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“Oh, uncle, you are just the wonderful man Stella says you are; you always go reading people's thoughts. How did you guess I wanted to go skating ?"
“ I did not guess; you told me with those two restless feet of yours, that made me tremble lest they should conceal certain little instruments that would cut holes in my poor old carpet, if they set off in right earnest; but I quite sympathise with your wish; and as there is no reason we should not make two pleasures in one day—especially when that day only comes once a year—we will take our skates with us and use them on Eunice's pond."
Does she keep a rink?” asked Janie, in a tone of surprise.
“Well, yes; I suppose I may say she does, as long as the weather permits. At any rate, nature has accommodated her with one for the present; and her young friends take care to make good use of it.”
“She looks a grand old lady,” exclaimed Janie, flitting from the subject of the rink to Eunice herself, a photograph of whom she held in her hand, and was now closely examining
Janie could not have better expressed the universal opinion of Eunice than by the words “old lady," for such indeed she was in thought, word, and act; and although “daughter of Africa” was written on every feature of her now aging face, “ king's daughter” was plainly visible in every glance of her calm clear eye. Her speech had become almost English, and her pronunciation was good, except now and then, when memory, in recalling former scenes, would also bring back a few of the “ des” and “ deys” of her youth. Her soul brimmed over with the love of Christ, and her heart, like that of her Divine Master, overflowed in tenderness towards children. Hence was it that whenever Mr. Lyne had young visitors staying in his house, a visit to old Eunice was amongst the invariable arrangements made for their and his pleasure. And now his little niece Janie was to be initiated into the delights, with the prospect of a skate on the frozen pond as a finishing stroke.
"Must we take anything with us to give her, uncle ?" said Janie, as she stuffed her chubby hands into a pair of warm gloves.
“On the contrary, Janie, I expect we shall take something from her," replied Mr. Lyne, speaking too seriously for a joke.
“Oh, uncle, how mean ! I beg your pardon. Oh, please don't be angry; I didn't mean to be rude; only Stella always says it is a shabby trick to take presents from poor people unless you do it to please them."
“That's just it, my pet. Tell Stella, with my love, that she has hit the exact nail on the head. Dear old Eunice has a whole casket of treasures; and we cannot please her better than by taking one from it.”
“Especially as it's New Year's Day," put in Janie.
“Especially as it is New Year's Day," repeated Mr. Lyne, adding, as he held up the bright young face for a kiss, “I expect there will be something very special brought forth out of her treasures for to-day.”
" That's like sort of Bible talking-treasures new and old,'” said Janie; but Mr. Lyne only smiled.
Presently uncle and niece were all ready, equipped as became pedestrians on a bright, spangly, cold New Year's morning, when blue sky overhead and dry frosty ground under-foot tempt them forth into the crisp air of new-born January.
“What have you got there? Sandwiches for the way?” asked Mr. Lyne, pointing to a paper bag that Janie crunched mysteriously in her left hand. She laughed, and, opening the bag, said,
“Only sandwiches for the robins, uncle, as we go along the road.” And then Mr. Lyne saw a plentiful supply of crumbs, without which the little girl rarely went a long walk in frosty weather.
That is just as it should be ! Crumbs for the birds from our hands, and treasures for us from God's hand. Ah! you are leading the way to Eunice's casket, I see !” and Mr. Lyne, with a glow of pleasure, took hold of Janie's empty hand and ran with her down the somewhat dangerous path leading to the cottage, where, long before they reached it, they espied Eunice's fine figure standing in the doorway, waiting to receive and welcome them with, “A happy New Year to you and yours.”
“What, not afraid of this keen air, Eunice ?” was Mr. Lyne's greeting, accompanied with a hearty shake of both her hands.
“I am not afraid of anything of the good Lord's sending ; and as for not coming out to meet you, sir, why, there is nothing that He likes better than to have us ready, expecting our mercies," was Eunice's reply, spoken with a fervency that was inimitable.
“But is not that setting me down in your list of mercies rather too decidedly?" said Mr. Lyne, thinking that perhaps in the fulness of her heart the faithful woman had spoken without thought. But no, it was not often Eunice tripped in her speech. She had meant what she said, as her answer proved.
“Sir, just as I caught sight of you and little missie, I was counting-nay, that's impossible—I was trying to count out my mercies; and then when I saw you, I called out to myself, • There, Eunice, is one of the biggest coming now;' for, sir—though I've lived my three-score and ten-next to the blessed Lord Himself, I have never found a greater blessing than a friend to change words with about our great salvation and the good things prepared for us poor sinners in the Father's many mansions. It seems then as if my soul would bound right away, and up to the fields of light. Eh, sir, and we must not lightly esteem these glories, when we know that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals them to us." I
Eunice here paused to conduct her friends to her small parlour, when, being arrested by Janie's awe-struck expres
I See I Cor. ii. 9, 10.
sion, she asked gently, but with the same deference that she would have paid to an older person
"Does my young lady know anything of the Lord's mercies yet? It is a blessed thing to begin counting them with our earliest breath on our yet-growing fingers.” Then, seeing that the little girl blushed and looked confused, she added, benevolently,
“ Answer to the Lord, dear child, not to old Eunice; she can't help you, but He can, and, what is more, He will, if you ask Him.” Then, turning to Mr. Lyne, she asked him to partake of some refreshment, which, fully expecting this visit, she had set out on a small table by the fire. Oh
yes, indeed; it would never do to let Janie go without having tasted your cake. “Eunice's cake' has all but received a prize medal in my family; and she expected something out of the common when I brought her here, did you not, Janie ?"
“Yes; but I didn't think it would be cake," stammered out the child, taking a slice as she spoke.
“What, does not little miss like cake ? ” asked old Eunice, bending graciously for the reply, which was too faintly uttered for her aged ears to catch quickly.
“Yes, thank you; but I thought
“What did you think, Janie? Speak out: don't keep our friend bending forward like that," interposed Mr. Lyne.
“I thought she would give me something out of her casket; you said so, uncle.”
Eunice glanced at Mr. Lyne for an explanation, when, perceiving a pleasant twinkle in his eye, she immediately replied,
“To be sure, and I would let you choose ; but there is such a wonderful variety in my casket that you'd be lost in the choice. So, with your leave, young lady, old Eunice will select a New Year's gift for you.”
“What, for my very own ?” cried Janie. “That is for you to say, my pet one.
There it is in all its beauty, a pearl of great price, waiting for you to take for your very, very own, if you will but do so.”
Eunice was getting excited, and when Janie gazed at her in silent wonder, she added,
"Dere it is; de price of blood; de dear Lord got it for you, and you may just have it for de taking. Oh, little missie, just think of that. Think of it this New Year's Day, when we are naturally set to counting up our mercies."
With these words old Eunice went to a shelf, and reaching down a Bible, exclaimed, as she held it triumphantly aloft,
“This is Eunice's casket, and here she keeps the treasure. Here's the pearl.”
She laid the Bible on the table, and turning over the leaves until she came to this text, “ The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth 'us from all sin,” she devoutly read it, and then exclaimed,
“There, missie, that is the pearl out of my casket. I have all kinds of precious gems here ; but I have begun with this pearl, because as the gates of the golden city are made of one pearl, so old Eunice thinks the gates of salvation are made of this one pearl-text—the precious blood shed for sin, to give poor sinners a place in heaven when the Lord makes up His' jewels.”
Janie bowed her face in her hands, too overcome to respond to the tender, appealing touch that she felt on her shoulder, as Eunice waited for her to speak; so once again her aged friend said,
“Never mind, my darling ; speak out to the dear Lord all that is in your heart. You just give Him your soul to cleanse from all sin, and He will give it back to you without a spot, and then this will be à New Year's Day you will never forget, and a New Year's gift that will only grow stronger as it grows older, and better as it goes on."
Janie could only trust herself to throw her arms round Eunice's neck, and sob a loving farewell; then, hurrying away with her uncle, she forgot to take even so much as