By S.B. Shaw
"I DON'T LOVE YOU NOW, MOTHER"
A great many years ago, I knew a lady who had been sick for two years, as you have seen many a one, all the while slowly dying with consumption. She had one child--a little boy named Henry.
One afternoon I was sitting by her side and it seemed as if she would cough her life away. Her little boy stood by the post of the bed, his blue eyes filled with tears to see her suffer so. By and by the terrible cough ceased. Henry came and put his arms around his mother's neck, nestled his head in his mother's bosom, and said, "Mother, I do love you; I wish you wasn't sick."
An hour later, the same loving, blue-eyed boy came in all aglow, stamping the snow off his feet.
"Oh, Mother, may I go skating? it is so nice--Ed and Charlie are going."
"Henry," feebly said the mother, "the ice is not hard enough yet."
"But, Mother," very pettishly said the boy, "you are sick all the time-- how do you know?"
"My child, you must obey me," gently said his mother.
"It is too bad," angrily sobbed the boy, who an hour ago had so loved his mother.
"I would not like to have my little boy go," said the mother, looking sadly at the little boy's face, all covered with frowns; "you said you loved me--be good."
"No, I don't love you now, Mother," said the boy, going out and slamming the door.
Again that dreadful coughing came upon her, and we thought no more of the boy. After the coughing had commenced, I noticed tears falling thick upon her pillow, but she sank from exhaustion into a light sleep.
In a little while muffled steps of men's feet were heard coming into the house, as though carrying something; and they were carrying the almost lifeless body of Henry.
Angrily had he left his mother and gone to skate--disobeying her; and then broken through the ice, sunk under the water, and now saved by a great effort, was brought home barely alive to his sick mother.
I closed the doors feeling more danger for her life than the child's and coming softly in, drew back the curtains from the bed. She spoke, "I heard them--it is Henry; oh, I knew he went--is he dead?" But she never seemed to hear the answer I gave her. She commenced coughing--she died in agony--strangled to death. The poor mother! The boy's disobedience killed her.
After a couple of hours I sought the boy's room.
"Oh, I wish I had not told mother I did not love her. Tomorrow I will tell her I do," said the child sobbing painfully. My heart ached; tomorrow I knew we must tell him she was dead. We did not till the child came fully into the room, crying, "Mother, I do love you."
Oh! may I never see agony like that child's, as the lips he kissed gave back no kiss, as the hands he took fell lifeless from his hand, instead of shaking his hand as it always had, and the boy knew she was dead.
"Mother, I do love you now," all the day he sobbed and cried, "O Mother, Mother, forgive me." Then he would not leave his mother. "Speak to me, Mother!" but she could never speak again, and he--the last words she had ever heard him say, were, "Mother, I don't love you now."
That boy's whole life was changed; sober and sad he was ever after. He is now a gray haired old man, with one sorrow over his one act of disobedience, one wrong word embittering all his life--with those words ever ringing in his ears, "Mother, I don't love you now."
Will the little ones who read this remember, if they disobey their mother, if they are cross and naughty, they say every single time they do so, to a tender mother's heart, by their actions if not in the words of Henry, the very same thing, "I don't love you now, Mother."
She was a clear-eyed, fresh-cheeked little maiden, living on the banks of the great Mississippi, the oldest of four children, and mother's "little woman" always. They called her so because of her quiet, matronly care of the younger Mayfields--that was the father's name. Her own name was the beautiful one of Elizabeth, but they shortened it to Bess.
She was thirteen when one day Mr. Mayfield and his wife were called to the nearest town, six miles away. "Be mother's little woman, dear," said Mrs. Mayfield as she kissed the rosy face. Her husband added: "I leave the children in your care, Bess; be a little mother to them."
Bess waved her old sun-bonnet vigorously, and held up the baby Rose, that she might watch them to the last. Old Daddy Jim and Mammy had been detailed by Mr. Mayfield to keep an unsuspected watch on the little nestlings, and were to sleep at the house. Thus two days went by, when Daddy Jim and Mammy begged to be allowed to go to the quarters where the Negroes lived, to see their daughter, "Jennie, who was pow'ful bad wid the toothache." They declared they would be back by evening, so Bess was willing. She put the little girls to bed and persuaded Rob to go; then seated herself by the table with her mother's work-basket, in quaint imitation of Mrs. Mayfield's industry in the evening time. But what was this? Her feet touched something cold! She bent down and felt around with her hand. A pool of water was spreading over the floor. She knew what it was; the Mississippi had broken through the levee. What should she do? Mammy's stories of how homes had been washed away and broken in pieces were in her mind. "Oh, if I had a boat!" she exclaimed. "But there isn't anything of the sort on the place." She ran wildly out to look for Mammy; and stumbled over something sitting near the edge of the porch. A sudden inspiration took her. Here was her boat! a very large, old-fashioned, oblong tub. The water was now several inches deep on the porch and she contrived to half-float, half-row the tub into the room.
Without frightening the children she got them dressed in the warmest clothes they had. She lined the oblong tub with a blanket, and made ready bread and cold meat left from supper. With Rob's assistance she dragged the tub upstairs. There was a single large window in the room, and they set the tub directly by it, so that when the water rose the tub would float out. There was no way for the children to reach the roof, which was a very steep, inclined one. It did not seem long before the water had very nearly risen to the top of the stairs leading from below.
Bess flung the window open, and made Rob get into their novel boat; then she lifted in Kate, and finally baby Rose, who began to cry, was given into Rob's arms, and now the little mother, taking the basket of food, made ready to enter, too; but, lo! there was no room for her with safety to the rest. Bess paused a moment, drew a long breath, and kissed the children quietly. She explained to Rob that he must guard the basket, and that they must sit still. "Goodbye, dears. Say a prayer for sister, Rob. If you ever see father and mother, tell them I took care of you." Then the water seized the insecure vessel, and out into the dark night it floated.
The next day Mr. Mayfield, who, with his neighbors, scoured the broad lake of eddying water that represented the Mississippi, discovered the tub lodged in the branches of a sycamore with the children weeping and chilled, but safe.
And Bess? Ah, where was Bess, the "little mother," who in that brief moment resigned herself to death? They found her later, floating on the water with her brave childish face turned to the sky; and as strong arms lifted her into the boat, the tears from every eye paid worthy tribute to the "little mother."
--Detroit Free Press
ROBBIE GOODMAN'S PRAYER
"What can be the matter with Walter," thought Mama Ellis as she sat sewing in her pleasant sitting-room. "He came in so very quietly, closed the door gently and I think I even heard him go to the closet to hang up his books. Oh! dear. I hope he isn't going to have another attack of 'Grippe,'" and Mrs. Ellis shivered as she glanced out at the snow-covered landscape. As her eyes turned once more to the warm, luxurious room in which she was seated, the portieres were pushed aside and a little boy of ten years of age entered. Little Walter was all that remained of four beautiful children, who, only a year ago, romped gaily through the large halls. That dread disease, diphtheria, had stolen the older brother and laughing little sisters in one short week's time, so that now, as the sad anniversary came near to hand, Mrs. Ellis' heart ached for her lost birdlings and yearned more jealously than ever over her remaining little one. Today his usually merry face was very grave and he looked very thoughtful as he gave his mother her kiss and allowed himself to be drawn upon her lap.
"What ails mother's Pet? Is he sick?" she asked anxiously.
"No, Mother dear, I'm not sick, but I feel so sad at heart. You see," he continued in answer to her questioning look, "Robbie Goodman and I always walk together going and coming from school, and I have noticed that he has never worn any overcoat this winter, but you know its been unusually warm and I thought perhaps his mother did not make him wrap up like you did me, but this morning it was so cold and he was just shivering, but he never had on any overcoat--just his mittens and muffler and cap were his wraps. Of course I noticed it, for nearly everyone else was all bundled up; but I didn't say anything as I did not want to be impolite. After awhile he said, 'My, I am so cold,' and I said: 'Where's your overcoat?' Then he told me it was too small and his papa can't buy him any this winter so he is afraid he will have to stop school. His mama says she would cut his papa's up for him, only then he would not have any; and of course he must have one to wear when he goes to the chapel and to see sick people. Even that one is thin and patched. He says he and his little sisters have been praying so hard for an overcoat for him and shoes for them, but they did not come at Christmas like they thought they would, and they are real discouraged.
"Tonight, Mother," continued Walter, "he had an awful cold and coughed just like our Harry did last year," and the long pent up tears flowed from the child's eyes. As mother and son dried their tears, the child looked up with perfect confidence as he said, "The Lord will answer Robbie's prayer, won't he. Mama?"
"Yes darling," said Mrs. Ellis; and sent the child off to the play room.
"By the way, my dear," remarked Mrs. Ellis as they sat chatting at the tea-table after Walter had retired, "what has become of that preacher Goodman who preached for us once on trial?"
"Oh, he has a mission down on the other side of the city, but he lives on this side as Moore gives him the house rent free. I met him the other day. He looked very needy. The man had wonderful talents and might have a rich congregation and improve himself; but he is persistent in his ideas concerning this holiness movement, and of course a large church like ours wants something to attract and interest instead of such egotistical discourses. I, for one, go to sleep under them." And Mr. Ellis drew himself up with a pompous air as he went into the library, whither his wife presently followed.
He had picked up a newspaper and was apparently absorbed, but Mrs. Ellis had not had her say, so she continued "Walter was telling me about the little boy. He--"
"Oh, yes," interrupted her husband, "he met me in the hall and poured out the whole story. The child's nerves were all wrought up, too. He should not be allowed to worry over such things. He wants me to give up buying him the fur-trimmed overcoat and get a coat and shoes for Goodman's children, as they were praying so hard for them, but I have enough to do without clothing other people's children. If Goodman would quit his cranky notions and use his talents for people who could understand him, instead of preaching to those ragamuffins he might now be receiving a magnificent salary and clothing himself and family decently."
"But Paul," said Mrs. Ellis, "Surely you would not have Mr. Goodman sacrifice his convictions simply for money and praise, when you yourself, are convinced that his doctrines are sound? Besides he must be doing a good work down among the poor classes of the city as it appears the rich don't want him."
"Then let the poor give enough to keep him."
"They do give far beyond their means but the Lord calls on such as us to give. I know it has been an unusually hard year but the Lord has blessed us and He will hold us to an account. I feel very sad as the anniversary of our darlings' departure draws near and I dread to think of any little ones suffering while we could so easily help them."
"I don't see how you can feel that we have been so blessed. When the house is so quiet and I think of those white graves in the cemetery I confess I feel very bitter."
"Paul, my dear husband, don't feel that way. Just think of our three treasures in heaven, an added claim to that glorious realm, away from this cold and suffering. Remember also that we have one left, to live for, to train. And, Paul, let us train him for the Master and in such a way that we may never have the feeling that it were better if he, too, had departed when he was pure and innocent. Let us encourage benevolence and gentleness and if he wishes to go without the fur-trimmed coat, why not do as he asks?" Mrs. Ellis kissed her husband and quietly left the room.
Long and late, Paul Ellis sat there and many things, ghosts of the past, rose before him. As the midnight chimes rang out he knelt and prayed. "Oh, Lord, forgive me. I have gone astray and turned to my own way. I have been prejudiced. It was my influence which turned the tide against Robert Goodman. Thou knowest. Now, if Thou wilt only forgive and help me I will walk in the light as Thou sendest it, even consenting to be called a 'holiness crank.'"
A few days afterward Robert Goodman received a large package from an unknown friend containing a warm overcoat and three pairs of shoes. His father also received a present. It came through the mail and was an honest confession of a wrong done him, also a check for one hundred dollars. One year later this church gave a unanimous call to Brother Goodman and the revival which broke out that winter was unprecedented in the annals of that church. Verily, "A little child shall lead them."
--Luella Watson Kinder, in Christian Witness
CARLETTA AND THE MERCHANT
"If I could only have your faith, gladly would I--but I was born a skeptic. I cannot look upon God and the future as you do."
So said John Harvey as he walked with a friend under a dripping umbrella. John Harvey was a skeptic of thirty years standing and apparently hardened in his unbelief. Everybody had given him up as hopeless. Reasoning ever so calmly made no impression on the rocky soil of his heart. Alas! it was sad, very sad!
But one friend had never given him up. When spoken to about him-- "I will talk with and pray for that man until I die," he said; "and I will have faith that he may yet come out of darkness into the marvelous light."
And thus whenever he met him (John Harvey was always ready for a "talk,") Mr. Hawkins pressed home the truth. In answer, on that stormy night, he said: "God can change a skeptic, John. He has more power over your heart than you, and I mean still to pray for you."
"Oh, I have no objections, none in the world--seeing is believing, you know. I'm ready for any miracle; but I tell you it would take nothing short of a miracle to convince me. Let's change the subject. I'm hungry and it's too far to go up town to supper on this stormy night. Here's a restaurant: let us stop here."
How warm and pleasant it looked in the long, brilliant dining saloon!
The two merchants had eaten, and were just on the point of rising when a strain of soft music came through the open door--a child's sweet voice.
"'Pon my word, that is pretty," said John Harvey; "what purity in those tones!"
"Out of here, you little baggage!" cried a hoarse voice, and one of the waiters pointed angrily to the door.
"Let her come in," said John Harvey.
"We don't allow them in this place, sir," said the waiter, "but she can go into the reading-room."
"Well, let her go somewhere. I want to hear her," responded the gentleman.
All this time the two had seen the shadow of something hovering backwards and forwards on the edge of the door; now they followed a slight little figure, wrapped in a patched cloak, patched hood, and leaving the mark of wet feet as she walked. Curious to see her face--she was very small--John Harvey lured her to the farthest part of the great room where there were but few gentlemen, and then motioned her to sing. The little one looked timidly up. Her cheek was of olive darkness, but a flush rested there, and out of the thinnest face, under the arch of broad temples, deepened by masses of the blackest hair looked two eyes whose softness and tender pleading would have touched the hardest heart.
"That little thing is sick, I believe," said John Harvey, compassionately. "What do you sing, child?" he added.
"I sing Italian or a little English."
John Harvey looked at her shoes. "Why," he exclaimed, and his lips quivered, "her feet are wet to her ankles; she will catch her death of cold."
By this time the child had begun to sing, pushing back her hood, and folding before her her little thin fingers. Her voice was wonderful; and simple and common as were both air and words, the pathos of the tones drew together several of the merchants in the reading-room. The little song commenced thus:
"There is a happy land, Far, far away."
Never could the voice, the manner, of that child be forgotten. There almost seemed a halo around her head; and when she had finished, her great speaking eyes turned toward John Harvey.
"Look here, child; where did you learn that song?" he asked.
"At the Sunday School, Sir."
"And you don't suppose there is a happy land?"
"I know there is; I'm going to sing there," she said, so quickly, so decidedly that the men looked at each other.
"Going to sing there?"
"Yes, sir. Mother said so. She used to sing to me until she was very sick. Then she said she wasn't going to sing any more on earth, but up in heaven."
"Well--and what then?"
"And then she died, sir," said the child; tears brimming down the dark cheek now ominously flushed scarlet.
John Harvey was silent for a few moments.
Presently he said: "Well, if she died, my little girl, you may live, you know."
"Oh, no, sir! no, sir! I'd rather go there; and be with mother. Sometimes I have a dreadful pain in my side and cough as she did. There won't be any pain up there, sir; it's a beautiful world!"
"How do you know?" faltered on the lips of the skeptic.
"My mother told me so, sir."
Words how impressive! manner how child-like, and yet so wise!
John Harvey had had a praying mother. His chest labored for a moment-- the sobs that struggled for utterance could be heard even in their depths--and still those large, soft, lustrous eyes, like magnets impelled his glance toward them.
"Child you must have a pair of shoes." John Harvey's voice was husky.
Hands were thrust in pockets, purses pulled out, and the astonished child held in her little palm more money than she had ever seen before.
"Her father is a poor, consumptive organ-grinder," whispered one. "I suppose he's too sick to be out tonight."
Along the soggy street went the child, under the protection of John Harvey, but not with shoes that drank the water at every step. Warmth and comfort were hers now. Down in the deep den-like lanes of the city walked the man, a little cold hand in his. At an open door they stopped; up broken, creaking stairs they climbed. Another doorway was opened, and a wheezing voice called out of the dim arch, "Carletta!"
"O Father! Father! see what I have brought you! Look at me! Look at me" and down went the silver, and venting her joy, the poor child fell; crying and laughing together, into the old man's arms.
Was he a man?
A face dark and hollow, all overgrown with hair black as night and uncombed--a pair of wild eyes--a body bent nearly double--hands like claws.
"Did he give you all this, my child?"
"They all did, Father; now you shall have soup and oranges."
"Thank you, sir--I'm sick, you see--all gone, sir!--had to send the poor child out, or we'd starve. God bless you, sir! I wish I was well enough to play you a tune," and he looked wistfully towards the corner where stood the old organ, baize-covered, the baize in tatters.
One month after that the two men met again as if by agreement, and walked slowly down town. Treading innumerable passages they came to the gloomy building where lived Carletta's father.
No--not lived there, for as they paused a moment out came two or three men bearing a pine coffin. In the coffin slept the old organ-grinder.
"It was very sudden, sir," said a woman, who recognized his benefactor. "Yesterday the little girl was took sick and it seemed as if he drooped right away. He died at six last night."
The two men went silently up stairs. The room was empty of everything save a bed, a chair and a nurse provided by John Harvey. The child lay there, not white, but pale as marble, with a strange polish on her brow.
"Well my little one, are you better?"
"Oh no, sir; Father is gone up there and I am going."
Up there! John Harvey turned unconsciously towards his friend.
"Did you ever hear of Jesus?" asked John Harvey's friend.
"Do you know who he was?"
"Good Jesus," murmured the child.
"Hawkins, this breaks me down," said John Harvey and he placed his handkerchief to his eyes.
"Don't cry, don't cry; I can't cry, I'm so glad," said the child exultingly.
"What are you glad for, my dear?" asked John Harvey's friend.
"To get away from here," she said deliberately. "I used to be so cold in the winter, for we didn't have fire sometimes; but mother used to hug me close and sing about heaven. Mother told me to never mind and kissed me and said if I was His, the Savior would love me and one of these days would give me a better home, and so I gave myself to Him, for I wanted a better home. And, oh, I shall sing there and be so happy!"
With a little sigh she closed her eyes.
"Harvey, are faith and hope nothing?" asked Mr. Hawkins.
"Don't speak to me, Hawkins; to be as that little child I would give all I have."
"And to be like her you need give nothing--only your stubborn will, your skeptical doubts, and the heart that will never know rest till at the feet of Christ."
There was no answer. Presently the hands moved, the arms were raised, the eyes opened--yet, glazed though they were they turned still upward.
"See!" she cried; "Oh, there is mother! and angels! and they are all singing." Her voice faltered, but the celestial brightness lingered yet on her face.
"There is no doubting the soul-triumph there," whispered Mr. Hawkins.
"It is wonderful," replied John Harvey, looking on both with awe and tenderness. "Is she gone?"
He sprang from his chair as if he would detain her; but the chest and forehead were marble now, the eyes had lost the fire of life; she must have died as she lay looking at them.
"She was always a sweet little thing," said the nurse softly.
John Harvey stood as if spell-bound. There was a touch on his arm; he started.
"John," said his friend, with an affectionate look, "shall we pray?"
For a minute there was no answer--then came tears; the whole frame of the subdued skeptic shook as he said--it was almost a cry: "Yes, pray, pray!"
And from the side of the dead child went up agonizing pleadings to the throne of God. And that prayer was answered--the miracle was wrought-- the lion became a lamb--the doubter a believer--the skeptic a Christian!
HOW THREE SUNDAY SCHOOL CHILDREN MET THEIR FATE
When the Lawrence Mills were on fire a number of years ago--I don't mean on fire, but when the mill fell in--the great mill fell in, and after it had fallen in, the ruins caught fire, there was only one room left entire, and in it were three Mission Sunday School children imprisoned. The neighbors and all hands got their shovels and picks and crowbars and were working to set the children free. It came on night and they had not yet reached the children. When they were near them, by some mischance the lantern broke, and the ruins caught fire. They tried to put it out, but could not succeed. They could talk with the children, and even pass to them some refreshments, and encourage them to keep up. But, alas, the flames drew nearer and nearer to the prison. Superhuman were the efforts made to rescue the children; the men bravely fought back the flames; but the fire gained fresh strength, and returned to claim its victims. Then piercing shrieks arose when the spectators saw that the efforts of the firemen were hopeless. The children saw their fate. They then knelt down and commenced to sing the little hymn we have all been taught in our Sunday School days. Oh! how sweet: "Let others seek a home below, which flames devour and waves overflow." The flames had now reached them; the stifling smoke began to pour into their little room, and they began to sink, one by one, upon the floor. A few moments more and the fire circled around them, and their souls were taken into the bosom of Christ. Yes, let others seek a home below if they will, but seek ye the Kingdom of God with all your hearts.
HE BLESSES GOD FOR THE FAITH OF HIS LITTLE GIRL
"I came home one night very late," says Brother Matthew Hale Smith (in his "Marvels of Prayer"), "and had gone to bed to seek needed rest. The friend with whom I boarded awoke me out of my first refreshing sleep, and informed me that a little girl wanted to see me. I turned over in bed and said:
"'I am very tired, tell her to come in the morning and I will see her.'
"My friend soon returned and said:
"'I think you had better get up. The girl is a poor little suffering thing. She is thinly clad, is without bonnet or shoes. She has seated herself on the doorstep and says she must see you and will wait till you get up.'
"I dressed myself and opening the outside door I saw one of the most forlorn-looking little girls I ever beheld. Want, sorrow, suffering, neglect, seemed to struggle for the mastery. She looked up to my face and said:
"'Are you the man that preached last night and said that Christ could save to the uttermost?'
"'Well, I was there, and I want you to come right down to my house and try to save my poor father.'
"'What's the matter with your father?'
"'He's a very good father when he don't drink. He's out of work and he drinks awfully. He's almost killed my poor mother; but if Jesus can save to the uttermost, He can save him. And I want you to come right to our house now.'
"I took my hat and followed my little guide who trotted on before, halting as she turned the corners to see that I was coming. Oh, what a miserable den her home was! A low, dark, underground room, the floor all slush and mud--not a chair, table, or bed to be seen. A bitter cold night and not a spark of fire on the hob and the room not only cold but dark. In the corner on a little dirty straw lay a woman. Her head was bound up, and she was moaning as if in agony. As we darkened the doorway a feeble voice said: 'Oh, my child! my child! why have you brought a stranger into this horrible place?' Her story was a sad one, but soon told. Her husband, out of work, maddened with drink and made desperate, had stabbed her because she did not provide him with a supper that was not in the house. He was then upstairs and she was expecting every moment that he would come down and complete the bloody work he had begun. While the conversation was going on the fiend made his appearance. A fiend he looked. He brandished the knife, still wet with the blood of his wife.
"The missionary, like the man among the tombs, had himself belonged to the desperate classes. He was converted at the mouth of a coal pit. He knew the disease and the remedy--knew how to handle a man on the borders of delirium tremens.
"Subdued by the tender tones, the mad man calmed down, and took a seat on a box. But the talk was interrupted by the little girl, who approached the missionary, and said: 'Don't talk to father; it won't do any good. If talking would have saved him, he would have been saved long ago. Mother has talked to him so much and so good. You must ask Jesus, who saves to the uttermost, to save my poor father.'
"Rebuked by the faith of the little girl, the missionary and the miserable sinner knelt down together. He prayed as he never prayed before; he entreated and interceded, in tones so tender and fervent that it melted the desperate man, who cried for mercy. And mercy came. He bowed in penitence before the Lord and lay down that night on his pallet of straw a pardoned soul.
"Relief came to that dwelling. The wife was lifted from her dirty couch, and her home was made comfortable. On Sunday, the reformed man took the hand of his little girl and entered the infant class to learn something about the Savior 'who saves to the uttermost.' He entered upon a new life. His reform was thorough. He found good employment, for when sober he was an excellent workman; and next to his Savior, he blesses God for the faith of his little girl, who believed in a Savior able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."