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And this is the moral:
“ Misses, the tale that I relate
This lesson seems to carry :
It is one of the greatest mistakes which young people commit in this matter, that they form their engagements clandestinely. Rural walks are taken, meetings are held, gifts and letters are exchanged ; parents know nothing whatever of all this till their children's affections are irretrievably gone. We are afraid it is too often assumed that parents are the natural enemies of all youthful affection, and that, if possible, they are to be foiled and evaded. Now all this is undutiful, treacherous, wrong. There are none who love you with so pure and disinterested a love as theirs. They have toiled for you, watched over you in sickness, perhaps strained every nerve that they might give you a better education than their own, trembled for you, prayed for you. You would consult them if you were taking a situation, or entering on business. Why not consult them about this? Their only solicitude is for you; and though it is quite possible they may be mistaken, it is much more likely they will be right, and at all events they may have something to say to you well worth consideration. Sons and daughters both, do nothing by stealth, and deem it, to say the least, a strong reason for hesitation if you have cause to think that your parents will disapprove.
Just one thing more. Are you a Christian ? Then, whomsoever you marry, let it be “ only in the Lord.” That is the Lord's own law; and if it were not His clearly written law, how many reasons are there which command it as most important! On other matters it is essential to happiness that there should be a community of taste and feeling ; but how supremely desirable it is that there should be a unity of conviction and resolve on this greatest concern of all! How needful it is that you should have all possible help and sympathy on this matter from him or her who is to be the dearest to you in life! How important it is that your prayers may go up to heaven as the blended offering of kindred hearts; that, with unity of counsel and purpose, your children may be trained up for Christ; that you may have common consolations with which to cheer each other's hearts in the trials of life; and that, when the last parting comes, be it soon or late, as the survivor gently lays down the hand so long linked with his own in love, it may be with the assurance that they will be linked together again in that world where partings are unknown! Does anyone say, “ But I am not yet a Christian in the sense you mean, and therefore I am at liberty to choose from the wide world”? We reply, First of all, be a Christian, and then make a truly Christian choice. We think we have known some cases in which a prospective engagement with one who had no sympathy with Christian principle and hope has stood in the way of a right decision, and in which afterwards that unfaithfulness to conviction bore the fruit of bitter sorrow.
Most sincerely do we wish you, reader, whoever you may be, a home of your own, in which will be fulfilled your brightest anticipations of domestic bliss,-a home of order, unity, peace, unbroken love,-a home gladdened above all other gladness by the smile of that Saviour who once condescended to be a guest in the home of Bethany. A home like that will be PARADISE REGAINED.
The Children's Hour.
BY MARIANNE FARNINGHAM.
CHAPTER I., New Year's Eve. It was nearly twelve o'clock, and Caroline Lacey and her friend Bessie Bennett were not ret in bed. But who likes to go to bed early on New Year's Eve ? Carrie certainly did not, and so she had persuaded her mamma to say nothing about bed-time.
“Just for once, ma dear, as Bessie is here. We do so want to see the old year out and the new year in.”
“But you cannot see either the one or the other."
“No, not really, mamma, but it must be pleasant to stay up until it is morning, and the bells begin to ring."
“Well, just for once, then; though I am not sure that it is ever good for girls to be up after ten : but, as it is New Year's Eve--" “Oh, thank you, mamma,” cried Carrie, not waiting to hear more.
And so it happened that the two girls had spent a very merry evening with Mr. and Mrs. Lacey, and a number of other grownup people, and had now gone a little apart from the others, to have a talk together.
“Has it not been delightful ? ” said Bessie ; “I never enjoyed any New Year's Eve so much as this."
“I am so glad vou have liked it, dear.”
Caroline hesitated a moment before she replied, while the laughing blue eyes of her companion watched her.
“Oh, Carrie, you amuse me so much! I declare you look as serious as you do at school when there is a difficult exercise to write. Are-you-happy?”.
“Yes, dear Bess, I am.”
And Bessie tried to put on a serious expression, which made her look so comical that Carrie could not help laughing.
Presently Bessie said: “I want to ask you something, Carrie. Have you formed any good resolution for the new year?”
Bessie was surprised at the effect of her question, for Carrie's face became instantly crimson, and she looked quite confused. Bessie was sorry that she had spoken, and yet she could not see that her words need cause any pain to Carrie. But Bessie thought it better to take no notice, and so she only crept a little nearer to her friend, and put her arms round her and kissed her softly. Bessie was a clever little comforter, because she was a very loving girl. Love is a famous teacher ; there are no people so stupid as those who know nothing about love.
But Bessie wondered, as she often did, what was the matter with Carrie. They were close friends, and Caroline was so good, and true, and kind, that Bessie loved her more and more, though she knew that Carrie had some sorrow which she did not confide to her.
Carrie answered Bessie's question with another.
“Yes, I always do. Last New Year's Day I resolved that before the twelve months had gone I would learn to speak French. I did not know a word then, but I have kept my resolution, for mamma told me on the day that I came here how pleased she was with the progress I have made.”
"And are you going to begin this new year with another resolution?” “Yes ; have you made one, Carrie ?” “Yes." "Oh, let us tell each other what our resolutions are !”
"Perhaps we had better not. Shall I tell you what I was reading this morning? It was in the two first chapters of the Book of Nehemiah. Some men came to him when he was the cup-bearer of Artaxerxes, and told him what a sad state Jerusalem was in. Nehemiah was very grieved to hear it, and he cried and prayed to God. He also made a good resolution to rebuild the walls and gates of the city he loved. But he kept it to himself. He says, “Neither told I'any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem. But I think he was perhaps all the more likely to keep his resolve because he had not told anybody."
“I don't know about that,” said Bessie, laughing. “Well, it is better to do right things than to talk about them ; and I have noticed that sometimes when people talk very enthusiastically about what they are going to do they leave it undone after all. Perhaps they wear out the wish by talking, or perhaps they half-persuade themselves that talking will do it.”
“Are you going to be like Nehemiah, Carrie ?”
“I hope so. I would rather not tell anybody what is in my heart; but oh, Bessie, I do so hope I shall do it.”
“I hope so too. But I don't mind telling you my resolution. I know I shall find it very hard to keep it, harder than learning French, but still I mean to try. This is mine-that I will keep my bed-room tidy all the year round. You know, Carrie, that I always throw everything down anywhere, and mamma and everybody else are so displeased with me for my carelessness that I have quite made up my mind to reform."
“ I think you will succeed Bessie, dear,” said Carrie.
At that moment there was a stir among the ladies and gentlemen at the other end of the room.
“It is almost midnight,” said Carrie's father. “Let us listen for the bells."
So the lights were put out and the shutters unfastened, and they all gathered round the windows and looked out. It was a beautiful night, the moon shone over the snow and lighted up everything. But there was a great stillness both outside and inside of the house. It was as if all the world were hushed and listening for the first sound which should tell of the death of the old year and the birth of the new
No one spoke, but most likely everybody was busily thinking and praying. Carrie's lips did not move, but her heart was saying over and over again, “O Lord, help me to keep my resolution, and please bless dear Harry and save him.”
Just when the silence seemed the deepest they were almost startled by the first sounds of the chimes, which were quickly followed by the strokes of all the loud-tongued church clocks in the town striking twelve. And then the merry bells began to ring, and the silence was quite gone, and the earth seemed suddenly full of the sweetest music.
“Carry, my own darling, God bless you, and give you a very happy year.”
Carrie knew whose kiss was upon her forehead, and who whispered these words. She glanced into her mother's face and saw how white it looked with the moonlight upon it, and her own eyes filled with tears.
"Oh, mamma dear, I hope, I cannot help hoping that this year may- ”
• Hush, my child, we must leave it all to our Father, who is in heaven.”
The next moment the lamps were relit, and everybody was wishing everybody else a happy new year.
CHAPTER II.—NEW YEAR'S PURCHASES. The next morning, or rather a little later on in the same morning, when Caroline awoke, she was surprised to see Bessie dressed, and already busily engaged. For a moment or two she watched her without speaking, and soon saw what it all meant. Bessie had begun to keep her resolution, and, as she was not at home and could not commence upon her own room, she was practising upon that of her friend. She set about it with a will too. Carrie's room was, as she thought, never really untidy, but Bessy found plenty to do in it. She had found a duster, and had dusted every article upon the toilet-table that could not be washed; but she evidently preferred cold water to anything, for the outsides of all glass bottles and jars she had scrupulously washed and dried. The towels were removed from the horse, and folded up as neatly and smoothly as possible; the books were piled away so that all the backs were quite level, the ornaments upon the chimney-piece looked as if they never more could be awry, and as Carrie glanced round she thought she had never seen the place look so prim and perfect as it did then. Bessie, however, was not yet satisfied. She had just discovered a spot of dust upon the handle of one of the hair-brushes, and immediately some fresh cold water was poured into the basin, and the washing process vigorously recommenced.
Carrie could not keep quiet longer.
“Oh, Bessie!” she cried ; “ how can you do it? Your poor little fingers will be quite cramped. I feel as if I shall have a shivering fit through watching you. Cold water is doubly cold on New Year's morning, isn't it?"
" It is rather cold,” said Bessie ; " but I don't mind it much. I am learning to be tidy. You often tell me at school that there is nothing like beginning at once."
Caroline laughed when Bessie told her what she had been doing. “ The things could not really have been dusty and dirty," she said.
"No," said Bessie, candidly, “ I could not see that they were ; but I thought I would dust and wash them in case they should be. And you needn't laugh at me, Carrie, for I mean to keep my resolation bravely from the very first, and have no failures.”
“No failures,” said Carrie. “I am afraid that is too much to hope for for either of us. But if we do fail now and then that is no reason why we should give up. We must try again, and again, and again if we mean to succeed in the end."
" Ah, now you are thinking of your own resolution, and not of mine.”
“I am thinking of both, Bess dear. I dare not hope that I shall succeed all at once, and I am afraid you will not, although you have made such a valiant beginning."
"I know it needs more strength and courage to go on than to begin," said Bessie. And then there was no more time for conversation, for the breakfast bell would soon ring.
When the two girls took their places at the table, they found envelopes addressed to them each in their plates. They were packets of money, and they had been placed there by Carrie's father.
“I have been puzzled to know what you would like for new year's gifts," said he ; “I should like you to have what you really want the most. And so, as you are the best judges of that, I am going to ask you to accept the money and make your own purchases. You like shopping, I suppose, for I am told that all young ladies do."
They were very well pleased with this arrangement, and after breakfast started, feeling quite delighted at having so much money to spend as they pleased.
" Good morning, papa,” said Carrie. “You are quite sure we may do what we like with the money, and that you will not mind how we spend it?"
“Quite sure,” said Mr. Lacey. “I shall not blame you, even though you should buy a wheelbarrow, and Miss Bennett a donkey."
They laughed at that.