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one silver fourpence left. Maria took it, but she looked annoyed, and as she went out of the shop, a beggar woman, with her child on her back, begged of her very clamorously, so Maria, to get rid of her halfpence, gave them to the beggar, who loudly invoked blessings upon her.
Minnie Lester had watched all this. She had looked with a longing eye at the beautiful chenille trimmings and costly fringes, which were to ornament the handiwork of those children of affluence, and she turned again to the drawer of narrow ribbons, which, but a few minutes ago, had filled her heart with joy; and lo! all their beauty had passed away. Her eyes filled with tears, but Ellen did not perceive it, for her thoughts were very similarly engaged; and as the shopman returned to his quiet, patient little customers, they silently selected the ribbons they preferred, and then left the shop.
“Where are we to go now?” said Minnie.
“ To Mr. Clark's,” said Ellen; "mama wants some letter-stamps and writing-paper.”
So to Mr. Clark's they went; but, as fate would have it, their ill-fortune followed, or rather preceded, them here. The Thorntons were looking over and selecting new books, and many a tempting cover and beautiful frontispiece was lying on the counter, to greet the children's eyes as they entered. Miss Willis saw them, and shook hands with them with evident kindness. Maria turned round, and gave a kind of patronizing nod, and little Flora was so engrossed in examining the blue and gold cover of “Ministering Children," that she did not see them. Flora was to have this book for her own. She had never seen it before, and sitting down before the counter, she soon became so absorbed in the history of poor Patience, that all external objects were forgotten. It was a happy day for the children of England when this well-written tale was first circulated among them, and few, we believe, are the homes in which it will not now be found. The heart of childhood is so well understood by the writer, and its feelings and trials so truthfully and kindly met, that the tribute of praise and grateful acknowledgment may well be paid by all who are regarding with loving interest the present rising generation.
Ellen and Minnie Lester had seen the book once, and had read enough to excite their most eager desire for its possession. But trained as they were by their judicious mother to put aside, as far as was possible, every fretful longing for pleasures beyond their reach, they had ceased to think about it, until now again they saw the precious volume in the hands of another, and heard Maria giving orders for other books, the cost of which would have furnished their little library for a twelvemonth.
However, their purchases being concluded, they commenced their walk home, in a very different mood from that in which they had left their mother an hour ago. Disappointed and unhappy, they yet decided that they would not grieve their mother by showing before her the fretful state of their feelings. But somo relief they must have, and so sitting down
upon the stile that led from the lane into the fields, Minnie began
“Oh, Ellen, what I would give it mama had more money! How very hard it does seem that some should have so much, and some so little.”
Ellen thought just the same, but the spoken thought sounded so much worse than the silent one, that she was half afraid to answer.
“Why don't you answer me, Ellen ? Don't you think it is very wretched to be so poor?”
“Yes, Minnie, I do. I would give any thing for one of those sovereigns Maria was paying away so carelessly. Mama's present looks worth nothing now. I don't think I shall give it her.”
"Oh, Ellen, that will be worse still, we have never missed a birthday-and yet what paltry things they are! I do not think she can care for them,” and Minnie gathered a hyacinth which hung its lovely bells close beside her, and moodily pulled it to pieces.
“Did you hear how that poor woman
blessed Maria for the money she gave her, Ellen ?”
“Yes, of course I did. She begged of us, too; but we never have anything to give."
And still the children sat in moody thought, and no word of warning whispered in either heart loud enough to be heard.
“ Sometimes, Ellen," said Minnie, "people have rich relations, and large fortunes are left to them. I wonder whether we ever shall. I know what I should buy then ; first, a pretty present for mama, then ‘Ministering Children,' and a double hyacinth, and a new frock like Flora Thornton's, and some of that beautiful chenille-work.”
Ellen had been gathering flowers at in. tervals all through this colloquy, and now, as she sat down again at the foot of the stile, and laid the beautiful spring treasurcs in her lap, that she might arrange them in better order, a verse that she had beer. learning that morning came unbidden into her mind : “Verily, verily, I say unto you,