“Aha! I see! Well, did Leslie, as you call him, ever try to get a drink here, since the landlord promised never to let him have another drop?”
“Twice to my knowledge.”
“And he refused him?”
“Yes. If you remember, he said, in his anger, ’May I be cursed, if I sell him another drop.’”
“I remember it very well.”
“That saved poor Leslie. Jenks is superstitious in some things. He wanted to get his custom again,—for it was well worth having,—and he was actually handing him the bottle one day, when I saw it, and reminded him of his self-imprecation. He hesitated, looked frightened, withdrew the bottle from the counter, and then, with curses, drove Leslie from his bar-room, threatening, at the same time, to horsewhip him if ever he set a foot over his threshold again.”
“Poor drunkards!” mused the stranger, as he rode past the neat cottage of the reformed man a couple of hours afterwards. “As the case now stands, you are only saved as by fire. All law, all protection, is on the side of those who are engaged in enticing you into sin, and destroying you, body and soul. In their evil work, they have free course. But for you, unhappy wretches, after they have robbed you of worldly goods, and even manhood itself, are provided prisons and pauper homes! And for your children,”—a dark shadow swept over the stranger’s face, and a shudder went through his frame. “Can it be, a Christian country in which I live, and such things darken the very sun at noonday!” he added as he sprung his horse into a gallop and rode swiftly onward.
Alice and the pigeon.
One evening in winter as Alice, a dear little girl whom everybody loved, pushed aside the curtains of her bedroom window, she saw the moon half hidden by great banks of clouds, and only a few stars peeping out here and there. Below, the earth lay dark, and cold. The trees looked like great shadows.
There was at change in her sweet face as she let fall the curtain and turned from the window.
“Poor birds!” she said.
“They are all safe,” answered her mother, smiling. “God has provided for every bird a place of rest and shelter, and each one knows where it is and how to find it. Not many stay here in the winter time, but fly away to the sunny south, where the air is warm and the trees green and fruitful.”
“God is very good,” said the innocent child. Then she knelt with folded hands, and prayed that her heavenly further would bless everybody, and let his angels take care of her while she slept. Her mother’s kiss was still warm upon her lips as she passed into the world of pleasant dreams.
In the morning, when Alice again pushed back the curtains from her window, what a sight of wonder and beauty met her eyes! Snow had fallen, and everything wore a garment of dazzling whiteness. In the clear blue sky, away in the cast, the sun was rising; and as his beams fell upon the fields, and trees, and houses, every object glittered as if covered all over with diamonds.