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bed. He too had had a happy day. I wonder if he had any way to
express his thankfulness to his Creator, the same Father in heaven to
which Cissy prayed, for the love and companionship of his little
playfellows, and for the bright, happy day he had spent? I believe he
had. What do you think about it?



Leontes of Sicily, and Hermione, his lovely queen, lived together in
the greatest harmony - a harmony and happiness so perfect that the king
said he had no wish left to gratify excepting the desire to see his old
companion Polixenes, and present him to the friendship of his wife.

Polixenes was king of Bohemia; and it was not until he had received
many invitations that he came to visit his friend Leontes of Sicily.

At first this was the cause of great joy. It seemed that Leontes never
tired of talking over the scenes of bygone days with his early friend,
while Hermione listened well pleased. But when Polixenes wished to
depart, and both the king and the queen entreated him to remain yet
longer, it was the gentle persuasion of Hermione which overcame his
resistance, rather than the desire of his friend Leontes, who upon this
grew both angry and jealous, and began to hate Polixenes as much as he
had loved him.

At length his feelings became so violent that he gave an order for the
King of Bohemia to be killed. But fortunately he intrusted the
execution of this command to Camillo - a good man, who helped his
intended victim to escape to his own dominions. At this, Leontes was
still more angry and, rushing to the room where his wife was engaged
with her little son Mamillius took the child away, and ordered poor
Hermione to prison.

While she was there, a little daughter was born to her; and a lady who
heard of this, told the queen's maid Emilia, that she would carry the
infant into the presence of its father if she might be intrusted with
it, and perhaps his heart would soften toward his wife and the innocent

Hermione very willingly gave up her little daughter into the arms of
the lady Paulina, who forced herself into the king's presence, and laid
her precious burden at his feet, boldly reproaching him with his
cruelty to the queen. But Paulina's services were of no avail: the
king ordered her away, so she left the little child before him,
believing, when she retired, that his proud, angry heart would relent.

But she was mistaken. Leontes bade one of his courtiers take the
infant to some desert isle to perish; and Antigonus, the husband of
Paulina, was the one chosen to execute this cruel purpose.

The next action of the king was to summon Hermione to be tried for
having loved Polixenes too well. Already he had had recourse to an
oracle; and the answer, sealed up, was brought into court and opened in
the presence of the much-injured queen:

"Hermione is innocent; Polixenes blameless; Camillo a true subject;
Leontes a jealous tyrant; and the king shall live without an heir, if
that which is lost be not found."

Thus it ran; but the angry king said it was all a falsehood, made up by
the queen's friends, and he bade them go on with the trial. Yet even
as he spoke, a messenger entered to say that the king's son Mamillius
had died suddenly, grieving for his mother. Hermione, overcome by such
sad tidings, fainted; and then Leontes, feeling some pity for her, bade
her ladies remove her, and do all that was possible for her recovery.

Very soon Paulina returned, saying that Hermione, the queen, was also
dead. Now Leontes repented of his harshness; now he readily believed
she was all that was good and pure; and, beginning to have faith in the
words of the oracle which spoke of that which was lost being found,
declared he would give up his kingdom could he but recover the lost
baby he had sent to perish.

The ship which had conveyed Antigonus with the infant princess away
from her father's kingdom, was driven onshore upon the Bohemian
territory, over which Polixenes reigned. Leaving the child there,
Antigonus started to return to his ship; but a savage bear met and
destroyed him, so that Leontes never heard how his commands had been

When poor Hermione had sent her baby in Paulina's care to be shown to
her royal father, she had dressed it in its richest robes, and thus it
remained when Antigonus left it. Besides, he pinned a paper to its
mantle upon which the name Perdita was written.

Happily, a kind-hearted shepherd found the deserted infant, and took it
home to his wife, who cherished it as her own. But they concealed the
fact from every one; and lest the tale of the jewels upon Perdita's
little neck should be noised abroad, he sold some of them, and leaving
that part of the country, bought herds of sheep, and became a wealthy

Little Perdita grew up as sweet and lovely as her unknown mother; yet
she was supposed to be only a shepherd's child.

Polixenes of Bohemia had one only son - Florizel by name; who, hunting
near the shepherd's dwelling, saw the fair maiden, whose beauty and
modesty soon won his love. Disguising himself as a private gentleman,
instead of appearing as the king's son, Florizel took the name of
Doricles, and came visiting at the shepherd's dwelling. So often was
he there, and thus so frequently missed at court, that people began to
watch his movements, and soon discovered that he loved the pretty
maiden Perdita.

When this news was carried to Polixenes, he called upon his faithful
servant Camillo to go with him to the shepherd's house; and they
arrived there in disguise just at the feast of sheep-shearing, when
there was a welcome for every visitor.

It was a busy scene. There was dancing on the green, young lads and
lassies were chaffering with a peddler for his goods, sports were going
on everywhere; yet Florizel and Perdita sat apart, talking happily to
each other.

No one could have recognized the king; even Florizel did not observe
him as he drew near enough to listen to the conversation of the young
people. Perdita's way of speaking charmed him much - it seemed
something very different to the speech of a shepherd's daughter; and,
turning to Camillo, Polixenes said:

"Nothing she does or seems
But tastes of something greater than her self,
Too noble for this place."

Then he spoke to the old shepherd, asking the name of the youth who
talked to his daughter.

"They call him Doricles," said the man; adding, too, that if he indeed
loved Perdita, he would receive with her something he did not reckon
on. By this the shepherd meant a part of her rich jewels which he had
not sold, but kept carefully until such time as she should marry.
Polixenes turned to his son, telling him jestingly that he should have
bought some gift for his fair maid - not let the peddler go without
seeking anything for her.

Florizel little imagined it was his father talking to him, and he
replied that the gifts Perdita prized were those contained within his
heart; and then he begged the "old man" to be a witness of their

Still keeping up his disguise, Polixenes asked Florizel if he had no
father to bid as a guest to his wedding. But the young man said there
were reasons why he should not speak of the matter to his father.

Polixenes chose this for the moment in which to make himself known; and
reproaching his son bitterly for giving his love to a low-born maiden,
bade him accompany Camillo back to court.

As the king retired thus angry, Perdita said, "I was not much afraid;
for once or twice I was about to speak, to tell him plainly, -

"The self-same sun that shines upon his court
Hides not his visage from our cottage, but
Looks on alike."

Then she sorrowfully bade Florizel leave her.

Camillo felt sorry for the two, and thought of a way in which he could
stand their friend. Having known a long time that his former master,
Leontes, repented of all his cruelty, he proposed that Florizel and
Perdita should accompany him to Sicily to beg the king to win for them
the consent of Polixenes to their marriage.

The old shepherd was allowed to be of the party, and he took with him
the clothes and jewels which had been found with Perdita, and also the
paper on which her name had been written.

On their arrival, Leontes received Camillo with kindness, and welcomed
Prince Florizel; but it was Perdita who engrossed all his thoughts.
She seemed to remind him of his fair queen Hermione, and he broke out
into bitter self-accusation, saying that he might have had just such
another lovely maiden to call him father, but for his own cruelty.

The shepherd, listening to the king's lamentations, began to compare
the time when he had lost the royal infant with the time when Perdita
was found, and he came to the conclusion that she and the daughter of
Leontes were one and the same person. When he felt assured of this he
told his tale, showed the rich mantle which had been wrapped round the
infant, and her remaining jewels; and Leontes knew that his daughter
was brought back to him once more. Joyful as such tidings were, his
sorrow at the thought of Hermione, who had not lived to behold her
child thus grown into a fair maiden, almost exceeded his happiness, so
that he kept exclaiming, "Oh, thy mother! thy mother!"

Paulina now appeared, begging Leontes to go to her house and look at a
statue she possessed which greatly resembled Hermione. Anxious to see
anything like his much-lamented wife, the king agreed; and when the
curtain was drawn back his sorrow was stirred afresh. At last he said
that the statue gave Hermione a more aged, wrinkled look than when he
last beheld her; but Paulina replied, that if so, it was a proof of the
sculptor's art, who represented the queen as she would appear after the
sixteen years which had passed. She would have drawn the curtain
again, but Leontes begged her to wait a while, and again he appealed to
those about him to say if it was not indeed a marvelous likeness.

Perdita had all the while been kneeling, admiring in silence her
beautiful mother. Paulina presently said that she possessed the power
to make the statue move, if such were the king's pleasure; and as some
soft music was heard, the figure stirred. Ah! it was no sculptured
marble, but Hermione, living and breathing, who hung upon her husband
and her long-lost child!

It is needless to tell that Paulina's story of her royal mistress'
death was an invention to save her life, and that for all those years
she had kept the queen secluded, so that Leontes should not hear that
she was living until Perdita was found.

All was happiness; but none was greater than that of Camillo and
Paulina, who saw the reward of their long faithfulness. One more
person was to arrive upon the scene; even Polixenes, who came in search
of Florizel, and was thus in time to bless the union of the young
people, and take a share in the general joy.


In an humble room in one of the poorest streets in London, Pierre, a
faithful French boy, sat humming by the bedside of his sick mother.
There was no bread in the closet, and for the whole day he had not
tasted food. Yet he sat humming to keep up his spirits. Still at
times he thought of his loneliness and hunger, and he could scarcely
keep the tears from his eyes, for he knew that nothing would be so
grateful to his poor mother as a good, sweet orange, and yet he had not
a penny in the world.

The little song he was singing was his own; one he had composed, both
air and words - for the child was a genius.

He went to the window, and looking out, he saw a man putting up a great
bill with yellow letters announcing that Mme. Malibran would sing that
night in public.

"Oh, if I could only go," thought little Pierre; and then pausing a
moment he clasped his hands, his eyes lighting with new hope. Running
to the little stand, he smoothed his yellow curls, and taking from a
little box some old stained paper, gave one eager glance at his mother,
who slept, and ran speedily from the house.

"Who did you say was waiting for me?" said madame to her servant. "I
am already worn with company."

"It's only a very pretty little boy with yellow curls, who said if he
can just see you he is sure you will not be sorry, and he will not keep
you a moment."

"Oh, well, let him come," said the beautiful singer, with a smile. "I
can never refuse children."

Little Pierre came in, his hat under his arm, and in his hand a little
roll of paper. With manliness unusual for a child he walked straight
to the lady and, bowing, said: "I came to see you because my mother is
very sick, and we are too poor to get food and medicine. I thought,
perhaps, that if you would sing my little song at some of your grand
concerts, maybe some publisher would buy it for a small sum and so I
could get food and medicine for my mother."

The beautiful woman arose from her seat. Very tall and stately she
was. She took the roll from his hand and lightly hummed the air.

"Did you compose it?" she asked; "you a child! And the words? Would
you like to come to my concert?" she asked.

"Oh, yes!" and the boy's eyes grew bright with happiness; "but I
couldn't leave my mother."

"I will send somebody to take care of your mother for the evening, and
there is a crown with which you may go and get food and medicine. Here
is also one of my tickets. Come to-night; that will admit you to a
seat near me."

Almost beside himself with joy, Pierre bought some oranges, and many a
little luxury besides, and carried them home to the poor invalid,
telling her, not without tears, of his good fortune.

When evening came and Pierre was admitted to the concert hall he felt
that never in his life had he been in such a place. The music, the
myriad lights, the beauty, the flashing of diamonds and rustling of
silk, bewildered his eyes and brain.

At last she came, and the child sat with his glance riveted on her
glorious face. Could he believe that the grand lady, all blazing with
jewels, and whom everybody seemed to worship, would really sing his
little song?

Breathlessly he waited - the band, the whole band, struck up a plaintive
little melody. He knew it, and clasped his hands for joy. And oh, how
she sang it! It was so simple, so mournful. Many a bright eye dimmed
with tears, and naught could be heard but the touching words of that
little song.

Pierre walked home as if moving on air. What cared he for money now?
The greatest singer in all Europe had sung his little song, and
thousands had wept at his grief.

The next day he was frightened at a visit from Madame Malibran. She
laid her hands on his yellow curls, and talking to the sick woman said:
"Your little boy, madame, has brought you a fortune. I was offered
this morning, by the best publisher in London, 300 pounds for his
little song, and after he has realized a certain amount from the sale,
little Pierre, here, is to share the profits. Madame, thank God that
your son has a gift from heaven."

The noble-hearted singer and the poor woman wept together. As to
Pierre, always mindful of Him who watches over the tired and tempted,
he knelt down by his mother's bedside and offered a simple but eloquent
prayer, asking God's blessing on the kind lady who had deigned to
notice their affliction.

The memory of that prayer made the singer more tender-hearted, and she,
who was the idol of England's nobility, went about doing good. And in
her early, happy death, he who stood beside her bed and smoothed her
pillow and lightened her last moments by his undying affection, was
little Pierre of former days, now rich, accomplished, and the most
talented composer of his day.



Never did any one have a better start in life than Tom. Born of
Christian parents, he inherited from them no bad defects, moral or
physical. He was built on a liberal plan, having a large head, large
hands, large feet, large body, and within all, a heart big with
generosity. His face was the embodiment of good nature, and his laugh
was musical and infectious. Being an only child there was no one to
share with him the lavish love of his parents. They saw in him nothing
less than a future President of the United States, and they made every
sacrifice to fit him for his coming position. He was a prime favorite
with all, and being a born leader, he was ungrudgingly accorded that
position by his playmates at school and his fellows at the university.
He wrestled with rhetoric, and logic, and political economy, and
geometry, and came off an easy victor; he put new life into the dead
languages, dug among the Greek roots by day and soared up among the
stars by night. None could outstrip him as a student, and he easily
held his place at the head of his class. The dullest scholar found in
him a friend and a helper, while the brighter ones found in his
example, an incentive to do their best.

In athletic sports, too, he was excelled by none. He could run faster,
jump higher, lift a dumb-bell easier, strike a ball harder, and pull as
strong an oar as the best of them. He was the point of the flying
wedge in the game of foot-ball, and woe be to the opponent against whom
that point struck. To sum it all up, Tom was a mental and physical
giant, as well as a superb specimen of what that college could make out
of a young man. But unfortunately, it was one of those institutions
that developed the mental, trained the physical, and starved the
spiritual, and so it came to pass ere his college days were ended, Tom
had an enemy, and that enemy was the bottle.

The more respectable you make sin, the more dangerous it is. An old
black bottle in the rough hand of the keeper of a low dive, would have
no power to cause a clean young man to swerve from the right course,
but he is a hero ten times over, who can withstand the temptation of a
wine glass in the jeweled fingers of a beautiful young lady. Tom's
tempter came in the latter form, and she who might have spurred him on
to the highest goal, and whispered in his ear, "look not thou upon the
wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it
moveth itself aright," started him down a course which made him learn
from a terrible experience that "at the last it biteth like a serpent,
and stingeth like an adder." Does any one call a glass of wine a small
thing? Read Tom's story and then call it small, if you dare! Whatever
he did was done with his might, drinking not excepted. He boasted of
his power to drink much and keep sober, while he laughed at the
companions who imbibed far less and went to bed drunk. At first Tom
was the master and the bottle his slave, but in three years' time they
changed places. When too late, his parents discovered that the college
had sent back to them a ripe scholar, a trained athlete and a drunkard.
The mother tried to save her son, but failing in every effort, her
heart broke and she died with Tom's name on her lips. The father,
weighed down under the dead sorrow and the living trouble, vainly
strove to rescue his son, and was found one night in the attitude of
prayer, kneeling by the side of the bed where his wife's broken heart a
few months before had ceased to beat. He died praying for his boy!

One evening as the sun was setting, a man stood leaning against the
fence along one of the streets of a certain city. His clothes were
ragged, his hands and face unwashed, his hair uncombed and his eyes
bleared; he looked more like a wild beast hunted and hungry, than a
human being. It was Tom. The boys gathered about him, and made him
the object of their fun and ridicule. At first he seemed not to notice
them, but suddenly he cried out: "Cease your laughter until you know
what you are laughing at. Let me talk to my master while you listen."

He pulled a bottle from his pocket, held it up, and looking at it with
deep hatred flashing from his reddened eyes, he said:

"I was once your master; now I am your slave. In my strength you
deceived me; in my weakness you mock me. You have burned my brain,
blistered my body, blasted my hopes, bitten my soul and broken my will.
You have taken my money, destroyed my home, stolen my good name, and
robbed me of every friend I ever had. You killed my mother, slew my
father, sent me out into the world a worthless vagabond, until I find
myself a son without parents, a man without friends, a wanderer without
a home, a human being without sympathy, and a pauper without bread.
Deceiver, mocker, robber, murderer - I hate you! Oh, for one hour of my
old-time strength, that I might slay you! Oh, for one friend and some
power to free me from this slavery!"

The laugh had ceased and the boys stood gazing on him with awe. A
young lady and gentleman had joined the company just as Tom began this
terrible arraignment of his master, and as he ceased, the young lady
stepped up to him and earnestly said: "You have one friend and there is
one power that can break your chains and set you free."

Tom gazed at her a moment and then said:

"Who is my friend?"

"The King is your friend," she answered.

"And pray, who are you?" said Tom.

"One of the King's Daughters," was the reply "and 'In His Name' I tell
you He has power to set you free."

"Free, free did you say? But, you mock me. A girl with as white a
hand and as fair a face as yours, delivered me to my master."

"Then, in the name of the King whose daughter am I, even Jesus Christ
the Lord, let the hand of another girl lead you to Him who came to
break the chains of the captive and set the prisoner free."

Tom looked at the earnest face of the pleading girl, hesitated awhile,
as his lip quivered and the big tears filled his eyes, and then
suddenly lifting the bottle high above his head, he dashed it down on
the pavement, and as it broke into a thousand pieces, he said:

"I'll trust you, I'll trust you, lead me to the King!"

And lead him she did, as always a King's Daughter will lead one who
sorely needs help. His chains were broken, and at twenty-nine years of
age Tom began life over again. He is not the man he might have been,
but no one doubts his loyalty to the King. His place in the prayer
circle is never vacant, and you can always find, him in the ranks of
those whose sworn purpose it is to slay Tom's old master, King Alcohol!



Stevie's papa usually wrote his name in the hotel registers as "Edward
H. Lawrence, New York City, U. S. A.," but Stevie always entered
his - and he wouldn't have missed doing it for anything - as "Steven
Lawrence, American."

When Kate and Eva teased him about it, he would say: "Why, anybody
could come from New York - an Englishman or a German or a
Frenchman - without being born there, don't you see? but I'm a real
out-and-out American, born there, and a citizen and everything, and I
just want all these foreigners to know it, 'cause I think America's the
greatest country in the world." Then the little boy would straighten
his slender figure and toss back his curly hair with a great air of
pride, which highly amused his two sisters. But their teasing and
laughter did not trouble Stevie in the least. "Laugh all you like I
don't care," he retorted, one day. "It's my way, and I like it," which
amused the little girls all the more, for, as Eva said, "Everybody knew
Stevie liked his own way, only he never had owned up to it before."

There was something, however, that did trouble the little boy a good
deal: though he was born in New York City, he had no recollection of it
or any other place in America, as his mamma's health had failed, and
the whole family had gone to Europe for her benefit, when Stevie was
little more than a year old. They had traveled about a good deal in
the eight years since then, and Stevie had lived in some famous and
beautiful old cities; but in his estimation no place was equal to his
beloved America, of which Mehitabel Higginson had told him so much, and
to which he longed to get back. I fancy that most American boys and
girls would have enjoyed being where Stevie was at this time, for he
and his papa and mamma, and Kate and Eva, and Mehitabel Higginson, were
living in a large and quite grand-looking house in Venice. The
entrance hall and the wide staircase leading to the next story were
very imposing, the rooms were large, and the walls and high ceilings
covered with elaborate carvings and frescoes; and when Stevie looked
out of the windows or the front door lo! instead of an ordinary street

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Online LibraryVariousThe Children's Portion → online text (page 12 of 14)