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CHAPTER I.

Introductory.

The family is like a book,

The children are the leaves,
The parents are the covers that

Protective beauty gives.
All the pages of the book

Are blank, and smooth, and fair ;
But time soon writeth memories,

And painteth pictures there.

Love is the little golden clasp,

That bindeth up the trust;
O break it not, lest all the leaves

Shall scatter and be lost.

N the outskirts of the ancient town of Ribcaster,

residence, with large bay windows, commanding a good prospect of the distant sea, and the hills beyond. The verandah was covered with honeysuckle and roses, and bright creepers ran completely up its supporting pillars, over its shelving roof, and peeped in at the bedroom windows. Under its friendly cover were placed two large wire cages; in one ran a pair of tame squirrels, who came to their pet names of Tony and Tiny; in the other was a pair of doves, whose soft cooings were heard, sweet and low, through the open windows of the rooms. Ferns, rare and graceful, hung from their mossy beds in baskets of

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wire suspended from the running crossbeams of the roof; here also were rustic garden chairs and seats, as also a rustic table, with some school-books laid, as if waiting for their owners to sit to their work in the cool shade. A smooth croquet-ground was in front, plants and shrubs ran round the well-kept garden. The house and gardens being walled in, ASHFIELDS was a charming retreat. In this beautiful place lived Mr. Lancaster, his amiable wife, and six children, whom I beg to introduce to my readers.

Mr. Lancaster was a man of large benevolence, never happier than when engaged in God's work ; he being a useful and acceptable Class-leader amongst the Wesleyan Methodists. He had been elected to this important office in God's Church some years before—had proved himself to be a man of sterling worth, clear-headed, shrewd, and of unbounded sympathies with the members of his large Class; he was the happy means, as should be, and is, the truly sent leader, of binding together, and building up that portion of the Society committed to his charge.

Great was the love shown by these members to their leader. He knew he had their prayers in addition to their love ; for the grace of God, and the light of the Holy Spirit, were felt at all times in the Class-room, and all rejoiced in the privilege of being members of the church, under the leadership of a man so gifted. Mr. Lancaster was blessed with a strong frame, and frequently he gave, when the business of the day was over, much time to his class in "visiting,”—a thing greatly to be desired, always appreciated, and productive of much good ; Mrs. Lancaster, as a true help-meet, giving him such help as a leader's wife can give, especially amongst the female portion of the Class, visiting the sick, the distressed, or the old, as well as taking care that “ticket-time" did

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