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next few days little was seen of them.

One evening they were standing in a disused corner of the Palace
grounds, under the ruined window of the old banqueting hall, which
formed part of the wall enclosing the gardens of the modern wing of
the house. The corner where they stood was immediately adjoining the
wall of their own garden, and was part of an overgrown shrubbery
between the ruins and the parks.

Both boys were exceedingly dirty. Faces, capless heads, fingers,
clothes, all bore traces of the underground work from which they had
just emerged. They had burrowed from their cave, and were mightily
pleased at their point of exit. No place could be more secluded,
nor less likely to be discovered. And from the ruined wall close
by, under the shelter of a spreading elder, they were able to drop
easily either into the cathedral yard or the Bishop's garden.

"Now the game begins. We've got a base of operations," said David
grandly.

"How much?" asked Sandy.

"What you work from, and what you fall back upon, if you get
besieged. And it's a good base too," he added, looking round. "We've
got to make this passage hard and firm, and then hide it from that
prying gardener."

"An' we can pay back Mrs. Lytchett," said Sandy with joy.

"How?"

"Oh, I know! She just hates us going to the Bishop's window. He told
me he'd just got a new tin of gingerbread, an' now we can get in
wivout goin' through the gate. She's made that gate so it clicks."

"But you mustn't let her see."

"Not me! If she comes, we'll just run round the house, and she'll
fink we've come back way. And then she'll run round to catch us, an'
we shan't be there."

Sandy spoke with the certainty of much experience, as, indeed, he
had a right to do.

"Our character is all gone," David said thoughtfully, "so it don't
much matter how bad we are."

"No, s'long as it ain't wicked bad. We'll be highwaymen, but we
won't be thieves and robbers."

"We can get into the cathedral, too," suggested David.

And then, with minds full of revolution and anarchy, the boys bent
earnestly to the preliminary work of making their passage secure.

"Ross and Orme, you're never to go along there without us," David
said to his young brothers, when he had wriggled back to the cave
whence his passage started. Now their services were no longer
needed, they were felt to be rather nuisances.

"If you do, you'll get smacked right hard," said Sandy.

Both children fixed round eyes on their elders, unable to understand
this sudden change. They were dismayed at its injustice. For some
days they had been treated with indulgent kindness, all their faults
overlooked, so long as they did diligent work. They were cleaned
when possible, and consoled when their dirty appearance awoke wrath
in the powers responsible for them. Now, it seemed, all was changed.
There was no mistaking Sandy's attitude, as he stood ready to
administer the smacks alluded to. Nor were David's frowning brows
more encouraging.

Ross tried argument. "We'se scooped, too," he said. "We'se got
dirty, ever so," he added.

"Ever so," echoed Orme.

"No matter! You kids must do as you're bid, and if ever you go a
step along there you'll catch it. See?" said David. And the infants,
with moody brows, averred that they saw.

By this time the hole which formed the entrance to the cave was much
improved. The wooden steps had been replaced by a flight of mud
steps, the making of which had been a joy, not only to the boys,
but to the baby. They had required water as well as mud in their
making - endless paddlings and pattings and treadings down of little
feet before the staircase was complete. David had engineered the
proceedings, and Mr. Warde, now and then hovering about the top, had
conferred advice. He was not encouraged to descend. The boys wanted
no prying grown-ups to mar their schemes. Marjorie, now and then,
had suspicions that some extra mischief was afloat. Never before had
she known them to stick to anything for so long. But she recollected
the fascination of caves and holes, and was, besides, much engaged
with her own concerns.

[Illustration: =The Bishop and the boy.= - _p. 170._]

One evening the Bishop, on leaving the drawing-room, had gone to
his study. It had been a wet day, and the rain had finished in
a thunderstorm an hour or so before, leaving the sky washed and
pellucid under the summer moon.

The shutters had been closed and a little fire lighted; but
presently, finding the room warm, the Bishop opened the window, and
stood gazing over the wide lawn which occupied the space between the
house and the ruins.

The delicate tracery of the ruined window of the banqueting hall,
and the many unevennesses of the walls, stood out black against the
sky. Every object on the lawn - every bush and tree and flower - was
sharply distinct.

As he looked, his eye caught a movement among the distant shrubs.
Some small object was advancing along the gravelled walk surrounding
the lawn. Presently, as if attracted by the light, it turned off the
pathway on to the lawn, in a bee-line for the window.

The Bishop stood watching, wondering a little, when the object
resolved itself first into a small boy, and then into Sandy Bethune.

"Why, Sandy!" he exclaimed, "how did you get here?"

"Is it the middle of the night?" asked Sandy in his usual cheerful
way.

"Nearly. It's half-past eleven. Good gracious! What have you been
doing?"

For, on approaching the light, Sandy was seen to be covered with mud
and otherwise much disarrayed.

Sandy considered. He was in a deep fix - so deep a one as to threaten
the upheaval and overthrow of some well-laid plans, just on the
point of being carried out. The Bishop was an understanding man.
Sandy had confided in him before, and knew his worth. If only
Mrs. Lytchett did not live at the Palace, and spoil everything,
Sandy would have been quite willing to share that residence with
the Bishop. He had once told the Bishop so, artlessly asking when
Mrs. Lytchett was going away to live elsewhere. The Bishop, on his
side, found the children of his friend very charming, specially
so irrepressible Sandy; and was ready to be lenient when their
peccadilloes were in question. He now invited Sandy in, despite the
muddy covering which encased him from head to foot. Sitting down, he
began to question him gravely.

"What is it, Sandy? Why are you in such a mess?"

Sandy sat down on a little stool, as if glad to present his small
person to the fire, and said, "It's the bovering funderstorm. We'd
never thought of that. An' we got caught, an' had to take shelter,
an' when we got back our way was bunged up - all squashy with mud.
An' we hadn't got no spades nor fings out with us. So at last I said
I would go and scout - you know - an' then I saw you."

"Who's 'we'?" asked the Bishop.

"Me an' David."

"And how did you get into my garden?"

"Oh, over the wall. We're highwaymen, and we've got a way of our
own."

"Indeed. And where's David now?"

"Oh, he's over there, all muddy, tryin' to clean himself. He's a
deal worse than me," said Sandy cheerfully.

"He must indeed be bad, then. What do you propose to do?"

"That's it. We can't get back to the pantry window now our way's
gone," said artless Sandy. "Not in at all, not wivout knockin' at
the door. I did think p'raps" - persuasively - "you cud come and
knock."

"I see. And then?"

"Then, when you was talkin' to father, we cud slip in. Don't fink
father would see - not to notice."

"How long have you been highwaymen?" the Bishop asked.

"On'y about a week - and this is a sickener," said Sandy disgustedly.
"We was ghosts for a bit at first - till a woman screeched so we
nearly got caught, stupid fing!"

And the Bishop, remembering certain reports that had been made to
him, was pleased with his acumen in refusing to call in the police.

"If I were you, I should try a better line of business," he
said. "Ghosts frighten silly women, and highwaymen are not very
creditable, on the whole."

"Yes," agreed Sandy. "We're goin' to. Next we're goin' to be
pioneers and settlers."

"Ah, I see. And where are you going to settle?"

Sandy's bright eyes were turned suspiciously to the kind ones
looking down upon him. He fidgeted uneasily, and a smile came across
the Bishop's face.

"I see," he said. "Perhaps you have not yet made up your minds."

Sandy looked uncomfortable. "Not 'zactly," he confessed. "Truth is,
it depends - I don't fink Dave would like me to tell. It's such a
grand plan," he went on enthusiastically, "it 'ud be such a pity - - "

"To have it spoilt. Well, don't get into more mischief than you can
help," the Bishop cautioned, "and don't do anything to make your
mother uneasy."

"Mother? Oh, mother'll laugh - she always does. You see, the bother
is," confided Sandy, "there ain't no places to pioneer - every bit's
taken. An' we've on'y just thought on it; an' it's splendid. We
want a girl badly, though. Margie? No, Margie's no good. Settlers
has wives an' squaws," went on Sandy pensively, "and we've on'y got
Barbe lately, an' she's aw'fly little. 'Sides, you have to take such
care on her - she's the on'y one Mr. Pelham's got. There's a lot of
us, but mother says she cudn't spare not the littlest bit of one. So
much less him his one, an' such a little one. It's a 'sponsibility,"
sighed Sandy, "when you want to do fings."

Through the open window came the musical sound of the chimes from
the cathedral. The Bishop, with a quick sigh, rose.

"There is a quarter to twelve. Your father will be going to bed.
Fetch David quickly."

"Should fink he's cleaned by now," said Sandy hopefully. "He was
rubbin' himself wiv the leaves off the trees - drippin' wet."

Mr. Bethune opened his front door in response to a low knocking,
which at first he did not hear. His eyes had the unseeing, far-away
look in them of a man disturbed in a possessing line of thought. The
red light in the hall shone on the face of the Bishop, who entered
and stood on the doormat for a minute, in such a position as to
shield the entrance of the two muddy boys.

"Here is the _Guardian_ for you," he said, "with a very appreciative
notice of your paper." Then he went on, "And tell Marjorie to-morrow
morning not to be too cross with the state of the boys' clothes.
They've been in mischief, but it won't happen again - not the same
sort."

[Illustration: The father pretended not to hear the scuffling of
small feet.]

The two men looked at one another and laughed, and the father
pretended not to hear the scuffling of small feet upon the stairs.
The Bishop went home with no weight on his conscience - only a little
pathetic envy of the man he had just left. Somehow those stifled
scufflings up the stairs had gone straight to the depths of his very
tender and lonely heart.

* * * * *

"The Bishop knows all 'bout it," excused Sandy sturdily, when
confronted by Marjorie the next morning.

"The Bishop knows that all your clothes are in the bath, with both
taps running!"

"Well, he does," Sandy repeated, "proberly. He said we were the
out-an'-outest dirtiest little grubs he'd ever seen."

"That you are - no one will contradict him. But he couldn't know that
your clothes were in the bath."

"Yes, he would. If they were so dirty, where else could they be?
It's all that 'gustin' funderstorm."

"Thunderstorm!" echoed Marjorie suspiciously. "That was at ten
o'clock. What has that got to do with your clothes and the Bishop?"

"Tell you it has. You'd best ask him, if you don't b'lieve me," said
Sandy, hurt at her unbelief. "Anyhow, he does know that they was
dirty. An' just cos we want to save trouble an' wash 'em ourselves,
you're cross an' spiteful. Girls are no good - 'cept little uns.
What's there to put on? Best be somefink old, cos there's a deal of
diggin' to be done."

"I shall stop that digging if you make such a mess of yourselves."

"You'd best not," said David meaningly, from his bed in the further
corner. "If you do, you'll be sorry," he said darkly.

END OF CHAPTER SIX.




[Illustration: Three Songs of Birth]

Three

Songs of Birth

A

_Christmas_

_Sermon_

By the Rev. Hugh Miller, M.A.

"Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men." - ST. LUKE ii. 13, 14.


Three times are we told in Scripture that the angels sang. At the
birth of the world, when the foundations of the earth were laid, the
morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
When Jesus was born into the world a multitude of the heavenly host
praised God and said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men." And when anyone is born again there is
joy among the angels in heaven over the sinner that repenteth. The
subject of the song in each case is the same: the leading _motif_ of
them all is man.

Man, to begin with, was God's chief end in creation, and the angels
sang not so much because a new world had been made, but rather
because a new being akin to themselves was put into it, to whom
they might minister and with whom they might co-operate in the
doing of God's most holy will; and this season comes to remind us
of our inherent dignity in God's sight, of the noble ideal He has
formed for us, of the value He sets on those whom He sent His Son
to seek and to save. As God made us and as He intends us to be, we
are not a little higher only than the animals, we are rather only
"a little lower than the angels." He has crowned us with glory and
honour and set us over the work of His hands. He has put all things
under our feet. The material universe was made for man, to be his
home, to develop his powers, to be a test and discipline of his
moral character. I refuse to be reduced to the same rank, or to be
placed in the same order, as the beasts that perish. Remembering the
angels' first song, I assert my supremacy.

And man is most of all supreme because God has given him the freedom
to choose the objects of his life, and the means by which he can
secure them. Sun, moon and stars are bound by laws which they cannot
transgress. The movements of the animals are guided by impulses
and instincts over which they have no moral control. To man alone
belongs the power of refusing to bow before God's greatness and of
disobeying God's commands. Man only has this sovereignty; but his
sovereignty led to his servitude, and the chains that bound him were
forged by an angel who fell before man's fall.

If, then, all the angels worshipped and adored when man was made
with the great gift of free choice, how must the holy ones that
remained after the first and great apostasy have grieved when the
fallen angels took man along with them in their fall! For because of
man's disobedience God's idea in making man seemed to be thwarted
and the peace and good will to which he was called appeared no
longer possible. Instead of being the master of creation, he was now
to a large extent its unhappy victim.

We know from hints thrown out here and there in Scripture with what
absorbing interest the angels followed the plans of God to bring
order once more out of the chaos caused by sin, and the effort He
put forth to create a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth
righteousness. No wonder, then, that when the fulness of the time
was come, and God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the
law to redeem man, the angels should have sung a second time, and
anticipated for man at last a happy time of peace and good will.

The angels had a clear perception of the purpose of Christ's coming.
One of the chief of them said to Joseph, "Thou shalt call His name
JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins." And they all
sang when He came, because they knew that God was now dealing in a
special and most effective way with that dark thing which cast its
shadow on heaven as well as on earth. And it becomes us to remember
that it is the sin of man which in the mind of God and His holy
angels is associated with the coming of Jesus Christ. To this end
was He born, and for this cause came He into the world.

The sin of our first parents had passed on from generation to
generation, and each one of the millions of mankind had to say,
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive
me"; and each fulfilled in his own life all too truly the sad
promise of his birth. How was the tradition to be broken, and yet
broken by one who really belonged to the race? The instincts of man
himself foreshadowed the truth. Stories of a virgin birth here and
there discernible in paganism show the deep intuition which was
realised in Jesus Christ. He came into the world to fight with sin,
to redeem a race steeped in a terrible heritage of evil, and that He
might redeem it He Himself was born, and yet was free from evil.

He fought sin and He conquered it. Why, then, has the angels' song
not been fulfilled? Why does sin still cast its shadow on earth and
heaven alike? Why does God's loving purpose in sending His Son seem
still to suffer so wide defeat? Because in his recovery as in his
fall, man's will must play its part. I can only be saved from sin
when I _will_ to be saved; I only become a partaker of the benefits
which Christ brought from heaven to earth when, yielding to the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I turn with full accord to Jesus
Christ as my Saviour. Marvel not, therefore, that we say to you with
peculiar emphasis on the day in which Christ was born, "Ye must be
born again." Otherwise, His birth is of no avail to you and me. We
are not honouring Him, we are putting Him rather to an open shame,
if we keep out of our thoughts at this time the supreme purpose of
His coming, if we are not personally dealing with Him even now as to
the burden and guilt of our sin.

But we can set the angels a-singing in the sky, and the melody of
their music can be felt in our own hearts, if we turn in lowly
penitence to Him who came to save His people from their sins, and to
quicken them to a new life of righteousness and peace and joy. Only
when a man comes to himself in lowly penitence, and then goes to his
Father with a lofty faith, does he enter into the full purpose of
his manhood; and only then, also, is there not only joy among the
angels in heaven over the sinner that thus repenteth, but there is
music and dancing on the earth as well, and the old life ends in
which sin reigned, and the new begins in which Christ reigns; and
His reign means "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will to men."

"There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."




O Wondrous Night!

A NEW CHRISTMAS CAROL.


_Words by_ ARTHUR BRYANT. _Music by_ CHARLES BASSETT.

1. O wondrous night! O wondrous night! we fain would tell
The news the Angel told;
The holy vision which befel
The Shepherds by their fold.
With fear they saw, with gladness heard
The heav'nly minstrelsy,
With hope each trembling heart was stirred
At that sweet harmony: ...
"We bring good news Which ne'er shall cease;
To God be praise, to God be praise,
On earth be peace."

2. O wondrous sight! O wondrous sight for simple swains,
With hasty steps who sped;
The music of those joyous strains
To that poor manger led.
With awe they gazed on Christ the Lord
Amid that happy throng,
And Israel at His feet adored,
Taught by the Angels' song: ...
"We bring good news,
Which ne'er shall cease;
To God be praise, to God be praise,
On earth be peace."

3. O wondrous night! they homeward turned
To where their flocks did lay,
And sang the song they late had learned
To cheer them on their way.
The timid dawn began to peer
Across the dewy wold;
Their lips in accents loud and clear
The gladsome tidings told:
"We bring good news," &c.

4. O wondrous sight, that God should live
In robe of flesh for man!
O wondrous Love, Himself to give
When closed His mortal span!
Sing, O ye skies! be joyful, earth!
Ye winds, bear o'er the seas
The news of bless├Ęd Jesu's birth,
And those sweet harmonies:
"We bring good news," &c.




THE HOUSE COMFORTABLE.

By Lina Orman Cooper, Author of "The House Beautiful," Etc.


The House Beautiful must needs be also the House Comfortable, if
we take true loveliness to consist of perfect fitness for service.
Thoroughness is the keynote of each. In order to strike it we
must have entered heart and soul into Ruskin's translation of St.
Ursula's Room. Carpaccio himself painted the useful in the beautiful
in this famous picture. From the princess's book, set up at a slope
fittest for reading, to the shelf which runs under the window,
providing a place to put things on - from a silver lamp on the white
wall to the little blue slippers beside her bed, each detail ensures
comfort of the first quality.

Comfort is a thing quite apart from fashion. So it is easier to
indicate the road which leads to the House Comfortable than it
was to point out details in the House Beautiful. We most of us
agree about the essentials required for real comfort: chairs upon
which you can sit fearlessly; beds which rest and do not bruise;
arms that support without cramping; pokers that bend not; strong
tables and sharp knives, these are a sample of the things I mean.
But true comfort depends on more than surface surroundings. It is
indissolubly linked with attention to detail. The houses to which
guests return time after time is the one in which soap is never
absent from its tray, and where pillows are not only covered with
frilled slips, but also stuffed with down and interlined with soft
covering in place of waxed ticking.

I would say, first of all, that the House Comfortable must stand
in a sunny situation. This ensures warmth and light, without which
our bodies are ill-nourished and miserable. "Where the sun never
comes the doctor does" is a much-to-be-quoted proverb. We cannot all
live exactly where we like. Circumstances of business, and means,
generally determine locality. But common-sense must guide us in the
selection of our houses. If we would be really comfortable, we must
live in light, dry, airy, and clean homes. Never take a house on
the sole recommendation of its pretty appearance. To have a really
beautiful house we must first see that it is essentially built for
comfort. The really useful and good is generally ornamental, for
it possesses the realistic beauty of _fitness_. A north and south
aspect for the chief sitting rooms, with east and west windows,
secures both sunshine and shade. We want afternoon coolness as well
as morning light. If our apartment looks towards the sun rising,
heavy curtains should be ready to draw when east wind rages. A stick
to effect this noiselessly is a small boon much appreciated. If our
casement faces the golden gates of the west, no such protection
is called for. But all windows should have double blinds - white
outside, to absorb heat, and dark inside, to veil the sun when
necessary. The comfort of lying in bed, facing a dark green blind
can only be estimated by those who have reluctantly been disturbed
by the too early shafts of the god Phoebus.

There should be a triple water supply in the House Comfortable;
ewers always filled from the soft-water pump. Every well and tank
should be tested ere we take up residence. Pure water, and plenty
of it, is essential to the health (and therefore comfort) of every
household. It should be perfectly clear and bright, and free from
taste or smell. Yet impurity may lurk even in the most sparkling
water. Therefore science must decide as to its desirability. If
only iron or lime water is procurable, jars of lump ammonia, or a
bottle of cloudy liquid ammonia, a bag of oatmeal or a bundle of
bran should lie on every washstand. The hot-water boiler not only
supplies unlimited baths, but may be devised to heat the house. In
every Canadian home a stove in the cellar warms the rooms above
by means of drums and fans. We might do much the same in England
with our hot-water pipes. These should certainly run through the
linen-press and clothes cupboards, and terminate in bathroom
spirals. On these, towels and rough sheets could be dried and


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