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came to meet me by a perfectly new track that I had never thought of taking before the bear-hunt, I cannot tell; but from that day he became my constant companion, and he serves to remind me now, by my English fire-side, of many a wild legend, and of many a Scandinavian sport in which he bore a part. His name is Ratichin. March 29th, 1867.
SOMETHING was wrong, decidedly. The old church clock that for so many years had looked down complacently upon the village, was peevish and out of sorts this morning. His very face, which had always appeared the quintessence of good-nature, seemed altered; and if such a thing had been possible, one would have said it was puckered and drawn into all kinds of uncomfortable angles. On that bright December morning, if ever clock was discontented and unhappy-here it stood! The bells were ringing merrily for morning service; in a few moments they would cease, for it was almost half-past ten, and yet the unfortunate fingers of the clock pointed to three minutes to five! and nothing would make them move. Don't
could go on ?' gently insinuated the Ivy, which grew luxuriantly upon the tower; 'it's such a shocking thing to tell lies; and besides, you mislead people so :' and she gave a slight tap with one of her sharp-pointed leaves.
What's that to you ? savagely answered the Clock; 'don't you think it would be better if you minded your own business; are you going to turn preacher ?
Now the clock was naturally of an amiable temper; his broad fat face wore generally a smile, (or at least it appeared so) and encircled by the beautiful Ivy he had just been so unmercifully snubbing, in the length and breadth of the kingdom you would not have found a prettier or a pleasanter looking village clock. Well! poor thing, he had certainly had a good deal to try his temper that morning. In the first place, the village clock-maker had been turning him inside out. The late severe frosts must have injured some of the works, but that surely was no fault of his; the half-blind old clock-maker must have assuredly thought it was, for he had taken this tube out and put other tubes in, till the poor clock was almost beside himself. Then the beadle, late for prayers, had in passing glanced at the tower.
• If that blessed old clock ain't wrong again,' said he; 'it's nearly used up, I reckon.'
The two great men of the village, while walking briskly to catch the train, had that morning been heard to say, 'Something must be done to
that clock, it's gained an hour and a half in the last week, and now has stopped entirely. Shouldn't wonder if we lose our train through it crazy old thing! Surely this was enough to dishearten any clock; but when the mild easy-going Vicar, who always took things by the smooth handle, paused by the vestry door and remarked in very distinct tones to the curate, 'Really, Mr. Sampson, we must think seriously of the little matter you were mentioning the other night; I mean getting up a subscription for a new clock; this is almost worn out, I fancy.'
It was the finishing stroke! the church Clock nearly groaned. Was this all the reward he was to expect for serving the parish faithfully for the last two hundred years? Was he to be turned out to make way for some new-fashioned interloper? His very pendulum rattled with indignation ! Then he thought of the many scenes he had witnessed since he had first been placed there—of the children who had grown up beneath his eyeof the simple congregation he had watched Sunday after Sunday wending their way through the lime avenue to the church porch—of the sweet spring mornings and the pleasant summer days—of the rich and golden autumn and of sharp bright winter hours, such as this—so he must leave them all, he that had grown old in the path of duty! He was now voted 'crazy' and 'used up,' and must make way for a new comer!
It is not a pleasant feeling to find our day is past, so perhaps the church Clock may be excused for turning so savagely on the mild unoffending Ivy, who had ventured on a meek suggestion after much deliberation. He was not himself that morning, as his irritable temper was proof of.
'It's the way of the world at least,' said he, half aloud; "but I didn't expect such treatment from the Vicar.'
*You seem troubled this morning, Mr. Clock,' whispered the Ivy. Snubbed though she had been before, she could not resist the temptation of learning why the hitherto jovial clock should this bright morning be snappish and ill-humoured.
'I have sufficient to trouble me,' answered the Clock. "Look you here, Mrs. Ivy, I've served this village for two hundred years, but my work is done now, (or it's said to be,) you'll have a new neighbour, and I trust he, in his turn, will not be served as I–
Something very like a tear trickled slowly down his broad face, perhaps it might only have been an icicle that had melted from the heat of the sun.
Dear me, dear me!' said the Ivy, gaining courage, 'I am very sorry to hear it; but you see, Mr. Clock, we shall all be obliged to give up some day: I am getting in years; and even the yew trees in the church-yard, they are not as young as they were.'
"That's certainly true, little Ivy, but I can't see that it makes ingratitude any easier to bear; it is this that I complain of, my services have not been appreciated.'
The Ivy was silenced; she was not much given to meditation, though she had expressed such a trite little saying concerning ‘giving up.' There was perhaps more truth in it than she was aware of.
The hours sped on, still the Clock's fingers did not move. He remained outwardly sullen enough. Inwardly miserable and sad. Morning prayers were over; out came the little congregation, old and young passing through ‘God's acre,' paused and looked up at the clock.
'Wrong again,' someone said ; 'surely it would be better to put it on one side; even clocks can't last for ever!
'I don't like to say that,' answered old Barton the sexton ; 'it seems as if we were turning out an old friend; I've looked at that clock for well-nigh thirty years, and often when the new fangled one at the town hall was out of order, I've said to myself, Job Barton, you stick to the church-that's the only place to be trusted, and it stands to reason that the church clock must be trusted too.' So he passed through the wicket gate, and was soon seen walking down the village street.
Did you hear him?' whispered the Clock to the Ivy; 'well, it is a comfort if only one person appreciates me. Oh! I've many years of work before me; talk of “giving up” to who you like, or to those who will listen to you, little Ivy, but not to me. I'll try and astonish them all yet. I wonder how much time I have lost-don't interrupt me, I say; can't you see I'm calculating?' But calculate as he would, he could not move! Still the fingers remained pointing hopelessly at three minutes to five! Must he really give up after a life of usefulness ? oh! it was disheartening indeed! 'Oh! Ivy, Ivy, Ivy,' he groaned, is there no comfort to be had? Will no one understand the efforts I have made ?
The Ivy shook her leaves mournfully. It was rather hard to find comfort for herself on such a bitter day.
That afternoon the clock-maker paid another visit to the tower ; again the poor clock underwent a thorough investigation, for the next day was Christmas, and of all days in the year it would not do to mislead people ; the church had been cleaned, the decorations were finished, the path to the porch had been swept; inside and out, everything was neat and trim in its holiday dress prepared for that joyous festival-everything 'right' except that unhappy clock.
The short winter day drew to a close, the sky had clouded over, and the melancholy wind rustled and tossed the dead leaves. Gradually all sounds of human life died away, only occasionally the footsteps of some traveller were heard echoing down the street. It was too cold for the groups of men and boys, who on most nights might be seen standing at the corners of the church-yard; all who had homes to go to went, and the shadows crept thicker and clo nd the tower. The cold night wind played among the Ivy till she trembled in
Oh! what a bitter night!' she said softly.
• Bitter, echoed the Clock, 'only, like the rest of the world, it first flatters you with that deceiving sun, then sends biting winds and cutting frosts. Perhaps if I had known its true character at first I should not have sung its praises.'
'Nay, nay, say not so, good Clock,' suddenly broke in a strange voice, and at that moment a flake of snow floated down and rested quietly on the side of the tower. Now the snow fell thick and fast; so soft, so gentle was it, so pure it looked, that the old Clock felt strangely calmed.
• Tell me your troubles,' said the Snow softly; 'I come from far away, high among the clouds ; surely to-night I bring 'a good message to earth.
“Ah! yes, to earth,' murmured the Clock, but not to me;' yet nevertheless he poured out the story of his wrongs, and the lovely snow listened quietly, and as he ended she laid her soft white hands upon his face.
* Hearken! oh village Clock!' she said ; 'you grieve because your day is passing, you that were once so proud and strong; look around you, everything one day must give up;' think of the little children you watched when you were first placed here, some quickly came to sleep beneath the shadow of the church, others have grown grey under your eyes, their appointed task will soon be finished too; and if they, the work of God's hand, fade so surely, shall not you, the work of man's, come to the end of your allotted life! All have their work to do; and your part, my friend, has hitherto been bravely done. Think, only think, how day by day you have told the human creatures of the precious hours that were flying, of those "golden opportunities " not to be neglected. Oh! rest now and be thankful.'
“Yes, she comes from above; she must be right, the Clock kept murmuring, and somehow it comforted him to repeat this.
Another hour passed, the ground was covered several inches with snow, and the yew trees looked weird but lovely in their pure robe. All was very still, for the carol singers had not yet commenced, and footsteps fell silently on the snow. Suddenly there was a wild commotion in the belfry, and then sharp and clear upon the midnight air rang the Christmas bells. The Ivy trembled, and it was to the Clock as if his heart stood still.
*Listen, listen,' said the Snow, lightly touching him. This is a message for you.'
And the Clock did listen, and as the silvery tones rose and fell he could distinguish a voice (that alas! the full import he could not understand) telling mortals of the glorious news! Telling them that very soon all sin and sorrow would be done away for ever, that though hundreds of years had flown since the shepherds of Bethlehem had listened to the first carol, which had told them of a Saviour full of love and pity coming to dwell among them; that the message they were telling now, was VOL. 7.
just as glorious as it had been eighteen hundred years before, if they would only hearken !-and then the bells ceased.
A sob broke from the village Clock as the sound died away. • That glorious message was for mortals, not for me,' he sighed.
“You have done your appointed work well,' whispered the Snow, as she passed quickly away.
*Thanks, thanks, gentle comforter,' he cried, 'my work is done; oh! that I may be ready for rest;' and the Ivy, though she scarce knew why, murmured – Thanks.'
Quel que difference qui paraisse entre les fortunes, il-y-a une certaine compensation de biens et de maux qui les rend égales.'
B. F. M.
ST. LUKE'S MISSION, BURDETT ROAD, STEPNEY.
November 10th, 1868. Dear Mr. Editor,
I have been reading over the accounts of our Mission in the March and December numbers, 1867, of The Monthly Packet, and the notice given in this month's 'Packet’ of our August Flower Show. These former notices have attracted so much sympathy, and so sensibly advanced our Mission, that it seems well to you to give at this Christmas time some further details of the progress of our work.
Surely I shall not be misunderstood if I say that no one is less satisfied with using the word 'progress' than myself; and if I mention that in this difficult work, which has its ebbs and flows, it was one homage I gave to its necessity and worth, that I abstained entirely from a holiday this year, because I had set my heart on sealing another year's work by the contract for building the church. This, thanks be to God, was done on October 30th, and is perhaps the main point of progress I have to report.
I shall give briefly the course of this advance, and then recur to the general work of the Mission, and especially of the past month of October, our third anniversary.
Our building plans for St. Luke's Church are of Norman style, and to make it cheap and of capacity, everything, the omission of which would not render it mean, has been left out of the estimate. The entire amount is £5,320, but if we build the body-the nave and aisles—of the church first, £80 must be added for the temporary partition wall closing up the chancel arches. The Bishop's Fund was anxious that the larger part of the church should go on, and first increased their grant to £1,500, and then gave permission that this sum might be used for the nave and aisles. The Bishop consented to consecrate this part, if it be necessary to open the church in its imperfect state; and the Diocesan Church Building and Incorporated Societies, and Marshall's Charity, made grants to the amount of £600.
Our Quarterly Collections, in books and boxes, had gone on. Every friend who subscribed had doubled their subscription; The Monthly Packet contributions continued ; donations were paid directly to the Bishop's Fund; our economy had saved £120 of Offertories; St. Michael's, Chester Square, sermons were repeatedyet, after all, the amount paid and promised, independently of grants, could only