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Produced by Annie McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S



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Tuesday, December 23, 1879. Copyright, 1879, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50
per Year, in Advance.

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[Begun in No. 1 of HARPER'S YOUNG PEOPLE, November 4.]



The bright rays of the morning sun filled the room when Walter awoke
from his long and refreshing sleep, to gaze in astonishment at the rich
and beautiful furniture that adorned the apartment. Silk curtains,
mirrors that reached to the ceiling, beautiful carpets, attractive
pictures in gilt frames - all was new and dazzling to the unsophisticated
mountain youth. He was still gazing in wonder at all these glories, when
Mr. Seymour, who had slept in the next room, suddenly opened the door.

"Jump up, Walter," said he. "Breakfast is ready, and my friend wants to
speak to you; so be as quick as you can."

"I shall be ready in a few minutes, sir," he replied, as, springing out
of bed, he washed and dressed himself, and respectfully greeted the two
gentlemen, who sat enjoying their coffee in an adjoining room.

At Mr. Seymour's invitation Walter helped himself to breakfast; and when
he had finished his meal, looked up inquiringly at the stranger.

"Well, then, Walter," said he, in a kindly tone, "tell me in the first
place what you intend to do, now that you have got your money back?"

"Oh, that is very easily answered, sir," replied Walter. "I shall buckle
the belt round my waist again, and return home to-day."

"I thought that was your intention, Watty," said Mr. Seymour; "but it
would be much safer and far easier to send the money through the post.
You will then have no further risk of being robbed, and Mr. Frieshardt
will be sure to get it in a day or two. As regards yourself - "

Mr. Seymour hesitated, and his friend took up the conversation. "Yes,
Walter, you must stay here for the present," said he, "and not dream of
leaving me - at least for a long time."

Walter was taken aback. What could the stranger mean? Unable to
comprehend the motive of such a remark, he looked in confusion first at
one, then at the other, and was greeted only with a hearty laugh.

"I am very much obliged to you for suggesting how I should send the
money home," said the lad; "and it was certainly very strange that Mr.
Frieshardt did not think of that, for it would have saved all this
trouble with Seppi. But what, sir, am I to do here? What is there to
prevent my returning home?"

"A proposal that my friend Mr. Lafond has to make to you," replied Mr.
Seymour. "My friend is in want of an active and trustworthy servant, and
thinks that you would suit him well. I think you should take the
situation, Walter, for you will be looked upon rather as a confidential
attendant than as a servant, and you will be well paid into the bargain.
In a few years you will have earned money enough to provide comfortably
for your father in his old age."

The last words decided Walter. If he could only relieve his father's
declining years from care and anxiety, he was content to give up his
home for a time, and therefore agreed to accept the proposal. The
contract was soon arranged, and Walter entered upon his new duties the
same day. He wrote a long letter to his father, explaining the reason of
his remaining in Paris, and comforting him with the assurance that when
he returned home he would bring plenty of money with him. By the same
post he sent a bank draft to Farmer Frieshardt equivalent to the value
of the cattle money; and a few days after removed into Mr. Lafond's
splendidly furnished mansion. Mr. Seymour did not accompany his friend,
having to leave Paris to continue his travels.

Thus Walter, who had suddenly risen from the position of a poor drover
to that of the principal servant and favorite of a rich young Parisian,
found no reason to regret the change that he had made. Mr. Lafond
treated him in the kindest and most friendly way, so that he soon became
thoroughly attached to him. But in the course of a few weeks he observed
certain traits in the character of his new employer that occasioned him
both sorrow and anxiety, and almost made him regret that he had not
returned to his quiet but innocent home. Although a kind-hearted man,
Mr. Lafond was weak-minded and changeable; and like many other wealthy
young men without any occupation, he was addicted to pleasure and
dissipation, and spent whole nights at the gaming table, to the ruin of
both his health and morals. As he was of a delicate constitution, these
excesses soon produced a very marked effect upon him, and did much to
shatter his health.

Early one morning Mr. Lafond came home, after a night of gambling,
looking paler and more exhausted than usual. Walter, who had been
sitting up for him, was terribly alarmed at the appearance which he
presented. "Oh, my dear sir," said he, with a deep sigh, as he gave him
his hand out of the carriage, "how grieved I am for you!"

Mr. Lafond stared at Walter with his glassy eyes, and tried to speak,
but could only utter a few disconnected words that were quite
incomprehensible. Besides this, he was so unsteady on his feet that he
was obliged to lean on Walter to prevent himself from falling. The
faithful servant was terribly shocked to find his master so intoxicated
as to be almost deprived of his senses, and lost no time in getting him
to his room that his distressing and disgraceful condition might not
become known to the rest of the household. After undressing him, which
cost a great deal of trouble, Walter got his master to bed, and then sat
down, and became lost in thought.

It was not until late in the day that Mr. Lafond woke from his troubled
sleep, and was surprised to find Walter sitting by his bedside. "Poor
fellow!" he said, in a good-natured tone, "I'm afraid I kept you waiting
long for me last night. You are a faithful servant, and shall have your
wages raised immediately."

"I am very much obliged to you, sir," said he; "but I can not take more
of your money. I have only waited here to request my discharge from your

Mr. Lafond stared at the young man with surprise. "What!" he exclaimed;
"you want to leave me! What has put that in your head? Has any one here
done anything to make you uncomfortable?"

"No, sir, no one," was the quiet but firm reply. "I have met with
nothing but kindness since I have been in your house, and you have been
more than generous to me; but I can't bear to stay here and see you
digging your own grave. It breaks my heart, sir; and I would rather
wander barefoot back to my own mountains than witness it longer."

"Why, Walter, I'm afraid you're turning crazy," exclaimed his master,
angrily. "Don't let me hear any more of this nonsense! What can it
matter to you whether I die soon or not? At any rate you must stay with
me, and give up such foolish notions."

Walter shook his head. "No, sir; I must go," he replied. "I can be of no
use here. It makes me quite miserable to see how you waste your money in
the gaming houses, and ruin your health by overindulgence in wine. If my
caring for you were not sincere, it would be a matter of no consequence
to me whether you went to destruction or not; but," he added, while
tears started to his eyes, "I trust, sir, you will pardon me for saying
that I can not look on carelessly while you are ruining yourself; and so
I hope you will let me go."

The reckless gamester was quite moved at the devotion and faithfulness
of his servant. Springing from bed, he wrapped himself in his
dressing-gown, and walked hastily to and fro in the apartment for a few
minutes in silence. At last he paused before Walter and grasped his
hand. "You are a straightforward, warm-hearted fellow," he exclaimed.
"But the more I am convinced of that, the less disposed am I to part
with you. Will you not stay with me?"

"No, my good master, I can not," answered Walter, firmly.

"Not even if I promise to turn over a new leaf, and neither to drink nor
gamble any more from this day?"

Walter was in a measure reassured by these words, and his eyes were lit
up with a new hope. "Ah! if you really will do that, sir!" he exclaimed.
"That alters everything; and I shall be as overjoyed to stay with you as
I should have been sorry to leave you."

"Then that is settled," said his master, in a serious tone. "I am
obliged to you for speaking so faithfully to me. I know that I have been
living in a foolish way; but I will be different for the future. That
you may rely upon."

Walter's joy was so great at hearing this unexpected resolution that he
nearly burst into tears. Unhappily, however, he was soon to experience
the disappointment of all his hopes.

For a fortnight Mr. Lafond kept his promise faithfully; but at the end
of that time he again yielded to the old temptation, and after a night
of revelry returned home in broad daylight in a state of complete
helplessness. The servant renewed his entreaties and warnings; reminded
his master that the physician had declared that his existence depended
on his leading a sober life, and obtained from him a renewal of the
broken promise. But alas! it proved as vain as before. In a few days all
his hopes were again crushed, and his prayers and entreaties were only
answered by his master with a shrug of the shoulders.

"You know nothing about it, Walter," said he. "The temptation is so
strong, that one can't be always resisting it."

"But it is your duty to resist it, sir; and you can succeed if you will
only make up your mind to do so."

"It's too late now," replied the other, with a faint smile. "I have
fought and fought, and been beaten at last. I shall give up fighting

"Are you really in earnest?" cried Walter, seriously.

"I am really in earnest," replied Mr. Lafond.

"Then I must indeed quit your service, sir. I will not stay here if I
can not save you from rushing headlong to destruction."

"Silly fellow!" replied his master, testily. "What more would you have?
It will be for your direct advantage to stay with me. Look at my
condition. The doctor was quite right in saying that I couldn't live
another year. Remain here for that short time, and you shall be well
paid for your services. I will take care not to forget you in my will."

The young Switzer could not restrain his emotion at hearing his
weak-minded but good-natured master talk in such a careless way about
death. Unable to speak, he turned to leave the room, when Mr. Lafond
called him back.

"Have you no reply to make to me?" he demanded, in an offended tone.

"Nothing more than this, sir - that your doctor assured me that you might
live for ten, twenty, or even thirty years longer, if you could only be
persuaded to live in a sober and reasonable way. Oh, my dear sir," he
exclaimed, "do give up these habits that are ruining body and soul, and
I will devote my whole life to you!"

"No use," was the gloomy reply. "If I were to make new resolutions, they
would only be broken, as the others have been. The doctor is quite
mistaken in his opinion. I suppose I must fulfill my destiny. So let the
matter drop, Walter."

"Anything can be done if one is only determined," persisted the young
man, with entreaty in his tone.

His master turned away and shook his head. "Too late, too late. I
haven't the moral courage or determination."

"Then may God have mercy upon you!" replied the servant, solemnly. "This
is no longer a place for me."

Swayed on the one hand by a sense of duty to himself, and on the other
by pity for his terribly misled master, Walter sorrowfully quitted the
apartment, and after packing a few things, returned to take his final
leave. Mr. Lafond, however, would not bring himself to believe in the
reality of such a sudden and determined resolution, and used every
argument to induce the lad to change his mind. He even begged him as a
personal favor to remain, but Walter persisted in his determination; nor
could the most lavish offers of emolument induce him to stay and be a
helpless spectator of the ruin of one whom he was unable to save.

"If I were only as determined as you are," sighed Mr. Lafond, "how much
better it would be for me! But now it is too late. Farewell, then,
Walter, if you have made up your mind to quit my service. But though you
leave me, it is not necessary that you return to your mountain home. I
received this letter from my uncle, General De Bougy, who lives in
Rouen. The old gentleman is in want of a steady and trustworthy servant,
and asks me to send him one, so I think the best thing you can do will
be to go there for a twelvemonth. You will find him a better master than
I have been; and if you are really determined to leave me, you might do
worse than enter his service. I feel sure you will be comfortable."

Walter shook his head. "I shouldn't like to go into another house, sir,
after the experience I have had in your service."

"But you will be serving me, Walter, if you go and assist my uncle in
his old age. Recollect, I only ask you to go for a year. It is the last
request I have to make. Surely you won't refuse?"

"Well, sir, I will go for a year, since you urge it so strongly,"
assented Walter, who could no longer resist his master's appeal. "When
shall I start?"

"When you please. You will be welcome there at any time."

"Then I will set out at once, sir; the sooner our parting is over, the

"But if it is so painful to you, why go away at all? You know how glad I
should be for you to stay."

"And you know, sir, why I am obliged to go," replied Walter, firmly.
"Pardon me, dear sir, for speaking any more on the subject; but if you
only had had the resolution to - "

"I'll make another trial, Walter," said Mr. Lafond, with a smile that
contrasted strongly with his sunken and wasted features. "You shall hear
from me in three months," he continued; "and perhaps - Well, we shall
see. Good-by, and my best wishes go with you!"

Walter grasped the hand which his master extended, and kissed it
fervently. "God bless and preserve you!" said he, with tears in his
eyes. "If prayers, earnest prayers for you, can be of any help, you will
be saved."

"Farewell, Walter. You have been a faithful servant," exclaimed Mr.
Lafond, with painful emotion. "God be with you! - perhaps we shall never
meet each other again."

So they parted. Walter went by the first conveyance to Rouen to the
house of General De Bougy; and his former master sunk into profound
grief as he dwelt upon the affection and solicitude which the young
Switzer had shown toward him. "Only a year sooner," he mused, with
torturing anguish, "and I might have been a saved man! Now, alas! thou
hast come too late, noble and generous heart!"



One of the pleasantest pastimes of the whole year for country children
is gathering Christmas green. This is done before the very cold weather
begins, otherwise the beautiful club-mosses and ground-pines would be
frozen solid in the damp soil of the swamps and woods, or the whole
would be covered with a snow carpet, broken only by rabbit and squirrel
tracks. The freshest green for Christmas trimming is found in damp
meadows or on springy hillsides, where it nestles in the moist earth,
overshadowed by thickets of alders and birches. It grows in the forests
too; not so much among pine-trees, as the dry carpet of fallen needles
is less nutritious than the loam produced by the accumulations of dead
leaves of oak, maple, and beech trees.

There are many kinds of ground evergreens, most of them members of the
_Lycopodiaceæ_, or club-moss family. There is the creeping club-moss,
the cord-like stem of which, sometimes yards long, hides among the dead
leaves, and sends up at intervals graceful whorls of bright green. Tiny
bunches of short white roots run down in the damp mould, where they find
nutriment for the plant. If you work your finger under the stem, and
pull gently, it is wonderful to see the long and beautiful wreath slowly
disentangle itself from the forest floor, disturbing hundreds of little
wood-beetles, which scurry away to hide again among the woodland
rubbish. There are two kinds of creeping green very common in all moist
wooded lands at the North - the kind with leaves rising in whorls, and
that with a stem covered with bristle-like spikes. This last variety has
leaves, not very abundant, - which resemble a sprig of young fir, and is
sometimes called "ground-fir." It is of a deep rich green color, but not
so graceful for trimming as the other kind. Besides the creeping green,
there are many varieties of what children call "tree-green," independent
little plants rooted deep in the mould, which send up a single stalk
about eight inches high. Some of these are such perfect little trees as
to appear diminutive copies of the firs and pines towering far above
them, and are called "fir club-moss." A pretty evergreen to mix with the
more feathery varieties is the _Chimaphila umbellata_, or prince's-pine.
It has bright shining dark green leaves, which have a very bitter taste,
and is sometimes called bitter wintergreen.


As all these ground varieties need to be gathered before ice and snow
begin, often weeks before Christmas, care must be taken to keep them
from drying. They should be heaped up in some cool, damp place, where
they will not freeze, and should be sprinkled plenteously every day. The
boys make frames in the form of crosses, stars, wreaths, or letters, and
the girls find a pretty pastime in tying on the greens. As fast as the
designs are finished they must also be laid away and kept damp until
Christmas. Woodland mosses, holly leaves and scarlet berries, and dried
everlasting flowers are pretty to mix with the green. Branches of
hemlock and young firs for Christmas trees are cut as near
Christmas-time as possible. If a room is to be made into a bower of
hemlock boughs, they should not be fastened up until the morning of
Christmas-eve, as the heated air of the house loosens the flat,
tooth-shaped leaves from the branch, and the least movement sends them
in clouds to the floor. Any one who has tried to sweep them from the
carpet after Christmas, will prefer some other variety of green for
trimming another year.

The immense amount of green brought into New York city the week
preceding Christmas can scarcely be estimated. Viewing the hundreds of
young firs in the markets, and the enormous numbers of wreaths and other
designs, it would seem as if the forests and swamps had been stripped to
such an extent that nothing would be left for another year; but so
prodigal is Nature of her beautiful club-mosses and her aromatic pines,
that what is gathered for holiday trimming amounts to little more than a
weeding out of superfluous growth. Many of the greens sold in the New
York market come from New Jersey. Schooners bring them from all along
the coast, freight-cars come loaded with the beauty of the inland hills,
and huge market carts trundle their precious burden from the near-lying
forests and damp meadows. Although it is prohibited by law to cut young
trees from the barrens along the coast, as the growth of pines keeps the
sand from drifting, many small coasting vessels drop into the bays and
inlets around Sandy Hook and other parts of the Jersey shore a little
before Christmas-time, and send their crews ashore by night to secure a
cargo to bring to New York.

It would be interesting to follow this woodland treasure after its
arrival in the great city; but one thing is certain - wherever it is,
even if it be only a sprig in the hand of a sick child, faces are
brighter, hearts are happier, and the sweet words, "Merry Christmas,"
have a deeper significance.



The answer to this puzzle will form an appropriate motto for the card in
the centre. This is the way to work it out: First find the names of the
articles around the card, and write them all down in a row with the
numbers below them. For example, one of the words is "EYE." Put it down

10 3 11

and all the rest in the same way. Each name will have just as many
letters as there are figures, else you may know your guess is wrong, and
you will have to try again. After you have made out all the pictures and
written down the names, you will have thirty-nine letters. Out of these
thirty-nine letters you are to make the eleven words that form the
inscription. To do this, write on another sheet the numbers

1 2 3 4 5 6

7 8 9 10 11

widely apart, so as to leave room for all the words to be written under
them. Then place each letter where it belongs under these numbers. Take
the word "EYE." E is numbered 10, then put E under the figure 10; Y is
numbered 3, put Y under 3; E is numbered 11, put E under 11. When you
have placed all the letters, arrange those under each figure so as to
make a word. The whole will be the inscription for the card.




"Now, Teddie, be a good boy, there's a darling, and, little Clover,
don't tease Daisy. Please let mamma go away to church and know that you
are all sweet and lovely and clean as new little pennies to-night."

Splash went one little body into the bath-tub, and splash went another,
and again a third; and then, like so many roses after a shower, out they
came, dripping, and laughing and screaming with glee. The little mother
was kept busy enough, for it was Christmas-eve, and the carols and
anthems were to be rehearsed for the last time, and Mrs. Morton's clear
soprano voice could not be spared. Indeed, her voice was all that kept
Teddie and Clover and Daisy in their neat little box of a house, for
their father, a brave fireman, had been killed more than two years
before at a fearful fire, and since then their mother had striven hard
to maintain her little family by sewing, and singing, and doing whatever
work her slender hands could accomplish which would bring in food and
clothing for her children.

"Be dood, Teddie," repeated Daisy, after her mother, as she shook out
her little wet curls at him, and Clover solemnly raised his finger at
his bigger brother, with the warning,

"Remember, Santa Claus comes to-night."

"Yes, and the stockings must be hung up," said Ted, who forthwith
proceeded to attend to that important duty.

"There! how do they look? - one brown, that's mine; one blue, that's
Clover's; and one red, that's Daisy's." They were pinned fast to the
fender with many pins and much care.

"But, mamma," said Clover, "the stove's in the way. Santa Claus can't
get down with that big black thing stopping the chimney."

"Oh, the fire will go out by-and-by, and then he may creep through the
stove-pipe and out of the door."

"He'll be awful dirty, then," said Daisy.

"Well, 'he was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot, and his
clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot,' so that is to be
expected. But really, dear children, you must jump into your beds, and
let me tuck you up; it is time for me to go."

Very quickly the rosy little faces were nestling in the pillows, and
Mrs. Morton, after kissing them, put out the lamp and left them to their
slumbers. Hastily putting on her cloak and bonnet, she paused at the
door of her sitting-room to see if the fire was safe. The room was dark
but for the gleaming stove, the chairs and table were all in order, and
in one corner, under a covering of paper, was the little tree she had
decked in odd moments to delight the eyes of her children. She could not
afford wax candles, so the morning was to bring the tree as well as the
other gifts. Sure that all was in readiness, she tripped down the
stairs, locked her door, and sped over the snow to the church, the two
tall towers of which stood out against the starry sky.

As she entered the church, her mind full of her duties and her heart
tender with thoughts of her children, she thought she saw a dusky little
object crouching in the angle made by the towers; but she was already
late, and had no time to linger. Up she went to the choir, which was
full of light, but the body of the church was dark. Without any words,

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, December 23, 1879 → online text (page 1 of 4)