On a table was an array of slippers, which Mary and her mother had wrought for father and the boys. There was merry capering when they were transferred to the feet of their owners. I shall not tell you whether Mr. Dudley so far forgot his dignity as to partake of the excitement, but I am quite sure he was much gratified by the present Mary had made for him with her own hands, and that he kissed his thanks with great fondness.
Most valuable of all to the little folks, and most gladly welcomed, were the books. How eagerly they looked them over.
There was a present to Mrs. Dudley from her children, which I must not forget to tell you about. It was a plain gold pin, in which, neatly plaited, were six bunches of hair. One of them was dark, streaked with gray—the others were auburn, flaxen, and brown. She knew whence the treasures came to unite in that beautiful mosaic, and the tears were ready to start from her eyes as she received that precious token of family love.
When I was a child, I heard little about Christmas. It came and went without my knowledge. But I enjoy the return of it very much now, and sympathize with children in the interest with which they regard it. I like to think they are treasuring up such cheerful memories to make their early home attractive to their age.
The little Dudley’s will always like to look back to this pleasant evening, and wherever they are, their hearts will warm more fondly on account of it to their father’s cottage, nestled in the valley, and they will be in less danger of forgetting the lessons of love and kindness they have learned there.
In one of the oldest towns of New-England there lived, many years ago, a little girl, whom I shall call Helen Earle. Her father had been engaged in the East Indian trade, and had accumulated great wealth. Her mother was a sweet, gentle woman, who most tenderly loved her children, and endeavoured to correct their faults, and develop their excellencies. In Helen’s home there was every comfort and every luxury that heart could desire, but she was not always happy. She had one fault, which often made herself and her friends very unhappy. It was the indulgence of a violent temper. She would allow herself to become exceedingly angry, and her usually beautiful face was then disfigured by passion. Her mother was greatly grieved and distressed by these outbreaks of ill temper, and did all in her power to restrain them. She talked with her daughter earnestly in regard to the sin of such a temper. Helen would weep bitter tears, and express much regret for the past, but she could not quite make up her mind to determine to overcome temptation. The task seemed too difficult, and she shrunk from the attempt.
Mrs. Earle shed many tears in secret over this sad failing in her beloved child, and most fervently pleaded for help from Him who had given her the care of this immortal spirit to educate for eternity. She knew that God alone could change Helen’s heart, and give her power to overcome sin, even though assaulted by the fiercest temptation.