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“I know nothing about them,” said Mrs. Bailey, like one in a dream.
“Not know, mother! O! perhaps the angels sent them,” she said, in a frightened whisper.
Mrs. Bailey stood with the candle in her hand. She seemed afraid to approach the wonderful array of things. "Let us go up and ask father about it,” she said.
Little Annie sprang up the stairs first, and running into her father's room, said,
“O father, fairies, or angels, or somebody, have been into our house in the night, and brought, O such a lot of Christmas things! Do you know about it?”
“I guess I do," he said. “It was a great big lumbering fairy without wings! Run along; fairy isn't half-awake yet."
“You, you !" cried Annie. “0, mother, dad was the fairy !”
She looked up at her mother, and saw that her eyes were full of tears.
“James," she said, “how did you get it all ?"
“With a fortnight's drink money,” he said. “I couldn't have thought I could do so much good with it as that. Come here, Annie, my child, let me wish you a happy Christmas. God has sent Christmas for us this year."
“And do you mean to say, James, that you haven't been drinking at all this last fortnight?”
“Not at all, mother; I've been following your example,” he replied.
Mrs. Bailey's heart was full of thankfulness. After a few more words with her husband, she hurried downstairs to light the fire. The grand presents were gathered together and covered up. But after breakfast they were brought out for the children, and the bright socks were put on; the notable pudding was made, and the children felt quite certain that it was Christmas. There was no doubt about it this year.
Never before had they known such a Christmas Day;
and their father said he hoped there were even happier ones in store. And there were, too. For James felt himself able to rise when he had shaken off those terrible drinking habits, which had hitherto bound him down to poverty and misery; and, of course, his home and family improved wonderfully. James remembers how low he had fallen, and it keeps him in humble dependence upon God for daily strength to resist and overcome temptation. And having strength from One who is mighty, he is safe.
LESSON 48.-TRUE MANLINESS. Ennobling-rendering noble.
Senior-older (a Latin word). Unstable-wanting in firmness.
Seductive-apt to lead astray (Lat. duco, Declined-fell back.
I lead ; seduco, I lead aside). Defiant-daring.
Champion-one who fights for another. My eldest boy, Willie, was a lad of great promise. He was naturally quick and intelligent, and his love of right and devotion to duty were remarkable and beautiful in one so young. He was our hope and delight; and we thanked God with heart-felt gratitude for thus ennobling the heart of our eldest-born, who would be so fair an example for the others. But at the age of fifteen, he fell ill, and in a few days died. It was such a blow as we have not even yet, after the lapse of years, wholly recovered from. Our hearts were so set upon him, he was such a comfort and cause of rejoicing to us, that it seemed when he went as if we had lost our best treasure.
Our next son, John, was a source of some little anxiety to us. He seemed of a weak and unstable disposition, kind-hearted and unselfish, but apt to fall into temptation. His sense of right and duty was not so strong as Willie's, and consequently, he was more liable to give way to evil; but when his faults were brought home to him, he was always ready to acknowledge them, and to promise better behaviour.
For some time after Willie's death, our hopes of him grew stronger. He seemed deeply impressed by the sudden occurrence, and mourned for the dead with genuine brotherly feeling; but as the time passed on he declined again.
once and again defiant to his mother; he spurned the gentle kindnesses of Susie and his other sisters, who had hitherto exerted a softening and beautiful influence over him, and he acted altogether in a silly, headstrong fashion.
I soon discovered the secret of it all; he had formed the acquaintance of a most depraved young man, some four or five years his senior. When my wife came to know of it she was greatly distressed, and urged me to do something to save John from the seductive and fascinating influence of this young man, Robert Smyth by name. I was anxiously deliberating what course to take when, one evening, John said to me, “I think, father, that I ought to give up going to the Bible class on Sundays."
“Why, John ?" “O because I'm getting too old for that sort of thing. It's rather namby-pamby, and I think I ought to be out of leading strings now.”
“Who told you it was 'namby-pamby ?!” said I. “You never heard it at the class; you never heard it here, and I don't think it is an utterance of your own cod viction.”
John coloured as he replied, “Well, I heard it called namby-pamby the other day; and I don't want the charge of liking any thing of that sort brought against
I want to be manly.' “ Tell me what you mean by manliness, John,” I said quietly.
“I suppose, father, it is to be noble, and independent, and self-reliant."
Very good, John; and you might add, a champion for the weak, gentle and respectful to the other sex,
gentlemanly,—the union of the two words gives us, you see, the grand old title of gentleman, which I hope you will bear without rebuke.' The true man must have much of the woman in his character,-much of her gentleness, and self-denial, and forbearance. Now lately I have heard most snappish and cutting things spoken in a coarse, unfeeling manner to somebody's sisters, who are certainly some of the most affectionate and self-sacrificing girls I have ever seen. I have also seen somebody manifest disrespect and disregard to the best of mothers. That is not becoming to the earnest admirer of manliness."
John coloured again; the shaft went home. “ You say that a true man must be noble,” I continued. “ Now you know, John, our poet Tennyson says
Howe'er it be it seems to me,
'Tis only noble to be good !' And where are you more likely to learn how to be good than at a Bible class ? The teaching of the Bible is calculated to make us men in very deed. Why if you would be noble, you must study the scriptures.
“Get your hat, John," I added; “I should like you to walk a little way with me.”
It was a lovely golden evening in autumn. The sun was just sinking in the west, and the pale blue sky overhead was flecked with dainty little pink and gold clouds. All round the horizon was a band of misty purple, faintly tinged with pink; and among the faded but richly-coloured trees a blue mist was rising. We walked in the direction of the cemetery.
On the way we met a party of young fellows coming noisily out of a wayside public-house. The leader of them was a well-known youth of twenty or so, dressed in a “sporting" style ; his clothes were of the most showy description, evincing a vulgar taste. We heard scraps of their noisy conversation, and it ran on bets and horse-racing. As they passed us, the leader nodded familiarly to John.
“ Who is that?" I asked.
“Robert Smyth,” he replied, quietly, and with a look of shame.
We soon reached the cemetery, and went directly to Willie's grave. It was a sweet, shady spot in a corner where the grass grew a bright green, and a willow drooped its delicate branches over the stone which bore his beloved name. I stood silent for some minutes with John close by, and then I said, “My heart has been fretted and pained, and somehow it always calms me to come here : I came to-night because I thought it would calm me and do me good : I thought it might do us both good.” In a moment or two I added, “I love to stand over my boy here and think what he was, and what he might have been had he lived. Ah, I feel my loss this day as keenly as ever! It was a great loss, a great sorrow; but, I say it solemnly, John, my lad, I would rather lay you by his side to-morrow than see you become like Robert Smyth, or any of his stamp. My heart was full as I uttered these words. I put my hand on his shoulder, and with an effort continued, “ Your good mother and I look to you, John, to be a blessing and a comfort to us in our advancing years; we look to you to set an example to the others such as Willie would have set; we expect you to grow up a true and God-fearing man, a lover of all that is pure and good, a hater of all that is base and degrading. Are you going to disappoint us? Do you wish to be like those namby-pamby, unmanly young fellows who passed us just now? or do you wish to be a true man- -a true follower of the Lord Jesus ?”
John broke down, leaned his head against his brother's tombstone, and his body shook with emotion. I thanked God, and took hope.
He stood up and said, “I have been so foolish, father! I do want to hate all evil, and grow true and good. You will help me? You have helped me to