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for our work here, but for your own sakes. You will like to feel to-morrow that you have had some share in making the place ready for our Christmas service for the poor old people. It is a great thing to be able to give something, however little, to show that we have a part in the gladness of Christmas. And, Ellen,' she said, turning to me, you are old enough to understand that true gladness does not depend on whether we are rich and have many good things to enjoy, but on whether we really thank God in our hearts for the holy Child who lay for us in the manger at Bethlehem.'
“We ran home through the snow, and were very busy and happy till dusk decking our cottage room.
“Our work was hardly finished when father came in. Charlie ran up to him, and was going to pull his sleeve, and point to the holly, when something in father's face stopped him. He had looked worn and old for many a month, but never so sad and broken down as now.
“He sat down close to the fire, warming his hands at it in a weary,
listless sort of way, and never looking at any of us. “At last he spoke: The last chance gone! I've been to Mr. Martin, and he had no work for me ; was too busy to hear my tale-too busy, that's always the cry. Ay, it's a blithe world to some, this Christmas time, but for my part I could fain have done with it; why should a man stop in a world where there's nought for him to do?' He was silent, and en broke out again : This is where it cuts : look here,' and he pulled up his coat-sleeve, here's an arm as strong and fit for work as ever it was, but how long is it now since it has struck a good honest stroke to earn bread for the weak ones ?—and it's not by my will I'm idle, God knows, not by my will.'
66 •?Tis God's world, not man's, my son,' said granny, and depend upon it he has work in it for you; only you keep ready and watching for it, and sure enough it will come.'
“ 'Tis a long time coming, anyway,' said my father.
“I know it; and so is spring sometimes when the frost holds fast, but it comes sure enough in the end; only keep up heart, and don't give over trying. And, Jonathan, went on granny, laying her dear old withered head on father's shoulder, don't give over praying, neither: remember, if men are too busy to listen to you, God never is.'
“I don't know what's come over me, mother,' said father, by-and-by ; may be it's the long walk in the cold; but I feel so sick and faint : here, Ellen, let me lean on your shoulder, lass, and I'll make shift to get to bed, though it's early yet.'
«• There, Ellen !' said Charlie, when I returned from helping him upstairs, 'father never so much as looked at our holly.'
“Never mind; he'll think all the more of it to-morrow morning,' I answered. But when to-morrow morning came, poor father could not leave his bed. It was Christmas morning; the bells rang merrily, and granny and I both wanted sadly to go to church; but father must not be left. I did want to see how our holly looked in the schoolroom; but that wasn't the half of it; I longed to hear the glad words of Christmas blessing and joy, to sing the Christmas anthem of praise, and to hear our good old minister's voice telling us once more the sweet story of old.'
“ But only Charlie and little Susan could go ; and afterwards both of them went to have dinner with a kind neighbour who had heard that father was ill, and guessed that we should have but spare Christmas fare that year.
“In the evening we sat by father's bed : he seemed a little better, and more like himself, and we read the Bible and some hymns together, and talked quietly about Christmas days long ago. Granny told us of some which she remembered when she was a girl like me, and father spoke of the first Christmas he and our dear mother spent together.
"I went to bed that night feeling as if Christmas had really brought its own blessing with it, though it had seemed so sad and grave.
“A week went by; father had been gaining ground little by little, and throwing off the effeots of the fatigue, chill, and disappointment. It was New Year's Eve, and he would be down stairs for the first time to tea; Charlie was in high spirits, and had arranged all the holly over again to give him a cheerful welcome. I set out the little round tea-table with the best cloth, and stuck a bunch of red berries in the loaf, while granny made the tea; byand-by we heard the old stairs creak, and down father
“How bright it all looks ! It heartens a man up to see such a room as this : it makes one more able to hope that a happy new year is really coming.'
“Father sat down with Susy on his knee, and Charlie close to his side, while granny poured out the tea and I toasted a slice of bread. *Just hark to the bells, children,' said father ; 'they say a many different things to-night to a many different people ; if I could make them say what I like to me, it would be “ Work is coming, work is coming."
“Father," I said, 'I could easily fancy that is just what they are saying; I can almost hear the words.'
“At that moment the door opened, and a voice cried, • A happy new year to you all.' Jonathan, it's a gentleman,' said granny, rising and smoothing down her apron ; and we all stood up as the gentleman came in. I'knew at once that it was Mr. Norton, who had wanted to buy our holly last week, but I could not think why he was come to see us.' "Well, Houghton,' said he, ' I've brought you some news which won't make your new year less happy, I hope. What do you say to beginning it by getting to work ?'
" It's the thing I long for beyond what my words can ever tell,' answered father.
“I thought as much ; I may say 'I knew as much from your children here; and I've heard of a place that I fancy will just suit you, as time-keeper at Newton Mill. The owner is a friend of mine, and I have spoken for you: you may apply to-morrow morning, and I've no doubt you will get the place. And mind you this, Houghton, if it hadn't been for the good character you've earned among
all your neighbours, I daren't have recommended you ; the situation is one of trust, but I hear on every side that you are an honest, steady man, and one who will fear to do wrong. You've had, I know, a long trial of your patience, but I hope this may prove the right thing at last.
"God bless you, sir,' said father, there's none can tell the load you've taken off my mind.'
Say no more, my man, I'm glad to have been able to serve you; and now, once again a happy new year to you, and good-bye.'
“Here Mr. Norton went away, after patting Susy on the head and giving her a bright sixpence for a new year's gift.
" When he was gone we all sat very still for a while, till father said, 'Let us thank God!' and we all kneeled while father, in a few broken words, thanked and blessed the good God who had heard our prayers, forgiven our murmurs, and helped us in our need.
“As we stood up, after repeating all together the Lord's Prayer, father laid his hand solemnly on our heads : "God grant,' he said, “ that the new year may indeed be rich in blessing, and a beginningt o better things to each one of us. You were right, mother,' he went on, ‘in bidding me hope : who would have thought, a week ago, we should be so glad as we all are this evening. But our surprises were not yet at an end, for very soon we had another visitor. Farmer Johnson came in, wrapped up in his top-coat, his beard quite white with frost.
“ • Can't stop a minute, Houghton; but I told my missus I should drop in to wish you a happy new year as I went by. Says she, “Sam, if so be you are going there, just make room in your pockets for these : holly is all very well in its way, but 'tis poor cheer when the board is empty.'
From out the pockets of his heavy coat, our neighbour produced a fat fowl, a paper of mince-pies, and some large rosy apples, the sight of which made little Susy clap her hands with delight. There, now I'm off; so good-bye all ;' and before we could thank our kind friend, he was gone.
“It all comes out of the holly, father,' said Charlie ; it was talking to us about the holly made Mr. Norton try to get you work, and 'twas the holly brought Farmer Johnson here: I'm so glad I told you about it, Ellen ! And Charlie evidently thought that all the credit of our good fortune was due to him.
• • 'Tis like to be a happy new year,' said father, 'when it begins with so much goodness-goodness from God and from our fellows;' and though he turned away, I am sure I saw tears glisten in his eyes. “Now, children, before you go to bed we will sing the evening hymn together ;' and led by granny, whose voice was still clear and sweet, we sang the words mother taught us years ago before she died
“Glory to thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light;
Under thine own almighty wings.' “When we ended, granny said, “Yes, let us praise God, indeed, for from Him all blessings flow, not only the blessings which make us so glad this evening, but the constant blessings of his love and grace, given us in Christ Jesus our Lord. How often we forget to thank him for these, just because some lesser things are withheld ; if this is to be indeed a happy new year, we must ask him never to let us forget his goodness, nor lose our trust in him, whether he send us trial or comfort.'
So I ended this story of my childhood; and before any one had time to speak, we heard a step crushing the frozen snow outside. “ There's father !" all cried, and ran off to see who would be first to take his coat and welcome him home. And till they returned I sat thinking quietly over the dear past of which I had spoken, and watching the holly sparkling in the dancing fire-light.
OLD SORROWS AND NEW JOYS.
had become dirty slush in the streets, and the fog
like dew to the hair and garments of the few footpassengers whom necessity compelled to be abroad. Within doors, by the help of brilliant gaslights and heaped up blaz ing fires, it was comfortable enough ; and happy faces sat round many such a fire that night, waiting for the bells to ring the old year out and the new one in. But that night, as on all other nights in the year, there were other scenes to be witnessed where happy faces could not be, and where no bright fires or cheerful lights could dispel the gloom.
“ Isn't he come yet, dear ?” asked a faint voice.
The speaker lay on a bed at one side of a small room, the rest of which looked crowded with only a table and two chairs and a small chest of drawers. A dim fire flickered in the grate. On the drawers stood a medicine bottle or two, and on the little table a tray with teapot and two cups and saucers. Over the mantlepiece hung a few photographs and two miniatures, in the dress of fifty years before. These miniatures, the old china, and the curtains of the bed, frayed and faded though they were, were all that told of the past -a past of comfort, prosperity, and wealth.
No, mother dear," was the reply in a sad but sweet and patient voice; " but it is not late yet. The evenings are so long now. You've had a little sleep, dear. Le me make up your pillows."
The effort was almost too much, indeed to an experienced