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not my life have been richer, at least, if not happier, if I hal admitted into it that prospect opened to me by Frederick Thorne? Had I really done well in refusing so decisively his love—his friendship—the opportunity for doing him good? I declare to you, Francesca, that, as I went moodily down the hill that day, I could not tell!

Of one thing only was I tolerably certain-that I thor oughly despised myself. After taking so high a tone with Rick, it was humiliating to have descended into the depths of meanness with his mother. Yet, as human beings are prone to do, I excused myself by blaming her. There are some natures (I argued) that inevitably soil and degrade whatever comes in contact with them. There are certain moral atmospheres, through which we are quick to detect evil and slow to recognize good, or they hopelessly confuse and confound the two. It must be a mind of steady poise or of very little susceptibility to influence, that can maintain such intercourse without harm. I felt that I detested Mrs. Thorne, and all the more because some perverse part of my nature had shown itself so unexpectedly amenable to her influence.

In such a mood, I reached the gate of the Divine homestead. As usual, Uncle True was at the woodpile, chopping wood. Mrs. Prescott was also there, picking up chips in her apron. Both watched me as I came up the road, and Uncle True laid down his axe.

"Good mornin', Miss Frost. Had a good time?" "I don't know-yes-I believe so."

"Sorry you ain't sure on't," returned he, wiping his brow. "Howsomever, it's a door that's got more'n one hinge to swing on,—a good un, a bad un, and another between 'em that's neither one nor t'other, but passable. And that's the hinge that things swing on the most,thank the Lord!"

"I don't see what there is to thank the Lord for in that," said Mrs. Prescott, shortly.

"Wall," replied Uncle True, " Agur, the son of Jakeh, did. He said, 'Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches'; and I kinder think he meant suthin' more'n the sort of poverty and riches you carry in your pocket. I reckon most on us might pray, 'Lord, give me neither a good time nor a bad 'un, but jest kinder passable,' with good reason. For, you see, in a good time we're apt to forget the Lord that sent it; and though a bad 'un may drive us to think of Him a leetle more, still-wall, we don't any of us exactly hanker arter trouble, you know!"

"Children don't cry after picry, as a general thing," responded Mrs. Prescott, drily. Then she turned to me. "Well, what do you think of Mrs. Thorne?" she asked, abruptly.

"Mrs. Prescott, I don't think of her-at least, not now."

"Umph!" said Mrs. Prescott, "any one who can't translate that into, Least said is soonest mended,' had better go and sell his head for a soap dish! And, putting a final chip into her apron, she marched into the house.

Uncle True gave no heed to this little episode, but went on with his own train of thought, not stopping to supply the missing links. "There's that bird, yonder, in the maple; there's no doubt about his havin' a good time, is there now? Jest hear him sing!"

There was no question about it, whatever. His song was the distilled essence of a spirit jubilant within.

"As long as he gits any sort o' stuff to peck at, and ain't actooally gobbled up and carried off and made a meal on, he seems to think his time's good 'nough. But we human critturs is more onreasonable. Some on us want fine clothes, and some on us want fine victuals, and some on us want larnin', and most on us want our own way. Now, that bird is satisfied with the Lord's way. He builds his nest of what comes nighest to hand, and

ain't partic'ler what sort o' feathers he lines it with. He don't growl, nor grumble, nor fret, nor swear, if he has to take up with a caterpillar instead of a ground worm for breakfast,-nary one on 'em sticks in his crop to spile his song. He'd abeout as soon have rye as wheat for dinner; and he's willin' to sing the same hymns his forefathers did, way back to Noah's ark, and to larn 'em to his children. I wish more of us had his sense, or his religion, or his instinct,-if that's what you'd ruther call it. I think t'would pass for either on 'em pooty well."

And Uncle True set up a stick on end, and sent the halves flying in different directions with one swing of his axe, by way of climax to his speech.

"Still," said I, after a moment, "a bird's life is not quite like a human life. The latter has so many more outs and ins, responsibilities and duties, and takes so many unexpected shapes, and has to be looked at from so many different points of view."

"Um!" said Uncle True.

"You see that little cloud

up yonder. What does it look like to you, now ? " "A little like a dipper."

"I was thinkin' t'was suthin' like a shovel. Wall, now the wind has jammed in the handle, and puffed out the body, what is't like?"

"Like a shield."

"I was agoin' to say the ace of spades. But it don't matter what shape it takes, nor what it looks like to you nor me, so long as it keeps-like its Lord-about the Father's business. Which I take to be-for a cloud-to gather up all the damp it finds floatin' around loose, and to go where it's sent,-never doubtin' that it's the Lord that blows it, and not a senseless wind (for the wind's the breath of His mouth!); and then, to drop down wherever he wants it to, and refresh the earth."

I went thoughtfully into the house. I suspect it was greatly due to Uncle True that I found Bona there-in my closet, "the door being shut."

Not that Mala was absent.

The twain discoursed with

me, at some length; but I have given so faithful a report of the circumstances which formed the text of their discourse, that its tenor is easily divined. And I confess that I am in haste to have done with the subject. Turn it which way I will, I find no comfort in it: it leaves me with a heavy weight of self-dissatisfaction, and (as a natural consequence) of dissatisfaction with everybody else.




HAVE been thinking, Francesca, how oddly Life often leads us to the very point we meant to shun. He who enters upon any path, aiming at whatever goal, foresees little of the way by which it will lead him. I did not imagine that la grande passion would get into this sober chronicle; to say truth, I had a set purpose of

keeping it out. Yet there it is, in spite of me. And its right to its place is all the more indefeasible, doubtless, for the reason that I cannot now discover (and never may, this side of the veil) what is its special business there. In real life, events do not arrange themselves with the unity, the continuity, the steadily unfolding plot, of the critic's pet novel. Half the scenes and characters with which our days are filled might be spared, we are wont to think, without affecting the result. Possibly they might, if God's purpose in them were the bringing about of certain marked events, rather than the training of immortal spirits. The good or evil work they do, in tempting, restraining, developing, and disciplining us, is none the less real that it often passes for a void in our experience.

And yet, it would seem that we ought to recognize God's hand even more certainly in these scattered, inconsequential events-starting up in our path unexpected and undesired -than in those which are the more legitimate offspring of

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