Read CHAPTER VIII of Left at Home / The Heart's Resting Place, free online book, by Mary L. Code, on ReadCentral.com.

EDGAR NORTH; OR, A HEART WITHOUT A RESTING-PLACE

About two weeks after his arrival in his new home, when Arthur came down one morning to breakfast, something in his aunt’s face made him think of pleasant things; so that his “Good morning, auntie,” seemed rather like a question.

“I think you had better have breakfast,” said Mrs. Estcourt, smiling, but holding something in her hand towards him, at the same time.

“A letter!” Arthur exclaimed, or rather shouted, as he seized the envelope. “A letter for me! It could be only from one person. But, oh, surely they are not in India yet! Mamma said they would be weeks and weeks going.”

“They must have passed some vessel returning to England. You see what a mother you have, to write to you the very first opportunity.”

“I should think I knew that, auntie. I don’t believe there ever was, or will be, any one like my mother in the whole world.” Then he began to read his mother’s letter:

My own child, For this is the sweetest name I can call you. You are my own, my Arthur, my darling little child just as much mine now, as when we used to sit together by the fireside in the old home, and your head was on my lap, and my arms were around you. And although miles and miles of deep blue sea are lying between us, and the stars that look down on you in your peaceful English home may see me here on the broad, wide ocean, you are here safe in my heart, just the same as ever, and my watchful love, that cannot take care of you as I once did, pours itself out in prayers to the God who loves us both; for He is my Father and yours, Arthur. We are both in His hands. He will take care of us now, as we walk on this changing world, and He will take care of us for ever, in that land where there are no partings, or sighs, or tears where the blessed God will joy to bless us for ever.

“And now I must tell you something about ourselves, about your father and me. For a little while after we started we had very rough weather; and as the steamer tossed up and down, and rolled with great heaving swells on the waves, I was glad that my little boy had a bed to lie on, that did not heave from side to side. I was glad that the sounds he heard, were the sweet summer winds rustling, and the birds that sang in the trees, instead of the creaking and straining noises that I now hear, and that he was safe, and comfortable, and well; instead of sighing out his poor little heart with trouble; for sea-sickness is a reality, my little Arthur, as you would soon find out, if, like me, you had spent some days on the sea, when the winds had made the waves rough.

“Now the water is calm, and all around us it lies blue and bright, and the sun makes pleasant sparkles on it, which I look at now and again, as I sit here on the deck; writing the letter that you will read, and think of me on my way to the land where you were born.

“I only came on deck yesterday; for, as I told you, the weather was so rough, and I was so ill, that I had to stay all the time in my cabin. Your father was as well as ever, indeed he said that he was never better in his life; and as I lay there for several weary days, I could hear his voice, now and then talking with the other passengers, and sometimes he would come in and tell me where we were, and what was the state of the weather, until at length he was able to tell me that the wind was going down, and that probably we should have some bright, calm weather; and I was very glad to think that I should be able to leave my dark cabin, and sit out where the sun was shining, and where the sea was stretching beneath it, until it met the spreading sky far away.

“There are a great many ladies and gentlemen on board; some of them, as we are doing, leaving their dear little children in English homes, and hoping to see them again some day. Some of them have one or two of their youngest children with them, and my only one is far away from me; but I know that God is taking care of my darling child, and from my heart I can say, ‘Thy will be done;’ for though I would have chosen another way, He who chose for me, loves me so tenderly, that I can sit at His feet and submit myself to what He has said.

“And that is what I want you to do, my own dear child; that is what I pray for you when my heart rises up to my Father’s heart and says, ’God bless my child.’ I want you to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is your Lord; for you told me that you trust in Him, and that He is your hope, and so I want you to remember that if you submit yourself to Him, you are owning Him as Lord, whom the God of all the world has made Lord and Christ; and so if you are meek and gentle, when something wrong tempts you to be passionate and proud, if you are kind and helpful to others, when selfishness tempts you to please yourself, you are acknowledging this blessed Master as yours. Is not this a happy thought, my Arthur? and do you not like to give pleasure to the One who loves you so, and who did for you what can never be told?

“And now, good-bye, my child. I need not give you your father’s love, for you have it already, and he joins his prayers for you with mine every day, that our God will bless you and keep you; and He will; for ’He that keepeth thee will not slumber.’

Yourloving mother.”

Great big tears were running down Arthur’s face as he finished the letter; but there was a bright look there too, as he folded it up with an air of great content. “Auntie,” he said, “would there be any use in my writing a letter now? When would she get it?”

“I think it would be a very good plan if you write now; your mother would find the letter awaiting her in Madras. It would not take nearly so long going as they do.”

“Poor mamma,” said Arthur, “I don’t believe the sea is good for her, after all; you see how ill she is.”

“Oh, yes! but she would very soon get over that; and then, depend upon it, the voyage will be very good indeed for her. Perhaps,” said Mrs. Estcourt softly, “that is the way with people in other things and ways.”

“I know what you mean, aunt,” said Arthur suddenly, “and I expect you are right.”

But his aunt heaved a very deep sigh, and said no more.

Mrs. Estcourt was very glad to see her little nephew busily occupied, for that day at least. For several days she had been trying to bring herself to the point of telling Arthur, that she thought he had better attend Mr. Carey’s school; and day after day she had put it off, thinking it would make him unhappy.

Arthur’s letter to his mother could not be called a very well written one; there were several mistakes in the spelling, and here and there, a great blot could tell that a good deal of his heart had gone into it; but whatever it was, it was a loving little letter.

My own dear mother, Aunt says there is time for a letter to get to you; so this is an answer to the one you sent me. I think it was a most beautiful letter; and it was very odd that it made me cry.

“I like Aunt Daisy very much; I like her much better than any other lady in the world except you, of course.

“Myrtle Hill is much grander than the Grange. I do try to be careful about the things, dear Mamma. Oh, mother! I do want to see you so very much sometimes. I could never tell you how much; only I do not want you to think I am unhappy.

“Mamma, I thought of a text the second evening I came here that made me not so unhappy. I did not think so much of how kind and good the Lord Jesus was until I came here. Tell papa I give him my love. I have made a lot of mistakes, and I could not help these blots.

“Good-bye, my own dear mother.

“Ever your loving

Arthur.”

“Now, Aunt Daisy, will you direct this, please?” asked Arthur.

“Oh, but you are such a great boy! I think you had better do it yourself,” said his aunt.

“Shall I? Can I? I never did before; but I daresay I could,” Arthur said, and he was half pleased and half afraid.

“Will that do?” he asked, after a long time had been spent, very carefully trying to write his best on the thin envelope.

“Why, Arthur, you are getting out of practice with your writing, I should think,” said his aunt. And she thought this might lead on to her proposal, about the school.

“No; I don’t write well, I know,” said Arthur; “but I try; and I heard some one once say, that it is not always the most stupid people who write the worst.”

Mrs. Estcourt laughed.

“No, my dear little boy, I did not say it was. But, dear Arthur, seriously, I think you ought to write better, and I am afraid you will be getting bad habits. Don’t you think it would be a good thing for you to begin school?”

“What, the boys’ school that mother told me about? Oh, I was hoping you were going to say something about that! Shall I soon be able to go?”

“Do you want to go?” asked his aunt, astonished.

“Oh, yes! I should think so.”

“Then, my dear boy, you shall begin to-morrow, if you like. I have spoken to Mr. Carey about your coming; so I can send over a note this evening to let him know.”

The remainder of that day Arthur could scarcely think of anything else than the prospect that was before him on the morrow his first entering on school-life. Many were the wonderings and conjectures that went on in his mind, as to what kind of a person the master would be whether he would like the boys, if he would be strict and cross, and if the lessons would be very difficult. But he was quite decided on one point, that he would much rather be going to school every day, and have something to do, than loiter away his time in the house and garden at home.

So the next morning, after Arthur had finished his breakfast, it required little persuasion from his aunt to make him start for Mr. Carey’s school. The house was about an hour’s walk from Myrtle Hill, and it must be confessed that on his way Arthur’s heart began to fail him a little, when he thought of encountering so many strange faces. Just as he approached the house the clock struck nine; and as Arthur entered the large iron gate, he caught sight of some thirty or forty boys rushing across the play-ground, some tumbling over the others, to be in their seats by the time the last stroke of the clock sounded. Arthur thought the best thing he could do would be to follow them; so keeping in sight two or three boys who had loitered after the others, he walked behind them, up a long passage; till he reached a door leading into the school-room. He pushed it open so quietly that he was not heard, and had time to take a good view of the room and its occupants. It was large and spacious. All down one side there was a long desk fixed against the wall, where numbers of boys were sitting, engaged in writing or doing their sums. Then there were several tables, round which the different classes were seated on forms. The walls were hung with maps, and there were two large globes in a corner of the room. All this Arthur took in, in a very short time; and his eyes quickly travelled to the top of the room, where Mr. Carey was standing at his desk. He was rather thin and tall, with a very grave face, which made Arthur feel rather awed; but it was not a cross face.

Presently he looked up, and saw Arthur standing at the door. He had already been prepared for his appearance by a note from Mrs. Estcourt; so he knew at once who he was.

“So you have come, Vivyan,” he said. “Step up here, my boy.”

Arthur advanced to the desk with rather a trembling step, and then had to submit to a number of questions from Mr. Carey to test his knowledge; after which he was put into one of the lower divisions of the school. It was all new to him to-day; so the hours passed quickly away, and Arthur was quite ready again for afternoon school when the time came.

So the days went on one very like the other and things were seeming less strange as Arthur was getting to know the boys better, and to feel more at home with them.

There was one boy in Mr. Carey’s school who seemed different from all the rest. His name was Edgar North, and he was about Arthur’s own age. Some of the boys said he was delicate, and others told Arthur that he was a muff. Whatever it was, he seemed to stay outside the rest. He was very often in disgrace; not for lessons badly done, although it might have been so, but Mr. Carey was very indulgent to him, on account of his weakness, but for rules broken through, for quarrels with the other boys, or disrespect to the teachers. He did not seem happy; there was generally a cloud on his brow, and a weariness and discontent in his manner. Arthur sometimes wondered why. Might it be on account of his delicacy and his cough, that very often he was obliged to stay at home, when the others joined in some country expedition, and that sometimes, when the game was at its height of interest, his quick, short breathing obliged him to leave off and sit down away from the rest? It would be very trying, certainly; Arthur was quite sure of that. He thought a good deal about Edgar North, and he could see that the other boys did not like him; to tell the truth, Arthur did not himself, but he was very sorry for him when he saw him sometimes all alone, when the others were at play. One fine, sunny half-holiday, when school had been closed for the day, and both boarders and day-scholars were deep in the interest of cricket, Arthur had lingered behind the others to put his books together in readiness for going home, and a message from Mr. Carey to his aunt had detained him still longer, so that by the time he reached the cricket-ground the game had begun. One of the older boys called to him to make haste; but Arthur seemed in no haste, and, unlike his usual way at this time, he seemed to be in deep meditation.

“Come, make haste,” said his companion. “Why don’t you come on?”

But still Arthur stood; for something had made him pause. It was Edgar North’s listless figure, half sitting and half lying under a large tree in a field a little distance off, with a very discontented, unhappy face.

“I think I won’t play to-day, I’ve got something else to do; I’m going for a walk.”

“What on earth is that for?” said the older boy; “I thought you were wild for this game to-day.”

He was not so very sorry, however; for Arthur was playing on the opposite side, and he knew by experience, that his vigorous little arms made a great difference sometimes.

“Well, please yourself. What shall I say when the others ask about you?”

“Say I have gone out for a walk.”

“All right,” said the other, and he walked away.

It was not without a very great struggle that Arthur had been able to say this. It was not without more than one earnest prayer, that he had been able to resist the strong temptation. He had been feeling very happy that morning in thinking of his mother’s text: “Whose I am.” And his heart had risen in gladness and thankfulness to the Lord who had bought him; and now there was a golden opportunity before him of doing something to prove his love, and of letting it be true of him “whom I serve.” Edgar North was not happy, and the others had left him all by himself. It must be very bitter to him to see from a distance the wild enjoyment of their game, without being able to take any part in it. Arthur knew how he would feel it himself, and a thought came across his mind that he could make it less sad for Edgar; that he could offer to go for a walk with him; and that this kindness to another would be pleasing to his Master. But then glowing thoughts of the game’s enjoyments came across his mind; his hands and feet were burning to run to the cricket-ground, and take part there, with all the energy of his young spirits, while the picture of a solitary walk with Edgar North came before his mind in very gloomy contrast. Then a voice seemed to speak in his heart: “I love you, my own. I gave myself for you. Follow me.”

The tears came into Arthur’s eyes, and he looked up to where the blue was covered with little white clouds, and the sun’s light was shining; and his heart whispered the words which only One could hear: “Lord Jesus, I will.”

Arthur had to go over some little distance, before he reached Edgar North. He found him sitting on the soft grass, underneath a large tree. He seemed to have been trying to carve his name; for a large E and half of an N were there. But he was tired of that; and a book he had brought with him seemed to have proved equally unsatisfying; for it was lying closed at his feet. He seemed very much surprised at seeing Arthur; but all he said, when he came near was: “Well?” Arthur did not quite know what to say himself, but he asked him after a moment

“Would you like to go for a walk?”

“Not particularly,” said Edgar, not very graciously.

“Why, I thought you liked walking. I heard you saying so last week.”

“I liked it last week; but I couldn’t have it then. People can’t always like the same things. I thought you liked cricket.”

“Oh, so I do! I should think I did just!” said Arthur emphatically; and he could not help thinking of how much more he liked it, than talking to such a disagreeable companion as Edgar was now. It needed another remembrance of the voice in his heart.

“Well, why don’t you play then? the others are playing.”

“Why, I thought you might like to go for a walk.”

Edgar pulled bits of bark off the tree, and threw them on the ground. Then he looked up in Arthur’s face with a half laugh. “Well, you are queer. Perhaps I should like a walk. Where shall we go?” he said, rising suddenly.

“I don’t mind,” Arthur said, “except that dusty old road.”

“The woods then,” said Edgar, “and then we should be less likely to meet that Carey. I hate having to speak to him.”

They walked on for some distance, without saying very much. Arthur found conversation with his companion rather difficult to keep up; most of his questions were answered by “yes” or “no;” and to anything that he said, not requiring an answer, Edgar gave a short laugh.

“There’ll be lots of wild strawberries here soon,” he said; “don’t you like them?”

“Pretty well,” said Edgar listlessly, “when I can’t get others.”

Arthur was beginning to think he had better say nothing, when suddenly the other boy turned to him, and said curiously

“I suppose it was because you are converted that you came?”

“Yes,” Arthur answered.

“How did you know I was?” he asked, after some little time, when they had walked on in silence.

“Why, I don’t know; some of the others said things about you; and, besides, you know you are.”

He would not say that he had noticed Arthur Vivyan’s ways, and that he had seen there, what showed him there was a difference between him and the other boys; still less would he tell him just then, that there was an aching wish in his heart that he could say the same for himself.

“Yes,” Arthur said, “I am, Edgar; and do you know I wish you were.”

“How do you know I am not?”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Arthur; “but I don’t much think you are. Are you?”

“No,” said Edgar, pulling violently at the leaves that grew on the bushes near.

“Shouldn’t you like to be?”

“What is the use of liking?” asked Edgar North. “I shall be if it is God’s will, and I shan’t if it is not.”

“Oh,” said Arthur, “that is a dreadful way to talk. I’m quite sure it is not the right way.”

“Well, I know I have thought a great deal about it, especially when I have been ill, and it always makes me miserable, so I try not to think, and I can’t think what made me begin it now. Do let us talk about something else.”

And suddenly Edgar became very much interested in the subject of the next local examination, in which several of his schoolfellows expected to take part, and was much more lively for the rest of the walk than he had been before.

But he did not seem to avoid Arthur; on the contrary, after that day, he often seemed to try to be near him; and at length he surprised him very much, by asking if he would come out for another walk. Arthur remembered the last one that they had had, and he wondered why! it was not for any pleasure to himself that he agreed, but at any rate this time it was not a cricket-day.

“You did not want to come, did you?” asked Edgar, after some little time, when they had been walking along through the fields, and had now reached a distant one, where the hawthorn hedge was throwing a sheltering shade. “And I expect you would just as soon sit down, as walk on further. Shall we stop here?”

“What a queer fellow you are, Edgar,” said Arthur; “I can’t make you out at all.”

“How am I queer?” asked Edgar.

“Why, you are queer; you are different from all the others. Perhaps it is because you are not strong.”

“No, I know I am not,” Edgar said; “the doctor at my grandmother’s used to say I should not live.”

Arthur looked very earnestly at Edgar’s pale, passionless face.

“Did he really? Are you sorry?”

“Oh, I dare say he did not know! and if he did, I cannot help it; so what is the use of being sorry or glad? Perhaps you may not, just as likely.”

“But,” said Arthur, “if I had heard any one say that about me, I should think more about it than you seem to do.”

“Why, it would be all right for you, because you are converted, you know.”

“But, Edgar,” and Arthur looked very earnestly into his dark, sad eyes, “don’t you wish you were?”

Edgar’s eyes fell before his gaze. He looked away, and seemed to be dreamily watching the glistening sunbeams, darting through the trees; but presently the tears gathered, and he said, with a weary sigh,

“Oh, Arthur, if you only knew how much I wish it! if you only knew what I would give, to know I was converted!”

“Didn’t your mother ever talk to you about it?” asked Arthur, remembering the sweet words that had fallen into his own heart; “or your father?”

“I don’t remember my mother,” said Edgar, “and papa died two years ago; but it was two years before that, when I saw him last.”

“Poor Edgar,” said Arthur softly; for, though he did not say this had been a bitter grief to him, there was something in his tone so hopelessly sad and sorrowful, that the tears came into Arthur’s eyes to hear it.

Edgar saw the tears in Arthur’s eyes, and a little faint smile came in his own. “You are very different from the others, Arthur,” he said. “I haven’t had any one kind to me, since papa went to India.”

“Did your father go to India?” Arthur asked brightly. “So did mine. So we are alike, then.”

“Ah, but yours will come back some day, and your mother too; but mine will never, never come back any more!”

“Tell me about them,” said Arthur.

“Well, you know I told you mamma died ever so long ago, so I don’t remember her at all; but papa used to tell me how nice she was, and he used to show me her picture.”

“What kind of a face had she?” asked Arthur. “I wonder whether she was like my mother.”

“Well, she had very nice eyes, brown ones.”

“Mamma’s eyes were blue, I think,” said Arthur.

“And brown hair; and she looked very kind.”

“Oh, then they are alike in one thing!”

“Papa used to keep it in his pocket,” Edgar continued, “and he used to show it to me often when grandmamma was not in the room. I don’t think she liked it, because I remember once when we were looking at it she came into the room, and papa put it back into his pocket directly.”

“Who used you to live with then?”

“Oh, I have always lived at my grandmother’s, only now she is dead. That’s who I am in mourning for,” said Edgar, pointing to his black dress. “But father used often to come and see us. It was his home too when he had leave, other times he was with his regiment. Then, four years ago, they were ordered to India, and he died of cholera, when he had been there two years; and I never saw him since, four years ago.”

“Poor Edgar,” said Arthur again. He knew enough of loneliness and sorrow himself, to feel what a sad, empty life Edgar North’s must be, without anything in heaven or earth to make him glad.

“Did you love your father very much?” asked Arthur presently.

“Oh, Arthur, I did love him so!” said Edgar very sadly. “You see, I had no one else. I remember it was so very nice, when grandmamma had the letter to say he was coming; and he never let me have much lessons, when he was at home.”

“Was it in the town you lived, or the country?”

“It was near the town. We lived in rather a small house, that had a garden. I suppose I shall never see it again. Well, I don’t much mind.”

“Where shall you spend the holidays?”

“At my uncle’s in London; he has ever so many children, and I dare say they will not want me.”

“I think that is so strange of you, Edgar,” said Arthur. “You seem always to think nobody wants you, and that makes you disagreeable, and then they do not. Now, I don’t see why they should not want you, as well as any one else.”

“Well, I can’t help thinking what is true,” said Edgar.

“Go on telling me about your father,” said Arthur; “I like hearing of him.”

“I don’t think I have much to tell,” said Edgar, “except that it was very happy when he was at home; and, oh, so miserable ever since! And I think he might have stayed.”

“That is what I thought about mamma. But I am quite sure they knew best; indeed I’m certain, Edgar, they would only do it for the best.”

They stopped talking for a little while, and sat still and silent very still it was, and very long it lasted for two boys of their age; but Edgar’s short breathing and weakness had often enforced these times of rest, and Arthur’s grave, earnest face showed him to be deeply thinking. They made a great contrast as they sat together in the woody shade, where the woodbine-scented breeze was fanning softly, and the quivering light fell scatteringly. There was a weary, restless look brooding over Edgar’s dark eyes, and his face was pale and worn-looking. Arthur’s cheeks were ruddy and round, and his thick brown hair clustering on his sunburnt forehead; but with all the energy and liveliness that could be seen on his face, a peaceful, restful look could be noticed there too.

“This walk to-day reminds me of long ago,” said Edgar, after a while. “We used to walk, papa and I. Sometimes we set off directly after breakfast, and took some luncheon with us, and then father used to fish, and it was such fun when he caught some; and then we had luncheon, and sometimes father went to sleep for a little, and sometimes he would tell me stories; and talk, oh, so nicely!”

“What did he talk about?” asked Arthur.

“Well, I can’t tell you exactly, or at any rate I don’t want to tell you.”

“I wish you would,” Arthur said.

Presently Arthur spoke again.

“Yes, it is very nice; that is, it is half nice to think of those times.”

“It must be quite nice for you,” said Edgar, “because, you see, you may think that it will all come again some day, and that you will be with your father and mother again; but I never shall. Oh, Arthur, I do want to see him sometimes! I think if I knew for certain he was alive in India, I could wait any time. It would be so nice to know he was coming back again, and that I was going to live with him.”

And then it struck Arthur, how very much more he had to be thankful for, than he had thought. He looked at Edgar’s sad life, and then he thought of how very much brighter his own was. But he knew enough of dreariness, to be able to enter into Edgar’s sadness.

“Well, Edgar, I’ll tell you what. When my father and mother come home, I will get them to ask you to come to Ashton Grange, and you may be quite sure the people there will want you. I know I shall. I think, although you are such a queer fellow, that I like you very much, and I am so sorry you are so unhappy.”

Something like a happy smile came into Edgar’s face, as he said, “I think I should like that.”

Arthur had not known it, but in Edgar’s heart there had always been a great liking for him. He was so different from himself. Perhaps that was one reason, and Edgar’s was one of those deep, intense natures that cling very closely to their heart’s objects.

By and by they began their homeward way, and as they walked along the lane, Arthur said:

“Tell me what it was your father used to talk about. I believe I know partly.”

“Well, if you know, what is the use of my telling?”

“Because I don’t quite know. And, Edgar, was it not about heaven, and the way to get there?”

“Yes,” said Edgar in a low voice; “but I don’t think grandmamma agreed with him. Any way, I know that when she talked, it made me miserable.”

“You seem to have had a great many troubles, Edgar,” said Arthur, “even more than I have.”

“Oh, Arthur,” said Edgar, “I don’t think any one knows how unhappy I have been! Look here,” and Edgar spoke in a lower voice; “I don’t mind telling you, because you are different from the rest; but, do you know, I have always been in a fright about something or other. Sometimes, in the winter nights, all by myself at home, I have had such horrid thoughts, and I have fancied all sorts of things; and even in the summer evenings, when the sky had that red look, it always made me think about the moon being turned into blood, and about judgment and punishment; and I used to think about the great white throne, and myself standing before it, and God judging me, and that papa and mamma would be on one side, and I should be on the other.”

“Well, I have had thoughts like that, I think; but then I always thought of the Lord Jesus Christ; and how could I be afraid then?”

“But He will judge people, won’t He?”

“Oh, Edgar, He is our Saviour!” said Arthur earnestly. “It is only when people will not have Him for their Saviour that He is their Judge. Why, I am not afraid of the Lord Jesus. How could I be?”

“Ah,” said Edgar sadly, “that is because you are converted, and I am not! I have tried so hard. Oh, so many times, after I have heard sermons, I have felt so frightened, and I have made up my mind I would be a Christian; and then in bed I have cried so, and I have thought, that surely this time I must really go on right, and the next day, it has all been different again, and I did not care a bit about it!”

“But, Edgar, the Lord Jesus wants you to come to Him, a great deal more than you want it. I know He does, because he says, ’Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.’”

“But what is coming?” said Edgar in a dreary voice.

“Well, I’ll tell you the way, my mother once explained it to me. Don’t you know, if the Lord Jesus were here on the earth, you would go to the place where He was, and say, ‘I am here, Lord Jesus; I come;’ and so now you can say that while you are sitting here, because He is here, and everywhere; so you need not move. And, Edgar, don’t you think He knows that you say it? I am certain He does, because He has been wanting you to answer, ever since He called.”

“But,” said Edgar, “you make it out, as if it was not to try a bit.”

“Well, and that is it,” said Arthur, with a bright, happy smile. “That is just what mother says. I can tell you another thing she said. You remember about the Lord Jesus feeding the people in the wilderness?”

“Yes, with the loaves and the fishes.”

“Yes; that was it. Well, all He wanted them to do, was to rest on the grass, and be fed; and that was just the thing, that pleased Him best. You see they had not to try and do anything hard had they? And mother said, that this is what the Lord Jesus wants us to do to stop trying, and let Him do what He likes with us; and, you know, the Lord Jesus could not do anything unkind, could He?”

“You don’t seem one bit afraid of Him, Arthur.”

“Why, no. How could I be afraid?” asked Arthur, with such a happy smile. “Don’t you know

“’How our hearts delight to hear Him
Bid us dwell in safety near Him!
Why should we distrust or fear Him?
Oh, how He loves!’”

They neither of them spoke for several minutes. It was getting late, and the sun was falling in slanting golden rays on the green slopes; the shadows were deepening in the woods, and other sights and sounds told, that evening was coming on; so the two boys rose from their grassy seat.

“I wish, oh, how I wish,” said Edgar, after a long pause, “that I could feel the same as you do, Arthur!”

“Well, but you must not be wanting to feel first; you have to believe what the Lord Jesus says, and He says, ’Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out;’ so if you would only come, you must be safe, for He cannot break His word. And I will tell you what I do, Edgar, whenever I think of how bad I have been, and when I feel frightened. I just say, ‘Jesus died,’ and God hears me, and Satan hears me too; and of course when I remember why Jesus died, I feel glad. And then, there is a text I like to remember a very short one it is where the Lord Jesus is called ’the Saviour of the world;’ and, you know, if He is the Saviour of the world, He must be my Saviour, and yours too.”

They had reached the school-gates now; the shadows were deep and long, and Arthur’s two-mile walk lay before him. But his aunt had long since found, that she could trust him alone; so even when the moon had begun to tell, that the day had gone; and the stars were speaking sparkling joy above, she was not uneasy about him.

“Well, good-bye,” said Arthur.

“Good-bye,” Edgar said; but he did not go, and he stood, looking wistfully at Arthur. Presently he spoke

“Arthur, I wish ”

“Well, what?”

“I wish you would be my friend.”

“Why, so I am,” said Arthur.

“Yes; but I mean, I have not any brother, and you have not either. I wish you would be the same to me as if we were. Will you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, with a half smile, for he felt a little shy; but he wanted to say something kind, so he said, “Very well then, we can; and when my father and mother come home from India, you can come to us, you know.”

And then Arthur turned away, and began his walk to Myrtle Hill at a running pace. But he was thinking all the way very much of his talk with Edgar North, so that when he reached his aunt’s house, the earnest look was on his face still. The darkness had not yet fallen, but the evening shades were gathering. Mrs. Estcourt was in the garden, looking out for her little nephew. She was very fond of Arthur; of course there were times when things did not run altogether smoothly between them, because, although he was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and really tried to please Him, he had a strong will and a hot temper. But if Mrs. Estcourt saw his faults, she saw his struggles too; and she noticed when he gave up, what was a great matter to a boy, such as he was; and she knew that this was not natural. She knew that it was God’s love that made Arthur glad; and often in her heart’s secret depths she would wish to be a child like him once more, that she might believe as simply; for thoughts and questions made her very unhappy at times, and the reasonings of her natural mind prevented her enjoying the promises that God gives. But was she not making a mistake? Could she not become a little child, as God has told us all to do? Could she not cease to think, and begin to believe, and take the portion of joy and life from the One, who has said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”?

Arthur went to look at one particular corner of the grounds, which his aunt had given him for his very own; it was hidden by a bend in the trees, and he had expended a great deal of care and skill on this garden-plot. First of all Arthur had intended, that his estate should have a river flowing through it; but when he had dug a deep trench, and filled it, he was much disappointed to find that the water sunk into the earth; and even when he had lined it with stones and oyster-shells, there was only a very faint trickling stream, and not the brimming river, that he had fancied to himself; so then, in disgust, Arthur levelled the banks of his river, and determined to plan his garden anew. At present it was really a pretty one, though perhaps a little too bright, with hollyhocks and geraniums. Two very large roses stood at the entrance, and the scarlet geraniums were blooming there. There was a gravel walk through the middle, that led up to a grotto, and the ferns that were growing there were well watered. Arthur would have help from no one, in the care of his garden; and considering this, its neatness did him great credit.

Mrs. Estcourt thought so too, as they stood together inside the enclosure, which was all his own.

“Why, Arthur, I think you had better turn gardener, when you choose a profession,” she said.

“A gardener, aunt! Well, I shouldn’t mind. But I am not quite sure I shall not be something else.”

“What would that be?” asked his aunt.

“Well, I think I might be a missionary.”

Then he seemed to be thinking; and after some little time, he said, “I wish he would not talk like that, I wish I could make him see.”

“Who, dear?”

“Edgar North, auntie. I always thought he was very cross and disagreeable, but it is not that, at all. It is because he is so unhappy. I do wish I had thought of one other thing to say to him.”

“What was it, Arthur?” asked his aunt.

“Why, you know, he is so frightened. Fancy,” and Arthur’s voice was soft and low, “he is afraid of the Lord Jesus Christ. That must be, because he does not know Him, must it not, auntie? And I wish I had said to him, ’If the Lord Jesus were to come walking towards us now, and sit down here, would you be afraid to see Him?’”

“And would not you, dear Arthur?” asked his aunt.

“Why, no, Aunt Daisy! How could I? The little children that He took up in His arms were not. I am sure I should not be afraid.”

Mrs. Estcourt did not say anything, but she was thinking of what Arthur had said. It seemed to her then, that it must be very sweet to be one of the little children, that the Lord Jesus had blessed; for she often felt very lonely and weary. Some people those who only care for the things that gold can bring might say she had everything that she wanted; but her heart craved a great deal more than this, and when her husband went away from her sight for ever, she had felt as if he had taken her heart with him. There was One, who had said to her long before, “Give me thine heart;” but she had not listened to His voice, and she had not thought about His love; greater than which, there is none. She was trusting in Him for salvation, but she was not looking to Him, to feed her heart with His love. She was following Him afar off, too far to be able to say, “I sat down under His shadow with great delight; and His fruit was sweet to my taste.”