Lynde Palmer.

Helps over hard places : stories for boys online

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felt quite bewildered with happiness, and
longed to get away to her own little room,
and give thanks for this sweet answer to her


Do you wonder after this that Patty cried
no more over her plain face, but only prayed
every day that God would give her the
greater blessing of a beautiful soul?



She was weeping, 'neath the apple-trees —

the little Golden Hair ;
"Oh, what is it?" chirped the wondering

birds, afloat in crimson air.
" For she will not heed the clover, yearning

red-mouthed to be kissed,
Nor the sunset folding 'round her loving arms

of tender mist."
Then the courtier wind came whispering,

"Oh, fairest of the fair!
Can it be that sorrow dares to touch the heart

of Golden Hair ! "

" Oh, I'm tired, very tired," sobbed the griev-
ing little child,

"And I wish I were an angel, in whose sweet
eyes God has smiled ;

For whene'er lie does God's bidding, in his
harp grow golden strings,

4nd the angels on the crystal sea make room
for his bright wings.


Helpa for Girls. Page 170.


But my playmates laugh to see me try to bo

so meek and mild,
And they call me bitter, mocking names ; I'm

tired! " sobbed the child.

Then the evening wind was sorrowful, and
sighing went his way,

And the robins chirped, " Dear Golden Hair,"
but knew no more to say.

But the maiden, lifting tearful eyes to heaven's
glowing floor,

Caught a gleam of white wings drifting
through the sunset's half-shut door,

And as still she gazed, a happy cloud brim-
med o'er with golden spray,

And two angel-forms came floating down the
tender, shining way.

And one called unto the other, though shd

lost the heavenly name,
And he said, "Oh, fairest brother, with thy

shining wings aflame,
It is sweet to pass from glory unto glory ever

And to reach the seraphs' throbbing hearta

a-thrill with holy fire,


But I yearn but once, for Jesus' sake, to suf-
fer grief and shame, —

Ah ! what joy to show my glorious King how
much I love his name! "

Then, with streaming eyes, upon her knees

fell little Golden Hair,
While the lovely vision floated down the

waves of twilight air ;
All that passed in that sweet hour, only God

and angels heard,
But thereafter with a loving heart she bore

each mocking word ;
SufFring joyfully for Jesus, till the child-soul

grew so fair,
That the angels on the crystal sea made room

for Gulden Hair.



The long, long Southern clay was offer at
last, and the sun, generous old monaich that
he is, was leaving gifts. Every tree had a
golden crown, — every little wave in brook,
streamlet or ocean, was eager to catch a ruby
or an opal on its dancing crest, and the sweet
warm evening wind hardly knew his old
flower-friends, as they nodded and courtesied
in their wreaths of crimson mist. Even
Carrie had to pause in her race on the piazza,
and cry exultingly, as she held up her hands
in the red light, — " Ah, brother Frank, I be-
lieve we are breathing roses" Before Frank
had time to reply, a dusky little figure came
dancing up the walk. "It is Violet," said
Carrie, quickly. " Let's ask her to play."

"Not I, indeed," returned Master Frank,
proudly. "I do not think papa likes us to
play with the slaves."

" But Violet is such a funny little thing,"


pleaded Carrie, " and papa saw me with her
yesterday, and lie only patted both our heads,
and called her « Blight Eyes.' Didn't he, Vio-
let?" added she, as the dancing child rested
in front of them, poised on one dusky, rounded

"You're a dirty little nigger," interposed
Master Frank, with intense disgust; "and if
you don't stay in the quarters, I will get pap3
to have you whipped."

"For shame, Frank," cried Carrie, while
Violet's round eyes grew big with fright.

" Please, Mass'r Frank," began she, but the
boy had walked rapidly away.

"Never mind, Vi," said Carrie, kindly;
" he'll never do it ; " and coming down off the
piazza, she took the little dark hand in her own.

" Come, we will have a talk."

"I's sorry I's black," began poor Violet,
all the fun gone from her merry little face,
" but I is clean. Please tell Mass'r Frank I
scrubs very hard, but the black won't come
off _ truly, Miss Carrie."

" Would you like to be white ? " asked the
little girl.

"Oh! Miss Carrie, could I ever?" cried
Violet, jumping eagerly up and down.


"Oh, I didn't mean that," said Carrie,
quickly. "I'm afraid you couldn't grow
white ever — I'm sure I don't know what
you could do."

Violet gave a heavy sigh of disappointment.
"Well, if I's alius black, I hopes I'll live with
you, Miss Carrie."

"Yes, that you shall," replied the little girl,

"And," said Violet, "when we goes to
Canaan, that old Sambo sings about, may
I be your little slave then, Miss Carrie, 'cause
you's alius so kind ? "

"I don't think there will be any slaves
there," said Carrie, slowly, pondering over the

"Why, what will the black people do,
then?" cried Violet, with curious round eyes.

" Maybe," replied Carrie hesitatingly, " may-
be there won't be any black people — you
know, Violet, our bodies are covered up in the
ground," — Violet shivered, — "but our souls
go to heaven, and they must be all white."

"All of 'em?" asked Violet, eagerly.

"Yes, mamma told me that no soul can go
till it is washed white in Jesus' blood."

"And can my soul be white?" whispered


"Yes," said Carrie, "if you ask God."

" Please ask him now," cried Violet, eagerly,
u here under the tree, please, oh, Miss Carrie ! "

And in the soft twilight the little girlg
kneit down, while Carrie prayed, —

" O God, help Violet to be very good, and
make her soul white, for Jesus' sake."

And Violet echoed, — "Please, dear Jesus,
make Violet's soul white"

They remained a few minutes in silence
and then rose from their knees.

" Is my soul white now, Miss Carrie ? "

" I suppose it must be," replied Carrie, with
sweet, childish faith.

Violet looked at her dusky, bare hands,
arms and feet with a new interest. "Can
He look through all the black, Miss Carrie,
and see my new white soul ? "

" Ah yes ; he sees every thing. But, Violet,
mamma says, if we do wrong, it makes a
black spot, and God will look away " —

" Oh, I loves him, I loves him, Miss Car-
rie; he's so good to me — to make my soul
n'kite, and I will try " —

" Carrie," interrupted Frank's quick, angi y
voice, "mamma wants you directly."

Poor Violet rolled hastily over the fence


like a little black ball, and Carrie ran into the

The next morning Frank awoke feeling
very nnamiable, and determined to make
Carrie and Violet as uncomfortable as him-
self. He soon thought of a plan. After mak-
ing some request which was answered in the
affirmative by his absent-minded father, he
set off for the house of the overseer.

" Papa says," he began, " that Violet is to
work w r ith the rest of the children to-day."

" She is too young yet to work all day,"
said the overseer. " No matter," said Frank,
"papa says she must goP There was noth-
ing more to be said ; and Violet was sent with
a gang of children, hired from several planta-
tions, to help carry brick for the building of
u house. Some one had discovered that
these quick little black children could be
made very useful. They were formed in a
line, and as they passed the pile of building
material, one brick was laid on each curly
head, and with that they climbed the ladder,
left the scaffolding, and came regularly around
to the starting point,* looking like a busy
little colony of ants. At first Violet thought

* A fact.


it great fun, and went nimlly up the lacJJef

with her head very proud and erect. But as
the day wore on, the busy limbs grew tired,
the bricks pressed heavier on her aching
head, she could hardly see how to stumble
up the ladder, and at last, when mischievous
Dick, just behind her, gave her a sudden
pinch, she fell from top to bottom. Poor lit-
tle Violet was much bruised, but she could
not rest long, for the overseer called her
name, and told her " not to be lazy." So she
went slowly on as if in a dream, toiling pain-
fully over the weary way. Several times,
when she thought of Master Frank, angry
feelings would arise in her heart. Then she
would think of the spots on her new white
soul, and she would ask God to forgive her
and help her to feel right. At last the even-
ing came, and Violet crept slowly home. As
6he n eared the house, Carrie ran to meet her.

" Poor little Violet," she cried, " are you so
tired ? It was all a mistake ; papa didn't mean
to have you go, and you shan't any more. I
shall ask papa to give you all to me."

" Please do, Miss Carrie," sighed Violet.

" Well, I will this very night, and FraDk
will not treat you so badly any more."


" Miss Carrie, oh Miss Carrie," cried Viole t
in a choking voice, pointing to a tree a short
distance from them.

" Yes," said Carrie, quietly. " I knew Frank
was there all the time, but he's sound asleep
over his book, and don't hear a word we say."
But Violet's terrors increased, and she shook
from head to foot, still keeping her finger
rigidly stretched out.

Carrie looked more earnestly, and in the
deep shadow she saw the glittering eyes and
brilliant crest of a poisonous snake, close, oh
so close to Frank. There, there he was, gath-
ering himself up to strike her sleeping brother !
A piercing shriek burst from Carrie's pale
lips; but Violet, forgetful of her aching limbs
and her past suffering, sprang forward fran-
tically, and threw herself upon her young
tormentor. " Mass'r Frank — Mass'r Frank ! "
she called loudly, and then could say no
more, for the fatal spring was taken, and the
poison sheathed in her quivering dark arm.

Frank started with the cry of agony, only
to see his fearful enemy glide swiftly away
in the gloom. The shrieks of the children
brought the household speedily to the spot,


but the poison had done rapid work in the
weary little body.

" Please, Jesus, give Violet a white soul,"
murmured the child, lifting her dim eyes to
the sweet evening sky. Then came a quick
convulsion, followed by a long shiver through-
out the rounded limbs, and little Violet was
quite still.

Frank shuddered violently as he thought
of the terrible fate he had escaped, and his
heart was full of remorse as he remembered
his cruelty to the patient, forgiving little slave,
who had been so much more noble than he.
His fither, with a heart full of thanksgiving
for the life of his only son, looked tearfully
upon the motionless little form, and said, ten-
derly, — " Poor little black Violet!" And
Carrie, sobbing bitterly, forgetful of the new
white soul, echoed, — " Poor little black Vio-
let ! " But no one knew what the angela



It was certainly the fifth time that little
Fifine, in her white wrapper, and with dainty-
bare feet, had crept down the broad staii
case, and listened, tearful and half-frightened,
at the dining-room door. It was almost mid-
night, but she hadn't slept a wink. How
could she, when every three minutes would
come a roar of laughter and stamping of feet
that almost shook the house, and made the
poor little heart beat faster than ever ? But,
now she was growing desperate, and must
speak to Louis, if it were only one word.
She knocked at the door, but the sound was
drowned in a rude peal of laughter.

"So you think the old 'Governor' will
never be any the wiser ? " cried a voice.

" Oh, he'll never find it out. John is truo
as steel, and the children are all abed except
Eugene, and Mil never tell, I know."

" Give me some more champagne then, and



I won't," cried a fair-haired little boy of about
ten years.

"I don't know about that, Dumpling; I
think you've had enough. Just remember
you are five or six years younger than the
rest of us, and are not used to it at all."

" Then I will tell father, — see if I don't,"
whimpered Eugene.

"What a plague! Well, come now, hold
your glass — it's the last time,' remember,"
cried Louis. "I say, boys, I made quite a good
bargain over this champagne. The Governor
didn't leave me a very liberal supply of funds,
this time, but I knew we couldn't get along
with only that old currant wine in the cellar,
and by great good luck I managed to get
some of the genuine article dirt cheap.
You'd never guess how little I gave for it."
(Alas ! it was not paid for, as my story will
show.) a Here, Phil, let me give you a drop

" Louis ! " cried a shaking little voice,
" Louis ! "

"What's that?" cried the boy, starting.
" Fifine, I do declare ! " and he made two
f i'ps for the door.

" What on earth do vou want here at this


time of night?" said he, a little angiily. " I
thought you were sound asleep in your bed."

" I couldn't sleep," faltered Fifine, " there
is such a dreadful noise. And, Louis, I have
come to ask you to send all these wild boys
home. You know father don't like to have
you go with them, and mother — Oh! what
would she say if" —

" Come, come, Fifine, go back to bed, that's
a darling. They'll all go pretty soon, I'll
promise you, and father and mother will
never know unless you turn magpie; and I
know," added he, coaxingly, " you won't
want to make so much trouble. Come, now,
if you'll go back to bed and forget all about
it, I'll give you the prettiest present to-mor-
row " —

"But you've spent all your money on those
horrid bottles," said Fifine.

" Pshaw, Goosey! you haven't the least idea
how cheap they were. It was a bargain, you
see, and they hardly cost any thing at all."

" But I'm almost sure it isn't right," sobbed
Fifine ; " and you've got poor Eugene in there
too, and his cheeks look so red I'm afraid he'll
have a fever and die before father and mother
come back,"


" I declare," cried Louis, impatiently, " ona
girl is more trouble than a dozen boys. Now
I must go back to my company, and if Goosey
won't go up to her nice warm bed, why, 1
must carry her myself; " and Louis lifted the
slight figure.

Fifine made no resistance, but only sobbed
quietly to herself till he put her down gently
upon the soft carpet of her own little room.

" Oh, Louis," she cried, as he sprang back
through the door. "One thing more I want
to say, — when you go down, please take that
candle out of the v> r indow "

"What candle?"

"Why, some one has set a candle right in
the window, and the curtains will blow
against it in the wind, and " —

" Ah, yes ! w T hat a thoughtful little puss it
is ! Yes ; I'll see to it. We want it there a
little while so John ean see to pound ice on
the piazza, but there isn't the least bit of dan-
ger while we're all sitting there, you know.
Indeed, we think some of illuminating the
front windows so they shall look like the pal-
ace of the Caliph Haroun Alraschid, and
then we'll finish the night in the garden."


" Oil, Louis," sobbed Fifine, " you said they
Biiould go soon."

"Well! well! so they shall. Now, good-
night. You'll find it all right in the morn-
ing. Say, 'Now I lay me,' and go to sleep
like a dear little bird;" and again kissing her,
he hastily left the room.

Poor little Fifine could not go to bed, but
curling herself up in a great easy-chair with
her small feet lost in a silk cushion, she cried
a little more, listened, sobbed again, and
finally, being very tired, dropped off to sleep.
Twelve ! one ! two ! three ! and still she
slept on ; but now her dream began to be very
troubled. She thought she was again at the
dining-room door, and the claps and hisses
were louder than ever. Then the rough boy,
Phil Barnard, saw her, and was so angry that
he flew at her and tried to strangle her.

Fifine awoke coughing and choking, and,
rubbing her eyes, looked around her. She
soon became conscious that Snarler was whin-
ing piteously — the air was thick, heavy and
almost stifling; and what was that strange
noise? Crackle, crackle, sputter, crackle,—
what could it be?

Fifine arose, her limbs trembling and teeth


chattering, and crept to the hall door. Aa
she opened it the sound grew more frightful,
and a thick volume of smoke rushed into the

" Louis ! Eugene ! " she cried; but no voice
replied, and she hastily ran down the stairs.
Ah ! it was all explained now. What a
frightful sight ! The dining-room — its tables
covered with broken dishes — Louis lying on
the lounge in a heavy sleep — little Eugene
curled up on the iloor, motionless, and with
his eyes half open as if he were already dead
— Phil Barnard, the only one of the wild
company who had not gone home, staring
about him in stupid wonder, while all the sad
scene was terribly illuminated by tongues of
vivid fire, that were leaping and chasing each
other up the casement, and over the frescoed
wall. A shriek of terror burst from Fifine's
pale lips, but Phil only turned his blank won-
dering gaze upon her, and Louis and Eugene
slept on.

" Fire ! fire ! " shrieked poor Fifine, but no
one seemed to hear. She was desperate, and
rushed to the servants' room. On her way
she stumbled over John, lying full length
upon the floor in the servants' hall, but he,


too, was stupid, and could not be roused.
But now came the black cook, Dinah, rolling
her great eyes in fright, and here was nurse,
wringing her hands, with her cap fallen off
her head.

" Fire ! fire ! " screamed Fifine ; " and hurry %
or Louis and Eugene will be burnt to death ! "

Then the poor frightened women ran to
and fro. Nurse poured a pail of cold water
over the stupid John, and roused him enough
to send him to the neighbors for help. Great
strong Dinah, almost stifled with smoke,
dragged Louis and Eugene out of the flames,
while Phil just knew enough to stupidly fol-

And now the fire had gained grand head-
way. It was sweeping through the beautiful
parlors, reveling among the rare paintings,
darting its hungry red tongue among the
costly books, the vases and the statues, and
now it made a grand leap to the staitcase,
and wreathed the carven balusters with crim-
son, while Fifine and the servants stood stu-
pefied with terror. Eugene lay senseless
upon the grass, and Louis, but partially roused,
one minute laughed wildly, and the next
cried and sobbed like a baby.


Suddenly little Fifine, giving a quick
startled glance, cried, — " Where is baby f
Has no one brought out little Lucie ? "

Nurse looked aghast — ran to the hall door,
and again rushed back stifled with smoke.

" May Heaven forgive me ! " cried the half
crazy woman. "The stairs are all on fire,
and Lucie is in the nursery ! "

Louis started a little, took a few totter-
ing steps, and sank again, while the fearful
fire blazed and crackled, and waved its red
banners as if in defiance. Old Dinah threw
herself upon the ground with loud groans,
while nurse wrung her hands and cried, —
" Oh ! my darling ! Oh ! my poor little

Fifine looked despairingly at the helpless
group, and then, with white lips, sprang to
the trellis upon which vines were trained to
droop over the piazza. Up, up, went the
eager bare feet — up! she had reached the
roof, and crawled in the nursery window.
There sat innocent baby Lucie, upright in
her crib, clapping her hands and crowing at
the strange rosy light. Poor baby ! she was
too young to go to heaven by such a gate of
fire, and Fifine clasped her convulsively.


The floor was already hot to the little bare
feet, but Fifine came bravely out with her
precious burden. A great cheer awaited her
as she appeared on the roof, for the neighbors
had come, and the engine from the village
half a mile off.

So they put up a ladder, and Fifine and
Lucie came down riding royally upon kind
Mr. Barnard's broad shoulders.

" Dear Mr. Barnard," whispered Fifine sud-
denly, on the way down, "will you please
help me get out Dicky and the parrot?
How could I forget them ? "

" Where are they, little daughter ? "

" In the library."

They flew to the window. Ah ! too late !
Dicky already lay upon the bottom of his
cage, his poor little claws in the air, and
Jacko, with shrill cries, was beating his wires,
almost hidden in a fiery rain.

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed the poor bird, when
he saw Fifine. " How d'y do ; I'm scared !
I'm scared ! "

" Oh, Mr. Barnard, get him quick," screamed
Fifine, clasping her hands.

" It is too late," said he, kindly ; " I can not


save Jacko now. The floor may fall in anj
minllte. ,,

A heart-broken sob burst from Fifine's lips
— the poor parrot ruffled his golden green
feathers, cried feebly, " I'm scared ! I'm
scared!" — the side of the room tottered,
there was a grand crash, and all was over
with Jacko.

Morning dawned cloudy and chilly. The
beautiful house stood a blackened ruin —
the fine garden was destroyed — the trees
scorched and dead, the flowers buried in a
rain of cinders, — a few chairs and tables scat-
tered around in hopeless confusion — Eugene,
with fevered cheeks and glassy eyes, lying on
a bed in the grass, and Louis, now come to
his senses, standing in the midst with a look
of hopeless despair.

" How could this have taken fire ? " asked
Mr. Barnard.

Louis shook his head mournfully.

Fifine crept up slowly with her little
blistered feet, and whispered, " Did you move
the candle ? "

"Yes — no — yes, I think I did," faltered
the miserable Louis, "but I can't quite re-



member;" and lie put his hand to bis throb-
bing head.

"Ah, Louis" wept little Fifine, "how
much have you paid for those bottles of cham-
pagne ? "

XX t.


" Yes, them ruffles and little dresses look
very nice," said the big, fat cook, emptying
Christie's basket ; " but you needn't wait for
the money to-night, 'cos Mrs. Baker's power-
ful busy seem' to a Christmas tree, and you
needn't come to-morrow nuther, for there's
goiu' to be a heap of company then ; but the
day after mebbe you'll get attended to. Now
run home," said she, not unkindly, " and
here's a cake chuck full of caraways for you."

" Now move on lively," cried the pert little
errand-boy to hesitating Christie. "Don't
you see the cook is terribly flustered with all
these chickens and turkeys? She's getting
quite wild. Ten chances to one if she don't
make some dreadful mistake, and in two min-
utes have you covered up in that big chicken
pie ! Scatter now ! " and by way of enforcing
his remarks, he made a dash at her with such
i murderous-looking skewer that poor Chris



tie's feet clattered like a pair oi very lively
castanets, out into the street.

"Dear me!" said Christie, catching lie!
breath, as she turned the corner. "What a
very sad thing it h to be poor. Now we
won't have any dinner to-morrow, unless it
is one of those old puddings all Indian meal
and water, with a little molasses on top. I
am so tired of it ! " and again she sighed
heavily. "I wonder how that cake tastes?"
thought Christie in another minute, bright-
ening a little. " Mother and I will eat it to-
gether. How nice it will be ! but I believe
I must take one little bite now;" and it was
just inserted between Christie's little pearls of
teeth, which seemed to fairly shine with the
unexpected pleasure of scraping such an agree-
able acquaintance, when a weak voice close
by her side uttered a plaintive cry.

"Oh, it's you, is it, Joey?" said Christie,
uneasily drawing the cake under her shawl.

Poor little hunchback Joey made no reply
except by stretching out his thin hands, and
fixing his great hungry eyes upon that spot
of the shawl where the precious cake had

The look was too much for Christie's gen-
erous heart. 13


"Are you very hungry, poor Joey?" sns
said, with a sigh.

" Oh, very ! " said Joey, bursting into tears

" Take it, then," said Christie, drawing oul
the precious morsel with a nervous little hand,
and without venturing a look behind her, she-
hurried on her way.

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Online LibraryLynde PalmerHelps over hard places : stories for boys → online text (page 8 of 10)