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20

AFTER MANY DAYS.

place, all which questions Will answered promptly enough; but his mind was too busily occupied with Jack to originate any conversation for himself, which fact did not escape his watchful mother's notice.

If Will had frankly told his mother all that had happened that morning, she would probably have been far less anxious and fidgetty than she was now over his silent, preoccupied manner; but as it was, she could think of nothing else all the afternoon, and blamed herself for not telling him to try and get home for tea, instead of having it at Mr. Mursell's, as he often did on market days.

But Will was thinking at the same time that it was a fortunate circum. stance he was not going home to tea, for out of the bountiful allowance always sent into the shop for him, he could easily spare half for Jack; but he could scarcely have brought several slices of bread and butter from home without arousing his mother's suspicions at once. Now, however, it would be easy enough to give Jack another meal before he started on his journey. But when he went to the corner with the slices of bread and butter, carefully rolled up in his white shop apron, no Jack could be seen. Will walked on towards the lane, on and on, until he reached the grassy nook where he first saw him, and in the dusk he descried a dark heap, which on a closer inspection proved to be Jack, just as he had left him.

Halloo, old fellow! I thought you were coming to meet me,” said Will, giving him a shake. “Come, rouse up now," he added.

“Oh, Will, I can't. I've tried again and again, but it's all no good. I must just lie here and die.”

“Oh, die be bothered ! that's all nonsense, you know," said Will; but he scratched his head ruefully as he said it, for he did not know what was to become of Jack if he should be really ill.

“I tried to take the dipper back, Will,” moaned the boy, “but I couldn't stand. I just had to lie down again."

"You're hungry again, I reckon,” said Will, suddenly remembering the bread and butter he carried under his arm. He handed it to Jack, who took it eagerly, but he could only eat a few morsels now-his ravenous appetite of the morning had quite disappeared.

“Oh, you must eat it,” said his friend. “Try again, while I take the dipper back; and he picked up the tin mug lying on the grass, and ran down the lane, wondering what he should do-what he ought to do-for it was evident enough Jack could not resume his journey at once. It might be days before he was fit to travel, and how was he to be provided for during all this time?

The first thing to be considered was a shelter for the night. How he wished he could go to his mother with the difficulty; but Mrs. Fletcher had said such hard things of boys in general, and Jack in particular, that he was anxious to keep all knowledge of his return from her, and had to cast about in his own mind as to how Jack should be provided with a shelter. Suddenly he remembered that there was a little open shed, used by the shepherd during lambing season, close to the nook where Jack was lying; and it was not long before he had made his way through a gap in the hedge, and found the shed open, and with a good supply of loose straw in it.

Jack was rather unwilling to move when roused again, but Will insisted, and at last got him to the shed, and covered him up well with the straw; and putting the bread and butter within his reach left him for the night, promising to run round and see him the first thing in the morning. Then he raced off home as fast as he could go, and was very thankful to find that his mother was out, and had left the key of the door at a neighbour's, with a message that he was not to sit up, if she was not home by ten o'clock, for she had been sent for to go to a lady who was ill, and might have to stay all night.

It lifted a burden of care and anxiety from Will to hear this. He would be up by daylight the next morning, and take Jack some breakfast before he went to the shop. A mug of warm coffee and some bread and butter, after a good night's rest, would enable him to continue his journey, and his mother need not be made anxious by the knowledge that he had ever returned to their town. AFTER MANY DAYS.

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But alas ! when he went to Jack the next morning, he found him worse than he had been the night before. He drank the coffee, and ate a few morsels of the bread and butter Will had brought, but he complained of pains in all his limbs, and Will was bitterly disappointed to find that he could not even lift himself off the straw.

“What shall we do, Jack ?” he said, scratching his head in perplexity ; "mother aint at home, and if she was I dunno that it 'ud be much good.”

Oh, don't tell your mother nor anybody that I'm here,” implored Jack. “I shall soon be all right

when I've had a good rest. Fifty miles is a long stretch when you aint had much to eat.”

“Yes, it is," assented Will, glad to seize this hopeful view of the case; and he went to his work, thinking that another day's rest would set Jack up, and enable him to push on his way.

But that day passed, and the next, and Jack still lay ill in the shepherd's hut.

Poor Will never knew such anxiety and care in all his life as he had now, with the burden of Jack's illness resting upon him; but help came to him at last from a most unexpected quarter.

On Sunday the minister preached from the subject of Christ sending out His disciples to preach and teach; and the practical lesson Will learned from the sermon, and which he enlarged upon at great length to his mother as they walked home together, was this, that we need not be so concerned in saving our own skins or our own reputations as we often are.

The Lord Jesus went to supper with a publican, and did not consider Himself disgraced, though everybody else despised them,” went on Will very quickly; "and so I do not see why we could not do something like it, if we want to help anybody,” he added.

"Of course we should,” said Mrs. Fletcher, never dreaming how soon her opinion was to be put to the test of practice.

“We ought to follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who went about doing good?"

Certainly, my boy."

“And we ought to be glad of the chance when we get one-when we get something we can do ?” said Will.

Yes," assented his mother.

“Then we've got a chance now, mother, we may never have again,” said Will quickly. *Jack Green has come back, and he's ill, and there's nobody to do anything for him.”

"Jack-Green-come-back," slowly uttered Mrs. Fletcher.

“Yes, mother; he wants to get a place—wants to get work, and make a beginning for himself.”

“Time he did, I should think; but not here, I hope," said the widow.

“No, not here; he wants to go a little further-to London, if he can; but he's walked all the way from home, and now he's tired and ill.”

“And you say he's here, William ?” Mrs. Fletcher always called him “ William” when she was vexed or angry with him.

“Yes: he's in the shepherd's hut, near Toad Lane. He couldn't help being ill, you know, mother,” he added, in a deprecating tone.

“But he could help coming here, I suppose; and you might have kept away from him, when you know how much I dislike that boy.”

“But he was ill, and almost starving. I was obliged to help him, and now I want you to let him come home, mother, and have my bed till he gets well. I could sleep on the floor, or down stairs on the sofa.” He did not venture to look at his mother, and be spoke very quickly, for fear his courage should fail before he had made his proposal.

It certainly startled her not a little. “He had better go to the workhouse,” she said promptly,

“Oh, mother, he isn't a beggar, any more than we are,” exclaimed Will. “I've heard you say that they were very respectable people until—"

“ Yes, yes,” interrupted his mother quickly, “that's just the difficulty ; if he was a beggar I don't know that I should mind it so much, and people would understand why-"

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AFTER MANY DAYS.

“Oh, bother other people,” said Will. “It's poor Jack we've got to consider, We went to school together, and we've played together, and perhaps if you had been like Mrs. Green, I should have been worse than Jack-there's no telling. Do give him this chance now, mother; he wants to begin life afresh for himself, and if you would take him in until he gets round a bit, and talk to him about things, and let him have a suit of my old clothes when he goes away, why it may be the making of him. Don't you think it is what Jesus Christ would do, if He was here now ?”

Mrs. Fletcher felt uncomfortable at having the questions put so bluntly before her.

“I don't see how we can do this, Will,” she said.

But, mother, suppose it was me: that's how I've been looking at it," said Will; "and that's how I think the Lord Jesus means us to look at it. If Jack was a thief or

“But he comes of a bad lot, Will," hastily interrupted Mrs. Fletcher.

“And so you would doom him to be bad too, mother; it aint fair, and you won't do it, I know you won't; you're trying to be like the Lord Jesus, and you'll just do this bit of work for Him, and let me bring Jack home to-morrow. Come and see him yourself, mother, and you'll let me take him something to eat, won't you?”

Yes, you may do that,” assented Mrs. Fletcher, slowly, “but I don't know what to do about having him home.”

“Come and see him yourself, mother,” pleaded Will, thankful beyond measure that he had succeeded thus far in bringing her round to his views, and thinking that the sight of Jack's miserable condition and weakness would do the rest. And he was not disappointed. When Mrs. Fletcher saw the gaunt white face, and the unkempt hair, with the bits of loose straw sticking in it, and thought of what it would be if her boy was in a similar condition, all her prudential considerations of what the world would say went to the winds, and she said quickly, “We must get him home somehow, Will, for he wants nursing, I can see.”

Jack was by this time too ill to care very much what became of him, and so he shewed very little gratitude when the proposal was made, and positively whimpered when he found that he had to exchange his nest in the straw for an uncomfortable jolting ride on a barrow; for no sooner had his mother made the proposal, than Will darted off to the cottage where he had borrowed the dipper, and begged for the loan of the wheelbarrow he had seen standing outside, that he might take Jack home at once.

Mrs. Fletcher thought it wiser to send for a doctor, and ascertain whether Jack's illness was contagious before placing him in Will's bed; but the doctor soon reassured her on this point, and so Jack's rags were stripped off him, and when he was washed he put on one of Will's shirts, and looked altogether such a different being from what he did in the shepherd's hut, that Will himself was amazed at the contrast, and hovered over him in suppressed delight all the rest of the evening.

The next morning when his mother gave the few pence he usually had for pocket money, he put them back into her hand.

“I can do without that for a bit,” he said, “and it'll help pay for Jack. I'm hungry enough, too, to eat dry bread, so the butter will pay a little more, mother, for it'll be a pull for us if he's ill long."

But fortunately Jack was not ill long. The nourishing food and careful nursing soon worked a marvellous change in him, and Mrs. Fletcher had no cause to complain of his want of gratitude. The poor fellow did not know how to be thankful enough for the kindness that had been bestowed upon him; and when he was at length strong enough to continue his journey, Mrs. Fletcher mended up an old suit of Will's, and gave him a pair of boots, so that he looked a very different being from the ragged lad who had fallen down exhausted in Toad Lane. He reached London and got a situation, and the Fletchers had the satisfaction of hearing from him from time to time that he was doing very well, and profiting by the advice he had received while he was with them. But the full reaping time was yet to come.

Correspondence.

THE CHURCHES AND AMUSEMENTS. To the Editors of the General Baptist Magazine,

SIRS,- I was very glad to see Mr. Bishop's paper on Amusements in your last issue, and hope it may provoke a discussion. The subject is one which needs it. The differences of opinion among our members are great; the question is urgent; and I trust your Correspondence page will bear witness to the interest it excites. My own object in writing is to lay stress upon a point which was somewhat overlooked in the discussion at the Conference. How far ought our churches to go in providing the means of recreation for the young ? I have very decided opinions upon the question, to which I will give candid and frank expression.

I.-Let me say first that I take it for granted that amusements are both natural and helpful in their proper place. take it for granted, further, that none of us can safely prescribe recreation for other people. Tastes differ; much that gives innocent pleasure to many of my friends would be an insufferable bore to myself. Every thing depends upon the tastes, the habits, and the training of the individual. I take it for granted, further, that the limits of becoming recreation are very clear and distinct. It is good while it re-creates us, renews our energies, refreshes our spirits. It is mischievous when it absorbs our strength, and unfits us for our work. These principles are the merest common-place to my thinking, and I only mention them to indicate the standpoint from which I regard the whole subject.

II.-Looking at the matter thus, I am confronted by the fact that among the working-classes of our large towns, the pleasant home-evenings which are enjoyed by young people in a higher social position are utterly impossible. Rents are high. The house of a respectable working man has generally one living room for the whole family. As a rule the room is small and the family large. If there should happen to be a parlour, it is too sacred for use except on special occasions, and need not count. What is the result? I will take a case. There are six children in the house of which I am thinking. The three eldest go to work all day, and come home in the evening tired and wishful for change. But there are five others (parents and children) to be accommodated in the same room. Tea is about until a late hour because they do not all come home at the same time; and the plain truth is, that there is no room for the elder ones at home. There is no quiet. There can be no pleasant games. They cannot invite any of their friends. To meet their companions they must go elsewhere.

III.—Another fact is too patent to need much insistence. Our large towns are everywhere set with traps to catch the unwary. There are dangerous parlours open to the parlourless classes (as one of my friends put it) on all sides. There is scarcely a publican in Nottingham who does not seek to attract these roaming youths by catering for their amusement. One has always some monstrosity to exhibit; another provides a string-band concert of popular music; many have choral societies ; nearly all have a pianist and vocalist. Nor are there wanting a host of questionable resorts advertised in the most taking manner, and promising a pleasant evening to all comers. The results are obvious. Young people are tempted by the warmth and comfort and free-andeasy air of such places. On cold wintry nights the inducement is often too strong for them to resist; and thus our elder scholars, who are as yet hesitant and undecided and without strong principle, are led astray at this critical time in their lives, and too often lost to us for years or even for ever.

IV.–Now I contend that the church ought to take action with a view to meeting this deficiency in the home-life of our young people, and counteracting the evil influences to which they are exposed. I do not believe that more religious services are needed in connection with our churches. My feeling is that we are in danger of preaching at people too much, and so weakening the

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THE QUESTION BOX. force of what we say by wearisome repetition. I think if we had fewer sermons, people would remember them better and prize them more. However this may be, sermons will not meet the need of which I have spoken. What is wanted is something very different. I think that in our large towns every Christian church should have a social room, fitted up with papers, magazines, and games, and open at convenient times for the use of its young people. Three or four years ago I should not have thought this necessary or expedient. The conviction that it is both has been forced upon me by real work for and among the young. I now consider it an integral part of church work.

My letter is already too long, and half that I wished to say is unsaid. Let me simply add that I am afraid my views will be far from meeting with general approval, but have expressed myself candidly upon the subject in the hope that if I am wrong some wiser counsellor will correct my error. My conviction has impelled me to action, and has involved no slight amount of labour in the endeavour to supply the needs of the younger members of my own congregation. Being of an indolent turn, it would really be no little relief to feel that I have been mistaken and need trouble myself no more. Hoping you will pardon the length of this hastily written letter,

I remain, 18, Arboretum Street,

Yours sincerely,
Nottingham.

G. H. JAMES.

The Question Box.

Compartment 1. For the young people.

Answers to questions of last month :-(34) Daniel, his three friends being Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, Dan. ii., 17, 18.

(35). Gehazi, servant of Elisha, 2 Kings, V., 16, 24. (36) Not once.

Success of our young friends during the year. Thirty-six questions have been proposed, all of which have been correctly answered by John J. Mumford, of Hastings Street, Leicester. To this young friend, whose age we understand is 12, we shall have pleasure in sending a book as a token of our good wishes for the new year—"The Schooner on the Beach,” by Rev. E. A. Rand.

Eight other young people have done so well that we wish we could testify our regard for them all in a similar way. But we trust that they have all met with a reward in the very exercise of searching the Scriptures. Indeed, we were pleased the other day to receive from one of them the following note :"I wish to tell you what happiness I have had during the year, searching the Bible, and answering your questions. I sincerely hope you will continue them.”

The names of these eight are Susannah Sutcliffe, Hebden Bridge, 35 answers correct, 1 partly right; Emily E. Ellis, Derby, 34 correct; Minnie V. Chapman, Clapham, 33 correct, 2 partly right; S. J. Riley, Leicester, 33 correct, 2 partly right; Hattie A. Payne, Loath, 33 correct, 1 partly right; Florence H. Dodsley, Nottingham, 33 correct, 1 partly right; Albert G. Smith, Melbourne, 32 correct, 2 partly right; Ethel Barker, Derby, 32 correct, 1 partly right.

We propose to continue the Question Box for another year, and shall be glad to give first and second prizes to the two who shall have answered best in the 12 months. Some of the questions will be more difficult than what have been given hitherto, but they will all be such as can be answered either from the Bible itself, or from Dr. Angus's Bible Hand-Book. Questions for January, 1885.

(1.) How many cities were assigned to the Levites ? and how many of them were to be cities of refuge ?

(2.) Into how many books were the Psalms anciently divided, and where did they begin and end respectively ?

(3.) Who said that Jesus was “beside himself ?"

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