Imágenes de páginas

pocket; there was not a single penny in it. Where the money was to come from, neither May nor her mother could tell, for May was too young to work for her living, and her mother could not get any work to do. The rent, too, must be paid that week, if possible, for the landlord declared he would not wait after that time; so that altogether there was much distress in that dwelling.

Little May's mother was a Christian woman; she endeavoured to put her trust in God, and to teach her child to do the same. But it was hard work to be patient and hopeful, when want was actually staring them in the face ; and the mother's heart sank within her as she looked, first at May, and then at their scanty breakfast. She did not care so much about herself, but she could not bear to see her little one without sufficient food to eat. She tried to speak cheerfully, to keep up May's spirits, and when she found it was impossible to do so, and that in spite of all her efforts she could not restrain her tears, she told May to put on her bonnet and run about out-of-doors; it was a pleasant morning, and the air would do her good. She felt that she could bear her trouble better alone.

So May went, like a dutiful child, although she would rather have stayed with her mother. Poor little May ! she went on and on for some time, wondering what would become of them, and wishing she could do something to help her mother. But at length the nice fresh air which swept over her pale face, and tinged it with a faint rosecolour, seemed to soothe and cheer her, and she felt less sad than when she set out. She began to gather the flowers which grew on each side of her path, and they were so fine, and smelt so sweet, that while plucking them, and forming them into a large nosegay, she almost, if not quite, forgot her dinnerless home.

But in seeking for flowers, May had not reflected how far she was going, and now she felt tired, for she had come a long way. There was a large log of wood lying beside a white gate close by, and she sat down on it to rest herself. This gate was the entrance to a long garden and shrubberies, which led to a handsome-looking house

but little May was so weary with her ramble, and so troubled with her sad thoughts, that she did not notice either the garden or the house. She sat for some time, the soft tears falling like rain-drops on her flowers, till the chirp, chirp, of some sparrows who were looking about for their lunch, and one of which had descended to pick up a crumb not far from May's feet, roused her, and made her lift ир

her head. She watched the bird as it flew off with its prize, and then she remembered a verse which she had learnt on the last Sabbath: “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not better than they ?"—(Matt. vi. 26.) “Surely," said May, “if God feeds the sparrows, he can give us some bread. I will ask Him."

So May knelt down, and, in her own childish, simple language, asked help from her heavenly Father. She was always in the habit of praying aloud, and, feeling that she was alone, she did the same now. “I am so hungry," pleaded little May, in her clear earnest tones, "and mother is hungry too. We have no bread left, and no money to buy any. Please to send us some.” This was the substance of her prayer, and she rose up with a lightened heart, for she believed that God had heard her, and that He would in some way supply their need. Oh, what a comfort it is, even to little children, to pray when they are in trouble !

Little May did not know her prayer was heard by any one but her heavenly Father. But it was, and God intended that it should be, for that was the means through which He meant to answer it. On the other side of the thick hedge which separated the garden from the road was a gentleman, the master of the house, doing a little gardening, an occupation of which he was very fond. He had listened with some curiosity to the unexpected sound of a child's voice, and little May's touching petitions deeply affected him. He peeped over the hedge, and watched her get up from her seat, and begin to retrace her steps without her seeing him, and when he had ascertained which way she was going, he hastened across a field or two adjoining his grounds, the opposite end of which brought him out into the lane considerably in advance of May, for it was a much shorter cut, and he walked very fast. Then he turned round, and walked slowly towards May, that he might meet her as she came up. When she was near enough he stopped, and spoke to her, and said, “ Have you gathered those pretty flow


[ocr errors]

“Yes, sir,” answered May, dropping a low curtsey.

“But you would be very glad if you could turn them into a nice loaf of bread, wouldn't you ?”

May looked up in surprise.

“I think you are hungry,” he said, “are you not? And you have no bread left at home, have you ?”

“No, sir,” said May, still more astonished. “ Nor yet any money to buy some with ?”

“No, sir,” repeated May,“ my mother spent all she had yesterday. Have you been to mother's, sir ?” she asked half-shily; for how could a stranger know about their affairs unless he had gained his information from her mother?

“No," replied the gentleman, with a smile, for he perceived her meaning, “I do not know your mother, and I never saw you before to-day. What is your name?

May Thornton, sir.” “And where do you live now ?”

In Prospect Place, sir, just by the old church.” “Well, little May,” he said, “if you will sell me those flowers which you have gathered, I will buy them of you."

“Oh sir, they are not worth buying,” said May, her cheeks flushing with pleasure.

“I think they are," said the gentleman, “and I should like to carry them for a little girl at my house, who does not know where to find them so well as you do. Here is the money for them; go home and tell your mother to get you some dinner with it; and tell her also that I am


coming to see her soon." He put a shilling into May's hand as he spoke.

O how happy little May lookod and felt! But she hesitated to keep it all. “It is too much, sir,” she said, a great deal too much.”

"If I buy your flowers," said the gentleman pleasantly, “I must give my own price. Who has given you that money, May ?"

“ You, sir.”

“But who has sent it to you just now, when you so much wanted it ?"

“God, sir," said little May, reverently.

“ Then don't forget to thank Him for it; always trust in Him, and you will be a happy little girl. And now run home, and see about your dinner.”

May forgot how tired she was, and went back a great deal faster than she had come, grasping the money very tightly, as if she could hardly persuade herself she really had it. O how joyfully she ran into the cottage, and dropped the shilling into her mother's lap! Mrs. Thornton was as surprised and delighted as May had been, and she was as much puzzled as her little girl was to account for the gentleman's acquaintance with their poverty and distress. The more she thought about it, the more puzzled she became, so at last she gave it up in despair, and went out with May to spend the shilling.“

In the evening of the same day, May's new friend called, as he had promised, to see them. He sat for a long time on one of their old wooden chairs, talking to May's mother, and asking her many questions, until he understood all about her circumstances and wants. He was glad to find that she was accustomed to do plain needlework, because his wife was just then in want of a good seamstress; and he said that if she would come up to his house early the next morning, she could have immediate employment. And he also kindly offered to let her have the money which she owed for her rent; and she was to repay him when she was able to do so.

Can you imagine how grateful May's mother felt for

this assistance? She did not know until she went in the morning to the gentleman's house how much she owed to little May's prayer.-Church of England Sunday Scholar's Magazine.


A SAILOR'S TALE. I wonder whether any one who reads this tale has ever wished to be a sailor-to ride over the tossing waves, and see the wonders of the great deep,—to learn the ways of far-off lands, and bring home presents for mother, sisters, or cousins, from China, or the Indian Isles ! I think I am not wrong in the idea that the very mention of a sea life, with its fresh breeze and sparkling foam, its perils and adventures, its novelty and freedom, has a charm for young and buoyant hearts ; therefore I write this brief, but true story, only asking that my readers will follow me to the end, and not think it dull to listen to the moral at the close of a sailor's tale.

I am a sailor, then; not very old, though I have sailed more than once from my own island home to America, and from Cape Horn to the rich ports of China'; returning through the Indian Seas, and by the Cape of Good Hope, and the warm fair islands of Madeira and Canary. I have seen the tented plains of San Francisco, and spoken with the rough treasure-seekers of Australia, bargained with the cunning Chinese, and listened to wild stories of enterprize from every quarter of the globe. Still I am young enough to remember my boyish feelings and pleasures, and the quick thrill of delight with which I always welcomed the promise of a tale of the sea ; I have not forgotten the day I parted with my father and my mother, when my sisters tried to smile as they kissed me, and I hardly knew whether to be glad or sorry that I was really going to be a sailor ; and though I have since found out many hardships and dangers, both to body and soul, that I then little dreamed of, I love the sea still, and I love the young too. I would fain give them a pleasure that I used to enjoy,

« AnteriorContinuar »