Images de page

Jack, was to carry the ring to the address on the paper it was wrapped in, and I found an old lady with soft gray hair. She had heard her son was dead, but she knew no particulars about it till I told her; and she cried, and his sisters cried; but yet it seemed to comfort her, for she said again and again: "And he died with a smile on his face-my only son, my brave, true boy!"

'There, my lads, that is the end of my first adventure.'

[Write from dictation]

The young lieutenant, though resolved not to betray his countrymen, seemed to yield to the Frenchman's arguments, while in reality he had determined to die rather than be untrue. He was shot on the spot, and fell overboard-an example to all Englishmen.



Oh, I wish I were back in the dear, dear old land,
Where each face was the face of a friend;
I am weary of countries that always are strange,
Of forests and plains without end.

I wish I could talk the old neighbourly talk,
Or stroll only once down the lane ;

Or go into the church just as service begins,
And join in the singing again.


I could cry like a child when I think that to-day,
The old table is spread there at home ;

And they're gathering round it, just out of the church,
All but one: one who never will come.

The children are there, to the youngest and least,
Wee things just beginning to speak;

Will any one miss me and wish I was there?
Oh yes, mother has tears on her cheek.


She thinks of her absent boy, morn, noon, and night,
And prays for him, too, on her knees;

She knows not I'd give up all chances of wealth,
For a crust of her brown bread and cheese.
She knows not what I but too dearly have learned,
Though I would not believe it when told;

There are riches in home, and in love and its smiles,
Oh, far more than in nuggets of gold.


I wonder sometimes-shall I always live here?
Or live here till they're all of them dead;
I wonder when my time for dying shall come,
Will nobody watch by my bed?

Will they bury me here, out here in the bush,
Where the forest trees over me wave?


prayer and no bell, and no mourners around, Nor any to visit my grave?

[blocks in formation]

When Harry Bertram returned from Australia, he found sad changes at home. His father was dead, and his mother was preparing to leave the little cottage in which she had lived so many years. His eldest brother

was married, and had a large family; he was not a very skilful workman, and it was as much as he could do to keep them all in food and clothes. All this poor old Mrs Bertram told Harry, not without tears, the night he came home, and Harry wished-O how he wished!— he had been able to stay abroad longer, and earn money enough to make her comfortable in her old age! He was come home on business for his master; he was to go back in three months, and all he had saved, in addition to the small sums sent home from time to time, was £80. 'Let me think it over, mother,' said Harry, 'and see what can be done; you are not strong enough for work.' 'There is no help for it, my dear,' said Mrs Bertram ; 'I must just take in washing, and do what I can.'

As if you could stand at the wash-tub all day, mother, so weak as you are,' said Harry, almost angry at the thought.

But his mother shook her head again, and said: 'No help for it, my dear,' in the same quiet, hopeless way as before.

'Well,' said Harry, 'we will see how things look to-morrow. Now, tell me about William and his wife.'

When Harry went to bed that night, he opened his window, and, leaning on his crossed arms, began to think about his mother.

The cottage was her own, her husband had bought it with his savings, thinking that, with no rent to pay, the produce of a good garden and his wages, they would have a comfortable time of it; but he had died suddenly, and his widow had resolved to take a poorer cottage, and to let this one, hoping to live partly by the rent of it.

'Now,' said Harry to himself, say mother takes that cottage of Brown's, and lets this one. Garden and house

are worth five shillings a week, but she won't get above three; and what with bad tenants letting the place go down, and not paying their rent regularly, and neglecting the garden, and perhaps its standing empty for months, there is not much profit to look for there.

Then Brown's house-it's a nasty, close, dirty hole; there's a dirty ditch at the back of the yard, and noisy neighbours-no garden at all, and nothing like comfort or neatness anywhere. It would shorten mother's days if she went there.

'She must stay where she is,' said Harry, and he gave the window-sill a thump that made the glass rattle.

'Well, but what is she to live on?' This was a puzzling question.

'There's the garden-a man might make a decent thing of it; but with her strength she can't do more than grow vegetables for herself, and maybe help William with a few, if he gives her an hour or two's digging and planting, as I know he will, poor lad. She might keep a pig, but what is she to keep herself upon?' This was the old question come back again.

'Now, if I were to lay out all I have saved in an annuity for her, it would not bring enough to keep soul and body together, and I can put it out to far better purpose in Australia, and be able in a few years to keep her altogether. God bless her!' and here one of Harry's hands was rubbed across his eyes. 'But, then, if anything were to happen to me what I want is to feel she's provided for, and she hasn't strength to do as much washing now as will really provide for her, let alone what she will be able to do when she's a bit older.'

Harry came to no conclusion that night nor the next day, when he was busy visiting his old friends; but, three days later, when he was reading the paper, he frightened his mother by crying out: 'Here it is !—I've got it!'

'What, my dear? Bertram.

What is the matter?' said Mrs

This is Monday, mother. I am going to London to-morrow, and I shall be back on Thursday. I'll tell you all about it then.'

His mother smiled at Harry's energy, and supposing it was something about his master's business, asked no more questions.

On Thursday Harry came home, and he brought with him such a huge machine, with wheels here and wheels there, that Mrs Bertram was bewildered as she looked at it.

'Is it for farming, Harry?' she asked.

[ocr errors]

'No, no, mother, that is for you to earn a living with.'

Me, my dear,' said his mother, and she laughed as she hadn't laughed for years. Harry joined in the laugh, and then he grew serious.

'Look here, mother; this is a washing-machine, and a wringing-machine, and a mangling-machine, all in one.' 'Impossible, Harry!'

'Wait a bit, mother. You know you were vexed at my taking away my things to London dirty; well, I have brought them back, washed and mangled, and I saw it done, and that was what did it.'

Harry then explained to his mother how the machine was used, and persuaded her to try it, while he helped her by turning the handle. A whole basket of clothes was washed and wrung so quickly, that the poor woman

« PrécédentContinuer »