Lynde Palmer.

Helps over hard places : stories for boys online

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me eat enough to keep a horn-bug alive.
Come ; what are you waiting for?'

"'I'm afraid it isn't right to spend the holy
Sabbath in the woods.'

" ' There, I might have known you'd back
out, girl-baby ! ' said he, scornfully, and then
lie changed his tone. ' Come, Pearlypat,
that's a brave girl ! I've got the dearest little
cave to show you. I was the Columbus, and
found it all myself, but I'll tell you the secret,
and no one else shall know. Won't it be fun
to hide there some time? It's a little place.
I'm going to call it 'the Princess* Thimble,'
or 'Pcarlyp it's Cradle,' or whatever you like.


Come ; we won't be gone but an hour. Let
me tie on your highness' sun-bonnet ; ' and so
Borne way, I hardly know how, he coaxed me
out over the soft green fields into the woods.
It was the loveliest morning I ever knew,
and now that the church bells had stopped,
there wasn't a sound except the birds, and
those dear little noises of bees, and lazy, sleepy
flies. I thought how very good God was to
make every thing so beautiful, and when, as
we struck into the mossy, shady path, Paul
quoted from the piece he used to speak Fri-
day afternoons, ' The groves were God's first
temples,' I began to think we were not doing
any thing so very wrong, after all. Why
couldn't we be just as good out there in the
dear old woods, as sitting bolt upright in the
little brick church ?

" ' Let's try and be good out in these " first
temples," Paul,' said I. ' Let's each say the
verse we learned this morning.

" * Oh, I was too sick to learn any,' said
Paul, with his gay laugh. 'What's yours,
Princess ? '

"'Like as a father piticth his children, so
the Lord pitieth them that fear him ; for he


knowetli our frame, — he remernbereth that
we are dust.'

" c That's a great verse for us, Pearlypat, 1
said Paul. 'I never thought of it just so be-
fore. Don't you see, if we're doing wrong
to-day, God won't be very angry with us.
We won't be expected to act just like angels.
Don't you see he'll just remember that we're

" I knew there was something wrong about
this ; and I had a sort of dim idea that we
ought to be very thankful if God remembered
this when we were trying to do our very
best. But I didn't know just what to say,
and so we went on, and pretty soon we for-
got all about verses and Sunday. We sailed
boats in the brook and had a little feast in the
cave, and finally began to play * catch ; ' and
while I was chasing him very hard through
the woods, where there wasn't any path, I
saw Paul suddenly throw up his hands, then
he gave a little cry, and there was the last of
him. I came after rather more slowly you
may be sure, and found that in our play we
had come right upon the edge of the ravine,
and looking over, I saw that Paul had only


fallen a little way, and was holding on to a

" ' Ah, Pearlypat,' said he, laughing, — foi I
believe he would laugh if he were going to
be hung, — ' you see the wood-spirits are
dragging me down ; but just reach me youi
hand, and I'll be up in a minute.'

" So I took hold of a little bush, and leaned
over, and he caught my hand, and struggled
up, but just at the worst minute my bush
gave way, over I tumbled, and Paul after me,
over and over. I quite lost my breath, and
was so stunned with hitting my head against
stones, that I didn't know any thing for a
long time. At last I heard Paul laugh ; he
always laughed, though this time he groaned
the minute after.

" ' Well, Princess,' said he, ' how do you
like playing avalanche f '

" ' It's poor fun,' said I, trying to sit up, but
feeling so sore all over that I burst out crying

'"Nonsense, Pearlypat,' said Paul, dragging
himself up to me, and smoothing my hand;
1 I've either sprained or broken my foot, so I
can't walk, but you see some one will come
to find us before long, and they'll carry us
homo on rose-leaves. No one will think of


scolding us, when they find we're hurt, 'but
we'll be petted, and have all kinds of nice
things to cat, and won't go to school for a

"But as the hours passed away, and no
help came, matters began to look pretty se-
rious. Once we thought we heard steps in
the woods above, and cried with all our
might, but we were so far from the road that
no one thought of looking for us in that dark

" Oh, how many times during the day I
would have given any thing in the world to
have been sitting in my clean white dress
behind Miss Prim's black bonnet. But the
day wore on, and when the sunset burned so
fierce and red behind the solemn old pines,
I felt as if God was very angry with us.

" ' What do you think of my verse now,
Paul?' said I. 'I'm afraid we'll have to stay
here all night. Do you think God will re«
member that we are dust f '

" * I'm afraid he doesn't remember any thing
else,' said Paul, with a doleful shake of the
head. ' I'm afraid he thinks we might just as
well lie here a year or two, as those little
lumps of clay there.'


" Then, as it was pretty dark, I'm quite
sure Paul laughed a little the wrong side of
his mouth, though he made all manner of fun
of me, and said they wouldn't need any more
rain in the ravine all summer.

"I don't remember much after that, only
that Paul made me lay my head on his shoul-
der, and I went half asleep, though I always
kept dreaming I was an avalanche, and would
wake up with a great jump and a sob.

" All of a sudden, when the stars had been
out more than an hour, Paul started up witli
a cry, and I thought we had fallen into the
hands of the Indians, there was such a scream-
ing and halloing, and great red torches that
flared till all the trees seemed dancing like
mad. I thought I must die then to be so***,
and, shutting my eyes, I began to say my
prayers just as fast as I could, < Now I lay
me down to sleep,' when somebody caught
me right up in his arms, and I heard dear
Frank say, almost sobbing, ' She is alive, dear
little Pearlypat ! ' and he kissed me over and

"I was very sick for a long time, but every
body was a great deal kinder than I deserved.
I remember that good Miss Prim used to rub


my aching limbs, and carry me about eveiy
day, till I could quite cry for shame, to think
we had said she was uglier than a weed.

" No one ever said a word to me about how
naughty I had been, only one day Frank said,
very softly, ' I used to hope dear little Pearly-
pat was one of God's children ; ' but I couldn't
answer a word, so he said, 'Does my little
Princess know that she must act very differ-
ently if the great King ever calls her to be a
princess in the other world ? '

" I didn't say any thing, but Frank knew I
was thinking a great deal, so he kissed me,
and went away.

" That same day Paul came to see me, look-
ing rather pale. 'I've had a pretty tough
time, Pearlypat,' said he, laughing, of course,
* out I wasn't too sick to learn a verse,' and
then he grew quite sober, — 'Remember the
Sabbath day to keep it holy.' M


All the highway grew dim in the twilight,
The robins at vespers crooned low ;

On the little brown gate of the garden
Swung Eric and Maud to and fro;

While adown the dim road, in the twilight,
Gleamed Barney's old head crowned with

"Here he comes, the old scarecrow," laughed
Eric ;
"How queerly he dips that lame leg;
What a face — just one tangle of wrinkles ;

And look at those goggles, I beg.
Here he comes ! See his head where he wipes
it —
It's smoother than Speckle's last egg.

"Ah, he's speaking. What is it? Some
water ?
Oh, yes, there's the cup on the shelf.



I would run if you asked mo, sweet Red-lips,

But he's such a crooked old elf,
Let him stumble and crawl to the well there,

And drag up the bucket himself.

" Sec his hands, how they're shaking ! Why,

I hope you're not going to cry ;
'You're so sorry?'— why, yes, it is shameful;

The old bag of bones ought to die.
Only young people ought to be living,

As pretty as you, dear, and I."

Then his scornful eyes swept after Barney;

But ah ! what a marvel was there.
'Twas an hour since the sunset had faded,

And yet all the tremulous air
Streamed in glory, as if, down the twilight,

A seraph had loosed his bright hair.

And oh ! what was that beautiful presence
That stood in the cloud's rosy fold?

Cried a voice, "Dearest child, 'tis old Barney ;
For, lying so oft, lame and old,

At the beautiful gate of the temple,
His 60id has grown fairer than gold."

old barney's mask. 50

In the saddest amazement stood Eric,
And stretched forth his hands, full of pain ;

But the vision grew dim, and through twi-
He saw but the bucket's rough chain,

O'er whose links little Maud's rosy lingers
And Barney's tired hands tugged in vain.

Full of shame sprang young Eric beside
His eager hands bent to the task,
While he whispered, " Sweet Maud, I've a
I hardly dare tell if you ask ;
Do you know the real Barney's an angel,
Hid under that wrinkled old mask ? "

In sweet reverence Maud knelt before him,
With tears in her eyes' wishful blue,

Pleading, " Pray for us, pray for us, Barney,
That we grow as lovely as you ;

&q that God, looking 'neath our youth's lose 6 ?,
May find angels hiding there too."



" Tiieee, now you've done it," cried John
Cramer to his twin brother Cornelius, as he
arrived breathless at the garden gate. " You
weren't fair a bit in that race, and you ran
twice right over Pbebe's flower-bed, and took
the heads off her very best tulips. Oh ! won't
she be mad ? and here she comes this very
minute to look at them ! "

" That's a fact," said Cornelius, " and I may
as well walk right up and ' face the music,'
and have it over with; " and he went slowly
up to Phebe, who was bending in sorrowful
surprise over her little tribe of tulips that had
been so remorselessly scalped.

" Yes, I did it," said Cornelius, in dogged
response to her look of mute inquiry. " There
now, how angry you arc. You pretend to be
good, and you're not a bit like that girl in
the memoir of ' Good Little Jane.' She would
have said right away, ' Oh, if any one'*



flowers are spoiled, I Lope they are mine] and
she would have been so glad that they were
not her brother's, that she would have been
happy as a queen. But you are so selfish, I
do believe you are going to cry. You ought
to have been called April — it's just shower,
shower, shower all the time. Yes, here it
comes," said he, as two white clouds, with
heavy fringes, swept down over those little
samples of blue sky, commonly called Phebe's
eyes. " April showers ! " continued he, in a
tone of great disgust, to John, who drew nigh.

Phebe spent a moment trying to swallow
something which from the effort might have
been the whole range of the Alleghany Moun-
tains, and then, looking up with a smile like a
rainbow, said, —

" Well, I'm sure I didn't mean to be selfish,
and I am truly glad they are not your flowers;
but you know these disappointments come on
one sometimes just like a great cloud, and
one can't help a little rain ; " and she added,
good-naturedly, "Don't you remember the
little rhyme,

1 April showers bring May flowers % ' "

"I don't understand you," said Cornelius.
"It would be a funnv flower-garden that


would spring up under those showers. What
do you mean ? "

" I'm afraid I can't explain it very well,"
said Phebe, "but Miss Weston was telling
me last Sunday that when any trouble came
— big or little — it made every thing gloomy
like the clouds on a rainy day, but if we took
the cloud patiently, and let the rain come
down and soften our hearts, after a while
flowers would bud and bloom, — fair white
flowers, — and the Beloved would come down
into his garden to gather lilies."

" What a terribly mixed-up speech that
is," said Cornelius, scornfully. "I don't be-
lieve you have the least idea what you are
talking about. Lilies and flowers in one's
heart ! What do you mean, you ridiculous
goose ? " And John joined in the derisive

Phebe answered timidly, "I do not know
that I ought to say it, but now, after this
cloud, which has been quite a big one to me,
I'm hoping — you know I didn't get angry,
Corny, or scold — so I'm hoping that there is
a little bud of patience in my heart. I won't
call it a flower yet, but may be it will be
some day."


"Phebe," said Cornelius, emphatically,
yo l're a Pharisee, and Miss Weston's a prig !
Now, don't let me hear any more such non-
sense, or I'll cut off all your red hair, and give
it. to the boys to keep their hands warm.
Ah ! there it goes again. One, two, — Oh
what big drops ! Never mind, perhaps pa-
tience will shove out a new leaf;" and, with
a loud laugh, Cornelius turned a somersault
down the garden path, followed by his shadow
and echo — John.

Phebe turned to the house, her heart so
full of bitter thoughts that she couldn't feel
at all certain about that rare plant she had
hoped was beginning to bud. She had felt
a very strong impulse to strike Cornelius
when Iiq spoke so cruelly about her red hair,
and some way she had a queer feeling that
the blow had fallen instead upon that small
bud, and that if it ever came to any thing it
would be a rather scraggy flower.

Phebe took a turn or two in the garden,
and gradually became more composed. This
was Saturday, — her holiday, — and it would
not do to waste it all in tears. She would
go and get the beautiful book Susan Brown
lent her, and have a splendid time, reading,


all by herself. But as she hurried into the
house, her oldest sister, Caroline, called from
the parlor, —

" Here, Pl.ebe, take this glove and sew up
the rips just as quick as you can. No; you
may run up stairs first, and get my crimson
shawl, and my handkerchief, and then just
run to the basement and get me a glass of
water before I go out. There — that's a dear
little girl ! Oh ! did you bring my parasol ?
the sun is so hot ! No ? Oh, well, you'll find
it in some of my drawers. It won't take you
a minute."

Up went the patient feet, and back again.

" There," cried sister Caroline, " how do I

* " Beautiful ! " was the heartfelt response ;
and the pleased Caroline, kissing her, said, —

" Well, you are good, if you are not very
pretty ; " and she tripped carelessly from the

"If not very pretty," said Phebe to her-
self sadly, and she stole up to the mirror and
looked in.

Little pale, thin face, topped with a crown
of naming hair.

"Another April shower," cried Cornelius


at the door, and p^or Phebe turned away very
patient, very ', amble, and the flowers of meek-
ness and gentleness began to open their sweet

" Now I shall have a little time to read,"
thought Phebe again to herself, and she hur-
ried up stairs to forget her sorrows in the
wonderful book ; but, alas ! the nursery door
opened just as she reached the top of the

" Miss Phebe," cried nurse, carrying little
sobbing Bobby, " would you be so very kind
as to amuse baby just five minutes? My
head aches so, I'm quite distracted, and if I
could only lie down, and bathe it with cam-
phor — but master Bobby is so fractious with
his teeth, he won't be put down a moment."

Phebe gave a long sigh. " No, Miggs," she
began, "I'm tired myself." Oh! how the
tender buds of gentleness and love began to
droop ! and a great weed of selfishness grew
faster than a mushroom.

" Well, Miss," said Miggs, kindly, " I sup-
pose you are. You're everybody's little slave,
that's a fact ! Never mind."

"No," cried Phebe, falteriugly ; "I didn't
mean that. I'll take him a little while



Come, Bobby ; " and Bobby's fretful mouth
softened into a smile as he sprang into the
arms of his favorite sister.

It was afternoon, and again there seemed a
prospect of a little pence. Carry, mother,
nurse and baby were out taking a drive, and
John and Cornelius, with their schoolmates,
were holding apolitical meeting in the barn.

Phebe settled herself with her book in the
broad window-seat, and all her trials seemed
to fade away, but when she had been reading
about ten minutes, and was just in the most
exciting part of the story, there came a timid
knock at the door. She raised her head with
a frown, and there — she could just have
cried from vexation — there stood tedious
old Mrs. Smith. Phebe felt very rebellious.

" Mother and Carry are both out," said she,
very quickly.

" Never mind, my dear. I will sit awhile
with youP

" This is the biggest cloud yet," said Phebe
bitterly to herself. " I thought I had had
enough for one day. It is too bad! too
bud!" But unconscious old Mrs. Smith sat
down, and took off her pattens, and laid by
her shawl, as if sho had come to stay all the


rest of the day. Then she began to tell little
Phebe about her last attack of rheumatism,
and of the dreadful cough she had nights,
how she had frozen her feet last January, and
how she had fallen and knocked out one of
her front teeth, and how brother John's chil-
dren — the whole eight of them — had the
measles — all when poor Phebe was just
dying to read whether Jack Ringtop ever
found his way out of the black forest. Phebe
was very rebellious at first, and I am afraid
that if the " Beloved " had then gone down
into his garden, he would have found no lilies.
But, after a great struggle, she concluded to
make the best of this shower, and she an-
swered Mrs. Smith so kindly, and had so
much sympathy for all her trials, that the old
woman was full of grateful surprise, and
going away at last, she laid her withered old
hand upon her head, and blessed her in the
name of the Lord. And though, almost as
soon as she was gone, crying baby came home,
and Carry had a dozen errands for the wil-
ling hands and feet, still Phebe felt wonder-
fully happy, and the buds of " long-suffering "
began to put forth in the showers, wbik pa-
tience really burst into full flcwer.


It was now tea-time, and Phebe was look,
tng forward with some apprehension to the
coming of her ill-natured, teasing brother,
when John appeared, breathless, with a white
face, and announced that Cornelius had fallen
from the hay-loft, and hurt himself very much.
The news was indeed too true. Cornelius
had broken his leg, and was carried to his
room to be a prisoner for weeks. Forgiving
Phebe was his nurse from the first, and Cor-
nelius, impatient and angry with pain and
confinement, exhausted his ingenuity in con-
triving ways to make her trouble.

" You little fright ! " he cried angrily, one
night, as she stole in to see if there was any
thing more she could do, — " do you want to
know w hat you look like ? In the first place,
you're about as fat as a broom-stick, and in
that white wrapper you look like a tallow
candle with your red hair for the light. Get
out of my sight ; you're horrid ! I'd like to
snuff you out."

But no sooner had poor Phebe stolen hum-
bly away, than he called her back to execute
a dozen different commands, reproaching her
that she wasn't more unselfish — more like
k Good little Jane."


This was a long, cloudy time for Phebc,
and more than an April rain, but the flowers
grew fast in the showers. Love, patience,
long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, were all
there, and Phebe was far from unhappy, for
joy and peace are always found blossoming
in the same company.

Cornelius worried himself into a fever, and
his life was despaired of, but when, after a long
struggle, his strong constitution conquered, and
he began slowly to improve, every one could
see that some change had come over him.
His eyes had a different look now, as they
followed little Phebe's swift, noiseless steps
around his room. Such patient, tireless feet !
Such an uncomplaining, self-sacrificing sister !
How could he have been blind so long ? And
that red hair, how he loved every golden
thread ! As she sat by the window at sunset
one day, with her little Bible opened before
her, it seemed like a saint's halo around her
sweet face.

" John," whispered the repentant Cornelius,
" I have made a long April for our little sister,
but oh ! how the flowers have grown ! I see
it all now ; and do you know I have mado
a resolve that from this time I will do all I


can to make life sunshine to her, for I'm
frightened to see her so good, and I'm afraid
when the May flowers are all in bloom, they
will take her where everlasting Spring

Just then sister Carry entered the room.
"Hush," said Cornelius, putting his finger ou
his lip, and pointing to Phebe, who still sat,
her sweet face upturned, and her lovely eyes
looking far away into the rosy sky.

Carry looked, and almost started, as the
idea suddenly flashed upon her that little
Phebe was beautiful, — far more beautiful than
she, with her red cheeks and brown hair.

"• You never looked like that, Carry," said
Cornelius, softly.

" Xever half so pretty," cried echo John.

" What is it ? " said Carry, almost fretfully,
— "Phebe!"

" Hush," implored Cornelius, " don't trouble
her. I will tell you. I understand it all
now;" and the tears rolled down his thin
cheeks. " Don't disturb her for the world.
Little Phebe has a beautiful heart, and when-
ever she looks like that you may know the
' Beloved has gone down to his garden to
gather lilies.' "



* Cousin Will, cousin Will, tell us a story !
Do, please. There's just time before the
Bchool-bell rings ; " and Harry, Kate, Bob, and
little "Peace," a rosy battalion, surrounded
his chair, and at Bob's word of command,
- 1 Present arms ! " embraced his knees, clung
around his neck, and otherwise made such a
vigorous attack, that cousin Will sued for
mercy, and declared himself quite ready to

"Well, what shall it be, little Peace?"
r *aid he, taking the plump hand of his favor-
ite Lucy, who had obtained the name of
•Peace," or "Peacemaker," on account of
tier gentle disposition ; for she never could
aear angry words, or see an unloving look
pass between her little friends, or brothers
md sisters, without doing every thing in her
^>ower to smooth over the trouble, and get
them to "kiss and make up."



" Well, little Peace, what shall it be ? "

"Something true this time," said Peace,
"for I'm getting tired of dragons and fairies."

" Very well," saicVcousin Will. " I've only
live minutes, and must be short. I'm going
to tell you about some very dangerous doors
I've seen."

" Oh, that's good ! " exclaimed Bob. " Were
they all iron, and heavy bars, and if one
passed through would they shut with a great
snap, and keep him there forever?"

"No," replied cousin Will, "the doors I
mean are very pleasant to look upon. They
arc pink, or scarlet, like sea-shells, and when
they open, you can see a row of little servants
standing all in white, and just behind them is
a little lady dressed in crimson."

"Why, that's splendid," cried Kate; "I
should like to go in myself."

"Ah, it is what comes out of those doors
that makes them so dangerous. It is always
best to have a strong guard on each side, or
else there is great trouble and misery."

" Why, what comes out ? " said little Peace,
with w T ondering eyes.

""Well, I've never seen very clearly," said
cousin Will, " but sometimes, when the guards


Were away, I've known something to conic
out sharper than arrows, or stings of bees,
and they made some terrible wounds. In-
deed, quite lately I saw two very pretty little
doors close together, and when one opened,
the little crimson lady began to talk very fast,
and said something like this : ' Oh ! did you
see Lucy Waters to-day ? What a proud,
"stuck-up" thing she is; but that dress she
thinks so much of is made out of her sister's
old one.' 'Oh yes,' said the little crimson
lady looking out of the other door; 'and did
you ever see such a funny turn-up nose as she
has ? Why, I think she'd keep it rolled up in
cotton if she only knew how it looked.'
Then poor Lucy Waters, who was only round

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Online LibraryLynde PalmerHelps over hard places : stories for boys → online text (page 3 of 10)