Lynde Palmer.

Helps over hard places : stories for boys online

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"Hurrah ! " cried a cheery voice, suddenly
beside her, —

" The darling little Christie Bell,
"Whom the angels lore so well !
How comes she in the street so late,
A furlong from the castle gate ? '

" Oh, Mr. Charley, is it you ? " cried Chris-
tie, joyfully. "Are you home for Christmas ? "

"It is just I? responded a merry-eyed six-
footer of the venerable age of eighteen.
" And how. are the stockings — finished ?
Was there yarn enough ? Just half a yard
from heel to toe, and legs as long as a light-
ning rod ! "

"Finished!" cried Christie Bell, triumph-
antly clapping her hands; "and big enough
for the giant that lives at the top of Jack's

" Just the size ! " cried Mr. Charley.
" They'll be a splendid fit ! and I suppose

Christie bell's stockings. 105

they're an elegant shape, and not a mistake
in them."

" No, Mr. Charley," said Christie, bravely,
after a moment of conscientious straggle, " I'm
afraid — well, there's three stitches dropped,
and I seamed four times in the wrong place,
and maybe the ankles are a little too fat,
and "—

" Hush ! I won't hear another word against
'em. I know they're beauties, and I think of
keeping 'em under a glass case."

" Well, you must remember your promise,
Mr. Charley," said the pleased Christie.

" Oh, yes — enough more yarn to knit six
pairs for the poor soldiers ? Yes ; I'll give
you enough for the whole army, if you'll knit
it up."

" Oh, that's splendid ! " cried Christie, not
at all dismayed by the prospect; "I'll do

" But what have you got on your own little
feet?" said Mr. Charley, suddenly looking
down at the worn shoes and thin old cotton
g lockings.

" Oh," said Christie, blushing very much,
u they're nice enough for me."

tt But your feet will freeze."


"Oh no; I don't think about them at all
They're warm, — I guess."

"Well, what do you think about, little
snow-bird?" said Mr. Charley, curiously.

" Oh, to-night I have lovely thoughts. It's
the night before Christmas, you know, and I
never saw any thing so splendid as the shop
windows. Do you know," said Christie, con-
fidentially, " when I see a very grand one a
good ways off, I just shut my eyes tight till
I'm right in front, and then I say, < Open ses-
ame,' and make believe I've walked right
into Aladdin's garden. Oh, its great fun, Mr.
Charley ; did you ever try it ? "

" Why, no. How stupid I've been ! I never
thought of it."

" Well, you can try it to-night," said Chris-
tie, patronizingly, as she stooped to pick up
some sprays of evergreen, — poor little bran-
ches that some heavy foot had trampled.
Christie kissed them, and they thanked her
with their sweet odorous breath.

"What are you going to do with those,
Christie ? " Christie hesitated.

" You will never tell ? " said she, grasping
his big hand nervously.

"No! Honor! "cried Mr. Charley, bend-
ins down his handsome head.


"Weil, you know that little place with a
fence all 'round, down Pine Street ? "

" You don't mean the place where they used
to bury people fifty years ago ? " said Charley,
with an affected shudder.

"Yes I do," said Christie, hurriedly; "and
there's little children buried there too, for I've
been in and measured, and you can't think
how sad it looked to-day, with the cold snow,
all neaps — up and down — up and down —
just exactly as if the ground was sobbing
about it, you know, and I thought I would like
to put these pretty branches on some of the
poor little graves."

"You dear, odd little Christie!" cried
Charlie, giving the astonished child a sudden
toss in the air, basket and all. " I thought
little girls' heads were only full of dolls and
baby-houses, on Christinas Eve."

Just then they came out into the brilliant
square laughing all over with gas-lights, where
their paths began to diverge.

" You won't forget to come for the stock-
ings to-morrow ? "

"No indeed! Yon may expect to see the
toes of my big feet coming in at the door
about nine o'clock, and the rest of me will ba
ulongr in fifteen minutes after."


Christie laughed merrily, and hastened on
past the handsome houses, where, through
parted curtains, she caught glimpses of pie-
tures and flowers, and wonderful Christmas
trees, till she quite forgot that she was cold
and hungry, and walked on like a princess,
hand in hand with fairies and genii.

Then the bells began to ring for Christmas
Eve, and the fairies and genii all fled away,
while Christie thought of something far
sweeter and better — thought of the tidings
of great joy — of the dear Saviour who was
born a little babe in the manger; and she
wished she had been the happy star who had
nothing to do but point it out with his long
finger of light. Dear, beautiful Saviour, who
remembered that he was a baby once, and
said, " Suffer the little children to come unto

Christie's steps mechanically turned into
the dark street leading home.

" Hallo, boys ! Here's a lark ! " cried Jim
Brown, catching sight of her thin, scantily
draped little figure. " If here isn't a broom-
handle out all alone by itself, with clot lies
luing ou it, making believe it's a girl!"

"Yes,'' cried another, giving her big basket

ciiristie bell's stockings. 199

a twirl, " it's a broom-handle and a clothes-
basket out on a spree together ! But I do
say it's the basket's turn to cany the broom-
handle. I'm sure it's the biggest. Let's
make 'em turn about ; " and he proceeded to
induct Christie's feet under the cover.

"Please," cried bewildered Christie, "it
isn't a broom-handle, it's Christie Bell."

" Oh ! you're trying to throw dust in our
eyes. It's a way brooms have," cried Jim
Brown. " Now hurry in, or I'll have to break
you in two pieces, for in you must go."

"For shame! " cried the rest of the boys,
as Christie burst into tears. " It's real mean
to plague little Eriss Bell ; " and with a sud-
den change of intention they insisted on es-
corting her home in a body.

" Are you going to hang up your stock-
ings ? " asked one.

" It wouldn't do any good," said Christie,

" Why, haven't you heard the news ? Santa
Claus has just returned from the mountains
of the moon, and has brought such a big bag
of presents that he can't squeeze down chim-
neys any more, and he's just coming 'round
to outside doors, and any one who wants any


thing will just hang his stocking out, and it'll
be crammed!"

''You're making fun of me. There isn't
any Santa Claus," said Christie, anxiously.

" Well," said the mischievous boys, " we're
all going to try it, any way, — every boy and
girl in the row, unless it's you."

Poor simple Christie entered the house in
a perfect maze. Could it be true? She
didn't suppose there would be any harm in
trying, and she wouldn't say one word to
mother, so it should be a pleasant surprise to
her in the morning. But what stockings
should she hang out ? Her own were so mis-
erable, and full of darns, that she couldn't
think of exposing them on the front door.
Could it possibly hurt those splendid ones she
had knit for Mr. Charley? They would be
so nice and strong, and would hold so much.
Besides, they couldnH be hurt. Didn't Mrs.
Malone tell mother that the gates of heaven
were always w T ide open on Christmas Eve,
and wouldn't there be more good angels in
the air than on any other night? So Christie
carefully hung out her precious stockings, and
went soundly to sleep. The spirit who makes
dreams for good children had one waiting


tor her, — all dolls, and candies, and flowerd
and angels — the very nicest little girl-dream,
be had mixed that night.

Morning came, and with dimples, and roses
and hasty bare feet, Christie stole to the out-
side door. One minute — and with wide, in-
credulous eyes and quivering lips, she was
stealing back again, holding in her hands —
oh! direful sight! — the precious stockings,
with their poor feet cut sheer off their legs,
and nothing in them but a few sticks and cold
pancakes! Was there ever any thing so
cruel ? And where were the good angels all
the time ?

There is no use in trying to tell all Christie's
broken-hearted grief, nor how her poor mother
tried to console her, and cried harder than
Christie's self, nor how, after Christie's mother
had Grone to Mrs. Baker's to make one more
attempt to get a little money for Christmas,
hateful Jim Brown came to the window
and cried, — " Hi, Christie Bell ! what did you
get in your stockings ? Oh, do come and look
at Christie Bell's new stockings ! "

All this was very hard, but hardest of all
was when "Mr. Charley" came


"Hurrah! you small Christiana! Here's
Great-Heart after his stockings ! "

Christie burst into fresh tears.

" Not quite clone yet ? Never mind. Next
Christmas will do just as well;" but here his
quick eyes caught a glimpse of blue yarn,
and the remains of the beautiful stockings
were dragged from Christie's unwilling apron.

" How's this ? " cried Mr. Charley, bursting
into a merry laugh. Christie sobbed her story.

" Downright mean ! " said he, vehemently,
brushing his own eyes. " But as to the stock-
ings, I like them just as well this way as any
other — they'll be so handy to put on ! "

" Oh, Mr. Charley, they'll never be of any
use so."

" Oh well, then, I'll mend 'em with Sjml-
ding. Spalding will mend any thing in the

"Will it really, truly mend these?" cried
Christie, with a brightening face.

" Well, it always mended any thing I ever
tried yet," said Mr. Charlie, evasively ; " and
now you mustn't think the good angels were
off guard either, last night. I suppose you
never thought of looking under the stoop ? "

"No," said Christie, wonderingly.


" Then you didn't see these. Santa Clans
remembered the little girl that gave away her
cake ; " and he brought out two of the prettiest
pairs of white stockings-, with red tops, stuffed
just as full as they com J be — stuffed with
cakes «md candies, and books and dolls, and
mittens and shoes, and a little pocket-book,
with a whole dollar in five and three-cent
pieces! Then on the floor, though th^y cer-
tainly never came out of the stockings, lay
two nice fat chickens, and a beautiful Christ-
mas pie.

"Hi, Christie," cried Jim Brown's hateful
voice again at the window, " what did you
get in your stocking? Come see Christie
Bell's beautiful new " — but here his eye fell
on the floor, scattered with presents, and he
stopped short in envious surprise.

"Yes," cried Christie Bell, clapping her
hands, and laughing and sobbing all at once,
" yes, do come and see Christie Bell's beauti •
ful new stockings!"



The wintry wind blows wild and chill,
The snow drifts fast and faster still

Through all the troubled air;
But careless of the raging storm,
And laughing at all thought of harm,
In snowy ermine nestled warm,

Trips merry little Clare.

The wind her bonnet-strings unties,
The snow-flakes fringe her lovely eyes,

And wreathe her soft brown hair;
But troops of happy thoughts delight
Her bounding heart, as, warm and tight,
She clasps a silver dollar bright,

A birthday gift to Clare.

"How nice," she cries, with sparkling eye,
u What lovely playthings I can buy, —
That big doll in her chair,



Perhaps a set of cups for tea, —
Ah, there's the window, only see,
As full of toys as it can be !

What shall I take ? " thought Clare.

But while she stood in pleasing doubt,
A soft sigh made her turn about;

And there, with feet all bare,
She saw a little half-clad child,
His hollow eyes with hunger wild ;
" I wonder if he ever smiled,"

Thought tearful little Clare.

" Where is your home, poor boy ? " she crieo\
" And why has not your mother tried

To make you clothes to wear ? "
" Alas ! alas ! " the boy replies,
" My mother sick and dying lies,
And hungry baby cries and cries."

" Dear me ! " sighed little Clare.

" And do you live quite far from here ? '
" No," cried the boy, " 'tis very near ;

Oh, may I show you where ? "
With eager steps he ran before,
Till, slipping through a battered door,
lie guided o'er a broken floor

The dear, small feet of Clare.


They pause within a dingy room,
And, peering through the chilly gloom,

She sees reclining there
A weary woman, ghastly pale,
Who tries, in pauses of the gale,
To hush a starving baby's wail.

" 'Tis very sad," wept Clare.

" Poor thing ! she has no fire nor food;
I wonder if I only could

My bright new dollar spare."
So lovely then the young face grew,
Through such sweet mist smiled eyes of blue ;
What heaven-born thought was shining thro',

Oh, tender heart of Clare ?

" Poor woman, take this coin," she said,
And in that shriveled palm was laid

The child-hand soft and fair.
Oh, what strange joy those features wore,
What eager thanks those lips outpour.
" God bless you, darling, evermore ! "

" How very sweet," thought Clare.

As homeward Clare's quick footsteps \ ressed,
No waxen doll lay on her breast, —
13 ut ah ! what peace was there.


And p.s with rev'rent tenderness
The wind swept back eacli loosened tress,
With what a heavenly loveliness
Had God blessed little Clare!




Tiie glowing sun of a midsummer after-
noon poured through the curtainless windows
of the little village school, and small curly
heads drooped like delicate flowers in the
languid air. Among them all, little Katie's
sunny ringlets fell the lowest, and if you had
lifted the golden veil, you would have seen that
the weary eyes had forgotten to con the long
line of hard words in the worn spelling-book,
and that the silken fringes of the drooping
lids were pillowed upon the sweetest little
cheeks in the world. Yes, in the heated air,
soothed by the lazy drone of the flies and
the restless hum of young student voices,
Katie had fallen asleep.

She was dreaming too — dreaming of the
little brother, darling Charley, who, in the
bright spring-time, — when the violets w^ere
just opening their sweet blue eyes, — had


Btrayed away from earth, and passed through
those gales of glory, always open for the en-
tering of little feet. And she dreamed that
she clasped him to her little lonely heart, and
begged him never to leave her again. And
in the greatness of her joy she sobbed aloud,
and started to find Belle's soft arm around
her, as she whispered, —

K What is the matter, Katie ? "

But before poor Katie could well collect
her thoughts to answer, school was dismissed,
and she heard the teacher exclaim, as he
pointed to the darkening west, " Hurry home,
children, or you will be caught in the shower."

But Katie could not hurry, and as she
walked slowly out of the door, again little
Belle's sweet voice cried, " Poor Katie, are
you sick ? "

Then Katie poured all her troubles into
the sympathizing ear of her little friend, and
finished saying, "I could not bear to find
it only a dream. I feel as if I must see
Charley once more."

" Where do you think he is? " asked Belle.

"In heaven, I know," replied Katie, "and
mother says he can not come back to ws, but



toe can go to him, some time ; " and her sobs
broke out afresh.

" Why don't you go to him now f " cried

" I don't know the way," said Katie. * I was
very sick when they took him away in that
dreadful little box, and I don't know whew
they went."

"Are you sure they went to heaven?"
said Belle, eagerly.

" Oh, I know it," said Katie.

" Then," said delighted little Belle, — " then
I can show you the way. 1 saw where they
put your little brother ! " The glad light in
Katie's tearful eyes was beautiful to behold.

" Will you, will you show me, Belle, noic,
this very afternoon ? "

" Yes, indeed," cried Belle ; and with clasped
hands, unmindful of the gathering gloom,
these little pilgrims set forth on their journey
to heaven.

Once, on the way, a doubt oppressed Belle —

"Are you sure, Katie, that you can get

"Ah!" said Katie, with sweet assurance,
" how Charley would run to open the door J
and her cheek flushed with anticipation.


" Do you suppose he is very happy ? n
urged Belle.

" Very? said Katie, emphatically.

" And what does he do all the time ? "

"Plays with the angels with such lovely
wings," cried Katie, with great animation.
"And then you know they can play with
the stars, for they must lie thick all over the
floor of heaven. And then there are the
rainbows. I suppose they keep them up all
the year around, and oh ! how Charley used
to love rainbows. He cried once because " —

" Dear me ! " cried Belle, interrupting her
in great dismay, — " it rains, Katie, and we
are ever so far from home ; what shall we
do ? "

"But we are almost to heaven, aren't we?
Let's hurry and go in there."

" Yes," said Belle, " I see the door."

"Where? Where?" cried Katie, breath-

" There," responded little Belle, pointing to
the rising ground and iron door of the village

" Oh ! " fluttered Katie, with intense disap-
pointment. tt la that heaven? Oh, Belle! it is
like a great grave! " and her lip quivered sadly


"Why," said Belle, "that is where they
took your brother, the very place, and you
said he had gone to heaven. Maybe," she
added, with a brightening face, — "maybe,
when we get through the little dark door, it
will all be very bright and beautiful on the
other side."

" Perhaps it is," said Katie, more hopefully.

But now the large drops began to fall very
fast, and a thunder storm in all its sublimity
burst upon the little travelers. The bur-
dened west gleamed like an ocean of flame,
and the floor of heaven resounded to the
solemn tread of the mighty thunder. Still
these little children, with clasped hands and
pale lips, pressed on, and their angels, who
" do always behold the face of our Father,"
watched over them lovingly, and they walked
secure in the heavenly company.

At last the pattering feet reached the
gloomy entrance, and Katie's sweet, hopeful
lips were pressed close to the cold door.

"Knock!" cried Belle; and with all her
strength Katie did knock, and a hollow echo
was all her reply, while the little brother, with
folded eyes, and pale, clasped hands, heeded
not the imploring cry, —


" Charley, dear Charley, it is your sister,
your own sister Katie ; won't you open the

" He can not hear while it thunders so,"
said Belle. " Let us wait a little while ; " and
they waited.

Soon there was a lull in the storm, and
again Katie, strong in faith, knocked at the
dreary door, and her yearning cry, — " Char-
ley, dear Charley ! " echoed sadly back.

" Do you hear any thing ? " asked Belle,
with parted lips. " Is he coming ? "

" No," replied Katie. "I thought once I
heard his little shoes, but " —

"Perhaps," suggested Belle, with large
imaginative eyes, " perhaps he is playing with
the angels, a great way off, in a most beau-
tiful garden."

" Oh," sobbed Katie, " I hope he will not
love the little angels more than me."

"Knock once more,— just once" urged Belle.
With wavering faith again the little soft hand
plead for entrance, and a tremulous voice
cried piteously, —

"Charley, dear, sweet, darling little brother,
please open the door to your own poor Katie.
Don't love the little angels better than me.


Oh, Charley ! Charley ! " She threw herself
upon the wet ground in an agony of grief
and disappointment.

" Katie," said Belle, half frightened at this
outburst, "let us go home now, and come
again to-morrow and try."

" No," said Katie, with touching hopeless
ness, " I shall never come again. Let us go."
She rose without another sob, or fresh tear
even upon the wet cheek, but the grieved ex-
pression of the sweet, childish mouth wag
pitiful to behold.

Back over all the dreary way went Katie
and Belle. Little shoes wet — little dresses
dripping — little heads bent like dew-laden
flowers — little hearts very heavy.

At Katie's door stood her anxious mother,
peering through the shadows for her darling.
The child sprang to those loving arms, and
with one cry, that spoke all the agony of
bitter doubt that had crept into her young,
confiding heart, exclaimed, — -

" Oh, mother, I have been knocking at the
door of heaven, and Charley would not let

ci e in

! »

Deal', grieved little Katie, refusing to be
* The identical words of the child.


comforted in this great sorrow ! It may be
that before the violets come again " God's
hand may beckon unawares," and witli a bet-
ter guide thou shalt indeed find the " door
of Heaven." Then knock, little pilgrim, and
thou shalt be heard amid the hallelujahs of
all the heavenly choirs. Back shall roll the
blessed portals, and Charley shall lead thee
with eager wings to the feet of Him who
loves little children, while the song of the
angels shall be, — " Of such is the kingdom
of heaven,"


It was a lovely spring morning, — early in
the season, but undeniably spring, for the
frogs had held a croaking, sputtering caucus
the night before, and, though the winter
frost did not seem quite thawed from their
throats, had unanimously decided that the
matter was quite beyond a doubt. Besides,
a few courageous Puritan robins had made a
Plymouth of the old elm-tree at the garden
gate, and it didn't need any great proficiency
in bird-language to know that their songs
were full of roses, green leaves, and pros-

But we must not spend our time talking
about the morning. Our business is with
little Milly Pattison, sitting by the window,
learning her morning verse, — little Milly,
who felt very happy sitting in the sunshine,
and was anxious to do something to please
the good God who had made such a beautiful



world. So, as she learned her verse, — "And
if thy brother trespass against thee seven
times in a day, and seven times in a day
turn again to thee, saying I repent, thou
shalt forgive him," — her gray eyes looked
very thoughtful, and her small mouth grew
arm with some very important resolution.

Tretty soon, down stairs she came to the
dining-room, and found nobody there but
brother Frank, who had two years the start
of her in the race of life, but was not so far
ahead as you might suppose. He was look-
ing very discontented. t; Real mean ! " were
the first words that jumped from his mouth,
though you couldn't have expected any thing
better from such a pout. " Real mean to
spend such a day as this in school ! " and the
book he held in his hand was transferred to
his foot and sent spinning in the air, from
whence it returned with a broken back and
two fluttering leaves.

" Oh, Frank ! " cried Milly, " isn't that ray
arithmetic? and you know I was trying to
keep it like a new book."

"I declare it is," said Frank, in a toue of
real regret. "I thought it was mine; — I'm
sorry ; — won't you forgive me ? "


"Yes," said Milly, slowly, picking up the
scattered leaves, and thinking of her verse.
" Yes, I suppose so ; " and under her breath
she added, " One"

Breakfast over, they started for school
together. "Milly," cried Frank, suddenly,
" here comes a big dog — tongue out, red
eyes ! Look out for hydrophobia ! " Poor
Milly ran forward in great terror, too fright-
ened to see where she stepped. Down went
one foot in a treacherous hole, and the rest
of Milly came tumbling after. This was a
serious mishap ; for the skin was quite rubbed
from one dimpled elbow, and, worst of all,
one of the morocco shoes — bright as a mir-
ror — had a great, white, unsightly graze.
Milly burst into tears, not about the elbow,
for she could bear pain like a hero, and she
knew that Nature, with the help of that expe-
rienced old tailor, Time, would soon set in a
patch so nicely joined that she could never
find the seam ; but the new sAoe, that was

" Oh, Frank ! how could you ? " cried Milly.
"And the dog was only good old Cato. that
wouldn't hurt a fly!"

"Why, Milly, Fm sure I never thought


you'd fell. I only meant to give you a nice

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Online LibraryLynde PalmerHelps over hard places : stories for boys → online text (page 9 of 10)