Toils and trials.
When William arose the next morning, he met his parents with as smiling a face as if his father had presented him with a case of pencils, instead of discouraging his attempts at drawing. Nothing was said on the subject, and the weeks rolled on quietly and peacefully as before, until William passed his ninth birthday, and the Christmas-time drew near. This is a festive time with most; and it seems right that it should be so, for can man ever be sufficiently thankful for the great gift of a Saviour, whose birth was heralded by the songs of angels on that day? All nations observe their peculiar ceremonies, but perhaps none are more faithfully observant of them than the Germans in the little community of M——, most of whose inhabitants at the time of which we write were descendants of the original Dutch settlers. Many ceremonies and customs, relics of a ruder age, and now nearly forgotten, were still practised. The Raymonds, although pious, and more intelligent than most of their neighbours, kept up many of the usages of Fatherland on the Christmas occasion, perhaps more as wafting them back in remembrance of early enjoyment in the home circle, than from any present love of the festivity common at this period.
The joyful season drew nigh merrily, and in the watchmaker’s family, as in all others—for the very poorest look forward hopingly to it—there was nothing but bright anticipations, which were for the present realized. The Christmas cake was prepared in the most approved old fashion; the dark-hued pine was duly ornamented, and occupied a conspicuous place in the family room, and little William was made most happy in the receipt of many gifts, although toy paints and pencils were not among the number.
But what says the Scripture? “Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth;” and the holy man who admonishes to “rejoice with trembling,” well knew the slender foundation on which all earthly bliss is based.