Lynde Palmer.

Helps over hard places : stories for boys online

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All the way to school she studied, with the
help of her good-natured brother, but all in
vain. The time was too short ; and at tho
close of her recitation, instead of hearing any


praises, she caught a very sad look upon the
teacher's face, and heard that " hateful Patty
Porter" titter, as she was sent to take her
place at the foot of the class.

But all these mortifications and privations
seemed to have very little effect upon Susy.
That very night, as she sat with a little piece
of sewing her mother had given her, the
needle fell from her ringers, and her eyes again
were fixed upon vacancy.

"What are you after now, Susy?" cried

" Well, I'm thinking what if I had three
pairs of hands, and while one pair did the
hemming, another could sew on these strings,
and another could stitch down that seam,
and we'd have it all done in no time at all."

" Well, I never! " exclaimed Joe. " Seems
to me I'd learn to use one pair of hands be-
fore I was fretting for more. Now I believe
IHl dream a little too. Suppose people came
into the world with the ends of their arms
all smooth, without any hands at all, and sup*
pose every time they were very good, or ac-
complished any great thing, a finger would
grow out. I guess they'd be pretty thank-
ful if they ever got ten of them. I wonder


how many you'd have by this time ! I know
you'd dream you had two or three hundred ;
but I shouldn't be a bit surprised if you hadn't
the first joint of a fore-finger."

Susy colored and bit her lips, but had not
a word to say.

But more serious consequences than these
resulted from Susy's habit of dreaming. She
was very fond of taking long walks, and as
she lived only a mile from the sea-shore, she
would often, on a Saturday, ramble there with
her work, and, sitting on the rocks, dream
away hours at a time.

Now it happened one day that Susy had
an examination composition to write, and
taking her pencil and paper with her, she
went down to the rocks, so, as she said, " that
no one should interrupt her." She played
awhile with the sand and shells, and then,
settling herself comfortably, she spread her
paper upon her lap, and began to — dream.

"How nice it would be," began Susy in
usual fashion, " if some great big hand would
take hold of my pencil, and, without my hav-
ing to think at all, would just guide it along
over the paper, writing the funniest and
nicest things in the world ; then how neatly

Helps for Girls. Page 98.


I would copy it off, and have it all off my
mind. And when examination came, I should
read it very slowly and distinctly, and when
I finished, Deacon Mason would pat me on
the head, and say, ' I didn't know Miss Susan
had so much talent. I shouldn't wonder if
she'd write a book some day ;' and Patty Por-
ter would just die of envy, and almost cry
when she got up to read — ' Lions. The lion
is a very useful animal.' And then," ran on
Susy, __ « what should I wear ? I wish father
was rich ; or how nice it would be if I could
wake in the morning, and find by my bed a
lovely pink silk, and a wreath of white roses,
such as the ladies at the grand hotel wore
this summer. How sweet I should look ! I
wouldn't be a bit proud, either, but would
walk by Kitty Bell's brown delaine, just the
Bame as ever."

Thus ran on Susy's nimble thoughts, and
she entirely forgot how late it was growing
till suddenly the sea, which had been slowly
creeping nearer and nearer, sent a little dash
of spray up in her face. Susy started and
looked quickly around. Oh! how careless
she had. been! She had been dreaming,
dreaming, till the cold, cruel sea had come



crawling all around the little rock where iha
was sitting, and there seemed no way of es-
cape. Poor Susy ! she was wide awake now,
and she remembered that at high tide her
rock was perfectly covered. What should
she do ? She called wildly, and looked out
over the rough, gray water, and back on
the dreary gray shore. There was no one in
sight, and dropping down again, poor Susy
dreamed no more of silk dresses and rose-
wreaths, but sobbed till she could cry no
more. But the sea came creeping up, surely,
surely, and suddenly she felt its cold touch
through the toes of her stout leather boots,
and with a little, sharp cry, she drew them up,
with her knees close under her chin. Oh!
how dreadful to wake up from such a lovely
dream to such a terrible reality ! The water -
crept nearer. She could not draw her feet
up any further, and it rose over her little^
round ankles. Susy covered her face with
her hands, and thought of home. She knew
just how pleasant the old kitchen was look-
in £. She shouldn't wonder if mother had
made gingerbread, and was cooking apples
for tea, and pussy was washing herself by the
fire. But oh, when they all sat dowu to tea,


and were laughing and telling stones, she
would be lying upon the cold, gray sand, like
that poor lady who was wrecked a year ago
— lying all cold and still, with seaweed in
her hair. "Yes, I must die," thought Susy,
" and I haven't been good at all ; but perhaps,
if I get down on my /cnees, the angels will
think I'm one of God's children, and carry
me to heaven by mistake." But the water
came higher still, and poor sobbing Susy con
eluded she would rather die standing up.
Oh, how cold it was, and how she trembled !
She couldn't stand much longer, and — what

"Father! mother! Joe!" screamed Susy
frantically, covering her eyes as she felt her-
self swaying dizzily forward.

" I declare if there isn't our Susy," cried
Joe's astonished voice, and his boat swept
rapidly around the corner of a rock.

" My little daughter ! " cried father ; and
Susy knew no more till she found herself
wrapped in a great coat, held safe in her
father's arms.

" Well, what were you about this time ? :l
cried Joe, with pretended roughness, as he
wound up his fishing-line. "I suppose you


were dreaming you were a mermaid, and
were going to sail off in an oyster shell."

You would have thought this adventure
would cure Susy of dreaming, and that she
would set diligently to work, knowing that
the best kind of fairies to separate bird feath-
ers, or do sums, and write compositions, are
Patience and Industry, and they are always
ready to come if any little girl or boy really
wants them.

But Susy had indulged in this sad habit so
long, that the very next Sunday, as she sat in
church, thinking of her narrow escape, she
said to herself, —

" God was very good to me, and I ought
to be a Christian. How nice it would be if
I were just like an angel, and couldn't do
wrong. Then, wherever I went every one
would love me, and would say, 'What a sweet
expression Miss Susan has ! ' and at last,
wh?n I died, I should go straight to heaven."
So she never heard what the minister said, — .
"I love them that love me, and they that seek
me early shall find me." "My son, my
cla^ ?hter, give me thine heart." She only
dr famed that some time she would be very
good ; and as, on the way home, she spoke


very sharply to Joe for daring to interrupt
her thoughts, I am quite sure that none of
the angels would have made such a mistake
as to think she was on^ of God's children.

Little children, are any of you dreaming
like Sus> f


Who is it springs to catch the ball

When grandma drops her knitting?
Who always has a smile for all

'Mid sunny dimples flitting?
Who sings, till fretful baby's eyes

Droop, sweet as half-shut flowers ?
u Tis 'Sunshine,'" all the household cric-a,

" This darling child of ours."

But who walks sullenly alone,

Tears strung on eye-lid fringes,
And speaks with such a fretful tone

That even Ponto cringes ?
Who never runs, when mother calls,

With eager feet and cheerful ?
The answer very sadly fills —

" Alas ! you must mean i TearfuV "

What bring the Summer's rosy hands

esire ?



Sweet laughing flowers in rainbow bands,
And birds, half gold, half fire.

And Winter sighs with softer voice,
And drops from frozen finger

Fair wreaths of snow, rare stems of ice.
Where captive sunsets linger.

But what does sultry Summer bring

To fretful little " Tearful "?
Great thorns on roses, bees that sting,

And nettles grim and fearful.
And Winter sends her slippery snow,

And sets her heart in quivers,
When dismal night-winds come and go,

And shake her when she shivers.

Bright little " Sunshine ! " pleased with all

That love of God has given ;
Some time she'll hear an angel call,

"Dear ' Sunshine,' shine in heaven ! ,:
But where will go the selfish feet,

The fretful soul and fearful ?
No shadoics dim the " golden street " —

What will become of "Tearful?"



u Where's Jamie ? " asked Madge, timidly,
corning into the room, cheery with its pretty
crimson coal fire and bright, yellow jets of
gas light.

Her cousin looked up coldly at the ques-
tion, Uncle Gould frowned ominously over
his paper, and Aunt Gould just said, very
dryly, — " In his room."

Madge looked uneasily from one to the
other, but no single pair of eyes turned upon
her with sympathy or explanation, and after
a few moments of irresolution she laicl down
her school-books and stole from the room.
In the hall she met the house-maid.

" Oh ! Bett} r , please tell me, has any thing
happened? and why didn't Jamie come to
school this afternoon ? "

Betty shook her head. "Well, Miss, I don't
like to grieve you, but your brother has done
& shocking thing, and if he was a poor boy


jamie's struggle. 107

now, I suppose he'd be looking through iron
bars to-night in the county jail!"

"Oh, Betty! what do you mean?" said
Madge, turning quite pale.

"Well, Miss," said Betty, sinking her voice
to a whisper, "you'd have to know it some
time, I suppose, and the fact is he's just been
stealin' money out of master's drawer! — a
hundred dollars, more or less ! "

" It isn't so !" cried Madge, in a loud, sharp
tone, which almost startled herself. "What,
Jamie steal? It's a wicked lie!" and she
burst into tears.

"Very well," said the offended Betty,
"you'll soon find whether I tell a lie or no.
I believe he's none too good to be a thief, nor
you either, with your mincing saint ways."

But Madge was out of hearing — two steps
at a time up the broad stairs, till she reached
a little room at the farther end of the third
story corridor. She burst in without any
ceremony, but all was still in the cold winter
twilight, except the dismal dashing of sleet
against the window-panes. "Jamie?" she
called, anxiously.

At first there was no reply, and then a lit-
tle movement behind the dingy brown cur-


tains betrayed him, and Madge was at Lis
side, with her arms flung around his neck.

"I knew you had heard it all the minute
you called me," faltered Jamie, trying to
smile. "I heard the 'tears in your voice,'
you know ; but you don't believe it? "

" Never ! ' cried Madge, vehemently. "Now
tell me all about it. How could any one dare
to say so ? "

"I hardly know where to begin," said
Jamie, with a great effort at self-control. " I'll
have to tell you something I've been keeping
secret ever since last summer. You see, when
cousin Bell had her birthday party last June,
and all the girls swept around in such pretty
shining silks, or else dresses half clouds and
half cobwebs, and you only had that pink
calico, it hurt me — I don't know why.
You looked just as sweet as any — the pretti-
est of all, I thought ; but when Fisher Knight
said, 'Just look at my sister ! Isn't she pretty ?
and doesn't her dress look as if she'd bought
three or four yards of sunset, and had the
moon up all night sewing stars on it?' then
the boys laughed, and I said, — 'And isn't
my sister pretty too?' for you did look as
ewcet as a rose, I thought; but that proud

jajiie's struggle. 109

Fisher Knight laughed just like a kniie — I
mean it seemed to cut right into me, and he
said, — 'Oh yes; and how kind Betty was to
lend her that dress.' Some of the boys said,
— ' Too bad ! ' but that only hurt me more,
and I crept away pretty soon, and lay behind
the thick snow-ball bushes, and looked up
into the great still sky, and wondered why
God couldn't have taken you and me too,
when father and mother died, and not left us
to come to this proud, rich uncle, who does
not love us, and who treats us like little beg-

"Oh, don't say so, Jamie," said Madge, sooth-
ingly ; " I'm sure he's been very kind to us

"I don't remember many times just now,"
sighed Jamie. "Well, a little while after that
I heard Lutie say that her birthday came in
the winter, and she meant to have a grand
time, and invite every boy and girl she had
ever seen. Then I thought to myself, —
1 Now they will want to dress Madge in some
ugly brown merino, but I am determined she
shall look the prettiest of them all.' So I be-
gan to work after school, doing all kinds of
little jobs for any body who would hire me,


and I never spent any thing for candy or
marbles, you know, so that all the boys began
to call me 'miser.' But I didn't mind that,
because I thought my pleasure was coining
by and by. The money came very slowly,
Madge, and often I thought I'd never have
enough. But when aunt gave me money to
buy mittens, I just went without and kept
my hands in my pockets. Then I got con-
siderable Christmas, you know, and I sold the
top that Lutie gave me, and altogether, yes-
terday I found I had just enough to buy what
I wanted. So Mr. Green, who is always so
kind to me, excused me from my lessons this

morning, and I walked all the way to B ,

because I thought I could get nicer things
there, and, Madge, I bought you the sweetest
green silk ! it made you think of the woods
in spring, and I thought when you had it on,
with your sweet, white face, you would look
just like a lily coming out of a bed of moss."

"Dear little Jamie!" cried Madge; "did
you do all that for me ? I'm so sorry ! You
know I never care what I wear."

" Yf.5, I know it," said Jamie ; "and you're
always lovely to me. I suppose it is because,
as Mr. Green says, you always wear the jew-

jamie's struggle. Ill

els which are of great price in the sight of
God. I haven't a doubt, Madge, but the an-
gels think you're the prettiest girl in the
world, but some way, — I know it's foolish, — I
wanted to have the boys think so too.

"Well, when I came back, just as I got to
the hall door with my bundle, feeling so proud
that I had earned it all myself, out came
uncle, looking very red, and storming about
some money — about twenty dollars, I think
— that he said he had left in his desk, and
forgot to lock up last night. Nobody knew
any thing about it, and I was just going on
tip-toes up to my room, when he called very
suddenly, 'What have you got in that bun-
dle, sir ? ' 'A dress for Madge.' ' A dress for
Madge ? ' said he, louder yet ; ' let me see it.'
So I opened it, trying to tell him that I earned
the money all myself; but as soon as he saw
the pretty silk, he caught hold of my arm so
I almost screamed, and said, — c You earned
money to buy such a dress as that? You
are telling me a falsehood ! Confess now that
you took my money.' Then out came Aunt
Gould, and Belle, and Lutie, and they held
up their hands, and looked so shocked, and
wouldn't believe one word I said. Then


uncle seemed to try to be kind, and told me
that if I confessed, and asked his pardon, lie
would try to forgive it. But I could not tell
a lie, and only said, over and over, that I
didn't, couldn't do such a thing, till he called
me a hardened, obstinate boy, and ordered
me up to my room. And as for the dress,
Madge, that I've been thinking about more
than six months,'— Jamie coughed violently, —
" I heard Aunt Gould say ' it wouldn't be quite
a loss, for with a yard, or two more it would
make a dress for Lutie.' "

Madge tried to comfort him, but broke

"Never mind," said he, at last, patting her
tear-stained cheek. "I am determined you
shall have something nice, after all. To-mor-
row is the skating match, you know, and I
think I'm sure of the second prize at least,
and whatever I get shall be given to darling

" You will be sure to get it," cried Madge,
\utli eager sympathy. "You've skated ever
since you could walk;" and she remembered
with a glow of pride that no one had ever yet
caught Jamie in a race ; and often, when you
thought him only playing, he'd be writing his

jamie's struggle. 113

name, with this rather clumsy steel pen, on
the great white page of ice, as handsomely as
on a leaf of his writing-book.

"Yes; you'll be sure of the prize, Jamie,"
she said, exultingly, "and I know it wi.l all
come right with uncle too. I'm going to tell
him all about it now."

But, to her great grief, angry Uncle Gould
would not hear a word. " No, child," he said,
" no one could make me believe that a boy
would go without marbles and candies half
a year to buy his sister a dress. And if he
did, he never could have saved enough for
such a handsome silk. Besides, what settles
the matter, Betty saw him in the library at
my desk very early this morning, before any
one was up. It seems a very clear case,
though it grieves me to say so."

The next morning, as, after a sleepless night,
Jamie stole down stairs with his skates, his
uncle met him in the hall.

"You can not skate to-day, James," said
he, almost kindly, as he looked at the boy's
flushed, worn face. " I feel it but right that
you should have some punishment for such a
gfeat fault."


"But I did not do it, sir," said Jamie, ira

Uncle Gould grew quite stern. "Remem-
ber that Betty saw you, my child. Either
confess and ask pardon, or go back to your

" Yes, Jamie," said Aunt Gould, appearing
from the parlor, " you love Madge dearly, and
no doubt the temptation was very great. We
have been talking it over, and we wish to be
as kind as your own father and mother.
Confess your fault, and, as it is the first time,
we are all ready to forgive you, and trust
you once more. And indeed, since it would
make you so very happy, I will even promise
to give the dress to Madge."

" Don't be a prig, Jim," whispered Lutie ;
"just say you did it, and have it done with."

What a terrible struggle went on in poor
Jamie's breast. If he told a lie, there was
love and forgiveness, the skating jnize and
the pretty dress; if he told the truth, nothing
but coldness and contempt, and solitude in
his dreary room. What a struggle! The
hot passions raged, and the terrible fire
burned through his cheeks and eyes. He
hesitated. Ah ! is he going to love the praise

jamie's stbugole. 115

of man more than the praise of God? A
moment more of silence, and he says firmly,.—

" I did not do it, uncle. I can not tell a

Poor Jamie spent the day in his room, at-
tended by Madge, his faithful shadow. They
heard Belle and Lutie going away merrily
with their skates, bat, strange to say, they did
not feel so very miserable, and even smiled
as their eyes met.

"Isn't it queer I can be so happy?" said
Jamie. "If it wasn't for this headache I
should feel light as a feather."

" Do you remember that strange verse that
mother used to say ? " asked Madge : " ' Be-
hold, we count them happy which endure? I
believe I understand it better now, Jamie ;
and what is the rest of it — c Ye have seen
the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very
pitiful and of tender mercy.' I am so glad
you endured it all, Jamie, and who knows
what the end will be? I am quite certain it
will all come right at last."

Jamie tried to smile hopefully, and when-
ever a vivid remembrance of his heavy disap-
pointments came over him, he repeated softly


to himself — '■'■Very pitiful, and of tender

It is a week after, and the night of Lutie's
birthday. Madge — can it be possible ? — is
standing by the piano in that identical green
silk, though, with that happy flush on her
cheeks, pho looks more like a moss-rose than
a lily. And Jamie — was there ever such a
radiant face? What can have happened?
But here is Madge, eager to tell you all ; how
"Aunt Gould found the missing roll of bills
Caught behind the little drawer, and how
proud Uncle Gould had actually asked Jamie's
pardon, and since had treated him almost as
respectfully as if he had been a grown man,
and every body was so kind, and she (Madge)
was so proud ! Oh ! she couldn't begin to
tell all she felt!"

But who can express Jamie's happiness? —
happiness not only that he is again respected
and loved — that Madge is acknowledged
sweeter than any other boy's sister — that
Uncle Gould has already shaken hands with
him twice that very evening ; but there is a
deeper joy, the sweet peace, the conscious-
ness of victory over great temptation. And

jamie's struggle. 117

this it is which makes Madge turn from the
merry, sparkling faces to the sweeter light in
Jamie's great earnest eyes, and whisper softly,
— "Behold, we count them happy which en-



Lois Vanderbeeg, with her shawl over
her head, had been standing at the gate more
than half an hour, in the chill evening air,
looking vainly for her little brother, Pierre,
when suddenly the boy appeared through the
thick mist as if he had risen out of the earth.

"Ah, here you are," cried Lois; "how
slowly you must have walked. Father has
been waiting an hour for his paper. But come
now, do hurry in out of the rain. We've got
a splendid roaring fire for this dreary night,
and we're going to have hot cakes for tea ! "

But to this cheery intelligence little Pierre
only responded, " I'm sure I don't care if we
are," in such a dismal tone, that, as they en-
tered the bright fire-lighted kitchen, Lois
turned upon him a look of great anxiety.

"I'm afraid you're sick, Pierre," said she,
seeing very clearly that something had gone



" No, don't trouble me ; I'm only tired."

Nevertheless, Lois noticed that when he
had hung away his damp coat and tippet, he
seated himself by the window as far as pos-
sible from the bright, cheerful fire, and hid
his head behind the curtain.

"Now, Pierre," she whispered, following
him, " you must tell me what has happened."

" Don't ask me, sister," said Pierre, melting
a little ; " I'm ashamed to tell."

But Lois persisted, and she had such kind,
"taking" ways, that, as Pierre would have
told you, she never let down her little bucket
of sympathy into Pierre's heart without
drawing up nearly all of his troubles.

"Well, Lois," said he, slowly, "in the first
place, you know how anxious father has been
that I should be < head boy ' at school this
year, and you know how I've studied early
and late, and haven't missed a single lesson ? "

" Yes, indeed," cried Lois.

" Then you know that Herbert Bell is the
oniy other boy who has been studying so
hard, and I'm sure I can remember at least
three times he has missed this quarter."

"Yes, well?"

u Well, to-day, Mr. Simmons asked me to


stay a few minutes after school, and when tlio
scholars were all gone, he said, —

" * I've been very much pleased with some
of my scholars lately, and I've been thinking
I should like to give the one who has the
most good marks at the end of the quartei
some reward for his industry and good be-
havior. Now what should you think a boy,
about your age, would like best for a present
this winter ? ' O Lois, you can't think how
my heart beat ! I thought right away, l I'm
sure he means mej and I'm afraid he knew
that I thought so, for it seemed to burn right
through my cheeks. But in a minute I said,
just as careless as I could, 'Why, I should
think, sir, a boy couldn't like any thing better
than a nice little sled, with iron shoes, and
painted red,' for you know, Lois, I've wanted
one three winters, and father never could af-
ford it, and now * times ' are harder than ever.
Well, he smiled, and said he should think that
would please a boy, and then he looked right
in my face, and said, ' What do you think of
Herbert Bell? Isn't he about as good a

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Online LibraryLynde PalmerHelps over hard places : stories for boys → online text (page 5 of 10)