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“Quite right, my lad," said grandfather. “Your mother's nature is read in her countenance. I don't think your uncle considered her at all good-looking, as he terms it; but we who live with her see beauty of the highest type-gentleness and love in her dark brown eyes, cheerfulness and patience in her daily life; and how we all look up to her!"

“Why, here she comes," said Mary. “ Hush !"

The busy mother, full of plans for every one's comfort, and with her smiling face she looked the picture of “Charity."

“ Make haste, children; finish your decorations. Oh, how nicely you have arranged them! I want help downstairs; there are so many things to pack, thanks to some one'” (here she turned to grandfather), "who has so well provided for our poorer friends and neighbours."

“ Hurrah! mother mine," said Fred, giving a finishing touch to his wreath, and looking with admiration at it. “I like packing, and all that sort of thing. This will, I think, be a bright Christmas, and the weather is cold and dry.”

For us, my boy, it is; but I dread to think of the numbers who are in sorrow through this fearful war. It is impossible to have war either far or near without thinking of the train of horrors it brings with it-bereavement, destruction of property, famine, and pestilence. We have much to be thankful for-all of us spared, and a merrier party of healthy young people seldom sheltered under one roof; and then we must not forget we have dear grandpa, who helps my boys with their Latin, and by his experience teaches us better than any one else can.”

Christmas Day came. Uncle and auntie arrived the day before. Grace Vernon was considered by one and all a dear auntie. All was forgotten about her beauty. She seemed anxious to please the young strangers, and the presents she

gave

them showed she had known a little about them, having studied 'their tastes (thanks to grandpa, who in his letters had made her well-acquainted with each

66

character she was in the future likely to meet with in the home at Sunnybank). We will now leave the happy group, knowing full well their day of rejoicing was one of unselfish enjoyment, for each one seemed anxious to please another.

And now we will look at another picture. Two ladies, two servants, two dogs ; everything in its place; an air of refinement, but also a chilling atmosphere. Evidently these ladies live in one rut, read but one select class of books upon theology, tolerate but one sect, and have but a few friends. Relatives seem a little shy of them. Young nephews and nieces they have, but they are either too noisy or too playful, and it would be a punishment for young life to exist long in their presence.

They are women who seem to think it a sin to laugh, and have ideas of our Heavenly Father far from comforting. They regard Him as a stern Judge, and quite lose sight of Him as the loving Saviour and Friend, who came to take away our sins and make a pathway to heaven for us. They distributed Christmas gifts to the poor, but gave such lectures at the same time that many a warm-hearted mother felt half inclined to return the gift but for the knowledge that her dear ones would suffer.

“ It does seem a pity,” said one lonely woman to another, " that we receive presents from ladies in the spirit we do. We feel thankful for them, but somehow our hearts don't warm to the givers. 'Tis so different with Mrs. Vernon : no matter how small the gift, such a rich blessing seems to come with it."

Happy are those who give simply because they love and enjoy doing so, their motives are pure, and they desire to obey their Saviour's commands. Christmas Day is indeed a happy one to them. The merry chimes send a thrill of pleasure through their frame.

The great birthday is to be kept in remembrance. Would that all men could bow down and worship Jesus, the Man of sorrows,” the Saviour of the world!

Happy day when the contrite spirit finds no peace until

his sins and imperfections are all laid at the foot of the cross, and his faithful Saviour takes away the heavy burden. Then, animated by the Holy Spirit's power, he becomes a new creature.

Life becomes to the truly converted the time to serve God. Sorrows are sanctified, rough places made smooth; faith cheers the weary traveller, and hope inspires him with joy; the distant home becomes a reality; there we shall enjoy rest, and one long eternity of peace and joy.

Must not the happiest day be when we bid adieu to earth, with all its changing scenes, and rest for ever with our Lord ? “I believe the true secret of living well on earth is to live much with God in the anticipation of heaven.”

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H. W. P.

46

December Dues; or, That does not Trouble

Me."
I was a very legal-looking table at which Andrew

Bolton sat. Packets of neatly-folded bills, duly
docketed, were laid in small piles before him ;

they must have represented a considerable sum of money; and yet Andrew not only seemed to view them complacently, but almost to smile on them, as he placed and replaced them, first in alphabetical and then in numerical order.

“Why, father, one would think it was money coming in that you are worshipping so,” said his married daughter, who was tired with trying to coax a fretful baby to sleep.

Old Andrew looked up and meekly replied, “ Nay, Patty, if it was money, God forbid that I should fall a-worshipping it.”

At this Patty came over, and sat herself beside her father, saying,

“At any rate, I can't see anything to be so cheerful over; to my eyes there is nothing but an ugly heap of what my

poor Joe calls dismal December dues, which

you

know means nothing more nor less than a lot of debts that we cannot possibly meet.”

Old Andrew did not speak, but drew in his lips with a sort of look that said, “I do not hold my tongue because I have nothing to say, but because it is wiser to be silent.” This silence, however, worried Patty, who was a bustling woman that liked to pounce on all whys and wherefores, and shake them out at once, as a terrier does a rat; so taking up the packet of bills nearest to her, she began to raise them one by one, to read from the corner which contained the creditors' names and the amounts owed.

" Jones, three and sixpence," she said aloud.

“That does not trouble me," quietly replied old Andrew Bolton.

“Smith, twelve and sixpence."
6. That does not trouble me."
“Fox, fifteen shillings."
“ That does not trouble me, Patty.”

The voice was still imperturbed, and in proportion to its serenity Patty became restless, and hastily ran her finger through the pile till she came to the last bill.

"Now then,” thought she, “ if this one does not frighten him, I shall lose my fear of December dues.” Then, adding aloud, "Here is something, then, father, which will take the quiets out of you,” and in a voice full of emphasis and triumph, she read,

White, one pound ten shillings and sixpence. What do you say to that?

“ It does not trouble me,” was once again the answer; which so completely overcame Patty's patience that she pushed away the bills, exclaiming, in an injured tone,

“Well, father, it is yourself that has always taught me to fly from debt as an evil thing, and now you are taking it as coolly as though it was quite the correct way to have a whole heap of December dues."

Old Andrew folded his arms on the table, and looking steadfastly at his daughter, said gently, but deprecatingly,

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“I think if my Patty will look at the other side of the bills, she will see why they do not trouble me.”

Then taking up the packet that she had laid down, he went through them again :-"Jones, 3s. 6d., PAID; Smith, 125. 6d., PAID; Fox, 155., PAID; White, £i fos, 6d., PAID. You see I had no cause to be troubled about them, for a debt once paid is paid for ever-for ever !

Patty blushed, and stammered something about how was she to know that the bills were paid, if he did not say so?

“Ah, Patty, you should have read it in my face. An unpaid bill soon shows there. Smiles and debt don't dance together on old Andrew Bolton's face, I can tell you; if one comes in the other goes out.”

Patty could not but gaze with admiration at her fine old father, and feeling angry with herself for having spoken hastily, she begged his pardon, saying, “I might have guessed as much, for I know you would not let December go out so quietly, if you had its dues hanging over your head."

“Right, Patty. That man, woman, or child must be worse than bewitched that can leave their debts till December is hard upon them, with his stern but just demand, 'Pay me that thou owest!'"

“ Poor souls !” burst unawares from Patty's lips ; for, brought up with a wholesome fear of debt, she could conceive no worse predicament than that of a debtor facing his creditors when he had nothing to pay.

“Poor souls indeed !” echoed her father, in a tone which she well understood ; so looking quickly at him, Patty said,

“Oh, I see what you are driving at, father-December dues of a very different sort to those I was thinking of.”

“Just so, Patty. I was thinking that some of the same letters go to spell Debt, Death, and December. December, with its dues, shuts up the year, so death, with its debts, shuts up our lives; and woe be to them who are behindhand in their accounts when reckoning-time comes !"

Patty gave a little shudder as she thought of the time

And as

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