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to school to delay a quarter of an hour, and but a shake he had had, and a few days' help in conveying Farmer Welland home. more rest would restore him; but now that
“You'll look in a bit, till I get over the hay was all in, and the corn began to This,' said the Farmer to Martin. I'm a look red, he began to wonder why the lone man, you know, and have only old strength did not return to his limbs. Betty to talk to.'
A few days later and the village doctor And Martin promised. The farmer was called in, and told him that he would had lost his wife very soon after they never rise from his bed again. were married, and since then, now ten Martin Black was now more than ever years ago, he had turned melancholy, the by John Welland's bedside, and it seemed villagers said, and cared little to converse to him that he did well in this case to let with his fellow-men.
Mrs. Fortescue have the care of his little A pity, folks said, for he was young yet,
household while he tended the dying man. barely forty, and might have married Weak as he was, John Welland liked again. But this was not John Welland's to lie by the open window whence he could way. He wanted no one to fill the place see the old church with Mary's grave in of his lost Mary. Martin himself was half the shadow ; it did not disturb him either surprised at the invitation to visit the when the children's voices at play on the farmer, but he gladly availed himself of it. green would be heard in their shrill young Welland was a rich man for his position gladness.
gladness. For Welland had them much in in life, and there was a good deal of real his thoughts, that little flock of Vartin's business to be done in the way of over- whom Mary might bave held dear. looking and account-keeping on his farm At his request Martin had one day which would have suffered from neglect, opened his Prayer Book at the Burial Ser- | so it became a regular custom for Martin vice and read the opening sentences. Then to go up to the Red Farm when the Welland stopped him. children were in bed, and do what he Nay, but that's true,' he said, we can could for the sick man. Often the busi- carry nothing out of the world. I've often ness talk would shade off into something wanted to say a word to you, Martin, about less hard and worldly, and by-and-by it my bit of money. I don't think I've done came to pass that Martin had the story that good with it I might while I was of the farmer's early sorrow, and was able about in the world. I was too down-hearted, to say the word of comfort that the sorely and God forgive me for that; but I should stricken heart needed.
like it to be of use, and I've willed it where I never could speak of it to any but I think it will do good. Remember that you,' said the farmer, with a sigh of relief; when you hear where it's gone. Mr. "but somehow it came across me that you Fortescue has my will. And now go on, and Mary would have made friends over please, it'll not be long before they'll be readthose orphans if she had lived, she was ing that chapter when I can't listen to it.' always one for children. I must do some- Welland was right. Before the air grew what for them when I get round.'
chill and keen with the early frosts he was But days went by, and Farmer Welland
And the Red Farm, as well did not seem to get round, he had never as all the worldly goods which once were had the doctor, always declaring that it was John Welland's, were left to Martin Black.
in his grave.
"SWIFT TO HEAR.'
• Having none near of kin left to me,' ran the words of the will, “I leave all my possessions to Martin Black, only wishing on my death-bed that I had lived like him, caring for the poor.'
Martin was completely taken aback; such an event had never occurred to him as possible, even when he recalled Welland's mention of his will.
Here was wealth indeed, not to be refused.
But first he was almost alarmed at the hequest. Not for some time could he see that here was the answer to his prayer for guidance. God had willed that he should work in a wide sphere.
The orphans were moved to the Red Farm; their numbers were greatly enlarged, but still Martin kept his name of father, and still the little lads and lasses, as they grew up, laboured with their hands for daily bread.
Once again Martin Black's household excited attention, and be was advised to try new plans for its management, but he shook his head.
'I'm too old for fine ways,' he would say; they may be best, but they would not suit me.'
And Martin Black's children as a rule turned out well, loving him first, the kind father who rescued them from misery and want, and afterwards the good Father in Heaven of whom he daily spoke to them.
My story is ended now, the story of a poor man doing what he could for his brethren. Martin Black is rich now, but
may be sure that he who put talent to such good account will not be found wanting when God asks him as to those other talents given into his charge.
You who read, I pray you may learn somewhat from the tale of this poor deformed shoemaker.
H. A. F.
T. JAMES tells us that every one
ought to be 'swift to bear, slow to speak’(i. 19); but this does not mean that we should do as the girl is doing in the picture,
for she is being swift to hear' things that were not intended for her.
It is wrong to listen at cracks or keyholes. Such conduct is no better than thieving: for it is as dishonest to steal people's words as to steal their pockethandkerchief. We should all be above such meanness, and never let our ear be where we should not wish our ear to be seen. A common proverb says, 'Listeners never hear any good of themselves.' And even if this be not always true, at least listeners never ought to hear any good of themselves; for they are doing what is mean and wrong by listening to what is not intended for them.
But there are many times when we ought to be 'swift to hear.' We should be swift to hear' in church, when God's word is read and preached. Children ought to be 'swift to hear’in school, when their teachers are taking pains to teach them. They ought to be “swift to hear' when their father or mother speaks to them: and they ought to be swift to do what they are told, even if it stops them in their play. They ought specially to be “swift to hear when the still small voice' in their own breast speaks to them; for that voice is conscience, which is really God's Spirit telling them what is right and what is wrong.
For all that we hear, even in right ways, without any 'eaves-dropping' (as dishonest listening is sometimes called), will not do us good : for alas! the devil has his preachers in the world as well as God. So when you have been “swift to
hear,' you must as it were take a sieve and you listen in this way, you will not only be sift in your mind the wheat from the chaff, hearers of good things yourselves, but you the gold from the rubbish.
will often have treasures of wisdom and This is the way to become wise; and if knowledge to give to others.
TIIU IEDGE OF THORNS. listened to this advice, which nevertheless (Continued from p. 117.)
he was careful to act upon. He had scarcely CHAPTER II.
finished his task and set to his lessons, OU are not fit to go to school, Clement,' when the masters came in and the classes
said Vrs. Harley, as the boys rose were called up: he felt very guilty and from the breakfast-table. Your hair looks anxious while his exercise was being exas though it had never been combed at all amined, and when the critical moment had this morning, and your clothes want brush- passed, and the chance of detection was ing. Run upstairs and see to yourself; and safely over, the relief seemed very great, but you'd better put on a clean collar, too.' not for long. The sense that he had acted
These little attentions to his toilet took unworthily still weighed upon him and up more time than Clement was prepared crushed down his spirits. Bob's whispered to lose. It quite frightened him to think congratulation of “ All right; you see he of his unwritten exercise. Mr. Jones has didn't twig, fell flatly on his ear. Clement ! been so angry lately,' he said to himself; knew it was far from being all right. He 'he is sure to report me to Dr. Green. I had done a wrong and deceitful thing, and don't know whatever I am to do.' Then though it had not been found out, its stain
the tempting suggestion,-Bob still clung to him; his lessons, never proFreeman is very good-natured, and he is perly learned, were most imperfectly said. quite certain, besides, to have his exercise Mr. Jones was displeased, and Clement felt ready; there wouldn't be much harm for more depressed than ever. once in getting him to give one a peep at
What ails you?' asked Harry as they it; no need to copy it word for word, but it were going home to dinner. "You seem so would save no end of bother looking up the dull.' rules and declensions: if I start at once I Clement did not care to own the truth to can get done before school begins. You
• his brother, who was younger than himself, have always despised the lads who crib; it and who, like himself until now, had never isn't honest to take credit for work you have stooped to the school tricks for imposing not done,' whispered conscience sternly; upon masters and escaping work, so he but Clement stopped his ears to the warn- answered : ing voice, and shouting to Harry that he • I didn't know my lessons, and Mr. Jones was off, walked briskly along the road, glanc- was in a regular wax. I expect I shall be ! ing hurriedly at his lessons as he went. getting expelled one of these days, and then
The boarders hailed his early arrival with what would father say?' glee, there was time for a game of some
Nonsense!' returned Harry cheerfully. sort before school; but Clement declined to • And your exercise was well done. I was make one of the party, and put his hesi- afraid you mightn't have got through it tating request to Bob. It was complied with properly after all, and so asked Tim Robineasily enough; Bob made very light of the son as he passed our form.' matter, and laughed at the other's scruples. Bother Tim Robinson !' Clement cried
Only mind you're not found out. You impatiently, flaming up as red as a turkeymust make a bit of difference here and cock; and little Harry said no more, but there, or old Jones will smell a rat.'
silently wondered what could have put his Clement felt a good deal ashamed as he brother out so.