’Well, I suppose it does, but I should think it might mean any body that is not a Christian, for such people, you know, are rejecting a heavenly crown for worldly things, which are in reality worth about as much as the trash the old man is raking together in the picture.’ Effie stared at her brother in complete astonishment, for she could not but wonder how so small a head could contain such a wondrous amount of knowledge. Harry endured a stare for a moment with considerable dignity, but he was naturally a modest lad, and finally added, ’That is pretty nearly the substance of what Frank Ingham told me about it—I can’t remember the words quite.’
After dinner was over, and Harry and Effie had distributed the remnants of it among several poor families that lived on an adjoining street, they set out on their walk. The day was extremely cold, but clear and still, and altogether as beautiful as any day in the whole year. Effie in cloak, hood, and muff, seemed the very picture of comfort as she walked along beside her brother in his equally warm attire, towards Mr T.’s shop.
‘Are you cold? What makes you shiver so?’ inquired Harry. Effie did not answer, but she drew her hand from her muff and pointed with her gloved finger to a little girl who stood a few yards from her, stamping her feet, and clapping her red bare hands, and then curling them under her arms as if to gain a little warmth from thence. ‘Poor thing!’ said Harry, ’I should think she would freeze, with nothing but that old rag of a handkerchief about her shoulders, and that torn muslin bonnet. I don’t wonder you shivered, Effie, it makes me cold to look at her.’
‘Let us see if she wants anything,’ said Effie.
By this time the attention of the little girl was attracted by the children’s conversation and glances, and she came running towards them, crying at every step, ‘Give me a sixpence, please?’
‘We have no money, not even a penny,’ said Harry, ‘are you very hungry?’ The girl began to tell how long it was since she had had anything to eat, but she talked so hurriedly, and used so many queer words, that the two children found it very difficult to understand her.
‘She is in want, no doubt,’ whispered Harry to his sister, ’but father would say, it was best to give her food and clothing, not money.’
‘I wish I had a sixpence, though,’ said Effie.
The wealthy and the gay, the poor and the apparently miserable, went pouring by in crowds, and some did not hear the beggar-child’s plea, others that heard did not heed it, while many paused from idle curiosity to gaze at her, and a few flung her a penny, and passed on. Harry and Effie too went on, frequently looking back and forming little plans for the good of the child, until their attention was attracted by other objects of compassion or admiration. Sleighs were continually dashing past them, drawn by beautiful horses, and filled with the forms of the young, the