparing to drive on. “Well, good day, Benjamin, and thank ye for the warning. I don't altogether like the notion of being a human scórpion, but I fear I'm getting into a mighty suspicious, uncharitable way of thinking and talking, too. Good-day to you, neighbour."

"Good-day, farmer; and success to your marketing.”

[blocks in formation]

LLEN B. was a zealous, faithful young Christian.

She had yielded to the strivings of God's good
Spirit, had accepted the overtures of mercy,

and had consecrated her powers and life to her Master's service. Since taking this decisive step, and coming out from the world, not a few trials had fallen to her lot; for her friends were wealthy and worldly, and opposed the “ fanatical action ” of their young relative with bitterness. In their opinion, it would be preferable to enjoy the world; be merry in the laugh and the dance, and “shine in society.” Not so thought Miss B. She could not forget the Master's solemn words: “He that loveth father or mother, or son or daughter, more than Me, is not worthy of Me. Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father who is in heaven." So, in her measure, amid the darkness and the sin of that scattered mining population, she endeavoured to “confess Christ.”

This work was anything but cheering at first, but strength was given according to her requirements. Her home was situated in a wild mining district, inhabited mostly by rough miners and a few agricultural labourers. Here lay an important field of labour; and, remembering the Divine injunction, she strove to sow the seed of Scripture truth among the rough, hardened men. By means of her ministrations to them and their families, she gained their confidence, so that most of the men had a kindly word for Miss B., while not a few went in wholesome dread of her faithful rebukes to their superstition and ungodliness. Among other agencies set in motion by her was a weekly meeting for expounding the Scriptures and for prayer, at which meeting a goodly number of the men attended. One of the wildest and fiercest of the miners was a tall, thick-set fellow called “ Bill.” He was the terror of the neighbourhood, and by his reckless daring and evil habits had earned a repute for sin far outreaching all the rest.

Once now and then, Bill would attend at this weekly meeting, but as

« PreviousContinue »