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" Ah! yes,"


It was Christmas eve. Mr. and Mrs. Turner, their son and daughter, and apprentice all sat round a good fire. As early in the eve as they could they had finished work, made up a good fire, put on the Christmas log, and satcracking nuts and jokes, waiting for Christmas appearing, that they might hear the Christmas carol sung by the choir from the village. With them the eve went pleasantly on.

“ What a wild, cold night this is !” said Mrs. Wood, as she drew nearer the fire and took the poker to break it up: About this they were all of one opinion. The wind howled past the house and beat the snow against the window. “May God help those who are without homes to go to on a night like this,” said Mr. Wood. said Mrs. Wood, as she looked at her children so happy and

“Do you really think, father, that there are people without homes of any kind ?” asked their daughter.

“I am sorry to think there are," replied Mr. Wood ; " don't you remember reading that story about a poor boy who was found dead in the snow ?"

“ Yes,” said she; “but somehow I thought it could not be true. I have read several such stories, and begin to think they are made up to please and interest those who are fond of such reading."

" You are mistaken, Mary,” said her father; some of them may be made up,' as you call it, but I can assure you that many of them are but too true. William," said he, addressing the apprentice, “just spread that sack outside the door to keep the snow from beating in, and I will tell you a true story.”

William took the sack and opened the door to do as he was bid. At that moment there came, through the open door, a piercing cry of distress. " Whatever is that?” they all said at once. Up jumped Mr. Wood and went out, followed by the apprentice. " It sounded like coming over there,” said Turner, as they walked a few yards from the house.

Mrs. Wood and her children were in a state of dreadful excitement during the next few minutes. “Suppose it should be some poor thing, such as we have just been talking about, without home?" said Mrs. Wood. “If it is, you will take it in, won't you, mother ?" asked Sam, her boy. “That I will,” said the good woman.

Just then Mr. Wood and Turner, who had been out of sight for some minutes, reappeared, carrying with them the cold, and apparently the lifeless, body of Tom Foster. They soon discovered that he was not dead, and this increased the excitement. Turner was despatched for the doctor; and, as if by magic, out came blankets, flannels, water bottles, and other things. A bed was soon made up and Tom laid upon it, and every hing done that could be to restore warmth and get up circulation. The doctor, who happened to be at home, was soon in attendance, examined the boy, gave directions, and said, before taking his departure, that the lad might be brought round.

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CHAPTER VII.-THE WAY OPENING. IF Tom Foster had been the only son of Mr. Wood, that gentleman could not have been more anxious about him; whilst Mrs. Wood and her daughter attended him as only a mother and a sister could.

There had been a good deal of speculation about him. They had tried to make out who he was, where he came from, and where he was going. They examined his old clothes before burning them, to see if anything they contained would help them to get his name. In the inside pocket of Tom's old jacket they found the little Testament. Mr. Wood opened it and read from the cover these words : “To my dear wife, Elizabeth Foster.”

Botń the book and the inscription pleased them very much. They came to the conclusion that the giver of that book must have been the boy's father, and the receiver his mother ; and said Mr. Wood :

“ Poor as this lad is, I am inclined to think that he has had a good father and mother. I am both surprised and pleased to find the New Testament in that poor boy's pocket. And,” continued he, "what pleases me most is to find that the book has been well used. If his mother has used it so well, it speaks well for her, and also for her boy. As a rule, good mothers make good children. But if it has been used thus by the boy, it looks better still.”

"Whoever he is, and whatever he is," said Mrs. Wood, “I am thankful that we have been able to save him from dying in the snow. If his mother be dead, as I am inclined to think she must be, I hope she has gone to heaven. If she be in heaven, and can see her poor boy now, I am sure she will glad to know that he is in the hands of those who will not send him away until he is better."

After saying this, she bent over him and, with all those feelings which none but a mother can understand, she kissed him. At that moment Tom opened his eyes and said in a sweet voice : “Mother! mother! don't leave me yet!” This was the first time he had spoken since they brought him into their house the day but one before. It almost seemed as if the kiss of Mrs. Wood had broken the spell of some sweet dream and woke him up. For the next few moments he lay quite still, and then, as if consciousness had returned, he turned his head and looked about him, to make out, if possible, where he was. The last thing he could remember was the swimming in his head and falling down in the snow. Now he found himself in a good warm bed, in a nice room, with kind-looking people at his bedside.

" Where am I?" said the lad. “ Among friends," said Mrs. Wood, “ who will take care of you


you are better “ Thank you," said Tom, and closed his eyes for a minute or two, during which they saw, or thought they saw, his lips move.

“ If you please, did you find a book in my pocket?” inquired he, a few minutes later. “Yes, here it is,” said Miss Wood, as she held up the Testament. “I am very glad it is not lost,” said Tom." I should like you to read a little of it for me, if you would be so kind.” The

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girl read him a few verses from one of the gospels, during which time he lay with his hands upon his breast, evidently drinking in all she read.

After the reading he took a little food and seemed much better. A few simple questions were put to him, all which he answered, and then told his story as well as he could with his little strength. As Tom spoke, Mrs. Wood and her daughter cried, and even Mr. Wood coughed when he did not want, blew his nose often, and one or twice wiped a little moisture from the corners of his eyes.

There was a short silence when he had finished, during which, being exhausted with the little effort he had made, he fell asleep. Mr. and Mrs. Wood retired from the room, leaving their daughter to watch with Tom. When they were alone in another room, Mrs. Wood said : “I like that lad, and wish we could do something to save him from want."

“So do I," said the husband; “but what can we do? He shall remain here until he is better, but after that I do not see very clearly what we can do for him.”

“Neither do I see very clearly yet,” said she ; " but I was thinking that as you go to town every week, and know a great many shopkeepers there, you might, perhaps, when he is strong enough, be able to find a place for him with some of them.”

“So I might," said he ; “that is a capital idea ; I wonder I did not think of it before. Now that you have named it, I remember that only last week Mr. Trueman was saying to me how hard it is to get good honest boys, and that he could find work for two if he could get them, and would be glad if I could recommend one or two to him from the country:" Indeed,”

,said the wife," then I should like you to speak to Mr. Trueman about Tom. If he would take him, it would be a good place for him if he proved

himself to be worthy of it.” “I shall be there on Thursday next,” said Mr. Wood, “and will have a talk to him about it. In the meantime the boy must be cared for. I can safely leave that to you. I know that in your hands he is as safe as he can well be."

Perhaps we ought to tell our readers that Mr. Wood was a sort of general dealer. The village was too small to support shops of every description such as are found in almost every public street in large towns and cities. He therefore made it his business to keep everything in the wearing line, from a row of pins to a suit of clothes ; in usables, from a farthing candle to a washing-tub; and in eatables, from a bit of salt to a bag of flour.


He was

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E kept rabbits together, Ben and I. That, in truth, was

the only link which united us. We were alike in our
strong partiality to these boys' pets, and Ben was known
as a capital judge. I, therefore, joined him as a er.
He found the skill and I the capital, so between us we

managed to secure stock which was the pride of the village. In one or two other ways we were thrown together a little.

a scholar in our Sunday school, and though I never attended I used to see him in public worship at the chapel, and he was a pupil in our day school, where I joined him occasionally in sundry games. Still

, our acquaintance never ripened into friendship. He was much older than I; his tastes, with the one exception already stated, were unlike mine, and his relatives (save a sister who was a much-respected servant of my mother's) were people with whom I could not consort.

One of them kept a famous inn in the village, “The Coach and Six." He was Ben's uncle on the mother's side, and had gained notoriety as an expert prize-fighter. In those days that brutal sport was dignified as vi the noble science" by blacklegs, rich and poor, and "The Coach and Six" was patronised extensively as a head centre of pugilistic celebrities.

Ben used to call in daily or nightly, and from early boyhood drank, though seldom heavily, of the intoxicating cup. He was tall, handsome, amiable, and generous. Few boys in the village were less inclined to quarrel, or more ready to forgive a wrong, than he. Indeed, for years he was called a coward by reason of his love of peace, and refused many a challenge to fight from boys scarcely half his size, although he could have a knocked them into fits" in five

But at the village wakes, in the year when Ben became twenty years old, his whole life got turned into another current-unhappily the wrong current. Carousing at “The Coach and Six,” he drank on the “ Feast Monday” more heavily than ever before. The conPersation turned, as usual, on boxing, and his pugnacious uncle raised the laugh against 'big Ben for his gentle Jesus sort of temper," as it was irreverently put.

Stung to bitterness and defiance alike by profanity and provocation, Ben challenged his uncle to fight, greatly to the consternation of all who knew his opponent's skill and his own utter inexperience. But into the adjoining croft the eager company went, where Ben 80 thrashed the old pugilist as to bring him within an inch of his grave. The news fled :quickly, and from that day Ben was a lost man. “Noblemen," with nothing noble but the name, courted and caressed him. Everybody must “ drink his health,” and treat him

one glass." No longer could village life be endured. To

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London he must go for “ training." Feasting and fighting, became an idol and a sot. Battle after battle he fought until he won and wore the silver belt of “The Champion of all England.” His patrons put him in possession of a famous hotel in the metropolis, which became for years the busy resort of bullies and blacklegs, great and small. In the zenith of his fame he came down to his native village to marry his cousin—the daughter of the uncle whom he had nearly killed, and who, in consequence, became his enthusiastic admirer! The day was observed as a general holiday, and the deeds of publicans and sinners on that occasion formed the blackest page of our village history. Years rolled on, and though Ben seemed to prosper, yet his heart was ill at ease. He came at times to H--, and admitted to former friends that he had made & fatal mistake in that old “ Coach and Six." There were moments, he confessed, of sad and solemn thought, when all the past became vanity and vexation of spirit," and when, in all their vital force, he felt the powers of the world to come. In an agony of remorse he would weep as though his heart would break, and we, who knew the native nobleness and tenderness of that heart, could not but pity bis condition, and call down a million curses on that horrid drink which first maddened him to fight, which next enslaved him, and by which he was now bringing up a family and hoarding a fortune.

But reverses came !

In 18—, through neglect occasioned by intoxication, his hotel took fire in the night-time, and all his children, save a son, perished. This appalling calamity so affected his wife that she soon after died broken-hearted. To "drown his troubles” poor Ben drank harder than ever, and of more ardent liquid. Cursing the demon by which he was led captive, and the day on which he first yielded to it, he lived on in untold misery for a few more years, At length he died as he had lived, leaving his only son the bad legacy of a London drink-shop and a dishonoured name. That son, not having lived out half his days, dropped into a drunkard's grave. They all now sleep in the old churchyard hard by our native homes. Ben by drink became a prize-fighter, a publican, and a miserable profligate, and died when a little over forty ; I, by sobriety and grace, am in full vigour, have as much of heaven as is good for me on earth, and can boast of the proud distinction of having been March 4, 1877.




MR. CHAIRMAN, and Ladies, and Gentlemen all,

You have heard my dear schoolfellows plead ;
You have heard the report, which I think I may call

A very fair statement indeed.

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