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not pass without the members being reminded of their engagement to sustain, by their contributions, the Society (in its various workings) of which they formed part. Mr. Lancaster was engaged in a business that often took him from home, and though he would make the utmost efforts to be back to meet his Class, he was at times unable to do so. Then he would comfort himself by saying, "My dear wife will be there, she will see to it.” So she surely would; for the honour of this leader, and his wife, it must be said the Class was never known to be left without a leader once since he had had charge of it.
During the girlhood and early married life of Mrs. Lancaster, she had been a very successful Sunday-school teacher, and still lived in the hearts and memories of her scholars. The duties of home, and an increasing family, now prevented her giving the time she knew was required to prepare lessons for her class; she determined to give it into the hands of some one who could devote to it the time and attention it required. She strongly condemned the practice of reading a story, however good, instead of a well-digested lesson on the Holy Scripture, holding that no person ought to teach unless they were prepared to search deep for Bible truths, and to study, compare, and explain the sacred pages. Though this pleasing duty had to be given into the hands of another, Mrs. Lancaster was a living epistle, known and read of all.
Having introduced the heads of the house to my readers, let me bring forward the sons and daughters of this excellent pair.
Helen is a tall, graceful girl of seventeen, with dark blue eyes, shaded by silken lashes of the same brown colour as her straight eyebrows; a profusion of wavy brown hair rippled away from the fair brow, and was formed into the Grecian coil at the back of the well-set
head. Helen's face was one of the charming studies that we love to watch ; ever changing ; now lit up with mirth, now full of earnest thought; now melting in sympathy. She possessed a clear understanding, and even temper. These, she used to say, were the result of her early training and the good example set before her at home.
Charlie is a strong, handsome lad of sixteen; his father's likeness stamped on face and form ; true Saxon, light hair and eyes; strong straight limbs, active as health and vigour could make them,—due in a great measure to the athletics his father wished his boys to engage in when recreation was required, and in which he often joined his
Charles Lancaster was one of the many Methodist lads of this and other countries, who early give themselves to God, and begin whilst very young to make efforts which, in the years to come, bear rich, ripe fruit. It was his habit to write down any new thought that came to his mind, and the opinions of older and wiser heads than his own; small essays and short sermons he often wrote, to
see if there was the make of a preacher in him.” To be sure some of them were rather queer sometimes,-crude, terribly illogical, or filled with the wildest flights of fancy. But when these “trial sermons were submitted to his father, he never laughed at his son-never told him he was silly, or stupid, but would quietly point out defects, or errors, giving praise where he could, and encourage him to remodel and write them again.
Very dear were these papers to his mother. When Charlie was older, and she had gone to her reward, some of them were found tied up in her desk. The top one had the text outside ;-it was "Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” How dear they were to her let the packet tell ; for there was written on it, in her own hand, “Precious scraps written by my darling Charlie when between ten and fifteen years of age.” Charlie did not know of it till she was dead, but he knew that he was a happier lad for his father's praise and his mother's benediction. He was receiving his education at the grammar-school of the town; and making his way there.
Mabel comes next. She is fourteen years of age. Unlike her brothers and sisters, she has a dark complexion ; eyes and hair like an Italian-thick rich hair, that beautiful blue-black, not often seen, falling in curls of their own shaping, graceful hanging ringlets, totally unlike the corkscrew imitation made by twisting it up in paper. No attempt was ever made to alter this style of hair-dressing, Mrs. Lancaster saying, “Mabel's curls, like Mabel's temper, have ways of their own." Miss Mabel was just a little rough, and preferred a romp in the back garden and a race with the dog, -which dog was Mabel's special property, having been brought for her when a puppy by a favourite aunt. It was a very large black Newfoundland : his wavy hair was smooth, and longer than usually seen on dogs of his kind. He was the terror of unruly children and midnight marauders, for his deep loud bay would rouse the house in a very short time. But Bob was gentle as a lamb with those he knew: notably so with his young mistress—Mabel. This dog often waited hours for Mabel to come to the garden, and would, in the intervals, play with May's kitten ;-now pushing it away with his big nose, and if he chanced to send it further than he intended, with one huge paw he would tenderly bring it back, and allow it to scamper over his broad back and rough head, till he heard Mabel's step; then poor kitty would be hurried anywhere, and Bob's bay fill the garden with its sound. This was just what
the girl liked. She said it was so nice to be out in the fresh air: and what was the use of bothering so much with lessons and things ? Mabel was never at the top of her class, never took a prize, never seemed likely to do so. She could climb a tree, or slide, skate, row, or even amongst her own brothers try at cricket, though she never owned to it. But up to this time she was not much given to study. “What's the good ? it's of no use;" and " It is such a bother," and so on-which was Mabel's usual method of winding up an argument. But Mabel had a generous and noble disposition, and strong hopes were entertained that she would make a useful and good woman.
This pretty boy with the thick masses of light hair is Horace. This same hair will only part in the front: one lock will perpetually fall over his forehead; however often brushed back, it is down again. He has eyes of the family blue: his face is thoughtful and grave: his frame not very strong: he does not run and jump like other boys, or even like sister Mabel, who often takes him up in her strong arms, and runs away with him, shouting “Come away, you poor little creature." Horace's love for his mother was almost worship. All his joys and all his troubles were taken to mamma. Nothing gave him so much happiness as his mother's smile and approval. He would sit with her, asking questions he believed no one could answer but mamma. Peter Parley's Stories were his special favourites. He would read, and pause, and wonder : then communicate the childish ideas to his mother, who with a mother's patience would explain and converse with her little boy. He loved his father dearly, his brothers and sisters too; but his love for his mother was beyond compare.
“ You should run out, Horace dear, and play with
the others. You will never be a man if you sit in the house all day like this. And then, my dear, how will you do when you grow up, and have to leave home for good ?”
The boy sprang up, and, throwing his arms about her, cried
“Leave home? mamma, leave you ? Oh! I could not. I might get into bad company, and learn bad ways: then I should lose you; for if I went wrong, I should never look in
face again.” “You are not very well, Horace,” she said. “Let us go out a bit-you and I alone."
Whilst in the garden the judicious mother spoke to her boy of the wonderful power that made and upheld all things.
“The same God who made you, my dear,” she said, looking in his eyes and holding both his hands, keep you, and will if you wish to be kept. Never be afraid with such a Being as God for your Father and Guide. He can keep you from harm when you go, Horace, as, if it please Him, you must, just the same as now,
have your two hands in your mother's. I think you will not be afraid now, Horace.”
This bright handsome little fellow in knickerbockers is Willie, eight years of age-sharp, active, learning wonderfully, taking up Euclid and algebra like play. Flinging his strap of books down, he shouts : “Is tea ready? for I have such a lot to do: and such a big piece of repetition-all new."
Then little May, the youngest, and the “pet” of the household : baptised Mary, but called by many names-Puss, Pet, Dot, Kitten, May. To this last she always answered, so she became May to them all.